Khorezm People's Soviet Republic

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Khorezm People’s Soviet Republic


(KhPSR), a soviet republic in Middle Asia that existed from 1920 to 1924. The republic was formed in February 1920 after an antifeudal and antiimperialist people’s revolution, supported by Red Army units, was victorious in the Khiva Khanate. It had an area of approximately 62,200 sq km and a population of more than 600,000, primarily made up of such peoples as Uzbeks, Turkmens, Kara-Kalpaks, and Kazakhs. The republic bordered the Turkestan ASSR and the Bukhara People’s Soviet Republic. The capital was the city of Khiva.

The victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Turkestan revolutionized the working masses of the Khiva Khanate, whose rulers pursued a reactionary domestic and foreign policy. The first Communist group in the khanate was formed in early 1919 in the city of Petroaleksandrovsk (now Turtkul’). In November 1919 the working people of Khiva Khanate, under Communist leadership, revolted. The revolutionaries were aided in their preparations for the rebellion by the Communist Party of Turkestan, the Turkestan Commission of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR, and the Central Committee of the RCP(B).

The Soviet government, responding to the request of the revolutionaries for arms and seeking to put an end to raids on Soviet Turkestan, rendered military assistance in the struggle against Junaid Khan. Red Army troops and revolutionary detachments of the Khiva Khanate routed the counterrevolutionary forces of Junaid Khan in early February 1920. On February 2 a mass meeting was held in the city of Khiva. At the demand of the people, the khan abdicated, and power passed to the Provisional Revolutionary Committee.

Since Khiva was a more backward region than Turkestan, in the initial stage of the revolution people’s soviets were established; they acted as a revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry. As the revolution progressed, a broad antifeudal and anti-imperialist bloc emerged: it included, besides the working people, some feudal tribal chiefs and the Uzbek bourgeoisie involved in commerce and cottage industries. The bourgeoisie was represented by its own party, the Young Khivans. The coalition of these forces facilitated the overthrow of the khan. Antifeudal and anti-imperialist in motive and result, the revolution was directed against the British and other imperialists who, in the Civil War of 1918–20, sought to turn the khanate into a counterrevolutionary base from which to attack northern Turkestan.

The First All-Khiva Congress of Soviets opened on Apr. 26, 1920, and V. I. Lenin was elected its honorary chairman. The congress proclaimed the formation of a people’s soviet republic, which came to be known as the Khorezm People’s Soviet Republic, and it adopted the republic’s first constitution. Reflecting the specific characteristics of the KhPSR, the constitution retained private ownership of land and of the basic tools and means of production. It granted the right to vote to some members of the exploiting classes; only the great feudal lords were disenfranchised.

The KhPSR was a unique, transitional people’s democratic state whose goal was to bring about revolutionary democratic change; it sought to eliminate feudal patriarchal relations and to create the necessary economic and political conditions for the republic to enter upon the path of socialist development without first passing through the capitalist stage. Political and cultural backwardness, as well as the existence of national and religious prejudice, required a cautious and gradual implementation of social reforms. Initially, courts of law based on the Muslim legal code—the sharia—were retained, as were such institutions as the traditional schools, waqf, and the authority of the aksakal (head of a clan).

Soviet power was consolidated despite the fierce resistance of the beys, the Muslim clergy, and right-wing Young Khivans; these groups, with the aid of foreign agents and Russian White Guard organizations, formed Basmachi bands that operated in the KhPSR. The domestic and international position of the republic was considerably strengthened by the treaty of alliance and the military and political agreement concluded with the RSFSR in Moscow on Sept. 13, 1920; the pacts were based on the principles of proletarian internationalism and respect for the sovereignty of nations.

The RSFSR, besides extending economic, diplomatic, and military aid to the peoples of Khorezm, helped the republic strengthen its international position and develop diplomatic relations with other states. With the support of the RSFSR, the government of the KhPSR abolished large-scale landownership, serfdom, and the stratification of the society into estates. Industrial development and cultural construction began. The class unity of the working people was enhanced by the growth of such public organizations as the Komsomol, trade unions, cooperatives, and the Koshchi union.

The First Congress of the Khorezm Communist Party, held in Khiva on Dec. 10 and 11, 1921, adopted resolutions on economic and national questions. In early 1922 the party was admitted to the RCP(B). In March 1923, the First Economic Conference of Turkestan, Bukhara, and Khorezm, seeking to end economic disorder and to rebuild and develop the national economies of Turkestan, Bukhara, and Khorezm, created an economic union of the three republics and established a single economic body: the Middle Asian Economic Council. As early as 1923 the area planted to cotton in the KhPSR reached 32,776 hectares (ha), compared with 8,740 ha in 1922. The yields of agricultural crops increased, as did the livestock population, and cooperative farms were created. A measure of success was achieved in industry.

Political, economic, and cultural achievements made it possible to transform the KhPSR into a socialist republic. In July 1923 the Third Congress of the Communist Party of Khorezm outlined a program to achieve socialism. The Fourth All-Khorezm Congress of Soviets, (Oct. 17–20, 1923) proclaimed Khorezm a soviet socialist republic and adopted a new constitution that legally codified the completion of the nation’s previous stage of development—that of a people’s democracy—and confirmed the transition to the stage of socialist revolution. The Fifth All-Khorezm Congress of Soviets, (Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 1924), recognizing the right of nations (natsii; nations in the historical sense) to self-determination and expressing the will of the region’s peoples, adopted a resolution granting the peoples of Khorezm the right to join the newly formed Uzbek SSR, Turkmen SSR, and Kara-Kalpak Autonomous Oblast. The Khorezm Soviet Socialist Republic was abolished in the national-state demarcation of the Soviet republics of Middle Asia.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.