The Truth About Said Shamil in the Light of Archival Documents, Part 4

  • 03/11/2023

Emergence of Poles in the Anti-Soviet activities and Said Shamil’s relations with them

In response to Said Shamil's insidious smear campaign against Ahmed Tsalykkaty, unaware of everything, Ahmed Tsalykkaty was sending letters to Haydar Bammat, urging him to be more sympathetic towards Said Shamil. Said Shamil never missed visiting Ahmed Tsalykkaty during his trips to Prague and deceived him with fake promises such as helping him to publish his book.[1]  Said Shamil, in every possible way discrediting Ahmet Tsalykkaty (Tsalikov), tried to create the impression in Colonel Schaetzel that he and his supporters were the most promising representatives of the highlanders for cooperation for Warsaw. However, as reported to Warsaw by the well-known members of North Caucasian emigre groups such as emigrants Muhammed Abukov, Aytek Namitokov, Tausultan Shakmanov, Ismail Shakov, Warsaw had known well that the Popular Party of the Free Mountaineers of the Caucasus was created and headed then by Tsalykkaty[2].

In 1932, Barasbi Baytugan, Secretary of the Bureau of the Central Committee of the Popular Party of the Caucasian Mountaineers, sent a note entitled “The History of the emergence and development of the People’s Party of the Highlanders of the Caucasus” to Warsaw, where he asserted that the Popular Party of the Caucasian Mountaineers was born in Prague in November 1926, entrusting Said Shamil with the formation of its Central Committee with the simultaneous election of its general secretary.[3] This point of view, widespread first in political emigration, and then in historiography, does not correspond to historical facts. This party had been founded and headed until 1927 by Ahmet Tsalykkaty. Said Shamil had been elected as the General Secretary of the Party of Free Mountaineers of the Caucasus (Народная партия вольных горцев Кавказа —NPVGK) with the resources and support provided by the Poles. Using its publishing power, the party did not refrain from criticizing The Provisional Unity Committee of Azerbaijan and North Caucasus under the leadership of Chermoyev, Bammat, Topchubashev.[4]

Tadeusz Schaetzel, The Polish Military Attaché in Ankara and  Tadeusz Holowko, The Head of the Eastern Department of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Click image to enlarge)
The Poles were very uncomfortable with the tension between the diplomatic representatives of the Caucasian Republics in exile in Paris, the Polish-backed Georgian Mensheviks, the Azeri Musavatists, and the 23-year-old young Mountaineer Said Shamil.[5] The Poles further increased their support for this group and with the personal assistance of Marshal Pilsudski, Said Shamil founded The Popular Party of the Caucasian Mountaineers (Народная партия горцев Кавказа — NPGK) in Warsaw on November 18, 1926.[6]

On the other hand, the émigré groups based in Turkey had established the Democratic Caucasian Mountaineers Party under the leadership of Haydar Bammat. While Pilsudski supported the Menshevik and Social Democratic groups compatible with his political inclination, he supported the former Tsarist army officers and politicians among the Mountaineers who were once the defenders of the Russian monarchy and now gathered around Said Shamil. The financial support of the Poles was a great blessing for Said Shamil and the NPGK. This financial aid contributed not only to the activities of the party but also to the living expenses of the senior management of the party. In this way, the people in the top management of the party were able to earn their living without dealing with any other profession. This vital issue also appears in the official correspondence between the party leadership and Polish diplomats when the payments were occasionally delayed by the Poles. For example, Hussein Kumuz, one of the senior profiles of NPGK in a message sent to Tadeusz Holowko before Christmas 1927 (19.12.1927), complained about the delayed financial support and developed his argument with the following striking words: «Our organization nominated Said Shamil, the grandson of Imam Shamil, at the forefront of our organization not only because he has a historical name, but also because he is truly and sincerely committed to our idea and has the strength and energy to accomplish the mission. He is the profile of a true revolutionary, the quality we do not have in any of our old, slow-motion leaders».[7]

Hussein Kumuz's Letter to Tadeusz Holowko (Click the image to access the source document)
Backed by this support, Said Shamil publicly challenged the Caucasian Republic’s diplomatic representatives in exile in Paris on January 13, 1927, in a letter that he signed as General Secretary of the Popular Party of Free Mountaineers of the Caucasus. Said Shamil in his letter declared that his party was the only real organized force among the North Caucasian immigration, and accused the former politicians of the Republic of the North Caucasus of being lazy and monopolizes leadership.[8] 

