Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan: Life and Politics during the Soviet Era

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And small bits of land have already been swapped by Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan under the deal signed by Mirziyoev and Atambaev this autumn. There have been several border adjustments and territorial exchanges between former Soviet republics since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in , including when Lithuania ceded its Pagiriai enclave to Belarus in the mids after Minsk agreed to trade Vilnius a small amount of territory along the Belarusian-Lithuanian border.

But any such territorial exchange in Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan must also consider the feelings of the people living on the territory that will be traded. Several other sticky issues emerge in land swaps: Would the residents of the exchanged land agree to take the citizenship of the new country they suddenly find themselves living in? Or would Uzbek citizens in Sokh, for example, want to move to Uzbekistan -- and would they demand compensation to do so?

Megoran adds that "territorial exchanges have been reasonably successful on the Arabian Peninsula, but unlike the Ferghana Valley [of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan], those [land swaps] were not densely populated or cultivated areas, so disruption was minimal.

The exclave of Shohimardan has special significance to Uzbeks because it is where famous author, poet, and scholar Hamza Hakimzade Niyazi was stoned to death in Esengul adds that Uzbek officials "would need to convince [Uzbek citizens in a swapped territory] to move out. They would have to find some good land [in Uzbekistan] to offer them so they would move.

A second option would be the creation of land corridors going from the mother country to the exclaves -- and giving that land to those countries. Such a solution would still involve trading territory, but far less than would be swapped in turning over the exclaves themselves -- and far fewer people and communities would be affected.


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But forming corridors with usable roads and removing the need to pass through border crossings would also create complications. So there has been no need to exchange territories or create corridors. Such a development in Central Asia would require many changes and much stronger interstate relations.

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It is no coincidence that Uzbek-Kyrgyz relations are currently at an all-time high and border issues are being resolved. President Mirziyoev summed up the warm feelings in Bishkek in September when he said that "these borders should be turned into the borders of friendship. Those words are in stark contrast to Kyrgyz-Kazakh ties, which have hit rock bottom in recent months and led to Kazakh officials virtually blocking their country's border with Kyrgyzstan.

During a meeting in Tashkent with new Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov on December 14, the Uzbek president seemed to speak in favor of moving toward the "third option" in the future. Search Search. Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Tajikistan Turkmenistan Uzbekistan. Armenia Azerbaijan Georgia.


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Afghanistan Pakistan. Belarus Ukraine. Previous Next. December 14, GMT. By Pete Baumgartner. Now comes the hard part: hammering out the last and most contentious points by year's end. Soviet-Made Problem The border problems were caused by the actions of Soviet officials nearly a century ago, when between and they established the twisting, haphazard borders that effectively divided the frontiers of Central Asia but often irrationally separated Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, and Tajiks living in the vast Ferghana Valley. Ultimately, there are no intrinsically good or bad boundaries, only good or bad relations between states.

Persia also began to expand north, especially under the rule of Nadir Shah , who extended Persian dominion well past the Oxus. After his death, however, the Persian empire rapidly crumbled. The Russians also expanded south, first with the transformation of the Ukrainian steppe into an agricultural heartland, and subsequently onto the fringe of the Kazakh steppes, beginning with the foundation of the fortress of Orenburg.

The slow Russian conquest of the heart of Central Asia began in the early 19th century, although Peter the Great had sent a failed expedition under Prince Bekovitch-Cherkassky against Khiva as early as the s. By the s, the locals could do little to resist the Russian advance, although the Kazakhs of the Great Horde under Kenesary Kasimov rose in rebellion from — Until the s, for the most part, Russian interference was minimal, leaving native ways of life intact and local government structures in place.

With the conquest of Turkestan after and the consequent securing of the frontier, the Russians gradually expropriated large parts of the steppe and gave these lands to Russian farmers, who began to arrive in large numbers. This process was initially limited to the northern fringes of the steppe and it was only in the s that significant numbers of Russians began to settle farther south, especially in Zhetysu Semirechye.

The forces of the khanates were poorly equipped and could do little to resist Russia's advances, although the Kokandian commander Alimqul led a quixotic campaign before being killed outside Chimkent.

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The main opposition to Russian expansion into Turkestan came from the British , who felt that Russia was growing too powerful and threatening the northwest frontiers of British India. This rivalry came to be known as The Great Game , where both powers competed to advance their own interests in the region. It did little to slow the pace of conquest north of the Oxus , but did ensure that Afghanistan remained independent as a buffer state between the two Empires. After the fall of Tashkent to General Cherniaev in , Khodjend , Djizak , and Samarkand fell to the Russians in quick succession over the next three years as the Khanate of Kokand and the Emirate of Bukhara were repeatedly defeated.

