Rusya’nın Kafkasya Müslümanlarını İdare Yöntemi Olarak Askeri-Halk İdaresinin Teşekkülü ve Uygulanışı (1860-1917)Mustafa Tanrıverdi
Rusya’nın XIX. yüzyıl başlarında Kafkasya’yı ele geçirme hedefi, bilhassa Kuzey Kafkasya’da büyük bir direnişle karşılandı. Topraklarını Rusya’ya karşı yaklaşık yarım yüzyıl boyunca başarıyla savunan bölge Müslümanları, 1859 yılında Şeyh Şamil’in yakalanmasıyla birlikte Rusya hakimiyetine girdiler. Bununla birlikte Rusya’nın bölgede kendi idari yapılanmasını oluşturma süreci başladı. Rusya Hükümeti 1860’da “Askeri-Halk İdaresi” adıyla yeni bir yapılanmayı devreye soktu. Rusya’nın Kafkasya’ya özgü olarak tasarladığı bu idari yapılanma askeri; ancak yerel unsurların da idareye kısmen dahil edilmesi temelinde şekillendirildi. Bu çalışmada, Rusya’nın Kafkasya’nın bazı bölgelerinde uygulamaya koyduğu askeri-halk idaresinin idari ve hukuki alt yapısı, neden tercih edildiği ve karşılaşılan zorluklar arşiv belgeleri ve birinci el kaynaklar aracılığıyla incelenmeye çalışıldı.
Establishment and Implementation of Russia’s Military–Public Administration Among The Caucasian MuslimsMustafa Tanrıverdi
Russia’s goal at the beginning of the 19th century of conquering the Caucasus encountered huge resistance in the region, especially in the North Caucasus. Local Muslims, who had successfully defended their land against Russia for almost half a century, fell under Russian domination following the capture of Sheik Shamil in 1859. At that time, the process of creating Russia’s own administrative structure in the area was launched. In 1860, the Russian government introduced a new structure called the “Military–Public Administration” that was designed specifically for the Caucasus and was based on military administration, with limited inclusion of local people. Using archival documents and primary literature, this research examines the administrative and legal infrastructure of the military–public administration established by Russia in some regions of the Caucasus, why this system was preferred, and the difficulties it encountered.
The military–public administration, which the Russian Empire imposed to rule certain parts of the North Caucasus, was a military-based administrative structure shaped by the conditions of the period. This system differed from the civil structure that applied in the other provinces of the Russian Empire and was shaped by a perceived need for extreme precautions. After the capture of Sheik Shamil in the summer of 1859, the rebellion against Russia gradually broke down, leading to the creation of the Dagestan Oblast. In 1860 with the approval of the regulation named “The Organization and Administration of Dagestan Oblast” by Aleksandr Baryatinskiy, Viceroy of the Caucasus, the system officially took effect. After some time, it was extended to the Terek and Kuban Oblasts.
Ranked military officers served in the staff of the military–public administration, and the military uniform was intended as a visible demonstration of the authority of the public administration. The administration of the Caucasus believed that the mountain-dwellers, who disdained those without military uniform, could only be affected in this way. It could thus be said that the military uniform itself was a sign of great authority. Thus, in establishing the military–public administration on a permanent basis, the advice of administrators who had served in the Caucasus and knew the region well was highly influential. As a matter of fact, military officers were of the opinion that it was not yet possible for the civil administration used in other provinces to be effective throughout the Caucasus.
In the military–public administrative system, military officers had absolute authority to make and implement decisions over the management of Muslims. Thus, it can be understood from both the actions and the reports of the military governors that the administration exerted significant pressure on inhabitants. These reports frequently offer justifications for keeping the population oppressed. According to them, information about the inhabitants and their lifestyles during previous wars led the military governors to apply oppressive policies. The opinion is frequently expressed that Muslims were inclined to obey the administration thanks to the politics of pressure, and that pleasure could be seen on their faces. In fact, it is implied that Muslims could only respect a strong ruler and organize themselves in obedience to that power.
