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Why did the USSR annex Tannu Tuva?

Why did the USSR annex Tannu Tuva?

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Tannu Tuva was a little country between Russia and Mongolia. This state became independent after the Russian Civil War, but rejoined the USSR as an autonomous republic on 1944 Oct 11.

Why? Was this done voluntarily? And, very strange to me, why did this happen when the war with Germany was still ongoing? From what I read on the article, Tuva was already helping out by donating horses and wool blankets and other stuff. As far as I can tell there is not much in that land except mountains, pasture, and nomads with horses.

I could not find the answer in the article or a google translate of the Russian version of the article. The closest thing I found through searching was this quora article that's more geared to Mongolia than Tannu Tuva.


The main question is probably the most difficult to answer. Described by one source as once being “among the most insular and obscure places on earth”, land-locked Tannu Tuva's area is approximate to that of Greece but it has long been sparsely populated and has extreme temperatures. As to why the Soviet Union wanted it, there are different schools of thought on this as no conclusive evidence has yet emerged. In a recent article, Tuva's Accession to the USSR: Alternative Opinions (2017), Ivanna V. Otroshchenko says of the annexation:

Many details of this extraordinary event are still unknown. Many questions concerning its reasons, initiators and circumstances still remain unanswered…

The proliferation of versions of Tuva's accession to the Soviet Union is in itself a proof of how little we know so far about this significant historical event.

In short, there are too many 'versions' to cover all of them in any detail in this post so the focus will be on the main ideas put forward by academics.

Among Russian historians, the prevailing argument has been that the annexation was predictable, the logical outcome of both historical factors and the ever closer relationship that had developed between Tuva and the Soviet Union since 1932. The key figure in this relationship was Salchak Toka, Prime Minister from 1932 to 1944. Reversing many of the policies of his predecessor, Toka and his fellow Stalin loyalist had come to power in a Soviet-backed coup and, over the following years, moved the country ever closer - in almost all respects - to the Soviet Union. Under Toka's leadership, Tuva had three times requested annexation by the Soviet Union before it finally happened in 1944.

Among Western academics, the most detailed assessment, until recently at least, is that of Walter Kolarz in The Peoples of the Soviet Far East (1954). He summarizes the reasons for the annexation as:

  1. An abundance of livestock. Between 1941 and 1945, Tuva supplied the Soviet Union with 600,000 cattle, in addition to 40,000 horses.
  2. Tuva “forms a national fortress guarding the approaches to the Kuzbass (Kuznetsk Basin), one of the main coal and steel producing centres of the Soviet Union.” Better to have this inside Soviet borders.
  3. Minerals and metals, including gold and uranium (Kolarz says this may be the most important point).
  4. The presence of closely related Turkic peoples already inside the Soviet Union; some of those inside the border might argue they should be with their brethren outside the border.

Of the above, the first point seems to be the least convincing. The ruling elite in Tuva was closely linked to the Soviet regime and was already supplying not just cattle and horses but also soldiers; there is no indication in any sources that this arrangement was under threat or about to change.

The third point, on the other hand, may well be the key one and has been espoused by other Western academics. The argument is that, as uranium had been discovered in Tuva, and as Stalin had set up an atomic bomb project following the advice of the Russian physicist Georgy Flyorov who had told him in 1942 that "it is essential to manufacture a uranium bomb without a delay.", Tuvan resources were potentially very important.

This begs the question as to why Outer Mongolia, which also had uranium, was not annexed along with Tuva. Two arguments have been forwarded for this: first, such an action would have been seen as overly-provocative by China and, second, Outer Mongolia - along with Xinjiang - was seen as a useful buffer state between China and the Soviet Union. Xinjiang was, in fact, an area of conflict between the two regional powers; China had taken control of the area from Russia in 1942. Some historians have argued that Stalin's annexation of Tuva was a warning to the Chinese not to make a move on Outer Mongolia as it had done on Xinjiang (the Soviets supported a rebellion there against the Chinese Kuomintang in November 1944, the month after Tuva was annexed).


Note: Tuva had been annexed by Russia in 1914, had then changed hands a number of times before the Tuvan People's Republic was set up in 1921 by Bolsheviks

This is impossible to answer with certainty as we cannot know for sure that Stalin didn't tell Toka: 'join the Soviet Union or else… ' However, as the Toka regime had requested annexation in 1939, 1941 and 1943 (the requests had been turned down, probably due to bad timing), it seems likely that the 1944 request was, if not initiated by the Tuva leadership, eagerly made by them following a request or suggestion from Stalin.

The reasons for the Tuvan leadership's eagerness were probably (1) a fear of China's hostile intentions (see below) and (2) the economic reality of being a small, underdeveloped land-locked state which needed strong economic links (as well as aid) from its powerful neighbour. Whether the population at large agreed with the annexation will never be known - they weren't asked as there was never a referendum. Ironically, this effectively meant that the annexation was illegal under the Soviet's own constitution.

The lack of a referendum can probably be attributed to the desire to keep the annexation out of the news and / or to the delay it would cause. As the Tuvan population was predominantly nomadic (82.2% according to the 1931 census), there was unlikely to be much organized opposition anyway - most of them wouldn't even have known about the annexation for quite a while.


As Alex noted in his comment, 1944 was actually a good time; the Soviet leadership had more pressing matters to deal with before then while any later could have led to problems with the US and China. In 1944, on the other hand, the tide had turned in the Soviets' favour in Europe as the Western allies had opened the second front several months earlier. The actual announcement of the annexation was effectively buried by only being made in the local newspaper and at a time when no one was paying any attention.

For other countries, attention was elsewhere - the Chinese, especially, were heavily engaged in fighting Japan. Stalin was certainly aware of China's claims to Tuva, claims which Chiang Kai-shek mentioned to Roosevelt at the Cairo Conference in November 1943. Stalin would also have had a good idea by 1944 of the likely American reaction to the annexation of territories and would have wanted the Tuvan situation sorted out before the Americans got too interested. Whether the loss of Tuvan independence would have been a major concern is debatable as Tuva had only ever been recognized by the Soviets and Mongols in the first place, but Stalin would have been concerned about American interest in Chinese claims on the territory. Finally, if one accepts the argument that the existence of uranium in Tuva as important to the Soviets, the Soviet atomic program made the annexation of Tuva highly desirable at this time.

Other sources:

Tuva. A State Reawakens


Moscow's Last Great Territorial Acquisition Before Crimea - Stalin's 1944 Annexation of Tuva

History of Tuva

Tuvan People's Republic

Soviet Disunion: A History of the Nationalities Problem in the USSR

Puppet state

A puppet state, puppet régime or puppet government is a state that is de jure independent but de facto completely dependent upon an outside power and subject to its orders. [1] Puppet states have nominal sovereignty, but a foreign power effectively exercises control through means such as financial interests, economic, or military support. [2]

Puppet states are distinguished from allies, which choose their actions on their own or in accordance with treaties they voluntarily entered. Puppet states are forced into providing legal endorsement for actions already taken by a foreign power.

Independence Gained, Lost

The 1911 Revolution in China loosened the Manchu's grip on their remote Tuvan satrap, allowing Russian traders and settlers to trickle into the fur-rich regions. In 1914 Tsar Nicholas II declared Tuva a protectorate and increased the Russian presence significantly in the newly acquired march. The Tuvans, however,

. feared all strangers and disliked the Russian newcomers as much as they disliked their former Chinese masters. They spoke of the Chinese only as 'yellow devils', and their attitude to the European colonists can be characterized by the Tuvinian saying, 'The Russian is not a man'. 2

The chaos surrounding the Bolshevik Revolution and ensuing civil war created something of an authority and power vacuum in Tuva, which local nationalist leaders sought to fill. Mongols, Reds, and Whites all vied for influence among the 60,000 Tuvans and 10,000 Russian settlers in the region. Chairman Smirnov of the Siberian Revolutionary Committee sent the following encrypted telegraph to Lenin and Trotsky on Moscow on 26 January 1920:

The Mongols have entered the province and ejected our [Russian] peasants from the villages. These peasants fought against Kolchak [the White reader Admiral Kolchak] and were independent of him. The Sojoty [Tuvans] are a nomadic tribe oppressed by both Mongols and Russians. Do you consider it necessary to allow the Mongols possession of the Uranchaj [Tuvan] region or to take it by force of arms or to organise an Uranchaj Soviet Republic on the Bashkir pattern? Let me know. 3

Although Lenin's reply to Smirnov is unrecorded, apparently the Kremlin chose Smirnov's third option, and in the following year the Russian protectorate over Tuva was officially ended.

Tannu-Tuva existed as an independent statre from 1921 until it was absorbed by the Soviet Union in 1944. Officially, 'Tannu', meaning taiga, was dropped in 1926 and the country became the People's Republic of Tuva, although it continued to be referred to by the former name. 4 Recognized as a sovereign state by Moscow, Tannu-Tuva issued its own postage stamps and currency, the Aksha, enacted a national constitution and criminal code, and hosted at least two diplomatic missions in its capital, Kyzyl. Its first ruler, Prime Minister Donduk, sought to strengthen ties with Mongolia and establish Buddhism as the state religion. Soviet ethnologist L.P. Potapov noted that

Tuvans were in complete political and economic and also spiritual dependence on the feudal and theocratic aristocracy. More than 5,000 lamas employed in about 30 khure (lamaseries) and more than 1,000 shamans were the 'teachers' and 'tutors' of the working peasantry. 5

Such developments in Tuva unsettled the Kremlin, which orchestrated a coup carried out in 1929 by five young Tuvan graduates of Moscow's 'Communist University of the Toilers of the East'. In 1930 the pro-Soviet region discarded the state's Tibetan-Mongol script in favor of a Latin alphabet designed for Tuva by Russian linguists, and in 1943 Cyrillic script replaced the Latin. Under the leadership of Party Secretary Toka, ethnic Russians were granted full citizenship rights and Buddhist and Mongol influences on the Tuvan state and society were systematically reduced. 6 By the time of its annexation by the USSR in 1944, Tannu-Tuva was a docile, perhaps even model, Soviet satellite state.

The exact circumstances surrounding Tannu-Tuva's incorporation into the USSR in 1944 remain obscure. One scholar observes that the incorporation took place 'apparently voluntarily', 7 while Nahaylo and Swoboda write that 'on 17 August 1944 Tuva petitioned to be admitted to the USSR (four years earlier, the three Baltic state had been made to do the same).' 8 Kolarz terms the Soviet takeover an 'annexation', and attributes its timing to an increased interest in Tuva's uranium deposits as Soviet atomic research shifted into high gear. 9

Adam Ulam convincingly argues that the annexation of Tuva, following the Nationalist Chinese 'liquidation of the predominant Russian interest' in the border region of Xinjiang in 1943, was in effect Stalin's shot across the bow of China to keep hands off the Soviet satellite state of Mongolia, which, like Xinjiang, the Chinese also claimed. 10 If Ulam is correct Tuva's petition for incorporation was probably orchestrated by pro-Soviet element in Kyzyl to further Stalin's perceived geostratic goals vis-a-vis China, much as the Baltic states had been coerced into joining the USSR as a buffer against threats from the west.

