The history of Central Asia includes a number of little-known pages, which are nevertheless of particular interest given the region's close ties with the Russian state and the strategic importance of its presence in the steppes, deserts and mountains of Central Asia, first for the Russian Empire and then for the Soviet Union.
In the first half of the twentieth century, there were several state formations on the territory of the region that were not recognized by most of the countries of the world as independent and were under strong external political influence - from either Russia (later the Soviet Union) or Japan. The very emergence of these states was a consequence of the weakening of the Qing Empire and its subsequent collapse during the Xinhai Revolution. Weakened China, in some territories of which the European powers, Japan and Russia were interested in, even before the fall of the imperial dynasty, could not keep a number of peripheral regions under its control, which its neighbors took advantage of.
Uryankhai region. The road to independence
Today the Republic of Tuva is a subject of the Russian Federation. By the way, the home region of the current Russian Defense Minister and long-term Minister of Emergency Situations, General of the Army Sergei Shoigu. A little more than a century ago, Tuva was part of the Qing Empire and was called Tannu-Uryanhai. A country of unique nature, inhabited by Turkic-speaking Tuvinians, was a distant periphery of Manchu China. Its political issues were in charge of the Chinese chamber of external relations, but it practically did not interfere in the internal affairs of the region and the way of life of the Tuvans remained archaic. Representatives of the local feudal nobility - noyons - had real power here. The situation began to change rapidly after the Xinhai Revolution. The reaction of the Noyons to the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty was an attempt to change patrons. Among the Tuvan nobility, both pro-Chinese and pro-Mongolian, and pro-Russian sentiments were strong. Mongolia, which fought for independence, during these years became an example for the Tuvans, but many representatives of the Tuvan elite did not want to be part of the Mongolian state. Ultimately, pro-Russian sentiment prevailed. In search of a new overlord, Noyons Kombu-Dorzhu, Chamzy Kamba-Lama, Buyan-Badyrgi and others turned to Emperor Nicholas II with a request to establish a protectorate of the Russian Empire over Uryankhai.
For two years, the tsarist government considered the proposals of the Tuvan nobility, until on April 4, 1914, Emperor Nicholas II agreed to the proposal for a protectorate over the Uryankhai region. The territory was included in the Yenisei province, and the Irkutsk governor-general was vested with political and administrative powers to govern the region. The Russian authorities have carried out a number of positive reforms. First, the duties imposed on the Tuvan population by the authorities of Qing China were abolished. Secondly, the system of taxation of arat households was streamlined. Finally, the Russian government guaranteed the preservation of the rights of Tuvan noyons and the status of Buddhism as the national religion of Tuvans. At the same time, the Russian authorities did not interfere in the performance of national rituals, and the Tuvan population was exempted from military service, unlike many other peoples of the Russian Empire. In 1914, the city of Belotsarsk was founded, which became the center of the region (now it is called Kyzyl and is the capital of the Tyva Republic).
However, Tuva remained in the Russian Empire for a very short time - three years after the establishment of a protectorate over the Uryankhai region, the Romanov dynasty fell. The radical political and social transformations taking place in the life of the Russian state have swept over Tuva as well. Naturally, local Russian settlers became the initiators of the revolutionary events on the territory of the Uryankhai Territory. The indigenous population, even its elite, had a very vague idea of the revolution, the ideology of the main Russian political parties and the alignment of political forces in Russia. However, local Russians, among whom were workers and engineering and technical specialists, managed to have a certain influence on the worldview of Tuvan noyons.
On June 11, 1918, the V congress of the Russian population of the Uryankhai region opened, and two days later, on June 13, representatives of the Tuvan population gathered at the congress. The main issue that was discussed by the Russian and Tuvan population was the further self-determination of the Uryankhai region. The Regional Council of Deputies was formed under the chairmanship of S. K. Bespalov, and then - M. M. Terentyev. On June 18, 1918, following the results of the congress, the Treaty on the Self-Determination of Tuva, Friendship and Mutual Assistance of the Russian and Tuvan peoples was signed. Nevertheless, during the year, from July 7, 1918 to June 14, 1919, the Uryankhai Territory was under the control of the troops of Admiral A. V. Kolchak. It should be noted here that the Kolchak government sought to enlist the support of the Tuvans and therefore emphasized in every possible way that under its rule the traditional way of life of the Tuvan population, the power of the local nobility and the authority of Buddhist lamas and local shamans would be preserved. It was supposed to provide the Uryankhai region with significant internal autonomy. After the troops of the Badzhei Soviet Republic, commanded by A. Kravchenko and P. Shchetinkin, withdrew to the territory of the Uryankhai Territory, they were able to take control of the Tuvan lands and on July 18, 1919 occupied the then capital of the region, Belotsarsk.
Nevertheless, hostilities continued on the territory of the region - both with the remnants of the "whites" and with the Chinese and Mongolian troops. The Chinese and Mongols, taking advantage of the Civil War in Russia, occupied the territory of Tuva, strenuously plundering the local population and establishing their own order. Ultimately, in 1920-1921. Red Army units managed to finally clear the territory of modern Tuva from the presence of Chinese and Mongolian troops. However, the Bolshevik leadership did not seek to include the Uryankhai Territory in Soviet Russia. On the one hand, of course, the Bolsheviks did not want to lose control over this territory, but on the other hand, they did not want complications in relations with China and Mongolia, since both of these states claimed the territory of Uryankhai. Therefore, the optimal decision in this situation was made - to push the Tuvan elite to proclaim political independence and support the declaration of Tuva's sovereignty.
In the summer of 1921, Tuvan politicians made a decision to gradually prepare the Uryankhai Territory for the proclamation of political independence. This point of view was supported by the Bolshevik leaders of Eastern Siberia, who sought, thereby, to enlist the support of the Tuvan population. In June 1921, representatives of the Khemchik kozhuuns Daa and Beise gathered in Chadan, one of the most important centers of Western Tuva. As a result of the meeting, representatives of the kozhuuns made a decision to proclaim the political independence of the Uryankhai region. However, it was decided that the final declaration of sovereignty would be adopted by the general congress of Uryankhai. For support of the formulated decision on self-determination of the Uryankhai region, representatives of the kozhuuns turned to the government of Soviet Russia. From 13 to 16 August 1921, the Vsetuvinsky constituent khural was held in the village of Sug - Bazhy, in which 300 delegates from all kozhuuns of the Uryankhai region participated, most of whom were arats - nomadic and semi-nomadic herders.
A delegation from Soviet Russia and the Far Eastern Secretariat of the Communist International in Mongolia attended the Khural as observers. On the first day of the congress, August 13, 1921, a declaration was adopted on the creation of the first independent state on the territory of the Uryankhai Territory - the Tannu-Tuva People's Republic. The declaration adopted by the Khural proclaimed the independence of the republic in internal affairs and recognition of the patronage of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic in foreign policy. On August 14, 1921, the proclamation of the political independence of the Tannu-Tuva People's Republic was officially announced and the Constitution of the country was adopted. The city of Khem-Beldyr was proclaimed the capital of the republic.
Mongush Buyan-Badyrgy (1892-1932) stood at the origins of Tuvan independence. The son of a simple arat-herdman, Buyan-Badyrgy, was adopted by Haydyp, a noyon of the kozhuun Daa, and was brought up in his family. In 1908, at the age of sixteen, Buyan-Badyrgy inherited the title of noyon Daa-kozhuun from his adoptive father, becoming, despite his young years, the leader of one of the most populous regions of Tuva. The political situation of those years forced the Tuvan nobility to balance between strong neighbors - the Qing and Russian empires. After the Xinhai Revolution, which overthrew the power of the Qing dynasty, Buyan-Badyrgy ended up in the pro-Russian camp of the Tuvan nobility and was among those noyons who signed appeals to Emperor Nicholas II with a request to establish a protectorate of the Russian Empire over the Uryankhai region. However, after the overthrow of the autocracy in Russia, Buyan-Badyrgy became one of the supporters of the proclamation of independence for the Tannu-Tuva People's Republic. It was he who became the developer of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and the chairman of the Vsetuvinsky People's Khural on August 13-16, 1921. He was also elected the first chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People's Republic of Tannu-Tuva.
However, Buyan-Badyrgy, who played a key role in the proclamation of the republic's independence and the formation of Tuvan statehood, was not an adherent of the communist ideology. He professed Buddhism and was not going to abandon the religious and traditional values of the Tuvan people, moreover, he was an ardent adherent of them. In many ways, this contributed to the gradual loss of confidence in Buyan-Badyrgy on the part of the central Soviet leadership, which, with the help of its people in the Tuvan elite, controlled the situation in the formally independent republic. In 1929 Buyan-Badyrgy was arrested and kept in prison for about three years, until in 1932 he was shot on charges of counter-revolutionary activity.
How the Tuvan Arat Red Army was created
In 1923, units of the Red Army were withdrawn from the territory of Tuva. However, the foreign and domestic political situation required the presence of armed units within the republic, which would remain loyal to the people's government and, in which case, could both suppress unrest among local feudal lords and arats, and defend (at least for the first time, before the approach of the allied Red Army) Tuvan lands from a possible attack by the same Chinese. Since the Tannu-Tuva People's Republic has become an independent state entity, the question of the formation of its own armed forces has acquired particular relevance. The established War Ministry of the People's Republic of China was headed by Kuular Lopsan.
However, a year later, in 1922, the War Ministry was disbanded. At the end of 1921, an armed messenger detachment (charylga sherig) was formed under the command of Kyrgys Taktan. Its number was originally determined at 10 fighters, and then increased to 25 fighters. The task of the detachment included the delivery of messages and decisions of the central government, the protection of state institutions. The detachment was subordinated to the Ministry of War, and then to the Ministry of Justice. In May 1923, the number of the detachment increased to 30 people, after which it was reassigned to the newly created Ministry of Internal Affairs of the TNR. From that time on, the functions of the detachment also included the protection of public order on the territory of Tuva. 15 people from the detachment performed the functions of the border guard. Oyun Chigsyuryun replaced Kyrgys Taktan as the commander of the detachment. As ties with Soviet Russia were strengthened, military consultants from the Red Army began to be appointed to the detachment. In 1922, the armed guards of the Russian Self-Governing Labor Colony (RSTK) were also created. In the spring of 1924, the Khemchik uprising, which was of an anti-government nature, was suppressed by the joint actions of the Russian and Tuvan detachments, as well as the militia of the Arat cattle-breeders (by the way, Buyan-Badyrgy was later accused of complicity in this uprising).
In connection with the Khemchik uprising, the leadership of the PRR seriously thought about creating a more effective defense and security system in the country. Although the uprising was ultimately suppressed, there was no guarantee that the next unrest would not become fatal for the new republic. Therefore, it was decided to build an armed forces like a regular army. On September 25, 1924, the Great Khural made a decision to increase the size of the TNR armed detachment to 52 fighters and create 4 separate groups of 3 people each to guard the state border of Tuva. Also, the Great Khural asked the government of the Soviet Union to send a unit of the Red Army to the territory of the Tannu-Tuva People's Republic to forcefully support the revolutionary government. At the beginning of 1925, a cavalry squadron of the Red Army was transferred to Kyzyl. In the same 1925, on the basis of an armed messenger detachment, a cavalry squadron of 52 people was formed. Oyun Mandan-ool became the squadron commander, and Tyulyush Bulchun became the commissar. The creation of the Tuva Arat Red Army (TAKA) was officially announced.
On November 24, 1926, the IV Great Khural of the TNR adopted a new Constitution of the republic, which officially formalized the creation of the Tuva Arat Red Army. It was decided to recruit TAKA by annually conscripting young citizens of Tuva into military service. At the end of 1929, the TAKA cavalry division was formed, consisting of two squadrons with a total number of 402 commanders and fighters. Tyulyush Dagbaldai took command of the division, Kuzhuget Seren became the commissar. The unit was subordinate to the recently created Department of State Internal Political Protection of the People's Republic of TNR (UGVPO). Tyulyush Dagbaldai was promoted to the head of the Directorate, and Kuzhuget Seren took command of the cavalry division.
Strengthening the armed forces of the republic
The further development of the policy of “Sovietization” of the Tannu-Tuva People's Republic also dates back to 1929. The positions of the members of the Tuvan People's Revolutionary Party in the country's leadership were strengthened. In 1930, five extraordinary commissars were appointed in Tuva, who graduated from the Communist University of the Workers of the East. They embarked on a policy of collectivizing agriculture in the republic, eradicating traditional customs and religious rites. In two years, 24 Buddhist monasteries were destroyed, the number of lamas and shamans dropped from 4,000 to 740. Salchak Toka was elected general secretary of the Tuvan People's Revolutionary Party, who remained in power in the republic for more than forty years - until his death in 1973.
