THE HISTORY OF KYRGYZ STATEHOOD
This subject of the history of Kyrgyz statehood is also connected with the devaluation of the roles played by, and the places associated with, the non-Russian nations included in czarist Russia and the Soviet Union in the past. The «common history of the Soviet Union» was always the central issue in Russian history. That is why Soviet Kyrgyzstan schoolchildren were aware of the facts and events of Russian history, but studying Kyrgyzstan’s history was an occasional subject in the official program of Kyrgyzstan secondary schools during the Soviet period. Kyrgyz historians complained that their students knew everything about the Russian czars but nothing about their own nation’s history. In September 1989, a topic planning for the teaching of Kyrgyz history was published in Mugalimder gazetasy (Teachers Newspaper), the official newspaper of the Kyrgyz Soviet Republic’s Ministry of Education (see Chukubaev et al. 1989), but its suggestions were optional for secondary schools; their adoption depended on the teachers at the schools (which were only state-run at that time). Only a few schools managed to teach this subject in 1989-91.
According to Soviet historiography’s concept of Kyrgyz statehood, «only because of the wise Leninist national policy of the USSR» had Kyrgyz statehood been established in the form of the national autonomy. Thus, historical Kyrgyz states that predated the communist regime were not recognized in Soviet Kyrgyz historiography. What follow are some facts about the Soviet national-autonomy stages for the Kyrgyz: the Kara-Kyrgyz Autonomous Oblast (region) was established on 14 October 1924; after seven months, on 25 May 1925, the region was renamed the Kyrgyz Autonomous Oblast. The word «Kara»—black, huge, powerful, numerous—also carried the negative connotation of «rough.» The Kyrgyz never used «Kara» to refer to themselves, but the word was used during the colonial period by Russian administrators to differentiate the Kyrgyz from their northern neighbors, the Kazakhs. Incidentally, from the 17th century until 1925, the Russians used «the Kyrgyz» to refer to the Kazakhs, although the Kazakhs did not use it for themselves. (It is supposed that the Russians had met with the Ural-Volga Kyrgyz groups in the late medieval centuries. Because of the similarities between the Kyrgyz and Kazakh languages, the Russians in the czarist period called both peoples by the same name and did not care about the feelings and ethnic identities of these nations.) The oblast was reorganized as the Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within Soviet Russia on 1 February 1926. After several appeals by local authorities to the Kremlin it was reorganized as the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic (that is, it became an equal with Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, etc.) on 5 December 1936. Kyrgyzstan was the first Central Asian republic to remove the words «Soviet» and «Socialist» from its official name, in November 1990, and declared itself an independent state on 31 August 1991, before the formal collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991.
In the 1990s, with independence, the elaboration of problems of historical research relating to Kyrgyzstan became a priority. The subject has both scientific and political importance because it was needed to investigate the рге-Soviet roots of Kyrgyz statehood. It is noteworthy that the same historians write contrary things in recent publications. The collective textbook prepared by the editorial board (which includes chief editor Turar Koichuev, who served as president of the Kyrgyzstan National Academy of Sciences until February 1998; and member editors V. M. Ploskih and S. S. Dani-arov) contains an Introduction suggesting that «[t]he Kyrgyz never had their own state before 1917» (Koichuev 1998, 3.) The Introduction of another book declares that «the ancient Kyrgyz established their first state at the same time that the first Turkic-speaking Hsiung-nu empire emerged»; this Introduction was written by Koichuev and Ploskih in collaboration with Turdakun Usubaliev, a member of Parliament and leader of the Kyrgyzstan Communist Party in 1961-84 (U islokov 1996, 4). Modem Kyrgyz historiography’s concept on the issue of statehood consists of the idea that the ancient roots of the Kyrgyz statehood date from the Hsiung-nu epoch. According to Russian and Kyrgyz historians, the state of the ancient Kyrgyz was situated in the eastern Tefiri-Too Mountains, in a zone to the north of Boro-Khoro Mountains and to the west of Dzosotyn-Elissun deserts (Borovkova 1989, 61-62; Khudiakov 1995, 54; Tchorotegin 1995b).
There is also another modern Kyrgyz historiographical concept that supplements the previous one. This concept, rejected by Soviet historiography but adopted by Turkish historians, considers that the Hsiung-nu empire (at the end of the 11th century B.C. and in the first centuries A.D.) was the common origin of the Turkic peoples’ statehood (see Tchorotegin and Omiirbekov 1994, 10-20; idem 1995. 251-335; idem 1997, 15-43).
However, there is another concept that suggests that «Kyrgyz statehood emerged in the 6th century A.D.» (Malabaev 1997, 3). This concept is connected only with the state history of the Enissei Kyrgyz and does not take into account the statehood experience of the ancient predecessors of the Kyrgyz fixed by the ancient Chinese sources. However some of this author’s statements contradict one another. In the same book, Malabaev, who studied only Soviet-period problems of Kyrgyzstan’s history in his pre-independence works, wrote that the origin of Kyrgyz statehood belongs to the period of the Wu-sun tribal union and that «the real name of the Wu-suns, according to N. A. Aristov, was always ‘Kyrgyz'» (Malabaev 1997, 9-10. Cf. Aristov 1894, 298.) Malabaev has written that the Kyrgyz state collapsed in the 12th century (Malabaev 1997, 29) but does not supply any proof.
