A study of Mongolia’s immediate past can be largely taken as a history of the communist terrorism, and the use of force by one against another to achieve one’s purpose can be best described as political illegitimacy. However, this phenomenon has not been given academic justice by a variety of reasons. One important reason is the close link with the role of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party[1] (MPRP), which till recently continued ruling over the country. Mongolian communists are alleged to be responsible for putting the people of Mongolia under reign of terror by adopting, from time to time, various repressive measures that permitted exploitation of Mongolian masses either politically or ideologically.

Being the ruling party, the MPRP did not allow anybody to write statements or raise voices against its exploitative system. Only during the process of democratization of Mongolian society toward 1990, have we found an opportunity to present a true picture of terrorism and its repercussions throughout the country. However, available source materials only throw light on some important facts dealing with terrorism, and not on its basic reasons. In order to reach out the reasons, an analysis over all factors of how the terrorism spread in Mongolia should be made in the context of Soviet-Mongolian relationship from 1920 to 1984.

The question arises: “Why did the Mongolian people live in such a dangerous environment - i.e. in terror?” Even today, there are different opinions among scholars or Mongolian people on this question. Somehow, it comes due to a lack of understanding. Although, scientific and scholastic literatures are available, it is unfortunate that we, yet, could not find any real reason for the widespread violence that occurred in Mongolia.

There are some people having the opinion that “If Choibalsan had not let loose the large state oppression on the Mongolian people, the Soviet Union would not have supported independence of Mongolia.” During that time, when both China and Japan were trying to liquidate Mongolian independence, Choibalsan and his government received military and economic assistance from the Soviet Union. “The assistance was rendered only after Mongolian lamas were put in terror, of course, for the political reasons.” This argument, however, does not explain the real reason for this political terrorism.

Another important opinion over this question has been developed from some source material and publications of reports issued by the Japanese intelligence organization during the period of Japan-Mongolian and Japan-Soviet conflicts of 1930’s and 1940’s respectively. Especially, the historical relevance of a document entitled “The Remarks of the Outer Mongolian deserter Bymbaa,” which was published in Japan in 1939, requires a deep study.

The Remarks give us information about “the underground political organization which aimed at Outer Mongolian’s independence from the Soviet Union.” Leaders and active members of this anti-Soviet organization were P.Genden (the then Prime Minister of Mongolia), and G.Demid (the then Minister of Defense). In 1937, the underground organization held a secret meeting in Outer Mongolia just one year before a new political terror was let loose in 1938.

All these pieces and bits of information given by deserter Bymbaa were, however, found to be false, because the real facts do not confirm its veracity or truthfulness. In 1936, following Stalin’s suggestions, Demid himself stood against the Prime Minister Genden. At the same time we do not find any historical evidence that could confirm the holding of the secret meeting convened by the underground organization in 1937, which, as we have noted, was followed by suppression over the people on an unprecedented scale.

Japanese historian Hiroshi Futaki, who studied these Remarks of Bymbaa, found several inconsistencies. For instance, Bymbaa’s writing states that the political terror had begun in August 1938; in reality, however, it took place on 10th of September 1938. Even I myself have found some mistakes, which should be justified and corrected. First of all, it was mentioned by Bymbaa that Choibalsan was the head of the Agency for Internal Security, “the Dotoodiig Khamgaalakh Gazar” in Mongolian, which is not factually correct, as at that time the organization was reconstituted as a separate ministry called the Ministry of Interior, “the Dotood Yam” in Mongolian. Further, Bymbaa wrote that the people had begun to be afraid of “KGB” and they called it “KIP;” in reality, however, common people had no fear of KGB and its activities. Here we must agree with Hiroshi who said “it was false” while writing about the wrong information given by Bymbaa. In my opinion, “KGB” possibly sent Bymbaa false information transmitted to the Japanese side before the beginning of the mass political terror in Mongolia. We can find here some “handwriting” by Stalinist KGB, and if we study these Remarks carefully we are led to believe that Bymbaa was deliberately sent to the Japanese side to start a disinformation campaign about the KGB in Mongolia.

During this time, Soviet terrorists[2] such as Yagoda, Yezhov, Beria and Frinovskii under the guidance of Stalin were persuaded to create widespread violence in Mongolia. They even tried to use Bymbaa as their agent for propaganda purposes. Their object was to achieve their political aims in Mongolia by deceiving or cheating the people.

However, both the KGB as well as the Japanese intelligence agency helped publish Bymbaa’s remarks, and they tried to use it separately in order to achieve their own intentions.[3] Except for this material, we do not have any other historical evidence for the justification of communist terror in Mongolia during the 1930’s.

