THE ALTERNATE HISTORY: “THE LAND BELOW GOD: A TAJIK TIMLINE” (3)
Tempers Flare (Late 1989)
July 2 – Brought about by the rising housing crisis caused by the rapidly inflating economic conditions that saw the government unable to build, refurbish or repair many buildings and homes damaged in the January earthquake. After over one hundred citizens of the town of Hisor marched behind the democratic reformist Vedar Guseynov and the Islamic nationalist Iraj Nabibi in an effort to protest the Communist government’s failure to provide adequate housing for the people how became homeless in the disaster’s aftermath, the marches were “put down” after mass police intervention stifled their calls against Kakhar Makhkamov and his Supreme Soviet.
July 7 – Urged on by the rising tide of nationalism across the nation, especially in the wake of recent protest in Hisor, a number of the more radical Tajik nationalist and Islamic groups and organisations begin a Republic-wide pogrom against Armenians. Prompted by the fear and rumours spread around that the SSR’s government was settling Armenians in public housing (ushered in following the anti-Armenian pogrom in Azerbaijan that forced the victims to flee to the Central Asian Republics), all whilst the average Tajik was not afforded the luxury of a home ‘forced’ the Tajik radicals rise up in a wave of violence that, over the ensuring weeks, saw several dozen Armenian families attacked and brutalised.
July 9 – After weeks of working within Soviet Chamber of People’s Deputies, primarily operating the phone lines in an attempt to bolster his connections to a number of the moderate Tajik democratic orginisations in his home Republic, Gennady Ubaydulloyev made an unexpected return to his representative nation in order to go on a popular tour of support. In his first speech in the city of Kofarnikon on the tarmac of the airport, he announced to reporters, newspapers and the world that he was planning to create a “national democratic movement” together with moderate reformist members of the opposition to check the overwhelming power of the conservative Communists in power.
July 13 – Following a week of relative calm in the wake of the first anti-Armenian attacks, one young boy and his father are found dead in their family apartment in Qurghonteppa. Despite the best efforts of the local police enforcement to find a culprit to the attacks and bring them to justice for the victims, no indication of the murderers were ever found beside anti-Armenian graffiti that mocked those that were killed.
July 17 – Taking time to respond to the recent calls for a “united democratic movement” by Gennady Ubaydulloyev, the Central Committee for the Tajik Communist Party finally responded to the press through the shrewd Secretary Rashid Qutbuddinovich. Using a common attack employed by the Soviet Communist governments against agitators, he called for the internal party unity over Ubaydulloyev’s ‘factionalism’ and decried the reformer’s lack of experience in Tajik affairs, having spent the previous four months in Moscow with a further seven year absence from the Republic during the mid-1980’s.
Propaganda minister Rashid Qutbuddinovich
July 20 – Ethnic violence gripped the town of Kazidi as a group of Tajik youths (who’s families emigrated to the town where their parents were transferred to work in the Gorno-Badakhshan mines) physically assaulted a young Pamiri female. After receiving the news of the violence, several families rose up in a swath of violence against the non-Pamiri minorities living within the region, precipitating brutal murders and beatings of primarily Tajiks in the eastern Oblast, go as far as to attack a number of Afghan refugees who had been settled into the town by the Tajik government.
July 27 – After being received well by large crowds in Kofarnikon and Nurek, Ubaydulloyev moves onto speak in the capital of Dushanbe for the first time in his life. Speaking in front of an audience of primarily young reformist minded men and women, the People’s Deputy rallied the large group of around 5,000 behind his call for an “united movement” against the deeply entrenched power of the conservative Communists, all whilst attempting to divert attention away from claims that he “wasn’t a true Tajik” as raised by Minister Qutbuddinovich. Instead, he claimed that his “blood was made of Tajik soil” and that the anti-reformist, anti-Glasnost Communists were planning to destroy any vestiges of nationalism from the people they administered.
