Kazakhstan and Central Asia were remote backward and peripheral regions of the Russian Empire, where if Russian and English capital penetrated, it was for the purpose of raw material exploitation of the region for the export of minerals: lead, zinc, gold, bauxite and cotton. To some extent, the industrial areas of East Kazakhstan and Turkestan region with the center in Tashkent developed.
Especially difficult was the situation of the indigenous peoples inhabiting these territories, who suffered from double oppression, both from Russian and foreign capital and the tsarist administration, and from their feudal bai elite. We should not forget that in the territory of modern Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, in addition to the Turkestan territory, the Khorezm Kaganate (Khiva) and the Bukhara Emirate existed as protectorates of the Russian monarchy.
Despite the fact that all residents of the region were Russian citizens, inequality was manifested in everything, both in the class division and belonging to a religious denomination, as well as in privileges and receiving wages. For example, before the revolution of 1917 in the Syrdarya region of Turkestan, the Russian proletarian was paid 90 kopecks a day for the same work in production, the Uzbek – 86 kopecks, and the Kazakh and Kyrgyz – 69 kopecks. In other words, under tsardom, Kazakhs were considered of the low-class people , not even of the second class.
It is also well known that the tsarist regime drove the Kazakhs from the best lands. Only for the period from 1890 to 1915, about 20 million hectares were taken from them. And in the ten years leading up to world war I (1903-1912), the Kazakh population, which was then called Kyrgyz, declined by 9 percent. In 1916, during the uprising of the Kazakhs and Kirghiz against mobilization for rear work, the local population also faced punitive expeditions of the tsarist troops.
The Great October socialist revolution of 1917 immediately changed the way of life and the class balance of power in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. And after the establishment of Soviet power, the Bolsheviks began a discussion about the construction of new state Autonomous entities on a Republican basis. Although the very process of the formation of Soviet power and the first socialist transformations in the Turkestan and Steppe region took place in a difficult situation, in a tense internal political struggle between supporters and opponents of socialism.
The Bolshevik party of Turkestan, supported by the Red guard and revolutionary soldiers of the military garrisons of Tashkent, Verny (now Almaty), Ashgabat, Perovsk (now Kzyl-Orda), Aulieata (now Taraz) and other cities, suppressed the counter-revolutionary actions of armed detachments of the local bourgeoisie and muslim reactionary clergy, official circles of the old colonial administration. By the spring of 1918, the struggle for power in the Turkestan region was mostly over, and a new social system was established in the form of Soviets of workers', soldiers', and muslim deputies.
On April 30, 1918, the 5th Regional Congress of Soviets of Turkestan opened in Tashkent. Along with delegates from the regions, 120 representatives of the local indigenous population – Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Turkmens and Tajiks-took part in its work. The main report on the tasks of the Bolsheviks in implementing national policy in the region was made by the extraordinary Commissioner of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) and the SNK of the RSFSR for Central Asia P. A. Kobozev.
The Congress decided to create the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (TASSR) as part of the RSFSR. A telegram to Moscow assured that "all revolutionary slogans will be firmly and steadily carried out here in Turkestan" . The Creation of the TASSR fit into the principle of territorial autonomy long defended by the Bolsheviks. Specifically, the TASSR was not associated with any specific titular ethnic group, but was a specific economic and geographical unit with a multi-ethnic population.
Thus, the first step of the Bolsheviks towards the autonomy of the region was made, which became an invaluable experience of Soviet construction and the basis for the formation of new Soviet republics in Central Asia in the future.
Already in 1919, with a sharp change in the policy of the Bolsheviks to adopt an ethno-federal system for Soviet Russia, it was also necessary to review the principles of the territorial structure of the TASSR. On January 15, 1920, the Turkestan Commission adopted a resolution proposing the administrative regrouping of Turkestan in accordance with the ethnographic and economic conditions of the region. It identified three main groups of people that could become the basis for new ethnopolitical units in the TASSR: Uzbeks, Kazakhs, and Turkmens.
At that time, a discussion developed within the RCP (b) between the two main visions for the further development of Soviet autonomization. The first was based on the formation of a centralized Federation, in which all the subjects that emerged in the course of 1917-1920 were to enter as autonomies, followed by division into large economic regions. National and cultural autonomies can develop within such regions. According to one of these projects, in particular, it was supposed to form two large regions on the territory of the KASSR - with centers in Orenburg and Semipalatinsk. Turkestan and the Caucasus were to become unified regions.
The second option assumed, on the contrary, the active implementation of the principles of national-state autonomy, to some extent continuing the policy that gave independence to the Western suburbs of the Russian Empire in the face of Finland, Poland and the Baltic republics. The model also had two "branches": first, the foreign policy of expansion to join the Soviet Confederation of the future Soviet republics of the East and West, and second, the division of the RSFSR into European and Asian republics, built, according to the authors, on the principles of pan - Islamism and pan-Turkism.
It was even supposed to create a Muslim Communist party within the RCP (b), which for a short period from 1918 -1919 was created on the basis of Muslim sections of the party, and, as an option, a separate Turan SSR, including Kazakhstan, Turkestan, Bashkiria, Tatarstan and other turkic-speaking regions of the former Empire.
According to the Kazakh historian Daniyar Ashimbayev, such a "pan-Turkist" option was impossible and even contradicted the program guidelines of the Bolsheviks, and also contributed to the strengthening of Islamism in the region, which could eventually undermine the position of the Soviet government.
"This model was in fundamental contradiction with the internationalist principles of the Communists, could stimulate not so much Soviet construction as the growth of religious sentiment, and was too much in line with the geopolitical interests of Turkey, which it promoted both itself and in Alliance with Germany. In any case, the national policy of the RCP (b) was built on complex trade-offs between these models. And if the Caucasus Transcaucasian socialist Federative Soviet Republic was established with the aim of dealing with the local nationalism and the suppression of hot spot in Abkhazia, Karabakh and South Ossetia, that Turkestan in the years 1924-1925. it was divided because of the contradictions between the peoples who inhabited it, the growth of local - Kazakh, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Turkmen - nationalism, and the possibility of creating new Soviet Nations to undermine the ideological foundations of pan-Turkism and pan-Islamism in the region" , writes Daniyar Ashimbayev.
This is why, in his opinion, the Soviet government decided to translate the alphabets of the Asian peoples of the USSR into Latin in order "not only to introduce a westernized alphabet in the interests of the future global Soviet country, but also to break cultural and historical ties with the former heritage, primarily Arabic and Turkish" .
Therefore, by the end of 1919 and the beginning of 1920, the party finally chose the path of creating new Soviet Nations and, accordingly, national-state autonomies in the Turkestan and Steppe region of Central Asia.