Oriental Studies

Advanced search

Kalmykia during Late Perestroika and the Dissolution of the USSR (1990–1991): a New Vision of the Republic’s Status as a Subject of Soviet and Russian Federalism

Full Text:


Introduction. During the 1990 ‘sovereignty parade’, Soviet autonomous republics tended to adopt respective declarations as a means to denounce their autonomous status and, thus, raise their political standing in the context of reformed national and state structures. And Kalmykia was part of the trend: in October 1990, the region was reorganized into a Soviet Socialist Republic and, like other ex-autonomous republics, acquired a formal right to claim the status of a USSR member state. In RSFSR, this was paralleled by the preparation of a Federal Treaty that would reflect Russia’s new national-state structure. Goals. The paper investigates positions of regional authorities during the troubled period of fundamental reforms, and provides insight into the then emerged vision of the republic’s status as a subject of Soviet and Russian federalism. Materials. The article introduces a number of documents of the Kalmyk SSR that reveal the essence of Kalmykia’s Declaration of State Sovereignty, attitudes towards respective draft treaties developed for the USSR and RSFSR. Results. The work explores reasons underlying adoptions and principal provisions of the documents, focusing on positions of Kalmykia’s executives towards state sovereignty, renaming of the republic, change of its status within the USSR and particularly RSFSR, primacy of the republic’s laws, citizenship, economic independence, interregional and interethnic relations. Conclusions. Authorities of the Kalmyk ASSR sought to transform the republic into a USSR member state, though as part of the RSFSR. In this regard, great expectations were placed on a new Union Treaty that would recognize political and economic rights of the republic, and grant certain representative quotas in Union-level agencies. Similar efforts were made by the republic later as part of the Federal Treaty. The latter specified political and economic provisions (requirements) set forth by the republic in more detail, a significant role played there by the Law of the RSFSR on Rehabilitation of Repressed Peoples adopted in April 1991.

About the Author

Evgeny A. Gunaev
Kalmyk Scientific Center of the RAS
Russian Federation

Cand. Sc. (Law), Senior Research Associate

8, Ilishkin St., Elista 358000, Russian Federation


1. National Archives of the Republic of Kalmykia.

2. Decree of the Supreme Soviet of the Kalmyk ASSR — Khalmg Tangch on Attitude toward the Treaty of Commonwealth of Independent States Formed by Belarus, RSFSR, and Ukraine. Izvestiya Kalmykii. 1991, December 14. (In Russ.)

3. [Collapse of the USSR: Documents and Facts, 1986–1992]. In 2 vols. Vol. II: Archival Documents and Materials. S. M. Shakhray (ed.); S. M. Popova, A. A. Yanik (comps.). Moscow: Kuchkovo Pole, 2016. 824 p. (In Russ.)

4. [Creating the Constitution of the Russian Federation: Glimpses of History. Constitutional Commission: Verbatim Records, Materials, Documents (1990–1993)]. In 6 vols. (10 books). Vol. 6: Supplementary Materials, Memoirs, Reference Data. O. G. Rumyantsev (ed.). Moscow: Constitutional Reform Foundation, 2010. 1120 p. (In Russ.)

5. [Deportation of the Kalmyk People: Memorial Book]. Vol. 1. Book 3: Restoration of Autonomy and Rehabilitation of the Kalmyk People. Part 2: Rehabilitation of the Kalmyk People (1964-2003). Coll. documents and materials. Elista: Kalmyk Book Publ., 2004. 684 p. (In Russ.)

6. Golysheva A. V. [Constitutional Reform in Tatarstan, Kalmykia and Karelia, 1990–1994: a Case Study of Regional Newspapers]. Cand. Sc. (history) thesis abstract. Moscow, 2011. 29 p. (In Russ.)

7. Gunaev E. A. State-legal status of the Kalmyk SSR in 1990–1992. In: [Mongolian Studies]. Vol. 4. Elista: Kalmyk Humanities Research Institute of RAS, 2007. Pp. 194–205. (In Russ.)

8. Kamenskikh V. I. New draft Union Treaty in the context of 1989–1991 Soviet sociopolitical processes. RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2006. No. 3. Pp. 122–126. (In Russ.)

9. Lebedev A. N. [Russian Federalism: Late 18th to Late 20th Centuries]. Moscow: Yurlitinform, 2018. 217 p. (In Russ.)

10. Lukashin A. V. [Drafting a Union Treaty: Soviet Leadership at Work, March – December 1991]. Cand. Sc. (history) thesis abstract. Moscow, 2012. 34 p. (In Russ.)

11. Lukashin A. V. Problems of making and conclusion of the new Union Treaty in a context of anti-recessionary management in the USSR (March 1990 – August 1991). Moscow University Public Administration Bulletin. 2011. No. 3. Pp. 126–152. (In Russ.)

12. Maksimov K. N. Kalmykia in Russia’s Past and Present National Policies and Administrative System. Moscow: Nauka, 2002. 523 p. (In Russ.)

13. Maksimov K. N. Kalmykia in the period of perestroika and post-socialism. In: [History of Kalmykia: from the Earliest Times to the Present Days]. In 3 vols. Vol. 2. Elista: Gerel, 2009. P. 672–726 (In Russ.)

14. Sintsov G. V., Bityutsky E. V. Role and consequences of the parade of sovereignties in 1990–1991 in the formation and development of the Russian statehood. University Proceedings. Volga Region. Social Sciences. 2019. No. 1 (49). Pp. 59–66. (In Russ.)

15. Sovereignty of the Republic. Sovetskaya Kalmykiya. 1990, November 7. P. 2. (In Russ.)

16. Tarasova E. A. War of laws: RSFSR — USSR, 1990–1991. Nauchnyi Dialog. 2016. No. 9 (57). Pp. 230–246. (In Russ.)

17. Yalyshev R. A. [Problem of a new Union Treaty, and Its Role in the Dissolution of the USSR]. Cand. Sc. (history) thesis abstract. St. Petersburg, 2011. 25 p. (In Russ.)

18. Yalyshev R. A. Problems of concluding a new Union Treaty in the USSR: position of autonomies (1989–1991). Izvestiya SPbGETU «LETI». 2003. No. 1. Pp. 6–8. (In Russ.)


For citations:

Gunaev E.A. Kalmykia during Late Perestroika and the Dissolution of the USSR (1990–1991): a New Vision of the Republic’s Status as a Subject of Soviet and Russian Federalism. Oriental Studies. 2020;13(1):26-40. (In Russ.)

Views: 314

ISSN 2619-0990 (Print)
ISSN 2619-1008 (Online)