• Зәуре Батаева

In Search of Abai: The Letters of Adolf Januszkiewicz, Another Soviet Forgery

1. Introduction


Researching the history of «Abai Qunanbayev» is like opening Pandora's box. It leaves us with no choice but to confront many unpleasant realities.


First of all, the complicated intentions of Abai's creator, Alikhan Bukeikhanov. Politically, Bukeikhanov was a nationalist, an advocate of the autonomy of Kazaks and the continued existence of their nomadic culture. However, the troubling truth is that Bukeikhanov, the founder of Kazakh written literature, was deeply indebted to Russian literature and to Russian culture more generally. Without his deep Russophilia, Bukeikhanov would not have written many of the poems that are now part of Abai’s canon. Even today, many Kazakhs find it difficult to accept that the founder of Kazakh written literature was a man so divided in his interests and attachments. Moreover, what were Bukeikhanov’s intentions in creating so many fictitious identities – Qyr Balasy, Gabdrahim Alashbayev, Köshpeli Qazaqbayev, A. Kurmanbayev, Shakarim, Abai? Why did Bukeikhanov want to create a mythological space in which it seemed as if many ordinary nomad Kazakhs shared his interest for Russian literature and had already made the same transition as he had, from the traditional oral culture to a new written culture? The ability to write about many different subjects under different identities was an important part of Bukeikhanov’s creative genius, but the ugly truth is that, in the long run, it proved his greatest weakness, making it easy for the Soviet regime to appropriate his writings and transform them into pro-Russian, anti-Kazakh propaganda.In the post-Soviet era, «Abai» and his writings have retained their Soviet status. No-one working within the structures of the Kazakh state apparatus has been allowed to reassess how the writings «Abai» were created.


However, because propaganda campaigns about «Abai» have become increasingly unconvincing, another disturbing truth has been brought to the surface: the prose texts of «Abai», titled Qara Sözder, were anti-Kazakh and pro-Russian not only because of what «Abai» wrote but also because of what he did not write. While other 19th-century educated Kazakhs such as Zhusip Kopeev and Alikhan Bukeikhanov were alerting their readers about the imminent danger of the Russian colonization of Kazakh land, «Abai» was the only Kazakh nomad-intellectual who did not say or write anything about the new agricultural policies that, if indeed he was a nomad, would have posed a direct threat to the survival of his own family, clan and tribe. This brings us to another ugly truth: the Qara Sözder of «Abai» are fake. They do not pay attention to what 19th-century Kazakh nomads were most concerned about (the loss of land to the Russian colonizer), because these prose texts were written at a later date, by multiple authors, including Soviet propagandists under the supervision of Mukhtar Auezov, in preparation of the first publication of the Qara Sözder in 1933. The active involvement of Soviet propagandists in the creation of the prose teachings of «Abai» does not require proof from Auezov’s personal archive (which was recently reclassified until 2093 on the premise that «there is information that Kazakhs and Russians should not know»). [1] It can easily be inferred from the internal evidence that the Qara Sözder offer us. In Words 40, 41 and 42 of the Qara Sözder, rather than taking the side of his fellow nomads, «Abai» ferociously attacks his fellow nomads, calling them idle, lazy, ignorant and jealous, and accusing them of constantly trying to destroy each other. [2]

In fact, Abai’s ferocious words describe the reality not of the 19th century but of the 1930s, the years of Stalin’s Terror, when poor Kazakhs were set against rich Kazakhs, Muslim Kazakhs against non-Muslim Kazakhs, and whole clans were denounced by other clans and sent to the Gulag. With the help of Abai’s ferocious words, the Soviet regime created a line of history books and literary texts, including the novel Abai’s Path, that falsely presented the lives of 19th-century Kazakhs as being marked by constant betrayal and infighting.


The problem that Kazakh speakers today associate with the lives of their 19th-century ancestors, «it zhekkenge aidatu» («exiled to the land of harnessed dogs»), was a problem that, in reality, their ancestors did not encounter until the 1930s. In reality, 19th-century Kazakhs had faced an entirely different problem: the increasingly aggressive colonization of their land by the Russian Empire, threatening to destroy the traditional migratory lifestyle they had followed for many centuries.

In Word 40, «Abai» even goes so far as to accuse all Kazakh chieftains of being corrupted: «How come that the tricksters are in charge? How come that these tricksters tend to be dirt-poor?» [3] According to the official narrative, «Abai» was a wealthy and well-respected nomad, the head of a large family and the owner of large herds of livestock. How would it be possible for such a man to attack his own culture in such an open and aggressive manner as «Abai» does in the Qara Sözder? The answer is, no, this would not be possible, nor would it make any sense. Only for Kazakhs working for the Soviet regime, several decades later, would it make sense to attack the nomadic culture of their relatives and ancestors in this way. It is worth noting that the Soviet propagandist behind these attacks betrays himself by adding the accusation that Kazakh chieftains are «dirt-poor». This, of course, does not make any sense. Nomadic chieftains were wealthy men, in possession of large herds of livestock. The reason for the self-betrayal: the Soviet propagandist writing the accusation appears to have been focused on the present situation, in which the poorest Kazakhs, the proletarian «jataqs», have been put in charge of collective farms (artels, kolkhozes), while the richest Kazakhs have either been executed, sent to the Gulag or put under the charge of a «jataq». In Word 41, more evidence can be found that it is written in the voice of a Soviet propagandist. The solutions that «Abai» proposes for changing the structure of Kazakh nomadic tribes are solutions that were never envisioned in the 19th century, certainly not by Kazakh nomads themselves and not by the Czarist regime either. They are, however, the solutions that were applied by the Soviet regime, when it broke up nomadic families, banished the men to the Gulag and sent the children to Soviet internats. The rhetorical situation that is thus created in Word 41 is one in which a 19th-century nomad, «Abai», is offering advice, across space and time, to the Soviet dictator Stalin on how to crush the structure of Kazakh nomadic families:

«A man who cares for advising and correcting Kazakhs needs two things. First, it should be a man who possesses great power and total control. He should terrorize adult Kazakhs, forcefully take away their young children, send them to madrasas… Second, this man must be limitlessly wealthy, who can bribe fathers, take away their children, put them on a path as suggested above, and give them instructions – then perhaps, one can correct them.» [4] That no Soviet scholar dared to raise any questions about the historical authenticity of the Qara Sözder is testimony to the power of the totalitarian rule of the Soviet regime. That no Soviet schoolchildren or ordinary citizens ever raised any questions about the hatred of «Abai» for his own people is testimony to the power of the Soviet propaganda machine and to the power of brainwashing. In short, every Soviet was willing to accept what, to anyone outside of this brainwashed environment, would be impossible to accept: a traditional 19th-century Kazakh nomad who, in his prose teachings, proposes reasons and methods for destroying traditional nomadic families like his own. Sadly, researching the history of «Abai» thus leads us to another, even larger reality: the enormous amounts of forgery and plagiarism that were committed in the Soviet era, by Soviet writers and their institutions, not only on the subject of «Abai» but also on many other subjects that were of strategic importance to the Soviet regime. Some of these subjects have already been uncovered and analyzed by scholars, many others have not. It is this ugly reality – the corruption of Soviet writers and their institutions – that we will further explore in this article. The catalyst for most Soviet-Kazakh forgeries was a single event in history: the Kazakh famine, which killed about 40% of all Kazakhs and which was the direct result of Soviet collectivization measures undertaken between 1929 and 1933. While Stalin’s collectivization measures are starving 1,5 million Kazakhs nomads to death, the Soviet regime is also targeting non-nomadic Kazakhs -- especially, writers and scientists. Almost all Kazakh writers and scientists are killed or sent to the Gulag, under the false accusation that they are «foreign agents» who want to overthrow the Soviet regime.


As Varlam Shalamov would recollect in his memoirs, «From the first prison minute, it was clear to me that not any of the arrests had been mistakes, for they were a planned extermination of an entire social group, namely all those who remembered from recent Russian history what should not be remembered.» [5]


Only those members of the Soviet-Kazakh «intelligentsia» who support Stalin’s campaigns, by producing Soviet propaganda and by denouncing fellow Kazakhs, survive. They become the regime’s best propaganda tools: covering up the crimes committed during the Kazakh famine and eradicating from collective memory the cultural richness of the pre-Soviet way of life. Even though this catastrophic event could not be discussed in public, it still had to be justified to the survivors and their descendants. To this end, a massive Sovietization program was set up, which also included campaigns to rewrite Kazakh history. The texts that provided the basis for the Soviet rewriting of Kazakh history were collected and published in two volumes by the Kazakh Academy of Sciences in 1961 and 1964. [6] All Soviet historians and journalists were required to refer to these two volumes, thus making them an effective means of limiting and controlling the historical research that could be done. Briefly put, the Soviet version was as follows. The most traumatic event in Kazakh history occurred not in the 20th century but in the 18th century, more exactly in 1723, when the Kirgiz tribes of the steppe were attacked by neighboring Dzungar tribes -- or as the Soviet historian V.Y. Basin put it, when the «Dzungars invaded Kazakhstan» (thereby deliberately ignoring the fact that Kazakhstan did not exist at the time). [7] This tragedy would stay in the collective memory and be remembered as «Aqtaban shubyryndy, Alqaköl sulama» («a barefoot exodus, reaching lake Alqa on their last legs»). As a result of this catastrophic event, according to the Soviet narrative, 40% of Kirgiz were killed. To summarize what happened next, Soviet historians liked to cite the words of the Russian-Kirgiz intelligence officer Shoqan Walikhanov: «Chased by ferocious Dzungars everywhere, the Kirgiz, like herds of frightened antelope, fled to the South, leaving behind property, children and the elderly, domestic goods and gaunt livestock and then stopped: the Middle Horde – near Samarqand, the Little Horde – in Khiva and Bukhara… Not able to find new pastures in the central Asian steppes and fighting with new neighbors, the Kirgiz turned to the borders with almighty Russia, seeking for help and protection.» [8] On the basis of which sources Walikhanov was able to make these claims about 18th-century Kirgiz history, Soviet historians never clarified. This, presumably, was not important. What was important, according to the Soviet narrative, was that the Kirgiz tribes voluntarily asked for support and protection from the Russian Empire. Luckily, the Russian Empire saw the potential for agriculture and cattle-breeding in the Kirgiz steppe and agreed to offer its protection to the poor Kirgiz. Thus, according to the Soviet narrative, the Little Horde voluntarily joined the Russian Empire in 1731, while the Middle Horde did so in 1740. What happened afterwards was never clearly explained: 100 years of negotiations with the tribes of the Great Horde. Why did it take so long? What stopped these tribes from joining the Empire? Within the rigid ideological framework of Soviet historiography, there was no room to investigate this question. There was also no room to investigate the question why the uprising of sultan Kenesary Qasimov, which began in 1837 and lasted until 1846, was able to continue for so long. If, as Soviet historians wanted to claim, sultan Kenesary did not enjoy widespread support among the Kazakh tribes, why was he able to continue his resistance against the Russian occupation for 9 years?


Instead of answering these questions, Soviet historians focused on what they presented as the next historical climax: the period 1846-47, during which the 5 tribes of the Great Horde agreed to join the Empire and at the end of which sultan Kenesary Qasymov was killed.


Not coincidentally, 1846 is also the setting of the book that we will analyze in this article: the Russian translation of a Polish book entitled «Żywot Adolfa Januszkiewicza i jego listy ze stepów kirgizkich» («Diaries and letters from an expedition to the Kazakh steppe»), supposedly written in 1846, while its author, the exiled Polish aristocrat Adolf Januszkiewicz, was on an expedition, supposedly conducting a census of the Middle Horde. This Russian translation was first published, under the supervision of the Kazakh Academy of Sciences, in 1966.