It is known in history that the Kyrgyz restored their state—the Kyrgyz Qagha-nat—in the Enissei Valley in the 6th century. They temporarily were dependent on some neighboring countries of the Orkhon Turkic peoples. In 840, the Kyrgyz destroyed the Uighur Qaghanat in Orkhon and conquered wide regions of Inner Asia. Their state included the territories of southern Siberia, Altai, Mongolia, and eastern Turkistan. Barthold named this period of their powerful statehood—from the middle of the 9th century through the first decades of the 10th century—»Kyrgyzkoe veliko-derzjavie» (the Kyrgyz’s Great Empire). (Barthold 1963, 471-543). The nomadic empire of the Kyrgyz was split up into several pieces at the end of the first quarter of the 10th century. The small possessions of the Kyrgyz beks (princes) existed in the territories of southern Siberia and northwestern Mongolia before their recognition of Genghis Khan in 1206. The Kyrgyz detached forces served in Genghis’s army in Karakorum, northern China, and Manchuria, and in the dynasty’s internecine wars (Khudiakov 1995, 6-8, 119).
These well-known events of the Kyrgyz Qaghanat were not included in official Soviet academic publications (Ploskih 1984) because of the ideological and political prejudices noted earlier. Today almost all books and articles about the medieval history of the Kyrgyz mention these events. One of the most recent dissertations on pre-Soviet history, defended by M. Kojobekov, was devoted to Enissei Kyrgyz history (Kojobekov 1997).
There are several new works by contemporary Kyrgyz historians on the medieval Kyrgyz who lived in Tenri-Too. One of them is a monograph by O. Karaev that discusses the Jaghataids state and Mogholistan (Karaev 1995). Dissertations on these issues were also defended by A. Kylychev, T. Mashrapov, T. Beishenaliev, and T Jumanaliev. Unfortunately, these dissertations have not yet been published as books for economic reasons.
Traditional Soviet Kyrgyz historiography regarded the Kokand Khanate’s history (the beginning of the 18th century to 1876) as a history of the foreign state that conquered the Kyrgyz land in 1762-1831 (see Ploskih 1984, 490-99). This consideration is retained in the recent works of the academician V. M. Ploskih (Koichuev 1998, 104-15; Koichuev et al. 1994,43-45). At the same time, works that re-evaluate the Kokand Khanate’s history for the Kyrgyz have emerged in contemporary historiography. Historians such as K. Moldokasymov and T. Kenensariev consider the Kokand Khanate a multi-ethnic state that was a common state for the inhabitants of the Ferghana Valley, including the Ferghana Kyrgyz (see Kenensariev 1997b, 151-59; Moldokasymov 1991, 1994).
Soviet Kyrgyz historians managed somehow to study the Kyrgyz state in the 20th century, though within framework of Soviet censorship. Historians had to kowtow to ideological postulates such as those mentioned earlier, acknowledging that the Kyrgyz people were able to form a state only because of the Leninist national policy of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. This idea was the ideological quintessence of Soviet Kyrgyz historians, and some of post-Soviet historians continue to maintain it. Malabaev repeated these chestnuts in his latest monograph:
The basmachi [movement], being one of the forms of military struggle against Soviet authority, was a serious obstacle to the preparation and establishment of the statehood of the Central Asian peoples, including the Kyrgyz. Foreign governments, especially Great Britain… and the neighboring Bukhara Khanate played the essential role in activation of the Basmachis [Malabaev 1997, 69].
There are contemporary historians who oppose this view. The issue of the re-evaluation of the role of the basmachis was raised at several discussions, debates, and conferences of the Association of Kyrgyzstan Young Historians in 1991-94. Some participants expressed that the basmachis and the other nationalist and democratic movements forced the Soviet authorities to give the local national minorities more control over the levers of government power. The issue of national-democratic notions of state building is researched in Kyrgyzstan in connection with the roots of
Turkic peoples’ statehood after the collapse of czarist Russia in 1917 (see Corotegin 1994, 30-32).
The historians Zainidin Kurmanov and Tokonai Ojukeeva have researched the history of the Mountainous Region (oblast) that existed in northern Kyrgyzstan for a few months in 1922. It was the first successful, if ephemeral, attempt by local Kyrgyz political leaders to establish a state within the Soviet system, and it was undertaken on the initiative of Kyrgyz political elites who had been members of non-communist and more democratic parties, such as the Alash Party of united Kazakh, Bashkir, and Kyrgyz intellectuals (the exiled Bashkirian Ahmed Zeki Velidi Togan was among them), the Socialist Revolutionary Party, and so on. These intellectuals (including Eshenaly Arabai uulu and Abdykerim Sydykov) became members of the Bolshevik Party after they were banned from all the non-communist parties in Kyrgyzstan, and they continued their struggle for Kyrgyz autonomous statehood within the Soviet Russia (see Jumanaliev 1994; Kurmanov 1992a, 1992b, 1997; Ojukeeva 1993, 7-16). Ojukeeva’s monograph is remarkable for its numerous findings concerning the ethnic and political picture of the regions where the Kyrgyz settled and on the issue of how the modem Kyrgyzstan borders emerged in the 1920s (see Ojukeeva 1993, 32-67, 85-107). It should be noted that the issue of the full restoration of statehood after the collapse of the Soviet Union became a fashionable subject of research not only for historians but for philosophers, political scientists, economists, geographers, and sociologists.