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Russian Rule in Turkestan and the


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Novitsky (I869-I929), a captain in the Russian army, who spent four months as a guest of the Indian army in 1888, vividly wrote to Fr. 30 See Mark Batunsky, 'Islam and Russian Culture in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century', Central Asian Surey, 9, I990, 4, p.

677 mostly translations of articles from 7he Times of India, The Englishman

There is something about many of the natives, men and women, that generally reminds one of our common people: the favorite red color of their clothes, the knotted shawls of the women, framing their faces why in detail different seems to be something familiar and close to the soul. Our words shooba and shoogai are identical with the names of the corresponding articles of clothing in north-west India.

679 which, he notes, some Britons used as well, playing on ideas of 'Aryan

Ukhtomskii's view of Russian imperial relations, which could have been written by a Soviet propagandist without the religious references.

Ukhtomskii's view of Russian imperial relations, which but for the religious references could have been written by a Soviet propagandist,

Meanwhile, General Annenkov, in 7he Akal-Tekke Oasis and the Road to India, remarked on the heavy burden of taxation wiping out any

Annenkov was most interested in comparing the military capacity of the two Empires, and he espoused the usual Russian view that the

This circumstance sufficiently illustrates the inadequacies of the British system of governing India, by not forcing the natives to learn the language of government [...] this meeting made an unpleasant impression on me. He went on to criticize the British for not making the Indian army a school of native civilization, as in the Russian army, where conscripts were taught to read and write. In general, the attitude of the Russian administrators towards the 'civilization' of the Asian peoples was far more straightforward and less contradictory than that of the British official classes, whose distaste for the urbanized, Anglicized native and sentimental attitude towards the 'uncorrupted' (ie unedu) - cated) peasantry is well known.

Such an encounter with a loyal and elderly representative of the Indian 'martial races' (in this case a Punjabi Muslim), if it had come from the pages of Kipling or any other Anglo-Indian observer, would have been replete with expressions such as 'robust', 'sturdy' and 'salt of the earth'.0. Novitskii concluded that the Indians were right to resent the presence of the British in their country, because their rulers had made far too little effort to westernize them and thus raise their cultural level, although he did admit that Europeanization had much was further advanced than in Turkestan. 85 As Vostochnik.

76-I02, a fictional account of such an encounter with a loyal, monoglot Sikh of the I4Ist Punjab Cavalry on a railway station platform during the South African War.

687 Ukhtomskii was less than enthusiastic about cultural and educational

Pahlen's recommendations for the internal reform of Turkestan were greatly influenced by the case of British India. He saw in the delegated powers of the viceroy and the existence of a dedicated, educated civil service in India a model for Russian attempts to reform the corrupt and over-centralized system in Turkestan, which consisted of untrained soldiers assigned from their regiments: 'These defects are especially clear when comparing of our system of governing the region with that of other governments over Asiatic possessions, especially the most prominent and extensive. In India, he wrote, the viceroy and his council were given enormous powers: only matters of high policy were decided by the secretary of state in London, and this decentralization and reliance on local initiative continued down to the lowest levels of the state. Indian Civil Services.

The Qazi courts were retained in Turkestan after the conquest by the Russians and only abolished by the Bolsheviks after 1924. Russian encounters with Anglo-Indian officers on the Afghan border, in the Pamirs and in Turkestan itself, are somewhat better known territory in the US. study of their views on India and its rulers, and help to underline the fact that both powers were ultimately involved in a common enterprise. The best known of such encounters was probably that between Francis Younghusband and Captain Gronbchevskii in the Pamirs in October 1892, when they 'sat down to a very substantial meal of soups and stews, washed down with a copious supply of vodka'.95 Vodka is indeed a recurring theme. in the reports of these meetings, which became increasingly common in the years leading up to the First World War.

Although Gronbchevskii was forced to expel Younghusband from the Pamir plateau, informing him that it had just been annexed by the Tsar, the two men parted on terms of mutual respect.

It is hardly novel to write about the representatives of rival imperial powers, especially in the nineteenth century, meeting and fraternizing

How far, then, was Turkestan's administration free from racism, that troublesome vice of the British in India complained of by so many Russian travellers. When Shah Abad ul-Majit, a converted Sikh who claimed to have worked in the Cutchenyl?' in Peshawar and to flee from his infidel masters when he embraced Islam he arrived in Karshi in August 188o he was immediately imprisoned as a spy.'02 Otherwise the views of Russian officers were conditioned by contact with the Sindhi Hindu moneylenders and merchants who were present in every major Turkestan town.103. According to an oblast survey undertaken in Samarkand in 1870, there were thirty-three Indians in the small town of Katta-Kurgan, on the border between the Bokharan Protectorate and Russian Turkestan.

