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Tajikistan - HISTORY

Tajikistan - History


TAJIKISTAN, LITERALLY THE "LAND OF THE TAJIKS," has ancient cultural roots. The people now known as the Tajiks are the Persian speakers of Central Asia, some of whose ancestors inhabited Central Asia (including present-day Afghanistan and western China) at the dawn of history. Despite the long heritage of its indigenous peoples, Tajikistan has existed as a state only since the Soviet Union decreed its existence in 1924. The creation of modern Tajikistan was part of the Soviet policy of giving the outward trappings of political representation to minority nationalities in Central Asia while simultaneously reorganizing or fragmenting communities and political entities.

Of the five Central Asian states that declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Tajikistan is the smallest in area and the third largest in population. Landlocked and mountainous, the republic has some valuable natural resources, such as waterpower and minerals, but arable land is scarce, the industrial base is narrow, and the communications and transportation infrastructures are poorly developed.

As was the case in other republics of the Soviet Union, nearly seventy years of Soviet rule brought Tajikistan a combination of modernization and repression. Although barometers of modernization such as education, health care, and industrial development registered substantial improvements over low starting points in this era, the quality of the transformation in such areas was less impressive than the quantity, with reforms benefiting Russian-speaking city dwellers more than rural citizens who lacked fluency in Russian. For all the modernization that occurred under Soviet rule, the central government's policies limited Tajikistan to a role as a predominantly agricultural producer of raw materials for industries located elsewhere. Through the end of the Soviet era, Tajikistan had one of the lowest standards of living of the Soviet republics.

Independence came to Tajikistan with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. The first few years after that were a time of great hardship. Some of the new republic's problems--including the breakdown of the old system of interdependent economic relationships upon which the Soviet republics had relied, and the stress of movement toward participation in the world market--were common among the Soviet successor states. The pain of economic decline was compounded in Tajikistan by a bloody and protracted civil conflict over whether the country would perpetuate a system of monopoly rule by a narrow elite like the one that ruled in the Soviet era, or establish a reformist, more democratic regime. The struggle peaked as an outright war in the second half of 1992, and smaller-scale conflict continued into the mid-1990s. The victors preserved a repressive system of rule, and the lingering effects of the conflict contributed to the further worsening of living conditions.


Tajikistan - Ethnic Background


Iranian (see Glossary) peoples, including ancestors of the modern Tajiks, have inhabited Central Asia since at least the earliest recorded history of the region, which began some 2,500 years ago. Contemporary Tajiks are the descendants of ancient Eastern Iranian inhabitants of Central Asia, in particular the Soghdians and the Bactrians, and possibly other groups, with an admixture of Western Iranian Persians and non-Iranian peoples. The ethnic contribution of various Turkic and Mongol peoples, who entered Central Asia at later times, has not been determined precisely. However, experts assume that some assimilation must have occurred in both directions.

The origin of the name Tajik has been embroiled in twentieth-century political disputes about whether Turkic or Iranian peoples were the original inhabitants of Central Asia. The explanation most favored by scholars is that the word evolved from the name of a pre-Islamic (before the seventh century A.D.) Arab tribe.

Until the twentieth century, people in the region used two types of distinction to identify themselves: way of life--either nomadic or sedentary--and place of residence. By the late nineteenth century, the Tajik and Uzbek peoples, who had lived in proximity for centuries and often used each other's languages, did not perceive themselves as two distinct nationalities. Consequently, such labels were imposed artificially when Central Asia was divided into five Soviet republics in the 1920s.


Tajikistan - Early History


Much, if not all, of what is today Tajikistan was part of ancient Persia's Achaemenid Empire (sixth to fourth centuries B.C.), which was subdued by Alexander the Great in the fourth century B.C. and then became part of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom, one of the successor states to Alexander's empire. The northern part of what is now Tajikistan was part of Soghdiana, a distinct region that intermittently existed as a combination of separate oasis states and sometimes was subject to other states. Two important cities in what is now northern Tajikistan, Khujand (formerly Leninobod; Russian spelling Leninabad) and Panjakent, as well as Bukhoro (Bukhara) and Samarqand (Samarkand) in contemporary Uzbekistan, were Soghdian in antiquity. As intermediaries on the Silk Route between China and markets to the west and south, the Soghdians imparted religions such as Buddhism, Nestorian Christianity, Zoroastrianism (see Glossary), and Manichaeism (see Glossary), as well as their own alphabet and other knowledge, to peoples along the trade routes.

