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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Soviet North Ossetian Republic founded, July 7, 1924

Stamp honouring the North Ossetian ASSR, USSR 1960

On July 7, 1924. The North Ossetian Republic was founded in the USSR. In 1936 it became an autonomous republic with its own constitution and Supreme Soviet, the North Ossetian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.

Excerpted from USSR Magazine 1960:

North Ossetia is a country of mountains and alpine meadows, lovely plains and fertile valleys. Some 330,000 people live in the 3,600 square miles of this autonomous republic on the

north slopes of the Greater Caucasus, in the basin of the upper reaches of the Terek.

For many centuries the people of this small nation lived under the heel of the aldars, the local lords. Kosta Khetagurov, the famed Ossetian poet, described the miserable life of his people in these words, “They have bound our bodies with iron chains; even the dead cannot rest peacefully in their graves.”

But the Ossetians broke their chains with the Revolution of 1917. Within forty years this once destitute and backward hinterland of the Russian Empire has been reshaped into a prosperous, self -governing republic with a modern industry and mechanized collective agriculture. Its farms grow wheat and raise livestock and its many-branched industry turns out nonferrous metals, petroleum , processed foods and lumber.

Stepan Bitiev, Minister of Culture North Ossetian Autonomous Republic:

COMPARISON is the best yardstick for an accurate estimate of the progress achieved by our people in the past few decades.

Let's take education. Before the Revolution only the children of well to-do people -- and there were very few -- had any chance to get an education. Ninety per cent of our people were totally illiterate. Compare that with the present education picture. There are no illiterate Ossetians today. A quarter of the population is in schools. We have four colleges, eleven specialized secondary schools and a large number of primary and high schools.

Ossetia has 5,500 teachers and scientists, an appreciable number for as small a republic as ours . Our proportion of college students to population is 189 to 10,000, a ratio seven times higher than Great Britain's. Every year we graduate about 1,300 specialists in a wide range of professions -- mining engineering, medicine, agronomy, education and hundreds of our young people are studying at colleges and universities in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Tbilisi and other cities.

Let's take our cultural life . Forty years ago there were only a few public libraries, one regional museum , a Russian theater with a small company and three motion picture houses to be found in the whole of Ossetia, all of them in the cities. Nobody bothered about cultural facilities for the villages . As far as the native arts were concerned, they were hardly encouraged by a czarist officialdom that followed a systematic colonial policy with minority peoples.

We have today an Ossetian music and drama company, a puppet theater for children, a dance and song ensemble, a philharmonic society and a considerable number of variety performers.

We have been helped tremendously by the Russian people in developing our own specialists in every field of culture. Many of our fine actors were trained at the Moscow Institute of Theater Arts and at the Shchukin Dramatic School, also in the capital. Our Ossetian Opera Studio is run by the Moscow Conservatory. Most of our artists and sculptors have studied at the Moscow Surikov Institute of Fine Arts and the Leningrad Fine Arts Academy...

In both town and country we have built dozens of clubs, motion picture theaters and libraries in the past few years. In Ordzhonikidze, the republic's capital, new building is presently going on to house our music and drama theater, a book and newspaper publishing plant and a television center. We have several projects on the drafting board -- a half-million volume library, a boarding school for children with a gift for music, a children's movie house. The opera and ballet theater which we are planning to develop will contribute to the advancement of the arts in Ossetia.

We Ossetians feel we have reason to be proud of our cultural progress.

National Emblem of the North Ossetian ASSR.

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