chapter  7
The End of an Era Russia and Bukhara, 1880–1884
Pages 12

In the early 1880’s a conflict arose between Tashkent and St. Petersburg over Bukhara’s future, similar to that over Khiva’s future in the mid-seventies. Advocates of the annexation of Bukhara had never been lacking. N.P.Stremoukhov cited with approval the alleged opinion of many Bukharans in 1874 that the khanate could not long maintain its independence and would sooner or later be annexed to Russia.1 The following year Baron A.G.Jomini, senior councillor and acting director of the foreign ministry, told William Doria, Britain’s acting chargé d’affaires, that Russia must eventually annex Bukhara and Kokand as India must eventually annex Afghanistan.2 The annexation of Bukhara was viewed as merely a question of time by the geographer M.I.Veniukov in 1877 and by Captain Putiata and the Swiss traveler Henri Moser in 1883.3

Except for Kaufman’s support of the annexation of Khiva in the mid-1870’s, he in general tolerated the continued autonomy of Bukhara and Khiva because he was convinced of their inevitable collapse. Faced with St. Petersburg’s implacable opposition to annexation, Kaufman was willing to wait. He believed that the example of good government and material prosperity set by Russian Turkestan would in the long run give rise to stresses and strains within the khanates that they would not be able to survive.4 By the beginning of the 1880’s Kaufman was able to report with smug satisfaction that Bukhara and Khiva were already disintegrating; the impression made on their populations by Russia’s example was so great, in fact, that they must be kept from gravitating too strongly toward Russia. The governor general pointed to the immigration of Bukharans into Russian Turkestan, especially the Zarafshan Okrug, where they made more acute the shortage of irrigated land.5 Kaufman exaggerated the significance of the Bukharan immigration, for the numbers involved were relatively small, and many were migrant workers who returned to their homes in Bukhara at the end of the harvest season. Moreover, Bukhara received a sizable number of immigrants from Afghan Turkestan and Badakhshan, refugees from the unsettled conditions there.6 Whereas General von Kaufman coukl find

consolation in the thought that Bukhara and Khiva would collapse in the not too distant future, he could never reconcile himself to the indefinite prolongation of their existence. In his final report on his term as governor general he deplored the “evil economic organization in the khanates which keeps the working mass in desperate poverty, under the permanent oppression of the administration and tax and property abuses.” He ascribed the poor condition of the Amu-Darya Otdel to “the oppression and ruin of the work-loving majority of the population under Khivan rule.” Finally, he proposed that the expensive “natural subsidy” that Russia provided to the emir of Bukhara in the form of the water of the Zarafshan be decreased so that more water for irrigation would be available to meet Russia’s needs in the Zarafshan Okrug.7