Russian colonialism

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Approximate ethno-linguistic map of Kievan Rus in the 9th century: The five Volga Finnic groups of the Merya, Mari, Muromians, Meshchera and Mordvins are shown as surrounded by the Slavs to the west, the three Finnic groups of the Veps, Ests and Chuds, and Indo-European Balts to the northwest, the Permians to the northeast the (Turkic) Bulghars and Khazars to the southeast and south.
Expansion of Kievan Rus, (IX-X)
Principalities of Kievan Rus', 1054-1132: Permic Udmurts to the east, the (Lithuanian) Samogitians, ancient Latvians or Latgalians, Finnic Karelians to the northwest, the Turkic Pechenegs to the south.
From 1500 to 1800 Russia expanded from the Oka River to the Black Sea

Russian colonialism has evolved in the course of over five centuries - in the wake of military conquest and of ideological and political unions in four eras. Its starting point is believed[by whom?] to be 1477.[citation needed]

Ivan III (reigned 1462-1505) and IV (reigned 1547-1584) expanded Muscovy's (1283–1547) borders considerably by annexing the Novgorod Republic (1478) and settled the annexed territories with Muscovite/Russian servitors and peasants from the Kliazma-Suzdal region.[citation needed] After a period of political instability the Romanovs came to power (1613) and the expansion-colonization process of the Tsardom continued.

While western Europe colonized the new world, the Tsardom of Russia expanded overland - principally to the east, north and south.

This continued for centuries; by the end of the 19th century, the Russian Empire reached from the Black Sea to the Pacific Ocean, and for some time included colonies in the Americas (1732-1867) and a short-lived unofficial colony in Africa (1889) in present-day Djibouti.

The Russian colonial empire, governed from St. Petersburg/Moscow and settled by Russians, continued to grow under Soviet rule. Areas that were formerly part of the Russian Empire, and some others that the Red Army captured from the Nazis in 1944-1945 during World War II became part of the autonomous republics within the USSR.

Tsarist era[edit]

Before the year 1500 most of the land that is now part of Russia was occupied by non-Russian indigenous people. Many non-Slavic peoples founded own state before Kievan Rus, for example, Sarir state of the Caucasian Avars (5th – 12th centuries), Tsahur Khanate (7th – 16th centuries), Zirikhgeran state of the Dargin and Kubachi peoples (6th – 15th centuries), Gazikumukh Shamkhalate of the Lak people (734–1642), Kaitag state of the Dargin people (6th century – 1813) etc. By 500 AD most of Central Russia including Moscow and Saint Petersburg, was populated by the Finno-Ugric peoples. Before being conquered by the Grand Duchy of Moscow, in the 16th century, Volga-Ural region was dominated by native Uralic and Turkic tribes. Russians consider that Russia is not colonial power[1][2] and many nations (except Volga, Astrakhan and Siberian Tatars, and some Caucasian peoples etc.) peacefully joined Russia. Andrei Sakharov, director of the Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences said "Differing views should not be confused with falsification of history".[3] But indigenous peoples deny this view.[4][5] [6][7]

Economic integration[edit]

Russia 1533-1896.gif

In the late 19th century industrialization became a driving force behind Russian imperial policy, which rapidly developed coal and iron-ore extraction in non-Russian areas like the Donets Basin, eventually eclipsing production in the Urals. The planting of cotton began in Central Asia. Cloth manufacturing from cotton was quite a new concept for non-Russians.[citation needed] While industrial growth occurred, it was one-sided, because finishing and manufacturing remained underdeveloped in non-Russian territories, except for Russian Poland and the Baltic provinces. During the 1920s Soviet historians considered these policies and actions colonialism.

