The Republic of Kalmykia (Russian: Респу́блика Калмы́кия, tr. Respublika Kalmykiya, IPA: [rʲɪsˈpublʲɪkə kɐlˈmɨkʲɪjə]; Kalmyk: Хальмг Таңһч, Haľmg Tañğç IPA: [xɑɮʲˈməg ˈtʰɑŋɣət͡ʃʰə]) is a federal subject of Russia (a republic). As of the 2010 Census, its population was 289,481.
Republic of Kalmykia
|• Kalmyk||Хальмг Таңһч|
Anthem of the Republic of Kalmykia
|Coordinates: 46°34′N 45°19′E|
|Established||July 29, 1958|
|• Body||People's Khural (Parliament)|
|• Head||Batu Khasikov|
|• Total||76,100 km2 (29,400 sq mi)|
|• Estimate||275,413 (-4.9%)|
|• Density||3.8/km2 (9.9/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+3 (MSK |
|ISO 3166 code||RU-KL|
|Official languages||Russian; Kalmyk|
The republic is located in the southwestern part of European Russia. Being just north of the North Caucasus, it borders, clockwise, with Volgograd Oblast in the northwest and north, Astrakhan Oblast in the north and east, Dagestan in the south, Stavropol Krai in the southwest, and with Rostov Oblast in the west. It is washed by the Caspian Sea in the southeast.
A small stretch of the Volga River flows through eastern Kalmykia. Other major rivers include the Yegorlyk, the Kuma, and the Manych. Lake Manych-Gudilo is the largest lake; other lakes of significance include Lakes Sarpa and Tsagan-Khak. In all, however, Kalmykia possesses few lakes.
Kalmykia has a cold semi-desert climate, with hot and dry summers and cold winters with little snow. The average January temperature is −5 °C (23 °F) and the average July temperature is 24 °C (75 °F). Average annual precipitation ranges from 170 millimeters (6.7 in) in the east of the republic to 400 millimeters (16 in) in the west. The small town Utta is the hottest place in the whole of Russia. On July 12, 2010, during a significant heatwave affecting all of Russia, an all-time record-high temperature was observed at 45.4 °C (113.7 °F).
According to the Kurgan hypothesis, the upland regions of modern-day Kalmykia formed part of the cradle of Indo-European culture. Hundreds of Kurgans can be seen in these areas, known as the Indo-European Urheimat (Samara culture, Sredny Stog culture, Yamna culture).
The territory of Kalmykia is unique in that it has been the home in successive periods to many major world religions and ideologies. Prehistoric paganism and shamanism gave way to Judaism with the Khazars. This was succeeded by Islam with the Alans while the Mongol hordes brought Tengriism, and the later Nogais were Muslims, before their replacement by the present-day Buddhist Oirats/Kalmyks. With the annexation of the territory by the Russian Empire, Christianity arrived with Slavic settlers, before all religion was suppressed after the Russian Revolution. Shamanism has in all probability remained a constant, often hidden, substrate of folk-practice, as it is today.
The ancestors of the Kalmyks, the Oirats, migrated from the steppes of southern Siberia on the banks of the Irtysh River to the Lower Volga region. Various reasons have been given for the move, but the generally accepted answer is that the Kalmyks sought abundant pastures for their herds. Another motivation may have been to escape the growing dominance of the neighboring Dzungar Mongol tribe. They reached the lower Volga region in or about 1630. That land, however, was not uncontested pastures, but rather the homeland of the Nogai Horde, a confederation of Turkic-speaking nomadic tribes. The Kalmyks expelled the Nogais who fled to the Caucasian plains and to the Crimean Khanate, areas under the control of the Ottoman Empire. Some Nogai groups sought the protection of the Russian garrison at Astrakhan. The remaining nomadic Mongol Oirats tribes became vassals of Kalmyk Khan.
The Kalmyks settled in the wide open steppes from Saratov in the north to Astrakhan on the Volga delta in the south and to the Terek River in the southwest. They also encamped on both sides of the Volga River, from the Don River in the west to the Ural River in the east. Although these territories had been recently annexed by Russia, it was in no position to settle the area with Russian colonists. This area under Kalmyk control would eventually be called the Kalmyk Khanate.
