Vol 19, No 4 (2020): Ethnic and confessional diversity of Russia and the USSR: perception by power and society


In This Issue

Litvinov V.P.



RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(4):762-765
pages 762-765 views


The Phenomenon of Conversion from Orthodoxy to the Armenian Faith in the Russian Empire in the 19th - early 20th Century

Blokhin V.S.


The article analyzes why and how persons of the Orthodox confession converted to the Armenian faith in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Russian Empire. This phenomenon is linked to the practice of mixed marriages between persons belonging to the Orthodox and Armenian confessions. While the status of non-Orthodox Christian confessions in Russia during the synodal period has received a good amount of scholarly attention, not much research has been devoted to the conversion from Orthodoxy to the Armenian faith, and to the issue of marriages between persons belonging to these faiths. The present paper identifies the motives and circumstances of religious conversions and the peculiarities of mixed marriages. It does so on the basis of unpublished documents from the funds of the National Archive of the Republic of Armenia. Equally new is the authors’ suggestion to consider these phenomena as an integral component in the history of Russian-Armenian church relations in the period 1828-1917. Until 1905, the regulations of the Orthodox Church demanded that after the conduction of an interreligious marriage, both spouses continued to practice their respective faiths, and their children were baptized in Orthodoxy. This is reflected in the metric books of the Erivan Pokrovsky Orthodox Cathedral (1880-1885). The analysis of archival documents allows us to conclude that after 1905, most of the conversions from Orthodoxy to the Armenian faith were performed by women who intended to marry men of the Armenian confession. The reason for this phenomenon is that interreligious marriages and the baptism of children born from mixed couples was still in the competence of the Russian Orthodox Church. Only if both partners belonged to the Armenian faith, the wedding could take place in the Armenian Church, and their children were brought up in the Armenian faith. In addition to matrimonial reasons, the article underlines some other important motives behind conversions from Orthodoxy to the Armenian confession.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(4):766-780
pages 766-780 views

Custodians of Holy Places in Central Asia and Russian State (1865-1917)

Litvinov V.P.


The article discusses the institution of custody of holy places in Central Asia in the pre-revolutionary period (1865-1917). It is indicated that despite the fact that this institution was not legitimatized in Muslim Law (Sharia), nevertheless, custody was quite widespread in the region. It is stated that the sheikhs-custodians were surrounded with mystical worship of the faithful who attributed to them supernatural abilities in the fulfillment of a variety of desires and healing of various diseases. The custody of holy places has always and everywhere been associated with the acquisition of income from pilgrimage. In Central Asia around a holy place, as a rule, a waqf complex was also formed, which made additional significant income to the sheikhs-custodians of holy places. The hereditary order of custody succession, with significant ownership holy places had, often was the cause of conflicts among relatives who had rights to sacred objects. After Russia came to Central Asia, this problem became one of the most important for the government of Turkestan. It was important for Russia to solve the property problem of holy places. In their attempts to solve it, the authorities of Russian Turkestan could not build a clear and understandable system of relations with custodians of holy places. Even after half a century of presence in the region, the authorities had little idea of the number of holy places and real income of their sheikhs-custodians. The author concludes that the reason for such an ineffective activity of Russian authorities in the region in solving problems of holy places was the fear of destroying the order that took shape over the centuries. It, in their opinion, could lead to an increase in anti-Russian feelings in the region.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(4):781-792
pages 781-792 views

The Kyrgyz Anti-Islamic Mission of the Orenburg Diocese (1890s to early 20th century)

Lysenko Y.A., Efimenko M.N.


