Vol 19, No 1 (2020): THE LIFE OF THE NATIONS OF THE USSR BETWEEN 1920-1950


In this issue

Brandenberger D.L., Blitstein P.A.



RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(1):8-15
pages 8-15 views


Cultural Diversity and the Interwar Conjuncture: Soviet Nationality Policy in Its Comparative Context

Blitstein P.A.


Soviet nationality policy was one of several political responses to cultural diversity in the interwar period. The author situates that policy in its comparative context, contrasting the Soviet Union to its eastern European neighbors and to British and French rule in Africa. Contrary to the nationalizing policies of the new states of eastern Europe, which sought national unity at the expense of ethnic minorities, Soviet nationality policy was initially based on practices of diff erentiation. Contrary to the colonial policies of Britain and France, which were based on ethnic and racial diff erentiation, Soviet policy sought to integrate all peoples into one state. In the mid-to-late 1930s, however, Soviet policy took a nationalizing turn similar to its neighbors in eastern Europe, without completely abandoning policies of ethnic diff erentiation. We should thus understand the Soviet approach as a unique hybrid of contradictory practices of nationalization and diff erentiation.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(1):16-46
pages 16-46 views

1921 in the History of Discussions about the Establishment of the Komi-Permyatsky District

Kamenskikh M.S.


Using the example of discussions on the building of the Komi-Permyak district, the author analyzes the features of national state building in the RSFSR in the 1920s. The article focuses on one of the turning points in the process of establishing the Komi-Permyak district, namely the situation in 1921, when the initially unpopular idea of separating the Permyak region from Perm province unexpectedly became popular among the local population in the course of just a few months. Previously unpublished archival material allows us to assess the course of the discussion about the future of the Permyak region in 1921. Of particular value are the transcripts of a January 1925 closed meeting of a special commission on the Permyak issue; this commission was established on the order of the secretariat of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks). The commission decided to establish the Permyak region, and analyzed the developments in this territory in 1921. The situation refl ected the confrontation between the “national” and “economic” blocs within the Bolshevik leadership in the process of territorial delimitation. The documents furthermore demonstrate that the methods of local authorities relating to border disputes were cynical and uncompromising. The authorities of the Komi autonomous region were agitating among the population of the Permyak region to secede from Perm province without coordinating their activities with the local authorities. In turn, the authorities of Perm province launched a large-scale repressive campaign against activists of the national and cultural Permyak movement. Politically-motivated deception, bribery, and persecution became integral parts of the discussion regarding the self-determination of the Permyak population. While seeking the support of the “center,” the opposing parties did not pay a lot of attention to recommendations from Moscow and acted only in their own interests. The process of building the Komi-Permyak district in many ways demonstrates the essence of the early Soviet national policy as a system of checks and balances aimed at gaining the loyalty of diff erent nationalities under the umbrella of Soviet statehood.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(1):47-62
pages 47-62 views

M.K. Ammosov: A Prominent National Leaderof the Early Soviet Period

Burnasheva N.I., Ignatieva V.B.


The article is devoted to the activities of the prominent Soviet politician and statesman M.K. Ammosov (1897-1938), who devoted his life to revolutionary transformations and the formation of a socialist economy in the Yakut Republic, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. The article considers the ideas of M.K. Ammosov concerning the socialist reconstruction of the national regions, and in particular of the households of nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples. Practical work to boost regional economies occupied a central place in M.K. Ammosov’s activities and was based on a comprehensive scientifi c study of productive forces and human resources. His goal was the organic integration of the economy of the perphery into the Soviet national economic system. Thanks to the eff orts of M.K. Ammosov, the economic development of the national republics accelerated, in accordance with the centuries-old aspirations of the peoples to overcome poverty and misery. M.K. Ammosov is analyzed here for the fi rst time from the point of view of his contribution to the economy of the USSR’s national periphery, and to its gradual inclusion into the processes of socialist construction. The development of the economy of the national regions in the early Soviet period largely depended on the organizational qualities and human principles of regional leaders and their selfl ess and honest service to the interests of the Soviet state. Accordingly, considerable attention is paid to M.K. Ammosov’s work among the people. When making decisions on governmental level he proceeded according to the interests and needs of society. Precisely such leadership qualities as someone who knows how to organically combine state and public interests elevated M.K. Ammosov to the highest political Olymp; at the same time these qualities exposed him to political repression. The article concludes that M.K. Ammosov’s thoughts and deeds to benefi t the working people went far beyond the framework of central planning and entered into an insurmountable confl ict with the then accepted practices of administrative management.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(1):63-77
pages 63-77 views

