Three Stages of “Political Banditry” in the Territory of Kalmykia (1918–1927)
Authors: Utash B. Ochirov
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The article analyzes the peculiarities of the growth of so-called political banditry in the territory of Kalmykia in the period from 1918 to 1927. In the beginning of the paper, the author analyzes the validity of the term “political banditry” and comes to the conclusion that although this term is not ethically perfect, being marked by a negative connotation, another term to define the phenomenon is hard to find. Analyzing the development of “political banditry” in the territory of Kalmykia from 1918 to 1927, the author comes to the conclusion that the phenomenon appeared only since the beginning of the Civil war and has experienced three stages in its growth.
The first stage (1918 – beginning of 1919) was associated mostly with the Red Army and with banditry of some Red Army units arrived from other regions, which in terms of chaos and impunity during the first year of the Civil war went too far in not separating requisition and mobilization – lawful from the point of view of the Soviet government – from outright robbery and violence. Some of them were declared criminals by the Soviet power and destroyed by the Red Guards.
The second stage (1919–1920) is associated with the invasion of the White Guards in the Lower Volga region. Regular troops conducted their operations in the outskirts of Kalmykia, the steppe became an arena for action of small mobile groups, mostly White Guards or the people who considered themselves as such. A significant part of these units had an “insurgent band” origin, consisted of Kalmyks, dissatisfied with the Soviet government and was supported by the Whites, both materially and financially. However, in the second half of 1919, the Soviet government with considerable effort, managed to reverse the mood of the population in their favor. After the defeat of the White Army, a significant part of the “gang” laid down their arms in exchange for Amnesty and the insurgent movement in Kalmykia was destroyed.
The third stage (1921–1927) of “political banditry” in the territory of Kalmykia, as well as throughout Russia, belonged to the “green” movement, which could be joined either by White officers, or Red commanders. It was caused by the reaction of the population to the economic policy of the “war communism”, and then to the excesses of local authorities in carrying out of the NEP (the New Economic Policy), which were superimposed on the harsh conditions of the mass famine of the early 1920s. After overcoming the crisis and the beginning of the growth of economic well-being of the Kalmyk settlements and communities, the strengthening of the Soviet-party apparatus and law enforcement agencies, the “insurgent band” stopped being supported internally, and by 1925 the “political gangsterism” was completely eliminated. The last remnants of the gangs were destroyed in 1927.