The “Jewish Question” in Zemstvo Activities of the Liberal Fronda of Northern Ukraine in the 1880s

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The article explores the position of the Zemstvo liberal party of northern Ukraine on the “Jewish question” in the Russian Empire in the 1880s. Based on little-known historical sources, the author reconstructs the public landscape in the north of Left-Bank Ukraine, where vivid discussions of the “Jewish problem” unfolded. A comparative analysis of the positions of the liberal and conservative Zemstvo circles demonstrated the main initiatives of the progressive Zemstvo, which fundamentally separated the aristocratic opposition fronda from the loyal authorities of the zemstvo environment. A detailed analysis of the primary sources shows that the liberal Zemstvo members strongly opposed the reactionary proposals of the conservatives - including a decisive rejection of punitive measures, the elimination of the civil inequality of the Jewish people in the Russian Empire, a fundamental change in state economic policy with the aim of comprehensive and wide-ranging reforms of social relations in the province, and a search for the harmonization of moral and spiritual relations in society. The publication examined the personal contribution of liberal Zemstvo party members of the Northern Left Bank to the development of a political philosophy for resolving the “Jewish problem” in the country, at the level of journalism of national importance, and at the level of the activities of the Chernihiv provincial commission on the “Jewish question.” The author demonstrates that the representatives of the Zemstvo opposition publicly opposed the slightest discrimination and restriction of civil rights and freedoms of Jews, considering such discrimination as manifestations of anti-Semitism and an insult of the Jewish people. The liberal party’s reform plan for the conceptual solution of the “Jewish question” in the Russian Empire was an integral organic component of the broad socio-economic and ethno-political doctrine of state modernization.

About the authors

Nazar A. Kotelnitsky

Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences Center for Ukrainian Studies

Author for correspondence.

Kandidat Istoricheskikh Nauk [Ph.D. in History], Corresponding Member of the Center for Ukrainian Studies

11, Mokhovaya St., Moscow, 125009, Russia


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Copyright (c) 2021 Kotelnitsky N.A.

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