Comrades in Arts: The Soviet Dekada of National Art and the Friendship of Peoples

Kaplan I.R.


This article examines the dekady of national art, a series of Soviet festivals fi rst staged in the mid-1930s to highlight the cultures and artistic accomplishments of the various non-Russian republics of the USSR. The institution of the dekada, I contend, made considerable contributions to Soviet nationbuilding eff orts and the construction of multiethnic culture. The article unfolds in three sections. The fi rst relies on archival documents to trace the origins and evolution of the dekada of national art in the context of its bureaucratic home, the All-Union Committee on Arts Aff airs. The second draws largely on periodical sources to consider the ways in which the larger currents of Stalin-era culture are refl ected in the dekady of national art and, in particular in the national operas that served as the centerpieces of the dekady. The fi nal section turns to the Friendship of Peoples campaign, identifying one aspect of it - that Soviet citizens appreciate not only their own national art but the art of other Soviet nations - as central to the dekady. Analyzing the public rhetoric surrounding the dekady, I identify several themes that emerge and their implications for forging a common pan-Soviet culture. I conclude that it is not only national cultural production, but the consumption of national cultural products by a multiethnic audience that is central to nation-building on multiple levels as well as a means to unite the ethnically diverse Soviet people, and that the dekada festivals aimed to bring the Soviet nations closer together by providing them an opportunity to consume one another’s cultural products.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(1):78-94
pages 78-94 views

The Fate of Educators in the Bashkir Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic During the Struggle Against “Bourgeois Nationalism” (1937-1938)

Almaev R.Z.


This article discusses the political repressions of 1937-1938 in the fi eld of public education, with the Bashkir Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic as its case study. The author assembles new archival documents, mass media materials and memoirs of contemporaries to illuminate the regional specifi cs of repression in the broader context of the Stalinist era. Particular attention is paid to how “enemies of the people” were identifi ed. The author argues that the Bashkir Regional Party Committee, the media, and the party committees of educational institutions, as well as the organs of the NKVD worked in unison to expose “hostile elements” and Trotskyists among directors of educational institutions, specialists in higher education, and public school teachers. The media, as well as the decisions of closed party meetings, were imbued with the spirit of ideological intolerance; they provided the moral and ideological justifi cation for the arrests. This article traces a trend that was characteristic of national autonomous republics in general: the persecution of regional leaders and members of the national intelligentsia on charges of “local bourgeois nationalism.” The author also examines how purges in the party, state and educational bodies of the republic targeted “nationalists” directly or indirectly associated with “national and local deviationists” of the revolutionary years. The article also discusses the fate of Bashkortostan’s People’s Commissars of Education who were subjected to repression. Reconstructing the complex social and political situation in the educational sphere of the BASSR allows us to draw important conclusions, and better understand contemporary social and political processes.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(1):95-118
pages 95-118 views

Soviet-Tajik Writing Intelligentsia in the Late 1930s

Seay N.


