Independence Day (Kazakhstan)

Independence Day of Kazakhstan (Kazakh: Қазақстан Республикасының Тәуелсіздік күні, Russian: День независимости Казахстана) is the main national holiday in the Republic of Kazakhstan, celebrated annually on 16 December.

Independence Day
Emblem of Kazakhstan latin.svg
Official nameKazakh: Қазақстан Республикасының Тәуелсіздік күні
Observed by Kazakhstan
CelebrationsFireworks, Concerts, Parades
DateDecember 16


In an attempt to keep unity within the Soviet Union, the country held a referendum on 16 March 1991 and Kazakhstan voted 95% in favor of a new Union of Sovereign States. After the aborted coup d'état in August, the Supreme Soviet (Kazakhstan) passed the Constitutional Independence Law of Republic of Kazakhstan on 16 December 1991. Despite the swift collapse of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan was the last to declare its independence. The declaration was followed up by the Alma-Ata Protocol which would give birth to the Commonwealth of Independent States.[1][2] Independence ushered in the era under President Nursultan Nazarbayev, during which a new bicameral Parliament and a new capital was established. Notable events that followed as an indirect result of independence include:[3][4]

General celebrationsEdit

Independence Day celebrations in New York

The holiday is celebrated for 1 day on December 16. If the 16 December falls on a weekend, the following Monday will be a holiday. Yurts (traditional tents) are set up in many villages where local delicacies will be served.[5] It tends to be commemorated indoors due to the coinciding winter season.[6] The Astana Opera organizes concerts involving national orchestras that will perform traditional music. Many nationalist politicians and activists use the holiday as an occasion to accuse to the Russian government of attempted genocide of the ethnic population during periods such as the Kazakh famine of 1932–33 and the population transfer of Kazakhs in the Soviet Union.[7]

Jeltoqsan commemorationsEdit

Independence Day is also used as a day of remembrance of the 1986 Jeltoqsan protests, which was the starting point of discontent against Soviet rule, on Brezhnev Square (present-day Republic Square) against the government of Gennady Kolbin, which began on the same day as Independence Day. By the 1980s, democratization in the Soviet Union began to rise with the 1986 protests, which followed a major unrest in Central and Eastern Europe that began in Poland that spilled over into the individual republics.

Aqorda ceremonyEdit

A ceremony hosted by the President of Kazakhstan is held at the Aqorda Presidential Palace, in which the president presents orders, decorations, and medals of Kazakhstan to distinguished citizens.[8] Many Kazakhs will dress up in traditional clothes at the formal ceremony in the presidential palace.[9]

Historical eventsEdit


The first independence day military parade of Kazakhstan was held on Almaty's Republic Square in 1996 timed to the occasion of the 5th anniversary of independence.[10] Minister of Defense Mukhtar Altynbayev opened the parade,[11] which also saw a cavalry squadron from the Republican Guard makes its debut appearance.[12]


To coincide with the 10th anniversary of Independence Day in 2001, commemorative medals and coins were issued as well as festive train tour named Менің Қазақстаным ("My Kazakhstan") was launched from May of that year and travelled around the country until December, stopping in places to hold events and concerts with local residents including in remote villages. The passengers on the train included famous artists, filmmakers, writers and journalists, doctors and officials, lawyers and librarians as well.[13] In late August, Kazakh border guards held a relay race along the nation's boundaries from outpost to outpost where a miniature copy of the Golden Warrior Monument was passed.[14]

At a solemn meeting held on 16 December 2001 in Astana, President Nursultan Nazarbayev presented a speech titled "Ten years equal to a century", where he emphasised the positive results that Kazakhstan has made for the decade since its independence.[14]


On 27 January 2011, President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree, declaring the year as the 20th anniversary of Independence Day that would be held under the motto of "20 years of peace and creation" as well as the formation of a state commission that would carry out the celebration.[15]

