Muslim communists. Source -
Muslim communists. Source -

Involvement of Tatars in the state-building process


After the Soviet rule was established on the peninsula, it began to implement the same methods it had used in other occupied regions. As in 1918, now the former authorities were dissolved on the territory of the peninsula and new, extraordinary – military-revolutionary committees were created.

Initially, their composition was multiparty. However, the Bolsheviks, through the dissolution and re-election of committees and other measures, achieved the complete ousting of all competitors from other parties and remained the sole bearers of power. They took a dominant position in the Revolutionary Committees, making them an obedient tool of their own policy.

Members of the Communist Party of Turkey. Mustafa Subhi on the right. Source -
Members of the Communist Party of Turkey. Mustafa Subhi on the right. Source –

During April 1919, the Revolutionary Committees appeared in all more or less large centers of the Crimea. First, the Revolutionary Committees and then the Crimean government began their activities by disbanding the administrative apparatus created by the Crimean regional government. Then it was the turn of political parties. On April 16, the Simferopol Military Revolutionary Committee decided: “Because of the numerous uprisings in Ukraine organized by the left-wing Socialist-Revolutionaries both in the rear and in the army, the Revolutionary Committee expresses a negative attitude towards the Socialist-Revolutionary Party . ” After the ban of the Left Socialist Revolutionary Party, the same fate befell the Armenian party Dashnaktsutyun. On April 22, the Simferopol Revolutionary Committee banned her from publishing her own newspaper.On May 17, the Crimean Regional Committee of the RCP (B) decided: “At the first forthcoming meeting of the Revolutionary Committee to raise the issue of expulsion from the Revolutionary Committee of the Dashnaktsutyun party as a nationalist party.”

The only non-Bolshevik party that the Bolsheviks did not ban was the Crimean Tatar Milli Firka. She received official permission to legalize and publish her own newspaper, Yeni-Dunya. This was due to changes in the attitude of the Bolsheviks to national policy and their attempts to use the national forces of the peninsula to strengthen their power. The Bolsheviks drew conclusions from the mistakes they had made in 1918 during the existence of the Tauride Republic. The Central Committee of the RCP (B) clearly set before the Crimean regional committee the task of the widest possible involvement of the Crimean Tatars in the governing bodies of the created republic.

Milli Firk’s commitment to the Bolsheviks, in turn, was due to the fact that its members believed the loud statements of the new government about the possibility of rebuilding the Crimean state. Namely, this desire, as we know, was the basis of the party’s political program. Because of this, Millie Firka decided to support the Bolshevik government of the Crimean Republic.

As there were still few local Crimean Tatar Communists, “Turkish Communists” who came from Turkey (including M. Subhi) were actively used to work on the peninsula. This “Turkish detachment” was to carry out “explanatory” work among the local Tatars. In addition, a specially created detachment of 45 Turkish Communists came to the Crimea “to help local comrades.” By the way, later a member of the Crimean regional committee of the RCP (b) I. Shulman in the report “On the work of the party organization of the Crimea for the period from May 1918 to July 1919.” He noted that Muslims who came from Turkey warmly welcomed the proclamation of the Crimean Republic and stressed in every possible way that “this fact significantly strengthened the Soviet orientation in the East.”

The first Bolshevik-Crimean Tatar Ismail Firdevs (Kerimjanov)
The first Bolshevik-Crimean Tatar Ismail Firdevs (Kerimjanov)

It has already been pointed out that in late 1918 and early 1919 there was a split in the ranks of Millie Firk’s party. The slogan of the Volunteer Army about a “single and indivisible” state went against its plans and desires. As a result, a large number of members of Milli Firka (A. Bodaninsky, I. Arabsky, U. Bodaninsky, S. Idrisov, V. Ibraimov, U. Ibraimov, S. Memetov, etc.) left the Kurultai. After some time, they joined the Bolshevik Party, where they formed a Muslim section.

Later, J. Gaven wrote: “Did some Millifirs come to us? So. Idrisov, Seidamet ( as in the text, – author ), Memetov, Mambetov ( it is about D. Mambet Aji, – author ) – this left wing opposed the majority line and later decided to fight together with the Soviets, and when they were criticized ( in the Kurultai, – ed .), then these people came to us and worked in the Council, but they did not push away from Millie Firka. Interestingly, back in September-October 1918, when the Kurultai seized (the word is written incomprehensibly – author ), when it was supported by Sulkevich, who supported the noble line, then a group led by Ali Bodaninsky convened here ( in Simferopol, – author ) and formed a military council in February (1919, – author ) contacted our underground committee. Comrade Gamarnyk in December 1918 made a report for a group of Tatar workers, which was attended by Ali Bodaninsky, Memetov and Mambetov.