The setting of Januszkiewicz’s book in 1846 is significant. Even though Januszkiewicz is supposedly conducting a census of the Middle Horde, he writes a great deal about Kenesary, the rebellious khan, because he is in fact part of a Czarist army expedition that wants to capture and kill Kenesary. As we will see later, the census expedition of 1846 is one of the many inventions -- lies -- that Januszkiewicz’s book is trying to present as historical fact. In fact, the first census expeditions aiming to record the names and possessions of Kazakh nomadic families took place in the period 1896-1902.


The year of publication of the Russian translation, 1966, is also significant. The publication of Januszkiewicz’s book constituted the end of a long campaign that had begun with the publication of the collected works of «Abai» (first in Kazakh in 1933, then in Russian in 1945), which was followed, in subsequent years, by a 2-volume novel (written by Auezov and Leonid Sobolev) that was presented as a historically accurate account of Abai’s life and of 19th-century Kazakh society. The overall goal of this campaign had been to create, by means of first-person eyewitness accounts, a Soviet version of Kazakh history that would replace the memories and oral histories that had been passed down the generations. These eyewitness accounts were then handed over to the various branches of the Soviet propaganda machine (schools, universities, newspapers, books, radio and tv stations), which would repeat them over and over, with a view to eradicating all oral histories that were still alive in Kazakh families.


Of course, each publication also had its own specific goals. By publishing the collected works of «Abai» and the novel about him, the Soviet regime envisioned many goals: to convince Soviet Kazakhs that their nomadic ancestors were lazy, idle and spiteful, that their nomadic way of life was inferior and that their culture was much less developed than that of Russians -- in short, that they should not feel any respect or any nostalgia for the nomadic way of life of their ancestors.


The goals of Januszkiewicz’s book were different. Januszkiewicz’s book focused on five historical subjects about which the Soviet regime wanted to eradicate all doubts in the minds of Soviet Kazakhs:


  1. The accession of Kazakh (Kirgiz) tribes to the Russian Empire: according to Januszkiewicz, the accession had been completely voluntary.

  2. The cause behind the emergence of the impoverished «jataq»: according to Januszkiewicz, this was a problem created by the nomadic tribes themselves, as they had a class struggle between rich and poor.

  3. The historical existence of Abai Qunanbayev: according to Januszkiewicz, Abai was one year old when he met him, in 1846.

  4. The character and leadership of sultan Kenesary Qasimov: according to Januszkiewicz, Kenesary was a barbaric man and an incompetent leader (who had no support from Kazakhs ).

  5. The status of Kazakh women in their families and communities: according to Januszkiewicz, Kazakh women were nothing more than exploited slaves.


Like the Qara Sözder of «Abai», Januszkiewicz’s book attacks its subjects by turning them into ugly caricatures. The goal: to have the same effect as the crooked mirrors in the fairytale of Vitali Gubarev, confusing and brainwashing the minds of everyone who looks in their direction. [9]

Today, Januszkiewicz’s book occupies a strange place in Kazakhstan’s cultural and academic life. It is avoided by most professional historians, not only by Kazakh historians but also by Russian and Western historians. However, there are still many people in Kazakhstan – in the media, in schools, and especially in the academic field of Abai studies – who keep spreading the idea that Januszkiewicz’s book is a reliable historical source.


However, Januszkiewicz’s book bears the signs of both forgery and plagiarism. Unfortunately, no-one has had the courage to analyze it as such. That is why we will do so, in this article, for the first time.


2. Evidence


In her introduction to the book’s Russian translation of 1966, the editor, F. Steklova, made the following remarkable statement: «It was published way back, more than 100 years ago, and it was known only to a small circle. It reached its real audience only now.» [10] At first sight, this might seem a strange statement, considering that the book was supposedly written in Polish and mostly consisted of letters addressed to the author’s own Polish relatives. Why would you call Soviet Kazakhs the «real audience» of this book? However, what if Steklova was revealing the true intentions of the book? She wouldn’t be the first or the only Soviet scholar giving away clues about the fraudulent work she and her colleagues were doing.


Many questions surround Januszkiewicz’s book. One especially vexing question relates to its provenance: where did this book come from, all of a sudden? In her introduction, Steklova acknowledged that the book had hitherto been unknown, without, however, clarifying how the book had subsequently come to the surface: «a valuable testimony of a contemporary about the most interesting period in the history of Kazakh people, until now unknown to either Russian or Kazakh historians». [11] In 1966, confident that the Soviet system would last forever, Steklova did not worry about how much suspicion her lack of clarity about the book’s provenance might create in a different era.


The forgery of Januszkiewicz’s book must have been a sophisticated, large-scale operation, involving many different individuals and government services. After it had appeared out of nowhere in 1966, the book was quickly sold or donated to dozens of the most important academic libraries in the world. However, despite the forgers' extensive resources, there is strong evidence that this book is not authentic.


To accept the material presented here as evidence, it is necessary to move away from the methodology used by Soviet historians. To this day, historians trained in Soviet methodology believe that the only valid evidence are archival papers or administrative documents, preferably written or signed by hand, explicitly stating that «this is the case» or «this happened». Historians who follow this method will never be able to uncover any kind of forgery or plagiarism, as they will never find a piece of paper stating that «yes, I falsified». Moreover, their method has a fatal flaw: it blindly accepts all archival papers or administrative documents as valid evidence, without ever considering the possibility that some of these papers or documents may have been falsified for the very purpose of deceiving historians like themselves.


The methodology used elsewhere in the world -- not only by historians but also by literary scholars, religious scholars, archeologists and forensic scientists -- allows for the use of other kinds of evidence. In the case of a book, the internal evidence could be the physical object on which the book is printed but it could also be the contents of the writings printed in the book. In the case of Januszkiewicz’s book, the evidence is so strong that we can conclude, with certainty, that its contents are not authentic -- fake or plagiarized.


The first type of evidence that anyone who has tried to read Januszkiewicz’s book will recognize is that this book does not respect the conventions of the genres in which it is supposed to be written. The Polish title emphasizes that the book is a biography, but the biography is confined to the first part, the introduction. The Russian title emphasizes that the book contains «diary entries» and «letters», but neither contain references to the life of the author or the lives of his addressees, making it impossible to believe that they are real.


Here is an example of the characteristic way in which the author addresses his relatives, in this case, his brother: «Dear January! On the 19th of May, at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, having finished our preparations to the Steppe journey, we approached the river Irtysh, which, because of ice formation, had reached higher levels this year than the people of Semipalatinsk could remember.» [12] This letter goes on in the same vein, describing the location and its inhabitants, for another 18 pages, using Kazakh words such as «baibishe» and «qalym» without any further explanation, but without saying anything about the author’s own life or asking anything about his brother’s life in Paris. Various Kazakhs, such as Beiseke, Toqymbai, Kanaq and Qoishybai, are mentioned one after another, as if Januszkiewicz’s brother knows them personally.


Clearly, these diary entries and letters are not what they claim to be: they are not written to someone's mother, brother or friends. Moreover, given that there are no stylistic differences between the «diary entries» and the «letters», they read as if they are one continuous text belonging to an altogether different genre: the ethnographic report. The question then becomes: who wrote this report? Januszkiewicz himself, or someone else? We will return to this question later.


The confusion that this book displays about the characteristics of «diaries» and «letters» is a strong indication that this book was concocted by a group of forgers who, despite their extensive resources, did not fully execute or did not fully understand the task they had been given.


There is another type of internal evidence that is very strong. The ideological messages that the writers/editors of Januszkiewicz’s book want to communicate are so dominant that the letters and diary entries pay little attention to the official narrative (a census expedition in 1846) and focus instead on five subjects that are crucial in the version of Kazakh history that the Soviet regime wants to create: the accession of Kazakh (Kirgiz) tribes to the Russian Empire, the economic problem of the impoverished «jataq», the existence of Abai Qunanbayev, the character and leadership of sultan Kenesary Qasimov, and the status of Kazakh women in their families and communities.


Moreover, if we look at the book's mysterious publishing history, we can see that this publishing history certainly does not contradict the conclusions that can be drawn from the internal evidence.


Finally, when we compare Januszkiewicz's letters and diaries with 19th-century Russian sources, we can see that the Soviet editors did not create the letters and diaries out of nothing but that they plagiarized the reports by the Russian statistician Fyodor Scherbina and his Kazakh colleague, Alikhan Bukeikhanov.


Doing so must have been a matter of convenience. Scherbina’s reports about his expeditions to the Stepnoi Krai in the period 1896-1899 were an attractive source to Soviet plagiarists, because they were unique in their comprehensiveness. Nowhere else can so many details be found about the names, possessions and living conditions of Kazakh nomads at the end of the 19th century. Moreover, as we shall point out later, Scherbina’s biography had some similarities to that of Januszkiewicz.


Bukeikhanov’s contributions made the reports even more attractive to Soviet plagiarists, as Bukeikhanov had been one of the few Kazakhs who had participated in 19th-century census expeditions to the Stepnoi Krai. Moreover, by 1960, Bukeikhanov had become an «enemy of the people», his writings and personal archives had been confiscated, and his name and work had been banned. As a result, his writings could easily be plagiarized.


If the analysis proposed in this article sounds as if it was taken directly from George Orwell’s novel 1984, that is because Orwell was inspired by the work of Soviet propagandists in the 1940’s and because we, as a nation, are still not aware that large amounts of misinformation have been dumped on us for the last one hundred years. By now it is a well-known fact that during the Cold War the Soviet secret services spent a lot of time and money on what they called «active measures»: information campaigns that intended to mislead or undermine the enemies of the Soviet Union. Most discussion among historians about «active measures» has centered on what Soviet propagandists did to mislead Western countries.


Clearly, however, there were also «active measures» in place to mislead the peoples of the Soviet republics. Misleading Kazakhs about the history of their own ancestors must have been the goal of many misinformation campaigns. The first and largest of these campaigns was the one around «Abai Qunanbayev» -- first launched in 1933 and sustained until today. Some of the other campaigns took more subtle forms: consider the many novels written by Soviet-Kazakh writers that we, as schoolchildren, were required to study as if they were true, factual histories.


So far, no signed papers or administrative records have been made public, so it will be difficult to convince anyone who is still mired in the old Soviet methodology that such misinformation campaigns even existed. For those who believe that complex historical subjects can be investigated by means of other types of evidence, this will be easier to accept.


To prove that the Soviet history of Kazakh-Russian relations is false would require many book-length studies, but we will discuss several examples in more detail below.


Before we turn to the internal evidence, which constitutes the strongest part of our argument, let us briefly look at the book’s publishing history and also at the physical copies that are in existence today.


3. Publishing history


What do we know with almost 100% certainty about this book? In the handwritten inventory of the British Museum Library, it is recorded that on 4 October 1862 the Library purchased the following book from Barthes and Lowell (the main seller of foreign books in London at the time): «Żywot Adolfa Januszkiewicza». In other words, what we know with almost 100% certainty is that a Polish-language biography, a book about the «life» of Januszkiewicz, existed in 1862.


However, the inventory does not specify when, where and by which publishing house the book was printed. Nor does it mention by whom it was written.


According to the edition that is currently available in a very small number of libraries in the world, the book was first printed in 1861 and the publisher was Behr’s Verlag. The name and history of this publisher are significant.


Behr is a legitimate publisher. However, in 1945, the offices of Behr were situated in the eastern part of Berlin, at a boulevard named Unter den Linden. In 1945, the Soviet army occupied this part of the city and confiscated all the goods that were of any strategic interest, including the belongings of Behr’s Verlag. Even though Behr established new offices in West Germany after the war, it had lost everything -- books, printing presses, administrative papers, inventories, archives -- that it owned before 1945.