As a contribution to the history of the institutional development of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Central Asian parts of the Russian Empire, the present article analyzes the emergence of missionary structures in the Orenburg diocese. The research is based on a wide range of administrative documents of the Orenburg diocese (preserved in the State Archive of the Orenburg region), and on materials published in the Orenburg Diocesan Gazette. The contribution explores the reasons for the creation of the regional Committee of the Orthodox Missionary Society and the Kyrgyz Mission, and identifies the stages of their activities. It also highlights the features of the organization of Orthodox missionary work among the Kazakhs of the Urals and Turgay regions. The authors argue that Orthodox missionary work in the Steppe was meant to exclude the Kazakhs from the ongoing all-Russian Muslim consolidation. The strategy that the Russian state chose to control regions with a dense inorodtsy (non-Russians) population was acculturation, to control the respective populations by inclu- ding them into the cultural and religious Russian-Orthodox space. On the spot, however, the officials of the Kyrgyz Mission faced a whole range of obstacles, including particular attitudes of the Kazakhs about aspects of the Christian dogma. Also, there was already well-funded Islamic missionary work in the Ural and Turgai steppes. The Orthodox parish system remained weak, and state financing of missionary work was considered insufficient. The resettlement of peasants into the region required that employees of the Kirghiz mission changed their emphasis from missionary work to the ordinary duties of parish priests. All this allows the authors to conclude that the efficiency of Orthodox missionary structures among the Kazakhs of the Orenburg diocese was low.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(4):793-809
pages 793-809 views

German Colonists in the Migration Policy of the Russian Autocracy (Analysis of the Laws of the Russian Empire)

Erokhina O.V., Litzenberger O.A.


The article traces the policy of resettlement of German nationals from German states to the southern outskirts of the Russian empire based on the analysis of legislative material. To analyze the laws of the Russian Empire, the authors use historical-comparative and historical-systemic methods. Analysis. Mostly farmers were invited to Russia. They were to contribute to the transfer of improved European agricultural practices to the Russian peasantry. However, the Russian authorities could not predict the possible consequences of inviting foreigners. Therefore, there was no clear mechanism for organizing and regulating this process. Immigrants were offered significant benefits and privileges, so they agreed to move. Over time, the overpopulation of the colonies due to the high birth rate and lack of land contributed to the beginning of migration movements of the Germans in the second quarter of the XIX century in various regions of Russia from the mother colonies. The geography of the colonists began to expand as new laws were passed that eventually regulated their way of life. They created new colonies in the image of their mothers in the Caucasus and the Don, Siberia and Central Asia. The loss of benefits and privileges led not only to an increase in migration processes among them, but also forced them to emigrate to America and even return to Germany.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(4):810-823
pages 810-823 views

"Pious Jew" Yakov Frizer and the Status of Jews in Siberia in the Early 20th Century

Vladimirsky I., Krotova M.V.


The present article analyses some documents concerning the legal and social status of Yakov D. Frizer (1869-1932), who was a Jew, a resident of Irkutsk, a merchant of the First Guild and one of the biggest gold miners of East Siberia. The story of his life in East Siberia describes religious tolerance along with manifestations of nationalism and antisemitism. On the threshold of the 20th century, Siberia was a colorful mosaic of numerous religious groups and confessions existing in the Russian Empire. Jewish communities of Siberia were characterized by openness and heterogeneity. In contras-distinction to the Jews from the Pale of Settlement, Jews of Siberia were successfully integrated into Siberian society. Being a son of a criminal exile, Yakov Frizer in a course of time became one of the biggest Siberian entrepreneurs. Diaries from Frizer’s private archive sometimes pointed out to the cases of religious and ethnic disaffection, thereby demonstrating the complexity and versatility of interfaith relations in East Siberia. Using the definition of Pierre Bourdieu, several generations of Siberian Jews succeeded to build a “symbolic capital” that became a part of their social status, ensured their social respect, and business connections built on mutual trust, making Jews as useful society members. East Siberia in general was tolerant to questions of religious faith. The so-called “Jewish question” in East Siberia did not have the same sharpness as it had in Western provinces of the Russian Empire. The “Jewish question” in Siberia was rather an echo of anti-Semitic stereotypes that traditionally have deep roots in the Russian society, and common people consciousness. The article is based on unpublished sources and diaries from Frizer’s private archive, as well as on archival sources from the Russian State Historical Archive and the State Archive of the Russian Federation.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(4):824-837
pages 824-837 views

The Gypsies and Military Service in the Russian Empire in the Second Half of the 18th - First Half of the 19th Century

Shaidurov V.N., Novogrodsky T.A.


