The History of Russia’s South-Eastern Frontier: Current Issues, Contemporary Approaches

Lyubichankovskiy S.V.



RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):520-524
pages 520-524 views


The Vicissitudes of the Fate of the Kalmyk Nobleman Petr Taishin: from the Adoption of Christianity to the Establishment of a Settlement of Baptized Kalmyks in the Middle Volga Region (1724-1737)

Dzhundzhuzov S.V.


The present paper analyzes the fate and political activities of the first baptized Kalmyk vladelets Peter P. Taishin in the context of the purposeful Christianization of the Kalmyks and the internecine struggle for supreme power in the Kalmyk Khanate in 1724-1735. Historiography has developed under the influence of Church historians; the latter mostly described Taishin as a treacherous schemer who converted to Christianity only to enlist Russia's support in the struggle for the Khanate's throne. The present study is meant to portray P. Taishin as a historical figure. To overcome the bias in historiography, the author made use of previously unstudied materials from the Foreign Policy Archive of the Russian Empire, in particular Taishin's correspondence with government agencies and officials. According to the author, the imperial authorities overestimated the political prospects of Taishin's embrace of Christianity. The influence of the Buddhist clergy on the Kalmyk people and their power elite was not duly taken into account. To the displeasure of the government, Taishin joined one party of Kalmyk nobility that stood in opposition to the Kalmyk khan, and after the death of his older brother, Taishin began to openly dispute the Khan's right to the throne. Russia's military intervention in the internecine conflict led to Taishin's capture and to the forced replacement of the supreme ruler of the Kalmyk state. These events triggered a change in the government's policy concerning the baptized Kalmyks. It was decided to put them under Taishin's control and to relocate them further into the territory of Russia. With these measures, the hotbed of social tension in the Kalmyk Khanate disappeared, and Russia acquired additional human resources to occupy an empty area in the Middle Volga region, and later in the Orenburg province. For more than a hundred years, the settlement of baptized Kalmyks on the Middle Volga survived the initiator of their founding, Petr Petrovich Taishin, and made a significant contribution to the economic development and defense of the vast Orenburg Territory.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):525-543
pages 525-543 views

The Daily Business Activities of Orenburg Merchants Trading with Asia in the 19th Century

Burlutskaya E.V., Abdrakhmanov K.A.


The article focuses on the work organization and work activities of merchants engaged in trade in the Asian direction during the 19th century. This topic has not yet been subject of special research in previous eras or in modern historiography. The daily business activity of merchants is studied here on the basis of published narratives of participants in the Asian caravan trade, also taking into consideration various articles and periodicals of the 19th century as well as archival documents. Work is conceived of as a special structured area of everyday life. The purpose of this contribution is to identify the specific features of everyday business activity of Orenburg entrepreneurs trading with Asia. The authors identify the main aspects of everyday business activity (behavior, life conditions and mentality), as well as its components: the conditions, motivation, goals, resources, and performed actions. The authors argue that the general circumstances of Asian trade were unfavorable before the 1870s, due not only to natural conditions and climate but also to the merchants' difficult relations with trade and ruling circles in the Central Asian states. The authors determine the complexity of merchant work in the area under study. Every merchant was simultaneously organizer and executor of caravan trade, and also acted as a controlling authority. These activities required the merchant to be independent, responsible, prudent and able to withstand physical hardship and psychological discomfort

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):544-562
pages 544-562 views

The Main Directions of the Economic Development of the Orenburg Cossacks from the Second Half of the 19th to the Early 20th Century

Godovova E.V.


