Bringing Prosperity to Kazakhstan

Among other things, two problems have besieged Kazakhstan from the time immemorial. First of all, insufficient water resources of the country have hindered its development. Then, there was poor transportation infrastructure of the landlocked country, preventing inhabitants and visitors of Kazakhstan from comfortable and fast travelling across its vast expanses. A Kazakh statesman Mustakhim Bilyalovich Iksanov (in Kazakh Мұстахим Біләлұлы Ықсанов, 1926-1991) worked hard to resolve the two long-standing issues. Doing so, he was instrumental in overcoming other problems as well. He started his stellar career as an agricultural graduate. Then, he became a railway worker, irrigation specialist… He led large regions of Kazakhstan. Afterwards, he was elected one of the leaders of the Communist Party of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. He was a member of the USSR Parliament.

Статья Мустахима Иксанова "Арсеналы славы народной", опубликованная в газете "Советская культура" 17 июля 1981 года.

But, along with his economical and political activities, Mr. Iksanov also made valuable contribution to the cultural life of Kazakhstan. As a top Communist functionary, he strived to preserve heritage of his ancestors in the West Kazakhstan Region, while he was its Governor in 1975-1986. Forty years ago, on 17 July 1981, respectable newspaper The Soviet Culture published his article about tourist attractions of the region, which include historical museums and old monuments. The high-ranking Communist also did his best to get nationwide publicity to rice growers of Kyzylorda Region, while Mr. Iksanov was its Governor in 1963-1966. So, he was keenly aware of advantages, which is achieved through cooperation with media outlets. Moreover, he paid attention to science and technology. For example, Mr. Iksanov helped to establish the Rice Cultivation Institute in Kyzylorda, named after legendary rice grower Ibrai Zhakayev (1891-1981). The Kazakh rice grower broke a world record in 1949, harvesting 17.1 tons of rice per hectare. By the way, he was a friend of Mr. Iksanov. Outstanding industrialist of Armenian ethnic origin, Pyotr Atoyan (1915-2003), was another friend of Mr. Iksanov. From 1947 to 1989, Mr. Atoyan successfully managed a machine-building plant in Uralsk, which was an integral part of the Soviet military-industrial complex. The Governor of the West Kazakhstan Region and the plant manager made joint efforts to improve living conditions and infrastructure in the city of Uralsk. Mr. Iksanov skillfully supervised construction of a new airport terminal, bus station, motor roads, high-rise buildings, etc. In a way, he upgraded the old town of Uralsk in accordance with the XXth century standards.

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, center, and Mustakhim Iksanov, second from right, 1961.
Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, center, and Mustakhim Iksanov, second from right, 1961.

The Kazakh Communist leader was also notable for his contribution to exploration of raw materials. Famous Karachaganak oil and gas field was discovered in the West Kazakhstan Region in 1979, when Mr. Iksanov was its Governor. The construction of giant factory of phosphorous fertilizers in the southern Kazakhstan began in 1970, when Mr. Iksanov was the Governor of the Zhambyl Region. Evidently, he successfully supervised such complex projects. On the other hand, as a subordinate of Moscow, he couldn’t upgrade the status of Kazakh economy, which was mainly a source of raw materials for machine-builders and tool-makers of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Baltic republics. But, the current government of “independent” Kazakhstan makes things still worse, turning our country into a receptive marketplace for predominantly Chinese and Russian products. The same applies to the Aral Sea tragedy. Mr. Iksanov was in charge of irrigation projects for the Aral Sea’s region. He had clearly seen the destructive nature of excessive cultivation of cotton and rice, which ultimately shrunk the ill-fated lake. But, greedy Communist bosses in Kremlin, making hard currency out of cotton and rice exports, didn’t care for indigenous people of the remote region, relentlessly diverting water supply of the Aral Sea into the cotton and rice fields. Mr. Iksanov was unable to build a gas processing plant in the West Kazakhstan Region to consume raw materials from the Karachaganak oil and gas field, thus providing local people with decently paid workplaces. Instead, such a profitable enterprise was built in the neighboring region of Russia. Unfortunately, since then little has changed. Oil and gas processing facilities of Kazakhstan are still insufficient and of mediocre quality. Therefore, the absence of appropriate processing facilities wasn’t a Mr. Iksanov’s personal fault. Regretfully, it has been an innate shortcoming of Kazakh policy – both present one and the past.

Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, center, and Mustakhim Iksanov, third from left, 1973.
Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, center, and Mustakhim Iksanov, third from left, 1973.

He also made valuable contribution to development of Almaty – the biggest city of Kazakhstan. The construction of its landmarks, such as a high-rise hotel Kazakhstan, the Republic Palace and a mountainous skating rink Medeu, was carried out under the direct supervision of Mr. Iksanov. Incidentally, he also played an important part in preventing the catastrophic landslide of 1973 from destroying some parts of Almaty. This time, he successfully conducted disaster management, saving hundreds of lives and multimillion real estate. It should be mentioned too that he paid attention to hygiene problems on the large scale. For example, in the 1960s, as the Governor of Kyzylorda Region, he introduced centralized sewage system to its capital, Kyzylorda. They had very old-fashionably used outhouses prior to Mr. Iksanov.

As a hard-working politician, Mr. Iksanov had numerous health problems. Later in his life, he had developed diabetes, which quickened his untimely death by heart attack. Nevertheless, his legacy includes not only magnificent buildings and industrial giants. Even without his direct support, the politician’s daughter, Gulnar Iksanova, has made a successful career. For many years Ms. Iksanova managed the Khabar Television Channel – one of the largest media outlets in the former Soviet Union. She also was a member of the Kazakh Parliament. Now, Ms. Iksanova spends most of the time with her family.

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