Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic


a part of the RSFSR from 1918 to 1924 and the first Soviet state formation in Middle Asia.

The Turkestan ASSR was proclaimed in Tashkent on Apr. 30, 1918, by the Fifth All-Turkestan Congress of Soviets (Apr. 20-May 1,1918), which ratified the Statute on the Turkestan Soviet Republic and elected a central executive committee, with P. A. Kobozev and A. F. Sol’kin as chairmen, and a council of people’s commissars, with F. I. Kolesov as chairman. The Sixth Extraordinary Congress of Soviets of the Turkestan Republic (Oct. 5–14, 1918) adopted the Constitution of the Turkestan ASSR, and the city of Tashkent was named the capital of the republic.

The Turkestan ASSR was created from part of western, or Russian, Turkestan. According to the 1920 census, it had a population of 5,230,000, including Kazakhs, Kirghiz, Turkmens, Ta-dzhiks, Kara-Kalpaks, and Russians. More than 85 percent of the population was rural, and agriculture accounted for two-thirds of the republic’s total output. In the spring of 1918 the Turkestan ASSR nationalized the main sectors of industry, including cotton ginning, vegetable-oil extracting, and mining, as well as banks and railroads. Lenin’s decree on land was implemented. The First Congress of Bolshevik Organizations of Turkestan was held from June 17 to 25, 1918; it organized the Communist Party of Turkestan as part of the RCP(B).

During the Civil War of 1918–20, the Turkestan ASSR was cut off from central Russia. The Red Army of Turkestan was created during this period. The Central Committee of the RCP(B) and the government of the RSFSR gave the republic’s toilers economic, military, and political aid in the struggle against interventionists and domestic counterrevolution. In September 1919, Soviet forces of the Turkestan Front, commanded by M. V. Frunze and V. V. Kuibyshev, member of the Revolutionary Military Council, broke the encirclement and reunited the Turkestan ASSR with central Russia.

The Turkestan Commission of the All-Union Central Executive Committee and of the Soviet of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR were created in October 1919. The commission played a large role in consolidating Soviet power in the republic and in carrying out Lenin’s nationalities policy. On Sept. 24, 1920, the Ninth All-Turkestan Congress of Soviets ratified the new Constitution of the Turkestan ASSR, which was subsequently approved by the decree of the All-Union Central Executive Committee of Apr. 11,1921, On the Formation of the Turkestan Soviet Socialist Republic.

In 1921 the toiling masses of the Turkestan ASSR began rebuilding the economy. The transition from War Communism to the New Economic Policy (NEP) began in the spring of 1921. On Apr. 20, 1921, the Central Executive Committee of the Turkestan ASSR adopted a decree replacing the surplus appropriation system for grain, fodder, and raw materials by a tax in kind. In accordance with a resolution of the Fifth Congress of the Communist Party of Turkestan (September 1920), class organizations of the working peasants were created in rural areas to form the Koshchi union. The union helped initiate a land and water reform in 1921, designed to eliminate vestiges of colonial land relations and abolish the surviving precapitalist production relations in kishlaks (hamlets) and auls (villages) (seeLAND AND WATER REFORMS). By 1924, economic and sociopolitical successes had been achieved, the principal centers of resistance of the Basma-chi Revolt had been crushed, the soviets had been strengthened, and national party and soviet cadres had emerged. Two-thirds of the cultivated area had been restored, and industry and trade had revived. The building of a socialist culture began, illiteracy was on the decline, and higher, secondary, and specialized educational institutions were created.

The Eastern Institute was founded in Tashkent in 1918. The Turkestan State University was established in 1920, in accordance with a decree of the Soviet of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR, signed by V. I. Lenin; in 1923 it became the Middle Asian University, and it is now the V. I. Lenin Tashkent State University. Seventy-four major libraries and two museums were also established. In 1924, 53 republic and local newspapers were in circulation. Pedagogical and scholarly cadres were sent to the republic from central Russia, as well as books and educational equipment.

The Turkestan ASSR was abolished on Oct. 27,1924, with the promulgation of the national-state demarcation of the Soviet republics of Middle Asia.


Rezoliulsii i postanovleniia s”ezdov Kommunisticheskoi partit Turkestana (1918–1924gg.). Tashkent, 1968.
Urazaev, Sh. A. Turkestanskaia ASSR i ee gosudarstvenno-pravovye osobennosti. Tashkent, 1958.
Tursunov, Kh. T. Natsional’naia politika Kommunisticheskoi partii v Turkestane (1917–1924gg.). Tashkent, 1971.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.