Does the history of this publisher prove anything? No. But it also does not contradict the hypothesis that Januszkiewicz’s book is a forgery. By 1946, Behr’s inventory and technical infrastructure were in the hands of the Soviet authorities. Could this be the ideal basis for Soviet propagandists to create fake 19th-century books as part of various «active measures» in the 1950’s and 1960’s? Yes.


The physical copies of the 19th-century Polish book that exist today have other characteristics that are also suspicious.


Despite Steklova’s claim that the Polish book was so popular that it had to be reprinted in 1875, there are less than 20 physical copies of this book (whether from 1861 or 1875) available today. Does the lack of availability of the 19th-century Polish book prove anything? No. But it is a bad sign. Antiquarian forgeries are always made in small quantities.


Moreover, most of the libraries that own a copy today don’t have records that show when they purchased the book. The few libraries that have kept records show a disturbing trend: the Widener Library of Harvard University purchased its copy only in 1961 and the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich, Germany, purchased its copy only in 1981. (The libraries have confirmed these dates.) This was the same period when the Soviet authorities were pushing thousands of copies of the Russian translation onto the international market.


What about the copy of the British Library, purchased in 1862? There is no guarantee that the copy the British Library owns today is authentic. Given the poor security measures that were in place in Western libraries in the 1950’s and 1960’s, it is easy to imagine how the vast network of Soviet representatives and collaborators based in the West would have been able to replace the few authentic copies that were available by forgeries. (No more than a few libraries held authentic copies at the time: the British Library, probably the National Libraries of France and Poland, and perhaps a few more Polish libraries and private collections.)


The most suspicious element of the copies of the 19th-century Polish book that exist today relates to its organization, as encoded in its page numbering. In the copies that exist today, the introduction is 241 pages long (I-CCXLI), almost as long as the main content, 334 pages (1-334). If this were true, Januszkiewicz’s book would probably hold the record for having the longest book introduction in the world.


The problem: this so-called introduction is a biography of Adolph Januszkiewicz’s life while living in exile in Siberia and other parts of the Russian Empire -- and therefore probably the main content of the original book printed in 1861.


By contrast, the main content of the (fake) copies that exist today are a series of letters and diary entries that do not supplement the biography begun in the introduction. Rather, these letters and diary entries focus on one specific event, an expedition to the Kirgiz steppe undertaken by Russian soldiers and scientists in 1846, without discussing the personal life of Januszkiewicz. That his personal life is not discussed at all is very strange because the letters and diary entries are supposedly written by Januszkiewicz himself and supposedly addressed to his closest relatives and friends. (To this contradiction we will return later.)


So why would the title of the book emphasize that the book is about the «life» of Januszkiewicz? The most likely explanation is that the original book, printed in 1861, was indeed a biography and that the letters and diary entries were added a century later, by Soviet propagandists, as part of an extensive misinformation campaign that would culminate in the forgery of an antiquarian Polish book and the mass-market distribution of its Russian translation.


Probably the Polish and Soviet forgers were aware of the contradiction presented by the book’s internal organization. The Soviet forgers solved the problem by only publishing the Russian translation of the letters and diaries and leaving out Januszkiewicz’s biography, counting on the fact that their target audience, Russian-speaking Kazakhs, would not be interested in the life of a 19th-century Polish exile in Siberia.


The Polish forgers, on the other hand, had no choice but to include Januszkiewicz’s biography, but in order to avoid changing the Arabic page numbers of the Soviet forgery (1-334) had to present Januszkiewicz’s biography as the book’s introduction, using Roman numerals (I-CCXLI).


What do we know about the identities of the forgers or the names of the institutions for which they worked? Nothing at all. All we know are the names of some of the persons who were involved in publicizing the Soviet forgery. Steklova names several writers on the Polish side. The most important among them was the writer and historian Janusz Odrowąż-Pieniążek, who had already written about Januszkiewicz in 1956 and who visited Almaty in 1965, in preparation of the Soviet book launch in 1966. Odrowąż-Pieniążek was important, according to Steklova, because he had been in the privileged position of consulting Januszkiewicz’s original manuscript with his own eyes. The location where Odrowąż-Pieniążek had been able to consult the manuscript: Paris. [13] When Odrowąż-Pieniążek read the manuscript, sometime in the 1950’s, Paris was an epicenter of Soviet forgeries. It was in 1950’s Paris that Russian-speaking exiles and immigrants were creating an extensive series of fake Soviet memoirs, diaries and biographies, mostly for Western audiences. [14]


To be sure, the location may be incidental, but when put in context, it can also be seen as yet another bad sign. Gregori Bessedovsky, a former Soviet diplomat and one of the main forgers in Paris at the time, once confessed in a letter: «I write books for idiots». [15] Up until now, it has been assumed that all the «idiots» were Westerners, but maybe the Paris forgers were also writing fake books for the «idiots» that the Soviet regime was targeting inside its own national borders?

4. Ideological messaging The most important indication that this book is a forgery are its ideological messages. These messages are so dominant that the «letters» and «diary entries» read as if they were written by a 20th-century Soviet writer, not by a 19th-century Polish aristocrat who was exiled for participating in the November Uprising of 1830-31 against the Russian Empire.

If these messages were truly written down by Januszkiewicz in 1846, Januszkiewicz would be the first Marxist-Leninist in history, writing about the exploitation of the working classes even before Marx had published his Communist Manifesto in 1847. This is possible, but unlikely. There are no professional historians that treat Januszkiewicz’s book as a credible historical source. However, as we have said before, there are still too many people in Kazakhstan -- in the media, in schools, and in the academic field of Abai studies -- that keep spreading the idea that Januszkiewicz’s book is a reliable source.


Let us therefore look at each of Januszkiewicz’s messages, describe how they match messages spread by propagandists in the Soviet era, and explain how these messages do not correspond to what actually happened in history. As it turns out, this is not so difficult to do, because whoever created Januskiewicz’s letters made some blatant mistakes against historical chronology. Sounding like a Soviet propagandist, Januskiewicz announces that «civilization’s spirit will find its way to the Kirgiz desert and will flame sparks of light, and there will arrive a time when the nomads of today will find their honorary place among those who now look down on them, just as the higher castes in India look down on pariahs (Paraiyars)». [16] The reference to one of Lenin’s favorite expressions (which he borrowed from the Decembrist poet Alexander Odoevsky), «a spark will kindle a flame», only adds to the ideological message: Russian «civilization» will rescue Kirgiz nomads from their (supposedly) miserable situation. We can call this message ideological for two reasons: first, the real Januskiewicz, a Polish man exiled to Siberia for rebelling against the Russian Empire, would probably not have taken such a positive view of Russian «civilization»; second, this message is identical to the core message of the Soviet Union’s Sovietization program. Another message that Januszkiewicz repeatedly delivers is that the feudal leaders of nomadic communities are treating their own people badly – also, of course, a key point of Marxist-Leninism many decades later. According to Januszkiewicz, Kazakh nomads are going through a class struggle in 1846. The Kazakh sultans, the Steppe aristocrats who claim direct descendance from Genghis Khan, are oppressing the «jataq», impoverished nomads who have lost their livestock and who now make a living by doing wage labor. Even worse are the hodjas, religious leaders who claim direct descendance from the prophet Muhammad. Not only are the hodjas swindling Kazakhs, they are also slandering them, saying that the flesh of Kazakhs is filthy while their own blood is clean. [17] In his anti-bai and anti-sultan rhetoric, Januszkiewicz makes a surprising exception for two wealthy Kazakhs: sultan Baraq and district administrator Qunanbai. For these two individuals, Januszkiewicz has nothing but praise: «Compared to Baraq, the white bones (Steppe aristocracy) look more gray than white, and none of the bai (rich) even deserve to untie Qunanbai’s shoelaces». [18]

According to Januszkiewicz, each of these two men has at least one quality that sets them apart from other Kazakhs. What makes sultan Baraq special is that he is actively supporting the speedy and voluntary accession of all Kazakh tribes to the Russian Empire, even going so far as to mobilize his own men to fight against the group of rebels led by Kenesary Qasimov. [19] What makes district administrator Qunanbai praiseworthy is that, like sultan Baraq, he actively supports the Russian authorities in their fight against rebellious Kazakhs, including Kenesary. [20] However, Qunanbai has another quality that makes him truly special. Januszkiewicz himself does not explain it. This opportunity is granted to F. Steklova, the editor of the Soviet edition, who happily points out in a footnote that Qunanbai is the father of the great Kazakh poet «Abai Qunanbayev». Even though the child is unnamed and his age is not identified in the letter, Steklova happily identifies him in a footnote as one-year-old «Abai». [21]


It is easy to see why academics in the field of Abai studies have found Januszkiewicz’s book so important, despite indications that the book is a forgery. Together with a birth certificate, Januszkiewicz’s book constitutes the only proof that «Abai» was alive in 1846. The birth certificate, however, is a highly dubious document, given that Kirgiz nomads did not receive such documents in 1845. (Even Soviet Kazakhs began to receive such documents only after the 1930’s/after 1933.) If it were proved that Januszkiewicz’s book is a forgery, no evidence would remain that «Abai» existed in 1846. It should be clear from the paragraphs above that the persons on which Januszkiewicz focuses enable him to tell a story that corresponds to the one told by Russian propagandists 100 years later, but this does not prove, of course, that the persons or events described in Januszkiewicz’s book are fake. However, there is clear evidence that, apart from «Abai», at least two other persons in Januszkiewicz’s book are fake, or rather, did not exist in 1846.


Let us begin with the simplest case: sultan Baraq. According to the Kazakh historian Zhambyl Artyqbaev, who was the main editor of the second edition of the Russian translation of Januszkiewicz’s book in 2006, sultan Baraq was none other than Baraq Tursynov, one of the Kirgiz leaders who agreed to the accession of the Middle Horde to the Russian Empire in the 18th century. As Artyqbaev drily notes in his commentary, according to Russian administrative records, Sultan Baraq died in 1750. [22] Artyqbaev does not go so far as to call Januszkiewicz’s encounter with Sultan Baraq a lie, but this is the only conclusion that can be drawn from his commentary.


Who created the lie? Could Januszkiewicz himself have lied about it? This seems unlikely, as Januszkiewicz, in 1846, would not have benefitted from inventing encounters, especially since they would easily have been contradicted by Russian administrative records. In this case, it is more likely that a mistake was made by a forger, probably in the 1950’s or early 1960’s, who was not up to the task or did not take the task seriously.


The other historical mistake in Januszkiewicz’s letters requires a longer explanation, especially because it is of much greater ideological significance.