Between the first and fourth centuries, the area that is now Tajikistan and adjoining territories were part of the Kushan realm, which had close cultural ties to India. The Kushans, whose exact identity is uncertain, played an important role in the expansion of Buddhism by spreading the faith to the Soghdians,who in turn brought it to China and the Turks.

By the first century A.D., the Han dynasty of China had developed commercial and diplomatic relations with the Soghdians and their neighbors, the Bactrians. Military operations also extended Chinese influence westward into the region. During the first centuries A.D., Chinese involvement in this region waxed and waned, decreasing sharply after the Islamic conquest but not disappearing completely. As late as the nineteenth century, China attempted to press its claim to the Pamir region of what is now southeastern Tajikistan. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, China occasionally has revived its claim to part of this region.

The Islamic Conquest

Islamic Arabs began the conquest of the region in earnest in the early eighth century. Conversion to Islam occurred by means of incentives, gradual acceptance, and force of arms. Islam spread most rapidly in cities and along the main river valleys. By the ninth century, it was the prevalent religion in the entire region. In the early centuries of Islamic domination, Central Asia continued in its role as a commercial crossroads, linking China, the steppes to the north, and the Islamic heartland.

Persian Culture in Central Asia

The Persian influence on Central Asia, already prominent before the Islamic conquest, grew even stronger afterward. Under Iran's last pre-Islamic empire, the Sassanian, the Persian language and culture as well as the Zoroastrian religion spread among the peoples of Central Asia, including the ancestors of the modern Tajiks. In the wake of the Islamic conquest, Persian-speakers settled in Central Asia, where they played an active role in public affairs and furthered the spread of the Persian language and culture, their language displacing Eastern Iranian ones. By the twelfth century, Persian had also supplanted Arabic as the written language for most subjects.

The Samanids

In the development of a modern Tajik national identity, the most important state in Central Asia after the Islamic conquest was the Persian-speaking Samanid principality (875-999), which came to rule most of what is now Tajikistan, as well as territory to the south and west. During their reign, the Samanids supported the revival of the written Persian language.

Early in the Samanid period, Bukhoro became well-known as a center of learning and culture throughout the eastern part of the Persian-speaking world. Samanid literary patronage played an important role in preserving the culture of pre-Islamic Iran. Late in the tenth century, the Samanid state came under increasing pressure from Turkic powers to the north and south. After the Qarakhanid Turks overthrew the Samanids in 999, no major Persian state ever again existed in Central Asia.

Beginning in the ninth century, Turkish penetration of the Persian cultural sphere increased in Central Asia. The influx of even greater numbers of Turkic peoples began in the eleventh century. The Turkic peoples who moved into southern Central Asia, including what later became Tajikistan, were influenced to varying degrees by Persian culture. Over the generations, some converted Turks changed from pastoral nomadism to a sedentary way of life, which brought them into closer contact with the sedentary Persian-speakers. Cultural influences flowed in both directions as Turks and Persians intermarried.

During subsequent centuries, the lands that eventually became Tajikistan were part of Turkic or Mongol states. The Persian language remained in use in government, scholarship, and literature. Among the dynasties that ruled all or part of the future Tajikistan between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries were the Seljuk Turks, the Mongols, and the Timurids (Timur, or Tamerlane, and his heirs and their subjects). Repeated power struggles among claimants to these realms took their toll on Central Asia. The Mongol conquest in particular dealt a serious blow to sedentary life and destroyed several important cities in the region. Although they had come in conquest, the Timurids also patronized scholarship, the arts, and letters.

In the early sixteenth century, Uzbeks from the northwest conquered large sections of Central Asia, but the unified Uzbek state began to break apart soon after the conquest. By the early nineteenth century, the lands of the future Tajikistan were divided among three states: the Uzbek-ruled Bukhoro Khanate, the Quqon (Kokand) Khanate, centered on the Fergana Valley, and the kingdom of Afghanistan. These three principalities subsequently fought each other for control of key areas of the new territory. Although some regions were under the nominal control of Bukhoro, or Quqon, local rulers were virtually independent.


Tajikistan - The Russian Conquest


After several unsuccessful attempts in earlier times, the Russian conquest and settlement of Central Asia began in earnest in the second half of the nineteenth century. Spurred by various economic and geopolitical factors, increasing numbers of Russians moved into Central Asia in this period. Although some armed resistance occurred, Tajik society remained largely unchanged during this initial colonial period.

