Russian Turkestan

Russian Turkestan (Russian: Русский Туркестан, romanizedRusskiy Turkestan) was the western part of Turkestan within the Russian Empire (administered as a Krai or Governor-Generalship), comprising the oasis region to the south of the Kazakh Steppe, but not the protectorates of the Emirate of Bukhara and the Khanate of Khiva.

Russian Turkestan
Русский Туркестан
Governorate-General of Russian Empire

[[Caucasus General-Governorate|]]


Flag Coat of arms
Flag Coat of arms
Bozhe, Tsarya khrani!
Боже, Царя храни!
"God Save the Tsar!"
Location of Turkestan
Provinces of Russian Turkestan in 1900
Capital Tashkent
 •  Established July 11, 1867
 •  Disestablished April 30, 1918
 •  (1897) 1,707,003 km2 (659,078 sq mi)
 •  (1897) 5,280,983 
Density 3.1 /km2  (8 /sq mi)
Political subdivisions Oblasts: 5 (since 1899)


Defence of the Samarkand Citadel
The Defence of the Samarkand Citadel in 1868
Ilin 186x Karta Syr Darinskoj oblast 72
Map of the Syr-Darya Oblast in 1872


Although Russia had been pushing south into the steppes from Astrakhan and Orenburg since the failed Khivan expedition of Peter the Great in 1717, the beginning of the Russian colonial conquest of Turkestan is normally dated to 1865. That year the Russian forces took the city of Tashkent[1] under the leadership of General Mikhail Chernyayev expanding the territories of Turkestan Oblast (part of Orenburg Governorate-General). Chernyayev had exceeded his orders (he only had 3,000 men under his command at the time) but Saint Petersburg recognized the annexation in any case. This was swiftly followed by the conquest of Khodzhent, Dzhizak and Ura-Tyube, culminating in the annexation of Samarkand and the surrounding region on the Zeravshan River from the Emirate of Bukhara in 1868 forming the Zeravsh Special Okrug of Turkestan.

An account of the Russian conquest of Tashkent was written in "Urus leshkerining Türkistanda tarikh 1262-1269 senelarda qilghan futuhlari" by Mullah Khalibay Mambetov.[2][3]


In 1867 Turkestan was made a separate Governor-Generalship, under its first Governor-General, Konstantin Petrovich Von Kaufman. Its capital was Tashkent and it consisted initially of three oblasts (provinces): Syr Darya, Semirechye Oblast and the Zeravshan Okrug (later Samarkand Oblast). To these were added in 1873 the Amu Darya Division (Russian: отдел, otdel), annexed from the Khanate of Khiva, and in 1876 the Fergana Oblast, formed from the remaining rump of the Kokand Khanate that was dissolved after an uprising in 1875. In 1894 the Transcaspian Region, which had been conquered in 1881–1885 by Generals Mikhail Skobelev and Mikhail Annenkov, was added to the Governor-Generalship.


The administration of the region had an almost purely military character throughout. Von Kaufman died in 1882, and a committee under Fedor Karlovich Giers (or Girs, brother of the Russian Foreign Minister Nikolay Karlovich Giers) toured the Krai and drew up proposals for reform, which were implemented after 1886. In 1888 the new Trans-Caspian railway, begun at Uzun-Ada on the shores of the Caspian Sea in 1877, reached Samarkand. Nevertheless, Turkestan remained an isolated colonial outpost, with an administration that preserved many distinctive features from the previous Islamic regimes, including Qadis' courts and a 'native' administration that devolved much power to local 'Aksakals' (Elders or Headmen). It was quite unlike European Russia. In 1908 Count Konstantin Konstantinovich Pahlen led another reform commission to Turkestan, which produced in 1909–1910 a monumental report documenting administrative corruption and inefficiency. The Jadid educational reform movement which originated among Tatars spread among Muslims of Central Asia under Russian rule.

