Dinmukhamed Kunaev

Leonid Brezhnev Yuri Andropov Template:24th Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Dinmukhamed Kunaev
Дінмұхамед Қонаев
Dіnmuhamed Qonaev
Dinmuhkamed Konayev.png
First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan
In office
7 December 1964 – 16 December 1986
Preceded byIsmail Yusupov
Succeeded byGennady Kolbin
In office
19 January 1960 – 26 December 1962
Preceded byNikolay Belyayev
Succeeded byIsmail Yusupov
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Kazakh SSR
In office
26 December 1962 – 7 December 1964
Preceded byMasymkhan Beysembayev
Succeeded byMasymkhan Beysembayev
In office
31 March 1955 – 29 January 1960
Preceded byElubay Taibekov
Succeeded byZhumabek Tashenev
Full member of the 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th Politburo
In office
9 April 1971 – 28 January 1987
Candidate member of the 23rd Politburo
In office
8 April 1966 – 9 April 1971
Personal details
Born(1912-01-12)12 January 1912
Verny, Semirechye Oblast, Russian Empire
Died22 August 1993(1993-08-22) (aged 81)
Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan
Political partyCommunist Party of the Soviet Union (1939-1987)

Dinmukhamed Akhmetuly "Dimash" Kunaev (Kazakh: Дінмұхаммед (Димаш) Ахметұлы Қонаев, Dіnmuhammed (Dımash) Ahmetuly Qonaev; Russian: Динмухаммед Ахмедович Кунаев; 12 January 1912 [O.S. 31 December 1911] – 22 August 1993) was a Kazakh Soviet communist politician[1] who served as the First Secretary of the Commmunist Party of Kazakhstan.

Early life

Kunaev, the son of a Kazakh clerk, was born at Verny, now Almaty, and grew up in a middle-income family. He graduated from the Institute of Non-Ferrous and Fine Metallurgy in Moscow in 1936, which enabled him to become a machine operator. By 1939 he had become engineer-in-chief of the Pribalkhashatroi mine, and joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), a condition of the position.[1]

Rise to Power

Kunaev was deputy chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Kazakh SSR from April 1942 to 1946. In this post, during the years of World War II, he conducted significant work on the deployment and commissioning of enterprises and factories evacuated to Kazakhstan from the front-line areas of the USSR, as well as mobilising and training the republic's human reserves and soldiers for the Red Army.[2] From 1946 to 1952, he was deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Kazakh SSR. In 1952, he was elected President of the Academy of Sciences of the Kazakh SSR,[3] which under his leadership conducted scientific research with the aim of developing and improving industry and agriculture, and the more efficient use of Kazakhstan's natural resources.[2] He served in this post until 1955, when he became Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Kazakh SSR.

Kunaev's rise in Communist Party ranks had been closely tied to that of Leonid Brezhnev's. In February 1954, Khrushchev appointed Panteleymon Ponomarenko as the first secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, and Leonid Brezhnev as the second secretary.[4] Soon, Kunaev and Brezhnev developed a close friendship which lasted until the death of Brezhnev. Brezhnev soon became the first secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan in 1955 and a member of CPSU Politburo in 1956. When Brezhnev left Kazakhstan in 1956, Ivan Iakovlev became the First Secretary of the Kazakh Communist Party (and was succeeded by Nikolai Belyaev). On January 19, 1960, Kunaev was elected 1st Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan.

First Secretary

As First Secretary, Kunaev was an ardent supporter of the Virgin Lands campaign, which opened millions of hectares of lands in central Kazakhstan to agricultural development and caused a large influx of Russian immigrants into Kazakhstan. However, in 1962 he was dismissed from his position as he disagreed with Khrushchev's plans to incorporate some lands in Southern Kazakhstan into Uzbekistan. Ismail Yusupov, a supporter of the plan, replaced Kunaev.

After his dismissal as First Secretary, he was Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Kazakh SSR until 1964, when he became first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan again in 1964 when Khrushchev was ousted and replaced by Brezhnev.[5] He kept his position for twenty-two more years.[6] He was an alternate member of the Politburo from 1967, and a full member from 1971 to 1987.

Kunaev awarding a Soviet Army unit's battle flag, 1986.

