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Full text of "The Peoples Of The Soviet Far East"

113487 



THE PEOPLES OF THE 
SOVIET FAR EAST 



THE PEOPLES OF THE 
SOVIET FAR EAST 



BY 



WALTER KOLARZ 




FREDERICK A. PRAEOER 
NEW YORK 



By the same author: 

MYTHS AND REALITIES IN EASTERN EUROPE 
RUSSIA AND HER COLONIES 



BOOKS THAT MATTER 9 



Published in the United States of America in 1954 
by Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., Publishers 
105 West 40th Street, New York 18, N.Y- 

All Rights Reserved 
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 53 - 8350 

PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN 



PREFACE 



This book, though self-contained, is the continuation of Russia and 
her Colonies. It deals with Russian colonization and Soviet nationalities 
(colonial) policy in a vast territory which I have described, for lack of a 
better term, as the 'Soviet Far East 5 . From the official Soviet point of 
view, the Soviet Far East comprises all territories of the U.S.S.R. 
situated to the east of Lake Baikal, It covers the Autonomous Republics 
of Yakutia and Buryat-Mongolia as well as the whole expansive Pacific 
coastal areas of the Soviet Union reaching from the Bering Straits 
down to Vladivostok. On the whole, I have accepted this official 
definition of the 'Soviet Far East' but I have added to it the Mongol 
People's Republic, the former People's Republic of Tuva, and a number 
of small nationalities which are closely connected with the latter. 

Few foreigners have visited the Soviet Far Eastern territories during 
the last fifteen or twenty years and most of these few were not exactly 
'visitors' but were inmates of Far Eastern forced labour camps. Some 
of them, like Mrs. Elinor Lipper, have written moving and revealing 
accounts of their experience, but naturally they could not deal with the 
problems of Soviet colonial policy in the Far East except in a few 
casual though valuable remarks. The only group of foreigners given a 
chance to travel extensively as tourists in the Soviet Far East and to 
visit even such normally prohibited places as Magadan and Irkutsk 
consisted of the former United States Vice-President, Henry Wallace 
and his entourage. The Wallace trip took place under the close super- 
vision of the Soviet Police Ministry. This fact alone made it impossible 
for Mr. Wallace and the members of his mission to get access to the 
more essential relevant material on Soviet colonial policy in the 
Far East. 

The isolation of the Soviet Far East from the outside world was 
completed in the second half of 1948. In August of that year the only 
Western diplomatic representation in the whole of Soviet Asia, the 
American Consulate-General in Vladivostok, was closed down at the 
request of the Soviet authorities. On September 30th, 1948, the Soviet 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a circular which listed as forbidden 
areas practically all administrative units of the Far East from Irkutsk 
to Vladivostok. 



PREFACE 

In these circumstances, for any study of the problems of the Soviet 
Far East one has to rely almost exclusively on published Soviet material, 
and even there one faces considerable difficulties. The Moscow Press 
contains only scanty and sporadic information about the problems of 
the Soviet Far Eastern territories and the literature which the central 
state publishing houses produce about them is poor. From the Soviet 
Far East, itself, books, pamphlets and journals have reached the non- 
communist world only on a few occasions and it is usually a question 
of luck or coincidence whether a given book or pamphlet on the Soviet 
Far East becomes available abroad or whether it can be obtained in a 
particular country. 

As every student of Soviet affairs knows, the term 'Soviet sources' 
includes not only positive statements but also omissions. The silence 
observed in official Soviet quarters and in their press about a previously 
much advertised institution, a prominent personality, or even an entire 
people, has often had historical significance. Experience has shown that 
such 'negative* evidence though not ideal from the point of view of the 
historian is usually reliable. I have used it in this book in a number of 
instances, particularly when trying to disentangle the story of Marshal 
Blyukher's downfall and in describing the fate of the Korean and 
Chinese minorities in the Soviet Far East. 

In view of the scarcity of straightforward documentary material I 
have also drawn on a number of Soviet novels, plays and poems which 
touch upon the problems of the Far East By force of circumstance 
Soviet writers are, as a rule, highly responsive to the wishes of the 
political leaders of the Soviet State. It is therefore legitimate to consider 
Soviet belles-lettres as a fairly accurate reflection of the official com- 
munist approach towards the nationalities question and other aspects 
of the Soviet Far East. The gaps in my sources are nevertheless colossal 
and there is little hope that they can be filled as long as Soviet Russia 
and its sphere of influence remain virtually sealed off from the rest 
of the globe. 

My sincere gratitude goes to those friends who have sacrificed much 
time to read either the manuscript or the proofs of this book which 
owes a great deal to their frank criticism and valuable suggestions. 

September 21st, 1953 WALTER KOLARZ 



CONTENTS 



PREFACE page v 



Chapter I THE RUSSIANS OF THE 
SOVIET FAR EAST 

I THE POLITICAL FRAMEWORK 1 

The Far Eastern Republic 
The Far Eastern Territory 
The purge of the 'civilians' 
The purge of the Far Eastern army 
The triumph of the N.K.V.D. 

II THE PROBLEM OF COLONIZATION 12 

The historical background 
Colonization by convicts 
Military colonization 
Komsomol colonization 
The 'normal* colonization 

m THE SOVIET FAR EASTERN MYSTIQUE 22 

Russian Columbuses 
'Russian America* 
The Russian Pacific 
'Nevelskoy's immortal feat* 
Port Arthur 
Sergey Lazo 

Chapter H THE POLICY OF THE WHITE SOVIET 

FAR EAST 32 

I THE 'RUSSIAN* KOREANS 32 

Under the Czarist regime 
During and after the civil war 
Little Soviet Korea 
Koreans as 'spies' and 'diversiomsts* 
The aftermath of the 'liquidation* measures 
The Soviet Korean diaspora 

vii 



CONTENTS 

II THE CHINESE MINORITY IN RUSSIA 42 

Vladivostok or Kai Shen Vei? 
Soviet Russia and the latinization of the Chinese 

script 
Chinese and Russian 'proletariat* 

in THE SOVIET EMPIRE VERSUS THE JAPANESE PEOPLE 50 
Sakhalin 
Kurile Islands 
Kamchatka 

Chapter JH THE ABORIGINES OF THE 

SOVIET FAR EAST 65 

Two views on native policy 

Communist administrators 

Natives, state trusts and forced labour 

The reindeer problem 

The cultural revolution 

Communists and Shamans 

The fight against Christian missions 

Stalin - the sun 

Far Eastern aborigines and Soviet foreign policy 

TheNanai 

'The last of the Udege' 

The Nivkhi 

Kamchadals 

"Aleutian National District* 

Ainu, Russians and Japanese 

The 'National Areas' of the Eveni and Koryaks 

Chukotka the Russian colony facing Alaska 

The sovieuzation of Chukotka 

Chukotka during the war; economic exploitation 

and 'ideological* concessions 
Chukotka and the *cold war' 
Immigration of Russians and resettlement of Chukchi 

Chapter IV RUSSIANS AND YAKUTS 102 

Multi-national Yakutia 

The historical background: from 1630 to 1924 

The gold republic 

Yakut nationalism 

The Basharin incident 

'Shortcomings' and achievements of Yakut Soviet 

literature 
Russian cultural supremacy 

Chapter V THE SOVIET REGIME AND 

THE MONGOLS 115 



CONTENTS 

I THE BURYAT MONGOL AUTONOMOUS REPUBLIC 115 
Soviet power and Buddhism 
Pan-Mongolism real and alleged 
The dismemberment of Buryatia 
The triumph of Russian influence 
Cultural and linguistic deviations 
Ideological struggles in the post-war period 
A 'new* ideology for the Buryats 

n THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 128 

Mongolia's place in the strategy and theory of 

world communism 
Outer Mongolia and Czarist Russia 
The foundation of the M.P.R. 
Left-wing extremism 
Mongolia and Japan 
The murder of Marshal Demid and the triumph of 

Marshal Choibalsan 
Choibalsan's "foreign policy" 
The new constitution 
Choibalsan's economic policy 
The death of Choibalsan 
The cultural revolution 
Mongol literature 
The Mongol theatre 
Minorities in the M P.R. 
Russia, China and Mongolia 

Chapter VI THE TUVINIANS AND THEIR COUSINS 161 

I THE REPUBLIC OF TUVA 161 

The first Russian annexation 
Tuvmian pan-Mongohsm 
The creation of a *Tuvinian culture' 
The second annexation 

n THE SHORIAN NATIONAL DISTRICT 169 

ni THE AUTONOMOUS PROVINCE OF THE HIGH ALTAI 171 
'Burkhanism* - the Oirot religion 
The dream of 'Greater Qirotia* 
Soviet power and Oirot nationalism 
TTie 'House of the Altaiwoman* 

IV THE KHAKASSIAN AUTONOMOUS PROVINCE 176 

Chapter Vn THE SOVIET FAR EAST IN 

PERSPECTIVE 179 

ix 



MAPS 

page 

1. The South-eastern part of the Soviet Far East xii 

2. The Russian Empire in the North Pacific 23 

3. The Aborigines of the Soviet Far East 64 

4. The Mongol People's Republic in relation to China 1 14 

5. The Tuvinians and their Cousins 160 



ILLUSTRATION 

Types and Personalities* Reproduced from jacket 186-7 

Index 189 



former Jicrean^ 
MUtonal district 




1. THE SOUTH-EASTERN PART OF THE SOVIET FAR BAST 



xii 



THE RUSSIANS OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 



Outwardly there is no great difference between the Russian Far East and 
the rest of the Soviet Russian Empire. The Communist Party seems to 
rule in Vladivostok and Khabarovsk as firmly as in Moscow and Lenin- 
grad. Nevertheless, the Russian Far East has an individuality of its own 
and has its special problems. Vladivostok lies as far away from Moscow 
as London does from Winnipeg, Capetown or Calcutta. Such a gigantic 
distance must have political consequences even in an autocratic or 
totalitarian state. In territories where Russia borders on China, Korea, 
Japan and the United States, the outlook of the local Russian inhabitants 
is bound to differ from that prevailing on the banks of the Don or the 
Volga. Geographical circumstances force the Russians of Vladivostok, 
Blagoveshchensk or Khabarovsk to feel themselves Tar Easterners* 
('Dalnevostochniki'), pioneers who have a special political and historic 
mission, incomparably more complicated than the tasks confronting the 
population of Central or Western Russia. 

In Czarist Russia it was generally understood that the Far East was a 
'special case'. Until Russia suffered defeat in the war against Japan in 
1905 she looked upon her Far East as a base for the conquest of wide 
Asiatic territories - Manchuria, Korea, China and Tibet. There seemed 
to be no limit to her imperialistic ambitions. Japan's victory com- 
pletely changed this situation. Russian expansion in the Far East met 
with a serious setback, and many Russians even doubted whether 
Vladivostok and other Far Eastern possessions of the Czarist Empire 
could be held for any length of time. Russia, it is true, was connected 
with the Pacific coastal areas by the Trans-Siberian Railway, but there 
was widespread fear that this link might not prove solid enough. In 
1909 the well-known liberal monthly journal of St. Petersburg, Vestnik 
Ewopy, warned the government that the Russian Far East might act 
towards Russia in the same way as New England had acted towards the 
English crown. The separation of the Pacific possessions from the 
Russian Empire appeared as a real danger which could be averted only 
by a policy of concessions and economic privileges. The writer of the 
article in Vestnik Evropy reminded his readers that the revolt of Britain's 
former North American colonies occurred over a question of customs 



THE RUSSIANS OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

duties and that this should be a lesson to Russia in dealing with her 
distant Far Eastern colonies. 1 A democratic and liberal Russia might 
well have granted special rights to the Russian Far East and perpetuated 
the freedom of customs duties which the ports of Vladivostok and 
Nikolayevsk enjoyed at the beginning of the century.* The Russian Far 
East might have achieved, within the Russian Empire, something 
approaching a dominion status. The democratic regime which was ready 
to open Russia's windows into the world collapsed in 1917 after only a 
few months' existence. But even the Soviet regime, which succeeded it, 
could not escape from the geographical peculiarities of the Far East and 
from the special mentality of the Russian 'Far Easterners'. 



/. THE POLITICAL FRAMEWORK 

THE FAR EASTERN REPUBLIC 

In the early years of Soviet rule the special communist approach towards 
the Russian Far East found expression in the establishment of the 
'Far Eastern Republic' (F.E.R.). This buffer state was set up by a 
decision of the Central Committee of the All-Russian Communist Party. 
The Republic was to appeal to the patriotism and to the anti- Japanese 
animosities of the Far Eastern Russians, but not to their sympathies for 
an international communism. It was to have a 'bourgeois democratic 
character*. Its constitution did not include any provisions about the 
setting-up of Soviets, but provided for a National Assembly to be 
elected by universal direct and secret ballot. The national flag of the 
Republic was red and blue and its coat of arms discarded the com- 
munist symbols, hammer and sickle. Instead, it showed an anchor and a 
pickaxe crossed over a wheat-sheaf. There were no 'People's Com- 
missars' in the Far Eastern Republic, only ministers, and there was no 
'Red Army', only a 'Revolutionary People's Army'. 

Although the F.E.R. was founded by the Kremlin for mere tactical 
reasons some of its leaders took it very seriously and they wanted to 
transform the Republic into a hving political reality. They demanded 
that the F.E.R., which reached in the west as far as Lake Baikal, should 
extend its territory to the Yenisey River, and they also pleaded for 
greater independence from Moscow than the Bolshevik Central Com- 
mittee was willing to grant, Some quarters of the F.E.R. even toyed with 

* Complete freedom from customs duties existed m the Russian Far East between 1862 
and 1888 In 1888 customs duties were introduced for sugar, matches and kerosene and 
after 1901 duty had to be paid on industrial articles but not on agricultural produce 
(except for flour) nor on capital goods. Only Sakhalin and Kamchatka remained exempt. 
Td attract more settler's freedom from customs duties was restored m 1904, but was 
finally aboEshed again in 19'09. 



THE POLITICAL FRAMEWORK 

the idea of an American orientation and conducted a great deal of 
propaganda in the United States. A dispute broke out also among the 
Far Eastern communists as to the selection of the Republican capital. 
Those who stood for greater independence suggested that the capital 
should be established there where contact with the non-Russian world 
was most intimate, in Vladivostok. The Bolshevik Central Committee, 
on the other hand, realized the dangers inherent in such a move. It 
ruled that the headquarters of the Far Eastern government should be 
in the Russian city of Chita and not in the cosmopolitan port of 
Vladivostok. 

Throughout its existence the F.E.R. had a very difficult time. Parts 
of the Republic were occupied by Japanese troops and others were the 
scene of white guard activities. Accordingly, the government of the 
F.E.R. exercised only a nominal sovereignty over certain of its provinces. 
Paradoxically enough, the Japanese occupation of the F.E.R. was not 
only the chief source of its weakness but also its principal reason d'etre. 
The setting-up of the F.E.R. enabled the Russian Far Easterners, 
particularly the peasant colonists, to support Soviet foreign policy 
and the Soviet fight against foreign intervention without identifying 
themselves with the Communist Party and its economic aspirations. 
On October 25th, 1922, the last Japanese soldier left the Russian main- 
land and the need for a Tar Eastern Republic* ceased automatically. 
The Constituent Assembly of the F.E.R., in which the communists had 
four-fifths of all seats, decided to hand over its powers to a 'Far Eastern 
Revolutionary Committee*, the Dalrevkom, which was already a direct 
organ of the Soviet Government. 

The decision of the Far Eastern Constituent Assembly did not mean 
that the Russians of the Far East were in any way united behind the 
Communist Party. The communists constituted a minority in the Far 
East even smaller than anywhere else in Soviet Russia. Early in 1922 
they had only 7,000 members in the whole of the F.E.R., and this was 
on the eve of a purge which aimed at a reduction of the membership by 
15 to 18 per cent. 2 The Party relied on the support of a section of the 
Tar Eastern Trades Union Congress' (D.V.S.P.S.) which had 40,000 
members; but how many of them really sympathized with the com- 
munists it is impossible to say. In view of its numerical weakness and 
isolation the communist movement in the Far East had to go carefully 
and had to make some concessions to regionalist tendencies. Many 
people in the Russian Far East continued to favour a special status for 
their homeland and hoped that after the abolition of the F.E.R. it would 
not become just another Soviet Russian province. At the beginning their 
toopfcs wbre not eatitfdy betrayed. 



THE RUSSIANS OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 



THE FAR EASTERN TERRITORY 

During the whole period from 1922 to 1937-38 the Soviet Far East 
enjoyed a special position within the Soviet Union. From the adminis- 
trative point of view the Soviet Far East formed one large unit, the 
Tar Eastern Territory' (F.E.T.). It covered roughly one-eighth of the 
entire surface of the U.S.S.R. The F.E.T. existed from January 1926 
until October 1938, but there was a slight amputation of the territory 
in 1930, when the districts of Sreten and Chita were detached. Militarily, 
too, the Soviet Far East had a semi-independent existence by the 
establishment, in August 1929, of the Special Far Eastern Army 
('Osobaya Dalnevostochnaya Anniya') usually referred to by its initials 
as ODVA and a year after its foundation as OKDVA (Osobaya 
Krasnoznamyonnaya Dalnevostochnaya Arariya', meaning 'Special 
Far Eastern Army decorated with the Order of the Red Banner'). 

Both army commanders and administrators in the Far East showed 
a considerable degree of independence, which, in some cases, even ex- 
pressed itself in open opposition to the regime. This is true, in particular 
of the party leaders of Vladivostok, a city which, like that other opposi- 
tion centre, Leningrad, was a window into the world. The radical 
course, aiming at the liquidation of the remnants of private property, 
which the Bolshevik Party took after its Fifteenth Congress (1927) 
did not meet with approval in a trading centre like Vladivostok. Both 
Vladivostok and Chita became, in the late twenties, strongholds of a 
right-wing opposition and the Central Committee in Moscow had to 
dismiss the local party chiefs. 3 

Difficulties between the centre and the Far Eastern communists con- 
tinued after the suppression of the right-wing deviation. Problems con- 
nected with the implementation of the First and Second Five- Year Plans 
were an almost inexhaustible source of disagreements. Already during 
the first Five- Year Plan period the State Planning Commission in 
Moscow had worked out big development schemes for the Far East, 
providing for the building of additional railways, an increase of coal 
and oil production, and far-reaching industrialization. When it became 
clear that many of the envisaged projects could not be carried out 
neither Moscow nor Khabarovsk wanted to take the blame for the 
failure. The central authorities complained about the inefficiency of the 
'Far Easterners* and the latter denounced the lack of understanding of 
the officials at the centre. At the Sixteenth Party Congress, which was 
held in 1930, the spokesman of the F.E.T., Perepechko, referred to the 
'hideous attitude of various central organizations' towards the economic 
problems of the Far East. 4 If it were not for this negligence, Perepechko 
asserted, the F.E.T. would carry out the basic tasks of the Five- Year 



THE POLITICAL FRAMEWORK 

Plan in three years. The later development showed that it took not three 
but ten years to reach the target figures which the first Five- Year Plan 
had fixed for the coal and oil production of the Far East. * The Central 
Government refused to admit that the shortcomings in the Far East 
resulted from deficiencies of ail-Union planning, and tried to put the 
blame on local scapegoats who were charged with committing deliberate 
sabotage. More than that, the Central Government alleged that the Far 
Eastern administrators were 'Japanese spies', although they were, 
presumably, no more connected with Japan than the Leningrad opposi- 
tion was linked with Germany. The Far Eastern communists, it is true, 
had shown great eagerness to establish commercial relations with other 
Pacific countries including Japan, but this had been done with the 
agreement of the centre. 

THE PURGE OF THE 'CIVILIANS' 

Although there was no evidence for charges of high treason the Soviet 
Government carried out a purge on a vast scale throughout the Soviet 
Far East. It would be incorrect to say that there was one big purge. 
There were at least two purges, one directed primarily against 'civilian* 
communists, and another aimed mainly at the army. The first purge, 
which was closely connected with economic shortcomings, started in the 
first months of 1937 and led to the disappearance of the head of the 
administration of the F.E.T., Krutov, and of the party secretary, 
Lavrentev. At the same time administrative heads and party officials 
were sacked all over the Soviet Far East. For many months there were 
no 'first secretaries' in many city committees and district committees 
of the Communist Party. 

There is one aspect of the purge of the 'civilians' in the Far East which 
deserves special mention, the purge of the railwaymen. The railwaymen 
of the Far East were traditionally the backbone of the Communist Party 
in that distant part of the Soviet Union, and the solidity of Moscow's 
connection with the Pacific coastal areas depended largely on their 
efficiency. In the 'thirties' their job became increasingly difficult. Between 
1933 and 1936 the freight turnover of the Far Eastern railways had 
increased three times. This was more than they could stand. The Far 
Eastern railway system broke down. A great many accidents occurred. 
The Government asserted that they were all engineered 'on instructions 
of the Japanese intelligence service.' The supreme responsibility for 
the wrecking of trains was officially attributed to Trotsky and to the 

* Production of oil was to reach 464,000 tons by the end of the first Five-Year Plan in 
1932. In 1933 output was 196,000 tons; in 1936, 308,000 tons, and in 1938, 360,000 tons The 
coal target for 1932 was 4,000,000 tons In 1933 output had reached 2,020,000 tons, and in 
1936, 3,617,000 tons. The target for 1937 was 5,000,000 tons, but actual production in 
1938 was only 4,750,000 tons. 



THE RUSSIANS OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

various members of the so-called 'Anti-Soviet Bloc of Rights and 
Trotskyites' which was allegedly led by Bukharin. In the Far East itself 
the Soviet Government staged a big trial of leading railway officials 
working on the Amur railway line, a sector of the Trans-Siberian 
railway. The trial took place in the town of Svobodny. All forty-four 
defendants were sentenced to death as 'Japanese spies'. They included 
the deputy head of the Amur railway line, the head of its planning 
department, the deputy head of the locomotive service and many other 
people of similar standing in the Far Eastern railway transport. 5 The 
sentence of Svobodny had considerable repercussions throughout the 
F.E.T. Sweeping changes took place not only in the top leadership 
of the Far Eastern railways but also among the rank and file of the 
railwaymen. Demobilized soldiers were rapidly trained for the railway 
and called upon to fill the gaps opened by the purges. 

The man who, in 1937, earned out the purge in the Soviet Far East 
was a complete newcomer to the territory. His name was Vareikis, he 
was Lithuanian-born and had occupied various important positions 
in European Russia, as party secretary first of Voronezh and later of 
Stalingrad. He was also a member of the Central Committee of the 
Bolshevik Party. When he arrived in Khabarovsk in the spring of 1937 
he seemed to possess the full confidence of Stalin, but by the end of the 
year he had lost it. He was charged with surrounding himself with 
spies and white guardists. A case in point was the editor of the largest 
Far Eastern newspaper Tikhookeanskaya Zvezda (Far Eastern ftar), 
Shver, who was expelled from the party by a special decision of the 
Central Committee taken at the beginning of October. 6 Vareikis sur- 
vived his friend only by a few days. 

THE PURGE OF THE FAR EASTERN ARMY 

The disgrace of Vareikis and his supporters carried the disintegration of 
the party apparatus in the Far East a step further. Only one important 
force continued to exist in the F.E.T., the Special Far Eastern Army 
and its commander, Marshal Vasily Konstantinovich Blyukher. But it 
was clear that this last bulwark of Far Eastern 'autonomism* would, 
sooner or later, be affected by the big Stalinist clean up of Russia's 
military leadership. One of the defendants of the Tukhachevsky trial of 
June 1937, the commander of the Byelorussian Military District, 
Uborevich, had had important connections with the Far East In 1922 
he had been the liberator of Vladivostok and he had stayed in the F.E.T. 
for several years. There was another military person who was closely 
linked with Stalin's Far Eastern opponents, Gamarnik, the chief of the 
Political Administration of the Red Army and an Assistant People's 
Commissar for Defence. Had he not committed suicide he would most 



THE POLITICAL FRAMEWORK 

certainly have appeared in the Tukhachevsky trial. Gamarnik's presence 
in the Far East was frequently mentioned in the Soviet Press, the last 
time late in 1936, when he attended the autumn manoeuvres of the 
OKDVA. 7 One of the last pictures which Soviet newspapers published 
of Gamarnik showed him with the Far Eastern deputies to the Eighth 
Congress of Soviets. 8 So there is no doubt that Gamarnik stood in close 
personal contact with some of the leading personalities of the F.E.T. 
It is possible that he had closer contacts with the civilian than with the 
military opposition in the Far East. This might explain why his fall 
from favour did not harm the Special Far Eastern Army directly, ex- 
cept for its political departments which were under Gamarnik's orders. 9 
At any rate, the Tukhachevsky-Gamarnik affaire did not affect 
Blyukher's prestige immediately. Blyukher was even one of the judges 
who sent Tukhachevsky and his associates to the gallows: these judges, 
who also included Marshal Timoshenko and Marshal Budyonny, were 
officially referred to as 'the flower of our glorious army'. 10 In the months 
after the Tukhachevsky trial they served Bolshevik propaganda as 
examples that Stalin had not wiped out Russia's entire military leader- 
ship. 

It seems that in the winter of 1937-38, Blyukher and his army reached 
the culminating point of their power in the Far Eastern Territory. The 
influence of Blyukher and his army was particularly visible in the 
elections which took place in December 1937 for the Supreme Soviet 
of the U.S.S.R., the first to be held under the new Stalin Constitution. 
Out of the nine deputies which the F.E.T. sent to the Soviet of the 
Union four belonged to the OKDVA, including Blyukher himself and 
his deputy, Mikhail Karpovich Levandovsky, who commanded the 
troops of the maritime region around Vladivostok. The fifth deputy, 
a submarine commander, represented the Pacific Fleet* The party, 
the administration and the N.K.V,D.t had one deputy each. Only the 
ninth deputy represented the common people. He was a Stakhanovite 
worker in the timber industry. 

When the Soviet parliament met in January 1938 Blyukher was 
elected a member of its presidium. In the following month, on Red 
Army Day, he was awarded the 'Order of Lenin'. At the end of May a 
meeting of 6,500 workers and peasants nominated him as a candidate 
for the elections to the Supreme Soviet of the R.S.F.S.R. 11 Until the 

* The Soviet Pacific Fleet was built up between 1932 and 1937. In the first years of the 
Soviet rgune a Russian Pacific Fleet was as good as non-existent; until 1932 it included 
but one single gun-boat. Describing the situation at the time of the arrival in Vladivostok 
of the first Red Navy commander in the Pacific, M. V. Viktorov, Pravda said pointedly 
'There was a commander, there was also a Pacific, but no Pacific Fleet' (Pravda, March 
29th, 1937.) It was Viktorov's achievement to create a Soviet Pacific Fleet in a matter of 
four to five years. He too was eliminated in the big clean-up of 1937-38. 
t The N.K.V.D., the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, later Ministry for 
Internal Affairs (M.V.D.) is the ministry responsible for the Soviet police. 



THE RUSSIANS OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

end of July, Blyukher still appeared in public and was still in command 
in the Soviet Far East, but two rather strange things had happened. 
First, a carefully prepared party conference of the OKDVA, which was 
scheduled for the beginning of June, was cancelled at the last minute; 
and secondly, the OKDVA itself was suddenly renamed Tar Eastern 
Front' ('Dalnevostochnii Krasnoznamyonnii Front*). The change occur- 
red between July 5th and 6th, and must have greatly puzzled the Soviet 
public, which was as familiar with the initials 'OKDVA' as with 
U.S.S.R., N.K.V.D. and R.S.F.S.R. 

The actual disappearance of Blyukher coincides with some major 
border incidents which the Japanese provoked on Lake Khasan during 
the last days of July and the beginning of August. The Soviet armed 
forces remained in control of the situation and killed over 400 Japanese. 
On the whole the incident on Lake Khasan was rather welcome to the 
Kremlin, for it gave the government the opportunity to prove that the 
efficiency of the army was not impaired by the purge. Moreover, the 
'defeat of the samurais', as official propaganda styled the historic 
episode on the Manchurian border, supplied the pretext for a big cam- 
paign to strengthen the morale of the Soviet rear. All over the Soviet 
Union meetings were held in factories, collective farms and offices 
protesting against the Japanese aggression and sending greetings to the 
Soviet armed forces who were watching over the security of the Far 
Eastern borders. None of the resolutions adopted at these meetings 
contained the slightest reference to the once so popular Marshal 
Blyukher. The press gave all the credit for the speedy liquidation of the 
Khasan Lake incident to rank and file soldiers and junior officers, as 
if no general had been connected with the operation. Only considerably 
later was the new commander in the Far East mentioned - Grigory 
Mikhailovich Shtern. 12 

What happened to Blyukher and why it happened was never officially 
stated, except, perhaps, for some general cryptic remarks made by the 
Head of the Political Administration of the Red Army, Mekhlis, and by 
Blyukher's successor. The former told the party conference of the 'First 
Separate Army',* in September 1938, that the plotters among the party 
members of the Far Eastern Army had been 'smashed and destroyed'. 
Shtern was a little more explicit when, in addressing the Eighteenth 
Party Congress, he referred to 'traitors, spies and monsters' who had 
infiltrated into responsible positions in the Far Eastern armies. 

The disgrace of the Marshal was not a local event of the Soviet Far 
East, but one of national importance for Soviet Russia. Blyukher was a 
potential Russian Bonaparte, more dangerous to Stalin than even 

* The 'First Separate Army* ('Pervaya Otdelnaya Krasnoznamyonnaya Arauya') was a 
new name for the purged OKDVA, the term Tar Eastern Front* being used for a few 
weeks only. 

8 



THE POLITICAL FRAMEWORK 

Marshal Tukhachevsky. The latter was primarily a soldier, but Blyukher 
was both soldier and political leader. Unlike Tukhachevsky, Blyukher 
was of proletarian origin - he had started life as a shop-assistant in 
St. Petersburg and had later become a metalworker - and his popularity 
with the Russian working class was secure. Unlike Tukhachevsky, 
Blyukher had suffered under the Czarist regime. He had joined the 
Bolshevik Party a whole year before the October Revolution, early 
enough to lay claim to the once so honourable title of 'Old Bolshevik*. 
Although only a private in the Czarist army in which Tukhachevsky 
had served as an officer, Blyukher emerged as one of the great military 
commanders of the young Soviet State during the Civil War. In 1918, 
by his remarkable expedition across the Ural mountains, he secured the 
victory of the Revolution on what was then the 'Eastern Front'. For 
this outstanding feat he was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. He 
was the first person to receive this decoration. 13 

Blyukher's association with the Soviet Far East, which became the 
main reason for his prominence, started in 1921. He commanded that 
heroic march to the Pacific Ocean which included such momentous 
events of the Russian Civil War as the storming of the heavily fortified 
white-guard stronghold, Volochayevka, the capture of Khabarovsk, and 
the final liquidation of Japanese intervention. 

For Russia as a whole the elimination of Blyukher meant that Stalin's 
last potential competitor, a man who might have easily become more 
popular than he, had gone. For the Soviet Far East it meant the end of a 
historic period and it also resulted in a rewriting of its past history. 
Naturally, Blyukher's real historic feats remained unchanged, but the 
regime did its best to strike his name from history as it lives on in the 
minds of the people, particularly in the minds of the rising generation. 
It is difficult to write the history of the Soviet Far East up to 1938 with- 
out mentioning Blyukher, but Stalin's historians have achieved this 
task. Blyukher's name is now left out of all accounts of the Russian 
Civil War. The first edition of the Large Soviet Encyclopedia, in its 
volume, Number 6, which was published in 1930, described Blyukher as 
'one of the outstanding personalities of the Red Army*. The second 
edition of the Large Soviet Encyclopedia, which was published after 
the Second World War, did not mention him at all. 

THE TRIUMPH OF THE N.K.V.D, 

The reorganization of the 'Special Far Eastern Army' and the disgrace 
of its commander were followed by the abolition of the Far Eastern 
Territory. It may be argued that this latter measure was not especially 
prompted by the peculiarities of the situation in the Far East. The 
Soviet Government had gradually abolished all the original large 



THE RUSSIANS OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

administrative units, such as, for instance, the West Siberian Territory, 
the East Siberian Territory and the North Caucasus Territory. The Far 
Eastern Territory was, however, the last to be affected by these adminis- 
trative reforms, and then only after the purges there had been completed. 
On October 20th, 1938, it was decreed that the Far Eastern Territory 
would cease to exist and that two new 'Territories' would take its place, 
the Khabarovsk Territory, which still included the bulk of the former 
F.E.T., and the Maritime Territory, with Vladivostok as the capital. 
After the war the administrative splitting up of the Soviet Far East was 
carried further. In the west, the Khabarovsk Territory lost the Amur 
Province (administrative centre: Blagoveshchensk) and, in the east, 
Sakhalin was removed from its jurisdiction and made a self-contained 
province. 

To consolidate the position of the party in the two new 'Territories', 
a position so badly shaken by the purges, the government saw it neces- 
sary to strengthen the powers of the N.K.V.D., particularly the control 
which the latter exercised over several vital branches of Soviet Far 
Eastern economy. The full extent of the N.K.V.D. rule in the Far East 
was disclosed by the Soviet Economic Plan for 1941, a secret document 
produced for inter-departmental use, but not intended for the Soviet 
public and still less for foreigners.* It showed that the People's Com- 
missariat for Internal Affairs was a much more important organizer of 
certain industrial activities than the ministries nominally responsible 
for them. The plan revealed, for instance, that the N.K.V.D. con- 
trolled nearly 83 per cent of the coal output of the Khabarovsk Ter- 
ritory. Only 13 per cent of it was in the hands of the People's Com- 
missariat for Coal (Narkomugol) and the remaining 4 per cent was 
split up between other ministries. In the field of timber production the 
N.K.V.D. did not hold the same monopoly. It provided 'only' one- 
third of the entire timber supply of the territory, slightly more than the 
quota allocated to the People's Commissariat for tie Timber Industry 
(Narkomles). Another important sector of N.K.V.D. work was pro- 
duction of building material. Over one-fifth of the bricks produced in 
the Khabarovsk Territory in 1941 was to come from the Chief Adminis- 
tration of Corrective Labour Camps, one of the specialized agencies of 
the N.K.V.D. In the much smaller Maritime Territory the N.K.V.D. 
has little importance as an economic factor, except for the timber 
industry, where it tackled over 20 per cent of the whole production. But 

* The full title of the document is 4 Gosudarstvenny Plan Razvitiya Narodnogo Khozyaistva 
S.S.S.R. na 1941 god (Pnlozheniya k Postanovlemyu S.N K, S.S.S R. i TsK VKP (b) Nr.' 
127 ot 17 Yanvarya 1941 g.) - State Plan for the Development of the National Economy 
of the U.S S.R. for 1941 (Appendices to the Decree of the Council of People's Commissars 
and of the Central Committee of the All-Umon Communist Party (Bolsheviks), Nr 127 
of January 17th, 1941 ) The material on the economy of the Soviet Far East is contained 
in the appendices 371, 372 and 373, pp. 324-336. 

10 



THE POLITICAL FRAMEWORK 

even where the N.K.V.D.-M.V.D. has no direct economic power it is 
the decisive political force, above all, in border areas like the Maritime 
Territory of the Soviet Far East. 

There are indications, however, that the police ministry has en- 
countered certain difficulties among the Far Eastern Russians during the 
war and post-war period. Conditions were certainly favourable to a 
re-emergence of that Far Eastern regionalism which Soviet power has 
tried so hard to eliminate. The people of Vladivostok, in particular, 
must have felt once more that the natural destiny of their city was that 
of a window into the world. They saw the many American lend-lease 
shipments arriving in their harbour and were bound to draw certain 
conclusions about the desirability of international trade and Soviet- 
American co-operation. More than people in other parts of the Soviet 
Union must the Russian inhabitants of the Pacific coastal areas have 
resented the policy of rigid isolationism which the Soviet Government 
has pursued particularly since 1947. 

This frame of mind of the Tar Easterners' makes it understandable 
that the very existence of an American consulate in Vladivostok was a 
matter of concern to the Soviet Government. The building of the 
consulate was put under constant supervision and for long periods it 
was floodlit at night. In 1948, the Soviet Government used a flimsy 
pretext to demand from the United States that they should withdraw 
their consular personnel from the Pacific port. The measure had little 
importance for the Americans as the activities of the four American 
consular officials were extremely limited, but it had a certain symbolic 
significance. The closing down of the consulate was a way of telling the 
people of Vladivostok that their hopes of their city becoming a link 
between Russia and the West were once more doomed. Some years later 
the charge was made that the consulate had been the centre of a spy- 
ring. This accusation was first put forward in the short story In a Seaside 
Town ('V Primorskom Gorode') which the popular Soviet illustrated 
Ogonyok published in 1940. In the daily press the 'plot' was mentioned 
for the first time on February 8th, 1953, when Izvestiya wrote : In 1947, 
the organs of the state security service liquidated a spy-nest organized 
by the assistant naval attach^ at the American consulate general of 
Vladivostok, Richard'. Izvesiiya produced no further details nor any 
evidence to support its disclosure which it simply quoted from a book 
The Secret Weapon of the Doomed. This latter work had come out under 
the auspices of the Komsomol organization. The absurdity of the 
Vladivostok spy story does not preclude the possibility that many 
Russian Far Easterners in the late 'forties' and early 'fifties' were perse- 
cuted for pro-Western sentiments just as others had been victimized 
for alleged pro- Japanese leanings in the late 'thirties.' 

The particular sensitiveness which the Soviet authorities have shown 

11 



THE RUSSIANS OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

with regard to the Far Eastern Russians since the Second World War 
can also be illustrated by another fact. Soviet jamming of Western broad- 
casts started in the Far Eastern territories of the Soviet Union several 
months before it came into operation in other parts of Russia. 

II. THE PROBLEM OF COLONIZATION 

THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 

The great decisive problem which had confronted both Czarist and 
Russian authorities in the Far East was that of the colonization of the 
territory. Under the Czarist regime Russian colonization could be 
roughly subdivided into three periods. The first ran from the annexa- 
tion of the Amur and Pacific coastal regions in 1858-60 to 1883, the 
second from 1883 to about 1900, and the third from 1900 until the 
First World War. 

Until 1883, the only way of reaching the Far East from European 
Russia was to cross the whole of Siberia on horseback, and this meant 
two to four years' travel. The formidable journey, under very primitive 
conditions, resulted in complete physical exhaustion which, in a number 
of cases, compelled the prospective Amur colonists to abandon their 
original aim and settle down somewhere in Siberia. Those who even- 
tually reached the end of their journey were appallingly weak from 
starvation, hardship, and the diseases which they had contracted during 
the journey. To make things worse there was no proper settlers' 
organization to help them when they arrived. It is not surprising, there- 
fore, that in such circumstances the colonization of the Russian Far 
East made little progress, and the yearly average number of newcomers 
in these parts did not exceed 1,000. 

The year 1883 saw the opening of the sea route for the use of pro- 
spective settlers. Despite the fact that the sea route reduced the journey 
to a few weeks only, it never became really popular with Russian and 
Ukrainian colonists, since travelling by sea was alien to their mentality. 
Nevertheless, several thousands of would-be settlers let themselves be 
persuaded to board ships in Odessa for Vladivostok, where they received 
a much better welcome than those who had arrived earlier by the land 
route; they were fed and housed, given medical attention and provided 
with farming equipment. 

It was only after 1900, with the opening of direct rail communication 
between Russia and the Far East, that Russian colonization did enter a 
more active phase. In the initial stage the Trans-Siberian railway line 
cut the duration of the journey to approximately thirty days. While the 
first Russian colonists in the Far East had come chiefly from the over- 
populated gubernii (provinces) of Kiev, Chernigov and Poltava, the 

12 



THE PROBLEM OF COLONIZATION 

inhabitants of over forty-five European Russian gubernii participated 
in the colonization after the hardships of a long and complicated 
journey had been alleviated. 14 Migration to the Far East assumed a real 
mass character, particularly after the Russo-Japanese War, when 
numbers reached the record height of 76,637 in 1907. 

The boom of the migration to the Far East in the last years of the 
Czarist regime made little difference to the magnitude of the task which 
the Soviet power had to face. This can be gathered from the fact that 
in 1926 the total number of inhabitants in the F.E.T. was still below 
the two million mark, and this included both Asiatics and Europeans. 
The number of Europeans alone did not exceed 1,600,000, including 
1,531,000 representatives of the three main Slavonic peoples of the 
U.S.S.R. - Great Russians, Ukrainians* and Byelorussians. Thus, 
the Europeans of the Russian Far East were an insignificant factor 
compared with the masses of China and Japan living at Russia's door- 
step. We shall see now by what means the Soviet Government tried to 
change the situation and what success it achieved in its endeavours. 

COLONIZATION BY CONVICTS 

Colonization by convicts is neither a Soviet nor a Russian invention. 
It has been practised elsewhere, for instance, in Australia, but there it 
came to an end in 1838. In Russia, more particularly in the Russian Far 
East, colonization by convicts is not only flourishing at the present time, 
but it may not even have reached its maximum expansion. Certain 
remote Soviet Far Eastern territories have absorbed especially high 
numbers of forced labourers. Consequently, the colonization of the 
vast area which forms the hinterland of the Okhotsk Sea is almost ex- 
clusively due to convicts working under the supervision of the M, V.D. 

* According to the 1926 census the Ukrainians in the Far Eastern Territory numbered 
315,000 and the Byelorussians 41,000. There are particularly important Ukrainian 
settlements near the town of Blagoveshchensk, as well as at several points along the 
railway line running from Khabarovsk to Vladivostok, parallel to the Chinese-Soviet 
border. The Soviet regime provided Ukrainian language schools for the Ukrainian 
settlers and founded as many as seventeen Ukrainian 'National Districts' in various parts 
oftheF.E.T, 

Ukrainian nationalists refer to the entire Soviet Pacific coastal area as the 'Green Wedge' 
(Zeleny Klin) as distinct from the 'Grey Wedge 1 , which is the Ukrainian settlers* area in 
Northern Kirghizistan and Southern Kazakhstan. These nationalists are inclined to 
consider the Soviet Pacific region a Ukrainian and not a Russian national possession. 
Indeed, the Ukrainian Encyclopedia, published by Ukrainian scholars of Eastern Gahcia 
during the inter-war period, described the 'Green Wedge* as a 'Ukrainian colony on the 
Pacific Ocean*. The Encyclopedia estimated that 30 per cent of the population of the 
'Green Wedge' were Ukrainians, against 52 per cent 'Muscovites*, i.e, Great Russians. 
(Ukramska Zagalna Entsiklopedia Lviv-Stanislaviv-Kolomiya, 1935, vol, n, pp 42-3.) 
The importance of the 'Ukrainian problem* in the Soviet Far East must not, however, 
be overestimated The dividing line in the Far East does not run between the various 
groups of European colonists but between Europeans and Asiatics. 

13 



THE RUSSIANS OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

(previously N.K.V.D.). Under the general direction of the latter a 
powerful state enterprise called 'Dalstroy' has come into being in the 
Soviet Far East. It has taken over many functions that are usually 
carried out by local government organs. Dalstroy is primarily a 
mining trust for the development of gold mining on the upper reaches 
of the Kolyma River. Similar to some mitring companies in the colonies 
of other powers, such as the Societe Mini&re du Haut Katanga in the 
Belgian Congo, the Dalstroy rules almost as sovereign master over 
the territory where it exploits the underground riches. Although 
administrative authorities do exist in the land of the Dalstroy they are 
completely dependent on the directorate of this enterprise. 

The activities of the Dalstroy are many-sided. The 'Mining Adminis- 
tration' ('Gornoe Upravlenie') is only one of several big departments 
over which the Dalstroy director and his two deputy directors rule. In 
addition to the 'Political Administration', there is an 'Administration 
for Agriculture' supervising the work of the local collective farms and 
state farms, and an 'Administration for Road Building'. There are also 
a fair number of subsidiary trusts and enterprises which take their 
orders from the Dalstroy director. There are, for instance, the supply 
organizations 'Dalstroysnab' and 'Kolymsnab', the coal-mining trust 
'Dalugol', a building trust, the state trading firm 'Magadantorg' and a 
special fleet which connects the Dalstroy with Vladivostok. This entire 
huge organization is kept together by a small army of M.V.D. men and 
by a whole network of 'political departments', the activity of which ex- 
tends to the most distant parts of the Kolyma mining district. The bulk 
of the workers, technicians and officials of the Dalstroy consists of 
actual convicts, or of ex-convicts who have been set free because of 
'good behaviour'. A list of over 400 Dalstroy officials and workers who 
were awarded orders and medals at the beginning of 1941 shows that 
the Dalstroy is a microcosm of the Soviet Union. Indeed, a list of people 
decorated with the medal Tor Excellency of Labour' starts rather 
significantly with the following three names: 

1. Abdulgasimov, Nazhim, miner; 

2. Akopyan, Amayak Avanesovich, newspaper editor; 

3. Aksenov, Vladimir Mikhailovich, driver. . . ." 

Of these three the first is a Moslem, the second an Armenian and the 
third a Russian. The order is perhaps not very characteristic since the 
Russian element predominates by far among the more prominent 
Dalstroy people, but there are also Ukrainians, Georgians, Armenians, 
Jews and Moslems among them. 

The colonization activities of Dalstroy have changed the character 
of the hinterland of the Okhotsk Sea, which, until 1931, was still virtually 
uninhabited. The most palpable achievement has been the foundation 

of the town of Magadan, the post-war population of which has been 

> 

14 



THE PROBLEM OF COLONIZATION 

estimated at 50,000-70,000 inhabitants. Official Soviet sources, while 
glossing over the strange origin of Magadan, have described it as an 
important cultural centre, including several houses of culture, dozens of 
clubs, cinemas, libraries, and two theatres, one for drama, the other 
for musical comedy. Former prisoners who passed through Magadan 
have asserted that the actors of the drama theatre were convicts, but 
Soviet sources of more recent date declare that they were recruited from 
Moscow drama schools. By December 1952, Magadan had grown large 
enough to deserve administrative promotion. A decree of the Presidium 
of the Supreme Soviet transformed it from a district town into a pro- 
vincial town. 16 

Magadan is the largest locality which owes its existence to Dalstroy, 
but there are others further inland. One of them is Atka - a name which, 
at the first glance, seems to have an exotic Asiatic flavour, but is in 
reality an expression of the unromantic technological mind of Soviet 
Russia. It is simply an abbreviation of 'Avtotraktornaya Kolonna* 
(Motor Tractor Column), a tribute to the pioneer role of motorized 
transport in a territory without a railway. Even in 1946 Atka had large 
garages and automobile repair works where work never stopped, 'not 
even for a single minute'. Moreover, Atka produces electrical equip- 
ment for the purposes of Dalstroy. 17 

MILITARY COLONIZATION 

Another interesting and unusual form of colonization introduced in the 
Soviet Far East is what might be described as 'military colonization'. 
Discharged soldiers of the Red Army, artillery and cavalrymen, infantry 
and members of the signal corps, as well as sailors of the Red Fleet, 
settled down with their families in the fertile border regions on the 
Ussuri River. These military colonists formed a kind of peasant militia 
ready to be called up at any time for the defence of the 'socialist 
fatherland'. The first 'Red Army' and 'Red Fleet' collective farms were 
formed in 1931, They soon became the pride of the entire Soviet Far 
East and the head of the administration of the F.E.T., Krutov, des- 
cribed them as a shining example for the entire Far Eastern peasantry. 

Not all demobilized soldiers became agriculturists; some of them 
remained in the Far East as lumbermen and fishermen and many also 
worked on the Far Eastern railways, as has already been mentioned. 
At the beginning of 1938, 5,000 demobilized Red Army men were 
accepted into the service of railways. They were all provided with 
houses and small plots, and each of them received a government graat 
for the purchase of a cow. 18 

This last point is particularly characteristic of Soviet colonization 
policy in the Far East To increase its defence potential in the Far 

15 



THE RUSSIANS OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

Eastern border areas the government made concessions even in the 
economic sphere. In European Russia only collective farmers were at 
that time allowed to own a cow as their own personal possession, never 
industrial or transport workers. 

KOMSOMOL COLONIZATION 

The military colonization largely overlaps with another special form of 
colonization in the Soviet Far East, which is carried out with the help 
of the Communist Youth League, the Komsomol. The Youth League 
is the backbone of the Far Eastern units of the Soviet Army. Towards 
the end of the inter-war period 60 to 70 per cent of the soldiers in the 
Far East were Komsomol members. Hence among the demobilized 
soldiers, too, there must have been a good deal of 'Komsomol spirit'. 
The Komsomol influence in the Far East is, however, by no means con- 
fined to the army. The entire Soviet Far East has been described as a 
'Komsomol Territory*. This is true both in the figurative and in the 
literal sense. The Soviet Far East is 'komsomolsky' because it is a young 
pioneer country, but the Komsomol, the Communist Youth League, is 
also directly connected with the Soviet Far East as one of the principal 
promoters of its colonization. 

Many Communist Youth League members went to the Far East as 
individuals out of a spirit of adventure and also out of a feeling of 
patriotic duty. The Komsomol, as an organization, was responsible for 
two big spectacular actions. One was the foundation of the town 
Komsomolsk-on-Amur, the other was the movement initiated by 
Madame Khetagurova. 

The history of Komsomolsk goes back to the spring of 1932 when the 
Central Committee of the Communist Youth League chartered two 
steamers, Kolumb and Komintern, which sailed with 400 young 
people, including a number of Civil War orphans, to the village of 
Permskoe on the Lower Amur. (The village had been founded as early 
as 1858 by Russian peasant colonists hailing from the region of Perm 
in the eastern part of European Russia.) Even the first small party of 
Komsomol members outnumbered the local population of 160 inhabi- 
tants. In the second half of 1932 many more young people arrived, and 
in December of the same year the All-Russian Executive Committee 
published a decree which transformed Permskoe into the town of 
Komosomolsk. The decree read well in the Moscow newspapers, but 
to the young builders of Komsomolsk it must have appeared utterly 
unrealistic. At the time when the decree was published they were in a 
state of despair, The building of the town had had to be interrupted in 
view of the harshness of the Russian Far Eastern winter, and the inex- 
perience of the new settlers had resulted in great complications. During 

16 



THE PROBLEM OF COLONIZATION 

this early period of construction Komsomolsk had a street with the 
characteristic nickname of 'Street of Accidents', and a whole quarter 
was known as the 'Fire Settlement' ('Pozharny Posyolok'). 

Things in Komsomolsk went wrong for several years, and in 1937, 
when the city celebrated its fifth anniversary, the party authorities 
thought that the time had come to carry out a large-scale purge among 
the builders of the 'City of Youth'. One of the most distinguished citizens 
of the new town, the director of its metallurgical plant, then declared 
bluntly, 'We are mercilessly rooting out this scum of wreckers'. 19 'This 
scum of wreckers' were people whom official Soviet propaganda had 
previously included among the selfless enthusiastic patriots engaged in 
self-sacrificing, heroic construction work. To justify the purge the party 
leadership alleged that 'agents of foreign intelligence services, bandits 
and diversionists' had penetrated into the ranks of workers and tech* 
nicians of Komsomolsk, thanks to the complacency of certain leading 
personalities. According to the official version the 'enemies of the 
people' at work in Komsomolsk were very active and ingenious. They 
mixed concrete with sugar so that the degree of its cohesion was lowered, 
they put glass into ball-bearings to provoke accidents and destroyed 
vital blue-prints to delay the growth of local industry. 

The real reason for the chaos in Komsomolsk was not the criminal 
activity of wreckers, but the lack of co-ordination between the various 
state trusts which owned the industrial enterprises in the town-to-be. 
Each of these trusts constructed a workers' settlement around its plant* 
and until 1940 there was no over-all building plan for the much 
advertised town of the Communist Youth League. This, explains why 
sanitary conditions and municipal services were still practically non- 
existent, even by the outbreak of the Second World War. 

The over-all building plan of Komsomolsk which came into being in 
1940 provided for a population of 500,000. 20 Although the fulfilment of 
this aim is still far off, Komsomolsk has become an economic and cul- 
tural factor in the Far East. In 1947 the town had 100,000 inhabitants 
and was the proud owner of two undertakings of all-Union importance, 
the Iron and Steel Works, 'Amurstal*, and a shipyard. 21 Cultural life, 
too, had developed greatly. The number of schools reached thirty-four 
in 1947 and forty-five in 1952. In addition, Komsomolsk has a Palace of 
Culture, a theatre, thirty libraries, a training college for teachers of 
secondary schools, a music school and four 'parks of culture and rest'. 22 
It has tried to keep up its reputation as a 'City of Youth' and is still 
recruiting young workers from European Russia, particularly from 
among war orphans. 

The second big Komsomol initiative for the settlement of the Far 
East, the Khetagurova movement, has its roots in the lack of women 
in the Far East and the necessity to remedy the situation. The well- 

17 



THE RUSSIANS OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

known Soviet writer Pavlenko has referred to this problem in one of his 
novels in the following words, 'From the polar tundra down to Korea 
everybody dreams of women. Nowhere else do people get married as 
quickly as there. Widows do not exist in the Far East. Only the oldest 
women overcome by senility remain single*. There is a lot of truth in 
what Pavlenko said. The proportion of women in the population of the 
Far East diminishes the further one goes east. The 1926 census showed 
that for every 1,000 men there were 962 women in the area just east of 
Lake Baikal, 918 in the Amur region, 704 in the Pacific coastal region 
and 689 on Sakhalin island. This is an abnormal situation, though 
characteristic of the pioneer stage of colonization activities all over the 
world. 

To make the balance between the two sexes more even, a movement 
was created designed to bring young girls to the F.E.T. It was associated 
with the name of an ordinary Soviet citizen, a young woman of twenty- 
two years of age, Valentina Khetagurova-Zarubina. Khetagurova was 
the wife of a major serving with the 'Special Far Eastern Army'. Her 
claim to fame was a letter which she addressed to the girls of the Soviet 
Union. The letter was published on February 5th, 1937, and is an 
extremely interesting document. 23 Official inspiration had certainly a lot 
to do with it, but the letter nevertheless had a personal touch, and in 
some passages the Russian woman triumphed over the communist 
official. The needs of the Far East, Khetagurova said, were great. *We 
need fitters and turners, teachers and draftswomen, typists and account- 
ants - all to the same degree'. In the event of a war Khetagurova 
promised different kinds of jobs. Women would then be employed as 
nurses, radio operators and even as machine gunners. She appealed to 
the personal pride of would-be migrants to the Far East; 'We want only 
bold, determined people, not afraid of difficulties'. She described the 
Far East as an exotic dreamland *where still a short time ago there were 
only deer, tigers and lions' and where 'wonderful work, wonderful 
people and a wonderful future* would meet the girls. 

More important than all this was the assurance which Khetagurova 
gave, not expressly, but by implication, namely, that every girl would 
find a husband in the Far East and possibly even one holding com- 
missioned rank in the army. She told the girls of Soviet Russia her 
own personal success story: 'In the autumn I made the acquaintance of 
Major Khetagurov. My life became fuller and brighter when I became 
married to him. . . .' The Russian girls could not be told more clearly 
why they should follow the example of Valentina Khetagurova. 

The Khetagurova letter had considerable success. By the end of 
1937 as many as 70,000 Soviet girls had registered with the authorities 
as volunteers for the Far East, and many actually went there. They were 
called 'Khetagurovki' - Khetagurova girls. 

18 



THE PROBLEM OF COLONIZATION 



THE 'NORMAL* COLONIZATION 

So far only those forms of colonization in the Far East have been 
mentioned which might be described as typically 'Soviet', ranging from 
the terror exercised by the N.K.V.D. to the exuberant enthusiasm of the 
Komsomol.* In addition, the Soviet Government has continued the 
normal, ordinary colonization which went on in Czarist times. The 
Soviet Government has provided a number of genuine incentives to 
make it worth while for Russian peasants and workers to go to the 
Pacific coastal areas. 

" The first important special measure for the encouragement of volun- 
tary migration to the Far East was a decree which the government 
issued on December llth, 1933. It freed the collective farmers of the 
Far Eastern Territory for the duration of ten years from all compulsory 
grain and rice deliveries to the state. It reduced by 50 per cent the com- 
pulsory deliveries of meat, vegetables, milk and wool, and in certain 
distant areas such as Sakhalin and Kamchatka these deliveries were 
abolished altogether. To the workers and technicians of the Far East 
the decree of December llth, 1933, brought higher wages and salaries. 
The personnel of the Far Eastern mining industry received an automatic 
rise of 30 per cent, and all other categories of workers and technicians 
one of 20 per cent. On the same occasion the pay of soldiers of the 
Special Far Eastern Army was increased by 50 per cent, and that of 
officers by 20 per cent. 

It seems that these 'Stalin Privileges' as they were called were not 
quite sufficient to attract settlers to the Far East. Another decree was, 
therefore, published on November 17th, 1937, which aimed chiefly 
at the encouragement of agricultural colonization. On the strength of 
that decree, groups of collective farmers going to the Far East were to be 
exempt from taxation for six years and to obtain state credits for 
fifteen years. The decree further pledged the state to pay 50 per cent 
of the costs of all buildings erected by the colonists. 

So much for the legislation passed for the encouragement of coloniza- 
tion in the Far East. In practice, things proceeded very often on lines 
that are reminiscent of Gogol's Dead Souls. Each Soviet state authority 
or building organization in need of manpower for the Far East had its 
own small recruiting office in Moscow. Special recruiting agents were 
employed who were paid a fixed sum for every person whom they per- 
suaded to take up work at a Far Eastern building site or factory. The 
usual tariff was thirty roubles per person, but occasionally the fee was 

* Another special form of Soviet colonization in the Far East was the mobilization of 
Jews for the settlement of Birobidzhan. The author has described the failure of this experi- 
ment in Russia and her Colonies (London, George Philip and Son* Ltd., pp. 173-8). 

19 



THE RUSSIANS OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

higher. Since the agents were remunerated on a 'piece rate basis', they 
were naturally interested in enlisting the largest possible number of 
people. One can well imagine that the recruiters made use of all sorts of 
glittering promises and also that they paid little attention to the 
character and abilities of the prospective Far Eastern colonists. The 
afore-mentioned Madame Khetagurova who exposed in a Moscow 
journal this 'recruitment racket', concluded her account laconically: 
'And so it happened that quite a lot of scum was sent to the Far East'. 24 

Those consenting to go to the Far East as free workers received upon 
leaving Moscow or another city of European Russia a special bonus and 
a maintenance allowance covering the entire long journey from Euro- 
pean Russia to their final place of destination. The total amount of 
bonuses and allowances thus earned might not have meant a great deal 
to a Western worker, but it was a considerable sum for the impoverished 
Soviet citizen of the 'thirties.' It was tempting and led to abuses. Quite 
a number of people cashed the special remuneration, went to the Far 
East, worked there for a while and got themselves discharged for reasons 
of health. Having returned to Moscow they let themselves be recruited 
once more for the Far East by another state trust and the whole game 
started again from the beginning. 

The majority of the voluntary colonists who, up to the end of the 
Second Five- Year Plan, came to the Soviet Far East established them- 
selves in towns. The two largest cities of the Soviet Far East, Vladivostok 
and Khabarovsk, therefore grew considerably. Between 1926 and 1939 
the population of Khabarovsk increased from 52,000 to 199,000, and 
that of Vladivostok from 108,000 to 206,000. 

As a consequence of the growth of the existing towns and the founda- 
tion of new ones such as Komsomolsk, Magadan and Birobidzhan City, 
the relation between the urban and rural population in the Far East 
changed to the detriment of the villages. In 1926 only 24 per cent of the 
population of the Far East lived in towns, but by 1939 over half of all 
'Far Easterners' could be classified as 'urban*. 

The encouragement of the urban population in the Far Eastern 
provinces led to neglect of agriculture. During the period of the First 
and Second Five- Year Plans the area under cultivation in the Soviet 
Far East diminished by over 20 per cent, from 2,848,000 acres in 1928 
to 2,223,000 acres in 1938. Consequently, instead of providing more for 
the newcomers, the food supply for the Soviet Far East became more 
dependent on deliveries from areas thousands of miles away. This 
created an unsatisfactory situation not only from the narrow economic 
point of view but also from the military which demanded complete 
self-sufficiency in fuel, raw materials and food. Molotov himself pro- 
claimed the principle of self-sufficiency for the Soviet Far East at the 
Eighteenth Congress of the Bolshevik Party, in March 1939, and 

20 



THE PROBLEM OF COLONIZATION 

demanded, in particular, 'full liquidation* of all shortcomings in Far 
Eastern agriculture. The Third Five- Year Plan, therefore, aimed at an 
increase of the agricultural population of the Far East. About 100,000 
new collective farmers were to settle down in the Khabarovsk Territory 25 
alone. 

The outbreak of the war prevented the full implementation of the 
resettlement plan, but it was, at least, successfully started. Russian 
peasants went to the Far East mainly from the Provinces of Kursk, 
Oryol, Voronezh, Ryazan, Stalingrad, Tambov and Penza. Kursk and 
Oryol seem to have led the migration movement. There was a great deal 
of propaganda for the resettlement plan and during a certain period 
almost every single issue of the Moscow newspapers carried a news- 
item showing how well those fanners had fared who had consented to 
go to the Far East, and how heartily they had been received there by 
the old-timers. The big All-Union Agricultural Exhibition which was 
opened in Moscow on the eve of the Second World War was likewise 
put into the service of the resettlement campaign. The Far Eastern 
pavilion of the exhibition illustrated, with the help of statistics and 
pictures, all the delights of peasant life east of Lake Baikal. In addition, 
the pavilion served as a convenient place for officially organized meet- 
ings at which collective farmers of the Chita Province, and the 
Khabarovsk and Maritime Territories talked to peasants of European 
Russia about the advantages of Far Eastern agriculture. 26 These propa- 
ganda efforts were not in vain. In fact, the resettlement plan for 1940 
was already fulfilled by October of that year, 27 and numerous peasant 
settlers also went to the Far East in the first half of 1941, continuing 
to do so almost until the Hitlerite invasion of the Soviet Union. 