The complication of the national composition of the population due to new ethnic groups as well as incorporation of new territories into the Russian Empire were ones of the consequences of an active foreign policy in the XVIII - XIX century. The Poles, Jews, Gypsies, Finns, and many others needed to be incorporated into existing state, public, social institutions. Most of the activities carried out against, for example, the Jews or Gypsies, aimed at their violent adaptation. The tsarist administration made repeated attempts to persuade various groups of the gypsy population to a settled way of life under the aegis of combating vagrancy in the 1770s - 1820s. Their incorporation in the taxable urban and rural estates implied the imposition of state and district taxes and duties on them. This fully related to recruitment service in its natural or monetary form. But, the Gypsies, unlike Ashkenazi Jews, was not a united nation. This fact forced the government to take different approaches to their recruiting duties in different regions. In Crimea and Bessarabia, the Gypsies were an integral part of local communities. The authorities found it impossible to separate them, for example, from the Crimean Tatar Muslim societies. On this basis they were freed from recruitment same as the Tatars. But some militarized and military institutions (correctional troops of the engineering department, battalions of military cantonists) were used in a repressively educational spirit. If the first were supposed to stop the vagrancy of the Gypsies and promote their sedentary, the second were to contribute to the socialization of young Gypsies and make them ‘useful members of society’. This article for the first time in historiography raises the question of the attitude of the state towards the Gypsies of Russia from the point of view of military service. The article is written on the basis of published sources and unpublished documents from the central and regional archives, which are first introduced into scientific circulation.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(4):838-850
pages 838-850 views

Gypsies of the Urals in the National Economic Policy of the Soviet State of the 1920-1930s

Chernykh A.V., Kamenskikh M.S.


The article is devoted to the analysis of the state policy on Ural Gypsies in the 1920-30s. Historiographical experience allows to undertake micro-level studies including examples of certain regions taking into account their specificity. The article observes the history of Ural Gypsies. Despite a great amount of works devoted to the history of Russian Gypsies the authors are sure that a differentiated approach to the study is the most appropriate taking into account the peculiarities of certain ethnic groups each of them having its own historical specificities. Available published sources and documents that are introduced into scientific circulation for the first time allow to undertake such studies inside one region on the example of two ethnic groups of Gypsies - Russian Roma and the Kalderash Gypsies. The authors have a hypothesis that the number of Ural Gypsies could be much bigger because in official documents they were named Russians or the citizens of certain European countries (Romanians, Bulgarians, Austrians, Serbs, and others). The article analyses the effectiveness of Ural authorities’ policies aimed at organizing Gypsy collective farms (kolkhoz), industrial artels as well as cultural policies on Gypsies. Despite several successful examples in the country in general Ural attempts of organizing Gypsy collective farms were not that successful though there were all the necessary conditions and regional authorities were making a lot of efforts to maintain those farms that were organized. The sources give information on the activities of Gypsy industrial artels which unlike collective farms were functioning well.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(4):851-868
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Negative Selection: Prohibitions and Restrictions in Red Army Recruitment on Ethnic Grounds during the Great Patriotic War

Bezugolny A.Y.


The present article continues the research about the role of the ethnic factor in Red Army recruitment during the Great Patriotic War, the first part of which was published in RUDN Journal of Russian History 19, no. 2 (May 2020). This time the focus is on admission restrictions and prohibitions for certain Soviet ethnic groups, as well as on purges from the army due to soldiers’ nationality. The contribution analyzes the major causes and the scale of this phenomenon, as well as the regulatory framework of restrictions and prohibitions and their development during the war. It is established that the reason for such restrictions could be political motives (distrust towards citizens on ethnic grounds), but also the ethno-cultural and linguistic features of conscripts coming from certain nationalities, with the idea that these features prevented their full use in military service. The article analyzes the practice of restrictions on ethnic grounds, including cases when military authorities in the field allowed for significant deviations from the regulatory framework. The scientific novelty of the present research consists in the fact that for the first time the ethnonational aspect of the history of the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War is analyzed with quantitative methods, which made it possible to significantly deepen our understanding of ethnic processes in the Soviet armed forces.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(4):869-888
pages 869-888 views


Before the First World War: Reconstruction of the Yekaterinburg City Population in 1913

Bakharev D.S., Zabolotnykh E.A.


