The World at War

TANNU TUVA 1911 - 1944


1911November The Russian Council of Ministers decides in favor of colonizing Uryankhai. The Russian population numbers 4,000 by this time and the government has spent 5 million rubles to research the region.
December 29 Mongolia takes advantage of the chaos resulting from Sun Yat Sen’s revolution in China to proclaim its independence. Jebtsendamba Khutuktu, the 8th reincarnation of the “Living Buddha”, ascends the throne of the new state. Tannu Tuvan separatists, encouraged by the Russians, declare independence from Chinese rule as the Uryankhai Republic.
1912The new Mongolian government sends a delegation, led by Prince Ching Wang Khanddorj, to Moscow seeking diplomatic recognition. The Mongolians declare that the Buriat region near Lake Baikal is the only area inhabited by Mongols ceded to Russia during Chinese rule. They cite the rule by the Governor of Uliastai over Uryankhai from 1769 to support Mongolia’s claim to sovereignty over the region. The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sazanov, cites religious differences between Mongols and Tuvans as evidence of their distinct nationhoods.
1912 - 1913 Russian traders take control of Uryankhai’s markets.
1914Tuvan governors petition the Czar requesting that he grant their kozhuuns (districts) Russian protection.
April 17 Czar Nicholas II declares a Russian protectorate over Uryankhai.
May The Russian government begins construction of the city of Belotsarsk (White King’s), as an administrative center, at the confluence of the Khem and Beldir Rivers.
August Belotsark’s first building is completed.
1916Russia intensifies its colonization efforts. 8,200 Russians are living in Uryankhai. Russian troops arrive claiming they were to protect settlers against nomadic Mongols who worship nature and fight against digging the land for gold.
1917Uryankhai takes advantage of the chaos stemming from the Bolshevik Revolution to rescind its agreement to the Russian protectorate. Mongols, Reds, and Whites all vie for influence among the 60,000 Tuvans and 10,000 Russian settlers in the region. Belotsarsk is renamed Khem-Beldyr.
1918October Admiral Kolchak’s White Army occupies Uryankhai. Autumn
Chinese troops under Yan Shi-chao occupy southwestern Uryankhai.
Mongolian troops under Khatan Bator Maksarzhab occupy southern Uryankhai.
December The Bolshevik Central Executive Council under S.K. Bespalov and M.M. Terentev seizes power in Uryankhai.
1919April Peasants in the Khemchik district rebel against the rule of Admiral Kolchak’s White Army.
August Admiral Kolchak’s White Army is defeated by the Siberian Soviet Partisan Army under A.D. Kravchenko.
1920January 26 Chairman Smirnov of the Siberian Revolutionary Committee sends the following encrypted telegraph to Lenin and Trotsky in Moscow, “The Mongols have entered the province and ejected our [Russian] peasants from the villages. These peasants fought against Kolchak [the White reader Admiral Kolchak] and were independent of him. The Sojoty [Tuvans] are a nomadic tribe oppressed by both Mongols and Russians. Do you consider it necessary to allow the Mongols possession of the Uranchaj [Tuvan] region or to take it by force of arms or to organise an Uranchaj Soviet Republic on the Bashkir pattern? Let me know.”
February 19 China declares Uryankhai a reincorporated territory.
June Mongolian troops withdraw from Uryankhai.
September A congress of Russians in Tuva restores Soviet power in Tannu Tuva. I.G. Safianov, chairman of the Siberian revolutionary committee of Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic declares to the congress, “the Soviet government now considers Uryankhai (Tuva) independent as before, and does not have its eye on Tuva”.
1921Tuvan partisans defeat the armies of Chinese warlords Shagan-Aryg and Chadaana with the assistance of Russian Red Army troops. White Guard divisions are suppressed at Tarlashkyn and Khemchik.
The Government of Tuva delivers a note to the Mongolian government requesting its assistance in curbing the continued influx of Russian settlers despite Soviet assurances that the Czarist colonial policy would end.
July A delegation of Russian settlers meets with the representatives of two Khemchik districts to discuss Tannu Tuva’s political status. The Russians insist that Tannu Tuva must either join the Soviets or declare independence.
August 14 The All Tuva Constituent Khural (Soviet) declares the establishment of the Tannu Tuva People's Republic and approves a constitution. The Khural adopts a resolution declaring , “... the Tannu Tuva People’s Republic is a free state of free people, independent of all in its internal affairs. The Tannu Tuva People’s Republic shall act under protection of Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic in its international relations.” The Soviet Union sends a message of congratulations on the establishment of the People’s Republic declaring, “ Russia does not consider the region of Uriankai under the government of workers and farmers as its own lands and will not bear such an approach towards it in the future.” Mongolian leader S. Danzan reacts sourly asking, “is it so easy to find independence and establish a nation state?” Tuvan resentment of the Russian settlers gives rise to a movement for reunification with Mongolia. Tuvan political leaders Dondog and Shagdar, send a letter to the leader of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party, Dogsomyn Bodoo, the Mongolians, secretly requesting immediate reunification. Soviet troops enter Tannu Tuva to suppress pro-Mongolian rebels. Mongolia dispatches Hatanbaatar Magsarjav, the Minister of Military Affairs, to investigate cause of Tuvan secession.
November 5 A bilateral Agreement on Mutual Recognition and Friendly Relations is signed in Moscow. It recognized the People's Government of Mongolia, and provides for the self-determination of Tannu Tuva.
1922Khem-Beldyr is proclaimed capital of the Tuvinian People’s Republic.
