Chust or Bust? When all else fails, sweep it under the Soviet carpet!

In chapter 4 of Veiled Empire, the author covers the reactions of not only the Uzbeks but the soviet writers who documented the episode. Interestingly, the public reports of how the Uzbeks and Soviets had clashed over the hujum and how they are drastically different compared to the statements made by the OGPU (soviet secret police). Many discrepancies are uncovered, particularly regarding what had happened following the arrest of the eight people involved in the death of a local police officer. What we find is ” a relatively unvarnished view of how the party’s ill-advised actions helped create the crowd that grew steadily in size and hostility, and ultimately provoked violent attacks on Soviet personnel and property” (Northrop, 146). This was interesting because I feel we have rarely heard of the Soviets admitting their mistakes or at least taking accountability for what followed. What didn’t surprise me was how the Soviets had made such reports secretly and then chose not to reconcile their errors. Instead, a secret police report shared how after the arrest of the eight protestors, a contingent investigation called for the naming of 127 participants in the violence of the episode.

Furthermore, Red army soldiers and mounted police arrived to enforce newly established rules, thus further unsettling the already angered Uzbek public (Northrop, 146-147). I feel that this instance of Soviet error is comparable to what followed in the example of the Kresy in the sense of how little information about the events was public and is accessible today without extensive research. In the Kresy, we saw the author having to travel there herself for information. Now we are witnessing the author having to uncover information in documents that were once coveted and made private. Another essential comparison is how the Soviet reports had always told their superiors of the success they were finding when the exact opposite was true, a trend we have talked about in previous classes.

One Reply to “Chust or Bust? When all else fails, sweep it under the Soviet carpet!”

  1. I was thinking about Kresy comparisons, too! However, other than geography how are these situations different? On the topic of Soviet officials/field officers falsifying and ignoring reports, does this not seem to be a reoccurring issue? Like, other than proving Soviet Exceptionalism, why is everything hurried. Their full-steam-ahead approach keeps biting them. Also, in this context do you think there was an air of Russian elitism? Do you think they responded so aggressively knowing that they were in the wrong because they felt ethnically superior?

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