Said Shamil's letter to the Council of Three dd.Jan.13, 1927 (Click the image to access the source document)
In a similar letter that he had written to Tadeusz Schaetzel on November 4, 1926, referring to the founders of the Republic of the North Caucasus, he said: “Ex-unprofessional politicians who try to put their duties on our shoulders will see that this will not happen”. Said Shamil was aiming to create a negative perception in the eyes of the Poles about those whom he saw as his political rivals. For example, he claimed that Aytek Namitokov and Murat Khatagogu had found a compromise with the Soviets and would return to the Caucasus soon.[9]   However, neither Khatagogu nor Namitokov had any plans to return to the Soviets or flirt with the communists in this direction. These were just false allegations spread by Said Shamil to achieve being the sole ally for the Polish sponsors.  The founding declaration of the NPVGK demonstrated exactly the same ideals voiced by the “former professional politicians” whom Said Shamil considered political rivals. However, the party at later stages was going to contradict these ideas in practice.[10]

In another letter he wrote to Colonel Schaetzel just two days later, Shamil asserted that he would force Bammat and Chermoyev to join his formation and that if they did not accept, he would politically destroy them, deeming them “impotent”.  On the other hand, he was also attacking Ahmet Tsalykkaty by blaming him for writing articles against the Poles in the magazine “Caucasian Mountaineer” (Кавказский Горец) in Prague, and for being still a loyal member of the Russian Socialist Party.[11]  Said Shamil's intrigues extended to North Caucasian students benefiting from the scholarships given by the Polish Government. The Polish Government, which initially held Vassan-Girey Dzabagi responsible for distributing these scholarships, replaced him with Said Shamil who didn’t want a rival in contact with the Poles. Said Shamil threatened the students who benefited from the scholarships by cutting off their payments and banning the students from communicating with representatives of any other opposition groups. North Caucasian students who were in danger of losing their scholarships were forced to present themselves as followers of Said Shamil.[12]

Vassan-Girey Dzabagi's Memoirs (Click the image to access the sourcebook)
Seeing the Pole’s demeanor towards the Caucasian political emigre groups was shaped according to the guidance of Said Shamil, Haydar Bammat wrote a letter to Tadeusz Holowko, one of the leading ideologists of the Promete movement and the Head of the Eastern Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland on December 13, 1926. While he was expressing his gratitude for the support, he also harshly warned the Polish bureaucrat for supporting some factions among the Mountaineers in secret, backing certain individuals and using them for their own interests, and asked Holowko to give up this stance. He also stated that he would refuse the Polish financial support if their behavior would not change. He reminded Holowko who the initiator of the Caucasus Confederation ideals was by quoting from historical facts, and pointed out that the Polish government supported groups and individuals who tried to undermine these ideals in the past. On the other hand, Bammat underlined in a diplomatic way that the Polish financial aid as an ally should not mean the right of intervention in the internal affairs of the Mountaineers and reminded that the Mountaineers should make their decisions in complete self-reliance, without submitting to any domination, even by a friendly power.[13] 

Haydar Bammat's letter to Tadeusz Holowko dd.Dec. 13, 1927 (Click the image to access the source document)
Said Shamil, on the other hand, never gave up on trying to consolidate power in his hands and tried to eliminate different political tendencies and voices by mobilizing the party members in this direction to achieve his goal.  After placing his crew in the management of the Popular Party of Free Mountaineers of the Caucasus in Prague, he started propaganda activities targeting the people ruling the Caucasus Mountaineers’ Union with Federalist orientation such as Murat Khatagogu and Aytek Namitok by writing letters to the diplomatic representations and national centers of other Caucasian Republics through these people. [14] 

Letter of Said Shamil's crew to Akakiy Chkhenkeli dd. Feb.13, 1927. (Click the image to access the source document)
Even experienced Polish statesmen such as Tadeusz Holowko were influenced by the perception created by Said Shamil and displayed a biased attitude towards politicians labeled as dissidents.[15] 

Haydar Bammat's letter to T. Holowko dd. Mar. 1, 1927. (Click the image to access the source document)
Said Shamil’s influence on Polish statesmen was not limited to his North Caucasian rivals. Georgian and Azerbaijani politicians also got their share from Shamil’s polemics. In a sectarian mood, he named the diplomatic representatives of the Caucasian Republics in Paris as “Paris Adventurers” and spent efforts to sow the seeds of hatred among them.[16]  Said Shamil, with a populist move, to have a stronger representation in Paris against his political rivals, appointed Sultan Klych Girei as the representative of the Mountaineers’ faction of KNK under his hegemony and the branch of the NPGK in this important European capital. Although Klych Girei had served in the Tsarist Army in the Civil War he was known to be a great Caucasian patriot and no one could make a negative statement about his Caucasian identity.[17] But the Council of Three, who did not take this fait accompli seriously, did not even invite Sultan Klych Girei to their meetings, nor did they share any information with him.[18]

