Soviet Central Asia
||It has been suggested that Middle Asia be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since October 2012.|
Soviet Central Asia refers to the section of Central Asia formerly controlled by the Soviet Union, as well as the time period of Soviet administration (1918–1991). In terms of area, it is nearly synonymous with Russian Turkestan, the name for the region during the Russian Empire. Soviet Central Asia went through many territorial divisions before the current borders were created in the 1920s and 1930s.
Administrative divisions 
Former divisions 
Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic 
The beginning of the 18th century marked the zenith of the Kazakh Khanate. During this period the Little jüz participated in the 1723–1730 war against the Dzungars, following their "Great Disaster" invasion of Kazakh territories. Under the leadership of Abul Khair Khan the Kazakhs won major victories over the Dzungar at the Bulanty River (1726) and at the Battle of Anrakay in 1729.In the 19th century, the Russian Empire began to expand, and spread into Central Asia.
The Anglo-Russian colonialist "Great Game" period is generally regarded as running from approximately 1813 to the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 a second less intensive phase followed. The tsars effectively ruled over most of the territory belonging to what is now the Republic of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Russia anexed Lake Issyk Kul in north east Kyrgyzstan of off China in the 1860s.
Emerging from the Russian Empire following the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Russian Civil War of 1918–1921, the USSR was a union of several Soviet republics, but the synecdoche Russia — after its largest and dominant constituent state — continued to be commonly used throughout the state's existence. Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (initially Turkestan Socialist Federative Republic) (April 30, 1918 – October 27, 1924) was created from the Turkestan Krai of Imperial Russia. Its capital was Tashkent, population about 5,000,000.
British and Persian forces briefly tried to reach Baku in Azerbaijan and the Turkmen port of Krasnovodsk. Bukhara, Khiva, Samarkand, Kokand, Dushanbe and the former Trans-Caspian province would see various anti-Bolshevik risings over the next few years.
In 1924, it was split into Tajik ASSR (now Tajikistan), Turkmen SSR (now Turkmenistan), Uzbek SSR (now Uzbekistan), Kara-Kirghiz Autonomous Oblast (now Kyrgyzstan), and Karakalpak Autonomous Oblast (now Karakalpakstan).
Bukharan People's Soviet Republic 
In March 1918, activists of the Young Bukharan Movement informed the Bolsheviks that the Bukharans were ready for the revolution and that the people were awaiting liberation. The Red Army marched to the gates of Bukhara and demanded that the emir surrender the city to the Young Bukharans. As Russian sources report, the emir responded by murdering the Bolshevik delegation, along with several hundred Russian inhabitants of Bukhara and the surrounding territories. The majority of Bukharans did not support an invasion and the ill-equipped and ill-disciplined Bolshevik army fled back to the Soviet stronghold at Tashkent.
However, the emir had won only a temporary respite. As the civil war in Russia wound down, Moscow sent reinforcements to Central Asia. On 2 September 1920, an army of well-disciplined and well equipped Red Army troops under the command of Bolshevik general Mikhail Frunze attacked the city. After four days of fighting, the emir's citadel (Arc) was destroyed, the Red flag was raised from the top of Kalyan Minaret, and the Emir Alim Khan was forced to flee to his base at Dushanbe in Eastern Bukharan, and finally to Kabul, Afghanistan.
A nearby anti-Bolshevik stronghold in the Tadjik/Moslem village of Khangir (qingir) declared its independence shortly afterwards, but soon surrendered after a 14 day siege by Russian and Bokhkori Bolsheviks. It was then quickly re-integrated back into Communist Bokhorah.
The Bukharan People's Republic was proclaimed on 8 October 1920 under Faizullah Khojaev. The overthrow of the Emir was the impetus for the Basmachi Revolt, an anti-Russian rebellion. In 1922, most of the territory of the republic was controlled by Basmachi, surrounding the city of Bukhara. Joseph Stalin would later purge and exile many of the local Bukhori people as well as most of the local Jewish community from the former Bukharan People's Soviet Republic.