Within twenty-five years of settling in the lower Volga region, the Kalmyks became subjects of the Tsar. In exchange for protecting Russia's southern border, the Kalmyks were promised an annual allowance and access to the markets of Russian border settlements. The open access to Russian markets was supposed to discourage mutual raiding on the part of the Kalmyks and of the Russians and Bashkirs, a Russian-dominated Turkic people, but this was not often the practice. In addition, Kalmyk allegiance was often nominal, as the Kalmyk Khans practiced self-government, based on a set of laws they called the Great Code of the Nomads (Iki Tsaadzhin Bichig).
The Kalmyk Khanate reached its peak of military and political power under Ayuka Khan (1669–1724). During his era, the Kalmyk Khanate fulfilled its responsibility to protect the southern borders of Russia and conducted many military expeditions against its Turkic-speaking neighbors. Successful military expeditions were also conducted in the Caucasus. The Khanate experienced economic prosperity from free trade with Russian border towns, China, Tibet and with their Muslim neighbors. During this era, the Kalmyks also kept close contacts with their Oirat kinsmen in Dzungaria, as well as the Dalai Lama in Tibet.
Russian Civil War and the flight of the Don Kalmyks
After the October Revolution in 1917, many Don Kalmyks joined the White Russian army and fought under the command of Generals Denikin and Wrangel during the Russian Civil War. Before the Red Army broke through to the Crimean Peninsula towards the end of 1920, a large group of Kalmyks fled from Russia with the remnants of the defeated White Army to the Black Sea ports of Turkey.
The majority of the refugees chose to resettle in Belgrade, Serbia. Other, much smaller, groups chose Sofia (Bulgaria), Prague (Czechoslovakia) and Paris and Lyon (France). The Kalmyk refugees in Belgrade built a Buddhist temple there in 1929.
In the summer of 1919, Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin issued an appeal to the Kalmyk people, calling for them to revolt and to aid the Red Army. Lenin promised to provide the Kalmyks, among other things, a sufficient quantity of land for their own use. The promise came to fruition on November 4, 1920, when a resolution was passed by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee proclaiming the formation of the Kalmyk Autonomous Oblast. Fifteen years later, on October 22, 1935, the Oblast was elevated to republic status, Kalmyk Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.
In line with the policy of Korenizatsiya based on the concept of titular nations, the government of the Soviet Union adopted a strategy of national delimitation, while at the same time enforcing the Leninist principle of democratic centralism. According to Dorzha Arbakov, decentralized governing bodies were a tool the Bolsheviks used to control the Kalmyk people:
... the Soviet authorities were greatly interested in Sovietizing Kalmykia as quickly as possible and with the least amount of bloodshed. Although the Kalmyks alone were not a significant force, the Soviet authorities wished to win popularity in the Asian and Buddhist worlds by demonstrating their evident concern for the Buddhists in Russia.
After establishing control, the Soviet authorities did not overtly enforce an anti-religion policy, other than through passive means, because it sought to bring Mongolia and Tibet into its sphere of influence. The government also was compelled to respond to domestic disturbances resulting from the economic policies of War Communism and the 1921 famine. The passive measures that were taken by Soviet authorities to control the people included the imposition of a harsh tax to close places of worship and religious schools. The Cyrillic script replaced Todo Bichig, the traditional Kalmyk vertical script.
On January 22, 1922, Mongolia proposed to migrate the Kalmyks during the famine in Kalmykia, but Russia refused. 71–72,000 Kalmyks died during the famine. Revolts erupted among the Kalmyks in 1926 and 1930 (on 1942–1943, see the next section). In March 1927, Soviet deported 20,000 Kalmyks to Siberia, tundra and Karelia.
World War II
On June 22, 1941, the German army invaded the Soviet Union. By August 12, 1942, the German Army Group South captured Elista, the capital of the Kalmyk ASSR. After capturing the Kalmyk territory, German army officials established a propaganda campaign with the assistance of anti-communist Kalmyk nationalists, including white emigre, Kalmyk exiles. German benevolence, however, did not extend to all people living in the Kalmyk ASSR. At least 93 Jewish families, for example, were rounded up and killed. The total Jewish dead numbered between 100 and upwards of 700, according to documents held in the Kalmyk State Archives. The campaign was focused primarily on recruiting and organizing Kalmyk men into anti-Soviet militia units.
