History of Khiva - Part 11

The dramatic end of Khiva state

The dramatic events during the second decade of the twentieth century, culminating in the collapse of the monarchic regime, and the liquidation of the Khiva state itself, left an indelible mark on the city of Khiva. These major events were brought about by forces unique to this unprecedented era, and by events taking place in the wider world.

The most decisive external factor of all was the deep crisis of the monarchic form of government all over the world, which, during the first decade of the twentieth century, was being experienced throughout the empires of Russia and Turkey. In these monarchic states, under the influence of the European states and the United States of America, a reformation movement for the modernisation of government was growing in influence. Echoing the revolutionary events in Russia in 1905-1907, the Mladoturkish revolution of 1908 arose to challenge the Khiva Khanate. Here on the political stage people began declaring their devotion to democratic reforms. Khivan djadidlsm arose simultaneously with Turkistan djadidism as the culture and politics became more and enlightened arid took on modern features. If the Turkistan djadio activists had taken a stand for the liberation of their people from Russian colonialism, they might have gained their independence, however, the main opponent of the Khiva djadio activists was the monarch of their own state. The political ideal of the more radical elements of djadidizm was Turkey, with its Constitution, national Education, and respect for Islam. In their tactics, they remained moderate reformists; but their ultimate goal was constitutional monarchy. But even the moderate program of the djadid activists met with furious resistance and was strongly suppressed. News about the victory of the February democratic revolution in Russia in 1917, as well as the abdication of the Russian monarch, stirred up all of Khiva society, and created increased political activity in the country. On 4 April, 1917, crowds demonstrated in the streets of Khiva with the slogans: «Down with violence, cruelty, and oppression!» and «Long live freedom 1» These demonstrations were headed by djadid activists who, in late February, united with the mladoturkey party, and began calling themselves mladokhiva activists. Defying the soldiers of a Russian garrison in Khiva, they joined to demonstrate and call the people to revolt against the Khan. However, the mladokhiva activists associated the achievement of their purposes with peaceful means.

On a wave of a democratic sentiment, they managed to overpower Asfandiyar-khan and went on to draw up concessions. On 5 April, the Khiva Khan signed the manifesto presented to him by mladokhiva activists. Immediately, from the ancient walls of Khiva, news about the manifest was announced, declaring the establishment of an elected Medjlis and an elected Plazir Advisory Council, introducing its control over the state treasury and construction of railways and telegraph systems, and promising the opening of new training schools, etc. The manifesto was distributed all over the country. This manifest, as well as the newly created state institutions of Medjlis and the Mazir Council, which were introduced by the representatives of the clergy, trade estate, intelligentsia and Turkmen tribe rulers, represented the new way of thinking in the country, the way of reform and democracy. Mladokhiva activists exulted. In the establishment of the constitutional monarchy, they saw the fruits of their reforming efforts. Their representatives headed the newly created state institutions: the outstanding leader of the mladokhiva activists, Baba Akhund Salimov, became Medjlis representative, and their leader Matmuratov, was elected as the leader of the riazir Council.

However, the joy of the mladokhiva activists was premature. The position of the monarch of Khiva was still strong. The chief of state, Asfandiyar-khan, continued to have unlimited authority. He was the supreme ruler of the country and ruled all its territory. The entire administrative control of the country continued to remain in his power. It was the khan who appointed the khakimsusole rulers of the regions, which was the largest administrative unit of the Uzbek population in the Khiva kingdom. Khiva city, with its twenty-three such units, was under the direct authority of the khan. Even naibi (Uzbek elders), and also ak-sakali (the representatives of the lower administrative unit of the mosque community), were affirmed in their posts by the khan and served for life. The beks (clan rulers), bakils (lesser patriarchs), ketkhuds (honored persons of other Turkmen tribes), atakils and bievs (tribal leaders of the Kazakhs and Karakalpaks) were all hereditary; nonetheless, in order to get a post for a son, it was necessary to get the khan's approval. Tribal rulers were subordinated to the khan's special officers (bekler-begi). The atalikand biev carried out the same duties as the Uzbek khakim and aksakal However they also executed the duties of judges, administering the suits of their kinsmen on the basis of adat Local rulers of all kinds exercised unlimited power within the districts entrusted to them, used their authority over the population, and lived at the people's expense. Besides, their legal incomes from the taxes collected from their populations, they had considerable illegal incomes, which, however, were not considered illegal if they were not excessive and did not raise the complaints of the population. These powerful rulers and their officials supported the monarchic regime and did not wish to be associated with the new reforming trends. They affirmed absolute monarchy as a true Khivan value.

Faithful support for the monarchic regime also came from the Muslim clergy. Significant in number and in influence with the people, it held a prominent position in the Muslim community. Providing a strong link between the monarch and people, the clergy constantly tried to create the idea of the sacredness of the khan's authority. Finally, disillusioned with the loss of peaceful reformation, one faction of the djadid activists — the liberal win — departed from active political life, while the other part — the mladokhiva activists — sharply changed tactics, and entered an armed struggle with the ruling regime.

The traditional political forces of the kingdom were fully arrayed after the establishment of Bolshevik authority in Russia and Turkistan. Khiva's capital was the site of a significant political struqqle. In 1917 Asfandiyar khan dissolved the Medjlis, and all the organizations of the mladokhiva activists were dispersed and their members were persecuted. Asfandiyar-khan refused to recognize the Bolshevik governments of Russia and Turkistan. In order to prevent the penetration of Bolshevik influence into the Kingdom of Khiva, he revoked all concessions he had made to the liberal forces of the country. In Khiva, in 1918, Djunaid Khan was invited for negotiations. By that time, externally and internally, the establishment of Bolshevik power at the end of December 1917 had aggravated the political situation in the country.