Sultan Klych Girey's protest for not being invited to the meetings of the Council of Three  (Click the image to access the source document)
Said Shamil was determined not to allow the hegemony of the People's Party in the Caucasus Independence Committee to be disrupted at any rate. In his letter to Akakiy Çhenkeli, the head of the Georgian National Center, dated June 23, 1927, he reminded that the Popular Party of the North Caucasian Mountaineers should be recognized as the sole interlocutor in the Caucasian Independence Committee until the North Caucasian National Center was organized, and condemned the Georgian diplomat for his contacts with representatives of other North Caucasian political groups.[19]

Said Shamil's letter to Akakiy Chkhenkeli dd. Jun. 23, 1927 (Click the image to access to source document)
Haydar Bammat, with all his goodwill, tried to attract Said Shamil to a common working platform and tried to create an atmosphere of reconciliation through Pshimaho Kotse and Alikhan Kantemir in Istanbul.[20]

The Letter from S. Mdivani to T. Holowko about the activities of the Caucasian Independence Committee dd. May 20, 1927
(Click the image to access the source document)
As an outcome of these efforts, a joint statement was signed and published by all parties on 27 June 1927.[21]  

The agreement between S. Shamil, A. Kantemir, and P. Kotse dd. Jun. 27, 1927. 
(Click the image to access the source document)
The Letter of S. Mdivani to T. Holowko about the activities of the Committee in Turkey
(Click the image to access the source document)

The joint declaration signed by Said Shamil himself, Alihan Kantemir, and Pshemakho Kotse was based entirely on the principle of equal power sharing. Said Şamil got what he wanted with this agreement, but as expected, he would not be satisfied with it.

The content of the declaration was as follows :

“Considering that the diversity of North Caucasian organizations would have no other effect than complete neglect of the holy cause of independence. In recent times the development of world politics is becoming more squeezing day by day. On the Caucasus question; the following principles were formulated to exclusively destroy all possible misunderstandings and establish between organizations and fraternal groups a well-differentiated solidarity to achieve the common ideal;

  1. A North Caucasian national center including the delegation, the Populist party, and all other groups will be created. Half of the members who will constitute the center must be made up of representatives of the Populist Party of Free Caucasian Mountaineers and will hold meetings in Paris.
  2. Also, the national center will form a permanent executive office in Constantinople which will monitor and administer all political activities.
  3. The above-said North Caucasian National Center will choose two members of the independence committee and will mandate two delegates from the Populist Party to participate in diplomatic work with the delegation to the European and American governments.
  4. The national center alone has the power to give general directives concerning North Caucasian political affairs.
All members of the delegation and representatives of the independence committee are responsible for the national center.”

Haydar Bammat facilitated this agreement at the expense of offending his friends in Prague such as Murat Khatagogu and Ahmet Nebi Magoma. For this reason, Bammat, who received letters containing very harsh expressions from Murat Khatagogu, was accused by his friends of being unprincipled and unreliable.[22]

Shortly after the announcement of this agreement, Said Shamil had several meetings with Abdulmedjid Chermoy and Sultan Klych Girey in Paris and signed the following meeting minutes on August 6, 1927 :

“The Chairman of the diplomatic mission of the North Caucasus Mountain Republic, Abdul-Medjid Chermoy and representatives of the Popular Party of the Free Mountaineers [of the Caucasus] Kelech Girey and Said Shamil in repeated meetings have opinions on the following issues:

  1. On the formation of a general mountain [national] center.
  2. On representation in the Committee of Independence of the Caucasus and
  3. About representation in the council of 3.

  1. The formation of an all-mountain [national] center should be postponed until a mountain convocation of the entire emigration of the North Caucasus is convened to elect it on democratic principles.
  2. The representatives included in the K.N.K., Sultan Kelech Giray and Said Shamil, continue their work in the named Committee in case of absence of any of them, Pshemakho Kotse is a deputy.
  3. The representation of Sultan.K.Girey of the Caucasus Independence Committee in the Council of 3 was appreciated.”[23]
Meeting minutes of T. Chermoy, S-K Girey, and S. Shamil dd. Aug. 6, 1927.
(Click the image to access the source document)
The Georgian leader Simon Mdivani’s hopes flourished when he met Said Shamil after the joint statement was announced and wrote a message to Tadeusz Holowko on August 21, 1927, stating that the North Caucasian National Center would be established very soon. However, this message itself was showing the symptoms that hoped would not last very long. Said Shamil was cheating Simon Mdivani by saying that he had attracted Pshimaho Kotse to his side.[24] This was an indication strong enough to prove that Said Shamil would never leave his ambitions to consolidate all power in his hands.