This paper looks at the formation of a Tajik-Soviet writing elite in the 1930s, exploring how a new generation of Soviet writers in the late 1930s emerged out of new state institutions. Prior to their emergence, the founders of Tajik literature - Sadriddin Aini and Abolqosim Lahuti - used their unique position vis-à-vis Moscow to shape the direction of Tajik literature. Despite the former’s important place in Soviet hagiography, it was the younger generation of Tajik writers - including writers like Mirzo Tursunzoda, Jalol Ikromi, Sotim Ulughzoda, and others - that emerged on the all-Union writing scene in the late 1930s and became key cultural and political fi gures in the post-war era. While the role of the Tajik writer inevitably became the portrayal of the national subject in the modern context of Soviet development, this article shows how comparing the themes and writings of these two generations in the 1930s demonstrates how Tajik national identity building related to the nationalities policies of the early Soviet Union and, in particular, the relationship between Tajik national identity and territory. This paper relies on a few primary source materials the Central State Archive of the Republic of Tajikistan, but also online archives, newspapers/periodicals, and published Books and collections. This paper fi nds that the mobilization of a younger generation of Tajik-Soviet Writing Intelligentsia led to the creation of a new vision of Tajik national identity unfolding in a Soviet space. Unlike the early writers Sadriddin Aini and Abolqosim Lahuti, these younger writers emerged in new Soviet institutions and therefore projected a new Soviet-Tajik identity in the late 1930s and eventually became leaders of Central Asian literature in the post WWII period

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(1):119-135
pages 119-135 views

Marriage and Family in Udmurtia between 1939-1959

Uvarov S.N.


The article deals with the transformation of the marriage and family structures of the population of Udmurtia in the period between 1939 to 1959. Attention is paid to the study of the infl uence of the Great Patriotic War on the family and marriage in the republic. Sources used include census materials from 1939 and 1959 and statistical records from the period in question. With the beginning of the war, the number of marriages in Udmurtia sharply decreased. The smallest number of marriages was observed in 1942. In the countryside, this was a reduction of more than three times, indicating a unusually great shortage of men. A direct consequence of the war was a reduction in the average family size as well as an increase in families headed by women. By 1959, 38.5 % of families in the countryside were led by women. With the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, remarriages became more frequent in Udmurtia. Between 1944 and 1951 they were mostly concluded by women who presumably had lost their husbands in the fi ghting. The extramarital birth rate also sharply increased. In the post-war period, particularly in the rural areas many children were born out of wedlock. The extramarital birth rate reached its peak in 1950, when every third child in Udmurtia was born out of wedlock.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(1):136-154
pages 136-154 views


The Transformation of Nakhichevan-on-Don’s self-government in the 1860s

Batiev L.V.


The author analyzes the Armenian self-government of the Nakhichevan-on-Don Armenian colony that had been established in 1779 after Armenians from Crimea were resettled to the Don region. The municipal self-government in Russia of the pre-reform period in general, and in particular the peculiar organization of the administration, police, and court in Nakhichevan-on-Don, have so far barely been studied. The present research is based on archival sources from the National archives of Armenia and on little-known publications in the Armenian language, as well as on Russian legislation of the 19th century. The main feature of the Nakhichevan system of self-government was the unifi cation of all Armenian immigrants from the Crimea - city dwellers as well as residents of fi ve Armenian villages - into one self-governing community. Based on a Charter issued by Catherine II, self-government in Nakhichevan was carried out on an ethnic basis, by Armenian immigrants from the Crimea. However, the Armenian self-government was gradually integrated into the general system of the Russian administration and court system. Several parallel processes can be discerned: 1) since the beginning of the 1850s, the expediency of the formation of a city Duma in Nakhichevan-on-Don was discussed at diff erent levels of government; 2) the magistrate was stripped of police functions in 1865; 3) in 1866 a temporary subsidiary body was established under the mayor: a council of 24 trustees and four assistants of the mayor, to be in action until a city Duma is established; 4) a six-member city Duma comes into being in 1866; 5) the magistrate was abolished in 1866 (its judicial and related functions were removed by May 1869); 6) in 1870 the economic part of the magistrate, which remained after its formal abolition, were transferred to the mayor, and the unique system of Armenian self-government in Nakhichevan ended despite the Nakhichevanis’ request to preserve the “rights and advantages” granted by Catherine II.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(1):155-173
pages 155-173 views

The formation of bodies of power and self-government in the Kuban region during the revolutionary changes of 1917

Emtyl Z.Y., Pakhomov A.V.