A policy of deliberately enforcing anti-modern, traditional, ancient conservative Islamic education in schools and Islamic ideology was enforced by the Russians in order to deliberately hamper and destroy opposition to their rule by keeping them in a state of torpor to and prevent foreign ideologies from penetrating in.[4][5]

The Russians implemented Turkification upon the Ferghana and Sarmakand Tajiks replacing the Tajik language with Uzbek resulting in an Uzbek dominant speaking Samarkand whereas decades before Tajik was the dominant language in Samarkand.[6]


In 1897 the railway reached Tashkent, and finally in 1906 a direct rail link with European Russia was opened across the steppe from Orenburg to Tashkent. This led to much larger numbers of ethnic Russian settlers flowing into Turkestan than had hitherto been the case, and their settlement was overseen by a specially created Migration Department in Saint Petersburg (Переселенческое Управление). This caused considerable discontent amongst the local population as these settlers took scarce land and water resources away from them. In 1916 discontent boiled over in the Basmachi Revolt, sparked by a decree conscripting the natives into labour battalions (they had previously been exempt from military service). Thousands of settlers were killed, and this was matched by Russian reprisals, particularly against the nomadic population. To escape Russians slaughtering them in 1916, Uzbeks, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz escaped to China.[7] Xinjiang became a sanctuary for fleeing Kazakhs escaping the Russians after the Muslims faced conscription by the Russian government.[8] The Turkmen, Kyrgyz, and Kazakhs were all impacted by the 1916 insurrection caused by the conscription decreed by the Russian government.[9][10] The corvée conscription issued on June 25, 1916.[11] Order had not really been restored by the time the February Revolution took place in 1917. This would usher in a still bloodier chapter in Turkestan's history, as the Bolsheviks of the Tashkent Soviet (made up entirely of Russian soldiers and railway workers, with no Muslim members) launched an attack on the autonomous Jadid government in Kokand early in 1918, which left 14,000 dead. Resistance to the Bolsheviks by the local population (dismissed as 'Basmachi' or 'Banditry' by Soviet historians) continued well into the beginning of the 1930s.

Governors of Turkestan

Turkestan had 21 Governor-generals.[12]

XXth Century Citizen's Atlas map of Central Asia
The borders of the Russian imperial territories of Kiva, Bukhara and Kokand in the time period of 1902–1903.
  • 1865–1867 Mikhail Grigoryevich Chernyaev (Military Governor)
  • 1866–1867 Dmitri Ilyich Romanovskiy (Civil Governor)
  • 1867–1881 Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman
  • 1881–1882 Gerasim Alexeevich Kolpakovsky
  • 1882‒4 Mikhail Chernyayev
  • 1884‒9 Nikolai Rozenbakh
  • 1889–1898 Alexander Borisovich Vrevsky
  • 1898–1901 Sergey Mikhailovich Dukhovsky
  • 1901–1904 Nikolay Alexandrovich Ivanov
  • 1904–1905 Nikolay Nikolayevich Tevyashev
  • 1905–1906 Vsevolod Victorovich Zaharov
  • 1906 Demyan Ivanovich Subbotin
  • 1906 Yevgeny Osipovich Matsievsky
  • 1906–1908 Nikolai Ivanovich Grodekov
  • 1908–1909 Pavel Ivanovich Mischenko
  • 1909–1910 Alexander Vasilyevich Samsonov
  • 1910–1911 Vasiliy Ivanovich Pokotilo
  • 1911–1914 Alexander Vasilyevich Samsonov (restored)
  • 1914–1916 Fedor Vladimirovich Martson
  • 1916 Mikhail Romanovich Yerofeyev
  • 1916‒17 Aleksey Kuropatkin

Administrative Division

Turkestan was divided into five oblasts.

Soviet rule

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, a Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Turkestan ASSR) within the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic was created in Soviet Central Asia (excluding modern-day Kazakhstan). After the foundation of the Soviet Union it was split into the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic (Turkmenistan) and Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic (Uzbekistan) in 1924. The Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic (Tajikistan) was formed out of part of the Uzbek SSR in 1929, and in 1936 the Kyrgyz SSR (Kyrgyzstan) was separated from Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, these republics gained their independence.

