Despite the fact that East Turkestan was a poor region, it, unlike the Soviet West Turkestan, did not survive the man-made famine of 1931-1932, many fled to neighboring regions and countries. A snapshot from the film-photo-phono archive of the Republic of Kazakhstan, a copy of A. Gogun.
Mockery of the authorities of the PRC over Muslim Uighurs in the past year has finally become one of the main topics of world politics. At the same time, few people know that this knot of interethnic contradictions in its current form was finally tied up personally by Stalin. His aim was not only regional. Traditionally, the bloody encroachments of the hand of Red Moscow in the steppes, deserts and mountains of Eastern Turkestan are seen as an attempt to profit from minerals. However, the latter is also rich in the homeland of the world proletariat, and the main goal of the Soviet presence in this region in the 1930s-1940s seems to be strategic. Xinjiang was a springboard on the way not only to the central regions of China, but also to British India, especially to its parts inhabited by Mohammedans – fellow Uighurs (i.e., future Pakistan), as well as Tibet.
At the same time, as one of the leading researchers of this issue, Jamil Hasanli, notes, the Muslims of eastern Turkestan have never been just an object of the policy of the great powers, their instrument, but since the Chinese conquest in 1759 they have strived for independence or, at worst, real autonomy, or expected moment to start fighting for one of these goals.
Soviet leaders were well aware of what was happening in the region, since during the Civil War many White emigrants and participants in peasant uprisings left there, and the Red Army, in the course of fighting them in 1921, invaded this region. On June 4, 1921, the Politburo even considered the “Proposal of Ya.E. Rudzutak on the formation of the republics of Kashgar and Dzungar” in the south and north of this region, respectively, but so far rejected the idea. Later, peasants and nomads fled across the border already from collectivization and hunger, fortunately there was enough space – the area of Xinjiang is seven times larger than today’s England, to whose possessions it then adjoined.
The high mountain passes of the current Afghan-Pakistani border, which in those decades was the border between Afghanistan and British India, are inconvenient for the offensive of large military formations.
The leaders of the Bolsheviks did not stop thinking about going to this country – the second in the world in terms of population – since the time of the Civil War. Therefore, Xinjiang, as a region adjacent to the western Himalayas and Kashmir, could become extremely useful for conducting reconnaissance from its territory, sending sabotage or terrorist groups, as well as air support for a future campaign to free the proletariat and peasantry from the oppression of the colonialists and Brahmans.
The ridge was not insurmountable: here – from north to south through the Karakorum – since ancient times one of the branches of the Great Silk Road ran: from the Taklamakan Desert to the Indus Valley. In 1925, on the way from Kashmir to Xinjiang, the Himalayas were crossed by the expedition of Nicholas Roerich, which was closely watched by the Intelligence Directorate.
Chekists and army special services explored the region, recruiting both Russians and locals into their networks – the task was simplified by the fact that the USSR was Xinjiang’s main foreign economic partner.
In April 1931, a Mohammedan rebellion against Chinese rule broke out in eastern Xinjiang, as British Consul Miles Lampson in Beijing later wrote in a report to Foreign Minister John Simon: “… the uprising … was reportedly caused by Soviet incitement.” It is significant that at first the OGPU and the Comintern wanted to support the rebellion, especially since the Soviet-Chinese conflict on the Chinese Eastern Railway had just died out.
However, Stalin sought to use the Kuomintang for anti-Japanese purposes, and already in the summer he began to sell weapons, ammunition and military equipment – aircraft, armored cars to the provincial leadership for gold – and also sent military instructors, gradually increasing his military presence in the region.
The combat-ready core of the Chinese troops in East Turkestan was made up of experienced Russian White émigrés who became mercenaries. The head of the Celestial Empire, Chiang Kai-shek, was puzzled by the confrontation with Japan, which occupied Manchuria, and could not send large forces to the North-West of the Celestial Empire.
The conquest of Xinjiang by Moscow went on in several stages and was largely a mirror image of the Islamic uprising, which, having suffered a series of defeats in 1932, in the winter of 1932/33. flared up with renewed vigor. He was joined by local Kazakhs and Kyrgyz, as well as Dungans – Chinese Mohammedans.
The uprising, like a forest fire, occupied more and more counties and regions, reached the Pamir – Kashgar District, that is, the south-west of Xinjiang, and also reached its capital Urumqi.
The dispatch from the USSR of a 10,000-strong Chinese army, which had recently been ousted by the Japanese from Manchuria at the Zabaikalsk station, did not help either.