Peasant colonization in the Far East was resumed after the war. Its 
precise extent is not known. Official Soviet sources have shrouded it in 
mystery and apparently consider it a military secret. In the absence of 
reliable statistics a rough, and not necessarily accurate, estimate about 
the increase in the population of the Soviet Far East can only be made 
by a comparison of the numbers of constituencies which were created 
for the elections of 1937, 1946 and 1950. There was hardly any change 
between 1937 and 1946. For the Supreme Soviet elections in 1937 the 
F.E.T. was subdivided into nine constituencies, each of them represent- 
ing a theoretical population of 300,000. The total population of the 
Far East in the narrower sense (including Sakhalin) was, thus, 2,700,000. 
In 1946 the Khabarovsk and Maritime Territories comprised nine con- 
stituencies on the Asiatic mainland, whilst a tenth constituency was 
formed by Sakhalin and the Kurile archipelago. The total population 
of the Soviet Far East at the beginning of 1946 could, therefore, hardly 
have exceeded 2,700,000 on the Asiatic continent or 3,000,000, including 
the Soviet island possessions in the Pacific. 

21 3 



THE RUSSIANS OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

A decree of January 9th, 1950, giving a new list of constituencies for 
the Supreme Soviet elections established four new constituencies in the 
Far East. The constituency of Khabarovsk was divided into a town and 
a country constituency, another new constituency was formed around the 
Okhotsk Sea and two more constituencies were created on Sakhalin. 
The total population of the Soviet Far East would accordingly have been, 
in 1950, in the neighbourhood of 4,200,000. It is, however, unlikely that 
this figure was really reached. The population of each of the three 
Sakhalin constituencies, in particular, may be considerably below the 
300,000 mark. 

///. THE SOVIET FAR EASTERN MYSTIQUE 

The Soviet regime worked for the strengthening of the Russian Far 
East not only by mobilizing manpower for its colonization, but also by 
building up a Far Eastern 'mystique', a nationalistic ideology which 
flattered national pride to the utmost degree. After the end of the 
Second World War the Soviet Government, with the help of a large 
army of historians, writers and poets, promoted a cult of Russian 
heroes of the Pacific. The object of the new propaganda campaign was 
to show that Russians had played an outstanding part in the discovery 
of the Pacific and that, by their past records, they were entitled to much 
more influence in decisions concerning Pacific affairs than the 
'imperialist powers' were ready to grant them. The campaign was also 
intended to prove that Czarist Russia had failed to grasp the oppor- 
tunities offered to her in the North-West Pacific and that the Soviet 
Union defended energetically those national Russian interests in the 
Far East which the old regime had neglected. 

RUSSIAN COLUMBUSES 

To proceed in a strict chronological order the first 'Russian hero of the 
Pacific* to be mentioned is Semen Dezhnev. Soviet propaganda 
popularized him particularly in connection with the tercentenary in 
1948 of the discovery of the Bering Strait, which separates Asia from 
America. The Danish explorer, Vitus Bering, after whom the strait 
is called, may only have rediscovered it one hundred years after 
Dezhnev had sailed around the 'nose of Asia', the north-eastern tip of 
Siberia. As late as the nineteenth century, some outstanding Russian 
scholars still doubted whether Dezhnev could really be credited with 
this daring feat. Soviet writers, however, are quite positive about 
Dezhnev's pioneer role. In 1945 the Chief Administration of the 
Northern Sea Route issued a popular book on Dezhnev, which waived 
aside all doubts as to Dezhnev's voyage, and described Dezhnev him- 
self as 'a glorious representative of the all-enduring Russian people'. 28 

22 



THE SOVIET FAR EASTERN MYSTIQUE 




23 



THE RUSSIANS OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

The next 'Soviet hero' operated on the other side of the Behring 
Strait, in what, until 1867, was called 'Russian America'. He was the 
Russian merchant, Grigory Ivanovich Shelikhov, who, in 1784, founded 
the first permanent Russian settlements in Alaska. Shelikhov's con- 
temporary, the great poet Derzhavin, called him the 'Russian Columbus'. 
This description, 'Russian Columbus', plays a great part in Soviet 
propaganda. Because of a feeling of inferiority, vis-a-vis the Western 
World, the Soviet Union has claimed a large number of inventions and 
geographical discoveries for the Russians, including the discovery of 
America. Columbus discovered only the American East coast. North- 
West America was a Russian discovery for which the credit goes in the 
first place to Shelikhov. It is obvious that the Russians of the Soviet 
Far East and of Eastern Siberia are most easily attracted by the idea of 
a 'Russian Columbus'. The Mayor of Irkutsk and the head of the Irkutsk 
provincial administration have been in the forefront of those who have 
advocated a systematic publicity campaign for extolling Shelikhov's 
memory. These two, together with seven other distinguished Soviet 
citizens, demanded in a letter to the Moscow Literary Gazette in October 
1950, that Shelikhov should be honoured lavishly on the 155th 
anniversary of his birthday. In the centre of Irkutsk a Shelikhov monu- 
ment ought to be erected, they recommended. The Ministry for 
Cinematography was to produce a film on the 'Russian Columbus', 
the All-Union Society for the Dissemination of Scientific and Political 
Knowledge to organize lectures throughout the country about his life 
and deeds, and the State Publishing House for Geographical Literature 
was to publish his biography. 29 Since then many of these demands have 
probably been carried out. 

Shelikhov's epithet, 'Russian Columbus', has frequently been chal- 
lenged. Russian historians of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries 
considered Shelikhov a braggart who greatly exaggerated his Alaskan 
exploits, and in particular, the number of Alaskan natives converted 
to Christianity, so as to get larger subsidies for his trading firm. This 
poor view of Shelikhov was taken by the pre-revolutionary Russian 
Encyclopedia, and the first edition of the Soviet Encyclopedia has not 
corrected it. According to the latter, Shelikhov was just a 'representative 
of merchant capitalism' not worthy of major attention. Nevertheless, 
Shelikhov was a man of vision. He conceived the bold plan of a Russian 
Empire in the North-West Pacific which would have its granary in 
California and its naval base in the Hawaiian Islands. Shelikhov also 
wanted to encourage trade relations with China, Japan and India, and 
he dreamt of voyages to the Philippines, and even to the North Pole. 

Shelikhov's successor, Aleksandr Andreevich Baranov, who started 
a more systematic exploitation of Russian America by founding the 
'Russian-American Company', has also his place in the Soviet pantheon. 

24 



THE SOVIET FAR EASTERN MYSTIQUE 

Baranov is venerated as a 'self-sacrificing patriot', and a manual for 
Soviet teachers gives the following appraisal of him: 'Baranov, this 
outstanding personality, during twenty-eight years kept the adminis- 
tration of Russian America firmly in his hands. Thanks to his personal 
courage and keen intelligence he opened up and explored its vast spaces. 
In a hard struggle with privations, the hostility of militant tribes and 
the mean intrigues of foreign merchants, he established Russian rule 
over the huge territories of Alaska and Northern California'. 30 Baranov 
has also become the hero of an historical novel. The author of the novel, 
Ivan Kratt, described Baranov and his associates as modest and just 
people, without prejudice against natives, and loved by everybody with 
the exception of a few villains. 31 

'RUSSIAN AMERICA' 

Among Baranov's collaborators there is one whom the Soviet regime 
has particularly singled out for posthumous glorification, Ivan Kuskov. 
Until the beginning of 1948, Kuskov's name was unknown even to 
many well-educated Russians. The Soviet Government rescued it from 
oblivion by a propaganda campaign on a large scale, which started in 
Torma, a small town in the Northern Russian Province of Vologda. 
The town council of Torma met and decided to erect a monument to 
Kuskov. The importance of this gesture might have escaped the peoples 
of the Soviet Union had not the Russian Press explained and advertised 
it all over the country. Kuskov appeared as the man who, acting under 
Baranov's general orders, had extended Russian America from Alaska 
to California. It was he, who, in 1812, had hoisted the Russian flag at 
the entrance of San Francisco Bay and founded 'Fort Ross', the 
southernmost Russian-occupied point on the American continent. 

Not only the biographies of people like Shelikhov, Baranov and 
Kuskov have been reinterpreted, but the entire history of 'Russian 
America'. Alaska is not a conquest of Russian Czarism and imperialism, 
but belongs to 'democratic Russia', to 'people's Russia'. 'The settle- 
ment of Alaska by Russians', said the Literary Gazette, 'bore a clearly 
expressed labouring and democratic character dissimilar to the trade- 
plundering colonization by the Anglo-Saxons, who recruited their agents 
from among tramps, adventurists and criminals'. 82 The same point is 
elaborated in greater detail in what is purported to be a popular 
scientific booklet on the history, geography and economic conditions of 
Alaska. There, it is said that the colonization of Alaska was progressive 
because most of the Russian settlers were peasants, eager to shake off 
the arbitrary rule of the estate owners. Many people went to Alaska 
because they found the oppressive atmosphere of the Czarist regime 
unbearable. Others were sent there because of their political con- 

25 



THE RUSSIANS OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

victions. Not only was the colonization of Alaska itself 'progressive* 
and 'democratic', the management of the Russian-American Company 
also was. One of its chief executives, K. F. Ryleev, was executed for 
his part in the December rising of 1825, and there were other prominent 
'Decembrists' among the officials of the Company. 33 

Soviet propaganda has tried to show that Baranov and Kuskov con- 
ducted a progressive policy towards the natives of North America, 
totally different from the Ajaglo-Saxon or Spanish policy towards Red 
Indians. This is untrue and has been contradicted by Russian sources 
themselves. A Russian naval officer, who visited Alaska at the time of 
Russian occupation, has given the following eloquent description of 
Baranov's policy towards Eskimos and Aleuts: 'Woe to those who 
resisted him. He destroyed them mercilessly, deported them to unin- 
habited islands, deprived them of all means of contact with each other, 
and mixed people of various tribes so that there could be no malicious 
conspiracy against the Russians. He was feared by the savages, they 
considered him as the scourge of heaven. Since they had no chance to 
revolt they were forced to become his slaves and to forget all about their 
previous freedom'. 34 As a matter of fact, the Aleuts revolted against 
Russian rule, as the Russian historian, Shashkov, pointed out in his 
book on the Russian-American Company, and these revolts led to the 
extermination of a large part of 'this restless people'. How many Aleuts 
have perished altogether in the years of Russian rule it is impossible to 
say. According to the official data of the Russian-American Company 
there were 8,405 Aleuts in Alaska in 1824, but only 4,363 were recorded 
in 1859. It would be true to say, therefore, that Russian colonization 
of Alaska was, from the humanitarian point of view, by no means 
better than, say, British colonization of Australia in its initial stage. 

Nevertheless, Russian policy towards the native peoples of Russian 
America did have its brighter aspects. Those responsible for it, however, 
were not Shelikhov, Baranov and the other newly discovered national 
heroes of Soviet Russia, but people whom the Soviet r6gime is not very 
keen on publicizing, the Christian missionaries. It was they who founded 
the first schools in Alaska, educated a fair number of natives, and even 
translated religious books into the Aleut language. The most important 
Russian churchman working in Alaska was Ivan Veniaminov (1797- 
1879). He was the author of a grammar of the Aleutian language which 
was published in St. Petersburg in 1846. The 'apostle of Alaska', as the 
Russian historian, Zernov, calls him, became later, under the name of 
Innokentii, Metropolitan of Moscow. 85 

The scope of these Russian church activities was, however, very small 
and one cannot say that the end of Russian rule in Alaska, in 1867, 
meant in any way a major loss to the native peoples ; but of course it was, 
historically speaking, a great loss for the Russian State. Soviet Russia was 

26 



THE SOVIET FAR EASTERN MYSTIQUE 

more conscious of this loss than Czarist Russia had ever been. In Soviet 
political literature published after the Second World War the abandon- 
ment of the Russian outposts in California in the 'forties' and the sale of 
Alaska to the United States appear not only as regrettable blunders, 
but almost as acts of treason on the parts of the Czarist Government. 

THE RUSSIAN PACIFIC 

Russian traditions in the Pacific, as presented by Soviet propaganda, 
are by no means confined to Russian rule over Alaska and Tort Ross'. 
Quite a number of Russian naval expeditions took place throughout the 
nineteenth century in various parts of the Pacific Ocean. The public, 
and particularly Soviet youth, has been acquainted with them since 
1945 in various ways. Stories about these expeditions have been written 
anew, in the form of historical novels or of straightforward descriptions, 
with the obvious object of stimulating national pride. 

From this patriotic Soviet Russian literature centring on the Pacific 
one can learn a great deal - for instance, that the Russians discovered 
as many as 400 small Pacific islands, more particularly those belonging 
to the Paumotu Archipelago in the South-East Pacific, and some of the 
Marshall Islands. All these islands had been named after Russian 
generals in the war against Napoleon, and other famous Russian 
historical figures. Some of the Russian names still persist. Thus the, 
Lisiansky Island, a possession of the U.S.A,, east of Midway Island, 
bears the name of a well-known Russian seafarer, and east of Samoa 
there still exists a Suvorov Island belonging to Britain. Also, the big 
island of New Guinea has important Russian associations. Russians 
are not credited with its discovery, it is true, but it was a Russian 
scholar to whom was due the first detailed description of the Papuan 
people. The Russian explorer, Miklukho-Maklay (1846-88), spent some 
time with the Papuans. The result of his observations was included in his 
diaries, which were not published until the Soviet regime came to power. 
As the Russian geographer, L. S. Berg, puts it, Miklukho-Maklay died 
before he succeeded in writing his fundamental scholarly works, but, 
even so, he is highly honoured in the Soviet Union. After all, he was the 
first Russian to demand that Russia should have a colony in the Pacific. 86 
The Institute of Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences has been 
called after him and a play 'White Friend' has been produced in which 
he is the central figure. He appears there as the 'champion of black and 
coloured peoples enslaved by the colonizers of the West'. 87 

'NEVELSKOY'S IMMORTAL FEAT' 

For Soviet patriotic ideology one historic personality is more important 

27 



THE RUSSIANS OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

than all those mentioned so far, Admiral Gennady Ivanovich Nevelskoy 
(1813-76). The entire modern Russian Far Eastern policy goes back to 
his geographical discoveries. They resulted in the Russian annexation 
of the entire Lower Amur region up to the Ussuri confluence, as well 
as in the Russian seizure of Sakhalin. Until Nevelskoy's expedition, 
the Amur was not recognized as a 'useful* river and a channel of 
Russian expansion, nor was it known that Sakhalin was an island and 
not a peninsula. Nevelskoy, who had sailed from Kronstadt across the 
Atlantic and the Pacific, on August 13th, 1850, hoisted the Russian flag 
at the point of the Amur estuary which later became known as the town 
Nikolayevsk Amursky. Hence, the Amur region became the only part of 
Russia which was annexed by a naval expedition. Nevelskoy's 'immortal 
feat' enabled the Russian Empire to concentrate in its Far Eastern policy 
on areas close to the Chinese border, instead of using up its efforts in the 
distant Kamchatka or even Alaska. On the one-hundredth anniversary 
of Nevelskoy's appearance in the Amur estuary, the Soviet regime ex- 
pressed its appreciation of the courageous seafarer in no unmistakable 
terms. A monument was erected in his honour in the town of Nikolayevsk 
and a number of popular books were published on the occasion. The 
Publishing House of the Central Committee of the Communist Youth 
League, 'Molodaya Gvardiya', brought out an historical novel largely 
dealing with Nevelskoy, and the State Publishing House for Cultural 
and Educational Literature produced a biography of the admiral. 38 

PORT ARTHUR 

The gallery of heroes of the Russian Far East would be incomplete with- 
out mentioning the defenders of the Russian fortress Port Arthur during 
the Russo-Japanese War. When Port Arthur fell, Lenin wrote that the 
Russian proletariat had every reason to rejoice at 'progressive and 
advanced Asia inflicting an irreparable blow on backward and re- 
actionary Europe'. When looking back on the defence and doom of Port 
Arthur, Stalin's Russia, however, takes no guidance from Lenin, but 
from the son of a Czarist officer, Stepanov, who, in 1905, belonged to 
the garrison of the besieged fortress. This man published, in 1944, an 
historical novel on Port Arthur which earned highest praise in the most 
authoritative Soviet circles. The book, which also served as the basis of 
a play, was, in the first place, a tribute to two great Russian patriots, 
Admiral Makarov, Commander of the Russian Pacific fleet and General 
Kondratenko, the main embodiment of the spirit of resistance in Port 
Arthur. Stepanov did not consider that the defence of Russia's naval 
base in the Pacific was merely an imperialistic affair. For him there 
existed the most intimate link between Port Arthur and the entire 
Russian people. This he expressed by letting General Kondratenko 

28 



THE SOVIET FAR EASTERN MYSTIQUE 

make the following appeal to his soldiers: 'Behind us has been left but 
a narrow strip of Russian land with the town of Port Arthur. This is our 
Russian town: for its construction we have spent millions of our national 
income and invested a great amount of work. You yourselves have 
worked to build up the fortifications and batteries. And besides, in 
Port Arthur is our Fleet. We have to defend stubbornly our positions. 
The whole fatherland is following the course of the war and the defence 
of Port Arthur with breathless attention. Let us give all our forces, and 
if necessary, our lives in order to uphold in dignity the glory of the 
Russian arms in the Far East'. The book from which these lines are 
quoted was an ideological preparation for the re-establishment, in 1945, 
of a Russian naval base in Port Arthur, 'the town of Russian glory', 
as it is usually referred to. 

SERGEY LAZO 

The Soviet regime itself has not been able to make any substantial 
addition to the impressive gallery of heroes of the Russian Far East from 
Dezhnev to Admiral Makarov. Such 'heroes* as there emerged under 
Soviet rule, Marshal Blyukher in particular, were liquidated by the 
Cheka-G.P.U.-N.K.V.D. There is only one important exception to this 
rule the guerilla leader of the Civil War in the Far East - Sergey Lazo. 
Lazo was an officer of the Czarist army who went over to the revolu- 
tionary camp and joined the Bolshevik Party in the middle of 1918. He 
fought courageously against the White Guards and the Japanese in the 
Pacific coastal areas. In 1920 the latter burnt him alive in Vladivostok 
when he was only twenty-eight years old. 

The way in which Lazo died predestined him to become not only a 
hero of the Soviet Far East, but also a symbol of Russian resistance to 
Japanese militarism and imperialism. Whenever the name of Lazo was 
mentioned - in newspaper articles and history books, in songs and in 
plays - it was meant as a challenge to Japan. But as history in the 
Soviet Union is always rewritten and reinterpreted in accordance with 
the propaganda interests of the moment, the personality of Lazo has 
undergone a revaluation. After the Second World War he became an 
anti-American figure as well as being an anti- Japanese one. According 
to an up-to-date version of Lazo's biography, the responsibility for his 
death lay jointly with the Japanese and die Americans. He was killed 
'with the knowledge and agreement* of the American interventionists. 59 
A book which prominently featured Lazo's part in the political and 
military events that took place in the Russian Far East in 1918, 
N. Kolbin's Partisans (Partizany), was rewritten with the express purpose 
of denouncing American intervention. The first edition of the book, 
which the Far Eastern state publishing house 'Dalgiz* brought out in 

29 



THE RUSSIANS OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

1948, had only been anti- Japanese. In response to criticism in the official 
press the author produced, in 1951, a second edition of the same book 
into which a number of anti- American passages had been inserted. 40 

The interpretation of the personality of Lazo underwent a change in 
another direction also. Originally, Lazo appeared in Soviet propaganda 
as an international communist fighting for the victory of the World 
Revolution in the Far East. As time went on this international aspect 
was pushed into the background, and Lazo was transformed into a 
patriotic Russian, although, being a Moldavian of Swiss extraction, he 
had not a drop of Russian blood in his veins. 41 The favourite quotation 
which Soviet propagandists of the later period picked out of Lazo's 
statements reflects indeed a most patriotic frame of mind: 'We shall 
fight with our lives for the homeland against foreign invaders. For this 
Russian land on which I am standing now we shall die and shall not 
give it up to anyone', 42 It must be admitted that the Russian patriot, 
Lazo, appeals much more than the communist guerilla leader. A man 
like Lazo would have become a national hero anywhere in the world, 
for a person who is killed by foreign invaders under dramatic circum- 
stances always occupies an honourable place in the history of his nation. 

These few examples may suffice to characterize the new Pacific 
'mystique* which the Soviet regime has created. The whole Russian 
people is to be indoctrinated with the new Pacific ideology, but in the 
first place, this ideology is intended as a moral equipment for the 
Russian settlers on the Pacific coast. They are to be made more sure of 
themselves, and more ready to overcome difficulties by instilling into 
them the proud feeling that they are the successors of Dezhnev and 
Shelikhov, of Kuskov and Nevelskoy, and also, of course, of Sergey Lazo. 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES TO CHAPTER I 

1. Vestnik Ewopy, vol. 255, January 1909, p. 437. 

2. Zhizn Natsionalnostei, March 22nd, 1922. 

3. Large Soviet Encyclopedia, vol. 20, Moscow 1930, p. 289 

4. Pravda, July 1st, 1930. 

5. Pravda, May 22nd, 1937. 

6. Pravda, October 6th, 1937. 

7. Pravda, November llth, 1936. 

8. Pravda, November 28th, 1936. 

9. Pravda, April 3rd, 1937. 
10. Pravda, June llth, 1937. 

30 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES TO CHAPTER I 

11. Krasnaya Zvezda, May 28th, 1938. 

12. Pravda, October 26th, 1938. 

13. Novy Mir, February 1938, p. 218. 

14. Vestmk Evropy, vol. 233, 1905, p. 233. 

15. Pravda, January 12th, 1941. 

16. Vedomosti Verkhovnogo Soveta S.S.S.R., Nr 1, 1953. 

17. Komsomolskaya Pravda, December 12th, 1946. 

18. Pravda, February 1st, 1938. 

19. Komsomolskaya Pravda, June 12th, 1937. 

20. Pravda, May 17th, 1940. 

21. Pravda, June 19th, 1947. 

22. Ogonyok, Nr 24, June 1952, p. 27. 

23. Komsomolskaya Pravda, February 5th, 1937. 

24. Novy Mir, March 1938, pp. 202-3. 

25. S. K. GERASIMOV, Patrioty Dalnego Vostoka - Patriots of the Soviet Far 
East, Moscow 1946, p. 105. 

26. Pravda, August 4th, 1939. 

27. Pravda, October 30th, 1940. 

28. V. A. SAMOELOV, Semen Dezhnev i ego Vremya - Semen Dezhnev and his 
Time, Moscow 1945, p. 114. 

29. Literaturnaya Gazeta, October 24th, 1950. 

30. A. ADAMOV, Pervye Russkie Issledovateli Alasky - The First Russian 
Explorers of Alaska, Moscow 1950, p. 13. 

31. IVAN KRATT, Ostrov Baranova - Baranov's Island, Moscow 1946. 

32. Literary Gazette, Nr 3, 1951. 

33. V. P. KOVALEVSKY, Alyaska - Alaska, Moscow 1952, p. 27. 

34. MARKOV, Russkie na Vostochnom Okeane - The Russians on the Eastern 
Ocean, Moscow 1849, p. 53. 

35. ZERNOV, The Russians and their Church, London 1945, pp. 138-9. 

36. Small Soviet Encyclopedia, second edition, vol. 6, Moscow 1937, p. 893. 

37. Komsomolskaya Pravda, February 2nd, 1952. 

38. N. ZADORNOV, Dalyoky Kray - Distant Country, Leningrad 1950, and 
I. VINOKUROV and F. FLORICH, Podvig Admirala Nevelskogo - The Feat 
of Admiral Nevelskoy, Moscow 1951. 

39. Zvezda, Nr 9, September 1951, p. 165. 

40. Zvezda, Nr 9, September 1951, p. 166. 

41. Sergey Lazo 9 Moscow 1938, p. 215. 

42. Dalny Vostok, Nr 3, 1952, p. 154. 



31 



II 

THE POLICY OF THE WHITE SOVIET FAR EAST 



The encouragement of European colonization is the positive side of 
Soviet policy in the Far East. Theoretically, this European colonization 
had no exclusive character; it could be supplemented by an Asiatic 
colonization. Indeed, both the Czanst Government and the Soviet 
regime, in its initial stage, admitted Asiatic immigrants to the Russian 
Far East, and made use of them. In the latter part of the 'thirties', this 
policy was reversed. The Soviet Government ceased to be interested in 
mere colonization of the Russian Far East; it wanted European coloniz- 
ation only. However eager communist Russia might be to assist the 
victory of communism in China, Korea and Japan, she would not like 
to see her Chinese, Korean and Japanese friends appearing as worker 
and peasant colonists in the Pacific coastal areas of the U.S.S.R. 

Soviet policy in relation to Chinese, Korean and Japanese immigrants 
has become very similar in substance to the 'White Australia policy', or, 
as it is now called less provocatively, 'immigration restrictive policy 5 ** It 
may be argued that the non-admission of permanent Asiatic settlers im- 
plies no particular bias against Asiatics on the grounds that the territory 
of the Soviet Union has been sealed off against immigrants from non- 
Soviet European territories as well. This is certainly true, but in the case 
of the Asiatics the Soviet Government went a step further. It made the 
policy of the White Soviet Far East retroactive and eliminated those 
groups of immigrants who had settled there at a time when Russian and 
Soviet policy had been less narrow-minded. 

/. THE 'RUSSIAN 9 KOREANS 

UNDER THE CZARIST REGIME 

A Korean problem has existed in Russia ever since Russian frontier 
guards appeared on the Korean frontier. The Korean immigration into 

* The Communist Party is the only Australian party which fights against the White 
Australia policy. The official pamphlet of the Australian communists, 'Australia's Part 
in the World Revolution', which was issued in 1930, stated: 'The White Australia policy 
is a capitalist measure for stirring up racial antagonism between the workers, and preparing 
for imperialist and colonial wars.* 

32 



THE RUSSIAN KOREANS 

Russia started in 1861, the same year in which the first Russians settled 
down in the area of the Bay of Poset. As the first Korean colonists in the 
Russian Far East received good treatment, more and more Koreans 
crossed the border. The Korean authorities viewed this migration with 
some uneasiness and put every possible obstacle into the way of people 
who wanted to leave the country. Would-be emigrants were frequently 
killed, or robbed of all their belongings. Nevertheless, Korean emigra- 
tion to Russia continued despite all difficulties. By 1 868 four large Korean 
villages existed in Russian territory. The total number of Koreans in the 
Ussuri region then exceeded 1,800, whilst the Russian peasant settlers 
and Cossacks in the same area numbered 6,200. 

From the Russian point of view the Korean immigration was all the 
more valuable because the Korean peasant settlers showed great willing- 
ness to assimilate themselves, to accept the Russian language and the 
Russian Orthodox faith. Even in the very early stage of the immigration 
quite a number of the 'Russian Koreans' became Christians. The famous 
Russian traveller, Przhevalsky, who in the years 1867-69 made a journey 
to the Ussuri region, gave a characteristic example of the speedy process 
of assimilation undergone by the new Korean subjects of the Czars. 
Przhevalsky mentioned the case of the headman of the village Tyzen- 
Khe (Ryazanovka), the largest of the first four Korean settlements in 
Russia. This headman had not only become a Christian; he had also 
acquired some knowledge of Russian, was clad in the Russian peasant 
fashion, and had abandoned his Korean name, calling himself Peter 
Semyonov after his godfather, a Russian officer. 1 

Przhevalsky, whom the Soviet regime still considers as a great author- 
ity on the Russian Far East, viewed the progress of Korean immigration 
with mixed feelings. He was the first Russian to see that the immigration, 
while helping to open up the new Pacific territories, might involve 
certain dangers. He openly declared that the settlement of Koreans so 
near the border was no minor mistake and he suggested that the Koreans 
should be settled along the middle reaches of the Amur, a measure which 
in Przhevalsky's view, would facilitate their russification. Przhevalsky's 
warning was not entirely disregarded by the authorities. A new big party 
of Korean immigrants which reached Russia in 1871 was not used for 
the colonization of the Russian-Korean border area but directed, 
instead, to a point 217 miles west of Khabarovsk where its members 
founded the village of Blagoslovennoye *the Blessed'. The village was 
frequently mentioned as a prosperous, well administered community. 
Thirty years after the foundation of the village, the official Guide of the 
Great Siberian Railway stressed that it made a very good impression and 
that the love of work and order of its inhabitants was visible in the way 
in which they built their houses and tilled their fields. 2 Under the Soviet 

33 



THE POLICY OF THE WHITE SOVIET FAR EAST 

regime Blagoslovennoye was incorporated into the Jewish Autonomous 
Province.* 

Despite the successful experiment conducted in Blagoslovennoye the 
bulk of the Korean immigrants continued to settle down near the Korean 
border in the region of Vladivostok. Until the beginning of the twentieth 
century this Korean immigration was prompted mainly by economic 
reasons, but the Japanese occupation of Korea provided new political 
incentives for the trek into the Russian Far East. The number of Koreans 
in the Russian Pacific coastal areas, which had reached 23,000 in 1898, 
went up to 46,000 in 1907, and to 52,000 in 1910. In the First World 
War the 'Russian Koreans' proved themselves loyal subjects of the 
Czars. Four thousand of them served in the Russian Army, including 
one hundred and fifty as officers. 

DURING AND AFTER THE CIVIL WAR 

The February Revolution of 1917 led to a great upsurge of social and 
political activities among the Korean population of the Russian Far 
East. Korean societies and peasant leagues were founded, and in May 
1917 the First Congress of Korean Revolutionary Organizations was 
held in the town Nikolsk-Ussuriisky (now 'VoroshiloV). The large 
majority of the delegates supported the Russian Provisional Govern- 
ment, to which a telegram of greetings was sent. The Congress took a 
stand against russification, demanded a Korean seat in the future 
Russian Constituent Assembly, and advocated certain improvements 
for the existing Korean schools. The latter demands were made hy 
Korean teachers, who played a leading part in the Congress and in the 
Korean National Union, the representative body of the Russian 
Koreans. Even after the October Revolution, the spokesmen of the 
Korean people in Russia showed little enthusiasm for the Bolshevik 
cause, and continued to support the party of the Socialist Revolution- 
aries. The Second Congress of Korean Revolutionary Organizations, 
which was held in May 1918, proclaimed the neutrality of the Koreans 
in the Russian Civil War. In reality the Central Executive Committee of 
the Korean National Union (renamed, early in 1919, All-Korean 
National Council) was anything but neutral. It took up a 'counter- 
revolutionary' attitude, boycotting the Soviets, but participating in the 
work of the regular local government organs, the 'zemstva*. 

* Until 1930 there were still more Koreans than Jews in what later became the Jewish 
Autonomous Province. The territory then included 3,200 Koreans and 2,700 Jews The 
Koreans had four and the Jews three 'National Village Soviets*. The other ethnic groups 
then represented in Birobidzhan were Russians (27,350), Ukrainians (3,000), Far Eastern 
natives (700) and Chinese (500). The second edition of the Large Soviet Encyclopedia 
published in 1952, however, mentions only Jews, Russians and Ukrainians as inhabitants 
of the Province. 

34 



THE RUSSIAN KOREANS 

Throughout the whole period of Civil War and foreign intervention 
in the Far East the communists formed only a small minority among the 
'Russian Koreans'. The Bolshevik Party tried to gain some influence 
among the Koreans by playing up the more recent immigrants, who had 
not yet been granted Russian nationality, against the old immigrants. 
Consequently, the Korean members of the communist guerilla detach- 
ments were recruited primarily from the new immigrants who expected 
from the Soviet regime improvements in their material and legal status. 

The more communist rule consolidated in the Far East the less freely 
could the All-Korean National Council express its views. In September 
1920, when it had moved from Nikolsk Ussuriisky to Blagoveshchensk, 
it issued a statement in favour of the Soviet Government which the 
Communist Party authorities themselves refused to take seriously. For 
them it was a hypocritical opportunistic document. 3 

The statement seems to have been the swan song of the All-Korean 
National Council. The organization was dissolved and a communist- 
directed 'Union of Koreans' came into existence with its headquarters 
in Moscow and branch organizations in Leningrad and other important 
Soviet cities. This organization, which was likewise disbanded after a 
few years' existence, appears to have been concerned only with the 
Korean diaspora in Russia proper. In the Soviet Far East the Communist 
Party and the Communist Youth League had the monopoly for the 
representation of Korean interests. During a short period there were 
even special Korean sections inside the Communist Party of the Soviet 
Far East, but they proved to be inexpedient and were dissolved in 1923, 
having existed for six months only. At the same time 750 Korean party 
members, out of a total of about 1,000 were expelled, presumably for 
nationalist leanings. 4 

Soon after the purge of 1923 both the Communist Party and the 
Communist Youth League recruited new members from the Korean 
minority. In Vladivostok, for instance, the Communist Youth League 
had, in 1927, 7,409 Russian and 5,885 Korean members. 

There are no absolutely reliable data available as to the numerical 
strength of the Korean element in Soviet Russia after 1917. Many 
Koreans emigrated to Russia in the years of the revolutionary confusion 
in the hope that the Russian Far East would become more and more 
internationalized. According to the Ministry of Nationality Affairs of 
the Far Eastern Republic the Koreans numbered 300,000 in the buffer 
state, and were, after Russians and Ukrainians, its third largest 
ethnical group. In 1927 there were only 170,000 Koreans in the Soviet 
Union according to official data, but unofficially there were 'at least 
250,000*.* 



THE POLICY OF THE WHITE SOVIET FAR EAST 



LITTLE SOVIET KOREA 

The large majority of the Koreans of the Soviet Far East remained 
concentrated in the Vladivostok area (okrug) where they formed, in 
1926, about one quarter of the entire population. The largest Korean 
communities lived in the Suchansk district, to the east of Vladivostok, 
and in the area of Poset, to the west of Vladivostok, in the immediate 
neighbourhood of the Korean and Manchurian borders. Several dozens 
of Korean villages in that area were united into a 'Korean National 
District*. 6 Ninety-five per cent of the population of the District were 
Koreans. Their main occupations were rice-growing, fishing and timber 
cutting. 

Relations between Russians and Koreans in the Vladivostok region 
left much to be desired under the Soviet regime. The collectivization of 
agriculture in particular led to considerable difficulties. When the first 
collective farms were founded in the Pacific coastal areas near Vladi- 
vostok, the local authorities gave privileged treatment to the Russian 
farmers at the expense of the Koreans. The Russian collective farms 
received more land and were better provided with agricultural machinery 
and even with credits. An article which the organ of the Soviet of 
Nationalities Revofyutsiya i Natsionalnosti published early in 1931 
stated bluntly that this discrimination was prompted by 'great power 
chauvinism* on the part of the District Executive Committees ('Rayis- 
polkomy*) of the Vladivostok region as well as on the part of the 
regional agricultural authorities. 

Revofyutsiya i Natsionalnosti illustrated this anti-Korean discrimin- 
ation by the example of two new adjoining kolkhozy. The first was the 
Russian kolkhoz 'OKDVA', the second the Korean collective farm 
Tikhookeanets Revolyutsioner* ('The Revolutionary on the Pacific*). 
These two collective farms differed from each other not only in their 
ethnic composition but also in regard to the amount of land allotted to 
them. In the Russian kolkhoz, 'OKDVA', there was an average of 
59 acres per household, against 20 acres per household in the Korean 
'Revolutionary on the Pacific*. This state of inequality induced the 
Koreans to complain to the authorities about 'Russian chauvinism'. 
The complaint made things worse. It enraged the local Russians against 
their Korean neighbours. A number of violent clashes occurred between 
Russians and Koreans almost at the gates of Vladivostok. The organ of 
the Soviet of Nationalities asserted that the fault was with the Russians 
who had assaulted Korean collective fanners. The blame for the incidents 
could not be put on 'kulaks' and 'class enemies* as was done in similar 
circumstances in other parts of the Soviet Union. The Communist Youth 
League participated in beating up the Koreans. The latter aired their 



THE RUSSIAN KOREANS 

indignation against the outrages committed by Russian collective 
fanners by turning against the collective farm system itself. As an expres- 
sion of protest Korean peasants took the initiative in disbanding a 
number of collective farms in the Vladivostok countryside. 7 

The worst aspect, from the point of view of the theory of Soviet 
nationalities policy, was that the local authorities in the Soviet Far East 
did not see the political implications of the Russian-Korean incidents 
but considered them as mere acts of 'hooliganism*. As the district and 
area (okrug) committees of the Party failed to remedy the situation, the 
Party leadership in Khabarovsk had to take things in hand. In a special 
meeting, held in the winter of 1930-31, the Communist Party Committee 
of the F.E.T, decided to take measures against 'Great Russian chauvin- 
ism* in the areas with a mixed Russian-Korean population, and it can be 
assumed that conditions improved after this intervention. Nevertheless, 
the events which marked the initial period of collectivization in the 
Vladivostok area constitute an essential part of the background, explain- 
ing those drastic measures which the Soviet Government took a few 
years later against the Koreans and other Asiatic minorities. 

In the cultural field the Soviet regime advanced greatly the 
Korean minority in the Russian Far East. The Soviet Koreans were well 
provided with educational facilities which had been almost completely 
lacking under the Czarist regime. The number of Korean schools in the 
F.E.T. increased with every year and reached the figure of 300 in 1937, 
of which fifty-three were in the National District. The Korean minority 
owned three secondary schools, two technical colleges, two teachers* 
training colleges (including one in the Korean National District), and a 
Korean Pedagogical Institute in Vladivostok. The Soviet Korean intel- 
ligentsia had also the opportunity to study either in that city, at the Far 
Eastern University, or at the Sun Yat Sen University in Moscow. 

There were several Korean communist newspapers, of which the 
largest, Vanguard, was published in Vladivostok, 10,000 copies being 
printed. From 1930 a special Korean newspaper was published for the 
Korean fishermen of the maritime region. The Committee of the Com- 
munist Party of the Korean National District also had an organ of its 
own, Along the Path of Lenin? 

KOREANS AS 'SPIES* AND *DIVERSIONISTS' 

In 1937 the policy of building up a little Soviet Korea was completely 
abandoned. The Soviet nationalities polky adopted a new objective 
instead, the liquidation of the Korean minority in the Soviet Far East 
The Soviet Government had suddenly become aware of the dangerous 
sides of the Korean immigration to which Przhevalsky had already 
drawn attention, particularly their presence in strategically important 

37 4 



THE POLICY OF THE WHITE SOVIET FAR EAST 

areas near the Russian borders. In addition, the Soviet regime felt some 
doubts about the loyalty of the Koreans in a case of emergency. Whilst 
the Koreans of Korea proper were solidly anti-Japanese, the Soviet 
regime had no guarantee that the bulk of the Koreans of the Soviet 
Union would not support the Japanese invader. They had, after all, their 
grievances, such as forcible collectivization and suppression of local 
nationalism by the Soviet regime. It must be said in fairness to the regime 
that in the years 1936-38 incidents on the Soviet-Manchurian border 
practically never ceased, and the Soviet State had good reasons to feel its 
security in the Far East threatened. But in their fear of spies, wreckers 
and diversiomsts, the Soviet authorities went so far as to suspect every 
Korean and Chinese of being a Japanese accomplice, and to seek safety 
in the wholesale transfer of all Asiatics from the Soviet Far East. 

This measure, which is a heavy blot on Soviet nationalities policy, was 
never publicly announced, but it is not too difficult to reconstruct it 
from indirect hints and omissions in the Soviet Press. The first indirect 
intimation of extraordinary measures taken, or about to be taken, 
against Koreans and Chinese was contained in an article about 'Foreign 
Espionage in the Soviet Far East', which Pravda published on April 23rd, 
1937. The article stated that the Japanese secret service made use of 
a large number of Koreans and Chinese as agents in the Soviet Far East. 
These agents, said Pravda, were camouflaging themselves as inhab- 
itants of those districts of the Soviet Far East where they were supposed 
to carry out their activities. The Japanese intelligence, therefore, closely 
studied the national composition of every given Soviet district and 
posted, accordingly, Korean or Chinese or Russian white guards. Not 
only was primitive 'spying* going on in the F.E.T.; agents were also 
infiltrating into institutions of military importance, with the aim of 
creating groups of spies, saboteurs and diversionists. As a rule these 
agents penetrated into the party as well as the Communist Youth League. 
Of course, thei;e was, in the view of Pravda, a close contact between 
these direct agents and all local elements hostile to the Soviet power, i.e., 
'Trotzkyites and other double-dealers*. 9 * 

* It is quite likely that the Japanese intelligence service did infiltrate into the ranks of 
the Korean and Chinese minorities in the Far East. On the other hand, it is certain that the 
same method was applied by the Soviet counter-espionage vis & vis the Russian emigres in 
Manchuria and China proper. In 1940 there were 70,000 Russians in Manchuria (including 
40,000 in Kharbm), 20,000 in Shanghai and 10,000 in Tientsin. Many of these Russians 
were pro-Soviet. Thus four-fifths of the Shanghai Russians acquired Soviet citizenship 
many months before the city was taken by Mao Tse-tung. The pro-Soviet elements among 
the Russian colonies in China were naturitoy of great use to the N.K.V.D but the primary 
concern of the latter was to penetrate into the leading strata of the white emigration 
which collaborated with the Japanese authorities. A popular Soviet play, 'On the other 
Side*, by A. Baryanov shows the cunning way in which Soviet intelligence operated in 
Manchuria. The hero of the play is a Soviet intelligence officer who poses in Kharbin 
as the son of a white guard general assassinated by the Bolsheviks. Before going on his 
mission he learns by heart all the more important prayers of the Orthodox Church, a know- 
ledge which greatly assists him in deceiving the emigres. 

38 



THE RUSSIAN KOREANS 



On the basis of this story, which bore all the hallmarks of a typical 
plot hatched by the N.K.V.D., everybody, and in particular every 
Korean and Chinese, could, in future, be suspected of working for the 
Japanese intelligence. Membership of the party, or of the Komsomol, 
was no evidence of loyalty; on the contrary it could well serve as an 
additional evidence of treason, since a spy had every interest in becom- 
ing a member of such respectable organizations. 

Having made its fantastic accusations against the Koreans and Chinese 
of the Soviet Far East, Pravda mentioned these two minorities no 
more.* On June 28th, 1937, when the new party secretary of the F.E.T. 
reviewed, in the columns of Pravda, the achievements of the Soviet 
Power in the Far East, he dwelt in some detail on the Jewish immigration 
into Birobidzhan, but ignored the Koreans. This might have been an 
oversight on his part It was more characteristic that the Korean con- 
tribution to the victory of the Soviet regime in the Far East, previously 
so loudly advertised, was not mentioned at all in the many articles 
which the Soviet Press published at the end of October 1937, in connec- 
tion with the fifteenth anniversary of the liberation of Vladivostok. 

A more important and more direct clue to the transplantation of the 
Russian Koreans was, however, contained in a cryptic governmental 
announcement which Pravda published on its back page on December 
20th, 1937. It said: 'The Council of People's Commissars of the U.S.S.R. 
and the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party 
(Bolsheviks) have expressed their gratitude for exemplary and precise 
fulfilment of a Government assignment in the field of transport to the 
chief of the N.K.V.D. administration in the Far Eastern Territory, 
G. S. Lyushkov, to the whole staff of the N.K.V.D. of the F.E.T. and to 
the personnel of the Far Eastern Railway which participated in the 
implementation of the assignment.* 10 The announcement, it is true, did 
not mention the nature of the 'government assignment in the field of 
transport*, but there can be no doubt that only a matter of great 
importance could have warranted this special expression of thanks to 
the N.K.V.D. and the railways. It was not a military matter since, in 
this case, the Special Far Eastern Army would also have been mentioned. 
A large scale shifting of population would be a plausible explanation. 



* An article in Izvestiya of September 24th, 1937, dealing at length with Japanese 
spying contained an implicit general warning against Japanese agents in Korean disguise 
without referring to their activities in the Soviet Far East The article warned that Japanese 
spies might have both Soviet and Japanese (Korean) nationality. It mentioned the case 
of the Korean, Kim Zaen, who headed a 'spying diversionist organization* which was 
discovered in Moscow in 1934. This Korean had taken on Soviet nationality in 1929 bet 
when he got into trouble the Japanese interceded in his favour and claimed him as their 
subject. 

39 



THE POLICY OF THE WHITE SOVIET FAR EAST 



THE AFTERMATH OF THE 'LIQUIDATION* MEASURES 

From a nationalist and imperialist Russian point of view, the measures 
against the Koreans were amply justified by the border incidents which 
took place in August - September 1938 in the former Korean National 
District of Poset. The area in question was, as has been seen, the scene 
of unpleasant events between Russian and Korean collective farmers, 
which must have left rather bitter memories. It may have been fortunate 
for the Soviet Union, therefore, that the Korean population was already 
evacuated at the time when the Russian- Japanese skirmishes took place. 

From a political and international angle, the action against the 
Koreans did not damage Soviet prestige, owing to the discretion with 
which it was carried out. Neither the Western democratic camp nor the 
German- Japanese Anti-Comintern block showed any interest in the 
problem. Strangely enough, the 'Little Soviet Korea' around Vladivostok 
had never, except perhaps in the early 'twenties/ had any real export 
value as far as Korea proper was concerned. Communism in Korea 
struggled throughout the inter-war period against almost insurmountable 
difficulties. It remained a small sect without any influence on the popular 
masses, always an easy prey to all sorts of nationalistic and petty 
bourgeois deviations.* 

It does not seem that the Korean communists have ever made use, in 
their propaganda, of the Korean National District in the Soviet Union 
and its achievements in the economic and cultural sphere. Such state- 
ments of the Korean Communist Party as are known do not mention 
the 'District' at all. 

From the economic point of view the anti-Korean measures resulted 
in a clear disadvantage for the Soviet Far East, though not for the 
U.S.S.R. as a whole. One of the main tasks of the Korean minority in 
the economic field consisted in developing the cultivation of rice. Under 
the Czarist regime, rice-planting in the Russian Far East had only an 
experimental character. It did not assume major proportions until after 
1917. This was not the merit of the Soviet authorities, but of the Japan- 

* The following passage from a resolution which the political secretariat of the Comintern 
Executive Committee passed in December 1928 might illustrate this point* "The ranks of 
the Communist Party of Korea have in the past consisted almost exclusively of intellectuals 
and students. A Communist Party built on such foundations cannot be a consistently 
bolshevik and organizationally sound Party. The first task of the communist 
movement of Korea is therefore to strengthen its own ranks. The problem of improving 
the social structure of the Party is confronting us in its full scope. The petty-bourgeois 
intellectual composition of the* Party, and the lack of contact with the workers have 
hitherto constituted one of the main causes of the permanent crisis in the communist 
movement of Korea. The frequent failures of the Korean communists show that the 
Party was unable to organize its conspiratorial work properly.* (Resolution of the E.C.C.I. 
on the Korean Question, International Press Correspondence, February 15th, 1929, p. 132.) 

40 



THE RUSSIAN KOREANS 

ese occupants, who had made a close study of the economic potential- 
ities of the Russian Pacific coastal regions during the period of 
intervention. Japanese experts had estimated that between twenty and 
twenty-five million acres of Russian land in the Far East could be used 
for rice plantations. 11 But the Japanese did not approach the problem 
from a theoretical angle alone; they also encouraged rice-growing in 
practice. In 1918 only 674 acres of land in the Russian Far East grew 
rice, against 6,476 acres in 1920, and 21,590 acres in 1921. 12 Encouraged 
by these successes, the Soviet authorities drew up a 'Ten- Year Plan for 
Rice Cultivation*. It foresaw that the area to be planted with rice was to 
reach 232,000 acres in 1936, which was a modest target but meant, 
nevertheless, a sevenfold increase as compared to the rice-growing area 
at the beginning of the plan period. It does not seem that the target was 
ever reached. The departure of the Koreans from the Soviet Far East 
put a stop to the further development of rice cultivation there. For 
future reference it is worthwhile to remember that the cultivation of 
rice, the staple food of the Far Eastern peoples, is possible on a vast 
scale in the Soviet Pacific coastal areas. This possibility might stimulate 
future waves of Asiatic immigrants to the Russian Far East, if and when 
circumstances allow. 



THE SOVIET KOREAN DIASPORA 

The economic losses which the departure of the Koreans caused to the 
Soviet Far East were compensated by the benefits which they brought to 
those areas of the U.S.S.R. to which they were directed by the authori- 
ties. The Koreans of the F.E.T. provided very valuable colonists for 
Uzbekistan. There they were resettled particularly in the Lower, Central 
and Upper Chirchik Districts of the Tashkent Province, and in the 
Gurlen District of the Khorezm Province. Many of the Korean colonists 
have shown a high degree of efficiency, and since the end of the Second 
World War the Soviet Press has frequently published lists of Korean rice- 
and cotton-growers who were awarded Orders and Medals for outstand- 
ing achievements on the labour front. In one case as many as 3 1 Koreans 
of the Tashkent Province were awarded the title 'Hero of Socialist 
Toil'. 13 Several of the Koreans in question had Russian Christian names 
or even both Russian Christian names and Russian patronymics, a sure 
sign that their families had settled in Russia before the coming to 
power of the Bolshevik Party. 

A particularly important piece of pioneering was accomplished by the 
Koreans who had been sent to the Khorten Province. Before their 
arrival there, only steppe grass grew on what are now very fertile rice- 
fields. In formerly uninhabited territory the Koreans founded, through 

41 



THE POLICY OF THE WHITE SOVIET FAR EAST 

'selfless work*, a big 'Stalin Collective Farm', which, every year, increases 
its rice deliveries to the State. 14 

In addition to the Korean settlements in the Tashkent and Khorezm 
Provinces, there are Korean groups in other parts of the Soviet Union 
which came into existence independently of the mass evacuation of the 
Korean minority from the Far East. The most important of them have 
lived as rice planters in the Kzyl Orda Province of Kazakhstan since 
1928. The Kazakhstan Koreans have not only prosperous collective 
farms, but also a remarkable cultural institution, the Korean State 
Theatre, which has repeatedly received honourable mention. 

Other Korean communities have been less fortunate, for instance, 
those transferred to the Don area have disappeared without trace 
after fulfilling a purpose which was as immoral as it was useful from the 
point of view of the Soviet regime. The functions of these isolated 
Korean groups might be illustrated by the example of the Korean 
communal farm, ('kommuna') *Don-Ris', which was set up near the 
Don Cossack village Sinyavskaya in the Taganrog District. The Koreans 
arrived in that village at a time when collectivization of agriculture was 
still in its beginning, and the very fact that they at once founded a 
'kommuna', a particularly advanced type of collective farm was bound 
to be felt as a provocation by the local people. The unpopularity of the 
Korean newcomers increased further when a number of them (including 
several Korean members of the Communist Party) took an active part in 
so-called 'economic-political campaigns' ('khozpolitkampanif) which 
aimed at terrorizing the 'kulaks' and confiscating their property. This 
created the impression among the local Russian peasants that there 
existed a close connection between the arrival of destitute Koreans in the 
area, and the de-kulakization measures, A class conflict which the 
Soviet Government provoked all over the Soviet Union thus appeared 
locally as a national conflict. The discontent of the peasants was diverted 
from the Soviet Government to the unfortunate Korean settlers, who 
had allowed themselves to be used as shock-troops by the regime, and 
who indeed had hoped to get a share in the spoils taken from the 'kulaks*. 
All in all the *Don-Ris* experiment was a typical example of the 'divide 
and rule' aspect of Soviet nationalities policy. 16 

//. THE CHINESE MINORITY IN RUSSIA 

It cannot be said with certainty when the Chinese started to live in 
what is today the Soviet Far East An outstanding Russian authority on 
the Ussuri and Amur territories, Vladimir K. Arsenev, stated that the 
Chinese arrived there only thirty years prior to the Russian annexation, 
i.e,, about 1830. When the Chinese Government ceded the Ussuri Prov- 
inces to Russia, by the treaty concluded in Peking on November 2nd, 

42 



THE CHINESE MINORITY IN RUSSIA 

1860, it did not know for certain whether there were Chinese subjects in 
that area. Article One of the Treaty used the tentative phrase 'should 
there be any Chinese subjects in the Ussuri territory . . .' In such a case 
the Russian Government pledged itself to leave the Chinese at their 
places of residence, and to allow them to continue fishing and hunting. 16 

Przhevalsky, the first Russian traveller in the Ussuri region, who has 
already been quoted, believed however, that the presence of Chinese in 
the Ussuri area could be traced back to the middle of the seventeenth 
century. Since then, the country has been used as a place of exile by the 
authorities of Northern China. At the time of the final Russian occupa- 
tion the Ussuri region contained, according to Przhevalsky, both a 
Chinese brigand element and a Chinese sedentary agricultural popula- 
tion. The local Chinese, said Przhevalsky, had developed agriculture to 
a high degree of perfection and variety. They were growing beans, 
maize, oats, wheat, melons, red pepper, tobacco, cabbage, garlic and 
onions. 17 

However divergent may be the opinions about the history of the 
Chinese prior to the establishment of Russian sovereignty in the Ussuri 
region, there is general agreement that they constituted a very import- 
ant factor, at least during the first 60 years of Russian rule in that area. 
The inefficiency of the Russian administration was the great chance of 
the Chinese. The absence of generous grants to Russian peasants 
indirectly favoured the Chinese farmer. The insufficient supply of goods 
from the Russian hinterland made the Chinese trader a necessity. The 
lack of an energetic political leadership on the part of the Russians 
enabled the Chinese to form a state within the state, to live according to 
their own laws, to have their own private courts, and to rule in many 
places over the aborigines. 

Chinese influence was strong, not only in the forest areas situated some 
distance from the Russian administrative centres, but also within these 
centres themselves, particularly in the towns of Nikolsk Ussuriisky, 
Khabarovsk and Vladivostok. In each of these three towns there were 
not only thousands of Chinese but also well organized and powerful 
Chinese societies which worked under the supervision of the Ministry 
of Labour, Commerce and Agriculture in Peking. The Vladivostok 
Chinese Society had existed since 1881, that of Khabarovsk since 1889, 
that of Nikolsfc Ussuriisky since 1908. These Societies were frequently 
frowned upon by the Czarist Government, and there were times when 
they had to work under conditions of illegality, but it was the Soviet 
regime which did away with them altogether, The Chinese Societies in 
these three towns of the Russian Far East were only the most prominent 
of an entire network of Chinese organizations, which had sprung up in 
all areas of the Russian Pacific Province where Chinese used to live. 

Last but not least the Czarist r6gime attracted a large number of 

43 



THE POLICY OF THE WHITE SOVIET FAR EAST 

Chinese labourers to the Russian Far East. Until 1910, Chinese man- 
power was almost exclusively used for all public works commissioned 
by the Czarist authorities either in the Russian Far Eastern territories 
proper or in Manchuria. These included in the first place the port and 
fortress of Vladivostok and the Ussuri and Eastern Chinese railway 
lines. Most of the time, the Czarist authorities showed benevolence to 
Chinese labourers and preferred them to Russians both for their 
readiness to accept very low wages and for their lack of interest in 
politics. In 1903 the military governor of the Amur district expressed 
himself against the despatch of Russian workers to the Far East who 
he said would only swell the ranks of the discontented, whilst the 
Chinese workers were placid and caused no difficulties. Legal restrictions 
against employment of Chinese and other foreign workers did exist 
during the last few years of Czarist rule; but how little effective these 
restrictions were is shown from the example of the Far Eastern gold- 
mining industry. In 1902 it was almost entirely staffed by Russians. 
In 1916 the share of the Russian element among the goldminers in the 
Far East was only 7 per cent, practically all others being Chinese. 18 

VLADIVOSTOK OR KAI SHEN VEI? 

If it is generally true to say that the Soviet regime prevented the Chinese 
from dominating the Ussuri and Amur region, nowhere has this Russian 
mission of the Soviet Government found such a clear expression as in 
Vladivostok, Russia's principal port on the Pacific Ocean. 

As long as the Czarist regime lasted, and even in the first years of the 
Soviet regime, Vladivostok showed every sign of becoming a big inter- 
national trading centre, a kind of northern Shanghai, instead of being a 
Russian bulwark on the Pacific Ocean. The big trade of Vladivostok 
was primarily in the hands of the German and British firms, the most 
important of all being the Hamburg merchants, 'Kunst and Albers', 
with roughly the same importance in the Russian Far East which the 
United Africa Company or John Holt have on the African West Coast. 
The Chinese supplied the masses of the civilian population of the town 
for which its Chinese name, 'Kai-Shen-Vei*, would have been more 
appropriate than 'Vladivostok* which means 'Ruler of the East', a term 
which, at that time, was misleading. 

The official statistical data give a good picture of the importance of 
the Chinese factor in Vladivostok. In 1879, seven years after the town 
had been proclaimed principal Russian port on the Pacific, the popula- 
tion of Vladivostok included about 600 Russian civilians against 3,470 
Chinese and 500 Koreans. Russian predominance was artificially main- 
tained by the presence in the town of a military personnel, 4,088 strong. 19 
By the beginning of the century the situation had not greatly altered. 

44 



THE CHINESE MINORITY IN RUSSIA 

The Vladivostok Chinese population was still considerably larger than 
the Russian civilian population in the city. In 1902 the population of 
Vladivostok included 15,000 Chinese, 2,300 Koreans, 2,400 Japanese, 
11,500 Russians and a garrison of 13,000 men. In the first years of the 
century the number of Chinese in Vladivostok went on increasing; it 
reached 23,600 in 1911, and 26,780 in 1912, not including illegal immig- 
rants who were not registered with the Russian police. According to 
information from Chinese quarters they numbered several thousand. 20 
During the first years of the Soviet regime the Chinese element was still 
very much in evidence in Vladivostok. The census of 1926, it is true, 
showed a clear preponderance of the Russians, who numbered over 
65,500. The Chinese numbering 22,000, ranked second, followed by 
Koreans (6,900), Ukrainians (6,000), Poles (1,720), Jews (1,180), 
Latvians (665) and Japanese (582). To the traveller who went from 
European Russia to Vladivostok the town offered a different picture 
from the one conveyed by the official population statistics. For example, 
a reporter of the communist German newspaper Deutsche Zentral- 
Zeitung, which was published in Moscow, gave the following description: 
*When entering the waiting room of the Vladivostok railway station, one 
notices at once that one is in the East. One even thinks one is in China - 
so many Chinese ! Yes, Vladivostok is very largely a Chinese city. , .* 21 

With its large Chinese population Soviet Vladivostok retained in its 
initial stage, the character of a northern Shanghai. Although the main 
streets of the city were called after Lenin, Marx, and October 25 (the day 
of the final establishment of Soviet rule in the Far East), foreign, in 
particular Asiatic, capitalism had by no means abdicated. It was even 
favoured by the official 'New Economic Policy 9 . Vladivostok still had its 
Japanese banks, it retained its Japanese shipping lines, its Chinese and 
Japanese hotels. Chinese and Japanese newspapers were published side 
by side with the Russian communist organ Krasnoye Znamya. 22 

The first Five- Year-Plan brought about the doom of the Chinese 
traders in the Soviet Far East but Chinese could still exist there as hard- 
working labourers and dockers, particularly in Vladivostok. A com- 
munist traveller from Central Europe, Otto Heller, who visited 
Vladivostok on the eve of the tenth anniversary of its inclusion into 
Soviet Russia described it as an international workers* town, primarily 
a town of Russian and Chinese workers. This is what Heller said about 
the Vladivostok Chinese: 'The Chinese dockworkers who are working 
in hundreds not only in the transit docks but also in the timber and 
bunker docks are exceedingly active. Socialist competition, shock- 
brigades, training courses, abolition of illiteracy - one finds all these to 
an equal extent among the European and Asiatic workers*. 23 Heller 
mentioned the building by the Soviet authorities of a new Chinese 
quarter including cdubs, dining Halls and a mechanical laundry, but 

45 



THE POLICY OF THE WHITE SOVIET FAR EAST 

what impressed him even more was the 'International Seamen's Club' of 
Vladivostok. He said, significantly, that the influence of the club was 
felt in all the ports of East Asia. Heller may have overestimated the 
importance of the club but it is true that both the Comintern and the 
Profintern, the international Communist trade union organization, had 
considered Vladivostok as an important base for revolutionary activities 
in the Far East. The former had founded a short-lived Tar Eastern 
Secretariat' in Vladivostok, the latter had convened to that city the 
Second Congress of its Pan-Pacific Secretariat. This body was intended 
to foster unrest in all countries bordering on the Pacific and to encourage 
the foundation of communist trade unions there. The Vladivostok 
Congress (it was called a 'Conference' when the attendance turned out 
to be poorer than expected) was a failure and its decisions had no 
political repercussions in the Far East. 

Vladivostok's inability to become a centre of revolution in the Far 
East was presumably one of the considerations which determined the 
Soviet Government finally to do away with the 'northern Shanghai', even 
a proletarian Shanghai, and to transform the city into a Russian bul- 
wark on the Pacific Ocean. 