Januszkiewicz’s letters want to convey the message that the «jataq» were a «social class» of impoverished wage laborers that could be found in all nomadic tribes. Interestingly, a drawing introduced in the Soviet edition of 1972 of the writings of Shoqan Walikhanov wants to suggest the same: that in the period 1846-47, jataqs already existed, as a result of the inequalities (the «class struggle») built into nomadic societies. [23]


The message and the picture are historically inaccurate. In 1846, the class of «jataq» as defined by Januszkiewicz did not exist. The word already existed in the Kazakh language, but it had a very different meaning. As Alikhan Bukeikhanov explained in 1898 in a letter to the West-Siberian division of the Russian Geographical Society, «The word ‘jataq’ derives from the Kazakh verb ‘jatpaq’, which literally means ‘lying down’ and which figuratively means ‘not migrating’. Kazakhs refer to anyone who does not migrate as a jataq. Under this name can fall people of various social stations: moneylenders, merchants, administrators, resellers, wage laborers, artisans, and cattle herders, in short, anyone who does not migrate.» [24] According to Bukeikhanov’s expedition leader, Fyodor Scherbina, there were not many non-migrating jataq in the year 1898 (certainly not a whole class), but the few that existed were viewed negatively by nomadic Kazakhs. [25]


As Bukeikhanov explained in the letter of 1898, the problem of Kazakh nomads losing their livestock and being forced to adopt a jataq lifestyle was a problem that had emerged only recently. Citing Pavlodar uezd as an example, Bukeikhanov pointed to the «degradation of livestock farming» as the cause of this new problem. [26]


Growing bolder as the letter continued, Bukeikhanov finally identified the real cause behind this degradation of livestock farming: the new agricultural policies implemented by the Russian authorities, which were slowly but surely taking away the most valuable land of nomadic communities. Citing Aqmola oblast as an example, where the Russian authorities had forcefully taken away Kazakhs’ highly treasured winter pastures, Bukeikhanov accused the Russian authorities of slowly forcing all Kazakhs in the region to abandon their nomadic way of life and become wage laborers, jataq. [27]


The problem did not end there. As Bukeikhanov had already pointed out elsewhere, once nomads abandoned their nomadic way of life and became wage-laboring jataqs, all the customs built into the nomadic way of life also disappeared from the jataqs’ lives. Most notably, jataqs could no longer count on the solidarity mechanisms such as «zhylu» that Kazakh nomadic families had used for centuries to sustain each other in difficult times. [28]


Bukeikhanov’s general conclusions were later also confirmed by the Soviet historians S. Zimanov and E. Bekmakhanov. According to Zimanov and Bekmakhanov, the Russian agricultural policies of the late 19th century not only deprived more and more Kazakhs of their land but also cut more and more family ties within Kazakh tribes, resulting in the emergence of a new social group. [29]


If Bukeikhanov, Zimanov and Bekmakhanov are right, then Januszkiewicz is wrong -- no less than a liar, in fact, as Januszkiewicz claims to have seen «the poorest class, the jataq» being mistreated by «the class of the rich» with his own eyes in 1846. [30]


Moreover, in 2006, the historian Z. Artyqbaev stated that Kazakh historians believe that the numbers of jataq in Kazakh communities remained relatively small until Stalin’s collectivization measures of 1928-33, when the numbers grew enormously. [31] If Artyqbaev and his colleagues are right, the history of the jataq is closely linked to the most catastrophic event in Kazakh history: the Kazakh famine of 1929-33. At exactly the same time when record numbers of jataq were being registered in Soviet statistics, record numbers of Kazakhs were dying. Put differently, the appearance of jataq on a large scale was in fact a Soviet problem, created by Soviet policies.


What could have motivated Januszkiewicz, an exiled Polish aristocrat, to invent encounters with the «the poorest class, the jataq» in 1846? There is no motive. However, if we assume that the letters were written 100 years later, by Soviet propagandists, then the motive becomes much clearer. Soviet propagandists would have had a clear motive: to create an eyewitness account that presented the problem of the jataq as a direct result of the feudal structure of traditional Kirgiz tribes, and in doing so, to create a historical basis for the other branches of the Soviet propaganda machine (schools, universities, newspapers, books, radio and tv stations) to tell the same story.


The 1966 Soviet edition of Januszkiewicz’s book was part of a series of books prepared and published by the Kazakh Academy of Sciences that all had the same goal: to make Kazakhs change their minds about how they remember their collective past. (We mention several of these books at the beginning of the article.) When Januszkiewicz’s book is read with this goal in mind, it becomes clear what the specific targets were about which the Soviet regime wanted Kazakhs to change their minds.


One target was the one that we just discussed: the problem of the impoverished jataq, a problem about which the survivors of the Kazakh famine still had vivid memories. The goal of Januszkiewicz’s book was not to try and change those memories (which would have been a difficult task), but rather to change Kazakhs’ views on who was to blame. In Januszkiewicz’s account, it was the traditional nomadic communities and their feudal leaders who were to blame -- thus making it possible for the other branches of the Soviet propaganda machine to explain that the Soviet regime was blameless and had in fact successfully resolved the problem by converting all nomads into collective farmers.


The second and perhaps most important target in Januszkiewicz’s book about which the Soviet regime wanted Kazakhs to change their minds is one that we will discuss in the next section of this article. In 1966, this target had been part of Kazakhs’ collective memory for a much longer time. It was the memory of a single person, Kenesary Qasimov, the last Kazakh leader to stand up against the armies of the Russian Czar, who by doing so had become a powerful symbol of Kazakh resilience.

5. Kenesary Qasimov


Januszkiewicz’s letters spend a lot of time demonizing Kenesary. This would be hard to comprehend if we continue to believe that these were authentic letters, written by a 19th-century Polish aristocrat to his mother and brother. However, if we understand that they were written by Soviet propagandists trying to change the minds of Soviet Kazakhs (the «real audience» of Januszkiewicz’s book, according to F. Steklova, the book’s editor), then the relentless attacks on Kenesary’s character and leadership make much more sense.

Let us look at how Januszkiewicz’s portrayal of Kenesary does not correspond to historical reality and is instead filled with Soviet messages. Here is a summary of what is supposed to be Januszkiewicz’s eyewitness account. Having left Omsk as a member of the expedition led by major-general Vishnevsky, Januszkiewicz and his superior, colonel Ivashkevich (another Polish exile), «peacefully» collect census data about the Middle Horde, admire the landscape, enjoy the songs by the legendary bard Orynbai and listen to the stories of other Kazakhs, who trust the two Polish men and openly share with them their thoughts about the brutality and corruption of Russian administrators. [32] However, in his letters and diary notes, using a style that is reminiscent of Gogol’s character Ivan Khlestakov, Januszkiewicz mocks Kazakhs for being vain, lazy, naive and stupid. The only tribe that Januszkiewicz consistently praises is the «mountainous nation» of the Qara Kirgiz, «whose hearts flame with bravery worthy of Marat’s heroes.» [33] The Qara Kirgiz are brave revolutionaries, according to Januszkiewicz, because they have agreed to do battle with the armies of Kenesary. The harshness with which Januszkiewicz mocks the Kazakh tribes forces any attentive reader to ask the question: is this expedition a census expedition or a military expedition? Januszkiewicz claims that he is involved in conducting a census, but he describes little of it. Often it seems as if there are only soldiers and officers participating in the expedition: «Following the rationale of the ancient saying ‘if you want peace, prepare for war’, we mobilize Cossacks, prepare horse artillery, horse herds, camels and yurts and we call the Aga Sultans to join us with their armed men.» [34]

Rather than writing about his census work, Januszkiewicz is much more interested in writing about the updates he receives from Cossak and Kazakh messengers about the activities of Kenesary. These updates give him the opportunity to put together an extremely negative portrayal of the moral character and leadership of Kenesary. According to Januszkiewicz, Kenesary is a brutal, corrupted and self-appointed Khan who does not hold any authority over the Kazakh tribes. On the subject of Kenesary’s leadership, Januszkiewicz writes: «Our pseudo-Abdelkader, tortured by many years of vagrancy, sent out a proclamation calling on the Üisin tribe to refuse from any agreement with Russia and recognize him as the Khan … They are well aware of Kenesary’s mad and arrogant character, he pursues his own egotistical interests, not those of the Kirgiz people.» [35] On the subject of Kenesary’s treatment of women, Januszkiewicz has many things to say. Clearly showing a lack of knowledge about the many roles that nomadic women can assume in their society, Januszkiewicz writes, disparagingly: «His army mostly consists of women and girls, disguised as men, only for the sake of adding numbers.» [36] That fmale nomads were skillful horse riders and hunters and had a long history of acting as warriors alongside the male members of their tribe, Januszkiewicz does not seem to know. On the cruelty of Kenesary, Januszkiewicz has many horror stories to tell: «We have just heard news about Kenesary’s campaign against the Qara Kirgiz … not without violence, they tied pregnant women to the walls of their yurt and cut open their bellies … He acted as a wild animal.» [37] At first sight, it may seem as if Januszkiewicz is expressing the official position of the Czarist regime. We know the position of the Czarist regime because it was written down by Nikolai Sereda, a high-ranking administrator, and published in the journal Vestnik Evropy in 1870. From reading Sereda, we can learn certain facts, for example, that the Czarist regime had issued an award of 3000 rubles for those who could capture and kill Kenesary and that it was the Qara Kirgiz, not a Kazakh tribe, that eventually carried out the killing. [38] From reading Sereda, we can also learn what the official Czarist position was regarding the character and leadership of sultan Kenesary. According to Sereda, Kenesary was a «predator» and his army a «gang». Moreover, all nomadic tribes, not just the ones under Kenesary’s leadership, were «savages» and the goal of the Russian Empire was to «bring civilization to the savages». Up to this point, there is no difference between Januszkiewicz’s report and the official Czarist position. However, Sereda also acknowledges that sultan Kenesary was a political leader, a Khan who had stood up to defend the interests of all Kazakh tribes: «Being a patriot in the full sense of this word, wishing eternal freedom for his people – he understood very well that sooner or later the Russian government would pay serious attention to its Horde subjects and would want to subject them to settlement and to stricter control.» [39] Though Sereda considered Kenesary a dangerous enemy, who had to be defeated, he could not hide his respect for Kenesary’s skills as a military leader: «Sultan Kenesary Qasimov descended from the family of Ablai Khan. He was a decisive and energetic man, brought up according to the rules of hereditary revenge and savagely cruel with a defeated enemy … In his attacks, sweeping like an all-destroying Steppe hurricane, no obstacle could stop him … Any European army commander would envy the spirit that he inspired in his gangs.» [40] For Kenesary’s political leadership, Sereda had nothing but praise. As we have already noted above, Serada thought that Kenesary’s political intentions were pure: «wishing eternal freedom for his people.» Moreover, and most importantly, Sereda thought that Kazakhs admired him for the same reasons: «All these qualities in Kenesary were highly regarded by our nomads and the hearts of his followers beat with unlimited dedication and loyalty to their leader; he possessed something that was unwittingly magnetic for his tribesmen and the number of his followers grew every day … Yes, this man, generally speaking, was a great individual who in different conditions of upbringing would have become a remarkable statesman.» [41] Words of respect for Kenesary’s leadership cannot be found in Januszkiewicz’s letters. Januszkiewicz slanders Kenesary, and by doing so, he sounds more like a 20th-century Soviet propagandist than a 19th-century Polish-Russian administrator. Januszkiewicz’s criticism that Kenesary’s actions were motivated by «egotistical interests, not those of the Kirgiz people» [42] is exactly the same criticism that Soviet propagandists would launch at Kenesary. In the words of Steklova, Kenesary was not a modern political leader but a «feudal-monarchist» tribesman who treated all Kazakhs as his personal «property». [43] The cultural references that Januszkiewicz uses are suspicious. When he calls Kenesary a «pseudo-Abdelkader» and when he compares Kenesary’s enemies (the Qara Kirgiz) to «Marat’s heroes», he is referring to historical persons, Emir Abdelkader (1808-83) and Jean-Paul Marat (1743-93), who were known by some Russian speakers at the time but who became famous only in the Soviet Union. All Soviet schoolchildren knew Marat and Abdelkader. Admittedly, there is nothing about these cultural references that shows that they were added in the 1960’s. However, the references resonate strongly with Steklova’s statement that Januszkiewicz’s «real audience» is a Soviet audience. In the paragraphs above, we have shown that Januszkiewicz’s portrayal of Kenesary supports the 20th-century Soviet view of Kenesary, not the 19th-century Czarist view of Kenesary. This, as such, is not sufficient to prove that Januszkiewicz’s portrayal is fake. However, there are significant, even irreconcilable, differences between the information provided by Januszkiewicz and the information provided by other eyewitnesses and by our current historians. When Januszkiewicz claims that Kenesary did not have the support of the Kazakh tribes, this is probably false information, because it is contradicted by the eyewitness reports compiled and published by Sereda (in 1870) and by the research published by the Kazakh historians Zhambyl Artyqbaev (in 2006) and Radik Temirgaliev (in 2013). [44] All three confirm that Kenesary enjoyed widespread support among the Kazakh tribes and all three provide much greater detail than Januszkiewicz did. According to Artyqbaev, Kenesary found himself in a complicated situation: he enjoyed «massive popularity» in «all layers of the population», but he had to deal with the «counteractions» that were organized by other Central Asian khans and some members of the Kazakh-Russian elite. Temirgaliev confirms that Kenesary was in a complicated situation and adds the following interesting details. In 1841, Kazakh tribal leaders elected Kenesary as their Khan and lifted him on a white felt rug – the traditional way of recognizing a Khan. The agreement the tribal leaders reached with Kenesary was that, even though officially they would recognize the Russian Empire, they would continue to support Kenesary discreetly, by paying him taxes and sponsoring his cause. [45] There must have been widespread support for Kenesary among Kazakhs. Otherwise Kenesary’s movement would not have been able to resist the mighty armies of the Russian Czar for 9 long years. In this regard, the information provided by Januszkiewicz is irreconcilable with the information provided by Sereda, Artyqbaev and Temirgaliyev. In other words, either Januszkiewicz is a liar or Sereda, Artyqbaev and Temirgaliev are liars. Whether all the lies can be attributed to a 19th-century Polish exile by the name of «Adolf Januszkiewicz» is unlikely. Given the deliberately false information that Januszkiewicz’s book provides about «jataq», these parts of the book must have been written by a Soviet ideologue. And given the many suspicious elements in the book’s internal structure and given the many mysteries in the book’s publishing history, Januszkiewicz’s book as we know it today was probably created and distributed as part of a large-scale Soviet misinformation campaign in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. If we assume that Januszkiewicz’s book is indeed a Soviet forgery, then it is also much easier to understand the reason why Kenesary is given such a negative portrayal in the book. The reason: Kenesary was a problem to the Soviet authorities because he had remained a much admired figure in the collective memory of Kazakhs, a potent symbol of Kazakh resilience and anti-Russian resistance. In 1925, the Russian musicologist and ethnographer Alexander Zataevich noted that Kenesary was still vividly remembered among Kazakhs as a man who fought for the «liberation of Kirgiz people from Russian authority». [46] Later, despite the extermination of 40% of the population in the period 1929-33 and despite the Sovietization efforts that followed in the decades afterwards, Kenesary remained a much admired figure in the collective memory of Kazakhs. In the 1940’s, the Soviet-Kazakh historian Ermukhan Bekmakhanov risked his life and career by defining Kenesary’s resistance as a national-liberation movement. In 1951, the historian was accused of ultranationalism and sentenced to 25 years of prison (from which he was released a few years later, after Stalin’s death). [47] That Januszkiewicz’s negative portrayal of Kenesary did not correspond to how Kenesary was still remembered by many Kazakhs in 1966 was precisely the point: the goal of Januszkiewicz’s book was to reveal the truth about Kenesary and make Kazakhs change their mind about him.