The present article studies the emergence of institutions of government and autonomy in the Kuban region during the revolutionary transformations of 1917. In the Kuban region, this process diff ered from the development of similar institutions in other provinces of the Russian Empire; these diff erences resulted from the peculiarities of colonization and from the social structure of the region’s population, as well as from the pre-revolutionary management of the region. As the authors demonstrate, the system of government and self-administration in the region encompassed all social estates, in line with post-February democratic processes. The article analyzes the reasons for the failure of this system. The authors identify two periods. Between March 1917 and July 1917, the establishment of governmental bodies and bodies of self-administration was in line with postFebruary democratic processes and aimed at the formation of a more democratic system of regional and local government. The second period, which began in July 1917, was of counter-revolutionary nature; the authorities seized the bodies of Cossack self-government. The abolition of land committees, the closure of the oblast’ council and executive committee, the restriction of the activities of left parties, the elimination of civil committees and the transfer of all power to the Kuban Military government left no legal room for considering the interests of all classes. By the autumn of 1917, the system of governance formed in the Kuban region was not aimed at achieving social harmony and peace but formed the basis for acute social confl ict.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(1):174-196
pages 174-196 views


The Raid in the Editorial Of ice of the Turkish Newspaper Tan, 1945, and its Impact on the State of Soviet-Turkish and US-Turkish Relations in the Post-WWII Period

Sıvış E.


The author examines the demonstrations carried out by university students in Istanbul on December 4, 1945 and the raid on the printing operations of the pro-Soviet Tan newspaper, known as the Tan Raid, in light of U.S. State Department documents, namely the related fi les in National Archives Records Administration. The infl uence of the Tan Raid on Turkey’s international relations is discussed in the context of Turkish-American and Turkish-Soviet relations. The Raid is regarded as a signifi cant incident since it coincides with the post WW2 period when Turkey’s relations with the Soviet Union had already deteriorated due to Moscow’s demands to revise the Montreux Convention by 19th of March 1945. Furthermore, Turkish-American diplomatic contacts in the aftermath of the Raid show Washington’s perspective on policy towards Soviet Union, as U.S. offi cials advised a moderate line to their Turkish counterparts. On the other hand, preparations for the Raid seem highly controversial since Turkish government offi cials did not strongly condemn the event and the police did not intervene against the protestors despite of their violent actions towards Tan and some left leaning bookstores. The slogans during the demonstration show its anti-Soviet character, which Ankara denied in order to decrease tensions with the Soviets by arguing that it was Tan ’s owner, the Sertel couple to whom the anger was directed, not the Soviet Union. The intelligence obtained by diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, the meetings they conducted with Turkish politicians, their conclusions regarding the process leading up to the raid, and their opinions on Turkish-Soviet relations provide the background for the analysis.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(1):197-213
pages 197-213 views


‘Stalinist Russocentrism’: An Interview with David Brandenberger about the Second Russian Edition of his Monograph National Bolshevism: Stalinist Mass Culture and the Formation of Modern Russian National Identity, 1931-1956 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002. viii, 378 p.)

Brandenberger D.


David Brandenberger holds a doctorate in history (PhD.) and is professor of Russian and Soviet history in the Department of History at the University of Richmond (USA). He is also an associate researcher at the National Research University “Higher School of Economics” in Moscow. He is the author of books on the formation of Russian national identity during the Stalin era and on the infl uence that party propaganda and mass culture had on that process. In this interview, David Brandenberger discusses the arguments and methodologies that contributed to his monograph that was initially published in English and then in two Russian editions: National Bolshevism: Stalinist Mass Culture and the Formation of Modern Russian National Identity, 1931-1956 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), Natsional-bol’shevizm: stalinskaya massovaya kul’tura i formirovaniye russkogo natsional’nogo samosoznaniya, 1931-1956 gg. (St Petersburg: Akademicheskiy proekt, 2009) и Stalinskiy russotsentrizm: Sovetskaya massovaya kul’tura i formirovaniye russkogo natsional’nogo samosoznaniya, 1931-1956 gg . (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2017). Among other things, the author discusses how his thoughts on the topic of this book have evolved since its fi rst publication in light of scholarly debate and the increased availability of primary and secondary sources.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(1):214-239
pages 214-239 views


French historiography of the Crimean war (1853-1856): main trends and tendencies

Linkova E.V., Bollivier M.d.


