Basmachi Revolt


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Basmachi Revolt

 

an armed counterrevolutionary nationalist movement in Middle Asia from 1917 to 1926. It was a form of class struggle of the feudal lords, beys, kulaks, mullahs, and nationalist bourgeoisie against the Soviet government. They were supported and directed by British and American interventionists, reactionary circles of Turkey, China, and Afghanistan, and the Russian White Guards. The ideological bases of the Basmachi revolt were pan-Islamism, pan-Turkism, and bourgeois nationalism. Among the direct leaders of the Basmachi revolt were the counterrevolutionary organizations Shura-i-Islam, Shura-i-Ulema, and Alash. After the creation of the counterrevolutionary “Kokand Autonomous Government” in 1917, these organizations formed bands of Basmachi and initiated armed struggle against the Soviet government with the intention of separating Turkestan from Soviet Russia and establishing a government of the nationalist bourgeoisie and feudal lords under the protection of foreign governments. Official representatives of foreign governments—F. Bailey, the chief of the British government’s military-diplomatic mission, and R. Tredwell, the American Consul—took part in the organization and arming of the Basmachi bands in the summer of 1918. British, Turkish, and White Guard officers were engaged in the formation and training of the Basmachi gangs. Beys, manaps, mullahs, bureaucrats, begs, and such were the ringleaders of the Basmachi bands. The Basmachi employed such tactics as surprise raids on Soviet military units, industrial objectives, railroad stations, depots, and populated areas, accompanied by mass murders, arson, and destruction. The Basmachi dealt particularly cruelly with Party and Soviet workers and also women who had given up the yashmak (veil). The first Basmachi detachments appeared in Kokand at the end of 1917 under the leadership of Irgash. In the spring of 1918 the Basmachi extended their active operations to the region of the city of Osh. In the autumn of 1918 the group of Basmachi headed by Madamin-bek appeared in the eastern part of Fergana Oblast. The Fergana Valley became the chief arena of the Basmachi movement in Turkestan in 1918–20. In August 1919, Madamin-bek, the ringleader of the “Turkestan Muslim White Guard,” concluded a military and political agreement for combined operations against the Soviet government with K. Monstrov, who led the kulak army (Southern Kirghizia). The Basmachi achieved their greatest development in September and October 1919, when the joint armed forces of the Fergana Basmachi and the kulak army seized Osh and Jalalabad, blockaded Andizhan, and began to threaten Fergana. Soviet forces on the Turkestan front (commanded by M. V. Frunze) defeated the kulak-Basmachi army in early March 1920. The Turkestan Commission of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR (M. V. Frunze, V. V. Kuibyshev, Ia. E. Rudzutak, and others), formed in October 1919, rendered great assistance to the peoples of Middle Asia in the struggle for Soviet power and the liquidation of the Basmachi.

The frequency of Basmachi raids (ringleader Kurshirmat) in Fergana increased again in the summer and autumn of 1920. By the end of 1920 the valley portion of Fergana had been cleared of Basmachi. By April 1921 up to 7,000 Basmachi remained in Fergana, approximately 7,000 in Bukhara, and 1,000 in Khiva. Enver Pasha, the former minister of war of Turkey, who had championed the shibboleth of the unification of all peoples professing Islam in a united Middle Asian Muslim government, arrived in Bukhara in October 1921. He succeeded in consolidating separate uncoordinated bands of Basmachi into an army (approximately 16,000 men), which seized a considerable amount of territory in the Bukhara People’s Soviet Republic in the spring of 1922.

The Soviet government and the Central Committee of the RCP (Bolsheviks) adopted decisive measures for the liquidation of Enver Pasha’s Basmachi army. The dekhkan (peasant) self-defense detachments and detachments of the volunteer militia and the national units of the Red Army rendered much assistance to the regular units of the Red Army in the struggle with the Basmachi. In June 1922, Enver’s bands were dealt a decisive blow, and in the middle of July Diushambe (later Dushanbe) was liberated; Enver was killed in one of the skirmishes during August. By the end of 1922 the main forces of the Basmachi in Fergana and Khorezm were defeated. However, the reactionary circles of Afghanistan, China, and Iran permitted the shattered remnants of the Basmachi gangs to take shelter in the territories of their states, and they helped them to reinforce their troops, rearm themselves, and once more invade the Soviet territories of Middle Asia. The Basmachi bands of Ibrahim Bek in Bukhara and Junaid Khan in Khorezm managed to hold out for the longest time. The band of Junaid Khan was liquidated early in 1924; the gangs of Ibrahim Bek (approximately 4,000 men) were routed in 1926. In 1929 and the early 1930’s, Basmachi detachments again penetrated from abroad and attempted to ruin the collectivization of farming in Middle Asia, but they were liquidated.

The Basmachi caused enormous damage to the national economy of Middle Asia. This was especially reflected in cotton growing: in Turkestan 422,700 desiatinas (approximately 460,700 ha) of land were under cotton cultivation in 1913, but only 87,600 desiatinas (approximately 95,500 ha) in 1920. Livestock decreased by more than 50 percent during these years. Thousands of dekhkans supporting the Soviet government were wiped out by the Basmachi. From 1917 to 1923 the population was reduced by one-third in Fergana Oblast alone. The leaders of the Basmachi, taking advantage of the complex military and political situation in Middle Asia and the ignorance and religious fanaticism of the dekhkan masses, attracted some of the working population to their side. The imperialists of many countries supplied the Basmachi with all the necessities (weapons, food, and money).

In the struggle with the Basmachi, the Soviet government combined military actions with economic measures and political efforts. The implementation in Middle Asia of Leninist principles of national policy and Party measures for the development of the dekhkan labor economy (favorable taxation, commercial development, water and land reform, and so on) played a large role in the liquidation of the Basmachi.

Communist organizations in Tashkent, Andizhan, Kyzyl-Kiia, Namangan, and Samarkand played an important role in the defeat of the Basmachi. Commanders in chief in Fergana included I. G. Bregadze, N. A. Verevkin-Rokhal’skii, A. P. Sokolov, and A. I. Todorskii. Soviet units and elements under the command of K. Alikhanov, K. E. Anderson, S. M. Budennyi, E. F. Kuzhello, A. Kuliev, M. K. Levandovskii, Ia. A. Mel’kumov, V. D. Sokolovskii, N. D. Tomin, and others distinguished themselves in combat with the Basmachi, as did the local national elements of volunteer detachments commanded by Iu. Akhunbabaev, D. Zakirov, A. Osmonbekov, K. Sardarov, A. Saryev, A. Sulaimanov, A. Urazbekov, A. Iarmukha-medov, and others.

REFERENCES

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Etherton, P. T. In the Heart of Asia. London, 1925.
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P. P. NIKISHOV