Let us now turn to the last important subject on which Januszkiewicz deliberately falsified information: women nomads. 6. Gender inequality


There is another important message that Januszkiewicz wants to convey in his letters: not only were there social inequalities in Kazakh tribes (especially between nomads and «jataq»), there was also a severe inequality between the two genders. If Januszkiewicz is to be believed, Kazakh tribes treated their women badly. Kazakh men gave away their girls and women as gifts to poets passing through their aul, offered their girls and women as prostitutes to white government administrators, married multiple wives only for the purpose of using them as domestic servants, and sold their daughters in exchange for animals. [48]

According to Januszkiewicz, Kazakh tribes lived according to a natural order that was profoundly different from that of civilized societies: «the fair gender of the Kirgiz stood on the lowest level… The Kirgiz put God’s creatures in the following order: man, horse, woman, camel, cow, sheep, goat and lastly – the most unfortunate – dog… The Kirgiz would rather give away a girl than a good horse.» [49] According to Januszkiewicz, the daughters and wives of «jataq» were even worse off. Those who became the servants of wealthy nomads were fed leftover bones and treated worse than dogs. [50]

Is any of this true? We have enough evidence that Januszkiewicz’s portrayals of Kazakh nomadic women are not true. Regardless of certain traditional customs to which they had to obey, Kazakh nomadic women were not treated as slaves or servants; on the contrary, they were the equals of men, usually carrying out their own duties but equally capable of carrying out the duties usually assigned to men. As the British-Czech anthropologist Ernest Gellner already argued in 1981, nomadic societies around the world, including those of the Central Asian Steppe, were in some ways more egalitarian than other types of society. First, because the wealth of nomads was volatile: an accident or natural disaster could easily deprive any nomadic family of its livestock (often its only type of property). And second, because nomadic families did not establish high levels of specialization («division of labor») in their ranks. All members of a nomadic family (male and female, young and old) were multifunctional members of their economic unit, able to participate in all the essential activities: manage livestock, ride horses and/or camels, produce food, provide protection and defense, move and set up camp. [51] As the Soviet-Russian anthropologist Anatoly Khazanov established in his comparative study of nomadic societies (including those of the Central Asian Steppe) in 1984, one of the distinctive characteristics of nomadic families was that the division of labor between men and women («sex division») existed but was not strongly developed, because «joint production» and «joint consumption» were more fundamental to the success of a nomadic family. [52] As a result, the Soviet-Kazakh economist S.E. Tolybekov had already stated in 1959, all nomads, regardless of their gender, tended to be multi-talented or at least multi-functional persons, capable of carrying out various economic activities, telling the histories of their ancestors and performing songs and poetry. As Tolybekov himself put it: «Every illiterate nomadic Kazakh … a shepherd and a soldier, an orator and a historian, poet and singer.» [53] Confirmation of the multi-functional qualities of Kazakh nomads, men as well as women, can be found in the reporting that the American explorer Milton Clark did in 1951-52, in the Indian region of Kashmir, where hundreds of Kazakh nomads, after having managed to escape from the ambushes set by the Soviet and Chinese armies, had found refuge and were living the same horse-centered nomadic lifestyle as their ancestors had done for hundreds of years. In his writing and in his pictures, Clark shows that female nomads were capable of horseriding, guarding livestock, reciting poetry, dancing, playing the dombra, and, in emergency situations, defending their aul (with guns) against invading enemies. [54] No matter how much Januszkiewicz tries to ridicule the warrior skills of female nomads, modern archeological research has proved him wrong. In recent decades, more than 300 burial sites have been found across the vast expanse of the Eurasian steppe (including Kazakhstan) in which, more than 2000 years ago, female nomads were buried with their weapons (bows and arrows, quivers and spears), with their horse gear and sometimes even with their horses. Further research of the skeletons and of the burial sites has shown that the women, while alive, were involved in activities such as horseriding, hunting and fighting. [55] There is no reason to believe that, after the arrival of Islam in Central Asia (which affected pastoral nomads less than the sedentary inhabitants of cities), female nomads lost their hunting and fighting skills. Archeology has not yet provided us with evidence, but history has. For example, the epic Qoblandy Batyr, whose depiction of the struggle between the Kazakh and Qalmaq tribes in the 17th and 18th centuries is probably in many aspects historically accurate, features the Qalmaq princess Qarlyga, who possesses all the skills of a warrior and can fight just as well as any man. [56] Even more importantly, there is a historical fact that contradicts Januszkiewicz’s representation of the female warriors in Kenesary’s army of rebels. The reports written by Russian administrators and Kazakh informants show that Kenesary had a younger sister, Bopai, who was a skillful warrior and military leader, who led her own unit of rebels in Kenesary’s fight against Russian colonization. According to Zhambyl Artyqbaev, Bopai’s military leadership was effective -- not a joke, as Januszkiewicz is falsely trying to make us believe. [57] Apart from misrepresenting the multi-functional roles that women played in Kazakh nomadic communities, Januszkiewicz also misrepresents the entire order on which the system of Kazakh pastoral nomadism was built. By creating a hierarchy among people, domestic animals and livestock and by assigning women a lower status than some of the animals, Januszkiewicz blends and perverts the two most important principles of Kazakh pastoral nomadism: Zheti Qazyna and Tört Tülik. According to the first principle, Kazakh nomadic families had seven assets they should treasure: a fine young man, a fine young woman, deep knowledge, a fast horse, a hunting bird, a solid weapon and a hunting dog. Note also that this principle implies that Kazakh nomads treasured their dogs -- the opposite of what Januszkiewicz is trying to make us believe. [58] According to the second principle, Kazakh nomadic families depended on four sources of wealth, which were four different kinds of livestock: camels, horses, sheeps and goats (a group that was expanded overtime to include cows). Again, as we have said previously, either Januszkiewicz is a liar or all of the above mentioned researchers are liars. Given the many mistakes and misrepresentations that can be found in Januszkiewicz’s portrayals of Kazakhs, he is more likely to be the liar. However, when we say «Januszkiewicz», we are, in fact, not referring to a 19th-century exiled Polish aristocrat but to a group of anonymous Soviet writers and editors, who had been instructed to compile an authentic-looking forgery that would help establish the Soviet version of Kazakh nomadic history and, in the long term, help eradicate the collective memory of surviving Kazakhs and their descendants. On what basis can we make this claim? That the letters and diary entries of «Januszkiewicz» were written by more than one person becomes clear when «Januszkiewicz» contradicts himself, for example, when he is writing about women. The racist disdain that «Januszkiewicz» feels for Kazakh women is palpable when he calls them «dreadful like Megaera», «ugly like a deadly sin» or ugly like a dying camel. [59] This is to be expected from a writer who spends many pages ridiculing the stupidity of Kazakhs. In another letter, however, he suddenly admires Kazakh women with the poeticism of Herodotus: «spreading multiple braids of curly hair, they gallop on gracious racehorses under the vast blue sky», leading him to compare them to «beautiful amazons flying like arrows over the Steppe». [60] Could this be the same writer as the one who called Kazakh women «ugly like sin»? If «Januszkiewicz» was one person, this would be difficult to understand. But if we assume that «Januszkiewicz» was a group of Soviet propagandists, writing and compiling the book from various sources, then it would be much easier to understand. How can we be so sure that this negative portrayal of Kazakh women was created in the Soviet era? Given that «Januszkiewicz» makes so many mistakes -- about the jataq, about Kenesary and about Kazakh women -- he probably did not write the letters and diary entries himself. So if the official author did not write them, who could have written them? Who else in history, other than «Januszkiewicz», promoted the view that the women in Kazakh nomadic communities were nothing more than exploited servants or slaves? Only the Soviet regime did (the Soviets were preceded only, as we will discuss later, by the Czarist expedition leader Fyodor Scherbina, whose ignorant views about Kazakh women were happily plagiarized by the Soviet writers behind «Januszkiewicz»). That the Soviet regime promoted this view as part of a deliberate misinformation campaign was already documented in 1974, by the American political scientist Gregory Massell. According to Massell, the campaign had grown out of frustration with the indigenous populations of Central Asia, who were very resistant to adopting the policies imposed by the Soviet regime, even though these populations were no longer allowed to practice their traditional lifestyle. Using the different propaganda tools at their disposal (film and literature, school manuals, newspapers, radio and tv broadcasts), the Soviet regime was targeting the women in these populations, depicting the women’s nomadic ancestors as a class of exploited proletarians and calling on the women to «emancipate» themselves from this culture of exploitation. [61] Massell does not cite Januszkiewicz’s book as an example and «Januszkiewicz» is careful not to use the word «emancipation» (as this would have immediately betrayed his Soviet identity). However, there is a clear and full correspondence between the message «Januszkiewicz» wanted to convey in his book and the message that the Soviet regime wanted to convey. It is therefore likely that the writers and editors compiling Januszkiewicz’s book had received instructions on which message they had to convey regarding the status of Kazakh women in nomadic families. The lengths to which the Soviet regime was willing to go to falsify history, in this case the history of the women of Central Asia, can best be understood by looking at a famous example from the field of archeology. In 1969, three years after the publication of Januszkiewicz’s book, Soviet archeologists discovered a burial mound (kurgan) near Issyk, containing a skeleton, multiple weapons, thousands of golden artifacts, a leather tunic, leather trousers, and other pieces of clothing, including a high conical hat. The glorious warrior was quickly declared to be a man, even though the bones were small, several artifacts had floral motifs and a jewelry function, and the conical hat was a characteristic part of a woman’s dress. Archeologists continued to whisper about the possibility that the skeleton might be that of a young woman, but the Soviet regime refused to acknowledge this possibility and went on to display the clothes, weapons and golden artifacts under the header «Golden Man of Issyk». By 1997, when it had become possible to determine the sex of a skeleton by means of DNA analysis, the skeleton of the «Golden Man» had gone missing. [62] It is likely that the decision to suppress any investigation into the sex of the Issyk warrior was the result of the same Soviet policy, the same campaign, that, a few years earlier, had led to the mockery of warrior women in Januszkiewicz’s book. In both cases the goal was the same: to deprive Soviet-Kazakh women of an example that might show that the traditional nomadic culture of their ancestors had allowed women to participate in important, even heroic, activities. This brings us to the final point we want to discuss regarding Januszkiewicz’s representation of Kazakh nomadic women: their arranged marriages. That Januszkiewicz is shocked by the custom of arranged marriage, and that, moreover, he fails to make any reference to his own aristocratic milieu, where arranged marriages were the norm, should be sufficient evidence to any researcher that «Januszkiewicz» is in fact not the person he claims to be. Being a Soviet ideologue (or group of ideologues), «Januszkiewicz» does not limit himself to expressing his shock at the injustice of the custom. His goal is to present the custom of arranged marriage in Kazakh nomadic families as proof that the women in these families are nothing more than slaves. To do so, he misrepresents the Kazakh custom of qalym as the act of selling a daughter in exchange for livestock (a misrepresentation that can also be found in the literary works of several Soviet-Kazakh writers). The historical reality was different: the custom of qalym was one of the many forms of mutual aid that existed in Kazakh nomadic communities, allowing the bride’s family to receive a gift (not necessarily livestock) from the groom’s family so as to be able to prepare a dowry for their daughter, ahead of the wedding. Despite the Soviet regime’s best efforts to misinform us, we have retained a fairly clear picture of how our female ancestors lived their lives: women divided house chores and other physical labor between themselves and the men in their families; female poets and singers enjoyed the same level of respect as their male colleagues; women could freely interact with visitors, whether male or female; women actively participated in defense and warfare; and, finally, many women made the best of their arranged marriages, as did their husbands.

