Soviet Muslim Emigres in the Republic of Turkey, by Lowell Bezanis

United Caucasus Magazine team. Barasbi Baytugan sitting in the middle. Turkey, 1965.

Soviet Muslim Emigres in the Republic of Turkey, by Lowell BezanisSoviet Muslim Emigres in the Republic of Turkey
Author: Lowell Bezanis
Year: 1992
Place of Publication: USA
Number of pages: 146
Published by: U.S. Department of State
Language: English

This paper was prepared for the Department of State as part of its external research program. Views or conclusions contained herein should not be interpreted as presenting the official opinion or policy of the Department of State.

"The experience of Turko-Tatar and North Caucasian Muslim refugees from the  USSR in the Republic of Turkey is the subject of the following report This work and the  bibliographies appended to it were prepared prior to the disintegration of the USSR. When  it was initiated, the project aimed to shed light on a very poorly understood and then  inaccessible region, the former Soviet Muslim East. 

Although events have rendered this approach unnecessary, the findings and raw  data which have been generated remain useful. In particular, a wealth of information (mi  the leading personalities, organizations and publications of these groups emerged from the  research undertaken. This provides analysts with previously untapped sources on the  history, culture and early political objectives of peoples which today are in the process of  being integrated into the international community. Such information is of interest to  analysts concerned with the larger Muslim East and Commonwealth affairs. Increasingly,  these sources are also becoming available to former Soviet Muslims who will find it useful in restoring their lost history and defining their identity. 

As the paramaters of the study precluded a discussion of the important role played  by Russian Muslim emigres in the late Ottoman period, or the dynamic struggle of  émigrés outside of Turkey, the strict treatment of Soviet Muslim émigré activity in  Republican Turkey can be considered only one aspect of a much larger subject In other  words, the analysis and findings refer almost exclusively to the case of modem Turkey.  This is important in light of Turkey’s growing involvement in the former Soviet Muslim republics, but should not obscure the fact that pre-Soviet ties binding the Turko-Tatar  world and Soviet Muslim émigré activity in Europe, Iran, Afghanistan, and the Far East  are important subjects outside the purview of this report. 

While the descendants of Muslim refugees from the Russian Empire constitued an  important part of the demographic nucleus from which the Republic of Turkey emerged,  large scale emigration to Turkey from the Volga-Ural, Crimea, North Caucasus,  Transcaucasia and Western Turkistan did not occur in the aftermath of the Bolshevik  Revolution. In relatively small numbers, political refugees and other emigrants from these  regions found a safe haven in Turkey and several other countries.

Key figures associated with the short-lived national governments established in Azerbaijan, the Crimea, North Caucasus, Idil-Ural and Central Asia did congregate in Turkey after 1920, if only temporarily. Politically active Soviet Muslim emigres were involved in anti-communist, separatist publishing and organizing in Turkey in the years 1923-31. Due to growing Turko-Soviet amity and the character of one party rule, the most overtly anti-Soviet elements were encouraged to abandon Turkey or accept de-politicization. While some figures did depart for Europe, others remained in Turkey and were involved in defining Turkish culture and building a strong Turkish national consciouness among Turkey's ethnically hetrogenous population.

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