Kazakhs


Kazakhs
   Ethnic group. The Kazakhs are a mixture of various peoples of inner Asia, primarily Turkic, Mongol, and Indo-Aryan nomads who coalesced as a unified ethnicity in the late Middle Ages. Their language is part of the Kypchak branch of the Turkic language family. Kazakhs are nominally Muslim with a strong Sufi orientation; however, a significant minority converted to Russian Orthodoxy under tsarist rule. While they are the titular majority in Kazakhstan, Kazakhs are also an important ethnic minority in the Russian Federation, numbering over 650,000. In regions contiguous to Kazakhstan, they make up a significant portion of the local population: Astrakhan (14 percent); Altay Republic (6 percent); Orenburg (6 percent); Omsk (4 percent); and Saratov (3 percent). Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has encouraged ethnic Kazakhs to return to their ethnic homeland in an effort to promote indigenous demographic dominance of the country, a strategy that resulted in ethnic Kazakhs obtaining a clear majority in the mid-1990s. Kazakhs, along with other Central Asian peoples, have been targeted for ethnic violence by neo-Nazi and other racist groups, particularly in Moscow. Timur Bekmambetov, the director of Russia’s first post-Soviet blockbuster film, Nightwatch (2004), and the Oscar-nominated Hollywood production Wanted (2008), is an ethnic Kazakh.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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