With the establishment of Soviet rule on the territory in 1917, Jewish life seriously deteriorated. Throughout 1920s and 1930s, thousands of Jews, fleeing religious oppression, confiscation of property, summary arrests, and repressions, fled to Palestine.
Khorezm People's Soviet Republic and SSR 
The Khorezm People's Soviet Republic was created as the successor to the Khanate of Khiva in February 1920 and officially declared on 26 April 1920. On 20 October 1923, it was transformed into the Khorezm Socialist Soviet Republic. The Khorezm SSR only survived until 17 February 1925, when it was divided between the Uzbek SSR, Turkmen SSR, and Karakalpak Autonomous Oblast as part of the reorganization of Central Asia by Moscow according to nationalities.
Kara-Kirghiz Autonomous Oblast 
The Kara-Kyrgyz Autonomous Oblast (Кара-Киргизская АО) was created on 14 October 1924 within the Russian SFSR from the predominantly Kazakh and Kyrgyz parts of the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. On 15 May 1925 it was renamed into the Kyrgyz Autonomous Oblast. On 11 February 1926 it was reorganized into the Kyrgyz ASSR. On 5 December 1936 it became the Kyrgyz SSR, one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union.
Karakalpak Autonomous Oblast 
The Karakalpak Autonomous Oblast was created on February 19, 1925 by separating lands of the ethnic Karakalpaks from the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic and Khoresm People's Soviet Republic.
Initially located within the Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, the Karakalpak A.O. was transferred to the RSFSR from July 20, 1930 to March 20, 1932, at which time it was elevated to the Karakalpak Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. The Karakalpak ASSR was joined to the Uzbek SSR on December 5, 1936.
Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic 
The Kazakh ASSR was an autonomous republic of the Soviet Union. It became the Kazakh SSR on December 5, 1936.
In 1925 it was renamed the Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1929 the city of Almaty (Alma-Ata) was designated as the capital of the ASSR.
Soviet Republics 
Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic 
The Kazakh SSR Established on December 5, 1936. It was initially called Kyrgyz ASSR (Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic) and was a part of the Russian SFSR. On April 15–19, 1925, it was renamed Kazakh ASSR and on December 5, 1936 it became a Union Republic of the USSR called Kazakh SSR in the culminating act of the national delimitation in the Soviet Union. During the 1950s and 1960s Soviet citizens were urged to settle in the "Virgin Lands" of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. The influx of immigrants (mostly Russians and Ukrainians, but also some forcibly resettled ethnic minorities, such as the Volga Germans and the Chechens) skewed the ethnic mixture and enabled non-Kazakhs to outnumber natives.
In 1924, the borders of political units in Central Asia were changed along ethnic lines determined by Lenin's Commissar for Nationalities, Joseph Stalin. The Turkestan ASSR, the Bukharan People's Republic, and the Khorezm People's Republic were abolished and their territories were divided into eventually five separate Soviet Socialist Republics, one of which was the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. The next year the Uzbek SSR became one of the republics of the Soviet Union.
Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan, with a population of 1,226,000 (as of 1 August 2005). The Ethnic groups in a 2003 census were: Kazakh 43.6%, Russian 40.2%, Uyghur 5.7%, Tatar 2.1%, Korean 1.8%, Ukrainian 1.7%, German 0.7%.
Uralsk / Oral was founded in 1613 by Cossacks, was originally named Yaitsk, after the Yaik River. The city was put under siege during the Russian Civil War. It has a population of 210,600. It is the capital of the West Kazakhstan Province. Ethnic composition is dominated by Russians (54%), Kazakhs (34%), along with a few Ukrainians and Germans.
Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic 
The Kyrgyz SSR, formally known as the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic (sometimes spelled Kirghiz), also known as Kirgizia, was one of fifteen constituent republics of the Soviet Union. Established on 14 October 1924 as the Kara-Kyrgyz Autonomous Oblast of the Russian SFSR, it was transformed into the Kyrgyz ASSR (Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic) on 1 February 1926, still being a part of the Russian SFSR. Today it is the independent state of Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia. Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Kyrgyz ASSR) was the both the name of two different national entities within Russian SFSR, in the territories of modern Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
On 5 December 1936, it became a separate constituent republic of the USSR as the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic during the final stages of the national delimitation in the Soviet Union.