On April 12, 1933, Russian White émigrés overthrew the defeated provincial governor Jing Shuzheng, who fled, and Sheng Shicai, who had previously headed the armed forces of Xinjiang, seized power. Chiang Kai-shek later claimed that the coup was carried out by the Soviet secret services.
This is supported by the fact that the commander of the Cossack hundred who seized the residence of Jing Shuzhen, Esaul Ivan Bessonov, was in fact the assistant chief of staff of one of the cavalry regiments of the Red Army and was in Urumqi on a business trip.
One way or another, Sheng, who wrote a loyal letter to Stalin back in August 1932, began to pursue an even more loyal Moscow policy, at the same time trying to start negotiations with the rebels. But since the rebellious Mohammedans were represented by several ethnic and political groups, it was not possible to resolve the issue diplomatically.
On the anniversary of the October Revolution, November 7, 1933, a regiment of the Red Army of about a thousand people and the so-called “Altai Volunteer Army”, which consisted of fighters from the 13th Alma-Ata regiment of the OGPU, armed, among other things, with armored cars, aircraft and tanks, began an invasion of Xinjiang.
At the same time, the USSR did not declare war on anyone, and the Red Army men and border guards were dressed … in the White Guard uniform, i.e. the form of the tsarist army. The operation was commanded by Mikhail Frinovsky, who later became one of the organizers of the Great Terror.
Torture and beatings of arrested persons in order to obtain confessions is used more than before
But the path was far from the border, and the capital of Urumqi, meanwhile, was on the verge of falling, as the participant of the battles Fyodor Polynin recalled: “Flying up to the city, we saw a huge mass of people near the fortress wall. … Frequent flashes of shots flickered dimly. horsemen … We descend and alternately begin to throw 25-kilogram fragmentation bombs into the midst of the rebels. Several explosions shot up below.
At the exit from the attack, the navigators scribble from machine guns. We see that the crowd of rebels rushed away from the wall and rushed to run. Overtaking it, the cavalry rushed into the mountains. On the outskirts of the fortress, corpses were clearly visible in the snow … The rebels were as if mad from a sudden air raid … Soon the mutiny was suppressed. In honor of the victory, a big reception was given. The governor of the province awarded all Soviet pilots, participants in the hostilities … “
That is, the hated uniforms did not affect the fighting spirit – on February 11, 1934, the “Altai” broke through the siege of the rebellious Dungans near the capital of Xinjiang, drove the Muslims to a respectful distance, after which part of the “limited contingent” went home, and some continued to fulfill their “international duty.”
Therefore, in May Sheng sent a letter of thanks to Stalin, which also contained the following words: “Xinjiang in the international situation is of great importance not only for the USSR, but will be an extremely important factor in the future world war and world revolution.”
Among the military advisers who created Sheng’s army from the remnants of the battered troops was the future Marshal Pavel Rybalko, who bore the operational pseudonym Fu-Ji-Hui. Step by step, the uprising was suppressed, and a fragile peace was established in the region, which was supported by mass arrests and killings, primarily of Muslims.
Researcher Pavel Aptekar found in the military archive a message from one of the military advisers Viktor Obukhov about the happiness of the workers and herders: “… The new authorities adopted all the worst from the methods of the old Chinese district chiefs.
The “usual” equipment of a judge or a police chief consisted of a belt whip for hitting the cheeks, a triangular stick for hitting the thighs, a mallet for hitting the ankles and pads for clamping the legs, and finally, a machine for holding the suspect, or rather tortured when clamping the shins. .. “The head of one of the counties thought of nailing the interrogated by the ear to the wall.
Uyghur politician Isa Alptekin wrote in his book “The Question of East Turkestan” that Sheng’s henchmen used 125 types of torture and 28 executions (including public ones), and some of the techniques were “imported” from the USSR. The latter is indirectly confirmed by Soviet documents.
For example, on September 24, 1937, the Politburo made a decision on Xinjiang, among other things showing concern for the safety of its satrap: “Grant the request of Duban (the governor. – RS) to send him in secret an experienced investigator to investigate the conspiracy against him.”
The intrigues of Sheng were built … by the Trotskyists – under the guise of such, four hundred people were killed, including local communists, white émigrés and members of the provincial leadership.
As a result, in 1937, Muslims rebelled again, this time flaring up in the Kashgar district – in the south-west of Xinjiang, in the Pamirs and in its foothills, near the borders of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and the rebellion began among the troops.
The units loyal to Sheng could not do anything, especially because they fought in a hostile environment, not missing an opportunity to rob civilians. The use of aviation with Soviet pilots did not change the course of hostilities.