- Kalmüken Verband Dr. Doll (Kalmukian Volunteers)
- Abwehrtrupp 103 (Kalmukian Volunteers)
- Kalmücken-Legion or Kalmücken-Kavallerie-Korps (Kalmukian Volunteers)
The Kalmyk units were extremely successful in flushing out and killing Soviet partisans. But by December 1942, the Soviet Red army retook the Kalmyk ASSR, forcing the Kalmyks assigned to those units to flee, in some cases with their wives and children in hand.The Kalmyk units retreated westward into unfamiliar territory with the retreating German army and were reorganized into the Kalmuck Legion, although the Kalmyks themselves preferred the name Kalmuck Cavalry Corps.
Although a large number of Kalmyks chose to fight against the Soviet Union, the majority by-and-large remained loyal to their country, fighting the German army in regular Soviet Red army units and in partisan resistance units behind the battlelines throughout the Soviet Union. Before their removal from the Soviet Red Army and from partisan resistance units after December 1943, approximately 8,000 Kalmyks were awarded various orders and medals, including 21 Kalmyk men who were recognized as a Hero of the Soviet Union.
1943 Kalmyk deportation
On December 27, 1943, Soviet authorities declared that "many Kalmyks" were guilty of cooperation with the German Army and cited that as a justification to order the deportation of the entire Kalmyk population, including those who had served with the Soviet Army, to various locations in Central Asia and Siberia. In conjunction with the deportation, the Kalmyk ASSR was abolished and its territory was split between adjacent Astrakhan, Rostov and Stalingrad Oblasts and Stavropol Krai. To completely obliterate any traces of the Kalmyk people, the Soviet authorities renamed the former republic's towns and villages.
Due to their widespread dispersal in Siberia their language and culture suffered a possibly irreversible decline. Khrushchev finally allowed their return in 1957. On January 9, 1957, Kalmykia again became an autonomous oblast, and on July 29, 1958, an autonomous republic within the Russian SFSR.
In the following years bad planning of agricultural and irrigation projects resulted in widespread desertification. On orders from Moscow, sheep production increased beyond levels that the fragile steppe could sustain, resulting in 1.4 million acres of man-made desert. To ramp up output, economically nonviable industrial plants were constructed.
After the dissolution of the USSR, Kalmykia kept the status of an autonomous republic within the newly formed Russian Federation (effective March 31, 1992).
|Average population (x 1000)||Live births||Deaths||Natural change||Crude birth rate (per 1000)||Crude death rate (per 1000)||Natural change (per 1000)||Fertility rates|
According to the 2010 Census, Kalmyks make up 57.4% of the republic's population. Other groups include Russians (30.2%), Dargins (2.7%), Chechens (1.2%), Kazakhs (1.7%), Turks (1.3%), Avars (0.8%) Ukrainians (0.5%), ethnic Germans (0.4%).
|1926 census||1939 census||1959 census||1970 census||1979 census||1989 census||2002 census||2010 census1|
|1 5,790 people were registered from administrative databases, and could not declare an ethnicity. It is estimated that the proportion of ethnicities in this group is the same as that of the declared group.|
This statistics is about the demographics of the Kalmyks in the Russian Empire, Soviet Union and Russian Federation.
Tibetan Buddhism is the traditional and most popular religion among the Kalmyks, while Russians in the country practice predominantly Russian Orthodoxy. A minority of Kalmyks practices pre-Buddhist shamanism or Tengrism (a contemporary revival of the Turkic and Mongolic shamanic religions). Many people are unaffiliated and non-religious.
According to a 2012 survey, 47.6% of the population of Kalmykia adheres to Buddhism, 18% to the Russian Orthodox Church, 4% to Islam, 3% to Tengrism or Kalmyk shamanism, 1% are unaffiliated Christians, 1% are either Orthodox Christian believers who don't belong to church or members of non-Russian Orthodox churches, 0.4% adheres to forms of Hinduism, and 9.0% follows other religion or did not give an answer to the survey. In addition, 13% of the population declares to be "spiritual but not religious" and another 13% to be atheist.
The head of the government in Kalmykia is called "The Head of the Republic". The President of Russia selects a candidate for the Head of the Republic position and presents it to the Parliament of Kalmyk Republic, the People's Khural, for approval. If a candidate is not approved, the President of the Russian Federation can dissolve the Parliament and set up new elections.
From 1993 to 2010, the Head of the Republic was Kirsan Nikolayevich Ilyumzhinov. He is also the president of the world chess organization FIDE. He has spent much of his fortune on promoting chess in Kalmykia—where chess is compulsory in all primary schools—and also overseas, with Elista, the capital of Kalmykia, hosting many international tournaments.