Bishkek was both the capital and the largest city of Kyrgyzstan and the Kirghiz ASSR, with a population of approximately 900,000 in 2005. In 1862 Tsarist Russia destroyed the local fort and began to settle the area with Russian migrants. Over the years many fertile black soil farms were developed by the Tsarists and, later, the process carried on by the USSR. In 1926, the city became the capital of the newly established Kirghiz ASSR and was renamed Frunze after the Bolshevik hero, Mikhail Frunze, who was one of Lenin's close associates, who was born in Bishkek until Kirghiz independence in 1991.
Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic 
The Tajik SSR was one of the new states created in Central Asia in 1924 was Uzbekistan, which had the status of a Soviet socialist republic. In 1929 Tajikistan was detached from Uzbekistan and given full status as a Soviet socialist republic. The city of Dushanbe would become an important regional hub on the border with Afghanistan.
Tajikistan has 3 exclaves, all of them located in the Fergana Valley region where Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan meet. The largest is Vorukh (with an area between 95 – 130 km²/37 – 50 sq mi, population estimated between 23,000 and 29,000, 95% Tajiks and 5% Kyrgyz, distributed among 17 villages), located 45 kilometres (28 mi) south of Isfara on the right bank of the Karafshin river, in Kyrgyz territory. Another exclave in Kyrgyzstan is a small settlement near the Kyrgyz railway station of Kairagach. The last is the village of Sarvan, which includes a narrow, long strip of land (about 15 km (9.3 mi) long by 1 km (over ½ mi) wide) alongside the road from Angren to Kokand; it is surrounded by Uzbek territory. There are no foreign enclaves within Tajikistan.
In 1929, the city formerly known as "Stalinabad", after Joseph Stalin, was renamed Dushanbe; as part of Nikita Khrushchev's de-Stalinization initiative, the city was renamed "Dushanbe" in 1961. The Soviets transformed the area into a centre for cotton and silk production, and relocated tens of thousands of people to the city from around the Soviet Union. The population also increased with thousands of ethnic Tajiks migrating to Tajikistan following the transfer of Bukhara and Samarkand to the Uzbek SSR. Dushanbe later became the home to a university and the Tajik Academy of Sciences. Severe Tadjik nationalist rioting occurred in 1990, rumor said that Moscow had planned to relocate tens of thousands of Armenian refugees to Tajikistan. Dushanbe also had a relatively high military population during the war with Afghanistan.
Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic 
The Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic was one of fifteen constituent republics of the Soviet Union. It was initially established on August 7, 1921 as Turkmen Oblast of the Turkestan ASSR. On May 13, 1925 it was transformed into Turkmen SSR and became a separate republic of the Soviet Union. Today it is the independent state of Turkmenistan in Central Asia.
The Communist Party of the Turkmen SSR was the ruling communist party of the Turkmen SSR, and a part of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. From 1985 it was led by Mr Saparmurat Niyazov, who in 1991 renamed the party to the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan, which is no longer a communist party . The current Communist Party of Turkmenistan is illegal.
Ashgabat has a population of 695,300 (2001 census estimate) and has a primarily Turkmen population, with minorities of ethnic Russians, Armenians, and Azeris. It is 920 km from the second largest city in Iran, Mashhad. The principal industries are cotton textiles and metal working.
Merv / Mary is an ancient city with a Its population was 123,000 in 1999. It has interesting Regional Museum and lies near the remains of the ancient city of Merv, which in corrupted form gives its name to the modern town. Carpets from the region of Merv are sometimes considered superior to the Persian ones.
Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic 
In 1924, the new national boundaries separating the Uzbek and Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republics cut off the eastern end of the Fergana Valley, as well as the slopes surrounding it. This was compounded in 1928 when the Tajik ASSR became a fully-fledged republic, the Tajik SSR, and the area around Khodjend was made a part of it. This blocked the valley's natural outlet and the routes to Samarkand and Bukhara, but none of these borders was of any great significance so long as Soviet rule lasted.
The Uzbek SSR included the Tajik ASSR until 1929, when the Tajik ASSR was upgraded to an equal status. In 1930, the Uzbek SSR capital was relocated from Samarkand to Tashkent. In 1936, the Uzbek SSR was enlarged with the addition of the Karakalpak ASSR taken from the Kazakh SSR in the last stages of the national delimitation in the Soviet Union. Further bits and pieces of territory were transferred several times between the Kazakh SSR and the Uzbek SSR after World War II. During the Great Purges of Joseph Stalin, many thousands of Chechens, Koreans and Crimean Tatars were exiled to the Uzbek SSR.
The city of Tashkent began to industrialize in the 1920s and 1930s, but industry increased tremendously during World War II, with the relocation of factories from western Russia to preserve the Soviet industrial capacity from the hostile invading Nazis. The Russian population increased dramatically as well, with evacuees from the war zones increasing the population to well over a million. (The Russian community would eventually comprise more than half of the total residents of Tashkent by the 1980s.) On April 26, 1966, Tashkent was destroyed by a huge earthquake (7.5 on the Richter scale) and over 300,000 were left homeless. At the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Tashkent was the fourth largest Soviet city and a major center of learning in the fields of science and engineering.
As the nation's capital, Tashkent is still a fairly prosperous city and the capital of Uzbekistan and has a population of the city in 2006 was 2.1 million. The city has been the target of several terrorist acts since gaining independence. These have been attributed by the Uzbek the government to Islamic insugents aided by the Afghan Taliban.
Samarkand is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, prospering from its location on the trade route between China and Europe (Silk Road). In 1370, Timur the Lame, or Tamerlane, decided to make Samarkand the capital of his empire, which extended from India to Turkey. Despite its status as the second city of Uzbekistan, the majority of the city's inhabitants are Persian-speaking Tajiks. The city a became rich trading center as a major capital of the Silk Road between China and the West. The Timurid dynasty's extensive building in Samarkand produced monuments that rank amongst some of the most striking in the Islamic world.
Nationalist rebellions 
Kokand Autonomy 
Kokand is a city in Fergana Province in eastern Uzbekistan, at the southwestern edge of the Fergana Valley. It has a population of 192,500 bu 1999. Kokand is 228 km southeast of Tashkent, 115 km west of Andijan, and 88 km west of Fergana. It is nicknamed “City of Winds”, or sometimes “Town of the Boar". It is at an altitude of 409 meters.
Kokand is on the crossroads of the ancient trade routes, at the junction of two main routes into the Fergana Valley, one leading northwest over the mountains to Tashkent, and the other west through Khujand. As a result, Kokand is the main transportation junction in the Fergana Valley.
Russian imperial forces under Mikhail Skobelev captured the city in 1876 which then became part of Russian Turkistan. With the fall of the Russian Empire, a provisional government attempted to maintain control in Tashkent. It was quickly overthrown and local Muslim opposition crushed. In April 1918, Tashkent became the capital of the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Turkestan ASSR). It was the capital of the short-lived (1917 – 18) Anti-Bolshevik Provisional Government of Autonomous Turkistan (also known as Kokand Autonomy).
The Alash Autonomy 
The Alash Autonomy (Kazakh: Алаш аутономиясы, Alaş awtonomïyası; Russian: Алашская автономия, Alashskaya avtonomiya) was a state that existed between December 13, 1917 and August 26, 1920, located roughly on the territory of present day Republic of Kazakhstan. The capital city was Semey (referred to at the time as Alash-qala).
The Alash Orda (Kazakh: Алаш Орда', Alaş Orda) was the name of the provisional Kazakh government between 13 December 1917 and 26 August 1920. It was led by Akhmet Baytursinuli, Alikhan Bokeikhanov and Mirjaqip Dulatuli amongst others.
