Communist Dictatorship in Mongolia (1921-1990)

Mongolia, one of the oldest countries in the world, was at the height of its power in the 13th and 14th centuries, when the Mongolian Empire spanned from Asia to Hungary and Poland. Mongolia was a province of China from the 17th century until the Chinese Revolution of 1911, when the Soviet-backed independence was announced. The resistance to the Chinese supremacy and revolution, backed by the Soviet Army, led to the formation of a communist government in 1921. This made Mongolia the first Asian and the second country in the world (after Russia) to adopt communism. The Mongolian People's Republic was proclaimed in November 1924 and modelling it on the USSR, it became its satellite state until the year 1990.

The repressions, copied from the Soviet example, began in Mongolia in the second part of the 1920s and were targeted at the aristocracy and the religious establishment. The first (failed) collectivization and liquidation of private property attempt was carried out by the revolutionary socialist regime in 1929-1932. The collectivization provoked a massive slaughter of livestock as well as a wave of anti-communist uprisings.

The Stalinist repressions in Mongolia peaked during the purges of 1937-1939 under the leadership of Khorloogiin Choibalsan (1895-1952), Joseph Stalin's hand-picked man in Mongolia. Purges and eliminations of the enemies of the people that affected the whole country, party, army, and especially the Buddhist clergy, resulted in at least 22 000 - 30 000 victims (about 4-5% of Mongolia's population at that time).

Nearly 18 000 of the victims were Buddhist lamas, whose mass graves were dug up in Moron in 1991 and in Ulaanbaatar in 2003. About 10 000 monks were imprisoned, the monastic status was eliminated and about 750 monasteries were closed. This changed Mongolia's cultural landscape forever. The total number of victims of the communist regime from 1926 to 1991 reaches at least 35 000, but the Head of the Presidential Commission for Victims of Repression states that 100,000 people all across the country fell victim to the Stalinist regime.

After the Second World War, the communist regime in Mongolia grew stronger: industrialization continued, as did urbanization and in 1956-59 a more careful agricultural collectivization strategy was employed.

In the latter part of the 1980s, perestroika and glasnost in the Soviet Union, and the departure of the Red Army allowed for a peaceful revolution in Mongolia and the transformation into a multi-party democracy, free market economy and independence in 1990. To this day, the ex-Communist Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MDPRP) holds significant power, but despite this the vast land-locked country of just 2 million people has undergone a transformation from its old hard-line Marxism to a market economy.