Last summer, before the fall of the ruble took the wind out of Russia’s sails, Russian leader Vladimir Putin memorably questioned the validity of Kazakhstan’s existence as a state. In what appears to be a direct response, Kazakhstan is entering the new year with grand plans for festivities celebrating over half a millennium of Kazakh statehood.
According to President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s version of history, the Kazakh people were carving out a proto-state on the steppes of Eurasia in the mid-1400s, a decade and a half before Russians shook off the Mongol-Tatar yoke on the way to creating their own state.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.