december 16, 1986: mikhail gorbachev appoints gennady kolbin, an ethnic russian with almost no contact with kazakhstan, to lead the kazakh SSR. protests erupt in alma-ata (now called almaty, which at that time was the capital of the KSSR). the soviet police crack down, massacring between 160 and 200 civilians, and wounding at least as many. in the end the protesters got what they wanted when nursultan nazarbayev (an ethnic kazakh from kazakhstan) was appointed to replace kolbin in 1989. the events that began on december 16, 1986 later became known as the "zheltoqsan massacre", or just "zheltoqsan" (желтоқсан, "december" in kazakh).
december 16, 1991: nazarbayev uses the fifth anniversary of zheltoqsan to declare kazakhstan's independence from the soviet union (the last republic of the USSR to do so). december 16th becomes kazakhstani independence day.
december 16 2009: mrs. noz and i leave for kazakhstan for the very first time, without a clue about what we are in for.
december 16, 2010: mrs. noz, noz jr., and i finally all come home, a happy ending after all.
happy independence day.