Tuvan People's Republic

The Tuvan People's Republic (TPR; Tuvan: Тыва Арат Республик, romanized: Tıwa Arat Respublik; Uniform Turkic Alphabet: Tьʙа Arat Respuʙlik, IPA: [tʰɯˈʋa aˈɾatʰ resˈpʰuplik]), known as the Tannu Tuva People's Republic until 1926, was a partially recognized socialist republic that existed between 1921 and 1944.[4] The country was located in the same territory as the former Tuvan protectorate of Imperial Russia, known as Uryankhay Krai, north-west of Mongolia, and now corresponds to the Tuva Republic within the Russian Federation.

Tuvan People's Republic

Tьʙа Arat Respuʙlik
Blue line are early borders of the TPR. Red line is the Tuvan Autonomous Oblast border.
StatusPuppet state of the Soviet Union
51.698°N 94.390°E / 51.698; 94.390
Common languages
GovernmentMarxist-Leninist single-party socialist republic
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the of the TPRP 
 1921–1922 (first)
Mongush Nimachap
 1932–1944 (last)
Salchak Toka
Chairman of the Presidium of the Little Khural 
 1921 (first)
Mongush Buyan-Badyrgy
 1940–1944 (last)
Khertek Anchimaa-Toka
Chairman of the Council of Ministers 
 1921–1922 (first)
Sodnam Balkhyr
 1941–1944 (last)
Saryg-Donggak Chymba
Historical eraInterwar period, World War II
14 August 1921
 Absorbed by the USSR
11 October 1944
1944170,500 km2 (65,800 sq mi)
CurrencyTuvan akşa
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Uryankhay Krai
Russian Occupation
Chinese Occupation
Tuvan Autonomous Oblast
Today part of Russia

The Soviet Union and Mongolia were the only countries to formally recognize it during its existence, in 1924 and 1926, respectively.[5][6] Widely considered a puppet state of the Soviet Union, Tuva's situation was similarly assessed to that of Mongolia's, with most of the world at the time regarding it as a Soviet occupied part of China. After a period of increased Soviet influence, the country was incorporated by the Russian SFSR – the largest constituent republic of the Soviet Union – in October 1944, at the request of Tuva's parliament.



Since 1759 Tuva (then called Tannu Uriankhai) had been part of Mongolia, which in turn was a part of the Chinese Qing dynasty. As the Qing dynasty fell in the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 revolutions in Mongolia were also occurring, leading to the independence of both Mongolia and the Tuvan Uryankhay Republic.[7] After a period of political uncertainty the new republic became a protectorate of the Russian Empire in April 1914, known as Uryankhay Krai.[8][9] After the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917 and establishment of the Russian Republic, both it and Uryankhay Krai reaffirmed its status as a Russian protectorate.[9][10]

During the subsequent Russian Civil War, both Russian Whites and Reds, Mongol, as well as Chinese soldiers seeking to retake Mongolia and Tuva, were engaged in combat in the region.[10] In the 5th Congress of the Russian population in Uryankhay Krai in the summer of 1918 it was decided that the power would be transferred to the Uryankhay Regional Council of Workers, Peasants and Soldiers' Deputies, and with backing from the Russian SFSR, the establishment of a Soviet power and recognition of the Tuvan people to create their own national state.[11] On 26 January 1920, Ivan Smirnov – Chairman the Siberian Revolutionary Committee – sent an encrypted telegraph regarding Tuva to Moscow stating: "The Mongols have entered the province and ejected our [Russian] peasants from the villages. These peasants fought against Kolchak and were independent of him. The Soyoty [Tuvans] are a nomadic tribe oppressed by both Mongols and Russians. Do you consider it necessary to allow the Mongols possession of the Uryankhay [Tuvan] region or to take it by force of arms or to organise an Uryankhay Soviet Republic on the Bashkir pattern? Let me know."[12]

The Reds had by December 1920 taken the capital of Khem-Beldyr and had by March 1921 taken all of Tuva. On 14 August 1921, the "Tannu Tuvan People's Republic" ("Tannu" refers to the Tannu-ola Mountains) declared independence and the newly created Tuvan People's Revolutionary Party (TPRP) became the ruling party.[10][11] In the first chapter of the first constitution of the newborn country it was written "...in international affairs, the state acts under the auspices of Soviet Russia."[11]

