Russification (Russian: русификация rusifikátsiya) is a form of cultural assimilation process during which non-Russian communities, voluntarily or not, give up their culture and language in favor of the Russian one. In a narrow sense, Russification is used to indicate the influence of the Russian language on Slavic, Baltic and other languages, spoken in areas currently or formerly controlled by Russia, which led to the emerging of russianisms, trasianka and surzhyk. In a historical sense, the term refers to both official and unofficial policies of Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union with respect to their national constituents and to national minorities in Russia, aimed at Russian domination.
The major areas of Russification are politics and culture. In politics, an element of Russification is assigning Russian nationals to leading administrative positions in national institutions. In culture, Russification primarily amounts to domination of the Russian language in official business and strong influence of the Russian language on national idioms. The shifts in demographics in favour of the ethnic Russian population are sometimes considered as a form of Russification as well.
Analytically, it is helpful to distinguish Russification, as a process of changing one's ethnic self-label or identity from a non-Russian ethnonym to Russian, from Russianization, the spread of the Russian language, culture, and people into non-Russian cultures and regions, distinct also from Sovietization or the imposition of institutional forms established by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union throughout the territory ruled by that party. In this sense, although Russification is usually conflated across Russification, Russianization, and Russian-led Sovietization, each can be considered a distinct process. Russianization and Sovietization, for example, did not automatically lead to Russification – change in language or self-identity of non-Russian peoples to being Russian. Thus, despite long exposure to the Russian language and culture, as well as to Sovietization, at the end of the Soviet era non-Russians were on the verge of becoming a majority of the population in the Soviet Union. Few scholars would now claim that the Russian government had aimed to wipe out all non-Russian cultures and replace them with Russian culture and the Orthodox religion, though some non-specialists continue to keep the notion alive.
- 1 History
- 2 Poland and Lithuania
- 3 Ukraine
- 4 Grand Principality of Finland
- 5 Bessarabia/Moldova
- 6 Central Asia
- 7 Eastern Bloc
- 8 Under the Soviet Union
- 8.1 Early 1920s through mid-1930s: Indigenization
- 8.2 Late 1930s and wartime: Russian comes to fore
- 8.3 Late 1950s to 1980s: Advanced Russianization
- 8.4 Linguistic and ethnic Russification
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
The earliest example of Russification took place in the 16th century in the conquered Khanate of Kazan (medieval Tatar state which occupied the territory of former Volga Bulgaria) and other Tatar areas. The main elements of this process were Christianization and implementation of the Russian language as the sole administrative language. After the Russian defeat in the Crimean War in 1856 and the Polish rebellion of 1863, Tsar Alexander II increased Russification to reduce the threat of future rebellions. Russia was populated by many minority groups, and forcing them to accept the Russian culture was an attempt to prevent self-determinationist tendencies and separatism. In the 19th century, Russian settlers on traditional Kirghiz land drove a lot of the Kirghiz over the border to China.
Poland and Lithuania
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One example of 19th century Russification was the replacement of the Ukrainian, Polish, Lithuanian, and Belarusian languages by Russian in those areas, which were annexed by the Russian Empire after the Partitions of Poland (1772–1795) and the Congress of Vienna (1815). Russification intensified after the November Uprising of 1831, and in particular after the January Uprising of 1863. In 1864, the Polish and Belarusian languages were banned in public places; in the 1880s, Polish was banned in schools and on school grounds and offices of Congress Poland. Research and teaching of the Polish language, history or of Catholicism were forbidden. Illiteracy rose as Poles refused to learn Russian. Students were beaten for resisting Russification. A Polish underground education network was formed, including the famous Flying University. According to Russian estimates, by 1901 one-third of the inhabitants in the Congress Kingdom was involved in clandestine education based on Polish literature.
A similar development took place in Lithuania. Its Governor General, Mikhail Muravyov, prohibited the public use of spoken Polish and Lithuanian and closed Polish and Lithuanian schools; teachers from other parts of Russia who did not speak these languages were moved in to teach pupils. Muravyov also banned the use of Latin and Gothic scripts in publishing. He was reported saying, "What the Russian bayonet didn't accomplish, the Russian school will." ("что нѣ доделалъ русскій штыкъ – доделаетъ русская школа.") This ban, which was only lifted in 1904, was disregarded by the Knygnešiai, the Lithuanian book smugglers, who brought Lithuanian publications printed in the Latin alphabet, the historic orthography of the Lithuanian language, from Lithuania Minor, a part of East Prussia, and from the United States into the Lithuanian-speaking areas of Imperial Russia. The knygnešiai became a symbol of the resistance of Lithuanians against Russification.
The campaign also promoted the Russian Orthodox faith over Catholicism. The measures used included closing down Catholic monasteries, officially banning the building of new churches and giving many of the old ones to the Russian Orthodox church, banning Catholic schools and establishing state schools which taught only the Orthodox religion, requiring Catholic priests to preach only officially approved sermons, requiring that Catholics who married members of the Orthodox church convert, requiring Catholic nobles to pay an additional tax in the amount of 10% of their profits, limiting the amount of land a Catholic peasant could own, and switching from the Gregorian calendar (used by Catholics) to the Julian one (used by members of the Orthodox church).
