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Russification Efforts in Central Asian and Baltic Regions

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Technical Report

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Air Command And Staff College Maxwell AFB United States

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Russification is a term used to describe efforts to impose Russian language, ideals and beliefs on non-Russian communities throughout prerevolutionary Russia and the Soviet Union. A historical review of tsarist and Communist efforts to russify Russias border regions reveals the extent to which geography, industrial development and education shaped the success of Russification efforts throughout the Central Asian and Baltic Regions. During the last half of the nineteenth century, nomadic tribes loosely affiliated by Turkic dialects and Islamic beliefs inhabited the vast regions of Central Asia. Local family or clan relationships established cultural identities that rarely extended beyond the borders of immediate tribes. Industrial development and literacy rates were the lowest throughout the Russian and Soviet realm and often depended on Russian subsidy for sustainment. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Russians dominated the population and titular groups were minorities throughout Central Asia. Additionally, the indigenous elites continued to favor Russian involvement in economic and political decisions, suggesting the high success of Russification. In contrast, the Baltic regions had historic exposure to heavy Western European influence by way of the Baltic Sea and developed core cultural identities that reflected German and Polish ideals. This region also boasted the highest industrial growth and literacy rates throughout the Russian and Soviet realm. When the Soviet Union collapsed, titular groups dominated the Baltic populations and the regions were the first to seek independence from Russian rule, suggesting the low success of Russification efforts. Geographic influence on ethnic identities, industrialization and education systems unique to each region shaped the degree to which Russification was successful.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Humanities and History
  • Government and Political Science

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