Early independence

In the beginning February 1922, the first meeting of the TPRP took place, a government was created which began to work on 2 March the same year. The Soviet-Tuvan border was defined in January 1923 and Red Army divisions on Tuvan territory were withdrawn in accordance with an agreement from 1921.[13] The First Great Khural (People's Congress) was held on 12 October 1923 and in the second one, on 28 September 1924, a new constitution proclaimed that the country would develop along non-capitalist lines with the TPRP being the only party and Tuvan section of the Communist International.[11]

In the summer of 1925, the Soviet Union initiated the “Agreement between the Russian SFSR and the Tannu Tuvan People’s Republic on the Establishment of Friendly Relationships” which was signed by the two countries, strengthening their relations. The treaty stated that the Soviet government "does not consider Tannu-Tuva as its territory and has no views on it."[13]

In 1926 the government adopted their first official flag and emblem,[11] changed the name of its capital from "Khem-Beldyr" to "Kyzyl" (meaning "Red"),[9] and the name of the country to simply "Tuvan People's Republic".[10] It also signed a Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Recognition with the Mongolian People's Republic, another Soviet satellite state.[9][10] Much of this work was done by Prime Minister Donduk Kuular, a former Lama monk with strong ties to the country's many lamas. Kuular sought to establish stronger ties with Mongolia and to make Buddhism the state religion while trying to limit Soviet influence and propaganda. The Soviet Union responded with alarm to Kuular's theocratic and nationalist leanings and policies, which were considered in opposition to the communist principles of state atheism and internationalism.[9][14]


Kuular's theocractic, nationalist and anti-Soviet policies led to a Soviet backed coup d'état in 1929. While Kuular had implemented his policies the Soviet Union had laid foundations for a new leadership – staunchly loyal to Joseph Stalin – including the creation of the "Tuva Revolutionary Youth Union" where members received military training. Five young Tuvan graduates from the Communist University of the Toilers of the East were appointed "Extraordinary Commissioners" and overthrew the government in January 1929 during the 2nd Plenary Session of the Central Committee.

Following the coup, Kuular was removed from power and executed, and about a third to half the members of the TPRP were also purged. Kuular's policies were reverted and the countries traditionally nomadic cattle-breeders were put in collectivization programs. Similarly to in Mongolia, Buddhist lamas, aristocrats, intelligentsia and other political dissidents were purged and Buddhist temples and monasteries destroyed.[15][16][17][18] As part of this process the written langange in Tuva was changed from Mongol script to the Latin-based alphabet in June 1930. Religious symbols, such as the Khorlo, were also removed from the flag and emblem.[11] Evidence of the success of these actions can be seen in the decline in the numbers of lamas in the country: in 1929 there were 25 lamaseries and about 4,000 lamas and shamans; in 1931 there was just one lamasery, 15 lamas, and approximately 725 shamans. The attempts at eradicating nomadic husbandry were more difficult. A census in 1931 showed that 82.2% of Tuvans still engaged in nomadic cattle breeding.

One of the five Extraordinary Commissioners, Salchak Toka, became General Secretary of the Central Committee of the TPRP in 1932 and would be the de facto leader of Tuva until his death in 1973.[15][16][17][19]

Border dispute with Mongolia

In July 1932, with mediation from the Soviet Union, Tuva signed an agreement and received a substantial territorial gain from Mongolia as a fixed border was created between the two countries. Mongolia was forced to sign under Soviet pressure and did not ratify the agreement in the Mongol Great Khural.[11][13] The new territory notably included Mount Dus-Dag, the only source of salt mining for Tuva. The border between Tuva and Mongolia remained controversial during the 1930's, with Mongolia referring to Qing dynasty documents to argue their ownership of the mountain.[13]

The debate continued to flare up in the following years and Mongolian leadership demanded the return of the mountain "arbitrarily captured by Tuvans" while criticizing the 1932 agreement as unjust due to Soviet pressure for Mongolia to sign. Soviet authorities reiterated their official position that Mongolia had no reason to revise the 1932 agreement and did not need the salt mountain, while asking Tuva not to revise the agreement. Mongolia promised to not raise the issue again, but relations between it and Tuva became very strained. The Tuvan government made concessions to avoid conflict with its neighbor and in 1940 the two governments signed a new agreement "on the border based on historical materials and documents". However, while Tuva sought to clarify the border established in 1932, Mongolia sought to revise it completely, this led to irreconcilable positions and the ratification of the new agreement was stopped.[13]