On March 31, 1919, I. Shulman informed the Central Committee of the RCP (B) that a Muslim bureau had been established under the regional committee, whose immediate task was to “promote the formation and development of party organizations and cells among the Muslim population of Crimea, strengthen the regional committee’s authority and grow it. influence “. The presidium of this bureau included: M. Subhi (chairman, Turk by nationality) and secretaries I. Shulman and A. Bodaninsky. M. Subhi was appointed editor of the newspaper “Yeni-Dunya”. The Muslim bureau began publishing the newspaper Dogru Yol (Direct Way).

The Bolsheviks actively involved the Tatars in the process of state formation. On April 23, 1919, during a joint meeting of members of the Crimean Regional Committee and the Muslim Bureau under him, J. Gaven made a report “On the creation of a temporary government.”

Ali Bodaninsky
Ali Bodaninsky, Crimean Tatar educator, journalist, politician. Source –

During his speech, he, in his own words, “acquainted the meeting with Comrade Stalin’s order to organize an autonomous workers ‘and peasants’ provisional government in Crimea in full contact ( emphasis added ) with the Tatar communist organization.” Gaven then assured everyone present that this order had been confirmed by the head of the Ukrainian RNA, H. Rakovsky.

During the discussion of this report, the chairman, who was S. Dzhigenti, emphasized that the Tatars are given five seats in the government, but based on the fact that the Tatar communist organization is still “very young and its forces are insignificant”, they would have enough four places, even “if we take into account the percentage of Tatars to the rest of the population of Crimea.” The Tatar organization, he noted, “needs constant supervision” from “more experienced comrades.” He then stressed that the Tatars, who will be proposed to be elected to the newly formed government, should enjoy the trust of the center, as well as have a significant influence on the Crimean Tatars living on the peninsula to “join them to the common ( read: Russian, – ed. . ) culture “.

The issue of the Bolshevik Party’s attitude to Millie Firk’s party and the idea of ​​cooperation with it was considered separately at the meeting. Former members S. Idrisov and S. Memetov made a thorough report on the history of the emergence of Millie Firk and its activities.

In the end, the government of the Crimean Republic included five Crimean Tatars – S. Memetov, S. Idrisov, I. Firdevs, I. Arabsky and A. Bodaninsky. They have served as commissioners for justice, home affairs, foreign affairs, education, and the RNA.

Crimean Tatars began to be admitted to city and village revolutionary committees. The Crimean Tatar language, together with Russian, became official. At the beginning of May 1919, a Tatar club was solemnly opened in Simferopol. Many documents issued by the Crimean Revolutionary Committees, the Government of the Crimean Republic, and the Crimean National Committee contained threats of various punishments up to execution for “appeals and protests against individual nations.” Crimean Tatar, along with Russian, was recognized as the state language. Again, the lessons of the Tauride Republic were not in vain for the Bolsheviks.

On May 22, at a meeting of the Muslim Bureau at the Crimean Regional Committee of the RCP (B), the following decision was made: “Convene on June 10, this year. in Simferopol, a regional conference, to which all Muslim communist sections and existing cells must send their representatives, as a rule, two full members from each section and one sympathizer from each cell. ” A number of issues were put on the agenda, namely: “1. Report of the Regional Bureau; 2. Reports from places; 3. Report of the communist organizations of the peoples of the East; 4. Organizational issues; 5. Tactics of our party in relation to other political currents among the Tatar population; 6. On the participation of communist organizations in elections to the regional council of workers ‘, peasants’ and Red Army deputies; 7. About the professional movement; 8. Peasant-land issue; 9. About the current moment; 10. The national question “.

Muslim communists. Source -
Muslim communists. Source –

The Crimean regional conference of Muslim communist organizations opened on June 11. S. Memetov, who presided over it, immediately outlined the purpose of this event: “ Our goal is to propagate the ideas of communism and socialism among the peoples of the East, to unite with the European proletariat, and to fight together against capital. We will raise high the red flag of the social revolution in the East and thus do a great service to the world socialist revolution . ”

In early June, at a joint meeting of the Crimean Regional Committee of the RCP (B) and the Muslim Bureau, a decision was made to convene a “regional party congress” ( this is exactly the wording documented ). The newspaper “Crimean Communist” on June 8 reported on the forthcoming congress in more detail: “At the last meeting of the regional committee of the RCP, a resolution was made to convene a regional congress of the party on July 5. It is planned to adopt the following agenda: report of the regional committee; reports from places; work in the countryside; the work of the Red Army; congress of councils, construction of power; current affairs. The following norm of representation is also provided: from 25 people – 1; cells of up to 20 people send representatives with the right of advisory vote. ” However, due to the offensive of the Volunteer Army, the “regional party congress” did not take place.