From 1944 until 1990 the Tuvan Autonomous Oblast (upgraded to Autonomous Republic in 1062) rather reluctantly underwent modernization and social mobilization, Soviet style. Collective farms bearing the names such as 'Road to Communism' and 'Stalin' sought to modernize agriculture on a large-scale, mechanized basis. 11 Concrete apartment complexes housing Russian technocrats appeared on the outskirts of Kyzyl, mineral deposits were developed, dams constructed, electrification begun, and scores of stae-run boarding schools were established for rural children. Patapov opines in 1954 that 'the central hospital in Kyzyl is wonderfully equipped with modern equipment.' 12 Overall progress was slow, however, and as late as 1944 Lydolph commented that 'the last strongholds of native life are in the Tuva and Buryat ASSRs.' 13 During this period Tuva was among the most insular and obscure places on earth.

WI: Russia annexes East Turkestan and Mongolia

That is more related to Geography. While north Osetia lies in Northern Caucasus, South lies in Southern Caucasus, thus North remained under RSFSR, South Osetia remained under Georgia.
Also it could be Stalin's thinking to make sure that there was always disputed territory.

But I still think Buryatia will be under Mongolian SSR.

Chris S

That is more related to Geography. While north Osetia lies in Northern Caucasus, South lies in Southern Caucasus, thus North remained under RSFSR, South Osetia remained under Georgia.
Also it could be Stalin's thinking to make sure that there was always disputed territory.

But I still think Buryatia will be under Mongolian SSR.

Mountains had nothing to do with Nagorno-Karabakh not being united with Armenia.

We also have a number of other examples wherein the USSR did not merge entities containing the sme or similar ethnic groups:

- Nenets Autonomous Okrug remaining separate from the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug

- the Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug remaining separate from the Komi-Zyryan Autonomous Oblast (later the Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic).

- the Karakalpak ASSR remaining a part of the Uzbek SSR and separate from the Kazakh SSR even though the Karakalpak language is closer to Kazakh

- Tuva remaining separate from Buryatia despite Tuva having at one time been a part of Mongolia and sharing a border with Buryatia and the Tuvans being related to Buryats

- the Agin-Buryat Autonomous Okrug and Ust-Orda Buryat Autonomous Okrug (in Irkutsk Oblast) remaining separate from the Buryat ASSR despite being close to the Buryat ASSR and despite there being examples of other entites in the USSR with exclaves (the RSFSR, Azeri SSR, Uzebk and Kirgiz SSRs (numerous tiny exclaves)).

And this is referring to areas with the same titular ethnic groups. If the USSR didn't even unite all Buryats into a single political entity then it is doubtful that it would unite the Buryat ASSR with a Mongol SSR.


Mountains had nothing to do with Nagorno-Karabakh not being united with Armenia.

We also have a number of other examples wherein the USSR did not merge entities containing the sme or similar ethnic groups:

- Nenets Autonomous Okrug remaining separate from the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug

- the Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug remaining separate from the Komi-Zyryan Autonomous Oblast (later the Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic).

- the Karakalpak ASSR remaining a part of the Uzbek SSR and separate from the Kazakh SSR even though the Karakalpak language is closer to Kazakh

- Tuva remaining separate from Buryatia despite Tuva having at one time been a part of Mongolia and sharing a border with Buryatia and the Tuvans being related to Buryats

- the Agin-Buryat Autonomous Okrug and Ust-Orda Buryat Autonomous Okrug (in Irkutsk Oblast) remaining separate from the Buryat ASSR despite being close to the Buryat ASSR and despite there being examples of other entites in the USSR with exclaves (the RSFSR, Azeri SSR, Uzebk and Kirgiz SSRs (numerous tiny exclaves)).

And this is referring to areas with the same titular ethnic groups. If the USSR didn't even unite all Buryats into a single political entity then it is doubtful that it would unite the Buryat ASSR with a Mongol SSR.

Grey Wolf

I was under the impression that Russia effectively ruled Kashgaria (maybe all Dzungaria) for a decade or so in the mid nineteenth century before handing it back to Chinese rule. I'd need to check my sources.

Chris S

Fair enough, but the USSR had a history of creating autonomous entities which had two titular ethnic groups such as the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. Or the Chechen-Ingush ASSR. Sometimes they even had autonomous entities which had a plethora of ethnic groups like the Dagestan ASSR. And of course we have the example of the Azeri SSR (which spoke a Turkic language) with a significant Armenian population (which spoke a Caucasian language unrelated to Azeri) contained within an autonomous entity inside the Azeri SSR.

So there really was no practical reason why Tuva and Buryatia were not united. Sure Tuvan is a turkic language, but so what? It is influenced by Mongolian and Tuva itself was actually a part of Mongolia under Chinese rule for a time. So it isn't as if the Tuvans weren't in such a situation before.

What katchen said seems far more likely to an extent. You would probably see a Mongol SSR containing an Oirat ASSR. And there would probably be an East Turkestan SSR with numerous ASSRs inside it for the Kazakhs, Tajiks, Kirgiz and others.


It is due to geography and demographic mapping.

- Tuva remaining separate from Buryatia despite Tuva having at one time been a part of Mongolia and sharing a border with Buryatia and the Tuvans being related to Buryats

- the Agin-Buryat Autonomous Okrug and Ust-Orda Buryat Autonomous Okrug (in Irkutsk Oblast) remaining separate from the Buryat ASSR despite being close to the Buryat ASSR and despite there being examples of other entites in the USSR with exclaves (the RSFSR, Azeri SSR, Uzebk and Kirgiz SSRs (numerous tiny exclaves)).

And this is referring to areas with the same titular ethnic groups. If the USSR didn't even unite all Buryats into a single political entity then it is doubtful that it would unite the Buryat ASSR with a Mongol SSR.

1. Tuvan wasn't related to Buryatia. They are 2 distinct mongolian sub-groups.
2. Between them huge Sayan Mountain not.
3. Tuvan was de-jure part of Mongolia (or precisely part of ROC) till 1944, while Buriya was part of Russian Empire since 1690's. So that's why it is separated.
4. Both was ASSR under RSFSR., or under one SSR If it was some Mongolian SSR they sure would have under one SSR.

Ust-Orda wasn't physically neighbored the Buriyatia, thus remained under Irkutsk. Same for Agin Buriyat.

Unlike this main demographic cluster of Mongolia and Buryatia is just next to each other. Also there is no big russian settlements between them. Also there is no geographic barrier.

Chris S

It is due to geography and demographic mapping.

Ust-Orda wasn't physically neighbored the Buriyatia, thus remained under Irkutsk. Same for Agin Buriyat.

Okay then, so answer me this:

- If geography and demograhic mapping and being physically separated were the problem why Nagorno-Karabakh was not unified with Armenia and why Agin-Buryat Autonomous Okrug and Ust-Orda Buryat Autonomous Okrug were not united with the Buryat ASSR, why then was Kaliningrad placed under the RSFSR instead of the Lithuanian SSR? And why then was Nakhichevan ASSR united with the Azeri SSR despite there being a Armenia between Nakhichevan and the rest of Azerbaijan? And while you are at it, please explain Shohimardon, Sokh, Chon-Kara (or Qalacha), Jani-Ayil, Kayragach, Sarwan, Vorukh, Sankovo-Medvezhye, Artsvashen, Yukhary Askipara, Barkhudarli and Karki. That's at least 14 detached areas established and maintained during the existence of the Soviet Union disproving the idea that Nagorno-Karabakh could not unified with Armenia and that Agin-Buryat Aut Ok and Ust-Orda Buryat Aut Ok could not united with the Buryat ASSR at any point during the Soviet period.

The idea that they have to be neighbouring in order to be unified is overly simplistic to say the least.

And as shown in the case of the Nenets and Komi (examples you seem to avoid by the way), even if the entities border each other they do not have to be unified.

And as the Nenets, Ossetians, Komi, Armenians and Buryat amply demonstrate the Soviets did not always put all populations of a single ethnic group in a single entity.

So as I originally said, the idea that the Buryat ASSR would be automatically unified with Mongolia into a single Mongol SSR is not supported by the available precedents. It could have happened, but was just as likely not to have happened.

So what? Are all the groups in Dagestan the same? I was under the impression that you had many distinct groups in Dagestan.

And what then of the Chechen-Ingush ASSR and Kabardino-Balkar ASSR? Are we to assume that the Chechen and Ingush are actually the same and not two distinct groups or sub-groups? And that the Karbardins (who speak a Caucasian language) and Balkars (who speak a Turkic language) are the same group?

According to this logic, everything east of the Urals should not have been in the RSFSR.


I'm very curious, what is your point?

Yes, Buriyat could be part of Mongolian SSR or might not be.

My argument is being part of Mongolia is most likely, not vice verse. Because of history, geography and being one nation. It could be not all of OTL Buriyat land will be under Mongolia SSR, but certianly Southern Baikal region will be (e.g Selenge river basin). Beswt example would be Kazakhstan SSR. Kazakh Khanates submitted to Russian Empire separately but most land remained in Kazakshtan SSR.

If you think Buriyat will remain part of RSFSR, so it be. That is only your thought not fact and not certain outcome.

I don't know how I should describe you, in English (my english is very bad) maybe "hypocrisy" is the word.

In most of those cases it was the result of not being able to create distinct ASSRs due to the multi-ethnic nature of them as well as the question of population.

Now the Azeri SSR was a unique case in that the Azerbaijani and Armenian SSRs originally agreed to the situation since their was no way to really divide Nagorno-Karabakh without forced relcation of most of the people living there and it did'nt become an issue until the dissolution of the USSR.

Chris S

I'm very curious, what is your point?

I'll just quote myself so you can see my point:

These are better reasons to imagine the unification of the Buryat ASSR or at least some of it with a Mongol SSR than what I've seen in the thread before.

I believe the word you are looking for is "hypocrite" and I take strong offence to that given that we are supposed to be having a debate and it's NOT hypocritically to point out the flaws in another person's arguments. Thus far I have pointed out the numerous flaws in the argument that Buryat ASSR would be joined with a Mongol SSR for simplistic reasons such as ethnicity (by giving examples of ethnic groups which were not unified) and geography (by giving examples of ethnic groups that were not unified despite being in political entities neigbouring each other) and have also pointed out the flaw in the reasoning that the three Buryat entities (Buryat ASSR and the two Buryat autonomous Okrugs) were not united simply because they did not directly border each other. While those factors would play a role, a much greater role would be played by the CPSU and by key persons within the CPSU and their attitudes and ideas (for instance the Crimea is in Ukraine today primarily because of agreement between the communist governments of the RSFSR and Ukrainian SSR in the 1950s (despite years of administrative inconvenience prior to that) in part due to the strains of paying for the post-war economic recovery in Crimea, and much less so because of geography or ethnicity - had the government in the RSFSR not agreed to the transfer of Crimea or had WWII not happened and necessitated the transfer partly for economic reasons then it would likely still be in Russia today)). That, more than anything is the reason for the apparent arbitrary nature of some Soviet borders and situations and why a general policy of having unified autonomous areas for ethnic groups featured a number of exceptions and why it was by no means universal nor automatic.

If you don't like that, then that's rough because recognizing the flaws in one's argument is the only way to strengthen it. Just because you may not like criticism of an argument doesn't mean it can't help to move a debate along. It's up to you to recognize that and if you don't like it then why bother have discussions? I might have a conception and find that other people have recognized flaws in my conception. Thus I recognize my misconception and learn and can have more informed discussions in the future.

Chris S

The Chechen-Ingush ASSR was originally two separate autonomous oblasts merged into one (and later made into an ASSR). So in that case at least it wasn't a problem of being able to create distinct ASSRs as they previously were distinct entities.