This article is devoted to the study of the French historiographical tradition of studying the Crimean war. Due to the fact that the French historiography of the Crimean campaign has diff erences from the Russian or Anglo-Saxon, it is interesting to turn to the study of the features that are characteristic for the works of French historians. One of the key theses of this article is the statement of the following situation in French historical science: since the second half of the 19th century the Crimean war was studied in the framework of studies on the history of the Second Empire. In the late twentieth century the scientifi c tradition has undergone certain changes, as a result of which the events of 1853-1856 became the subject of separate studies on the military history of France and historical anthropology. This feature infl uenced the perception of the war in French public opinion and the scientifi c community and led to the diff erentiation of certain problems and subjects directly related to the history of the Crimean war. The study of French historiography allows us to determine the themes that prevailed in the scientifi c thought of France during the second half of the 19th - 20th centuries, as well as those trends that are currently key in discussing the prerequisites, the nature, the results of the military campaign of 1853-1856. The authors conclude that the scientifi c and possibly public interest in the Crimean war in France is much lower than in Russia. The events of 1853-1856, largely overshadowed by the discussions and memory of the First World war, gradually turn into a little-known period of French history. However, the jubilee years associated with the Crimean war and the siege of Sevastopol are an important point that allows us to revisit the study of both the military campaign and diplomacy, and in general the history of Russian-French relations.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(1):240-253
pages 240-253 views

Eurasianists on the Role of Orthodoxy and the Church in the National State Development of Russia

Bazavluk S.V.


The author analyzes the ideological views of a group of Russian migrants of the fi rst wave, known as Eurasianists, including N.S. Trubetskoy, P.N. Savitsky, N.N. Alekseeva, L.N. Karsavina and others. The author discusses fundamental elements of the classical Eurasianist program, such as the role of the Orthodox Church and the state in the life of Russia and its society, their attitude to Roman Catholic culture, and their place in dialogue with other religions. In addition, other important elements of Eurasianism noted here are the ideas of pan-Eurasian nationalism, ideocracy, the spatial borders of Russia-Eurasia, the symphonic personality, a guarantee state. These issues are associated directly with the authors of these concepts and with Eurasianism in general. The author demonstrates the continuity with the teachings of the Slavophiles and highlights the special attention that the Eurasians paid to the traditional cultures of Russia. Also noted is the interest in Eurasianism of church circles in exile in Europe. At the same time, the Eurasianists’ critical vies on the “Petersburg period” in the history of the Russian church are highlighted, which are also implicit in Eurasianism as an independent ideological and philosophical line of thought of Russian emigration in the fi rst half of the twentieth century. An attempt is made to show how, through conservative thought, Eurasians tried to form a new type of political identity. This ideological direction with an emphasis on spirituality and special institutions was considered by Eurasians as a prototype of the future statehood of Russia as opposed to the Soviet-Marxist system. In the context of the contemporary Eurasian integration (EAEU), of the current role of the Russian Orthodox Church and external political manipulations around the role of the Moscow Patriarchate, the theoretical views of the Eurasians take on a new dimension.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(1):254-268
pages 254-268 views


Babkin, M.A., ed. Konfessional’naya politika Vremennogo pravitel’stva Rossii: sbornik dokumentov [Religious policy of the Russian provisional government: a collection of documents]. Moscow: Politicheskaya Entsyklopediya, 2018. 558 p. (Historia Russica)

Bagdasaryan V.E., Resnyansky S.I.



RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(1):269-276
pages 269-276 views

V ilen Uarziati. Izbrannyye trudy. Etnologiya. Kul’turologiya. Semiotika: v 2kh kn [Selected works. Ethnology. Culturology. Semiotics]. Book 1. Vladikavkaz: Abeta, 2018, 551 p

Kanukova Z.V.



RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(1):277-282
pages 277-282 views

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