The Alash Party proclaimed the autonomy of the Kazakh people in December 1917. Membership consists from 25 members (10 positions reserved for non-Kazakhs) and 15 member candidates. They formed special educational commission and established militia regimentsas their armed forces.
Basmachi revolt 
In 1897, the railway reached Tashkent, and finally in 1906 a direct rail link with European Russia was opened across the steppe from Orenburg to Tashkent. This led to much larger numbers of Slavic settlers flowing into Turkestan than had hitherto been the case, and their settlement was overseen by a specially created Migration Department in St. Petersburg (Переселенческое Управление). This caused considerable discontent amongst the local population, Kyrgyz, Kazakhs and Sarts, as these settlers took scarce land and water resources away from them. In 1916 discontent boiled over in the Basmachi Revolt, sparked by a decree conscripting the natives into Labour battalions (they had previously been exempt from military service). Thousands of settlers were killed, and this was matched by Russian reprisals, particularly against the nomadic population. The competition for land and water which ensued between the Kazakhs and the newcomers caused great resentment against colonial rule during the final years of Tsarist Russia, with the most serious uprising, the Central Asian Revolt, occurring in 1916. The Kazakhs attacked Russian and Cossack villages, killing indiscriminately. The Russians' revenge was merciless. A military force drove 300,000 Kazakhs to flee into the mountains or to China. When approximately 80,000 of them returned the next year, many of them were slaughtered by Tsarist forces. Order had not really been restored by the time the February Revolution took place in 1917. This would usher in a still bloodier chapter in Turkestan's history, as the Bolsheviks of the Tashkent Soviet (made up entirely of Russian soldiers and railway workers, with no Muslim members) launched an attack on the autonomous Jadid government in Kokand early in 1918, which sadly left 14,000 dead. Resistance to the Bolsheviks by the local population (dismissed as 'Basmachi' or 'Banditry' by Soviet historians) continued well into the 1920s.
Kengir Uprising 
During the rule of Joseph Stalin, a prison labour camp of the Steplag division of the Gulag was set up adjacent to the village of Kengir, near the River Kengir in central Kazakhstan. It was mentioned in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's book, The Gulag Archipelago. The location of the camp was near the city of Dzhezkazgan. Russian actor Oleg Yankovsky is the most famous of the city's natives. There was a prison revolt in 1954, by political prisoners, criminals, and other inmates.
Oil and gas 
After World War II the Soviet Union rapidly industrialized Kazakhstan, and started prospecting for oil in the whole of Soviet Central Asia. Oil was found in Uzbekistan and both oil and gas were found in Turkmenistan. These fuel supplies would prove invaluable to the region over the coming years.
The central part of the Ferghana Valley's geological depression that forms the valley is characterized by block subsidence, originally to depths estimated at 6–7 km, largely filled with sediments that range in age as far as the Permian-Triassic boundary. Some of the sediments are marine carbonates and clays. The faults are upthrusts and over thrusts. Anticlines associated with these faults form traps for petroleum and natural gas, which has been discovered in 52 small fields.
Kazakhstan's Mangystau Province has an area of 165,600 square kilometers and a population of 316,847. It is a major oil and gas-producing region. The city of Aktau was built in Kazakhstan's Mangyshlak Peninsula a small village to house the region's oil workers in 1961. Over the years an inevitably large influx of Russian and Ukrainian oil and chemical workers flowed. Engineers discovered after large amounts of crude oil and petroleum in the area in the days of the Soviet Union and when drilling commenced, much of the area was built up around the industry is country's only seaport on the Caspian Sea.
From 1964 to 1991, the by then city was named Shevchenko to honour the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, who was assigned to the area on military work. The average temperature on January is -3°C, on July +26°C. Average annual rainfall - 150 mm. Aktau had a population of 154,500 in 2004.
