Dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and formation of independent state of Kazakhstan

The article gives a detailed analysis of economic and political reasons for the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the features of independent Kazakhstan formation. In order to disclose the contents the authors of the article draw the conclusions based on historic facts. They analyze the obstacles and historical processes connected with the appearance of independent Kazakhstan on historical arena. 

Dissolution of the Soviet superpower that emerged after the seizure of state power by the Bolsheviks in Russia in October 1917, was caused not by an external enemy, all the major problems were concentrated within the state. One of the primary reasons was the political regime established by the Bolsheviks; another important factor was the economic basis and economic relations.

If we go back to the origins of the formation of the Soviet proletarian state, we can note that it was based on the class system, patroness, intolerance to dissidence and freedom of speech. In addition, the recognition of an only Communist Party, strict censorship, harassment of opposition associations, elimination of private ownership of land, repressions of the people discontented with the Soviet authorities, etc. led the country to the destruction of its statehood.

Lenin as a head of the Soviet state, in an attempt to create a new state mechanism, its legal system and structure of government, opposed the bourgeois parliamentarism; instead he proposed a new body — the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, and later joined by Peasant Deputies. According to the revolution leader, the people should rule the country through representative bodies, which seemed a perfect structure. The Congress of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies was recognized as Higher authorities; it elected the working Central Executive Committee — the CEC, empowered to create a government of the Soviet of People's Deputies — the SPD.

At the beginning of Soviet power formation, the economy was supported by the communist ideology and the revolutionary enthusiasm of the people who were promised to build a fair proletarian state, with no exploitation of a man by a man, and the main principle of life would be as follows — From each person according to his abilities, to each person according to his contribution.

After the death of the leader, the other ways of the further socialistic development were offered. With the establishment of the totalitarian regime of Stalin, the Soviet state economy took the Stalin version of development. The five-year plans of national economic development were introduced, the main emphasis was on heavy industry — engineering, metallurgy, fuel and energy industries, as well as creation of local rich mineral resources and new mining complexes. Heavy industry developed at the expense of other industries [1; 281]. 

However, the establishment of five-year plans and the strict control of their implementation by the state punitive bodies, which sometimes led to the shooting of managers and factory directors, finally raised the industry of the Soviet Union destroyed after the civil war and foreign intervention. Due to this, the first fiveyear plan of 1928–1932 was completed in four years. Stalin personally used the unlimited possibilities of punitive administrative methods to achieve his goals, although economists warned him about the impossibility of the plan for its inflated figures.

It should be noted that the largest part of work in performance of Stalin five-year plans was carried out by the prisoners of GULAG camps. The camps were built in severe lands of Siberia for construction of hydroelectric power stations, in cold steppes of Kazakhstan where the organization of coal mines, metallurgical and copper-smelting complexes prepared. The camp economy was one of important branches of the national economy as «free» labor was used for building the most difficult objects. Besides, the working conditions were intolerable and natural climate was severe, and gradually the enemies of the Soviet power were destroyed. There was no lack of this labor in the country.

Still, the essential changes in economy of the USSR didn't happen even after Stalin's death, the XX congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and recognition of a cult of personality, the «thaw» in the social and economic sphere, ease of political tension between NATO and the countries of the Warsaw Pact. Still there were five-year plans, distribution of material wealth at discretion of the party on politically important industries, weak capital investments into modernization of production and an inequality of distribution of resources between civil and military industry. This disproportion in economy and a factor of raw orientation of the country, created lag of the USSR from other states which literally for short term changed their economies and reached the developed countries of Europe, for example, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, countries of Western Europe, etc.

After N.Khrushchev's removal in 1964 from a post of the CPSU Secretary General and the beginning of Brezhnev's board, negative tendencies in economy amplified. L.Brezhnev conducted a conservative policy, during his management was formed a social group of the party nomenclature which openly used the privileges, that is the corruption system of the power amplified.