All but eight were moneylenders, and one of them was a priest, one lived off the charity of others, and the rest were merchants, many of whom had been there since the 1840s, long before the Russian invasion. Even the much smaller town of Peishambe had a population of twenty-three Hindus,'04 and there is no reason to suppose that the numbers present in the region of Samarkand were in any way unusual, indeed that at least 5000 Indians resided in neighboring Bokhara. 105 The Russians treated the Shikarpuris and Multans of urban Turkestan just as they treated the Russian and Bokharan Jews with suspicion and contempt. He also published a novel in three parts, dealing with the travails of a Russian caravan from Orenburg to Bokhara in I859-60, which first appeared in the journal Svet in I883.

Stremoukhov, who from I864-75 was director of the Asiatic Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

693 their activities be more heavily taxed."2 Sympathy for Indians amongst

Initially the Russians liked to represent themselves as the 'liberators' of the Central Asian (Bokharan) Jews, claiming the conquest had freed

The Military Governor of the Syr-Darya Oblast [..] has informed me of the harmful activities of the Bukharan Jews living in the region and systematically exploiting the natives, giving rise to petitions calling for measures to to free the population of the oblast from the heavy burdens. economic oppression of these Jews. Russia's treatment of Turkestan's Sunni Muslim majority was different from that of religious minorities, but was by no means based on ideas of equality between rulers and ruled. Islam, or to use the term most commonly used by the Russians 'musulmanskii fanatizm', was, according to most officers, the greatest threat to the stability and order of the Tsar's new possessions in Turkestan, and by far the greatest obstacle for the ultimate goal of sblizhenze,123 or assimilation of the region with the rest of the empire.

3-25, 90-II3 for a more detailed account of Russian problems with Central Asian Islam and official efforts to overcome this perceived obstacle to the modernization of the region. 126 Yermolov's cruelty provoked a general uprising in Chechnya in I825, which eventually produced the greatest hero of the anti-Russian war, Imam Shamil. 126 Chantal Lemercier Quelquejay, 'Co-optation of Kabardian and Dagestan Elites in the Sixteenth Century', in M.

The weakness of the resistance encountered by the Russians at Tashkent and on the Zerabulak highlands was offset by incidents such as the fierce siege of Ura-Tyuba,131 or the attack on the small Russian garrison of the citadel of Samarkand by the rebel son of the Bukhara emir, a fugitive from Shahrisabz and the population of the city.

This contemptuous attitude towards Central Asian Muslims as cultur- ally inferior, savage, fanatical and backward, is strongly reminiscent of

Borzna, the Gazette's correspondent, posed a number of questions

  • Is it an insult to the Russian uniform thus to exchange it for a khalat and turban, publicly before the natives?
  • Does it breach the discipline of soldiers to wear a khalat and turban in public?
  • Do soldiers have the right to accept khalats as gifts from the Muslim Qazi?
  • Will similar demonstrations have a baneful influence on the under- standing of the natives, in relation to their disgust towards Russians/
  • Should we, therefore, have Muslim officers occupying administrative posts, who through their fetishism could reinforce the antipathy of the

Do active officers and soldiers of the Muslim faith have the right to exchange their uniforms for robes and turbans when participating in public prayers? The Governor General wrote to General Abramov, the 145 head of the Zeravshan district, to ask for an explanation. Soon after, he became the head of the newly created Zeravshan District, established around the city of Samarkand, and remained in this position until 1877.

The lady looks tired and sitting on the hard, padded cover of the sofa, looks at Sart with disgust and says something to the caretaker in their unintelligible language. Nalivkin (I852-19I8) was a leading educationist in Turkestan, and perhaps more than any other the voice of the 'Third Element' in that region. From the nobility of the Moscow province, he was educated at the Pavlovsky Military Academy and entered the Orenburg Cossack brigade in 1871.

However, before the arrival of peasant settlers, the main representatives of the Empire's European lower classes in Turkestan, as in India, were the soldiers.

703 assembly. Even liberal and revolutionary Russians objected to this,

Clearly, claims to a magnanimous cosmopolitanism were a popular rhetorical gambit for British Imperialists as well. The reality in both

Apart from the extent to which a genuine dialogue existed between Indian and British culture at certain levels of society (exemplified by the respective popularity of cricket and curry in each country today), it is commonplace that snobbery at least was as important as racism in the hierarchies of the British Empire. However, the presence of relatively large numbers of poor Russians in Central Asia does not negate the fact that the Russian regime in Turkestan was 'colonial' in the generally understood sense of the term, its higher administration overwhelmingly Christian and European, its population Muslim and Asian . Furthermore, this assimilation took place at an early date, when many of the British in India were still living as Asians and taking Indian wives.

173–90, for a discussion of the changing meanings of this term as it developed as a legal category. Its most consistent meaning was subjects of the Tsar who were not Orthodox Christians. Prince Alexei Obolensky told the Imperial State Council in 1909 that "it is absolutely impossible to solve the national question in Russia by following the example of Western European colonial policy."73 Many would (and did) agree with him and try to compare all non-Great Russian areas of empire with the Western colonial empires would be foolish: the empire was too vast and too diverse for a single model of imperial rule to be viable.

However, in Turkestan and parts of the Caucasus we do see the "model of Western European colonial policy" being followed, albeit with some distinctive twists.

707 perhaps worth remembering what Dostoevskii actually wrote in Mat is

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