Much of the road and railroad infrastructure that exists across Central Asia was developed when the areas was in the Soviet Union. As a result, it often disregards existing national borders. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, this infrastructure has faced decline and degradation.
Kazakhstan had started to produce and refine sizable amounts of tin and uranium by the early 1970s. Vanadium and cobalt were, and still are also mined in the south of the country. Uranium was also first produced in Uzbekistan in the 1970s.
The city of Zhezkazgan was created in 1938 in connection with the exploitation of the rich local copper deposits. In 1973 a large mining and metallurgical complex was constructed to the southeast to smelt the copper that until then had been sent elsewhere for processing. Other metal ores mined and processed locally are manganese, iron and gold.It is on a reservoir of the Kara-Kengir River and has a population of 90,000 (1999 census).
Its urban area includes the neighbouring mining town of Satpayev, total population 148,700. 55% of the population are Kazakhs, 30% Russians, with smaller minorities of Ukrainians, Germans, Chechens and Koreans. Dzhezkazgan has an extreme continental climate. The average temperature ranges from +24°C (75°F) in July to -16°C (3°F) in January.
Today the city is the headquarters of the copper conglomerate Kazakhmys, the city's main employer. The company has subsidiaries in China, Russia, France and the UK and is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
By the early 1970s, the Soviets had started to build some of their hydroelectric power stations in Easter Kazakhstan, Kirgystan and Tadjikistan as part of an overall development strategy. The waters of the Ili River and of Lake Balkhash are considered to be of a vital economic importance to Kazakhstan. The Ili river is dammed for hydroelectric power at Kaptchagayskoye, and the river waters are heavily diverted for agricultural irrigation and for industrial purposes.
The Soviets began to grow cotton in Uzbekistan after the Virgin Lands project and the mass use of the isolated and now shrinking Aral Sea for desert irrigation in the early 1950s. A massive expansion of irrigation canals during the Soviet period, to irrigate cotton fields, wrought ecological carnage to the area, with the river drying up long before reaching the Aral Sea which, as a result, has shrunk to a small remnant of its former size. With millions of people now settled in these cotton areas (and politically repressive post-Soviet regimes in power in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan), it is not clear how the situation can be rectified..
The Baikonur Cosmodrome 
On June 8, 2005 the Russian Federation Council ratified an agreement between Russia and Kazakhstan extending Russia's rent term of the spaceport until 2050.
Culture, religion and ethnicity 
Following a series of migrations, mostly predating Soviet rule, that displaced the autochthonous Iranian peoples, most of the inhabitants of Soviet Central Asia were speakers of either Kipchak languages (such as Kazakhs) or Uyghuric languages (Uzbeks). Those populations were nomadic and settled, respectively. There remained traces of some settled farming and urban Iranic communities like the Tajiks and Bukhara in the south, and nomadic Mongolic Kyrgiz on the order with China. The Slavic community was would grow very rapidly under communism and Russians would eventually become a major ethnic group in the region. The Slavic population followed Orthodox Christianity, while the rest were mostly Sunni Muslims. Various nationality, such as the Meskhetian Turks and Volga Germans would get banished to the region. The Bolsheviks would quickly set about closing mosques and churches throughout the USSR. This became particularly prevalent in the 1930s, but had been fully abandoned by the 1980s.
By the Red Army Ensemble
By the choir and orchestra of Bolshoi Theater
By the United States Navy Band
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- (Russian) С начала года население Алматы увеличилось на 1,4% Gazeta.kz
- Leftist Parties of Turkmenistan Leftist Parties of the World
- Petroleum Potential of Fergana Intermontane Depression Internet Geology Newsletter
- "Central Asia: Decay and Decline". International Crisis Group. Retrieved 17 April 2013.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.
- The Strange State of Soviet Central Asia Alicia Patterson Foundation Reporter
- Keller, Bill (1989). "Afghan Cadets Reportedly Riot in a Capital in Soviet Central Asia", The New York Times.
- Kazakh SSR Anthem YouTube
- Uzbek SSR Anthem YouTube