July 29 – Continuing on from weeks’ worth of discussion on the failing economic policies of the Communist Party, the Central Committee of the Supreme Soviet authorises the formation of a government sponsored “economic commission”. Composed of several retired, “successful” ministers for finance from across a number of other SSRs and Oblasts in the USSR as well as members of the Tajik Supreme Soviet, it’s primary goal was to debate economic policy (under the guidance of the government) and offer recommendations on methods of controlling the spiralling economy. Imomali Rakhmonov was, against the wishes of many conservatives in the Supreme Soviet and Supreme Council, placed on the commission by First Secretary Makhkamov to quell the growing vocals of the reformists in Tajik legislature.
August 5 – Anti-Armenian violence continued to plague a number of large Tajik cities as radical nationalist Tajiks began to march in numbers against the perceived Armenian enemy. During once incident in Qurghonteppa (the hotbed for Tajik nationalism and Islamic traditionalism), a young Tajik couple was dragged out of their after a crowd of several dozen mistakenly pointed them out as Armenian, after which they were brutally beaten and left on the streets in critical condition.
Meanwhile in Dushanbe, a small protest held by four Pamiri shopkeepers as a means to bring attention to the current ethnic conflict enveloping the nation was brought to a halt after they were driven away from the town centre in which they were marching and beaten by a group of Tajik youths who proceeded to shout ethno-religious slurs against the group of men (the majority of Pamiri people follow the Shitte of Islam whilst the majority of Tajiks follow Sunni).
August 6 – The promise made by the Kremlin on January 19 begins to be met as the first of the new ground troops sworn by Moscow to reinforce the Panj River border arrived in Tajikistan. Composed primarily of the 206th Motor Division which arrived from the Kazakh SSR, the final deal in regards to the level of Soviet subsidization of the reinforcements and their garrisoning in the Tajik Republic would continue for the next few months whilst the Tajik military delegation for Moscow continued to debate with the heads of the Soviet army.
Members of the Kazakh 206th Motor Division camping on the Tajik-Afghan border
August 10 – Isatullo Khayoyev fired back against the slowly growing popularity of Ubaydulloyev through the official Tajik government paper, Kūpruk. In the editorial, the Chairmen of the Supreme Council fired against the reformist’s ‘unorthodox’ ideals, especially his pro-Glasnost beliefs and his willingness to go against the strength provided by “internal party unity”. He finished his editorial by claiming that Ubaydulloyev was a dissenter who posed a legitimate threat against Communism and the Tajik central government.
August 15 – After proposing a new method of lend-lease (then supported by Mikhail Gorbachev in the USSR-wide Supreme Soviet) that would allow for the increase of the size of land grants along with a softening of restrictions on who could hold the grants, Imomali Rakhmonov is ejected from the economic commission only weeks after it formed. Due to the conservatives in the Tajik Supreme Soviet pressuring Chairman Gaibnasar Pallayev to drop him whilst they wrote up an alternative list of economic recommendations that challenged the reformist Perestroika policies of Moscow, the young People’s Deputy remaining undeterred by the ejection as he begun to write his own suggestions for a new economic policy.
August 21 – Following a string of small scale violent attacks throughout the western regions of the Tajik SSR, the city of Kolkhozabad fell into looting and rioting after a Pamiri man retaliated against a Tajik aggressor who had threatened both him and his family. During the tide of violence, three ethnic Pamiris were murdered in broad daylight whilst the majority Tajik rioters marched through the town streets decrying the Tajik government’s “weak” stance against minorities in the Republic whilst brutalising them on the streets. By the time the Militsiya arrived, the crowd of over a thousand had been already been dispersed with several more being apprehended over the following fortnight. In total, 80 citizens had been captured with over a dozen minority victims being brutalised in the display of violence.
