In 1924, the Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was created as a part of Uzbekistan, but in 1929 the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic (Tajik SSR) was made a separate constituent republic; however, the predominantly ethnic Tajik cities of Samarkand and Bukhara remained in the Uzbek SSR. Between 1927 and 1934, collectivization of agriculture and a rapid expansion of cotton production took place, especially in the southern region.Soviet collectivization policy brought violence against peasants and forced resettlement occurred throughout Tajikistan. Consequently, some peasants fought collectivization and revived the Basmachi movement. Some small scale industrial development also occurred during this time along with the expansion of irrigation infrastructure.
Two rounds of Stalin’s purges (1927–1934 and 1937–1938) resulted in the expulsion of nearly 10,000 people, from all levels of the Communist Party of Tajikistan. Ethnic Russians were sent in to replace those expelled and subsequently Russians dominated party positions at all levels, including the top position of first secretary. Between 1926 and 1959 the proportion of Russians among Tajikistan’s population grew from less than 1% to 13%. Bobojon Ghafurov, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Tajikistan from 1946 to 1956, was the only Tajik politician of significance outside of the country during the Soviet Era. He was followed in office by Tursun Uljabayev (1956–61), Jabbor Rasulov (1961–1982), and Rahmon Nabiyev (1982–1985, 1991–1992).
Tajiks began to be conscripted into the Soviet Army in 1939 and during World War II around 260,000 Tajik citizens fought against Germany, Finland and Japan. Between 60,000 (4%) and 120,000 (8%) of Tajikistan’s 1,530,000 citizens were killed during World War II. Following the war and Stalin’s reign, attempts were made to further expand the agriculture and industry of Tajikistan. During 1957–58 Nikita Khrushchev‘s Virgin Lands Campaign focused attention on Tajikistan, where living conditions, education and industry lagged behind the other Soviet Republics. In the 1980s, Tajikistan had the lowest household saving rate in the USSR, the lowest percentage of households in the two top per capita income groups, and the lowest rate of university graduates per 1000 people. By the late 1980s Tajik nationalists were calling for increased rights. Real disturbances did not occur within the republic until 1990. The following year, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Tajikistan declared its independence on 9 September 1991, a day which is now celebrated as the country’s Independence Day.
In Soviet times, supporters of Tajikistan independence were harshly persecuted by the KGB, and most were either shot dead or jailed for many years. After the beginning of the Perestroika era, declared by Mikhail Gorbachev throughout the USSR, supporters of the independence of the republics began to speak openly and freely. In Tajikistan SSR, the independence movement has been active since 1987. Supporters of independence were the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, the Democratic Party of Tajikistan and the national democratic Rastokhez (Revival) Movement. On the eve of the collapse of the USSR, the population of Tajikistan SSR was divided into two camps. The first wanted independence for Tajikistan, the restoration of Tajik culture and language, the restoration of political and cultural relations with Iran and Afghanistan and other countries, and the second part of the population opposed independence, considering it the best option to remain part of the USSR. Opposed independence were mainly the Russian-speaking population of Tajikistan.