In the 19th century, Russian settlers on traditional Kirghiz land drove a lot of the Kirghiz over the border to China.[8]

In Ukraine under Tsarist rule mercantile legislation (enacted in the 1720s in order to foster trade and commerce in central and north-western Russia) effectively destroyed Ukrainian urban manufacturing and merchants by the 19th century. Throughout the next century tariff policy benefited central-Russian producers at the expense of non-Russian borderland producers. State-sponsored programs under the Tsarist and Soviet regimes developed extractive and heavy machine-building industries and promoted agricultural exports. On the other hand, they neglected the consumer manufacturing, finishing, and service sectors. In 1900 Ukraine produced 52 percent of the empire's pig-iron and 20 percent of its iron and steel. Between 1900 and 1914 Tsarist Ukraine produced on average 75 percent of the empire's grain exports. Meanwhile, peasants still used earthenware utensils, wooden axles and hinges, and straw-thatched roofs. Finished goods were imported at excessively high prices set by Russia, while the prices for Donets' industrial products was low.[9] Vladimir Lenin, in exile in 1914, stated in a speech that "it [Ukraine] has become for Russia what Ireland was for England: exploited in the extreme and receiving nothing in return."[10]

National assimilation[edit]

Russians, Ukrainians and other nationalities migrated to the Siberian lands from the conquest onwards.

Under Emperor Alexander III (reigned 1881-1894) the Russian administration increased efforts to assimilate non-Russian peoples.[11]

Impetus for colonialism[edit]

Standard explanations for colonialism such as economic exploitation and religious causes can also account for much of Russian expansionism into colonisable areas. Since the Russian Empire grew overland (with the exception of the Russian possession on the west coast of North America: Alaska and Fort Ross), protection of borderlands and settled areas from nomadic raiders and slavers (especially in the south) also played a role.

Ethnic minority freedom movements:

Soviet era[edit]

Soviet Union Young pioneers in the Tajik SSR in 1983.

The USSR annexed Karelia from Finland, Kaliningrad from Germany, the Kuril Islands and southern Sakhalin from Japan, Tuva (previously governed by Mongolia and Manchu Empire) etc. In addition the ground was prepared for post-Soviet semi-colonial adventures in Transnestria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Even the continuing basis provided by Nagorno-Karabakh for interference by Russia in the internal affairs of Armenia and Azerbaijan hark back to the USSR's policies and activities.

On the eve of Ukrainian independence in 1991, eight of Ukraine's thirteen political parties referred to the country as an exploited "colony" in their programs. After 1991 most[citation needed] Ukrainian historians[who?] described Ukrainians as victims of colonialism while literary scholars[who?] drew attention to the nation's "post-colonial" condition. Most Russian historians[which?] stressed that Ukrainians had also served as agents of empire (compare the role of the Scots in the British Empire) and characterized Ukraine's historical status as "semi-colonial". Whereas academics disagree as to whether to label the central policies as "Russian", tsarist, Soviet or intentionally "anti-Ukrainian", and whether the development that did occur was worth the cost, most[quantify] Russians and a minority of the population in Ukraine regard that country's historical association with Russia favorably and do not see Ukraine as a colonial victim of Russian imperial power.

One of the most important tasks imposed on Soviet historians is to rehabilitate the old Russian colonial policy:[12] "...Georgia was at that time faced with the alternative either of being conquered by the Persian Shah and the Turkish Sultan or coming under the protectorate of Russia . . . . They do not perceive that the latter prospect was the lesser evil".[12]

The theory of "the lesser evil" was at once universally adopted in Soviet literature. [12]

The chief one prescribed for them in recent years has been to expound a positive view of the process of Russian colonial expansion under the Tsars, the period when what is today the "Soviet East" was integrated into the great Russian Empire. The history of the peoples of the present-day Soviet East must henceforth be depicted as "the history of their friendship with the great Russian people."[13]

For example, Professor M. V. Nechkina wrote that "The Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaidjan, after their annexation to Russia, were incorporated into the economic life of Russia, which was on a higher level than their own".[13]