Admiral Matt

Chris S

I don't see any reason for it, since it would seem the primary determinant of internal Soviet borders were the personalities of the CPSU. After all it wasn't until after Stalin died that the Crimea was transferred between the RSFSR and Uk. SSR, even though apparently people in the Crimea had been advocating such a transfer to local communist party officials for at least a few years (in part because the economic recovery efforts after WWII ended up linking the Crimean and Ukrainian economies so much that it became inconvenient to deal an administration linked to the RSFSR when economically everybody dealt with the Uk. SSR only after Stalin died did the Supreme Soviets of the RSFSR, Uk. SSR and the USSR itself bounce about the idea and approve it. I strongly suspect that pre-1953 any such move on the part of the Supreme Soviets of the RSFSR and Uk. SSR would have been met with disapproval by Stalin and the idea would have simply died in committee).

So a lot would depend on how Mongolia (and East Turkestan) end up in Russia in the first place and more crucially (assuming as few butterflies as possible) what happens to them during the Russian Revolution:

- So going with the OP of Russia annexing Mongolia and East Turkestan from China, we would see the areas divided into a number of governorates (unless Mongolia was taken in as a protectorate). These governorates would then be organized governorate-generals or krais. So we would probably have a Governorate-General of Mongolia or a Mongolia Krai (East Turkestan might have it's southern section added to the already existing Turkestan Krai)

- In 1917 you get the Russian Revolution and the chaos of OTL. This is where it becomes really important, because if during that time Mongolia becomes independent as say the Republic of Mongolia before being taken over by Bolsheviks to form the Mongolian Soviet Socialist Republic and this Mongolian SSR became one of the founding members of the USSR in 1922 (along with the 4 OTL SSRs that founded it) then the Mongolian SSR will likely have the borders of the Republic of Mongolia that declared independence in 1918-1920. So if this Mongolia does not already include Buryatia then it will require Buryatia's transfer later on. This will then require the approval of governments of the Russian SFSR, Mongolian SSR and the USSR according to the Soviet constitutions. Given that the governments of all three would be run by the communist parties of Russia, Mongolia and the Soviet Union it would then be up to the various personalities in those parties whether or not the idea of a transfer goes ahead.

- If a Mongolian SSR is not already formed with Buryatia (or at least some of Buryatia) already, then the next best time for Buryatia or part of Buryatia to be transferred would be in the 1920s to early 1930s. After that it becomes less likely under the leadership of Stalin with its associated repression and the abolition of national institutions, ethnic deportations and later Russification (especially towards those with cross border ethnic ties to foreign nation states as Mongols would unless Inner Mongolia was annexed as well and in light of the Great Patriotic War). By the 1940s it would be extremely unlikely for any Buryat ASSR to be transferred to the Mongol SSR.

- If on the other hand Mongolia does not become independent or fully independent during the Russian Revolution it would end up becoming a part of the RSFSR, wherein a Mongol ASSR could be formed in the 1920s which included all or part of Buryatia (especially around 1923 when the Buryat were all united into a single entity which included Agin-Buryatia and Ust-Orda Buryatia). At some point in the 1920s-1940s (but more so in the 1920s) this Mongol ASSR could then be upgraded to a Mongolian SSR but during this time it might also have portions of it carved off (as Agin-Buryatia and Ust-Orda Buryatia were in 1937 from Buryatia). So there might be a Mongol SSR, but it might be that a Buryat ASSR and Oirat ASSR might be carved off from it and retained in the Russian SFSR. It all really boils down to who is in charge of policy at the time and what their personal preferences were and also what various local communist party officials wanted (which may or may not coincide with what the people in the region wanted and which may or may not be influenced by personal goals for power).

Largest plausible Russia/USSR?

Well, that should be enough time to result in an early entente victory, which would lead to Russia picking up perhaps Galicia and Bukovina, Great Poland and bits of Silesia, the straits and a chunk of eastern Anatolia, and we could subsequently have Russia stay together and create spheres of influence in the Middle and Far east from Anatolia through the Mashriq and Iranian plateau up to the outer ramparts of China, Manchuria, and Korea. Much bigger than that is really pushing it, and as I said, a lot of that would be spheres of influence. As RGB has pointed out, Russia has in the last century been propelled rather above its station by events and brought back down. The borders of 1914 represent a very respectable chunk of the world under Russian sway. It could certainly hold these to the present day, but it doesn't have much reason to go much further.

The only other thing of note is that Bulgaria applied for SSR status at one point.


I Blame Communism

The Red


Stalin could certainly decide to annex more conquered countries directly to the USSR rather than setting them up as independent puppet states, Moreover, he can decide to keep Finnmark and northern Persia, which it had occupied during WWII, and to invade Finland. The PoD might be an early start of the Cold War, or more anti-Communist resistance in the closing days of WWII, which convinces Stalin to go down hard with Sovietization of Eastern Europe all the way from 1944-45.

So: a Polish SSR (with East Prussia and Lwow, but without Pomerania and Silesia, which East Germany would keep), a Finnish SSR (with Finnmark and East Karelia), a Romanian SSR (with Bessarabia/Moldova), a Bulgarian SSR, and northern Iran being carved in various SSRs. Stalin would go down hard on Titoist attempts to drift away from Soviet allegiance, which may easily result in Vardar Macedonia being annexed to Bulgarian SSR. This would surely mean even more Stalinist atrocities and Soviet oppression, but it has the bright side that reunified Germany, Poland, Finland, Romania, and Bulgaria would keep more of their national claims when the Soviet empire collapses (even if Finnmark might become a bone of contention between Norway and Finland, and Vardar Macedonia would be so between Serbia and Bulgaria). Russia has not the demographic leverage to build large Russian minorities in annexed Eastern Europe. The geopolitical effects of a divided Iran would be interesting, to say the least, and may easily butterfly the Islamist Revolution away.



Not easy: most Eastern Europeans, after all, were rather nationalist by this point, and communism was weak in Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. Indeed, it probably would require a WWII the US stayed out of: absorbing Eastern Europe would be very bad propaganda-wise (Imperialism!), and would definitely harshen the Cold War. (Stalin had other reasons: for one thing, it had been enough hard work entirely breaking the Soviet Communist party to his will: having a bunch of new Eastern European members gunning for top jobs would be a pain).


That's what the NKVD was for.

The Cold War would indeed be harshened, but this might be a cause and not an effect of the annexations. Let's say the usual Valkyrie succeeds PoD occurs, and the Germans are able to broker a separate conditional surrender to the Western Allies, and this motivates Stalin to clamp down on everything the Red Army occupies. Only ITTL the West only succeeds to claim Greater Germany, Czechia, Albania, and Greece for its camp.


I've made up a TL map for your uber-USSR.

PoD is that Valkyrie succeeds, post-Nazi Germany surrenders to the western Allies in exchange for a guarantee on 1938 borders and national unity, and Stalin is PO into annexing all the countries he conquered as SSRs. The NKVD and the Red Army are busy slaughtering Eastern European nationalists for the good part of a decade (even if internal borders are rerranged to appease some nationalities), the Cold War gets super-nasty (probably the most difficult part of the TL is to explain why America does not declare war and nuke Russia while they still have a nuclear supremacy, if anything like the Korean War ever happens), federal integration and massive rearmament of western Europe happens very quickly.

Admiral Matt

Hrm. Largest possible. I'll look at the Soviets.

You need to get early expansion, both to prevent all that Socialism-in-One-Country talk and to avoid a Russian majority early on.

You probably want to avoid Stalin coming to power, as he industrialized at best slightly faster than projections of Bukharinist policies, while otherwise ruining the country.

You absolutely need a total war in western Europe, and you need it to be well begun before direct Russian involvement in the conflict.

You want the right men (ones who see annexation as a good) running things when the SSSR goes a conquerin'.

You must not allow a large-scale invasion to be even initially successful after the Civil War. The Soviet Union recovered from Barbarossa, technically, but it never came close to the momentum it had before. Plus it's most efficient not to move all your industry to the Urals.

You can't, unfortunately, get China, so you want to arrange things to take as many reasonable chunks as possible.

The Reds do better in the Civil War because *dah*dah*something*. That means a less damaged Russia, plus let's say retention of Estonia, Latvia, and a wee bit of southeast Finland. If Poland goes Russia will be in central Europe and the rest of the continent will be less likely to fight among themselves, so let's leave it independent.

For one reason or another the Russians intervene more effectively in favor of the Persian SSR c1920 and it is incorporated. The result is a new front against the British and an eventual partition of Persia between White and Red. Mongolia and Tannu Tuva are annexed as a combined federal unit for some reason (not really important, but it gives the Soviets a lot of claims in northern China).

Without Stalin's full-bore collectivization we have less severe famines, and more opportunity to deal with them, so a tremendously larger number of Russians and Ukrainians. In Germany, the Nazis aren't in power, so we can still have a viable communist movement.

Still, have war break out between Germany and, say, France, Poland, Britain, and Italy. Soviet support as a neutral is granted in exchange for inclusion of the German Communists in coalition government and a sphere of influence. Let's say. Lithuania, eastern Poland, Finland, and Romania. Poland is overrun (we can't have a short war) and Paris captured, but Germany isn't doing as well as in OTL. Mobile offensives heave back and forth across northern France and the Low Countries.

Meanwhile, the Russians march to Helsinki in high summer, annexing Lithuania, Finland, Sinkiang (hey, almost did OTL), and the near bits of Poland and Romania. When the war in the west begins to go downhill for the Germans, they literally sell Poland to the Soviets for a ridiculous amount of materiel and men (in the form of "unofficial volunteers"). In Persia the British and Russians stare at each other hostily.

The West eventually breaks German lines and marches into the Ruhr. In desperation, the german government hands the reins to the German communists in an attempt to force Russian intervention on their side. It's too much for the British, and they do the job themselves, bombing Baku and Sevastopol.

At this point, things get out of hand. Japan declares war on the Europeans and goes haring off into southeast Asia while still grappling unsuccessfully with China. The Russians and British clash in Persia, Iraq, and Romania while both sides march into Germany. The allies get about half of the place by the time the lines form, which, given that they are viewed as occupiers and the Russians are not, is not such a great advantage to have.

On the peripheral fronts the existence of mass Russian armored columns on a fairly short logistic train is decisive. White Persia is overrun and Mesopotamia follows it. Romania falls, Czechoslovakia and Hungary are plowed over, and the Front in the Balkans is left somewhere in central Bulgaria.

The western allies have a year or two of experience at semi-mobile warfare to the Soviets' "we didn't lose to Finland", and first in Germany and then Poland they force the Russians back. Poland, and then Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Bulgaria are liberated rather easily, in no small part because the populace is new-conquered and very anti-Soviet. The allies press on with their momentum for a combined thrust into Russia with the idea of swiftly toppling the Communist Regime.

Then they cross the border into lands that have always been Soviet, and this develops to have been a less than ideal strategy. Western Europeans didn't have the highest opinion of the eastern peoples at this time. They don't have a great deal of patience - having fought for a few years against the Russian-funded Germans. And they have unrealistic expectations of flowers being thrown at their feet. Incidents of partisan warfare are reacted to brutally. In spite of this, shockingly, more partisans appear.

The Soviets have more (and often better) tanks, friendly ground, a very large number of unpurged commanders, and now they know how to fight a modern war.