The letter of S. Mdivani to T. Holowko about the issues of the Caucasian Independence Committee dd. Aug. 21, 1927.
(Click the image to access the source document) 
Despite all the problems that accumulated in front of the political emigration of the highlanders, Said Shamil was eliminating and delaying all attempts at reconciliation and was addressing the convention to discuss the vital problems. Before such a meeting was convened, the KNK, under the domination of the Georgian Mensheviks, Azerbaijani Musavatists, and NPGK of Said Shamil, announced that they broke all ties with the Council of Three in Paris.[25]

Letter of North Caucasus Section of the Caucasian Independence Committee dd. Nov. 1, 1927.
(Click the image to access the source document)

This fueled further polarization between Said Shamil’s NPGK and the Council of Three in Paris. The confederalists in Istanbul led by Alikhan Kantemir, and the Union of Caucasian Mountaineers (Союз горцев Кавказа — СГК) operating in Prague under the leadership of Ahmed Nabi Magoma approached closer the Council of Three in Paris and Haydar Bammat. In the meantime, the Kemalist regime in Turkey banned all the activities of the anti-Soviet refugee organizations within Turkish territory in 1928. This was also another heavy blow on Said Shamil. In his report signed as “Faris Bek” to the board of KNK dated April 14, 1928, Said Shamil tried to put the responsibility of this blockage on his political rivals by accusing them of being “collaborators of the Ankara Government”.[26]

Said Shamil's letter (pseud. Faris-Bek) to the presidium of the Caucasian Independence Committee dd. Apr. 14, 1928.
(Click the image to access the source document)

Cem Kumuk
Istanbul , 03 November 2023

To be continued...
Next Episode: 
Self-Destruction of Said Shamil for the Sake of Money and Power

[1] Letters from Akhmed Tsalykkaty to Haydar Bammat. (From the Author’s Archive)
[2] Salavat Iskhakov, “Prometey» i musul'mane Kavkaza, Kryma, Povolzh'ya, Turkestana i Urala” , in Ruch prometejski i walka o przebudowę Europy Wschodniej (1918–1940). Warszawa, 2012. p. 256. (Click the link to access the sourcebook) 
[3] Salavat Iskhakov, “«Kristallizatsiya» gorskogo osvoboditel'nogo dvizheniya. Razmyshleniya B. Baytugana ob istorii musul'man Severnogo Kavkaza i Dagestana”, Voprosy Istorii, № 5, 2001. p. 20. (Click the link to access the sourcebook) 
[4] Georges Targalski, “Les plans polonais concernant l’éclatement de l’URSS, le mouvement «Prométhée» et le Caucase”, Bulletin de l’Observatoire de l’Asie centrale et du Caucase, No.3, 1997, p. 11. (Click the link to access the sourcebook) 
[5] Rossiyskiy gosudarstvennyy voyennyy arkhiv (RGVA), F. 461-k. Op. 1. D. 245. L. 7.
[6] Barasbi Baytugan, “Znamenatel'naya data”, Gortsy Kavkaza. № 26, 1931, p. 4. (Click the link to access the sourcebook)
[7] Archiwum Akt Nowych (AAN), Sygn. 6687, L. 111–112. (Click the link to access the sourcebook)
[8] Bibliothèque de documentation internationale contemporaine » (BDIC), MFM. 881. Bobine 195. No. 51. F. 1–3.
[9] AAN. Sygn. A II/33. L. 297–300.
[10] Ibid. L. 301–302.
[11] Ibid. L. 295–296.
[12] Birsen Cankat Kamacıoğlu, “ Tamara, Annemin Bana Anlattıkları”, Texas, 2022, s.24-30
[13] AAN. Sygn. 6687. L. 41–46.
[14] BDIC. MFM. 881. Bobine 195. No. 67. F. 1–2.
[15] AAN. Sygn. 6687. L. 50–52.
[16] Ibid. Sygn. A II/33. L. 287–292.
[17] BDIC. MFM. 881. Bobine 195.
[18] BDIC. MFM. 881. Bobine 195. Sultan Klych Girey's letter dd. 30 October 1927
[19] Sakartvelos Erovnuli Arkivi (SEA), F.1864, Ins.2, D.793, L.59-60
[20] AAN. Sygn. 6687. L. 74–77.
[21] SEA, F.1864, Ins.2, D.840, L.23; AAN. Sygn. 6687, L. 80–85.
[22] Letters from Murat Khatagogu to Haydar Bammat (From the Author’s Archive)
[23] BDIC. MFM. 881. Bobine 194. Meeting minutes of T. Chermoy, S-K Girey, and S. Shamil dd. 6 August 1927
[24] AAN. Sygn. 6687. L. 93–96.
[25] BDIC. MFM. 881. Bobine 194. Letter of North Caucasus Section of the Caucasian Independence Committee dated 01.11.1927
[26] AAN. Sygn. 6688. L. 55–56.