Both parties turned to the Soviet Union for mediation, but with the outbreak of World War II Soviet authorities insisted on cessation of any discussion regarding the border dispute, especially in regards to Mount Dus-Dag. In 1943 the Mongolian ambassador said "The Salt Mountain has been exploited by the Tuvans for about ten years now and is also located in disputed territory, so the demand for the Tuvan government to return it is too harsh." This more or less ended the controversial issue, but some minor disputes continued until the annexation of Tuva into the Soviet Union in 1944, at which point Mongolia ratified the original 1932 agreement (and even then, border protection such as alarmed fences had to be introduced in the area in 1946).[13]

World War II

In the 1930's, the Empire of Japan undertook several aggressive actions against China. This included the invasion of Manchuria and creation of the puppet state Manchukuo, and culminated in full-scale war against China in 1937. The Tuvan government undertook measures to strengthen their army and the 11th Congress of the TPRP, held in November 1939, instructed the Central Committee to fully equip the Tuvan People's Revolutionary Army in the next 2–3 years and to further raise combat readiness. The Ministry of Military Affairs was created in late February 1940 and immediately started equipping the army with new weapons and equipment, as well as improving training of officers and army units.[20] The Soviet Union assisted Tuva's with significant assistance in materiel and technical development. The middle and high command of the Tuvan Army were trained in Soviet military academies, including the M.V. Frunze Military Academy and the General Staff Academy.[20]

As Germany and other Axis powers launched their invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the 10th Great Khural of Tuva declared that "The Tuvan people, led by the entire revolutionary party and government, not sparing their lives, are ready by any means to participate in the struggle of the Soviet Union against the fascist aggressor until their final victory over it."[21] It is sometimes written that Tuva declared war on Germany on 25 June 1941, but the sources are dubious.[22]

Nevertheless, Tuva helped the Soviet Union in substantial ways, transferring its entire gold reserve of ~20,000,000 rubles to the Soviet Union, with additional extracted Tuvan gold worth around 10,000,000 rubles annually.[23] Between June 1941 and October 1944 Tuva supplied the Soviet Red Army with 700,000 livestock, of which almost 650,000 were donated. In addition, 50,000 war horses, 52,000 pairs of skis, 10,000 winter coats, 19,000 pairs of gloves, 16,000 boots and 67,000 tons of sheep wool as well as several hundreds tons of meats, grain, carts, sledges, horse tacks and other goods totaling 66,500,000 rubles was sent. Up to 90% was donated.[22][23]

In March 1943, 10 Yakovlev Yak-7 fighters were built with funds raised by Tuvans and placed at the disposal of the Soviet Air Forces.[24] Also during 1943, Tuva mustered 11 volunteer tankers and 208 volunteer cavalrymen. The tankers and 177 of the cavalrymen were assigned to the Red Army and served on the Eastern Front from early 1944, especially around Ukraine.[23][25][26][27]

Incorporated by the USSR

Tuvan orientation towards Moscow intensified during the war, in September 1943 the written language was again changed, this time from the Latin alphabet to the Cyrillic, the standard alphabet in the Soviet Union. Already in 1941 had the national symbols, such as the flag and emblem, been changed to the same style as various Soviet regions.[10][11] Tuvan underwent intense Russification of social and economic practices, and virtually all opposition to Stalinist policy was eradicated. The Soviets desired the mineral resources of the republic and a permanent end to Mongolian-Chinese geopolitical intrigues over the region. This process culminated in the incorporation of Tuva in 1944, under the rule of General Secretary Salchak Toka and his wife: Head of State Khertek Anchimaa-Toka.[28]

On 7 August 1944, the Central Committee of the TPRP decided to join Tuva into the Soviet Union. This was supported on 15 August by the 9th Plenary Session. On 17 August, the 7th Extraordinary Session of the Little Khural created a "Declaration of the Accession of the Tuvan People's Republic to the Soviet Union". Finally, on 11 October 1944, at a meeting of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, Khertek Anchimaa-Toka read out the declaration detailing the desire for Tuva to join the USSR, which was accepted. The decision went into effect on 1 November 1944 and the Tuvan People's Republic thus became the Tuvan Autonomous Oblast, a part of the Russian SFSR (the largest constituent republic of the Soviet Union).[9][10][11]

Salchak Toka's position changed from "General secretary of the TPRP" to the "First Secretary of the Oblast Committee of the CPSU of the Tuvan Autonomous Oblast" ("Republican Committee" in 1961) and continued his rule of the region until his death in 1973.[19]

On 10 October 1961, the Tuvan Autonomous Oblast became the Tuvan ASSR, still within the Russian SFSR, and remained so until 1992. The area that was the Tuvan People's Republic is now known as the Tuva Republic within the Russian Federation.[9][10][11]


Population of Tuva[2]
Russians and other12,00017,30014,300a73,900

a. Russian population declined due to the Red Army conscription during World War II.