SOVIET RUSSIA AND THE LATINIZATION 
OF THE CHINESE SCRIPT 

Not only the Chinese population of Vladivostok, but the entire 
Chinese minority of the U.S.S.R. was, until 1937, and particularly 
around 1930, expected to play an outstanding part in revolutionizing 
China. If not to promote the political revolution, the Soviet Chinese 
were at least intended to bring about a cultural revolution. The latter 
was to consist in the abolition of the Chinese 'hieroglyphs' and the intro- 
duction of the Latin alphabet. Between 1929 and 1937 a number of 
Soviet personalities, both politicians and scholars, concentrated a great 
deal of energy on the latinization of the Chinese script. The sequence of 
events was roughly as follows. A learned Chinese communist, whom 
the Soviet Press usually referred to under the pseudonym 'Strakhov', 
worked out a Latin alphabet for the Chinese language. In 1929 and 1930 
Chinese workers and students in Moscow, Leningrad, Khabarovsk and 
Vladivostok held meetings welcoming Strakhov's initiative. Then the 
Soviet Academy of Sciences took control of operations. A 'Latinization 
Brigade* was set up within the Chinese section of the Oriental Institute 
of the Academy. In May 1931, the Ail-Union Executive Committee for 
the New Alphabet approved the Chinese latinized alphabet. The 'Latin- 
ization Brigade' then went to the Far East, summoned a 'First Confer- 
ence for Latinization', and organized a permanent Tar Eastern Com- 
mittee for the New Alphabet*. Between 1932 and 1934 the new alphabet 

46 



THE CHINESE MINORITY IN RUSSIA 

was introduced in the few Chinese schools of the Soviet Union whereby 
the teaching of the 'hieroglyphs' remained a special subject from the 
second class on. The Chinese newspapers of Vladivostok were also 
printed in Latin characters. In addition, an entire literature in the new 
script came into being. By January 1st, 1935, as many as fifty books and 
pamphlets had been published in the 'Latinghua', as the Chinese Latin 
script was also called. 24 

The Soviet initiative did stir up considerable interest in China itself, 
particularly when the first pamphlets in the new script started to reach 
Chinese intellectual circles, Inspired by the Soviet example, an entire 
movement promoting the latinization of the script emerged in China 
which had many supporters. No doubt the penetration into China of the 
Soviet-invented Latinghua was one of the major successes of the Soviet 
nationalities policy. But, whilst the Latinghua became an export article, 
it was suppressed in Russia itself, for no Chinese books, pamphlets and 
newspapers in Latin characters seem to have been printed in the U.S.S.R. 
after 1937. 25 The absence of such literature is connected not only with 
the general measures taken against the Chinese minority in the U.S.S.R. 
but also with the fact that the Soviet Government had, in the later 
'thirties', changed its attitude towards latinization. In 1937 the Soviet 
Government already had grave doubts as to the wisdom of the intro- 
duction of the Latin alphabet for non-Russian peoples. As by that 
time the Chinese minority in Russia was no longer a recognized 
factor, it was spared the experiment of a Chinese script in Cyrillic letters. 

CHINESE AND RUSSIAN 'PROLETARIAT* 

Up to now it would appear that Russian-Chinese relations in the 
Soviet Far East had been fairly idyllic until the turning point of 1937. 
In reality there was a great deal of tension between Russians and Chinese, 
much more than between Russians and Koreans. The ordinary Russian 
Far Easterner often held the local Chinese minority responsible for the 
anti-Russian policy pursued by Chinese war-lords in Manchuria, particu- 
larly their aggressive actions against the Chinese Eastern Railway which 
was under joint Soviet-Chinese management. The Chinese-Soviet 
conflict over this vital railway line reached its climax in 1929, and it 
was only natural that it should have provoked a wave of chauvinism in 
the Russian Far East, to which the local Chinese fell victims. Already 
then the Russians of the Far East would have welcomed the expulsion 
of the Chinese. However this was not yet official Soviet policy, and the 
Soviet Government shielded the Chinese minority against Russian 
hostility as well as it could. But many of the local authorities pursued a 
policy of their own, In one district, the gold-mining region of Zeya* 
north of Blagoveshchensk, t&ey embarked on an open persecution of 

47 



THE POLICY OF THE WHITE SOVIET FAR EAST 

the Chinese, and arrested them in large numbers. This injustice was 
later redressed, and the Soviet officials guilty of this excess were 
punished by imprisonment from two to five years. 

With the connivance of Soviet officials there were also anti-Chinese 
outrages in Nikolsk Ussuriisky where twelve Russians including the 
deputy commander of the local militia had to be arrested for 
*chauvinism'. Most of the Far Eastern Russians put on trial for 
chauvinistic activities belonged to the working class. The chief bulwarks 
of anti-Chinese agitation apart from the goldmines of the Soyuzzoloto 
trust were the 'Dalzavod*, the big shipbuilding yard of Vladivostok 
and the 'Dalselmash', a plant in Khabarovsk producing agricultural 
machinery. Russians working in these enterprises frequently assaulted 
Chinese workmen and used against them such terms of abuse as 
'Fazan', 'Kitayeza* and 'Chan-Kai-shi*, the last named being the 
Russian version of Chang Kai-shek. 

The Party headquarters in Moscow were continually admonishing 
the Far Eastern trade union and Party organizations to put an end to 
the anti-Chinese manifestations. Their laxity in fighting the chauvinists, 
particularly those of proletarian origin, was notorious. The communist 
city secretary of Vladivostok, for instance, did his best to stop an 
investigation by a Pravda correspondent into the treatment of the 
local Chinese. 26 

Notwithstanding all the unpleasant incidents in the Soviet Far East, 
people in European Russia were persistently told that there was 
harmonious co-operation between the Chinese proletariat and the 
Russian working class. A representative of that Chinese proletariat, a 
shockworker of the Suchan coalmines, was even sent to Moscow to 
address the Sixth Congress of Soviets which was held in March 1931. 
He brought greetings from his Chinese fellow-workers, and drew 
attention to the increased participation of Chinese in local govern- 
ment bodies of the F.E.T. At the Seventh Congress of Soviets, which 
was held in March 1935, no Chinese representative attended, but 
the head of the provincial administration of the F.E.T., Krutov, 
mentioned, in an address to the Congress, several positive facts 
about the Chinese minority, particularly the existence of Chinese 
schools, and of a Chinese theatre in Vladivostok. At the Eighth 
Congress of Soviets which met in November 1936, to adopt the new 
Stalin Constitution, there was again a Chinese delegate, the famous 
Stakhanovite of the fishing industry, Li Un Kho. 27 Other Chinese' 
Stakhanovites who had distinguished themselves in coalmining and 
agriculture were frequently praised in the Soviet Press thoughout the 
year of 1936, when the Stakhanov movement was still young. 

The Chinese proletariat did indeed play an important part in the 
economy of the Soviet Far East. In 1926 the Chinese and other 'oriental 

48 



THE CHINESE MINORITY IN RUSSIA 

workers* supplied 50 per cent of all manpower employed in Far Eastern 
coalmining and 35 per cent of the labour force of the timber industry. 
So the anti- Asiatic measures of 1937 hit first and foremost the ordinary 
Chinese workers and not any Chinese upper class. Chinese coalminers, 
for instance, were removed from the Suchan coalmines in connection 
with official Soviet statements that 'acts of sabotage' had been com- 
mitted in the pits in conformity with Japanese instructions. 28 

The second edition of the Large Soviet Encyclopedia indirectly 
confirms the elimination of the Chinese minority of the Soviet Far East. 
A short article on Vladivostok in the Small Soviet Encyclopedia pub- 
lished in 1934 still referred to a 'considerable number of Chinese and 
Koreans'. 29 The Large Soviet Encyclopedia published in 1952, on the 
other hand, ignores these two peoples when devoting to the city a much 
more detailed description. The new edition of the standard Soviet 
reference book has also shown by omission that all institutions of the 
large Russian port which were the pride of Soviet nationalities policy 
before the Second World War have gone. The Chinese theatre which, 
incidentally, was not founded by the Soviets but the Chinese merchants 
at the end of the nineteenth century, has been abolished. The only four 
theatres now existing in the city are the Russian Gorky Theatre, the 
Theatre of the Pacific Fleet, the puppet theatre and the youth theatre. * 30 
Also the Chinese newspaper of Vladivostok has disappeared, whereas 
the number of Russian papers in the city has increased. Even the Tar 
Eastern University' with its Chinese and Korean departments was 
disbanded. It is the only university in the U.S.S.R, which has met such 
a fate. 

After the purge in the Far East, groups of Chinese continued to live 
in other parts of the Soviet Union, in Moscow, Leningrad and other 
industrial centres of European Russia, as well as in Soviet Central Asia. 
The 1939 census, however, indicated a great decrease in the number of 
Chinese living in the U.S.S.R. As compared with the 1926 census their 
number was reduced by two-thirds, from 92,000 to 29,000, but these 
figures may not give an absolutely reliable picture as to the strength of 
the Chinese element in Soviet Russia, for the 1939 figure seems to 
include only Soviet citizens of Chinese origin, and not people who re- 
tained Chinese nationality. 

There is sufficient, though unofficial, evidence available to show that 

* There is positive evidence that the theatre wa$ still in existence in March 1937 (Pravda, 
March 22nd, 1937), but it must have been closed down soon afterwards. Foundation 
and abolition of theatres for national minorities has always been symbolic of the trends 
of Soviet policy towards the nationalities concerned In 1931 the Soviet Government 
founded the 'First Polish Theatre* in Kiev as an encouragement to the Polish minority 
to build up a Polish national culture mdependent of the culture of 'bourgeois Poland*. 
Later, when this attempt was abandoned, the Polish theatre was abolished. In 1949 the 
Soviet Government closed down the Jewish theatre in Moscow as part of a whole series 
of repressive measures against Jewish nationalism. 

49 



THE POLICY OF THE WHITE SOVIET FAR EAST 

the Chinese in Soviet Russia fared badly in the late 'thirties* not only in 
the Far East but in every part of the Union in which they lived. F. Beck 
and W. Godin in their book on the Russian purge 31 mention mass 
arrests of Chinese, which occurred, apparently, in 1937. The authors 
themselves had met many Chinese in the prison of Kharkov; they were 
all charged with espionage in favour of Japan and some even with 
preparing terror acts against the members of the Soviet Government. 
Most of them were very humble laundrymen and absolutely incapable 
of committing the crimes of which they were accused. 

///. THE SOVIET EMPIRE VERSUS THE JAPANESE 

PEOPLE 

Soviet Russian policy towards the Japanese suffers from duplicity. As 
communists, the Soviet leaders are interested in the establishment of a 
communist regime in Japan, and, as Russians, they want to expand the 
Russian Empire at the expense of the Japanese people. The internation- 
alist-communist approach towards the Japanese problem has largely 
remained theoretical whilst the nationalist Russian trend has prevailed 
in practice. 

Soviet Russia's theoretical approach towards the Japanese people has 
been expressed not only in various pronouncements of the Communist 
International, but also in novels of Soviet writers dealing with problems 
of the Far East The best example of the latter category is Peter 
Pavlenko's novel Na Vostoke, translated into English as 'Red Planes 
Fly East'. Pavlenko's book, which was written in the early 'thirties', 
anticipated a Russo-Japanese War. The author predicted that it would 
end with a communist victory and with mass fraternization between 
Russian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese communists. The final chapter 
of the book deals with the building of a new international city in the 
Soviet Far East situated near the Korean frontier. Most of the inhabit- 
ants of the new city are Japanese prisoners of war, reason enough to 
give the city a Japanese name, *Sen Katayama*, after a famous Japanese 
communist. 3 * 

The Russo-Japanese War came, but it resulted in quite a different 
relationship between Soviet communists and Japanese from that which 
Pavlenko had predicted. Soviet policy towards the Japanese people 
after the Second World War transformed the 'City of Sen Katayama' 
into a Utopian dream. Soviet Russia's attitude was uncompromisingly 
imperialistic and nationalistic, not only towards the small Japanese 
groups living within the pre-1945 frontiers of the U.S.S.R.,* but also 

* The number of Japanese living permanently in the territory of the Russian Empire 
has always been very small. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the century more and more 
Japanese settled in the Vladivostok region. Their number increased from 2,061 in 1897 to 

50 



THE SOVIET EMPIRE VERSUS THE JAPANESE PEOPLE 

towards the hundreds of thousands of Japanese colonists in the new 
Soviet territories - Karafuto and the Kurile islands. Soviet practice in 
these territories showed that the Soviet Government did not believe in 
peaceful co-operation and co-existence between Russian colonists on 
the one hand and Japanese workmen, peasant settlers and fishermen on 
the other. The actions taken by the Soviet Government on Sakhalin and 
the Kurile Islands also proved that Soviet Russia was not guided solely 
by opposition to Japanese militarism and imperialism; her measures 
were those of a ruthless European colonial power against an Asiatic 
people. 

The annexation of Southern Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands differed 
in character from most of the other territorial aggrandizements which 
Russia carried out during and after the Second World War. In the case 
of Eastern Poland, the Transcarpathian Ukraine, Bessarabia and the 
Baltic States, Russia claimed to have liberated the peoples of these 
territories from fascist, capitalist and landlord oppression. No such 
argument was advanced about the territories which Soviet Russia took 
from Japan. Moscow simply invoked the Treaty of Yalta and the 
historic rights of Russia, making it quite clear that the latter were much 
more important than the former. There is probably no other instance 
in which the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics has appeared with 
such cynical frankness as the heir and successor of the Empire of the 
Czars. This is how the official organ of the Law Institute of the AU-Union 
Academy of Sciences formulated the 'legal side* of the annexation of 
the Japanese possessions: 

'The Yalta and Potsdam decisions providing for the return to 
Soviet Russia of Southern Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands were no 
more than the re-establishment of historic justice which was trampled 
down by aggressive Japanese policy. Southern Sakhalin and the 
Kurile Islands are genuinely Soviet territories. The historic rights of 
the Soviet Union on them are based, above all, on the indisputable 
fact that they were first discovered and developed by Russian sea- 
farers and explorers. . . The fact that Russian seafarers and explorers 
were the first to discover and develop the Kurile Islands and Sakhalin 
gave the Russian Government the right to consider these territories 
as integral parts of the Russian State.' 33 



over 3,000 in 1907, and to over 4,000 in 1909. After the establishment of Soviet rule the 
Japanese colony in the Russian Far East was all but completely liquidated. At the end of 
1925 there were only 600 left (Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S,R., Obyasnitelnaya 
Zapiska k Etnagrafichesfcoi Karte S&iri - Explanation of the Ethnographic Map of Siberia, 
Leningrad 1929, p. 94). 

51 



THE POLICY OF THE WHITE SOVIET FAR EAST 



SAKHALIN 

When, in August of 1945, the Soviet Government belatedly entered the 
war in the Far East it pursued one aim above all, to decide the struggle 
for the island of Sakhalin once and for all in Russia's favour. 

Russians and Japanese have disputed the possession of the island 
ever since the middle of the nineteenth century. The first diplomatic 
document which reflects both Japanese and Russian interest in Sakhalin 
was the Treaty of Shimoda, which was concluded in 1855. It established 
a Russo-Japanese condominium. The condominium status was con- 
firmed by a convention which Russia and Japan signed in 1867, but it 
was abolished in 1875 by the Treaty of St. Petersburg, which made 
Sakhalin an undivided Russian possession. In 1905 a radical change 
occurred. The Treaty of Portsmouth cut Sakhalin in two. Russia lost to 
Japan the part of Sakhalin south of the Fiftieth Parallel, a territory to 
which the Japanese refer as 'Karafuto'. 

Russia and Japan may have been equally eager to own Sakhalin, but 
the island was of very unequal value to the two Powers. For Russia, 
Sakhalin was a question of prestige, a strategic outpost and an accessory 
which rounded off her gigantic Asiatic possessions but which the 
Russian people did not really need. For Japan, Sakhalin was an outlet 
for its population surplus and an organic part of its island Empire. 
Until 1905 the Czarist authorities of Sakhalin had achieved little of 
which to be proud. The island had then about 40,000 inhabitants or one 
per square mile. Most of the population consisted of convicts, exiles 
and their families. Officials and soldiers constituted the second largest 
group, and there were only a few hundred voluntary settlers who were 
without any family ties on the island. When Russia lost Southern 
Sakhalin she naturally withdrew her subjects and Japan had to start from 
the very beginning to colonize the territory. The Japanese shouldered 
this task without delay and devoted a great deal of energy to it. In 1910, 
Karafuto already had over 10,000 inhabitants, and, by the outbreak of 
the First World War, over 60,000. The Czarist authorities did not 
succeed in meeting the challenge of the Japanese. After the defeat of 
1905 they paid little attention to the part of the island which had 
remained in Russian hands. Colonization by convicts was stopped, but 
no free colonization took its place. Many of the former convicts and 
exiles left the island and there was a marked decline of population. 
In 1910 only 10,500 people lived in Northern Sakhalin. 

The successful start of Japanese colonization in Karafuto stirred up 
Japanese desire for the possession of the whole of Sakhalin, and in 
1920 Japan took advantage of the Russian Civil War to occupy the 
territory north of the Fiftieth Parallel. The conduct of the Japanese 

52 



THE SOVIET EMPIRE VERSUS THE JAPANESE PEOPLE 

occupation authorities in Northern Sakhalin from 1920 to 1925 left no 
doubt as to Japan's intention to stay there for good. The Japanese 
commander banned all Russian political activities, Japanese civil 
and penal law replaced Russian legislation, and even the streets of 
Alexandrovsk, the chief town of Northern Sakhalin, were given 
Japanese names. 34 It was not so much the progressing consolidation of 
the young Soviet state which in the end prompted Japan to leave 
Northern Sakhalin, but rather American insistence on Japanese with- 
drawal from all Russian territories occupied during the Civil War. 
Northern Sakhalin was the last Russian territory to be freed from the 
military forces of the intervention powers. 

Though liberated from the Japanese military occupation, Sakhalin 
still remained partly within the Japanese economic sphere. By the treaty 
concluded in Peking in 1924, Russia granted Japan coal and oil deposits 
in Northern Sakhalin for a period of 45 years. The Japanese coal conces- 
sions were situated on the west coast of the island and covered an area 
of 13,600 acres. Between 1927 and 1935 between 100,000 and 125,000 
tons of coal were exported to Japan from the concession area. The areas 
of the oil concessions were much larger, and stretched along the entire 
east coast of the island. By the beginning of the Second Five- Year Plan 
almost half of all Sakhalin oil was produced by oil wells belonging to a 
Japanese company. 35 Japanese oil and coal concessions survived the 
general liquidation of foreign concessions in the Soviet Union which 
took place during the Second Five- Year Plan. In 1941, when the 
Japanese Foreign Minister, Matsuoka, signed the Japanese-Soviet 
Neutrality Pact, he gave a written undertaking that the liquidation of 
the Northern Sakhalin concessions would follow 'within several months'. 
However, the actual abandonment of the concessions was carried out 
only as the result of a Japanese-Soviet agreement of March 1944. 

The Soviet regime did its best to learn from the mistakes which from 
a Russian imperialist standpoint Czarist policy had committed in the 
handling of the Sakhalin question. It realised that a large number of 
Russians had to be brought into Northern Sakhalin if the territory were 
to remain a safe Russian possession, and if its coal and oil riches were 
to be properly exploited. Soviet experts considered that Northern 
Sakhalin could, as a fuel base, become the backbone of the entire 
Soviet Far Eastern economy. They estimated that the Northern Sakhalin 
coal deposits exceeded two thousand million tons, and the oil deposits 
one hundred million tons. Bearing all this in mind Soviet Russia entered 
into a race with Japan for the development of Sakhalin. The Soviet 
authorities devoted their particular attention to the consolidation of 
two localities, the 'socialist oil town* of Okha, and the mining town of 
Due, which absorbed colonists from practically every Russian mining 
centre. 86 From a purely statistical point of view Soviet Northern 

53 5 



THE POLICY OF THE WHITE SOVIET FAR EAST 

Sakhalin proved unable to equal Japanese Karafuto. Throughout the 
inter-war period the population of Karafuto grew from 106,000 in 1920 
to 339,000 in 1938. By the outbreak of the Second World War the 
population of Karafuto was roughly three times that of Northern 
Sakhalin, and in 1945 it had more than 400,000 inhabitants. There was, 
however, a considerable difference of quality between the settlements 
built north and south of the Fiftieth Parallel. Those constructed on the 
Russian side were usually more solid and more suitable to withstand 
the harshness of the climate than most of the housing in Karafuto. But 
the Japanese did a great deal to develop the fishing and timber industry 
and to increase coal mining and in the later stages they also encouraged 
agricultural settlement. The cultural progress in Karafuto was also 
remarkable. In 1940 the territory had 253 schools with 56,000 pupils 
(as against 17,500 schoolchildren in Northern Sakhalin in 1945). There 
were also three secondary schools for boys and three for girls and one 
commercial college. 37 

The necessity for further peaceful competition between Russians and 
Japanese on Sakhalin ended in August 1945 when, a few days before 
the end of the war in the Far East, Soviet forces moved into Karafuto. 
The Soviet troops found themselves in a comparatively densely populated 
Japanese country where only a few solid block-houses reminded them 
of the Russian rule before 1905. Everything else they saw in Karafuto was 
the work of the Japanese administration and of the Japanese people. 

On the morrow of the occupation the embarrassing question of what 
to do with the Japanese faced the Russian administrators. The revolu- 
tionary Soviet nationalities policy of the 'twenties' would have had a 
simple answer to the problem: the transformation of Karafuto into a 
Japanese Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic as a base for communist 
infiltration into Japan proper. As the Soviet regime had long ago 
dispensed with its original concept of internationalism it chose quite a 
different approach. The Karafuto Japanese were treated as a conquered 
people who, although not enjoying political rights, were, nevertheless, 
during a transition period expected to work for the Soviet state under 
the supervision of Russian civilian and military authorities. The Soviet 
High Command issued, indeed, a proclamation to the Karafuto Japanese 
which stated : * The Red Army has brought you peaceful work and 
order. It has no intention of interfering with your life. It brings you 
freedom and happiness. The High Command of the Soviet Armed 
Forces requests you to stay where you are and to work honestly in 
factories and workshops, in offices, trading establishments and in 
agriculture.' 

The proclamation of the Soviet High Command was only a manoeuvre 
designed to prevent chaos in Karafuto pending the arrival of the 
first Russian colonists : it did not reflect the real intentions of the Soviet 

54 



THE SOVIET EMPIRE VERSUS THE JAPANESE PEOPLE 

Government, which was determined from the outset not only that 
Japanese rule should come to an end but also that Japanese settlers 
should leave the island to make room for Russians. Soviet Russia 
could not afford the luxury of a Japanese national minority accounting 
for roughly 10 per cent of the entire population of the Soviet Far East. 

The reunited Sakhalin was to be a Slav bastion as well as a com- 
munist outpost in the Pacific. It was natural, therefore, that Russia 
should have demanded the evacuation of the majority of Japanese to 
Japan proper. A small group of Japanese remained in Karafuto, but they 
were told that the country in which they were allowed to continue 
to live was a Russian territory from which all traces of Japanese 
civilization and Japanese traditions were to be eradicated. In 1946 a 
Ukase of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet stipulated that the towns 
of Sakhalin were to receive new names which were to bear witness to the 
Russian contribution towards the opening up of Pacific territories in 
general, and of Sakhalin in particular. The first Russians to be honoured 
by having towns named after them were Admiral Nevelskoy and the 
officers under his command who, in September 1852, had hoisted the 
Russian flag in Sakhalin. The port of Honto was called 'Nevelsk* and 
several smaller places were named after other members of the Nevelskoy 
expedition, for instance Tonnai became 'Boshnyakovo* and Ushiro 
*Orlovo*. The largest port of Karafuto - Otomari - was given the name 
of 'Korsakov* in memory of Captain Rimsky-Korsakov who, in 1853, 
had taken possession of that place. The town of Shirutoru on the East 
coast of Karafuto is now called 'Makarov*, after another Russian 
admiral. Another town in Southern Sakhalin was named after the Russian 
writer Chekhov who had visited the island and given a vivid description 
of its backwardness under Czarist rule. There are other new names with 
which nothing of historical interest is associated. Esutoru, the centre of 
the coalmining region of Southern Sakhalin, is now known as 'Ugjegorsk* 
which is derived from the Russian word 'ugoF (coal). The capital of 
Karafuto, Toyohara, which had had 50,000 inhabitants under Japanese 
rule was simply renamed 'Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk* - town of Southern 
Sakhalin. 

These new Russian names were symbols of the victorious entry of 
Russian culture into Karafuto, expressed in the foundation of Russian 
schools, by a Russian theatre in *Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk', and particularly 
by the arrival of a large stream of Russian colonists. They came, as a 
Soviet reporter said, *from the most distant places of the homeland*. 
They included *oil workers from Baku, miners from the Donbass and 
Kuzbass and fishermen of the White, Caspian and Azov Seas'. 38 
Collective farmers came to Sakhalin chiefly from the provinces of 
Tambov, Ryazan, Kirov, Bryansk, Gorky, Kursk, Smolensk, Kaluga 
and Kostroma* Le., from Great Russian areas. Ukrainians do not seem 

55 



THE POLICY OF THE WHITE SOVIET FAR EAST 

to have participated in the colonization of Sakhalin to any great extent. 
Was this resettlement action purely voluntary? It was voluntary in the 
sense that the collective farmers who travelled to their new homes were 
neither deportees nor victims of the N.K.V.D., as those 'kulaks' sent 
to distant Far Northern places in the 'thirties 9 had been. On the other 
hand, it would be wrong to think that a peasant of Ryazan or Kursk 
was as free to go or not to go to Southern Sakhalin as an Englishman is 
when deciding to emigrate to Australia or to New Zealand. The available 
evidence shows that 'operation Southern Sakhalin* was connected with 
a certain amount of moral pressure. It was carried out roughly as follows. 
The Resettlement Administration, which is an agency of the Govern- 
ment of the Russian Federation, first fixed the number of settlers which 
Southern Sakhalin was to absorb during a certain period. Having done 
this, the Administration sent out instructions to the various 'Executive 
Committees' of the provinces of Central Russia to recruit peasant 
colonists. These instructions were then passed on to the village councils 
and the individual collective farms. The riches of Southern Sakhalin, its 
forests, hunting grounds and the excellency of its agricultural soil, were 
portrayed to the peasants in vivid colours. But the peasants were also 
told that emigration to the new Soviet land was a patriotic duty. This 
was reflected in the slogan which was chalked on the railway trucks 
carrying the first settlers to the distant land. It said 'The Homeland has 
sent us to Southern Sakhalin'. 39 However, there were quite a number of 
material incentives which prompted people to go to the island. Each 
collective fanner ready to settle down in Sakhalin received from the 
State a loan of 20,000 roubles only half of which was to be repaid in 
instalments spread over ten years. 

Even more important than the development of agricultural coloniza- 
tion was the recruitment of personnel for the fishing industry of 
Southern Sakhalin, The fishing industry of the reunited island yields 
about one-seventh of the catch of fish of the U.S.S.R., and about one- 
quarter of the world's production of canned crab. A large number of 
demobilized soldiers were, therefore, encouraged to take up residence in 
the territories reconquered from the Japanese. This part of the Russian 
colonization of Karafuto took place under the supervision of one of the 
foremost leaders of the Soviet state, Anastas Mikoyan. 

Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands have such a high priority as resettle- 
ment areas that they are being colonized even at the expense of the 'old' 
Soviet Far East. A Government decree of March 1st, 1946, stipulated that 
wages and salaries in Sakhalin were to be fifty per cent higher than on 
the Far Eastern mainland, and on the Kurile Archipelago, even 100 per 
cent higher. 

To maintain the stream of colonists to Southern Sakhalin, Soviet 
propaganda extolled the achievements of Russian reconstruction work 

56 



THE SOVIET EMPIRE VERSUS THE JAPANESE PEOPLE 

there in enthusiastic terms which were similar to those previously used 
about the building of Komsomolsk. Poets, songwriters and novelists 
were mobilized to tell the Russian people that 'there are no distant 
islands but only one great powerful Russia', that Sakhalin must remain 
Russian for ever, and that 'no smell, no breath' must be left over from 
the Japanese, as the poet Feoktisov said in his poem 'Fiftieth Parallel'. 40 

KURILE ISLANDS 

Soviet occupation of the Kurile archipelago at the end of the Second 
World War was different in character from the establishment of Russian 
sovereignty over Southern Sakhalin. The occupation of the Kurile 
Islands meant the replacement of an Asiatic by a European imperialism. 
It cannot possibly be described as a blow to the Japanese people. Only 
the two southernmost islands of the Kurile chain, Kunashiri and 
Jeterofu Shima, were an exception in this respect since Japanese colonists 
had there established themselves and founded ten and five villages 
respectively. 

The northern Kurile Islands, though unsuitable for colonization for 
climatic reasons, proved to be of the utmost strategic importance to 
Japan. The northernmost island of the archipelago, Shimoshuto, forms 
an ideal jumping board in the direction of Soviet Kamchatka, from 
which it is separated by a distance of less than seven miles. The second 
northernmost Kurile island, Paramushiro, proved to be a valuable 
Japanese naval base, being closer to the westernmost Aleutian Islands, 
Attu and Kiska, than the nearest American naval base of Dutch Harbour. 
For Soviet Russia, too, the strategic value of the Kurile Islands is 
paramount. In Soviet hands the Kurile Islands form a dagger pointed 
toward the Japanese island of Hokkaido, as well as improving Russia's 
strategic position vis-&-vis the United States. 

Ever since Russian sovereignty over the Kurile Islands was re- 
established in 1945, the Soviet Government has tried to consolidate 
its position there by the encouragement of Russian colonization. 
Soviet propaganda has frequently commented sneeringly on the inability 
of the Japanese to colonize the archipelago - there were never more than 
15,000 Japanese in the islands - and has predicted that Russians would 
do their job more efficiently and put the Japanese to shame. Only young 
and enthusiastic Soviet citizens, such as Communist Youth League 
members imbued with a high spirit of adventure and patriotism, were 
considered fit for the difficult task of colonizing the Kurile Islands. 

Konstantin Badigin, a *Hero of the Soviet Union', after visiting the 
Kurile Islands, told the Soviet youth in the newspaper Komsomolskaya 
Pravda: 'Here (in the islands) a wide field is opening for the constructive 
energetic activity of our youth, May our boys and girls remember their 

57 



THE POLICY OF THE WHITE SOVIET FAR EAST 

distant ancestors, those fearless seafarers and untiring explorers who, 
centuries ago, did so much to make the Kurile Islands ours, and may 
they give their strength to the rebirth of these far-off genuinely Russian 
lands.' 41 

A few thousand Russians have responded to this and other similar 
appeals. Among the new Russian settlers of the Kurile Islands there are 
many young demobilized soldiers as well as fishermen from Archangel, 
Astrakhan and the Far Eastern mainland. The Russian colonizers paid 
particular attention to the three islands in which the Japanese had 
been interested, Kunashiri and Jeterofu Shima in the south, and Para- 
mushiri in the north. The administrative headquarters of the 'Kurile Dis- 
trict' were set up on Jeterofu Shima or Iturup. One of the Japanese villages 
of the island was transformed into the Russian settlement 'Kurilsk', and 
serves now as a Soviet district centre. Another 'economic and cultural 
centre*, Yuzhnekurilsk, was erected on Kunashiri which because of its 
nearness to Japan exercises particular attraction on the new colonizers. 
A third Russian township, Severokurilsk came into being on Paramushiri, 
the former Japanese fortress island. 

To encourage further settlers to go to the Kurile Islands official 
propaganda tries to create the impression that sport, culture and medical 
and economic conditions in the new Soviet colony are little different 
from those prevailing in the most civilized parts of the U.S.S.R. The 
following is a typical news item trying to 'catch* colonists from among 
the young generation: 

*A stadium for 3,000 spectators has been built in the youngest 

Soviet town - Severokurilsk on the Kurile Islands. Although this 

town is little more than one year old, sports have already made 

considerable progress in it. The Dynamo, Spartak and other sports 

societies have set up branches there. Football is especially popular. 

Severokurilsk football teams will participate in the match for the 

championship of the Soviet Far East'. 42 

Another news item, published from 'Kurilsk', announced the publica- 
tion of a newspaper the Red Lighthouse, the foundation of three clubs, 
of a 'House of Culture 5 and of three hospitals. 43 A third item claimed 
that a circle of young writers and poets had been organized in 
Yuzhnekurilsk. 44 The photographs which have been published about 
the new Soviet settlements on rare occasions have somewhat contradicted 
the optimistic picture of the Press reports; they show a rather primitive 
state of affairs. 

It is doubtful whether the official propaganda campaign has made the 
Kurile Islands in any way more attractive to the average Soviet citizen. 
In the popular mind they are tantamount to the end of the world and 
people are afraid of being sent there* 



THE SOVIET EMPIRE VERSUS THE JAPANESE PEOPLE 



KAMCHATKA 

In Kamchatka, too, the Soviet regime was able to inflict a heavy defeat 
on Japan and make up for a certain 'neglect' of Russian national 
interests by the Czarist regime. Being unable to exploit fully the waters 
off Kamchatka and of the Okhotsk Sea, Czarist Russia had granted 
equal fishing rights to the Japanese in a Fishing Convention signed in 
1907. The Convention resulted in a peaceful Japanese invasion of the 
Kamchatka peninsula. In 1910 as many as 6,869 Japanese were engaged 
in the fishing industry of Kamchatka, whilst its total population was 
9,500. In the following years the number of Japanese steadily increased, 
and, in 1914, 8,886 Japanese were working in the fishing industry of 
Western Kamchatka, as against 1,569 Russians, some of whom were 
employed by Japanese firms. 45 

During the Russian Civil War, Japan contrived to consolidate her 
predominant position on the peninsula. Between 1917 and 1922 she 
raised the number of fishing lots in Kamchatka from 200 to roughly 400. 
All but one of the twenty-four canneries which existed in Kamchatka in 
1923 were in Japanese hands. 

When Russian sovereignty over the Far Eastern territories of the 
Russian Empire had been fully restored, Soviet leaders deemed it 
advisable to tolerate Japanese presence on the peninsula for a certain 
period. At the same time, everything was done to consolidate the 
Russian position in Kamchatka without openly provoking Japanese 
hostility. This consolidation was achieved by the planned increase of 
the population of Southern Kamchatka, which, between 1927 and 1934 
alone, grew from 9,700 to 28,300. The immigration of Russians into 
the economically vital areas of the peninsula enabled the Soviet 
authorities to replace Japanese workers by Russians fairly rapidly. As 
late as 1928 Kamchatka's fishing industry relied on 52 per cent Japanese 
manpower. Four years later that percentage ^vas reduced to 4, and in 
1933 there were no longer any Japanese workers in the peninsula's 
fishing industry. In the same year the number of Russian canneries in 
Kamchatka reached 21 while there still existed 25 Japanese canneries. 
Despite all the progress made by the Russians, Japan, in the middle of the 
'thirties', was still in control of two-thirds of Kamchatka's catch, 
including the most valuable salmon catch. In 1936 between 10 and 12 
per cent of the entire Japanese fish production and 40 per cent of 
Japanese crab fishing were supplied by the Kamchatka catch. 

During the Second World War Japan was allowed to maintain her 
canneries in the peninsula. On March 10th, 1944, the Soviet-Japanese 
Fishing Convention was extended until the end of 1948. The Allied 
victory over Japan, however, made the Convention null and void long 

59 



THE POLICY OF THE WHITE SOVIET FAR EAST 

before the date of its expiration, and so did away with the last foreign 
'concession' in Soviet territory. So it was that the Soviet Union won the 
'Battle of Kamchatka*, a keen contest for the first place among the 
fishing powers of the world. It was a battle without bloodshed, but it 
may prove to have been more costly to the Japanese in the long run 
than the battles of Okinawa and Iwojima, provided that the Russians 
are able to exploit to the full the advantages they have gained. The 
establishment of a Russian fishing monopoly in the north-western Pacific, 
which Japan's defeat made possible, meant that the Soviet regime could 
broaden considerably the food supply base of her north-eastern posses- 
sions and extend Russian colonization in Kamchatka and the areas 
around the Okhotsk Sea. It seems, however, that the Soviet regime 
took more away from the Japanese than it could digest. It has never been 
able to fulfil the fishing part of the Five- Year Plan in the Far East. 



Soviet policy towards Eastern immigrants compares unfavourably 
with the treatment which the United States and Canada meted out to 
the 3 1 3,000 Japanese of Hawaii and North America (1 60,000 in Hawaii, 
129,000 in the United States proper and 24,000 in Canada) even after the 
Pearl Harbour attack. The differences between the Soviet and the North 
American approach can be summarised as follows: 
L Canada and the United States evacuated the Japanese from certain 
strategically exposed territories at a time when the two countries were at 
war with Japan. Every attempt was made not to remove them too far 
away from their original homes. Most of Canada's Japanese, for instance, 
were allowed to remain within the 'Canadian Far West'. Soviet Russia 
deported her oriental immigrants from border areas both before the 
beginning of hostilities and after their termination. The immigrants had 
either to leave the Soviet Union altogether, as was the case with the 
Japanese, or take up residence in areas a great distance from their 
original places of residence as in the case of the Koreans and Chinese of 
the Soviet Pacific coastal province. 

2. In Hawaii the United States have succeeded in Americanizing the 
Japanese community and rendering it largely immune against Japan even 
in time of war. Less than 1 per cent of the entire Japanese population 
of Hawaii were interned, and only 981 Japanese were deported to North 
America. These were mostly Shinto and Buddhist priests, teachers, and 
other persons known for their sympathies with the Japanese cause. All 
the rest were able to continue their work as shop-keepers, fanners and 
clerical workers throughout the war. Some of the younger Japanese even 
served in the American army. After the war only one hundred Hawaiian 
Japanese returned to Japan. From Canada not more than one-sixth or 
four thousand of the whole Japanese community went to their country 

60 



THE SOVIET EMPIRE VERSUS THE JAPANESE PEOPLE 

of origin after 1945. Communist Russia, on the other hand, showed by 
the wholesale evacuation measures in the Soviet Far East that she did not 
believe in a successful future 4 sovietization' of the Japanese of Sakhalin 
and the Kurile Islands, or even of the Vladivostok Chinese and Koreans. 

3. In North America even tte Japanese evacuees enjoyed the benefits of 
democratic institutions. The Japanese of California took their case, 
though unsuccessfully, to the Supreme Court of the United States and 
there was freedom of speech in the Japanese 'relocation centres* that 
existed in California, Arkansas, Utah and Idaho. Japanese Americans 
found champions among Americans of Anglo-saxon stock and a com- 
prehensive book which took up their case with great insistence saw as 
many as five reprints during the war. The Canadian Japanese too were 
not helpless. They had associations and a newspaper The New Canadian 
to defend their interests. The case of the Canadian Japanese was amply 
discussed in parliament and in the Press. Nothing of all this is possible 
under Soviet conditions. 

4. All negative measures taken against the Japanese in Canada and the 
United States took place under the full control of public opinion. The 
administration had to render account for every single evacuated Japan- 
ese, for housing and health conditions in the reception areas, and even 
for the school attendance of the evacuated Japanese children. In the 
Soviet Union the evacuation of Chinese and Koreans took place under 
conditions of the greatest secrecy and is not traceable in any accessible 
official records. It was the arbitrary action of a police state. 46 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES TO CHAPTER II 

1. N. PRZHEVALSKY, Puteshestvie v Ussuriiskom krae, 1867-69. Travel in the 
Ussuri Region, 1867-69. St. Petersburg, p. 111. 

2. Guide to the Great Siberian Railway, published by the Ministry of Ways 
of Communication, St. Petersburg 1900, pp. 416-17. 

3. The statement is reproduced in an official work on the revolution in the 
Far East, Kommissiya po istorii Oktyabrskoy Revolyutsii i R.K.P. 
(Bolshevikov), Revolyutsiya na Dalnom Vostoke - Commission for the 
History of the October Revolution and of the Russian Communist Party 
(Bolsheviks), The Revolution in the Far East, Moscow-Leningrad 1923, 
pp. 359-74. 

4. S. D. ANOSOV, Koreitsy v Ussuriiskom krae - The Koreans in the Ussuri 
Region, Khabarovsk. Vladivostok 1928, pp. 24-5. Quoted by John N, 
Washburn 'Soviet Russia and the Korean Communist Party*, Pacific 
Affairs, March 1950, vol. xxii, Nr 1, p. 61. 

5. Sovetskaya Aziya, 1929, Nr 25, p. 45. 

6. Tikhy Okean, 1937, Nr 11, p. 579. 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES TO CHAPTER II 

7. Revolyutsiya i Natsionalnosti, February-March 1931, Nr 11-12, p. 80. 

8. F. SHABSHINA, Vehkaya Oktyabrskaya Sotsialisticheskaya Revolyutsiya 
i Krestyanskoe Dvizhenie v Koree - The Great October Socialist Revolution 
and the Peasant Movement in Korea, Voprosy Istorii, June 1949, p. 12. 
This article is the only one published in a Soviet periodical after the Second 
World War which throws some light on the history of the Soviet Koreans. 
Its purpose was to stress the impact of the October Revolution on the 
anti- Japanese peasant movement in Korea. In this connection the author 
of the article could not avoid mentioning the Koreans of the U.S.S.R. 
but she seemed to consider them as temporary immigrants and not as a 
permanent ethnic minority of the Soviet Union. The Korean National 
District is not mentioned in the article. 

9. I, VOLODIN, Inostranny Shpionazh na Sovetskom Dalnom Vostoke - 
Foreign Espionage in the Soviet Far East, Pravda, April 23rd, 1937. 

10. Pravda, December 20th, 1937. 

11. Sovetskaya Aziya, Nr 25, 1929, p. 47. 

12. Novy Vostok, Nr 29, 1930, p. 173. 

13. Izvestiya, May 24th and May 25th, 195L 

14. Pravda Vostoka, May 30th, 195L 

15. Sovetskaya Yustitsiya, July 10th, 1931, pp. 18-19. 

16. WLADIMER. K. ARSENJEW, Russen und Chinesen in Ostsibirien, Berlin 1926, 
p. 43. 

17. PRZHEVALSKY, op. cit, p. 79. 

18. N. V. ARKHIPOV, Dalnevostochny Kray - The Far Eastern Territory, 
Moscow-Leningrad 1929, pp. 34-7. 

19. Zhivopisnaya Rossiya - Picturesque Russia, vol. xii, second part, Moscow- 
Leningrad 1895, p. 448. 

20. ARSENJEW, op. cit., p. 56. 

21. FRIESEN, DerFerne Osten, Moscow 1927, p. 17. 

22. A. RADO, Fuehrer durch die Sowjetunion, Berlin 1928, p. 641. 

23. OTTO HELLER, The Port of Vladivostok, Once and Now, International 
Press Correspondence, October 13th, 1932, p. 962. 

24. Zvezda, Nr 2, 1946, pp. 242-7. 

25. JOHN DE FRANCIS, Nationalism and Language Reform in China, Princeton 
University Press, 1950, p. 106. 

26. Pravda, January 31st, 1931. For other material about anti-Chinese agita- 
tion, see Pravda, August 4th, 1929, Pravda, January 6th, 1931, and 
Sovetskaya Yustitsiya, January 20th, 1931, pp. 29-31. 

27. Pravda, December 5th, 1936. 

28. People's Commissariat of Justice of the U.S.S.R. Report on Court 
Proceedings in the case of the Anti-Soviet Bloc of Rights and Trotzkyites, 
etc., Moscow 1938, p. 15. 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES TO CHAPTER II 

29. Small Soviet Encyclopedia, second edition, vol. 2, Moscow 1934, p 531. 

30. Large Soviet Encyclopedia, second edition, vol. 8, Moscow 1952, p. 228, 
See also Ogonyok 1947, Nr 43, p. 24. 

31. The Russian Purge and the Extraction of Confession, Hurst and Blackett 
Ltd., London 1951, p. 110. 

32. P. PAVLENKO, Red Planes Fly East, George Routledge and Sons Ltd., 
London 1938, pp. 500-504. 

33. Sovetskoe Gosudarstvo iPravo, Nr 5, 1952, p. 68. 

34. Krasny Arkhiv, 1937, vol. 83, p. 94. 

35 KONSTANTTN Popov, Ekonomika Yapomi - The Economics of Japan, 
Moscow 1936, p. 500. 

36. J. Osn>ov, SakhalinskieZapiski- Sakhalin Notebook, Moscow 1946, p. 53. 

37. MARTIN SCHWIND, Die Gestaltung Karafutos im Japanischen Raum, 
Justus Perthes, Gotha 1942, p. 185. 

38. Science and Life, February 20th, 1951. 

39. Ogonyok, September 1946, Nr 35-36, p. 19. 

40. Oktyabr, Nr 6, June 1950, pp. 123-4. 

41. Komsomolskaya Pravda 9 July 25th, 1946. 

42. Soviet Monitor, January 1st, 1948. 

43. Trud, July 23rd, 1948. 

44. Literaturnaya Gazeta, July 28th, 1946. 

45. M. A. SERGEEV, Narodnoe Khozyaistvo Kamchatskogo Kraya - The 
National Economy of the Kamchatka Territory, Moscow 1936, p. 222. 

46. The factual material about the Japanese in Canada, the United States 
and Hawaii is taken from the following works: Andrew W. Lind, Hawaii 9 s 
Japanese, An Experiment in Democracy, Princeton University Press 1946; 
Carey McWilliams, Prejudice, Japanese- Americans: Symbol of Racial 
Intolerance, Little, Brown and Cie, Boston 1945; Forrest E. La Violette, 
The Canadian Japanese and World War //, A sociological and psychological 
account, University of Toronto Press 1948. 




3. THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 



m 

THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 



There are about 60,000 aborigines in the Soviet Far East (excluding 
Yakutia and Buryat-Mongolia) belonging to over a dozen different 
nationalities. The ethnographers divide them into two main groups. 
The first group, the Paleoasiats, includes the Chukchi, the Koryaks, 
the Asiatic Eskimos, the Aleuts, Ainu, Nivkhi and Kamchadals. Of the 
second, the Manchu-Tunguz peoples, the most important are the 
Tunguz proper, or Evenki, the coastal Tunguz, or Eveni, the Nanai 
and the Udege. Politically and sociologically all these nationalities 
must be considered as one single entity. The Soviet regime has treated 
them quite differently from the Korean, Chinese and Japanese minorities. 
As the small groups of aborigines are unable to handicap Russian 
colonization, the Communist Party has patronised them, and Soviet 
propaganda has always devoted a great deal of publicity to them, even 
at a time when there was complete silence about the Koreans and Chinese 
of the Soviet Far East. This does not necessarily mean that Soviet 
Russia has handled the problems of the Far Eastern aborigines 
successfully. 



TWO VIEWS ON NATIVE POLICY 

In the first years following the October Revolution the most authoritative 
Russian anthropologists felt that the time had come to take special 
measures to protect the Far Eastern and Far Northern natives from the 
pernicious influences of European civilization. Demands to that effect 
were voiced, in the winter of 1921-22, in the organ of the People's 
Commissariat for Nationalities, Zhizn NatsionalnosteL The most 
remarkable contribution to the problem of the small nationalities came 
from Professor Vladimir Germanovich Bogoraz-Tan (1865-1936), who 
had a profound knowledge of the problems of the tribes of North- 
Eastern Siberia, particularly of the Chukchi. Professor Bogoraz sug- 
gested that the Soviet Government should draw the lessons from certain 
experiments carried out in the native territories of Canada, the United 
States, Brazil and Argentina. It seemed vital to btm that the mode of 

65 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

life and the living conditions of the primitive tribes should be protected 
against every influence on the part of their more civilized Russian neigh- 
bours, or even of other stronger non-Russian peoples. Russians, 
Bogoraz said, should not be allowed to make any use whatever of the 
territories inhabited by the 'primitive tribes'. They should not even be 
permitted to enter them. Exceptions were to be made only for three 
categories of people, first anthropologists and linguists, secondly 
certain persons who would render practical services to the territories, 
such as doctors and technicians, and thirdly the ideologists of the new 
regime. Professor Bogoraz warned against making any economic experi- 
ments with the natives. He said that such experiments would not enhance 
the welfare of the Far Northern and Far Eastern tribes, but would, in 
fact, undermine their existence. 1 

To carry out a systematic policy of protection of the natives Professor 
Bogoraz demanded the foundation of a special committee to be attached 
to the People's Commissariat of Nationalities. Such a committee was 
in fact founded with the prominent participation of Professor Bogoraz 
himself. It was the 'Committee of the North'. It had a huge bureaucratic 
apparatus consisting of five departments. The first dealt with administra- 
tive and legal matters, the second with economic and financial affairs, 
the third was concerned with scientific research, the fourth with health 
and the fifth with education. The Committee of the North had a Far 
Eastern Bureau in Khabarovsk which dealt with the small Far Eastern 
nationalities. 

From the very beginning two tendencies made themselves felt within 
the Committee. People like Bogoraz-Tan viewed its work primarily 
from a philanthropic point of view. They thought that the Committee 
was nothing more than an organization to assist the Far Northern and 
Far Eastern peoples to recover from the blows which contact with 
European civilization had inflicted on them. Die-hard Bolsheviks, on 
the other hand, had a different approach. They considered the Committee 
to be an instrument of economic exploitation of the Far Northern 
territories, and for fostering class struggle among the tribes. 

Their view did not prevail at once. In the first five years of its existence, 
between 1924 and 1929, the Committee did not interfere much with the 
tribal system of the Far North and Far East, The administrative pattern 
enforced in other parts of the Soviet Union was not extended to the 
small native peoples. Those living in the Far East were given such forms 
of local administration as were acceptable and comprehensible to them. 
Each tribe had a Tribal General Assembly ('Obshchee Rodovoe 
Sobranie') which elected a Tribal Executive Committee ('Rodovoy 
Ispolnitelny Komitet'). Several related tribes sent delegates to a Tribal 
District Congress ('Rayonny Rodovoy Sezd') which elected a Tribal 
District Executive Committee (*Rayonny Rodovoy Ispolnitelny 

66 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET ?AR EAST 

Komitet*). The Tribal Committees of the lower order were later des- 
cribed as 'Native Soviets* (Tuzsovety') of which there were 400 all 
over the Far East and Far North. The most remarkable fact about this 
tribal administration was that participation in tribal and native Soviets 
was not limited by class criteria. 

This idyllic state of affairs could not last long. From one plenary 
meeting of the Committee of the North to the next the intransigence of 
its more radically minded members increased. In 1929 the Committee 
firmly decided to apply the principles of class struggle to the Far North, 
and from 1930 onwards, the tribal administration was abandoned. 
Regular organs of local government ranging from village Soviets to 
'National Areas' ('Okrugs') were created instead. This meant in fact the 
end of the 'native reserves' which the Russian anthropologists had 
advocated in the early years of the Soviet regime. Under the new set-up 
Russian and other European Party and State officials were able to 
increase their influence in the running of native affairs. The natives 
were linked politically and administratively as closely as possible with 
the metropolitan territories of the U.S.S.R. In 1935 f the Committee of 
the North itself was disbanded. 

By the time of its abolition the Committee had lost a great deal of its 
previous importance. Many of its original duties had been taken over 
either by the Chief Administration of the Northern Sea Route, 
'Glavsevmorput', or by local government organs. The Chief Administra- 
tion of the Northern Sea Route, which had at its disposal a large staff 
of experts on nationalities problems, was originally launched as a body 
with extremely wide powers. Among other things, it was supposed to 
look after the well-being of the Far Northern tribes, direct cultural 
work among them, organize health services and help to promote their 
*sovietization\ In the autumn of 1938 the Soviet Government decided 
that 'Glavsevmorput* could not carry out these tasks properly. A decree 
of the Council of People's Commissars stipulated that it was to hand 
over to the territorial administrations all enterprises and institutions 
which were not directly connected with the development of the Northern 
Sea Route. 1 

COMMUNIST ADMINISTRATORS 

The abolition of the Committee of the North in 1935, and the curtailing 
of the powers of the 'Glavsevmorput 5 in 1938, increased the responsibili- 
ties of the administrative authorities and party organizations of 
Khabarovsk. It cannot be said that the latter have shown great enthu- 
siasm for work in the National Areas and National Districts of the 
small nationalities. In fact, up to 1939 most of the officials posted to 
distant perts of the Far Eastern (later Khabarovsk) Territory went 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

there as a punishment People who were an embarrassment to the 
authorities, for one reason or another, were frequently sent to the 
Arctic regions as administrators and Party secretaries. Most cases of 
abuse of which such ill-suited administrators had been guilty in distant 
territories were hushed up, but occasionally they became public, as in 
the case of the Soviet Commander of the Wrangel Island,* which is 
part of the Chukcha National Area, and situated off its Arctic coast. 

The commander, whose name was Semenchuk, had committed the 
most outrageous arbitrary acts against both Chukchi and Eskimos, the 
native population of the island. He and his assistant, Startsev, had 
caused the death of a number of natives, but the Wrangel Island 
scandal would probably not have come to light had they not also 
assassinated the local Russian doctor. The two Soviet administrators 
were brought to Moscow as defendants in a big trial in which Vyshinsky 
himself acted as prosecutor. A sixty-five page Vyshinsky speech contains 
an exhaustive description of the Semenchuk regime on Wrangel Island. 
Semencbuk's authoritarian idea of the role of a Soviet administrator 
in the land of the Chukchi and Eskimos was summarised in the following 
pronouncement which he had made. 'I am the GPU here; I am the 
court, I am the Public Prosecutor. I have the power of life and death.' 

Semenchuk and Startsev were sentenced to death and executed in 
1936, but it is still a mystery how the Soviet Government could entrust 
the strategically important Wrangel Island to an outright criminal. 
Semenchuk had been in prison for the theft of silver cutlery from the 
Soviet Embassy ia Teheran shortly before being dispatched to the Far 
North.* 

The case of Semenchuk and Startsev is obviously an extreme one. 
There is no reason to doubt that some of the administrators are ardent 
idealists, determined to improve living conditions and promote educa- 
tion among the local peoples. If we can believe the Secretary of the 
Department of Cadres of the Khabarovsk Territorial Committee of the 
Communist Party, there has been a better selection of administrators 
for the distant areas of the Far East since 1939. The secretary in question 
had promised in that year that Party posts in these territories would be 
given in future only to particularly trustworthy persons. He had said, 

* Roseau sovereignty over Wrasgd Island was established only with some difficulty 
Both Cfcaada and the United States had striven to attach the island which has an area 
of 2,700s2are issks to their respectrw territories. The Canadians established their claim 
fey wintering oa the island from 1941. They reasserted it by hoisting the flag there m 1921 
* I92! l^* Can ?S m Miaa Minister solemnly proclaimed the annexation of the 
-if!?^ be f7? *** Otta * a P**fent. The Soviet regime can rightly claim 



In 



68 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

indeed, 'The further away we send a man, the more we must be able to 
trust him'. 4 It can be taken for granted that a man whom the Communist 
Party considers particularly trustworthy will be a hard-working official, 
and that he will not commit any crimes such as those of which Semenchuk 
and Startsev had been convicted. But a trustworthy communist is not 
necessarily a man who understands the mentality of the Far Eastern 
aborigines, and who deals with their problems in the best way. 



NATIVES, STATE TRUSTS AND FORCED LABOUR 

In addition to the Party and the territorial administration, there is a 
third influential factor in the Far East which has a great impact on the 
'natives', namely the big State capitalist organizations of Kamchatka, 
Chukotka and the territories around the Okhotsk Sea. Instead of assist- 
ing and strengthening native economy the Soviet regime encouraged the 
growth of State companies such as the 'Kamchatka Limited Company' 
(later known as 'Glavkamchatrybprom' - Kamchatka Chief Administra- 
tion for the Fishing Industry), the 'State Reindeer Trust', the 'Dalrybt- 
rest' (Far Eastern Fishing Trust) and 'Soyuzpushnina*, the State organiza- 
tion for fur trading. Soviet experts on the Far East themselves have 
admitted that these enterprises employed people who were guided by 
a 'narrow-minded business attitude' and who discharged their duties in 
a 'crudely materialistic way'. All they wanted was to fulfil the target 
figures of the state plan. They were not interested in assisting the natives 
either by supplying the most essential food commodities or by encourag- 
ing cultural work. The enterprises concerned, in particular the 
Kamchatka Company and the Reindeer Trust, seized land, and hunting 
and fishing grounds traditionally belonging to the natives. Even land 
owned by newly established collective farms of reindeer-breeders was 
arbitrarily confiscated by State trusts. 5 

Another State enterprise, the previously mentioned 'Dalstroy*, which 
operates around the Okhotsk Sea, has also greatly affected the life of the 
'natives' who live in its territory. The first director of Dalstroy, E. Beizin, 
pointed out in 1936 that the trust had opened schools and hospitals in 
all centres of the native population. The budget of the native commur 
nities ('National Districts') had increased almost ten times during five 
years. 6 What Berzin did not say was that the native schools and hospitals 
had been built with the profits which Dalstroy had made by exploiting 
forced labour. As a matter of fact, some of the schools of which Berzin 
boasted are 'mixed schools', which are attended both by natives and by 
children of convicts who weare born in captivity and taken away from 
their mothers. 7 In the ai^ea controlled by the Destroy we thus meet the 
most sinister aspect of the 'Soviet nationalities policy*, namely, its 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

connection with the forced labour system. A sparsely populated terri- 
tory on the Kolyma River and around the Okhotsk Sea, which, not so 
long before, had been the home only of Eveni, Yakuts and other natives, 
had suddenly become an object of mass colonization by convicts, 
probably by as many as 400,000, The sudden emergence of huge forced 
labour camps in tribal territories was bound to have a considerable 
effect both on the way of life and on the moral outlook of the natives. 
It is only logical that the N.K.V.D.-M.V.D. should have tried to enlist 
the support of the natives against camp inmates trying to escape. 
Former political prisoners have even asserted that the N.K.V.D. pays 
the natives, either in cash or in the form of vodka, for every escaped 
person whom they capture- 8 This makes it understandable that the 
prisoners extend their contempt of the N.K.V.D. to the natives. They 
charge the authorities with 'coddling and pampering' them in the very 
areas in which many members of Russia's intelligentsia are gradually 
being exterminated. 9 It must be said in fairness that the N.K.V.D. is not 
the first Russian authority to discover that use can be made of Far 
Eastern natives against convicts from European Russia. The priority for 
this idea goes to the Czarist governor of Sakhalin Island, General 
Konotovkh. Chekhov, mentioned in his book on Sakhalin that the 
General had ordered Gilyaks (Nivkhi) to be employed as guards for 
Russian criminals. 

THE REINDEER PROBLEM 

Lack of understanding of the 'natives* is manifested not only by the 
activities of the big State trusts, but also in the day-to-day work of 
Soviet officials in charge of 'native affairs'. Communist Party officials 
think in terns of ready-made patterns, and cut-and-dried formulae. 
They are usually convinced that what is good for Moscow and 
Vladivostok must be equally good for the most remote parts of the 
Union. This frame of mind makes it difficult for them to find the right 
approach to the special conditions of the Far North. Much could be 
said* for instance, about the peculiar way in which Soviet authorities 
have handled the basis of Far Northern economy, reindeer-breeding. As 
lale as 1950, the Communist Party of a Siberian province sent large piles 
of pamphlets oa sheep-farming and bee-keeping to the nomads living 
Bear the Arctic coast, where there are neither sheep nor bees - only 
reindeer. ** This actually happened in North-western Siberia, but it could 
easily have happened in the Far East The Pravda correspondent in 
Khabarovsk stated in 1947 that there was not a single specialist in 
problems of ran<ter-breeding in the State and Party offices of that city, 
aftfeou^i the Khabarovsk Territory includes the largest reindeer 
population of any administrative unit w. the Soviet Unk>n. u 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

Soviet officials failed to understand that the reindeer plays a vital 
part in the life of the Northern tribesmen, and that it is not a mere sub- 
sidiary to their economy as is the cow of the Russian peasants. According 
to the tribal customs of the Koryaks and Chukchi it is a sin to sell a 
living reindeer. The Soviet administrators denounced this custom as 
sabotage, and imposed on the reindeer-breeders not only compulsory 
sales, but also the confiscation measures which accompany collectiviza- 
tion. The setting up of collective farms and state farms in the native 
territories of the Arctic regions of the Soviet Far East, led in the * thirties* 
to the unleashing of a violent class struggle which, in turn, resulted in a 
drastic drop in the number of reindeer. Not only did the rich reindeer 
breeders engage in large scale 'predatory slaughter* of the animals, but 
they also hampered the collectivisation and nationalization measures in 
other ways. To escape *de-kulakization' 5 they split their large herds into 
smaller ones, and distributed them among their shepherds. Moreover 
pastureland was wilfully destroyed, apparently on a considerable scale. 
Loss of reindeer occurred not only in the private but also in the State- 
controlled sector. The new State farms which were to introduce higher 
forms of reindeer breeding were, in reality, far more inefficient than the 
individual reindeer breeding nomad. In the Far East the State reindeer 
farms lost one-third of their herds within a single year - a catastrophe 
which could not be attributed entirely to the infiltration of class-alien 
elements. 

