The ex-chairman of Isfara and a repeated participant of intergovernmental negotiations Mirzosharif Islomidinov told Asia-Plus about the history of border conflicts - about maps, documents, negotiations and incidents, as a result of which Vorukh became an “enclave”. 


Legal documents: history

About the fact that Vorukh has never been an enclave and the entire territory around it was a part of the Tajik SSR (Soviet Socialist Republic).

For the first time the border between the Isfara region and the Batken region, at that time known as the Kara-Kyrgyz autonomous region within the Russian Federation, was determined by a decree of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Bolsheviks in 1924. Back then Vorukh was not an enclave, there was a direct open territory, a road, connecting Vorukh with the rest of the Isfara region.

The second document is the Resolution of the meeting of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the USSR dated 04.05.1927. Mentioned resolution was taken into account by the Resolution of the Presidium of the CEC of the Uzbek SSR dated 23.05.1927 No.15/4 and by the Resolution of the Presidium of the Central Election Commission of the Kyrgyz ASSR No. 27 dated 7.06.1927. Those resolutions clearly determined that Vorukh was not an enclave and was a full-fledged part of the Isfara region.

The third legal document, defining the border between the Isfara and the Batken regions, was adopted by the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR in 1947 while clarifying the discrepancies (variant readings) in determining a crossing line of the inter-republican border between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. According to the map, approved by the document and also referred to by the Main Directorate of Cartography (MCC) of the Soviet Union, Vorukh was not an enclave either and the entire territory around Vorukh, which currently belongs to our neighbors, was a part of the Tajik SSR. 


Unilateral ratification

About the construction of the Tortkul canal and on the unilateral ratification of the results of the parity intercountry commission by the Kyrgyz SSR.

Head facility of the supply channel of the Tortkul reservoir

In the mid-fifties, the construction of the Tortkul reservoir and the Tortkul canal was projected. In some places the channel of the canal had to pass through the territory of the Isfara region of the Tajik SSR.

Then, at the initiative of the Kyrgyz side, a so-called parity commission was created. The Tajik SSR representative in the commission was Mr. Kuvshinov, a deputy chairman of the Leninabad region.

For unknown reasons and according to the results of the commission's work, it was proposed to transfer several thousand hectares of the territory belonging to the Isfara region to the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. In return, the Kyrgyz side was supposed to use the Tortkul reservoir as an inter-republican one and assist in the irrigation of about 3.5 thousand hectares of land in the Isfara region. Nevertheless, this parity commission's protocol could not acquire legal force because the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Tajik SSR did not ratify it and rejected the document.

After unilateral ratification, our neighbors began making changes to the existing maps, but since this protocol had no legal force, the Main Directorate of Cartography (MDC) did not consider amending the map of the USSR. However, both this protocol and these changes had located the head constructions of the Tortkul reservoir, which were built in the early sixties, in the territory of the Republic of Tajikistan. It is a fact, and we all need to know about it! 


How the current village of Ak-Sai had emerged 

How the leadership of the Tajik SSR agreed to transfer a part of the land at the disposal of residents of the Batken region after the land development of 700 hectares and construction of the entire infrastructure, and how the Ak-Sai village was formed.

village of Ak-Sai

In 1963 the "Pravda" collective farm of the Vorukh village council began land development on the left bank of the Isfarinka River, and with the support of the USSR Ministry of Water Resources developed about 700 hectares of vacant land within 10 years.

Our neighbors were silent during the development work and eventually the entire infrastructure was built: the canals, roads, and gardens were elevated, and the object started operating sometime in the late sixties. The neighbors began to claim these lands only in 1974 by stating that it belonged to the territory of Kyrgyzstan, and from that point the conflict erupted.

On December 31, 1974, a group of Kyrgyz nationality, armed with rifles, attacked the residents of Vorukh, and a major conflict occurred. Thereat many people from the Tajik side were wounded. The General Prosecutor's Office of the USSR intervened in the conflict, then Mr. Rudenko was the General Prosecutor. There was a long trial, as an outcome, in order to settle and calm the conflict, the leadership of the Union decided to transfer some of these lands to the residents of the Batken region.

