chapter  9
15 Pages

/The Protectorate Completed: Russia and Bukhara

The contact of growing numbers of Russians with Bukhara and Khiva after 1885 and the change in Russo-Bukharan relations, although designed to preserve as much as possible of Bukhara’s autonomy, inevitably brought increased pressure for even further curtailment of that autonomy and for eventual annexation. Longstanding advocates of annexation like General L.F.Kostenko of the Turkestan general staff, a leading proponent of Russia’s civilizing mission in Asia, spoke out with increased boldness. In 1887 Kostenko charged, “we artificially prolong the lives of state organisms which have already completed their cycle of development. Sooner or later events like those which occurred in the former khanate of Kokand will force us to take the same step [annexation] in regard to Khiva and Bukhara.”1 New voices, like that of Lieutenant Colonel I.T. Poslavskii, a military engineer on service in Bukhara in 1885-1888 in connection with building the railroad, joined in the criticism of the foreign ministry’s policy of nonintervention. Poslavskii predicted that sooner or later Bukhara would have to be annexed to Russia and argued that it had been a great mistake to let the khanate retain internal independence after 1868. In peacetime Bukhara presented Russia with moral problems; in wartime, with strategic difficulties. Although he wrote at some length on the correct strategy for capturing the emir’s capital, Poslavskii concluded, “The political insect which still bears the name of the khanate of Bukhara will die peacefully on the iron needle with which General Annenkov has pierced it.”2