That time the rating of the country development depended not only on the amount of the extracted oil, mined coal and melted steel, but also on building and use of new technologies with the information on the first place. According to the Russian scientists, during 1970–1980es was the period of the beginning of scientific and technical progress called «microelectronic revolution»; the USSR lagged behind for many decades not only the leading Western countries, but also the developing states of Southeast Asia [2, page 759].

According to the Russian scientists, the main problem of economic recession in the USSR in comparison with the developed powers was in disproportional distribution of financial resources between various industries. For example, in the USA by 1985 the bulk of a gross product made 67 % and was created by the service sector — trade and transport and only 31 % went from industry and construction. In the USSR, the ratio was 38 % and 45 %. They also note that 17 % of a gross national product — GNP belonged to the agriculture, whereas in America only 2 %. That is, in the 1970es the Soviet economy lagged behind economies of the developed Western countries in technologies, and also on efficiency indicators, therefore, the country was losing rates of economic development [2; 759,760].

The system of the economic relations which was initially created in the USSR was deprived of internal incentive for the growth. It existed due to the rigid political regime and developed extensively. Time demanded changes and industry modernization. However its reconstruction could be connected with the failure of the five-year plan. Capital investments were necessary for modernization and reconstruction of production, purchase of new technologies but the treasury was empty. Therefore many productions worked on old technologies with outdated machines and the equipment, and with a high share of physical work.

As a result, the government was oriented to the raw sector and increase in energy resources production. The scientists give the following figures: 20 % of the extracted oil, 11 % of gas, 31 % of potash fertilizers, 24 % of cotton, etc. were exchanged for the latest industrial equipment and grain in 1985; were spent. The scientists draw the conclusion that this stabilized an economic situation in the country for some time. Later with a raise of oil prices in the world market, as a result of political conflicts between the countries of the Arab world, the inflow of currency began to feed the national economy steadily. Receiving high petrodollar dividends, the USSR government prepared the global programs for development of Western Siberia, construction of automobile plants — VAZ, KAMAZ, new petrochemical plants and the enterprises of the defensive industry [2; 760].

The economy of the USSR was directed on military strengthening therefore the existing military industrial complex was always financially supported by the government for development of new types of arms and military equipment. As a result the most part of economy worked for military industrial complex. For example, the share of military expenses in GNP made 20–25 %, and production of military equipment made 60 % of the total amount of mechanical engineering production in the country [2; 761]. Intimidated by the threat of new war and future confrontation, the militaries received as much as it was necessary, while civil industry got a minimum of budgetary funds. It was very difficult to produce and develop something in consumer goods industry, mechanical engineering, instrument making, electro technical production. Therefore, the domestic goods were not competitive with European, and even their production did not adequately satisfy the population’s demands.

In the 1970–1980es the country spent 700 billion rubles for arms, thus, whereas the national income in 1970 made 290 billion rubles, and in 1980 — 579 billion rubles. Respectively, in the USSR defensive industry the number of employees was 2–3 times higher than in the USA (5–8 million and 2,2 million people respectively) [2; 761].

But, in the eighties the energy costs fall in the world market and right after it there is a large-scale increase of a debt of the USSR. As a result of payment of the foreign loans is made due to the new subsidies. It influences all spheres of life, and especially welfare of the Soviet citizens [2; 761].

The existing dependence on sale of energy sources and the need to reconstruct the economy by an example of the developed countries, did not push the party government of the USSR on the way of modernization as it was very difficult and depended on many factors. For example, modernization demanded to change the economic basis of existing socio-political system and introduce the market relations, but it would lead to the destruction of established party structures, etc. Therefore the reforms in economy which could save the country from global crisis were not accepted as they threatened the authorities of the multimillion country. Apparently, the economic model of the Soviet state was initially incorrect, though it worked for nearly 70 years. This economy did not have any internal mechanisms for self-development, the main principles of market legal relationship such as private property, competition, interest of each person in the result, and this led to inevitable crisis.