In the late 1990s, the Ilyumzhinov government was alleged to be spending too much government money on chess-related projects. The allegations were published in Sovietskaya Kalmykia, the opposition newspaper in Elista. Larisa Yudina, the journalist who investigated these accusations, was kidnapped and murdered in 1998. Two men, Sergei Vaskin and Tyurbi Boskomdzhiv, who worked in the local civil service, were charged with her murder, one of them having been a former presidential bodyguard. After prolonged investigations by the Russian authorities, both men were found guilty and jailed, but no evidence was discovered that Ilyumzhinov himself was in any way responsible.
On October 24, 2010, Ilyumzhinov was replaced by Alexey Orlov as the new Head of Kalmykia. Since 2008, Anatoly Kozachko has been President of the Parliament, the People's Khural. The current Prime Minister of Kalmykia is Lyudmila Ivanovna. All the three top politicians belong to the Kremlin's "United Russia" Party.
Kalmykia has a developed agricultural sector. Other developed industries include the food processing and oil and gas industries.
As most of Kalmykia is arid, irrigation is necessary for agriculture. The Chernye Zemli Irrigation Scheme (Черноземельская оросительная система) in southern Kalmykia receives water from the Caucasian rivers Terek and Kuma via a chain of canals: water flows from the Terek to the Kuma via the Terek-Kuma Canal, then to the Chogray Reservoir on the East Manych River via the Kuma-Manych Canal, and finally into Kalmykia's steppes over the Chernye Zemli Main Canal, constructed in the 1970s.
The government of Kalmykia spends about $100 million annually. Its annual oil production is about 200,000 metric tonnes.
Kalmyk State University is the largest higher education facility in the republic.
Emigration and culture
The Kalmyks of Kyrgyzstan live primarily in the Karakol region of eastern Kyrgyzstan. They are referred to as Sart Kalmyks. The origin of this name is unknown. Likewise, it is not known when, why and from where this small group of Kalmyks migrated to eastern Kyrgyzstan. Due to their minority status, the Sart Kalmyks have adopted the Kyrgyz language and culture of the majority Kyrgyz population. As a result, nearly all now are Muslims.
Although Sart Kalmyks are Muslims, Kalmyks elsewhere, by and large, remain faithful to the Gelugpa Order of Tibetan Buddhism. In Kalmykia, for example, the Gelugpa Order with the assistance of the government has constructed numerous Buddhist temples. In addition, the Kalmyk people recognize Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama as their spiritual leader and Erdne Ombadykow, a Kalmyk American, as the supreme lama of the Kalmyk people. The Dalai Lama has visited Elista on a number of occasions.
The Kalmyks have also established communities in the United States, primarily in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The majority are descended from those Kalmyks who fled from Russia in late 1920 to France, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and, later, Germany. Many of those Kalmyks living in Germany at the end of World War II were eventually granted passage to the United States.
As a consequence of their decades-long migration through Europe, many older Kalmyks are fluent in German, French, and Serbo-Croatian, in addition to Russian and their native Kalmyk language. There are several Kalmyk Buddhist temples in Monmouth County, New Jersey, where the vast majority of American Kalmyks reside, as well as a Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center and monastery in Washington Township, New Jersey. At one point during the 20th century, there was a Kalmyk Buddhist temple in Belgrade, Serbia.
The word Kalmyk means 'those who remained'. Its origin is unknown but this name was known centuries before a large part of the Kalmyks moved back from the Volga River to Dzhungaria in the 18th century.
There are three cultural subgroups within the Kalmyk nation: Turguts, Durbets (Durwets), and Buzavs (Oirats, who joined the Russian Cossacks), as well as some villages of Hoshouts and Zungars. The Durbets subgroup includes the Chonos tribe (literally meaning "a tribe of the wolf", also called "Shonos", "Chinos", "A-Shino", or "A-Chino"), which is considered to be one of the most ancient tribes in the world, dating back to the 6th to 11th century.
Kalmykia staged the 2006 World Chess Championship between Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik.
- Law #44-I-Z
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- Госстандарт Российской Федерации. №ОК 024-95 27 декабря 1995 г. «Общероссийский классификатор экономических регионов. 2. Экономические районы», в ред. Изменения №5/2001 ОКЭР. (Gosstandart of the Russian Federation. #OK 024-95 December 27, 1995 Russian Classification of Economic Regions. 2. Economic Regions, as amended by the Amendment #5/2001 OKER. ).
