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From Conquest to DeportationThe North Caucasus under Russian Rule$
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Jeronim Perovic

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190889890

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190889890.001.0001

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Illusion of Freedom

Illusion of Freedom

Chechnia in the Early 1920s and the Case of Ali Mitaev

(p.145) 5 Illusion of Freedom
From Conquest to Deportation

Jeronim Perović

Oxford University Press

This chapter explains developments during the early 1920s, when the Bolsheviks, for the sake of consolidating their still shaky hold on power, were eager to win over the rural populations and strengthen the alliances they had forged during the Civil War. One way to achieve this was to accommodate aspirations for freedom through the creation of autonomous administrative units in the form of ethnically defined territories, and by promoting members of the so called “titular nations” to positions of power. In the early 1920s, the Bolsheviks even co-opted religious figures into administrative local structures in order to expand their power basis and gain the trust of the native populations. This chapter provides an insight into developments in the Soviet North Caucasus through the life story of the famous Chechen Sheikh Ali Mitaev, whom the Bolsheviks included into the regional Chechen government in 1923, only to arrest and kill him two years later. At the same time, the Bolsheviks also conducted several campaigns to disarm the male population. The case of Mitaev illustrates the ambiguities of Soviet nationalities policies, especially regarding their attitude towards Muslims, as well as the complex struggle for power and influence in the non-Russian populated North Caucasus region.

Keywords:   Secret police, GPU, Anastas Mikoian, Kliment Voroshilov, Iosif Stalin, Ali Mitaev, Tashtemir Eldarkhanov, Imam Gotsinskii, North Caucasus, Bolsheviks

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