Absence of products in the shops, deficiency of goods, corruption in all spheres of government and the party, falling of discipline, and general disintegration of the party and state elite and local executive power — this all started creating a nervousness in society. The criticism of the existing order began among people; there were strikes and skirmishes between the population and law enforcement bodies.

The statesmen, who came to the power after L.Brezhnev's death in 1982, tried to change the situation. For example Yu.V.Andropov, the former chairman of National Security Committee, knew the situation in society very well and started taking necessary measures. First of all he began a struggle against the corruption on higher levels, organized the control over the law enforcement agencies, especially the Ministry of Internal Affairs, introduced the rigid discipline at the enterprises, plants, in public institutions. However, he did not intend to change the political system to correct the economy [2; 764].

Andropov strengthened the power of the state security agencies in all spheres of the Soviet society life. The National Security Committees were restored in railway, sea and air transport, in army and navy. Another reason for degradation of economic situation was the war in Afghanistan which was supported by the new Secretary General and demanded big material inputs. After Yu.V.Andropov's death in February, 1984 K.U.Chernenko became the Head of state. He died in a year on March 10, 1985. After Chernenko the post of the USSR Secretary General was taken by M.S.Gorbachev, who was the first young candidate, he was 54 years old [2; 764].

With Gorbachev in power in the USSR some new words came to the political terminology — «publicity», «reorganization», «democracy», «socialism with a human face», etc. The new Head of state intended to offer the country absolutely different policy, to change the people’s position, to make the life of the Soviet citizens worthy, and, certainly, to return the USSR its former military-political positions in the world.

With the help of mass media Gorbachev brought up problematic issues, gave simple people the hope. The word «perestroika» (reorganization) became a symbol of Gorbachev’s era. Every federal republic including Kazakhstan, and each citizen, waited for changes of their living conditions changes in the state towards democracy. Soviet people were full of hopes for weakening of party dictatorship, censorship abolition, termination of prosecution of dissidents, cease of private life controlled by the party bodies and  appearance of the real Parliament, President and the Government which would be elected by direct, secret and equal vote. 

The new Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union M.Gorbachev gathered a team of scientists for reforming of the country. A.G.Aganbegyan, L.I.Abalkin, O.T.Bogomolov, T.I.Zaslavskaya, E.M.Primakov had to develop and offer in short terms the plan of improvement of the public administration mechanism and introduce the  achievements  of  scientific  and  technical  progress  in  a  national economy [2; 765].

The concept of the group work in 1985 was to return to the Lenin plan of socialism and unite socialism with democracy. The head of state counted that administrative and organizational measures had to strengthen the order and discipline, and the most important, to activate a human factor [2; 765].

Russian scientists believe that at that moment, in spring of 1985, neither Gorbachev nor his team of reformers could imagine the real scale of economic and social crisis in the country. Therefore they did not have an exact way out from the created situation, namely transformation from socialism was impossible.

Due to the mentioned objective reasons at the very beginning of reorganization, Gorbachev chose the wrong directions and object of reforms. M.Gorbachev and his team of reformers began the transformations with implementation of the concept of «acceleration» of social and economic development of the country. At the same time, his assistants were late with adoption of essentially important decisions. The necessity of political reform was realized by the Head of state only 2 years later [2; 765].

The country leaders, according to Russian scientists, faced a difficult choice of model for transition to the market relations. There were many options: the European model or the Chinese model of market transformations which went under rigid party control, etc. If to take the Chinese option of reforms, Gorbachev was their supporter for some time, there were several obstacles, such as demographic conditions, mentality, structure of economy and other the factors radically different from our state.

Therefore the Soviet experts-reformists relied on the experience of Czechoslovak-Hungarian reforms. The most important, as the scientists note, in spring of 1985 the reforms were of a political character rather than theoretical. The modernization was possible only under the rigid political control, however the party authorities did not accept idea of modernization. The reformers realized later that the political reforms had to be made before economical ones [2; 766].

