In 1864 Russian troops invaded Central Asia. In 1867 the Generalgouvernement Turkestan was founded. 1868 – defeat of Bukhara troops and signing of the peace treaty with tsarist Russia, according to which part of the Khanate territory with the most developed cities was subordinated to Russia (annexed to the Generalgouvernement of Turkestan, which was called Region since 1886). A peace treaty was signed with Khiva Khanate in August 1873, recognising the Protectorate of Russia. The same treaty with the Emirate of Bukhara was signed in September 1873. As a result, the Khanate of Khiva and the Emirate of Bukhara (which existed until 1920), including today’s Tajikistan, were in the Russian Empire, formally preserving their state sovereignty.
In agreements with Russia, however, the rulers of these khanates had to make considerable concessions: The khanates were opened to Russian merchants and later incorporated into the Russian customs border. They had to pay high military contributions to Russia, which placed a heavy burden on the economy. Russian advisors were assigned to the two rulers for control, so Bukhara and Khiva were completely dependent on Russia in their foreign policy. However, the socio-political structure and internal organisation of the khanates remained the same: the Khans of Bukhara and Khiva continued to rule over their subjects (only the slave trade was prohibited). Islam remained the main religion and had a decisive influence on society and culture.
In 1876, after the 1873-1876 uprising, the Khanate of Kokand was abolished and its territory incorporated into the Fergana region of the Generalgouvernement of Turkestan.
In 1885, the Russo-English treaty established the border with Afghanistan at the Punjab River, annexing almost the entire territory of Tajikistan in the Russian Empire. 1910-1920s – the reign of the last Emir of Olimkhan in Bukhara.
While Russia’s interventions in the social and cultural spheres were minimal, its economic activities had serious consequences for the entire region. There were significant economic changes in this area.
The Tajik elite, like the entire Central Asian elite, is not socially integrated into a society of the Russian Empire. Neither nomadic nor sedentary residents of the Khanates were considered broken Russians (they had the status of foreigners). The Russian authorities did not make much effort to develop missionary activities or the linguistic and cultural russification of the local population. The Russian administration deliberately retained a conservative Muslim cleric who kept control of the schools and was guaranteed extensive land ownership (vacufs). The missionary activity of the Orthodox Church was categorically forbidden.
But even such a “neutral” Russian policy had a significant impact on the economic, social and political processes in Central Asia. The system of military administration (in the form of a governor general for many years) and a significant military presence guaranteed the loyalty of the population. The status quo (“pre-war situation”) in terms of local governance, legal proceedings and land ownership (with particularly important rights to water resources) was maintained. However, the tax collection system was gradually unified and a limited land reform was carried out, which somewhat weakened feudal knowledge.
Russian policy in Central Asia was quite flexible and rational, although abuses by the Russian regional administration were not uncommon. In 1910 and 1913 there were uprisings organised by the local elite in the east of the Emirate of Bukhara. However, they were suppressed. The 1905 revolution had little impact on Central Asia. The region had only six representatives in the First Duma. In July 1916, bloody clashes broke out in Khujand between the local population and tsarist troops, triggered by the introduction of forced recruitment in Central Asia, from which the population was traditionally liberated. The unrest continued in other parts of the region, but was severely repressed.