The All-Russian nation (Russian: общерусский народ, romanized: obshcherusskiy narod), also known as the pan-Russian nation or the triune Russian nation (Russian: триединый русский народ, romanized: triyedinyy russkiy narod) is an Imperial Russian and Russian irredentist ideology which sees the Russian nation as comprising the three sub-nations Great Russians, Little Russians and White Russians, which include modern East Slavs (namely, Russians, Rusyns, Ukrainians and Belarusians), rather than only modern Russia and ethnic Russians. An imperial nation-building dogma became popular in Tsardom of Russia and became later the official ideology during the Russian Empire-era ideology based on the triune "All-Russian" nationality that consisted of all East Slavs, which by the 19th century was embraced by many imperial subjects (including Jews and Germans) and served as the foundation of the Empire.
In Russian it is referred to as the Triedinyi russkii narod (Russian: Триединый русский народ). In the 19th century, the idea was also referred to as an obshcherusskii (one-Russian or common-Russian) nationality.
Note that in this context the three East Slavic languages use the word narod, which translates as "people". Narod ("people") in these languages expresses the sense of "a lower-level, ethno-cultural agglomeration", whereas in English the word "nation" (as used by scholars) also refers to a large group of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, or history.
The Slavs adapted the toponym Little or Lesser Rus’ from the Greek term, used by the Ecumenical Patriarchs of Constantinople from the 14th century (it first appeared in church documents in 1335). The terms originated from the Byzantines, who identified the northern and southern parts of the lands of Rus’ as: Greater Rus’ (Μεγάλη Ῥωσσία, Megálē Rhōssía) and Little Rus' (Μικρὰ Ῥωσσία, Mikrà Rhōssía). The terms were geographic in nature; the Byzantines used them to distinguish between the jurisdictions of the metropolitanates of Moscow and of Halych; "Little" (or "Inner") referred to the region closer to Byzantium, Galicia; "Greater" (or "Outer") to the regions further away and more remote, Muscovy.
In the Russian language, the word Russian (Russian: русский, Russkiy) is a single adjective to the word Rus' (Slavic: Русь). In the period of the Russian Empire, from the 17th century to the 20th century, the word Russian often referred to the All-Russian (East Slav) peoples, as opposed to ethnic Russians, who were known as Great Russians. In this period, the All-Russian (Imperial) and Great Russian (ethnic) identity became increasingly intertwined and indistinguishable among the Russian population.
In the West,[when?] the name "Ruthenia" denoted the former Rus' lands of those Eastern Slavs (many of whom later became subjects of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) who included both Ukrainians and Belarusians. In the 17th century the term Malorossiya was introduced into the Russian language; in English the term is often translated Little Russia or Little Rus’, depending on the context. Ukrainians, in varying circumstances, have called themselves Ruthenians (alternatively Ruski, Rusyny, and Rutsentsi) and Little Russians (Malorosy) In more recent times, the term Little Russian began to acquire pejorative overtones, denoting both lesser importance and provincial backwardness; in contemporary Ukrainian the term has become entirely derogatory, associated with one who "lacks national consciousness" and with those who would identify as a branch of the all-Russian ethnos. Historically, Ukrainians have also used the term khokhol amongst themselves as a form of ethnic self-identification, visibly separate from the Great Russians; Russians commonly use this term as an ethnic slur for Ukrainians, and frequently use it in derogatory or condescending fashion.
As a matter of distinction, while Ukrainians widely were referred to as Ruthenians, members of the Ukrainian Russophile movement (also known as Muscophiles) were known as "Old Ruthenians", whereas Ukrainophiles were known[when?] as "Young Ruthenians".