Secretary General Gorbachev tried to improve the situation in the country with publicity and democracy in politics, ideology, science and education. Fight against alcoholism or antialcoholic campaign became one of Gorbachev's reforms, having good intentions for the country and people. According to the data submitted to M.Gorbachev by experts, the use of alcohol threatened with genetic degeneration of the nation. E.A.Turkebayev submitted the facts that in 1955 the alcohol consumption by adult population per year was 2,5–2,8 litres; in 1985 it was already 12 litres. In this connection the government made the decision to reduce alcohol production, its import and production of initial raw materials, the sale of alcohol drinks including beer [3; 203].

Besides, the wine producing plants which brands were known in the world market since the imperial period were liquidated or reoriented. The cutting down of vineyards caused the huge loss of wine-making production of the country, in particular the southern national republics — Georgia, Armenia, Dagestan, etc.

The history had known the examples of such a rapid introduction of the «dry» law. In the USA in the 1930–40es, the restriction on sale of alcohol production, led to the rise of organized crime because of «shadow» sale of alcohol. Russia had their own experience during the imperial period when the III State Duma in 1908 issued the Bill on fight against alcoholism in the country. There were the serious facts of alcohol abuse by the population. However, careful studying of different legal relationship connected with alcohol prohibition, made the Commission draw the conclusion that all alcohol monopoly belonged to the state. Besides, there were 120 thousand state taverns which brought 871 477 000 rubles state income. As a result, half of the 3 billion state budget consisted of the excise tax from sale of vodka production in 1908 [4; 26]. Obviously, the Bill which was desirable by the democrats and some Liberal parties, was not adopted because it threatened the economic security of Russia.

Gorbachev's government did not take this fact in consideration. Due to the quick reduction of alcohol sale the state budget lost 5 billion rubles, the total loss was 112,3 billion rubles for the period 1985–1989 [3; 204].

The «shadow» market of alcohol-containing production appeared in the country. Mafia organizations imported alcohol from China. The law enforcement bodies were also involved in alcohol transportation. Besides, a large amount of drugs were delivered to the country from Afghanistan through the southern federal republics. Thus, struggle with one evil lead to another problem. 

With the lack of alcohol products, the population of the country was poisoned with substitutes, homedistilled vodka, alcohol-containing drinks diluted with technical alcohol, etc.

Gorbachev's reforms also provided such points as «acceleration» of the social sphere, development of power industry, development of housing construction, etc. They were not completed as in the state had no budgetary funds and time.

On April 26 in 1986 there was a Chernobyl accident which caused huge costs to eliminate the consequences of radioactive pollution of the territory. The damage to the state from accident was enormous and exceeded 100 billion dollars [3; 206].

Publicity, democracy and reorganization — the slogans of the reformation in the USSR caused the economic loss both to the industries and the country’s political image for national republics, Kazakhstan in particular. So, at the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of KazSSR in December, 1986 G.Kolbin was appointed First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of KazSSR. He was the representative from the Center and replaced D.Kunayev on this post [5; 187]. This event caused the public discontent, and people came to the central square in Alma-Ata. The protesters did not to tolerate the arbitrariness of the Center which still did not reckon the opinion of the people of the national republics. The Alma-Ata events and events in other republics became the first signs of disobedience to the Center, desire to leave from the guardianship of Moscow and marked the beginning of the USSR dissolution.

Gorbachev's government released the last dissidents from the places of imprisonment, psychiatric hospitals. Academician A.N.Sakharov and others returned from Gorky exile. At the conference in 1988 the party initiated the amendments to the Constitution. According to them the Soviet of People's Deputies became the supreme body in the USSR. The I Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR took place in 1989, M.Gorbachev was elected the first USSR President. His functions included the management of the USSR foreign and domestic policy and Government appointment. In 1990 Article 6 of the Constitution of the USSR was amended. The Article eliminated monopolization of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and admitted the multi-party system [6; 411].