The article focuses on the Yekaterinburg city (Urals, Russia) population on the eve of the First World War. We argue that 1897 Census data, which remains the main source for estimating the late Imperial Russia’s urban population, are not relevant for the early 20th century Yekaterinburg. The results of population surveys of 1917-1922 largely affected by the socio-political crisis do not reflect the actual development of the city before entering the First World War. So the numbers of 50-70 thousands traditionally used to estimate Yekaterinburg’s population on the eve of the WWI is a historiographic cliché which should be corrected. Our research bases on critical analyses of the newly discovered and transcribed sources Perepis’ domovladel’tcev (municipal survey of the house owners) run in October 1913 at the request of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the aggregated data of the Adresnyi stol (residence registration office) of Yekaterinburg collected in November 1912, as well as local statistics and newspapers. Using source analysis, demographic reconstruction, and a historical-comparative method we reconstructed the population of Yekaterinburg in 1912-1913. Our analysis shows that the city’s population exceeded 100 thousand already in 1912, which means that Yekaterinburg was a dynamically developing due to rapid urbanization and became one of the few Russia’ big (over 100000) cities on the eve of the WWI. While our results help better understanding of the pre-revolutionary Urals’ urbanization, it also raises the need to re-evaluate the price of the Revolution 1917 the city paid, for its’ population dropped drastically during the following crises and reached 100 thousand again only in 1926.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(4):889-904
pages 889-904 views

Creation of a New Industrial Area in the Ulyanovsk District of the Middle Volga Region during the Great Patriotic War in 1941-1943

Khapaev E.A.


The presented article shows huge, multifaceted work, which in one of the most important economic districts of the country was carried out by local authorities, directors of large industrial enterprises, public organizations on restructuring into military form of industry of a separate region - Ulyanovsky district of the Middle Volga region. The presented materials help to reveal those mechanisms and organizational reserves, the correct use of which within two years allowed to create the most powerful production cluster in the territory of the deaf, located in the Russian hinterland of the mainly agricultural area. The subsequent work of the newly created Ulyanovsky Industrial District allowed not only to create the most powerful scientific and production center, but also to turn one of the numerous agrarian districts of vast Russia into a regional center. The materials of the article will make it possible to present visually the difficulties that have been overcome by the organizers of new industrial industries, many of which have been evacuated from the western regions of the country, in the face of an acute shortage of workers, production space, electricity and rolling stock. The work of workers, engineering and technical personnel, who in the face of constant disruptions in the supply of the most necessary, semi-hungry existence, acute shortage of housing showed miracles of labour heroic, is shown. It is told about difficult labor weekdays of defense enterprises, examples are given when workers, working in conditions of lush frost, under the open air not only performed, but also exceeded production plans. A huge contribution was made by factory and university science, when scientists and manufacturing inventors could within a few weeks develop a completely new design of a small-scale engine, a new generator, introduce such innovations into the production process, which allowed to significantly increase productivity. The authors also tried to show the restructuring of enterprises already existing in the Ulyanovsky district. They also managed to adapt quickly to difficult military conditions, so improving the production process, which eventually allowed to increase productivity and output volumes of final products. The effectively organized production and educational process allowed enterprises to organize a labor rise among employees, to create an atmosphere that allowed to mobilize rear workers for serious labor achievements. No industrial enterprise allowed any sabotage, provocation by enemy agents, and serious production accident throughout the war.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(4):905-919
pages 905-919 views


The False Dmitry I in Polish-Lithuanian Public and Political Opinion 1603-1604

Eylbart N.V.