After the uprising, many manors and great chunks of land were confiscated from nobles of Polish and Lithuanian descent who were accused of helping the uprising; these properties were later given or sold to Russian nobles. Villages where supporters of the uprising lived were repopulated by ethnic Russians. Vilnius University, where the language of instruction had been Polish rather than Russian, was closed in 1832. Lithuanians and Poles were banned from holding any public jobs (including professional positions, such as teachers and doctors) in Lithuania; this forced educated Lithuanians to move to other parts of the Russian Empire. The old legal code was dismantled and a new one based on the Russian code and written in the Russian language was enacted; Russian became the only administrative and juridical language in the area. Most of these actions ended at the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War, but others took longer to be reversed; Vilnius University was reopened only after Russia had lost control of the city in 1919.
Russian and Soviet authorities conducted policies of Russification of Ukraine from 1709 to 1991. Since then, the Ukrainian government has implemented policies in order to decrease the use of Russian and favour Ukrainian, a process labelled Ukrainization.
Grand Principality of Finland
Bessarabia had been annexed by the Russian Empire in 1812. In 1816 Bessarabia became an autonomous status, but only until 1828. In 1829, the use of the Romanian language was forbidden in the administration. In 1833, the use of Romanian language had been forbidden in churches. In 1842, the teaching in Romanian was forbidden for the secondary schools; it was forbidden for the elementary schools in 1860.
The Russian authorities forced the migration of Romanians (Moldovans) to other provinces of the Russian Empire (especially in Kuban, Kazakhstan and Siberia), while foreign ethnic groups (especially Russians and Ukrainians, called in the 19th century "Little Russians") were encouraged to settle here. According to 1817-census, Bessarabia was populated by 86% Romanians (Moldovans), 6.5% Ukrainians, 1.5% Russians (Lipovans) and 6% other ethnic groups. 80 years later, in 1897, the ethnic structure was very different: only 56% Romanians (Moldovans), but 11.7% Ukrainians, 18.9% Russians and 13.4% other ethnic groups. During 80 years, between 1817 and 1897, the share of Romanian (Moldovan) population dropped by 30%.
The Moldovan language introduced during the Interwar period by the Soviet authorities first in the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, and after 1940 taught in the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, was actually the Romanian language but written with a version of the Cyrillic script derived from the Russian alphabet. Proponents of Cyrillic orthography argue that the Romanian language was historically written with the Cyrillic script, albeit a different version of it (see Moldovan alphabet and Romanian Cyrillic alphabet for a discussion of this controversy).
The cultural and linguistic effects of russification manifest themselves in persistent identity questions. During the breakup of the Soviet Union, this led to separation of a large and industrialized portion of the country, becoming the de facto independent state of Transnistria - whose official language is Russian.
The Russian Empire established authority in Central Asia during the 19th century. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Soviet Union attempted to create national and Soviet identities in Central Asia in order to subvert the religious power structure already in place.
Subversion of Religious Powers during the Early Soviet Period
Soviet authorities were largely unsuccessful at subverting indigenous Islamic power in the first years of their rule. The Russian Civil War and economic depression stalled the Russian Bolshevik party's plans for restructuring Central Asian society. The Communist Party had to rely on the religious structure of the society so they could preserve order. Shortly after the Revolution of 1917, in order to find ways to subvert local religious authorities and maintain control in the area, the Communist Party set up eight bureaus throughout Central Asia, the most important of which was the Turkestan Bureau (Turkburo). The Turkburo gained prominence because it absorbed the Turkestan Commission shortly after its creation in October 1919. The Turkestan Commission, composed entirely of Russian Communists, came to Central Asia not only to solidify bonds between Moscow and Tashkent, but also to help create new borders in the area. Muslim control of the courts and schools began to dwindle as Sredazburo settled into its new position and began to subvert religious power through the use of state control. The Soviet officials started backing minority Muslim reformist groups, which weakened the power of the Muslim clergy by dividing it further. In 1923, Sredazburo set up the Turkestan Central Executive Committee (TurkTsIK), which held the duties of "overseeing the proper use of waqf income, certifying religious teachers and qadis, supervising the religious courts, and spreading revolutionary, religious, and scientific ideas among the people of the Syr Daria Oblast.” Soviets offered anti-religious lectures in Tashkent and published newspaper articles about the dangers of Pan-Turkism. Sredazburo also expelled some of the native communists for practicing religious rituals and having multiple wives, purging the committee of strong adherents of Islam. Sredazburo had a special section specifically for women, known as the Zhenotdel. This section focused its power on eliminating child marriage and polygyny, accepted practices among the Muslims of Central Asia, while improving the social status of women and integrating them into political and industrial society. The Soviet Union eventually divided Central Asia into five republics based on the five major ethnic groups; Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan became Union Republics in October 1924, Tadzhikistan in June 1929, and Kazakhstan and Kirghizstan in December 1936 (though both maintained the status of autonomous republics since the mid-1920s). The delimitation of Central Asia allowed the Soviet Union to more easily create national identities for the different ethnic groups of the area and could have served the purpose of undermining pan-Islamic and pan-Turkic movements.