The same year various informal movements and anti-fascist social movements, such as «Democratic Union» led by V.Novodvorskaya and E.Debryanskaya appeared [2; 777]. By 1989 there was a final polarization of the informal movement.

In August, 1991 in the territory of the former Soviet Union there was a struggle between M.S.Gorbachev's government and a new political leader B.Yeltsin. By that time the old problems of the USSR such as ethnic question began to rise. In the political lexicon it was called «the parade of sovereignties», this name was used in journalism in the process of sovereignization of republics. The beginning of this process was laid by the events in the Transcaucasian and Central Asian region — Nagorno-Karabakh, Fergana, Sumgait, New Uzen (1988); in Baku, Dushanbe, Tbilisi, Sukhumi (1989). Bloody events of national reasons in these regions took the lives of many people [2; 787]. The Center couldn't solve any of these problems as for that short time all federal republics, and some autonomous, adopted the Declaration on the sovereignty, on rule of Republican Laws over the Union Laws. Some of them adopted the Law on national language, declared formation of army, national currency, there were new names of the republics — Moldova, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and others.

In his political struggle with M.Gorbachev Boris Yeltsin achieved a post of the Russian President, he was elected by a direct, national and secret ballot. The institute of Presidency was planned for Russia as for the republics of the USSR, but not as for the independent state. As one of B.Yeltsin’s closest assistants wrote, it was initially supposed that Russia would be a part of the Soviet Union [7; 32].

But, as American politician Thomas Graham notes, the political situation changed, and Yeltsin's status had to be equal with Gorbachev's status, and make him not only the individual governor of Russia, but into a co-President of the USSR [7; 32].

The new text of the Union Treaty was prepared by 1991. This treaty practically deprived the Union authorities of the control levers of federal republics. In their hands there was a financial policy and internal defense, all other matters were resolved at the republican level. It meant that the USSR as the state ceased to exist [8; 519].

The August putsch of State Committee on the State of Emergency (SCSE) happened on July 19–20, 1991 in the absence of Gorbachev who was on vacation in the Crimea. The reason was in the Decree of Russian President B.Yeltsin on July 20, 1991 about deportation in the RSFSR of all public institutions of the Soviet Union. Vice-President of the USSR Yanayev, Prime Minister Pavlov, Chairman of the Committee for State Security Kryuchkov, Minister of Defence Yazov, and Minister of Internal Affairs Pugo participated  in an unfortunate revolution [8; 527]. They intended to remove Gorbachev from the post and to introduce a state of emergency. However the Government of the Russian Federation led by Yeltsin and his supporters, did not allow troops to make a revolution [9; 502, 503].

The August events detonated the Soviet Union dissolution. The Baltic republics were the first to withdraw from the USSR, their independence was recognized by the Decree of Russian President on August 24, 1991. The referendum was held in Ukraine, and it supported an exit from the USSR and on August 25, 1991 Ukraine declared the formation of the independent state and refused to sign the new Union Treaty. Ukraine was followed by the other republics except Russia and Kazakhstan [10; 517].

The Belovezhskaya Pushcha Agreement was signed on December 8, 1991 at the meeting of Presidents of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus in Minsk. It was declared that USSR ceased to exist as the subject of international law and geopolitical reality [11; 118].

In 1991 the republics of the former Soviet Union declared their independence by their Declarations and Laws. Academician S.S.Sartayev recollects: «We were a bit late with this question. The Draft of the Constitutional Law on independence was prepared by me, Senator E.Nurpeisov and T.Donakov, and in July, 1991 we presented it to Presidium of the USSR Supreme Council. The project was ready but some politicians dropped a hint of doubt whether we needed such Law if we were already an independent country. At the meeting of Presidium of the KSSR Supreme Council on December 9, 1991 Deputy M.Kozybayev and I brought up a question of the necessity to adopt he Constitutional Law on independence. Our offer was accepted unanimously by the members of the KSSR Supreme Council, and I was appointed as its speaker» [12; 26].