The article discusses the main directions of the economic development among the Orenburg Cossacks in the post-reform period. The Orenburg Cossack Host, like other Cossack troops of the Russian Empire, was located in a frontier area. A special type of the “Cossack warrior” personality - a “Cossack-farmer” - was formed here. The author notes that by the beginning of the twentieth century, an increase in the Cossack population led to a decrease in land allotments in the Orenburg Cossack units. The situation was getting worse due to constant crop failures and a dominant shift system, which, in turn, led to land depletion. Due to their isolation, conservatism and poverty, the Cossacks were slow in introducing improved agricultural tools and new methods for cultivating the land. Livestock breeding was widespread in Cossack farms (from the end of the 19th century, camel-breeding was very prominent), and horse-breeding, so necessary for manning the Cossack army, was equally developing. Due to frequent grain crop failures, Cossacks generated additional produce by market gardening on their farms. The Host authorities realized that the welfare decline among the Orenburg Cossacks had a negative impact on their combat effectiveness, and tried to provide them with various assistance: specialists responsible for agricultural development were introduced into the staff of the Military Economic Board, and the Cossacks were supplied with tools, agricultural machinery, and seeds for horticulture. Much attention was also paid to horse-breeding as well as to the development of small industry through the organization of artisans. The author comes to the conclusion that all these measures changed the agronomic consciousness of the Orenburg Cossacks, albeit at a slow pace.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):563-577
pages 563-577 views

Local Self-Government among the Cossacks of Western Siberia and Northern Kazakhstan in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries

Konovalov I.A.


This article is the first comprehensive study of the development of Cossack estate selfgovernment in Western Siberia and Northern Kazakhstan in the 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as of its role in the local system of administration. The author demonstrates that Cossack self-government in Western Siberia and Northern Kazakhstan developed in five stages. Discussed are the bodies of Cossack village administration, the effectiveness of its activities, and the scope of its authority. The Cossack village administration was included in the system of military and state local government, had an estate character and an undemocratic system of representation. It could not make independent decisions on a wide range of administrative and economic issues without involvement of the military and local government bodies. The author concludes that due to the lack of zemstvos in Siberia and Northern Kazakhstan, Cossack village administration and peasant self-government played an important role in the structure of local government. As a low-level institution, it facilitated the establishment of relations between the Cossack population and state power; this system was based on the principles of paternalism and statism. As an integral part of the Siberian Cossack army, a stanitsa administration with powers determined by the imperial authority lasted until the fall of the Russian Empire after the February Revolution 1917.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):578-590
pages 578-590 views

The Visualization of Imperial Space: the Experience of the Central Asian Region of Russia

Vasilyev D.V., Ryabov A.V.


The present study investigates the visualization of the imperial space with examples of meetings of the population with representatives of the ruling house of the Russian Empire. The focus is on meetings of the indigenous people of Russian Central Asia with the Turkestan Governor General and the heir to the throne. The article is based on memories of eyewitnesses as well as on publications from that time. Public appearances verbally and nonverbally influenced the population. The present study is based on an array of methods, including the analysis of the sources to identify the components of the ceremonies, synchronous and diachronous methods, comparative analysis, content analysis, as well as discourse analysis. This research methodology and the rich source base from which we quote here elucidate the basic techniques for visualizing the presence of power on the outskirts of the state. The article analyzes the meetings of the Turkestan Governor General with the population at different time periods as well as the measures organized for the heir to the throne during his travels in the Far East and Siberia in 1891. For establishing a connection with propaganda activities of the first years of the Soviet regime, the authors highlight the fundamental components of these ceremonies in the Russian Empire. Such representations of power were aimed at demonstrating the unity of society and monarchy, in a display of strength and greatness. All these events conform to the state ideology “autocracy - orthodoxy - nationality,” with just a minor adaptation in relation to Turkestan. There, the authorities adhered to the tactics of ignoring Islam and limiting Orthodox proselytism, with the result that the role of the central element of the triad was minimized.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):591-611
pages 591-611 views

Teaching the Non-Russian Adult Population of Orenburg Province from the Late 19th to the First Third of the 20th Century

Aleshina S.A., Petrich L.V.


This article examines the education of the Orenburg region’s non-Russian adults from the end of the 19th century until the end of the 1930s. It begins with a brief review of the relevant historiography and the sources. It goes on to analyse the data of the First General Census of 1897, which sheds light on the scope of the task of schooling that remained to be done among the province’s non-Russian nationalities. Already before the Revolution of 1917, local authorities and private individuals were active in cultural and educational work among this population by opening libraries as well as arranging readings and evening classes. At the same time, Zemstvos also strove to train the necessary teachers. During the early Soviet era, educational work was politicized. All educational activities were carried out using emergency methods, since the new government urgently needed a literate population. Due to the exigencies of the Civil War and famine, the authorities had no funds to spare and transferred the task’s entire financial burden to public organizations and private individuals, although in the early 1920s, education in the province practically stopped. However, as the national economy recovered by the mid-1920s, schools reopened. The next important step in eradicating of illiteracy among the non-Russian population came around 1937. The author concludes that in the pre-revolutionary and Soviet periods, educating Orenburg’s minorities faced major obstacles, namely the lack of funds, qualified personnel, as well as popular resistance.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):612-624
pages 612-624 views

Virgin Frontier: Features of Virgin Land Development in Orenburg Region

Pakhomova E.V.