Education during the Early Soviet Period
The Soviet system prioritized education because of education’s uses in modernization, in industrialization, and in circulating propaganda. The Communist Party in Central Asia built a small number of secular schools shortly after the Revolution of 1917; however, the economic crisis made relying solely on communist schools to raise literacy rates infeasible. Instead, the Soviets namely utilized the reformed schools of the Jadids, which religious leaders had already established and would build more with Soviet support. Strong religious traditions caused many natives to resist the inclusion of secular material in their education, but one clever member of the Sredazburo used passages from the Koran to convince local leaders of the legitimacy of contemporary knowledge. In order to further the cause of nationalizing the Central Asian Republics, authorities encouraged literacy in national languages (i.e. indigenous languages) over literacy in Russian. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkestan passed a decree in 1923 that required the use of the national language in primary education and only the conditional use of Russian in middle and higher education. The communist bureaus of other republics echoed this sentiment with similar policies.
The National Languages of the Five Republics
In the early 1920s, the Soviet Union standardized languages for the five major ethnic groups of Central Asia, which national borders would soon officially divide into five distinct republics. Authorities often based their standardization of a language on the most popular dialect or on the literary language of the intelligentsia, if one existed. During the early 1920s, the official script of each of the five languages became Arabic. The Communist Party switched the script to the Latin alphabet between 1927 and 1930. This switch came from an attempt to isolate the republics from bordering Islamic countries. Soviet officials swapped the Latin alphabet for Cyrillic between 1939 and 1941 in order to linguistically unify the Soviet Union.
In all countries of the Eastern Bloc Russian language lessons were required for all students. After 1965, only in Romania were Russian language lessons not required anymore.
Under the Soviet Union
After the 1917 revolution, authorities in the USSR decided to abolish the use of the Arabic alphabet in native languages in Soviet-controlled Central Asia, in the Caucasus, and in the Volga region (including Tatarstan). This detached the local Muslim populations from exposure to the language and writing system of the Koran. The new alphabet for these languages was based on the Latin alphabet and was also inspired by the Turkish alphabet. However, by the late 1930s, the policy had changed. In 1939–1940 the Soviets decided that a number of these languages (including Tatar, Kazakh, Uzbek, Turkmen, Tajik, Kyrgyz, Azeri, and Bashkir) would henceforth use variations of the Cyrillic script. It was claimed that the switch was made "by the demands of the working class."
Early 1920s through mid-1930s: Indigenization
Stalin's Marxism and the National Question (1913) provided the basic framework for nationality policy in the Soviet Union. The early years of said policy, from the early 1920s to the mid-1930s, were guided by the policy of korenizatsiya ("indigenization"), during which the new Soviet regime sought to reverse the long-term effects of Russification on the non-Russian populations. As the regime was trying to establish its power and legitimacy throughout the former Russian empire, it went about constructing regional administrative units, recruiting non-Russians into leadership positions, and promoting non-Russian languages in government administration, the courts, the schools, and the mass media. The slogan then established was that local cultures should be "socialist in content but national in form." That is, these cultures should be transformed to conform with the Communist Party's socialist project for the Soviet society as a whole but have active participation and leadership by the indigenous nationalities and operate primarily in the local languages.
Early nationalities policy shared with later policy the object of assuring control by the Communist Party over all aspects of Soviet political, economic, and social life. The early Soviet policy of promoting what one scholar has described as "ethnic particularism" and another as "institutionalized multinationality", had a double goal. On the one hand, it had been an effort to counter Russian chauvinism by assuring a place for the non-Russian languages and cultures in the newly formed Soviet Union. On the other hand, it was a means to prevent the formation of alternative ethnically based political movements, including pan-Islamism and pan-Turkism. One way of accomplishing this was to promote what some regard as artificial distinctions between ethnic groups and languages rather than promoting amalgamation of these groups and a common set of languages based on Turkish or another regional language.
The Soviet nationalities policy from its early years sought to counter these two tendencies by assuring a modicum of cultural autonomy to non-Russian nationalities within a federal system or structure of government, though maintaining that the ruling Communist Party was monolithic, not federal. A process of "national-territorial delimitation" (ru:национально-территориальное размежевание) was undertaken to define the official territories of the non-Russian populations within the Soviet Union. The federal system conferred highest status to the titular nationalities of union republics, and lower status to titular nationalities of autonomous republics, autonomous provinces, and autonomous okrugs. In all, some 50 nationalities had a republic, province, or okrug of which they held nominal control in the federal system. Federalism and the provision of native-language education ultimately left as a legacy a large non-Russian public that was educated in the languages of their ethnic groups and that identified a particular homeland on the territory of the Soviet Union.
Late 1930s and wartime: Russian comes to fore
By the late 1930s, however, there was a notable policy shift. Purges in some of the national regions, such as Ukraine, had occurred already in the early 1930s. Before the turnabout in Ukraine in 1933, a purge of Veli Ibrahimov and his leadership in the Crimean ASSR in 1929 for "national deviation" led to Russianization of government, education, and the media and to the creation of a special alphabet for Crimean Tatar to replace the Latin alphabet. Of the two dangers that Joseph Stalin had identified in 1923, now bourgeois nationalism (local nationalism) was said to be a greater threat than Great Russian chauvinism (great power chauvinism). In 1937, Faizullah Khojaev and Akmal Ikramov were removed as leaders of the Uzbek SSR and in 1938, during the third great Moscow show trial, convicted and subsequently put to death for alleged anti-Soviet nationalist activities.
