Reviews

This article introduces letters from the Central Comity Fond (f. 17) of the RGASPI (Russian State Archive of Social and Political History, the former Central Party Archives).  These seven documents sent to Stalin and other important members of the Politburo were written between April 5 and October 30, 1924 by Georgii Vasl’evich Chicherin (1872-1936), the Peoples’ Commissar for Foreign Affairs in 1923-1930.  Chicherin warns his addressees against the national territorial delimitation of Soviet Middle Asia, invoking risks of hostile reactions in the world of Islam, especially regarding the abolition of the Emirate of Bukhara.  According to him, in the context of the ‘Great Game’, the issue might have led Afghanistan to a rapprochement with the British Raj.  Besides, it would have benefited to the Uzbek ‘bourgeois’ elites through the export of Central Asian cotton towards Afghanistan.  Chicherin finally argues that the lack of preparation and the very short timing of the delimitation would have aggravated ongoing ethnic conflicts.  This article is very important for the understanding of the delimitation as it qualifies the common vision of univocal decision process imposed from above.  One can regret that the political context of the 1920s appears here only through considerations on the Basmachis’ resistance, and indeed Chicherin’s testimony on the general aporia of the Bolshevik power as to the positive or potentially fatal character of the delimitation.

Cloé Drieu, French Institute of Central Asian Studies, Tashkent – Paris
CER: I-3.4.D-324