The present article studies the massive virgin land campaigns as a special frontier process of the Soviet period. The author characterizes virgin regions as a space of a unique inner frontier. The main prerequisite for the beginning of a large-scale development campaign was the presence, in the East of the country, of vast areas that were sparsely populated and almost unused. This study identifies Orenburg region as one of the largest regions that saw an «attack on virgin land». As the virgin campaign unfolded, it began to face various kinds of problems and difficulties. In the process of plowing new land masses, the specifics of the regions in the immediate development zone were practically not taken into account. The use of standardized techniques had a negative impact on the development of the farms established on virgin land. Obvious mistakes were made in the course of organizing the production and social infrastructure. The article focuses on the difficult living and working conditions on virgin land in the first years. The development of new lands led to the formation of a unique virgin area. Its creation was preceded by a complex process. A «virgin brotherhood» emerged through the joint overcoming of many difficulties, in parallel with the development of virgin villages. At the initial stage, the territorial and informational isolation of the region contributed to the consolidation of the resettlement community. It is demonstrated that the virgin land gradually lost the features typical for frontier regions. Already by the mid-1960s, the zone of development of new lands in Orenburg region almost completely lost the inherent frontier specificity that it had at the beginning of the campaign.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):625-640
pages 625-640 views


The Cultural Populism of Iosif I. Kablits (Yuzov) and its Foundations

Mokshin G.N.


This article reconstructs the cultural doctrine of the famous publicist of populism (narodnichestvo), I.I. Kablits (Yuzov). To just equate Kablits’ views with the slogan of “yuzovshchina” would be a narrow interpretation of his kul'turnichestvo; the slogan is characteristic for extreme right-wing populism during the upsurge of the revolutionary populist movement (narodovol'cheskoe dvizhenie). In 1880, Kablits was the first of the legal populists to pose the question, “What is populism?” According to the publicist, “true” narodnichestvo should be based on the principle that the forms of public life of the people must be in conformity with the development level of their consciousness. The author explains Kablits’ evolution from Bakunism to a peasant-centered narodnichestvo by his interpretation of the reasons for the split between the intelligentsia and the people. Kablits considered them antagonists, and defined the ultimate goal of the narodniki as the liberation of the people from the power of the “intellectualbureaucratic minority,” the latter supposedly trying to subjugate the life of the masses to its will. The article analyzes the main provisions of Kablits’ sociocultural concept of social transformations: apolitism, populism, and the initiative of the masses. The article identifies the differences between his program of developing the “cultural identity” of the people, on the one hand, and other populists' understanding of the tasks of “cultural work,” on the other. Particular attention is paid to Kablits-Yuzov's attitude towards the problem of educating the masses. Kablits was one of the few Russian populists who opposed the idea that the foundations of the worldview of the people must be changed, arguing that this would eliminate the traditional moral values of the village, including the sense of collectivism. The author assesses how Kablits, the leading publicist of the newspaper Nedelya, contributed to the establishment of a cultural direction in narodnichestvo at the turn of the 1870s and 1880s. According to the author, Kablits played a leading role in shaping the ideology of the right flank of the cultural direction in narodnichestvo. However, the “pure” populism of Kablits turned out to be too pseudo-scientific, dogmatic and irrational to attract the democratic intelligentsia for a long time; the latter had already become disillusioned with the idea of the people as the creator of new forms of social life.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):641-653
pages 641-653 views

Anatomy of the Protests of Political Exiles in Western Siberia in the 1880s

Milevsky O.A.