The article is devoted to the reconstruction of the socio-political resonance among the ruling elite of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, caused by the emergence in Poland of False Dmitry I. the Reconstruction based on the letters of members of the Senate to king Sigismund III, written in response to his question about how to deal with a man calling himself the son of Ivan The Terrible and heir to the Moscow throne. The second part of the study is based on instructions given by the gentry of the various States of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to deputies sent to the Sejm in Warsaw, which was to be held in January 1605. There were heated discussions about the campaign of False Dmitry I to Moscow, so these instructions are also a valuable historical source. The letters of Polish senators cited in this article were previously briefly mentioned in studies on the Time of Troubles. They are currently stored in the manuscript Department of the Kurnick library of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Among them are letters from Chancellor Y. Zamoyski, Lithuanian Hetman Y. Khodkiewicz, Krakow castellan Y. Ostrozhski, poznań castellan Y. Ostrorog, Bratslav podkomor L. Piaseczynski, poznań Bishop L. Goslicki, Plock voivode S. Krasinski and Sandomierz castellan S. Tarnowski. This article presents for the first time in full the translations of fragments of these letters concerning False Dmitry I, since their brief analysis in the historical literature did not reflect the fullness of the emotions and feelings of the Polish ruling elite regarding this issue. As a result of full acquaintance with the sources, we came to the conclusion that the full Polish Senate was against the extradition of the impostor to the Moscow state, and among them was also the Chancellor Y. Zamoyski. Opinions differed as to the future of the “Prince,” but they were also very cautious and did not call for his immediate support from the king and the Republic.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(4):920-933
pages 920-933 views

The Visit of the Vice-Chief of the Japanese Army’s General Staff Kawakami Sōroku to Priamur Military District (1897)

Avilov R.S.


In 1897, the Vice-Chief of the Japanese Army’s General Staff, Lieutenant General Kawakami Sōroku, visited the Russian Far East. Based on a large body of hitherto unstudied documents from the Russian State Military Historical Archive, this article analyzes the composition of the Japanese delegation as well as that of the Russian administration that hosted the Japanese guests. Among the hosts were Vladimir A. Oranovskiy and Vladimir K. Samoilov, who would later became famous as military orientalists and as the founders of Russia’s military intelligence in the region. The highest official who met the Japanese mission was the Temporary Chief of Troops of Priamur Military District, Lieutenant-General Nikolay I. Grodekov, widely known at that time as a military man, administrator, and scholar. The article discusses in detail the preparation of the visit by the Russian regional government, including the planned itinerary, preparations for the diet of the guests as well as their accommodation and transport issues. Equally analyzed are the organizational difficulties that occurred during the visit. The main interests of the Japanese delegation were the current condition of the Russian forces in a region, the development of military transport and port infrastructure, the level of regional colonization, issues of military training and combat readiness, new artillery systems, small arms, and winter outfit. The Japanese General Staff was particular interested in the defense condition of Vladivostok Fortress, with one officer in the Japanese delegation being assigned to investigate this particular question. An interesting feature is the cooperation between the General Staff and semi-commercial Japanese organizations for the collection of data about the current state of the Russian Far East. The article also studies the conclusions drawn by the Russian military attaché in Japan, which appear to be inaccurate and questionable. While this visit did not arouse much interest in the central administration of the Russian War Ministry, it was of utmost importance to Japan, which already at that time regarded the Russian Empire as a potential threat and enemy.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(4):934-951
pages 934-951 views

People’s Houses as Answers to the Challenges of Modernity in Europe and Russia

Alekseeva E.V., Kazakova-Apkarimova E.Y.


