- Lachin was the capital of so-called Red Kurdistan (Kurdis-tana Sor) established by the Soviet Union in Azerbaijan for a brief period in the 1920s. Lachin covered some 5,200 square kilometers, beginning about 40 kilometers south of the ancient city of Ganja, subsequently Kirovabad, and extending southwest to the Araks River and the border with Iran, with Nagorno Karabakh to the east.Organized as an autonomous region (uyez) within Azerbaijan, Red Kurdistan included, in addition to the city of Lachin, the principal towns of Kalbajar, Kubatli, and Zangelan, as well as the administrative subdivisions of Karakushlak, Koturli, Murad-Khanli, and Kurd-Haji. Its population was almost entirely Kurdish. During its heyday, Lachin had a Kurdish governing body headed initially by Gussi Gajev, schools where Kurdish was the medium of instruction complete with books in Kurdish, a teachers' training college at Shusha, Kurdish-language broadcasting, and a political periodical, Sovyetskii Kurdistan. Arab Shamo (Ereb Shamilov) was a prominent Soviet Kurdish novelist who also helped develop a Kurdish alphabet and authored a biography entitled The Kurdish Shepherd, which was later translated into Arabic. Other noted Soviet Kurdish authors include Casime Celil (Jassime Jalil), Mikhail Resid, Etare Sero, Usive Beko (Vesire Nadyri), Qacaxe Murad, Wezire Nadiri, Emine Evdal, Haciye Cindi, Atame Teir, and Sement Siyabend, who was a hero of the Soviet Union.This Soviet experiment in Kurdish self-government came to an end in 1929 when Azerbaijan downgraded Lachin from an autonomous region to a mere district (okrug). This, of course, was the period in which Joseph Stalin was beginning to consolidate his absolute rule in the Soviet Union. The rationale for abolishing Lachin was apparently a desire to maintain good relations with the much larger Azeri population within the Soviet Union and Turkey itself. In 1937, even the Kurdish district, or okrug, was abolished. Many Kurds were deported in 1937 and again in 1944. Some Kurds had their internal Soviet passports altered to list them as Azeri. Those who retained Kurdish as their nationality suffered discrimination. On the other hand, the Kurdish department of the Institute of Oriental Studies at Baku, Azerbaijan, was not abolished until the 1960s, while Kurdish studies continued in institutions in Moscow, Leningrad, and Yerevan.Given the lack of accurate figures and assimilation, the total Kurdish population in the states of the former Soviet Union is unknown. Estimates range from less than 100,000 to over 1,000,000. Azerbaijan probably contains the most, but Kurds also live in Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, among other countries. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Nadir Nadirov, a prominent Soviet Kurd, publicized the travails of the Kurds under Stalin.
Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. Michael M. Gunter.
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