The Russian language gained greater emphasis. In 1938, Russian became a required subject of study in every Soviet school, including those in which a non-Russian language was the principal medium of instruction for other subjects (e.g., mathematics, science, and social studies). In 1939, non-Russian languages that had been given Latin-based scripts in the late 1920s were given new scripts based on the Cyrillic script. One likely rationale for these decisions was the sense of impending war and that Russian was the language of command in the Red Army.
Before and during World War II, Joseph Stalin deported to Central Asia and Siberia several entire nationalities for their suspected collaboration with the German invaders: Volga Germans, Crimean Tatars, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Kalmyks, and others. Shortly after the war, he deported many Ukrainians and Balts to Siberia as well.
After the war the leading role of the Russian people in the Soviet family of nations and nationalities was promoted by Stalin and his successors. This shift was most clearly underscored by Communist Party General Secretary Stalin's Victory Day toast to the Russian people in May 1945:
I would like to raise a toast to the health of our Soviet people and, before all, the Russian people.
I drink, before all, to the health of the Russian people, because in this war they earned general recognition as the leading force of the Soviet Union among all the nationalities of our country.
Naming the Russian nation the primus inter pares was a total turnabout from Stalin's declaration 20 years earlier (heralding the korenizatsiya policy) that "the first immediate task of our Party is vigorously to combat the survivals of Great-Russian chauvinism." Although the official literature on nationalities and languages in subsequent years continued to speak of there being 130 equal languages in the USSR, in practice a hierarchy was endorsed in which some nationalities and languages were given special roles or viewed as having different long-term futures.
Late 1950s to 1980s: Advanced Russianization
1958–59 education reform: parents choose language of instruction
An analysis of textbook publishing found that education was offered for at least one year and for at least the first class (grade) in 67 languages between 1934 and 1980. However, the educational reforms undertaken after Nikita Khrushchev became First Secretary of the Communist Party in the late 1950s began a process of replacing non-Russian schools with Russian ones for the nationalities that had lower status in the federal system or whose populations were smaller or displayed widespread bilingualism already. Nominally, this process was guided by the principle of "voluntary parental choice." But other factors also came into play, including the size and formal political status of the group in the Soviet federal hierarchy and the prevailing level of bilingualism among parents. By the early 1970s schools in which non-Russian languages served as the principal medium of instruction operated in 45 languages, while seven more indigenous languages were taught as subjects of study for at least one class year. By 1980, instruction was offered in 35 non-Russian languages of the peoples of the USSR, just over half the number in the early 1930s.
Moreover, in most of these languages schooling was not offered for the complete 10-year curriculum. For example, within the RSFSR in 1958–59, full 10-year schooling in the native language was offered in only three languages: Russian, Tatar, and Bashkir. And some nationalities had minimal or no native-language schooling. By 1962–1963, among non-Russian nationalities that were indigenous to the RSFSR, whereas 27% of children in classes I-IV (primary school) studied in Russian-language schools, 53% of those in classes V-VIII (incomplete secondary school) studied in Russian-language schools, and 66% of those in classes IX-X studied in Russian-language schools. Although many non-Russian languages were still offered as a subject of study at a higher class level (in some cases through complete general secondary school – the 10th class), the pattern of using Russian language as the main medium of instruction accelerated after Khrushchev's parental choice program got under way.
Pressure to convert the main medium of instruction to Russian was evidently higher in urban areas. For example, in 1961–62, reportedly only 6% of Tatar children living in urban areas attended schools in which Tatar was the main medium of instruction. Similarly in Dagestan in 1965, schools in which the indigenous language was the medium of instruction existed only in rural areas. The pattern was probably similar, if less extreme, in most of the non-Russian union republics, although in Belarus and Ukraine schooling in urban areas was highly Russianized.
Doctrine catches up with practice: rapprochement and fusion of nations
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The promotion of federalism and of non-Russian languages had always been a strategic decision aimed at expanding and maintaining rule by the Communist Party. On the theoretical plane, however, the Communist Party's official doctrine was that eventually nationality differences and nationalities as such would disappear. In official party doctrine as it was reformulated in the Third Program of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union introduced by Nikita Khrushchev at the 22nd Party Congress in 1961, although the program stated that ethnic distinctions will eventually disappear and a single common language would be adopted by all nationalities in the Soviet Union, "the obliteration of national distinctions, and especially language distinctions, is a considerably more drawn-out process than the obliteration of class distinctions." At the present time, however, Soviet nations and nationalities were undergoing a dual process of further flowering of their cultures and of rapprochement or drawing together (сближение – sblizhenie) into a stronger union. In his Report on the Program to the Congress, Khrushchev used even stronger language: that the process of further rapprochement (sblizhenie) and greater unity of nations would eventually lead to a merging or fusion (слияние – sliyanie) of nationalities.
Khrushchev's formula of rapprochement-fusing was moderated slightly, however, when Leonid Brezhnev replaced Khrushchev as General Secretary of the Communist Party in 1964 (a post he held until his death in 1982). Brezhnev asserted that rapproachment would lead ultimately to the complete "unity" of nationalities. "Unity" was an ambiguous term because it could imply either the maintenance of separate national identities but a higher stage of mutual attraction or similarity between nationalities, or the total disappearance of ethnic differences. In the political context of the time, "rapproahment-unity" was regarded as a softening of the pressure towards Russification that Khrushchev had promoted with his endorsement of sliyanie.