In 1930, the Tuvan Red Army soldiers again took part in the suppression of the rebel bands in the Khemchik kozhuun. On March 16, 1930, a cavalry squadron was sent to suppress the uprising. Mobilized students of the party school were assigned to the squadron for support. Soon the cavalry managed to capture the leader of the rebels of the local wealthy cattle breeder Chamza Kamba. However, the rebel detachments managed to retreat to the Mongol border, after which Mongolian military units rushed to the aid of the Tuvan troops in pursuit of the rebels. It is noteworthy that the opponents of the revolutionary government tried to fight the Tuvan Red Army soldiers not only with ordinary weapons, but also with the help of traditional rituals. As Semyon Seven, a participant in the suppression of the uprising, recalls, who later became one of the prominent military leaders of Tuva and finished his service with the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Army, “the tree also had two so-called choluk - sacrifices. The comrades who were there said: eyes and ears are drawn with charcoal on an inflated cow's bladder, he is put on a pole, to which his arms and legs are attached, and is dressed in rags. Two such figures are placed with their faces in the direction from which we followed the bandits. And this meant that a kargysh was sent to us, to the Red Army - a curse”(Seven S. Kh. Truth of my life // Center of Asia. Weekly. No. 48, December 3-9, 2010).
Ultimately, shamanistic rituals, like local knowledge, did not help the rebels. The rebels who retreated to the territory of Mongolia were surrounded by Mongolian troops, captured and, together with their cattle, driven to the territory of Tuva, where they were handed over to the command of the Tuvan cavalry squadron. Thus, neighboring Mongolia, another friendly to the Soviet Union and under the colossal influence of the latter, Central Asian state, rendered significant assistance in suppressing the uprising. It is significant that many of the participants in the uprising were released on trial - then the Tuvan justice was quite loyal to the participants in such demonstrations, attributing what was happening to the backwardness of the arats and their being under the influence of religious prejudices. Meanwhile, participation in the suppression of anti-government protests was one of the few chances for the Tuvan Red Army soldiers to gain real combat experience. Unlike Mongolia, Tuva was located far from the same Manchuria and did not directly participate in clashes with Japanese and Manchu troops. As noted by the historian of the Tuvan army B. B. Mongush, the key tasks of the Tuvan army were the protection of the revolutionary government from internal and external enemies and the protection of the state border, but first of all, the Tuvan Red Army men had to suppress anti-government demonstrations (Mongush B. B. To the history of the creation of the Tuvan People's Revolutionary Army (1921-1944) / /
The influence of the policy of "Sovietization" was also manifested in the armed forces of Tuva. So, in 1929 the government of the People's Republic of China decided not to accept children of noyons and wealthy arats into military service. The social composition of TAKA rapidly proletarianized - if in 1930 72% of the middle peasants and the poor served in the division, then in 1933 the number of arats of medium and small income reached 87% in the armed unit. The total number of party members and the Revolutionary Youth Union in the ranks of TAKA reached 61.7% of the unit's personnel. At the same time, a decision was made to develop the TAKA personnel training system. In December 1930, a school for junior commanders was created at the division, in which a personnel of 20 cadets trained for six months. The first graduation of Tuvan junior commanders followed in June 1931. To organize the military and physical training of pre-conscripts, the Society for Assistance to the Defense of the Country (OSO), a Tuvan analogue of the Soviet OSOAVIAKHIM, was created. On October 19, 1932, TAKA was transferred to a two-tier system of organization - personnel and territorial-militia. In 1934, the cavalry division was transformed into a united cavalry regiment, and TAKA was renamed the Tuvan People's Revolutionary Army (TNRA). The TNRA cavalry regiment consisted of 2 saber squadrons, a squadron of heavy machine guns and a squadron of the regimental school for training junior commanders. In addition, in 1935, the regiment included artillery, sapper and quartermaster platoons, a communications platoon and a chemical department.
