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| Chokan Valikhanov
Born in 1835 into a wealthy and powerful Kazakh clan, Chokan Valikhanov was one of the first 'people of the steppe' to receive a Russian education and military training. His famous mission to Kashgar in Chinese Turkestan, which began in June 1858 and lasted for more than a year, saw him in disguise as a Tashkent merchant risking his life to gather information not just on current events, but also on the ethnic make-up, geography, flora and fauna of this unknown region. He was elected to membership of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society and was given a private audience by the Tsar. He struck up strong and lasting friendships with the likes of the Russian explorer Pyotr Semyonov-Tian-Shansky and the writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Valikhanov died of tuberculosis in 1865, aged only 29.
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