In early January 1918, the Bolshevik influence was increasing in the Amu Darya district of Turkistan, neighboring Khiva. Russian troops were spread through all of Khiva. The instability of the political situation, increasing starvation, and the exorbitant growth of food-prices caused the population to become increasingly dissatisfied. This developed into rebellion and necessitated meetings between the local rulers and merchants. The relationships between various nations in the khanate were also strained. As Khan-Uzbek power over Khiva lessened, the leaders of various Turkmen tribes turned against him. This struggle intensified after Djunaid Khan's return to the Khiva kingdom at the end of 1917. Me succeeded in uniting all the dissatisfied Turkmen tribes. At the beginning of 1918, Djunaid Khan had more than 1,500 armed cavalry riders at his disposal, presenting a serious threat to the Khan of Khiva. In January 1918, Asfandiyar-khan contacted a number of influential ishans and mullahs, and Djunaid Khan himself. I invited them to Khiva for negotiations about creating a joint government for the country and a cooperative effort to repulse the Bolsheviks. After swearing his loyalty, Djunaid Khan was appointed by Asfandiyar-khan as the general officer in command of the Khivan army. Soon afterwards, Asfandiyar-khan was assassinated. With Djunaid's help, the uncle of the slain khan, Said Abdulla-khan, ascended to the throne. In reality, Djunaid Khan became the ruler of Khiva. For a very short period of time, Djunaid Khan enlarged his army to 10,000 soldiers. However, war operations in the Amu Darya District from September 1918 to March 1919 showed that his armed forces were not yet ready for the struggle with the Bolsheviks. Djunaid Khan retreated and agreed to negotiate with the Bolsheviks. But he announced his requirements: non-interference of the RSFSR into the internal affairs of the country, and the withdrawal of its troops from the territory of Khiva. This showed the Bolsheviks that he was unreconcilable.

On 9 April 1919, an armistice between RSFSR and the khanate of Khiva was signed in the Takhta fortress. According to this agreement, the population of the kingdom had the right to self-determination. Both side agreed to stop all military actions, to organize an exchange between their representatives, to guarantee the freedom and safety of movement of the people of all countries on land and waterways, and to set up commercial relations between the two countries.

However, both parties came to consider this agreement an unacceptable compromise. This was confirmed by the events that followed; both countries began preparations for renewed military action. During the summer of 1919, relations between Bolshevik Russia and Khiva become more strained. Djunaid Khan created a foreign policy alliance with Alirn Khan, the Bukhara emir, against Russia. In Khiva and Bukhara, a general mobilization was declared. The people, defending the state from the oppression of the Bolshevik regime, were in reality fighting for their independence and freedom. In September 1919, Revvoensovet (the Revolutionary Military Council) of Turkistan sent a telegram to Glavkom, the commander the of RSFSR troops, anxiously informing them: «Undoubtedly, Khiva will advance aggressively at an inopportune moment». The situation of an undeclared war with Khiva irritated the Bolshevik government, and their people in Turkistan were at a loss for military solutions to the problem. In Russia, the Trotskyite philosophy played an important role in exacerbating the Central Asian situation. One of its axioms was to use the growing national-liberation movement in the East to further the interests of «the world revolution», not hesitating to encourage military conflict. The Bolshevik government of Russia and Turkistan moved toward the consolidation and strengthening of all possible forces to oppose the khanate. In November 1919, an agreement between these forces was reached. The representatives of the largest Turkmen tribes hostile to Djunaid Khan — the tribes of Koshmamed and Qulamili — along with the communists and mladokhiva activists, became the members of the revolutionary center, created in Turtkul. The stated goal of this organization was to overthrow the khan and to gain power. Bolshevik troops were called in for support.

From 22 December 1919 into January 1920, Bolshevik troops and insurgent forces began fighting side by side. Djunaid Khan was surrounded, but he succeeded in avoiding the battle and fled. However, on 1 February 1920, Khiva was captured. On 2 February 1920, Khiva's Khan Said Abdulla abdicated.
All power went to the Temporary Revolutionary Committee, organized in Khiva, which consisted of five people. Sultanuradov (head of the Turtkul committee of mladokhiva) became the chairman of the Revcom (Revolutionary Committee). Baba Akhund Salimov (former chairman of the Khiva Medjlis in 1917), Djalal-Akhun (representative of the supreme clergy), and Koshmamed Khan and Mollaoraz Khodjamamedov (two rulers of Turkmen tribes) became members of the Committee. The official representatives of Russia, members of the Turk commission and Turkfront disguised their military expansionism and their overthrow of the state regime in Khiva, by declaring all events of the struggle «revolutionary». However, the reality of these events was clear to everyone. The chairman of the TurkCIK, T. Riskulov, wrote about these events in a 25 May 1920 letter to Lenin. Describing his vision of the Russian role in the development of a national-liberation movement in the East, he wrote: «The question as regards the immediate conduct of Russian affairs with Eastern states, as they aspire to produce artificial upheavals using Bolshevik arms — as Turkfront did with Khiva and would do with Bukhara — all this means a new method of imperialistic expansion». These words turned out to be prophetic. The mladokhiva activists became the victims of this policy.

Before the overthrow of this monarchy, the mladokhiva activists had published their manifesto, in which they stated their program of democratic reorganization: to destroy the autocratic government of the country, to declare all estates and money to be the property of the people, to spend the income of vakuvs for uplifting the people, to build canals for the irrigation of the empty lands of Khiva, to open free schools and free hospitals everywhere, and to start the improvement of communication routes and bridges.