Officers of the military–public administration possessed the authority to deploy troops against local civilians and to take all manner of precautions in case of disarray and revolt. It seemed obligatory to ensure that such a system could respond quickly and efficiently. While local administrators usually had to take decisions in consultation with their headquarters, this system did not require it. Instead, everything was left in the hands of military administrators, including legal and administrative responsibilities. In practice, this was problematic, as a lack of administrators to follow the orders of certain institutions and military governors caused inefficiency. This inefficiency manifested itself most clearly issues related to villagers, lands, etc., particularly when these were affected by imperial laws and required the knowledge of ministry officials or specialists. Accordingly, it was difficult for one person to effectively undertake all the administrative functions related to, e.g., the variety of peasant tasks, difficulties in taxation, growth in commerce, widespread works in the mountains, progress in the manufacturing sector, increasing opportunities for public education, etc. In spite of the defects of military–public administration, it was highly convenient from the perspective of security-focused management. Due to their broad powers and privileges, administrative officers assumed great authority over the inhabitants. The merger of legal and administrative authority also strengthened their control, which was further supported by the administration’s right to impose punishment.
While the military–public administration aimed to ensure Russian dominion in the Caucasus, it sought to enforce its rule not only militarily but also culturally. Constant efforts were made to increase the importance of Russian schools in the education of Muslims in the region. Starting primary school in their own language was, for local people, practically an execution. After all, Russian education was universal after the first grade. The spread of Russian institutions meant that everyone learned Russian culture and language, which was eventually supposed to lead to a sense of belonging to that culture.
Another characteristics of military–public administration was the assignment of local inhabitants as administrators in the management of regencies or khanates in rural areas. Officials called “kadi” (Muslim judges) would be appointed as the head of regencies. Nonetheless, these kadi did not assume any religious duties—this title was used because it was familiar to local inhabitants. These officials were doubtlessly selected from local inhabitants on the basis of their loyalty to the Russian government, a measure that reflected Russia’s efforts to assert its own legitimacy. In effect, the administration tried to create a traditional authority by highlighting patrimonial boundaries. The assignment of officials to take charge of administrative units in the North Caucasus, ether on the basis of undoubted loyalty or to gain benefits, was a common practice in the 19th century.
The military–public administration claimed that its first objective was to preserve the customs and traditional lifestyle of the North Caucasus Muslims. In reality, it aimed to weaken and to eventually dispel their specific culture. The opinions of Aleksandr Baryatinskiy, Viceroy of the Caucasus and architect of the military–public administration in the region, confirm this. According to him, the success of the Caucasian War didn’t bring an end to strife in the region—peace would depend entirely on ensuring sociopolitical, economic, and cultural cohesion between the North Caucasus and the Russian Empire.
The Russian government sought to change the demographic structure by promoting Christianity in the districts where the military–public administration had been established. To this end, the government took decisions to hinder the return of Muslims who had left the area during and after the Crimean War. Moreover, it gave other groups settled in that area the opportunity to appropriate the property of those who managed to return successfully. This hindered a return on any significant scale. The first step by the military–public administrations to change the demographic structure was to increase the Christian population.
Initially, the military–public administration was considered a temporary measure, and it was expected that the region would eventually be governed under a civil administrationoriented order like the other provinces of Russia. However, there was uncertainty about when this it happen. Eventually, in 1882, a radical change occurred in the Caucasus. The Viceroy of the Caucasus was revoked and the Viceroyalty of the Caucasus was constituted. This alteration led to discussions on reforming the military–public administration, which lasted from 1883 to 1909. The reports pertaining to those discussions enable us to understand what kind of politics lay behind preparations to switch to a civil administration without dramatically affecting the lives of local inhabitants—the main goal of the military–public administration. While these discussions resulted in some partial changes, there was no attempt to change the fundamentals of the administration. The relevant statements in the military governors’ reports on the nature of reconstruction are quite interesting, as they express disagreement about the timing of the launch of reconstruction.
As a result, after conquering the North Caucasus, Russia ruled through a system of governance characterized by extraordinary terms and military control over local civilians. Since Russia couldn’t completely implement certain aspects of the central administration’s legal arrangements in some challenging regions of the Caucasus, the military–public administration was created specifically for these regions. In light of archival data, this research reveals how the system operated and affected local inhabitants. Moreover, the reports of the military governors offer first-hand accounts of the challenges that the Russian government faced in the military–public administration, the attitude of the government toward Muslims, and insight into the significance of the Caucasus Muslims in Ottoman-Russian relations.