Official Soviet statistics about the development of Soviet Russia's 
reindeer population demonstrate convincingly what damage the col- 
lectivization measures caused. In the first years of the communist regime 
when state interference with the Far Northern economy was slight there 
was a clear upward trend. The number of reindeer in the entire Soviet 
Union increased from 1,765,000 in 1923 to 2,193,000 in 1926-27 and to 
2,700,000 in 193 1 . The year 193 1 was the turning point In 1932 the stock 
fell to 2,333,000, in 1933 to 2,030,000 and in 1934 it was as low as 
1,889,000. These figures which apply to Soviet Russia as a whole do not 
fully reveal the catastrophic consequences of communist reindeer policy 
in the Far East. In the Koryak National Area, for instance, where full 
collectivization had been planned for 1933, the number of reindeer 
decreased from 264,000 in 1926 to 173,000 in 1932 and 127,000 in 1934." 
Soviet statistical evidence about Russia's reindeer population after 
1934 is contradictory. Figures produced by various official Soviet 
sources show a large margin of difference. The Small Soviet Encyclopedia 
says that on January 1st, 1938, the number of reindeer was 1,766,OQQ. 13 
This would mean that the situation was then even worse than ia 1933. 
On the other hand, a Soviet standard work oa Russian reindeer-breeding 
published in the post-war period claims thai the number of reindeer in 
1938 was 28 per cent higher than in 1933. But even this book whidi 

71 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

gives an optimistic picture of the Russian reindeer situation states that a 
new period of decline set in during the war owing to the increased 
slaughter for the army and inferior care of the herds resulting from the 
mobilization of many native herdsmen. 14 After the war the position 
improved but whether and when the peak figure of 1931 was reached 
again, is impossible to say. Such increases in the number of reindeer as 
there were, were brought about, it seems, by a more liberal application 
of the collective farm statute. Collective farm members were encouraged 
to own small reindeer herds privately. The maximum size of these 
privately owned herds is not known but cases have been mentioned of 
individual collective fanners having as many as 80, 90, 130, and even 
up to 200 reindeer each. 35 

The reindeer problem has caused difficulties to Soviet administrators 
not only in the purely economic sphere but also in the field of education. 
What is needed in the Far North is a school which would help to raise 
hunting and reindeer breeding to a higher level. The more enlightened 
Russian pedagogues are the first to admit that such a school does not 
oust. One of the school inspectors posted to Northern Siberia quoted, 
sot without a certain measure of approval, a reindeer breeder who re- 
fused for a long time to entrust his two sons to a Soviet boarding school. 
The father in question said that he taught his children to hunt game, to 
catch the polar fox and to ride reindeer. In school, he added, they would 
not learn all this, and when they had finished they would have no 
practical knowledge. An article in the Teachers' Gazette stated that there 
was a 'grain of truth* in the complaint of the old reindeer breeder. "The 
school is indeed too much cut off from practice and thus not able to 
prepare children for the life in the Far North/ 16 A similar problem, it is 
true, also exists in other countries. Richard Finnie, in his book Canada 
moves North, says that Eskimo children, after spending years in boarding 
schools, return to their families unfitted for the lives they must lead. 17 

THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION 

Whatever the quality of school education in the Russian Far North may 
be, it is a fact that the Soviet authorities have carried out a big cultural 
revolution in the native territories. The most important part of it has 
been the liquidation of illiteracy. Until 1931 the Far Northern and Far 
Hasten peoples could express themselves in writing only in the form of 
drawings or through the medium of the Russian language. In May, 
1931, they received an alphabet of their own, the 'Unified Northern 
Alphabet* as it was called. It was officially approved by the Ministry of 
Education of the R.SLF.S.R. The 'Unified Northern Alphabet* was a 
Latin alphabet and the decision to adopt it was not taken without a long 
struggle fought out behind the scenes between the supporters of iatiniza* 

72 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

tion and those who preferred the Russian alphabet or at least a 'mixed 
alphabet* in which Russian letters would predominate. 

In the Soviet Far East the ethnographic section of the Society for 
Regional Research declared itself with great vigour against all attempts 
at russification. In a memorandum the Society listed four reasons why 
only the Latin alphabet could be introduced for the languages of the 
Chukchi, Koryaks, Nanai, Nivkhi and the other Far Eastern tribes: 

1. The successful latinization of the alphabets of the oriental 
languages. 

2. The genuinely international character of the Latin alphabet. 

3. The inadequacy of the Russian alphabet which would have to be 
supplemented by a number of letters. 

4. The fact that the Russian alphabet itself would not be long-lived 
since progressive scholars had already raised the question of its 
latinization. 18 

These four considerations were shared by the Moscow authorities who 
had decreed the introduction of the Latin alphabet for the Northern 
peoples. 

Tlie Latin alphabet remained in force for less than six years - until 
February 1 1th, 1937, when a new decree abolished and replaced it by a 
russianized alphabet. The new script was intended for thirteen small 
nationalities of whom eight lived either wholly or partially in the Far 
East. The replacement of one alphabet by another rendered necessary 
the destruction of a large amount of printed material that had been 
prepared for the Northern peoples. Between 1931 and 1933 alone as 
many as 200,000 textbooks, 100,000 pamphlets of a political nature and 
10,000 books on medical and economic subjects had been issued for 
them. 1 * 

Soviet school policy proper did not suffer from such a disturbing lack 
of continuity as the Soviet literacy campaign. The number of schools 
increased systematically and steadily and now there are as many as 200 
native schools in the Khabarovsk Territory. They are supervised by a 
Council of National Schools which was created in 1949 and which 
works under the education department of the Khabarovsk territorial 
administration, The Council does not only administer schools but also 
deals with all problems connected with the writing of text-books, and 
the translation of classical Russian and Soviet literary works into the 
local languages. The Council relies on the graduates of the teachers* 
training colleges in Petropavlovsk (for South Kamchatka), Anadyr 
(for Chukotka), Tlgilsk (for North Kamchatka) and Nikolayevsk-on- 
Amur. The most important and largest of the four is the college IH 
Nikolayevsk. Between its foundation in the early 'thirties* and 1951 it 
trained 170 Russian and 105 native teachers belonging to ten different 
Far Eastern nationalities. 20 Hie most gifted young people from among 

73 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

the Far Eastern aborigines are sent to the Pedagogical Institute of 
Khabarovsk, where there is a department for the Far Northern nationali- 
ties, and a few are even admitted to the Herzen Pedagogical Institute in 
Leningrad, Courses at the Far Northern Department of that Institute 
last three years, and the curriculum includes 'Foundations of Marxism- 
Leninism; the great works of Stalin on questions of linguistics; the 
history of Russian pre-revolutionary and Soviet literature; folklore, and 
many other subjects'.* 1 In addition every student has lessons in methods 
of teaching, in the grammar of his own national language, and in the 
history and ethnography of the peoples of the North. 

Native students are also instilled with a feeling of hatred against the 
non-communist world. The results of this indoctrination can be 
gauged from the answers which a Yakut student gave, according to 
Pravda, at his final examinations at the Leningrad Pedagogical Institute. 
The Yakut student, E. Sysosyatin, talked at the examination of the 
situation of the Eskimos, Aleutians and Red Indians in America. He 
mentioned many facts which unmasked the American imperialists, and 
their criminal policy directed towards the total extermination of these 
peoples. To the horrors of misery, starvation, inhumane privations and 
persecutions to which these nationalities are subject in America, even 
greater atrocities have been added during the past few years. As has 
become known, the American imperialists, preparing bacteriological 
warfare, tried out the effects of the deadly microbes on the Eskimos. As 
a result of these cannibalistic experiments many Eskimos in America 
died of bubonic plague.* 22 

Soviet dictatorship indoctrinates all citizens of the U.S.S.R., whether 
Russians or Uzbeks, Ukrainians or Georgians, Latvians or Chukchi. It 
gives to all of them a completely distorted picture of the nations outside 
the communist sphere. This campaign of hatred and distortions, while 
iBoraBy wrong in every single case, is particularly contemptible if 
directed towards the youth of primitive peoples. By trying to 
transform young native intellectuals into agitators of the 'cold war', the 
Soviet regime destroys to a considerable extent the good which it is 
doing by the spread of culture and knowledge. 

COMMUNISTS AND SHAMANS 

The young natives trained in Nikolayevsk-on-Amur, Khabarovsk and 
Leningrad are to hdp the Russian administrators in the fight against 
'local nationalism' is all tribai areas of the Soviet Far East. Naturally, 
in the territories of the small Far Eastern peoples the Soviet regime does 
not fight local nationalism* in the same way as it does in areas where 
there are more developed nationalities. There are no parties or political 
groups which the communists have to suppsress; there is no feudal- 

74 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

patriarchal literature which has to be banned, and no cultural societies 
which have to be closed down because of bourgeois romanticism. Even 
so the small peoples of the Far East adhere, just as other peoples do, to 
their national traditions which are closely linked with those primitive 
religious beliefs usually summed up under the collective name of 
'Shamanism'. 

Shamanism is fundamentally the belief in good and bad spirits. The 
exact nature of the belief varies from one tribe to the other. The spirits 
may be deified animals, they may be ancestors, or they may simply be 
the forces of nature. Shamanism is not based on an elaborate ecclesias- 
tical organization, but there are, nevertheless, mediators between spirits 
and ordinary human beings. These mediators are called Shamans. They 
enjoy a great deal of respect and prestige in the tribal society and this 
alone would have been sufficient reason to make them 'Enemy Number 
One' of the Soviet regime in all National Districts and National Areas 
inhabited by the Far Eastern aborigines. 

The regime has charged the Shamans with many crimes, in particular 
with being dishonest and with consciously deceiving the people. This 
accusation has been contradicted by many Russian and foreign anthrop- 
ologists who have had first hand experience of the Far Eastern Shamans. 
They have made the point that most Shamans sincerely believe in their 
superior power and are firmly convinced of their ability to cure the sick 
and to talk to spirits or to deceased relatives. It does not seem that 
Shamans charged more than moderate fees for their services if they 
demanded payment at all. 23 According to P. E. Petri, Professor of 
Ethnology at the Irkutsk University, it was completely erroneous to 
suggest that the majority of the Shamans were charlatans exploiting the 
credulity of the natives. For the Shaman, Petri wrote as late as 1928, his 
vocation constituted a heavy obligation which the spirits had imposed 
on him. The Shaman knew respite neither by day nor by night. He 
might at any time be called out and had then to travel dozens of miles in 
any weather. The Shaman was rarely at home and his household was 
therefore neglected. As a rule the Shamans were poor and only those 
living together with their brothers were better off, 24 

According to official Soviet evidence the Shamans engaged in 'mad 
resistance* to the extension of Soviet power to the north. They dis- 
seminated 'provocative rumours' aimed at inditing the tribesmen against 
the Russians. These charges against the Shamans are reflected in a 
number of novels which Soviet writers have written on life in the Far 
East. For example, Syomushkin's novel, Alitetgoes to the Hills, records 
the collective resignation of the chairmen of the tribal Soviets in a part of 
Chukotka, as the result of the evil influences of one important Shaman. 
These chairmen gathered one day in the tent of the Russian secretary of 
the Communist Party and surreadea^ed to bim their letters of appoint- 

75 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

ment They tried to get rid of these credentials as quickly as possible, 
because they were beheved to be bearers of the evil spirit. The resigning 
chairmen suggested that the local Shamans should be appointed in their 
place, as they would be more successful in dealing with the spirits. The 
Party secretary refused to comply with this request, and, after a great 
deal of arguing, most of the chairmen agreed to retain their credentials, 
and to resume their jobs. 85 In the novel, Where the Sukpai river flows, by 
Kimonko, which deals with the life of the Udege people, the Shaman is 
both anti-Soviet and anti-Russian. He expresses his political philosophy 
in the following words: *It is better to be doomed than to go to the 
Russians. The Russians will make soldiers out of us and destroy us to a 
man. . . The Russians and the Udege are different people. The man of 
the forest has laws of his own. One must abide by these laws.' 26 

The Shamans preserved their influence throughout the 'twenties' and 
early 'thirties', They played an important part in the resistance movement 
against collectivization. In fact, the terms *Shaman' and 'kulak' became 
interchangeable in the official Soviet vocabulary. But this is the usual 
simplification with which communist anti-religious propaganda operates. 
An official Soviet analysis referring to the social origin of 300 Shamans 
showed that between 50 and 60 of them came from poor families 
(bednota) and only 5 to 10 per cent were *kulak elements'. More dis- 
criminating Soviet writers have stated therefore that Shamans whilst 
belonging to various social groups constituted *a reactionary counter- 
revolutionary force taking sides with native kulaks and semi-feudal 
elements*.* 7 

In addition to collectivization the Shamans obstructed practically 
every measure taken by the Government in the economic, cultural and 
sanitary fields. The target figures of the economic plans could not be ful- 
filled because the Shamans dissuaded the natives from fishing and hunting 
on certain days or from killing certain animals, for instance walrus. 
Soviet newspapers and journals were boycotted because the Shamans 
agitated against their dissemination. Also the new schools in the Far 
North and the *failtbazy'*suffered fromthe sabotage of the Shamans. The 
latter persecuted and threatened the lives of Soviet teachers, particularly 
those of Russian nationality. 28 They hindered the re-education of the 
northern tribes to a more healthy and hygienic life, and intimidated 
people to such an extent that they did ndt dare even to go near a Soviet 
medical statios.* 9 

Although there is likely to be substance in most of these charges, they 

* The 'Mtbazy' or ^Cultural Stations' are political, cultural, and scientific research 
centres wfeaefe the Soviet regime organized in the Far North. 'Cultural Stations* usually 
iacfeKle a boarding sd^ a kiiH^^ 

stafcoo, a iDetereoJogkal station and even a museum. Most 'Cultural Stations* later devel- 
oped toto townships. Oat of the fifteen 'Cultural Stations' three were founded in the Far 
East, one for the Koiyaks, one for the Lamuts and the third for Chukchi and Eskimos. 

76 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

have probably been exaggerated, partly to serve as an excuse for the 
inefficiency of Soviet administration and partly as a pretext for the anti- 
Shaman measures taken by the regime. The fight against the Shamans 
took the same forms as the campaign against other religions of the 
Soviet Union, ranging from ordinary anti-religious propaganda to 
administrative terror. The Far Northern cells of the League of Militant 
Godless were in charge of the former. In view of the complicated 
character of Shamanism it was no easy affair to combat it and a more 
thorough picture of its regional diversities had first to be obtained. The 
League of Militant Godless therefore urged its northern groups to 
compile a detailed register of the Shamans which was to answer the 
following questions about each of them: What is the range of activity of 
the Shaman? Is he a family Shaman or does a larger group of people 
avail itself of his services? What speciality does he have? Is he a sea- 
Shaman accompanying fishermen on their expeditions? Is he a tamer of 
snowstorms? Does he claim to have any influence on the results of 
hunting? Is he engaged in healing reindeer and people? What sort of cult 
objects does he possess? Drums? Costumes? Does he hold collective 
seances? What is his social origin? Detailed information about these 
and other points was to be sent at least twice a year to the Central 
Council of Militant Godless, Moscow, Sretenka Street Nr 10. 30 

It does not seem that the League of Militant Godless had many 
people on the spot with a sufficient knowledge of folklore and anthrop- 
ology to carry out the 'registration of the Shamans' and it is more than 
likely that the whole scheme failed. Other anti-Shaman measures were 
more successful. For instance, pressure was brought to bear on Shamans 
to give a solemn pledge that they would renounce their activities. 
Collective statements of several Shamans were even published in the 
local Press stating that in the past they had been 'wreckers' and 
'cheaters/ 31 In other cases where such self-recriminations could not be 
obtained, Shamans were expelled from their tribal territory or arrested 
and put on trial. By arresting Shamans the Soviet authorities wanted to 
show the people that they did not fear their power and that Shamans 
were not protected by the spirits. 

Notwithstanding all these measures of intimidation and persecution 
the Shamans were still a fairly important factor at the time of the 
adoption of the Stalin Constitution of 1936, When the constitution was 
subject to a nationwide discussion the Shamans once more showed their 
anti-Soviet bias and they did so again during the elections to the Supreme 
Soviets of the U.S.S JL and the R.S.KS.R. in 1937 and 1939 respectively. 
According to Oleshchuk, one of the leaders of the League of Godless, 
the Shamans tried *to falsify the Soviet Constitution, undermine the 
elections and exploit the electoral campaign for counter-revolutionary 



77 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

It would appear from Soviet evidence that Shamanism experienced 
a certain revival during the war. Shamans, it is alleged, cunningly used 
the temporary absence of young communist educated people from the 
tribal areas to regain some of their former influence. The novel of the 
well-known Soviet writer Azhaev, War from Moscow, which refers to 
conditions in a Nanai village contains, for instance, the following 
passage: *He (the Shaman) had lain low for a time but resumed his evil 
practices when war broke out He saw his chance to profit from the war 
by a crafty and insolent device. Many of the Nanai boys of the village 
had been called to the colours. They wrote letters home from the front, 
and the Shaman made his "prophecies" by these letters. His clients were 
mostly old women anxious about the fate of their sons, and he fleeced 
and fooled them to the top of his bent.* 33 

Soviet novels about post-war conditions in the Far East try to convey 
the impression that the Shamans have ceased to be figures that are res- 
pected and feared. The Shamans of these novels are desperately isolated 
and universally despised. In one case the Shaman is even an enemy agent 
whom the Americans have sent from Alaska to provoke 'acts of diversion' 
among the natives of the Soviet Far East 

Some of the Soviet charges made against the Shamans coincide more 
or less with the criticism which a Western colonial administrator would 
direct against the African witch-doctors and juju-men. Western and 
Soviet administrators will, however, often differ as to the way in which 
the Shaman and the juju-man are to be fought In West Africa, though 
not in East Africa, the fight against the juju-man is no more than a 
campaign of enlightenment in favour of a more hygienic way of life. In 
other words it is an aim in itself. The fight against the Shaman in the 
Soviet Far East and Far North is only a small part of a great struggle 
which is aimed at crushing every kind of political and religious 
opposition. 

THE FIGHT AGAINST CHRISTIAN MISSIONS 

la the Far East and Far North the regime fights religion on 'two fronts*. 
If the liquidation of Shamanism is one aim of communist anti-religious 
policy, the total prevention of Christian missionary activities is another. 
Christianity has had a certain influence on the small nationalities of 
the Far East Missionaries preaching the faith in a God who loves and 
helps man, have tried with some success to oust from the hearts of the 
natives that deep-rooted fear which is accompanied by belief in evil 
spirits. But the work of the missionaries was far from being finished when 
the Soviet authorities interrupted it As it often happens in Africa, the 
superstitions of paganism survived even where the Church made formal 
converts. Those Lamuts of Kamchatka, for instance, who accepted the 

78 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

Christian faith, acquired Christian ikons, but did not want to part with 
their Shamanist idols. The same can be observed among other Far 
Eastern and Far Northern aborigines. Many Christian converts wear 
crosses around their necks, but, at the same time, have idols made of 
walrus bones and reindeer skin on their belts. Naturally the communists 
have thrown ridicule on this pagan-Christian dualism, which they have 
described as 'Shamanism-Orthodoxy', but it is an unavoidable transitory 
stage in the religious development of any primitive people. Certain 
sections of the northern tribes of Soviet Russia had been sufficiently 
Christianized at the time of the establishment of Soviet power to resent 
the forcible withdrawal of priests, and the removal from forests and ways 
of crosses which, in the popular belief gave protection against 'devils*. 
A protest lodged by a group of natives of the Beryozovo district in 
North-western Siberia was characteristic in this respect. The natives in 
question wrote a letter complaining that the local communist secretary 
did not allow them to have a priest. Their actual words were: We can't 
do without a priest because this is our faith.' (*My ne mozhem bez popa 
potomu chto vera nasha takaya'.) The letter of protest was printed in 
1934 in Revolyutsiya i Natsionalnosti, the official organ of the Soviet of 
Nationalities as a general illustration of the fact that priests still enjoyed 
confidence in certain parts of the Far North.* 

Today most of the Far Eastern tribes are outside the reach of those 
reduced activities which are still permitted to the Russian Orthodox 
Church in the U.S.S.R. Whilst churches are tolerated in old towns 
where their existence is traditional, it has been the consistent policy of 
the Soviet Government not to allow Christian houses of worship to be 
erected in the so-called 'socialist cities* which are the products of the 
Soviet period. In the Far East this applies to Magadan and Komsomolsk, 
places which among their polyglot population count quite a number of 
detribalized natives. Members of the two larger nationalities of the 
Soviet Far East, Yakuts and Buryat-Mongols, are, as far as they are 
converts to Christianity, in a better position than the members of the 
smaller tribes. There are churches in the capitals of Yakutia and Buryat- 
Mongolia and presumably also in other localities of these Republics. 
These are under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan of Irkutsk and 
Chita, whose diocese is larger than the whole of Western Europe. 

STALIN -THE SUN 

Against Shamanism and Christianity the Soviet regime uses one and the 
same metaphysical antidote - the Lenin-Stalin cult. In the territories of 
the Far Eastern tribes this cult has a particularly colourful variant It 
takes the form of folk-tales which depict Lenin and Stalin as 'super- 

* Revofyutsiya i Natstonalnosti, Nr 53, July 1934, pp. 51-57. 

79 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

shamans* fighting and exterminating the 'evil spirits'. Lenin and Stalin 
appear in these 'folk-tales' as legendary heroes, as eagles liberating the 
people from the 4 bad black kite* (a Tunguz folk-tale), and, in particular, 
as something approaching *sun-gods\ 

It is understandable that the idea of the sun must have a powerful 
appeal for peoples living in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. Everything 
associated with the sun is good, wonderful and divine. The Soviet regime 
has made ample use of this. The Soviet literary journal Zvezda rightly 
said that several volumes could be compiled from all the legends, 
stories, tales and songs in which Lenin and Stalin are depicted as heroes 
who gave to the people of the North the inextinguishable sun. 34 Typical 
of this *sun literature' produced for the Far Eastern aborigines is the 
Nanai folk-tale - Sun of the People', - *and there came a time when a 
hero (who, although living far away from the Nanai people, saw and 
knew everything) took the sun into his hands, and turned it in such a 
way that its wannest rays shone where it was dark, and where down- 
trodden peoples were suffering. And they then knew well-being, warmth 
and happiness. The name of the hero was Lenin. When a great disaster 
befell the earth - when Lenin died - bad people were pleased. They 
thought that the sun would stop shedding its light on the people, but 
their gtee was shorter than the space of a minute, because the people's 
sun was guarded by another hero. He is the nearest friend and companion 
of Lenin, and his name is Stalin. Nobody can equal the strength of that 
hero. His eyes see everything that goes on on earth. His ears hear every- 
thing that people say. His brain knows all that people think. His heart 
contains the happiness and the woe of all peoples. The depth of his 
thought is as deep as the ocean. His voice is heard by all that inhabit the 
earth. Such is the greatest of the very greatest in the whole world. And 
he took the sun out of Lenin's hands, and lifted it very high. And since 
then happiness shines on earth, because it is impossible for the sun not 
tosfaiae/* 6 

The same motif as in the Nanai tale The Sun of the People is to be 
fomad, with slight variations, in the poems and tales produced for the 
benefit of the other small ethnic groups of the Far East and Far North. 

Something could be said even in favour of the Soviet *sun' propaganda 
m as far as it banned the fear of *evil spirits*. Unfortunately, the Soviet 
regime lias replaced the fear of the spirits by the fear of its own power 
aad the institutions and bogies which it has created. One of them is the 
wicked foreigner, always ready to attack the natives with the most 
ghastly and devastating weapons. 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 



FAR EASTERN ABORIGINES AND SOVIET FOREIGN POLICY 

Destiny has placed the Far Eastern natives into politically and strate- 
gically important regions, the mouth of the Amur, the Russian islands 
of the North-west Pacific, and the territory bordering the Bering 
Strait. Consequently, the nationalities concerned can only too easily be 
dragged into the struggle of the big powers for the Pacific. In fact, they 
have already played their modest part in world politics, and may do so 
in future. The Nanai, Udege and Nivkhi have participated in Russian- 
Chinese rivalries. The Udege, Nanai and Ainu have stood between the 
lines in Russian- Japanese conflicts. The Chukchi, Aleuts and Asiatic 
Eskimos are involved in the American-Russian antagonism. 

The Soviet regime has always been aware of the special position of the 
small Far Eastern nationalities, and has framed its propaganda accord- 
ingly. It has presented itself to the peoples concerned as their saviour 
rescuing them from 'Chinese merchant capitalism* or from 'Japanese 
militarism" or from 'American robbery'. The aim of Soviet 'native 
policy' in the Far East is thus to make the local nationalities anti- 
Chinese, anti- Japanese or anti-American, as the case may be, and to 
instil in them a feeling of gratitude towards Russia and the Russians. 

Not everything which Russian propagandists tell the natives about 
other nations is necessarily untrue. It is a fact that Chinese merchants 
were, for a long time, almost sovereign rulers in the interior of the Russian 
Pacific province, and exerted a tyrannical overlordship over the aborig- 
ines. In some cases the aborigines were reduced to outright serfdom. But 
even Russian sources have had to admit that the Chinese were interested 
not merely in profits, but also in spreading their culture. In the absence 
of any major Russian cultural activities the Chinese ran schools for the 
aborigines. The latter studied Chinese history, and grew familiar with 
Chinese institutions. Russia and things Russian were either ignored 
altogether, or represented in a distorted light 36 Some of the aborigines 
completely abandoned their mother tongue, and adopted the Chinese 
language. The Soviet regime brought about a complete change. It ended 
the economic exploitation of the natives by Chinese merchants and 
stopped Chinese cultural propaganda. Cultural domination passed into 
the hands of the Russians. From a Russian nationalist point of view this 
was undoubtedly a great success, but whether it is preferable for a Far 
Eastern people to accept Russian or Chinese civilization is a matter of 
opinion. 

THE NANAI 

The most important nationality which the Soviet regime has claimed to 
have rescued from the Chinese are the Nanai They are the largest single 

Si 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

group of aborigines in the southern part of the Soviet Far East. In the 
Soviet Union there are between 5,000 and 6,000 Nanai, or Goldy, as they 
used to be called, while about 1,800 of them live in Manchuria, at the 
confluence of the Ussuri and Sungari rivers. In the inter-war period this 
partition of the Nanai between Russia and Manchukuo had a certain 
political importance. Russia conducted propaganda among the Nanai 
tribesmen in Manchukuo, and tried to induce them to emigrate and join 
their brothers on the other side of the border. The Manchukuo Govern- 
ment also did a great deal to obtain the goodwill of the Nanai by associat- 
ing them with the local administration. 

In June 1931, the Soviet regime organized the Nanai National 
District and the Evenko-Nanai National District. A third National 
District was founded for the Ulchi or Olchi, a small Far Eastern tribe 
which is very closely related to the Nanai, and whose number does not 
exceed 1,000. At the time of their foundation, the three National 
Districts covered over 60,000 square miles. However, by the end of the 
First Five-Year Plan, the 'natives' of the three districts found themselves 
reduced to small minorities. Between 1926 and 1933 alone, the total 
population in the Nanai and Ulchi Districts was nearly doubled through 
European colonization, and it increased three times in the Evenko-Nanai 
National District. 

Far from having a sheltered existence in the National Districts, the 
Nanai hunters and fishermen were thrown into the melting pot of 
industrialization. In fact, one of the largest industrial centres of the 
Soviet Far East, the city of Komsomolsk, was built in the midst of 
fonaer Nanai territory. Komsomolsk has become a magnet attracting 
the Nanai and regulating their lives. They either work in its industrial 
undertakings, or have moved to one of the numerous collective farms 
which supply the 'City of Youth* with vegetables, fruit and dairy 
products. Many Nanai now have a better command of Russian than of 
their own language. Their complete absorption by the Russian environ- 
ment is merely a question of time. 

The small Nanai people were greatly exploited for Russia's military 
effort in the Secoud World War. As many as 248 Nanai of the Nanai 
National District and of the Komsomolsk District were awarded military 
daoocatioQS for service on the German front Some Nanai, including the 
Nanai poet, AkimSaroer,even participated and perished in theStalingrad 
battle. 

*THE LAST OF THE UDEGB* 

The neighbours of the Nanai and their close relatives are the Udege, 
who live in the Maritime Territory, east of the Amur and Ussuri rivers, 
ia dose proxijBity to the Pacific, particularly in the hinterland of the 

82 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

port Sovetskaya Gavan (previously Imperatorskaya Gavan). Estimates 
as to the exact number of the Udege differ, they vary between one and 
two thousand. The official census returns for 1926 recorded 1,347 Udege. 

The name 'Udege' became known to the Soviet public through the 
novel The Last of the Udege, by the well-known Soviet writer, Aleksandr 
Aleksandrovich Fadeev.* The very title of Fadeev's novel has been 
exploited by Soviet propaganda as a striking example of the solicitude of 
the Communist Party for the small Far Eastern nationalities, but such 
an inference is misleading. Fadeev had purposely chosen a title that 
sounded attractive to the Russian reading public, since it recalled 
Fenimore Cooper's famous book The Last of the Mohicans. Of course, 
the ideological message of Fadeev is contrary to what Soviet critics have 
read into the work of the American author. While Fenimore Cooper 
'idealized' - in the Soviet view - 'the primitive patriarchal customs of 
the Red Indians', Fadeev makes the point that there can be no return to 
the past for the Udege, but only a forward march towards revolution 
and socialism. 37 The Last of the Udege is not primarily concerned with 
the Udege tribe, although a Udege supporter of the Bolsheviks, named 
Sari, is one of Fadeev's principal heroes. Fadeev had planned to write 
a monumental novel on the Civil War in the Far East, which, when 
completed, was to comprise as many as six volumes. Only four of them 
have actually been published. The last came out in 1937. Fadeev seems 
to have abandoned the idea of completing his work, presumably in view 
of the re-evaluation which the history of the Civil War in the Far East 
has undergone since the time of the great purges. 

There is another novel which tells us more about the Udege people 
than the four volumes of Fadeev. It was written by an educated, half- 
Russianized Udege, Dzhansi Kimonko (1905-1949), who was trained at 
the Leningrad Institute of the Peoples of the North. After his return to 
his homeland, he became the chairman of a village council. In his spare 
time he wrote the history of the Udege people in the form of a novel, 
Where the Sukpai River Flows. The book is remarkable as the first and 
presumably last step in tixe development of Udege literature. Its inten- 
tion is to show the beneficial influence which the Soviet regime exerted 
on the Udege people, but at the same time it reveals that the Udege have 
by no means been united in their support of Communist Russia. 
Kimonko indicated that there had been both a pro-Russian and a pro- 
Japanese Party among the Udege during the Civil War. One of the 
Japanese sympathizers was even killed in a violent clash, and so, too, 
was a wealthy Udege whom Kimonko describes as the 'Udege Czar*, 

* Fadeev is the only preeminent living Communist who can be considered as a Tar East- 
erner'. He was bom in the Tver region in European Russia in 1901, but came to the Far 
East at the age of six. He went to school in Vladivostok, where he joined the Commomst 
Party in 1918. He partkapaied proiraaea% in the Far Eastern Ctvfl War, wfekfe is the 
subject of afl his eariicr novels. 

S3 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

The Soviet authorities transferred the Udege from the isolated huts 
which were scattered over a wide area to larger compact settlements. 
This brought them within the range of medical attention and educational 
facilities. As a result of this contact with Soviet Russian culture, the 
young generation of the Udege now speak the Russian language 'almost 
without any accent'. 38 The next step in the development of the Udege 
will be that they will forget their own native tongue, and soon 'the last 
of the Udege' will really have disappeared. 

THE NIVKHI 

Near the mouth of the Amur is the National District of the Nivkhi. 
They number just over 4,000, of whom 1,700 live in Northern Sakhalin, 
and the rest on the Soviet Far Eastern mainland and on three small 
islands lying off the mouth of the Amur, These islands, Udd, Langr and 
Kevost, were ignored by the Soviet authorities until 1936, when the 
famous Russian pilots Chkalov, Baidukov and Belyakov, landed on 
Udd Island during their trans-polar flight. From that moment the 
islands became very popular. They were renamed after the three pilots, 
and it became almost a Russian patriotic duty to develop and colonize 
the little archipelago. The Soviet Far Eastern fishing industry established 
a plant there, and Russian workers' settlements were built on both 
Cfakalov and Baidukov Islands, which had previously been inhabited 
exclusively by Nivkhi. 

The Nivkhi of the Asiatic continent are very conscious of the fact that, 
together with the Nivkhi of Northern Sakhalin, they form one single 
people. Accordingly, under pressure of persecution by the Soviet author- 
ities in the late 'twenties', the Shamans of the mainland Nivkhi fled to 
their kinsmen on Sakhalin. But these Shamans only fell out of the frying- 
pan into the fire, because of the activities of the local anti-religious 
fanatics. la 1930 the League of Militant Godless in Northern Sakhalin 
even destroyed the Nivkh cemetery in an attempt to cure the 'natives* 
of tbeir religious prejudices, This action caused considerable unrest 
amoog the Nivkhi, who lodged a complaint with the authorities. The 
latter apparently condemned the 'left-wing excesses' of the Sakhalin 
atheists.** 

la theory, the Sakhalin Nivkhi live in two National Districts, the 
^Western Sakhalin National District', and the 'Eastern Sakhalin 
National District* which, together cover a large part of Northern 
Sakhalin. In point of fact, both National Districts have been completely 
fictitious right from tite beginning of their existence. The so-called 
Western Sakhalin National District, for instance, had, in 1933, only a 
few hundred natives among its 17,000 inhabitants. 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 



KAMCHADALS 

Soviet propaganda has never been very outspoken about the native 
people of South and Central Kamchatka - the Kamchadals - for a very 
good reason. Even Soviet historians could hardly claim that friendship 
between Russians and Kamchadals (or Itelmeny, as they are now called) 
ever existed in the past. It is a well-established fact that the presence 
of Russian Cossacks in Kamchatka provoked endless struggles and 
revolts in the early part of the eighteenth century. While it is true that 
many Cossacks lost their lives, it is equally undeniable that the first 
Russian colonizers wiped out the majority of the Kamchatka natives. 
Only the fact that Kamchatka is rather unsuitable for European coloniza- 
tion saved the Kamchadals from dying out entirely. While their number, 
which was about 30,000 before the Russian conquest, had dropped to 
about one-sixth, their relative strength was still fairly important at the 
end of the nineteenth century. The census of 1897 showed that the 
Kamchadals then formed over 48 per cent of the population of their 
homeland. Russian colonization under the Soviet regime changed things 
rapidlv, to the detriment of the Kamchadals. In 1928 they comprised 
only one-quarter of Kamchatka's population, and in 1939, at the maxi- 
mum, only 12 per cent. 

In absolute figures there were 4,217 Kamchadals in 1926, but only 
868 of them were able to speak their national language; the others were, 
as far as their culture is concerned, completely Russianized. In Petropav- 
lovsk, the capital of Kamchatka, only 69 Kamchadals were counted in 
the 1926 census. 

'ALEUTIAN NATIONAL DISTRICT* 

East of Kamchatka are the Commander Islands, consisting of Bering 
Island, where the famous explorer, Vitus Behring, died in 1741, and 
Copper Island (Medny), The two islands now form the 'Aleutian 
National District*, which was set up in 1932. There are not more than 
400 Aleutians in the Soviet Union. Practically all of them live in the 
'District* which is to impress the 5,800 Aleuts of Alaska. 

Soviet propagandists have always taken great pride in the cultural suc- 
cesses of the 'Aleutian National District'. Its primary claim to fame is the 
fact that it was the first administrative unit of the Far East which achieved 
100 per cent literacy. However, this triumph was not such a remarkable 
one as it may seem. Two thirds of the Soviet Aleuts were literate as 
early as 1926 at a time when the other Far Eastern tribes included only 
between 1 and 10 per cent of literate people. So the Soviet authorities 
can hardly take credit for an achievement whidht in all likelihood was 

85 7 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

brought about by Orthodox Christian missions. Unlike most other 
peoples of the Soviet Far East the Aleuts of the Commander Islands 
had been completely Christianized. In the first five years of the Soviet 
regime there was one church on Bering Island and another one on 
Medny. By 1934 the church of Bering Island was closed and that of 
Medny was reported as *no longer functioning'. An increasing number of 
voices could be heard, said an official report, urging that the church 
building should be used for Cultural needs*. 40 Such 'spontaneous popular 
movements' for the closing down of churches have often been reported 
from many parts of Soviet Russia. On the other hand, it is true that the 
percentage of communist party members in the Aleutian National 
District is higher than in any other territorial unit, not only in the Far 
East but in the whole of the U.S.S.R. 35 per cent of the population is 
organized either in the Communist Party or in the Communist Youth 
League, according to the latest figures available. 

Before the war the local Soviet authorities of the Commander Islands 
were composed exclusively of natives. However, no undue significance 
should be attached to this fact, since the Aleuts as a people are half- 
Russianized, and Russian is the official language in the District. The 
Aleutian language, which is used by the Soviet Aleuts in their homes 
and for private conversation, is actually a mixture of Aleutian and 
Russian, in which Aleutian endings are added to Russian words. 41 
Moreover, the inhabitants of the two Commander Islands speak different 
Aleutian dialects and can converse with each other only in Russian. 
Russian is also the language in which a small newspaper is printed 
cm Bering Island for the benefit of the Aleuts and the handful of 
Russians who are all working on the blue fox State farm *Komodor\ 
The name of the paper is The Aleut Star. Its sub-title shows that the 
Commander Islands, despite their tiny population, have a highly organ- 
ized political life. It reads as follows: 'Organ of the Aleutian District 
Committee of the All-Union Communist Party, the Ail-Union Leninist 
Communist Youth League, the District Executive Committee and the 
District Trade Union Council/* 2 

In the post-war period considerable attention has been paid to the 
Commander Islands in connection with the *cold war'. Their population 
seems to have increased An official Soviet report of November 1949 
said that the islaskls had several seven-year schools - only two schools 
had existed before the war - and that many prefabricated houses had 
been shipped from the continent 49 

AINU, RUSSIANS AND JAPANESE 

Wbea CKxaipying Southern Sakhalin in 1945, the Soviet authorities 
took charge not only of a large Japanese population, but also of small 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

groups of aborigines. These included over 300 Tunguz, over 100 
Nivkhi* and over 1,500 Ainu. Several hundred Ainu also came under 
Soviet rule through the annexation of the Kurile Islands. The Soviet 
Government has tried to strengthen its case for the undivided possession 
of Sakhalin by asserting that only the Russians were able to establish 
correct relations with the Ainu, while the Japanese oppressed them. The 
propagandists of the Soviet regime have even alleged that the Czarist 
Admiral Nevelskoy, who established Russian rule over Sakhalin, did 
so with the express purpose *of defending the Ainu against the acts of 
violence of foreigners'. The Ainu, the propagandists affirm, gave 
enthusiastic support to the Russians when they landed in Sakhalin in 
1853. 44 

Zadornov, a Soviet writer of historical fiction on the Far East, tries 
to show that the Ainu are almost fanatically pro-Russian. He asserts in 
his novel Distant Country that the Ainu of Southern Sakhalin looked 
forward eagerly, throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, to 
the arrival of the Russian liberators. 'We have been waiting for them for 
many years, we have been waiting for the time when it will be possible 
to kUl the Japanese', Zadornov's Ainu said. 45 

In reality the Ainu of Southern Sakhalin did not seem to be very 
keen on killing the Japanese or driving them away. In 1875, when the 
Russian sovereignty over Southern Sakhalin became final, and when the 
Japanese formally renounced their rights on the island, 800 Sakhalin 
Ainu left for Hokkaido. They did not return until 1905, after the re- 
annexation of Karafuto by Japan. For a long time there was a consider- 
able cleavage between these Ainu re-immigrants and their less advanced 
former fellow-tribesmen, who had never been away from their home 
island. This cleavage did not disappear until 1933, when all Ainu were 
granted Japanese citizenship. Originally the Japanese authorities on 
Karafuto had put five schools at the disposal of the Ainu minority, but 
when all members of this minority became full Japanese citizens, these 
schools were abolished, and the Ainu children transferred to Japanese 
schools. 46 

Since 1945 the Ainu have frequently been mentioned by Soviet prop- 
aganda, and their case has become typical of the hypocrisy of Soviet 
nationalities policy. While several hundred thousand Japanese were 
expelled from the new Soviet territories, the Ainu were proclaimed 
'equal members of the family of Soviet peoples', and at once granted the 
right to participate in the elections to the Soviet Parliapaent. 47 Soviet 
scholars immediately started to study the interesting Ainu people, and 
the Soviet Academy of Sciences even set up a special branch in Southern 

* Under Japanese rule the Tunguz and Nivkhi lived in a native reserve near the town 
of Shikuka (Poronay&k). Their administrative head was the Karafuto 'reindeer-king', a 
Yakut, who, with his famify, had fled from So vkt territory, 

37 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

Sakhalin which was entrusted, among other things, with 'raising the 
cultural and living standard of its native population*, the Ainu in 
particular. 48 

Three years after the establishment of Soviet sovereignty over 
Karafuto Russian propaganda claimed that *a revival of the ancient, 
original culture of the Ainu people' was noticeable, and that an 'Ainu 
national literary language' was in the process of being created. 49 

THE 'NATIONAL AREAS* OF THE EVENI AND KORYAKS 

In 1930 three 'National Areas' were founded in the Far Eastern Terri- 
tory, one for the Eveni (Lamuts), one for the Koryaks, and one for the 
Chukchi. The last two are still in existence, but the 'National Area' of the 
Eveni - Okhotsko-Evensky National Area was the official name - was 
disbanded after four years. It is doubtful whether the Eveni National 
Area, which covered 400,000 square miles, ever existed except on paper. 
The Eveni as a nomad people were not prepared to accept the notion of a 
territory with stable frontiers and a permanently fixed cultural and polit- 
ical centre. The attempt to erect such a centre, first in Okhotsk, later in 
Nogayevo, failed. 50 The National Area of the Eveni was formally 
abolished as a result of the progress which Russian colonization by con- 
victs had made around the Okhotsk Sea in the early 'thirties'. By 1934 
the proportion of natives in the population of the National Area had 
dropped to 40 per cent as against 80 per cent shortly before its foundation. 

The Koryak National Area has been able to survive because the 
Soviet authorities have not yet succeeded in fully exploiting its riches, 
and have not, up to now, swamped the area with convicts and other 
settlers. The Koryak National Area covers the northern part of the 
Kamchatka peninsula, and the adjacent part of the Asiatic mainland. 
It is 125,000 square miles in area, and had 11>400 inhabitants in 1926. 
Out of this total, 61 per cent were then Koryaks, 8-9 per cent Chukchi, 
7-1 per cent Kamchadals, and 5-5 per cent Eveni. The Russians 
accounted for 14-3 per cent. 

The leading Soviet expert on the arctic and sub-arctic regions of the 
Soviet Far East, M. A. Sergeev, considers that the Koryak National 
Area is, politically and economically, one of the most important parts 
of North East Asia, in view of its close proximity to Japan and the 
U.S. A. Sergeev, who wrote the only available monograph on the Koryak 
National Aijea, pointed out that the Area had a considerable part to 
play in Russian foreign trade, and that it could develop into a territory 
earning for the whole Soviet Union an appreciable amount of foreign 
currency.* 1 Among the economic assets of the National Area Sergeev 
lists its riches in fish, reindeer and fur animals, as well as gold and oil. 
AH these items should be used for export, whereas the chief importance 

SS 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

of 'Koryakia' for Soviet Far Eastern economy would lie in its extensive 
coal deposits. Although Sergeev gave very detailed data about the 
location of the deposits, it does not seem that exploitation has begun on 
any noteworthy scale. 

The development of the Koryak National Area has lagged behind 
from the Russian communist point of view, not only in the economic, 
but also in the political sphere. The small Communist Party organization 
of the National Area, it is true, has issued statements on behalf of the 
tribesmen, abounding with such terms as 'dictatorship of the proletar- 
iat*, or 'creation of a culture, national in form and socialist in content*, 
but it does not seem that this has meant very much to the natives. The 
few communist agitators - in 1932 the Party organization had 120 mem- 
bers, including 'candidate members* - found it extremely difficult to 
encourage the class struggle among the Koryaks and other local tribes. 
The appearance in the National Area of State enterprises which were 
led and directed by Russians and other strangers, must have consolidated, 
rather than disintegrated, the primitive tribal unity comprising both the 
rich and the poor. Sergeev himself said that class consciousness, let 
alone class struggle, was practically absent in the Koryak National 
Area at the beginning of the 'thirties'. The 'kulaks*, the well-to-do 
reindeer breeders, operated fairly successfully by stirring up hatred of 
the Russians, and by using 'tribal traditions, religious prejudices and 
superstitions* in their campaign against the new Soviet order. Soviet 
class war propaganda was countered by such simple but realistic phrases 
as 'rich and poor live together', or, *the rich are feeding the poor*. 

CHUKOTKA-THE RUSSIAN COLONY FACING ALASKA 

The National Area of the Chukchi occupies the north-eastern tip of 
Asia facing Alaska, and is bordered by the Arctic Sea on the north, and 
the Bering Sea on the east and south. Several islands are part of the 
Chukcha National Area, including the Soviet island of Big Diomede, 
which is separated by only four miles from the Little Diomede, which 
belongs to the United States.* 

The Soviet nationalities policy has done its best to take advantage of 
the indisputable geo-political importance of the Chukcha National Area 

- in short, Chukotka. This policy had to allow, in the first place, for the 
fact that the natives of Chukotka, both the Chukchi themselves and the 
Eskimos, who are related to them, had a long tradition of close economic 
co-operation with their American neighbours, whereas links between 
Russians and Chukchi had been tenuous. 

* The Diomede Islands are also known as Ratmanov Island and Kruzenshtem Island 
respectively. Admiral Kruzenshtern commanded the first Russian round-the-world 
voyage and Ratmanov participated in this expedition, 

89 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

The danger of an americanization of 'Chukotka' was not caused by a 
deliberate offensive of 'dollar imperialism* against that territory, but 
was due to the natural inter-dependence of the more highly developed 
American Alaska and the underdeveloped Russian territories on the 
western shore of the Bering Strait De jure, Chukotka has been a 
Russian possession ever since the middle of the seventeenth century, 
when Cossacks had first penetrated into the land of the Chukchi. De 
facto, however, the Russians did not exert any sovereign rights over 
either the territory or the territorial waters around the north-eastern tip 
of Asia. A few Russians who had settled down in Chukotka in the 
seventeenth century, became completely intermixed with the native 
population, and quite indistinguishable from them as far as their 
exterior appearance was concerned. In 1897 there were 300 Russians in 
Chukotka, and 500 persons officially described as 'russianized natives', 
who might easily have been Russians turned native. The bulk of the 
population - the 1 1,771 Chukchi - lived in complete segregation from 
the Russians, and had they not been so primitive, it might have been 
said that they formed a State of their own. Up to the end of the nine- 
teenth century the Chukchi were completely ignorant of Russia. They 
were even unaware of the existence of a Russian Czar. Nor did the 
Chukchi ever pay the Russians any *yasak% the famous fur tribute by 
which the Siberian peoples implicitly recognized the overlordship of 
Russia* 8 * 

In the middle of the nineteenth century the Americans started the 
exploitation of Russian coastal waters in the Behring Strait, and in the 
Okhotsk Sea, with its vast abundance of whales. Since the Russians 
displayed no interest in whaling, the Americans soon became the un- 
challenged masters of those Russian waters. 'Predatory American 
whaling* had nearly exhausted the whale stock of the north-western 
Pacific before the Russians even thought of organizing whaling expedi- 
tions of their own. 

After the purchase of Alaska fay the United States in 1867, American 
wbafers were almost the only civilized people with whom the inhabitants 
of the Chukot peninsula came into contact. The Americans sold them 
afl the goods they seeded, including rifles and ammunition, and later 
even little boats in which they went to Alaska, trading and intermarry- 
ing with Alaskan natives. Both the Chukchi and the Asiatic Eskimos 
learned English, and some of them travelled with the assistance of 
American whalers and traders as far as Seattle and San Francisco. 
Eskimo children from Chukotka went to Alaska to attend mission 
schools. 

A learned Russian traveller to Chukotka, said, as early as 1888, that 
nearly all Chukchi of the Chukot peninsula, women and children in- 
cluded, understood some English, and that many Chukchi spoke it as 

90 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

well as a 'genuine American'. Gradually the Americans became so 
familiar to the Chukchi that they used to call all foreigners appearing 
on their shores * Americans'. 53 

It was only in 1889 that the Russian Government transformed the 
land of the Chukchi into a separate administrative unit - the Anadyr 
District - and it was not before the 'nineties', when the district was under 
the command of a young, broad-minded District Commissioner, 
N. L. Gondatti, that Russian rule over the Chukchi became more effect- 
ive, and attempts were made to counteract American commercial 
competition. Gondatti ordered regular fairs to be organized for the 
benefit of the Chukchi, and every native coming to his headquarters 
was offered a meal and a small present. 

The attempts to consolidate Russian rule in Chukotka were, however, 
checked by the development of Alaska at the beginning of the twentieth 
century. To the American public the advance of economic and cultural 
life in Alaska seemed to proceed at too slow a pace. But what the 
Americans criticised as 'neglect' the Russians praised as the most 
astonishing progress. In 1909 the Russian scholar Kokhanovsky des- 
cribed the Alaskan town of Nome as 'an outstanding cultural centre'. 54 
Obviously nothing in Chukotka, Kamchatka or around the Okhotsk 
Sea could bear comparison with Nome during its short-lived boom at 
the beginning of the century. At that time the danger of the United 
States expanding economically from Alaska into Chukotka was partic- 
ularly real. Between 1902 and 1912 there existed an American 'North- 
Eastern Siberian Company', which eagerly propagated the idea of 
American investments for the exploitation of Chukotka's national 
riches - gold, iron-ore and graphite. The company was entitled to 
exploit 60,000 square miles of Russian land. During the ten years of 
its existence, it established an American trading monopoly on the 
Russian side of the Bering Strait. About 200 Americans settled more 
or less permanently in Chukotka. Their solid, well-furnished houses 
aroused the envy of the few local Russians, and the admiration of the 
natives. After the Second World War Soviet propaganda gave a very 
coloured version of the 'American period' in Chukotka's history. To 
show the far-flung ambitions of American imperialism, the Soviet Press 
made great play of a very unrealistic private American project to link 
Alaska with Chufcotka by a submarine tunnel, and to build a railway 
across Northern Siberia. 55 The scheme had caused a minor sensation at 
the beginning of the century, but it was never taken very seriously. 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 



THE SOVIETIZATION OF CHUKOTKA 

Only the Soviet regime transformed Chukotka into a safe Russian 
possession and held foreign influence at bay. It could not raise Chukotka 
to a higher cultural and economic level than that of Alaska, but it 
could at least destroy the old interdependence of the two territories. 
Even this could be achieved only gradually and incompletely. Friendly 
direct contact between Alaska's and Chukotka's natives went on for 
several years after the establishment of Soviet power in the areas east 
of the Bering Strait. A fairly large number of Chukchi continued to 
speak some sort of broken English and there are indications that trips 
between Chukotka and Alaska went on until as late as 1944. Until that 
year parties of as many as forty people were observed to arrive from 
Siberia on the Alaskan coast on hunting, fishing and trading expeditions 
whilst American Eskimos visited Siberia for similar purposes. 56 

The transformation of Chukotka into an integral part of the Soviet 
Empire has been described in detail in Syomushkin's novel Alitet goes 
to the Hills. The book, which has already been quoted, was published 
in 1947. It was awarded a Stalin Prize for prose, for, from the point of 
view of the regime, it had the great merit of drawing the attention of a 
large Russian public to the strategic and political importance of the 
Chukotka outpost in the 'cold war' against America. Later, a film was 
produced on the basis of Syomushkin's book, but this was not such a 
great success. 

Syomushkin, who had lived eight years in Chukotka, depicted in 
detail the methods which the Soviet governor employed to achieve the 
Sovietization of the land of the Chukchi. This man, whom SyomushMn 
caHed Los 9 , was posted to Chukotka as he might have been to Kursk, 
Jala, or any other place in Central Russia. He had not the slightest 
knowledge of the country which he was to administer. He did not 
know anything about its customs. On the very first day of his arrival 
m Chukotka, without having gained even a superficial knowledge of 
local conditkras, he stated flatly to his Russian companion: 'We'll make 
communists and komsomois out of them, mark my words/ And the 
^^administrator did make 'communists* out of the Chukchi, but 
tfcese communists' were unable to understand such words as *com- 
mmwm , ^oviet* and 'revolutionary*. His assistant, a young intellectual 
c^Aodrey Zhukov, who had studied the customs and languages of 
tbe Chukchi, was more sceptical of the transplantation to the Arctic of 
tbe Communist Party jargon. When Los asked him to translate the 
word [revolutionary* to a Orakcha, Zhukov said: 'I should like to see 
you dandate the word revolutionaiy>\ Itis not so easy.' Los was ^5 
imposed by this refusal, but assured his subordinate that he would get 



92 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

the word translated, and that the Chukchi would learn the word. After 
gathering some experience in propaganda work among the local people, 
Los and his assistant drew up a political vocabulary. Here are some of 
its principal terms: 

Communism The new law 

Lenin The Russian who invented 

the new law of life 
Communist A man who wishes to 

remake life 
October Revolution 

Anniversary Celebration Feast of the big speech- 
making. (The Chukchi 
themselves call it The 
Russian Feast'.) 

Communist Party Card Bearer of the good spirit 

Petrol Good Spirit Benzine 

The most difficult thing was to translate the word 'State'. How could 
one explain to the Chukchi that a thing called 'State' had confiscated 
the reindeer, and that it had become the most important property owner 
in Chukotka? A Chukcha woman, Rultina, found an adequate and 
truthful translation of 'State' by suggesting that the State was just a 
white man. A young Chukcha communist answered to this that the 
State was not only the Russian administrator, but 'many, many people'.* 
Syomushkin's novel showed that the Soviet regime had to make a 
particularly great display of its efficiency in Chukotka because the 
Chukchi had an opportunity to compare the respective merits of 
Russian and American technical skill, even if only in the form of 
Russian and American matches. At one point of his book Syomushkin 
said that a pro-American Chukcha settlement had to be bribed by a 
motor whale boat before it would agree to join the Soviet hunting and 
fishing co-operative. Russia's position vis-ct-vis the United States was 
also strengthened on a larger scale by the building of new settlements 
opposite Alaska - the Eskimo village Naukan and the administrative 
base Uekn, which was mainly populated by Chukchi. 

The fight against native kulaks and traders was one of the most 
important activities of the Soviet authorities in Chukotka. Hie Russian 
communist officials tried to take control of fur hunting, fur trading and 

* The Soviet regime is not the only one trying to teach the peoples of the North Ac 
political A. B.C. in a simplified and even over-simplified language. This is how The Eskimo 
Book of Knowledge of the Hudson Bay Company explained to the Eskimos of Labrador 
the transformation of Canada into a dominion 'In his wisdom, the King of Britain said 
to the people of these new countries beyond the seas, his sons: "You have always loved me 
and the things which I love. You are now grown to fuH manhood, you have learned the 
things which I can teach you, you have your families and your children. It is right that 
you should direct your ways for the benefit of your children. I wOl appoint a Governor 
for your lands, but he siiafl be guided by yoer wishes. For are not yoiff wishes my wishest*** 67 

93 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

reindeer breeding. This was a difficult task, since the measures for col- 
lectivization were less understood in Chukotka than in most other 
'backward' territories of the U.S.S/R, Syomushkin himself had to admit 
these difficulties when he described the effect of the imprisonment of 
the 'wicked kulak Alitet 5 (a Chukcha trader of this name really existed) 
on the local atmosphere in Chukotka. The local people saw in Alitet's 
arrest not a measure taken by the champions of the proletariat against 
the kulaks, but the persecution of a Chukcha by Russians. This is how 
Syomushkin described the despondency which the 'Alitet case* had 
created in Chukotka: 

*Something amazing had happened on the coast. The Russians had 
locked Alitet up in a wooden yarang, and he sat there like a seal in a 
net The news spread tike wildfire, magnified by monstrous rumours. 
Alitet was in everyone's mouth, in the yarangs of the seal hunters, 
among the trappers, at meetings on the trail, in the depths of the tundra 
and wherever men came together in twos or threes.' 

*The Shamans said that the Russians were building strong wooden 
yarangs in order to catch and lock up the Chukchi in them'. 

"People dare not live now on the big rivers. The Russians would come 
down in the summer on their self-going whaleboats, and seize all the 
reindeer herds in order to do away with them. The reindeer men must 
not live in big encampments. They must break up into small camps of 
one or two yarangs, not more. The Russians want to destroy the herds/ 58 

CHUKOTKA DURING THE WAR : ECONOMIC EXPLOITATION 
ANJ> 'IDEOLOGICAL* CONCESSIONS 

The story of Syomushkin's book is carried further in the novel Swift- 
moving Reindeer by Nikolay Shundik. It describes life in Chukotka in 
the years of the war. The situation is then fundamentally different from 
that presented in Alitet goes to the Hills. The Soviet regime has already 
won the first round in the fight for Chukotka, the Soviet administration 
is firmly established, the collective farm system dominates and the young 
Chukchi are organized in the Komsomol. Many of them, it is true, do 
not know what the ^Communist Youth League* really stands for* but this 
does not matter as long as the Chukcha Komsomol members support the 
regime wholeheartedly and make their contribution to the development 
of local economy. The emphasis of Shundik's book is on this economic 
aspect The Russian officials who figure in his novel are of a quite 
different type from the Los and Zhukov of Syomushkin, They are no 

* Sfeundik's definition of the Komsomol as iwt into the mouth of a Chukcha girl is very 
simfiar to the definitions of political team in Alitet goes to the Hills; The Komsomol is 
& very big fam3y of young lads and gais. These lads and girls are honest and strong. 
They do o<ae big job that is necessary to aH, namely, to buiH life anew. The Komsomoltsy 
do aot fear anything, neither an enemy, nor heavy wc^ nor sjw>wstorm, not even death'.** 

94 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

longer interested in indoctrinating the Chukchi and explaining to them 
the essence of communism and the working of Soviet power, they do not 
even talk about Lenin and Stalin. Their primary objective is to make the 
Chukchi work harder and to extract from them greater material 
contributions, particularly in the form of fur supplies. 

The Russian officials and their Chukcha collaborators need all their 
ingenuity to increase the trapping of fur animals. Although the hunters 
are working under great strain, day and night, they must raise their 
targets further - under the pretext that the front expects more. To achieve 
this every collective farmer must look after a larger number of fox-traps. 
Women, too, are enrolled into the 'fox-hunting brigades'. One Russian 
administrator even has the idea of forcing reindeer-breeders to give up 
their herds and devote themselves entirely to hunting. This scheme is 
tried out but it does not work. It puts an unfair burden on the remaining 
shepherds and provokes profound dissatisfaction among the Chukchi 
who for generations have been used to combining fox trapping with 
reindeer-breeding. As a result less furs are provided than before. The 
man responsible for this failure, Karaulin, the head of the economic 
department of a Communist Party District Committee in Chukotka, is 
dismissed. He had been highly unpopular with the local population and 
it is interesting that this final removal occurs over an economic problem 
and not because of the high-handed way in which he had for several 
years been treating the Chukchi. One of his 'exploits' was the confisca- 
tion of a number of charms and idols belonging to an old Chukcha. Such 
arbitrary actions against helpless natives must have frequently happened 
in the past, both in Chukotka and in other native territories of the Far 
North and Far East. Nobody took exception to them in 1935 or 1938 
but in the new situation that existed during the Second World War 
confiscation of idols became a left-wing distortion*. 

Far away, in Moscow, Stalin gives the example. He has revised the 
official policy towards religion and concluded an armistice with the 
Orthodox Church. The Party secretary in Chukotka thinks that some- 
how he must adapt this new line to the conditions peculiar to North- 
Eastera Siberia. So he disowns his too zealous subordinate, Karaulin. 
The confiscated idols and charms are neatly wrapped up and bundled 
and restored to the owner who, incidentally, is a first-class and generally 
respected reindeer-breeder the regime can ill afford to antagonize. 

CHUKOTKA AND THE *COLD WAR* 

The situation of Chukotka in 1945, as depicted in Shundifc's novel is 
still not quite satisfactory from the Soviet point of view. The author 
introduces us to such *hostile elements' as a reindeer-breeder who stIH 
refuses to join the kolkhoz, a kulak who, though foraally a kolfctoz 

95 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

member, continues to be harmful and treacherous, and even an alleged 
American spy who for a certain period successfully poses as an official 
of a Soviet trading post. What is even more remarkable is the survival 
in Chukotka of 'devilish superstitions* but about this point at least a 
more official testimony is available than Shundik's book. *In the minds 
of the Chukotka peoples*, says Pravda of July 2nd, 1947, 'the old times 
are still surviving/ "The Party organization*, the newspaper adds, 
*must carry out a tremendous cultural and educational work among the 
local population. Books are needed in the languages of the Chukchi 
and the Eskimos* to expose the prejudices of the past.' 

The main handicap to communist activity in Chukotka has always 
been the fact that the country is ruled from Khabarovsk, which is as 
far away from Uelen, the settlement of the Chukchi on the Bering 
Strait, as Murmansk is from Tiflis. The communist leadership of 
Khabarovsk has found it extremely difficult, for obvious geographical 
reasons, to become interested in the special economic problems of the 
Chukchi, and in their cultural and economic needs. When the Party 
secretary of the distant National Area went to Khabarovsk in 1947, he 
had more than one reason for complaint. His most urgent grievances 
were the following: none of the Khabarovsk communist leaders ever 
visited Chukotka; the Khabarovsk paper The Pacific Star (Tikhookean- 
skaya Zvezda) rarely reported on events in the territory; no literature 
on Chukotka was published by the Regional Publishing House, Dalgiz; 
and the Khabarovsk trade organization, Severotorg, did not supply the 
goods badly needed by the population, such as tea, tobacco and petrol 
stoves. The publication of the article in Pravda coincided, quite accident- 
ally, with the beginning of the *cold war', and it constituted a turning 
point in the official Soviet attitude towards the Chukotka problem. Once 
again events in Alaska had a bearing on the situation in Chukotka. 
In view of the importance which Alaska acquired in the defence system 
of the Western hemisphere, the Soviet authorities paid increased 

* Tbe 'Rossian or Asiatic Eskimos' live in the coastal areas of the Chukot peninsula. 
Tfee part of the Qmkcha National Area which they inhabit, and which also comprises 
Wraaget jsiaad and the island Kg Dtomede, forms a special Chukcha-Eskimo 
National Dtstnet of 150,000 square miles. It includes about one-sixth of the National 
Aim. The Soviet regime has attached considerable importance to 'its' Eskimos in view 
ofto large somber of their kinsmen living in North America. The first expression of a 
Soviet Eskimo pofacy* was tbe organization in 1929 of an 'Eskimo Congress of Soviets*. 
Tlie Soviet Government has also published pamphlets in Eskimo on basic political topics, 
as weH as on reindeer-breeding, and an experiment was made with an Eskimo wall news^ 
paper. 

ixS 1 -^ 7 *** ? ovict autlK)nties texte* that the Eskimo language hitherto in use in the 
U-S.S,R, was based on a 'wrong alphabet*, and a 'wrong spelling' The Minister of 
l^f ^ ?2 R ' S - F - S - R - ***** Kalashnifcov, issued adecree by which the existing 
s&rax> alphabet was changed, and a more phonetic system of spelling adopted The 
changes made it necessary to rewrite the existing Soviet literature in thTSkimo language 

teSS^SZ^ 

to be introduced by tbe Soviet regime within less than twenty years. 

