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Akhmet Baitursynov

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Subject: Alash Party, Kazakhstani journalists, Kazakhs, Kostanay, Kazakh alphabets
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Akhmet Baitursynov

Akhmet Baitursynov
Born (1872-01-28)28 January 1872
Turgay Oblast, Russian Empire
Died 8 December 1937(1937-12-08) (aged 65)
Alma-Ata, Soviet Union
Nationality Kazakh
Occupation Poet, turkologist, politic
Spouse(s) Badrisafa Baitursynova

Akhmet Baitursynov (Kazakh: Ахмет Байтұрсынұлы; Russian: Ахмет Байтурсынов) (January 28, 1873 — December 8, 1937) was a Kazakh intellectual who worked in the fields of politic, poetry, linguistics and education.

Baitursynov was born in what is today Kostanay Region, and was educated at the Orenburg Teachers' School. After graduating in 1895, Baitursynov held teaching positions in a number of cities in Kazakhstan, including Aktobe, Kostanay and Karkaralinsk.

The same year as his graduation, Baitursynov published his first article, "Kirgizskie primety i poslovitsy" ("Kazakh Omens and Proverbs") in a regional newspaper. While living in Ural city in 1905, he collaborated with other Kazakhs to form the Kazakh wing of the Constitutional Democrat Party. His involvement in politics probably led to his 1909 arrest and exile from the Steppe regions. After being exiled, he went to Orenburg.

During his exile, he wrote articles for Ay Qap. He also served as the chief editor of Qazaq, the Kazakh newspaper there, and published "Qyryq Mysal" ("Forty Proverbs"). His other significant publication of this time was a Kazakh translation of Ivan Krylov's fables. In 1911, Baytursinuli published his first work of a distinctly political nature — Masa ("Mosquito").

When the Russian Revolution of 1917 occurred, Baytursinuli returned to the steppes and began to work with the Alash Orda political party. With them, he fought for the Kazakhs to have an independent state. He began to work with the Bolsheviks in 1920 when they established their dominance over the region. He served as a Member of the Committee of Deputies of the Constituent Assembly and as Deputy Chairman of the Revolutionary Committee of the Kazakh Krai, as well as Commissioner of Enlightenment. In these capacities, he helped to reform education and to establish the first university in Kazakhstan.

Another of Baitursynov's significant accomplishments was his adaptation of Arabic script for the Kazakh alphabet.

In 1937, during the Great Purge, Baitursynov was arrested for hiding "bourgeois nationalist sentiments" and summarily executed. This had resulted in an outcry, which was quickly and bloodily silenced. To this day, he is held in great regard in Kazakhstan, but is viewed as somewhat tragic figure, signifying the extent of the numbers of authors, poets and thinkers who have perished due to the Soviet repressions. A museum in honour of Baitursynov was established in one of his former residences in Alma-Ata, and a number of streets were renamed in his memory across Kazakhstan. A statue of the thinker is also to be found in the town of Kostenay.

Baitursynov's work is part of the curriculum for high school education system of Kazakhstan.


  • Baitursynov, Akhmet Biography
  • The Geography of Civilizations: A Spatial Analysis of the Kazakh Intelligentsia's activities, From the Mid-Nineteenth to the Early Twentieth Century
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