Academician writes: «On December 16, 1991 I, with the pride in my heart, came up to the tribune of the KSSR Supreme Council and started the report on independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan. I noticed that most of the deputies sitting in the chamber supported my ideas, others did not» [12; 27].

Academician notes that he reported on secession of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia, Moldova, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan from the former USSR. During discussion various opinions were expressed on the sovereignty of Kazakhstan, some were against the adoption of such law at all. Nevertheless, the Law on independence was adopted on December 16, 1991 by the vote. 270 voices were for, 12 against. From now on December 16 was declared officially the Independence Day of the Republic of Kazakhstan [12, 28].

The country got the independence, its land, waters, riches, natural resources serve the peoples of Republic. Its territory is independent, and is inviolable, nobody has the right to interfere with its internal affairs. National currency was introduced in Kazakhstan, and it was necessary to adopt the Basic Law — the Constitution [12; 30].

The election of the first President of Kazakhstan N.A.Nazarbayev on December 1, 1991 was the highest political event of that period, and on December 10, 1991 in KSSR the law on renaming the KazSSR into the Republic of Kazakhstan was adopted [13; 36].

Before that, on December 22, 1989, the Law on Languages was adopted. The Kazakh language received the status of the state language. For that small period the Laws and Codes directed on formation of market economy, private property and business, the law on rent of country economy, land code, etc. were adopted [13; 38].

Summing up the aforesaid, it should be noted that the fundamental idea on which Bolsheviks agitated the people, tired of exploitation by noblemen, landowners and the bourgeoisie was the opportunity to govern the country through the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. But, unfortunately it did not happen. The Soviets were formed, carried out «grandiose» campaigns, the best leaders of production were the first in chambers of Soviets. However they did not solve anything. Neither did the local authorities because there had been the decisions taken by the Central Committees of All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks), accepted by Plenum, then by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, its resolution and the decisions. Therefore the main mechanism of the Soviet state did not work. The party controlled almost all branches of economy, institutes of political system of the Soviet society, and private lives of the citizens. Party officials regulated the process of production and each step of agriculture. Considering the huge territory of the USSR and different climatic conditions, it led to labor productivity decrease and absurd situations. For example, party officials decided when to begin sowing and when to take the crop. These instructions went from the Center, bringing into bewilderment the local authorities and scientists-landowners who saw the failure of their crop, and a huge work of peasants went to waste.

Implementation of agricultural plans and government purchases was the most important indicator of activity of the  enterprises  therefore  every year  the  growing requirements of the government  compelled   the management of the enterprises to write about produced but not existing production. Soon, such additions became the normal phenomenon in the USSR.

Public associations, for example, labor unions which had to protect workers and peasants, were engaged only building sanatoria and clinics for workers. While the labor unions in the West protected the rights of workers and improved the working conditions, demanded the pay rise and social security from employers, corporations and enterprises for salary increase. They achieved the results that each worker in the country with traditional democracy lived comfortably and was protected by the state.

Sovereign Kazakhstan passed a difficult historical way of formation of the national statehood which originated in 1465. Big efforts of the people, bloody wars with Dzungars and revolts against the colonial policy of tsarism, millions of the victims of our compatriots during the experiments of the Soviet authorities in agriculture, and during Stalin repressions — all this was necessary for achievement of sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan in 1991. For over two decades of independence of Kazakhstan, we considered the lessons of the past and we remember the tragic pages of our history which played a big role in formation of national statehood of Kazakhstan.

With the independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Government and President had to do a largescale work on adoption of fundamental Laws of the country, formation of political system and democratic Parliament and elaboration of further strategy for the sovereign Kazakhstan. 



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Name of author: G.Z.Kozhakhmetov, R.B.Botagarin 
Year: 2016
City: Karaganda
Category: Law