On 31 May, Kazakhstan annually celebrates the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repression and Famine. A decree of the First President of the country N.A. Nazarbayev approved this official commemorative date in 1997.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the Kazakh people experienced famine, which caused enormous damage to the country’s gene pool. Representatives of Kazakh intelligentsia were persecuted during the "Great Terror" years. Even though many of them supported the Soviet government, in 1930-50 they were repressed. More than 100,000 people were convicted and about 25,000 were executed. During these years such prominent figures as A. Bokeykhanov, T. Ryskulov, B. Mailin, M. Zhumabaev, A. Baitursynov, A. Rozybakiev, I. Zhansugurov, S. Asfendiyarov, S. Seifullin, the Dosmukhanbetov brothers and many others were shot.

A total of 11 institutions of the Main Administration of Camps and Detention Centers (GULAG) system worked in Kazakhstan: Akmola Camp for Wives of Traitors of the Motherland (ALZHIR), Karaganda Corrective Labour Camp (Karlag), Dalnyi, Stepnoy, Peschany, Kamyshlag, Aktyubinsk, Jezkazganlag, Petropavlovsk, Kingir and Ust-Kamenogorsk camps. 

Many years later, KARLAG and ALZHIR were turned into historical memorial complexes at the initiative of the First President of Kazakhstan, N.A. Nazarbayev.

With the independence of Kazakhstan, the work on the rehabilitation of victims of political repression was started. One of the first laws passed in the independent republic, the 30th anniversary of which we mark this year, was the law "On the rehabilitation of victims of mass political repressions" of April 14, 1993. 

In 1993-94, the Interdepartmental Commission carried out extensive work to declassify documents on mass repression. 

In the 2000s, a comprehensive work of the state and public institutions began to declassify previously closed archival documents of the central and regional archives of Kazakhstan, secrecy was removed from documents of 1937–1991, including "special folders", tens of hundreds of documents were introduced into scientific circulation labelled "secret" and "top secret". 

The State Commission for the full rehabilitation of Victims of political repressions was established on the instruction of the Head of the State K.K. Tokayev in 2020. The activities of the commission are carried out based on comprehensive work on the study of history and conducting archival research.

The members of the commission carry out extensive work in the archives of Kazakhstan, studying the closed holdings. Work is underway to study the history of victims of repression, declassify departmental archives, digitize archival documents, form electronic collections and introduce documents into scientific circulation.

This tremendous work will continue, and historical justice for all innocent victims will be restored shortly.


Deputy Director 

of the Library of the First President 

of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Zhukenov D.A.