THE “NATIONAL DELIMITATION” OF CENTRAL ASIA AND THE CREATION OF THE SOVIET REPUBLICS
Akbar III 1948-2012
"An Historical Atlas of Central Asia" written by Yuri Bregel. This is stated on Page no 95 of this book.
Before the revolution of 1917 the program of the Russian Communists (Bolsheviks) on the nationality question in the Russian Empire included the right of each nation of the empire to self-determination up to and including secession. However, after the revolution and during the Civil War this program evolved away from the right of separation toward the idea of a federation of autonomous republics under one central government. The republics
had to be based on the national principle: each of them had to unite within its borders the population that belonged to the same “nation” defined primarily on the basis of their ethnicity, and especially a common language. The idea of a “nation” was, however, totally alien to Central Asia in the 1920s, so that the creation of the new republics had to be accompanied by the creation of the respective nations themselves.
This task was relatively easier in the regions inhabited by the three major nomadic, or semi-nomadic, peoples of Western Turkestan—the Qazaqs, the Qïrghïz, and the Turkmens, each of whom differed from the rest of the Central Asian population not only by its language, but also by various ethnographic features and by their distinct ethnic consciousness. It was much more difficult with the population of the major sedentary areas, which had normally defined itself not on the basis of language (the more so, as Turkic-Iranian bilingualism had been widespread in these areas for many centuries), but on the basis of religion and of belonging to a specific geographical region or even a local community.
There was an understanding among the Soviet leaders that the Uzbeks were the politically dominant group in the sedentary regions, but there was a total misunderstanding of the origin and place of the Starts (cf.maps 30, 33, 35, 42), so that even the use of this term was banned and the Starts (as well as the “Chagatai's” in Mavarannahr, cf. map 35) were equated with Özbeks. The Tajiks, the most ancient sedentary group of Central Asia, were initially almost entirely forgotten.
The first republic that emerged in the former Russian Central Asia was not yet based on the national principle: it was the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, or ASSR (as a part of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, RSFSR), which was initially proclaimed by the Tashkent government in April 1918 on the territory of the former Governorate-General, but whose draft constitution was rejected by Moscow.
The new constitution, under which the Turkestan ASSR was admitted to the RSFSR, was adopted in September 1920. In August 1920 the Qajaq regions (the former Semipalatinsk, Akmola's, Tigray, and Ural oblast’s, a part of Astrakhan’ oblast’, and the Mangïshlaq uezd of the former Transcaspian oblast’) were united into the Kirgiz ASSR with its capital in Orenburg, within the RSFSR (the name “Kirgiz” continued the erroneous Russian usage of the 18th-early 20th centuries). In December 1922 the RSFSR was included, together with Ukraine, Belorussia, and the Transcaucasian Federation, in the newly formed SSSR (in English, USSR, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)
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Very good information.
Shah Sharaf Barlas
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