The command staff of the regiment was represented by Tuvans. Gessen Shooma became the regiment commander, Mikhail Kyzyl-ool became the chief of staff. The command of the squadron of heavy machine guns was taken by Saaya Balchir, the artillery of the regiment - Oyun Lopsan-Baldan, the communications platoon - Mandarzhap, the sapper platoon - Saaya Ala. Back in the 1920s, the training of Tuvan commanders began in the educational institutions of the Red Army on the territory of the USSR. The first ten cadets were sent to the Soviet Union in 1925. In November 1935, 20 graduates of the Tambov Secondary Cavalry School of the RKKA im. CM. Budyonny. Semyon Seven, excerpts from his memoirs are given in the text of the article, was sent to study at the Communist University of Workers of the East, and from it, from the third year, he was transferred in 1933 to the Krasin Moscow Artillery School (from the summer of 1034 the school was transferred to Sumy), which he graduated from in 1937. They began to take Tuvan commanders to the Military Academy named after V. I. M. V. Frunze. In particular, Oyun Lakpa studied there, who replaced Gessen Shoom as regiment commander. In total for the period from 1925 to 1946. 25% of the cadre commanders of the Tuvan armed forces received training at various levels in Soviet higher and secondary military educational institutions.
By this time, the Tuvan armed forces, despite the process of gradual improvement in the training of personnel, remained poorly armed. As Semyon Seven recalls, “I was appointed commander of an artillery platoon of a regiment with a salary of 70 rubles. The Tuvan army then had one armored vehicle, one U-2 aircraft, and one cannon. The gun was disassembled, no one had ever fired from it. First of all, the platoon soldiers assembled this gun, trained them, and began to shoot from it”(Seven S. Kh. Truth of my life // Center of Asia. Weekly. No. 48, December 3-9, 2010).
In 1927-1936. the armed forces of the People's Republic of China were subordinate to the Department of State Internal Political Protection (in 1935-1937 - the Internal Department of the Protection of the Country), in 1036-1938. obeyed the Military Council of the People's Republic of China, and in 1938-1940. TNRA was directly subordinate to the government of the republic. Late 1930s was marked by a serious aggravation of the military-political situation in the Far East and Central Asia. In particular, there were clashes between Japanese and Soviet troops. In connection with these events, further measures were taken in the direction of improving the training and command system of the armed forces of the PRR. On February 22, 1940, the Ministry of Military Affairs of the TNR was created, headed by Colonel Gessen Shooma (later he was awarded the military rank of Major General, and in 1943 Gessen Shooma was replaced as Minister of Military Affairs by Colonel Mongush Suwak).
Tuvans in the Great Patriotic War
The Great Patriotic War brought its own finishing touches to the political history of the Tuvan state. The Tuvan People's Republic became the first foreign state to act as an ally of the USSR in the Great Patriotic War - the declaration of support for the Soviet Union was adopted on June 22, 1941 by the Small Khural of the TNR. Three days later, on June 25, 1941, the TNR declared war on Germany. The Soviet Union received the republic's gold reserves in the amount of 30 million rubles, and began deliveries of horses, fur and woolen products, wool, and meat of the fighting Red Army. From June 1941 to October 1944, the TNR supplied the Soviet Union with 50 thousand horses, 70 thousand tons of sheep wool, 12 thousand short fur coats, 15 thousand pairs of felt boots, 52 thousand pairs of skis, hundreds of tons of meat, carts, sledges, Other products. Also, several dozen tanks and aircraft were purchased, transferred to the units of the Workers 'and Peasants' Red Army.
Since the TNR was the closest military-political ally of the Soviet Union, the beginning of the Great Patriotic War led to the transition of the armed forces of the TNR to martial law. The number of TNRA was increased from the pre-war 489 soldiers and officers to 1,136 military personnel. An institute of military commissars and political leaders was created in the United Cavalry Regiment and its subdivisions. In 1942, the commissars were transformed into deputy commanders for political affairs.