Asan-Sabri Aivazov
Asan-Sabri Aivazov

To attract Crimean Tatars to the Red Army, the Bolsheviks announced the revival of Muslim troops. On June 8, in connection with the offensive of volunteers, the government created the Council of Defense of the Crimean Republic consisting of People’s Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs P. Dybenko, People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs Yu. Gaven and People’s Commissar for Trade S. Wolfson (Davidov). On June 11, the Defense Council declared martial law in Crimea.

The next day it issued the following resolution: “ Muslim military units are being formed from the proletarian, semi-proletarian Tatar masses, the poorest and most revolutionary, pro-Soviet Tatar population of Crimea, to protect the Crimean Republic. To form these units, as well as their political upbringing and management, a five-member Muslim military board is established under the Political Secretariat of the People’s Commissariat for Military and Naval Affairs. Administratively, the Muslim military board reports directly to the People’s Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs and implements all his orders and directives. The People’s Commissariat of War is entrusted with the implementation of this resolution . “

In June, a regional conference of Tatar Communists called on Crimean Tatar workers to join the defense of Soviet rule. However, only a small part of the Crimean Tatars, who believed the appeals, began to enlist in the Muslim army. A total of two Turkish-Tatar infantry companies and one cavalry company with a total number of 196 people were recruited. For their “education” under the People’s Commissariat of War of the Crimean Republic, a Muslim military board of 5 people was established.

Representative of the Crimean Tatars A.-S. Aivazov, already in the NKVD prison, wrote quite contradictory memoirs, which clearly looked at the rhetoric inherent in the public prosecutors in the political trials of the 1930s. both representatives of the “proletarians” and the counter-revolutionary “millifirkivtsi”) in a rather peculiar form. The joint work of the Soviet authorities with the “proletarian” Tatars took place in complete harmony and cooperation. Work with the “counter-revolutionaries” was also fruitful, because the “millifirkovtsy” either skillfully disguised their hostile nature to the still little-known Bolsheviks, or entered into a close alliance with the then undiscovered “Trotskyists” and “Veliibraimovtsy”, secret agents of other states: 1919,when the Bolsheviks reoccupied Crimea (without the Kerch Peninsula), the Millifirs first hid, but soon began to appear. They were encouraged by the presence of Comrade. Mustafa Subhi in the Crimea. Some of Milli Firk’s leaders, such as Amet Ozenbashli and Khalil Chapchakchi, were said to have worked with the Bolsheviks. Mustafa Subhi restored his newspaper “Yeni-Dunya” (“New World”). His newspaper won the favor of the Tatar people. The Bolsheviks everywhere coexisted with the nationalists. There were no disputes or clashes between them. In some cities, the Bolsheviks, leaving the Crimea, left the Tatars with they said then, they worked together with the Bolsheviks. Mustafa Subhi restored his newspaper “Yeni-Dunya” (“New World”). His newspaper won the favor of the Tatar people. The Bolsheviks everywhere coexisted with the nationalists. There were no disputes or clashes between them. In some cities, the Bolsheviks, leaving the Crimea, left the Tatars with they said then, they worked together with the Bolsheviks. Mustafa Subhi restored his newspaper “Yeni-Dunya” (“New World”). His newspaper won the favor of the Tatar people. The Bolsheviks everywhere coexisted with the nationalists. There were no disputes or clashes between them. In some cities, the Bolsheviks, leaving the Crimea, left the Tatars with weapons.

Involvement of Tatars in the state-building process

Amet Ozenbashli, who was arrested in 1928, told the same words about Millie Firk during interrogations in 1928. However, his words, clearly prompted by the NKVD investigators, sound even more humiliating than the statements of Asan-Sabri Aivazov: ” Compiled in 1919, in preparation for the elections to the regional Sejm, by the cadet government, the organization of Milli Firk was not a party in full in the sense of the word, was not an ideologically cohesive compact unit, but was in social terms a kind of vinaigrette and form, or outer shell, in terms of tactics to prove to the Cadets that the Crimean Tatars are no longer the “sheep’s heads” that they can organize, as a nation, to seek their rights . ”

