By Andrew Andersen

Кавказские горы


Anti-communist cartoon mocking Russian Bolshevik Revolution and its leader Vladimir Lenin






Flag of North Caucasian Federation (1918-1919)














Sheikh Uzun Haji (1919)



Flag of North Caucasian Emirate














Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (1924-1953)





Chechen volunteer of “Bergkaukasien Legion” (1942)









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Previous Chapter


The Bolshevik revolution of 1917 in Russia and the disintegration of Russian Empire revived the hopes of the minorities to restore their once lost statehood. As a result, dozens of “independent sovereign states” were proclaimed during the first year after the fall of the empire


The Caucasus was not an exception. On April 22, 1918 “Independent Democratic Federal Republic of Transcaucasia” was proclaimed in Tbilisi (34 days later that loose federation disintegrated further into Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan ). On May 11, 1918 “Federal Republic of the Mountaineers of North Caucasia and Daghestan” was proclaimed in Vladikavkaz with Chechen industrialist Tapa Chermoyev as its acting President. (see map 1). The new state claiming to represent peoples of Daghestan, Adyghs, Chechens, Ingushians, Kabardians, Karachajis, Balkars and Ossets, addressed Germany and Turkey whose troops were advancing towards the Caucasus and offered them peace and military cooperation. Attracted by geographical location of the area, its resources as well as the new state’s orientation towards pan-Turcism and pan-Islamism, the Turkish government recognized North Caucasian Federation and expressed its full support of their aspirations. Certain support was also expressed on behalf of Germany. Like most of the other new states that came up (even the ephemeral ones), the North Caucasian Federation came forward with quite unrealistic territorial aspirations. The new state claimed sovereignty over all the Kuban, Terek and Daghestan territories as well as some parts of Georgia (Sukhumi and Zakatala districts) contrary to the fact that the population of some of the above territories was unwilling to become its subjects (see map 2).


From the very first days of its existence, North Caucasian Federation faced hostility on behalf of “The Armed Forces of Southern Russia” (otherwise called the Whites), the anti-bolshevik (anti-communist) volunteer army formed in the Don area by Russian generals Kornilov, Denikin and Alekseev. Supported by the Cossacks and significant part of local Russian population, the Whites quickly took over Kuban territory and started military action against the government of Chermoyev parallelly with their fight against the Red Army. The Whites expressed their loyalty to the Allies (the Entente) and to the idea of non-dismemberment of the former Russian Empire and tried to eliminate not only the Bolsheviks but also all sorts of separatists labeling them as “National-Bolsheviks”. Beginning with August, 1918, the Whites started offensive from two sides against North Caucasian Federation. From North-West it was attacked by the volunteers of general Denikin and from the South-East by the small army under colonel Bicherakhov retreating from Azerbaijan. By the end of 1918  the Whites overrun Kabarda and Ossetia (Terek territory) and the Caspian coast of Daghestan. In February, 1919 they invaded Chechnya and the remaining part of Daghestan and in May 1919  the government of Chermoyev dissolved itself and the North Caucasian Federation ceased to exist.


However the domination of the Military Forces of Southern Russia in Chechnya and Daghestan was far not stable. Between June and August of 1919 the Whites had to face mass uprising in Daghestan and Chechnya under the sheikhs Ali Haji (an Avar) and Uzun Haji (a Chechen). According to Denikin[1], most of the Chechen plainsmen were in support of the White army while most of the mountaineers were backing up the rebels. According to Avtorkhanov[2], most of the Chechens were supporting Uzun Haji who by the autumn of 1919 became an unquestionable leader of Chechens, Ingushians and Daghestanis. In September, 1919 Uzun Haji declared the independence of North Caucasia for the second time. This time under the name of North Caucasian Emirate. The Whites did not give up the idea of the destruction of the emirate until their bitter end in early 1920, while the followers of Uzun Haji desperately resisted enjoying significant support from the Red Army (because his war against the Whites drew thousands of their troops from the main front), Turkey (whose government never gave up an idea of subordinating the whole Caucasus) and Georgia (hoping that the creation of a buffer state between Georgia and Russia, whether   communist or anti-communist, would secure Georgian independence). The war between the forces of Denikin and Uzun Haji was waged without any rules and was accompanied with the destruction of villages and towns, economic disaster and heavy losses both among combatants and civilians.


In February, 1920, The Whites had to evacuate most of North Caucasia. The Bolsheviks whose Red Army came immediately after the Whites’ withdrawal, offered a compromise to the rebellious mountaineers. The mountaineers were offered to form North Caucasian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (later called Mountain Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic) within communist Russian Federation (See map 3).  Unable to continue the destructive war against the new and stronger enemy, Uzun Haji accepted the compromise and refrained from further hostilities until his death in May,1920. A weird semi-independent state formation combining the Shariah law with the communist symbolism, the Mountain Autonomous Republic included Chechnya, Ingushia, Ossetia, Kabardia and Karachai. Daghestan was not included into the Mountain rep. due to the fact that at that moment, it was under control of Georgia-sponsored anti-communist guerillas under Imam Gotsinsky. In 1921, separate “autonomous socialist republic” was proclaimed in Daghestan.



(to be continued )







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[1] Denikin, Anton, “The Russian Turmoil” (1924), p. 243

[2] Avtorkhanov, Abdurakhman,  “Narodoubijstvo v SSSR” (Munich, 1952), p. 10