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The Silent Steppe

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Mukhamet Shayakhmetov was seven years old when the Soviet government's drive to collectivise farming and herding in all forms, including nomadic, reached the vast steppes of Russia's central Asian empire, and specifically East Kazakhstan. By forcing individual farmers to give up their sheep and cattle and join agricultural 'brigades', collectivisation brought to an end to the existence Mukhamet's family and people had led since time immemorial. Worse, Mukhamet's father was imprisoned as a kulak or 'class enemy', leaving his family stripped of their livestock and possessions and ostracised from society.

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