Was Choibalsan, Mongolia’s Socialist leader, poisoned by Stalin?
Marshal Choibalsan was a Mongolian political and military leader from 1930s to his death in 1952. He lived through tumultuous times in Mongolian history. Out of original seven revolutionairies, he was the only one who survived.
As a political leader he has orchestrated some of the worst atrocities, such as, massive killings of monks, collectivisation of herders, imprisoning of the political opponents.
As a military leader he has been heavily involved in preparing Mongolia for war. Fully half of the government budget was used for the imminent war with Japan. In 1939, Mongolia with the massive assistance of the Soviet Union was able to repel Japanese Kwantung army. In 1945, Mongolia participated in the Manchuria offensive.
In November 1951, the 57 year old Choibalsan was feeling unwell and unable to perform his duties. A special group of doctors under professor Vishenevskii arrived from Moscow for check up. The diagnosis was Choibalsan had kidney cancer and in need of an immediate surgery. The doctors recommended to do surgery at Moscow’s special hospital.
The Central committee of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party were summoned for the emergency meeting. During the meeting the diagnosis was introduced and Choibalsan was authorised to travel to Moscow.
Before leaving for Moscow, Choibalsan called his deputy Tsedenbal and his chief bodyguard Sharav to his office and handed over all the documents and keys to his safe. He also handed over the keys of his home safe to his wife before leaving. It was apparent that Choibalsan contemplated that he might never come back, so he made all the last errands.
At Moscow’s special hospital for high level government officials the operation was conducted. Initially the operation was a success. Choibalsan recovered from the operation and even talked to the doctors. The doctors informed him that they removed a cancerous tissue that was 10 cm long. The next morning Choibalsan’s condition worsened and he eventually passed away.
So was Choibalsan poisoned?
Probably not. His chief bodyguard and Choibalsan’s wife all attest to the professionalism of the doctors and all the efforts they took to revive him. Also, in the last decade, with the fall of the Soviet Union, Mongolian researchers worked together with Russian colleagues to unearth many previously classified documents about Mongolia. They were able to find some secret documents such as interrogation documents of several Mongolian politicians who were killed in the 30s in the Soviet Union. So far there has not been any documents that suggest that Choibalsan was ordered to be killed.
For more: Mongolia FAQ