August 24 – In the wake of the mass wave of ethnically fueled violence displayed by his citizens, Kakhar Makhkamov, alongside several other leading Central Committee Communists begin a nationwide tour of the Gorno-Badakhshan Oblast following on from a suggestion from the autonomous region’s First Secretary Soibnazar Beknazarov. Planning out a number of high profile public displays and speeches in the region, the party believed that the tour would help smooth over sectarian and ethnically-fuelled conflict through the display of friendship.
August 29 – After going months without adequate pay, housing or food provisions, several dozen soldiers from the Kalot barracks rose up with a rallying cry against the government during a visit to their place of station by the Chairmen of the District Soviet in Gorno-Badakhshan, Yevgeny Tursunov. During the display, soldiers refused to back down when asked by their superiors to disperse and return to their barracks, marching in military order as they called for an increase in living conditions for soldiers across the entire autonomous oblast. Ultimately culminating after a group of soldiers began to chant the term “hudo” (or god in Tajik) as a derogitory slur in reference to Bozor Sobir’s “The Land Below God”, many returned to their position two days after the protest began, with continuing agitators being discharged.
August 31 – In a final public speech before returning to Moscow, Gennady Ubaydulloyev called out to the people of the Tajik SSR to embrace their cultural heritage in spite of the conservative Communists within the Central Committee and Dushnube, requesting that a popular movement for democracy should be pursued by the citizens of the Republic and that they must protect their freedoms granted to them by Glasnost and Perestroika, claiming that the Central Party Communists were “all too keen” to strip their rights away from them.
September 4 – Whilst ethnic tensions clawed their way through the major cities and population centres of the Republic, religious leaders began to make their appearances throughout the countryside in popular displays. Sayid Abdulloh Nuri, a popular Sunni figurehead of religious opposition to the Soviet government, rode on a wave of support shortly following his release from prison a year before to make a speech before the town of Shuroabad. In the speech, he requested that the people rediscover their faith in God and Islam, and peacefully protest their concerns against the Communist government, a position met with widespread appeal throughout the more religious southern regions of the SSR.
Sayid Abdulloh Nuri speaking to a small Islamic group in 1982
September 7 – Met with violence and opposition whilst marching through the streets of Leninabad, a Tajik nationalist is attacked by young members of the Communist party as he boastfully protested the Central Committee’s failure to end to epidemic of homelessness and poverty throughout the country. In the display, he carried a burning Tajik flag throughout the city’s main street whilst shouting down the government in Dushanbe before being driven away with rocks and bricks thrown by the pro-Communist population.
September 10 – Finally meeting with Soibnazar Beknazarov in Khorugh after half a month of public speeches in the cities of Rushan and Kalot, Makhkamov began talks with the Gorno-Badakhshan Oblast’s First Secretary on matters regarding the defence of the autonomous region’s border with the Afghan state, as well as internal policies regarding the enforcement of law during times of mass ethnic violence.
Meanwhile in Uroteppa in the north of the nation, the disgraced former First Secretary of the Tajik, SSR Rakhman Nabiyev (who had been forced from power after discovering his ties to the politically corrupt ministers in Kulob and Obigarm in 1985) was met with applause from the local populace after a year of relative silence. In his speech which attacked the growing popularity of reformers such as Gennady Ubaydulloyev to the growing poverty in the Republic and decried the Gorbachev reforms as an attack on the Soviet people as a whole. Despite being disgraced by his party publically, Nabiyev continued to be most popular in the Communist-majority north in towns such as Leninabad and Uroteppa.
September 14 – Following the continuing decline of the reformist-minded “Ru ba Ru” ‘political club’, intellectuals, popular reformists and members of the Tajik intelligentsia met in Dushanbe to discuss the possibility of an organised political party. In the conference hosted by Tohir Abdujabbor (an economist who had fell out with the Communists years earlier), Mirbobo Mirrahim (a democratic philosopher) and the poet Bozor Sobir, the 400 men in presence opted to found a new reformist-minded political party that focussed on the economic liberalisation of Perestroika and continued democratisation through the veil of Glasnost, as well as a platform of human rights, and equality for all citizens of Tajikistan regardless of ethnicity or religion. Named the “People’s Movement of Tajikistan in Support of Perestroika”, it would soon be given a new name by the underground newspapers; “Rastokhez”, or “Revival”.