See also


  1. ^ Daniel Brower (November 12, 2012). Turkestan and the Fate of the Russian Empire. Routledge. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-135-14501-9.
  2. ^ Thomas Sanders (February 12, 2015). Historiography of Imperial Russia: The Profession and Writing of History in a Multinational State. Routledge. pp. 451–. ISBN 978-1-317-46862-2.
  3. ^ Edward Allworth (1994). Central Asia, 130 Years of Russian Dominance: A Historical Overview. Duke University Press. pp. 400–. ISBN 0-8223-1521-1.
  4. ^ Andrew D. W. Forbes (October 9, 1986). Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: A Political History of Republican Sinkiang 1911-1949. CUP Archive. pp. 16–. ISBN 978-0-521-25514-1.
  5. ^ Alexandre Bennigsen; Chantal Lemercier-Quelquejay; Central Asian Research Centre (London, England) (1967). Islam in the Soviet Union. Praeger. p. 15.
  6. ^ Kirill Nourzhanov; Christian Bleuer (October 8, 2013). Tajikistan: A Political and Social History. ANU E Press. pp. 22–. ISBN 978-1-925021-16-5.
  7. ^ Sydykova, Zamira (January 20, 2016). "Commemorating the 1916 Massacres in Kyrgyzstan? Russia Sees a Western Plot". The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst.
  8. ^ Andrew D. W. Forbes (October 9, 1986). Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: A Political History of Republican Sinkiang 1911-1949. CUP Archive. pp. 17–. ISBN 978-0-521-25514-1.
  9. ^ Sébastien Peyrouse (January 2012). Turkmenistan: Strategies of Power, Dilemmas of Development. M.E. Sharpe. pp. 29–. ISBN 978-0-7656-3205-0.
  10. ^ Sebastien Peyrouse (February 12, 2015). Turkmenistan: Strategies of Power, Dilemmas of Development. Routledge. pp. 29–. ISBN 978-1-317-45326-0.
  11. ^ ÖZTÜRK, SELİM (May 2012). THE BUKHARAN EMIRATE AND TURKESTAN UNDER RUSSIAN RULE IN THE REVOLUTIONARY ERA: 1917 - 1924 (PDF) (A Master’s Thesis). Department of International Relations İ hsan Doğramacı Bilkent University Ankara. p. 56-57. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 22, 2016.
  12. ^ Didar Kassymova, Zhanat Kundakbayeva and Ustina MarkusHistorical Dictionary of Kazakhstan, p. 228, at Google Books
  • Eugene Schuyler Turkistan (London) 1876 2 Vols.
  • G.N. Curzon Russia in Central Asia (London) 1889
  • Ген. М.А. Терентьев История Завоевания Средней Азии (С.Пб.) 1903 3 Vols.
  • В.В. Бартольд История Культурной Жизни Туркестана (Москва) 1927
  • Count K.K. Pahlen Mission to Turkestan (Oxford) 1964
  • Seymour Becker Russia's Protectorates in Central Asia, Bukhara and Khiva 1865–1924 (Cambridge, Massachusetts) 1968
  • Adeeb Khalid The Politics of Muslim Cultural Reform. Jadidism in Central Asia (Berkeley) 1997
  • T.K. Beisembiev The Life of Alimqul (London) 2003
  • Daniel Brower Turkestan and the Fate of the Russian Empire (London) 2003
  • Hisao Komatsu, The Andijan Uprising Reconsidered a: Symbiosis and Conflict in Muslim Societies: Historical and Comparative Perspectives, ed. by Tsugitaka Sato, Londres, 2004.
  • Aftandil Erkinov. Praying For and Against the Tsar: Prayers and Sermons in Russian-Dominated Khiva and Tsarist Turkestan.Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 2004 (=ANOR 16), 112 p.
  • Aftandil S.Erkinov. The Andijan Uprising of 1898 and its leader Dukchi-ishan described by contemporary Poets'[1]' TIAS Central Eurasian Research Series No.3. Tokyo, 2009, 118 p.
1911 Kebin earthquake

The 1911 Kebin earthquake, or Chon-Kemin earthquake, struck Russian Turkestan on 3 January. Registering at a 7.7 magnitude, it killed 452 people, destroyed more than 770 buildings (which was almost all of the city) in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and resulted in 125 miles (201 km) of surface faulting in the valleys of Chon–Kemin, Chilik and Chon-Aksu.