Using the methods of regional history, the present paper studies some little-known pages of the history of the political exile life in Western Siberia. The present case gives us a new perspective on the institution of political exile, and insights into the relationship between the provincial government and political exiles. The article is based on hitherto unstudied documents from the archives of Tobolsk and Surgut. The focus is on collisions of political exiles with the local administration, which resulted in a series of protests by political exiles. Reconstructing the daily life of exiled revolutionaries, the author analyzes the decision-making by central and provincial authorities towards exiled revolutionaries. Special attention is paid to the life circumstances of political prisoners in the Tobolsk North, in particular in the town of Surgut, where the confrontation between exiles and the local administration reached an extreme degree of tension, leading in 1888 to the "Surgut protest". These events later triggered the Yakut protest of 1889, the largest in the history of political exile, which ended in direct bloodshed. The author emphasizes the short-sightedness of the tsarist government as well as the petty and vindictive desire of officials at all levels to brutally and often excessively punish opponents of the existing political system. These factors had harmful consequences for the Russian Empire. On the one hand, the relationship between the government and the opposition became more tense; on the other, the harsh treatment of poli- tical exiles seriously undermined the prestige of the autocracy on the international scene, moving world public opinion into the direction of supporting the Russian revolutionary movement.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):654-672
pages 654-672 views

The Manchurian Agricultural Society and Attempts to Establish a Colonization Bank in 1914-1915

Khodjakov M.V.


Based on materials from the Russian State Historical Archive of the Far East and a number of other sources, the present article examines the activities of the Manchurian Agricultural Society (MAS). Founded in Harbin in 1912, MAS was actively involved in the developing of fertile land along the SinoEastern Railway (Kitaisko-vostochnaia zheleznaya doroga) strip. As the article points out, the leadership of the Company also came up with plans for the colonization of Northern Manchuria, the territory of which belonged to China. So far historians never considered the activities of MAS from this angle; MAS has so far been credited with the role of a conductor of Russian agricultural knowledge, through training specialists for agriculture in Manchuria and offering agro-technical education to the population living along the Sino-East Railway. Until Russia entered the First World War, MAS had some chances of obtaining support for its project in commercial and industrial circles, which were interested in strengthening Russian influence in northeast China. The author notes that serious adjustments in the activities of MAS were due to changes in the international political situation in 1914-1915. Circles in the Russian government were interested in maintaining friendly relations with their eastern neighbors, China and Japan. It is shown that in the changing political environment, without receiving support from the Russian government and the Governor-General of the Amur Province, the Company was able to redirect its activities. Its leadership concentrated on trying to create a special Colonization Society and a subsidizing Colonization Bank, whose funds were to be composed of shares, bonds, and treasury subsidies. The goal of this new Society and the Bank was to support Russia's economic undertakings in the Far East - the organization of agricultural and industrial enterprises, and the provision of financial and technical assistance to them. However, the First World War, which went very badly for Russia, did not allow for a realization of these plans. The problems of the colonization of the region were not resolved.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):673-683
pages 673-683 views

The Establishment of a System of Agricultural Engineering Education in the USSR in the 1920s and 1930s

Lobachevsky Y.P., Tsench Y.S.


On the basis of archival materials and scientific literature, the article examines the history of agro-engineering education in the USSR during the global socio-economic and political transformations of the 1920s - 1930s. The article shows the importance of radical restructuring of the entire system of vocational education in accordance with the first Five-Year Plans. Presented are the major normative documents regulating the organization and further development of agricultural engineering universities. It is noted that the establishment of educational institutions took into account the specifics of soil and climatic zones, so that agricultural engineering universities would produce specialists familiar with the characteristics of the soil, climate, landscape of the respective zone, and able to work with equipment designed for the particular region. Between 1930 and 1941, nine agro-engineering universities were created, each designed with an eye for the regional specifics. The article highlights the key features of the formation of agro-engineering education, which consists in the use of local resources (primarily human and material) and of the technical base of industrial enterprises and advanced Sovkhoz state farms. The authors come to the conclusion that the creation of specialized higher educational institutions to train engineers for agricultural production became an urgent need as the collectivization of agriculture and the industrialization of production was unfolding; it established a powerful foundation for the further development of agricultural engineering education, of science, and of agricultural machine production in our country.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):684-698
pages 684-698 views

The Humanitarian Aspect of China-Russia Relations as an Important Component of Strategic Partnership

Yuyao W.