The disintegration, or parcelling of the polity of Kievan Rus' in the 11th century resulted in considerable population shifts and a political, social, and economic regrouping. The resultant effect of these forces coalescing was the marked emergence of new peoples. While these processes began long before the fall of Kiev, its fall expedited these gradual developments into a significant linguistic and ethnic differentiation among the Rus' people into Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Russians. All of this was emphasized by the subsequent polities these groups migrated into: southwestern and western Rus', where the Ruthenian and later Ukrainian and Belarusian identities developed, was subject to Lithuanian and later Polish influence; whereas the (Great) Russian ethnic identity that developed in the Muscovite northeast and the Novgorodian north remained distant, was defined by a more primitive style of life in a wilderness shared by Finnic-speaking tribes,[nb 1] and ultimately isolated from its Ruthene relatives. 'The two states (Galicia-Volhynia and Vladimir-Suzdal) differed in their relationship with other powers, entered into alliances with different partners, belonged to different civilizational and commercial communities, and were in more intimate contact with their neighbouring states and societies than with each other.'
Muscovite princes considered themselves to be rightful heirs of the "Kievan inheritance," and associated their survival with fulfilling the historical destiny of reunifying the lands of Rus'. This ideology was ostensibly seen in their given titles (grand princes and tsars) which defined themselves as rulers of "all Rus'." In 1328 Ivan I of Moscow persuaded Theognost, the Metropolitan of Kiev, to settle in Moscow; from which point forward the title changed to "of Kiev and [all Rus']" – a title which was retained until the mid-fifteenth century. Later, in 1341 Simeon of Moscow was appointed Grand Prince "of all Russia" by the Khan of the Mongol Golden Horde. Ivan III, Grand Duchy of Moscow, considered himself heir to all former Kievan Rus' lands and in 1493 he assumed the title of gosudar, or "Sovereign of All Russia." This trend continued to evolve and by the mid-17th century transformed into "Tsar of All Great, Little, and White Rus'", and with Peter I's creation of a Russian Empire, "Little Russian" came be a demonym for all inhabitants of Ukraine under imperial rule.
While the political reintegration of the Rus' can be seen in the politics of Russia's tsardom, the Kievan Synopsis, written in the 16th century by the Prussian-born archimandrite of the Kiev Caves monastery Innocent Gizel, contains a description of the ancient unity between the "Russian peoples". This is seen[by whom?] as the earliest historical record of a common Rus' ethnic identity. Meanwhile, in the late 16th century, the word 'Ukraine' was used extensively to describe Poland's "borderland" region (cf. krajina), and local Ruthenian (Rus') inhabitants adopted the Ukrainian identity to "distinguish their nationality from the Polish". Ukrainian Cossack leader Bohdan Khmelnytsky also declared himself the "ruler of all Rus'" in 1648, after driving the Polish Empire out of Ukraine in the Khmelnytsky Uprising.
Very shortly after Catherine II's ascension to the throne she issued the ukase of May 1763, declaring the Cossack Hetmanate to be administered according to 'Little Russian rights'. This prompted the Hetmanate's General Military Chancellery of Hlukhiv to be convened the following September by Hetman Kyrylo Rozumovskyi, at which the council accepted the imperial (All-Russian) narrative by demanding recognition of Peter I's decree of 1708 which stated that "no other people had such privileges as the Little Russian nation", and indicated their descent from and the loyalty to the 'Little Russian nation' (in whose ranks they included everyone except the peasants). Despite recognition of this apparent unity, the demands of the Hlukhiv council attempted to establish "a distinctive political, social, and economic system in the Hetmanate", and fulfill the vision by Ukrainian elites of a Little and Great Russia as separate countries united only by a familiar head of state.
The concept of the "All-Russian nation" gained in political importance near the end of the 18th century as a means of legitimizing Russian imperial claims to the eastern territories of the partitioned Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was during the 18th century that the idea of 'Russianness' replaced the old 'Muscovite' identity, which was arguably "constructed not only by the Great Russians but also by the Little Russians/Ukrainians, who were recruited into the imperial ruling elite and were looking for ways to formulate their new empire-oriented identity." 'Russianness' as an ethnic concept stressed the differences between the East Slav population from the rest. This concept extended to the ideas of being united within "Mother Russia" and having "one blood" (edinokrovnye). Russian culture in this period was also marked with an adoption of many western ideas, which made it attractive to others as progressive, rather than backward. Traditional customs and values in Russia were viewed as backwardness by the Western observers in 18th and 19th centuries.
