J. V. Stalin
Source : Works, Vol.
4, November, 1917 - 1920
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2009
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2009). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.
Comrades, up to very recently the Soviet Government of the Russian Socialist Federative Republic was preoccupied with war against external enemies both in the South and the West, against Poland and Wrangel, and had neither time nor opportunity to devote its energies to the
Now that Wrangel's army has been smashed and its miserable remnants are fleeing to the Crimea, and now that peace has been concluded with Poland, the Soviet Government is in a position to take up the question of autonomy for the Daghestan people.
In Russia, in the past, power was in the hands of the tsars, the landlords, the factory owners and mill owners. The Russia of the past was a Russia of tsars and executioners. Russia lived by oppressing the peoples of the old Russian Empire. The Russian Government lived on the sap and strength of the peoples it oppressed, the Russian people among them.
That was a time when Russia was cursed by all the peoples. That time is now a thing of the past. It is dead and buried, and will never be resurrected.
From the ashes of this tyrannical Russia of the tsars, a new Russia has arisen—a Russia of the workers and peasants.
A new life has begun for the peoples of Russia. A period of emancipation has come for these peoples who suffered under the yoke of the tsars and the plutocrats, the landlords and factory owners.
The new period ushered in by the October Revolution, when power passed into the hands of the workers and peasants, and became communist power, is not only marked by the liberation of the peoples of Russia. It has raised the question of the liberation of all peoples in general, including the peoples of the East who are suffering from the oppression of the Western imperialists.
Russia has become a lever of the liberation movement, setting in motion the peoples not only of our country, but of the whole world.
Soviet Russia is a torch which lights the path to liberation from the yoke of the oppressors for all the peoples of the world.
Now that it is able, thanks to the victory over its enemies, to occupy itself with problems of internal development, the Government of Russia considers it necessary to tell you that Daghestan must be autonomous, that it will enjoy the right of internal self-administration, while retaining its fraternal tie with the peoples of Russia.
Daghestan must be governed in accordance with its specific features, its manner of life and customs.
We are told that among the Daghestan peoples the Sharia is of great importance. We have also been informed that the enemies of Soviet power are spreading rumours that it has banned the Sharia.
I have been authorized by the Government of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic to state here that these rumours are false. The Government of Russia gives every people the full right to govern itself on the basis of its laws and customs.
The Soviet Government considers that the Sharia, as common law, is as fully authorized as that of any other of the peoples inhabiting Russia.
If the Daghestan people desire to preserve their laws and customs, they should be preserved.
At the same time, I consider it necessary to state that autonomy for Daghestan does not, and cannot, imply its secession from Soviet Russia. Autonomy does not mean independence. The bond between Russia and Daghestan must be preserved, for only then can Daghestan preserve its freedom. It is the definite purpose of the Soviet Government in granting Daghestan autonomy to single out from the local forces men who are honest and loyal and who love their people, and to entrust to them all the organs of administration in Daghestan, both economic and administrative. Only thus, only in this way, can close contact be established between Soviet power in Daghestan and the people. The Soviet Government has no other object than to raise Daghestan to a higher cultural level by enlisting the co-operation of local forces.
The Soviet Government knows that the worst enemy of the people is ignorance. It is therefore necessary to create the greatest possible number of schools and organs of administration functioning in the local languages.
The Soviet Government hopes in this way to extricate the peoples of Daghestan from the quagmire of ignorance into which they were plunged by the old Russia.
The Soviet Government considers it essential that the same autonomy as is now enjoyed by Turkestan and the Kirghiz and Tatar republics should be established in Daghestan.
The Soviet Government recommends that you, the representatives of the peoples of Daghestan, should instruct your Daghestan Revolutionary Committee to select representatives to be sent to Moscow to work out there, together with representatives of the highest Soviet authority, a plan of autonomy for Daghestan.
Recent events in southern Daghestan, where the traitor Gotsinsky is trying to suppress the liberty of Daghestan, acting as an agent of General Wrangel, that same Wrangel who, under Denikin, fought the insurrectionary highlanders of the Northern Caucasus and destroyed their villages—these events are eloquent.
I must point out that the people of Daghestan, as represented by their Red partisans, have demonstrated their loyalty to the Red flag in fighting against Gotsinsky in defence of their Soviet power.
If you drive out Gotsinsky, the enemy of the labouring people of Daghestan, you will be justifying the confidence placed in you by the highest Soviet authority in granting autonomy to Daghestan.
The Soviet Government is the first government to grant Daghestan autonomy voluntarily.
We hope that the peoples of Daghestan will justify the confidence of the Soviet Government.
Long Live the Union of the Peoples of Daghestan With the Peoples of Russia!
Long Live the Soviet Autonomy of Daghestan!
Comrades, bearing in mind that the last enemy of Soviet power has been routed, the political significance of the autonomy the Soviet Government is voluntarily granting Daghestan becomes obvious.
There is one fact to which attention should be directed. Whereas the tsarist government, and the bourgeois governments of the world in general, usually make concessions to the people and grant one or another reform only when they are forced to do so by stress of circumstances, the Soviet Government, on the contrary, is granting autonomy to Daghestan absolutely voluntarily, and when it is at the height of its success.
This means that the autonomy of Daghestan will become the secure and indestructible foundation of the life of the Daghestan Republic. For only that is secure which is granted voluntarily.
I should like in conclusion to stress the hope that in the future struggle against our common enemies the Daghestan peoples will justify the high confidence reposed in them by the Soviet Government.
Long Live Autonomous Soviet Daghestan!
Sovetsky Daghestan, No. 76, November 17, 1920
1.The Congress of the Peoples of Daghestan was held in Temir-Khan-Shura, November 13, 1920, and was attended by about 300 delegates. After J. V. Stalin had proclaimed the autonomy of Daghestan a speech greeting the congress was delivered by G. K. Ordjonikidze. The congress passed a resolution affirming the unbreakable ties between the peoples of Daghestan and the labouring peoples of Soviet Russia.