Therefore, two horse groups were nominated from Kyrgyzstan: “The first of them included the 42nd Mountain Cavalry Regiment (Uzbek – A.G.), a battery and special units of the 19th Mountain Cavalry Division and the 19th Cavalry Regiment of the NKVD under under the command of Colonel [Ibragim] Bekzhanov, the second – the 48th Mountain Cavalry Regiment (Kazakh. – AG), the battery and special units of the 21st Mountain Cavalry Division and the 13th mechanized regiment of the NKVD under the command of the brigade commander Selivanov. ” The tanks crossed the mountain ranges of the Pamirs and the desert, and a Soviet squadron was also involved in the operation.
As in 1933, the invasion was secret, no one had personal documents with them, but this time the soldiers were disguised … in robes and hats. In the fall, the rebel troops were defeated, after which the “liberators” executed, according to their own reports, 3,045 prisoners.
Most of the winners returned to the USSR, which nevertheless found a way to increase its military presence in Xinjiang. Chiang Kai-shek recalled: “… under the pretext of preventing Japanese aggression, Soviet Russia sent a regular unit of the Red Army to the city of Hami (in the east of Xinjiang) – the so-called” 8th Regiment of the Red Army “(including 15 I-15 aircraft and 15 tanks BT-7 and T-38 – A.G.). As a result, she managed to implement her plan and separate Xinjiang from the rest of China “- by the forces of the Red Army, dressed in the uniform of the Russian imperial army and using pre-revolutionary ranks and ranks in circulation.
Meanwhile, since October 1937, the strategic gain from the conquest of this region has really manifested itself – the USSR began to support the Kuomintang in its war against Japan. Massive deliveries of aviation, weapons, ammunition and military cargo were carried out mainly through Kazakhstan and Xinjiang – by rail, ZIS-5 trucks, and also by air – TB-3.
For this, Chinese workers under the leadership of Soviet engineers at a Stakhanovian pace built a 3,000-kilometer road from the Kazakh station Sary-Ozek through Urumqi to the city of Lanzhou in the north of central China.
In 1938, Sheng Shitsai was invited to Moscow, where he met Voroshilov, whom he hugged, kissed his hands and forehead, and then with Stalin. Duban discussed with the Boss the issues of managing the region, presented gifts, joined the CPSU (b) and did not skimp on toadying.
As Chiang Kai-shek wrote, “after that, Soviet tutelage over Xinjiang became practically all-embracing, and Soviet personnel appeared in the governing bodies of all parts of the province.” It is interesting to note that during these years one of the main export items to India was a drug – marijuana, transported by caravans through the Himalayas …
As a result of Stalin’s Chinese policy, the country of the Rising Sun, firstly, got bogged down in a war with the Celestial Empire, and secondly, the USSR was forced to peace. Having experienced the quality of Soviet weapons both during the battles with the Kuomintang and in the conflict at Khalkhin Gol, Japan entered into a neutrality treaty in Moscow on April 13, 1941 – the Asia-Pacific analogue of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. This agreement opened the door for attacks on Pearl Harbor and Singapore.
By that time, the Soviets had already become so familiar in Xinjiang that they built plant No. 600 near Urumqi, which was engaged in the assembly of I-16 fighters, although in official agreements it was called a factory for the production of agricultural equipment. An aviation school was opened in the city of Gulja (Inin), where Soviet instructors trained Chinese pilots to shoot down “samurai”.
In the same period, an agreement was signed between the Kremlin and Sheng Shitsai on the lease of tin mining, as the head of the Kuomintang recalled with indignation: and prospecting for minerals, in particular, oil, the construction of houses and barracks for Soviet civilian personnel and military personnel, the deployment of Soviet troops, etc., etc. throughout the province.
This agreement was concluded for a period of fifty years! ” The Kuomintang tolerated the creation of a red protectorate, as it depended on Moscow for help. The participation of Soviet and Mongolian units in 1940 in the fight against the Kazakh uprising in the Chinese part of Altai, which was not completely suppressed, did not provoke any protests from Chiang Kai-shek: some of the fighters disappeared into the mountains …
The clash with Germany did not go entirely according to Stalin’s plans. Aircraft from plant number 600 began to be transferred to the Soviet-German front.
The Moscow protege Sheng, seeing that the elder brother was having a hard time, did as sycophants often do – betrayed yesterday’s patron. The governor began to fight against “conspiracies” in his inner circle, that is, he arrested a number of pro-Soviet members of the leadership of Xinjiang and began to reduce the influence of the USSR in the region.
The governor’s brother, Sheng Shi-chi, the commander of the mechanized brigade, who had studied at the military academy of the Red Army and was pro-Soviet, was mysteriously killed, and then his wife was strangled. All this caused an intense correspondence with Molotov, and then the recall of most of the official representatives of Moscow, armed formations and the suspension of a number of industries established by Soviet experts.