The 24th Party Congress in 1971, however, launched the idea that a new "Soviet people" was forming on the territory of the USSR, a community for which the common language – the language of the "Soviet people" – was the Russian language, consistent with the role that Russian was playing for the fraternal nations and nationalities in the territory already. This new community was labeled a people (народ – narod), not a nation (нация – natsiya), but in that context the Russian word narod ("people") implied an ethnic community, not just a civic or political community.
Thus, until the end of the Soviet era, a doctrinal rationalization had been provided for some of the practical policy steps that were taken in areas of education and the media. First of all, the transfer of many "national schools" (schools based on local languages) to Russian as a medium of instruction accelerated under Khrushchev in the late 1950s and continued into the 1980s.
Second, the new doctrine was used to justify the special place of the Russian language as the "language of inter-nationality communication" (язык межнационального общения) in the USSR. Use of the term "inter-nationality" (межнациональное) rather than the more conventional "international" (международное) focused on the special internal role of Russian language rather than on its role as a language of international discourse. That Russian was the most widely spoken language, and that Russians were the majority of the population of the country, were also cited in justification of the special place of Russian language in government, education, and the media.
At the 27th CPSU Party Congress in 1986, presided over by Mikhail Gorbachev, the 4th Party Program reiterated the formulas of the previous program:
Characteristic of the national relations in our country are both the continued flourishing of the nations and nationalities and the fact that they are steadily and voluntarily drawing closer together on the basis of equality and fraternal cooperation. Neither artificial prodding nor holding back of the objective trends of development is admissible here. In the long term historical perspective this development will lead to complete unity of the nations....
The equal right of all citizens of the USSR to use their native languages and the free development of these languages will be ensured in the future as well. At the same time learning the Russian language, which has been voluntarily accepted by the Soviet people as a medium of communication between different nationalities, besides the language of one's nationality, broadens one's access to the achievements of science and technology and of Soviet and world culture.
Linguistic and ethnic Russification
Some factors favoring Russification
Progress in the spread of Russian language as a second language and the gradual displacement of other languages was monitored in Soviet censuses. The Soviet censuses of 1926, 1937, 1939, and 1959, had included questions on "native language" (родной язык) as well as "nationality." The 1970, 1979, and 1989 censuses added to these questions one on "other language of the peoples of the USSR" that an individual could "freely command" (свободно владеть). It is speculated that the explicit goal of the new question on "second language" was to monitor the spread of Russian as the language of internationality communication.
Each of the official homelands within the Soviet Union was regarded as the only homeland of the titular nationality and its language, while the Russian language was regarded as the language for interethnic communication for the whole Soviet Union. Therefore, for most of the Soviet era, especially after the korenizatsiya (indigenization) policy ended in the 1930s, schools in which non-Russian Soviet languages would be taught were not generally available outside the respective ethnically based administrative units of these ethnicities. Some exceptions appeared to involve cases of historic rivalries or patterns of assimilation between neighboring non-Russian groups, such as between Tatars and Bashkirs in Russia or among major Central Asian nationalities. For example, even in the 1970s schooling was offered in at least six languages in Uzbekistan: Russian, Uzbek, Tajik, Kazakh, Turkmen, and Karakalpak.
While formally all languages were equal, in almost all Soviet republics the Russian/local bilingualism was "asymmetric": the titular nation learned Russian, whereas immigrant Russians generally did not learn the local language.
In addition, many non-Russians who lived outside their respective administrative units tended to become Russified linguistically; that is, they not only learned Russian as a second language but they also adopted it as their home language or mother tongue – although some still retained their sense of ethnic identity or origins even after shifting their native language to Russian. This includes both the traditional communities (e.g., Lithuanians in the northwestern Belarus (see Eastern Vilnius region) or the Kaliningrad Oblast (see Lithuania Minor)) and the communities that appeared during Soviet times such as Ukrainian or Belarusian workers in Kazakhstan or Latvia, whose children attended primarily the Russian-language schools and thus the further generations are primarily speaking Russian as their native language; for example, for 57% of Estonia's Ukrainians, 70% of Estonia's Belarusians and 37% of Estonia's Latvians claimed Russian is the native language in the last Soviet census of 1989. Russian language as well replaced Yiddish and other languages as the main language of many Jewish communities inside the Soviet Union.
Another consequence of the mixing of nationalities and the spread of bilingualism and linguistic Russification was the growth of ethnic intermarriage and a process of ethnic Russification—coming to call oneself Russian by nationality or ethnicity, not just speaking Russian as a second language or using it as a primary language. In the last decades of the Soviet Union, ethnic Russification (or ethnic assimilation) was moving very rapidly for a few nationalities such as the Karelians and Mordvinians. However, whether children born in mixed families where one of the parents was Russian were likely to be raised as Russians depended on the context. For example, the majority of children in families where one parent was Russian and the other Ukrainian living in North Kazakhstan chose Russian as their nationality on their internal passport at age 16. However, children of mixed Russian and Estonian parents living in Tallinn (the capital city of Estonia), or mixed Russian and Latvian parents living in Riga (the capital of Latvia), or mixed Russian and Lithuanian parents living in Vilnius (the capital of Lithuania) most often chose as their own nationality that of the titular nationality of their republic – not Russian.