During Kunaev's long rule, Kazakhs occupied prominent positions in the bureaucracy, economy and educational institutions. In 1984, Kunaev made Nursultan Nazarbayev the Chairman of the Council of Ministers. However, at the sixteenth session of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan in January 1986, Nazarbayev criticized Askar Kunayev, President of the Academy of Sciences for not reforming his department.[7] Dinmukhamed Kunayev, Nazarbayev's boss and Askar's brother, felt deeply angered and betrayed. Kunayev went to Moscow and demanded Nazarbayev's dismissal while Nazarbayev's supporters campaigned for Kunayev's dismissal and Nazarbayev's promotion.[8][9]

However, this did not go well for Kunaev, who saw his brother dismissed as President of the Academy of Sciences (and succeeded by Murat Aitkhozhin), as well as seeing Nazarbaev keep his position as Chairman of the Council of Ministers. Soon D. A. Kunaev himself was dismissed, as he was removed from office under pressure from Mikhail Gorbachev, who accused him of corruption.[6][10][7] On 16 December 1986 the Politburo replaced him with Gennady Kolbin, who had never lived in the Kazakh SSR before. The decision set off three days of street rioting in Almaty, between 16 and 18 December, 1986 - which were the first signs of ethnic strife during Gorbachev's tenure.[11][12] In modern Kazakhstan, this revolt is called Jeltoqsan (meaning December in Kazakh).

In January 1987, D. A. Kunaev was removed from the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU, and in June 1987 from the Central Committee of the CPSU.

After the resignation, he lived in his hometown of Alma-Ata. He died in the evening of August 22, 1993 in the village of Akshi, Alakol district of Almaty region as a result of a heart attack. He was buried on August 25, 1993 at the Kensai cemetery in the city of Alma-Ata.

Positions of Power

Leadership Positions

Political Positions


Under D. A. Kunaev, a significant economic upswing in Kazakh SSR was achieved, the industrial potential of the republic increased significantly (mainly due to the mining, raw materials industries and the energy sector serving them) and agriculture (the annual famous “billion pounds” of grain was produced many times). In his book "From Stalin to Gorbachev" (1994), Kunaev himself referred to the data of the USSR State Statistics Committee, and he describes in detail his contribution to the development of living standards and the rise of the economy of the Kazakh SSR. By the end of Kunaev's time in power, compared with 1955, the economic potential of the Kazakh SSR increased by seven times, the standard of living, industry, production rose to a historic maximum, and the Kazakh SSR became the third largest economy in the Soviet Union (after the Russian SFSR and Ukrainian SSR). For great services to the development of the economy and the standard of living in the country, he was very popular among the Kazakh people and many still call the Kunaev era as the "Golden Age of Kazakhstan" to this day.


The Kazakhstan leader’s name was associated with corruption and economic problems for which national newspapers criticized the republic. The Communist Party of Kazakhstan, which Kunaev headed for 22 years, criticised him for "establishing a personality cult, distorting personnel policy, manifestations of an 'anything goes' mentality." The violations "led to the development . . . of protectionism, abuse of office, bribe-taking, corruption, nationalist and other negative phenomena."





Kunaev Monument in Almaty

Kunaev spent the last years of his life in charitable activity, establishing the 'Dinmukhamed Kunaev Foundation', one of whose purposes was the support of political reform in Kazakhstan.[13]


  1. ^ a b Vronskaya, Jeanne (24 August 1993) "Obituary: Dinmukhamed Kunayev". The Independent London, Gazette Section, p. 18.
  2. ^ a b "Кунаев Динмухамед Ахмедович". www.warheroes.ru. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  3. ^ "Академия наук - КУНАЕВ ДИНМУХАМЕД АХМЕДОВИЧ". nauka-nanrk.kz. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  4. ^ Dornberg, John (1991) Brezhnev: the Masks of Power, London: Andre Deutsch, ISBN 0465007562, p. 133.
  5. ^ Kunaev, Dinmukhammed (1992) O Moem Vremeni, Almaty: Dauir.
  6. ^ a b Drexel, John (1991) "Kunayev, Dinmukhamed Akhmedovich (1912– )" The Facts on File Encyclopedia of the Twentieth Century Facts on File, New York, ISBN 0-8160-2461-8
  7. ^ a b (PDF) http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/4078/1/Cummings__Political-elite-Kazakhstan.pdf. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ "Kazakh Official Removed For Drunkenness, Incompetence". AP NEWS. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  9. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1987/03/15/soviet-party-ex-official-investigated/0e58b18d-c9c9-454f-b743-30ab5b960e21/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ a b "Memorial plaque put up in Alma-Ata for ex-communist boss" ITAR-TASS news agency: BBC Summary of World Broadcasts British Broadcasting Company (16 January 1995)
  11. ^ Putz, Catherine (16 December 2016). "1986: Kazakhstan's Other Independence Anniversary". The Diplomat. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  12. ^ "Kazakh Reformist Party for Renaming Town after Soviet-era Leader" Global News Wire – Asia Africa Intelligence Wire British Broadcasting Company (23 August 2004)
  13. ^ Ardayev, Vladimir (Izvestia staff) (24 August 1993) "Dinmukhamed Kunayev Dies" The Current Digest of the Soviet Press 45(34): p. 28