On the basis of which sources did Soviet propagandists fabricate these lies? The sources we have already identified at the beginning of this article: the reports by the Russian statistician Fyodor Scherbina and his Kazakh colleague, Alikhan Bukeikhanov, about their expeditions to the Stepnoi Krai in the period 1896-1899.


We will now turn to the plagiarism that was committed in order to create Januszkiewicz’s book. In doing so, we will also draw attention to the legal framework that was created early in the Soviet Union and that was designed to make it easy for state-sponsored writers to plagiarize the intellectual work of others.

7. Plagiarism

Plagiarism was common in the Soviet Union. Soviet writers and scientists copied ideas and words from sources they had not written themselves, without citing or acknowledging the sources. The legal framework had been provided as early as 1925, by a decree that stated that copyright law was not violated when: a) translating someone’s work into another language; b) using someone’s work to create a new, substantially different work. [63] In either case, citing the original source was no longer necessary. What was considered a crime, a form of theft, in most countries thus became a normal practice in the Soviet Union. Even today, plagiarism is still considered normal in most post-Soviet countries, including Kazakhstan.


The decree of 1925 gave rise to an endless stream of plagiarism. Stalin’s favorite writer, Mikhail Sholokhov, was given license to plagiarize an unpublished manuscript by the Cossack writer Fedor Kriukov, resulting in the Nobel Prize-winning novel, The Quiet Don (1928-40). [64] In the academic world, especially, plagiarism was a common practice. Plagiarism fit very well into the ideological, anti-scientific methods that Soviet academics were required to use when publishing their research: not citing any sources and not investigating the available evidence, yet always reaching the same Marxist-Leninist conclusions.


This is also what happened in Oriental studies, once the pride of Czarist Russia. As the historian Olga Lebedeva has recently described it, Oriental studies became a branch of the Soviet propaganda machine, with the single goal of «exporting the ‘world revolution’ to Asia». [65] Even though Lebedeva does not mention Januszkiewicz’s book, it is clear that the declaration by Steklova, the editor of Januszkiewicz’s book -- that Soviet Kazakhs were the «real audience» of Januszkiewicz’s book -- confirms the ideological intentions of Oriental studies in the Soviet era.


The publication of Januszkiewicz’s letters and diary entries in 1966 were not just the product of Soviet orientalism, they were also the product of plagiarism. The sources that Januszkiewicz’s book plagiarized were documents to which only a small number of Soviet academics had access: a classified 12-volume intelligence report, titled «Materialy po kirgizskomu zemlepol`zovaniyu, sobrannye i razrabotannye expeditsiei po issledovaniyu stepnykh oblastei» («Materials on Kirgiz land use, collected and developed by an expedition to explore the steppe regions»), which was the result of a series of census expeditions to the Stepnoi Krai in the period 1896-1901, led by the Russian budget statistician Fyodor Scherbina.


Commissioned by the Ministry of Land Management and State Property, the comprehensiveness of these expeditions was the first of its kind. As Scherbina explained in the preface to the first volume, their goal was to produce intelligence reports for the land management officials of the Russian Empire, who were looking for new agricultural lands to resettle Russian peasants:


«The main task of the research was to determine, on the one hand, the size of land necessary for the needs of the Kirgiz population under the existing natural and economic conditions, and on the other hand, to determine the surplus land that could be created for the needs of resettlement. The goal of the expedition was to provide such materials that would, first, guarantee that the land surveying officials designating land for resettlement would not violate the nomads’ interests.» [66]


To determine which areas of Kazakh land the Russian Empire could occupy as so-called «surplus land», Scherbina and his team collected data about the population of each uezd, their livestock, their household items, and their land use. The result: census tables of the Aqmolinsk, Semipalatinsk and Turgai oblasts and of 20-25 uezds, containing the names of the heads (aqsaqal) of each household, their tribal affiliation, the name and size of their pastures, as well as a special column in which the Russian statisticians had calculated the surplus land of each household. To obtain accurate information about the numbers of the livestock – the main property of nomads – Scherbina and his team asked control questions with which they intended to prevent the nomads from giving them false numbers. This last aspect of the census expedition was significant. Though Scherbina cunningly stated in the preface of his report that the goal of the Russian Empire was to find new agricultural lands without violating the nomads’ interests (see the citation above), Kazakh nomads knew that the reality was different -- that this census was part of a Russian colonization campaign threatening their very existence. This is why Scherbina and his team were met with great distrust. The resistance from the nomads was such that Scherbina devoted an entire chapter to it in his report: «The complete novelty of the task and the massive difficulties encountered in the conditions of the work itself, in a little-known wilderness populated by alien tribes (inorodtsy), did not allow this report to be issued earlier.» [67] Kazakh nomads had every reason to be suspicious. Scherbina’s census expeditions were acts of espionage, intelligence operations by a hostile nation wanting to colonize another nation. Scherbina’s team conducted their interviews in such a way that they collected not only data but also stories. These stories included legends, told by elders, but they also included many cases about personal relationships -- between neighbors, within and between families, within and between clans. As we can see in each report, expedition members were instructed to record stories involving land disputes – valuable intelligence that could help the Russians identify and exploit weaknesses in the social fabric of the nomadic tribes. The 12 reports supervised by Scherbina provided genealogies of each social group inhabiting an uezd: Kazakh tribes, Kazakh sultans and their servants (tulengits), local Qodjas, and Qara Kirgiz tribes. Most of the genealogies were prepared by the only Kazakh statistician in Scherbina’s team: Alikhan Bukeikhanov, who is identified by name in the reports. As a result, these reports are one of the rare sources that provide insight into the lives of Kazakh nomads of the late 19th century. It should thus not be surprising that the Soviet propagandists who had access to them, plagiarized them freely. The letters and diary entries attributed to «Januszkiewicz» plagiarize especially volumes 1, 6, and 10. The negative criticisms that «Januszkiewicz» offers about Kazakh can be traced to volume 1 of the report, of which the contents were entirely written by Scherbina himself. Scherbina, even though he had been born to a Cossack family in Kuban and even though he had been exiled for his revolutionary activities and had become a Narodnik in the provinces, was a passionate Slavophile -- a lover of Russian history, religion and literature. Slavophilia, when confronted by a radically different culture, can turn into chauvinism or even racism, and Scherbina’s Slavophilia was no exception. Moreover, Scherbina was an agriculturalist by training, who thought that the agricultural lifestyle of Russian peasants was superior to the nomadic lifestyle of Kazakhs.


In volume 1, Scherbina’s anti-nomadic prejudice is especially on display in chapter VI, titled «Population and peculiar features of the nomadic lifestyle». Unwilling to understand the seasonal cycles of nomadic life, Scherbina is only able to see what he wants to see: that nomadic men are lazy and nomadic women are their property and their servants. Thus Scherbina is unable to see what scientifically trained anthropologists would see later in the 20th century: that in nomadic families, men and women were equal partners, even if there was a customary division of labor between them.

Scherbina’s ignorant comments, about the status of women in Kazakh nomadic families and about the value of meat and bones during festive dinners, were the ideal source of information from which Soviet propagandists, hiding behind the avatar «Januszkiewicz», could create a seemingly realistic but in reality very negative picture of the nomadic way of life. Researchers will be able to find many similarities between Scherbina’s first report (focusing on Kökshetau uezd, in Aqmola oblast) and the letters and diary entries of «Januszkiewicz» (supposedly set in the uezds of Semipalatinsk oblast). [68]


It is worth noting that Scherbina, in later volumes, began to show greater respect for the customs of Kazakh nomads and a greater understanding of the negative consequences of his own research for the nomads’ livelihoods. Nevertheless, the later volumes provided plenty of material that the Soviet propagandists behind «Januszkiewicz» could cannibalize to create a seemingly realistic picture of Semipalatinsk oblast.


Researchers wanting to investigate to what extent Scherbina’s reports were plagiarized should look at volumes 4, 6 and 10, which contain the reports about three uezds of Semipalatinsk oblast: Pavlodar, Qarqaraly and Semipalatinsk uezd. All three reports were mostly written by Bukeikhanov. A native of Qarqaraly uezd, who had received a Russian education (in Scherbina’s words, «интеллигент киргиз»), Bukeikhanov was well-suited for the task. Not only did he collect the census data, he also wrote a comprehensive history of each Kazakh tribe living in the region, which included important legends and stories told by the elders of each tribe. Moreover, he compiled for each uezd a genealogical tree that was added as an annex to each report, providing deeper insight into the various forms of pasture division between tribes and auls. This kind of comprehensive research -- covering all aspects of the current way of life of Kazakh tribes as well as their history -- had not been done before 1896. In 1846, as a member of the military expedition led by major-general Vishnevsky, «Januszkiewicz» would certainly not have had access to this knowledge. Yet in his letters and diary entries, «Januszkiewicz» displays a deep familiarity with Semipalatinsk oblast: its geography, toponymy, climate, history and genealogy. The kind of knowledge that only an indigenous nomad or a reader of Bukeikhanov’s reports would possess. For example, the names of all the sultans of Qarqaraly uezd that «Januszkiewicz» supposedly met in 1846 can be found in a genealogy that Bukeikhanov researched between 1896 and 1902 and published as an annex to volume 6: the genealogy of Bukeikhanov’s own ancestor, Bukei Khan. In 1846, many of these sultans were not alive, but that did not stop the Soviet propagandists behind «Januszkiewicz» from using the names of these sultans to create a seemingly realistic picture in their book of letters and diary entries. Investigating the plagiarism of Bukeikhanov’s reports by the propagandists behind «Januszkiewicz» will inevitably lead to a subject that can be considered one of the main causes behind the Soviet falsification of Januszkiewicz’s book: the subject «Ibrahim Qunanbayev», better known to Soviet Kazakhs as the poet «Abai».


