Middle Asian Uprising of 1916

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Middle Asian Uprising of 1916


a rebellion of the oppressed peoples of Middle Asia and Kazakhstan against the colonial policies of the tsarist government during World War I. The uprising was the culmination of the entire socioeconomic and political development of the region. With the outbreak of war, national and colonial oppression intensified through heavier taxation and the introduction of military requisitioning and various levies for the front. The immediate cause of the uprising was the tsarist ukase of June 25, 1916, concerning the compulsory enlistment of the native male population for rear work in regions near the front. Under the ukase, 250,000 men were to be called from the Turkestan Krai and 230,000 from the Steppe Krai. Local authorities shifted the brunt of the new levy onto the urban and rural poor.

The uprising began on July 4, 1916, with demonstrations in Khodzhent, now Leninabad in the Tadzhik SSR. Soon it engulfed the oblasts of Samarkand, Syr Darya, Fergana, Transcaspia, Akmolinsk, Semipalatinsk, Semirech’e, Turgai, and Ural’sk, which had a combined multinational population of more than 10 million. On July 17,1916, martial law was declared in the Turkestan Military District.

The uprising was spontaneous and unorganized. Popular resistance assumed different forms. Large-scale disturbances broke out; workers left their jobs, and farm laborers refused to work for beys and kulaks; some nomads wandered far into the steppes and mountains; yet other persons fled abroad. Draft lists were destroyed, and tsarist administrators were attacked. There were also large-scale armed uprisings. The uprising gained its broadest support in the Kazakh steppe, especially in Turgai Oblast, where it was led by the Kazakh national heroes Amangel’dy Imanov and A. Dzhangil’din. According to official records, 25 outbreaks occurred in July in Samarkand Oblast, 20 in Syr Darya Oblast, and 86 in Fergana Oblast. In the second half of November the number of rebels reached 50,000.

The uprising was directed against tsarist authorities, the imperialist war, and the native administrators who abetted the Russian civil authorities in their plundering and violence. Initially an anticolonial and antiwar uprising, the rebellion gradually developed into an antifeudal struggle. Only in a few small regions did the feudal and religious elements succeed in fomenting reactionary nationalistic outbreaks. The prime moving forces of the uprising were the peasants and herders, as well as the workers and artisans in the cities. The rebels used guerrilla tactics. The workers Iu. Ibargimov and R. Ikramov led the movement in Tashkent.

The bourgeois nationalists—the Jadidists and Alash-Orda—urged the people to support tsarism and helped implement the mobilization. In the face of stubborn popular resistance the tsarist government managed to send only 123,000 persons from Turkestan for rear work by Mar. 1, 1917. The uprising was brutally suppressed by tsarist troops. In the Transcaspian Oblast, however, it continued until late January 1917. As a part of the general democratic movement in the country, the Middle Asian Uprising of 1916 was one of the clearest indications of the revolutionary crisis that had come to a head during World War I, as well as one of the heralds of the bourgeois democratic revolution in Russia.


Vosstanie 1916 g. v Srednei Azü i Kazakhstane: Sb. dokumentov. Moscow, 1960.
Tursunov, Kh. T. Vosstanie 1916 g. v Srednie Azü i Kazakhstane. Tashkent, 1962.
Usenbaev, K. Vosstanie 1916 goda v Kirgizii. Frunze, 1967.
Amangel’dy Imanov. Stat’i, dokumenty, materialy. [Alma-Ata, 1974.]


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