chapter  6
18 Pages

Incommodious hosts, invidious guests: the life and times of Iranian revolutionaries in the Soviet Union, 1921–39


With the Iranian economy in decline, the flourishing economy of the Caucasus in the nineteenth century had begun attracting many Iranian subalterns.2 They moved, in search of work, by different routes, legally or illegally, to the southern region of the tsarist empire, especially the Caucasus. The early mass migration of Iranian labourers to the Caucasus and Turkistan corresponds to the free exploitation of the oil deposits in the Apsheron peninsula on the Caspian coast in 1872. The rapidly growing oil production of the Caucasus soon elevated the region to the supplier of 95 per cent of all of Russia’s consumer oil and the holder of the second largest oil deposits in the world, next to the United States. Along with British, French and German companies operating in the region, it was indeed the Russian state capitals which anticipated benefiting from the underground resources of a territory which, on the eve of its occupation and annexation in the early nineteenth century, had been considered as a region with solely geopolitical and military importance.