In volume 10, a census analysis of Semipalatinsk uezd conducted in 1900, Bukeihanov recorded several stories about land disputes, including the case of Shynqozha aqsaqal, who had to leave his winter settlement because he was «afraid of the revenge of his neighbor Ibrai Qunanbayev». [69] This case is interesting for two reasons. It shows that Scherbina’s team was searching for signs of conflict among Kazakh families. Moreover, and even more importantly, it introduces one of the most famous persons in Kazakh history: «Ybyrai Qunanbai».


However, Bukeikhanov did not identify «Ybyrai Qunanbai» as the poet «Abai», which is in sharp contradiction to Bukeikhanov’s claim, 5 years later, in his obituary of «Abai», that «Ybyrai Qunanbai» of Semipalatinsk uezd was in fact a famous poet. [70] The fact that in his census report, dated 1900, Bukeikhanov did not refer to Ibrai Qunanbai as a poet is further confirmation of what we argued in a previous article: that, in the obituary of 1905, Bukeikhanov invented the persona of «Abai», for both political and personal-artistic reasons.


Moreover, Bukeikhanov’s census report of 1900 also provides confirmation that the obituary of 1905 presents an invented family. For example, three men that in Bukeikhanov’s obituary are presented as sons of «Abai» are listed in the census report of 1900 as aqsaqals (elders), belonging to different clans and auls than Ybyrai Qunanbai. Ybyrai Qunanbai is listed in the census report as one of the aqsaqals of aul #1 and a member of the Aidos clan. By contrast, Magauia Ibragim, according to the obituary the eldest son of «Abai», is listed in the census report of 1900 as one of the aqsaqals of aul #8 and as a member of the Zhuantaly clan, while Turaul and Akylbai Ibragim, according to the obituary the younger sons of «Abai», are also listed among the aqsaqals of aul #8 but as members of the Qunanbai clan.


In other words, if we assume that the census report of 1900 was a scientific report, containing real data, we have to conclude that the obituary of 1905 contains fictitious data. [71] This is significant: the family story that Bukeikhanov invented in the obituary of 1905 was the basis on which the entire Soviet mythology concerning «Abai» was built. To this day, Kazakhs mistakenly believe that Magauia Ibragim, Turaul and Akylbai Ibragim were the sons of Ybyrai Qunanbai. Investigating the plagiarism of Bukeikhanov’s reports will also lead to one more subject: who was Shakarim Qudaiberdy. In the census report of 1900, about Semipalatinsk uezd, Shakarim Qudaiberdy is listed as one of the aqsaqals of aul #2 -- a typical Kazakh nomad. [72] In 1913, however, Bukeikhanov presented Shakarim very differently: as a Kazakh, who had collected and analyzed genealogical data from 3 oblasts; as a self-taught Russian speaker, who had read and studied two complex articles by the Russian Turcologist Nikolai Aristov; and as an author, who had written and published a «Genealogy of Turks, Kirgiz and Sultans».


In his 1913 review of Shakarim’s genealogy, Bukeikhanov wrote: «Until now, the genealogy of Kazakhs was never published in the Kazakh language as a book. Shakarim’s genealogy is the first. … From now on, anyone attempting to write a Kazakh genealogy should not do so without thoroughly studying Shakarim’s book. He does not have a place for collecting books, writing a genealogy like Shakarim’s while migrating in the Steppe is not an easy job.» [73] However, we know from Scherbina’s reports, including volume 10, that the first and only author of the genealogies of the Kazakh tribes was Bukeikhanov himself. Why did Bukeikhanov choose Shakarim as a pseudonym, under whose name he could publish the Kazakh-language version of the genealogies he had compiled during Scherbina’s census expeditions? We may never find out, unless more scientific research is done on the life and work of Bukeikhanov. We know, however, that Bukeikhanov’s choice backfired. In the years that followed, Bukeikhanov was accused by the Muslim fraction of the Kazakh intelligentsia of being a «liar», a «black monkey» and a «hedgehog» in the pages of Kazakh newspapers. [74] Moreover, by publishing his own work under a different name, Bukeikhanov set a bad example: an example that would inspire countless Soviet plagiarists to appropriate Bukeikhanov’s words and ideas for their own purposes, including for the creation, in the 1960s, of a series of letters and diary entries by a man called «Januszkiewicz».

8. Conclusion Even though extensive resources were invested in the forgery and distribution of Januszkiewicz’s book, the forgers made blatant historical mistakes -- several of which we have identified here. Because of these mistakes, and probably also because of the blatantly ideological rhetoric, professional historians have avoided citing Januszkiewicz’s book as a credible historical source. Until now, no Kazakh or Russian historian has exposed Januszkiewicz’s book as a Soviet forgery, and as a result, the general public is still not aware of the problem. However, we hope to have provided enough evidence in this article to convince any researcher that the Russian editions of Januszkiewicz’s book, dated 1966 and 2006, should not be trusted. Why has Januszkiewicz’s book not been exposed before? To answer this question, we should take several factors into account. One important factor is the rigid ideological agenda to which Kazakhstan’s intellectuals have had to conform since at least 1929. Between 1929 and 1953, all independent scientists, writers and other intellectuals in Kazakhstan were exterminated. The scale of the tragedy, and the suffering it caused to so many innocent individuals and their families, has been documented by Larissa Kuderina in 1994. [75] The mass extermination of Kazakh scientists and intellectuals during Stalin’s reign also had a long-term systemic impact, going beyond the suffering of the killed or imprisoned individuals and their bullied, humiliated families. It created a culture of paranoia and ideological conformity in which scientists, writers and other intellectuals (including the ones who had betrayed their colleagues) did not dare to publish anything that was not approved or requested by the State. Nor did the ones that arrived after 1953, or even after 1991. To change the unscientific approach that most of Kazakhstan’s historians are still following today would require a paradigm shift. However, paradigm shifts do not happen often or easily: they only occur out of necessity (in crisis) or under visionary leadership. A few years ago, Kazakhstan announced an ambitious plan: by 2030, it would join the ranks of the thirty most developed countries in the world. As of today, the quality of research done in Kazakhstan is ranked much more closely to the global median than to the top thirty. [76] To be sure, quality of research is only one of many indicators, but all developed countries score much higher on this indicator. At this point in history, only visionary leadership could lead the scientists and intellectuals of Kazakhstan towards a more scientific, evidence-based methodology. Admittedly, analyzing all the lies and forgeries that the Soviet era has produced will be an unpleasant, embarrassing process. No-one is keen on investigating whether their relatives, mentors or predecessors were involved in the production of lies or forgeries. Yet what is the alternative? The Soviet lies and forgeries that were created about Kazakh history are a cultural cancer: they have led Kazakhs to despise themselves, their ancestors, their language, their culture. Only by surgically removing the lies, will we get rid of the cancer.


This brings us to the biggest impediment of all: «Abai (Ibrahim) Qunanbayev», the Sphinx who guards all the lies and forgeries that the Soviet Union has brought us. As Nikolai Anastasiev, one of Abai’s recent biographers, put it, Abai’s «statue» is so «monumental» that no-one would even consider uncovering the «secrets of its origins». Understandably, Anastiev does not try to uncover any of Abai’s secrets either, offering instead a minimal «silhouette», rather than a detailed «biography», of Abai’s life and work. [77]


Anastasiev’s biography, dated 2008, is significant. Though Anastasiev was commissioned to write a state-approved biography, he was not convinced by the evidence that Abai ever existed and, as a result, ended up filling his biography with lengthy summaries of other writers’ fictional creations (by the Soviet propagandists Mukhtar Auezov and Leonid Sobolev and, more unexpectedly, by the American novelist William Faulkner).


The Sphinx may seem as monumental today as it was 75 years ago, but its core is so brittle (stuffed with lies) that it may collapse one day. The evidence that could make it collapse can be found by any researcher who knows Kazakh and Russian and who can read the Arabic and Cyrillic scripts. It suffices to compare the writings by Zhusup Kopeiuly and Alikhan Bukeikhanov with the writings in Abai’s canon to reach the conclusion that Abai’s canon was not written by «Abai (Ibrahim) Qunanbayev».


This is why Januszkiewicz’s book has been so staunchly promoted by hundreds of academics in the field of Abai studies. Januszkiewicz’s book is the only authentic-looking evidence that is supporting the monumental Sphinx. Apart from the obviously fake birth certificate, all the other «evidence» regarding Abai’s existence that has been discovered in recent decades would probably be disproved by 21st-century DNA analysis. Professional historians avoid citing Januszkiewicz’s book -- their distrust probably motivated by the suspicious elements that we have analyzed in this article. Yet the propagandists employed in the field of Abai studies continue to promote Januszkiewicz’s book, hoping that the truth will not be revealed until they have retired from their public functions.


Will Januszkiewicz’s book ever be recognized as a Soviet forgery by the Kazakh public? Much will depend on which direction state-funded historical research will take. Will historical research continue to function as a propaganda tool or will it adopt the scientific methodologies that historians in developed countries are using? Perhaps, one day, Kazakh historians will take inspiration from the archeologists working in the Eurasian steppe today. Using the latest scientific technologies, these archeologists are discovering the natural history of our Central Asian ancestors. Before the armies of the Russian Czar came and made the lives of Kazakh nomads difficult, before the Soviet armies and bureaucrats came and destroyed the lives of Kazakh nomads, there were other catastrophic events: not so much military conflicts with neighboring tribes (an idea that Soviet propagandists liked to promote), but droughts and famines, caused by unpredictable weather patterns that not even nomads could manage. [78]

The history of what Kazakhs call «jut» was well known to our nomadic ancestors. According to the elder of the Berikqara tribe Itqara Mukhametshe, that Bukeikhanov interviewed in the period 1898-99, the Kazakh saying «Aqtaban shubyryndy, Alqaköl sulama» («a barefoot exodus, reaching lake Alqa on their last legs») did not refer to a Kazakh-Dzungar war, as the Soviets would later claim; rather, it referred to a massive migration caused by a jut, a natural disaster, that forced thousands of nomads to move from Syrdaria back into the Qarqaraly region. [79]

To be sure, the new natural history of our Central Asian ancestors has yet to be written -- but it will be as beautiful and complex as reality itself. Having suffered so much in our recent history, we, Kazakhs, deserve better: we deserve to know how our pre-Soviet ancestors lived, how they thrived, how they survived.


In the meantime, we also need to rediscover who our real literary heroes are: Akhmet Baitursynov, Mirzhaqyp Dulatov, Zhusipbek Aimautov, Alikhan Bukeikhanov, and, let us not forget the exceptionally talented Magzhan Zhumabaev. These men are the founders of Kazakh written culture/literature, who transformed their ancestors’ centuries-old aptitude for narrative, rhythm, rhyme and music into something new.