The great spearheads sweep through Lithuania into a meatgrinder in Riga and across Belarus and the Pripet to be ground to a halt in western Russia. The real disaster strikes in western Ukraine, where the mass blitz to the Black Sea is flanked, pocketed, and forced to surrender. Most of a year is lost desperately trying to keep a toehold in Russia proper, while grinding east through Romania. At the end of it, the Russians get a major breakthrough in the Ukraine, and the collapse begins.

An armored thrust races the length of the Vistula, forcing a mass evacuation from East Prussia, Lithuania, and Latvia and the loss of a mind-boggling amount of tanks and heavy equipment. The next push rushes into Germany, where the absence of a real peace and the use of German industry to help run a war against Germany's ally results in mass support for the Russians.

The rest of the war is a slogging, brutal affair, fought across the Balkan Peninsula and Germany. In the end the west is unwilling to continue a war that includes occupying a hostile Germany for years on end. Japan is losing ground steadily, and a peace deal is made. The Soviets annex Poland, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, White Persia, and Iraq permanently. After a short wait, they also pile on Japan's back and annex Manchuria and Korea, plus Chinese Mongolia while they're in the neighborhood.

The new awkward superstate feels, acts, and thinks much the same way the Soviet Union did in OTL (but without the "Omg, thank God Stalin isn't killing us"). But it's stronger in essentially every way.


In December 1911 during the Xinhai Revolution, Outer Mongolia declared independence from the Qing dynasty in the Mongolian Revolution of 1911. Mongolia became a de facto absolute theocratic monarchy led by the Bogd Khan. However, the newly established Republic of China claimed inheritance of all territories held by the Qing dynasty and considered Outer Mongolia as part of its territory. [4] This claim was provided for in the Imperial Edict of the Abdication of the Qing Emperor signed by the Empress Dowager Longyu on behalf of the six-year-old Xuantong Emperor: "[. ] the continued territorial integrity of the lands of the five races, Manchu, Han, Mongol, Hui, and Tibetan into one great Republic of China" ([. ] 仍合滿、漢、蒙、回、藏五族完全領土,為一大中華民國 ). [5] [6] [7] The Provisional Constitution of the Republic of China adopted in 1912 specifically established frontier regions of the new republic, including Outer Mongolia, as integral parts of the state. [8]

In the 1915 tripartite Kyakhta Agreement, the Russian Empire (which had strategic interests in Mongolian independence but did not want to completely alienate China), the Republic of China and the Bogd Khanate of Mongolia agreed that Outer Mongolia was autonomous under Chinese suzerainty. However, in the following years Russian influence in Asia waned due to the First World War and, later, the October Revolution. Since 1918, Outer Mongolia was threatened by the Russian Civil War, and in summer 1918 asked for Chinese military assistance, which led to the deployment of a small force to Urga. Grigory Semyonov led the Buryats and Inner Mongols in spearheading a plan to create a pan-Mongol state. [9] Meanwhile, some Mongol aristocrats had become more and more dissatisfied with their marginalization at the hands of the theocratic Lamaist government, and, also provoked by the threat of the Outer Mongolia's independence from the pan-Mongolist movement of Grigory Semyonov in Siberia, were ready to accept Chinese rule by 1919. [10] According to an Associated Press dispatch, some Mongol chieftains signed a petition asking China to retake administration of Mongolia and end Outer Mongolia's autonomy. [11] Since they opposed the Bogd Khan and his clerics, Mongol nobles agreed to abolish Mongol autonomy and reunite with China under an agreement with 63 stipulations signed with Chen Yi (Chinese: 陈毅 ) in August–September 1919. [12] [13] The pan-Mongolist initiative of Grigory Semyonov led by Buryats and Inner Mongols was rejected by the Khalkha Mongol nobles of Urga, so the Khalkha nobles instead assured the Chinese under Chen Yi that they were against it. [14] The prospect of ending Mongol autonomy and having Chinese troops stationed in Niialel Khuree, Altanbulag, Uliyasutai, and Khovd was permitted by the Mongolian government in response to the Japanese-backed Buryatia pan-Mongol movement. [15]

An ally of the Chinese government, the Qinghai-born Monguor Gelugpa Buddhist Lama leader Sixth Janggiya Khutughtu was against the autonomy of Outer Mongolia. [16] [17] [18]

The invasion of Mongolia was the brainchild of Premier Duan Qirui. When Duan engineered China's entry into the First World War he took out several large loans from the Japanese government including the Nishihara Loans. He used the money to create the War Participation Army ostensibly to battle the Central Powers. His rivals knew the purpose of this army was to crush internal dissent. It existed outside of the Ministry of the Army and was controlled by the War Participation Bureau, which the premier led and which was staffed entirely by his Anhui clique. President Feng Guozhang, Duan's rival, had no control, despite constitutionally being commander-in-chief. When the war ended without a soldier stepping foot abroad, his critics demanded the disbanding of the War Participation Army. Duan had to find a new purpose for his army. Mongolia was chosen for several reasons:

  • Duan's envoys to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference were unable to prevent the German concession in Shandong being transferred to Japan thereby causing the Chinese nationalistMay Fourth Movement to target his policies. His reputation as a patriot was discredited. Reintegrating Mongolia would reverse that.
  • The Constitutional Protection War was fought to a bloody standstill in Hunan. Using his army for another risky attempt to retake southern China from the rebels was undesirable.
  • The Russian Civil War left Mongolia without a foreign protector. An easy victory would boost Duan's stature.
  • Mongolia's long-running prime minister, Tögs-Ochiryn Namnansüren, died in April 1919, leaving the country's ruling elite deeply divided over a successor. Some of Mongolia's princes, as well as its Han Chinese, sought reunification.

The pro-Japanese [22] Anhui clique leader Xu Shuzheng led the military occupation of Mongolia in violation of Chen Yi's agreement signed with the Mongol nobles because he wanted to use Mongolia as his own fief. [13] [23] Anhui clique was also known as Anfu group. [24] The Anfu Club was bribed by Japan to implement in Mongolia the strategies of Japan. [25]

The War Participation Army was renamed the Northwestern Frontier Army. Duan gave control of it to his right-hand, Xu Shuzheng, member of the Pro Japanese Anhui clique in the Chinese government. They announced the expedition was at the invitation of several Mongolian princes to protect Mongolia from Bolshevik incursions. It was supposed to begin in July 1919, but the train broke down. In October, Xu led a spearhead group of 4,000 that quickly captured Urga without resistance. Another 10,000 troops followed to occupy the rest of the country. The successful invasion was met with acclaim throughout China, even by Sun Yat-sen's rival southern government although Sun's telegram could be interpreted sarcastically. [26] The Japanese were the ones who ordered the pro Japanese Chinese warlords to occupy Mongolia in order to halt a possibly revolutionary spillover from the Russian revolutionaries into Mongolia and Northern China. [27] After the Chinese completed the occupation, the Japanese then abandoned them and left them on their own. Manlaibaatar Damdinsüren said that "I can defend Mongolia from China and Red Russia".

In 1919 the Mongolian council of Khans were addressed by Xu Shuzheng in a speech which was condescending. [28] In February 1920, Xu presided over a very humiliating ceremony in which Bogd Khan and other leaders were forced to kowtow before him and the Five Races Under One Union flag. This event marked the beginning of active resistance against Chinese rule which coalesced into the Mongolian People's Party.

Domestic politics in China soon changed the situation dramatically. The invasion had caused alarm for Zhang Zuolin, the powerful warlord of Manchuria, who was upset that such a large army was moved so close to his territory. He joined the chorus of critics such as Cao Kun and Wu Peifu calling for the removal of the Anhui clique. In July, they forced President Xu Shichang to remove Xu Shuzheng from his position. In response, Xu Shuzheng moved the bulk of his forces to confront his enemies in China. Both he and Duan Qirui were defeated in the ensuing Zhili–Anhui War. This left only a few Chinese troops in Mongolia without their leadership. [29]

Many of the Chinese troops during the occupation were Tsahar (Chahar) Mongols from Inner Mongolia, which has been a major cause for animosity between Outer Mongols (Khalkhas) and Inner Mongols. [30]

The Tüsheet Khan Aimag's Prince Darchin Ch'in Wang was a supporter of Chinese rule while his younger brother Tsewang was a supporter of Ungern-Sternberg. [31]

The Chinese sent a honghuzi led band of Chahar Inner Mongols to fight against the Outer Mongols but the Tushegoun Lama killed them. [32] [33] [34] [35] Both the Chinese army and Baron Ungern von Sternberg's force contained Chahar Inner Mongol soldiers, who participating in kidnapping local Outer Mongol women in addition to looting and mutilating the Outer Mongols. [36] [37] The plundering Inner Mongol Chahars were recruited by the Chinese High Commissioner Wu Tsin Lao with the deliberate knowledge that they would engage in looting. [38] Deserters, including Russians, from Ungern's forces were punished or killed by the Chahar Inner Mongols in Ungern-Sternberg's army. [39] The Soviet Red Army crushed the Chahar Mongol unit of Ungern Sternberg's forces. [40]

In October, the White Russian Baron R. F. von Ungern-Sternberg [41] swept into Mongolia from the north and fought many battles with the Chinese garrison stationed in Urga before capturing it in February 1921 There he defeated the Chinese forces and restored Bogd Khan as monarch. At around the same time, the MPP engaged in its first battle against Chinese troops. "After the defeat of the Chinese army, two thousand Chinese petitioned the Living Buddha to enlist in his legions. They were accepted and formed into two regiments, wearing as insignia the old Chinese silver dragons." [42] [43] [44] [45] [46]

The reconquest of Outer Mongolia was assigned to Zhang Zuolin. [47] [48] [49] A joint MPP-Red Army expedition led by Soviet Red commanders and Damdin Sükhbaatar defeated the Baron in August. The Soviet forces against Ungern-Sternberg were led by Konstantin Konstantinovich Rokossovsky. [50] Tensions leading up to the First Zhili–Fengtian War and the apparent victory of the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War led to the end of China's involvement. Reincarnations, Abbots, and Lamas were imprisoned or executed by the Soviets. [51] China rejected the Soviet intervention. [52]

The Transbaikalia Cossack Ataman was Semyonov. [53] A Mongol–Buryat republic was declared in January 1919 by Semyonov. [54] A "Buryat National Department" was created by Semyonov and the Buryat elite like intelligentsia, lamas, and noyons were summoned by the Semyonov and the Japanese in February 1919. [55] The aim was to unite Buryatia, Tuva, Outer Mongolia, and Inner Mongolia into one Mongol state, discussed at the February 1919 Chita "Pan-Mongol" congress led by the Japanese and Semyonov's Transbaikal Buryats. [56] A "Provisional Government" was set up after the February 1919 meeting. [57] Russian officered Chahars and Honghuzi served in Semyonov 's army. [58] [59] Chahars made up a division. [60] [61] There were Chahars, Tungus, Buryats, Tatars, Bashkirs, and others in the army. [62] The Chahar Inner Mongols numbered around 2,000 and were placed in the "Wild Division" of OMO led by General Levitskii. [63] The White Army cavalry of Semyonov drafted 1,800 Buryats while Buryats were also recruited by the Bolsheviks. [64] In Trans-Baikalia Semyonov was joined by Kappel who commanded Aleksandr Vasil'evich Kolchak's rearguard. [65] Semyonov and Kolchak were allied. [66] From 1916-1919 the Buryats were subjected to Japanese propaganda. [67] The Paris Peace Conference was attended by representatives from the "Dauria Government" of the pan-Mongol initiative established in February 1919 by Semyonov. [68] Since the Versatile Peace Conference of 1919 did not recognize the Daurija government of Semyonov, the Japanese withdrew their support from Semyonov. [69] A machine gunning of 350 captives from a train was arranged in August 1919 by Semyonov. [70] At Chita a meeting between an American captain and Semyonov was cancelled in December 1919. [71]

Fushenge led the Bargut and Karachen (Karachin) Mongol soldiers and entrusted the training of them to Ungern. [72] [73] The Pan Mongolist Inner Mongolian Prince Fushenge was participating in the Pan-Mongol conference with Ungern when they sent representatives to Versailles, but Ungern developed a distate for the idea of the pan-Mongol state, and no Outer Mongol bothered to attend the conference- the Bogd Khan rejected the idea of a pan-Mongol state, since he did not want to lose his power to the Japanese and Semenov and did not want to provoke China so he rejected a delegation from Dauria which Fushenge participated in. [74] Ungern's Russian officers in Dauria were trilling the Inner Mongol soldiers of Fushenge and Buriat soldiers, but hostility was developing between the Inner Mongols and Buriats. [75] After being assigned to attack Urga, Mongol soldiers of General Fussenge refused to participate and in response the Japanese and OMO massacred them all. [76]

After a brief period of constitutional monarchy, the Mongolian People's Republic was established in 1924 which would last until 1992.