After the Soviet troops began to rapidly gain the upper hand over the Nazi invaders, in 1943 the number of TNRA was reduced to 610 troops. By this time, the cavalry regiment of the Tuvan army included 2 saber squadrons, a squadron of a training school for junior regiment commanders, a technical squadron, artillery and mortar batteries, a tank, sapper, musical platoons, a communications platoon, an aviation link and a quartermaster unit. The TNRA was armed with not only small arms and edged weapons, but also mortars, anti-tank grenades, tanks and even aircraft. All male citizens of the TNR between the ages of 16 and 50 were required to undergo military training, about which the corresponding Decree of the Presidium of the Small Khural of the TNR was adopted. As for the Soviet citizens living in Tuva (and this was the bulk of the Russian and Russian-speaking population of the country), from the first months of the war, it was decided to mobilize all men aged 19-40 years into the Red Army, and the costs of providing mobilization measures took over the Tuvan government. At the same time, the Tuvan People's Republic began to send volunteers from among its citizens to the Red Army fighting against the Nazi invaders.
On May 20, 1943, 11 volunteers were sent to the Red Army - tankers, who were recruited into the 25th Uman Tank Regiment of the 1st Ukrainian Front. On September 1, 1943, the 1st volunteer squadron of TNRA, commanded by Captain Tyulyush Kechil-ool, was sent to the front. The squadron numbered 206 people - both regular servicemen of the Tuvan army and people without military service experience. The squadron became part of the 31st Guards Kuban-Black Sea Regiment of the 8th Guards Cavalry Division. The military unit took part in the liberation of 80 settlements, fighting on the territory of the Ukrainian SSR. Tuvan soldiers especially distinguished themselves in the battles in Galicia and Volyn, including the capture of Rovno. Among the German invaders, Tuvan volunteers received the nickname "Black Death" - it is obvious that the Germans, first of all, were frightened by the national tradition of Tuvans not to take anyone prisoner. On February 1, 1944, a Tuvan squadron of Kechil-ool made a breakthrough into the territory of the railway station and a brick factory in the city of Rovno, and the Tuvans were able to break through much further than other Red Army units and only then, having suppressed the enemy's resistance, they waited for the main units of Soviet troops to approach.
For the valor shown in battles Khomushka Churgui-ool and Tyulyush Kechil-ool received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, 67 servicemen received Soviet awards, and 135 Tuvan fighters and commanders were awarded Tuvan medals. The cavalry squadron was given the honorary name "Guards Rivne". In total, about 8 thousand people from the Tuvan People's Republic took part in the Great Patriotic War. Retired Lieutenant Colonel Semyon Khunaevich Seven recalls: “All volunteers fulfilled their duty with honor. Tanker Comrade Churgui-ool became a Hero of the Soviet Union. Not everyone returned home. I will name some of the victims. Died in a heroic battle with the German fascists, comrades Sat Burzekey, was buried in the Ukrainian city of Dubno. Mongush Sat was killed in the Ukrainian village of Derazhno, Rivne region, Dopchut-ool was buried in the city of Dubno, Rivne region. The tankers Idam, Uynuk-ool, and Baykara did not return from the front. All ten girls returned from the front. 10 partisans returned, they were people of the older generation, among them was the old man Oyun Soktai”(Seven S. Kh. Truth of my life // Center of Asia. Weekly. No. 49, December 10-16, 2010).
In 1944, a decision was made on the entry of the Tuvan People's Republic into the Soviet Union. TNRA, in accordance with this decision, ceased to exist, and the cavalry regiment was transformed into the Separate 7th Cavalry Regiment of the Red Banner Siberian Military District. The Ministry of Military Affairs of the TNR was transformed into the military commissariat of the Tuva Autonomous Region. In 1946 the 7th Cavalry Regiment was abolished. Part of the regiment became part of the 10th Infantry Division, stationed in Irkutsk, the other part - into the 127th Infantry Division, stationed in Krasnoyarsk. Many servicemen of the Tuvan army continued to serve either in the armed forces of the USSR or in the internal affairs bodies of the Tuva Autonomous Region. In particular, Semyon Seven, demobilized from the post of deputy regiment commander for combat units, was appointed head of the economic unit of the Internal Affairs Directorate of the Tuva Autonomous Region, and then - the head of the Tuvan DOSAAF. The battle banners of the Tuvan armed forces were transferred to Moscow.
This is how the nearly twenty-five-year history of the armed forces of Tuva ended - a small, but combat-ready and brave army, which made its contribution to the common cause of the struggle against the Nazi invaders.