On 16 December, a constitutional act "On State Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan" was adopted, which declared that the 20th anniversary celebrations took place amidst as a successful state with "a democratic, political and legal system, a stable economy and a high level of wellbeing of the population" as a "century-old dream" by ancestors that was fulfilled by Nazarbayev.[16] That same day as various celebrations were held across the country, unrest broke out in town of Zhanaozen where striking oil workers disrupted a concert event held at the main square, resulting in clashes between the workers and police that led to several deaths as the unarmed protestors were gunned down, becoming one of Kazakhstan's most bloodiest event since its independence.[17]


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited in 2016 to attend the 25th anniversary celebrations.[18]


For the 30th anniversary in 2021, a commission under the Ministry of Information and Social Development to prepare for the anniversary was established in October 2019.[19] President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced that an amnesty will be held for those brought to criminal responsibility.[20] In January 2021, Tokayev proposed that during the celebrations, a short history of Kazakhstan should be written for a foreign audience (translated in to the languages of the world) as means of "not succumbing to the influence of alien ideology".[21]

Foreign celebrationsEdit

On the first anniversary in 1992, an orchestra of folk instruments from Semipalatinsk took part in a ceremony hosted by the Kazakh embassy in the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow.[22] Many celebrations in the United States are held by the diaspora in the state of New York as well as the Kazakh embassy in Washington D.C.[23]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Independence Day of the Republic of Kazakhstan". Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  2. ^ "Independence Day 2022, 2023 and 2024 in Kazakhstan".
  3. ^ "Kazakhstan Celebrates Independence Day, Country's Accomplishments". 31 December 2013.
  4. ^ "Independence of Kazakhstan :: About Kazakhstan".
  5. ^ "Kazakhstan Independence Day | Office Holidays". Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  6. ^ Cummings, Sally N. (2013-09-13). Symbolism and Power in Central Asia: Politics of the Spectacular. ISBN 9781317987000.
  7. ^ Olcott, Martha Brill (September 2010). Kazakhstan: Unfulfilled Promise. ISBN 9780870032998.
  8. ^ "Kazakhstan celebrates Independence Day".
  9. ^ "Independence Day Celebrated in Kazakhstan". Archived from the original on 3 June 2021. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  10. ^ "Военные парады в Казахстане за 15 лет "подорожали" в одиннадцать раз". | Новости Казахстана – события, мнения, аналитика. Archived from the original on 2017-09-23. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  11. ^ "Inside Central Asia". 1996.
  12. ^ "Закон Республики Казахстан О Республиканской гвардии - Закон".
  13. ^ Разина, Анастасия (2016-12-16). "25 лет независимости. 2001 год – приватизация Народного банка, визит Папы и появление ДВК". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-09-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ a b "ЛЕТОПИСЬ НЕЗАВИСИМОСТИ: 2001 - В Казахстане начала формироваться рыночная экономика". (in Russian). 2016-11-05. Retrieved 2021-09-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ "Об объявлении 2011 года Годом 20-летия Независимости Республики Казахстан - ИПС "Әділет"". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-09-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ "Казахстан отмечает 20-летие независимости". (in Russian). 2011-12-16. Retrieved 2021-09-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ "Kazakh oil strike: 10 dead in Zhanaozen clashes". BBC News. 2011-12-16. Retrieved 2021-09-20.
  18. ^ December 2016, Malika Orazgaliyeva in International on 16 (2016-12-16). "Israeli Prime Minister Visits Astana, Strengthens Ties". The Astana Times. Retrieved 2021-01-21.
  19. ^ "Commission to prepare for Kazakhstan 30th year of Independence celebration formed - Новости Казахстана - свежие, актуальные, последние новости об о всем". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-01-21.
  20. ^ "President announced amnesty in 2021 timed to 30th anniversary of Independence of Kazakhstan - Новости Казахстана - свежие, актуальные, последние новости об о всем". (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-01-21.
  21. ^ kostisg (2021-01-06). "Tokayev proposes to write short history of Kazakhstan for foreign audience". Retrieved 2021-01-21.
  22. ^ "Семипалатинский оркестр казахских народных инструментов "Насырларх кули" (1992) - YouTube". Retrieved 2020-11-08 – via YouTube.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. ^ "День Независимости Казахстана празднуют в США - YouTube". Retrieved 2020-11-08 – via YouTube.

External linksEdit