The Chinese Army and Soviet Red Army defeated the rest of the White Russians like Kazagrandi and Suharev as they fled and abandoned Ungern. [77] The Chinese army in June 1921 defeated a 350 strong White Russian unit led by Colonel Kazagrandi, most of them died in battle while 42 became prisoners. [78]

It was proposed that Zhang Zuoling's domain (the Chinese "Three Eastern Provinces") take Outer Mongolia under its administration by the Bogda Khan and Bodo in 1922 after pro-Soviet Mongolian Communists seized control of Outer Mongolia. [31]

For China, the occupation indirectly led to the permanent breakup of the Beiyang Army and the fall of strongman Duan Qirui. This marked the period of high warlordism as the former officers of Yuan Shikai battled each other for many years to come. Many White Russian guerrillas became mercenaries in China after the occupation. Along with the Siberian Intervention, it was the only foreign military expedition carried out by the Beiyang government. The Republic of China government continued to claim Mongolia as part of its territory until 1946, following the 1945 Mongolian independence referendum which voted for independence, but retracted recognition of Mongolian independence in 1953 over Soviet assistance of the Communist side in the Chinese Civil War.

In 2002, the Republic of China announced that it now recognized Mongolia as an independent country, [79] excluding Mongolia from the official maps of the Republic of China and requiring Mongolian citizens visiting Taiwan to produce passports. [80] Informal relations were established between Mongolia and Taiwan via trade offices in Ulan Bator and Taipei, albeit without formal diplomatic recognition due to the One-China policy, as Mongolia recognizes the People's Republic of China. No legislative actions were taken to address concerns over the Republic of China's constitutional claims to Mongolia, as amending the Constitution of the Republic of China is a politically sensitive issue because of the political status of Taiwan.

Buryats served in Ungern Sternberg's army since Russians abused the Buryats and Stalin was furious over this. [81] During Stalin's persecutions, Mongolia became a refuge for fleeing Buryats. [82] The Soviets used tactics to divided the Mongols away from the Tuvans and Buryats. [83] Soviet media launched an anti-Buddhist campaign in Buryatia. [84] Mongol nationalism in Transbaikalia and Buryatia was equated with Grigorii Semenov by the Mongolian Communists and Soviets. [85] The Soviets faced opposition in their anti-religious campaign from Buryat clerics. [86] The Buryat-Mongolia Communist Party First Secretary Verbanov was executed in Stalin's purge. [87] A Russian President now rules Buryatia and Russians make up the majority of Buryatia's population, after massive Buryat deaths during Russian rule and the settlement of Buryatia by Russians. [88]

Why wasn’t Tuva made a Union Republic of the USSR?

In the 1920s, after the formation of the Soviet Union, communism rose in neighboring Tuva and Mongolia who were breaking from Chinese influence.

These states remained independent of the USSR through the Second World War (although the NKVD effectively controlled both countries via terror). Mongolia and Tuva both sent legions to aid the Soviets against Germany.

In 1944, around the same time the Crimean Tatars were deported to the east, Tuva folded itself into the USSR. However, instead of becoming a Union Republic of the USSR, what would have been it’s 16th Union Republic, it was directly annexed into the Russian Federation.

This meant that upon dissolution of the USSR in 1991, Tyva remained part of Russia, and did not receive independence.

In the other spot where this is the case, Kaliningrad, it makes sense. The area has a (imported) great majority Russian population, and is a very strategic area it would make sense for the Soviets to annex it directly to the Russian Federation in case the USSR ever broke up. And we see the benefits of this today, as Russia has their Baltic base.

But in Tyva it makes no sense why it was folded into Russia itself, it doesn’t appear that Russia has any strategic advantage from having Tyva, in fact it’s one of the poorest republics in all of Russia. So why would they make the move in 1944 not to give Tuva it’s own union republic status when it joined the USSR?


The first postage stamps of the newly proclaimed Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were designed by Georgy Pashkov and issued in August 1923 in relation to the First All-Russian Agricultural and Handicraft Exhibition. [2]

Exhibition general view,
7 rubles

The first series of the USSR definitive stamps known as the Gold Standard issue appeared in October 1923. Their design proposed by Ivan Shadr included the busts of the worker, Red Army soldier and peasant. [3] [2] Also, there was a plan to sell more stamps in the international market. By targeting stamps for sales abroad, the Soviet government reckoned on earning hard currency. [3]

Worker, soldier and peasant,
3rd definitive issue, 1929

Lenin, 3rd definitive issue, 1929

Over the years, there was a steady increase in the number of different stamps issued annually by the USSR. [3] Stamp denominations continued including international postage rates. For instance, most new issues during 1939 and 1940 had face values between 10 and 30 kopecks, i.e. more than those for standard internal postage. [3]

Factory woman, 5th definitive issue

125th birth anniversary
of Taras Shevchenko

Dairy farming, milkmaid with prize cow, All-Union Agricultural Exhibition

Emblem "Tractor Driver and Kolkhoz Woman", All-Union Agricultural Exhibition

Central Pavilion, All-Union Agricultural Exhibition

Glider, Soviet Aviation Day

Parachutists, Soviet Aviation Day

Airman, 6th definitive issue

20th anniversary of the
Perekop operation

One of the important topics represented on the USSR stamps was the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It was usually done in two ways: [3]

  • dedicating stamps to numerous remarkable Party members, both the living and the deceased,
  • placing the Party slogans and resolutions.

Stalin souvenir sheet of 1949 celebrating the 70th birth anniversary of Joseph Stalin.

Be a Hero!, the first USSR stamp dedicated to the Great Patriotic War, 1941.

"Long live the victory of the Anglo-Soviet-American fighting alliance! (Stalin)", a 1943 stamp marking the Tehran Conference.

Vladimir Lenin was pictured on Soviet stamps most often among the Bolsheviks, with the first Leniniana stamps appeared after his death on January 1924. Lifetime images of Party members on stamps were used to emphasize the theme of state power. One of such examples was a 1935 set of stamps commemorating Mikhail Kalinin's 60th birthday and depicting him as a worker, a farmer, and an orator. These Kalinin stamps illustrated the motive powers of the Soviet state: the worker, the farmer, and the Communist Party. Such a practice is considered a worldwide trend when in-power politicians are shown on postage stamps symbolizing the state. [3] [4]

The Party slogans and resolutions on Soviet stamps changed over time. Earlier stamp themes in the 1920s reflected, though indirectly, the spirit of New Economic Policy. Since 1929, stamps had been used for a clear declaration of the changed economic policies. When Joseph Stalin initiated industrialisation, a special set of stamps was issued to support this effort. For example, the 10-kopecks stamp showed a series of tractors, saying "Let us increase the harvest by 35%". An inscription on the 20-kopecks stamp called for "More metal, more machines!". The 28-kopecks stamp pictured a blast furnace, a chart for iron-ore production and the slogan "Iron, 8 million tons". [3] [5]

"For the lower cost of goods sold, for work discipline, for the better quality of a product"

"Let us increase the harvest by 35%"

After the Great Patriotic War, the government used stamps to call for economic reconstruction and mobilisation. A 1946 stamp issue summoned: "Give the country annually 127 million tons of grain", "60 million tons of oil", "60 million tons of steel", "500 million tons of coal", and "50 million tons of cast iron". [3] [6]

"Give the country annually 127 million tons of grain", 1946

"By 1980 livestock, cattle and chickens will be significantly increased. Production of meat will grow almost 4 times,
milk almost 3 times", 1962

Short heroic slogans of the Stalin period calling for economic mobilization were substituted on Soviet stamps in the post-Stalin years. Party platforms with rather lengthy excerpts from Party documents and congresses' resolutions appeared on stamps at that time. Such was, for instance, the series of "Decisions of the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union—into Life" that was designed by Vasily Zavyalov and A. Shmidshtein, and issued in 1962. [3] [7]

In later years, the style of stamp messages continued, differing from those of the Stalin times. They were no longer brief imperative commands but rather promises and explanations by the Party to Soviet society. For example, on a 1971 souvenir sheet from the 24th Party Congress series designed by Yu. Levinovsky and A. Shmidshtein, there was an inscription saying that "the main problem is to provide a significant increase of the material and cultural level of life of the people on the basis of high rates of development of socialist production, an increase of its effectiveness, scientific-technical progress, and an acceleration of the growth of the productiveness of labor". [3] [8] [note 1]

Such messages were typical of stamps for the Brezhnev and post-Brezhnev period until the changes occurred under Mikhail Gorbachev. [3] New slogans, "perestroika", "uskoreniye", "demokratizatsiya", and "glasnost", were coined and appeared on the postage stamps of the USSR.

Alt.culture.tuva FAQ Version 1.49, Part 1 of 2 (October 15, 2001)

Table of Contents - Part 1:

1: How can I get a copy of this Frequently Asked Questions list?
2. Are there any WWW sites for Tuva?
3: What is Tuva?
4: What is all the fuss about?
5: How can I contact X in Tuva?
6: What's this about two voices from one singer?
7: Where can I find out more? (Friends of Tuva)
8: Are there any video tapes about Tuva?
9: Does anyone still collect the old Tuvan stamps?
10: What can you tell me about travel to Tuva?
11: How can I learn to sing khoomei?
12: How did the "Tannu" get into "Tannu Tuva"?

Table of Contents - Part 2:

13: Any recommended reading about Tuva?
14: Any recommended reading about Feynman?
15: Are audio recordings available?

Questions and Answers:

1: How can I get a copy of this Frequently Asked Questions list?
A: You're reading it, aren't you? :-) Save it! The FAQ is posted monthly to the Usenet newsgroup alt.culture.tuva. The latest version is also available online at the Friends of Tuva WWW site (see below for the location).

2. Are there any WWW sites for Tuva?
A: Try the Friends of Tuva site at http://www.FOTuva.org

This has all of the old Friends of Tuva Newsletters, along with all kinds of neat stuff like the HTML version of this FAQ and numerous photos.