More generally, patterns of linguistic and ethnic assimilation (Russification) were complex and cannot be accounted for by any single factor such as educational policy. Also relevant were the traditional cultures and religions of the groups, their residence in urban or rural areas, their contact with and exposure to Russian language and to ethnic Russians, and other factors.
Some factors impeding Russification
A factor that may have retarded the process of ethnic Russification was the long-established practice of using nationality labels on official documents. For example, the "nationality" of Soviet citizens was fixed on their internal passports at age 16, and was essentially determined by the nationality of the parents. Only the children of mixed marriages had a choice: they could choose the nationality of one of their parents. Furthermore, an individual's nationality was inscribed on school enrollment records, military service cards (for men), and labor booklets. Although the census question on nationality was supposed to be only subjective and not determined by the official nationality in an individual's passport, the fixing of official nationality on so many official records may well have reinforced non-Russian identities. Among some groups, such as Jews, the ubiquitous use of such an official nationality on identity papers and records was viewed as a factor that fostered discrimination against them.
Another factor that may also have begun to reduce pressure toward ethnic Russification was that beginning in the late 1960s immigration of Russians to some of the non-Russian republics slowed down or reversed. There was a net outmigration of Russians from Armenia and Georgia in the 1960s (though because of natural increase the number of Russians still increased during this decade). There was also essentially no net immigration or outmigration of Russians in Central Asia in the 1970s, and by the 1980s there was a net outmigration. To the Baltic republics and in the Soviet west (Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldavia), there was only a trickle of net immigration of Russians by the 1980s.
Furthermore, because of differential fertility rates among ethnic groups, the Russian share of the population of the Soviet Union as a whole declined to just 51 percent by the time of the 1989 census. In the preceding decade Russians had comprised just 33 percent of the net increase in the Soviet population. Assuming that these trends continued, Russians were likely to lose their status as a majority of the Soviet population around the turn of the 21st century.
- Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality
- Education in the Soviet Union
- National delimitation in the Soviet Union
- Population transfer in the Soviet Union
- Soviet nation
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- Judaization of the Galilee
- Judaization of Jerusalem
- Vernon V. Aspaturian, "The Non-Russian Peoples," in Allen Kassof, Ed., Prospects for Soviet Society (New York: Praeger, 1968): 143–198. Aspaturian also distinguished both Russianization and Russification from Sovietization, the process of spreading Soviet institutions and the Soviet socialist restructuring of social and economic relations in accordance with the ruling Communist Party's vision. (Aspaturian was a Soviet studies specialist, Evan Pugh Professor Emeritus of political science and former director of the Slavic and Soviet Language and Area Center at Pennsylvania State University.)
- Barbara A. Anderson and Brian D. Silver,"Demographic Sources of the Changing Ethnic Composition of the Soviet Union," Population and Development Review 15, No. 4 (Dec., 1989), pp. 609–656.
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- Keller, 66.
- Glenn, 73-76.
- Haugen, Arne. The Establishment of National Republics in Soviet Central Asia, (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 127.
- Haugen, 127.
- Glenn, 80
- Glenn, 81.
- Rouland 2004, p. 183.
- For a general timeline of Soviet policy towards the nationalities, see the Russian-language Wikipedia article on "Nationalities policy of Russia" (ru:Национальная политика России).
- Yuri Slezkine, "The USSR as a Communal Apartment, Or How a Socialist State Promoted Ethnic Particularism," Slavic Review 53, No. 2 (Summer 1994): 414–452.
- Rogers Brubaker, "Nationhood and the National Question in the Soviet Union and Post-Soviet Eurasia: An Institutionalist Account," Theory and Society 23 (February, 1994): 47–78.
- This was not focused simply on religion. In the Revolutionary and immediate post-Revolutionary period, after at first coöpting jadidist Tatar Sultan Galiyev into a leadership position in the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), the Soviet regime soon turned to fighting against his project and ideas for uniting Muslim peoples in a broader national liberal movement.
- See Slezkine (1994) and Ronald Wixman, Language Aspects of Ethnic Patterns and Processes in the North Caucasus, University of Chicago Geography Research Series, No. 19 (1980).
- Wixman (1980). One scholar has pointed out that the basic task of defining "what was a nationality" was assigned to ethnographers immediately after the formation of the USSR in 1924, and that they were asked to work quickly so that a population census could be taken with an accounting by nationality. In contrast, the only complete imperial Russian census in 1897 did not use nationality at all as a category but instead used religion and language as ethnic markers. See Francine Hirsch, "The Soviet Union as a Work in Progress: Ethnographers and Category Nationality in the 1926, 1937, and 1939 Censuses," Slavic Review 56 (Summer 1997): 256–278.
- H. B. Paksoy, "Crimean Tatars," in Modern Encyclopedia of Religions in Russia and Soviet Union (Academic International Press, 1995), Vol. VI: 135–142.
- Robert Conquest, The Nation Killers: The Soviet Deportation of Nationalities (London: MacMillan, 1970) (ISBN 0-333-10575-3); S. Enders Wimbush and Ronald Wixman, "The Meskhetian Turks: A New Voice in Central Asia," Canadian Slavonic Papers 27, Nos. 2 and 3 (Summer and Fall, 1975): 320–340; and Alexander Nekrich, The Punished Peoples: The Deportation and Fate of Soviet Minorities at the End of the Second World War (New York: W. W. Norton, 1978) (ISBN 0-393-00068-0).
