Fact Check: Declassified 1957 CIA File Mentioning 'Tartar History' Does NOT Vindicate Tartarian Empire Conspiracy Theory

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Declassified 1957 CIA File Mentioning 'Tartar History' Does NOT Vindicate Tartarian Empire Conspiracy Theory Unrelated

Did the CIA declassify a 1957 file in 1999 that proves true the theories about the hidden history of an advanced global civilization, the Tartarian Empire? No, that's not true: The CIA document "National Cultural Development Under Communism" contains mention of "Tatars of Transcaucasia" and "the history of Tartaria," along with a Communist directive to revise that history to "eliminate references to Great Russian aggressions." But the document does not validate the recently emerged pseudohistory of a Tartarian Empire. The CIA file details how a 1917 promise by the Bolsheviks to many Muslim ethnic groups of Russia (that their beliefs and customs would be "free and inviolate") was not honored by the Communists in the decades that followed. Tartary (or Tartaria) is not the name of a country. It was a name given to Central Asia and Siberia. The "Tartarian Empire" is a baseless conspiracy theory that only began to gain traction in 2018.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) in the Facebook group Tartaria on April 17, 2024. It was captioned:

I was doing some digging on Tartaria on the cia files and found this piece of gold! Basically proving the theories right 🤔

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:


(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Apr 19 17:51:17 2024 UTC)

The body of the post is a screenshot from the June 1957 document called "National Cultural Development Under Communism" or CIA-RDP78-02771R000200090002-6. This is hosted in the CIA reading room as a PDF of the original typewritten 1957 document, or in the Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room in a searchable electronic CREST format. The portion appearing in the Facebook post is page 9, or page 10 in the PDF. The highlighted portion of text in the screenshot reads:

For example, on 9 August 1944, the Central Committee of the Communist Party, sitting in Moscow, issued a directive ordering the party's Tartar Provincial Committee 'to proceed to a scientific revision of the history of Tartaria, to liquidate serious shortcomings and mistakes of a nationalistic character committed by indi- vidual writers and historians in dealing with Tartar history.' In other words, Tartar history was to be rewritten

This excerpt is presented to the audience. but severed from two different contexts, from the context of the declassified CIA document, as well as from its relevance as a key piece of commonly circulated documentation associated with the baseless Tartarian Empire conspiracy.

The CIA document begins with a quote:

Muslims of Russia, Tatars of the Volga and the Crimea, Kirghiz and Sarts of Siberia and Turkestan, Turks and Tatars of Transcaucasia, Chechens and Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus, and all you whose mosques and prayer houses have been destroyed, whose beliefs and customs have been trampled upon by the Tsars and the oppressors of Russia. Henceforth your beliefs and customs, your national and cultural institutions are forever free and inviolate. Organize your national life in complete freedom. This is your right.

Thus read in part a proclamation issued on 7 December 1917 by the Bolsheviks over the signatures of Lenin and Stalin, addressed to 'All Muslim toilers of Russia and the East.'

The document then lists examples of how the Communists did not keep earlier promises but attacked Islamic religious practice. On page 9 (the highlighted text of the Facebook post) an August 9, 1944, directive from the Central Committee of the Communist Party to the Tartar Provincial Committee says:

to proceed to a scientific revision of the history of Tartaria, to liquidate serious shortcomings and mistakes of a nationalistic character committed by indi- vidual writers and historians in dealing with Tartar history.

Directly below this (not highlighted in the Facebook post) the paragraph continues:

And this was no isolated case. In every Muslim area within the USSR, historians, on orders of the Communist Party, have rewritten history to distort the facts so that the Russians appear always in a good light. Needless to say, histories which present the facts truthfully have been withdrawn and destroyed, so that the present and future generations of Muslims are forever denied the chance of learning the true facts of their nations' past.

The highlighted screenshot is offered to the Tartaria Facebook group as if this CIA document was just discovered by the poster who was "doing some digging." However, this exact paragraph was included in a seminal post on April 17, 2018 (archived here), by @KorbenDallas, an administrator of the stolenhistory.org forums. In this post he drafted the details of this new conspiracy theory -- a coverup that he described:

The official history is hiding a major world power which existed as late as the 19th century. Tartary was a country with its own flag, its own government and its own place on the map. Its territory was huge, but somehow quietly incorporated into Russia, and some other countries. This country you can find on the maps predating the second half of the 19th century.

The Lead Stories composite image below shows the Google search trends in the United States and worldwide for the term Tartaria in English -- both begin abruptly in late 2018.


(Source: Lead Stories composite image of Google Trends search results taken on Fri Apr 19 22:15:05 2024 UTC)

On October 5, 2020, the Russian Geographical Society published an article, "The Whole Truth About Tartary." Here it explains that Tartaria "is not a specific state, but a kind of mythologized land that has never had precise borders." and finishes by emphasising for the sake of conspiracists:

By the way, no one hides information about Tartary. All maps with a similar designation are easy to find in cartographic collections, and the Russian Geographical Society has repeatedly exhibited its collections in exhibition halls. You can also get acquainted with them online on the Geoportal of the Russian Geographical Society.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks on the topic of the Tartarian Empire conspiracy theory can be found here.

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?

See who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.:

  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

About Us

International Fact-Checking Organization Meta Third-Party Fact Checker

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, misleading, deceptive or inaccurate stories, videos or images going viral on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.

Lead Stories is a:


Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Lead Stories LLC:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Most Read

Most Recent

Share your opinion