Kazakh khan Kenesary's revolt (1837—1847) was the subject of a major historical work, "Kazakhstan in the Period from the 1820's to the 1840's," published in Alma-Ata in 1947 by E. Bekmakhanov, a Kazakh. He portrayed Kenesary as a fighter for national liberation and national unity. On 26 December 1950, Pravda published an annihilating article on the errors committed by the historians who had dealt with the history of Kazakhstan. Nothing was left of Bekmakhanov's entire conception: "Instead of revealing the profoundly progressive significance of Kazakhstan's annexation to Russia, Bekmakhanov sees in it nothing but colonial oppression . . . The emergence of the Kasymovs (Kenesary and his brother), which stood in the way of annexation, was contrary to the aspirations of the progressive section of the Kazakh people. . . This was a reactionary movement, which dragged the Kazakh people backward . . . Khan Kenesary was a typical feudal bandit. . . Kenesary's revolt, which was not supported by the Kazakh people, was a reactionary, feudal-nationalist movement, aided by forces abroad which were hostile to Russia".[12]

And A. Daniyalov in "Voprosy Istorii", (Problem of history) September 1950, asserted that "objectively, Russia filled the role of liberator of the Caucasian peoples from the cruel and arbitrary oppression of the Iranian and Turkish bandits"[14]

The Soviet Union, which replaced the empire, proclaimed that the goal of its national policy was to forge a new national entity, the "Soviet people".

Soviet scholarship declared that Leninist national policy had been successfully implemented as the final solution of the nationality problem, resulting in the friendship, equality and unity of all the nations of the USSR.[15] Though it was still claimed that all nationalities were treated equally, by the late 1930s, reference to the "leading role" of the Russian people in the Soviet society had become common.[16][17] From World War II on, the Russians were called the "elder brother" in the Soviet family of nationalities. Before Stalin's rule ended, Soviet historians were to depict the conquest of Non-Russian nationalities by the Russians as historically progressive and to claim that a great friendship between the peoples of the Soviet Union existed since the establishment of the earliest contacts among them.[17][18] Mixed marriage is regarded as an indicator of friendship between ethnic groups and ethnic nationalism was prohibited in the Soviet Union.[19]

Campaigns against the tsar society continued well into the Soviet Union's history. One of these criticisms was accusation of hindering development in minority areas.[15][19] Vladimir Lenin noted that: "national minorities in Tsarist Russia suffered extra oppression, social and ethnic".[19] The Tsarist Russian Empire was dubbed the "prison of the nations" by Lenin.

Russia is a prison of peoples, not only because of the military-feudal character of tsarism and not only because the Great-Russian bourgeoisie support tsarism, but also because the Polish, etc., bourgeoisie have sacrificed the freedom of nations and democracy in general for the interests of capitalist expansion...We demand freedom of self-determination, i.e., independence, i.e., freedom of secession for the oppressed nations, not because we have dreamt of splitting up the country economically, or of the ideal of small states, but, on the contrary, because we want large states and the closer unity and even fusion of nations, only on a truly democratic, truly internationalist basis, which is inconceivable without the freedom to secede. Just as Marx, in 1869, demanded the separation of Ireland, not for a split between Ireland and Britain, but for a subsequent free union between them, not so as to secure “justice for Ireland”, but in the interests of the revolutionary struggle of the British proletariat, we in the same way consider the refusal of Russian socialists to demand freedom of self-determination for nations, in the sense we have indicated above, to be a direct betrayal of democracy, internationalism and socialism. [20]

The expression "prison of the peoples" was first applied to pre-revolutionary Tsarist Russia in the 1840s by De Custine's critical book La Russie en 1839. It was later taken up by Alexander Herzen, and the goal of demolishing this "prison of the peoples" became one of the ideals of the Russian Revolution. The same expression was adopted decades later by the dissident movement against the Soviet Union.

Ethnic minority separatist states:

Ethnic minority freedom movements:

Post Soviet Era[edit]

Russian Federation is a multi-national state with over 185 ethnic groups designated as nationalities and most of them are indigenous peoples. Among 85 subjects which constitute the Russian Federation, there are 21 national republics (meant to be home to a specific ethnic minority), 4 autonomous okrugs (usually with substantial or predominant ethnic minority) and an autonomous oblast.