Unsinkable Sheng, behind whose back there were eighty thousand executed and tortured, one hundred twenty thousand who passed prison and camps in 1933-1944. – in his struggle, first for communism, and then against it, – returned to the fold of the Kuomintang and soon left the leadership of the province, having received another post from Chiang Kai-shek.
Stalin decided to regain control of the region, and already in the spring of 1943, the NKVD, NKGB and army intelligence began to prepare … an uprising of Muslims in Xinjiang. In Altai, the Soviets began to supply weapons and ammunition to the leader of the Kazakh rebels, Ospan-Batyr, despite the fact that they had fought with him two years earlier. According to the historian Vadim Obukhov, this time Stalin’s important goal was to control the uranium deposits needed for the production of nuclear weapons.
In September 1944, unrest began in the Nilka district near the border with Kazakhstan and gradually expanded.
On the anniversary of “Great October” – November 7 – a riot was raised from Alma-Ata in the city of Kuldzha (Inin), the rebels with amazing professionalism seized military facilities and a nearby airfield and five days later proclaimed the East Turkestan Republic (VTR), the head which the Uzbek Alikhan Tura became.
As part of the NKVD, on December 5, a special assignment department was created – just to assist the VTR, and its chief, General Vladimir Egnarov, arrived in Kuldja to command the uprising on the spot. Colonel Nikolai Prokopyuk, who had just received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union on November 5, became his deputy.
In 1942-1944. he headed the Okhotniki NKGB special group in Western Ukraine. Among her operations is the assassination of Lieutenant Jan Rerutko, the commander of the Polish Home Army unit “Luna” operating in the Lutsk region of Volyn, as well as the doctor Slawomir Stetsyuk and the soldier Jan Linek. They were shot in the back on November 6, 1943, following an arms exchange deal with the Hunters.
Since the Chekists sent more and more militants – including the special groups “Batyr” and “Buiga” – the uprising in Dzungaria flared up and expanded to the north and east, and soon the VTR and allied Kazakh partisans controlled almost the entire northern part of Xinjiang, located between Kazakhstan and Mongolia … Big Brother supplied weapons and ammunition – Soviet and captured – German.
In April, Alikhan Tura sent a letter of thanks to Stalin: “… the peoples of East Turkestan will be liberated only with the help of the Great Soviet Union … Millions of people in East Turkestan look at you as their leader defending the interests of oppressed peoples …”
On April 15, 1945, the American Ambassador Harriman, at a meeting, asked the owner of the Kremlin what news was coming from Xinjiang, and the leader not only modestly kept silent about his own role, but also turned the scale of what was happening: “… , which make up only 5% of the population in Xinjiang. … The Uighurs have at their disposal 300-400 people, and the Chinese – 600. That’s the whole big war … “
The Kremlin highlander regularly received reports of a mutiny committed by his special services, and on April 29 Beria and Vyshinsky informed him that the personnel of the “East Turkestan Republic” army was already 9,300 people. The Chinese, according to intelligence, pulled 80,000 fighters into the region. Stalin lied an order of magnitude.
On June 22, the Politburo adopted a decision “On Xinjiang” – to create a government there: the flow of deadly cargo and military specialists, as well as special groups, consisting mainly of newly demobilized representatives of the peoples of Central Asia and Kazakhstan, increased to the rebellious region.
According to this decree alone, 500 officers and 2 thousand sergeants and privates of the Red Army were sent. The invaders, as usual, did not wear Soviet insignia and dressed in civilian clothes. Aviation and tanks were involved.
Therefore, on July 9, 1945, Chinese Prime Minister Song Ziwen, at a meeting in Moscow, timidly asked Stalin to help end the unrest in Xinjiang, to which the Generalissimo impudently joked: “What is meant by this help – sending troops?” The interlocutor, pretending not to understand the humor, explained – to stop the dispatch of ammunition, which he super delicately called “smuggling”. Stalin, portraying holy simplicity, said that they are unlikely to be carried out, and stunned the Chinese guest with a question: “Does this weapon penetrate from India?” good profit. “
Nevertheless, Chiang Kai-shek chose not to aggravate relations with the USSR, fearing that he would begin massive arms deliveries to Mao Zedong as well, and when the Red Army invaded Manchuria and Korea during the attack on Japan, he concluded a friendship agreement with Moscow and Union – August 14, 1945
… The number of Muslim rebels reached thirty thousand people, who were supported by “internationalist warriors” from the Red Army, the NKVD and the NKGB.