In —85 the Transcaspian region was annexed in the course of a campaign led by Generals Mikhail Annenkov and Mikhail Skobelev , and Ashkhabad from Persia , Merv and Pendjeh from Afghanistan all came under Russian control. Russian expansion was halted in when Russia and Great Britain delineated the northern border of Afghanistan.

Bukhara and the Khanate of Khiva remained quasi-independent, but were essentially protectorates along the lines of the Princely States of British India. Although the conquest was prompted by almost purely military concerns, in the s and s Turkestan came to play a reasonably important economic role within the Russian Empire.

Because of the American Civil War , cotton shot up in price in the s, becoming an increasingly important commodity in the region, although its cultivation was on a much lesser scale than during the Soviet period. In the long term the development of a cotton monoculture would render Turkestan dependent on food imports from Western Siberia , and the Turkestan-Siberia Railway was already planned when the First World War broke out.

Russian rule still remained distant from the local populace, mostly concerning itself with the small minority of Russian inhabitants of the region. The local Muslims were not considered full Russian citizens. They did not have the full privileges of Russians, but nor did they have the same obligations, such as military service.

The Tsarist regime left substantial elements of the previous regimes such as Muslim religious courts intact, and local self-government at the village level was quite extensive. During the 17th and 18th centuries the Qing Dynasty made several campaigns to conquer the Dzungar Mongols. In the meantime, they incorporated parts of Central Asia into the Chinese Empire.

Internal turmoil largely halted Chinese expansion in the 19th century. In Yakub Beg led a rebellion that saw Kashgar declaring its independence as the Taiping and Nian Rebellions in the heartland of the Empire prevented the Chinese from reasserting their control. After Yakub Beg's death at Korla in his state collapsed as the area was reconquered by China.

After lengthy negotiations Kuldja was returned to Beijing by Russia in This new government was quickly crushed by the forces of the Tashkent Soviet , and the semi-autonomous states of Bukhara and Khiva were also invaded.

Silencing Central Asia: The Voice of Dissidents

The main independence forces were rapidly crushed, but guerrillas known as basmachi continued to fight the Communists until Mongolia was also swept up by the Russian Revolution and, though it never became a Soviet republic, it became a communist People's Republic in Republic of China's control of the region was relegated to southern Xinjiang and there was a dual threat from Islamic separatists and communists. Eventually the region became largely independent under the control of the provincial governor.

Rather than invade, the Soviet Union established a network of consulates in the region and sent aid and technical advisors. By the s, the governor of Xinjiang's relationship with Moscow was far more important than that with Nanking. The Chinese Civil War further destabilised the region and saw Turkic nationalists make attempts at independence.

In , the First East Turkestan Republic was declared, but it was destroyed soon after with the aid of the Soviet troops. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in , Governor Sheng Shicai of Xinjiang gambled and broke his links to Moscow, moving to ally himself with the Kuomintang. This led to a civil war within the region. Sheng was eventually forced to flee and the Soviet-backed Second East Turkestan Republic was formed in northern Dzungaria, while the Republic of China retained control of southern Xinjiang.

Both states were annexed by the People's Republic of China in After being conquered by Bolshevik forces, Soviet Central Asia experienced a flurry of administrative reorganisation. In the Conciliatory Commission for Turkestan Affairs was established, to try to improve relations between the locals and the Communists. New policies were introduced, respecting local customs and religion. These borders had little to do with ethnic make-up, but the Soviets felt it important to divide the region. Under the Soviets, the local languages and cultures were systematised and codified, and their differences clearly demarcated and encouraged.

New Cyrillic writing systems were introduced, to break links with Turkey and Iran.

What is Stirring in Central Asia? – Voices On Cental Asia

Under the Soviets the southern border was almost completely closed and all travel and trade was directed north through Russia. During the period of forced collectivisation under Joseph Stalin at least a million persons died, mostly in the Kazakh SSR. Islam, as well as other religions, were also attacked.

In the Second World War several million refugees and hundreds of factories were moved to the relative security of Central Asia; and the region permanently became an important part of the Soviet industrial complex. Several important military facilities were also located in the region, including nuclear testing facilities and the Baikonur Cosmodrome.