1917 in Afghanistan

The following lists events that happened during 1917 in Afghanistan.

Alash Autonomy

Alash Autonomy (Kazakh: Алаш аутономиясы, Alash aýtonomııasy; Russian: Алашская автономия Alashskaya avtonomiya) was a Kazakh state that existed between December 13, 1917, and 1918, on, approximately, the territory of the present-day Republic of Kazakhstan. The capital city was Semey, then known as "Alash-qala".

Vasile Balabanov was appointed governor and administrator of Kazakhstan (at that time known as Russian Turkestan) in 1905 and continued in that position until 1920. He fled the Russian Red Army in 1920, going to China. China at that time considered him the legitimate governor of Kazakhstan.

The Alash Autonomy of 1917 was in name only. Kazakhstan was controlled by the anti-communist White Army and the appointed administrator, who was in control until the Red Army was able to take over in 1920.

The Alash Autonomy was proclaimed in December 1917. Alash leaders established Alash Orda, a Kazakh government, which was aligned with the White Army and fought against the Bolsheviks. The first legislation of the Alash government of June 11–24, 1918 is the following: "Agreed to invalidate all decrees issued by the Soviet authorities on the territory of the autonomous Alash. Chairman of Alash-Orda: Bokeikhanov, Members: Tynyshpaev, Gabbasov." In 1919, when the White forces were losing, Alash Autonomous government began negotiations with the Bolsheviks. In 1919–20 the Bolsheviks defeated the White Russian forces in the region and occupied Kazakhstan. On August 26, 1920, the Soviet government established the Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, which in 1925 changed its name to Kazak Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic and to Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic in 1936.

Aralkum Desert

The Aralkum Desert is a desert that has appeared since 1960 on the seabed once occupied by the Aral Sea. It lies to the south and east of what remains of the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.


Bishkek (Kyrgyz: Бишке́к, بىشکەک; IPA: [biʃˈkek]; Russian: Бишке́к, tr. Biškék, IPA: [bʲɪˈʂkʲek]), formerly Pishpek and Frunze, is the capital and largest city of Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyz Republic). Bishkek is also the administrative centre of the Chuy Region. The province surrounds the city, although the city itself is not part of the province, but rather a province-level unit of Kyrgyzstan.

In 1825 Khokand authorities established the fortress of "Pishpek" in order to control local caravan-routes and to collect tribute from Kyrgyz tribes. On 4 September 1860, with the approval of the Kyrgyz, Russian forces led by Colonel Apollon Zimmermann destroyed the fortress.

In 1868 a Russian settlement was established on the site of the fortress under its original name, "Pishpek". It lay within the General Governorship of Russian Turkestan and its Semirechye Oblast.

In 1925 the Kara-Kirghiz Autonomous Oblast was established in Russian Turkestan, promoting Pishpek to its capital. In 1926 the Communist Party of the Soviet Union renamed the city as Frunze, after the Bolshevik military leader Mikhail Frunze (1885–1925), who was born there. In 1936, the city of Frunze became the capital of the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic, during the final stages of the national delimitation in the Soviet Union.

In 1991 the Kyrgyz parliament changed the capital's name to "Bishkek".

Bishkek is situated at an altitude of about 800 meters (2,600 ft), just off the northern fringe of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too range, an extension of the Tian Shan mountain range. These mountains rise to a height of 4,855 meters (15,928 ft) and provide a backdrop to the city. North of the city, a fertile and gently undulating steppe extends far north into neighboring Kazakhstan. The Chui River drains most of the area. Bishkek is connected to the Turkestan-Siberia Railway by a spur line.

Bishkek is a city of wide boulevards and marble-faced public buildings combined with numerous Soviet-style apartment blocks surrounding interior courtyards. There are also thousands of smaller privately built houses, mostly outside the city centre. Streets follow a grid pattern, with most flanked on both sides by narrow irrigation channels, watering innumerable trees to provide shade in the hot summers.