Although Russian colonialism partially ended in 1991 with the political independence of the former Soviet Republics, in practice Russian capital still dominates those territories and can be said to maintain a neo-colonial relationship to them. Russian settlers who arrived in Soviet times still tend to identify culturally and intellectually with Moscow and Russia, rather than the nations they live in.

The five MPs, from the ruling United Russia party, the Communist party and the Liberal Democratic Party, are seeking an investigation into Gorbachev's role in what Vladimir Putin called the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century".[21][22][23][24]

The country has an abundance of natural resources, including oil, natural gas and precious metals, which make up a major share of Russia's income. Most of its natural resources exist in minority areas such as North Caucasus, Komi Republic, Volga-Ural region and Siberia but living conditions of national minorities poor.[25][26][27]

Under conditions of a comprehensive unification of the way of living, inflation of ethnic-cultural values and the so-called "internationalization" of many peoples, there is a real threat to small nations of losing their native language, their culture, and finally - of complete assimilation.[15]

The non-Russians of Russia are mostly national minorities in their national-state units, finding themselves in the position of minority on their own land.

The possibilities of free development of the language and national culture in the independent states (for example Finland, Poland separated from Russia) differ a lot from the same possibilities in the autonomous republics of Komis, Yakuts, Karelians, Maris etc., within Russia.[15]

Moreover more than half of Chuvashes and Maris, 3/4 Mordvins and Tatars, 1/3 of Udmurts live outside the borders of their republics. The Karelians in Tver province, Komis in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk regions, Mordvins in Orenburg province etc. are also separated from their main ethnic mass and homeland.[15] Such a scatter of separate ethnic parts practically deprives them of opportunities for national development and regular contact with their national culture and mother tongue, and dooms them to assimilation with the surrounding population (Russian first of all).[15]

Many linguists deny the necessity of creating new specialized terminology in the native languages.[15]

In 2012 President Vladimir Putin has signed a controversial new law on education. The law text officially recognizes the right to education in languages of Russia’s ethnic minorities, but does not make it mandatory of completely guarantee such education. [28][29] New law would allow parents in ethnic republics to decide if their children should study indigenous languages at school.[30] When the draft of the law was under consideration in the State Duma, it sparked protest rallies in several regions, including Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, and Chuvashia.[31] Critics said it would accelerate the decline of indigenous languages.[32] Drafting commission head Vyacheslav Mikhailov says the new policy aims to strengthen a single identity for the entire country, to develop its ethnic diversity, and to strength civic unity and interethnic harmony.[32] Tatarstan historian Rafael Mukhametdinov says you can see the real aim of the policy by looking closely at the language.[32] "It says there is a Russian nation and that it is compulsory to know the Russian language in Russia. As soon as it comes to non-Russians, the text becomes very complicated. It becomes hard to understand what they mean. I think this is done on purpose."[32] Russia offers no higher-education opportunities in languages other than Russian and the state entrance exams for universities are given only in Russian.

On January 2015 Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves has accused Russia of suppressing the culture of its Finno-Ugric minorities by decreasing education in their traditional languages. On 7 January 2015, Ilves said that "Russia has stopped or limited the provision of education in the national languages of the Finno-Ugric peoples, which accelerates assimilation and the disappearance of their culture."[33]

Images of Russia as the main liberator, natural leader, civilizer, protector of oppressed people is central to Russian ideology.[34][35] In 2012 Vladimir Putin said joining civilizations is a great mission of Russians. [36]

According to poll carried by "Levada Center" in 2013, about 1/4 of respondents supported separation of North Caucasian republics.[37]

East Slavic tribes and peoples, 8th and 9th centuries
Territorial development of the Muscovy between 1390 and 1530