96 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

attention to Alaska's neighbour, the National Area of the Chukchi. 
Educational activities, for instance, were greatly extended. At the 
beginning of 1950 there were as many as 76 schools in the National 
Area, with more than 3,000 pupils. 61 * 

Hand in hand with the development of schools for the children of 
Chukotka has gone the increase of propaganda activities among the 
adults. The Party secretary of the National Area stated, in May 1952, 
that Chukotka had as many as 350 'agitators', who had been recruited 
from among the Chukchi, Eskimos, and other 'natives'. Some of these 
locally recruited agitators were trained in the Territorial Party School 
in Khabarovsk. Others were indoctrinated in Party schools working in 
the National Area itself. In 1951-52 alone, 900 Party and Komsomol 
members of Chukotka, including both natives and Russians, studied the 
'classics of Marxism-Leninism*, and the 'Short History of the All-Union 
Communist Party'.* 2 

All this indoctrination work among the Chukchi is concentrated in 
the hands of a Russian Party secretary, who shares his political power 
with the native Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Chukcha 
National Area. The division is very unequal, for the Party secretary 
has the powers of the governor of a colony, and the Chairman of the 
Executive Committee is only a figurehead and a spokesman of native 
interests. A man called Kukai was chairman just before the wan 
During the war the job was filled by a graduate of the Leningrad 
Institute of the Peoples of the North, Otke. He has frequently been 
mentioned and quoted in the Soviet Press, and there is no other native 
of the Soviet Far East and Far North who has come into such promin- 
ence. Not only does he serve as an example of how the Chukcha people 
have advanced under the Soviet regime, but he is also used for anti- 
American propaganda purposes. As a small boy, so his official biography 
says, Otke was offended by an American merchant, who poured the 
contents of a whole bag of duck feathers over him. Otke never forgot 
this episode. Apart from telling the story of the duck feathers, he is 
credited with making more profound political statements, such as the 
following: 'From Chukotka to Moscow there are 15,000 kilometres, 
and to Washington the distance is naturally considerably less. But there 
are different kinds of distance. There is a very great distance between the 
thoughts and feelings of people working in Chukotka and the intentions 
of the people in Washington. In this respect there is no distance what- 
ever between Chukotka and Moscow.' 



* The record of the Canadian Government in providing education for the 
Indians is at least as good as that of the Soviet government in Chukotka. In 1949, out of 
the 135,000 Canadian Indians, 23,285 were attending school, that is to say more than one 
out of six. By comparison the school population in Chukotka is roughly the same, granted 
that the National Area has about 18,000 inhabitants, which is a very low estimate. The 
figure includes not only Chukchi- and other natives, but also the Russian colonists, 

97 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 



IMMIGRATION OF RUSSIANS AND RESETTLEMENT OF CHUKCHI 

It is impossible to say what is the numerical proportion of Russians to 
natives in Chukotka. It is a fair assumption, however, that the Russian 
element has greatly consolidated its position after the end of the Second 
World War, when something approaching a mass immigration seems to 
have taken place for the first time. Before the war the Soviet Government 
had mapped out a big colonization plan for Chukotka, the population 
of whkh was supposed to increase to 30,000 by 1938, the end of the 
Second Five- Year Plan. Luckily for the Chukchi, but very much to the 
detriment of Russia's strategic interests, this plan failed to materialize. 
Chukotka's population remained stationary, at about 15,000. A sub- 
stantial increase of the Russian immigrants after the war may be assumed 
from the fact that, in 1951, as many as 31 per cent of all deputies of 
local District and Area Soviets of Chukotka were officially classified 
as not belonging to the northern peoples. 63 In other words, they were 
Russian and European colonists and officials. If the council seats were 
distributed in accordance with the proportionate strength of the 
nationalities inhabiting Chukotka, an inference which cannot be made 
with absolute certainty, then almost one third of its population must 
have been European immigrants. This must be compared to the situation 
around 1930, when only 3 - 8 per cent of the population of the National 
Area consisted of non-natives. 76-3 per cent were Chukchi, and almost 
20 per cent were Eskimos and other aborigines. 64 

Apart from Russian immigration, the National Area was the scene 
of yet another important development after the Second World War - the 
liquidation of nomadism. The complete triumph of the Soviet system in 
the Far North will be possible only when the entire population becomes 
sedeatary, and within easy reach of the Communist Party and State 
organs. This is why active measures have been taken to settle the 
nomads in the various National Areas of the Soviet Arctic. The task 
has beeaa a difficult one. It has required considerable financial invest- 
ments, and a great deal of work on the part of the Soviet authorities. 65 
la 1947 Chukotka's first nomadic collective farm engaged in reindeer 
breeding decided (according to an official statement) *to settle down 
completely, and for good*. 06 In the middle of 1952 it was stated that 
a 'mass resetttetoent' took place, whereby the Chukchi were moved from 
their yarangs into 'comfortable houses*. This meant a greater concentra- 
tion of the Chukchi in a number of larger collective farm settlements, 
probably for many of those concerned a rather painful operation. 67 

Both the immigration of Russians and the resettlement of the Chukchi 
have set civilization in Chukotka on a higher leveL On the other hand, 
these two meosmes are bound to pave the way to the extinction of the 

98 



THE ABORIGINES OF THE SOVIET FAR EAST 

Chukchi as a separate national group. Accordingly, the forecast of the 
great Russian anthropologist Professor Bogoraz-Tan with regard to the 
Chukchi seems to be coming true: 'If civilization comes too near, the 
Chukchi will probably follow the way of other primitive peoples, and 
will die out and disappear.' 68 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES TO CHAPTER III 

1. Zhizn Natsfonalnostei, January 10th, 1922. 

2. Pravda, August 30th, 1938. 

3. VYSHINSKY, Sudebnye Rechi, Speeches in Court, Moscow 1948, p. 225. 

4. Pravda, September 12th, 1939. 

5. M. A. SERGEEV, Koryaksky Natsionalny Okrug - The Koryak National 
Area, Leningrad 1934, p. 113. A. SKACHKO, Narody Krainego Severa i 
Rekonstruktsiya Severnogo Khozyaistva - The Peoples of the Far North 
and the Reconstruction of Northern Economy, Leningrad 1934, p. 86. 

6. E. BERZIN, Golden Kolyma, Pravda, November llth, 1936. 

7. ELINOR LIPPER, Eleven Years in Soviet Prison Camps, London 1951, p. 121. 

8. Statement by M. L. GOLUBOVICH at the Trial of the Soviet Concentration 
Camp Regime' in Brussels, La Belgique JJbre 9 May 23rd, 1951. 

9. VLADIMIR PETROV, // Happens in Russia, Seven years forced labour in the 
Siberian goldfields, London 1951, p. 260. 

10. Kultura i Zhizn, April llth, 1950. 

11. Pravda, July 2nd, 1947. 

12. M. A. SERGEEV, Narodnoe Khozyaistvo Kamchatskogo Kraya> The National 
Economy of the Kamchatka Territory, Moscow-Leningrad 1936, pp. 409- 
10. 

13. Small Soviet Encyclopedia* second edition, vol. 7, 1938, p. 703, 

14. P. S. ZHIGUNOV and K A. TERENTEV, Sevemoe Olenevodstvo, Reindeer- 
breeding in the North, Moscow 1948, quoted from Polar Record, vol. 6, 
Nr 41, January 1951, p. 109. 

15. Sovetsky Taimyr, September 19th, 1950, quoted from Voprosy Istoru* 
Nr 2, 1953, pp. 41-2. See also a Toss report of August 16th, 1953. 

16. Uchitetekaya Gazeta, October 13th, 1951. 

17. RICHARD FINNIE, Canada moves North, The MacmiHan Company, New 
York, 1942, p. 78. 

18. Dalnevostochnoe Obshchestvo Kraevedeniya (Etnograficheskaya Sektsiya), 
Yediny Seventy Alfavit - Far Eastern Regional Research Society 
(Ethnographical Section), l^e Unified Northern Alphabet, Khabarovsk 
1930, p. 6. 

19. Voprosy Istorii, Nr 2, 1953, p, 45. 

99 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES TO CHAPTER III 

20. Uchitekkaya Gazeta, June 30th, 1951. 

21. Pravda, June 2nd, 1952. 

22. Pravda, June 2nd, 1952. 

23. A. V. OBSUREV, Obshchii Ocherk Anadyrskogo Okruga - General Outline 
of the Anadyr District, St. Petersburg 1896, p. 117: 1. W. SHKLOVSKY, In 
Far North-East Siberia^ London 1916, p. 248 See also WILLIAM HOWELLS, 
The Heathens^ Primitive Man and his Religions, London 1949, p. 126. 

24. PROF. B. E. PETRI, Staraya Vera Bwyatskogo Naroda - The Old Faith of 
the Buryat People, Irkutsk 1928, pp. 52-3. 

25. SYOMUSHKIN, Ahtet Uhhodit v Gory - Alitet goes to the Hills, Moscow 
194S, pp. 259-61. 

26. Zvezda, Nr 6, June 1950, p. 49. 

27. L KOSOKOV, K Voprosu o Shamanstve v Severnoy Azii - On the question 
of Shamanism in Northern Asia, Moscow 1930, p. 70. 

28. OLESHCHUK, Borba Tserkvi protiv Naroda - The Fight of the Church 
against the People, Moscow 1939, p. 104. 

29. SYOMUSHKIN, Children of the Soviet Arctic, London 1944, p. 221. 

30. L M. Susksv, Shamanstvo i Borba s mm - Shamanism and the Fight against 
it, Moscow 1931, pp. 143-5. 

31. KOSOKOV, op. cit, p. 71. 

32. OUESHCHUK, op. cit., p. 70. 

33. AZHAEV, Far from Moscow, Soviet Literature, Nr 10, 1949, p. 37. 

34. Zvezda, April 1950, pp. 263-4. 

35. Skazki Narodov Severa - Tales of the Peoples of the North, Moscow- 
Leaingrad 1951, pp. 358-9. 

36. WLADMR ARSENFEW, Russen und Chinesen in Ostsibirien, Berlin 1926, 
p. 79. 

37. A- DEMENIEV, E. NAIBIOV, L. PLOTION, Russkaya SovetskayaUteratura - 
Russian Soviet literature, Leaiingrad-Moscow 1951, p. 372. 

38. Izvestiya, April 12th, 1952. 

39. Antiretigtoznik, November llth, 1931, p. 26. 

40. Sovetslcy Sever, Nr 4, 1934, p. 45. 

41. Za btdustriolizfftsiyu Sovetskogo Vostoka, Nr 2, 1933, p. 188. 

42. M. A. SER<^EV, Sovetskte Ostrova Tikhogo Okeana- The Soviet Islands 
of the Pacific, Leoingrad 1938, pp. 70-8 and 135-8. 

43. Soviet Monitor, November llth, 1949. 

44. 1. VINOKUROV and F. FLORIN, Podvig AdrmraJa Nevelskogo - The Feat of 
Admiral Nevelskoy, Moscow 1951, pp. 127-8. 

45. R ZADORNOV, Ddyoky gray, Distant Country, Leningrad 1950, p. 375. 

46, MARTEN SCHWIND, Die Gestaltung Karqfutos im Japantechen Raum 
Go&a 1942, pp. 66-7. 

100 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES TO CHAPTER III 

47. Soviet News, December llth, 1945. 

48. Soviet Monitor, April 8th, 1947. 

49. Geografiya v Shkole Nr 3, 1947, pp. 16-17. 

50. Sovetsky Sever Nr 3, 1933, p. 60. 

51. M. A. SERGEEV, Koryaksky Natsionatny Okrug -The Koryak National 
Area, Leningrad 1934, p. 129. 

52. A. P. SILNTTSKY, Poyezdka v Kamchatka i na Reku Anadyr - Journey to 
Kamchatka and the Anadyr River, Khabarovsk 1897, p. 77. 

53. Izvestiya, Imperatorskago Geograficheskago Obshchestva, St. Petersburg 
1888, vol. xxiv, pp. 180-7. 

54. Izvestiya Imperatorskago Russkago Geograficheskago Obshchestva, St. 
Petersburg 1909, vol. xiv, p. 516. 

55. Ogonyok, Nr 2, January 1952, pp. 15-16. MELCHIN, Amerikanskaya 
Interventsiya na Sovetskom Dalnom Vostoke - American Intervention in 
the Soviet Far East, Moscow 1951, p. 9. 

56. Military Review, vol. 32, Nr 6, September 1952, p. 11. 

57. GEORGE BINNEY, The Eskimo Book of Knowledge, Hudson's Bay 
Company, London 1931, pp. 38-40. 

58. SYOMUSHKTN, Alitet Ukhodit v Gory - Alitet goes to the Hills, Moscow 
1948, pp. 501-2. 

59. NIKOLAY SHUNDIK, Bystronogy Olen - Swift-moving Reindeer, Oktyabr, 
Nr 10, October 1952, p. 52. 

60. Soviet Monitor, February 7th, 1947. 

61. Soviet Monitor, February 27th, 1950. 

62. Pravda, May 6th, 1952. 

63. Stbirskie Ogni, Nr 3, May-June 1951, pp. 116-22. 

64. M. A. SERGEEV, Kamchatsky Kray-Tbe Territory of Kamchatka, Moscow 
1934, p. 31. 

65. Uchitelskaya Gazeta, October 10th, 1951. 

66. Soviet News, August 26th, 1947. 

67. Pravda, May 6th, 1952. 

68. BOGORAZ-TAN, Chukchi, Leningrad, 1934, p. 78. 



IV 

RUSSIANS AND YAKUTS 

MULTI-NATIONAL YAKUTIA 

Yakutia covers 14 per cent of the entire surface of the U.S.S.R. It is 
not only the largest of the sixteen autonomous Republics, but also the 
largest single territorial unit of the whole of the Soviet Union. It is 
approximately equal in size to the Republic of India. 

This vast territory of Yakutia, or the Yakut A.S.S.R., was inhabited 
by 288,000 people in 1926, and by 400,000 in 1939. No recent data as to 
the racial composition of Yakutia are available, but in 1926 the Yakuts 
constituted 82 -3 per cent of the entire population, the Evenki and Eveni 
4 -08 per cent and the Russians 10 -43 per cent The rest were Chukchi, 
Yvkagirs, Chinese and Koreans. 

The Evenki and Eveni of Yakutia, though numerically and politically 
unimportant, live scattered over a large part of the country. In the early 
years of the Soviet regime, little attention was paid to these minority 
groups- Theturningpointcamein 1930and 1931, when 'National Districts* 
were formed for their benefit Five 'National Districts* were set up for 
the Evenki. They covered almost one-third of the whole Republic, and 
stretched from the western borders of Yakutia to the eastern bank of 
the Lena river. Nine more 'National Districts' were founded in eastern 
and northern Yakutia for the Eveni. A fifteenth mixed 'National District' 
was created in the north-eastern border area of Yakutia for Eveni, 
Chukchi and Yukagirs. The Yukagirs are a paleoasiatic people who, 
in the seventeenth century, occupied almost the entire north of Yakutia. 
The northward-pushing Yaki|ts decimated them, and compressed them 
into a narrow area. 

In relation to the minor nationalities of Yakutia, the Yakuts have as 
a rule played the role of a master race. Even under the Soviet regime 
they have continued to exercise political control over the other nation- 
alities. In 1933, ten of the fifteen 'National Districts' were administered 
by Yakut district council chairmen. This shows that the Yakuts occupy 
a special position among the non-Russian peoples of Siberia, and that 
they have to be considered apart from the small nationalities of the 
North and the Fa? East They differ from them in their numerical 
strength and in the higher degree of their social and cultural develop- 

102 



RUSSIANS AND YAKUTS 

ment. From the point of view of the Communist Party they present 
an incomparably greater problem than do such peoples as the Chukchi, 
Nanai and Nivkfai. Belonging to the big family of Turkic peoples, the 
Yakuts had a fairly developed national consciousness before the 
October Revolution. Unlike many other small nationalities in the Far 
East, they do not owe the beginnings of a national culture to the Soviet 
regime. 

THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: FROM 1630 TO 1924 

The Yakuts have been under some form of Russian rule since about 
1630. Russian officials collected *yasak* in Yakutia, but otherwise they 
left the country alone. Catherine the Second established Russian domina- 
tion in a more formal way, but Yakuts enjoyed far-reaching autonomy, 
even under and after Catherine. Their tribal organization, headed by 
the Toyony*, the Yakut princelings, remained untouched, although the 
Russian Government had to confirm them in their dignity. Right to the 
end of the nineteenth century, Russia practised, in many ways, a policy 
of non-intervention in Yakutia in both a good and a bad sense. She did 
not interfere a great deal with local customs, but she also made no 
efforts to raise the level of civilization. There was no Russian cultural 
activity worth mentioning in Yakutia. No attempt at russification was 
made in practice, although theoretically it was the aim of the Czarist 
regime. Russian colonization was on a very small scale. Many of the 
Russian colonists who settled in Yakutia spoke Yakut, some to the 
extent of forgetting their own tongue. 

Nevertheless, the fact remained that the Yakuts were a conquered 
people, and the Russians the conquerors. At the beginning of the 
twentieth century the Yakuts became aware of this. Their national 
consciousness awoke. Yakut newspapers and books were published, 
and in January 1906 a nationalist organization, the 'Yakut Union* 
(Soyuz Yakutov) came into existence. The 'Yakut Union' demanded 
that all land in Yakutia alienated by the State, monasteries, and 
Russian political exiles should be handed back to the Yakut people. 
It also urged that Yakuts be appointed to local police posts. The Czarist 
authorities, in an attempt to subdue the nationalist Yakut agitation, 
arrested the leaders of the 'Yakut Union', an action which only encour- 
aged further Yakut nationalism. The 'Yakut Union* was a genuine 
home-grown Yakut movement, entirely unconnected with Russian 
revolutionary forces. The Bolsheviks, in particular, failed to take up 
any links with the Yakut nationalists, and even denounced their 
organization as the instrument of a 'clique of kulaks and tribal 
aristocrats*. 1 

From its own standpoint the Bolshevik Party continued to handle 

100 



RUSSIANS AND YAKUTS 

the Yakut problem badly, even after the October Revolution. The first 
Bolshevik officials who were posted to Yakutia behaved in a tactless 
and clumsy way, and the Party failed, therefore, to enlist any support 
from the Yakut people. Stalin's own mouthpiece, Zhizn Natsionalnostei, 
openly admitted this failure. The paper wrote, 'The Soviet Government 
conducted an incorrect policy with regard to this territory (Yakutia) 
in 1918. It did not take into account its special climatic and living 
conditions . . , The Soviet Government did not pay attention to the 
psychology of the native, particularly to his distrust of the Russian, 
which was rooted in history. As a result of this mistake, the natives did 
not understand the nature of Soviet power. They considered it with 
distrust like everything Russian, and the broad masses kept completely 
aloof from the efforts to build up the Soviet State*. 2 

The absence of any collaboration between the Bolsheviks and even 
a section of the Yakut people accounted very largely for the fact that 
civil war in Yakutia dragged on longer than in many other parts of the 
Soviet Union. As late as September 1922, almost five years after the 
October Revolution, the 'Whites* recaptured from the 'Reds' the locality 
of Verkhoyansk in the Yakut Far North. Even this was not the end of 
the civil war, for in the winter of 1922-23 General Pepelayev launched 
a new counter-revolutionary movement in Yakutia. He was finally 
routed in the summer of 1923, and executed in January 1924. 

THE GOLD REPUBLIC 

Hie Yakut Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was founded in 
October 1922. It was roughly identical with the Yakut Province as it 
existed under the Czars. As a political entity, the Yakut Republic has 
remained very largely a constitutional fiction, not only because Soviet 
'autonomy* in general has very little in common with real autonomy, 
but also for quite specific local reasons. The vastness of Yakutia and the 
scarceness of communications make it difficult to rule the country effect- 
ively from one centre. It is true that the establishment of numerous 
airlines has greatly improved the situation, and has made government 
much easier. Nevertheless, for the bringing up of supplies, civil 
aviation is of little help, and since there are no railways in the 
Yakut A.S.S.R., river and road transport have still to do the bulk of the 
work. Both forms of transport in Yaiutia have to overcome great 
difficulties. River navigation means primarily navigation on the river 
Lena and its tributaries, and the navigation period on the Lena is 
shorter than on most other Siberian rivers. It lasts not more than 1 35 days 
on the sector Vltim-Yakutsk, and even less on the sector stretching from 
Yakutsk to the Arctic Ocean. As to roads, a great many are impassable 
m the summer months, since they are covered with mud. In 1 93 7, out of 

104 



RUSSIANS AND YAKUTS 

the 35 districts of Yakutia, only four had communications with the 
capital, Yakutsk, all the year round, fourteen districts during ten months, 
eight during eight months, and the remaining nine only duringsix to seven 
months. Although the situation is bound to have improved considerably 
since 1937, the problem of communications is still a very acute one for 
the Yakut A.S.S.R. 

Practice has shown that it cannot be solved centrally from Yakutsk, 
but only by an economic decentralization of the Republic. This is 
exactly what has happened. The northern part of Yakutia is no longer 
dependent on Yakutsk and the southern districts of the country for 
supplies, but gravitates towards the Arctic sea-port, Tiksi, which owes 
its existence to the Chief Administration of the Northern Sea Route 
(Glavsevmorput), and is one of its principal bases. Glavsevmorput has 
organized supplies to the northern Yakut districts from Murmansk, 
instead of via Irkutsk and Yakutsk. 

In the south-eastern corner of the country, too, an entire district has 
gone its own way - the gold-mining region on the upper reaches of the 
Aldan river. Economically, and from the point of view of its communica- 
tions, the Aldan region is now at least as closely connected with the 
Khabarovsk Territory as with the Yakut A.S.S.R. The development of 
the Aldan region into one of the most important gold-producing areas 
of the country has greatly altered the economic and social structure of 
the Yakut A.S.S.R., and has also affected its ethnographic physiognomy. 
Gold deposits on the Aldan river were discovered near a small place 
which was then still called 'Nezametnoye' - *the Unobtrusive'- The dis- 
covery led to a gold rush. All sorts of adventurers went to the previously 
almost uninhabited area. In one year, between 1924 and 1925, the pop- 
ulation of the area jumped from 1,200 to 13,000. The newcomers 
included, apart from Russians, people of many other nationalities, 
particularly Chinese and Koreans. This 'private initiative' soon came to 
an end. The Government brought order into the Aldan gold-mining 
business. A powerful State trust, * Yakutzoloto*, was established. It not 
only organized and greatly increased gold production, but also 
developed trade, improved housing, and provided cultural facilities in 
the area. Besides, Yakutzoloto owned the largest lorry park in the whole 
country. 

The name of the gold centre, The Unobtrusive*, was no longer 
appropriate for a place which produced such vast wealth. In April 1939 
it was therefore changed into 'Aldan*. Although the Russians are a 
minority in Yakutia, they constitute the majority of the population in 
the Aldan area. The Russian town of Aldan, the headquarters of 
Yakutzoloto, is more and more overshadowing the capital Yakutsk, 
which is 'only* the headquarters of the Government 

Yakutzoloto is not the only big State capitalist enterprise whose wide 

105 



RUSSIANS AND YAKUTS 

powers make Yakut autonomy an illusion. There are others in charge 
of gold, timber, fishing, and the fur trade, and there are, above all, the 
powerful organizations which look after navigation in the Lena basin. 
The latter operate in complete independence of the Government in 
Yakutsk, which does not own a single one of the ships which link one 
Yakut locality with another.* The navigation is in the hands of three 
enterprises; one is the 'Lengospar* which belongs to the Ministry for 
Water Transport in Moscow; the second is 'Lenzolotoflof which is run 
by the State trust exploiting the Lena goldfields, and the third is the 
Chief Administration of the Northern Sea Route. 

The development of goldmining and transport under the Soviet 
regime created a small native proletariat. By 1936 there were 1,845 
Yakut miners and industrial workers. They constituted only 4*19 per 
cent of the entire working class in the country, whilst the Russians sup- 
plied the bulk of it (70 per cent), and Koreans and Chinese a very 
substantial minority (15 per cent). 3 

Russian colonization in Yakutia is expanding, not only in the Aldan 
area, but also in Central Yakutia, where it is spreading out in the 
valley of the Vilyuy, a tributary of the Lena river, particularly in connec- 
tion with the development of coal mines. 4 Northern Yakutia, too, has 
become more attractive for Russian colonists through the work of 
Glavsevmorput It has old Russian settlements such as Ust Yansk, 
Russkoye Ustye, and Nizhne-Kolymsk, which are situated at the mouth 
of the rivers Yana, Indigirka and Kolyma respectively. With the develop- 
ment of Arctic and river navigation, these places have become more 
important. Other ports have been founded as well, and Russians are 
needed to keep them going. 

YAKUT NATIONALISM 

Today Yakutia has a new aristocracy, the managers of the gold trusts 
and transport undertakings, and the Stakhanovites of the gold mines 
and power stations, and of the new tanning and leather goods factories. 

* Although all matters concerning mining, heavy industry and river transport are excluded 
from the competence of the Yakut Government the latter is, nevertheless, an exorbitantly 
large bureaucratic body considering the smallness of the population of the country. 
According to article 42 of the Constitution of Yakutia the Council of Ministers consisted 
until 1953 of a prime minister, several deputy pnme ministers, the chairman of the planning 
commission, 13 ministers in charge of internal affairs, State security, health protection, 
municipal economy, timber industry, local industry, food industry, education, social 
welfare, trade, finance and justice and seven heads of 'administrative boards* The latter 
were in charge of highways, cinemas, automobile transport, local fuel industry, industry of 
building matena!, cultural and educational institutions and matters concerning the arts. 
The whole Council of Ministers had at least 25 members, which is more than most govern- 
ments of Western Europe. The same ministries and 'administrative boards' existed in all 
Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics irrespective of the size of their population. In 1953 
the number of ministers was slightly reduced. 

105 



RUSSIANS AND YAKUTS 

Most, but not all, of the members of the new upper-class are Russians. 
To put the new aristocracy firmly into the saddle, the old one, which 
was Yakut, had to be destroyed, and so had its ideological foundations, 
Yakut 'bourgeois nationalism'. 

Until 1928, the Soviet authorities of Yakutia were rather liberal. 
They tolerated even a Yakut cultural organization, 'Sakha Omuk' (The 
Yakut People), which was founded in 1921; and a nationalist literary 
journal, Cholbon (The Morning Star). In its first issue the journal 
stated that it would deal with Yakut themes to the exclusion of every- 
thing else. The editors of Cholbon, Leontev and Sofronov, meant what 
they said. In the middle of the 'twenties' they still had the courage to 
refuse the publication of a poem carrying the title 'Lenin is alive*. The 
Soviet authorities had to reconcile themselves to the fact that out of the 
five or six Yakut writers known in the years 1922 to 1925, only one 
could be described as 'proletarian*. All the others were 'nationalists'. 
The most important of the latter was the poet and ethnographer, 
Kulakovsky. 

The essence of Kulakovsky's political philosophy is contained in a 
poem, 'The Dream of the Shaman'. Speaking through the medium of a 
Shaman, Kulakovsky warned his people that the 'new-comers', the 
Bolsheviks, would bring doom to the Yakuts, and would make slaves of 
them. Only by acquiring modern science and technique could they survive 
the struggle for their existence. Kulakovsky was an enemy of distinction, 
who commanded a great deal of respect from his communist opponents. 
The journal Revolyutsioiwy Vostok, that ardent advocate for the Soviet- 
ization of the East, had to admit that Kulakovsky hated the Russians 
with the sophisticated hatred of an intellectual, and not with that of a 
petty bourgeois. 5 

Politically more important was the writer Altan Saryn, who preached 
pan-Turkism among the Yakuts. He advocated the purge of Russian 
expressions from the Yakut language, and their replacement by terms 
borrowed from other Turkic languages. No wonder that Saryn soon 
became the principal antagonist of Bolshevism in Yakutia. His con- 
ception of Yakut culture ('Sarynovshchina*), was branded as the ideology 
of the tribal aristocracy. 

In 1928, the Central Committee of the AE-Union Communist Party 
intervened, and imposed on Yakutia the same irreconcilable Bolshevik 
attitude towards nationalism as was adopted all over the U.S.S.R. The 
local party leaders of Yakutia, the members of the 'Provincial Com- 
mittee' (*Obkom*) were deposed. In a stiff statement dated August 8th, 
1928, the Central Committee enumerated the political mistakes which 
the Yakut communists had up to then committed, their alleged friend- 
liness towards kulaks and *toyony*, their support for nationalist intellec- 
tuals who had been gi^ea important posts, and their neglect of the 

107 



RUSSIANS AND YAKUTS 

small nationalities of Yakutia. 

The new men who took over, following the Central Committee 
statement, set about their task energetically. They expelled from the 
territory of the Yakut A.S.S.R. those whom they considered the 'most 
fanatical representatives* of the Yakut national intelligentsia. They 
disbanded the 'Sakha Omuk* organization, and reorganized the journal, 
Cholbon. On the economic front, collectivization was carried out in the 
face of considerable resistance and sabotage. 

The final act of this large-scale offensive which the Soviet Government 
conducted against its enemies in Yakutia took place thousands of 
miles away from the Lena River along another important waterway 
of the U.S.S.R., the Baltic-White Sea Canal. Among the workers build- 
ing that canal there was a considerable number of Yakut deportees. 
They were kept apart from the Russian convicts employed on the con- 
struction site, and, together with a large number of other Asiatics, 
formed special 'National Minority Brigades*. They were also billeted in 
special 'National Minority Barracks', the sanitary conditions of which 
were *beneath criticism', even according to the Soviet standard book on 
the canaL* This book, to which a large number of eminent Soviet 
writers contributed, gives a rather contradictory evaluation of the work 
performed by national minorities, of which only Yakuts, Uzbeks, 
Tadzhiks and Bashkirs are expressly mentioned. First they are branded 
with unparalleled idleness, and later they are praised for performing the 
most herculean tasks. In one case the 'national minority heroes* are said 
to have worked 38 hours without a stop, and in another case of emergency 
even as many as 50 hours. 

But whether the Yakuts and the other members of the so-called 'Canal 
Army* were idlers or record-breakers has little importance. What 
became known of life and work in the National Minority Barracks of 
the Baltic-White Sea Canal was bound to deter many would-be oppon- 
ents of the regime in the minority territories themselves, even as far 
away as Yakutia. Nevertheless, opposition by no means died down 
entirely, and the big purge of 1937 affected the Yakut A.S.S.R. as much 
as any other autonomous Republic. 

According to the official version, 'Japano-German spies, bukharinist- 
trotztyiie diversionists and bourgeois nationalists* were its victims. 
Such dements were discovered in all important State offices, in the 
Coanefl of People's Commissars, in the State Planning Commission, 
and ifi the ^office of the Yakut plenipotentiary of the Ministry of 
Supplies, which is responsible for the compulsory deliveries by farmers 
eattjebreeders and fishermen. 7 * 

Even the 1937 purge did not finally dispose of bourgeois nationalism. 
Nationalist tendencies made themselves felt once again during the Second 
Worfd War, when Soviet cultural policy for a moment seemed to be 



RUSSIANS AND YAKUTS 

inspired by greater magnanimity. Yakut communists used what appeared 
to be a new situation by reviving the memory of the two outstanding 
Yakut inteDectuals already mentioned, Kulakovsky and Sofronov. 
Despite their anti-Bolshevik bias, they were, so to speak, smuggled 
back into the intellectual patrimony of the Yakut people, and 
rehabilitated. 

THE BASHARIN INCIDENT 

In 1944 a Yakut historian, Georgy Prokopovich Basharin, published a 
book in Yakutsk which presented Kulakovsky, Sofronov, and another 
pioneer of Yakut literature, Neustroev, as progressive people who were 
spiritually related to such Russian revolutionary democrats as Belinsky 
and Chernyshevsky. Basharin gave a positive evaluation of the literary 
work of the three *enlighteners', as he called them, and considered their 
nationalist concept as a healthy reaction to the colonial oppression of 
Czarism. During several years it seemed as if this reinterpretation of 
Kulakovsky was officially accepted. For a long time no protest against 
Basharin's thesis came from higher quarters. In 1950 a rehabilitation of 
Kulakovsky was even incorporated in a book on Russian-Yakut 
relations, published by the Yakut branch of the Soviet Academy of 
Sciences. 

It was not until December 1951 that Moscow told the Yakut intel- 
ligentsia that they must drop the wrong appraisal of their literary 
heritage, and must revert to an attitude of Bolshevik intransigence. On 
December 10th, 1951 Pravda published an article, Tor a correct 
elucidation of Yakut literature*, which did not mean very much to the 
readers of the Bolshevik central organ in European Russia, but which 
was, from the Yakut point of view, a new landmark in Soviet cultural 
policy. The article was signed by three people who included the well- 
known Russian poet, Alexey Surkov, and the expert on Turkic literature 
in the Union of Soviet Writers, Lutsyan K. Klimovich. The three took 
Basharin heavily to task for his courageous book on the founders of 
Yakut literature. They charged him with justifying the bourgeois- 
nationalist views of Kulakovsky, with an uncritical attitude towards his 
'fantasies', and with hushing up his reactionary character. The whole 
thesis put forward by Basharin, so Pravda pointed out, was 'clearly 
erroneous and anti-Marxist*. 8 Not only was the Pravda article on Yakut 
literature one more example of how Moscow interferes with cultural 
life of the non-Russian nationalities, but it also acquired particular 
importance in view of the personality involved. By no stretch of imagmar 
tion could Basharin be described as a 'class enemy*. He was the son of 
a poor peasant, and spent his entire conscious life in the service of the 
Soviet regime. First, he was active in the Komsomol, and later in tlie 



RUSSIANS AND YAKUTS 

Party. Until the publication of the Pravda article of December 10th, 
1951, his life-story reflected only the positive sides of Soviet nationalities 
policy in Yakutia. Under the Czarist regime he would have become 
nothing more than a hunter in the Yakutian taiga, but under the Soviet 
regime he was able to study at first in one of the new Soviet village 
schools, * later in the Yakut Pedagogical Institute, and finally in Moscow. 
In 1943 he became 'Candidate of Historical Science', and in 1950 
'Doctor of Historical Science'. 9 There are hundreds of members of 
small nationalities who went a way similar to that of Basharin. They 
accumulated knowledge, acquired academic degrees, and became 
famous, not only in their homeland but also all over the Soviet Union. 
Then, suddenly, there came a point in their career when they felt the full 
oppressive weight of the communist totalitarian regime. This is exactly 
what happened in the case of Basharin. This Yakut communist had 
digressed from the official ideological line. Although belonging to a 
new Soviet generation, he had produced a work which was funda- 
mentally nationalistic in Soviet eyes. Such a strange phenomenon had 
to be denounced in Pravda. But whether such a denunciation can stifle 
the desire for independent thinking and research is a different matter. 

'SHORTCOMINGS* AND ACHIEVEMENTS OF YAKUT SOVIET 
LITERATURE 

The Pravda article was not written for the sole purpose of settling the 
'Basharin incident*. It also drew attention to *major errors and defects* 
in Yakutia's contemporary literary output. One of the offences of the 
Yakut writers consisted in *an uncritical utilisation of archaic images 
from ancient folklore to illuminate the Soviet reality of today'. This was 
a roundabout way of admitting that Yakut folklore was falsified in 
order to fall in with certain requirements of political propaganda. How 
this is done in practice was once explained by the Yakut writer, 
Kulachikov-EUyay. According to him, some poets simply took an old 
Yakut national song and made it topical by inserting the word 'kolkhoz* 
and the 'new names of heroes', 10 Such manipulations probably account, 
in part, for the large number of 'folksongs* in honour of Stalin and the 
Soviet regime in the languages of all Soviet nationalities. 

Both the Yakut Communist Party organization and the Union of 
Soviet Writers of Yakutia repeatedly dealt with the ideological short- 
comings of Yakut literature. A conference which the Writers* Union 

* In 1947 Yakutia had 580 schools in which over 61,000 children were educated. This 
included 141 seven-year schools, and 28 secondary schools. In the school year 1916-17 
there were only 173 schools with 4,460 children (Uchitelskaya Gazeta, June 28th, 1947). 
In 1952 almost two-fifths of the teachers employed in Yakutia's schools were Russians. 
{Vdatelskaya Gaxeta, June 28th, 1952). 

110 



RUSSIANS AND YAKUTS 

held in Yakutsk in 1948 denounced the uncritical attitude which some 
of the Yakut writers were said to have assumed towards the 'survivals 
of the past', by professing mysticism, inserting 'religious exorcism into 
their works and indulging in romantic adoration before the River Lena'. 

However much the Soviet regime persecuted ideological heresies 
among Yakut writers and poets, it is a fact that Yakut literature has 
made great progress, even if it is primarily a Soviet literature in the 
Yakut language. In the first 25 years of the Yakut A.S.S.R., 3,000 
different textbooks and other books were printed in the Yakut language, 
Yakut state publishing houses turned out many translations from the 
Russian classics, and a small number of translations from foreign 
authors. On the other hand, a large proportion of the books printed in 
Yakutia were worthless from a literary point of view because they 
consisted of communist propaganda material. The Yakut language is 
the only one among the languages of the smaller Soviet nationalities 
into which Stalin's 'Complete Works' are translated. As a rule they are 
published only in the languages of the Union Republics. 

The Soviet literature which is published in Yakut is written in a 
language which has become to no small degree russianized. This is 
not entirely the work of the Soviet regime. As many as 2,400 Russian 
words had penetrated into the Yakut language by the end of the nine- 
teenth century. 11 Under communist rule, it is true, the Russian language 
gained further ground. Today, every seventh word used in contemporary 
Yakut literature is a Russian one, quite apart from the influence of 
Russian on the syntax of Yakut. In Yakut newspapers, Russian words 
form 30 per cent of the vocabulary used. 

RUSSIAN CULTURAL SUPREMACY 

The gradual russification of the Yakut language is accompanied by 
the imposition and propagation of Russian cultural supremacy in the 
Yakut A.S.S.R. Russian cultural propaganda reached its culmination 
point in 1950, when the Yakut branch of the All-Union Academy of 
Sciences published an important work of scholarship, already mentioned. 
Its full title is The Progressive influence of the great Russian nation 
on the development of the Yakut people. It is interesting that, already, 
the title of this book expresses a discriminatory patronizing attitude 
towards the Yakuts. It not only calls the Russians 'great', but refers to 
them as 'nation' ('natsiya'), whilst the Yakuts are only a 'people' 
('narod'). The chapter headings are even more revealing. Here are some 
of them: 'The great Russian People - the elder brother of the Yakut 
People*; 'The positive results of Russian coionizatioE in connection 
with the accession of Yakutia to the Russian State'; 'Russian peasants 
as pioneers of agriculture among Yakuts'; 'The help of the Russian 



RUSSIANS AND YAKUTS 

People in the industrialization of Soviet Yakutia*; The leading role of 
the Russian People in the development of Yakutia's means of com- 
munications'; The progressive influence of the Russian People on the 
development of musical culture of the Yakut People.' 12 And so it goes 
on, until tribute is paid to the Russian contribution in every branch of 
economy and culture. The characteristic feature of the symposium is 
that its authors, mostly Yakuts and Russians living in Yakutia, gloss 
over the negative aspects of Czarist and Russian rule in general. Even 
the few miserable schools which the Czarist regime had established in 
Yakutia are hailed as a positive achievement, because the Russian 
language, and the 'progressive ideas of Russian pedagogical science', 
penetrated with their help to the Yakuts. The Soviet regime also takes 
the credit for the work of the orthodox missions in Yakutia, and a few 
missionaries, who were the first to create an alphabet for the Yakut 
language, are mentioned in the symposium. 

It is tempting to contrast the harmonious picture of Yakut-Russian 
relations contained in the work of the Yakut Branch of the Soviet 
Academy with statements which official Soviet organs had previously 
made on the same subject. This is what the organ of the People's 
Commissariat of Nationalities wrote in an article published on August 
13th, 1921: 'The Yakuts know the Russians as conquerors, as corrupt 
chinovniks, as merchants and exploiters, as exiled criminals who 
ridiculed all their best feelings and committed acts of violence, and as 
neighbouring peasants who oppressed them. Only the political exiles 
left a good memory.* 13 This statement probably went too far towards the 
other extreme, although it may be taken for granted that the Yakuts 
had not been very appreciative of the blessings of Russian rule in the 
past Yakut popular sayings, as collected by Soviet folklore experts, 
even betray a certain hostile scepticism towards the Russians. These 
include the following: *Am I a Tunguz nomad or a Russian passer-by 
that you do not believe me?'; or 'Even on Ms death-bed will a Russian 
stretch out his hand for the repayment of a debt* 14 

Despite everything, a great deal of what Soviet propagandists have 
said after the Second World War about the civilizing role of the Russians 
IE Yakutia is historically true, but no enlightened colonial power 
would make such play of the backwardness of a colonial people and 
force that people to admit it The symposium on the progressive Russian 
influence has a certain similarity with literature which the colonial 
government of the Belgian Congo publishes for the 'natives*. There one 
can read phrases such as, 'the Belgians, our civilizers, our benefactors*. 
It is difficult to find any similar exhibitions of enforced, undignified 
servility towards the European colonizers, either in British or in French 
West Africa. 



112 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES TO CHAPTER IV 

1. M. VETOSHKIN, Iz istorii bolshevistskikh organisatsii i revolyutsionriogo 
dvizheniya v Sibiri-From the history of the Bolshevik organizations and 
the revolutionary movement in Siberia, Moscow 1947, pp. 234-5. 

2. Zhizn Natsionalnostei, August 13th, 1921. 

3. Rewlyutsiya i Natsionalnosti, April 1936, p. 53. 

4. Izvestiya, July 16th, 1948. 

5. Revolyutsionny Vostok, Nr 27, 1934, p. 205-7. 

6. The White Sea Canal, English edition prepared from the Russian version 
and edited, with special introduction, by Anabel Williams-Ellis, London 
1935, p. 144. 

7. KOLESOV and POTAPOV, Sovetskaya Yakutiya - Soviet Yakutia, Moscow 
1937, p. 13, p. 338. 

8. Pravda, December 10th, 1951. 

9. Ogonyok, Nr 13, March 1951. 

10. Literaturnaya Gazeta, July 7th, 1948. 

11. Sovetskaya Etnografya, Moscow-Leningrad 1951, vol. iv, p. 233. 

12. Voprosy Istorii, 1951, Nr 1, pp. 140-4; Sovetskaya Etnografiya, 1951, 
Nr 4, pp. 230-4. 

13. Zhizn Natsionalnostei, August 13th, 1921. 

14. Yakutsky Folklor, Moscow 1936, pp. 276-7. 



1J3 



/iroviNiAKl 

KAZAKHS^ 

tfOMCOL 




4. THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC IN RELATION TO CHINA 



114 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 



In the Russian Far East, the Soviet Government is confronted not only 
with Chinese, Japanese, Korean and American influences; she has to 
face yet two other opponents, encountered nowhere else in the U.S.S.R. 
These are pan-Mongolism and Buddhism. 

This pan-Mongol-Buddhist 'danger' must be dealt with in two terri- 
tories which are closely interconnected, but which enjoy different 
political status. One is an Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic within 
the Soviet Union - Buryat-Mongolia - while the other is formally 
independent and only de facto a Soviet territory - The People's Republic 
of Mongolia (M.P.R.). 



J. THE BURYAT-MONGOL AUTONOMOUS REPUBLIC 

The Buryat-Mongols comprise only a quarter of a million people. 
Nevertheless, they occupy a unique place both in Soviet Far Eastern 
policy and in Soviet nationalities 5 policy as a whole. They are the only 
people of the U.S.S.R. belonging to the Mongol group by both race and 
language, and they are also the only Buddhist people of the Soviet 
Empire.* 

* In the inter-war period there was another Buddhist and Mongol people in the Soviet 
Union, die Kalmucks, but they have heen eliminated from the ethnographical map of the 
U.S.S.R. Groups of Kalmucks may still live scattered about Russia, but they no longer 
have any place in the cultural and political planning of the Soviet Government It stands 
to reason that the abolition of the Kalmuck A.S.S.R. in 1943 and the deportation of the 
Kalmuck people must have made a strong impression on the Buryat-Mongols and the 
Khalka-Mongols of the Mongol People's Republic. There used to be a certain amount of 
contact between Kalmucks, Buryats and Khalka-Mongols, and during several years the 
Soviet re^me itself promoted their cultural co-operation. In January 1931, representatives 
of the intelligentsia of the three Mongol nationalities held a meeting in Moscow that was 
officially described as 'First Cultural Conference of Mongol Peoples'. It dealt with the 
reform of Mongol spelHng on the basts of the Latin alphabet, and with the co-ordination 
of the scientific terminology of all three languages. 1 Later the Soviet authorities were less 
eager to develop cultural intercourse between Kalmucks and Buryats or between Kalmucks 
and the M.P.R, in view of the pan-Mongol danger. Nevertheless, k seems likely that 
Buryat and Khalka-Mongol inteftectuals continued to be interested in the destinies of 



115 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 

The Buryats have played a part in Russian policy which is quite out 
of proportion to their numerical strength. The Czarist Government 
thought that through their Buddhist connections, they might assist 
Russia to establish a protectorate over Tibet. Under the Soviet regime 
their mission in foreign policy consisted in assisting Russia to exercise 
efficient domination over Outer Mongolia, the Mongol People's 
Republic (M.P.R.). They did in fact supply a large number of agents 
for the bolshevization of that country. At a time when Mongolia itself 
was lacking qualified personnel, the Buryats provided the staff for the 
leading cultural and economic institutions of the M.P.R., particularly 
the Montsenkoop, the Mongol State trade monopoly, and the 
Mongolians, the Soviet controlled transport company of the 'People's 
Republic'. In the Mongol Army the Buryats distinguished themselves as 
officers and instructors. 

The fate of the Buryats provides the most outstanding example of the 
success of Russian colonization. Although living thousands of miles 
from the centres of Russian civilization, the Buryats have been split up 
into groups by wedges of Russian colonists, in the same way as the 
peoples of the Volga valley were split up. This Russian colonization, 
which took place in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, resulted 
in pressing the Buryats away from the important rivers of their home- 
land, such as the Lena, Angara, Selenga and Ingoda. It was particularly 
fateful for the Buryats that the Russians dislodged them in 1799 from 
both banks of the Ingoda River. This operation not only narrowed down 
the Buryat 'living space*, but also created a small Buryat enclave near 
Chita, cut off from the bulk of the Buryat people. Russian coloniza- 
tion and Russian policy split the Buryats not only geographically, but 
also culturally. The Eastern Buryats remained Buddhists and were less 
exposed to Russian cultural influences, while the Western Buryats 
became largely christianized and russianized 

In the years following the October Revolution, Western and Eastern 
Buryats were also politically separated. The former were incorporated 
into Soviet Russia, the latter into the Far Eastern Republic. The Buryat 
lake, Lake Baikal, became the frontier between the two. The Far Eastern 
Republic attached considerable importance to the Buryat question, 
perhaps less for reasons of principle than out of fear that the Buryats 
could become a tool of Japanese policy. Five articles of the constitution 
of that Soviet satellite republic dealt with the special legal position 
which the Buryats were to occupy. Article 116 said, 'The entire area 
inhabited by the Buryat-Mongols shall form a special territory under 
the name of "Autonomous Buryat-Mongol Province"/ Article 1 18 
guaranteed to the Buryats the right to establish courts of justice as well 
as ecoaomic, cultural and administrative institutions in their territory. 

116 



THE BURYAT-MONGOL AUTONOMOUS REPUBLIC 

Article 119 provided for the formation of a Buryat-Mongol National 
Assembly entitled to legislate on local matters. 

The communists of Russia proper were less eager than their Far 
Eastern comrades to grant the Buryats a special status. The communist 
organization of Irkutsk which was most directly concerned with the 
problem expressed its outright hostility to Buryat autonomy. The 
Irkutsk communists argued that the Buryats were not sufficiently civil- 
ized to have an autonomous administration of their own. The spokes- 
man of the Buryat communists, Mikhei Nikolayevich Yerbanov, 
denounced this chauvinistic attitude and complained to the People's 
Commissar for Nationalities, Stalin. Stalin ruled that an Autonomous 
Buryat Province was to be organized in Eastern Siberia, in the Irkutsk 
region, despite the resistance of the local Russian communists. Con- 
sequently, during a certain period there were two Buryat autonomous 
territories, one belonging to the Far Eastern Republic, and the other 
being part of the Russian Soviet Federation. In 1923 the two territories 
were amalgamated into one single Autonomous Republic. To draw the 
frontiers of the Buryat-Mongol A.S.S.R. was no easy task. Whichever 
way Buryat-Mongolia's frontiers were to be fixed, the Republic was 
bound to have a Russian majority, in view of the successful Russian 
colonization which had been carried out in the Buryat country. 

SOVIET POWER AND BUDDHISM 

The real problems of Soviet policy in Buryatia started only after the 
framework - the Autonomous Republic - had been created. Should the 
Soviet regime treat Buddhism in the same way that Christianity had been 
treated ? Could Buddhism and Communism be reconciled with each 
other ? What should the Party do with the Buddhist monasteries? These, 
and similar questions faced the regime in the early 'twenties'. The Com- 
munist Party and the Soviet Government found it difficult to answer 
them, and vaccilated in their Buryat policy between an attitude of 
relative liberalism and one of utter intolerance. 

In the 'twenties', the Soviet Government was at first inclined to make 
use of the Buryats as a revolutionary, or at least 'progressive*, vanguard 
of the entire Buddhist world. In the winter of 1926-27 when the situation 
in China was heading for a crisis, the Soviet Government granted 
permission for the holding of a 'Congress of Soviet Buddhists* in 
Moscow, in which most of the participants were Buryats, The Congress 
produced an 'Appeal to the Buddhists of Mongolia, Tibet and ladia*, 
calling on them 'to support with all their power the fight for the emancipa- 
tion of the Chmese people?. 2 

In Buryat-MongoM^ itself the local Soviet administration was allowed, 
for a time, to proceed cautiously in religious questions. The local 

117 9 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 

People's Commissar of Agriculture, Oshirov, organized the Buddhist 
priests, the lamas, into co-operatives. His idea that the lamas could be 
gradually integrated into the new socialist order was widely shared. 
Buryat cultural workers, in particular, were eager to conserve Buddhist 
monasteries and religious music. To put the co-operation between 
communists and Buddhists on solid foundations, a number of Buryat 
intellectuals conceived the theory of *Neo-Buddhism', which the Soviet 
Government at first viewed rather benevolently. 

The chief theoreticians of Neo-Buddhism were the head of the Budd- 
hist community in Buryatia, Agvan Dordzhiev, and the Buryat Professor 
Zhamtsarano. They alleged that Buddhism was actually a 'religion of 
atheism*. There was no difference between the Buddhist ideas on the 
emancipation of mankind and those professed by Marx and Lenin. 
Gautama Buddha was, in fact, a forerunner of Leninist materialism. 3 

From about 1929 onwards, the Neo-Buddhist theories were officially 
described as 'most harmful*, since they served 'to obliterate the class- 
consciousness of the revolutionary masses'. 4 The regime stopped 
discriminating between Buddhism and other religious creeds, and 
launched an anti-religious campaign of great violence throughout 
Buryat-Mongolia. A small but active group of 'militant godless' com- 
munists, by terrorist means, tried to prevent the celebration of Buddhist 
holidays, interfered with religious processions by deliberate provoca- 
tions, and by administrative measures, achieved the closing of Buddhist 
monasteries. All this brought such discredit to the anti-religious cause 
that the Buryat organization of the League of Militant Godless had to 
be disbanded in 1930. 5 Anti-religious propaganda was then inactive 
until about 1937. 

In that year a new anti-religious campaign started in connection with 
misunderstandings which the new Stalin constitution had caused, not 
only among Buddhist believers, but also among other religious groups 
of the Soviet Union. Until the coming into force of the new constitution, 
the lamas had been disfranchised, and the fact that voting rights were 
restored to them was, therefore, bound to create a certain optimism. 
The lamas believed, indeed, for a while that there was a fundamental 
change in Soviet policy towards religion. Their illusions were soon 
destroyed by the energetic measures which the regime took against them. 

Nevertheless, on the eve of the Second World War, Buddhism in the 
B.M A.S.S.R. was still a factor with which the Communist Party had to 
leckon. This is what one of the leaders of the League of Militant Godless 
wrote at the beginning of 1939: *In Buryat-Mongolia the lamas have 
stiS considerable influence on the masses. It suffices to say that even 
some pedagogues and medical workers seek the advice of lamas in their 
capacity of specialists in 'Tibetan Medicine* Y e 



THE BURYAT-MONGOL AUTONOMOUS REPUBLIC 



PAN-MONGOLISM - REAL AND ALLEGED 

Closely connected with the problem of Buddhism is that of Buryat pan- 
Mongolism. The Buryats had been notorious for their inclination 
towards pan-Mongol tendencies ever since the Japanese victory in the 
Russian- Japanese War of 1904-5. In the Civil War many Buryats 
played a counter-revolutionary role; they sided with the Japanese inter- 
ventionists who had proclaimed the idea of a 'Greater Mongol Empire'. 
The *white guard* puppets of the Japanese, Ataman Semyonov and 
General Ungera-Sternberg, were able to recruit quite a number of 
Buryat volunteers for their detachments. A pan-Mongol congress, which 
was summoned on Japanese initiative in February 1919 in the town of 
Chita, also enjoyed a considerable measure of Buryat support. The 
congress demanded that all Russian colonists living east of Lake Baikal 
should be expelled. It also elected a delegation which was to submit to 
the Peace Conference in Paris a project for a Greater Mongol State 
consisting of various Russian and Chinese territories. When the Bol- 
sheviks advanced into the land of the Buryats, and the Greater Mongolia 
project collapsed, certain sections of the Buryat people propagated the 
idea of emigration to Manchuria. There the Buryats were to wait until 
the plan of a Greater Mongolia could be resumed with Japanese help. 7 
Under the Soviet regime pan-Mongol tendencies made themselves 
felt throughout the twenties* and 'thirties'. Communist publications fre- 
quently complained about 'bourgeois-nationalist* and 'national- 
democratic* tendencies among the Buryats, and about the display of 
pictures of Genghis Khan. The nationalist pan-Mongolist intelligentsia 
was even able to delay the introduction into Buryatia of the Latin 
alphabet, which scored its final victory only in 1933, after having been 
officially introduced in 1931. The Buryat Party secretary, Yerbanov, 
thought it wise not to provoke the nationalists too much. He sent their 
representatives occasionally to prison, but did not launch a large-scale 
anti-nationalist offensive. When in 1933 local nationalism* was declared 
in both the Ukraine and Byelorussia to be the *main danger on the 
national front*, Yerbanov made a statement that this change of policy 
did not apply to Buryat-Mongolia, There, *Great Russian chauvinism* 
would continue to remain the main danger. The Bolshevik Politbureaii 
in Moscow seemed to be satisfied with Yerbanov and his policy. la 
January 1936 be was invited to the capital as head of a Buryat- 
Mongol delegation which was received in the Kremlin by Stalin, 
Molotov, Voroshilov and other Soviet leaders. Molotov delivered a 
bigspeech on this occasion; he praised the economic and cultural advance 
of Buryat-Mongolia, and baited in particular the emergence of a new 
Buryat intelligentsia, Yerbanov, too, made a speech in which he 

119 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 

promised to establish in Buryat-Mongolia a 'strong rear' for the Red 
Army, In an emergency, he said, the Buryats would come immediately 
to the rescue of their great fatherland, the Soviet Union. For his share 
in transforming the B.M.A.S.S.R. into *one of the most advanced 
republics of the U.S.S.R.', Yerbanov was awarded the Order of Lenin. 

Between January 1936 and summer 1937 the Politbureau changed 
its mind completely about the Buryat-Mongol A.S.S.R. 'One of the 
most advanced Republics* became suddenly one of the darkest spots on 
the map of the U.S.S.R. The fine Buryat intellectuals were, according 
to official Soviet statements, but a 'band of gangsters, bourgeois national- 
ists, Japanese and German spies, diversionists and wreckers 5 . 8 There 
was no crime under the sun which the Party secretary, Yerbanov, the 
president of the B.M.A.S.S.R., Dampilon, and the members of the 
Council of People's Commissars, were not found to have committed. 
This is how Yerbanov's successor as Party secretary, Semen Denisovich 
Ignatev,* summarised the activities of his predecessor and his associates: 
*The abject dirty dogs of fascism, the ferocious enemies of the Buryat- 
Mongol people, the bourgeois nationalists, in conjunction with 
trotzkyite-bukharinist bandits, conducted their dirty, dark and treacher- 
ous work for many years. These trebly contemptible Judases poisoned 
people, infected and destroyed cattle, wrecked industry, incited towards 
national hatred, and behaved everywhere disgustingly like beasts. They 
tried to separate Buryat-Mongolia from the U.S.S.R., and to put the 
country under the protectorate of the black fascist Samurai of Japan.' 9 

We do not know how the N-K.V.D. proved its point about the exist- 
eoce of a pro-Japanese conspiracy in Buryat-Mongolia, but it is 
possible that it took refuge in deliberate provocations. Such provocations 
are known to have been tried out with considerable success in other 
parts of the Soviet Union. One case was mentioned by the former 
Soviet historian, Avtorkhanov, who is now living in a Western country. 
In his book, Genocide in the U.S.S.R., Avtorkhanov tells how, in 
Ingushetia in the Caucasus, a Soviet police official posed as a Japanese 
agent He approached all potential enemies of the Soviet regime and 
recruited them for a fictitious organization. To make the farce complete, 
be made his victims take the oath on the Koran, and even distributed 
money and arms among them. As soon as a sufficient number of persons 
had committed themselves to a pro-Japanese policy, the NJKL.V.D. 
started to arrest 'Japanese spies'.f Such tactics may also have been used 
in Buryat-Mongolia. 

* S. D. Ignatev specialized in nationalities problems. Having carried out the purge in 
Buryat- Mongolia he was sent to Bashkiria and later to Byelorussia and Uzbekistan. In 
ibe spring of 1953 be became a secretary of the Central Committee of the Soviet Com- 
munist Party, but fell into disfavour a few weeks later. 

f A. Avtorfchanov, Narofbiteistvo v S.X. 9 Genocide in the U.S.S.R., Munich 
1952, pp, 31-33. 

12Qt 



THE BURYAT-MONGOL AUTONOMOUS REPUBLIC 

The 'Japanese spies' and 'Buryat bourgeois nationalists', dominated 
everywhere, according to official statements - in agriculture, in industry, 
among the leading personnel of most 'aimaks' (the districts into which 
the Republic is sub-divided) and m all cultural institutions. The counter- 
revolutionary nationalists were firmly entrenched in the Buryat State 
Publishing House, in the local Union of Soviet Writers and in the 
principal Buryat communist newspaper Unen. The Institute of Buryat 
Culture was 4 a jumble of all sorts of human scum', employing four 
Mongol princes and twenty adventurers, kulaks and white guards. 10 

Were all these charges pure imagination, or did they contain a certain 
amount of truth? It is difficult to believe that Yerbanov the *chief-bandit* 
of Buryat-Mongolia, to speak in the official jargon, was at any time a 
'bourgeois nationalist*, 'Japanese spy* or *pan-Mongolist*. Even before 
the First World War he belonged to a 'Marxist circle* in the Siberian 
town of Barnaul. From 1917 onwards he was a Communist Party 
member and took an active part in the fight against the White Admiral 
Kolchak. After the foundation of the Buryat-Mongol A.S.S.R., in 1923, 
Yerbanov occupied the highest posts in the Republic, first that of prime 
minister, and from 1929 that of Party secretary. It is true, however, 
that Yerbanov advocated moderation in the fight against Buryat nation- 
alism and national culture. He also favoured the *Buryatization' of the 
Republic, in as far as this was possible in view of continuous Russian 
colonization. The Soviet Government on the other hand, haunted 
by the fear of a Japanese attack on the U.S.S.R., wanted the ruthless 
suppression of all nationalist elements in Buryatia which might have 
collaborated with the invader. Buryat nationalism, in the Soviet view, 
was a natural ally for Japan, just as Ukrainian nationalism was an 
ally of German imperialism. A half-hearted attitude towards Buryat 
nationalism, such as that manifested by Yerbanov, was thus a criminal 
ofience and had to be mercilessly exterminated. 

The explanation of the fight against the Yerbanov deviation cannot 
be found in the purely political sphere alone. Thane is no doubt that the 
economy of the B.M.A.S.S.R. was in a state of disorganization when 
the N.K. V.D. launched its big action against the 'enemies of the people* 
in Buryatia. Buryat-Mongol industry drastically under-fulfilled the 
Second Five-Year Plan. The most important plants of the Republic 
under-fulfilled the plan by as much as 40 per cent The greatest failure 
was the Locomotive and Waggon Repair Works of Ulan Ude, in the 
construction of which over 20,000 people had participated. This plant 
was to be the principal railway repair shop for the whole of the Soviet 
Far East and for Central Siberia. Russia's transport and supply systejn 
in the Japanese border areas depended on its efficiency. The plant was 
hastily constructed with faulty material, and some of the buildings col- 
lapsed soon after their completion. The local Party leadership had to 

121 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 

take the blame, although the Railway Repair Works were an 'industrial 
gianf of all-Union importance and, consequently, a primary responsibil- 
ity of the central government 

THE DISMEMBERMENT OF BURYATIA 

The liquidation of the 'Yerbanov band* proceeded with amazing rapidity. 
Yerbanov was denounced as a 'Japanese spy' by the Communist Party 
organization of Ulan Ude on September 26th, 1 937, and he was executed 
barely three weeks later on October 12th. His trial, though short, was 
one of the biggest which took place in Soviet Russia during the great 
purge of 1937. It ended with a total of 54 death sentences and executions. 
This alone shows the degree of nervousness which the Kremlin felt over 
the situation in the Buryat Republic. Executions, mass dismissals of 
Party and State officials and their replacement by new people were 
however, not enough to restore order in the B.M.A.S.S.R. The Soviet 
Government inflicted on the Republic a sort of collective punishment 
and deprived it of six of its aimaks (districts). Four of them were located 
in the westernmost part of the Republic, beyond Lake Baikal, and the 
two remaining ones formed an enclave in the Chita Province, and were 
situated 120 miles from the borders of Manchukuo. The 'reform' was 
justified by the assertion that Yerbanov's misrule had been particularly 
disastrous in the outlying districts of Buryatia, and required special 
measures of remedy. The four western aimaks were added to the Irkutsk 
Province and the two eastern aimaks incorporated into the Chita 
Province. Within these two provinces the former Buryat territories 
formed 'National Areas* (okrugi), that lower form of Soviet national 
autonomy which is otherwise confined to the small tribes of the Far 
North. 

