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Alien or Refugee? The Politics of Russian Émigré Claims to British Asylum at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

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This article explores the ways in which the debates about the Aliens Bill and the controversy surrounding British immigration policies confirmed Russian émigrés’ identification as refugees and legitimised their anti-tsarist activities in the early twentieth century. It assesses how Russian émigrés made use of the British political crisis about immigration not only to protect their personal right to asylum, but also to advance their larger political and ideological perspectives about the illegitimacy of the Romanov regime. This article argues that the early twentieth-century transnational advocacy championing the right of asylum for Russian refugees in Britain explicitly established the moral and legal criteria used to define refugees outside of the context of war and justified the humanitarian necessity of political and religious asylum as an answer to governmental persecution.

Affiliations: 1: Villanova University,


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