Although Karamzin believed that the inhabitants of what he called Great, White, and Little Russia constituted a single Russian people, by the early 19th century, linguistic and ethnographic research, together with the publication of contemporary descriptions and travel accounts, was forcing many scholars to realize that there were, indeed, considerable differences among the various components of the so-called one Russian people, in particular between the Great Russians and the Little Russians, or Ukrainians. The confirmation of such differences not only would undermine the idea of a single Russian people, but also might threaten the link between medieval Kiev and Moscow and thus render precarious the whole framework upon which the Russian imperial conception of history was built.— Paul Robert Magocsi 2010, "Historical Perceptions", A History of Ukraine: A Land and Its Peoples, pp. 15
In the 19th century the territory of Ukraine "became an object of a terminological war;" in Russia they were referred to as the "southwestern" or "restored" lands. Some favored repressive measures to 'cleanse the Russian soul of the Western borderlands from alien Polish influences' in order to "uncover the pure Russian nature" of the population. Proponents of the triune Russian nation saw the Ukrainian and Belarusian languages to be dialects of the Russian language; this view was official and dominated popular opinion in the 19th century. In the terminological battle, Poles called Ukrainians 'Ruthenians' (Rusyny) while (Great) Russians were called 'Muscovites' (Moskali); "stressing the ethnic difference between them". In the case of Galicia, Poles insisted on Ukrainians (Ruthenians) being a branch of the Polish people. Meanwhile, in Russia, Ukrainians were known also known as Ruthenians (Russiny, "always with a double-s to stress belonging to the 'All-Russian unity") or more commonly as Little Russians (Malorossy); Great Russians were known as Russkiy, a term for all East Slavs under a common nation.
During the first half of the 19th century, Ukrainianism/Little Russianism had been favored in Russian intellectual circles. Old Ruthenian and Russophile ideologists agreed that the three had recognizable cultural and linguistic differences, whereas Russophiles went a step further and argued in favor of a common self-identification of Russian and the use of one literary language. The era can be described as one of competing loyalties towards multiple identities, as opposed to mutually exclusive identities, "for many residents of Dnieper Ukraine it was perfectly normal to be both a Little Russian and Russian, or a Russian from Little Russia speaking (Ukrainian);" Russophiles from Galicia saw themselves as "Little Russian Russians from Galicia," many others would fall into this pluralist category, including Nikolai Gogol and nobles of Cossack origin. Conversely, those who favored a mutually exclusive Ukrainian identity over that of Little Russian did so in order to 'heighten perceptual differences.' "In a real sense, the evolution of the 19th century Ukrainian national reivival can be seen as the story of the conflict between a framework of multiple loyalties on the one hand and one of mutually exclusive identities on the other."
The Pre-Romantic understanding of "nation" was that of a community of nobles united by political loyalty, and more importantly excluded membership of the peasant class. Nationalisms of the Slavophiles and Pan-Slavists were influenced by the "German philosophical tradition of romanticism. Each of these movements (such as the Völkisch movement) conceived of the nation in a culturalist vein, one that glorified the authenticity of its rural life-world and its millenary fidelity to orthodoxy." By the second half of the 19th century, Russian publicists adopted, and transformed, the ideology of Pan-Slavism; "convinced of their own political superiority [they] argued that all Slavs might as well merge with the Great Russians." This ideological concept is reciprocated by Romantic-era poet, Alexander Pushkin: "Will not all the Slavic streams merge into the Russian sea?" The national project of western and southwestern Russia in the late 19th century has been defined by Alexei I. Miller as the project of the 'great Russian nation'; "supported and carried out by the government, it was meant to create one modern Russian nation out of the Great, Little, and White Russians." Compared to British Orientalism, "The Russian gentry also felt that the Ukrainian pesantry, by virtue of their Orthodox faith, related language, and history, should be included in a tripartite "Russian" nation made up of the East Slavs" The system of 'All-Russian unity' debated on two models: the French model of national assimilation, and the British model of regional countries under a common nation and identity; with the project's advocates seeing it as a 'middle ground' between both.