Central Asian revolt of 1916

The Central Asian revolt of 1916, also known as the Semirechye Revolt and as Urkun (Kyrgyz: үркүн, exodus, IPA: [yrˈkyn]) in Kyrgyzstan, was an anti-Russian uprising by the Muslim inhabitants of Russian Turkestan. Its direct cause was the conscription of Muslims who were formally exempted into a military service on the Eastern Front of World War I. Underlying issues also included tensions between different ethnic groups under Russian rule. The revolt led to the exodus of thousands of Kyrgyz and Kazakhs into China, while the suppression of the revolt by the Russian army led to thousands of deaths. However, the Russian state was not able to restore complete order until the outbreak of the October Revolution. Russian liberals like Alexander Kerensky and some Russian historians were the first to bring international attention to these events.

Governorate (Russia)

A governorate, or a guberniya (Russian: губе́рния, IPA: [ɡʊˈbʲɛrnʲɪjə]; also romanized gubernia, guberniia, gubernya), was a major and principal administrative subdivision of the Russian Empire and the early Russian SFSR and Ukrainian SSR. The term is usually translated as government, governorate, or province. A governorate was ruled by a governor (губернатор, gubernator), a word borrowed from Latin gubernator, in turn from Greek kybernetes. Sometimes the term guberniya was informally used to refer to the office of a governor.

Selected governorates were united under an assigned governor general such as Grand Duchy of Finland, Tsardom of Poland, Russian Turkestan and others. There also were military governors such as Kronshtadt, Vladivostok, and others. Aside of governorates, other types of divisions were oblasts (region) and okrugs (district).

Hermann Jantzen

Hermann Jantzen (28 May 1866-13 November 1959) was a Christian Mennonite missionary to Russian Turkestan.

When he was a teenager, Jantzen's family followed Claas Epp, Jr. to Central Asia on the Great Trek. He became a court interpreter for Muhammad Rahim II in the Khanate of Khiva before rising through the ranks as an interior ministry official for Russian Turkestan. Later in life, he became a missionary in what is now Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. His life is noted for positive relationships with his Muslim neighbors, harrowing pursuits by Russian authorities, and his work on the mission field.

History of Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan, the largest country fully within the Eurasian Steppe, has been a historical "crossroads" and home to numerous different peoples, states and empires throughout history.


Kattakurgan (Uzbek: Kattaqo‘rg‘on / Каттақўрғон / کته قورغان; Russian: Каттакурган), formerly Kohandez, is a town in the Samarqand Region of Uzbekistan. It is located on the road and railway between Bukhara and Samarkand. The name is Turkic and means "large town or kurgan". The town does not appear to be of any great antiquity, although after Alexander the Great's ransacking of Marakanda (Samarkand), the center of cultural life in that part of the Zeravshan valley may briefly have shifted west to the region around Katta-Kurgan. According to F.F. Pospelov, a fortress was built on the current site by the local saint Sufi Allahyar and his two brothers, Farhat-Atalyk and Allah-Nazar-bii, in 1095 AH/1684 AD, and the town subsequently grew up around it. It was the seat of a Bek (local Governor) under the rule of the Bukharan Manghit dynasty. In 1868, following the fall of Samarkand to the Russians and the annexation of the Upper Zeravshan Valley from Bukhara, it became the border town between Russian Turkestan and the Bukharan Emirate, and the center of a district. In 1924 both entities were dissolved by the Soviet regime, and Katta-Kurgan was incorporated in the new Uzbek SSR. It is currently the second largest city in Samarkand Region. The population of Kattakurgan is of Uzbek nationality. Kattakurgan previously also had a large Russian population, which is no longer the case.

Konstantin von Kaufmann

Konstantin Petrovich Kaufman (Russian: Константи́н Петро́вич Ка́уфман; German: Konstantin Petrowitsch von Kaufmann ; 2 March 1818 – 16 May 1882) was the first Governor-General of Russian Turkestan.