The administrative reform, as such, was not unreasonable from a 
practical point of view, since the aimaks concerned were organically 
linked with the two Russian Provinces into which they were formally 
included by the Decree of September 26th, 1937. The timing of the 
reform suggested, however, that it was meant to be a reprisal against 
Buryat nationalism, and, in the case of the eastern aimaks, also a measure 
of military security. According to the official version, dozens of 'bandits 
working on the direct instructions of the Japanese secret service were 
busy sabotaging all efforts of the Soviet Government* in the outlying 
districts of the B.M .A JS.S.R. These Japanese agents were not powerful 
admiaistratorswho abused their office, but ordinary fanners belonging to 
kolkhozes with such pretentious names as 'Karl Marx' or 'Comintern*. 11 

The re-drawing of Buryatia's frontier cost the Republic only 12 per 
cent of its territory, but had considerable economic consequences. The 
six aimaks affected by the change included one-third of Buryatia's cattle 

122 



THE BURYAT-MONGOL AUTONOMOUS REPUBLIC 

population, whilst one quarter of Buryatia's sowing area was situated 
within the western aimaks which went to the Irkutsk Province as the 
*Ust Ordynsk Buryat-Mongolian National Okrug'. The separated Buryat 
territories in the east, now the 'Aginsk Buryat-Mongolian National 
Okrug*, contain some of the biggest lead deposits of the ILS.S.R. 

Buryat cultural and educational activities, within the strict limits of 
communist ideology, were safeguarded even in the 'National Areas* 
with the help of national schools and a Buryat-Mongol department at 
Irkutsk University. 12 * 

In the more important Ust Ordynsk National Area, cultural work in 
the Buryat language labours under a difficulty for which the Soviet 
regime bears no responsibility, namely, the far-reaching denationaliza- 
tion of the local Buryats. Of the three Buryat poets and writers of the 
National Area, two are writing their works in Russian. 13 

The victory of the Soviet central authorities over Yerbanov and his 
friends made the Russian State safer against a particularly harmful brand 
of 'local nationalists', the 'pan-Mongolists' of Buryatia. It led to the 
aggrandizement of Russian Provinces at the expense of an autonomous 
republic and it probably made Russia's position slightly more secure in 
the Far East 

THE TRIUMPH OF RUSSIAN INFLUENCE 

The victory of Soviet centralism in Buryat-Mongolia was followed by 
the introduction of the Russian alphabet for the Buryat language on 
April 7th, 1939, and by the arrival of a new wave of Russian immigrants. 
The special privileges for new settlers in the Far East, which were 
included in the decree of November 17th, 1937, expressly applied to the 
B.M.A.S.S.R. 

Russian colonization in Buryatia, it is true, had never ceased under 
the Soviet regime but, on the basis of the new decree, the influx of 
Russians became more intense and more systematic. As early as 1926, 
the Russians formed 52.7 per cent of the population of the B.M.A.S.S.R. 
against 43.8 per cent Buryat-Mongols. During the first and second 
Five- Year Plan period, Russians and other Europeans wore brought 
into the Republic because it proved to be difficult to recruit native 
workers into industry. In 1935 only 16 per cent of Buryatia's industrial 
workers were Buryats. Even in 1938 the Railway Repair Works of Ulan 
Ude included hardly 500 Buryats among their 6,000 workers. The 

* The Irkutsk University, which is geographically the nearest Russian University to the 
Soviet Far East, has established a kind of cultural protectorate not only over the Ust 
Ordynsk National Area, but over the whole of the B.M.A-&S.R. The Irkutsk University, 
and not the Ministry of Education in Ulan Ude, decides how the Buryat language is to 
be taught in the schools of the * Autonomous Republic*, and what reforms are to be 
introduced into the Buryat language itself. (Izvestiya^ July 10th, 19521 

123 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 

growth of Ulan Ude, the Buryat capital, was almost entirely due to the 
arrival of Russian workers. The town, which had 30,000 inhabitants in 
1927, increased its population to 55,000 inhabitants in 1932 and to 
129,000 in 1939. It does not seem that the Buryats have formed, at any 
time, more than 20 per cent of the population of the city.* Also the 
other towns of the B.M.A.S.S.R*, such as Kyakhta and Babushkin 
(named after the Russian Bolshevik revolutionary, Ivan Vasilevich 
Babushkin) have a predominantly Russian character. This could hardly 
be otherwise, for the majority of the Buryats became fully sedentary 
only during the first two Five-Year Plan periods. In 1928-29 only 9.8 
per cent of all Buryats were officially classified as sedentary, 78.6 per 
cent were described as semi-nomadic, and 11.6 per cent as nomadic. 14 

This senii-nomadic and nomadic past of the Buryat people made it 
impossible for even the young Buryat Soviet generation to play a major 
part in the *new socialist life' of Buryatia. In 1948 the country had over 
7,000 specialists with higher and secondary education who worked in 
industry, transport and agriculture of the B.M.A.S.S.R. Only 1,379 of 
them were Buryats. 16 

The preponderance of the Russian urban element in Buryatia 
provoked hostility amongst the Buryats against the towns, which the 
Soviet regime rightly interpreted as hostility against the Russian 
proletariat and Bolshevism itself. 

CULTURAL AND LINGUISTIC DEVIATIONS 

The spokesman of this antipathy to city life was the most gifted Buryat 
poet, Solbone Tuya, who had enough courage to tell the communist 
Russian colonizers: 

No, keep your overcrowded cities, 

With their sophisticated air! 

Guileless and free, I need the country, 

The coo! wind blowing through my hair. 

Give me the steppe, limitless, windswept, 

Its vastness stretching on each side, 

Where free frbm orders and surveillance, 

Man's goodness is his only guide. 

* Ti*e last o&cial statistics giving the ethnic composition of Ulan Ude refer to 1926. In 
that year S3 per cent of the inhabitants of the town were Russians. A similar Russian 
predominance existed then and still exists, m the capitals of other Autonomous Soviet 
Socialist Republics. The capital of Tartaria, Kazan had, in 1926, 70 per cent Russians; 
Ufa, the Bashkir capital had 76 per cent and Izhevsk, the capital of Udmurtia 91 per cent. 
In Yakutsk, Yakutia's capital, the situation was more favourable from the point of view 
of the local people. Tne Russians accounted for only 56 per cent of all inhabitants and the 
Yakuts for almost one third. But at the time of the 1926 census Yakutsk had only 10,000 
inhabitants. Siaoe then its population has increased sevenfold and the Yakut capital is now 
ethnically at least as Russian as Its Buryat-Mongol counterpart. 

124 



THE BURYAT-MONGOL AUTONOMOUS REPUBLIC 

The author of these verses, whose real name was Pyotr Nikiforovich 
Danbinov, was one of the most remarkable personalities whom the 
Buryat people produced in the twentieth century. During the First 
World War, the Czarist regime persecuted him for nationalist Buryat 
activities. The communist government of the Far Eastern Republic 
recognized Danbinov as Buryat national leader and made him Deputy 
Chairman, first of the Constituent Assembly, and later of the National 
Assembly, of the buffer-state. After the amalgamation of the Far Eastern 
Republic with the Russian Soviet Federation, Danbinov devoted him- 
self entirely to literary and cultural work. 16 The Encyclopedia of 
Literature, published by the Communist Academy, described him as 
the 'most outstanding Buryat poet'. 17 Until the middle of the 'thirties', 
Danbinov was frequently criticized as a 'national democrat*, but he was 
respected for his great abilities as a poet and writer. He seems to have 
been purged at the time when Yerbanov and his supporters were 
liquidated. His name is omitted from the section of the new edition of 
the Soviet Encyclopedia which deals with the development of Buryat 
literature. A similar fate befell all other Buryat poets and writers who 
founded the modern Buryat literature such as Baradiin, Namzhilon and 
Bazaron. These representatives of 'kulak-noyon* literature*, who 
defended the interests of the Buryat steppe against those of the Russian 
Bolshevik towns, were all tolerated as long as there were no proletarian 
Buryat writers but as soon as a proletarian Soviet literature in the Buryat 
language had grown in communist hot-houses, the nationalist pan- 
Mongolist writers were doomed to silence. 

Pan-Mongolism also strongly affected linguistic problems. Buryat 
nationalist writers and intellectuals, whilst stressing the cultural diff- 
erences between themselves and the Russians, endeavoured to draw 
closer to the Khalka-Mongols of Outer Mongolia. They replenished the 
Buryat-Mongol language with expressions borrowed from the Khalka- 
Mongol language and tried to adapt the phonetics, syntax and morph- 
ology of Buryat-Mongol to Khalka-Mongol in the expectation that the 
latter might become the literary language common to all Mongol peoples. 

Grammars and dictionaries of this artificial Khalka-Buryat synthetic 
language were published in 1932, but the Communist Party opposed this 
attempt at linguistic pan-Mongolism. The new language was banned, 
and the dialect spoken in Southern Buryatia was chosen as the basis of 
the literary language. 18 

Great pains were taken by the Soviet authorities to eliminate from 
the officially recognized Buryat language all Mongol expressions for 
political terms, and to replace them by international and Russian words. 
It was feared that the sense of the basic notions of communist propaganda 

* The 'Noyony* are the members of the tribal aristocracy of the Buryats, Kalmucks and 
otto 1 Mongol peoples. 

125 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 

might be distorted if they were taken from the vocabulary of the 'feudal 
Mongol language'. There was reason for this anxiety. The Mongol word 
for 'dictatorship*, for instance, meant 'government maintaining itself in 
power by violence 5 . This may have been, from the Soviet standpoint, 
quite permissible if referring to a foreign dictatorship, but it was also 
applied to the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' existing in Russia, and, 
in this case, the Mongol term meant an open attack on the Soviet regime. 

IDEOLOGICAL STRUGGLES IN THE POST-WAR PERIOD 

During and after the Second World War, Buryat-Mongolia, as many 
other national territories, experienced a certain nationalist revival which 
found a visible expression in literature. As late as December 1950, the 
Party secretary of the B.M.A.S.S.R. stated: 'The writers' organization 
of the Republic committed in the post-war period various serious 
ideological mistakes. Bourgeois-nationalist elements in their books 
expressed enthusiasm about the archaic period in which feudal lords and 
khans ruled. They tried to give a picture full of deceit of the relations 
between the Mongols and the Russians. The Party helped the writers of 
the Republic to unmask the exponents of bourgeois-nationalist distor- 
tions in literature and to purge them. 19 A year after this statement was 
made, official quarters still referred to the 'considerable amount of work* 
which the communist organizations of Buryat-Mongolia carried out to 
expose 'bourgeois-nationalist and cosmopolitan distortions in the study 
of Buryat-Mongol history and in literature and art'. 20 

The main target of the campaign against Buryat-Mongol cultural 
nationalism in the post-war period was, however, not a living poet and 
writer, but the legendary national hero of the Mongols, 'Geser'. The 
legend of 'Geser* is several centuries old. In 1715 it was put into print 
for the first time in the form of an epic. It has always enjoyed great 
popularity with the Mongols, not only with the Buryats, but also with 
the people of Mongolia proper. Originally, the Soviet Government and 
the Communist Party thought it wise to respect 'Geser*, and to identify 
the epic as the expression of an age-long dream of the people about 
happiness and a better life. Such a positive view was still held in 1948. 
The publication of the full Russian text of *Geser* was prepared for the 
twenty-fifth anniversary of the B.M A.S.3.R., which was celebrated in 
June of that year. 21 Also in 1948 the Ail-Union Academy of Sciences 
published a book on 'Geser* which was a eulogy of the *Epic of the 
Mongol People*. Only in the latter part of 1948 did the Party start 
challenging 'Geser* as a symbol of feudalism, pan-Mongolism and 
religious prejudice. The mythical 'Geser*, it was suddenly stated, was 
none other than Genghis Khan and a Genghis Khan cult in disguise 
could not be tolerated.* 2 

126 



THE BURYAT MONGOL AUTONOMOUS REPUBLIC 

The ban against the 'Geser* cult was such an important event in the 
life of Buryat-Mongolia that it could not be enforced by an order alone. 
The provincial committee of the Party, in conjunction with the local 
Union of Soviet Writers, therefore organized a *discussion\ As usual 
in the case of such discussions, it was not intended to establish the truth 
on the problem in question. The 'discussion* was primarily a manoeuvre 
by which pan-Mongol intellectuals were forced into the open. Those 
who came out in defence of *Geser* were, of course, labelled as reaction- 
aries and nationalists. 

A *NEW' IDEOLOGY FOR THE BURYATS 

However absurd the official attacks on *Geser* might appear, they are 
extremely logical from the point of view of the regime. A young Buryat 
who gets enthusiastic about the exploits of *Geser* has not the approach 
befitting a Soviet citizen and patriot. The Soviet regime wants the young 
generation of the Buryats not to look towards feudal Mongol history, 
but to focus attention on the positive sides of their association with 
Russia. It is no longer advisable for a Buryat to lay stress on the wrongs 
which the Czarist regime did to his people by expelling them from their 
best lands. The Buryat-Mongol people are now taught to consider even 
Czarist Russia as a friend. This is the essence of the new historical 
concept which the Buryats had to endorse in a 'Letter to Stalin*. 
'Until the Transbaikal region became united with the Russians', the 
letter said, *the Buryat-Mongols were the victims of systematic raids 
carried out by the savage hordes of the Mongol-Manchurian Khans and 
feudal lords. These raids were so frequent that complete annihilation 
threatened the Buryat-Mongol people. The union of Transbaikalia with 
Russia saved the Buryat-Mongols from this fate.* 28 

In line with this conception, the young generation of the Buryats has 
been urged to turn away from 'Geser' to Peter the Great A collector of 
Buryat folklore conveniently discovered a Buryat ballad paying tribute 
to the Russian Czar for assistance granted to the Buryat people. The 
ballad refers to the chiefs of eleven Buryat clans who, in 1703, sent 
a delegation to Peter asking him to protect them against unjust demands, 
levies and oppression on the part of Chinese officials. Peter granted 
their request, and a few years later sent his ambassador, Count 
Ragozinsky, into the Transbaikal region to fix the Russian-Chinese 
border in such a way as to include the Buryats, beyond any doubt, in 
the Russian Empire. 

Apart from Peter the Great, there is another *bero' to whom Soviet 
Russian propaganda in the Buryat-Mongol A-S.S.R., has attached con- 
siderable symbolic importance - Dorzhi Banzarov, 'the first Buryat 
scholar* (1822-1855). Banzarov demonstrated through his whole life 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 

that the place of the Buryat intelligentsia is on the side of the Russians. 
His biography is striking evidence of the absence of any racial dis- 
crimination in the old Russia. The Mongol village boy, Dorzhi, 
attended a grammar-school together with Russian boys. Later, he 
studied at Kazan University, and, at the age of 26, was made an official 
attached to the Governor-General of Eastern Siberia. Shortly before his 
death, Banzarov became a member of the Irkutsk branch of the Russian 
Geographical Society, and a splendid career, both as a scholar and 
civil servant, might have been in store for him had he not died 
prematurely.* 4 

The story of Banzarov is certainly a good and useful one from the 
point of view of the Soviet regime, but will it be sufficient to bring about 
the triumph of the new ideology? Will it be able to efface the entire 
historical traditions of the Buryat-Mongols to a greater degree than 
abstract Marxist internationalism was able to do? 

//. THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 

The Mongol People's Republic, as big as France, Spain, Portugal, 
Great Britain and Ireland put together, occupies a unique position in 
Soviet nationalities policy. The Republic is formally outside the political 
framework of the Soviet Union, but it cannot be described accurately 
as a sovereign state. The experiment with the M.P.R. has shown that 
a state can be, in all essentials, a copy of the Soviet Republics proper, 
without being formally annexed by the Union and transformed into 
a fully fledged Soviet Republic. 

MONGOLIA'S PLACE IN THE STRATEGY AND THEORY OF 
WORLD COMMUNISM 

Both the Comintern and the Soviet Government thought originally 
that the example of the Mongol People's Republic might be followed by 
territories in otter parts of the world. Bohumil Smeral, one of the 
leaders of world communism in the inter-war period, wrote in the 
official organ of the Communist International in 1930: 'The colonies 
can learn a great deal from what is taking place in the independent 
Mongol People's Republic. Tlie M.P.R. is an interesting proof of how 
a backward people, which until recently lived the life of nomads, is 
making rapid progress white avoiding the purgatory of capitalism, 
because it is led by a national revolutionary party which is benefiting 
from the experiences of the Russian October Revolution.* 25 

Contrary to the expectation of the Comintern the example of the 
M.P.R, made little impact on colonial territories, but certain features 
of the Mongolian prototype were, nevertheless, widely imitated. After 

128 



THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 

the Second World War, the model of the M.P.R. influenced the develop- 
ment in the new People's Democracies of Eastern Europe and East 
Asia. Of course, it could not be a one-hundred-per-cent imitation. 
Mongolia, a country of cattle-breeders, could not put into effect 
one of the most fundamental principles of Leninism, the leadership of 
the proletariat over all other classes of society, peasantry in particular. 
Soviet politicians in practice, and sociologists in theory, have found 
ways and means of filling the void in the proletarian hegemony in 
Mongolia. Since the Mongol proletariat could not lead the trans- 
formation of Mongolia into a socialist State, for the simple reason that 
such a proletariat did not exist, the Russian proletariat had to take 
over this task. As the Soviet academician, E. M. Zhukov, the Director 
of the Oriental Institute of the Soviet Academy of Sciences put it, *the 
constant disinterested assistance as well as the ideological and political 
support of the Soviet Union ensured the necessary proletarian leader- 
ship for the Mongolian people's regime.* 26 In other words, Mongolia is 
the classic example of the fact that proletarian leadership in a given 
'People's Democracy' need not necessarily exist inside the country, but 
can be imposed from without. 'The whole teaching of the non-capitalist 
path of development', says Zhukov, 'lies precisely in the fact that the 
working class of the land of victorious socialism (i.e., Soviet Russia) 
takes upon itself the leadership of a backward country with a peasant 
population.' The history of the Mongolian People's Republic is, there- 
fore, a warning to all peasant countries, particularly those of Asia, 
against the danger of a Russian 'proletarian imperialism'. 

OUTER MONGOLIA AND CZARIST RUSSIA 

In the same way as Russian interest in Eastern European countries such 
as Bulgaria, Rumania and Poland, did not suddenly awake under the 
Soviet regime, so, too, in Outer Mongolia, Soviet Russian policy has a 
historical background. This means that the somewhat crude europeaniz- 
ation of this Far Eastern country should not be attributed to communism 
only, but should rather be interpreted as the work of Russian civilization. 
The Russians started economic penetration into Mongolia in 1860 
with the foundation of the first Russian business firm in Urga. * By 1910 
twenty Russian firms were established in the Mongol capital, but not 
until Russia obtained political control over Outer Mongolia could she 
exercise a serious influence on the Mongols. The establishment of 
political control over Outer Mongolia did act mean a step forward for 
Russia; it was a coasequeiice of her failure to become a strong Pacific 
power. Outer Mongolia was a consolation prize which Japan granted 

* In 1924 Urga changed Its same into 'Ufent-Bator-kboto' or Town of tbe Red Hero*. 
It is nsttaBy called Utea Bator. 

129 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 

Russia for the loss of Port Arthur and Southern Sakhalin by a secret 
treaty concluded in 1907. The 'concession' could be made the more 
easily as Japan obtained, on the same occasion, Russia's recognition of 
the extension of her own zone of influence into Inner Mongolia. A 
formal treaty between Russia and Outer Mongolia, concluded on 
November 3rd, 1912, established the Russian protectorate over the 
country. The treaty reduced Chinese sovereignty over Outer Mongolia 
to an empty legal fiction, and excluded both Chinese colonization and 
Chinese influence. 

A total transformation of Mongol society was required if Mongolia 
were to become a factor in world economy, and if the Mongols were to 
work for the 'White Czar' and for their own advancement. The Mongols, 
whose ancestors had been the *vilest butchers of their fellow-men' and 
the most blood-thirsty warriors of history, had lost their warlike spirit 
under the influence of Buddhism and succumbed to total lethargy. 
Caruthers in his book, Unknown Mongolia, showed convincingly how the 
*indolent life of the lamaseries, the Buddhist monasteries, became the life 
of the Mongol people as a whole'. Lamaism not only determined the 
character of the Mongol people but also affected unfavourably Mongol 
economy. The principle of inactivity inherent in lamaism prevented the 
development of cattle fanning, the economic backbone of Outer 
Mongolia. 27 

Several years before the Bolshevik revolution with its anti-religious 
bias, Caruthers forecast that russianization of Outer Mongolia would 
weaken the power of the Khutukhtu, the religious, and, to a large 
extent the political, head of the Mongols, and would also lead to an 
impoverishment of the lamaseries. The establishment of an 'autonomous 
Mongolia* under Russian protection, added Caruthers in anticipation 
of further developments, would bring^ about 'fundamental changes in 
the life of the people and in the future of the Mongol race'. Mongolia 
would thus become a land of activity and progress* instead of a 'land 
of stagnation and suppression*. 

Any Russian State interested in Outer Mongolia as a huge cattle 
reserve and as a military base, was bound to awaken Mongol activity. 
Any Russian State, regardless of its ideological complexion, was bound 
either to do away with the Khutukhtu, 'the Khan of Outer Mongolia* 
as he was also called, or to transform him into an instrument of .Russian 
polky. No dual loyalties could be tolerated if Outer Mongolia were to 
be a de facto Russian possession. 

The Khutukhtu proved to be an obstacle to Russian policy from the 
moment that Russia gained political control over Outer Mongolia. He 
manifested his desire to have Japan rather than Russia as overlord. 
Towards the end of 1913, he wrote a letter to the Tenno asking him to 
assist the Mongols in uniting Outer and Inner Mongolia, and to send a 

130 



THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 

Japanese diplomatic agent to Urga. As Russia was then in charge of 
Outer Mongolia's foreign relations, it devolved upon the Russian 
Ambassador in Tokyo, Malevsky-Malevich, to hand over the Khutukhtu 
letter to the Japanese Foreign Minister, Baron Makino. Malevsky- 
Malevich loyally complied with the request, but the Japanese Govern- 
ment asked him to return the letter to the Khutukhtu, as Japan's 
aspirations did not then embrace Outer Mongolia, The Czarist Govern- 
ment was magnanimous enough not to take the matter too seriously and 
mildly warned the Mongols to let the incident be a lesson to them. 28 

THE FOUNDATION OF THE M.P.R. 

The history of Outer Mongolia under Soviet rule shows that the Soviet 
Government was more efficient but less liberal than the preceding 
Czarist regime, in its relations with the Mongols. It is not easy to give 
a proper outline of this history. The sources are not only very meagre, 
but also full of contradictions, for the history of the Mongol People's 
Republic has been officially rewritten in the same way as has the history 
of the Russian October Revolution and of the Soviet Union. In the case 
of Outer Mongolia this 'rewriting* has been more successful because the 
the new official history of the Mongol revolutionary movement, and of 
the M.P.R. itself, cannot easily be contradicted. There is no Mongol 
Trotzky who has acquainted the outside world with his own version, 
nor has a foreign observer had an opportunity to follow the crucial 
periods of Mongol history day by day. However, various material in 
Russian periodicals of the early 'twenties' makes it possible to reconstruct 
at least to some extent the origins of the first 'People's Republic*. This 
material clearly contradicts the claim that the present 'Mongol Revolu- 
tionary People's Party* and its creation, the Mongol Republic, owe their 
existence to two men, Sukhe Bator, the 'Mongol Lenin*, and Marshal 
Choibalsan, the 'Mongol Stalin*, 

The Mongol revolutionary movement had at least five founding 
fathers, and they represented various strata of Mongol society, and 
various ideological trends. There was the more coaservative-iBinded 
Lama Chardorzhab, who had important connections with Mongolia's 
theocratic leadership* There was the liberal centre of the movement, 
represented by Lama Bodo, an employee of the Russian Consulate in 
Urga, and by a small official, Danzan, who was an enemy of Mongolia's 
theocratic rulers. There was the kft, formed by Sukhe Bator, a worker in 
the Russian printing shop of Urga, and a very young man, Khoriogiia 
Choibalsan (alternative spellings - 'Chobalsan', 'Cfaoibakang*, 
'Chaibalsan*) who bad been educated first in a Lama monastery, and 
later in a Russian school at Kyakhta, an the border of Mongolia. 
Whatever may have been the ideological differences between the five, 

131 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 

they were united in their desire for a far-reaching Mongol autonomy 
and, at least temporarily, for close links with the Russian Revolution. 
One of the first practical steps taken by the 'Young Mongolia' group, as 
it was then called, was to get in touch with Russian Bolsheviks. In 1920 
the five revolutionaries went to Verkhneudinsk and met representatives 
of the Soviet authorities of Siberia. They also came in touch with a 
rather strange personality with the name of Rinchino, who described 
himself first as a 'Narodnik-Maximalist' and later as a 'non-party 
Bolshevik*. He was a convinced supporter of a communist pan- 
Mongolia, and played a great part in revolutionizing both the Buryats 
and the Khalka-Mongols. Rinchino took the Mongol delegation to 
Moscow, and introduced it to the Kremlin. 29 The Politbureau, including 
Lenin, Stalin and Bukharin, received the Mongol delegates who had 
been joined by Agvan Dordzhiev, head of the Buddhist community in 
Russia, who had once acted as a go-between the Czar Nicholas II and 
the Dalai Lama. 

The Mongol delegates asked for Russian support for the re-establish- 
ment of the autonomous Mongol State, which after the fall of the 
Czarist regime had been reoccupied by the Chinese Army. Soviet Russia 
granted this help. Thanks to the Red Army, the Government of Mongolia 
was ultimately restored to the Mongols, but, prior to this, the country 
was still the scene of a number of dramatic incidents. Whilst the Mongol 
delegates were on their way back, news reached them that the white 
guard general, Baron Ungern-Sternberg, had captured Urga. In this 
situation the Mongol revolutionaries decided to set up a proper organ- 
ization. In March 1921 they held the constituent congress of the Mongol 
Revolutionary People's Party in Kyakhta. Only 25 to 30 people attended, 
but the congress was, nevertheless, a very important event. It decided to 
set up a Revolutionary Mongol Army, and to form a government, and it 
also adopted a programme often points. This original party programme 
had nothing in common with the present aims of the Mongol Revolu- 
tionary People's Party. It demanded the unification of all Mongol 
territories, and the formation of a pan-Mongol Republic. The congress 
did sot declare Mongolia's complete independence from China. The 
delegates, including Sukhe Bator and Choibalsan, considered that the 
new Mongolia ought to be primarily an ally of the Chinese Revolution 
and only secondarily of Russian Bolshevism. A fortnight after the 
congress, the Central Committee of the Mongol Revolutionary People's 
Party issued a 'Manifesto to the entire Chinese People, to the Chinese 
Communist Party, and to all revolutionary-democratic groups and real 
patriots of China* which called for Mongol-Chinese unity of action. 
Both the pan-Mongol concept of the Mongol People's Party and its 
positive attitude towards revolutionary China, were endorsed by the Far 
Eastern Bmeau of the Comintern** 9 

132 



THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 

Contrary to later accounts, at the First Congress of the Mongol 
People's Party, Choibalsan played only a secondary role. The key 
positions in the Party and the State went to Danzan, who became the 
first party chairman, Chardorzhab, who became first prime minister, 
and Sukhe Bator, who was appointed commander-in-chief. There was 
still another person who played an outstanding part in the struggle for 
power that took place in Mongolia in 1921. His name was Maksarzhab; 
he co-operated at first with the counter-revolutionary camp, but, at the 
decisive moment, he deserted Baron Ungera and went over to Sukhe 
Bator. The Soviet Government recognized the great merits of 
Maksarzhab by awarding him the 'Order of the Red Banner* in 1922. 
The story of the involved and cunning manoeuvres through which 
Maksarzhab helped the cause of the Mongol Revolution is told in a 
Mongol play, 'Khatan Bator Maksarzhab*, which was produced in 
Ulan Bator in 1940.* Maksarzhab was not given full credit for his 
historic importance, but at least he was not a victim of those many 
purges which took place in Mongolia after the victory of the revolu- 
tionary party. As soon as the revolutionaries had captured the capital, 
Urga, from the white guards in July 1921, the first internal crisis 
broke out. Chardorzhap was replaced as prime minister by Lama Bodo. 
Neither did the latter remain long in power. After having been a 
year in office, he was not only deposed, but also executed, together with 
his predecessor and thirteen other prominent politicians. Bodo was 
accused of being too pro-Chinese, and of having sent a delegation to 
General Tchan-Tso-Lin to negotiate a Mongol-Chinese reunion. 

Even after Bodo there was no real pro-Russian politician in the country 
to take over, but Mongolia at least obtained its first secular prime 
minister in the person of Danzan. For two years Danzan was extremely 
powerful. After the death of Sukhe Bator in February 1923, he also 
became commander-in-chief of the army. Thus he controlled the Party, 
the Government, and the Armed Forces. Through his close associate, 
Bavasan, he also supervised the Mongol youth organization, the 
Revsomol. Danzan wanted genuine independence for Mongolia and 

* Maksarzhab, who had little connection with Russian revolutionary ideas, and who was 
a real home-grown Mongol revolutionary - his name figures prominently in the history 
of the revolution which took place in Outer Mongolia in 1911 - has had a stronger 
appeal to the Mongols than has the rather colourless guerilla leader, Sukhe Bator. Between 
1933 and 1938, four plays about Sukhe Bator were performed on the Mongol stage. In 
all of them Sukhe Bator appeared as a pate figure, whilst all of them described Maksarzhab 
in much more lively colours. No Mongol playnght who remembered foe true story of the 
events of 1921, was able to create that exaggerated picture of Sukhe Bator's historical 
importance which from a pro-Soviet angle was essential. Two Russian playwrights, 
A. Borshchagovsky and Ya. Varshavsky, had to be commissioned, therefore, to do this 
and to produce an 'ideologically sound 7 ptay on Sukhe Bator. It was called Heroes of the 
Steppe and was performed in the theatre of Ulan Bator in 1942. (Uvarova^ Sowememty 
Mongolsky T&&> 9 1921-1945 - *O CooieiBpQraiy Mongol Theatre, 1921-1945*, 
Moscow-Leningrad 1945* pp. 89-91). 

133 10 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 

not a Russian protectorate. He put out feelers to China, and even to 
the United States, and he ako tried to encourage the development of 
foreign trade. Formally, Outer Mongolia was then still a constitutional 
monarchy under the Khutukhtu Bodo-gegen. When the monarch died 
in May 1924, Danzan remained, for a few days, prime minister of the 
Mongol People's Republic. He was overthrown by the Third Party 
Congress. This strangest of all party congresses transformed itself into 
a supreme court, sentenced Danzan to death as a plotter against 
Mongolia's independence, and executed him on the spot, with Bavasan, 
the chairman of the Revolutionary Youth League. 31 

The Soviet Government had had a hand in the execution of both Bodo 
and Danzan. The Third Party Congress, which liquidated the so-called 
*Danzan conspiracy*, carried the hallmark of direct Soviet interference. 
It decided that the M.P.R. should follow 'the road of a non-capitalist 
development', a formula which could not possibly have been coined by 
the Mongol lamas and cattle-breeders, who constituted the bulk of the 
congress delegates. It was obviously inspired by the Soviet envoy in 
Urga, and by Russian communist emissaries. Nevertheless, even after 
Danzan's death, Soviet Russia, then still under the premiership of 
Akxey Rykov, observed a fairly liberal attitude towards the Mongol 
Republic. It was still allowed to trade with foreign countries, particularly 
with China, Germany, the United States and Britain and to allow foreign 
business men to enter its territory. The country was also free to send 
students to German and French universities, and to conduct cultural 
propaganda in the capitalist West. This spell of tolerance came to an 
end in the winter of 1928-29, when the right-wing political leaders of the 
M.P*R. 9 were exiled to Leningrad and when the Seventh Party Congress 
appointed a new left-wing Committee. 

This time the deposed dignitaries of the People's Republic could not 
be charged with plotting against Mongolian independence. They were 
eliminated from the political scene because they were too independent- 
minded, adhering to the original pan-Mongolist programme of the 
Revolutionary People's Party. Shortly before the downfall of the right- 
wing leaders, a Mongol Government spokesman, the Berlin representa- 
tive of the Ministry of Education of the M.P.R., Ishi Dordji, had 
openly admitted that pan-Mongolism was the political ideology of Ulan 
Bator. He stated that the 'unification of the Mongols around Outer 
Mongolia* was the aim which the Government and the Revolutionary 
People's Party of the M.P.R., pursued. The cultural activity conducted 
in Mongolia*, he said, 'has its importance and is bearing its fruits far 
beyond the borders of autonomous Mongolia . . . Independent 
Mongolia, with her developed national culture and her political and 
economic programme, is attracting great interest among the intellectuals 
and youth of the other Mongols living outside Outer Mongolia*. 

134 



THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 

Ishi Dordji added, that one could meet in Ulan Bator, representatives of 
all kinds of Mongols ranging from the Kalmucks of the Lower Volga to 
the Mongols of the Yellow River. Ishi Dordji frankly expressed the view 
that the cultural and political revival centred in Ulan Bator would 
ultimately influence both the half-russianized Buryats and the half- 
sinicized Mongol groups in Inner Mongolia, such as the Tumets.* 2 

These amazing utterances of a Mongol Government official were made 
in the form of an article in the review Osteuropa, which was probably 
written shortly before the purge of the pan-Mongolist elements in 
the M-P.R. Government, but published only after that event. The article 
made abundantly clear why Russia, from her own point of view, had to 
intervene in Ulan Bator and put new people into the Mongol Govern- 
ment. By the end of the 'twenties', the Soviet leaders had lost all previous 
illusions that pan-Mongolism could ever be used to Russia's advantage. 
They no longer believed that pan-Mongolism could be made a Soviet 
tool, or that it could serve the cause of the revolution in East Asia. 

LEFT-WING EXTREMISM 

When the Seventh Congress struck its blow against Mongol nationalism, 
the leading Party and Government circles were just about to summon to 
Ulan Bator a pan-Mongol congress of lamas, for the old leadership 
was not only nationalistic, but also friendly to Buddhism. It had not 
only not touched the Buddhist monasteries, owning almost one-fifth 
of the country's cattle, but it had even granted them loans through the 
State bank. The Seventh Congress completely reversed the pro-religious 
policy. The property of the lamaseries was taken over by the State, and 
a whole chain of legislative and administrative measures forced the 
individual lamas to return to secular life. A 'Central Anti-religious 
Commission* was attached to the new government of the M.P.R. to 
co-ordinate all measures directed against the Buddhist monasteries. It 
was supported by a mass organization, modelled on the 'League of 
Militant Godless* in the U.S.S.JL 

The new leaders of Mongolia tried to copy not only the anti-religions 
policy of the Ail-Union Communist Party, but also its economic policy. 
It was no longer simply a question of a 'non-capitalist development* . 
The new slogan was 'socialist transformation of the entire economy 
of the country*. The transformation was to be carried out during the 
first Mongol Five- Year Plan, which was supposed to run from 1930 to 
1935. Destruction of all private enterprise in cattle-breeding and trade 
was the main objective of the Mongol plan. With this aim in view, the 
Eighth Congress of the Mongolian People's Party in 1930, which was 
entirely dominated by left-wing extremists', decided to found collective 
farms on the Soviet pattern. The decision was implemented so hurriedly 

135 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 

that 35 per cent of all cattle-breeder families had joined the new 
'Kolkhozy' by 1931. The Russian communist Press, far from disapprov- 
ing this new course, welcomed it enthusiastically. 

This Soviet enthusiasm for the new left-wing trend in Mongolia was 
of short duration, for it very soon had the most disastrous results. If 
rapid collectivization was a mistake in the Soviet Union, it was even 
more out of place in Mongolia. Within two years the number of cattle 
dropped from 23-4 millions in 1930 to 16 millions in 1932. The crisis 
of cattle-breeding, and the impoverishment of the population ensuing 
from it, were made worse by the decline of trade and transport. Private 
trade had been forcibly liquidated, and the state and co-operative 
enterprises were not able to cope with their increased responsibilities 
and to provide goods in adequate quantities. The same was true of 
transport. The Government had rendered the work of private camel 
transport undertakings impossible, without developing motor transport 
on a corresponding scale. Finally, the Mongol State farms, which had 
been formed on the model of the Russian Sovkhozy, could be kept 
going only at the price of heavy losses to the public finances. Thus, the 
activities of the left-wing regime brought nothing but misery to the 
people and bankruptcy to the State. 

As popular risings became increasingly frequent in all parts of the 
country, and as the general situation in East Asia became more and 
more threatening, Moscow decided to reverse once again its policy in 
Mongolia. Through the personal intervention of Stalin, the left-wing 
adventurers* were ousted from the Party and the Government. The 
implementation of the Five-Year Plan was stopped. The collective 
farms and State farms were liquidated, Private trade was re-introduced. 
The anti-religious campaign lost in momentum.* On the whole there 
was a return to sanity. This new policy was not initiated by a congress 
of the Mongolian Revolutionary People's Party. The Party was in too 
much chaos to allow for the election of delegates. The new line was 
decided at an extraordinary meeting of the Central Committee and the 
Central Control Commission of the Party, and a new congress, the 

* Legal discrimination against Buddhist ecclesiastical dignitaries continued in the M.P.R. 
longer than in the Soviet Union, The Mongol Constitution of 1 940 expressly deprived higher 
lamas of their voting ngnts. No such limitation was inserted into the Stalin Constitution 
of Soviet Russia which came into effect hi 1936. When high ecclesiastical dignitaries hi 
Soviet Russia were used for propaganda purposes, the Mongol Government adapted its 
policy to the Soviet modet In September 1944, the constitution of Mongolia was revised, 
and voting rights were granted to such categories of people as had been deprived of them 
for political reasons, the members of the Buddhist hierarchy included. The head of the 
Buddhist ecclesiastic organization in the M.P.R. then started to play a part hi official 
propaganda similar to that of the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia in the Soviet 
Union. Daring the 1945 plebiscite campaign, he was reported to have 'prayed for the 
prosperity of the independent Mongolian People's Republic*. (Soviet Mordtvr, October 
22o41945.) 

136 



THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 

ninth, was not summoned until two years later when order was more or 
less restored in the country. 

MONGOLIA AND JAPAN 

In this new period which started in June 1932, all references to a 
'socialist transformation* of Mongolia were dropped. 'All-round 
strengthening of Mongol independence* became the chief slogan. 
Reasons of foreign policy played a considerable part in this change of 
tactics. In 1931, Japan had started the conquest of Manchuria, and from 
year to year, even from month to month, the Japanese armies were 
becoming more threatening in the Mongol-Manchurian border areas. 
There were signs of Japan conducting an active Mongol policy. A 
Mongol Office was attached to the Japanese puppet government of 
Manchukuo. The Hsingan Province of Manchuria, bordering on both 
Outer and Inner Mongolia, was transformed into an autonomous 
Mongol territory where Mongol princes were in charge of the admin- 
istration under Japanese supervision. In 1937, Japan further extended its 
co-prosperity sphere by installing in Inner Mongolia a puppet govern- 
ment under Prince Teh. 

Moscow reacted to the Japanese challenge by strengthening the ties 
between the M.P.R. and the Soviet Union. On March 12th, 1936, the 
Soviet-Mongol Mutual Assistance Treaty was concluded. The most out- 
standing feature of the treaty was that it no longer mentioned the formal 
Chinese sovereignty over Outer Mongolia which the previous Russian- 
Mongol Alliance Treaty had still recognized. Despite the existence of 
the new treaty, the Soviet Government was still not satisfied with the 
situation in the M.P.R., and continued to harbour a deep distrust of 
most Mongol leaders. The Kremlin overrated most probably, the clever- 
ness of the Japanese in handling the Mongol issue, and believed in the 
possibility of the emergence of a 'Japanese Party' in Outer Mongolia . In 
1932, it is true, there had been a pro- Japanese rising in the M.P.R., 
but since then the situation had changed thoroughly. While in occupation 
of Manchukuo, the Japanese mismanaged the Mongol problem com- 
pletely. They showed as little understanding of the mentality and the 
point of view of the Mongols as the German Nazis had shown to the 
peoples of the western borderlands of Soviet Russia when occupying 
those borderlands during the Second World War. In the Mongol terri- 
tories of Manchukuo there was a 'strong anti- Japanese mood' which led 
to the execution of Mongol ministers, and other Mongol dignitaries by 
88 



137 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 



THE MURDER OF MARSHAL DEMID AND THE 
TRIUMPH OF MARSHAL CHOIBALSAN 

Although the Japanese had forfeited such sympathies as they might 
have had in the M.P.R., the Kremlin continued to fear that some of the 
leaders of the Mongol Government and the Party, in a moment of crisis, 
might prefer Asiatics to Russians as their supreme masters. This led 
to a new decisive change of regime in Ulan Bator, during which 
Choibalsan, the head of the Russian party, became the ruler of the 
country. Choibalsan had shown his loyalty to Soviet Russia in many 
instances, particularly in 1936 when he frustrated Japan's attempts *to 
throw the door open into Outer Mongolia'. Making use of a number of 
incidents on the Manchukuo border, the High Command of the 
Kwantung Army then demanded the admission into the M.P.R. of 
Japanese military observers and of a Manchukuo consul. Certain of 
Russian support, Choibalsan braved the Japanese pressure. In his 
capacity of Foreign Minister, he emphatically rejected the Japanese 
demands. The War Minister, Marshal Demid, and the Prime Minister, 
Gendun, until then the strong men of Outer Mongolia, remained on 
that occasion in the background. 

At the time when the purge in Soviet Russia reached its climax, 
Demid, Gendun, and his successor, Amor, were 'liquidated' and later 
referred to as 'enemies of the people*. The greatest sensation of all was 
caused by the disappearance of Marshal Demid who had met with sud- 
den death when travelling to Moscow by the Trans-Siberian express. A 
statement issued by the official Soviet news agency said that Demid had 
died from poisoned food on August 22nd, 1937, near the railway station 
of Taiga, which is a few miles west of Tomsk. Together with Demid died 
Dzhansankorlo, a divisional commander of the Mongolian Army. Three 
other members of his entourage, a major and his wife and an official of 
the Mongol Legation in Moscow, were also poisoned but were rescued 
'thanks to efficient medical assistance*. The mortal remains of the 
Marshal were not taken back to Mongolia which would have been the 
noraaal thing. They travelled all the way through Western Siberia and 
a large part of European Russia until they reached Moscow where they 
wese cremated OB the day of arrival. The Soviet authorities marked the 
occasion by organizing as impressive mourning ceremony in the Russian 
capital Mongol and Soviet flags were lowered to half-mast, two cavalry 
squadrons and one artillery battery of the Red Army stood to attention. 
Prominent representatives of the Soviet People's Commissariats of 
Foreign Affairs and National Defence delivered funeral speeches. 

All this - the death of Demid, the arrival of the corpse and the funeral 
speeches - was reported in one angle issue ofPravda (August 29th, 1937), 

138 



THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 

which also reassured the Mongols that the investigation into all circum- 
stances connected with Demid's death would continue. But nothing 
further was heard about the whole affair which must have aroused the 
gravest suspicions throughout Mongolia, The tragic death of Marshal 
Demid, whose pictures could be seen throughout Outer Mongolia, was 
in all probability closely connected with the Tukhachevsky affair. All the 
defence arrangements for Outer Mongolia had been planned in agree- 
ment between Marshal Demid and Marshal Tukhachevsky. In view of 
the dependence of the Mongol Army on the Red Army, Marshal Demid 
could be nothing else than Tukhachevsky's local representative and had 
to share his fate. 

Demid was hardly a 'Japanese agent*, but he was certainly a staunch 
Mongol nationalist, more attracted by the tradition of Genghis Khan 
than by Marxism-Leninism. This is borne out by frequently-quoted 
passages of a speech which the Marshal delivered in 1934 at the Ninth 
Congress of the Revolutionary People's Party: 'The whole world knows 
that at the time of Genghis Khan, the Mongol Army distinguished itself 
by its impetuous attacks on the enemy. Today, when our country finds 
itself on the way towards national rebirth, we are strengthening in our 
army again this fine feature of Genghis Khan's forces, so that we can 
give a worthy answer to the enemy if he tries to attack us.* 84 

After the death of Demid, there were still other Mongols in leading 
positions to whom Genghis Khan was a greater object of veneration 
than Stalin. To get rid of these nationalists and romantics, Choibalsan 
had to purge once more the intellectual elite of the M.P,R. including 
the 'Academic Committee*,* which co-ordinated scientific research work 
throughout the country. This happened in 1938. Little, if any, docu- 
mentary evidence about this purge has penetrated into the outside 
world, but a Russian writer, Mikhail Kolesnikov, dealt with the problem 
of Mongolia's anti-Soviet intelligentsia in his revealing novel, The 
Happy Oasis, The main theme of the book is a conspiracy of Mongol 
nationalists who enjoy both Japanese and American support One of 
the principal plotters is a learned Mongol, a graduate of Cambridge 
University, with the name of 'Zhamtso%f whom the Government had 
appointed to the post of President of the 'Academic Committee*. The 
opening chapter of the novel includes a conversation between Marshal 
Choibalsan and a Russian scholar whom Kolesnikov calls 'Audrey 
Makarovkh Turanov% but who in reality is presumably A. Ya. 
Tugarinov, a Soviet zoologist who worked for many years in Mongolia. 
Here is a short extract from the dialogue which, with remarkable foaak- 



* Tfee verbatim translation of the oa&aal Mongol title of this body is 'Committee of 

Books and Letters*. 

t His real name was Ztiamlsaraao, a Buryat by origin and former professor of Irkutsk 

University. 

139 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 

ness, admits Russian interfer ence in the affairs of the 'Academic Com- 
mittee*: 

"Choibalsan asked unexpectedly - 

'What do you think of the w ork of our Academic Committee and in 
particular of the chairman of the Committee, Zhamtso?' 

The question did not find Turanov unprepared. During a week's stay 
in Mongolia he had succeeded in getting well-acquainted with the work 
of the Academic Committee. Scientific work was conducted in an 
unsatisfactory way. The chairman, Zhamtso, suppressed the valuable 
initiative of young scholars. The funds assigned by the State were not 
spent in accordance with the provisions of the budget. He was not 
interested in the requirements of contemporary life. 

4 It seems to me that the work of the Academic Committee is conducted 
in a somewhat one-sided way' answered Turanov. 

'What do you mean?* 

'Well, my main contention is, of course, that the objects of the 
scientific research work of the Academic Committee and the problems 
which it solves have little connection with the practical interests of the 
State.* 

'But the Academic Committee has accomplished a great work, inter- 
jected the Prime Minister, 'scientific research sections have been formed 
for various branches of study; philology, history, geology. A network 
of meteorological stations has come into being. A State library has been 
established which has now 200,000 volumes. Has all this really no con- 
nection with practical interests?* 

*Oh yes, it has, but all this is not enougji. I am speaking from the 
point of view of the programme of your party/ 

Choibalsan's face assumed a thoughtful expression. 

*Yo are quite right, Audrey Makaro vich. It is not enough. Even worse 
than that. The Academic Committee spends the tremendous funds that 
are at its disposal in a completely unrational way. Not so long ago, 
Zhamtso submitted a plan to the Government suggesting the restoration 
of the ancient Mongol capital of Karakorum, the monastery of Erdeni 
Tszu and other monuments of the former greatness of Mongolia.* 86 " 

The ruins of Karakoran, which was the capital of Genghis Khan, 
were discovered in 1889 by the Russian archaeologist, N. M. Yadrintsev. 
Frota the Soviet point of view it would have been better if the ruins of 
the Mongol cultural and political centre had never teen found at all. 
Their existence has served as an inspiration to Mongol nationalism and 
to pan-Mongol ideas, and, according to Kolesnikov's novel, they have 
also diverted the attention of certain Mongol intellectuals from practical 
economic tasks. Neither Choibalsan nor his Russian advisers could 

140 



THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 

reconcile themselves to such an outlook and Kolesnikov's novel 
terminates, therefore, quite logically with the reorganization and purge 
of the 'Academic Committee'. 

CHOIBALSAN'S 'FOREIGN POLICY* 

Under Choibalsan's rule, the ties between Russia and the M.P.R. were 
greatly strengthened. The Mongol National Revolutionary Army and 
the Red Army virtually became one. The Japanese, who between May 
and August 1939, provoked a number of major border incidents in the 
area of the Khalkin-Gol River, had to learn by experience that the 
Soviet-Mongol alliance was something very real. Official Soviet reports 
on the incidents indiscriminately used such terms as 'Mongol-Soviet 
forces', 'Soviet-Mongol artillery' and 'Mongol-Soviet air force'. There is, 
indeed, no doubt that the Japanese attacks were warded off by both 
Mongol and Soviet troops and that the former lost 1,131 men in the 
operations. According to an official Soviet version, 25,000 Japanese 
were killed in the battles on the Khalkin-Gol River. 86 

When hostilities broke out between Germany and the U.S.S.R., the 
M.P.R. did not join the war officially, nor did it send any troops to the 
front, but it helped the Soviet Union in every other way. The Mongols 
had to work hard in order to supply the Red Army with everything that 
their country had to offer. Here is a short list of what the Mongols sent 
to tie front: 60,000 horses, 47,000 sheepskin coats, 51,000 fur jackets, 
60,OCO pairs of felt boots, *and many other valuable things'. 37 

In addition, the Mongols sent 28,000 so-called 'individual presents' to 
Soviet soldiers and officers. Throughout the war the M.P.R. also had 
the patronage of a tank brigade, 'Revolutionary Mongolia', and of an 
air squadron, 'The Mongol Arat'.* It is not quite clear what the word 
'patronage' entailed in these two cases, but it is a safe assumption that 
it was a rather costly affair, and that both the brigade and the squadron 
were financed and supplied out of Mongol State funds. 

It does not seem that these material sacrifices were gladly 
accepted by the Mongols, particularly not in the earfy part of the 
war when the Soviet armies suffered defeat The initial victories of 
Germany are likely to have provoked some doubts in Mongolia about 
the wisdom of Choibalsan's policy of Mongol-Soviet co-operation. 
Opposition re-emerged within the Party. In the years 1942 and 1943 It 
was again purged from *alien and unsuitable elements*. 38 Later in the 
war when the military situation was reversed Cholbalsan recovered bis 
prestige and 10,000 new members joined the Party ranks. The popularity 

* The original meaning of the term *arai' (new Mongol spelling *anf) is nomadic toiling 
cattle-breeder. It is now applied to the entire working population of Mongolia and in its 
widest sense it simply means the wfaok Mongol peopie, 

141 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 

of the regime was further enhanced by the so-called Soviet-Japanese 
War of August 1945 in which the Mongol army, then 80,000 men 
strong, played an active part. The M.P.R. proclaimed a 'Holy War' 
against Japan, and the Mongolian army suffered 675 casualties in the 
campaign. However small this contribution might have been, Mongolia 
got ample credit for it. Stalin's Order of the Day of August 23rd, 1945, 
announcing the capitulation of the Kwantung army mentioned the 
'Mongolian army under Marshal Choibalsan' twice, and stated expressly 
that the 24 artillery salvoes from 324 guns which were fired in Moscow 
in honour of the victory saluted both the Soviet and the Mongol troops. 

The next event in Mongolia's history was a farce, namely, a plebiscite 
about the independence of the M.P.R. The plebiscite was carried out on 
October 21st, 1945, in compliance with an agreement which the Soviet 
Government had concluded with the Chiang Kai-shek regime on August 
1 4th, of the same year. The plebiscite was arranged for purely formal 
reasons; it was to end, from the point of view of international law, 
Mongolia's theoretical inclusion in the Chinese Republic. On the basis 
of Mongol constitutional law, Mongolia had been independent ever 
since the adoption of the constitution of June 30th, 1940, which had 
proclaimed Mongolia an 'independent state'. There was nobody in 
Mongolia who would have dared to oppose the so-called independence 
of the M.P.R. at the plebiscite, and not a single person voted against 
it, not even one of the numerous Chinese working in Ulan Baton 

The Mongol-Soviet relations of the post-war period were regulated 
by two treaties which were concluded in February, 1946. They were not 
very explicit in their wording, but they provided, in fact, for a total 
co-operation between the two countries in the military, economic and 
cultural spheres. One of the treaties referred to detailed agreements 
which were to be entered into by the various economic and cultural 
organizations directly. These special agreements have never been pub- 
lished, but it may be taken for granted that all important Soviet State 
institutions have by now established direct contact with the correspond- 
ing institutions of the M.P.R. 

THE HEW CONSTITUTION 

As far as the internal development of the M.P.R. is concerned the 
Choibalsan regime narrowed down the differences in the political 
stracture between Mongolia and the Soviet Union, Choibalsan and his 
associates gave the M.P.R. a new constitution which is largely identical 
with the constitutions of the thirty-two Soviet Republics and Autono- 
mous Soviet Republics of the U.S.S.R. 

The constitutional reform was carried out in two stages. Most of the 
provisions of the constitution now in force were adopted as early as 1940 

142 



THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 

by the Tenth Party Congress, but in February 1949 this original text 
was redrafted and altered in a number of essential points. Under the 
1940 constitution there existed two national assemblies, the 'Little 
Khural*, which performed the ordinary legislative work, and the 'Grand 
National KhuraF which was summoned only for the discussion of 
fundamental problems of policy. The 1949 version of the constitution 
abolished this dualism. It vested all legislative power in the Grand 
National Khural, which now fully corresponds to the Supreme Councils 
(Soviets) of the Republics forming the Soviet Union. Moreover, the 1940 
constitution provided for indirect elections to the central legislature, 
and to the provincial (aimak) and district (somon) councils. The revised 
text of the constitution introduced direct elections on all levels, including 
the election of judges of the lower courts, exactly as in the Soviet 
constitution of 1936. 

A minor change concerned Outer Mongolia's national flag. Article 93 
of the 1940 constitution said that the flag of the Mongol People's 
Republic should consist of a red cloth. Article 106 of the amended 
constitution stipulated that the Mongol national colours should be red- 
blue-red. Here, at least, Mongolia seems at first sight to depart from 
the Soviet model, for, until 1949, all Soviet Republics had the plain red 
flag as their 'national' symbol. But the Kremlin has decided that there 
is no need for a uniformity of symbols as long as there is uniformity of 
policy. Since 1949 one Soviet Republic after another has been allowed 
to change the red banner for a red-blue one or a red-green one, with the 
red colour always comprising two-thirds of the whole flag. Thus, what 
appeared at first as a special concession to Mongolia has also been 
granted to the official member States of the Soviet Union. 

Apart from small variations of terminology there is only one funda- 
mental difference between the Mongol and the Soviet constitutions. The 
constitutions of the Soviet Republics properareconstitutions of countries 
where, in the official view, socialism is a reality, while the Mongol 
constitution is one of a country which is moving on a non-capitalist 
road, but where socialism is still an aim for the future. Soviet sociologists 
and experts on the Far East have been unable to agree so far as to whether 
Mongolia has really marched on the way to socialism since the adoption 
of the 1940 constitution. One school of thought considers that the anti- 
feudal programme of the Mongol Revolution was exhausted by 1940, 
and that since then Mongol socialism has been developing. The prota- 
gonists of this concept have shown, with the help of statistics* that the 
socialist sector already plays an important part in many broaches of 
Mongol economy, 

The other, and more authoritative, group of sociologists and experts 
believes that tie 'struggle against remnants of feudalism in the economy 
and the minds of the people 9 is still not terminated. This view is held, 

143 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 



by among others, academician E. M. Zhukov, who, in November 1951, 
stressed at a conference in the Oriental Institute of the All-Union 
Academy of Sciences that the existing level of industrial development 
was not capable of ensuring the transition of the bulk of Mongol live- 
stock breeders to a collective economy. 39 

The following comparison between ten characteristic articles which 
are contained in both the Mongol and Buryat-Mongol constitutions, 
shows to what extent Choibalsan copied the Soviet original. 



CONSTITUTION OF THE MONGOL 
PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC. 

Article 3. 

All power in the Mongol People's 
Republic belongs to the working 
people of town and khudon as 
represented by the Khurals* of 
Working People's Deputies. 

Article 5. 

All the land and its natural resources, 
forests, waters and all the wealth 
contained therein, factories, mills, 
mines, gold production, rail, auto- 
mobile, water and air transport, 
means of communication, banks, 
Hay-Cutting Stations* and State 
farms are State property, that is, 
belong to the people as a whole. 
Private ownership of the above is 
forbidden. 

Article 34 

The Council of Ministers of the 
M.P.R. is for its activity responsible 
and accountable to the Grand 
National Khural* and in the inter- 
vals between sessions to foe Presidium 
of the Grand National Khural* 



Article 67. 

Judges are independent and subject 
only to the law. 



CONSTITUTION OF THE 
BURYAT-MONGOL A.S.S.R. 

Article 3 

All power in the Buryat-Mongol 
A.S.S.R. belongs to the working 
people of town, ulus and village as 
represented by the Soviets* of Work- 
ing People's Deputies. 

Article 6. 

The land, its natural resources, 
waters, forests, mills factories, rail, 
water and air transport, banks, means 
of communication, large State organ- 
ized agricultural enterprises (State 
farms, Machine Tractor Stations* and 
the like) as well as municipal enter- 
prises and the bulk of the dwelling 
houses in the cities and industrial 
localities* are State property, that is, 
belong to the people as a whole. 

Article 39. 

The Council of Ministers of the 
Buryat-Mongol A.S.S.R. is respons- 
ible and accountable to the Supreme 
Soviet* of the B.M.A.S.S.R. and in 
the intervals between sessions to the 
Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of 
the BM.A.S.S.R* 

Article 80. 

Judges are independent and subject 
only to the law. 



144 



THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 



Article 71. 

Local Public Prosecutors exercise 
their functions independently of any 
local organs whatsoever, being subor- 
dinate solely to the Public Prosecutor 
of the Republic. 



Article 86. 

Candidates for elections are nomin- 
ated by electoral constituencies. The 
right to nominate candidates is 
secured to public organizations and 
societies of the working people: the 
organizations of the Revolutionary 
People's Party* co-operatives, trade 
unions, youth organizations, Arat 
unions and cultural societies. 

Article 95. 

In conformity with the interests of 
the working people, and in order to 
develop the organizational initiative 
and political activity of the toiling 
masses, the citizens of the M.P.R. 
are ensured the right to unite in 
public organizations: trade unions, 
co-operative organizations, youth 
organizations, sport and defence 
organizations, cultural, technical and 
scientific societies; and the most 
active and politically-conscious citi- 
zens in the ranks of the workers, 
toiling arats and intellectuals, are 
united in the Mongol Revolutionary 
People's Party,* which is the van- 
guard of the working people in their 
struggle to strengthen and develop 
the country along non-capitalistic 
lines,* into a party which is the lead- 
ing core of all organizations of the 
working people, both public and 
State. 

* Tbc italics are the author's. 



Article 85. 

The organs of the Public Prosecutor's 
Office exercise their functions inde- 
pendently of any local organs whatso- 
ever, being subordinate solely to the 
Prosecutor-General of the U.S.S.R. 
and the Public Prosecutor of the 
R.S.F.S.R. 

Article 109. 

Candidates for elections are nomin- 
ated by electoral constituencies. The 
right to nominate candidates is 
secured to public organizations and 
societies of the working people: the 
organizations of the Communist 
Party,* trade unions, co-operative 
societies, youth organizations, and 
cultural societies. 

Article 93. 

In conformity with the interests of 
the working people, and in order 
to develop the organizational initia- 
tive and political activity of the 
toiling masses, the citizens of the 
B.M.A.S.S.R. are ensured the right 
to unite in public organizations, trade 
unions, co-operative organizations, 
youth organizations, sport and 
defence organizations, cultural, tech- 
nical and scientific societies; and the 
most active and politkally-conscious 
citizens in the ranks of the working 
class and other sections of the work- 
ing people unite in the Communist 
Party of the Soviet Union,* which is 
the vanguard of the working people 
in their straggle to strengthen and 
develop the socialist system** and is 
the leading core of all organizations 
of the working people, both public 
and State, 



145 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 



Article 101. 

The M.P.R. affords the right of 
asylum to foreign citizens persecuted 
for defending the interests of the 
working people, or for their struggle 
for national liberation. 



Article 103. 

Compulsory military service is law. 
Military service in the Mongol 
People's Revolutionary Army is an 
honourable duty for the citizens of 
the M.P.R. 

Article 104. 

The defence of the motherland is the 
sacred duty of every citizen of the 
M.P.R. Treason against the mother- 
land - violation of the oath, desertion 
to the enemy, impairing the military 
power of the state and espionage - 
is punishable as the most heinous of 
crimes* 



Article 96. 

The B.M.A.S.S.R. affords the right 
of asylum to foreign citizens per- 
secuted for defending the interests 
of the working people, or for 
scientific activities or for struggling 
for national liberation. 

Article 99. 

Compulsory military service is law. 
Military service in the Armed Forces 
of the U.S.S.R. is an honourable 
duty for the citizens of the 
B.M.A.S.S.R. 

Article 100. 