    Michael Connor's Tuvan rafting trip site at http://fargo.itp.tsoa.nyu.edu/

3: What is Tuva?
A: The Republic of Tuva is the former Tannu Tuva, a country in south Siberia absorbed by the former USSR in 1944. Tuva was at one time an oblast of Russia, and then the Tuvinskaya ASSR, and is now a member of the Russian Federation.

Tuva is arguably in the centre of Asia, nestled just north of Mongolia between the Sayan mountains in the north and the Tannu Ola mountains in the south, with an area of 171,300 square kilometres, somewhat larger than England and Wales. Tuva lies between 89 degrees and 100 degrees east longitude, and 49 and 53 degrees north latitude.

Tuva's population is 308,000 (about 64 percent Tuvan and about 32 percent Russian). The capital city of Kyzyl (pronounced stressing the second syllable) (population 75,000) lies at the confluence of two major forks of the Yenisei River.

Tuva was known under its Mongol name of Uriankhai until 1922 and deserves interest for the fact that it was twice annexed by Russia within 30 years without the world paying the slightest attention. The first annexation came in 1914 when Russia proclaimed Tuva a protectorate of Russia, and the second time was in 1944 when the People's Republic of Tuva was transformed into an administrative unit of the USSR.

Since 1992 the Republic of Tuva has been a member of the Russian Federation, but this does not imply a large degree of independence from Russia. As one would expect of a Russian republic, the working language in the capital and other larger centres is Russian, but in the countryside and in less formal situations the working language is Tuvan. The Tuvan language is closely related to certain ancient languages (Old Oghuz and Old Uighur) and modern ones (Karagas and Yakut). Tuvan belongs to the Uighur group of Turkic languages, forming a special Old Oghuz subgroup with Old Oghuz, Old Uighur, and Karagas.

The ethnic composition of the Tuvan people is complex, comprising several Turkic groups, as well as Mongol, Samoyed, and Ket elements, assimilated in a Turkic-speaking element. These ethnic traits (Mongol, Samoyed, Ket elements) also apply to the language. There are many Mongol loan words in Tuvan, and many words having to do with modern Western culture has been borrowed from Russian. The Turkic elements are common to the Tuvan, Altai, Khakas, and Karagas peoples.

4: What is all the fuss about?
A: In 1977 Nobel Laureate (Physics) and raconteur Richard Feynman asked "What ever happened to Tannu Tuva?" One of his friends, Ralph Leighton, helped Feynman turn their search for information on this country into a real adventure, as explained in Leighton's book "Tuva or Bust". Feynman's interest originated in the 1930's when Tuva, in a philatelic orgy, issued many oddball stamps memorable for their shapes (diamonds and triangles) as well as their scenery (men on camels racing a train, a man on horseback with a dirigible above him, and so on).

When they looked Tuva up in the atlas, they saw that the capital was Kyzyl, and decided that any place with a name like that must be interesting! They also soon found out that a monument near Kyzyl marked the centre of Asia, and that some Tuvans sang with 2 voices - one voice usually a lower drone and the second voice a high pitched flute-like sound, both from the same person. This information piqued their curiosity and things snowballed.

  • The Lyceum in Kyzyl can be reached at:
    16 Lenina Street,
    667001 Kyzyl, Republic of Tuva,
    Russian Federation
    tel: (39422) 3-65-30 [email protected]
  • The Lyceum's students have made the first Tuvinian web-site in Russian at: http://solar.cini.utk.edu/partners/harmony/ISLP/tuva-ph.htm
  • Khoomei scholar Dr. Zoya Kyrgys can be reached at:
    Director, International Scientific Center "Khoomei,"
    46 Shchetinkin-Kravchenko Street,
    667000 Kyzyl, Republic of Tuva,
    Russian Federation
    Fax: (7) 394-22 3-67-22.
  • Anyone in Kyzyl can be FAXed at:
    Kyzyl Business Center: 011-7-39422 36722
    Keep in mind that the recipient has to pay a fee to pick up the FAX.

6: What's this about two voices from one singer?
A: It's called ``khoomei'', or throat singing, and numerous CD's are available. This is not unique to Tuva - singers come from Mongolia as well, and the Tantric Gyuto Monks of Tibet (now living in India), also practice this two-note singing in their chanting. They also have several recordings available.

7: Where can I find out more (Friends of Tuva)?
A: Friends of Tuva is an organization headquartered in Tiburon, California, founded and run by Ralph Leighton. It is a central clearing-house for information about Tuva and Tuva-related merchandise.

The FoT newsletter is no longer available by mail, but is available only on the WWW at the FoT site (see elsewhere in this FAQ for the address).

FoT also has a variety of wonderful things for sale, including many of the recordings and videos listed here (recordings, books, maps, etc.). The goods are very reasonably priced, and anyone seeking to learn more about current news related to Tuva would do well to browse through the back issues of the newsletters available on the WWW.

Friends of Tuva can be reached at:

Friends of Tuva
Box 182, Belvedere, CA
94920, USA
phone or FAX (415) 789-1177

8: Are there any video tapes about Tuva?
A: Yes, there are. Many of these are available from Friends of Tuva.

1. The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

A NOVA episode about Richard Feynman. It, as well as "Fun to Imagine" and "Last Journey of a Genius" are about Feynman, although the set of Tuva-heads and the set of Feynman-fans has a large intersection. The Association for Cultural Evolution has a scheme through which the first two tapes may be rented in the USA the third may be purchased. See http://ace-revolution.hypermart.net/materials.htm for details.

2. They Who Know: Shamans of Tuva

A Belgian production in English featuring "45-snowy-I" Ondar Daryma.

Over 7 hours of broadcasts from Tuva TV, all in colour, with a written guide to describe the action.

Alt.culture.tuva's own Jeff Cook had a large hand in this informal documentary on the visit of 3 extraordinary Tuvan performers to California for the Rose Bowl Parade on January 1, 1993. (90 minutes, videotape)

5. Lost Land of Tannu Tuva

Another famous PBS show, narrated by Hal Holbrook.

This 30-minute documentary from the Tuvan Ministry of Culture (in English) features masters past, present, and future. Historical footage from the 1950s shows Tuvans appearing in Moscow for the first time contemporary scenes show Kongar-ool Ondar (pre shaved-head) and some of his students, including Bady-Dorzhu Ondar.

7. Tuva - Shamans and Spirits

Tuva is the setting for the reemergence of ancient spiritual traditions after their near extinction under Soviet communist repression. From the capital of Kyzyl to isolated nomadic yurts in remote alpine mountains, the Tuvan people are rediscovering their indigenous Shamanic and Buddhist rituals and healing arts. A group from the West is invited to participate in the first public forum and display of previously forbidden practices. A good insight into Tuva's recovering shamanism after years of Soviet repression as well as an interesting Tuva travelogue.

Produced in conjunction with the 1993 visit of Foundation for Shamanic Studies members to Tuva, the documentary was completed in 1994 but was not available to the general public (non-members of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies) until 1996, which is a shame I would recommend this to all those interested in spiritual life in modern Tuva.

The documentary is great. Filmed in Kyzyl, Todje, Chadaan, and elsewhere, it is a mini-travelogue of Tuva that showcases various landscapes of the country. I would highly recommend this for anyone who wants to see for themselves what Tuva looks like (albeit on TV).

The video interviews numerous practitioners and shows them at work, explaining the significance of their dress or actions. The video is as realistic and life-like as can be expected without actually being there. The shamans are open and willing to share their histories and their feelings about their work a man who is both a Buddhist monk and a shaman provides a unique insight on Tuvan attitudes towards health and healing.

55 minutes VHS videotape, completed 1996. $30US including tax, shipping, and handling within the USA. Contact: Tom Anderson, PO Box 1119, Point Reyes, CA 94956, USA. Fax (510) 649-9719, or call (510) 649-1485.

Ben Lange ([email protected]) has produced two short videos made during his two visits to Tuva one is a general video of little more than 7 minutes about the beauty of Tuva, and the other is about a winter ceremony by a female shaman (also little over 7 minutes).

These videos have been shown at the Ethnographic Museum in Antwerp, Belgium, since October, 1997, and they are available for purchase from Oibibio, the new-age centre in Amsterdam. The video is no available directly from the producer: NGN produkties O.Ph.(Flip) Nagler Korsjespoortsteeg 16 1015 AR Amsterdam Netherlands tel: +31 (0)20 638 2633 fax: +31 (0)20 638 9199

The video format is PAL (NTSC can be arranged for North Americans). The price is 40 NLG (Dutch Guilders): 30 for the video and 10 postal charges. Currently, this would be about US$20. People can obtain a tape by sending a money order to the producer in Amsterdam, with the amount given above and with their name and address. The tape will be mailed after receipt of the money order. Eurocheques are also accepted. This tape is now available via the Tuva Trader.

9: Does anyone still collect the old Tuvan stamps?
A: Yes, many stamp collectors are devoted to the old diamond-shaped and triangular stamps of Tuva from the 1920's and 1930's. These stamps feature many fanciful images of people, animals, machinery, and nature (sometimes all on the same stamp!).

TTCS member Eric Slone has produced The Tuva Files, a Windows and Mac CD-ROM with philatelic information and other data. The philatelic contents include high-resolution scans of Tuva's stamps (early and modern issues), postal cancels, postal stationary, covers, postcards, a collection of Tuvan philatelic literature featuring Blekhman's postal history of Tuva (in English) and more. The many other items of interest to Tuva-philes include Tuvan fonts, a nearly-complete archive of all posts to alt.culture.tuva, the contents of a few WWW sites, several maps, and more. Contact the Tuva Trader (http://www.tuvatrader.com) for more information.

10: What can you tell me about travel to Tuva?


Some flight information is available online at http://geocities.com/ai320/av_misc.htm#tu . This includes data on the fabled and feared Yak-40 jet airliners.

In Moscow in 1995 it was possible to purchase a ticket to Kyzyl for about $150 US (cheaper than a flight from Moscow to Abakan, which costs about $250 US). As of February, 1998, the asking price according to Victor Akiphen is $500 US for the return flight.

The entity that used to be Aeroflot doesn't exist any more, and several smaller (more regional) airlines are filling in the holes some even lease their planes from Aeroflot. The Aeroflot in Kyzyl is a different company than the one in Moscow, and that's still a different company from the one in Montreal.

Yak airlines flies once a week to and from Kyzyl, from Moscow. There are stops both ways in Omsk, lasting about 1.5 hours. Route 727 flies from Moscow to Kyzyl on Saturdays. Route 728 returns from Kyzyl to Moscow on Sundays. The quoted price is $148.00 each way (please note: in general, in Russia and the former Soviet Union, there is no such thing as a ``round trip rate''. Round trip is simply twice the one-way rate.

The Yak Flight Director, Victor Akiphen(r?), is a nice guy, a mountain climber, and speaks some English. He can be reached in Moscow at 151-66-92 or 151-89-86, or by fax at 956-16-13, and will be happy to provide further info and assistance. By the way, Yak's planes are OK, and the service is pretty decent by Russian standards. If you contact Victor, please give him Steve Sklar's regards.

As of November 1997, there were weekly flights from Moscow to Kyzyl on Sundays, leaving Vnukovo Airport (take Bus #511 from Metro Station "Yugo-Zapadnaya"), at 21:45 (9:45pm) on "Yak Service" flight IB 727, arriving in Kyzyl at 08:15 Monday mornings. Flights from Kyzyl to Moscow are on Mondays at 12:25 pm ("Yak Service" flight IB 728), arriving in Moscow at 14:45 (2:25pm) Monday afternoons. This is presumably the flight that previously departed Moscow Saturdays (listed above) and stopped at Omsk enroute to Kyzyl.

