The first People’s Hural (Assembly) convened in November 1924, in Ulaanbaatar. The Hural’s main purpose was for the “people’s representatives” to ratify the new constitution and start building a state apparatus in accordance with the new arrangements. Prior to the Hural, aimag assemblies had been held, from which seventy-seven people were elected to go to Ulaanbaatar as delegates to the People’s Hural. Among these, seventy-one were ard, meaning “people of poor descent”, or “commoners” a classification that became the most fashionable, and the most sought after, life-preserving social status in Mongolia.
On November 24 and 25, the delegates listened to a reading of the constitution and asked questions. The reading was done by Tserendorj, and the questions were answered by Rinchino. After the delegates felt that they had received satisfactory answers to such questions as to whether the Bogd Khan’s next incarnation was to be unveiled, whether the cattle belonging to the monasteries was to be taxed, the remaining of Huree, and what the Soyombo, the symbol on the left of the state flag, actually meant, they endorsed the constitution. Thus Mongolia was transformed into a republic, and the country took the official name of the Mongolian People’s Republic.
A number of Mongolian scholars and politicians, serious about the constitution, studied the constitutions of several western countries before writing one for Mongolia. A Constitution Draft Commission headed by Minister of Justice Magsarjav had been created in mid-1922 only to be disbanded later the same year because it took a “wrong” turn by trying to “take into account European and other international law”. A new Draft Constitution Commission, which was set up by government resolution thirty-nine in late October 1924, headed by Prime Minister TSerendorj, produced a ready-made draft almost the day after its creation. In fact, Tserendoij took from his pocket the version which had been “translated” by Ryskulov and Ricnhino on instructions from Moscow. Ostensibly, a certain P.Vservyatski, who had arrived from Moscow, had written the constitution, although the translation was Rinchino’s. The Commission consisted of four people, all Buriads: Tserendorj, Elbegdorj Rinchino, Tseveen Jamsrano, and Gombobadamjav.
A Society for Ards and Without Property
The constitution plainly expressed-and not only in the name of the country itself-that the regime instituted was not for the whole of the nation, but only for that part of it who could claim to be of ard origin. The constitution itself contained several clauses which excluded the non-ard populace. Article One, for instance, stated that “the supreme state authority shall reside in the people themselves”. Article Two stipulated that “the conduct of political and administrative affairs shall conform to the will of the people themselves”. A clarification on who did not constitute “the people themselves” could be found in Article Thirty-Five, which, among other things, solemnly denied the right to vote to “former title-hoarders, clergymen, and monks in permanent residence at monasteries”. These clauses made illegitimate any noble and any clergy in Mongolia and paved the way for the mass genocide that came later.
Section one and two of the notorious Article Thirty-Five also banned from voting “those pursuing profit and exploiting other people”, as well as “those hiring and holding in-service other people, those subsisting on the income from capital and other such sources, as well as traders and creditors of money”. This provided a legal basis for removing the capitalists, barred the expansion of such relations, and opened the door to numerous injustice against innocent people. The provision of Article Three that “the land, the mines, the forests, the water and their resources shall be the property of the ard, and the private ownership of these shall be prohibited” brought a ban on private property. This system developed later into what was termed “socialist economic relations”, whereby the property said to be possessed either by the state or by the people remained, reality, in no-one’s hands.
We shall entrust the Central Committee
with running the affairs of state
We shall entrust the government
with enforcing laws and orders.
After the constitution was announced, Bayar and Gonjon composed this song.
A Republic of Soviet Designs
Thus, a de jure Soviet-type government was brought to Mongolia, establishing a communist regime that was to last for the next seven decades. In his report, Comintern representative Ryskulov said, “Mongolia, in its structure, has become like the Soviet Union”. The constitution put an end to the Mongols hope and struggle to liberate themselves and build an independent Mongolia.
According to the constitution, supreme state power resided with the Ulsyn Ih Hural, the Great State Assembly. When the Ih Hural was in recess, its power was assumed by Ulsyn Baga Hural, the Minor State Assembly. The Baga Hural had a Presidium to which it delegated its power when in recess. Each unit reported to the higher unit. The Baga Hural appointed the government. The system was modeled after a bicameral parliament, with the lower chamber appointing the government. Neither the Ih Hural nor the Baga Hural could really be called legislature. Because of its control of the day-to-day business of the state, the government-appointed by the Baga Hural wielded more power than either Hural, but even it was not the most powerful sector in Mongolia.
The real power lay with the Communist Party. Alongside state institutions, ran a party organization structured almost identically to those of the state. The Party charter placed its supreme power with the Party Congress. Beneath that was a Central Committee chosen from the Congress, then the Presidium of the Central Committee, and a Secretary and Party Chairman is chosen from members of the Presidium. This resulted in an upside-down pyramid structure, with the real power in the hands of a few. Between the two organizations, however, the party retained much more real power than the state. And in real life, the two “pyramids” did not exist separately. They combined to form one big pyramid, the seat of power, was reserved for the Mongols Central Committee, its Presidium, and Party Chairman. In reality, however, these positions did not occupy the power at the top of the pyramid. The top was solidly occupied by Comintern, the Communist Party of the USSR, and other Soviet party and state institutions related to Mongolia. This system existed in Mongolia well until 1990. Anyone who was part of it could be appointed anywhere inside it, and the whole system was a confusing tangle. No matter how illogical and difficult the whole structure was to grasp, everybody knew who the real bosses were.
The First Congress selected the Chairman of the Presidium of the Baga Hural, a puppet position which, in order to demonstrate the “popular” nature of the new government, was filled not by an experienced statesman but by a very poor ard.
Mongolia’s New Name: People’s Republic
Republic” is a translation of the Chinese term gongheguo. The Latin words “res publica” mean “common cause”. The Chinese translation of “res publica” was used during the Manchu Qing Dynasty by those who at the turn of the century fought against the Qing and wanted to establish a republican government. Because the new republican form of government was extended not only to the Han Chinese but also to there ethnic groups inhabiting the Empire the Chinese translation of res publica was done in such a way as to incorporate the idea of Bugd Nairamdah, or harmonious living. Just who was to live in harmony was illuminated by the popular slogan of “The Friendship of Five Nations”. The Chinese, the Mongols, the Tibetans, the Uighur, and the Manchu were those five nations who, along with the territory they inhabited, were to pass under the authority of the new republic. Eventually, both the Chinese term gongheguo and the Mongolian term Bugd Nairamdah Uls came to denote a certain form of government.
Also of etymological interest is the word ard. The Russians had much to do with the invention of a new connotation for this Mongolian word which originally meant “someone of common origin, someone not belonging to the rank of nobility”.
The Russians started as an ard (in Russian, arat) then, one had to be a poor Mongolian herder. Later on, the word tumen (literally, “ten thousand”) was added to ard, and the composite, ard tumen or “the masses”, came to mean what Russians call narod, that is the people. As a result of those linguistic intricacies, the connotation of class struggle was attached to the word ard, and, to distinguish the brand new Mongolian republic from others, the Soviets affixed the word ard to its official appellation.
In Mongolia, they coined a new name, which translates into Russian either as Aratskaya Republika Mongolii, that is the Arats’ Republic of Mongolia, or as Mongolskaya Narodnaya Respublika, that is, Mongolian People’s Republic. Later, the pattern was followed by many other states of the USSR.
- 1925, May 5: Mongolian Pioneer organization established.
- May 23: Unen newspaper was first published.
- September: During the 4th Congress of the Mongolian People’s Party, the Second Party Program was issued, changing its name to the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party.