However, V. Obolensky painted a completely different picture in his memoirs. He claimed that the majority of Crimean Tatars took a completely opposite position to the Bolsheviks outlined by Aivazov: “Ever since the time of the first Bolsheviks, who dealt so cruelly with the Tatars, they have had a hidden hatred for them, and although they obediently carried out their orders, they elected “revolutionary committees” without resistance and generally paid homage and respect to the Bolshevik government, but in secret caves. just in case, they hid rifles and ammunition… The Bolsheviks tried to dismantle the patriarchal system of Tatar life, tried to introduce into the Revolutionary Committees the so-called poor, that is, the most decomposed part of the Tatar youth, thieves and hooligans, but they almost failed. The Tatar “middle peasants” were extremely united and promoted their leaders to positions of responsibility, who, with the diplomatic talent inherent in the Eastern peoples, were able to stealthily enter into the trust of the authorities, who suspected everyone . “

It is also impossible to agree with the clearly biased statements of A. Ozenbashli, because everything that happened since February 1917 proved that Millie Firka was not “put together in 1919” and did not demand to make the Tatars a “nation” – after all, they have long been her.

It should be emphasized that the Bolsheviks only flirted with national minorities, using Millie Firk’s figures to spread their influence to the Crimean Tatars. They involved some of its leaders in public authorities, but nevertheless treated the national party with great suspicion. They were not going to give them power, as evidenced by many facts.

For example, on April 23, during the above-mentioned meeting of the Crimean Regional Committee and the Muslim Bureau, the issue of the Crimean Soviet People’s Commissar’s candidacy was discussed and a proposal was made to appoint a “representative of the Crimean Tatar people,” a candidate from the Muslim organization M. Subha. However, most members of the Crimean regional committee strongly disagreed, fearing that such a move could, according to Gaven, a participant in the meeting, “be misinterpreted due to recent strained national relations in Crimea.” Thus, the Bolsheviks rightly feared that the emergence of a Muslim leader at the head of the government could lead to a new surge in the national liberation movement, which would lead to a new rise among Crimean Tatars to create their own state independent of Moscow.

Involvement of Tatars in the state-building processOr another fact. On May 5, a telegram was sent to the Crimean regional committee of the party from the Central Committee of the RCP (B), emphasizing that M. Subhi had no right to put his own signature and seal on official papers. The Bolsheviks also vehemently rejected the demand of Milli Firk’s members to provide the Tatars with more seats in the Crimean government.

Warning of the separatism of local Muslims, on May 13 the secretariat of the Central Committee of the RCP (B) sent a circular letter to the provincial committees of the RCP (B) (including the Crimean) demanding that “the work of Muslim sections be carried out under the direct supervision of party committees.” were part of the local organization so that they would not be separated in any way. All the activities of the section should be reduced exclusively to propaganda and agitation among Muslims. “

So, announcing in words about the alliance with Millie Firk, the Bolsheviks actually fought against it. For example, during the May elections to the Soviets, Crimean party organizations, according to researcher F. Zagorodskikh, ” were forced to carry out very serious work among the population to prevent the Millifirs and other enemies of the people from joining the Soviets.” Millie Firk’s party members did not understand this and really wanted to work with the Bolsheviks. Researcher M. Bunegin, talking about the events of spring – summer 1919, quoted the words of one of the figures Millie Firk, without naming his name, who stated that “they (members of the Tatar parliament – author) began to seriously and sincerely prepare and to prepare the masses who followed them for a new order on Soviet principles . “

In the “Review of the Muslim Movement until October 1, 1920″ prepared for the Volunteer Army It was stated: ” After the occupation of Crimea by the Bolsheviks, the Directory entered into negotiations with them to provide [seats] in the Soviet government to representatives of the local Tatar population, but these efforts were unsuccessful.However, wanting to guarantee its own security, the “Directory” announced to the Tatar population that they had reached an agreement with the Bolsheviks and that the latter had allegedly promised not to oppose It. This proclamation had a certain effect, because this time the Tatar population did not only offer armed resistance to the Bolsheviks, but some of them, having accepted the political platform of the Soviet government, went to serve them . “

The Kremlin’s flirtations with the Millifirs also had a foreign policy component: a course to ignite a revolution in the East. On June 3, 1919, a certificate on the work of the Crimean Regional Committee of the RCP (B) was sent to Moscow under the signature of Yu. Gaven and I. Shulman. Among other things, it stated: “At the regional committee there is a Muslim section, Armenian, German and in a short time it is planned to create a Jewish one. The regional committee works through individual comrades on the other side of the Black Sea (in the Caucasus and Turkey). It is necessary to coordinate this work with the corresponding work in the center. An international propaganda bureau was set up under the regional committee, which established conspiratorial ties with the peoples of the East (the Caucasus and Turkey) and, with the help of smugglers, smuggled party workers and literature across the Black Sea, mainly in Turkish .

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The project was implemented with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation

Tetiana Bikova

Candidate of Historical Sciences, Scientist of the Institute of History of Ukraine of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

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