Kazakhstan: the genesis of the nation’s media system

Balakina Yuliya Aleksandrovna

Velikoselsky Mikhail Yuryevich

Maxim Anastasia Andreevna

St Petersburg University

          Kazakhstan: the genesis of the nation’s media system


For Kazakhstan, national independence has become a means of achieving strategic national goals. It has generated positive dynamics in the development of Kazakhstan as an independent democratic state occupying a worthy place in international politics.

Keywords: Kazakhstan, the media system of Kazakhstan.

БАЛАКИНА Юлия Александровна

Великосельский Михаил Юрьевич

Максим Анастасия Андреевна

Санкт-Петербургский государственный университет

             Казахстан: генезис развития медиасистемы

 Аннотация: Приобретение независимости для Казахстана стало средством достижения стратегических национальных целей. В первую очередь, это положительная динамика развития Казахстана в качестве независимого демократического государства занимающее достойное место в международной политике.

Ключевые слова: Казахстан, медиасистема Казахстана.

On December 16, 1991, Kazakhstan passed the Constitutional Law on the Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In 2011, the country celebrated the 20th anniversary of its independence. A rather short period of time in terms of history, it was saturated with large-scale government changes that entailed a process of political, social, economic, and other changes in the life of the country.

For Kazakhstan, national independence has become a means of achieving strategic national goals. Firstly, it has generated positive dynamics in the development of Kazakhstan as an independent democratic state occupying a worthy place in international politics. Secondly, it has boosted economic growth and, as a result, led to an increase in the standard of living in the country. Independence has opened up new prospects for economic development in Kazakhstan due to access to world markets and technologies. The newly found independence has also allowed Kazakhstan to achieve a large degree of internal stability; new opportunities have emerged for the development of democratic institutions, including the media system. In the context of a new sovereign state, the media play a key role, since they reflect all the processes occurring in society and are able to influence the socio-political life in the country.

The media system of the Republic of Kazakhstan has been developing for more than two decades and has gone through a recent, but rather effective transition period. The fundamental political changes in Kazakhstan’s society in the 1990s led to a transformation of the media system; the very nature and functions of the media changed; accordingly, their influence on the political process has changed as well. The transformation took place in 4 stages, each of which was characterized by a unique combination of the role and functions of the media as an institution of Kazakhstani society.

Today, Kazakhstan is developing its media structure. State and commercial channels, newspapers, magazines are emerging. In 1998, the “Law on Mass Media” was adopted, which regulates the legal relations of the media as a legal entity with the authorities and the public. The media format is changing. There are new headings. There is a significant change in media content. In matters of domestic political life in Kazakhstan, the media fully covers achievements and problems related to maintaining interethnic harmony and political stability. Media infrastructure is changing radically with changing political and economic life in the country. The role of the media in the democratic transformation of public life is growing. Mass media are acquiring new functions that emphasize the independence of the media as a social institution.

The adoption of the Declaration of Independence has had an important impact on the media system and the media legislation of the new sovereign state. Currently, the main priority of the country’s internal policy is the preservation of interethnic harmony in a multi-ethnic society and the media play a key role in it. Journalism of sovereign Kazakhstan has a long distinctive history and tradition of continuity. The origin of the Kazakh press did not begin until the 19th century and for many years the journalism of Kazakhstan remained understudied. In the Soviet Kazakhstan’s journalism was rather peculiar. During this period, under the pressure of the communist ideology, regional content of the analyzed publications remained underrepresented. In this paper, this period is viewed in the light of the history of journalism of a sovereign independent state. The focus is on research and an objective display of the spiritual heritage of a people who had been seeking independence for centuries. After independence, the Kazakh media had to find new ways of development in an independent state and a multi-ethnic society.

During the existence of an independent Kazakhstan, the media have become the most important political instrument of influencing political reality and public consciousness. The media play an important role in shaping ethnic policy in the Republic of Kazakhstan. The special social role of the media is the development of public consciousness and behavior, which determines the relations between the state and society.

We found that the newest political and information technologies used by the media can have a major impact on inter-ethnic processes in society. In multi-ethnic societies, the media can play a very positive role in consolidating a nation. By propagating common political interests and spreading the ideas of peaceful coexistence, necessary for the whole of society, the media, while changing themselves, contribute to the preservation of inter-ethnic harmony, respect and solidarity in multi-ethnic societies.

Despite the polyethnic character of Kazakhstani society the media effectively reach their goals. This is achieved by way targeting various social and ethnic groups.

It is the print media that have the most important influence on the process of forming inter-ethnic relations, since they are the most accessible and widespread sources of information. In addition, modern media not only inform, but also have the ability to impose, form stereotypes and manipulate the minds of people, including in the field of interethnic interactions. Multi-ethnicity is generally perceived by Kazakhstan as a positive factor. The study find out that balanced reporting in the print media, in particular, Kazakhstani national newspapers, such as Kazakhstanskaya Pravda, due to their ability to promptly inform virtually the entire population and mobilize public opinion, plays a crucial role in this process.

Journalists emphasize the role of the Kazakh people in interethnic interaction who welcomed and supported all ethnic groups in Kazakhstan, providing them with a moral sense of finding a new homeland. Tolerance is genetically characteristic of the Kazakhs, and this has a positive impact on the ethnopolitical processes in the country.

The main positive quality of stories run by the Kazakhstanskaya Pravda print edition is the absence of unnecessary references to the ethnicity of individuals involved in cases when this is not necessary, e.g. in police reports. Along with this, positive facts from the life of the ethnic groups of Kazakhstan receive widespread coverage. Every event characterizing the harmonious development of inter-ethnic communication is highlighted.

As for the existing problems regarding the status and use of the state language on Kazakhstani television, one can observe clear violations in the required 50/50 proportion. All information in the state language is aired at an inconvenient time for the viewer either in translation or as concerts. As far as the linguistic content of Kazakhstan’s print media, mass media using Russian as the language of interethnic communication prevails over those which publish in Kazakh. It is still a difficult problem for Kazakhstan. Kazakhstanskaya Pravda has no editions in the Kazakh language, despite the fact that Kazakh has a state language status.

The levels of study and use of Kazakh remain so low that representatives of the main ethnic group assess this problem as crucial, including in the context of the formation of the ethnic policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Kazakh-speaking sources, e.g. the social and political newspaper Egemen Kazakhstan, remain unpopular with the majority of Kazakhstanis, and are inaccessible to those who do not speak the state language. We believe that increasing the prominence of the Kazakh language in the media will increase the number of people who will want to speak it and thereby increase the level of demand for the media in the state language.

The content model of not only print, but also other mass media was fashioned by the Assembly of Peoples of Kazakhstan, a unique institution in terms of both essence and intention, created in 1995. It was during this period that there was an increase in ethnically-oriented content. Despite this fact, print media still lack coverage of the cultural and historical heritage of all ethnic groups in Kazakhstan, especially regarding Kazakh history. Modern media and ethnopolitical processes define each other in sovereign Kazakhstan.


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