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History, Russian Conquest and Soviet Rule

Fergana Valley, Toshkent, Khujand, Tajiks, time Russia

The rule of the Manghits had become fractured by the time Russia invaded Central Asia in the latter half of the 19th century. Russian forces took Khujand and Bukhoro in 1866. Bukhoro was forced to become a vassal state in 1868, and the khanate of Khiva fell in 1873. Quqon was formally annexed in 1876. In 1916 many Tajiks and other Central Asian peoples rebelled against the Russian government when it attempted to conscript them into the Russian Imperial Army.

The Russian Empire collapsed during the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the Bolsheviks (Communists) seized control of the Russian government. With the Russian government in upheaval, the Central Asians grabbed the opportunity to rebel against Russian rule, establishing armed rebel groups that came to be known by the Russians as basmachis. Despite fierce resistance, the Bolsheviks proceeded to bring Central Asia under their domination. In 1921 the northern part of present-day Tajikistan became part of the Bolshevik-designated Turkistan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR). The Turkistan ASSR also included present-day Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, a small portion of northern Turkmenistan, and southern Kazakhstan.

After the Bolsheviks emerged victorious against their enemies in the Russian Civil War (1918-1921), they established the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1922. By the mid-1920s the basmachi rebellion was mostly subdued. In 1924 the Bolsheviks decided to delineate new borders in Central Asia, carving up the region among its majority ethnic groups. That year the Soviet authorities created the Tajik (or Tadzhik) ASSR, making it part of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR). Then in 1929 the Tajik ASSR was upgraded to the status of an SSR, which made it a separate political entity from the Uzbek SSR. At this time the Soviet authorities transferred the territory of Khujand, located in the Fergana Valley, from the Uzbek SSR to the Tajik SSR.

The national delimitation policy of the Soviet authorities aimed to assign ethnic groups to particular homelands. However, the desire to break up older regional entities to which inhabitants might maintain allegiance also played a part in the process. Furthermore, centuries of interethnic cohabitation in Central Asia rendered clear-cut divisions impossible. A large proportion of Tajiks continued to reside outside the borders of the Tajik SSR (mostly in the cities of Bukhoro, Samarqand, and Toshkent in the Uzbek SSR), while many Uzbeks and other groups resided in the Tajik republic.

Isolated on the far southeastern fringe of the Soviet Union, the Tajik SSR was at first only nominally important in the new Soviet state. In the 1920s the Soviet authorities encouraged local peoples to become active in the Communist Party of Tajikistan, which was the only legal political party. However, during the purges of the 1930s, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin expelled many Tajiks from the local Communist Party apparatus in an attempt to eliminate any opposition to his rule.

The collectivization of agriculture, in which all farmland was placed under state ownership, was completed in the Tajik republic in the 1930s, although the policy met widespread resistance. In the 1960s the Soviet authorities instituted a policy to increase cotton production in Central Asia, and the Tajik republic eventually became the third largest cotton-producing republic in the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, heavy industries were introduced in the Tajik SSR, such as the aluminum plant at Tursunzoda near the border with the Uzbek republic. When Dushanbe was designated the capital of the Tajik republic in 1924, it was no more than a village, but it developed rapidly into a modern city.

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