September 18 – The conservative members on the economic commission present their draft policy for economic reforms to the Chairman of the Supreme Council and interim-head of the Central Committee (whilst Makhkamov was in the east), Isatullo Khayoyev, as well as the Chairman Gaibnasar Pallayev. Both conservative Communists and members of the Tajik nomenklatura, both men sent the draft proposals through a simple “review” commission over a period of only a few days in an attempt to present the fiscal policy changes to the Supreme Soviet before the First Secretary arrived back in Dushanbe (who they believed wouldn’t support their roll-back of economic reforms). Some of the major changes proposed by the commission were the tightening of land-lease procedure in which only others who were chosen by the Central Committee would be liable to lease the government-owned land, as well as plans to strengthen and grow the current agricultural sector through extensive use of Soviet subsidization.
September 21 – Eleven days after their first meeting in Khorugh, the First Secretaries of the Tajik SSR and Gorno-Badakhshan ASSR finally make a surprise appearance in a controlled public forum. The two men taking questions from the Pamiri people in the crowd, the session slowly turned against the two men as the more radical members of the city slowly built up around the building in which the population started chanting nationalist Pamiri slogans with some calls for the independence of the eastern region. Ultimately cultivating after one member of the crowd hurled a brick through the large glass window of the building that hosted the forum, the local militsiya moved quick to disperse the crowd before it grew out of hand.
September 25 – Finally reaching the conclusion that greater steps to public safety must be met with more defensive initiatives, the two First Secretaries agree to a joint-law enforcing pact that would allow both Republic’s militsiya to use greater force in the dispersal of crowds that would be deemed “dangerous to public security and peace”, as well as the greater sharing of natural resources by government law enforcement.
September 28 – Following weeks of discussion and review, the Supreme Soviet of the Tajik SSR meets in Dushanbe for one final round of debate between the members of the government in regards to the policies put forward by the conservative economic commission. During the extended discussion, moderates and supporters of Perestroika attacked the proposed plans to reel-back Soviet-wide reforms in the small Republic, all whilst claiming that only policies opening the economy with less reliance on Soviet aid could raise the nation out of its spiralling economic position.
September 29 – Continuing through to another day of debate in the Tajik government, People’s Deputy Imomali Rakhmonov made a rousing speech before his peers on the Supreme Soviet and Supreme Council in a call to the moderates and reformists to oppose the economic commission and conservatives in the Communist party, claiming that their reliance on the Soviet (primarily the Russian SFSR) government was placing the Tajik SSR in a weaker position compared to its neighbours, and made an announcement that he and his allies across the nation (primarily those in the more moderate cities of Hisor, Nurek, Obigarm and Navabad) would do everything in their power to block Isatullo Khayoyev, Gaibnasar Pallayev and ‘their’ Central Committee from passing their proposal before Kakhar Makhkamov arrived back in the capital.
Meanwhile in Garm and Jirgatal’, hundreds of protesters marched through the streets demanding the deportation of all Armenian citizens within the Tajik SSR, as well as the complete split of the Pamiri regions (primarily the Gorno-Badakhshan ASSR) from the Republic. During the radical display, members of the protesting crowd carried out violence against the relatively large (eight and thirteen percent in Garm and Jirgatal’ respectively) Pamiri population in both cities, resulting in the deaths of six citizens over the weekend.
September 30 – On the third day of counting economic debate in government, the moderates and reformists in the Tajik Communist Party, including those that were placed on the Central Committee led a boycott of the numerous conservatives that controlled the Supreme Soviet, but not the Supreme Council. In their display of opposition to their government’s reactionary positions, they refused to allow the conservative members of the Central Committee to leave the Soviet building (by forcing the doors to remain closed on the meeting room) until a compromise between the factions could be met whilst the First Secretary was returning to Dushanbe.