The Occupation Process

By 1860 the Central Asian principalities were ripe for conquest by the much more powerful Russian Empire. Imperial policy makers believed that these principalities had to be subdued because of their armed opposition to Russian expansion into the Kazak steppe, which already was underway to the north of Tajikistan. Some proponents of Russian expansion saw it as a way to compensate for losses elsewhere and to pressure Britain, Russia's perennial nemesis in the region, by playing on British concerns about threats to its position in India. The Russian military supported campaigns in Central Asia as a means of advancing careers and building personal fortunes. The region assumed much greater economic importance in the second half of the nineteenth century because of its potential as a supplier of cotton.

An important step in the Russian conquest was the capture of Tashkent from the Quqon Khanate, part of which was annexed in 1866. The following year, Tashkent became the capital of the new Guberniya (Governorate General) of Turkestan, which included the districts of Khujand and Uroteppa (later part of Tajikistan). After a domestic uprising and Russian military occupation, Russia annexed the remainder of the Quqon Khanate in 1876.

The Bukhoro Khanate fought Russian invaders during the same period, losing the Samarqand area in 1868. Russia chose not to annex the rest of Bukhoro, fearing repercussions in the Muslim world and from Britain because Bukhoro was a bastion of Islam and a place of strategic significance to British India. Instead, the tsar's government made a treaty with Bukhoro, recognizing its existence but in effect subordinating it to Russia. Bukhoro actually gained territory by this agreement, when the Russian administration granted the amir of Bukhoro a district that included Dushanbe, now the capital of Tajikistan, in compensation for the territory that had been ceded to Russia.

In the 1880s, the principality of Shughnon-Rushon in the western Pamir Mountains became a new object of contention between Britain and Russia when Afghanistan and Russia disputed territory there. An 1895 treaty assigned the disputed territory to Bukhoro, and at the same time put the eastern Pamirs under Russian rule.

Tajikistan under Russian Rule

Russian rule brought important changes in Central Asia, but many elements of the traditional way of life scarcely changed. In the part of what is now Tajikistan that was incorporated into the Guberniya of Turkestan, many ordinary inhabitants had limited contact with Russian officials or settlers before 1917. Rural administration there resembled the system that governed peasants in the European part of the Russian Empire after the abolition of serfdom in 1861. Local administration in villages continued to follow long-established tradition, and prior to 1917 few Russians lived in the area of present-day Tajikistan. Russian authorities also left education in the region substantially the same between the 1870s and 1917.

An important event of the 1870s was Russia's initial expansion of cotton cultivation in the region, including the areas of the Fergana Valley and the Bukhoro Khanate that later became part of Tajikistan. The pattern of switching land from grain cultivation to cotton cultivation, which intensified during the Soviet period, was established at this time. The first cotton-processing plant was established in eastern Bukhoro during World War I.

Some elements of opposition to Russian hegemony appeared in the late nineteenth century. By 1900 a novel educational approach was being offered by reformers known as Jadidists (jadid is the Arabic word for "new.") The Jadidists, who received support from Tajiks, Tatars, and Uzbeks, were modernizers and nationalists who viewed Central Asia as a whole. Their position was that the religious and cultural greatness of Islamic civilization had been degraded in the Central Asia of their day. The Tatars and Central Asians who shared these views established Jadidist schools in several cities in the Guberniya of Turkestan. Although the Jadidists were not necessarily anti-Russian, tsarist officials in Turkestan found their kind of education even more threatening than traditional Islamic teaching. By World War I, several cities in present-day Tajikistan had underground Jadidist organizations.

Between 1869 and 1913, uprisings against the amir of Bukhoro erupted under local rulers in the eastern part of the khanate. The uprisings of 1910 and 1913 required Russian troops to restore order. A peasant revolt also occurred in eastern Bukhoro in 1886. The failed Russian revolution of 1905 resonated very little among the indigenous populations of Central Asia. In the Duma (legislature) that was established in St. Petersburg as a consequence of the events of 1905, the indigenous inhabitants of Turkestan were allotted only six representatives. Subsequent to the second Duma in 1907, Central Asians were denied all representation.

By 1916 discontent with the effects of Russian rule had grown substantially. Central Asians complained especially of discriminatory taxation and price gouging by Russian merchants. A flashpoint was Russia's revocation that year of Central Asians' traditional exemption from military service. In July 1916, the first violent reaction to the impending draft occurred when demonstrators attacked Russian soldiers in Khujand, in what would later be northern Tajikistan. Although clashes continued in various parts of Central Asia through the end of the year, Russian troops quickly brought the Khujand region back under control. The following year, the Russian Revolution ended tsarist rule in Central Asia.