To defend the motherland is the 
sacred duty of every citizen of the 
B.M.A.S.S.R. Treason against the 
motherland - violation of the oath, 
desertion to the enemy, impairing the 
military power of the state and 
espionage - is punishable as the most 
heinous of crimes. 40 



The statute of the Revolutionary People's Party which its Tenth 
Congress adopted in 1940, copied that of the Soviet Communist Party 
as closely as the Mongol constitution imitated the Soviet constitution. 
The Tenth Mongol Congress walked in the footsteps of the Eighteenth 
Congress of the Soviet communists of March 1939. Like its great 
example, it was a landmark in the Party's history and was followed by an 
organizational strengthening of the Party ranks. Between the Tenth and 
the Eleventh Congress in 1947, the Party increased its membership from 
14,000 to 28,000.* The Soviet Communist Party also doubled its 
membership during this period. 

CHOXBALSAN'S ECONOMIC POLICY 

The most important task of the Eleventh Party Congress was the intro- 
duction of the new Mongol Five-Year Plan. The plan came into force 

* Daring the period between the wars, the membership figure of the Mongol Revolutionary 
People's Party had developed like a fever carve. From 3,000 members in 1923, it went up 
to 15,000 in 1923, and reached its peak in the first half of 1932, when there were as maay as 
44,000 menibers. Of this record number, only 8,000 were left after a tbowm^i purge 
foBowiag fee change of policy carried out in June 1932* 



146 



THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 

on January 1st, 1948, twenty years after the introduction of long term 
economic planning in the Soviet Union. The Five- Year Plan running 
from 1948 to 1952 was officially described as the 'first', although in fact, 
the first Mongol Five- Year Plan had been introduced and abandoned 
as a failure in the early 'thirties*. 

The purpose of the plan was to increase the general well-being of the 
country and to put the Mongol People's Republic firmly *on the way 
towards socialism'. In the field of cattle-breeding, this was to be done by 
strengthening collectivized cattle-farms, the so-called 'Arat Unions*. 
Their number has increased every year. There were 34 of such Arat 
Unions in 1938, 121 in 1949, and 139 in 1951. It is obvious that the 
Mongol Government is anxious not to enforce collectivization too 
hastily, in view of the negative experiment of the early 'thirties 5 . 

Together with the *Arat Unions', so-called Hay-Cutting Stations have 
been set up all over the country. Their number grew from 10 in 1937 to 
55 in 1951. The Hay-Cutting Stations have very much in common with 
the Machine Tractor Stations (M.T.S.) in the Soviet Union. In the same 
way as Soviet collective farms depend on the M.T.S. for the supply of 
agricultural machinery, the Arat Unions rely on the Hay-Cutting 
Stations for the supply of feeding-stuff for their cattle. In addition to 
*Arat Unions' and Hay-Cutting Stations, the Mongol Government 
tried to promote State farms. The latter have been the pioneers of agri- 
culture in Mongolia, though on a small scale; but in future they are 
supposed to devote themselves primarily to quality stockbreeding. 

The industrial targets of the Five- Year Plan were modest, but not 
unimportant. Apart from raising Mongolia's coal production to over 
half a million tons, it provided for the extension of the food and light 
industries of the country. The most important industrial plants of 
Mongolia are the 'Choibalsan Kombinaf, in Ulan Bator, which supplies 
shoes, underwear and clothing of European style to the urban population, 
and the highly mechanized meat factory which is called after Stalin. 
Output increase of these two plants was an important item of the Five- 
Year Plan. The Mongol workers staffing these and other enterprises, far 
from constituting the political basis of the regime, which they ought to 
be doing according to Leninist theory, are a backward element that 
causes considerable uneasiness to the Revolutionary People's Party. 
Many of tihte so-called industrial workers of Mongolia have only just 
abandoned their nomadic way of life. In 1947, of all industrial workers, 
35 per cent had less than ose year of factory work to thsdr credit la 
these circumstances one can well imagine that labour discipline is still 
very low. 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 



THE DEATH OF CHOIBALSAN 

The M.P.R. is copying the Soviet Union not only in fundamental 
institutions, such as the constitution and the Five- Year Plan, but also in 
matters of detail. Choibalsan, for instance, imitated Stalin in every res- 
pect. When, in 1939, the Soviet Government introduced Stalin Prizes 
for literature, art and inventions, the Mongol Government very soon 
afterwards created 'Choibalsan Prizes'. The Mongol constitution is 
officially referred to as the 'Choibalsan Constitution', despite being, as 
we have seen, only a free translation of the 'Stalin Constitution' of the 
U.S.S.R. At elections to the Mongol Parliament, Choibalsan appeared 
as the candidate of the 'Choibalsan constituency of Ulan Bator', in the 
same way as Stalin usually stood as candidate for the Stalin constituency 
of Moscow. 

There is no evidence that Choibalsan himself started this cult out of 
personal ambition. It is more likely that the initiative for it lay with the 
Mongol Revolutionary People's Party, or even with the Soviet Govern- 
ment. Both may have wanted to consolidate the pro-Russian trends in 
Mongolia by creating a mystique around a 'Fuehrer', But the moment 
came when Moscow and the Russian Party in Ulan Bator probably 
regretted the almost complete identification that had existed since 1938 
between Choibalsan and fee Mongolian regime. This was when Marshal 
Choibalsan died in Moscow on January 26th, 1952. His death seems to 
have thrown the country into considerable confusion. It certainly took 
four months before a successor was appointed, in the person of the 
Secretary-General of the Party and first deputy premier, Tsedenbal. 
Before the problem of Choibalsan's succession was settled, the Mongol- 
ian Revolutionary People's Party organized a big propaganda campaign 
popularising the Soviet Union with the help of lectures, exhibitions, 
cinema shows, and the opening of Russian language courses. Also, the 
Grand National Khural, was summoned to send a letter of allegiance 
to Stalin. The entire campaign was to convey to the people that 
Choibalsan, although an object of great veneration during his lifetime, 
was only a gifted pupil of the Soviet generalissimo. This was also more 
or less the tenor of the speech which Tsedenbal delivered at Choibalsan's 
funeral, a speech which was very largely inspired by the one which 
Stalin had made in 1924 at Lenin's funeraL 

The real historical importance of Choibalsan for Mongolia is difficult 
to assess, but it is fairly certain that, rightly or wrongly, some of the 
most remarkable reforms which took place in his country will be for 
ever associated with his name. 



148 



THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 



THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION 

Between 1940 and 1950 it was not only the economic and political 
structure of the M.P.R, that underwent many changes; the health services 
and the cultural life of the country were also 'revolutionized'. During 
this period the number of hospitals in the country increased from 17 to 
50, that of medical and first aid posts from 157 to 421, that of chemist* s 
shops from 6 to 63. In 1940 there was only one maternity home in the 
country, whereas in 1950 there were over 100 of them. 41 

As far as education was concerned, Mongolia boasted 412 schools in 
1949 with 60,000 pupils and 3,000 teachers (against 417 teachers in 1940). 
The country had in 1949, furthermore, 14 technical schools and 345 
libraries and reading rooms. Since 1942 the M.P.R. has possessed a 
State university; it has a musical and dramatic theatre, and a new theatre 
was opened in 1950. 42 

The number of newspapers increased from ten in 1940 to twenty- 
seven in 1950, and that of journals from eight to sixteen.* 

The increase in the number of schools and newspapers was the natural 
consequence of the growth of literacy in the M.P.R. At the time of the 
Mongol National Revolution, only 6,000 people in the country were 
able to read and write. This was less than 1 per cent of the total popula- 
tion. In 1947, 42 per cent of the adult inhabitants of the country were 
literate and in 1951, 87 per cent 

A decisive turning point in the literacy campaign was the introduction 
of the Russian alphabet decreed by the Central Committee of the Mongol 
Revolutionary People's Party and the Mongol Government on March 
25th, 1941. Until then the Mongol language had been written in the 
vertical ancient Mongol script, or, since 1931, also in Latin characters. 
The decree of March 1941 was inspired by a similar decree which had 
been issued IB Buryat-Mongolia two years earlier, as well as by identical 
measures taken in other Asiatic Republics of the Soviet Uaion.f As the 
M.P.R. is formally outside the Soviet Union, its Government had to be 
more explicit in justifying the new cultural revolution than the Soviet 

* The Mongol press is organized completely on the Soviet pattern, and even the titles 
of the Moscow newspapers are imitated. The three principal newspapers published in 
Ulan Bator are the organ of the Mongol Revolutionary People's Party, Unen (meaning 
Truth" just as Pravda means Truth 1 ), Zaluchttdun Unen or Truth of the RevsonjoT , 
which corresponds to the Komsomolskaya Pravda in Moscow, and the organ of the 
Mongol army, Ulan Odo, the exact translation of the title of the newspaper of tike Red 
Army>Kra$nayaZvezda CRed Star*). As in Moscow, the Party m Ulan Bator publishes a 
periodical, Propagandist, and the leading Mongol literary journal Is named in the same 
way as is the Moscow JSostrated Ognoyok (**-&&* Fire 1 ). 



t In Uzbekistan, the Cyriffic alphabet came mto force mMa^ 

Sn. TTTTM- rtF &>* cair^y^r In gfrgtMTJgfam aHMJ fcTarai-hsfrin, It Wfl* mfawJBflftd fo tJMfidirttftla 

in September, 1941. 

149 II 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 

Republics of Central Asia needed to be. The Mongol decree stated 
first of all that the Latin alphabet lacked certain signs essential for the 
transcription of the Mongol language, and was thus unsuitable. There 
were, of course, other considerations which were more important in 
prompting the 'reform 1 , particularly the necessity of a further Mongol- 
Russian rapprochement. The decree made this point very clearly. It said 
that most of the skilled personnel employed in various branches of 
Mongol economy had received their training in Russia. It mentioned that 
the revolutionary literature, essential to the Mongol people, was written 
in the Russian language, and it emphasized very frankly that the further 
cultural development of Mongolia was possible only through the absorp- 
tion of Russian culture. 43 

This was an open admission that the growth of literacy was to be used 
for the superimposition of a Soviet Russian culture, and not for the 
development of an authentic and original Mongol cultural life. No 
immediate action followed the publication of the decree on the Cyril- 
Uzation of the Mongol script. The new Mongol orthography was not 
ready until 1946. 44 

MONGOL LITERATURE 

After the introduction of the new alphabet, State control over Mongol 
literature was tightened, but a severe censorship had already been in 
existence for a long period. In the early years of the M.P.R. there had 
been quite a few Mongol writers who had tried to take an independent 
line, and who had defended the cause of a Mongol literature standing 
outside party politics. These writers were very soon denounced as 
representing the interests of feudal circles, the trading bourgeoisie, and 
foreign intelligence services. They were also charged with stirring up 
disagreements between the nationalities living in the M.P.R., and with 
attempting to sever the ties between the latter and the Soviet Union. 46 
Tbis group of anti-Soviet writers (Buyan-Nekhe, Shi-Ayushi, Idam- 
Surun and Radia-Bazar) was ultimately liquidated after a prolonged and 
sharp ideological struggle between the protagonists of so-called 'oriental 
symbolism*, and the representatives of 'revolutionary realism', the 
counterpart of socialist realism in the Soviet Union. It was easier to 
destroy the 'reactionary* trends in Mongol prose and poetry than to 
build up a new 'realistic' Mongol literature* This can be gathered from 
the statements by Soviet Russian critics who are as outspoken in 
denouncing the alleged mistakes of Mongol writers as they are in expos- 
ing the 'shortcomings* of Buryat and Yakut literary works. Soviet 
criticism of Mongol literature is primarily concentrated on the neglect 
by Mongol authors of contemporary themes. The Soviet journal Zvezda 
complained, for instance, that certain Mongol poets depicted life 

ISO 



THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 

as if the revolution of 1921 had never taken place, and as if the 
people had not changed since then. 46 Another Soviet literary journal, 
Oktyabr, expressed regret at the absence of Mongol works about the 
'new (Mongol) man, and Mongolia's fight for peace'. 47 

Greater uneasiness has, however, been shown in Moscow about 
certain nationalist tendencies in Mongol literature. The latter have been 
fairly strong in the post-war years, and the Mongol Government has 
had to take several measures to suppress them. To achieve a greater 
measure of streamlining, the Government organized a 'Union of Mongol 
Writers* on the pattern of the 'Union of Soviet Writers*. Its first congress 
in spring, 1948, adopted a statute which made it the duty of every 
writer to 'participate in the ideological transformation and education of 
the toiling masses in the spirit of the great ideas of the Mongol Revolu- 
tionary People's Party, and in the spirit of socialism'. Mongol writers 
continued to commit ideological offences even after the foundation of 
the new body. The Central Committee of the Party therefore considered 
it necessary to issue its decree of December 31st, 1949, which initiated a 
large-scale campaign against heretics. The decree admitted that 'nation- 
alist ideas hostile to Marxism-Leninism, and the programme of the 
Party' were still reflected in literature and art as well as in the teaching in 
schools and educational institutes. The decree stated in particular that 
there was too much bias in favour of Mongol feudalism to which the 
school curricula for history and literature devoted an almost exclusive 
attention. The decree constituted a further attempt to 'debunk* various 
outstanding figures of Mongol history, and dealt once again with the 
problem of Genghis Khan, which had already played a considerable 
part in the purge of 1937-38. Some writers had glorified the military 
marches of the great Mongol khan, and the decree had to remind them 
sharply that these marches had led to nothing but robbery, and that 
Genghis Khan himself was an 'oppressor and strangler of the Mongol 
people'. 48 This argument must have been unconvincing to Mongol intel- 
lectuals who could see the cult of Ivan the Terrible, surely an oppressor 
and strangler of the Russian people, encouraged in Soviet Russia. 

Another Mongol national hero, Tsoktu Taidzhi, was dethroned by 
the same decree. This political leader and poet of the seventeenth 
century, who is / much venerated in Mongolia, led the Mongols in a war 
against Manchuria. For a long time the Mongol Government not only 
tolerated the cult of Tsoktu Taidzhi, but even actively contributed to it 
by arranging the production of a film dealing with his life and deeds. 
The film had its pnemidre in the autumn of 1945, and was at first con- 
sidered to be one of the most outstanding artistic achievements of 
Mongolia. The December deose of 1949, liowever, condemned the 
film because it implied that there were good,aswdlasbad,feiidallod&. 

As historical themes are becoming increasingly taboo* and as HOQ- 

151 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 

political literary works are undesirable, Mongol poets and writers have 
to devote themselves to those topics in which the Mongol Revolutionary 
People's Party and its Soviet protectors are interested, for instance, 
the 'great friendship between the Soviet and Mongol peoples*. Works 
falling under this heading include novels and poems extolling the 
Soviet-Mongol comradeship in arms in the fight against Japan, partic- 
ularly in the battle on the Khalkin-Gol river; and expressions of admira- 
tion for Russia's fight against Hitler. Another theme of Mongol 
literature is the glorification of the 'great leaders', Lenin, Stalin, 
Sukhe Bator and Choibalsan. During Stalin's lifetime the cult of his 
person was as effusive in Mongolia as in the Soviet Union. One poet, 
Lubsan Kurch, described Stalin as 'the wisest man', another, Puntsuk, 
called him 'the symbol of happiness of the people', and Damdin-Surin, 
the most official of all the official Mongol poets, referred to him as 
'our father'. 40 

Finally, literature is taking shape in the M.P.R., which is more or less 
identical with the Tive-Year Plan literature" of the Soviet Union. It 
pays tribute to outstanding cattle-breeders, and to the shock-workers of 
Mongolia's new industrial enterprises. 

More important than the still rather small original Mongol literature 
are the translations from other languages. The selection of books for 
translation into Mongol is a highly responsible task. How should it be 
solved, and how has it been solved? The great Russian writer, Maxim 
Gorky, thought a great deal about this problem and the result of his 
reflections were contained in a letter which he wrote to Mongol writers 
in 1925- This is what Gorky told them: 

The propagation of the principle of activity would be for your people 
the most useful thing of all. Active relationship to life is at the bottom 
of all the marvellous things which Europe possesses and which are 
worthy of being adopted by all races. Buddha taught that desire is the 
source of suffering. Europe is ahead of other peoples of the world in 
the field of science, arts and technical progress just because she was 
never afraid of suffering and always desired to improve on what she 
already had. Europe was able to stir in the masses of her people, the 
longing for justice and freedom, and for that alone we must forgive 
her a great number of sins and crimes. I think, in acquainting the 
Mongolian people with the European spirit and the aspirations of 
European massies in our times, you should translate those European 
books expressing more clearly than others the principle of action.* 

Gorky wasted revolutionary European spirit, but none the less 
European spirit, propagated in Mongolia, What Ae Soviet regime 
brought to the Mongols was less europeanization than spiritual 
and russification. Between 1925 and 1948, 227 litecary 

152 



THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 

works were translated into Mongol, including 104 works by Soviet 
authors, 80 by pre-revolutionary Russian writers and poets, and 43 by 
authors of all other nations, including, apparently, a number of com- 
munists and near-communists. 60 

The works of Soviet authors translated into Mongol included amongst 
others the following: Vsevolod Ivanov, Armoured Train 14-69 (a play 
about the Civil War in the Far East); Nikolay Ostrovsky, How Steel was 
Tempered (a novel about Soviet youth during the first few years of 
communist rule); Aleksandr Fadeev, Young Guard (the story of a 
Komsomol underground organization in the rear of the Nazi army), 
Aleksandr Korneichuk, Platon Krechet (a play about the new Soviet 
intelligentsia); Konstantin Simonov, Russian People (a play about the 
Russian resistance against the Nazi invaders); Dmitry Furmanov, 
Chapaev (a novel about the famous hero of the Russian Civil War). 

The other works which had the privilege of translation into Mongol 
dealt with similar themes and were of similar ideological content, but 
some are of less literary value than the ones mentioned. The translated 
works also include the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels, 
Stalin's Problems oj 'Leninism, and the Short History of the Communist 
Party of the Soviet Union. 

THE MONGOL THEATRE 

Russian influence has also dominated the Mongol theatre, at least since 
the beginning of that more active Soviet interference in the affairs of 
the M.P.R., which started in 1928. Until then, Chinese plays in Mongol 
translation were still performed. After the Seventh Party Congress of 
1928, the Mongol Government disbanded the 'reactionary right wing* 
drama circle of Ulan. Bator, and founded a new one which described 
itself pompously as 'Central Drama Circle bearing the name of the 
Central Committee of the Revolutionary People's Party and of the 
Revolutionary Youth League', At the same time it was decreed that all 
plays had to pass through Government censorship, and that in future no 
play could be performed which was devoid of 'revolutionary ideas*. The 
Mongol Theatre thus became, first and foremost, a propaganda instru- 
ment, putting across the party line of the moment 51 

The situation changed to some extent in the late 'thirties', when a 
number of plays, which were based on Mongol folklore were performed 
and enjoyed great popularity. A case in point was the play The Three 
Sharctigol Khans* which showed the fight of the Mongol national hero, 
Geser, against the forces of darkness personified by the three khans. 
The play, which was first performed on the occasion of the twentieth 
anniversary of Mongolians independence in 1941, dominated the Mongol 
stage for three years but wa$ then suddenly rewritten. The main theme 

133 



THE SOVIET RfOIME AND THE MONGOLS 

the fight of light against darkness, was eliminated and the action of the 
play was almost entirely confined to battle scenes. 52 The play in its 
second version was produced by a Russian Jewish producer, Rabinovich, 
in co-operation with the Mongol Oyun. The music was composed by a 
Russian, another Russian was in charge of decor, the choreographer, 
too, was Russian. No wonder that there was little genuine Mongol 
atmosphere in the would-be folklore play. Even the official organ of the 
Mongol Revolutionary People's Party, Unen, stated that the specific 
features of Mongol national customs had been neglected in the play, 
and that the producers in the Mongol Theatre should study them more 
carefully. 68 

MINORITIES IN THE M.P.R. 

The M.RR. is ethnographically as little homogenous as any Asiatic 
Soviet Republic. Although the Khalka Mongols form the large majority, 
there are quite a number of minority groups in the country. About the 
relative strength of the dominating nationality and the minorities, 
Soviet specialists on Mongolia have produced slightly conflicting state- 
ments. There is not even full agreement between the authors of two 
monographs which were published in the same year, in 1948. Mirzaev, 
whose work was published by the Institute of Geography of the All- 
Union Academy of Sciences, stated that the Khalka Mongols formed 
70 per cent of the 850,000 inhabitants of the M.P.R. The other author, 
Tsapkin, believes that they account for 80 per cent. Mirzaev gives the 
strength of Outer Mongolia's minorities as follows: Dyurbets and other 
Western Mongols - 7 per cent; Dariganga (Eastern Mongols) - 2 per 
cent; Kazakhs - 3 per cent; Tuvinians - 3 per cent; Buryats - 3 per cent. 
Tsapkin lists the same minorities, and gives them slightly different 
percentages: Kazakhs - 3 5 per cent; Dyurbets - 3 1 per cent; Buryats - 
3- 1 per cent; Dariganga - 2-2 per cent; Tuvinians -2-1 per cent; and 
'Others* - 6 per cent 54 

Neither of the two Soviet authors gives the relative strength of the 
two minorities which are politically the most important ones, the Chinese 
and the Russians. On the eve of the foundation of the M.P.R., the 
Chinese constituted a fairly strong element, even from the merely numeri- 
cal point of view. A Bolshevik expert on Mongolia, Ivan Maisky, who 
later became a distinguished diplomat, estimated in 1919-20 that out 
of a total population of 647,000 there were then as many as 100,000 
Chinese. The Chinese formed the majority of the urban population of 
Outer Mongolia which Maisky estimated at l^OOO. 55 A few years later, 
in 1930, the Chinese numbered 50,000 according to authoritative Soviet 
sources, and accounted for roughly 6 per cent of the total population of 
the MJPJL" 

154 



THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 

It seems that the Chinese are still forming a not unimportant com- 
munity in the M.P.R. and that a substantial section of the young work- 
ing class is recruited from them. The Chinese working class element is 
at least numerous enough to warrant the formation of a Chinese 
section within the Mongol trade union organization, and the publication 
of a Chinese newspaper, the title of which has been translated as 
Workers' Path. Chinese are also engaged in petty trading and horticul- 
ture. 57 % 

As to the Russian ethnical group in the M.P.R,, this consists not 
only of people who work as experts and advisers in the capital and 
other urban centres, but also of agriculturalists in the northern districts 
of the Republic. In 1921, there were 5,000 Russians in Mongolia and in 
1930 about 30,000. Today the Russian element is still in all likelihood, 
smaller than the Chinese. The aggregate strength of the 'peoples of the 
Soviet Union* in Outer Mongolia is, however, very nearly 10 per cent of 
its total population. The most important of them are the Kazakhs who 
have a special national Kazakh aimak or, as it is officially called, the 
Bayan-Ulegei Aimak where the Kazakh language is used in administra- 
tion and education. The Bayan-Ulegei Aimak is situated in the western- 
most part of the M.P.R., and is 18,000 square miles in size. Tuvinians 
and Buryats live in the northern aimaks of the M.P.R., in the neighbour- 
hood of the Tuvinian Autonomous Province and the Buryat-Mongol 
A.S.S.R. respectively. In addition, there is a small Uzbek minority 
in the town of Kobdo, which is situated in the western part of the 
Republic. 

In the past, the Soviet Union intervened on several occasions in 
favour of the minorities. In 1931, in particular, the Government circles 
were accused of *Kbalka chauvinism', not so much in their relations 
towards the 'peoples of the Soviet Union', but because of their attitude 
towards such Mongol groups as the Dyurbets, 58 

In future, the Chinese People's Republic may also take an interest in 
the minorities of the M.P.R. Just as the Buryats or Tuvinians in the 
northern aimaks are naturally gravitating towards their kinsmen, in the 
Soviet Union, there are groups in the south, such as the Dariganga, 
who maintained in the past the closest contact with Inner Mongolia and 
even China proper. 59 TThese contacts had to be broken off in the period 
between the wars but the emergence of a communist Qhiaa has created 
a strong case for their resumption. 

RUSSIA, CHINA AND MONGOLIA 

The change of regime in China, the replacement of a decaying State 
fay a vigorous and potentially expansionist system of government, has 
put the problem of Mongolia into a D^wli^tSo\^ Russia has c^taMy 

155 



THE SOVIET REGIME AND THE MONGOLS 

won the first rounds in the battle for Mongolia. The Soviet regime has 
come very near to making the aim of the Mongol nationalists - the 
unification of all Mongol territories in one independent national state - 
a Utopian impossibility. Both by their political and economic integration 
into the U.S.S.R., and by their spiritual russification, the Mongols of 
Outer Mongolia have been cut off from the Mongols of Inner Mongolia 
and JehoL Even from the point of view of communications, Outer 
Mongolia is now connected with Russian Siberia, instead of being linked 
with the Mongols of the Chinese Republic. The first Mongol-Soviet 
railway line was constructed in 1938, and the second, the Stalin Railway 
Line which runs from Ulan Bator to the Soviet border, was opened in 
1 949, Thus, everything has been done to make a change in the orientation 
of Outer Mongolia as difficult as possible, Nevertheless, the Russian 
protectorate is not the only future which can be visualized for the 
M.P.R. for the presence of a communist China on the borders of Outer 
Mongolia means achalienge to that protectorate. The political monopoly 
which Soviet Russia has tried to create for herself in Mongolia during 
many years was threatened for the first time in 1950 when a Chinese 
Embassy was opened in Ulan Bator. This event was followed up by the 
visit of a Mongol Government delegation to Peking in 1952, the con- 
clusion in that year of a Sino-Mongol Agreement on economic and 
cultural co-operation and trips to Mongolia of various groups of 
Chinese communists, particularly representatives of arts and literature. 
All this could not fail to make a considerable impression on the Mongols 
who, for such a long time, had been completely cut off from any contact 
with the non-Russian world. If China goes a step further and manifests a 
more active interest in Outer Mongolia, she is sure to meet with a certain 
response. Indeed, as has been mentioned, the original programme of the 
Mongol People's Party provided for union with a revolutionary China, 
and according even to official Soviet sources there was a major pro- 
Chinese uprising in the M.P.R., as late as 193Q. e * 

Tfae Chinese communists have even obtained the promise that the 
Mongol question will not be solved without their participation. At the 
congress of the revolutionary organizations of the Far East, which took 
place in Moscow in 1922, ZSnoviev said, on behalf of the Comintern 
aod the Russian Bolshevik Party: *I consider that the final settlement of 
the Mongol problem will only be possible at the moment when the 
Chinese tbemselves have liberated themselves from the yoke of their 
oppressors, when they have driven out of their country the imperialist 
soldiers of foreign nations, when revolution has been victorious. Only 
then, will the Chinese people be in a position to say that its fate is in 
its own hands. Only then wiB it be possible to put the Mongol question 
on a new basis whereby it is a matter of course that its final settlement 
will depend on the liberation movement in Mongolia itseC* 61 

156 



THE MONGOL PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC 

The fact that Zinoviev was later expelled from the Bolshevik Party 
and executed has, of course, no bearing on the matter. What he said 
about the right of a revolutionary China to participate in the solution 
of the Mongol problem was a true expression of Russian Bolshevik 
policy at that time, and it could still be considered as a binding promise. 
In point of fact, the Soviet Government did not abide by the pledge 
which Zinoviev had given. It settled the Mongol question, from its own 
point of view finally, at a time when the Chinese had not yet liberated 
themselves from *foreign oppressors', to use the Soviet jargon. It might 
even be said that the U.S.S.R. has shown a peculiar haste in concluding 
the agreement of 1945 with the weak bourgeois Chinese State of the 
Kuomintang, in order to put an accomplished fact before a new revolu- 
tionary and more vigorous China. 

However weighty the economic and political reasons which might be 
advanced in favour of a continuation of the Russian protectorate over 
Outer Mongolia, there are other, perhaps even more convincing, argu- 
ments which the new China could put forward against it, arguments of 
a racial and geographical nature. One day the Chinese may ask whether 
it is logical that the Asiatic Mongols should be ruled from European 
Moscow, rather than from the much nearer Asiatic Peking. 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES TO CHAPTER V 

1. Revolyutsionny Vostok, 1931, Nr 11-12, p. 238. 

2. International Press Correspondence^ February 25th, 1927. 

3. Revolyutsionny Vostok, 1932, Nr 13-14, p. 250. 

4. Antireligiozwk, 1930, Nr 7, p. 22. 

5. Antireligioznik, 1930, Nr 8-9, pp. 55-56. 

6. OUESHCHUK, Borba Tserkvi prottv Naroda - Hie' Fight of the Churdi 
against the People* Moscow 1939, p. 104. 

7. These plans of the 'Buryat counter-revolution* are aptly and dramatically 
described in a novel by the Buryat writer, ZHAMSO TUMUNOV, Step 
prosmdas - The Awakening of the Steppe, Moscow 1950, pp. 367-70. 

8. M. L POMUS, Buryat-Mongolskaya AJSS.R* - The Buryat-Mongol 
A.S.S.R., Moscow 1937, p, vii, 

9. XV let B.MJi.SJS.lL* Ulan U<te Burgiz 1938, p. 19. 

10. Pravda, September 7th, 1937. 

11. Fmvdo, September 26th, 1937. 

12. PravdOr April 17tfa, 1950, 

13. Poe&ya Sovetskoy Buryat-Mongol^ Moscow 1950, pp. 460-6Z 

157 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES TO CHAPTER V 

14. Large Soviet Encyclopedia, second edition, Moscow 1951, vol. 6, p. 350. 

15. Izvestlya, June 6th, 1948. 

16. Siblrskaya Sovetskaya Entsiklopedlya, Moscow 1932, voL 3, pp. 223-24. 

17. LJteraturnaya Entsikhpediya, vol. 1, p. 225, Moscow 1929. 

18. Za Industrialisatsiyu Sovetskogo Vostoka, Moscow 1933, Nr 3, pp. 210-19. 

19. Pravda, December 22nd, 1950. 

20. Pravda, January 17th, 1952. 

21. Izvestiya, December 17th, 1947- 

22. Literatuntaya Gazeta, March 26th, 1949. 

23. Pravda, July 4th, 1948. 

24. Istorichesky Zhurwl, 1944, Nr 10-11, pp. 84-86. 

25. International Press Correspondence, November 6th, 1930, p. 1037. 

26. Izwstiya Akademii Nauks SSR - Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences 
of the U.S.S.R., History and Philosophy Series, Nr 1, January-February 
1952, pp. 80-87. 

27. DOUGLAS CARUTHERS, Unknown Mongolia, London 1913, vol. 1, 
pp. 306-16. 

28. Krasny Arkhiv, 1939, vol. 37, pp. 58-60. 

29. Severnaya Aziya, 1928, Nr 2, pp. 80-84. 

30. Revolyutsionny Vostok, 1927, Nr 2, p. 73. 

31. Sevemaya Azxya, 1928, Nr 2, p. 90. 

32. Ism DORDJI, Kulturelle Aufbauarbeit In der Mongolei, Osteuropa, March 
1929, vol. iv, Nr 6. 

33. DIETRICH SCHAEFER, Kommunistische Propaganda in der Mongolei, 
Zeitsckrifi fuer Geopolitik, Januaiy 1939, Nr 1, p. 166. 

34. Bolshevik, May 1st, 1936, Nr 7, p. 74. 

35. MSCHAJL KOUESNKOV, Shchastlivy Oazis - The Happy Oasis, Dalny 
Vastok 1952, Nr 1, pp. 7-8. 

36. Sonet Monitor, October 10th, 1946, quoting an official note of the Mongol 
Govemiaa&t to the U.S.S.R., U^I.A., France, U.K. and China. The note 
enumerated Mongol losses in the fight against Japan, and demanded the 
iadusioa rfa M<igd representative in the Far Eastern Commission. 

37. Izvestiya, February 28th, 1946. 

38. MASLEN!KOV, M0*$dfc^ 

The Moctgol People's Republic on the Way to Socialism, Moscow 1951. 
p. 61. 

39. Izvestfya Akademii Nauk SS#- Proceedings of the Academy of Scieijces 
of the UJS.S.R., History and Philosophy Series, Nr 1, January-February 
1952, pp, 80-87. 

13S 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES TO CHAPTER V 

40. The constitutions of the M.P.R. and the B.M.A.S.S.R. were published in 
Russia by the State Publishing House for Juridical Literature in Moscow. 
(Konstitutsiya Mongalskoy Narodnoy Respubliky -The Constitution of the 
Mongol People's Republic, Moscow 1952. For the Buryat-Mongol con- 
stitution see Konstitutsiya RSFSR, Konstitutsii Avtonomnykh Sovetskikh 
Sotsiahsticheskikh Respublik - Hie Constitution of the R.S.F.S.R. and 
the Constitutions of the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics, Moscow 
1952, pp. 115-37.) 

41. MASLENNIKOV, op. cit., p. 143. 

42. Problemy Ekonomiki, May 1951, Nr 5, pp. 89-92. 

43. MASLENNIKOV, op. cit., p. 146. 

44. V. Kh. TODAYEVA, Grammatika Sovremeimogo Mongobkogo Yazyka -* 
Grammar of the Contemporary Mongol Language, Moscow 1951, p. H. 

45. B. KAMESHKOV, L/teratara Narodnoy Mongolii -The Literature of People's 
Mongolia, Zvezda 1951, Nr 9, p. 149. 

46. KAMESHKOV, op. cit., p. 153. 

47. Oktyabr, Nr 6, June 1952, p. 166. 

48. Oktyabr, Nr 6, June 1952, p. 168. 

49. Literaturnaya Gazeta, July 13th, 1946. 

50. KAMESHKOV, op. cit., p. 152. 

51. UVAROVA, op. cit., pp. 45-46. 

52. UVAROVA, op. cit., p. 104. 

53. UNEN, May 9th, 1944, quoted by UVAROVA, op. cit., pp. 177-78. 

54. E. M. MIRZAEV, Mongobkaya Narodnaya Respublika, Moscow 1948, 
pp. 23-25; N. V. TSAPKIN, Mongolskaya Narodnaya Respublika, Moscow 
1948, pp. 23-24. 

55. 1. MAISKY, Mongoliya, Novy Vostok, Moscow 1922, Nr 1, pp. 163-64. 

56. Sibirskaya Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya, Moscow 1932, voL 3, p. 513. 

57. Soviet Monitor, October 25th, 1945. 

58. Revolyutsiomy Vostok, 1931, Nr 11-12, p. 35, 

59. GERARD M. FRTTERS, Outer Mongolia and its International Position, 
London 1951, p. 43. 

60. Rewlyutsiowiy Vostok> 1931, Nr 11-12, p. 35. 

61. Novy Vostok, November 1924, Nr 8-9, pp, 218-19. 



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Province ^- N x ' * * 

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Altai Ttrrftoty \ '>? 
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l:Jliil^00itttif ftwtoc* rf i - ^''^ 

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Co&ngt* 



5. THE TUVINIANS AND THEIR COUSINS 



160 



VI 

THE TUVINIANS AND THEIR COUSINS 
I. THE REPUBLIC OF TUVA 

Tannu Tuva, or more simply, Tuva, would be a state of medium size if 
situated in Europe, but in the vast space of Asia it is a mere speck. 
Tuva, known under its Mongol name of Uriankhai until 1922, deserves 
more attention than its 100,000 inhabitants* may seem to justify, not 
only because of its economic potentialities, but also as a classic example 
of Russian and Soviet methods of expansion. 

Being an almost complete terra incognita, Tannu Tuva offers an 
interesting field for studies in history, geography and popular customs. 
From a political point of view, Tuva deserves interest for the fact that 
Russia annexed the territory twice within thirty years, without the out- 
side world paying the slightest attention. In both cases Russia made use 
of a European war to settle the Tuva problem to her own advantage, 
the first time in 1914 by proclaiming her protectorate over Tuva, the 
second time in 1944 by discreetly transforming the People's Republic 
of Tuva into an administrative unit of the U.S.S.R. 

Tuva, whose size various geographers have estimated at between 
50,000 and over 75,000 square miles, is by no means an artificial creation. 
On the contrary, Tuva is a natural fortress, a kind of Asiatic Switzerland, 
bordered by two powerful mountain chains - the Sayan in the north, 
and the Tannu Ola in the south - separating the country, which forms 
the headwater region of the Yenisei, from both Siberia and Mongolia, 

THE FIRST RUSSIAN ANNEXATION 

Uriankhai became a political issue when Russians and Chinese signed 
the Treaty of Peking in 1 860. By this treaty, Russia acquired commercial 
rights for Russian merchants, which excluded, however, the building 
of permanent Russian settlements. The first penetration of Russian 
merchants into Urianfchai, carried out on the basis of the Peking Treaty, 
led to such incidents as the burning down of Russian stores by the 
Chinese, 

* According to Russian sources tbe population of Tova was 64,000 in 1913, 701,000 in 
19% 86,000 in 1939 and 95,000 in 1941. 



THE TUVINIANS AND THEIR COUSINS 

A mixed Russian-Chinese commission investigated the situation on 
the spot in 1869, and, as a result, the Chinese had to pay an indemnity, 
while the Russians reiterated the pledge that Siberian colonists would not 
settle in Uriankhai. Russian traders, when in Uriankhai on business, 
were forced to live in tents and boats to demonstrate the temporary 
character of their presence in Chinese territory. These limitations were 
brushed aside by a new treaty concluded in 188 L China then allowed the 
Russians to establish permanent settlements not exceeding 200 people 
in one place. The Russians were even permitted to build churches and 
cemeteries, and to sell arms and spirits, which until then had been 
excluded from trading. 

Subsequent developments confirmed the original Chinese fears that 
the progress of Russian colonization would ultimately endanger Chinese 
sovereignty over Uriankhai* Indeed, Russian colonists pouring into the 
area in the 'nineties' of the nineteenth century, and in the first years of the 
twentieth century, were preparing the ground for the Russian civilian 
authorities. These colonists consisted of greedy traders trying to rob the 
natives, and of hard-working Russian peasants, including the god- 
fearing *Old Believers', members of a religious sect which promoted the 
success of Russian colonization in many parts of the Czarist Empire. The 
Russian colonists immediately acquired fishing and grazing rights which 
neither the Chinese nor the Tuvinian natives, who had completely 
ignored fisheries until the arrival of the Russians, could effectively 
challenge. Caruthers indicated that a de facto Russian protectorate 
existed over the whole country before the annexation was made formal. 
Russian authorities living in tie Siberian frontier village of Ussinskoye 
carried out official duties among the colonists of Uriankhai before the 
First World War, exactly as if the area belonged to the Russian Empire. 1 

The Government of Imperial Russia, much more hesitant in questions 
concerning Russia's territorial aggrandisement than Stalin's Russia, was 
full of doubts as to Uriankhai. As late as 191 1, the Russian Council of 
Ministers rejected the annexation of the territory, and only in 1913, 
after the establishment of the Russian protectorate over Outer Mongolia 
was Russia's political penetration into Uriankhai officially decided. 

The first formal incorporation of Uriankhai into Russia in 1914 
resulted in increased Russian colonization. 3,500 new colonists arrived 
in Tuva between 1914 and 1917, and the beginning of a new Russian era 
in the history of the little country was marked by the foundation of a 
township, Byelotsarsk - the Town of the White Czar'. 

The Stalinist conception of Russian history refuses to consider 
Czarist Russia's annexation of Uriankhai as a logical outcome of 
economic infiltration and colonization. The official Soviet thesis is that 
the Tuvinian people have linked their fate to that of the Russian people, 
and that progressive Tuvinians *always relied upon the help of the 

162 



THE REPUBLIC OF TUVA 

Russian nation in the struggle for a better future*. This is how the 
Secretary of the Communist Party of Tuva, Salchak K. Toka, described 
in 1946 the first annexation by Russia: '. . . the most far-sighted political 
leaders of the Uriankhai area, reflecting the mood of the arats, 
approached Russia with the request that she would take Tuva under 
her protection. In 1914 Tuva was taken under the protection of Russia. 
This was the most favourable solution of the problem'. 2 

The true history was somewhat different from Toka's statement. The 
Tuvinians feared all strangers and disliked the Russian newcomers 
as much as they disliked their former Chinese masters. They spoke 
of the Chinese only as 'yellow devils', and their attitude to the Euro- 
pean colonists can be characterized by the Tuvinian saying, 'The 
Russian is not a man'. 3 In the early period of colonization, the Tuvinians 
carried out numerous raids on Russian factories, for which they were 
heavily punished by the Chinese officials. Later the Russian authorities 
themselves dealt with such cases of banditry, and took the culprits to 
the prison at Minusinsk, the nearest Russian town. There may have been 
a few Tuvinians who actually favoured Russian annexation, but the 
young Soviet State did not recognize them as spokesmen of the true 
aspirations of the Tuvinian people. In the view of the Soviet People's 
Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Chicherin, the idea of Tuva's annexation 
by Russia was fostered only by 'cunning Czarist officials'. Accordingly, 
in a statement of September 23rd, 1921, Chicherin declared the annexa- 
tion of Tuva illegal, and proclaimed that the Workers' and Peasants* 
Government of Russia had no designs of any kind on the territory, 

TUVINIAN PAN-MONGOLISM 

Chicherin's statement was a solemn denunciation of all Russian terri- 
torial claims on Tuva, but it was not the birth certificate of the Tuvinian 
People's Republic (T.P.R.). Although in later years Tuva dated its 
independence back to 1921, Russia failed to acknowledge its independ- 
ence until the autumn of 1925. The Soviet Government hesitated to 
commit itself with regard to Tuva out of consideration for the Mongols, 
who had hoped that the Tuvinians would eventually join the Mongol 
People's Republic. As Mongolia was in a permanent state of internal 
chaos, the Soviet Government ultimately thought it safer that Tuva 
should link its fate with the U.S.S.R., rather than with the M.P.R., the 
more so since the number of Russians in the country was considerably 
larger than the Mongol minority. From 1925 onwards, the Soviet envoy 
in Tuva discouraged pro-Mongol tendencies, but these continued to 
exist in both the Government and the Tuvinian Revolutionary People's 
Party. In fact, there was every conceivable reason for the Tuvinian elite 
to look to Mongolia for cultural and political guidance. A Tuvmian 

163 



THE TUVINIANS AND THEIR COUSINS 

national culture and literary language did not exist. Mongol, on the 
other hand, was the language of the few educated people of the country, 
and of the holy Buddhist books. Mongol was also the official language 
of the Tuvinian Government and of the Revolutionary People's Party. 
The minutes of its first congresses were taken down in Mongol, and the 
only newspaper of the country, Unen, was written in that language. 

The first political leader of 'independent Tuva', the Prime Minister 
Donduk, was an ardent pan-Mongolist. He felt that the so-called 
political independence of the country would benefit only the Russians, 
and that geographical and political commonsense demanded the amal- 
gamation of Tuva with the Mongolian People's Republic. *The Tuvinian 
people', said Donduk, 'is small, poor and backward in the cultural 
respect. That is why it must be united with Mongolia.' 4 The ambitious 
plan of a Mongol-Tuvinian union could not be carried out but Donduk, 
in 1926, at least signed a Treaty of Friendship with the M.P.R. 

Donduk and his principal associates were not only pan-Mongolists 
but also devout Buddhists, and they insisted on a religious education for 
the Tuvinian youth. In 1928, they even passed a law limiting anti- 
religious propaganda and proclaiming Buddhism as the State religion of 
Tuva. This was more than the Soviet Government could tolerate. The 
ideological cleavage between the Tuvinian leaders and the Kremlin 
became such that a conflict between the two was bound to break out. 
The Soviet envoy in Tuva, Starkov, was instructed to bring about the 
downfall of the Tuvinian regime. This was no easy task, for the Buddhist 
and pro-Mongol leadership enjoyed the confidence of the population, 
and could be removed from office only by a coup d'etat. Moscow 
engineered the latter by making use of the differences between the old 
and the young generations in Tuva. The pro-Russian and pro-Bolshevik 
elements in the country first succeeded in getting control over the 
Tuvinian Revolutionary Youth League, the 'RevsomoP, and with its 
help the right-wing chiefs were then ousted from the party itself in the 
summer of 1929. Otto Manchen-Helfen, a German social-democrat, who 
as far as is known, was the only foreigner ever to have visited the T.P.R., 
asserted that the purge of 1929 was mainly carried out by five Tuvinian 
students. The Soviet Government had dispatched them to Tuva to 
assist the Russian envoy in restoring order. These five, who were 
graduates of the 'Communist University of the Toilers of the East 9 in 
Moscow, toured the Republic as commissars extraordinary, and expelled 
two-thirds of the party membership. 5 

THE CREATION OF A *TUVINIAN CULTURE* 

It was not enough to change the leading personnel of the T.P.R. The 
pro-Mongol tendencies in Tuva could be eliminated only by the creation 

164 



THE REPUBLIC OF TUVA 

of a Tuvinian national culture. The birthday of this Tuvinian culture 
was June 28th, 1930, when the Government published a decree on the 
introduction of the Tuvinian Latin alphabet, which had been compiled 
by a commission of Russian scholars. The introduction of the alphabet 
was the beginning of a cultural revolution. It meant not only the end of 
the Tibetan-Mongol script in Tuva, but also the end of the Mongol 
language. The State Publishing House of Tuva ceased publishing 
Mongol literature, and turned out Tuvinian pamphlets instead. The 
Mongol newspaper, Unen, was bi-lingual MongoI-Tuvinian for nine 
months, and then switched over to Tuvinian altogether. The campaign 
for the new alphabet was carried out with great enthusiasm. In the 
capital of Tuva, Kyzyl (formerly Byelotsarsk), alone, twelve literacy 
courses were opened, and all Government offices were transformed into 
class-rooms after working hours. The Tuvinian alphabet, the 'State 
script* as it was officially called, was not well received by everybody. 
The conservative, theocratical opposition tried to sabotage it by spread- 
ing all kinds of rumours. It was even asserted that the literacy classes 
were haunted by bad spirits, and, moreover, that the new alphabet was 
bad for pregnant women. The opposition was, not however, entirely 
unconstructive, for the opponents of the new alphabet tried to organize 
rival literacy classes, in which the Mongol script was taught. There was 
one other group in Tuva, which was not against the Tuvinian alphabet 
on principle, but which resented the fact that it was imposed by the 
Russians. In fact, a learned lama, Lobsan Dshigmid, had compiled a 
Tuvinian Latin alphabet in 1928, and a number of Tuvinians had started 
learning it. The Russian advisers of the Tuvinian Government rejected 
it, however, for philological reasons. This caused a great deal of bad 
blood among a section of the Tuvinian intellectuals, who asserted that 
the Russians had spoiled the spelling of their language. 6 

The Tuvinian literary language, which was made official on the 
insistence of the Soviet Government and its local plenipotentiaries, was 
not identical with the Tuvinian language as spoken by the people. It 
contained a fairly large number of Russian words which became even 
more numerous later on, particularly after the replacement of the Latin 
by the Russian alphabet The Russian words taken into the Tuvinian 
language included such political terms as: 'Soviet'; 'Bolshevik'; 'Party'; 
'kolkhoz'; as well as the equivalents for 'bread*; 'garden*; 'school', and 
many others. The director of the Tuvinian Scientific Research Institute 
for Language, Literature and Art, pointed out that Tuvinian had bor- 
rowed not only from the Russian vocabulary, but also from Russian 
grammar. 7 

The man who, apart from Russian scholars, was primarily responsible 
for the emergence of the so-called Tuvinian national language, was the 
Party Secretary, Toka. No person in Tuva had done so much for the con- 

165 12 



THE TUVINIANS AND THEIR COUSINS 

solidation of Russian influence. Toka was trained in Moscow, married 
a Russian girl, and in 1929 played a prominent part in the liquidation 
of the Buddhist and Mongol trends in the country. He was Minister 
of Education during the crucial months in which the language reform 
was carried out. Finally, it was only natural that Toka became the 
founder of a Tuvinian literature. One of his first works was a play with 
the not very exciting title, Three Years as a Cell Secretary. It depicted 
the class struggle in Tuva, and *the beastly hatred of the enemies of 
Tuva's revolutionary society'. 8 * Most of the Tuvinian' literature con- 
sisted not of any original contributions but of translations of Gorky, 
Pushkin, Tolstoy, Mayakovsky, Lenin and Stalin. 

It was not only Russian cultural influence that increased in Tuva. The 
Russian colonists acquired an ever increasing influence over the destinies 
of the small country. As early as 1927 they numbered 12,000 or almost 
one sixth of the entire population of the T.P.R. Until the end of the 
'twenties' the Russians of Tuva had not been allowed to interfere with 
internal Tuvinian politics. They had had the status of privileged 
foreigners enjoying exterritorial rights and formed an organization 
which called itself "Self-governing Colony of Russian Toilers* ('Russkaya 
Samoupravlayushcheisya Trudovaya Koloniya 9 - R.S.T.K.). A treaty 
concluded between this Soviet Russian colony and the Tuvinian Govern- 
ment protected the economic interests of the local Russians. Following 
the coup d'etat of 1929, the situation changed. The Russians were given 
full citizens' rights. They became entitled to representation not only in 
the Grand Khural, the Tuvinian National Assembly, but also in the 
Little Khural, the principal legislating body. This does not mean that 
all Russians in Tuva sympathized with the Soviet and left-wing Tuvinian 
regimes. The land confiscation measures introduced in 1930 even led to 
an uprising of a section of the Russian peasant colonists. It broke out 
almost simultaneously with a revolt of the Tuvinian cattle-breeders. 
Both risings were suppressed but they forced the Tuvinian Government 
and its Soviet advisers to take up a more moderate attitude with regard 
to the ownership of land and cattle. A number of Russian peasants 
living in Tuva were able to keep individual farms until the end of the 
Second World War. 

THE SECOND ANNEXATION 

On August 17th, 1944, the *Little Khural', which comprised only 
thirty people who were more or less identical with the members of the 

* Toka was the first Tuvinian to be awarded a Stalin Prize for literature. The Pnze was 
awarded in 1951 for the autobiographical novel Slovo Arata - *The Word of the Arat*. 
A tether great honour was bestowed on him at the Nineteenth Congress of the Communist 
Party of the Soviet Union. He was made an alternate member of the Central Committee, 
from which representatives of the smaller nationalities are usually excluded. 

166 



THE REPUBLIC OF TUVA 

Central Committee of the Tuvinian Revolutionary People's Party, took 
the 'historic decision' to ask for Tuva's admission into the U.S.S.R. 
Two months later, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S S.R. 
granted this request The T.P.R. became the Tuvinian Autonomous 
Province of the R.S.F.S.R. 

The incorporation of Tuva into the U.S.S.R. put an end to such 
formal attributes of sovereignty as the country had possessed, its special 
criminal code, its constitution of 61 articles, its postage stamps, national 
flag and coat of arms. The Tuvinian Government which had as many 
as seven ministers, including one for foreign affairs and one for war, 
was disbanded and so was the 'People's Revolutionary Army'. The 
Mongol Legation in Kyzyl was closed down. The Russian rouble 
replaced the Tuvinian currency, the 'Aksha*. There was no need to 
abolish the Tuvinian Latin alphabet for it had already been abandoned 
for the Russian script in July 194L 

As a logical consequence of the annexation, the Revolutionary 
People's Party was transformed into a provincial organization of the 
Soviet Communist Party. This was more than a formality. The Revolu- 
tionary People's Party, however much an instrument of Soviet policy, 
had been exclusively Tuvinian in its composition, and the Russian 
communists in Tuva had had a separate organization of their own. After 
the annexation the two organizations were merged into a single body 
which had over 4,500 members, a higher proportion of the population 
than in the rest of the U.S.S.R. Many of the Russian members of the 
amalgamated party were given important posts as party officials and 
administrators. 

A list of leading personalities, published in 1949 on the occasion of 
the fifth anniversary of the Tuvinian Autonomous Province, showed that 
the following Party and State dignitaries were Russians or Ukrainians: 
the heads of the local branches of the Ministry of the Interior (M. V.D.), 
and of the Ministry of State Security (M.G.B.), the head of the Propa- 
ganda and Agitation Department of the Communist Party, the second 
secretary of the Tuvinian Party organization, the head of the education 
department of the Province, the public prosecutor and the two officials 
in supreme charge of agriculture. On the other hand, all the figureheads 
were Tuvinians, such as the chairman of the Executive Committee of 
the Provincial Council, the first secretary of the Communist Youth 
League, the first Party secretary and the president of the Provincial 
Court of Justice. 10 

The reasons prompting the second Russian annexation of Tuva may 
be summarized as follows: 

First, Tuva was very rich in cattle. This made it desirable for tie 
Soviet authorities to bring the country within the reach of Soviet 
planned economy. The cattle of Tuva were of particular importance 

167 



THE TUVINIANS AND THEIR COUSINS 

for Russia in time of war, in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, in the 
Civil War, and in the 'Great Patriotic War' of 1941-45. In the last- 
mentioned war alone, Tuva supplied 40,000 of her best horses, and 
600,000 head of cattle. 

Secondly, Tuva forms a national fortress guarding the approaches to 
the Kuzbass (Kuznetsk Basin), one of the main coal and steel producing 
centres of the Soviet Union. It was preferable to have this fortress inside 
the Soviet Union than to grant it even a sham sovereignty. 

Thirdly, and perhaps the most important point, Tuva has large deposits 
of metals and minerals, including gold (exploited by the trust, 
Tuvzoloto*), platinum, and even uranium. It may or may not be a 
coincidence that Tuva, with its uranium deposits, was annexed to the 
Soviet Union at a time when atomic research in the western hemisphere 
was heading towards its climax. 

Fourthly, the Tuvinians are closely related to some small Turkic 
peoples living in Soviet Russia proper, to the west and north of the 
former Tuvinian-Soviet border. The peoples in question are the Oirots, 
Shorians and Khakassians.* Certain groups of the Oirots even refer to 
themselves as 'Tuba* or *Tuva\ From the point of view of Oirot nation- 
alists in particular, there was no reason why these peoples should belong 
to the Russian Empire instead of uniting with the Tuvinians into an 
independent State. As long as there was an independent Tuva, there 
was always the possibility that Oirots and Khakassians might gravitate 
towards that country. Also, for this reason, it was safer to have Tuva 
inside the U.S.S.R. Although the Oirots and Khakassians themselves 
were discouraged from stressing their racial connections with the 
Tuvinians, the Tuvinian communists made great play of these links, 
when propagating the union with Russia. 

The territories occupied by the Shorians, Oirots and Khakassians 
experienced a remarkable economic and cultural development under 
the Soviet regime. Nevertheless, their fate could hardly have been an 
incentive for the Tuvinians to join the U.S.S.R., for the recent history 
of the three nationalities offers a particularly striking example of the 

* Another small Turkic people to whom the Tuvinians are closely related are the Karagasy, 
now called Tofalary or amply Tofy. They live on the north-eastern border of Tuva, near 
the frontiers of the Buryat-Mongol A-S.S.R, Although the Tofy are not more than 438 
in number, according to the last available statistics, their history under the Soviet regime 
is interesting. In 1930, collectivization and denomadization measures were imposed on 
wfeat was then the Tof National District.' All native households had to join one of three 
newly founded collective farms. Their managers were Russians who had unlimited powers 
and no knowledge of native economy. The local party and administrative organs, in a 
clumsy attempt to make collectivization more attractive, introduced strange 'premiums' 
for collective farms in tbe form of alcoholic spirits with the result that quite a number of 
natives died from alcohol poisoning. When this happened the higher administrative 
aB-t&orities at last intervened. They dismissed the incompetent party leaders of the Tof 
district and pot them on triat An official representative and later a whole working party 
despatched to the Tof people. These emissaries, it is officially claimed, restored 
ic prosperity. (Sovetaky Sever, No. 2, 1934, pp. 95-6.) 



THE SHORIAN NATIONAL DISTRICT 



doom which small Asiatic peoples have to expect under the Soviet 
regime, as a result of ruthless industrialization and European 
colonization. 



II. THE SHORIAN NATIONAL DISTRICT 

All three Turkic nationalities who live in the south of Central Siberia, 
near the Tuvinian border, enjoyed national autonomy during the inter- 
war period. Today this autonomy has become meaningless, both for 
Oirots and Khakassians, who are completely swamped by Russian 
immigrants, while the autonomy of the Shorians has come to an end 
even nominally. 

The Shorian National District was founded in 1929. It then comprised 
an area as big as Belgium, and the Shorians, numbering 16,000 people, 
seem to have been in the majority in the territory which bore their name. 
In 1931, the Shorians formed only 38.8 per cent of the population in 
the District; in 1938, only 13 per cent, and since then they have shrunk 
to an even more insignificant percentage. It was only logical for the 
Soviet Government to disband the Shorian National District altogether, 
and to make it, in 1939, a part of the Kemerovo Province, which provides 
the administrative framework for the 'Kuzbass'. The Shorians were 
outnumbered in their homeland chiefly by Russian and Ukrainian 
miners, whose arrival in Shoria was an economic necessity. Shoria, or 
High Shoria, as it is also called, supplies the iron-ore for the blast- 
furnaces of the 'Kuznetsk-Metallurgical Combine*. By the end of 1950, 
Shoria produced 2,000,000 tons of iron-ore a year, and it may be taken 
for granted that Shorian iron-ore has now supplanted the iron-ore which 
the Kuzbass previously received from the Urals. An attempt was made 
to associate the Shorians with this magnificent development of the 
mining industry of their homeland. Quite a number of them did become 
miners, and they exercise this new trade either in Shoria itself, or in 
other parts of the Kuzbass. 

It seems, at least according to official Soviet sources, that the indus- 
trial development of Shoria was facilitated by a number of Shorian 
hunters, who informed the Soviet authorities of the location of iron-ore 
deposits. Indeed, one of the richest ore mines of the area has been 
named after a Shorian who first discovered it 12 The real story behind 
the discovery of the Shorian iron-ore mines is more involved. It has 
never been told in a straightforward way, but the well-known Soviet 
writer, Fyodor Panfyorov, has written a play which indicates that the 
Shorians were for a long time not very co-operative in their attitude 
towards the communist regime. Panfyorov's play, When we are beautiful, 
does not mention the Shorians by name; he refers only to an anonymous 

169 



THE TUVINIANS AND THEIR COUSINS 

'small nationality'. However, there can be no doubt as to the identity 
of the latter, for the action of the play takes place in Temir Tau, a 
mining town in Shoria. One of the main themes of the play is the search 
for iron-ore, the *red stone', as the Shorian hunters call it. The ore is 
badly needed by the local metallurgical plant. Geological expeditions 
are sent into the mountains, but they fail in their task. No sufficient 
iron-ore deposits can be found in the more easily accessible areas. The 
reason for this failure is the obstruction by the local population, des- 
cribed by the Party Secretary of Temir Tau as 'not a nation, only a hand- 
ful of people*. He adds: 'We are convinced that they know where the 
ore is situated, but they don't tell us, they don't show these places to us. 
Somehow they are on their guard. . . They have no confidence in us. 
They fear us.' 13 

To state so bluntly that a small people has no confidence in the Soviet 
regime was an amazing and daring admission for a Soviet writer. No 
wonder that Panfyorov had great hesitation in publishing his heretical 
play. He started writing it in 1939, but its final version did not appear 
in print until thirteen years later. To make the play acceptable to the 
communist censors, Panfyorov had to invent a 'happy ending'. The 
spokesman of the mountain people suddenly drops his cautious attitude 
towards the local Soviet authorities, and, in the last scene of the play, 
tells the Party Secretary where the 'iron heart' of the mountains is to be 
found. This sudden voile-face sounded unconvincing. It did not save 
the author from bitter attacks by official Soviet quarters who reproached 
him with having distorted the 'friendship of the peoples' of the U.S.S.R. 
The Russian heroes of Panfyorov's play did, in fact, express some 
doubts about the meaning of this Soviet dichl, 'friendship of the 
peoples', in a case where it applies to the relations between the huge 
Russian nation and a small mountain tribe. As must be agreed, 'friend- 
ship* is hardly the right word to describe a process by which a small 
nation is absorbed by a large one, as in the case of the Shorians. 

Today the Shorian nationality exists no longer, either politically or 
culturally. In addition to the suppression of Shorian territorial autonomy, 
attempts at building up something like a Shorian literary language have 
been virtually abandoned. All Shorians have become bi-lingual, and 
talk Russian everywhere except in their narrow family circle. But before 
the Shorians arrived at the present stage of lost national identity, they 
had to pass through all the various experiments which the communist 
regime has imposed on the culture of all Soviet nationalities. At first, 
they were encouraged to work out an alphabet for their language, 
taking the Russian alphabet as a basis. The first Shorian book in Russian 
characters was printed in 1927. Then, in 1930, the Soviet Government 
ordered the fertilization of the Shorian script A few years later, the 
Russian alphabet was again introduced. A number of works by Pushkin 

170 



THE AUTONOMOUS PROVINCE OF THE HIGH ALTAI 

and Gorky have been translated into Shorian, as have some pam- 
phlets on political and agricultural problems. This does not mean that 
a Shorian literary language is actually in existence. A Russian ethno- 
grapher, Potapov, said that the translators of Russian works into 
Shorian had to borrow all abstract terms from the Russian language. 
The literature thus created could not, therefore, be considered either 
Shorian or Russian. 14 



///. THE AUTONOMOUS PROVINCE OF THE 
HIGH ALTAI 

Oirotia, the second Turkic territory on Tuva's borders, is even richer in 
minerals than Shoria. It contains manganese ore, iron-ore, silver, lead 
and wolfram. The exploitation of all these riches, as well as the develop- 
ment of the local timber resources, demanded a great deal of manpower, 
and resulted in the usual influx of Russian elements. During the first 
Five- Year Plan period, the percentage of Oirots in the Autonomous 
Province dropped from 41 8 to 36 -4. During the second Five- Year Plan 
period and after, many thousands of Russians entered the country and 
changed the ethnographical balance still further to the detriment of the 
local people. 