It is noteworthy here that there was NOT, in fact, a Mongolian underground anti-Soviet political organization, which was known as existing during the period and having a close contact with Japan. Of course, a military occupation of the Outer Mongolia by the Soviet Union was, theoretically speaking possible, but historical evidence shows as follows. If Japanese military forces had occupied the Outer Mongolia, it would have become a danger to the Soviet Siberia. That is why, under the condition that the Soviet Union defended the independence of the Outer Mongolia, Stalin wanted to convert her into a Soviet satellite with communists’ dictatorship. In order to complete this task, Stalin and his communist representatives and activists in Mongolia organized violent actions on a massive scale, which could politically terrorize the people of Mongolia into submission. This is an important aspect of the history of terrorism in Mongolia.

The post-1921 revolutionary period witnessed terror by Mongolians as well as Soviet communists, conducted through adoption of several repressive measures from time to time. The reason, behind all these acts, was no doubt political, which came from the superpower of the Soviet Union occupying the Central Asia, and which extended to Mongolia. Started from political interests of the Soviet in the Central Asia, Soviet and Mongolian communists wanted to spread Marxist-Leninist ideas in the Mongolian society under the ruling activities of Leninist Party - the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) along with the Secret Police - the Dotoodiig Khamgaalakh Gazar (later the Dotood Yam - the Ministry of Interior).

The MPRP was organized on theoretical and ideological basis of Leninist principles, which was intended for politics and the party. The organizational principles emphasized centralism, namely only one theoretical and ideological basis, “iron” discipline, dictatorship of leaders and so on. In 1922, the MPRP formed a special police organization, which was political in nature and named the Mongolian Secret Police / the Dotoodiig Khamgaalakh Gazar/ . It was put under the control of MPRP’s leaders and was given the task of performing secret investigations among people of Mongolia, especially intelligentsia. It had its secret representatives at organizational levels throughout the country. Progressive intelligentsia and free-thinking intellectuals of Mongolia, however, carried out their struggle against the communist terror by criticizing MPRP’s aggressive policy, the ideology and dictatorship. The Mongolian Secret Police discovered this struggle as a movement against the MPRP’s politics and the ideology. In these circumstances, when the Mongolian People’s Republic had only one ruling party - the MPRP along with the Secret Police - the country never allowed any political freedom nor freedom of speech.

In this challenging scenario, yet, the people could at least hope to create conditions, under which they could pave the way for a strong struggle against political terror and repression in Mongolia, even if a democratization process had continued unhindered toward the future.

For a long time, I have wanted to write about real life of the Mongolian socialist society, which had been a subject of my research for more than 20 years. Till today, however, when the Mongolian society is changing under impact of democratization, I and other scholars of our country cannot be expected to tell and write everything true about this society.

I have written short critical remarks about the socialist pattern of society, particularly in Japanese about Mongolian socialist society, which have been published in the journal of Mongolian Studies named Mongol-Kenkyu (no.10, 1987; no. 11, 1988 and no. 12, 1989).

In 1990, I received an invitation to work as a visiting Associate Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India, which was a great pleasure for me. I am deeply well aware of the fact that the chance has been provided to me mainly due to the democratization of the Mongolian society. Had this process not really begun in Mongolia, bureaucrats of the MPRP Central Committee would not have permitted me to go to a neutral country in terms of regime as well as for a long period.

Here I would like to make it clear that not all Communists could be called terrorists. The Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party and its leaders had, however, absolutely committed enormous political crimes against Mongolian people. The aim of writing this small book is to highlight some real political acts in the socialism system of Mongolia’s 20th century, which are fully responsible for putting the whole Mongolian society into terror and its repercussions over the people. It is in this context that this research book is entitled “Reign of Political Terror and Repression in Mongolia 1920-1990.”


[1] The Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) was established in March 1921. In some occasions, the name is written as the Mongolian Revolutionary People’s Party. From the very beginning of its existence, the MPRP had been established with close connection to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In 1989, just before the democratization of Mongolian Society, the MPRP consisted of more than 70000 members and candidates. But from 1990 onwards, it split into two parts: conservatives and supporters of democratization. At present, its membership does not exceed 20000 and popularity among the common people is declining rapidly. The MPRP was known as the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) till 1924.


[2] I do not hesitate calling them terrorists.

[3] 'This was explained by Futaki Hiroshi. See Ardachlal (Ulaanbaatar), No 3, 22-28 March 1991