1924Communists are ousted from power in a revolution. Donduk becomes Chairman of the Presidium of the Minor Khural. He seeks stronger ties with Mongolia and the establishment of Buddhism as the state religion. More than 5,000 lamas are employed in about 30 khure (lamaseries) and more than 1,000 shamans are the 'teachers' and 'tutors' of the working peasantry.
1926Tannu-Tuva and Mongolia formally recognized each other's independence.
The capital city of Khem-Beldyr is renamed Kyzyl (Red).
October Tannu Tuva issues its own postage stamps. Tannu Tuva never joins the Universal Postal Union so the stamps, sold at the country’s two post offices in Kyzyl and Turan, are valid internally but only accepted by Mongolia and the Soviet Union for international mail.
November 24 The Constitution of the Tuvinian People’s Republic is adopted. Tannu (taiga in Russian) is dropped from the country’s official name. Nimachyan succeeds Donduk as Chairman of the Presidium of the Minor Khural. Donduk becomes Chairman of the Council of Ministers.
1928The Minor Khural of the Tuvinian People’s Republic declares the Yellow Hat Buddhist sect led by the Dalai Lama the state religion.
1929January Kemchik-ool begins a 7 year term as Chairman of the Council of Ministers.
During the Year Kommunisticheskii Universitet Trudyashchiksay Vostoka imeni Stalina (Joseph Stalin Communist University of the Toilers of the East) sends an expedition investigate the economic condition and prospects of Tannu Tuva which serves as cover for a coup carried out by five young Tuvan graduates of the University. Under the leadership of Party Secretary Toka, ethnic Russians are granted full citizenship rights and Buddhist and Mongol influences on the Tuvan state and society are systematically reduced.
Otto Manchen-Helfen, a German explorer, visits Kyzyl and Saldam searching for a monument marking the center of Asia supposedly erected by an Englishman named Proctor in the 19th century.
There are 22 Buddhists monasteries operating in Tannu Tuva.
1930s The Tuvinian People’s Republic cedes 16,000 square kilometers of its territory to Mongolia.
1930Alexander Palmbach, a Russian linguist specializing in Turkic languages, devises a written orthography for Tuvan employing the Latin alphabet. Tannu Tuva’s Tibetan-Mongol script is discarded. The Tuvinina People’s Labor Party (Communist) adopts a resolution on “the problem of lamas”. Lamas are arrested methodically according to rank beginning with the top echelon of the clergy. Temples are burnt to the ground and only the ruins of Chadan Khure’s metre thick walls are left. The Communist regime begins collectivization 75% of Tannu Tuvans are forced to join collectives but 93% of their livestock continues to be privately owned.
1931Otto Manchen-Helfen publishes Reise ins asiatische Tuwa (A Journey through Tuva).
A map is published showing the location of the 725 shamans in Tuva of whom nearly half of are women.
Census conducted on the 10th Anniversary of the Tuvian People’s Republic shows 82.2% of Tuva’s inhabitants nomadic herdsmen and hunters
1933Salchak Kalbakkhorekovich Toka becomes first secretary of the Central Committee of Tuvinian People's Labor Party (a post he holds until his death in 1973).
1934Bela Sekula, a well known creator of philatelic “rarities”, convinces Tuvan and Soviet authorities that production of stamps for sale to foreign collectors would be a good source of foreign exchange. Over the next 3 years Moscow prints and distributes about 100 different Tuvan postage stamps. The odd shaped and colorful designs feature camels racing locomotives along Tuva’s nonexistent railway and startled horses rearing up at the sight of zeppelins that never flew over the country on special issues for the nonexistent airmail service amongst the vignettes.
1935March 17 The Order of the Tuvinian People’s Republic is instituted. During the Year
Tannu Tuva issues its own currency and banknotes 100 kopeks = 1 Tugrik.
1936Kemchik-ool hands his post of Chairman of the Council of Ministers over to Curmit Tayishi and becomes Chairman of the Presidium of the Minor Khural.
The Aksa replaces the Tugrik as the basic unit of currency.
1937Communist authorities press Tuvan nomads to return to the collectives which most have abandoned during the previous four years.
1940Polat becomes Chairmen of the Presidium of the Minor Khural. Saryg Tongak Chymba becomes Chairmen of the Council of Ministers.
1941June 25 A new constitution of the Tuvinian People’s Republic adopted.
1943May 23 Tuva sends an infantry regiment and a cavalry squadron (4th Squadron of the 31st Guards Cavalry Regiment) to serve with the Red Army. Tuvinian tank crews, trained in the Soviet Union, are also sent to the front. One Tuvinian tankman is named a Hero of the Soviet Union. The Order of the Tuvinian People’s Republic is presented to 72 Tuvinians and 33 Russians for service in World War II (Unit citations are issued to the Tuvinian infantry regiment and the Tuvinian cavalry squadron serving under Soviet command).
September 8 Cyrillic replaces the Latin alphabet in Tannu Tuva.
During the Year The Nationalist regime in China liquidates Russian interests in the border region of Sinkiang. Annexation of Tannu Tuva is regarded as Stalin’s warning to China not to press its claim to the Soviet client state of Mongolia in some quarters.
1944June 23 The Tuvinian Medal for Combat Merit is instituted. The medal is presented to 90 officers and soldiers for military services in World War II.
August 17 Salchak Kalbakkhorekovich Toka, first secretary of the Central Committee of Tuvinian People's Labor Party, reads a petition from the Minor Khural of the Tuvinian People's Republic requesting Tannu Tuva’s admission to the Soviet Union to a meeting of the Supreme Soviet’s Presidium. October 11
Tannu Tuva is admitted to the Soviet Union as an autonomous oblast of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic.
During the Year The first Soviet uranium deposits are discovered in Tannu Tuva.

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