The Virgin Lands opening (its “mass phase” took place 1954-6) was the last largescale Soviet-era migration project that contributed to the centrifugal movement of people from the centers to the borderlands of the Soviet empire. Nikita Khrushchev’s project was initiated and implemented with the needs of Moscow and the Soviet nation in mind, rather than those of people in Central Asia, but despite that, it brought a lasting transformation of society and nature to Kazakhstan. The Virgin Lands were not “abandoned,” and the project was not merely a chapter in the history of Soviet power struggles or an episode of voluntaristic agricultural policy, as some Western textbooks and the works of Sovietologists suggest.1 Kazakh demographers have estimated that between one and two million Slavic settlers came to Kazakhstan as a result of the Virgin Lands opening, and throughout the 1990s, Kazakh and Western scholars and observers agreed that this was a “heavy price” to pay for the “mixed successes” of the Virgin Lands episode.2 More positive assessments are rare nowadays. The former celebrations of internationalism, of the “great friendship of peoples,” and of the Virgin Lands as a special “planet of 100 languages” have gone out of fashion. A new Kazakh history textbook for university students states more prosaically that one of the main results of the Virgin Lands was the “formation of a broad zone of socio-cultural and ethnic contacts, which invigorated the internationalization of public life,” but the text provides little substantiation and no examples of culture in this Virgin Lands zone, pointing only to negative long-term effects on Kazakh culture as a whole.3