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The Choice of Nationality Policy in Bashkiria, 1917–1925

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Several factors shaped nationality policy in Bashkiria in 1917–25: involvement of the central Bolshevik and regional White governments and activities of Muslim and Turko-Tatar elites, but Bashkir elites’ activism proved most significant. At first (1917–19) a long-range approach to practical organizational steps predominated. National activists in this period proceeded mainly on the higher elite level, proclaiming their principles and organizing national governing institutions; at the lower level they only disseminated propaganda of their views. In the second phase (1919–25), with Soviet power established in the Southern Urals a crucial struggle occurred concerning forms of national autonomy for Bashkiria and significant attention was paid to extending nationality policy to lower administrative levels. The main forms of struggle to achieve national autonomy’s objectives were convening congresses of deputies, forming assorted power structures based upon the congresses, establishing contacts with various governments but mainly with the Bolshevik government in Moscow, creating a national military, and struggling against alternative governments in Ufa and Orenburg. The major results of nationality policy in Bashkiria in 1917–25 can be summarized thus: legal formalization of the territorial integrity of a Bashkir autonomous entity and its relations with the federal center; inclusion of factory agglomerations in the autonomous region; granting of broad autonomous powers in education, culture, direct self-rule, and matters of justice; and creating conditions for development of all spheres of life involving the Bashkir language. Finally, the successes of indigenization policy and activity toward formation of a national intelligentsia are noteworthy.

Affiliations: 1: St. Petersburg State University, Saint Petersburg Institute of History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia,


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