- This translation is drawn from CyberUSSR.com: http://www.cyberussr.com/rus/s-toast-r.html
- For example, M. I. Isaev, Сто тридцать равноправных; о языках народов СССР. [One hundred and thirty with equal rights; on languages of the peoples of the USSR]. Moscow: Nauka, 1970.
- In the specialized literature on sociolinguistics that evolved in the 1960s and later, scholars described such a hierarchy of societal functions by distinguishing Russian at the top of the hierarchy as the "language of inter-nationality communication," then the "national literary languages" of major Soviet nations (Ukrainian, Estonian, Uzbek, etc.), the "literary languages" of smaller nationalities and peoples (Chuvash, Mordvinian, etc.), and the languages of small ethnic groups. (See, inter alia, Yu. D. Desheriyev and I. F. Protchenko, Равитие языков народов СССР в советскую эпоху [Development of languages of the peoples of the USSR in the Soviet epoch]. Moscow: Prosveshchenie, 1968.) For an analysis by an American scholar of the different "functions" of major nationalities in the Soviet system of rule, see John A. Armstrong, "The Ethnic Scene in the Soviet Union: The View of the Dictatorship,” in Erich Goldhagen, Ed., Ethnic Minorities in the Soviet Union (New York: Praeger, 1968): 3–49.
- On the differential and changing roles of Russian and the non-Russian languages in Soviet education over time see Barbara A. Anderson and Brian D. Silver, "Equality, Efficiency, and Politics in Soviet Bilingual Education Policy: 1934–1980," American Political Science Review 78 (December, 1984): 1019–1039.
- Yaroslav Bilinsky, "The Soviet Education Laws of 1958–59 and Soviet Nationality Policy," Soviet Studies 14 (Oct. 1962): 138–157.
- Brian D. Silver, "The Status of National Minority Languages in Soviet Education: An Assessment of Recent Changes," Soviet Studies 26 (Jan. 1974): 28–40; Isabelle Kreindler,"The Changing Status of Russian in the Soviet Union," International Journal of the Sociology of Language 33 (1982): 7–39; Anderson and Silver (1984).
- Silver (1974).
- Bilinsky (1962).
- Scholars often misattribute the endorsement of "sliyanie" to the Party Program. This word does not appear in the Party Program but only in Khrushchev's Report on the Program (his second speech at the Congress), though it did appear in officially approved literature about nationalities policy in subsequent years.
- See Anderson and Silver (1984). During this period, in most of the non-Russian official regions, the Ministry of Education distributed three main alternative school curricula, for: (1) Russian schools in which all subjects were taught in Russian, except for foreign (non-Soviet) languages; (2) "national schools" in which the native language was used as the main medium of instruction and Russian was taught as a subject of study (which might be termed the traditional national school); and (3) "national schools" in which Russian was the main medium of instruction and the native language was taught only as a separate subject (a new type of "national school" established after the 1958–59 education reforms). There were also some hybrid versions of the latter two types.
- Brian D. Silver, "“The Ethnic and Language Dimensions in Russian and Soviet Censuses,” in Ralph S. Clem, Ed., Research Guide to the Russian and Soviet Censuses (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1986): 70–97.
- Barbara A. Anderson and Brian D. Silver, "Some Factors in the Linguistic and Ethnic Russification of Soviet Nationalities: Is Everyone Becoming Russian?" in Lubomyr Hajda and Mark Beissinger, Eds., The Nationality Factor in Soviet Politics and Society (Boulder: Westview, 1990): 95–130.
- For a summary of ethno-linguistic research conducted by Soviet scholars see Rasma Karklins. 1986. Ethnic Relations in the USSR: The Perspective from Below (Boston and London: Allen & Unwin).
- Brian Silver, "Social Mobilization and the Russification of Soviet Nationalities," American Political Science Review 68 (March, 1974): 45–66; Brian D. Silver, "Language Policy and the Linguistic Russification of Soviet Nationalities," in Jeremy R. Azrael, Ed., Soviet Nationality Policies and Practices (New York: Praeger, 1978): 250–306.
- This is the interpretation of the leading Soviet ethnic demographer V. I. Kozlov, in Динамика численности народов (Dynamics in the Number of Peoples) (Moscow: Nauka, 1969).
- Barbara A. Anderson and Brian D. Silver, "Growth and Diversity of the Population of the Soviet Union," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 510 (July 1990): 155–177.
- Anderson, Barbara A., and Brian D. Silver. 1984. "Equality, Efficiency, and Politics in Soviet Bilingual Education Policy: 1934–1980," American Political Science Review 78 (December): 1019–1039.
- Armstrong, John A. 1968. "The Ethnic Scene in the Soviet Union: The View of the Dictatorship,” in Erich Goldhagen, Ed., Ethnic Minorities in the Soviet Union (New York: Praeger): 3–49.
- Aspaturian, Vernon V. 1968. "The Non-Russian Peoples," in Allen Kassof, Ed., Prospects for Soviet Society. New York: Praeger: 143–198.
- Azrael, Jeremy R., Ed. 1978. Soviet Nationality Policies and Practices. New York: Praeger.
- Włodzimierz Bączkowski (1958). Russian colonialism: the Tsarist and Soviet empires. New York, Frederick A. Praeger. p. 97.