October 1 – After an entire night of being trapped within the capital building during the moderate’s boycott, during which time small scale violence between People’s Deputies broke out in the midst of the hostile debates, First Secretary Makhkamov finally touched down in his nation’s capital after a month in the east. After making his way to the government building and being ushered inside along with the seventeen other People’s Deputies that had travelled along with him, he found the Supreme Soviet to be in deadlock and the Central Committee fractured.
Despite receiving reports of the economic commissions conservative plans for the nation, as well as their intention to vote on the proposals in government, he had received assurances from that wing of the party that they would wait for his return to Dushanbe before holding the ballot. Furious at their betrayal of confidence, the First Secretary of the nation and General Secretary of the nation’s Communist Party ultimately decided to side with the pro-Rakhmonov faction of moderates, forcing many who had been members of the conservative faction to bolt and join his side. After a complete review the economic policies raised by reactionaries in his party, he ultimately announced his intentions to block the conservatives from passing their agenda through national legislature, calling them “corrupt vestiges of the Rakhman Nabiyev government” that threatened to tear apart both his and the Soviet governments reforms.
As a result of his ideological shift towards the moderates, outright violence flared up in the Supreme Soviet as dozens of People’s Deputies (including Rakhmonov) were forced into the centre of fighting in which a number of ministers were knocked unconcious or were left bleeding. It took over half an hour before the violence finally began to subside, the First Secretary finally allowing all ministers to take their leave after days of exhausting debate.
The outbreak of fighting in the Tajik Supreme Soviet
October 4 – Three days after the outbreak of violence in the Tajik Supreme Soviet, newspapers (both legal and underground) began to run stories detailing the events surrounding the internal party fight and the People’s Deputies and ministers who partook in the violence. With several underground newspapers (moderate, reformist or nationalist) taking the side of the Rakhmonov-led opposition whilst Communist publications such as the Tajik branch of Pravda took the side of the conservatives, the events became a major rallying point for opposition to the perceived reactionary nature of the government (primarily Isatullo Khayoyev and Gaibnasar Pallayev).
October 6 – After the five day period of withdrawal from government, members of both the Supreme Soviet and Council converge again on the capital. Despite the moderates (along with their reformist and nationalist allies) the now largest faction within the Tajik government, the conservatives and reactionaries attempt one final push to deprive their opponents of power; an attemptive inter-party coup. During the middle of renewed economic debates, Gaibnasar Pallayev raised to his feet claiming that First Secretary Makhkamov was unable to run the nation due to the fact that he had severed the Communist party through factionalism in an attempt to froce him to region, launching himself into a last desperate attempt to win over those in the centre, he claimed that their leader was at the centre of corruption during the mid-1980’s at that he had bribed his way into power. The attempt ultimately failed, the more numerous moderates, led by Makhkamov and Rakhmonov shouted down the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet, later closing the meeting down for the day with the conservatives in disarray and disgrace.
October 7 – Following on from the success of his “The Land Under God” short story, Bozor Sobir, with aide from his moderate supporters in Rastokhez publish another story throughout the nation in both the above, and underground newspapers. This time dealing with the complete history of the Tajik people, he puts forth arguments surrounding the faults and failures of the Communist Party and its failure to bring it’s ‘workers’ paradise’ in the seventy years of control it had had of the the nation. Ultimately, it would prove to be the old man’s greatest and most well-known narrative, being printed in abundance throughout even the Communist-majority regions of the nation.
October 10 – Sectarianism rose in the town of Khovaling overnight as several groups of extreme nationalist Tajik men broke into the homes of suspected minorities to rob and beat the occupants. Officially owned by the Tajik SSR, the houses saw several pieces of valuable jewellery and other government supplies stolen from the dwellings as the less fortunate victims were attacks by the unknown assailants in an attempt to protect their property.