The article is devoted to a pioneer comparative study of the appearance and evolution of people’s houses in Western Europe and Russia in the second half of the XIX - early XX century. The institutional approach chosen by the authors is complemented by a historical and comparative method of studying the phenomenon of people’s houses. The goals of their creation and features of the activity, due to the political, economic and sociocultural historical realities of individual countries, are analyzed. Research revealed that people’s houses in Europe and in Russia were created at the same historical period - the modern era. A historiographical comparative study using new historical sources showed that in Western European countries and in the Russian Empire, the state did not play a major role in this matter, although some of the people's houses were opened by monarchs, and state policy (opposing promotion of cultural leisure to the alcoholization of the population) could contribute to the development of civil society initiatives. The performed study proves that for both European countries and Russia, private and public initiatives in establishing people's houses (primarily the cooperative movement) played a decisive role. In Russia, it is important to point out the sociocultural policy of the zemstvos, their financial support when building people's houses. The article shows the obvious differences in the history of people's houses in Western European countries and in Russia, due to the late formation of the party system in Imperial Russia. In Europe, one can meet many examples of the creation of people's houses by political parties and generally note the high level of politicization of these institutions. In Russian reality non-political nature of people's houses is obvious, they were mostly cultural and educational public institutions that were further subjected to the process of politicization (under revolutionary conditions). In conclusion, the authors acknowledge big historical significance of people's houses as civil society institutions in Russia and abroad, taking into account such principles of their functioning as independence, voluntariness, social activism and civic consciousness.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(4):952-964
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Gleb Vassilievich Wataghin: Physics, University and Politics in Brazil (1934-1949)

Vieira Souza da Silva L., Bontempi B.J.


In 1934, the Russian-Italian physicist Gleb Vassil’evich Wataghin arrived in Brazil as part of an Italian diplomatic mission to organize the instruction of physics at the new Universidade de São Paulo. Still in the country, he returned to his Russian origins after Brazil’s declaration of war against Italy and the other Axis countries in 1942. This article discusses how Wataghin asserted his Russian nationality to help him stay there and adapt his work. It analyzes Wataghin’s path according to the methodological concept of intellectual scientists to investigate his political engagement with the organization of the scientific field, considering his work as a professor and a physicist, and his national origins. By examining the relevant sources to reconstruct his itinerary, social networks and generation, the authors consider the scientist’s intellectual outlook. They conclude, among other, that Wataghin's involvement in São Paulo's Russian community, specifically the Russian Red Cross, made him the target of investigation and repression by the State Department of Political and Social Order of São Paulo. After World War II, being a physicist further aggravated suspicions of the authorities. This affected Wataghin’s work environment and social network, which were also under investigation.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(4):965-978
pages 965-978 views


Russian-Central Asian Relations in the Works of Modern French Researchers

Arslanov R.A., Trifonova E.D.


The article examines the views of modern French researchers on the relations between Russia and the post-Soviet republics of Central Asia. This allows us to identify various interpretations of Russian foreign policy, and to understand the main approaches of French scholars analyzing the goals and tasks of Russian geostrategy in the region. As the article demonstrates, French historiography, along with the objectivist view on the Central Asian vector in Russian foreign policy, also includes works of ideological nature. Special emphasis is put on French works that focus on Russian political authors who speak of Russia’s neo-imperialism. These studies explain the Russian policy in Central Asia through the ruling elite’s ambition to resurrect an empire in the post-Soviet space and to return superpower status to Russia. Of special interest is the position of authors who try to explain the Russian attitude to the Central Asian region as, on the one hand, an expression of nostalgic feelings harbored by a great part of the population about the nation’s former greatness, assuming that these feelings have an impact on the leadership’s policies, and on the other hand, as the Russian leadership’s attempt to use Russia’s active return to the international arena for the consolidation and self-identification of society. It is observed that some French authors speak of a New Great Game. This very popular concept considers the actions of Russia and other powers operating in the region (USA and China) as a continuation of the historical rivalry between the Russian and British empires in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Russian authors have always been interested in French historiography; this is due to the latter’s scientific prestige and objectivity, and in particular its application of methodologies that further develop the tradition of the Annales School. At the same time, the growing French scholarship on the issue of Russia and post-Soviet Central Asian republics has not yet been subject to close and complex consideration, which defines the novelty of the article.

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(4):979-995
pages 979-995 views

Lyubichankovskiy, S.V. Imperskaya politika akkul’turatsii i problema kolonializma (na primere kochevykh i polukochevykh narodov Rossiyskoy imperii): monografiya [Imperial policy of acculturation and problem of colonialism (based on the example of nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples in the Russian Empire): a monograph]. Orenburg: OGAU Publishing Center, 2019. 480 p.

Isogai M.



RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2020;19(4):996-1000
pages 996-1000 views

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