Unfortunately, our old Soviet leadership of the republic agreed to this proposal and about 300 hectares of developed land with the existing infrastructure were transferred at the disposal of the Kyrgyz side - they hastily began building the current Ak-Sai village.


2 people were killed and 24 were injured

Violation of the watershed, bloody conflict and how a flurry of fire struck the Tajiks.

The second conflict took place in the summer of 1989, when our neighbors violated the water using regime of the Isfarinka River. As I recall, according to the watershed of the Soviet Ministry of Water Management, the Kyrgyz Republic had a right to take 2% of the river flow rate per day from April 1 to June 1.

After repeated violations of the water management regime by our neighbors, residents of the Khojai Alo settlement blocked the riverbed of Mastchoi canal, demanded a water use regime compliance and the lands adjacent to their village, which were illegally carried over to the Kyrgyz side. The conflict dragged on for almost a month and a half and escalated sharply when about 3,000 residents of Samarkandek and other adjacent villages of the Batken region armed themselves with hunting rifles and attacked residents of the small Tajik village of Khojai Alo on June 13, 1989.

Unfortunately, one young man from the Khojai Alo village (then called October) died, and if it had not been for the intervention of law enforcement agencies, there would have been more deaths and causalities. On the same day, the following happened: when about 2 thousand unarmed residents of the village of Vorukh were walking to help the residents of the Khojai Alo village, they encountered a flurry of fire from the house attics of the Ak-Sai village residents.

The conflict suspension happened only with the intervention of a special forces group from the Perm region arriving by helicopters from Fergana, where this group was temporarily located. Of the residents of Vorukh, 14 people sustained gunshot wounds that day, one subsequently died later.

Among the residents of Somoniyon village few people suffered injuries too. In total, 2 people were killed and 24 were injured from the Tajik side on July 13 and 14, 1989. The curfew was imposed in Vorukh, Chorkuh and Sur settlements. 


Land transfer or return?

How the issue of the full return of the illegally transferred lands of the villages of Vorukh and Chorku at the disposal of Kyrgyzstan was postponed. And how the residents refused to accept the parity group’s proposal on the land transfer.

Head facility of the supply channel of the Tortkul reservoir

At that time, after the erupted conflict on July 13 and 14, 1989, a parity commission was created at the request of Soviet leadership. On the part of Tajikistan, the commission was led by the First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Tajikistan - V.V Vohidov, and Kyrgyzstan was represented by G.S. Sidikov - First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic.

The parity commission proposed a protocol a few days later, which consisted of several proposals, including the transfer of 68 hectares of mountainous areas around the Vorukh village and 18 hectares of undeveloped land around the Khojai Alo village from the disputed territories to the Tajik side –planning to approve the border on that note.

With the alignment of the protocol, commission planned to put the border partition issue to rest, but the matter of full return of Vorukh settlement lands, including those located downstream Isfarinka river and around Chorkuh village, illegally passed at the disposal of Kyrgyzstan, was postponed.

Back then I worked as the chairman of the Isfara City Executive Committee. We, members of the parity commission, have not signed this protocol. We asked to agree on the protocol with the residents of the villages of Vorukh and Chorku and sign it only after their acceptance.

Furthermore, a meeting was organized with the residents of Vorukh village, there were about 3000 people, and everyone vehemently refused to recognize the results of parity commission's the work. The representatives of our republic were convinced with the rectitude demands of Vorukh residents and saw no point in organizing a meeting with the residents of Khojai Alo and the village of Chorkukh. An unagreed protocol was returned. 


Pressure from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU)

The pressure from the Central Committee of the CPSU, attempts to forcibly ratification, the failed session, and who convinced Qahhor Mahkamov.