Russians and Ukrainian intellectuals began to delve into understanding their own national characteristics through research into folklore, ethnography, literature, and history; resulting in a mutual conclusion that they were distinct peoples. "Ukrainians made a point, in particular, of challenging and undermining the idea of a unitary Rus nation." 19th century Ukrainian historian Nikolay Kostomarov wrote of the contrast between Little and Great Russian peoples in his acclaimed essay,[nb 2] Two Russian Nationalities, which spoke of Little and Great Russian peoples constituting "two Russian nationalities" and "two Russian languages." In his Truth about Rus' series, he stressed that Ukrainians constituted a unique people; the unity of Ukrainians and Russians was seen "as a unity of equal independent parts," and in a number of works he emphasized the federative nature of the Rus' polity. The attitude which accepted Ukrainians as 'equal independent parts' could only last as long as the Ukrainians of Little Russia "accepted their role as members of such an imagined Rus' nation," and after the 1840s a large number of Ukrainian intellectuals began to refuse the All-Russian national identity, while Ukrainian nationalists emerged and intervened in the Polish-Russian terminological battle, introducing the termsUkraine and Ukrainians in their contemporary meaning. The All-Russian nationality being 'empire-driven' relied heavily on references to Slavic culture and the historic state of Kievan Rus', and thus required the cooperation of the people who inhabited this land. With the rise of Ukrainian and Belarusian national movements in the late 19th century, opposition came not only from the majority of Great Russians, but also numerous Little Russian intellectuals who insisted on a combined All-Russian identity. The rejection of the Ukrainian movement was directly connected to sustaining the belief of a triune Russian nation, and Ukrainian Russophiles of the mid-19th century abandoned the idea of constituting a distinct Ukrainian (Old Ruthenian) identity in favor of the triune nationality.
Following the January Uprising in 1863 the Russian government became extremely determined to eliminate all manifestations of separatism, and claims for a collective identity separate from the All-Russian identity were wholly rejected by Russian nationalists as attempts to divide the nation. Official policy began to fully endorse the notion that Ukrainian (vis-a-vis Little Russian) language and nationality did not exist. Russified inhabitants of White and Little Russia who assimilated to the triune Russian identity were not considered inorodtsy (ethnically alien) within the predominantly Great Russian locales of the Russian Empire, as their differences from proper Russians were not as easily recognized. On a personal level, individuals from White and Little Russia willing to renounce their identity and merge into the 'all-Russian' ethnos were never discriminated against on ethnic grounds, however, 'systematic repression was applied to all individuals who upheld a distinct Ukrainian identity whether in the political or in the cultural sphere' and 'upward mobility could only be achieved through the acquisition of Russian language and culture.' The Ems Ukase of 1876 forbid the publishing of books in "the Little Russian dialect," as well as the performance of music or theater in the language; and historical sources were to be translated into Russian orthography. The education system became a primary tool of nationalizing the peasantry (which did not adopt the Little Russian identity), and the teaching of the Ukrainian language was banned by the state. This was done in order to "make favorable conditions for the triune Russian, Russophile identity."
By the early 20th century following the February Revolution, Russian attitudes towards the separateness of the Ukrainian identity were negative. From their perspective, Ukrainians lived in Little Russia, which for them 'was an inalienable part of the Russian homeland'. Dmitry Likhachov, an acclaimed 20th century specialist of Kievan Rus', best summed up this attitude: "Over the course of the centuries following their division into two entities, Russia and Ukraine have formed not only a political but also a culturally dualistic unity. Russian culture is meaningless without Ukrainian, as Ukrainian is without Russian." Following the revolution, a majority of Russians (as well as the authorities) viewed the Ukrainian identity as a superficial invention of the west, namely Austria-Hungary and Germany, with no support from the local "Russian" population outside of a "few misguided intellectuals." In contrast to the 18th century view which defined Little Russians as members of the gentry, adherents of the triune Russian nationality now saw the peasantry not as Ukrainians, but as Little Russians. This term, however, did not gain use among the Ukrainian peasantry, and led to further repression of the Ukrainian language (a "Russian vernacular"), the Greek Catholic Church, and provoked a rise of anti-Russian sentiment among Ukrainians.
