|Treaty of Brest-Litovsk||3 March 1918|
|• Total||18,739.50 km2 (7,235.36 sq mi)|
|• Density||19/km2 (50/sq mi)|
The Kars Oblast (pre-reform Russian: Ка́рсская о́бласть, tr. Kársskaya óblast; Armenian: Կարսի մարզ) was an oblast ("region") of the Caucasus Viceroyalty of the Russian Empire between 1878 and 1917. Its capital was the city of Kars, presently in the Republic of Turkey. The oblast bordered the Ottoman Empire, Batum Oblast, Tiflis Governorate, Erivan Governorate, and from 1883 to 1903 the Kutais Governorate. The Kars Oblast included parts of the contemporary provinces of Kars, Ardahan and Erzurum Province of Turkey, and the Amasia District within the Shirak Province of Armenia.
The Kars Oblast was a province established after the region's annexation into the Russian Empire through the Treaty of San Stefano in 1878, following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire and the dissolution of the latter's Kars, Childir and Erzurum eyalets.
With the incorporation of the region into Russian Empire, a large proportion of the local Muslim population (~82,000 during 1878–1881) migrated to the new borders of the Ottoman Empire. In their stead, Christian settlers, mostly consisting of Armenians, Greeks and Russians, were settled throughout the province. The Armenians, who eventually came to form the largest ethnic group in the region were largely composed of immigrants from the Six Vilayets escaping persecution in the Ottoman Empire.
During the First World War, the Kars Oblast became the site of intense battles between the Russian Caucasus Army supplemented by Armenian volunteers and the Ottoman Third Army, the latter of whom was successful in briefly occupying Ardahan on 25 December 1914 before they were dislodged in early January 1915.
On 3 March 1918, in the aftermath of the October Revolution the Russian SFSR ceded the entire Kars Oblast through the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk to the Ottoman Empire, who had been unreconciled with its loss of the territory since 1878. Despite the ineffectual resistance of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic which had initially rejected the aforementioned treaty, the Ottoman Third Army was successful in occupying the Kars Oblast and expelling its more than 100,000 Armenian inhabitants.
The Ottoman Ninth Army under the command of Yakub Shevki Pasha, the occupying force of the district by the time of the Mudros Armistice, were permitted to winter in Kars until early 1919, after which on 7 January 1919 Major General G.T. Forestier-Walker ordered their complete withdrawal to the pre-1914 Ottoman-frontier. Intended to hinder the westward expansion of the fledgling Armenian and Georgian republics into the Kars Oblast, Yukub Shevki backed the emergence of the short-lived South-West Caucasus Republic with moral support, also furnishing it with weapons, ammunition and instructors.
The South-West Caucasus Republic administered the entire Kars Oblast and neighboring formerly occupied districts for three months before provoking British intervention by order of General G.F. Milne, leading to its capitulation by Armenian and British forces on 10 April 1919. Consequently, the Kars Oblast largely came under the Armenian civil governorship of Stepan Korganian who wasted no time in facilitating the repatriation of the region's exiled refugees.
Despite the apparent defeat of the Ottoman Empire, Turkish agitators were reported by Armenian intelligence to have been freely roaming the countryside of Kars encouraging sedition among the Muslim villages, culminating in a series of anti-Armenian uprisings in July 1919.
The Kars Oblast for the third time in six years saw invading Turkish troops, this time under the command of General Kâzım Karabekir in September 1920 during the Turkish-Armenian War. The disastrous war for Armenia resulted in the permanent expulsion of the region's ethnic Armenian population, many who inexorably remained befalling massacre, resulting in the region joining the Republic of Turkey through the Treaty of Alexandropol on 3 December 1920. Turkey's annexation of Kars and the adjacent Surmalu Uyezd was confirmed in the treaties of Kars and Moscow in 1921, by virtue of the new Soviet regime in Armenia.
The first ruler of the oblast held the title of nachalnik ("chief"), later the title became military governor. Nachalniks were Ivan Popko (Russian: Попко, Иван Диомидович) between 01.11.1877 and 08.06.1878, and Viktor Frankini (Russian: Франкини, Виктор Антонович), between 08.06.1878 and 27.10.1878. The first military governor was Viktor Frankini (27.10.1878—01.04.1881).
Orhan Pamuk's novel Snow, set in present-day Kars, makes many references to the numerous buildings left over from the period of Russian rule, which in Pamuk's view make the city significantly different from other Turkish cities.
The okrugs ("districts") of the Kars Oblast in 1917 were as follows:
|1897||1916||sq. vst.||sq. km.|
|Ardahan||Ардаганскій округъ||Ardagan (Ardahan)||65,763||89,036||4,917.90||5,596.88|
|Kagizman||Кагызманскій округъ||Kagyzman (Kağızman)||59,230||83,208||3,843.17||4,373.77|
|Olti||Ольтинскій округъ||Olty (Oltu)||31,519||40,091[a]||2,621.27||2,983.17|
|For 1897, see The first general census of the population of the Russian Empire in 1897.|
For 1903–1916, see Caucasian Calendar publications for years 1904–1917.
In 1892, the population of Kars Oblast was estimated as 200,868. The ethnic composition was reported as follows:
|Other Christian churches||0.75|
The Russian Empire Census of 1897 counted 290,654 residents in the Kars Oblast, including 160,571 men and 130,083 women. This number may imply that the 200,868 estimate for 1892 given by Brockhaus is too low, or that a large-scale migration from other provinces of the empire took place in between:
The 30,000 excess population of male over females was mainly attributed to the European language speakers. Among the 27,856 speakers of Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian, 19,910 men and 7,946 women were recorded. The Polish, and Lithuanian speakers were almost exclusively (99%) male as well; Germans and Jews, 80–90% males. This preponderance of males in the European language speakers (reported, usually to a lesser extent, in neighboring governorates as well) may indicate presence of a large numbers of soldiers or exiled persons in the region. This assumption supported by the fact that 28,875 or 9.9% of the population were military or administrative personnel.
|Other Christian denomination||9||0||9||0.00|
|Other non-Christian denomination||1,790||1,536||3,326||1.14|
According to the 1917 publication of the Caucasian Calendar, the Kars Oblast had 364,214 residents in 1916, including 185,895 men and 178,319 women, 308,400 of whom were the permanent population, and 55,814 were temporary residents—These statistics do not include the population of the Olti Okrug due to the absence of its data:
((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)