(Uzbek, plowman), a mass organization (union) of working peasants in the Turkestan ASSR (and after the area’s demarcation, in the national republics of Middle Asia and Kazakh-stan).
The Koshchi union was created by decision of the Fifth Congress of the Communist Party of Turkestan (September 1920) to develop already existing committees and unions of poor peas-ants. The unions were created to protect the interests of the working peasantry—to wrest the peasants from under the influence of the bais (wealthy landowners) and the clergy and involve them in Soviet, economic, and cultural construction. In contrast to the Middle Asian poor peasants’ committees, the Koshchi unions included not only the poor but also the middle-level peasants in the process of evening out the aul (village) and countryside at the middle level. The First Territorial Congress of the Koshchi Union (Tashkent, December 1921) defined the union’s tasks and elected its central committee. The union statute, ratified by the Central Executive Committee of the Turke-stan ASSR on Mar. 15, 1922, characterized the Koshchi as “a vocational-political association and organization (of a transitional type) of proletarian and semiproletarian masses of the aul, kishlak (hamlet), and countryside.”
The Koshchi actively helped the Soviet state in carrying out land and water reforms and land use measures, organizing the peasantry into cooperatives and supplying them with inventory and livestock, and collecting tax in kind. It conducted wide-scale cultural and educational work and participated in the work of trade unions and Soviet institutions. Acting under the leadership of the Communist Party, the Koshchi waged a struggle against the bais and manaps (tribal aristocrats). In 1924 the Koshchi had about 200,000 members. After the national and state demarcation of the Soviet republics of Middle Asia, leadership centers were created for the Koshchi in republics and oblasts, and the union’s central committee was disbanded. The transition to mass collectivization ended the need for the Koshchi. In 1929-30 (in some areas in 1933) the Koshchi unions were reorganized into poor peasants’ groups.
REFERENCESDavlet-Iusupov, M. Kh. Soiuz “Koshchi” i ego rol’ v ukreplenii Sovetskoi vlasti v Turkestane (1919-24). Tashkent, 1956.
R. KH. AMINOVA