Qahhor Mahkamov

After return of the protocol, at the initiative of the Kyrgyz side, the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Supreme Council of the USSR started exerting pressure on the leadership of Tajikistan, especially did Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU. Some leaders of the republic: Pallaev G.P. - Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council and Luchinsky P.K - the second secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Tajikistan came to Isfara by the order of Moscow. They met with the public, ensured themselves with the legal justice of demands from residents of the villages of Vorukh and Chorkukh, and reported everything to Moscow.

Then on the behalf of Central Committee of the CPSU and the Supreme Council of the USSR, there was an attempt to convene a session of the Supreme Council of Tajikistan and forcefully ratify this protocol, but we, the leaders of Isfara: G, Savridinova, M. Islomidinov, district elders Sh.Nuriddinov and A. Rakhimov flew to Dushanbe, met with the first head of the republic Mahkamov K.M., persuaded him not to succumb to these pressures, and the session was postponed.


"I'd rather resign, but I won't go against the will of my people!"

How in the fall of 1989 the secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU Girenko Andrei Nikolaevich arrived in the region with the task of convincing and forcing the Tajik side to recognize that unfortunate protocol, but received a decent answer from the chairman of the government of the Tajik SSR Khaoyev Izatullo Khayoevich.

Proponents of the protocol made one last attempt. In the fall of 1989, at the request of the Kyrgyz side and on behalf of the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, M.S. Gorbachev, Andrei Nikolaevich Girenko, a member of the Politburo, secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, came to the region. He was a very high official.

His task was convincing and forcing the Tajik side to recognize that ill-fated protocol by any means. Since the initiators of his visit were our neighbors, he came to Batken, the entire leadership of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan joined him, and we were also invited there. The first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the republic - Mahkamov Qahhor Makhkamovich, the chairman of the government - Hayoyev Izatullo Hayoevich flew to Isfara. On the trip to meet Mr. Girenko and the leadership of Kyrgyzstan they were accompanied by Oripov M.O. - the first deputy of the Leninabad regional executive committee and the leaders of Isfara: Savridiniva G.S. - the first secretary of the city committee and I - the chairman of the city executive committee.

Izatullo Hayoev

The meeting with Girenko A.N. took place in the building of the Batken district party committee, the current administrative building of the Batken region.

As espected Girenko A.N. immediately started pressuring Hayoyev I.Kh.

In an imperious tone, he asked him:

- Why didn't you sign the protocol?

- The people do not agree, - answered Izzatullo Hayoyevich.

- If you cannot persuade your people, then resign! - Girenko threatened, which infuriated Izzatullo Hayoyevich.

He stood up, sharply hit his hand on the table and responded properly:

- Don't scare me with resignation! I am ready to resign now, but I will not go against the will of my people, and you will never force me to sign this protocol!

Then they decided to close the issue of signing the protocol and create a new parity commission. From the Tajik side, it was headed by Safarali Kenjaev. The commission held its first meeting in the summer of 1990 in the city of Isfara, but due to the well-known events of the early 90s, it practically stopped working. 


Fourth document

About the fourth legal document, which proves that Vorukh was never an enclave and historically connected with the Isfara region through the territory belonging to the Tajik side.

Tortkul Canal

One more document confirming the rightness of the Tajik side exists. During the protracted conflict of 1989, as assigned by the leadership of the Council of Nationalities of the Supreme Council of the USSR, a very authoritative deputy commission of three deputies of the Supreme Council of the USSR was directed to Isfara for clarifying the situation and preparing the necessary proposals in order to resolve the protracted crisis in the Tajik-Kyrgyz border area.

The group was headed by a deputy of the Supreme Council of the USSR, the head of the Guryev region of Kazakhstan.

Following the results of their trip, the deputy group additionally studied all the available archival documents in Moscow and presented a conclusion confirming the legal rightness of the Tajik side on the restoration of territorial justice in the division of territory between the Tajik SSR and the Kyrgyz SSR. Moreover, the proposal confirmed that Vorukh was never an enclave and historically related to Isfara region on the territory belonging to the Tajik side. 

