Russian in Kazakhstan

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

Russian traders and soldiers first came to Kazakhstan in the 1500s. Russians built forts which later became cities. With the Kazakhs at war with Kalmyks, Russians seized some of the land. The Kazakhs were torn between conflict with both the Kalmyks and Russians. Since the 19th century there has been a large number of Russians in Kazakhstan. WWII produced the largest Russian migration into Kazakhstan. By 1959 42.7% of Kazakhstan's population was Russian.

When Kazakhstan gained independence from the USSR, Russian was the language of government and business. However, after independence, there was the strong move to form Kazakhstan as the birth of the Kazakh people. For many Russians they saw this as an affront to the multi-cultural area. Kazakh was made the official language and a large number of Russians were removed from government.

Many Russians migrated back to Russia and by 1999 the percentage of Russians in Kazakhstan dropped to 30%. Most Russians who remained in Kazakhstan were 2nd or 3rd generation. Though Russian is not the official language many in the country are bilingual. Russians also continue to influence the country in civil and government offices.

Where Are they Located?

Russians are located primarily in the north, north-west, and north-east regions of Kazakhstan that border Russia. Also, there is a large population of Russians and Russian-speaking minorities in the city of Almaty (former capital of Kazakhstan) in the south.

In the country as a whole, ethnic Russians constitute just under one third of the population. They are racially, linguistically, culturally and religiously distinct from the Kazakh majority.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most of the Russians in Kazakhstan live in urban areas and culturally their lives are similar to the lives of those in Russia. They still watch primarily Russian TV channels and programs, listen to Russian and foreign music, and cook Russian food (as well as some Central Asian dishes). Many city-dwellers also have a small plot of land outside the city (called "dacha") where they grow vegetables, fruit trees, and berry bushes.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Most of the Russians in Kazakhstan would say they are traditionally Russian Orthodox believers (approx. over 90%) even though some of them might not believe there is a God. Maybe one out of ten Russians would actually attend the Russian Orthodox church (primarily older people and that only on major holidays like Christmas and Easter).

So the majority would be very nominally Russian Orthodox and, in fact, have a mixture of atheism, universal power/God, folk beliefs/traditionalism, with a throw-in "new age horoscope and aliens" "pie" of a belief system (not really a system).

Young people are more interested in getting a good education, learning different languages, and making a career in order to leave Kazakhstan if given the opportunity.

Evangelical Christians are less than a half of a percent of the population of Kazakhstan and are usually Russian-speaking (very few Kazakh believers). With the new religious law being enforced in Kazakhstan, it is harder for evanglical communities to survive. The government agencies propagate against Evangelical Christians and portray them as dangerous sects and cults through media and education.

What Are Their Needs?

Some of their basic needs are for the protection of human rights (especially where there is religious persecution), equality instead of discrimination (e.g. equal employment opportunities), opportunities to preserve their ethnic, linguistic and cultural identity.

It is sad to see the continued migration of Russians out of Kazakhstan because it also means "brain-drain" for Kazakhstan (with total population of less than 16 million people).

Since at least 2011, in the name of curbing extremism, religion laws in violation of the freedom of religion guaranteed in the Kazakhstan Constitution require churches to register and various local governments have been banning religious groups that have less than 50 members, confiscating literature, and fining groups that have violated these religion laws. As of October 2012, a third of all religious groups have been reportedly shut down. Unregistered Protestant groups, which seem to be particularly targeted, have been forced underground, but even then the government has sought to crack down on such groups by raiding the homes where these groups have been meeting.

As of March 2013, proposed changes to the criminal code threaten to imprison the leaders of unregistered religious groups. Christians have also been targeted since January 2013 for distributing religious literature on the streets or for otherwise sharing their faith.

Prayer Points

peaceful living of Russians along with other ethnicities in Kazakhstan
economic development and political stability
religious freedom and strengthening of the Evangelical communities

Scripture Prayers for the Russian in Kazakhstan.

More news on religious freedoms in Kazakhstan can be followed on Forum18 news at

Profile Source:   A Worker in Kazakhstan and Rachel Routt  

Additional Info
Global Prayer Digest: 2006-10-10
People Name General Russian
People Name in Country Russian
Population this Country 3,486,000
Population all Countries 134,087,000
Total Countries 71
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 3
Unreached No
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 2  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed
Alternate Names Eluosi; Olossu; Russ
People ID 14598
ROP3 Code 108452
Country Kazakhstan
Region Asia, Central
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 47  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Country Kazakhstan
Region Asia, Central
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 47  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)

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Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Language Russian
Language Code rus   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 2
Secondary Languages
Primary Language Russian
Language Code rus   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 2
Secondary Languages
People Groups Speaking Russian

Primary Language:  Russian

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1815-1993)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1821-1991)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1875-2016)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Online New Testament
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio
Film / Video God's Story video
Film / Video Video / Animation
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Russian
Film / Video Love letter to you from scripture
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels
Film / Video Magdalena video
Film / Video My Last Day video, anime
Film / Video Rivka video
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children
Film / Video The Hope Video
General Bible for Children
General Biblical answers to your questions
General Four Spiritual Laws
Primary Religion: Christianity
Religion Subdivision: Orthodox
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 1.23 %)
55.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
8.00 %
37.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
1.0 %
96.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
2.0 %
Roman Catholic
1.0 %
Photo Source AV Photographer - Pixabay  Creative Commons 
Profile Source A Worker in Kazakhstan and Rachel Routt  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more