National-State Demarcation of the Soviet Republics of Middle Asia
National-State Demarcation of the Soviet Republics of Middle Asia
(national delimitation), territorial rearrangements carried out by the Soviet state in 1924–25 and based on the freely expressed will of the peoples of Middle Asia and on the nationalities policy of the Communist Party. The national-state demarcation of Middle Asia was a stage in the formation of a unified Soviet socialist state.
The creation of Soviet national states among the peoples of Middle Asia began with the victory of the October Revolution in 1917. However, the process was delayed somewhat by a number of objective factors, including the economic and cultural backwardness of the region, the complexity of national relations inherited from tsarism, the struggle against the rebellion of the basmachi (participants in counterrevolutionary bands in Middle Asia), and opposition from bourgeois nationalists. An important step in achieving the national-state demarcation of Middle Asia was the formation in 1918 of the Turkestan ASSR (part of the RSFSR) and the establishment in 1920 of the Bukhara People’s Soviet Republic and the Khorezm People’s Soviet Republic. However, the boundaries of these republics were not drawn along national lines. Consequently, of the total Uzbek population in Middle Asia, 66.5 percent lived in the Turkestan republic, 22.2 percent in the republic of Bukhara, and 11.3 percent in Khorezm. Of the total population of Turkomans in Middle Asia, 43.2 percent lived in Turkestan, 27 percent in Bukhara, and 29.8 percent in Khorezm. Of Middle Asia’s Tadzhiks, 47.7 percent lived in Turkestan, and 52.3 percent in Bukhara.
The question of national-state demarcation was raised by the party and government bodies of Middle Asia. During preparations for and implementation of the territorial reorganizations, V. I. Lenin oriented the party toward a comprehensive consideration of local factors and a clarification of the desires and sympathies of the working masses of the various nationalities (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 41, pp. 153, 436). The economic, political, and cultural preconditions for the practical implementation of national-state demarcation had developed by the mid-1920’s. With the fraternal assistance of the RSFSR, the republics of Middle Asia had had significant success in reconstructing their economies, in consolidating the Soviet system, and in establishing a new, socialist culture. The main basmachi forces had been destroyed. The alliance of the working class with the national peasantry had been strengthened.
A number of decisive factors contributed to the creation of the preconditions for national-state demarcation. In 1923 and 1924 the Khorezm and Bukhara people’s Soviet republics became Soviet socialist republics. The Communist parties of Bukhara and Khorezm were admitted to the RCP (Bolshevik), and the Middle Asian Bureau of the Central Committee of the RCP(B) was established in 1922. The economic activities of the Middle Asian republics were unified.
Responding to the people’s movement for the creation of national republics, plenums of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Bukhara (Feb. 25, 1924), of the Executive Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Khorezm (Mar. 3, 1924), and of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkestan (Mar. 10, 1924) recognized the need for national-state demarcation. The Middle Asian Bureau of the RCP(B) approved these initiatives and began to prepare a coordinated draft proposal. On June 12, 1924, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the RCP(B) passed the resolution On the National Demarcation of the Republics of Middle Asia, which approved the proposal of the party organizations of the Middle Asian republics for territorial reorganization along national lines.
In the summer of 1924 a mass campaign of agitation and explanation concerning the national-state demarcation was conducted, and basic organizational and economic measures were prepared (for example, marking the administrative and ethnologic boundaries and arranging equitable distribution of valuable property). These preparations took place during an intense struggle against nationalist and chauvinist elements. The bais (wealthy stock raisers, merchants, or landowners), manaps (clan leaders with judicial and military powers), and clergy tried to stir up national animosities. Arguing from a Pan-Islamic point of view, the nationalists claimed the existence of a single Turkic nation. Other ideologists of nationalism agitated for a “great Uzbekistan” or a “great Kazakhstan.” The party resolutely rebuffed these efforts of the national deviationists. A decision of the Middle Asian Bureau of the Central Committee of the RCP(B) (Aug. 31, 1924) emphasized the necessity for strict observance of the principles of proletarian internationalism in carrying out national-state demarcation.
By September 1924 the preparatory work had been completed. Resolutions on national-state demarcation were adopted by the extraordinary session of the Central Executive Committee of the Turkestan ASSR on September 16, by the Fifth All-Bukhara Kurultai (congress) of Soviets on September 20, and by the Fifth Khorezm Kurultai of Soviets on October 29. On Oct. 14, 1924, the second session of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee adopted a resolution on the reorganization of the Turkestan ASSR into separate autonomous units. The resolution was approved by the Twelfth All-Russian Congress of Soviets on May 11, 1925. On Oct. 27, 1924, the second session of the second convocation of the All-Union Central Executive Committee of the USSR heard a report on the resolutions passed by the highest government bodies of the Middle Asian republics and the RSFSR and made them law.
As a result of the national-state demarcation of the territories of the Turkestan, Bukhara, and Khorezm republics in 1924–25, the Uzbek SSR and the Turkmen SSR were formed on Oct. 27, 1924. In addition, the Tadzhik ASSR was established as part of the Uzbek SSR on Oct. 14, 1924, and the Kara-Kirghiz Autonomous Oblast was formed as part of the RSFSR on Oct. 14, 1924. (Renamed the Kirghiz Autonomous Oblast in May 1925, it became the Kirghiz ASSR in February 1926.) The Kara-Kalpak Autonomous Oblast, created on Feb. 16, 1925, and parts of the Turkestan ASSR inhabited by Kazakhs became part of the Kazakh ASSR, which was called the Kirghiz ASSR until April 1925. On May 13, 1925, the Third Congress of Soviets of the USSR passed a resolution admitting the Turkmen SSR and the Uzbek SSR to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. During socialist construction the Tadzhik ASSR became a union republic (1929). The Kazakh ASSR and the Kirghiz ASSR became union republics in 1936. In 1932 the Kara-Kalpak Autonomous Oblast became the Kara-Kalpak ASSR (part of the RSFSR); in 1936 it became part of the Uzbek SSR.
As a result of national-state demarcation of Middle Asia, the territories inhabited by the Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Tadzhiks, Turkomans, and Kara-Kalpaks, which had been artificially separated before October 1917, were reunited into Soviet nation-states. The demarcation encouraged the participation of the working masses of Middle Asia in Soviet construction and contributed to the successful accomplishment of the task of building socialism. The formation of national Soviet republics in Middle Asia and their voluntary entry into the USSR strengthened the friendship among the peoples of Middle Asia and their friendship with the Russian people and other Soviet peoples. It ensured favorable conditions for the elimination of the economic and cultural backwardness of the Middle Asian peoples and hastened their consolidation as socialist nations. The national-state demarcation enriched the historical experience of a just, revolutionary resolution of the national question in the USSR.
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L. M. LANDA and KH. T. TURSUNOV