In the early 1920s, the establishment of Soviet rule in Central Asia led to the creation of a new entity called Tajikistan as a republic within the Soviet Union. In contrast to the tsarist period, when most inhabitants of the future Tajikistan felt only limited Russian influence, the Soviet era saw a central authority exert itself in a way that was ideologically and culturally alien to the republic's inhabitants. The Tajik way of life experienced much change, even though social homogenization was never achieved.


Tajikistan - The Revolutionary Era


The indigenous inhabitants of the former Guberniya of Turkestan played no role in the overthrow of the Russian monarchy in March 1917 or in the seizure of power by the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) in November of that year. But the impact of those upheavals soon was felt in all parts of Central Asia. After the fall of the monarchy, Russia's Provisional Government abolished the office of governor-general of Turkestan and established in its place a nine-member Turkestan Committee, in which Russians had the majority and provided the leadership. The Provisional Government, which ruled Russia between March and November 1917, was unwilling to address the specific concerns of Central Asian reformers, including regional autonomy. Central Asians received no seats in Russia's short-lived Constituent Assembly. The events of 1917 finally alienated both conservatives and radicals from the revolution.

In 1917 the soviets (local revolutionary assemblies including soldiers and workers) that sprang up in Russian areas of Turkestan and Bukhoro were composed overwhelmingly of Russians. In November 1917, a regional congress of soviets in Tashkent declared a revolutionary regime and voted by a wide margin to continue the policies of the Provisional Government. Thus, Central Asians again were denied political representation. Eventually, local communists established a figurehead soviet for Central Asians.

Having been denied access to the revolutionary organs of power, Central Asian reformers and conservatives formed their own organizations, as well as an umbrella group, the National Center. Although the groups cooperated on some issues of common interest, considerable animosity and occasional violence marked their relations. One group of Central Asian Muslims declared an autonomous state in southern Central Asia centered in the city of Quqon. At the beginning of 1919, the Tashkent Soviet declared the Quqon group counterrevolutionary and seized the city, killing at least 5,000 civilians.

Meanwhile, in 1918 the Tashkent Soviet had been defeated soundly in its effort to overthrow the amir of Bukhoro, who was seen by the communists and the Central Asian reformers alike as an obstacle to their respective programs. The attempted coup provoked a campaign of repression by the amir, and the defeat forced the Russian authorities in Tashkent to recognize a sovereign Bukhoran state in place of a Russian protectorate.


Tajikistan - Impact of the Civil War


An acute food shortage struck Turkestan in 1918-19, the result of the civil war, scarcities of grain caused by communist cotton-cultivation and price-setting policies, and the Tashkent Soviet's disinclination to provide famine relief to indigenous Central Asians. No authoritative estimate of famine deaths is available, but Central Asian nationalists put the number above 1 million.

In the fall of 1919, the collapse of the anti-Bolshevik White Army in western Siberia enabled General Mikhail Frunze to lead Red Army forces into Central Asia and gradually occupy the entire region. In 1920 the Red Army occupied Bukhoro and drove out the amir, declaring an independent people's republic but remaining as an occupation force. Turkestan, including the northern part of present-day Tajikistan, was officially incorporated into the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic in 1921.

By 1921 the Russian communists had won the Russian Civil War and established the first Soviet republics in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belorussia (present-day Belarus), Georgia, and Ukraine. At this point, the communists reduced the party's token Central Asian leadership to figurehead positions and expelled a large number of the Central Asian rank and file. In 1922 the Communist Party of Bukhoro was incorporated into the Russian Communist Party, which soon became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). Thereafter, most major government offices in Bukhoro were filled by appointees sent from Moscow, many of them Tatars, and many Central Asians were purged from the party and the government. In 1924 Bukhoro was converted from a people's republic to a Soviet socialist republic.


Tajikistan - The Basmachi


An indigenous resistance movement proved the last barrier to assimilation of Central Asia into the Soviet Union. In the 1920s, more than 20,000 people fought Soviet rule in Central Asia. The Russians applied a derogatory term, Basmachi (which originally meant brigand), to the groups. Although the resistance did not apply that term to itself, it nonetheless entered common usage. The several Basmachi groups had conflicting agendas and seldom coordinated their actions. After arising in the Fergana Valley, the movement became a rallying ground for opponents of Russian or Bolshevik rule from all parts of the region. Peasant unrest already existed in the area because of wartime hardships and the demands of the amir and the soviets. The Red Army's harsh treatment of local inhabitants in 1921 drove more people into the resistance camp. However, the Basmachi movement became more divided and more conservative as it gained numerically. It achieved some unity under the leadership of Enver Pasha, a Turkish adventurer with ambitions to lead the new secular government of Turkey, but Enver was killed in battle in early 1922.