The early Bolsheviks rejected any conception of a triune Russian people, which they saw as an attribute of tsarism, bourgeois nationalism, and the hostile White movement. Later, they tried to gain the sympathies of nationally oriented groups by recognizing Ukrainians and Belarusians as separate peoples. In the 1920s, the Bolsheviks introduced the policy of Korenizatsiya in the non-Russian Soviet republics, and instituted campaigns of Ukrainization and Belarusization in hopes of diluting conservative imperial spirit among Eastern Slavs, and in turn introduce revolutionary internationalism.
The Stalin era was characterized by a certain revival of some old imperial policy, although the status of Ukrainians and Belarusians as separate peoples was not questioned anymore. Kievan Rus' was perceived in Soviet historiography as a common "cradle" of Eastern Slavs, and Soviet policy codified East Slavs as historically belonging to one Russian people (Russkiy narod). This national identity was an extension of the plurality of the early 19th century, wherein a Ukrainian or Belarusian could be a Soviet and also a Russian. Historical texts commissioned by the government, under the guidance of cultural commissar Andrei Zhdanov, sought to fuse religion, ethnicity, and the state more prominently in the interpretation of history, and project "a triune Russian nation as the focus of the Soviet Union." The textbooks published in 1937 reestablished the unity of the Russian state, and connected Russian history from Kievan Rus' to the Soviet Union, and presented the annexation of Ukraine in the 17th century as "liberation and reunification."
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the subsequent independence of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, the concept of either an All-Russian or Soviet people has lost its ideological significance. Instead, the conceptions[who?] that deny the trinity or a kindredship between these nations have experienced [clarify] However, Post-Soviet Russian nationalists continue to speak of a "triune Russian nation" (triedinaia russkaia natsiia), and the concept of a triune Russian people has persisted in different forms in the political and publicist spheres of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Also, [clarify] from the past century that needs to be [clarify]
According to Ilya Prizel, "Today few in Russia would assert Muscovy's role as the sole successor of Kievan Rus' but would argue instead that Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia are one people separated due to Tatar and Polish aggression and, thus, are equal heirs to the Kievan legacy.
In the post-Soviet period, Russia preoccupied itself with recreating a national identity based either on Soviet or pre-Soviet traditions. Russian diplomats and even Russian Federation president Vladimir Putin have continued to exert the claim that Russians and Ukrainians "are one nation," "one people," and "fraternal." Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has likewise referred to Ukraine as a "brotherly country." According to historian Timothy D. Snyder, "The dangerous fantasy is the Russian idea that Ukraine is not really a different country, but rather a kind of Slavic younger brother. This is a legacy of the late Soviet Union and the russification policies of the 1970s. It has no actual historical basis: east Slavic statehood arose in what is now Ukraine and was copied in Moscow, and the early Russian Empire was itself highly dependent upon educated inhabitants of Ukraine."
A nationwide poll conducted in March 2000 in Belarus found that 42.6% of the respondents said that they regard Belarusians as a branch of a triune Russian nation.
The title "Of all Rus'", always used by Russian rulers, is still in use by the Orthodox patriarchs in both Russia and Ukraine. In this case the Russian patriarch uses the title "Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus'", while the Ukrainian patriarch uses the title "Patriarch of Kiev and all Rus'", implying competing claims on spiritual leadership of the Orthodox people on all the territory of former Kievan Rus'.
An initiative of the Russian Orthodox Church is the concept of the "Russian world" (русский мир), seen as the "reunification" of the triune Russian people, and sometimes as the main task for the 21st century. This initiative has been promoted in conjunction with the Russian government in its foreign policy in order to consolidate its position in the post-Soviet area, as it "puts Moscow at the center of an Orthodox civilization of kindred neighbors: Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine."