The article is devoted to Sino-Russian humanitarian cooperation at the beginning of the 21st century. Currently, the two countries are jointly restructuring both the regional subsystem and the global system of international relations. In this regard, the question of how the neighbors build bilateral ties, characterized as a "strategic partnership", is becoming increasingly relevant. China and Russia are strengthening their bilateral relations, which enables them to coordinate their actions more confidently and realize their national interests both regionally and globally. This article examines the role that the humanitarian aspect plays in contemporary Sino-Russian relations. To this end, the author has analyzed the humanitarian component of the countries’ foreign policy at the political and conceptual level. Wu also studied the organizational mechanism as well as the content of bilateral relations in the humanitarian sphere since 2001. At the same time, the author considered the attention paid to this aspect of diplomacy both at the political level as well as by non-government analysts, while stressing their branch structure. The article concludes that the humanitarian aspect is important because it is an integral part of bilateral relations that promises to help advance national interests.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):699-714
pages 699-714 views

Soviet Recognition of Foreign Higher Educational Credentials in the 1950-90s

Grigorieva N.A., Kovalenko S.A.


This article studies USSR’s unique experience in recognizing credentials issued by foreign educational institutions. It pays particular attention to the special circumstances of the country’s involvement in education internationally in this respect. Because its definitions of basic terms in higher education did not correspond with those of its Western partners, cooperation between the USSR and foreign countries was mostly limited to UNESCO’s standards, as well as bilateral agreements with “friendly” states. In addition to analyzing the evolution of its legal aspects, the authors also study the evolution of the administrative apparatus for recognizing foreign degrees. Beginning in the 1970s, special units of Patrice Lumumba University and the Scientific Research Institute of Higher School Problems have made important contributions in this regard. The authors consider cooperation between the USSR and the leading international organizations, such as UNESCO and the Council of Europe, as well. At the same time, they also study the Soviet Union’s first steps in recognizing foreign educational standards in light of changes in the international political climate. In short, the article discusses the challenges of recognizing foreign higher education qualifications in the Soviet Union as well as the institutions charged with the task from 1950 to the early 1990s.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):715-726
pages 715-726 views


Imperial Acculturation on Russian’s Southeastern Frontier: An International Survey

Lyubichankovskiy S.V.


This article reviews and summarizes the results of an international survey of experts about “Imperial Acculturation Policy and the Problem of Colonialism (based on the materials from the Ural-Volga and Central Asian territories)” organized in Orenburg in 2019. The questionnaire asked participants to reply with their thoughts about the characteristic features of the Russian Empire’s policy of "developing" the nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples of the Kazakh steppe, Bashkiria, Kalmykia on its southeastern frontier from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. Key questions included: The basic terminology (“acculturation,” “imperial acculturation policy”); The heuristic value of the acculturation model with respect to the “colonial approach.” Nomadic and semi-nomadic perceptions of Russian citizenship; The government’s efforts to “civilize” its nomadic and semi-nomadic subjects; The impact of military service, public education and medical care; The role of the Russian Orthodox Church in imperial acculturation policy; The persistence of ethnic identity; General trends in acculturation. The conclusion reflects on using the acculturation model to understand the integration the southeastern nomadic periphery into the Russian Empire.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):727-740
pages 727-740 views


Sartori, P. and Shabley, P. Experimenty imperii: adat, shariat i proizvodstvo znaniya v Kazahskoy stepi [Empire Experiments: Adat, Sharia and Knowledge Production in the Kazakh Steppe]. Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie Publ., 2019, 280 p. (Series: “Historia Rossica”)

Mardanova D.Z.



RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):741-744
pages 741-744 views

Sinitsyn F.L. Sovetskaya Natsiya i Voina. Natsional'nyi Vopros v SSSR. 1933-1945 [Soviet Nation and War. The National Question in the USSR 1933-1945]. Moscow, Tsentrpoligraf, 2018. 543 p.

Kilichenkov A.A.



RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):745-748
pages 745-748 views

Yányshev-Nésterova I. Canarias en las relaciones hispano-soviéticas, 1965-1991 [The Canary Islands in the Spanish-Soviet relations, 1965-1991]. Santa Cruz de Tenerife: Ideas Publishing House, 2019, 472 p.

Jeifets V.L.



RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(3):749-751
pages 749-751 views

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