Except for remote pockets of resistance, guerrilla fighting in Tajikistan ended by 1925. The defeat of the Basmachis caused as many as 200,000 people, including noncombatants, to flee eastern Bukhoro in the first half of the 1920s. A few thousand subsequently returned over the next several years.

The communists used a combination of military force and conciliation to defeat the Basmachis. The military approach ultimately favored the communist side, which was much better armed. The Red Army forces included Tatars and Central Asians, who enabled the invading force to appear at least partly indigenous. Conciliatory measures (grants of food, tax relief, the promise of land reform, the reversal of anti-Islamic policies launched during the Civil War, and the promise of an end to agricultural controls) prompted some Basmachis to reconcile themselves to the new order.


Tajikistan - Creation of Tajikistan


After establishing communist rule throughout formerly tsarist Central Asia in 1924, the Soviet government redrew internal political borders, eliminating the major units into which the region had been divided. The Soviet rationale was that this reorganization fulfilled local inhabitants' nationalist aspirations and would undercut support for the Basmachis. However, the new boundaries still left national groups fragmented, and nationalist aspirations in Central Asia did not prove as threatening as depicted in communist propaganda.

One of the new states created in Central Asia in 1924 was Uzbekistan, which had the status of a Soviet socialist republic. Tajikistan was created as an autonomous Soviet socialist republic within Uzbekistan. The new autonomous republic included what had been eastern Bukhoro and had a population of about 740,000, out of a total population of nearly 5 million in Uzbekistan as a whole. Its capital was established in Dushanbe, which had been a village of 3,000 in 1920. In 1929 Tajikistan was detached from Uzbekistan and given full status as a Soviet socialist republic. At that time, the territory that is now northern Tajikistan was added to the new republic. Even with the additional territory, Tajikistan remained the smallest Central Asian republic.

With the creation of a republic defined in national terms came the creation of institutions that, at least in form, were likewise national. The first Tajik-language newspaper in Soviet Tajikistan began publication in 1926. New educational institutions also began operation about the same time. The first state schools, available to both children and adults and designed to provide a basic education, opened in 1926. The central government also trained a small number of Tajiks for public office, either by putting them through courses offered by government departments or by sending them to schools in Uzbekistan.

From 1921 to 1927, during the New Economic Policy (NEP--see Glossary) Soviet agricultural policy promoted the expansion of cotton cultivation in Central Asia. By the end of the NEP, the extent of cotton cultivation had increased dramatically, but yield did not match prerevolutionary levels. At the same time, the cultivation of rice, a staple food of the region, declined considerably.


Tajikistan - Collectivization


The collectivization of agriculture was implemented on a limited scale in Tajikistan between 1927 and 1929, and much more aggressively between 1930 and 1934. The objective of Soviet agricultural policy was to expand the extent of cotton cultivation in Tajikistan as a whole, with particular emphasis on the southern part of the republic. The process included violence against peasants, substantial expansion of the irrigation network, and forcible resettlement of mountain people and people from Uzbekistan in the lowlands. Many peasants in Tajikistan fought forced collectivization, reviving the Basmachi movement in upland enclaves between 1930 and 1936. The interwar years also saw small-scale industrial development in the republic.


Tajikistan - The Purges


Like the CPSU branches elsewhere in the Soviet Union, the Communist Party of Tajikistan suffered waves of purges directed by the central government in Moscow between 1927 and 1934. Conditions particular to Tajikistan were used to provide additional justification for the crackdown. Many Tajik communists were highly critical of the ferocity with which the collectivization of agriculture was implemented, and central party authorities were dissatisfied with the local communists' advocacy of the republic's interests, including attempts to gain more autonomy and shield local intellectuals. About 70 percent of the party membership in Tajikistan--nearly 10,000 people at all levels of the organization--was expelled between 1933 and 1935. Between 1932 and 1937, the proportion of Tajiks in the republic's party membership dropped from 53 to 45 percent as the purges escalated. Many of those expelled from party and state offices were replaced by Russians sent in by the central government. Another round of purges took place in 1937 and 1938, during the Great Terror orchestrated by Joseph V. Stalin. Subsequently Russians dominated party positions at all levels, including the top position of first secretary. Whatever their nationality, party officials representing Tajikistan, unlike those from some other Soviet republics, had little influence in nationwide politics throughout the existence of the Soviet Union.