October 12 – Twelve days after the major fighting in the government and six after his attempt to win over centrists in his endeavour to force the First Secretary to resign, the Central Committee of the Tajik Communist Party, now thoroughly controlled by Kakhar Makhkamov, raised a notion in the Supreme Soviet to force it’s Chairman Gaibnasar Pallayev to step down from his position. In a massive vote favouring the leading moderate government after little debate, the elderly Pallayev who had served his position as head of the Supreme Soviet for five years was forced to resign from his post. Chairman Isatullo Khayoyev on the other hand did not have a similar request raised about him in the Supreme Council, despite his support of the conservatives during the late-September debates after he put his full support behind the First Secretary’s decision to drop Pallayev.
October 17 – Rising out of a number of recent popular speeches broadcast across the north of the nation, Rakhman Nabiyev made a vitriolic address to over 7,500 citizens in Leninabad decrying the recent events in Dushanbe regarding the conservative Communists in government, claiming that with Pallayev removed and Khayoyev weakened, the Supreme Soviet and the Party’s Central Committee was free to pass any “damaging reform” that it now pleased, including the opening of the nation to the hated foreign ethnic groups such as Armenians and Uzbeks.
October 21 – Word from the Kremlin in regards to the proposals raised by the Select Committee for Tajik Defence and the SSR’s military delegation to Moscow finally reached back to Dushanbe. After five months away from their home nation, the delegates claimed that the talks with Kremlin officials and leading Soviet military men were finally reaching a conclusion regarding the allocation of funds requested to defend the Panj River and bolster the internal growth of military industry and infrastructure. In their report, they claimed that whilst the RSFSR could not grant them intermediate funds to subsidize their plans for defence, they would be able to do so on a monthly basis, allowing for the slow growth of the internal military, even if the offered funds were far less than what was originally asked.
October 23 – Original plans for a large military parade in Dushanbe to commemorate the Great October Socialist Revolution are discarded in favour of a less expensive affair. Following on from housing protests in western cities such as Hisor and Tursunzade, as well as communities damaged by the January earthquake (many of the post-disaster houses promised by the government having not even begun the process of being built), the Central Committee and the government intelligentsia cut the more expensive programs from the parade in an attempt to appease the populace by funnelling the money into the housing projects (an often inefficient process).
October 28 – Following the pressure by his reformist-moderate faction towards the First Secretary Makhkamov, Imomali Rakhmonov was elected by the Tajik leader to the position of Deputy Minister for the Economy so he could serve on the Central Committee. Growing in popularity across the entire nation after his vocal opposition to the conservative faction only a month before, as well as his support of Perestroika (popular with many of the nation’s younger generations living in the large cities), the young Rakhmonov’s growing power would soon prove a problem for even his moderates on the Supreme Soviet and Council.
October 31 – Following the cooling of violence and deaths across the SSR, ethnic violence sprung up once again in the south-west of the nation, primarily in Kolkhozabad, Qurghonteppa and Kulob where thousands of citizens marched out onto the streets in opposition to the moderate government’s perceived stance on minorities. Attacking Pamiris, Uzbeks and even Russians, the ethnic Tajik people who carried out the attack were swiftly dispersed or arrested by the militsiya in compliance with the defence pact signed by Makhkamov on September 25. However, the damage was done as the final ‘official’ death tally of the violent protests was placed at thirteen (a total that would have been much higher), which ultimately sent shock waves through the entire Republic serving to radicalise more citizens of the small SSR.
However, despite the violence that had begun to spring up during the beginning of the latter half of 1989, the worst period of violence of these troubled times was still yet to come.
By Michael Buchanan
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Well, that took far longer than I originally intended (I write pretty sluggishly most of the time), but here it is. With the next few parts due out over the coming week or so which will detail the upcoming nationwide riots, I want to know how you all think this timeline is going so far and what I could do to improve it. Thank you for reading.
Part 2: https://tajikopposition.com/2014/09/28/the-alternate-history-the-land-below-god-a-tajik-timline-2/