As of April, 1999, Yak Service from Moscow Vnukovo to Kyzyl is now non-stop. Current cost is supposedly 1500 roubles (cheap like borscht!). Flights are still Sunday evening to Kyzyl, Monday morning to Moscow.

Other flights are still available via Abakan. Khakkasia Airlines fly as follows to Moscow Domodedevo:

Moscow to Abakan Wed, Fri, Sun, dep. 22:55, arr. 07:25 1450 roubles Abakan to Kyzyl Mon, Wed, Fri, dep. 07:05, arr. 08:00 250 roubles

Kyzyl to Abakan Mon, Wed, Fri, dep. 08:40, arr. 09:30 250 roubles Abakan to Moscow Wed, Fri, dep. 09:30, arr. 10:20 1450 roubles Sun, dep. 19:30, arr. 20:25 1450 roubles


In Moscow, use the blue Aeroflot transit busses to go from any airport to the central Aerovokzal (Airstation) where you can either change to another bus to another airport, or get on the Metro (nearest is 'Aerport' station on the 'V. I. Lenin' - pale green - line). The Aerovokzal is next to the Aeroflot hotel.

Busses to and from Vnukovo cost 12 roubles plus 3 roubles for luggage, take 70 minutes and leave hourly between 06:10 and 23:10.

Busses to and from Sheremetevo cost 12 roubles, 3 roubles for luggage, take 45 minutes and leave every hour between 07:15 and 23:15.

Busses to and from Domodedevo take 1 hour 40 minutes, cost 18 roubles plus 5 roubles for bags and leave hourly between 06:30 and 22:30.

From Novosibirsk, trains head south to Abakan where there are frequent buses to Kyzyl. The bus between Abakan and Kyzyl takes about 7 hours and costs 85 roubles (as of April, 1999). Some prefer the daytime bus, not the overnight, to arrive in Tuva overland, and later leaving by air to get the morning bird's eye view. Be warned, the bus ride looks long and challenging.

Bring lots of new bills. Outside of Moscow and a few other large, western Russian cities, they don't accept American Express. Or Visa. Or traveller's checks. Or anything. You must have 1990 or newer dollars, preferably very new, and they must be unwrinkled, untorn and unmarked if you don't want difficulties.

Although the exchange rate in Kyzyl is theoretically higher than in Moscow, you may want to exchange at least some money in Moscow. In previous years Kyzyl's banks sometimes had no roubles to exchange.

The exchange rate "on the street" in Moscow may be better than that in the bank in Kyzyl or via official channels in Moscow, but be careful. Exchanging money on the street is illegal and the penalty includes a fine as well as confiscation of your money. You also risk being cheated (robbed or given counterfeit bills) or you may get a worse exchange rate than that offered by the banks.

Recent travellers advise that when possible, you should exchange your money in a bank. Problems with the availability of roubles do not exist any more.

As of the summer of 1998, there is an ATM in Kyzyl - in one bank only, for now. It is in a main street backyard establishment (ask for it, in front of OVIR and Bank of Tuva). It works with Visa cards.

  • Gary Wintz
    • 1247 Lincoln Bl. PMB 232 Santa Monica, CA 90401 tel/fax 310.822.7908 email: [email protected]
    • An independent guide who has worked with Catapult Adventures for 6 years. Email: [email protected]

    You don't need to have Kyzyl listed on your visa any more, but it is advisable and will generate less hassle.

    There is a classical process to obtain a visa in order to travel freely through all Russia. The classical process makes it almost impossible to travel there independently and without personal invitation. The Lonely Planet guide for Russia has a section on visas. This section is very complicated but details the best (quickest) way to get a visa - this has worked for some correspondents but be warned that there is some question as to whether this approach is completely legal.

    Patience and flexibility are the greatest of virtues. Practice the mantra ``we will wait, and we will see''.

    11: How can I learn to sing khoomei?
    A: It's not easy the best singers begin their training before they can walk. However, it's not impossible to learn later.

    • Dan Bennett has volunteered his advice, reproduced below.
    • Steve Sklar ([email protected]) has some online instructions at
      http:// www.khoomei.com
    • I also recommend an excellent pamphlet, "Khoomei - How To's and Why's" by Michael Emory, PO Box 648, Westbury, NY, USA, 11590. Michael's illustrations, while not exactly helpful, are fantastic. His text is quite useful.
    • Teachers are available for seminars or workshops in North America. Steve Sklar is both reachable online ([email protected]) and willing to travel to teach.

    The absolute best advice was offered by Ralph Leighton, namely, listen to masters and imitate.

    How to Sing Khoomei (by Dan Bennett, [email protected] )

    Khoomei is easiest for men. I *have* heard a recording of a Mongolian Kazakh women singing khoomei, but it's simply not so easy or spectacular, because of the higher pitch of the female voice. (Sainkho Namchylak can sing khoomei too.)

    1. Sing a steady note while saying "aah" (to start with). Pitch it in the middle of your range, where you can give it plenty of energy, i.e. - Sing it loudly.

    2. Aim to make the sound as bright - not to say *brash* - as you can. The more energy there is in the harmonics, the louder and clearer they'll be when you start singing khoomei. Practise this for a while.

    3. OK, with this as a basis for the sound generation, you've got to arrange your mouth to become a highly resonant acoustic filter. My style (self-taught, but verified for me by a professional Mongolian khoomei singer I had a lesson with in Ulaanbaatar) is as follows:

    Divide the mouth into two similar-sized compartments by raising your tongue so that it meets the roof of your mouth, a bit like you're saying "L". Spread your tongue a bit so that it makes a seal all the way round. At this point, you won't be able to pass air through your mouth. Then (my technique), break the seal on the left (or right) side of the mouth, simply to provide a route for the air to get through.

    Then (here's the most difficult bit to describe over the net - or even in person, for that matter!), push your lips forward a bit, and by carefully (and intuitively) adjusting the position of your lips, tongue, cheeks, jaw, etc, you can sing Mongolian khoomei!

    Put it this way: the *aim* of the khoomei singer ("khoomigch") is to emphasize ONE of the harmonics which are already present in the sound generated by the throat. This is achieved because he is forming a resonant cavity, which (a) is tuned to the chosen harmonic (overtone), and (b) has a high resonance, or "Q" factor. By adjusting the geometry and tension of your mouth you can choose which harmonic you're emphasizing, and thus sing a tune.

    12: How did the "Tannu" get into "Tannu Tuva"?
    A: Several Mongolians and the band Ozum were asked about the word "Tannu" they did not know the word or its source. Mongolians and Tuvans both answered "it may not be Tannu, it must be Tangdy". They opined that it must be a Tuvan term it is certainly not Mongolian. Their guess is that Tangdy is the word printed on some maps as "Tannu-Ola" (in Tuvan dictionaries this appears as "Tangdy cyny" or "Tangdy-Uula"). As you may know, tangdy (ta"ng"dy) means "high mountain" or "taiga surrounded by high mountain" in Tuvan.

    Here is some supporting information, mainly from a book by S. A. Shoizhelov (Matson), Tuvinskaya Noonday Republican, Moscow 1930. (Written in Oct. 1929).

    Tuva was indeed called "Tang-nu Wulianghai". The Czarist Russians called Tuva "Uryanhai". P. 29-30 of the above mentioned book talks about a "Russo-Uryanhai regional meeting", in which, of course, a resolution was passed. This meeting was after, and supposedly in response to, the February Revolution of 1917. The meeting was held in Byelotsarsk, and was convened by the Immigrants' Administration (Pereselencheskogo Upravleniya). Kyzyl was called Byelotsarsk ("White Tsar Town") from 1914 until 1918, then was known as Khem-Beldyr until 1926, and has been called Kyzyl since then.

    Article One of this resolution refers to "Tannu-Uryanh[a]i", obviously a corruption or Russianization of "Tang-nu Wulianghai".

    Once the Russians decided to call the Tuvans "Tuvans" and not "Uryanhais", then it was a natural step for them to quit calling the place "Tannu-Uryanhai" and call it "Tannu-Tuva" instead.

    In his discussion of the first meeting of the Party in Tuva, Natsov refers to the "Tannu-Tuva", but then afterwards it is always simply "Tuva". At the founding of the nominally independent state, it was called the Tannu-Tuvan People's Republic, but that soon afterward, in just a few years, the "Tannu" was dropped.

    As we all know, the first Tuvan postage stamps, issued in 1926, have "Ta Ty" for Tangdy Tyva on them. The next issue, from 1927, has just "Tyva".

    Baylan Cannol, a systems engineer from Teeli, Tuva, confirms that yes, "Tannu" is a corrupted form of "Tangdy". During the era of the Tannu-Tyva Arat Republic (TAR) there was a division of Tuvan people into several parts, depending on where the Tuvan lived. The distinct divisions included the "Tangdy Tyvazy" (those living in Tuva) and the "Kalga Tyvazy" (Tuvans living in Mongolia). In those times, Tuvans living in different areas had more relations with each other as one people. Since the union of Tannu Tuva with Russia, Tannu Tuva has almost forgotten the Kalga Tyvazy and other groups.

    Baylan also confirms that 'Tangdy Tyva' doesn't correspond with 'Tangdy Uula', and 'Tangdy Uula' is just a mountain in the south. The word "tangdy" means the same as the word "taiga" (subarctic coniferous forests, which are mainly in Tannu Tuva, not in Mongolia, China etc.).

    [Heroic answers provided by Masahiko Todoriki and Alan Leighton with addition commentary from Baylan Cannol.]

    Tannu Tuva.

    When I was a kid and collected stamps, I remember being struck by the exotic name “Tannu Tuva” as well as the exotic stamps produced under that name (as that article says, “these exotic stamps were popular with young collectors during the middle of the twentieth century”). I’ve been going through some old files and I found a sheet headed “From Alt.culture.tuva FAQ Version 1.41” addressing the question of how that “Tannu” got there, which I apparently printed out in 1999 I was afraid I’d have to copy it out to post it, but it turns out a slightly more recent (2001) version of the FAQ is online here, so I can just copy and paste:

    12: How did the “Tannu” get into “Tannu Tuva”?
    A: Several Mongolians and the band Ozum were asked about the word “Tannu” they did not know the word or its source. Mongolians and Tuvans both answered “it may not be Tannu, it must be Tangdy”. They opined that it must be a Tuvan term it is certainly not Mongolian. Their guess is that Tangdy is the word printed on some maps as “Tannu-Ola” (in Tuvan dictionaries this appears as “Tangdy cyny” or “Tangdy-Uula”). As you may know, tangdy (ta”ng”dy) means “high mountain” or “taiga surrounded by high mountain” in Tuvan.

    Here is some supporting information, mainly from a book by S. A. Shoizhelov (Matson), Tuvinskaya Noonday Republican [copying error for “Narodnaya Respublika”], Moscow 1930. (Written in Oct. 1929).

    Tuva was indeed called “Tang-nu Wulianghai”. The Czarist Russians called Tuva “Uryanhai”. P. 29-30 of the above mentioned book talks about a “Russo-Uryanhai regional meeting”, in which, of course, a resolution was passed. This meeting was after, and supposedly in response to, the February Revolution of 1917. The meeting was held in Byelotsarsk, and was convened by the Immigrants’ Administration (Pereselencheskogo Upravleniya). Kyzyl was called Byelotsarsk (“White Tsar Town”) from 1914 until 1918, then was known as Khem-Beldyr until 1926, and has been called Kyzyl since then.