Tajikistan - The Postwar Period


The post-World War II era saw the expansion of irrigated agriculture, the further development of industry, and a rise in the level of education in Tajikistan. Like the rest of the Soviet Union, Tajikistan felt the effects of the party and government reorganization projects of Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev (in office 1953-64). Especially in 1957 and 1958, Tajikistan's population and economy were manipulated as part of Khrushchev's overly ambitious Virgin Lands project, a campaign to forcibly increase the extent of arable land in the Soviet Union. Under Khrushchev and his successor, Leonid I. Brezhnev (in office 1964-82), Tajikistan's borders were periodically redrawn as districts and provinces were recombined, abolished, and restored, while small amounts of territory were acquired from or ceded to neighboring republics.

During the Soviet period, the only Tajikistani politician to become important outside his region was Bobojon Ghafurov (1908-77), a Tajik who became prominent as the Stalinist first secretary of the Communist Party of Tajikistan in the late 1940s. After Stalin's death in 1953, Ghafurov, a historian by training, established himself as a prominent Asia scholar and magazine editor, injecting notes of Tajik nationalism into some of his historical writings.

The fate of Ghafurov's successors illustrates important trends in the politics of Soviet Central Asia in the second half of the twentieth century. The next first secretary, Tursunbai Uljabayev (in office 1956-61), was ousted amid accusations that he had falsified reports to exaggerate the success of cotton production in the republic (charges also leveled in the 1980s against Uzbekistan's leadership); apparently the central government also objected to Uljabayev's preferential appointments of his cronies from Leninobod Province to party positions (see Russification and Resistance, ch. 5). Uljabaev's replacement as first secretary, Jabbor Rasulov, was a veteran of the prestigious agricultural bureaucracy of the republic. Like first secretaries in the other Central Asian republics, Rasulov benefited from Brezhnev's policy of "stability of cadres" and remained in office until Brezhnev's death in 1982.

Rasulov's successor, Rahmon Nabiyev, was a man of the Brezhnevite political school, who, like his predecessor, had spent much of his career in the agricultural bureaucracy. Nabiyev held office until ousted in 1985 as Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev (in office 1985-91) swept out the republic's old-guard party leaders. Nabiyev's 1991 installation as president of independent Tajikistan, by means of an old-guard coup and a rigged election, exacerbated the political tensions in the republic and was an important step toward the civil war that broke out in 1992.

All the post-Stalin party first secretaries came from Leninobod, in keeping with a broader phenomenon of Tajikistani politics from the postwar period to the collapse of the Soviet Union--the linkage between regional cliques, especially from Leninobod Province, and political power. Although certain cliques from Leninobod were dominant, they allowed allies from other provinces a lesser share of power. As the conflict in the early1990s showed, supporters of opposing camps could be found in all the country's provinces.

The forces of fragmentation in the Soviet Union eventually affected Tajikistan, whose government strongly supported continued unity. Bowing to Tajik nationalism, Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet adopted a declaration of sovereignty in August 1990, but in March 1991, the people of Tajikistan voted overwhelmingly for preservation of the union in a national referendum. That August the Moscow coup against the Gorbachev government brought mass demonstrations by opposition groups in Dushanbe, forcing the resignation of President Kahar Mahkamov. Nabiyev assumed the position of acting president. The following month, the Supreme Soviet proclaimed Tajikistan an independent state, following the examples of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. In November, Nabiyev was elected president of the new republic, and in December, representatives of Tajikistan signed the agreement forming the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS--see Glossary) to succeed the Soviet Union.

Antigovernment demonstrations began in Dushanbe in March 1992. In April 1992, tensions mounted as progovernment groups opposing reform staged counterdemonstrations. By May, small armed clashes had occurred, causing Nabiyev to break off negotiations with the reformist demonstrators and go into hiding. After eight antigovernment demonstrators were killed in Dushanbe, the commander of the Russian garrison brokered a compromise agreement creating a coalition government in which one-third of the cabinet positions would go to members of the opposition. The collapse of that government heralded the outbreak of a civil war that plagued Tajikistan for the next four years (see Transition to Post-Soviet Government, this ch.).


CITATION: Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

Please note: This text comes from the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.

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