Russia is divided between ethnic Russian territory and minority territories. When indigenous people travel to Moscow and Saint Petersburg, they face discrimination at the hands of Russian fascists, because they entered ethnic Russian territory.[citation needed] There is steady rise in xenophobic societal violence and discrimination against minorities.[38] Some of Russians, for example Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Dimitry Medvedev demand to rename autonomous areas into nonethnic name.[39][40] They proposed renaming Tatarstan as the Kazan Krai and Bashkortostan into the Ufa Krai. Also some Russians, including Mikhail Prokhorov,[41] demand abolish autonomous administrative divisions.[42] Extreme ideas such as assimilating minorities and wiping out them becoming popular among Russians.[42][43]

Officials of Lithuania say the past year in Ukraine, with the annexation of Crimea and deadly fighting in the country's eastern Donbass region, has shown that Russia remains a danger to all of its neighbors. "When Russia started its aggression in Ukraine, our citizens here in Lithuania understood that our neighbor is not friendly," said Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas in an interview with the Reuters news agency.[44]

Freedom movements of indigenous peoples often considered as betrayal, terrorism, anti-Russian action, fascism, extremism and chauvinism.[45] They trying to stir up trouble between national minorities.[46]

Starting in 2005, some minority areas were merged into larger territories which settled by Russian majority

Merger of administrative divisions initiated by Putin in the early 2000s and the merger referendum called by Ukrainian media as "fascist referendum". In 20 December 2012 Putin said Tsarist Russia normally developed without autonomous areas.[47][48] In the future all autonomous areas planned to be abolished.

Separatist states:

Ethnic minority freedom movements:

