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Window on Eurasia — New Series: Stalin Never Deported Anyone to Turkmenistan and Only a Small Number to Tajikistan


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Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 9 – Sometimes one of the most interesting aspects of a situation is not what is done but what is not. And now the Zen.Yandex page “Living Central Asia” has pointed to one of those negatives, by asking “why did Soviet power not deport people to Turkmenistan and Tajikistan,” given that it dispatched people almost everywhere else?

            The page points out that many of Stalin’s deportations had little or nothing to do with repression as such. Instead, they reflected the fact that “Soviet power did not trust its own population” and thus removed people from border regions lest they be used against Moscow by invaders (zen.yandex.ru/media/centralasia/pochemu-sovetskaia-vlast-ne-deportirovala-liudei-v-turkmenistan-i-tadjikistan).

            Thus, it removed Poles and Germans from the western borderlands, Koreans from the eastern, Finns and Ingermanlanders from the northwest, and Meskhetian Turks and Kurds from the southern borders, viewing them as potentially “hostile.” Many of these were sent to Siberia or to three of the five Central Asian republics.

            But almost none were sent to Tajikistan or Turkmenistan. Moscow’s decisions in this regard reflected its calculations not about attitudes of the local population or their closeness to borders but about the economic conditions. Kazakhstan was large and still underpopulated, Uzbekistan smaller but without a proletariat, and Kyrgyzstan somewhere in between.

            But most of Turkmenistan was desert; and where it wasn’t, there was already overpopulation. And Tajikistan had few areas where people could be sent and do anything of use for the regime. The one exception was the Vakhsh valley, and a limited number of deportees were dispatched there.

           

           

 

Window on Eurasia — New Series