Views of Robert Gordon Latham (19th century)
Robert Gordon Latham in his second volume of Descriptive Ethnology, published in 1859, described the Sarmatians (an Iranian people of the classical antiquity period) as dividing into two branches: Lithuanian, and Slavonian; with the latter having five sub-divisions, one being "Russian or Muscovites". He believed "The Russ division itself however falls into sections and subsections both in respect to physical conformation and dialect," while "the Great Russian [language] spoken over the greater part of Russia," and described the Ukrainian language as "the most purely Slavonic." He described Belarusians' differentiating characteristics to be 'Lithuanic', and "Haxthausen states that they are weaklier in body and worse looking in the face than the others." By way of comparison, Latham stated this about Little Russians: "Ukraine and the south west Governments being their chief area," they are "much better-looking than the majority." Regarding Ukrainian nationality, he said, "A good deal more than I can either confirm or contradict has been said about their separate nationality. It lies I imagine much within the same limits as that of the English and the Scotch, Kiev being the Malorussian Edinburgh."
- Greater Russia
- Russian nationalism
- Western Ukrainian Russophiles
- Little Russian identity
- Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality
- Völkisch movement
- As early as the 9th century, Rus' settlements established small farming communities along the Volga river, absorbing Finno-Ugric tribes that had previously inhabited the region. Between the Oka and White Sea, one can still see many names of Finno-Ugric origin for cities, villages, and rivers.
- Dmytro Doroshenko, a leading Ukrainian historian, has referred to the essay as "Gospels of Ukrainian Nationalism".
- Yas, O. Small Ruthenia (МАЛА РУСЬ). Encyclopedia of History of Ukraine.
- Ilnytzkyj, Oleh S. (1996). "Culture and the Demise of the Russian Empire". In Zezulka-Mailloux, Gabrielle Eva Marie; Gifford, James (eds.). Culture + the State: Nationalisms. CRC. p. 127. ISBN 9781551951492.
- Magocsi, Paul Robert (2010). A History of Ukraine: A Land and Its Peoples. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 11.
Ilnytzkyj, Oleh S. (1996). "Culture and the Demise of the Russian Empire". In Zezulka-Mailloux, Gabrielle Eva Marie; Gifford, James (eds.). Culture + the State: Nationalisms. CRC. p. 127. ISBN 9781551951492.
Since the second-half of the nineteenth century the state sponsored all-Russian national identity was embraced by many imperial subjects (Jews, Germans, Ukrainians) and served as the bedrock of the Empire. By the early twentieth century the idea of a triune Russian nation was deeply entrenched among ethnic Russians.
- Bringhurst, Robert (1996). The Elements of Typographic Style. CRC. p. 127.
- Shkandrij, Myroslav (2001). Russia and Ukraine: Literature and the Discourse of Empire from Napoleonic to Postcolonial Times. McGill-Queen's Press. pp. 8–9.
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- Фёдор Гайда.Русские и россияне.
- Works of modern scholars that make such a distinction include:
Paul Robert Magocsi "The Roots of Ukrainian Nationalism: Galicia As Ukraine's Piedmont", University of Toronto Press (2002), ISBN 0-8020-4738-6
Serhii Plokhy, "The Origins of the Slavic Nations: Premodern Identities in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus", Cambridge University Press (2006), ISBN 0-521-86403-8
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- Magocsi, Paul Robert (2010). A History of Ukraine: A Land and Its Peoples. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pp. 15–16.
- Riasanovsky, Nicholas; Steinberg, Mark D. (2005). A History of Russia (7th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 91.
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- Magocsi, Paul Robert (2010). A History of Ukraine: A Land and Its Peoples. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pp. 392–395.
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- Miller, Alexei I. (2003). The Ukrainian Question: The Russian Empire and Nationalism in the Nineteenth Century. Central European University Press. p. 81.
- Magocsi, Paul Robert (2010). A History of Ukraine: A Land and Its Peoples. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 540.
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