See also


  1. Minahan, James (2009). The Complete Guide to National Symbols and Emblems. ABC-CLIO. p. 193. ISBN 0313344973.
  2. V.A.Grebneva "Geography of Tuva". Kyzyl, 1968 (in Russian)
  3. Новые исследования Тувы. Электронный журнал «Новые исследования Тувы» (in Russian). Retrieved 2018-08-18.
  4. Toomas Alatalu (1992). "Tuva: a State Reawakens". Soviet Studies. 44 (5): 881–895. JSTOR 152275.
  5. Dallin, David J. Soviet Russia and the Far East, Yale University Press, 1948, p. 87.
  6. Paine, S.C.M. Imperial Rivals: China, Russia, and Their Disputed Frontier, M.E. Sharpe, 1996, p. 329.
  7. Robertson, P. (2011). Robertson's Book of Firsts: Who Did What for the First Time. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781608197385. Retrieved 2018-08-25.
  8. Istoriya Tuvy [History of Tuva], v. 1, pp. 354-55.
  9. "ТЫВА Tuva". hubert-herald.nl. Retrieved 2019-08-10.
  10. Cahoon, Ben. "Tannu Tuva". worldstatesmen.org. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  11. Russian Centre of Vexillology and Heraldry. "Республика Тыва". vexillographia.ru. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  12. http://www.schudak.de/timelines/tannutuva1911-1944.html
  13. Minaev, Alexander. "Tuva far and near". old.redstar.ru. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  14. Indjin Bayart: An Russland, das kein Russland ist, Hamburg 2014, p. 114.
  15. Forsyth, James (1994). A History of the Peoples of Siberia: Russia's North Asian Colony 1581-1990. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 281. ISBN 052-147-771-9.
  16. Li, Narangoa; Cribb, Robert (2014). Historical Atlas of Northeast Asia, 1590-2010: Korea, Manchuria, Mongolia, Eastern Siberia. New York City: Columbia University Press. p. 175. ISBN 023-153-716-6.
  17. Sinor, Denis, ed. (1990). Aspects of Altaic Civilization III. London: Psychology Press. p. 8. ISBN 070-070-380-2.
  18. Lando, Steve. Europas tungomål II (in Swedish). Sweden. p. 710. ISBN 917-465-076-9.
  19. Adle, Chahryar (2005-01-01). History of Civilizations of Central Asia: Towards the contemporary period : from the mid-nineteenth to the end of the twentieth century. UNESCO. p. 337. ISBN 9789231039850.
  20. Mongush, B.B. (May 12, 2010). "К истории создания Тувинской Народно-Революционной Армии (1921-1944)". Tuvan Online. Archived from the original on 2010-05-15.
  21. Выставка «Тувинская Народная Республика – все для общей Победы!» откроется в Москве
  22. Denys J. Voaden: Mongolian and Tuvan aid to wartime Russia, in: M. Gervers/U. Bulag/G. Long (eds.): History and society in Central and Inner Asia, Toronto 2007, pp. 273–277 (here: p. 276).
  23. Baliev, Alexey. "Мал союзник, да дорог: Почему замалчивался вклад Тувы в разгром фашизма". www.stoletie.ru. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  24. Baliev, Alexey. "The fate of the "Tuva Ten"". airaces.narod.ru. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  25. Воскобойников, Г. Л. (2007). Казачество и кавалерия в годы Великой Отечественной войны 1941-1945. Терра Принт. pp. 114–122.
  26. Dagba Damyrak. "38 thousand Tuvan arats in a letter to Stalin declared "We are together. This is our war"". tuvaonline.ru. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  27. "To the 60th anniversary of the Great Victory. Tuvan contribution". www.tuva.asia. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  28. Sanders, Alan (2010). Historical Dictionary of Mongolia. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. p. 719. ISBN 978-0-8108-6191-6.
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