Conflict in the Soviet Union

The Untold Story of the Clashes in Kazakhstan

The first major expression of popular anger in the Soviet Union occurred in the republic of Kazakhstan in December 1986, when thousands of youths took to the streets to protest the appointment by Moscow of Gennady Kolbin as First Party Secretary for Kazakhstan. In the violence that followed, at least three people were killed by government forces and hundreds were wounded. Hundreds were also detained and 99 were later charged and sentenced. Because the Soviet government subsequently placed Kazakhstan, its second largest republic, off limits to outside inspection, little was known about the December events. A Helsinki Watch fact-finding mission to Kazakhstan resulted in this unique account, pieced together from eyewitness testimonies and other sources, describing the reasons for the unrest in Kazakhstan and the Soviet government’s illegal use of lethal force. The Untold Story of the Clashes in Kazakhstan also explores the Soviet government’s suppression of information about the disorders there.

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