Transboundary nomadism in the USSR in the 1920s

Cover Page

Cite item

Full text / tables, figures


Abstarct: In the context of the history of migration processes among nomadic peoples, the present article studies transboundary nomadism between the USSR and neighboring countries in the 1920s as well as the Soviet policy on these processes. The author discusses the border areas of the east and south of the USSR and such neighboring states as China, Mongolia, Tuva, Afghanistan, and Persia. The article is written on a broad source base, which includes both published and unpublished documents identifi ed by the author in the Russian State Military Archives (RGVA), the Russian State Archives of Socio-Political History (RGASPI) and the Aginsky Branch of the State Archives of the Trans-Baikal Territory (AFGAZK). The article demonstrates the important strategic role of border nomadic regions, in particular, of Buryatia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan. After the 1917 revolutionary events in Russia, migrations from these territories were motivated not only by economic but also by political reasons, with the nomads escaping from state control and subsequently participating in anti-Soviet uprisings and in the Basmachi movement. The author argues that the Soviet leadership was eager to uphold the status quo on its borderlands. By the 1930s the USSR established full control over migration processes, minimizing or completely eliminating the transboundary nomadism. This was framed as a question of securing the state´s borders against a capitalist environment, but also of preventing the penetration of hostile ideology from abroad.

About the authors

Fedor L. Sinitsyn

State University of Land Use Planning

Author for correspondence.

Doktor Istoricheskikh Nauk [Dr. habil. hist.], Associate Professor at the Department of Social and Humanitarian Disciplines of State University of Land Use Planning.

15 Kazakova St., Moscow, 105064, Russia


  1. Ablazhey, N.N. Kazakhskiy migratsionnyy mayatnik ‘Kazakhstan – Sin’tszyan.’ Emigratsiya. Repatriatsiya. Integratsiya. Novosibirsk: SO RAN Publ., 2015 (in Russian).
  2. Baldano, M.N. “Rol’ granitsy v sud’be shenekhenskikh buryat.” Үlken Altay əlemí – Mir Bol’shogo Altaya – World of Great Altay, no. 3 (2017): 437–449 (in Russian).
  3. Baldano, M., and Dyatlov, V. “Shenekhenskiye buryaty: iz diaspory v diasporu?” Diaspory, no. 1 (2008): 162–184 (in Russian).
  4. Gadel’shin, G.F. Put’ turkmenskikh kochevnikov k sotsializmu. Ashkhabad: Turkmenistan Publ., 1987 (in Russian).
  5. Meshcherskiy, A.S. Avtonomnaya Barga. Shankhay: [N.s.], 1920 (in Russian).
  6. Naranzhargal, N. “1920-nod ony Izhil mѳrniy sav daguukh өlsgөlөn ba Khalimaguudyg mongol ulsad nүүlgen shilzhүүlekh gesen asuudlyn tukhay (O golode v Povolzh’ye v 1920-kh gg. i voprose o pereselenii kalmykov v Mongoliyu).” Vestnik Kalmytskogo instituta gumanitarnykh issledovaniy RAN, no. 3 (2014): 50–56 (in Russian).
  7. Shakhvorostov, V.V. “Bor’ba naseleniya prigranich’ya s banditizmom na Dal’nem Vostoke v pervoy polovine 1920-kh godov.” In Rossiya na beregakh Tikhogo okeana: proshloye, nastoyashcheye, budushcheye. Khabarovsk: KHPI FSB Rossii Publ., 2009 (in Russian).
  8. Sinitsyn, F.L. ‘Krasnaya burya.’ Sovetskoye gosudarstvo i buddizm v 1917–1946 gg. Saint Petersburg: Tip. A. Terent’yeva; Fond “Sokhranim Tibet” Publ., 2013 (in Russian).

Copyright (c) 2019 Sinitsyn F.L.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies