Independence Day (Kazakhstan)

Kazakh language Republic Square, Almaty Jeltoqsan
Independence Day
Emblem of Kazakhstan.svg
Official nameKazakh: Қазақстан Республикасының Тәуелсіздік күні
Observed by Kazakhstan
CelebrationsFireworks, Concerts, Parades
DateDecember 16-17

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. If 16 December falls on a weekend, the following Monday will be a holiday.


By the 1980s, democratization in the Soviet Union began to rise with the Jeltoqsan protests in 1986. Following a major unrest in Central and Eastern Europe that began in Poland which culminated with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the spillover of these events led to the crisis within the individual republics.

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 of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, during which a new two house parliamentary system and a new capital was established. The Armed Forces of the Republic was also established to meet the needs of defence while the economic system was being radically transformed to meet international standards.

Notable events that followed as an indirect result of independence include:[3][4]

General celebrations

The holiday is celebrated for 2 days on December 16 and 17. It is marked by festivities in the Ak Orda Presidential Palace where many Kazakhs will dress up in traditional clothes.[5] Yurts (traditional tents) are set up in many villages where local delicacies will be served.[6] It tends to be commemorated indoors due to the coinciding winter season.[7] 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.[8] Independence Day is also used as a day of remembrance of the 1986 Jeltoqsan protests on Brezhnev Square (present-day Republic Square) against the government of Gennady Kolbin, which began on the same day as Independence Day.

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.[9] Minister of Defense Mukhtar Altynbayev opened the parade[10], which also saw a cavalry squadron from the Republican Guard makes its debut appearance.[11]

Ak Orda ceremony

A ceremony hosted by the President of Kazakhstan is held at the presidential palace, in which the president presents orders, decorations, and medals of Kazakhstan to distinguished citizens.[12]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Kazakhstan Independence Day | Office Holidays". Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  7. ^ Cummings, Sally N. (2013-09-13). Symbolism and Power in Central Asia: Politics of the Spectacular. ISBN 9781317987000.
  8. ^ Olcott, Martha Brill (September 2010). Kazakhstan: Unfulfilled Promise. ISBN 9780870032998.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "Inside Central Asia". 1996.
  11. ^
  12. ^