- Bilinsky, Yaroslav. 1962. "The Soviet Education Laws of 1958–59 and Soviet Nationality Policy," Soviet Studies 14 (Oct. 1962): 138–157.
- Carrère d'Encausse, Hélène (1992). Grand défi (Grand Defile; Bolsheviks and Nations 1917–1930). Warsaw, Most. p. 186.
- Conquest, Robert (1977). The nation killers. Houndmills, Macmillan Press. p. 222. ISBN 0-333-10575-3.
- Andrzej Chwalba (1999). Polacy w służbie Moskali (Poles in the Muscovite Service). Kraków, PWN. p. 257. ISBN 83-01-12753-8.
- Gross, J. T. (2000). Revolution from abroad; the soviet conquest of Poland's western Ukraine and western Belorussia. Princeton, Princeton University Press. p. 396. ISBN 0-691-09603-1.
- Gasimov, Zaur (Ed.), Kampf um Wort und Schrift. Russifizierung in Osteuropa im 19.-20. Jahrhundert. Göttingen:V&R 2012.
- Hajda, Lubomyr, and Mark Beissinger, Eds. 1990. The Nationality Factor in Soviet Politics and Society. Boulder, CO: Westview.
- Kaiser, Robert, and Jeffrey Chinn. 1996. The Russians as the New Minority in the Soviet Successor States. Boulder, CO: Westview.
- Karklins, Rasma. 1986. Ethnic Relations in the USSR: The Perspective from Below. Boston and London: Allen & Unwin.
- Kreindler, Isabelle. 1982. "The Changing Status of Russian in the Soviet Union," International Journal of the Sociology of Language 33: 7–39.
- Lewis, E. Glyn. 1972. Multilingualism in the Soviet Union: Aspects of Language Policy and its Implementation. The Hague: Mouton.
- Pavlenko, Aneta. 2008. Multilingualism in Post-Soviet Countries. Multilingual Matters, Tonawanda, NY. ISBN 1-84769-087-4.
- Rodkiewicz, Witold (1998). Russian nationality policy in the Western provinces of the Empire (1863–1905). Lublin, Scientific Society of Lublin. p. 295. ISBN 83-87833-06-1.
- Rouland, Michael (2004). "A nation on stage: music and the 1936 Festival of Kazak Arts". In Neil Edmunds, ed., Soviet Music and Society under Lenin and Stalin: The baton and sickle (pp. 181–208). Abingdon & New York, NY: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 978-0-415-30219-7.
- Serbak, Mykola (1997). Natsional'na politika tsarizmu na pravoberežniy Ukrayni (National Politics of Tsardom in Right-bank Ukraine). Kyiv, Kyiv Shevchenko University Press. p. 89. ISBN 5-7763-9036-2.
- Silver, Brian D. 1974. "The Status of National Minority Languages in Soviet Education: An Assessment of Recent Changes," Soviet Studies 26 (January): 28–40.
- Silver, Brian D. 1986. "The Ethnic and Language Dimensions in Russian and Soviet Censuses," in Ralph S. Clem, Ed., Research Guide to the Russian and Soviet Censuses (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press): 70–97.
- Leonard Szymański (1983). Zarys polityki caratu wobec szkolnictwa ogólnokształcącego w Królestwie Polskim w latach 1815–1915 (Sketch of the Tsarist Politics Regarding General Education in the Kingdom of Poland Between 1815 and 1915). Wrocław, AWF. p. 1982.
- Thaden, Edward C., Ed. 1981. Russification in the Baltic Provinces and Finland, 1855–1914. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-05314-6
- Weeks, Theodore R. (1996). Nation and state in late Imperial Russia: nationalism and Russification on the western frontier, 1863–1914. DeKalb, Northern Illinois University Press. p. 297. ISBN 0-87580-216-8.
- Weeks, Theodore R. (2001). "Russification and the Lithuanians, 1863–1905". Slavic Review 60 (1): 96–114. doi:10.2307/2697645. JSTOR 2697645.
- Weeks, Theodore R. (2004). "Russification: Word and Practice 1863–1914". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 148 (4): 471–489.
- Weeks, Theodore R. (2011). Russification / Sovietization. Institute of European History.
- Wixman, Ronald. 1984. The Peoples of the USSR: An Ethnographic Handbook. New York: M.E. Sharpe and London, Macmillan.
- various authors (2000). John Morison, ed. Ethnic and national issues in Russian and East European history; selected papers from the Fifth World Congress of Central and East European Studies. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Macmillan Press; New York, St. Martin's Press. p. 337. ISBN 0-333-69550-X.
- various authors (2003). Problemy natsional'nogo soznaniâ pol'skogo naseleniâ na Belarusi (Problems of National Identity of Poles in Belarus). Grodno, Society of Poles in Belarus. p. 288.
- Russification in Lithuania
- The Civic Identity of Russifying Officials in the Empire’s Northwestern Region after 1863 by Mikhail Dolbilov (PDF)
- Permanent mission of Caucasian Institute for Democracy Foundation opened in Tskhinvali – Regnum News Agency (Russia), 9 December 2005
- Tatarstan Rejects Dominant Role of Russians – Kommersant, 6 March 2006
- Forgetting How to Speak Russian | Fast forward | OZY (January 7, 2014)