- Decree of July 29, 1958
- Steppe Code (Constitution) of the Republic of Kalmykia, Article 19: Столицей Республики Калмыкия является город Элиста. [The capital of the Republic of Kalmykia is the city of Elista.]
- Steppe Code (Constitution) of the Republic of Kalmykia, Article 33
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- Official throughout the Russian Federation according to Article 68.1 of the Constitution of Russia.
- Steppe Code (Constitution) of the Republic of Kalmykia, Article 17: Государственными языками в Республике Калмыкия являются калмыцкий и русский языки. [The official languages of the Republic of Kalmykia are the Kalmyk and Russian languages.]
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- Republic of Kalmykia | History
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- In Russia, many conform, few resist
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- http://gov.kalmregion.ru/%5B%5D – See the web site of the Government of Kalmykia with links.
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- Rohrer, Finlo (2006) "Game of kings takes centre stage"
- Конституционное Собрание Республики Калмыкия. 5 апреля 1994 г. «Степное Уложение (Конституция) Республики Калмыкия», в ред. Закона №358-IV-З от 29 июня 2012 г. «О внесении изменений в отдельные законодательные акты Республики Калмыкия по вопросам проведения выборов Главы Республики Калмыкия». Вступил в силу со дня официального опубликования в газетах "Хальмг Унн" и "Известия Калмыкии". Опубликован: "Известия Калмыкии", №60, 7 апреля 1994 г. (Constitutional Assembly of the Republic of Kalmykia. April 5, 1994 Steppe Code (Constitution) of the Republic of Kalmykia, as amended by the Law #358-IV-Z of June 29, 2012 On Amending Various Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kalmykia on the Issues of Organization of the Elections of the Head of the Republic of Kalmykia. Effective as of the day of the official publications in the "Khalmg Unn" and "Izvestiya Kalmykii" newspapers.).
- Народный Хурал (Парламент) Республики Калмыкия. Закон №44-I-З от 14 июня 1996 г. «О государственных символах Республики Калмыкия», в ред. Закона №152-IV-З от 18 ноября 2009 г. «О внесении изменения в Закон Республики Калмыкия "О государственных символах Республики Калмыкия"». Вступил в силу с момента опубликования. Опубликован: "Ведомости Народного Хурала (Парламента) Республики Калмыкия",
№2, стр. 113, 1997 г. (People's Khural (Parliament) of the Republic of Kalmykia. Law #44-I-Z of June 14, 1996 On the Symbols of State of the Republic of Kalmykia, as amended by the Law #152-IV-Z of November 18, 2009 On Amending the Law of the Republic of Kalmykia "On the Symbols of State of the Republic of Kalmykia". Effective as of the moment of publication.).
- Президиум Верховного Совета СССР. Указ от 29 июля 1958 г. «О преобразовании Калмыцкой автономной области в Калмыцкую Автономную Советскую Социалистическую Республику». (Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. Decree of July 29, 1958 On the Transformation of Kalmyk Autonomous Oblast into the Kalmyk Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. ).
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kalmykia.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Kalmykia.|
- Official website of the Republic of Kalmykia (in Russian)
- News from Kalmykia (English)
- News from Kalmykia (Deutsch)
- News from Kalmykia (Spain)
- Official website of the Kalmyk diplomatic representation at the President of the Russian Federation (in English)(in Russian)
- Tourism in Kalmykia
- News about life in Kalmykia (Russian)
- Official website of the Kalmyk State University (in Russian)
- News Agency of the Republic of Kalmykia (in English)(in Russian)
- Ethnologue report on Kalmyk language
- Forum of Kalmyk Internet Community
- Kalmyk Portal
- Web-Portal of the Interregional Not-for-Profit Organization "The Leaders of Kalmykia"
- Mistaken Foreign Myths about Shambhala
- The man who bought chess, The Observer 29 October 2006
- The Buddhist hordes of Kalmykia, The Guardian September 19, 2006
- Kalmyk Buddhist Temple in Belgrade (1929–1944)
- Czech republics, New Humanist November–December, 2007
- Lagansky Express free bulletin board of the city Lagan
- Caspian fish City Lagan
- The nature of Kalmykia Video
- Photographs of Buddhist sites in Kalmykia and in Central Asia