    Article One of this resolution refers to “Tannu-Uryanh[a]i”, obviously a corruption or Russianization of “Tang-nu Wulianghai”.

    Once the Russians decided to call the Tuvans “Tuvans” and not “Uryanhais”, then it was a natural step for them to quit calling the place “Tannu-Uryanhai” and call it “Tannu-Tuva” instead.

    In his discussion of the first meeting of the Party in Tuva, Natsov refers to the “Tannu-Tuva”, but then afterwards it is always simply “Tuva”. At the founding of the nominally independent state, it was called the Tannu-Tuvan People’s Republic, but that soon afterward, in just a few years, the “Tannu” was dropped.

    As we all know, the first Tuvan postage stamps, issued in 1926, have “Ta Ty” for Tangdy Tyva on them. The next issue, from 1927, has just “Tyva”.

    Baylan Cannol, a systems engineer from Teeli, Tuva, confirms that yes, “Tannu” is a corrupted form of “Tangdy”. During the era of the Tannu-Tyva Arat Republic (TAR) there was a division of Tuvan people into several parts, depending on where the Tuvan lived. The distinct divisions included the “Tangdy Tyvazy” (those living in Tuva) and the “Kalga Tyvazy” (Tuvans living in Mongolia). In those times, Tuvans living in different areas had more relations with each other as one people. Since the union of Tannu Tuva with Russia, Tannu Tuva has almost forgotten the Kalga Tyvazy and other groups.

    Baylan also confirms that ‘Tangdy Tyva’ doesn’t correspond with ‘Tangdy Uula’, and ‘Tangdy Uula’ is just a mountain in the south. The word “tangdy” means the same as the word “taiga” (subarctic coniferous forests, which are mainly in Tannu Tuva, not in Mongolia, China etc.).

    Of course, I have no way of knowing if that’s all true, and any updates, addenda, or random comments are, as always, welcome.


    I remember being struck by the exotic name “Tannu Tuva”

    The Mongolian name for the mountain is Tagna uul, an apparent borrowing from Tuvan.

    Word for taiga in Mongolian is… taiga!

    Yes, taiga is a Russian borrowing from Mongolian which spread to other European languages.

    There may be more names to mention, Tanu-Tuva was also in the documents. And the capital was also Krasnyj Gorodok, Krasnyj, and Uryankhaisk (Khem-Beldyr was more narrowly an ethnic Tyva neighborhood of the Red Town). The country consisted of 7 banners (khoshun

    Mong. khoshuu) subordinated to the Chinese imperial govt. before they slipped away after the 1912 revolution.

    I have nothing to say about the toponims in Tuva, but Tuvinskaya Noonday Republican is bizarre. Should be Tuvinskaya Narodnaya Respublika = People’s Republic of Tuva.

    Heh. I missed that must be an early Cupertino!

    Language Hat readers might also appreciate this
    link to the Wikipedia article on Tannu Uriankhai, which I don’t think anyone has mentioned yet. The Tannu-Ola mountains are also said to be mentioned as the Tanglu mountains in paragraph 200 of the eighth chapter of the Secret History of the Mongols, different editions being available here and here.

    The stamps I have seen all spelled Tannu as Taŋnu.

    The Uriangqai were a people in the area in Genghis Khan’s time, and they also figured in earlier legend.

    At one point there was a controversy as to whether the Tuvan language is Turkish or Mongolian. As I remember, and per Wiki, it’s heavily Mongolized Turkish.

    I keep reading it as Uruk-hai.

    When I was a kid and collected stamps, I remember being struck by the exotic name “Tannu Tuva” as well as the exotic stamps produced under that name

    — I could have written the exact same sentence. Thanks for bringing back a childhood memory. When I was in primary school, I astonished my teacher by identifying all the countries in Africa on a map which only contained their outlines. “How did you know all this?” she asked. “I collect stamps,” I replied.

    I remember the stamp book too, my father’s or uncle’s from 1930 or 1940. My brother may still have it.

    “I keep reading it as Uruk-hai.”

    What a relief. I thought I was the only one.

    It’s not too late, I hope, to cite what may be one of the few references to Tannu Tuva stamps in the corpus of English-language poetry. About half-way down.

    Should I get married? Should I be good?
    Astound the girl next door with my velvet suit and faustus hood?
    Don’t take her to movies but to cemeteries
    tell all about werewolf bathtubs and forked clarinets
    then desire her and kiss her and all the preliminaries
    and she going just so far and I understanding why
    not getting angry saying You must feel! It’s beautiful to feel!
    Instead take her in my arms lean against an old crooked tombstone
    and woo her the entire night the constellations in the sky–

    When she introduces me to her parents
    back straightened, hair finally combed, strangled by a tie,
    should I sit knees together on their 3rd degree sofa
    and not ask Where’s the bathroom?
    How else to feel other than I am,
    often thinking Flash Gordon soap–
    O how terrible it must be for a young man
    seated before a family and the family thinking
    We never saw him before! He wants our Mary Lou!
    After tea and homemade cookies they ask What do you do for a living?
    Should I tell them? Would they like me then?
    Say All right get married, we’re losing a daughter
    but we’re gaining a son–
    And should I then ask Where’s the bathroom?

    O God, and the wedding! All her family and her friends
    and only a handful of mine all scroungy and bearded
    just waiting to get at the drinks and food–
    And the priest! He looking at me if I masturbated
    asking me Do you take this woman for your lawful wedded wife?
    And I trembling what to say say Pie Glue!
    I kiss the bride all those corny men slapping me on the back
    She’s all yours, boy! Ha-ha-ha!
    And in their eyes you could see some obscene honeymoon going on–

    then all that absurd rice and clanky cans and shoes
    Niagara Falls! Hordes of us! Husbands! Wives! Flowers! Chocolates!
    All streaming into cozy hotels
    All going to do the same thing tonight
    The indifferent clerk he knowing what was going to happen
    The lobby zombies they knowing what
    The whistling elevator man he knowing
    The winking bellboy knowing
    Everybody knowing! I’d be almost inclined not to do anything!
    Stay up all night! Stare that hotel clerk in the eye!
    Screaming: I deny honeymoon! I deny honeymoon!
    running rampant into those almost climatic suites
    yelling Radio belly! Cat shovel!
    O I’d live in Niagara forever! in a dark cave beneath the Falls
    I’d sit there the Mad Honeymooner devising ways to break marriages, a scourge of
    bigamy a saint of divorce–

    But I should get married I should be good
    How nice it’d be to come home to her
    and sit by the fireplace and she in the kitchen
    aproned young and lovely wanting by baby
    and so happy about me she burns the roast beef
    and comes crying to me and I get up from my big papa chair
    saying Christmas teeth! Radiant brains! Apple deaf!
    God what a husband I’d make! Yes, I should get married!
    So much to do! like sneaking into Mr Jones’ house late at night
    and cover his golf clubs with 1920 Norwegian books
    Like hanging a picture of Rimbaud on the lawnmower
    like pasting Tannu Tuva postage stamps all over the picket fence
    like when Mrs Kindhead comes to collect for the Community Chest
    grab her and tell her There are unfavorable omens in the sky!
    And when the mayor comes to get my vote tell him
    When are you going to stop people killing whales!
    And when the milkman comes leave him a note in the bottle
    Penguin dust, bring me penguin dust, I want penguin dust–

    Yet if I should get married and it’s Connecticut and snow
    and she gives birth to a child and I am sleepless, worn,
    up for nights, head bowed against a quiet window, the past behind me,
    finding myself in the most common of situations a trembling man
    knowledged with responsibility not twig-smear not Roman coin soup–
    O what would that be like!
    Surely I’d give it for a nipple a rubber Tacitus
    For a rattle bag of broken Bach records
    Tack Della Francesca all over its crib
    Sew the Greek alphabet on its bib
    And build for its playpen a roofless Parthenon

    No, I doubt I’d be that kind of father
    not rural not snow no quiet window
    but hot smelly New York City
    seven flights up, roaches and rats in the walls
    a fat Reichian wife screeching over potatoes Get a job!
    And five nose running brats in love with Batman
    And the neighbors all toothless and dry haired
    like those hag masses of the 18th century
    all wanting to come in and watch TV
    The landlord wants his rent
    Grocery store Blue Cross Gas & Electric Knights of Columbus
    Impossible to lie back and dream Telephone snow, ghost parking–
    No! I should not get married and I should never get married!
    But–imagine if I were to marry a beautiful sophisticated woman
    tall and pale wearing an elegant black dress and long black gloves
    holding a cigarette holder in one hand and highball in the other
    and we lived high up a penthouse with a huge window
    from which we could see all of New York and even farther on clearer days
    No I can’t imagine myself married to that pleasant prison dream–

    O but what about love? I forget love
    not that I am incapable of love
    it’s just that I see love as odd as wearing shoes–
    I never wanted to marry a girl who was like my mother
    And Ingrid Bergman was always impossible
    And there maybe a girl now but she’s already married
    And I don’t like men and–
    but there’s got to be somebody!
    Because what if I’m 60 years old and not married,
    all alone in furnished room with pee stains on my underwear
    and everybody else is married! All in the universe married but me!

    Ah, yet well I know that were a woman possible as I am possible
    then marriage would be possible–
    Like SHE in her lonely alien gaud waiting her Egyptian lover
    so I wait–bereft of 2,000 years and the bath of life.

    Why did the USSR annex Tannu Tuva? - History

    I have a similar though different problem.

    >Playing as Russian Empire (Fascist Soviet Union)

    >Germany likes me, +60 mutual opinion of each other

    >All is going well while I'm invading the Baltic states

    >Germany invites me to Axis

    >Realize I can manually join the Allies if I wanted to

    >Not in the Comintern because Mongolia and Tannu Tuva left it when I turned Fascist

    >I can join either side and fight two different versions of the same war

    >Let's just expand a bit before deciding

    >Germany declares war on me

    >After you were about to invite me to the Axis

    >Realize later that the only single reason they declared war on me is because they got the "War with the USSR" focus.

    Overall I think they should be reworked to not force the AI into doing the same/similar things over and over again. I don't want Germany to be guaranteed to eventually declare war on the Soviet Union.

    @Usernamehere - The Germans want the Soviet Union under Axis control. Either through force or diplomacy.

    If you want to get away from those two options then you are going to need to look into mods that change the focus trees. Those trees are what guide the AI.

    @Usernamehere - The Germans want the Soviet Union under Axis control. Either through force or diplomacy.

    If you want to get away from those two options then you are going to need to look into mods that change the focus trees. Those trees are what guide the AI.

    @Usernamehere - The Germans want the Soviet Union under Axis control. Either through force or diplomacy.

    If you want to get away from those two options then you are going to need to look into mods that change the focus trees. Those trees are what guide the AI.

    I just hate how the Germans seems to always do that. There's little or no room for alternate history, besides what the player does. That´s almost the point of game. Also there is no game without war, so at least somehow there must be way to it in any situation.

    And btw there is no reason why fascist states should be natural allies, actually Hitler wanted Russian territory for his nation("lebensraum"), he did not need care so much who was in ruling party.

    Watch the video: THE TUVANS - Buddhism, shamanism, throat singing, wrestlers, khuresh. Cultures of Russia (May 2022).