Lula Lubchenco

Lula Olga Lubchenco (1915–2001) was an American pediatrician. Her family moved from Russian Turkestan to South Carolina when she was a small child, and Lubchenco's higher education and career were spent almost entirely in Colorado. After completing a pediatric residency in Denver, Lubchenco joined the faculty of the University of Colorado School of Medicine and was the first director of the Premature Infant Center at Colorado General Hospital.

Lubchenco was among the early physicians to suspect a link between oxygen administration and the eye condition that became known as retinopathy of prematurity. Her research into small for gestational age infants led to a chart that plotted birth weight against gestational age; the chart became known informally as the "Lulagram". Lubchenco remained involved with committees at the university until her death.

Nikolai Rozenbakh

Nikolai Ottonovich von Rozenbakh (Николай Оттонович фон Розенбах) (12 June 1836 in Püssi – 5 May 1901 in Petersburg) was a Russian General during the nineteenth century.

He was Governor-General of the Guberniya of Russian Turkestan from 1884 to 1889.In 1884, Regel in 'Trudy Imperatorskago St. Peterburgskago Botaniceskago Sada' Vol.3, published Iris rosenbachiana, it was found in Turkestan and named after Rozenbakh.

Syr-Darya Oblast

Syr-Darya Oblast (Russian: Сырдарьинская область) was one of the oblasts of the Russian Empire was part of Russian Turkestan. Its center was Tashkent.

Transcaspian Oblast

The Transcaspian Oblast (Russian: Закаспійская область), or just simply Transcaspia (Russian: Закаспія), was the section of Russian Empire and early Soviet Russia to the east of the Caspian Sea during the second half of the 19th century until 1924.

It was bounded to the south by Iran's Khorasan Province and Afghanistan, to the north by the former Russian province of Uralsk, and to the northeast by the former Russian protectorates of Khiva and Bukhara. Area, 212,545 sq. miles. Part of Russian Turkestan, Transcaspian Oblast corresponds roughly to the territory of present-day Turkmenistan and southwestern of Kazakhstan.

The name of the oblast (literally, "Beyond Caspian") is explained by the fact that until the construction of the Trans-Aral Railway in the early 20th century the easiest way to reach this oblast from central Russia (or from Russian Transcaucasia) was across the Caspian Sea, by boat from Astrakhan or Baku.


Turkestan, also spelt Turkistan (literally "Land of the Turks" in Persian), refers to an area in Central Asia between Siberia to the north and Iran, Afghanistan, and Tibet to the south, the Caspian Sea to the west and the Gobi Desert to the east.

Turkestan Album

Turkestan Album (Turkestanskii Al’bom or Tуркестанский альбом) is a unique publication dedicated to the history, ethnography, geography, economy and culture of Central Asia before 1917, which contains over 1,200 rare photographs. The album was released in 1872 by order of the first Governor-General of Russian Turkestan, Konstantin Petrovich Von Kaufman, and is designed to acquaint Russian and western researchers with Turkestan region. At present, a complete set of volumes and parts of the book is stored only in the National Library of Uzbekistan, the Russian State Library and the Library of Congress.

Turkestan Military District

The Turkestan Military District (Russian: Туркестанский военный округ (ТуркВО), Turkestansky voyenyi okrug (TurkVO)) was a military district of both the Imperial Russian Army and the Soviet Armed Forces, with its headquarters at Tashkent. The District was first created during the 1874 Russian military reform when by order of Minister Dmitry Milyutin the territory of Russia was divided into fourteen military districts. Its first commander was Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufman, who was also Governor-General of Russian Turkestan at the time.

Ulmus 'Karagatch'

Ulmus 'Karagatch' is a hybrid cultivar from Turkestan (from a region now part of Turkmenistan), selected in the early 20th century and considered either a backcrossing of U. × androssowii and U. pumila, or simply a cultivar of × androssowii. It was grown from seeds, introduced from Bairam Ali in Russian Turkestan by Arthur P. Davis in the 1930s, as U. 'Karagatch', under which name it was planted at Kew.


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