We should also try to rediscover the work of our other forgotten heroes: intellectuals such as Zhumakhan Kuderin, who were ready to transform the knowledge and wisdom of our nomadic ancestors into a modern science that could have made a useful contribution to the world’s understanding of the ecological and climatological catastrophes of the 20th and 21st centuries.


The rich history of our nomadic ancestors is lost to us, brainwashed from our collective memory, but the written literature that emerged out of this history still exists today, in front of our eyes, transcending space and time. For the moment, it is all that we have: we should treasure it. Everything else, sadly, has been poisoned by the Soviet propaganda machine: we should accept that, too.


[1] Vyacheslav Ogryzko. Chego my ne znayem ob Abae i ego velikom pevtse: razvenchivaya mify vokrug velikoi epopeii Mukhtara Auezova. In: Literaturnaya Rossia, Issue 27, 2018. [2] Abai Qunanbayev. Qara Sözder, Words 40, 41 and 42. [3] Abai Qunanbayev. Qara Sözder, Word 40. [4] Abai Qunanbayev. Qara Sözder, Word 41. [5] Varlam Shalamov. Neskolko moih zhiznei. In Stihotvorenia, 1988. [6] Kazakh Academy of Sciences. Kazakhsko-Russkie otnoshenia v XVI-XVIII vekah. Sbornik dokumentov i materialov. Alma-Ata, 1961. Kazakh Academy of Sciences. Kazakhsko-Russkie otnoshenia v XVIII-XIX vekah. Sbornik documentov i materialov. Alma-Ata, 1964. [7] V.Y. Basin. Kazakhstan v sisteme vneshnei politiki Rossii v pervoi polovine XVIII veka. In: Kazakhstan v XV-XVIII vekah. Alma-Ata, 1969, pp. 50, 74. [8] Basin, p. 74. [9] Vitali Gubarev. Korolevstso krivyh zerkal. Moscow, 1951. [10] F. Steklova. Adolf Januszkiewicz i ego kniga. In: Dnevniki i pisma iz puteshestvia po kazakhskin stepyam. Alma-Ata, 1966, pp. 18-19. [11] Steklova, p. 21. [12] Adolf Januszkiewicz. Dnevniki i pisma iz puteshestvia po kazakhskin stepyam. Alma-Ata, 1966, p.60. [13] Steklova, p. 35. [14] Paul W. Blackstock. Agents of Deceit: Frauds, Forgeries and Political Intrigue among Nations. Chicago, 1966, pp. 171-175. [15] Blackstock, p. 172. [16] Januszkiewicz, p. 132. [17] Januszkiewicz, p. 228. [18] Januszkiewicz, p. 121. [19] Januszkiewicz, p. 325. [20] Januszkiewicz praises Qunanbai for betraying his own tribesmen to Russian officials and reporting that Kenesary received expensive gifts from the Chinese in Quldja. See Januszkiewicz, p. 265. [21] Januszkiewicz, p. 237. [22] Z.O. Artyqbaev. Kommentarii. In: Adolf Januszkiewicz. Dnevniki i pisma iz puteshestvia po kazakhskin stepyam. Pavlodar, 2006, p. 367. There is a person by the name Baraq who is mentioned in the historical sources of the time. However, he was not a sultan but a judge («biy»), belonging to the Baibaqty tribe of the Little Horde. [23] Shoqan Walikhanov. Sobranie sochinenii v pyati tomah: Tom V. Edited by the Kazakh Academy of Sciences. Alma-Ata, 1972, p. 31. [24] Alikhan Bukeikhanov. Dzhataki (Zapadno-Sibirskii otdel). 31.III.1898. In: Alikhan Bukeikhanov: Works. Vol. 1. Astana, 2016, pp. 146-147. [25] Fyodor Scherbina, Materialy po kirgizskomu zemlepol`zovaniyu, sobrannye i razrabotannye expeditsiei po issledovaniyu stepnykh oblastei. Volume 1, Akmolinskaya oblast’, Kokchetvaskii uezd. [No place of publication], 1898, p. 81. [26] Bukeikhanov, pp. 146-147. [27] Bukeikhanov, pp. 146-147. [28] A.N. (Alikhan Bukeikhanov). Eskiden qalgan zhaqsy mura. Dala Walayatïnïng Gazetí, Issue 47, 1889. [29] Artyqbaev, pp. 359-360. Further confirmation can be found in an earlier source, Dala Walayatïnïng Gazetí (the first Kazakh newspaper), where in 1889, Kazakh intellectuals such as Zhusup Kopeiuly started arguing with Russian administrators about the new phenomenon of «jataq». See Zhusup Kopeiuly. Felieton. Dala Walayatïnïng Gazetí. Issues 45-46, 1889. [30] Januszkiewicz, p.82. [31] Artyqbaev, pp. 359-360. [32] Januszkiewicz, p. 318. [33] Januszkiewicz, p. 110. [34] Januszkiewicz, p. 112. [35] Januszkiewicz, pp. 108-112. [36] Januszkiewicz, p. 173. [37] Januszkiewicz, p. 331. [38] Nikolai Sereda. Bunt Kirgizskogo Sultana Kenisary Kasymova (1838-1847). Vestnik Evropy, 1870, issue 9, p. 86. [39] Sereda, issue 8, p. 558. [40] Sereda, issue 8, p. 550. [41] Sereda, issue 8, p. 550. [42] Januszkiewicz, p. 108. [43] Steklova, p. 340. [44] Sereda, issue 8, pp. 541-573. Sereda, issue 9, pp. 60-86. Artyqbaev, pp. 378-379. Radik Temirgaliev. Kazakhs and Russia. Moscow, 2013, pp. 251-252. [45] Temirgaliev, pp. 251-252. [46] Alexander Zataevich. Commentaries on 1000 songs of the Kirgiz People. Orenburg, 1925, pp. 328, 336. See also Stepnyak (pseudonym). Materials about the History of Sultan Kenesary Qasimov. Tashkent, 1923. [47] Ermukhan Bekmakhanov. History of the Kazakh SSR. Alma-Ata, 1943. Kazakhstan in the 20-40s of the 19th century. Moscow, 1948. Bekmakhanov received his doctoral degree after writing a pro-Soviet book titled Accession of Kazakhstan to Russia (1957). [48] Januszkiewicz, pp. 163, 328, 252, 257, 205, 285. [49] Januszkiewicz, p. 252. [50] Januszkiewicz, p. 257. [51] Ernest Gellner. Foreword. In: Anatoly M. Khazanov. Nomads and the Outside World. Cambridge, 1984, pp. ix-xxv. See also Ernest Gellner. Soviet and Western anthropology. London, 1980. See also Ernest Gellner. Nations and Nationalism. Ithaca, 1983. [52] Anatoly M. Khazanov. Nomads and the Outside World. Second Edition. Wisconsin, 1994, pp. 16, 127. [53] S.E. (Sergali Esbembetovich) Tolybekov. Obshchestvenno-ėkonomicheskiĭ stroĭ kazakhov v XVII-XIX vekakh. Alma-Ata, 1959, p. 426. See also S.E. Tolybekov. Kochevoe obshchestvo kazakhov v XVII--nachale XX veka: politiko-ėkonomicheskiĭ analiz. Alma-Ata, 1971. [54] Milton J. Clark. How the Kazakhs Fled to Freedom. National Geographic Magazine, November 1954, pp. 621-644. [55] Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer (ed.). Amazons and Dianas? Female Burials in Perspective. Anthropology & Archeology of Eurasia, Volume 59, Issue 2, 2020. [56] Alikhan Bukeikhanov. Women in the Kirgiz Legend «Qoblandy». Turkestanskie Vedomosti, 9 May 1899, 20 May 1899 and 3 June 1899. [57] Z.O. Artyqbaev, pp. 378-379. [58] Januszkiewicz, p. 80. [59] Januszkiewicz, p. 74. p. 91. p.87 [60] Januszkiewicz, p. 79. [61] Gregory J. Massell. The Surrogate Proletariat: Moslem Women and Revolutionary Strategies in Soviet Central Asia, 1919-1929. Princeton, 1974. According to Massell, the Soviet regime targeted the women of Central Asia because it was thought that the women had more «revolutionary potential» than the men. [62] Adrienne Mayor. The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World. Princeton, 2014, pp. 74-75. See also Jeannine Davis-Kimball. Chieftain or Warrior Priestess? Archaeology, 1997, Issue 5, pp. 41-42. [63] Tsentra’lnyi ispolnitel’nyi komitet SSSR, Postanovlenie ot 30 ianvaryia 1925 goda ob osnovakh avtorskogo prava. [64] «Tihii Don» Kto avtor? Iz arhiva issledovatelei. Edited by A.G. Makarov. Moscow, 2021, p.268. [65] Olga Lebedeva. Moskovskii Institut vostokovedeniya imeni N.N. Narimanova. In: Memorial (https://topos.memo.ru/en/node/355). [66] Fyodor Scherbina, Materialy po kirgizskomu zemlepol`zovaniyu, sobrannye i razrabotannye expeditsiei po issledovaniyu stepnykh oblastei. Volume 1, Akmolinskaya oblast’, Kokchetvaskii uezd. [No place of publication], 1898, pp. i-iv. [67] Scherbina, pp. 1-13. [68] Scherbina, pp. 67-69. Januszkiewicz, pp. 205-285. [69] Fyodor Scherbina. Materialy po kirgizskomu zemlepol`zovaniyu, sobrannye i razrabotannye expeditsiei po issledovaniyu stepnykh oblastei. Volume 10, Semiplatainskaya oblast’, Semiplatainskii uezd. [No place of publication], 1909, p. 86. [70] Alikhan Bukeikhanov. Abai (Ibrahim) Kunanbayev: Necrology. In: Semipalatinskii Listok, issue 250, 1905. [71] In the years that followed, in the pages of Kazakh newspapers, Bukeikhanov was constantly attacked by the Muslim fraction of the Kazakh intelligentsia, who accused him of being a “liar”, a “black monkey” and a “hedgehog”. See Kuzetshi. Tagy aldady. In: Ush Juz, issue 4, 1918. [72] Alikhan Bukeikhanov. Materialy po kirgizskomu zemlepol`zovaniyu, sobrannye i razrabotannye expeditsiei po issledovaniyu stepnykh oblastei. Volume 10, Semipalatinskaya oblast’, Semiplatainskii uezd. [No place of publication], 1909, p. 166. [73] Qyr Balasy. Turik, qyrgyz ham khandar zhuesi (Shahkarim Qudaiberdiuly). In: Qazaq, issue 12, 1913. [74] Kuzetshi. Tagy aldady. In: Ush Juz, issue 4, 1918. [75] Larissa Kuderina. Genocid v Kazakhstane. Moscow, 1994. Olga Lebedeva. Moskovskii Institut vostokovedeniya imeni N.N. Narimanova. In: Memorial (https://topos.memo.ru/en/node/355). [76] For specific data, see the innovation index of the World Bank and the competitiveness index of the World Economic Forum (https://tcdata360.worldbank.org/topics). [77] Nikolai Anastasiev. Abai: tyazhest' poleta. Moscow, 2008, pp. 5-7. [78] Willem H. J. Toonen, Mark G. Macklin, Giles Dawkes, Julie A. Durcan, Max Leman, Yevgeniy Nikolayev, and Alexandr Yegorov. A Hydromorphic Reevaluation of the Forgotten River Civilizations of Central Asia. PNAS, 29 December 2020, pp. 32982-32988. [79] Alikhan Bukeikhanov. Zaselenie. In: Materialy po kirgizskomu zemlepol`zovaniyu, sobrannye i razrabotannye expeditsiei po issledovaniyu stepnykh oblastei. Volume 6, Semipalatinskaya oblast’, Karkaralinskii uezd, pp. 10, 51.