The calculation of the Kuomintang authorities turned out to be correct in the short term – in the fall, Stalin ordered the “limited contingent” in Xinjiang to go on the defensive, began to withdraw it, and through agents demanded that the local Muslim rebels cease fire.
The Kremlin doubted whether Mao would win, and, preparing a war against the United States, they did not want to provoke America’s direct intervention in the Chinese civil strife, so that the Celestial Empire would not become an airfield for the Stars and Stripes Air Force with atomic bombs.
Step by step, Stalin forced the parties to an armistice, while retaining control over the most valuable minerals. Alikhan Ture was taken to Tashkent. The rest of the VTR leadership agreed to the creation in Urumqi on July 1, 1946, of a compromise cabinet of ministers with the participation of both the Chinese and the Uighurs.
As Chiang Kai-shek noted, “such a” coalition government “(with the lion’s share of the people of the Kremlin. – A. G.), first tested … in Xinjiang province, served as a model for the authorities that began to be imposed in Soviet puppet states after World War II” in Central Europe. True, Ospan-batyr in Altai fell out with the communists and continued the war with them until 1950.
Rebellions and wars to suppress them in 1931-1946. cost the five million population of Xinjiang over one hundred thousand dead, primarily civilians – and this is not counting the comparable number of repressed by Shen Shitsai.
Having used the Uighurs twice to conquer Xinjiang as allies, Stalin betrayed them to the faithful Mao
Leaving East Turkestan to the Kuomintang with one hand, with the other, Stalin provided Mao Zedong with cautious assistance, which was decisive for the victory of the communists in the civil war throughout the Middle Kingdom. On June 18, 1949, the Great Leader sent a telegram to the Great Helmsman urging the latter to attack Urumqi.
Ten days later, the fate of the northwestern part of China was decided at a meeting between the Boss and a delegation from the CPC Central Committee. Stalin did not forget that troops and weapons could be transferred through the Himalayas and the Pamirs, which is shown by his sly advice to his younger brothers: including the Indian ones, to continue the civil war against the communists, which is undesirable, because Xinjiang has large reserves of oil and cotton, which China desperately needs. “
It was the leader’s habit to justify aggression by defense in conversations even with satellites. The Indo-Pakistani war had just ended, so both countries had no time for China and Dzungaria. In addition, the two newly created states were hardly ready to follow the lead of yesterday’s colonial mistress – Britain. Stalin used the far-fetched threat of external intrigues to justify a future humanitarian crime.
The PRC’s policy in Xinjiang to this day has been carried out in accordance not only with the Stalinist recipes of ethno-state engineering that he used in the USSR, but also by his direct instructions, which he gave to the delegation of the CPC Central Committee during the same conversation: “There is no Chinese population in Xinjiang more than 5%, after the occupation of Xinjiang, the percentage of the Chinese population should be increased to 30%.
By resettlement of the Chinese for the comprehensive development of such a huge and rich region and to strengthen the protection of China’s borders. “
The leader advised the “younger brothers” not to pay special attention to the interests of national minorities: “In general, in the interests of strengthening China’s defense, all border regions should be populated with Chinese.”
A month later, on July 29, the Politburo adopted a resolution on Xinjiang, which, among other things, read: “… to the Main Directorate of the USSR Civil Air Fleet … to allocate a special plane to deliver representatives of the democratic part of Xinjiang to Chita for their further movement to Beiping (i.e. e. Beijing – RS) “to participate in the first orientation session of the People’s Political Consultative Council of China.
A month later, the mass media of the PRC and the USSR reported that on August 25, the plane carrying this delegation suffered a plane crash near Irkutsk, all of its 17 passengers – including the former elite of the East Turkestan Republic (VTR), including its president Akhmetzhan Kasimi – died.
Soon, a Kazan Tatar named Burgan Shahidullin, chairman of the Xinjiang government, announced the annexation of the region to the PRC. On October 20, units of the People’s Liberation Army of China solemnly entered Urumqi, and three months later the armed forces of the VTR were included in its composition as the 5th corps, commanded by Lieutenant General Fotii Ivanovich Leskin.
Having used the Uyghurs twice to conquer Xinjiang – in the 1930s – as convenient opponents, and in the 1940s – as allies, Stalin betrayed them to the loyal Mao. Now the entire Celestial Empire from the Pamirs to Korea has become not just a springboard for the red aviators, but also a ram of the world revolution, including for its penetration into Tibet and the planned one – beyond the Himalayas.
Dzhugashvili’s death prevented a pan-Eurasian meat grinder, and the tension he left behind in East Turkestan may well become one of the detonators of the collapse of the post-Stalinists – the liberal revolution in Beijing.