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In 1863 Russia elaborated a new imperial policy, announced in the
Gorchakov Circular, asserting the right to annex "troublesome"
areas on the empire's borders. This policy led immediately to the Russian
conquest of the rest of Central Asia and the creation of two
administrative districts, the Guberniya (Governorate General) of Turkestan
and the Steppe District. Most of present-day Kazakstan was in the Steppe
District, and parts of present-day southern Kazakstan were in the
In the early nineteenth century, the construction of Russian forts
began to have a destructive effect on the Kazak traditional economy by
limiting the once-vast territory over which the nomadic tribes could drive
their herds and flocks. The final disruption of nomadism began in the
1890s, when many Russian settlers were introduced into the fertile lands
of northern and eastern Kazakstan. Between 1906 and 1912, more than a
half-million Russian farms were started as part of the reforms of Russian
minister of the interior Petr Stolypin, shattering what remained of the
traditional Kazak way of life.
Starving and displaced, many Kazaks joined in the general Central Asian
resistance to conscription into the Russian imperial army, which the tsar
ordered in July 1916 as part of the effort against Germany in World War I.
In late 1916, Russian forces brutally suppressed the widespread armed
resistance to the taking of land and conscription of Central Asians.
Thousands of Kazaks were killed, and thousands of others fled to China and
Data as of March 1996