Concessions of Tajikistan

What concessions the Tajik side has made since 2007 and how the Kyrgyz side exploited Tajikistan's good-neighborly attitude. How the Kyrgyz lands got out of the impasse and what leverages are used by the neighboring country.

The problem began to escalate again in the mid-2000s. Due to its geographical location the Leilek region of Kyrgyzstan has always used the roads and other infrastructure of the Isfara region to connect with the rest of the Batken region. The Kyrgyz side asked Tajikistan to give permission for the creation of a corridor connecting the Batken region with the village of Samarkandyk and further with the Leilek region.

In 2007 Tajikistan allowed the construction of a road through its territory and provided a plot of land 272 meters long to the neighbor for a 49-year lease with the objective to maintain friendly and good-neighborly relations.

The Kyrgyz side built a road along the given section bringing the Leilek region out of the communication deadlock, and again their territorial claims and pressure on the residents of the Vorukh village resumed.

It has become a usual practice among the disobedient Kyrgyz residents to frequently block the Vorukh-Isfara highway, which passes through the Ak-Sai village.

As the saying goes, appetite grows with the eating. After receiving the permission to organize a corridor connecting two Kyrgyz districts, the neighbor began hastily building an independent Batken-Aksai-Tamdyk road, and further to the sources of the Karavshin River, which also partly passed through the Tajik territory.

As a leverage, our “friendly” neighbor began to use the aforementioned method to take the 35 thousand population of Vorukh hostage by blocking the Isfara-Vorukh highway, which still leads to numerous conflicts and irreparable casualties among the civilian population.

"Impunity breeds irresponsibility!"

About the fact that it is the residents of the neighboring side who initiate almost all conflicts and Tajiks were always the victims. Further about the number of deaths occurred during the conflicts and why we do not demand punishment for perpetrators.

Entrance to Vorukh

Somewhere at the end of 2019, one former head of the special services of a neighboring state made statements on social networks accusing the residents of the Republic of Tajikistan for the conflicts between the inhabitants of the Isfara and Batken districts.

Since 1974 I have been a direct witness to these events and would like to note that the initiators of almost all conflicts were residents of the neighboring side, and the victims were always Tajiks: in the conflict of 1974, 1989, 2014 and early 2019.

Unfortunately, as a consequence of these conflicts, the deceased were residents of the village of Vorukh, Khojai Alo and Chorkukh. According to my rough estimates, at least 17 civilians died in those clashes. To my memory after these bloody cases those accused of murders were not identified and punished.

On the night of August 20, 2013, the citizens of Kyrgyzstan committed the most heinous crime against the civilians of Chorkuh. Some Kyrgyz youths strangled and killed an entire Tajik family, including women and children, peacefully sleeping in the field camp of a Tajik state farm near the village of Samarkandek. Did they find the criminals or not? Were they punished or not? Anyway, we don't know!

In 2019, when two residents of the Vorukh village and a resident of Khojai Alo village died in another conflict, I suggested the representatives of our delegation not to join the negotiating table with the neighbors until the latter identifies and imprisons those who used firearms against our citizens.

We need to think about it! Impunity breeds irresponsibility!

It is worth noting that Tajiks have never attacked their neighbors with weapons, however, the law enforcement agencies of Kyrgyzstan declare completely innocent residents of Vorukh on the international wanted list using Interpol, which is also a reason for contemplation.


Only a path of peace! 

Instead of a conclusion.

As a veteran of the civil service and a direct participant in the events of the late 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, I see no alternative to peaceful, good-neighborly and friendly relations between our two nations, that's what our Leader of the Nation, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, dear Emomali Rahmon has always called on us.

And I hope that members of the intergovernmental commissions of both sides will do their utmost to resolve existing conflicts, restore historical justice and ancient good-neighborly relations between the Tajik and Kyrgyz people in our region taking into consideration the feeling of a noble duty to the younger generation and cooperating in a highly professional level through mutual concessions!