After the revolution in Russia in 1917, the beginning of the era of Tajikistan in the Soviet Union, the General Government of Turkestan was abolished. On 30 April 1918, at the V Congress of Soviets of the region, the formation of the ASSR Turkestan in the RSFSR was proclaimed. Land and water, banking system, railways and industry were nationalised. In October the next Congress of Soviets adopted the Constitution of the ASSR Turkestan.
In 1918, Northern Tajikistan became part of the proclaimed ASSR Turkestan, the southern – in the Emirate of Bukhara. The Soviets met with resistance from the counter-revolutionary forces of the metropolises in the region and local nationalists who received support from abroad – from Great Britain. In early December 1917, the Fourth Extraordinary Regional Muslim Congress in Kokand declared Turkestan autonomous and proclaimed the autonomy of Kokand, but this initiative was not feasible. The anti-Bolshevik underground was formed. Basmachi (separatist military-political and religious partisan movement) developed in the Uzbek regions of Turkestan, with its centre in the Ferghana Valley. Bukhara and Khiva Khanates supported the fight against the ASSR Turkestan.
The organised large-scale resistance against the Soviet power in Turkestan was suppressed in 1920. In 1920, it was taken by Red Army units and Old Bukhara units, and the Soviet People’s Republic of Bukhara was founded. In 1921 the units of the Hissar expeditionary command of Dushanbe were liberated by the troops of the Emir of Bukhara. In 1924 the Central Committee of the Communist Party adopted a resolution on the national division of the Central Asian Republics, which led to the creation of a number of republics, including the ASSR Tajikistan in the Uzbek SSR. The population of ASSR Tajikistan at that time was 740 000 in relation to the 5 million inhabitants of the Uzbek SSR. The capital of the Republic was Dushanbe, which was a settlement of 3,000 in 1920.
In 1929, the ASSR Tajikistan was transformed into the Tajik SSR in the Soviet Union. The formation of national and state institutions began. The first Soviet newspaper was published in Tajikistan in 1926. Schools and other educational institutions began to be established.
During the New Economic Policy, the government in the Soviet Union tried to increase cotton production in Tajikistan significantly. At the end of the New Economic Policy, however, pre-revolutionary cotton production had not yet been reached.
Collectivisation in Tajikistan was relatively moderate in 1927-1929 and radical in 1930-1934. The main objective was a strong increase in cotton production in Tajikistan, especially in the southern regions of the country. Farmers opposed collectivisation in every possible way, which led to the revival of the Basmachi movement in the early 1930s. The interwar period also saw low industrial growth.
During the political purges of the party in the 1930s, about 70 percent of the members of the Tajik Communist Party were excluded and oppressed at all levels. Between 1932 and 1937 the number of Tajiks in the Communist Party fell from 53% to 45%. Many of them were replaced by Russians sent from Moscow. Later, the Centre sought to achieve a certain balance between Tajiks and Russians in the upper echelons of power to ensure stability and loyalty in the region.
From 1937 until the collapse of the Soviet Union, the country’s political elite was mainly recruited from Leninabad, the region that benefited most from industrialisation and urbanisation. Since there were and still are very strong regional contradictions in Tajikistan, Moscow was forced to rely on one of the regions for its personnel policy and not to try to penetrate deeply into the intricacies of Tajik interregional relations. As a result, the Tajik political elite was recruited mainly from the northern, most industrialised Leninabad region (which also had the largest proportion of Russian-speaking population) and from Kulob. Between 1946 and 1991, all the first Secretaries of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Tajikistan were from Leninabad. From 1970 Kulob acted as “junior partner” of Leninabad and was mainly responsible for military affairs. The Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region was also part of this system, providing middle-level officials to the country’s National Security Committee.
In 1951 Tursunbai Uljabayev replaced Gafurov as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Tajikistan. In 1956, Uljabayev was scandalously retired on charges of overvaluing cotton growing in the country.
His successor was Jabbor Rasulov, who remained in office until Brezhnev’s death in 1982.
At the same time, the Second Secretary in the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Tajikistan has always been a Russian delegate from Moscow, who controlled the activities of the highest Tajik party and the Soviet leadership. In Tajikistan, with its weak national identity, the Centre played a balancing role and ensured that the fragile political balance between the regions was maintained. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was the ethno-regional contradictions in Tajikistan that led to a bloody civil war in which representatives of the regions sought to redistribute power. According to various estimates, the civil war of the 1990s claimed 60-100 thousand victims and about 1 million people became refugees.