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Освоение новых земель сибири, переселенцы
  2. ^ Proof that Russians are Natives of Siberia and North Asia
  3. ^ Andrei Sakharov, "Differing views should not be confused with falsification of history"
  4. ^ Kalpana Sahn "Crucifying the Orient – Russian Orientalism and the Colonization of Caucasus and Central Asia", 1997
  5. ^ 150 Years Ago, Sochi Was the Site of a Horrific Ethnic Cleansing
  6. ^ Anna M. Kerttula "Antler on the Sea: The Yup'ik and Chukchi of the Russian Far East" 2000
  7. ^ Jan-Pieter Verheul "Chukchi"
  8. ^ Alexander Douglas Mitchell Carruthers, Jack Humphrey Miller (1914). Unknown Mongolia: a record of travel and exploration in north-west Mongolia and Dzungaria, Volume 2. Lippincott. p. 345. Retrieved 2011-05-29. 
  9. ^ Subtelny, O: Ukraine, pp. 268–276. University of Toronto Press, 2000.
  10. ^ Doroshenko, D: Istoriia Ukrainy, p. 127. New York, 1974.
  11. ^ Hosking, Geoffrey A. (1997). Russia: People and Empire, 1552-1917. Harvard University Press. p. 374. ISBN 9780674781191. Retrieved 2014-02-02. [...] Alexander III [...] pursued more or less consistently a national policy which his father had applied only sporadically. Its aim was to draw the non-Russian regions and peoples more securely into the framework of the empire, first of all by administrative integration, then by inculcating in each of them the language, religion, culture, history, and political traditions of Russia, leaving their own languages and native traditions to occupy a subsidiary niche, as ethnographic remnants rather than active social forces. It was accompanied by an economic policy which emphasized the development of transport and heavy industry, and the assimilation of outlying regions into a single imperial economy. 
  12. ^ a b c d Solomon M. Schwarz "Revising the History of Russian Colonialism"
  13. ^ a b Voprosy Istorii, April 1951.
  14. ^ A. Daniyalov, "Distortions in the Examination of Muridism and the Shamil Movement," Voprosy Istorii, September 1950.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Xenophont Sanukov, Human rights problems in Russia: The situation of non-Russian peoples
  16. ^ Frederick C.Barghoorn "Soviet Russian nationalism", New York, Oxford University Press, 1956
  17. ^ a b Alfred B. Evans "Soviet Marxism-Leninism: The Decline of an Ideology", 1993
  18. ^ Lowell Tillett, The Great friendship: Soviet historians on Non-Russian nationalities University of North Carolina Press, 1969
  19. ^ a b c А.Ненароков, А.Проскурин, "Решение национального вопроса в СССР", 1983; A.Nenarokov, A.Proskurin "Ethnic problem in the Soviet Union", 1983
  20. ^ V.Lenin "The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination"
  21. ^ Владимир Путин: Нельзя было допускать развала СССР, 2011
  22. ^ Во всём виноват распад СССР
  23. ^ Russian MPs call for Mikhail Gorbachev to be prosecuted for 'allowing' the collapse of the Soviet Union, 10 April 2014
  24. ^ Russia: MPs Want Mikhail Gorbachev Prosecuted for Treason Over Soviet Union Collapse
  25. ^ Коренные жители Югры отказываются предоставить нефтяникам свою землю
  26. ^ Чем больше добываем – тем больше разливаем?
  27. ^ Коренные народы Севера против нефтяного освоения Арктики
  28. ^ New law discriminates indigenous languages
  29. ^ Window on Eurasia: Putin Law Likely to Kill Off 70 Percent of Russia’s Indigenous Languages
  30. ^ Tatar Congress Adopts Resolution To Protect Language, Culture
  31. ^ Putin Signs Controversial Education Law
  32. ^ a b c d Rumblings In The Republics:New Russian Nationalities Policy Sparks Outcry
  33. ^ President Says Russia Accelerating Finno-Ugric Assimilation
  34. ^ Eric Shiraev, Eero Carroll, Vladimir Shlapentokh "The Soviet Union: Internal and External Perspectives on Soviet Society" 2008
  35. ^ Astrid S. Tuminez, Russian Nationalism Since 1856: Ideology and the Making of Foreign Policy, 2000
  36. ^ В.Путин: Русский народ является государствообразующим, а великая миссия русских - объединять цивилизацию, 23.01.2012
  37. ^ Большинство россиян согласились отделить Чечню от России
  38. ^ RUSSIA 2013 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT - US Department of State
  39. ^ Жириновский предлагает отказаться от названий национальных республик
  40. ^ В блоге Медведева предлагают отменить национальные автономии, 2011
  41. ^ Прохоров предлагает упразднить национальные республики в составе России, 5.11.2012
  42. ^ a b Русский национализм (программный документ) 7.12.2013
  43. ^ Убивать чеченцев это не преступление
  44. ^ Wary Of Russian Aggression, Vilnius Creates How-To Manual For Dealing With Foreign Invasion
  45. ^ Homogenisation and the 'New Russian Citizen'- A road to stability or ethnic tension?
  46. ^ Различают ли националисты нерусских?
  47. ^ Пресс-конференция Президента России Владимира Путина (полная версия)
  48. ^ Путин ответил на вопросы
  • Iavorsky, M. Ukraina v epokhu kapitalizmu Kiev: Derzhavne Vydavnytstvo Ukrainy, 1924.
  • Koropeckyi, I. Development in the Shadow (New York, 1990)
    • idem, ed. Ukrainian Economic History(Cambridge MA, 1991)
  • Krawchenko,B. Social Change and National Consciousness in Twentieth Century Ukraine (NewYork, 1985)
  • Martin, Virginia. Law and custom in the steppe: the Kazakhs of the Middle Horde and Russian colonialism in the nineteenth century. Richmond: Curzon, 2001
  • Serbyn, Roman. Lenine etla question ukrainienne en 1914. Pluriel no. 25, 1981.
  • Subtelny, Orest (1988). Ukraine: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-5808-9. 
  • Velychenko, Stephen, The Issue of Russian Colonialism in Ukrainian Thought.Dependency Identity and Development, AB IMPERIO 1 (2002) 323-66
  • Forsyth, James. "A History of the Peoples of Siberia: Russia's North Asian Colony 1581-1990" (1994)

External links[edit]