Dinmukhamed Kunayev

Dinmukhamed Kunayev
Дінмұхамед Қонаев
First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan
In office
7 December 1964  16 December 1986
Preceded by Ismail Yusupov
Succeeded by Gennady Kolbin
In office
19 January 1960  26 December 1962
Preceded by Nikolay Belyayev
Succeeded by Ismail Yusupov
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Kazakh SSR
In office
26 December 1962  7 December 1964
Preceded by Masymkhan Beysembayev
Succeeded by Masymkhan Beysembayev
In office
31 March 1955  29 January 1960
Preceded by Elubay Taibekov
Succeeded by Zhumabek Tashenev
Full member of the 24th, 25th, 26th Politburo
In office
9 April 1971  28 January 1987
Candidate member of the 23rd Politburo
In office
8 April 1966  9 April 1971
Personal details
Born (1912-01-12)12 January 1912
Verny, Semirechye Oblast, Russian Empire
Died 22 August 1993(1993-08-22) (aged 81)
Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan
Nationality Kazakh
Political party Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Dinmukhamed (Dimash) Akhmetuly Kunayev (Kazakh: Дінмұхаммед (Димаш) Ахметұлы Қонаев; Russian: Динмухаммед Ахмедович Кунаев; 12 January 1912 [O.S. 31 December 1911] – 22 August 1993) was a Kazakh Soviet communist politician.[1]

Early life

Kunayev, the son of a Kazakh clerk, was born at Verny, now Almaty, and grew up in a middle-income family. He graduated from the Institute of Non-Ferrous and Fine Metallurgy in Moscow in 1936, which enabled him to become a machine operator. By 1939 he had become engineer-in-chief of the Pribalkhashatroi mine, and joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), a condition of the position.[1]


Kunayev was deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Kazakh SSR from 1942 to 1952. In 1947, 1951, 1955 and 1959 he also was a deputy in the Kazakh SSR Supreme Soviet. Kunayev's rise in Communist Party ranks had been closely tied to that of Leonid Brezhnev's. Khrushchev appointed Panteleymon Ponomarenko as the first secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, and Leonid Brezhnev as the second secretary, in February 1954.[2] Soon, Kunayev and Brezhnev developed a close friendship which lasted until the death of Brezhnev. Brezhnev became the first secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan in 1955 and a member of CPSU Politburo in 1956. When Brezhnev left Kazakhstan in 1956, I. Iakovlev became the First Secretary of the Kazakh Communist Party. Kunayev had to wait until 1960 to attain the post.

Kunayev was an ardent supporter of the Virgin Lands campaign, which opened millions of hectares of lands in central Kazakhstan to agricultural development and caused a large influx of Russian immigrants into Kazakhstan. In 1962 he was dismissed from his position as he disagreed with Khrushchev's plans to incorporate some lands in Southern Kazakhstan into Uzbekistan. Ismail Yusupov, a supporter of the plan, replaced Kunayev. He became first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan again in 1964 when Khrushchev was ousted and replaced by Brezhnev.[3] He kept his position for twenty-two more years.[4] He was an alternate member of the Politburo from 1967, and a full member from 1971 to 1987.

During Kunayev's long rule, Kazakhs occupied prominent positions in the bureaucracy, economy and educational institutions. A Brezhnev loyalist, he was removed from office under pressure from Mikhail Gorbachev, who accused him of corruption.[4][5] On 16 December 1986 the Politburo replaced him with Gennady Kolbin, who had never lived in the Kazakh SSR before. This provoked street riots in Almaty, which were the first signs of ethnic strife during Gorbachev's tenure.[6] In modern Kazakhstan, this revolt is called Jeltoqsan, meaning December in Kazakh.

Kunayev Monument in Almaty


Kunayev was awarded the Gold Star of Hero of Socialist Labour three times.[5] He spent the last years of his life in charitable activity, establishing the 'Dinmukhamed Kunayev Foundation', one of whose purposes was the support of political reform in Kazakhstan.[7] An institute and avenue in Almaty have been named after him as well as an avenue in downtown Astana.


  1. 1 2 Vronskaya, Jeanne (24 August 1993) "Obituary: Dinmukhamed Kunayev". The Independent London, Gazette Section, p. 18.
  2. Dornberg, John (1991) Brezhnev: the Masks of Power, London: Andre Deutsch, ISBN 0465007562, p. 133.
  3. Kunaev, Dinmukhammed (1992) O Moem Vremeni, Almaty: Dauir.
  4. 1 2 Drexel, John (1991) "Kunayev, Dinmukhamed Akhmedovich (1912– )" The Facts on File Encyclopedia of the Twentieth Century Facts on File, New York, ISBN 0-8160-2461-8
  5. 1 2 "Memorial plaque put up in Alma-Ata for ex-communist boss" ITAR-TASS news agency: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts British Broadcasting Company (16 January 1995)
  6. "Kazakh Reformist Party for Renaming Town after Soviet-era Leader" Global News Wire – Asia Africa Intelligence Wire British Broadcasting Company (23 August 2004)
  7. Ardayev, Vladimir (Izvestia staff) (24 August 1993) "Dinmukhamed Kunayev Dies" The Current Digest of the Soviet Press 45(34): p. 28
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