As the Oirots are more numerous than the Shorians - they numbered 
47,700 in 1939 - they are still granted the privilege of living in an 
*Autonomous Province*, where special provisions are made for the use 
of the Oirot language. But this Autonomous Province is no longer 
associated with the name of the Oirots. Early in 1948, the Soviet Govern- 
ment passed a decree that the 'Oirot Autonomous Province* was to be 
known in future as 'Autonomous Province of the High Altai*, in 
deference to the wishes of the local Russian workers. On the same 
occasion, the capital of the Province, 'Oirot-Tura', previously 'Uala', 
had to give up its Oirot name. This was changed into 'Gornoaltaisk*, 
or Town in the High Altai*. Even the name of the people was altered, 
although not by decree, but only in point of fact. Suddenly all Soviet 
reference books and text books dropped the word 'Oirots*, and spoke 
of * Altaitsy * instead. This was the very name which the Czarist authorities 
had given to the Altai people, and it had an imperialistic and chauvinistic 
flavour. All these changes of terminology were not only connected with 
the immigration of Russians into Oirotia, but were also aimed at inflict- 
ing a blow on a people which, despite its small numbers, had caused 
considerable difficulties to the Soviet regime. The ideological independ- 
ence which the Oirots have shown vis & vis the communist State was fed 
by the memories of a heroic past. At one time, the Oirots were the terror 
of Central Asia. la the first half of the eighteenth century, they left 

171 



THE TUVINIANS AND THEIR COUSINS 

their Western Chinese homeland, Dzungaria, invaded the Kazakh nomad 
states and other areas, captured Tashkent, and went almost as far as 
the Urals. In 1758, China practically wiped out the Oirots and abolished 
their State. Only a few thousand Oirots survived in the Altai mountains. 
Those who lived in the High Altai were subjects of both Russia and 
China until 1 866, when Russian sovereignty over that area was finally 
established. 

'BURKHANISM'-THE OIROT RELIGION 

The more powerless and impoverished the Oirot people became under 
Czarist rule, the more did they cling to their ancient legends and tradi- 
tions. So strong was the spiritual resistance against the colonizers that 
it led ultimately to the foundation of a new religion which was called 
'Burkhanism' or 'White Faith'. This Oirot religion is very similar in 
character to the new religions which emerge from time to time in various 
parts of tropical Africa, such as the Kibangism and Kitawala, messianic 
creeds whose prophets forecast the end of European rule. 

In the centre of the Oirot religion stood the legendary figure of Oirot 
Khan, a descendant of Genghis Khan, whom the Oirots considered their 
last great ruler. Oirot Khan was the Messiah who was supposed to free 
the Oirots from their plight under alien rule, and to lead them to a better 
life. Oirot Khan appeared on a white horse to the Oirot shepherd Chot 
Chelpanov in 1904, and gave him a very detailed message to the Oirot 
people, containing an entire code of behaviour, which was anti-Christian 
and anti-foreign. Oirot Khan demanded that his people must not main- 
tain ties of friendship with Russians, that they must not eat from the 
same pot with Christians, and that they must call the Russians not 
*Orus*, but 'thin-legged people*. The alleged appearance of Oirot Khan, 
who predicted that Russian rule would soon end, caused a great deal 
of unrest among the Oirots. The Czarist authorities intervened, des- 
patched punitive expeditions against them, and arrested the main protag- 
onists of 'Burkhanism', including the initiator of the trouble, Chot 
Chelpanov. 

On the whole, the Czarist authorities handled the problem of 'Burk- 
hanism* in a liberal way. The trial of Chelpanov was conducted with 
great fairness. A progressive ethnographer, D. A. Klements, whipped 
up a great deal of public sympathy for the 'Burkhanists*, and even 
induced several outstanding lawyers of St Petersburg to take over the 
defence of the accused. This defence was conducted so convincingly 
and so skilfully that the proceedings ended with a verdict of not guilty 
for all defendants. In giving it, the court overlooked the political 
implications of 'Burkhanism', and considered the case entirely from a 
idBgious angle. This attitude, which is in striking contrast to the conduct 

172 



THE AUTONOMOUS PROVINCE OF THE HIGH ALTAI 

of Soviet courts in similar cases, was the more remarkable since the 
Oirot Khan cult had acquired a very pronounced pro-Japanese bias in 
connection with the defeat of the Czarist regime in the Russo-Japanese 
War. Popular imagination identified Oirot Khan with 'Yepon Khan 5 , 
the Japanese Emperor. 

'Burkhanism* has confronted the Bolshevik specialists on nationalities 
policy with a difficult problem. Originally they hesitated to condemn 
the Oirot religion as 'reactionary'. 'Burkhanism' was, after all, a 
national liberation movement directed against 'colonial robbery, 
Christendom, and the Altai Church Mission'. As it was persecuted by 
the Czarist authorities, it was, ipso facto, entitled to a certain considera- 
tion on the part of the Soviet regime. 15 

Soviet indulgence towards c Burkhanism' came to an end in 1933, 
when it was denounced as a creation of Chinese merchant capitalism, 
and of Mongol-Lamaist theocracy. 16 But at least 'Burkhanism* was 
challenged from a purely class and ideological point of view. After the 
Second World War, Soviet criticism of 'Burkhanism* assumed a more 
outspoken national Russian character. The 'Burkhanists' were then 
charged with attempting to sever cultural and economic ties with the 
Russians, and to exchange them for a Japanese protectorate. 17 

THE DREAM OF 'GREATER OIROTIA* 

Oirot nationalism took forms other than the messianic 'Burk- 
hanism'. After the Russian February Revolution of 1917, it appeared on 
the scene in a more modern attire, as one of the many movements for 
national autonomy and self-determination that sprang up all over the 
Russian Empire. The aims of this secular Oirot nationalism were formu- 
lated by the Oirot nationalist, B. I. Anuchin, at the 'Constituent Congress 
of the High Altai', which took place in February 1918 in the village of 
Uala. Anuchin demanded the creation of an Oirot Republic, including, 
apart from the Oirots proper, the Khakassians and Tuvinians. Accord- 
ing to him, these peoples were one by origin, language and customs. If 
united, said Anuchin, they would form a 'great Asiatic republic*, 
several times larger than Germany and France put together, The hundred 
or so delegates who attended the Constituent Congress of the High Altai 
were greatly impressed by the ambitious nationalistic programme which 
was submitted to them. They fully endorsed the plan for an Oirot 
republic, and decided that it should be formally proclaimed by a 
'Kumltay*,* which was to meet in a place on the Mongol-Russian 
border in June 1918. Until the summoning of the *Kurultay% negotia- 
tions were to be conducted with Russia, China and Mongolia. Each 
of these countries was supposed to give up certain territories to the 

* An ancient Turkic term for National Assembly. 

173 



THE TUVINIANS AND THEIR COUSINS 

Oirot republic. China was to part with Dztmgaria, the northern part 
of the Sinkiang province, Mongolia was expected to abandon the 
'Mongol Altai', with all the territories inhabited by the Tuvinians, and 
Russia was to lose a considerable portion of her Altai region. Pending 
the implementation of the Greater Oirotia scheme, the High Altai 
was to be administered by the 'Karakorum Altai Administration* 
(Karakorumskaya Altaiskaya Uprava). This name is characteristic 
of the frame of mind of the Oirot nationalists. It reflects their romantic- 
ism that they should have identified their movement with Karakorum, 
the capital of Genghis Khan's Empire. 

Considered retrospectively, the plan of Greater Oirotia might appear 
a romantic Utopia, but in 1918, when Russia seemed to disintegrate 
into a multitude of autonomous and independent states, the situation 
was different. The unification of the Oirot peoples appeared then as a 
possibility and, from the point of view of the Oirot nationalists, as a last 
chance to prevent the final triumph of russification in the High Altai. 
The Oirot nationalists had to realize, only too soon, that the gigantic 
struggle of Red versus White left no room for an independent Oirot 
policy. Therefore, they linked their fortunes with those of Admiral 
Kolchak, and put a whole 'Native Division' at his disposal. In December 
1919, the coalition between 'Kolchakovtsy' and 'Karakorumtsy' was 
defeated. Soviet power was established in the High Altai, and in February 
1920 the first Communist Party and Komsomol organizations were set 
up in Uala. 

In the following months, some of the most prominent people among 
the Oirots went over into the Soviet camp. The Soviet Government, 
consequently, proclaimed an amnesty in favour of the 'citizen-natives' 
of the High Altai, who had originally sided with the counter-revolution, 
but who had since then repented of their attitude. 18 

SOVIET POWER AND OIROT NATIONALISM 

This change of heart by some leading Oirot nationalists was determined 
by their expectation that the Greater Oirotia State would be ultimately 
established with Soviet help, Indeed, during a short period, it seemed 
that the Soviet Government had decided to create a large Turkic 
autonomous territory in the south of Siberia. In December 1921, the 
official organ of the People's Commissariat for Nationalities stated out- 
right that the question of the * Autonomous Oirot-Khakassian Province* 
was to receive a positive solution. 19 According to the Oirot nationalist 
leader, Sary-Sen Kanzychakov, the Province was to be 75,300 square 
miles in size, with 208,000 inhabitants, including 135,000 belonging to 
various Turkic nationalities. Between December 1921 and May 1922, 
the Soviet Government changed its mind about 'Greater Oirotia*. On 

174 



THE AUTONOMOUS PROVINCE OF THE HIGH ALTAI 

June 1st, 1922, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee issued a 
decree about the foundation of an 'Oirot ('Oirat' in the original spelling) 
Autonomous Province', which covered less than half the territory 
which was originally earmarked for the Oirot-Khakassian Province. 
Nevertheless, the Soviet Government made two important concessions 
to the Oirot nationalists. The first was that some of the more prominent 
nationalist representatives should be associated with the administration 
of the new autonomous unit. These included the above-mentioned Sary- 
Sen Kanzychakov, who became vice-president of the provincial admin- 
istration. The other concession was the granting of official recognition 
to the terms, 'Oirots' and 'Oirotia'. 

As everywhere else in the Soviet Union, the co-operation between 
communists and nationalists in Oirotia was only temporary. The Oirot 
nationalists seemed to have made various attempts to satisfy their 
aspirations towards national unity with other Turkic peoples, both 
inside and outside the Soviet Union. The concept of Greater Oirotia was 
still alive in the middle of the 'thirties'. Official Soviet sources asserted 
then that Oirot nationalists had exploited the situation of Oirotia as a 
border territory for their aims. This meant that they had been in contact 
with 'counter-revolutionary elements' of the Chinese Province of 
Sinkiang. At the same time, it was alleged that a 'counter-revolutionary 
nationalist group 1 had penetrated deep into the provincial administra- 
tive machinery, and also into the village councils. In connection with 
the liquidation of the 'counter-revolutionary conspiracy', the entire 
leadership of the Communist Party of Oirotia was dismissed for 'lack of 
vigilance', and for not fighting 'local nationalism'. 20 It is a fair assump- 
tion that Oirot nationalism with all its peculiarities, like the cult of 
Oirot Khan, survived not only the purges, but even the Second World 
War. Otherwise, the Soviet Government would hardly have taken the 
trouble to ban the 'provocative' term 'Oirot' in 1948. 

THE 'HOUSE OF THE ALTAIWOMAN* 

Soviet nationalities policy in Oirotia, whilst preventing the national 
liberation of the Oirots in the political sense, has done a great deal to 
raise their cultural level. On the whole, the development in the Oirot 
Autonomous Province has proceeded on the same pattern as in other 
autonomous territories of the U.S.S.R., but there is one institution 
which seems to be peculiar to Oirotia. This is the 'House of the 
Altaiwoman*. 

These 'Houses' were founded only after the Second World War, 
presumably in 1950, There are six of them in various parts of the 
'Autonomous Province'. In these 'Houses', wives and daughters of the 
native collective farmers of the High Altai are taught how to exchange 

175 



THE TUVINIANS AND THEIR COUSINS 

native for Russian habits. A fairly good picture of the atmosphere at 
these Houses, and of the curriculum of the courses, is available from 
descriptions by Russian reporters who have visited them. In the 'House 
of the Altaiwoman' in Shebalino, the native women learn cooking in the 
Russian way, knitting and sewing. Child welfare, vegetable-growing, 
and poultry-breeding are also part of the course. Some women also 
learn to read and write. In addition, the 'House of the Altaiwoman' is 
the scene of intense political indoctrination. There are lectures on the 
'fight of women for peace', and on the hydro-electric giants on the 
Volga, Don and Dnieper. There are also anti-religious lectures in which 
the native women are told 'the truth about the Shamans'. 21 

The training in the Shebalino 'House' lasts two months. In the 
Elikmonar House it takes only six weeks. The pupils for the latter are 
picked from among the most efficient women workers of the local 
collective farms. Since this is done on a compulsory basis, the villagers 
regard the 'Houses' with some scepticism. A Soviet reporter, who 
described the departure of a milkmaid to the 'House' in Elikmonar, 
could not help noticing the mixed feelings with which the Oirots looked 
at the innovation. He said it was not certain whether the other women 
envied the girl who went away, or whether they felt that the girl in 
question should envy those who stayed at home. 22 This is not to be 
wondered at. Every progressive measure in any colony encounters the 
resistance of the more backward groups of native society. British 
policy, for instance, faces the same difficulties in Africa with some of its 
mass education schemes. There is, however, one great difference. The 
British ultimately carry out these schemes with the help of the local 
nationalists; whereas the Soviet Government implements them by 
annihilating the latter. 



IV. THE KHAKASSIAN AUTONOMOUS PROVINCE 

The Khakassians have so far been more lucky than the Shorians or 
Oirots. Their Autonomous Province has not been abolished, nor has its 
name been changed to please the local Russian colonists. Nevertheless, 
the position of the 52,000 Khakassians, who live in a territory as big 
as Belgium and Holland combined, is precarious. 

A Soviet propaganda article on the Khakassians said that they were 
doomed to extinction under the Czarist regime, but were saved by the 
Soviet Government 23 In fact, Soviet critics were rigjit in denouncing 
Czarist colonization for having relegated the Khakass people, or 
'Minusinsk Tatars* as they used to be called, to areas where the soil and 
climatic conditions were unfavourable. Russian colonization in 
Khakassia under the Czarist regime reached its peak between 1840 and 

176 



THE KHAKASSIAN AUTONOMOUS PROVINCE 

1850, when the population of the country increased by 25 or 30 per 
cent. Under the Soviet regime, Russian colonization assumed a much 
more powerful impetus. Within seven years - from 1926 to 1932 - the 
population of Khakassia increased by almost 100 per cent from 88,800 
to 173,300. In 1944 the population was given as 270,000 and considering 
the small number of Khakassians, this meant that their share in the 
total population of the Province had dropped to below twenty per cent. 
The newcomers flocked primarily into the capital, Abakan, and into 
three workers' settlements - Chernogorsk, Kommunar and Saral. By 
the outbreak of the Second World War, these four places had more 
inhabitants than the country's entire population in 1926. This growth 
was in the first place due to the large coal deposits in Khakassia, believed 
to amount to between 17 and 20 billion tons. The country also produces 
gold and various rare metals. 

The growing Russian influence in Khakassia met with protests even 
on the part of the native communists. In their meetings they used the 
slogan, 'Khakassia could do without Russians*, which, however, was 
soon denounced as a manifestation of bourgeois nationalism. Some 
leading Khakassians went beyond mere verbal protests in their attempt 
to check the increase of the Russian elements. In the same way as the 
Oirot nationalists, they thought that the various Turkic peoples of 
Siberia would be in a better position to resist Russian pressure by joining 
hands and forming a single autonomous unit within the Russian Soviet 
Federation. Without consulting Moscow, some Khakassian Soviet 
officials started to negotiate with their opposite numbers in Oirotia and 
Kazakhstan for a unification of the Turkic peoples. Kazakhstan, as the 
largest country involved in these secret talks, was probably expected to 
assume a kind of protectorate over Khakassians and Oirots. The Moscow 
Communist Party leaders were informed in time of the counter- 
revolutionary pan-Turkic project. The nationalist promoters of the plan, 
who included representatives of the new Khakass Soviet intelligentsia, 
members of the Khakass Students* Club in Moscow, and graduates 
of the Khakass Teachers' training college, were purged in the middle 
of the 'thirties'. 24 

In the post-war period, there has been no evidence of any open trouble 
on the 'national front' in Khakassia but difficulties have arisen from the 
inferior constitutional status of the Khakass Autonomous Province. 
Like all other Autonomous Provinces of the R.S.F.S.R., with the sole 
exception of Tuva, Khakassia is not directly under the Council of 
Ministers of the Russian Federation, but under a territorial (*kray*) 
administration. The territory to which it belongs has its centre in 
Krasnoyarsk. This administrative set-up has enabled the Krasnoyarsk 
territorial Executive Committee and the territorial Party Committee to 
practise a policy of petty interference in the local affairs of Khakassia. 

177 



THE TUVINIANS AND THEIR COUSINS 

Dissatisfaction at the arbitrary attitude of the territorial authorities 
came into the open at a provincial party conference held in Abakan in 
September 1952. There it was stated bluntly that the Kranoyarsk party 
and administration chiefs had the habit of drawing up economic and 
cultural plans for Khakassia without consulting the local organs about 
them. 25 In other words, Khakass autonomy exists only on paper. 

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES TO CHAPTER VI 

1. DOUGLAS CARUTHERS, Unknown Mongolia, London 1913, vol. i, p. 166. 

2. S. TOKA, Prazdnik Tuvinskogo Naroda - The Festival of the Tuvinian 
People, Pravda, August 17th, 1946. 

3. Severnaya Aziya, 1926, Nr 4, p. 20. 

4. S. A. SHOIKHELOV, Tuvinskaya Narodnaya Respublika - The Tuvinian 
People's Republic, Moscow 1930, p. 87. 

5. OTTO MANCHEN-HELFEN, Reise ins Asiatische Tuva, Berlin 1931, pp. 162-3. 

6. Revolyutsionny Vostok, 1935, Nr 30, pp. 169-70. 

7. Literaturnaya Gazeta, April 28th, 1951. 

8. Novy Mir, April 1941, Nr 4, p. 17. 

9. Small Soviet Encyclopedia, first edition, vol. 8, Moscow 1930, p. 869. 

10. Pravda, October llth, 1949. 

11. Large Soviet Encyclopedia 9 second edition, Moscow 1950, vol. 2. 

12. Sovetskaya Etnografiya, 1950, Nr 3, p. 129. 

13. Oktyabr, June 1952, Nr 6, pp. 107-8. 

14. Sovetskaya Etnografiya, 1950, Nr 3, p. 133. 

15. Revolyutsionny Vostok, Nr 7, 1929, p. 223. Various books on Oirotia 
published in the early thirties included a positive appraisal of 'Burkhanism*, 
among them being MANET'S Oirotia* Moscow 1930; and POTAPOV'S Ocherk 
Istorii Oirotii - Outline of the History of Oirotia, Novosibirsk, 193 L 

16. Revolyutsiya i Natsionalnosti, June 1933, Nr 3, pp. 121-4. 

17. POTAPOV, Ocherki po istorii Altaitsev - Essays on the History of the 
Altaitsy, Novosibirsk 1948, pp. 41-42. 

18. Zhizn Natsionalnostei, February 25th, 1922, Nr 1. 

19. Zhizn Natswnalnostei 9 December 14th, 1921, Nr 29. 

20. Revolyutsiya i Natsionalnosti, October 1936, Nr 80, pp. 15-17. 

21. Ogonyok, March 1952, Nr 11, pp. 4-5. 

22. GENNADY GOR, Po Gornomu Altayu - Through the High Altai, Zvesyfa 
April 1951, Nr 4, pp. 117-18. 

23. Soviet War News, June 28th, 1944. 

24. Itevolyutsionny Vostok* 1935, Nr 32, p. 19L 
25. 



vn 

THE SOVIET FAR EAST IN PERSPECTIVE 

1. 

Communism as a materialistic teaching cannot aim at the preservation 
of national groups and minorities. Their right to an existence as separate 
political and cultural individualities depends on their contribution to 
the communist cause. If they fulfil a useful and 'progressive' task, from 
a communist point of view, they are able to enjoy the very considerable 
material blessings which communism has in store for backward areas. 
On the other hand, if they are an obstacle to communism they may be 
exterminated. 

The extermination of ethnic groups can take many forms both in 
communist and non-communist societies. Open violent genocide has 
been practised only in a few exceptional cases, for instance, by Imperial 
Germany which wiped out entire tribes in South-West Africa, by 
Hitlerite Germany which destroyed the bulk of the Jewish population 
of Eastern and Central Europe or by Soviet Russia which suppressed 
such nationalities as the Chechens, Ingush, Crimean Tartars, Balkars 
and others. But genocide does not always culminate in one single 
dramatic event, it may be spread out over many years. A large number 
of political, economic and cultural measures may be put into effect to 
bring about the ultimate extermination or at least disintegration of an 
ethnic group. Let us recapitulate shortly the principal measures leading 
to national oppression which we have seen at work in various parts of 
the Soviet Far East and Eastern Siberia: 

1. Industrialisation and de-tribalisation which is linked with migration 
of natives to big urban centres. 

2. Destruction of the native economy through state interference such as 
the fostering of class struggle and the confiscation of cattle. 

3. Mass colonization of 'national territories' by Europeans. 

4. 'Liquidation* of the native upper class and of the intellectual elite. 

5. Persecution of religious beliefs peculiar to minority nationalities. 

6. Prohibition of cultural and political integration of kindred tribes 
and nationalities. 

7. Imposition of an alien ideology, of a foreign language and culture. 

179 



THE SOVIET FAR EAST IN PERSPECTIVE 

8. Suppression of historical and cultural traditions which are essential 
to the survival of the national consciousness of a given ethnic group. 

It may be argued that none of these eight measures is the exclusive 
weapon of communist nationalities policy. Their application may be 
traced not only in Russia but also in areas which are notorious as 
'dark spots' of Western colonial policy. Ruthless industrialization and 
de-tribalization, for instance, may be seen in operation in a city like 
Johannesburg or in the mining areas of the Belgian Congo. The 
liquidation of the intellectual ilite does seem to be the result of the 
policy pursued in Madagascar. Mass colonization by Europeans has 
jeopardised the interests of the native peoples of Kenya and the 
Rhodesias. Attempts at establishing unity have been frustrated in the 
case of the Ewe people in West Africa and in the case of the Somali 
in East Africa. But in comparing conditions in Siberia to those in 
the more problematic parts of the African continent one important 
reservation must be made. The numerical strength of the African 
people is such that ultimately they will triumph over the limitations which 
result from European colonial rule. Ultimately Africa will belong to the 
Africans. In Siberia things are different. There the peoples can have no 
hope of an end of European rule. They are too small in numbers to with- 
stand the communist offensive which combines the implementation of 
economic development schemes with social experiments and attacks on 
tribal institutions and customs. 

Another important factor which makes national oppression in the 
Soviet Union even more intolerable than in most other colonial Empires 
is the lack of freedom of expression in Russia's metropolitan territories. 
Protests about injustices committed in colonial territories often reach 
the public in Britain and France, they are discussed in the press and in 
Parliament. The interest which British public opinion takes in colonial 
affairs in particular, is a very important factor in the discovery and 
remedy of local inequities, and the local political leaders in the colonies 
know that there are always British members of parliament, British news- 
papers and British missionary societies ready to take up a 'cause'. In 
Soviet Russia it is unthinkable that a Moscow newspaper should defend 
the cause of a local nationality against the Central Government or against 
the Central Committee of the Communist Party. It is equally unthinkable 
that a Yakut or Buryat delegation should give a Press conference in 
Moscow to a sympathetic Russian audience challenging certain measures 
or plans pursued by the Kremlin in Eastern Siberia or that a member of 
the Soviet Parliament should expose the execution of nationalist leaders, 
say, in the Tuvinian Autonomous Province. 

The reason for the absence of such Russian criticism of Soviet 
colonial policy is not that all Russians are in agreement with the policy 

180 



THE SOVIET FAR EAST IN PERSPECTIVE 

pursued in the Soviet East but that they themselves are an oppressed 
people. To remember this fact is of cardinal importance for the appraisal 
of Soviet reality although it might easily be overlooked in view of the 
forcible imposition of Russian culture and the encouragement of Russian 
colonization by the communist regime. Naturally, the Russians are not 
oppressed in the same way as the other peoples of the Soviet Union. In 
view of their large numbers and their geographical distribution all over 
the U.S.S.R. they are bound to occupy a place in communist strategy 
that is different from that of the minority nationalities. The regime uses 
the Russian language and it uses a diluted and falsified form of Russian 
culture for the strengthening of communist centralism. Russian culture 
as a free Russian intelligentsia would understand this term and the 
'Russian culture' propagated by the Soviet regime are by no means 
identical. In the first place, a number of Russian philosophers, particu- 
larly Russian religious thinkers, have remained on the Soviet 'index' and 
without them Russian culture will remain incomplete. As long as 
Russian culture is without its Christian elements it will be as crippled as 
British civilization would be without the Bible. In addition, the Soviet 
regime has given Russian culture and Russian history an aggressive and 
one-sided interpretation which the best elements of the Russian intelli- 
gentsia would never accept if they had a real opportunity to express 
their views. 



2. 

The Soviet nationalities policy as pursued in the Russian Far East 
helps to solve the question of whether the Soviet Union is predominantly 
a European or an Asian power. This question is of more than academic 
interest since on its answer depends the future shape of relations 
between Russia and the nations of Asia. The methods by which Russian 
culture and language are encouraged in Soviet North-East Asia, Russian 
nationalist leanings are fostered among colonists, Buryats and Yakuts 
are treated and Mongolia is ruled through 'remote control* show that 
the Soviet Union is behaving as a European colonial power in the 
worst old-fashioned sense of that term. 

When determining whether Russia is *Europe' or 'Asia* other factors 
too must be taken into account. If we look at the problem geographically 
and historically, then it must be recognized that Russia is a combination 
of Europe and Asia. But the vastness of the Soviet Far East and Soviet 
Asia in general can only too easily lead to an over-rating of the Asian 
aspect of the U.S.S.R. while in fact the political and ideological centre 
of gravity of the Soviet State is dearly in Europe and more so now, 
since the Second World War, than ever before. The Europeaa character 



THE SOVIET FAR EAST IN PERSPECTIVE 

of Soviet Russia has been strengthened by the territorial annexations 
which she carried out in the years 1939-45. The Western territories which 
the Kremlin added to the Soviet Empire have as many inhabitants as all 
five Central Asian Soviet Republics. A small slice of the new 'Soviet 
Far West*, the Baltic States alone have a larger population than the 
entire gigantic Soviet Far East which covers one-seventh of the surface 
of the Soviet Union. Nor are they superior in numbers only, they are 
also more advanced culturally. The Russian territories east of Lake 
Baikal have not a single cultural centre which could rival a Vilnius, a 
Riga or a Tartu (Dorpat). 

The emergence of half a dozen satellite countries in Central and 
Eastern Europe has further consolidated the specific weight of Europe 
within the Soviet Empire. The satellite countries, it is true, have caused 
considerable worries and difficulties to the Kremlin but from a long- 
term Russian communist point of view the advantages outweigh the 
disadvantages. Seen from the angle of the internal security of the 
Soviet State the satellites are considerable assets. The existence of 
'loyal* governments in Poland and Eastern Germany means safety for 
Russian colonization in the Baltic States and the Kaliningrad (Koenigs- 
berg) Province. The communist regimes of Poland, Czechoslovakia, 
Hungary and Rumania isolate Ukrainian nationalism and reduce the 
danger which it constitutes to Soviet centralism. A Bulgarian 'People's 
Republic' at the gates of Istanbul is an additional safeguard against 
that city becoming a rallying point of pan-Turkism, an idea which still 
has its attractions for the Turkic peoples of the U.S.S.R. 

The communist sphere, it is true, has expanded further in East Asia 
than in Eastern Europe but there it has a quite different meaning. The 
establishment of the so-called European 'People's Republics* or 
'People's Democracies* is an obvious gain both from an international 
communist and from a Russian viewpoint. These countries are not 
only Russia's political satellites, they are also part of the Russian cultural 
sphere. For instance, the Russian language is being persistently and to 
some extent even forcibly imposed on them as the 'language of socialism', 
With regard to the Chinese People's Republic things are different. Its 
existence is certainly a gain for world communism, but whether it is in 
the long run a gain for Russia is doubtful. 

It is difficult to imagine a situation in which Russia could 'swallow up' 
a communist China culturally and politically. On the other hand, the 
victory of Chinese communism may have, from the Soviet Russian 
standpoint, adverse effects on the destinies of the European population 
of the Soviet Far East, on tke Mongols of the M.P.R. and even on the 
Bmyats and other nationalities of Siberia. Could not a new vigorous 
China try to draw these nationalities into its orbit in the same way as a 
strong Japan did in the past? 

182 



THE SOVIET FAR EAST IN PERSPECTIVE 

If communist China decides to take up the problem of Asiatic 
immigration into the Soviet Far East and the problem of the unification 
of all Mongol territories this will have not only considerable political 
but also great ideological significance. In taking up these issues China 
will force the Soviet Union to decide whether it wants to adopt towards 
the Far East a Russian nationalist or an internationalist communist 
approach. 

But whichever way Soviet Russia decides will ultimately make little 
difference. If she continues to uphold the nationalist Russian 'mystique* 
and the policy of the White Soviet Far East with all that this implies she 
must necessarily encounter the open hostility of China and possibly of a 
new strong Japan, even if we assume for the sake of argument that it 
might be a 'Japanese People's Republic'. The position of the Russian Far 
East will then become untenable. If, on the other hand, the Soviet 
regime decides to drop its European bias, then it must throw its frontiers 
wide open to Eastern immigrants, both Chinese fanners and Japanese 
fishermen. In such a case there would no longer be any sense in an 
artificially fostered European immigration into the Pacific coastal areas. 
Nor would there be any sense in Russia keeping such outposts as 
Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands. In other words, if Soviet Russia 
remains nationalistically Russian, then she is bound to be involved in a 
conflict with the Far Eastern nations as a result of which she might lose 
her Far Eastern possessions. If she adopts an internationalist communist 
attitude she must honour this change of heart by a voluntary retreat 
Naturally, in a world situation where Russia and China are bound 
together by the common fear and hatred of the West, questions like 
those of Chinese immigration into the Soviet Far East and the future of 
Mongolia are of secondary importance but these problems do exist and 
will require a solution one day. 

The peoples of the Soviet Far East would gain little if Russian 
communist rule were replaced by Chinese communist rule. There could 
only be a change for the better if a regime were established which would 
guarantee the freedom of the person and the freedom of conscience. One 
of the most important consequences of the restoration of freedom would 
be the liquidation of the forced labour system which is a more important 
institution in the Russian Far East than in most other parts of the 
U.S.S.R. The disbandment of the forced labour camps would lead at 
least temporarily to a weakening of Russian colonization and to the 
virtual depopulation of certain less accessible parts of the Russian Far 
East. It would also result in the abandonment of various development 
schemes which are economically wasteful and can be kept going only 
with the work of convicts. 



1S3 



THE SOVIET FAR EAST IN PERSPECTIVE 



3. 

As soon as the Russian people are freed from the fetters of communist 
materialism and police rule the Russian attitude towards the small 
peoples of Siberia and the Far East will have a chance to be inspired by 
a new and genuinely democratic ethical nationalities policy. The aim 
of such a policy can only be the preservation of the life of ethnic groups, 
even of the smallest, instead of their submission to the requirements of 
a political apparatus and a rigid economic plan. 'Preservation of life* 
does not mean non-interference, does not mean leaving undeveloped 
areas to themselves but means guaranteeing them material well-being 
without destroying their souls. To combine the two is a problem which 
confronts every society including the Russia of the future. * 

For the non-Russian nationalities of the present Soviet Far East and 
Siberia the restoration of freedom in Russia will be the beginning of a 
new spiritual revolution* Various philosophies and creeds will enter into 
competition to heal the moral wounds and confusion which the brusque 
transition from Shamanism to Communism must have inflicted. Christian 
missions will be one of the factors in this new situation arising in Siberia. 
The missionaries in the lands of the Far Eastern and Far Northern 
tribes will require a profound psychological understanding of the local 
nationalities, an infinite amount of tact, and a thorough knowledge of 
history, languages and tribal customs. This tremendous task can prob- 
ably not be shouldered by the Russian Church alone, it may have to be 
shared by the entire Christian world. 

However, it is not likely that Christianity will have a spiritual 
monopoly in the Russia of the future. There will be other alternatives 
to communist materialism in various parts of the Russian Empire - 
Islam, Buddhism and other beliefs, as well as various brands of nation- 
alism without pronounced religious attachments. All these forces are at 
present kept in check by the communist police state but on the purely 
spiritual plane they have not been vanquished yet. Even after many years 

* Nobody has defended the 'preservation of hfe* of the small ethnic groups in more 
brilliant terms than the Indian philosopher Radhaknshnan when he wrote: 
The trail of man is dotted with the graves of countless communities which reached an 
untimely end. But is there any justification for this violation of human life? Have we any 
idea of what the world loses when one racial culture is extinguished? It is true that the Red 
Indians have not made, to all appearance, any contribution to the world progress, but 
have we any clear understanding of their undeveloped possibilities which, in God's time, 
might have come to fruition? Do we know so much of ourselves and the world and God's 
purpose as to believe that our civilization, our institutions and our customs are so 
immeasurably superior to those of others, not only what others actually possess but what 
exists in them potentially? We cannot measure beforehand the possibilities of a race. 
Civilizations are not made in a day and had the fates been kindlier and we less arrogant 
in our ignorance the world, I dare say, would have been richer for the contributions of the 
Red Iadiao$,* (& Radhakrishnan, The Hindu Vtew ofLtfe* London 1927, pp. 94-5). 

134 



THE SOVIET FAR EAST IN PERSPECTIVE 

of purges and persecution religious and nationalist trends are alive 
in the Soviet Empire. This survival of religion and of nationalism is not 
only characteristic of conditions in the U.S.S.R. itself, but also gives a 
clue to the future development of the Asiatic territories outside the 
Soviet Union. If complete ideological uniformity could not be Imposed 
on even such small peoples as Buryat-Mongols and Yakuts how can we 
expect communism to succeed in the larger Asian countries with their 
great and ancient civilizations? To become a victorious ideology in 
addition to a victorious political system communism would have to 
change its character and increase its spiritual striking power. It would 
have to rise to the same heights as the religious teachings of the Asian 
continent. Up to a certain point the Kremlin itself has been aware of 
this problem. It has deliberately encouraged certain aspects of com- 
munism which would lend themselves to expansion into component parts 
of a new pseudo-religious mysticism - for instance the cult of Stalin 
and the cult of Moscow which comes very near the myth that surrounds 
the 'sacred city' of any religion. Both these cults are propagated on a 
worldwide scale but nowhere did they find such exaggerated expression 
as in the Eastern Republics of the Soviet Union. However persistently 
propagated, they could not make communism a serious competitor of 
the recognized creeds and philosophic teachings of the East, least of all 
the Stalin cult which may turn out to be short-lived. It has already 
given way to the colourless cult of the Party which is far less attractive 
to the Eastern mind. Other attempts have been made too, to put 
communism on a higher level by restating as communist principles 
what are Christian principles or general moral principles common to aU 
religious creeds. This is the purpose of the teaching on so-called 
'communist morality' in Soviet schools as well as of the new statute 
which the Communist Party of the Soviet Union adopted in October 
1952 and which put stronger emphasis on honesty and truthfulness to 
secure a smoother running of the Party apparatus. But in the works of 
Lenin and Stalin which contain the principal message of Soviet com- 
munism we find little more than precepts for political strategy and 
tactics and in the best case explanations of certain sociological phenom- 
ena. Neither Lenin nor Stalin nor any of their disciples have attempted 
to create an all-embracing code of moral behaviour and to give a defini- 
tion of permanent values that could rival any of the sacred books which 
originated in Asia, the Old and New Testaments, the Hindu Scriptures, 
the Avesta or the Koran. Consequently, through communism Asia 
would lose more in the spiritual field than it might gain in the material. 
Herein lies the chief weakness of tl*e whole political and ideological 
communist system and of its nationalities policy. 



1S5 




Some of the types and personalities 
mentioned in the text 



186 



1 The Yakut historian Georgy Basharin whose views on Yakut literature Pravda 
denounced as 'anti-Marxist*. 

2 The Khakassian student R S. Tenashev, of the teachers* training college of 
Abakan. 

3 A Buryat - Mongol peasant, Bula-Tsyren Tugutov, who was awarded the title 
*Hero of Socialist Toil*. 

4 An actor of the former Chinese theatre of Vladivostok. 

5 Valentina Khetagurova-Zarubina, a Russian, wife of a Red Army officer serving 
hi the Far East. She appealed to Russia's girls to live and work in the Soviet 
Far Eastern territories. 

6 Kim Penkhva, chairman of the Korean collective farm 'Polar Star* of the 
Tashkent Province (Uzbekistan), previously in the Soviet Far East 

7 A Nanai woman, Samar, accountant of a collective farm. 

8 The Shorian miner Dmitry Pyzhlakov (Tashtagol iron-ore mines, Kemerovo 
Province). 

9 Otke,aChukcha,C&ainnanoftheExec^ 

Area and a deputy to the Soviet of Nationalities in Moscow. 

10 Sad Belbekov, an Oirot shepherd of the 'Paris Commune' collective farm 
(Autonomous Province of the High Altai). 

11 Marshal Choibalsan (1895-1952), Premier and Commander-in-Coief of the 
Mongol People's Republic. 

12 Dzhansi Kunonko (1905-1949), an Udege writer, hunter and village council 
chairman* 

13 Mavra Mironova, a Tunguz student of the Leningrad Pedagogical Institute 
reading the History of the Soviet Communist Party. 




187 



INDEX 



Abakan, 177 

Abdulgasimov, Nazhim, 14 

Aborigines, 65-99 

Academy of Sciences, 46, 51, 87, 109, 

111, 112, 126 

Africa, British colonies, 78, 176, 180 
Africa, South-West, 179 
Afnca, West, juju, 78; Ewe people, 180 
Aginsk Buryat-Mongolian National 

Okrug, 123 
Agricultural colonization: see 

Colonization 

Agricultural Exhibition, Ail-Union, 21 
Agriculture: see Collectivization 
Ainu, 65, 81, 87-8 
Alaska, 24-7, 90, 92, 96 
Aldan region, 105, 106 
Aleutian National District, 85, 86 
Aleuts, 25, 26, 65, 81, 85, 86 
Alexandrovsk, 53 
Alitet, 94 
Alphabets: 

Buryats, 119, 123 

Chinese, 46-7 

Cyrillic, 149n 

Eskimo, 96n 

Latmization, 46-7, 72-3, 119, 149, 
150, 165, 170 

Mongol, 149-50 

Russian, 123, 149, 170 

Shonan, 170-1 

Tuvmian, 165 

Unified Northern Alphabet, 72-3 
Altaitsy: see Oirots 
Anadyr District, 91 
Anuchin, B.I., 173 
Armenians, 14 
Army, Red, colonization by discharged 

soldiers, 15 
Arsenev, V K., 42 
Atka, 15 

Australia, colonization, 13, 26, immigra- 
tion policy, 32 and n 
Avtorkhanov, A., 120 
Azhaev, V.N., 78 

Badigin, Konstantin, 57-8 

Baidukov, G.F., 84 

Baidukov Island (formerly Langr Island), 

84 

Balkars, 179 
Baltic States, 182 



Baltic-White Sea Canal, 108 

Banzarov, Dorzhi, 127-8 

Baradun, 125 

Baranov, Aleksandr Andreyevich, 24, 25, 

26 

Basharm, Georgy Prokopovich, 109-10 
Bashkirs, 108 
Bayan-Ulegei Aimak, 155 
Beck, K, 50 

Belgian Congo, 112, 180 
Belinsky, V.G., 109 
Belyakov, A.V., 84 
Belyakov Island (formerly Kevost 

Island), 84 
Berg, L S., 27 
Bering, Vitus, 22, 85 
Bering Island, 85, 86 
Bering Strait, 22, 24, 90 
Berzin, E., 69 
Birobidzhan, 19n, 34n 
Birobidzhan City, 20 
Blagoslovennoye, 33-4 
Blagoveshchensk, 1, 10 
Blyukher, Vasily Konstantinovich, vi, 

6-9,29 

Bodo, 131-2, 133 
Bodo-gegen, 134 
Bogoraz-Tan, Vladimir Gennanovich, 

65, 66, 99 

Bolshevik Party, see Communist Party 
Boshnyakovo (formerly Tonnai), 55 
British colonies, 78, 176, 180 
Buddhism* 

Buryot-Mongolia, 115-8 

Mongolia, 130, 135, 136n 

Neo-Buddhism, 118 

Tuvmians, 164 

Budyonny, Semen Mikhailovich, 7 
Bukharin, N.I, 6, 132 
Burkhanism, 172-3 
Buryat-Mongol A.S.S.R., 115-28, 155 
Buyan-Nekhe, 150 
Byelorussians, 13 and n, 119 
Byelotsarsfc, 162 

Canada, Japanese in, 60-1; claim to 
Wrangel Island, 68n; Indians in, 97n 
Caruthers, Douglas, 130 
Catherine the Second, 103 
Chardorzhab, 131-2, 133 
Chechens, 179 
Chekhov, Anton, 55, 70 



189 



INDEX 



Chelpanov, Chot, 172 
Cheraogorsk, 177 
Chernyshevsky, N.G., 109 
Chichenn, G.V., 163 
China: 

Jehol, 156 

Manchuria, Japanese conquest of, 
137 

Mongolia, Inner, 137, 156 

Mongolia, Outer, relations with, 
130, 156-7 

Peking Treaty with Russia (1860), 
42-3, 161 

Soviet-Chinese relations, 46-7, 182-4 

Ulan Bator Embassy, 156 
Chinese, 34n, 42-50, 81, 102, 154, 156 
Chinese Eastern Railway: see under 

Railways 

Chinese theatre, 49 
Chita, 3, 4 
Qikalov, Vafcry, 84 
ChkalovIsland(formerlyUddIsland), 84 
Choibalsan, Khorlogiin, 131-2, 133, 138, 

140, 141, 142, 148 
Choibalsan Prizes, 148 
Christian missionaries: see Missionaries 
Chukcha-Eskimo National District, 96n 
Chukcha National Area, 68, 89, 96n 
Chukchi, 65, 68, 71, 73, 76n, 81, 88, 

89-98, 102, 103 
Chukotka, 69, 89-99 
Civil War, 34, 35, 52, 53, 59, 119 
Ojalmiriing, 49, 53, 177 
Collectivization : 

Chukotka, 93-4 

Koreans, discrimination against, 36-7 

Mongolia, failure in, 136; strengthen- 
ing, 147 

Red Army and Red Fleet farms, 15 

Shamans' obstruction, 76 
Colonization, under Czarist regime, 

12-13; by convicts, 13, 52, 70; military 

colonization, 15; by Komsomol, 16; 

by Jews, 19n; by agricultural workers, 

19-21 ; Alaska, 24-6; European policy, 

32; Buryatia, 123; Mongolia, 129; 

Uriankhai (Tuva), 161-2, 166; 

Khakassia, 176-7; British policy 

compared with Soviet, 180 
Cdumbus, Russian see: Shelikhov, 

Grigory Ivanovich 
Commander Islands, 85, 86 
Qwnrmmist Party: 

Far Eastern Republic membership, 3 

Fifteenth Congress (1927), 4 

Sixteenth Congress (1930), 4 

Eigifateentli Congress (1938), 8, 20-1 

Korean sections, 35 
Communist Youth League: see 

Komsomol 



Constitutions: 

Buryat-Mongol A.S.S.R., 144-6 
Far Eastern Republic, 2, 116-7 
Mongolia, 136n, 142-6 
Stalin, new (1936), 48, 77, 136n 
Yakutia, 106 

Convicts: see Forced labour 

Cooper, Femmore, 83 

Copper Island: see Medny 

Cotton-growing, 41 

Crimean Tartars, 179 

'Cultural Stations': see 'Kultbazy' 

'Dalselmash', 48 

'Dalstroy', 14-5, 69-70 

*Dalzayod', 48 

Dampilon, 120 

Danbinov, Pyotr Nikiforovich, 124, 125 

Dan zan (Mongolian Prime Minister), 

131-2, 133 
Dariganga, 154, 155 
Demid, Marshal, 138-9 
Derzhavin, G.R., 24 
Dezhnev, Semen, 22, 30 
Diomede Islands, 89, 96n 
Donduk (Tuvinian Prime Minister), 164 
Dordji, Ishi, 134, 135 
Dordshiev, Agvan, 118, 132 
Dshigmid, Lobsan, 165 
Dyurbets, 154, 155 
Dzhansankorlo, 138 
Dzungaria, 172, 174 

Eastern Sakhalin National District, 84 
Education: 

Aborigines, 72-6 

Alaska, 26 

Chukchi, 97 and n 

Commander Islands, 86 

Dalstroy schools, 69 

Eskimos, 90 

Far Eastern University, 49 

Illiteracy, campaign against, 72, 73 

Irkutsk University, 123n 

Karafuto, 54 

Khabarovsk, Pedagogical Institute of, 
74 

Khabarovsk Territory, 73 

Koreans, 34, 37 

Leningrad Pedagogical Institute, 74 

Mongolia, 149 

Nikolayevsk college, 73 

Shamans* obstruction, 76 

Yakutia, HOn 
Eskimos, 26, 65, 68 and n, 72, 76n, 81, 

89, 93, 96 and n, 97 
Esutora: see Uglegorsk 
European satellite countries, 182 
Evem, 65, 70, 76n, 78-9, 88, 102 
Even! National Area, 88 



190 



INDEX 



Evenki, 65, 102 

Evenko-Nanai National District, 82 

Fadeev, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich, 83 

and n, 153 

Far Eastern Railway: see under Railways 
Far Eastern Republic, 2-3 
Far Eastern University: see under 

Education 

Farms, collective: see Collectivization 
February Revolution, 34, 173 
Feoktisov, 57 
Finnie, Richard, 72 
Fishing industry, 56, 59-60, 84, 162 
Hags, 2, 143 
Fleet, Red: see Navy 
Forced labour and convicts, 13, 52, 

69-70, 108, 183 
'Fort Ross', 25 

Fur hunting and trading, 93-4, 95 
Funnanov, D.A., 153 

Gamarnik, Yan Bonsovich, 6-7 

Genghis Khan, 119, 126, 139, 140, 151 

Georgians, 14 

Germany, Eastern, 182 

Geser, 126, 127, 153 

Glavsevmorput, 67, 105, 106 

Godin, W., 50 

Goldmining industry, 44, 105, 106, 177 

Goldy: see Nanai 

Gondatti, NX., 91 

Gorky, Maxim, 152, 166, 171 

Hawaii: see under United States 
Heller, Otto, 45-6 

High Altai, Autonomous Province of 
the: see Oirot Autonomous Province 
Honto: see Nevelsk 
Hudson Bay Company, 93n 

Idam-Surun, 150 

Ignatev, Semen Denisovich, 120 and n 

Ingush, 179 

Inner Mongolia: see China 

Innokentii, Metropolitan of Moscow, 26 

Irkutsk, 24, 117, 122 

Irkutsk University: see under Education 

Iron-ore mines, 169-70 

Itelmeny: see Kamchadals 

Ivan the Terrible, 151 

Ivanov, Vsevolod, 153 

Izhevsk, 124n 

Japan: 

Coal and oil concessions, 53 
Czarist regime, treaties with, 52 
Espionage allegations, 5-6, 38 and n, 
39 and n, 49, 50, 120, 121, 122 
Far Eastern Republic, occupation of, 3 



Fishing Convention (1907), 59-60 
Khalkin-Gol River border incidents, 

141 

Manchuria, conquest of, 137 
Neutrality Pact (Soviet, 1941), 53 
Peking Treaty (1924), 53 
Rice cultivation, 41 
Russian policy towards, 51, 59-61, 81 
Russo-Japanese War, 13, 28, 50, 119 
Secret treaty with Russia (1907), 130 
Soviet-Japanese War (1945) 142 

Japanese, 45, 50-7, 59-61 

Jehol: see China: Jehol 

Jeterofu Shima, 57, 58 

Jewish Autonomous Province, 34 and n 

Jews, 14, 19n, 34n, 45, 179 

Johannesburg, 180 

Kalashnikov, Alexey, 96n 

Kaliningrad, 182 

Kalmucks, 115n 

Kamchadals, 65, 85, 88 

Kamchatka, 2n, 59-60, 85 

Ranzychakov, Sary-Sen, 174, 175 

Karafuto, 51, 52, 54, 87, 88 

Karagasy: see Tofy 

Karakorum, 140, 174 

Katayama, Sen, 50 

Kazakhs, 154, 155 

Kazakhstan, 42, 177 

Kazan, 124n 

Kemerovo Province, 169 

Kenya, 180 

Kevost Island: see Belyakov Island 

Khabarovsk, 1, 4, 10, 20, 21, 22, 43 

Khakassian Autonomous Province, 

176-8 

Khakassians, 168, 169, 173, 176-8 
Khalka Mongols, 154, 155 
Khalkin-Gol River battles, 141 
Khasan Lake incident, 8 
Khetagurova-Zarubina, Valentina, 16, 

18,20 

Khorezm Province, 41-2 
Kibangism, 172 
Kimonko, Dzhansi, 76, 83 
Kitawala, 172 
Klements, DA., 172 
Klimovich, Lutsyan K,, 109 
Kobdp, 155 

Koenigsberg: see Kaliningrad 
Kolbin, N., 29 

Kokhak, Adm. A.V., 121, 174 
Koksnikov, Mikhail, 139, 140, 141 
Kommunar, 177 
Komsomol (Communist Youth League), 

16, 94 and n 

Komsomolsk-on-ABQSir, 16-17, 20, 79, 82 
Kondratenko, Gen., 28 
Konotovicii, Gen., 70 



191 



INDEX 



Korean National District, 36, 37, 62 

Korean State Theatre, 42 

Koreans, 32-42, 44, 45, 49, 102 

Korneichuk, Aleksandr, 153 

Korsakov (formerly Otomari), 55 

Koryak National Area, 71, 88-9 

Koryaks, 65, 71, 73, 76n, 88 

Kratt, Ivan, 25 

Krutov, 5, 15, 48 

Kulachikov-EUyay, 1 10 

Kulakovsky, A., 107, 109 

'Kultbazy', 76 and n 

Kunashin, 57, 58 

Kurile Islands, 21, 51, 57-8, 87 

'Kurilsk', 58 

Kuskov, Ivan, 25-6, 30 

Kuzbass, 168, 169 

Kuznetsk Basin: see Kuzbass 

Labour, forced: see Forced labour 

Lamuts: see Eveni 

Langr Island: see Baidukov Island 



Ainu literary language, 88 

Aleutian, 26, 86 

Alphabets: see Alphabets 

Buryats, 123, 125-6 

English in Chukotka, 90-1 

Eskimo, 96n 

Kazakh, 155 

Mongol, 149-50, 164 

Political vocabulary, 93, 124-5, 165 

Shorian, 170-1 

Tuvimans, 163-5 

Yakut, 109-11 
Latvians, 45 
Lavrentev, L., 5 
Lazo, Sergey, 29-30 

League of Militant Godless, 77, 84, 118 
'Lengospar', 106 
Lenin, V.I., 28, 132, 166, 185 
Lenin-Stalin cult, 79-80 
'Lerizolotoflof, 106 
Liquidation of minorities and national 

territories: 

Buryat-Mongol A.S.S.R. outlying 
districts, 122 

Chinese, 47, 49 

Eveni, National Area of, 88 

Japanese, 55 

Kalmucks, 11 5n 

Korean National District, 38-40 

Koreans, 39^42 

Shorian National District, 169 
Usiansky Island, 27 
Literature: 

Boryats, 123, 125-8 

Epics, national, 126, 127 

Folklore, 110 

Folksongs, 110 



Folktales, 79-80 
Mongol, 131, 149-54 
Shorian, 170-1 
Tuvinian, 165-6 
Udege, 83 
Yakut, 109-11 
Lyushkov, G.S., 39 

Madagascar, 180 

Magadan, 79, 14-15, 20 

Maisky, Ivan, 154 

Makarov, Adm., 28-9 

Maksarzhab, 133 and n 

Malevsky-Malevich, 131 

Manchen-Helfen, Otto, 164 

Manchuria: see under China 

Marshall Islands, 27 

Matsuoka, Yosuke, 53 

Mayakovsky, V.V., 166 

Medny Island, 85, 86 

Mekhhs, Lev Zakharovich, 8 

Miklukho-Maklay, N N., 27 

Mikoyan, Anastas, 56 

Minusinsk Tatars: see Khakassians 

Mirzaev, E.M., 154 

Missionaries, 26, 78-9, 86, 184 

Molotov, V.M , 20-1, 119 

Mongol People's Republic, 115, 116, 

128-57, 164 
Mongol-Soviet railway line: see under 

Railways 

Mongolia, Inner, see under China 
Moslems, 14 
M.V.D. (formerly N.KVD.), 7 and n, 

10, 11, 13-14, 39, 70, 120 

Namzhilon, 125 

Nanai, 65, 73, 78, 80, 81-2, 103 

Nanai National District, 82 

Naukan, 93 

Navy, Red, 7n, 15 

Neustroev, Nikolay Diomsovich, 109 

Nevelsk (formerly Honto), 55 

Nevelskoy, Gennady Ivanovich, 28, 30, 

55, 87 

New Guinea, 27 
Newspapers: 

Behnng Island, 86 

Chinese, 45, 49 

Eskimo, 96n 

Japanese, 45 

Korean, 37 

Mongol, 149 and n 

Tuvinian, 164 

Yakut, 103, 107, 108, 111 
Nikolayevsk Amursky, 2, 28 
Nikolsk Ussurhsky, 43 
Nivkhi, 65, 73, 81, 84, 87, 103 
Nivkhi, National District of, 84 
Nizhne-Korymsk, 106 



192 



INDEX 



N.K.V.D.: see M.V.D. 
Nome, 91 

Northern Sea Route, Chief Administra- 
tion of: see Glavsevmorput 
'Noyony', 125n 

Oil, production, 5n; concessions to 

Japan, 53 

Oirot Autonomous Province, 171-6 
Oirots, 168, 169, 171-6 
OKDVA, 7, 8 and n, 36 
Okhotsko-Evensky National Area, 88 
Olchi: see Ulchi 
Old Believers, 162 
Oleshchuk, F.N , 77 
Orlovo (formerly Ushiro), 55 
Orthodox Church, 79, 86 
Ostrovsky, N.A., 153 
Otke, 97 
Otoman: see Korsakov 

Panfyorov, Fyodor, 169-70 

Pan-Mongolism, 115, 119, 125, 164 

Pan-Turkism, 107 

Papuans, 27 

Paramushiri, 57, 58 

Paumoto Archipelago, 27 

Pavlenko, Peter, 18, 50 

Pepelayev, Gen., 104 

Perepechko, 4 

Permskoe: see Komsomolsk-on-Amur 

Peter the Great, 127 

Petri, Prof. P.E., 75 

Poles, 45 

Polish Theatre, 49n 

Port Arthur, 28-9, 130 

Portsmouth, Treaty of (1905), 52 

Potsdam agreement, 51 

Profintern, 46 

Przhevalsky, N M., 33, 43 

Purges: see Trials and purges 
Pushkin, A.S., 166, 170 

Radhaknshnan, S., 184n 

Radia-Bazar, 150 

Ragozmsky, Count, 127 

Railways, purge of railwaymen, 5-6; 
Red Army men accepted into service, 
15; transplantation of Koreans, 39 
Chinese Eastern Railway, 47 
Chinese labour under Czarist regime, 

44 

Far Eastern Railway, 39 
Mongol-Soviet Line, 156 
Stalin Railway Line, 156 
Trans-Siberian Railway, 1, 12 

Reindeer breeding, 71-2, 89, 94, 95 

Reindeer Trust, 69 

Rhodesia, 180 



Rice cultivation, 40-1 

Rimsky-Korsakov, Capt, 55 

Rinchmo, D. R., 132 

'Russian America', 24-7 

'Russian American Company*, 25, 26 

'Russian Columbus': see Shelikhov, 

Gngory Ivanovich 
Russkoye Ustye, 106 
Russo-Japanese War, 13, 28, 50, 119 
Rykov, A. L, 134 

St Petersburg, Treaty of (1875), 52 

'Sakha Omuk*, 107, 108 

Sakhalin, 2n, 10, 18, 21, 22, 28, 51, 52-7, 
70, 84, 86-7, 130 

Samer, Akim, 82 

Saral, 177 

Saryn, Altan, 107 

Satellite countries, European, 182 

Sciences, Academy of: see Academy of 
Sciences 

Scientific and Political knowledge, All- 
Union Society for the Dissemination 
of, 24 

Semenchuk, S. P., 68 

Semyonov, Ataman, 119 

Sergeev, M. A., 88 

Shamanism, 75-9, 84, 94, 107 

Shashkov, 26 

Shelikhov, Grigory Ivanovich, 24, 25, 
26,30 

Shi-Ayushi, 150 

Shimodo, Treaty of (1855), 52 

Shimoshuto, 57 

Shirutoru: see Makarov 

Shoria, 169-71 

Shorians, 168-71 

Shtern, Gngory Mikhailovich, 8 

Shundik, Nikolay, 94 and n-6 

Simonov, Konstantin, 153 

Smeral, Bohumil, 128 

Sofronov, A., 107, 109 

Somali, 180 

Sreten, 4 

Stalin, L V., 117, 119, 127, 132, 166, 185 

Stalin-Lenin cult: see Lenin-Stalin cult 

Stalin Railway Line: see under Railways 

Starkov (Soviet envoy in Tuva), 164 

Startsev, K. D., 68 

Stepanov, A., 28 

Strakhov, 46 

Sukhe Bator, D., 131-2, 133 and n 

Surkov, Alexey, 109 

Suvorov Island, 27 

Svobodny, 6 

Syomushkin, Tikhon, 75, 92, 94 

Tadzfciks, 108 
Tannu Tuva: see Tuva 
Tashkent, 41, 172 



193 



INDEX 



Tchan-Tso-Lin, Gen., 133 
Teh, Prince, 137 
Territorial annexations, 51, 182 
Theatres: 

Chinese Theatre, 48, 49 and n 

Jewish Theatre, 49n 

Korean State Theatre, 42 

Mongol Theatre, 149, 153-4 

Polish Theatre, 49n 

Vladivostok Russian Theatres, 49 
Umber, Chinese workers, 49 
Timoshenko, Marshal, 7 
Tofalary: see Tofy 
Tofy, 168n 

Toka, Salchak K., 163, 165-6 and n 
Tolstoy, Leo, 166 
Tonnai: see Boshnyakovo 
Torma,25 

Toyohara: see Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk 
Trans-Siberian Railway: see under 

Railways 
Trials and purges: 

Buryatia, 122, 125 

Chinese, 48, 50 

Koreans, 35 

Mongolia, 134, 139-41 

1937, 5-9 

Oirots, 172 

Railwayman, 5-6 

Tuva, 164 

Wrangel Island, 68 

Yakuts, 107-8 
Tfrotsky, Leon, 5 
Tsapkin, N. V., 154 
Tsoktu, Taidzhi, 151 
Tugarinov, A. Ya., 139 
Tukhachevsky, M. N., 6, 7, 9, 139 
Tunguz, 65, 87 and n 
Turkic peoples, 168 and n, 169, 177 
Tuva, 161-8 
Tuvinian Autonomous Province, 155, 

167 

Tuvinians, 154, 155, 161-8, 173, 174 
Tuya, Solbone: see Danbinov, Pyotr 

Nikiforovich 

Uborevkb, L P., 6 

Udd Island: see Chkalov Island 

Udege, 65, 81, 82r4 

Ueieii,93 

UFe,124a 

Ugtegorsk (formerly Esutoru), 55 

Ukraine, 119 

Ukrainian National Districts, 13n 

Ukrainians, 13 and n, 14, 34n, 35, 45, 

167, 169 

Ulan Bator (formerly Urga), 129 and n 
Ulan Ude, 124 and n 



Gen., 119, 132, 133 



United States of America: 

Bacteriological warfare experiments 

on Eskimos, alleged, 74 

Eskimos, 74, 92 

Exploitation of Russian coastal 
waters, 90 

Hawaii, Japanese in, 60 

'Imperialism', 74 

Japanese in, 60-1 

Russian policy towards, 81 

Vladivostok consulate, 11 
Urga see Ulan Bator 
Uriankhai: see Tuva 
Ushiro: see Orlovo 
Ussuri Province, 42-3 
Ussuri region, 33 

Ust Ordynsk Buryat-Mongolian Nat- 
ional Okrug, 123 
Ust Yansk, 106 

Uzbekistan, Korean colonists, 41 
Uzbeks, 108, 155 

Vareikis, I M., 6 

Veniaminov, Ivan, see Innokentii 

Viktorov, M. V , 7n 

Vladivostok, 1, 2, 4, 10, 11, 20, 43-9 

Vocabulary, political: see Languages: 

Political vocabulary 
Voroshilov, K. E., 119 
Vyshinsky, A. Ya., 68 

Wallace, Henry, v 
Western Mongols, 154 
Western Sakhalin National District, 84 
Whaling, 90 

White Faith: see Burkhanism 
Women, proportion in population, 
17-18; House of Altaiwoman, 175-6 
Wrangel Island, 68 and n 

Yadrintsev, N. M., 140 

Yakagirs, 102 

Yakut Autonomous Soviet Socialist 

Republic, 102, 104 
Yakutia, 102-12 
Yakuts, 70, 102-12 
Yakutsk, 105, 124n 
'Yakutzoloto', 105 
Yalta, Treaty of, 51 
Yerbanov, Mikhei Nikolayovich, 117, 

119-20, 121, 122, 125 
Youth League, Communist: see 

Komsomol 
Yuzhnekurilsk, 58 
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (formerly 

Toyohara), 55 

Zadornov, N. P., 87 
Zernov, N. M., 26 
Zhamtsarano, Ts. Zk, 118, 139n 
Zhukov, E. M., 129 
Zinoviev, G. E^ 156, 157 



IN GREAT BRITAIN BY GEORGE SJHI1.IF AHJ> SOX