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USSR and the Nationalities Problem - Essay Example

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USSR and the ‘Nationalities Problem Before the 1971 revolution, USSR had been a cosmopolitan empire composed of people from different nationalities. The nationality of the people was defined by place of birth, regional boundaries, and their native language…
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USSR and the Nationalities Problem
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"USSR and the Nationalities Problem"

The Soviet Union was made up of fifteen republics that were further subdivided into over one hundred separate regions that were identified based on the nationality of the people. School in the different nationalities taught their students using their native language and the same applied to newspapers and other publications. Although the military and the communist party tried as much as possible to centralize the authority to the central government, people still identified themselves based on their Soviet citizenship and their nationality. Initially nationality was not a problem to the empire and in fact, it was considered as their source of social integration and identity however, as time progressed nationality became a major problem. Closely attached to nationality is the issue of nationalism that refers to people’s identity based on ideologies. During the twentieth century some nationalities rejected their assimilation into the Russian empire the most affected republic were Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. This inspired other nationalities such as Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine to develop their nationality against the inclusion into the empire (Dash, 1989). Although the Soviet Union through the socialist movement tried to motivate its citizens to embrace the spirit of socialism, nationality remained a major threat to the prosperity of the union. To counter the problem of nationality, the soviet authority set the socialist movement and soviet power as their major source of national integration. However, the problem of nationality still posed a major threat to the existence of the union. This resulted from the development of stronger nationalism by nationalities that had initially been considered as weaker nationalities. Although the Russians formed the majority of the soviet citizens, they also identified themselves with their own Russian nationality. This implies as much as the Soviet Union tried to maintain the unity of its people in the soviet movement the empire remained divided based on nationality. The problem worsened further resulting in the establishment of independent states from the already existing members of the Soviet Union. This problem began in the 1990s when the Baltic nations declared themselves as independent states from the Soviet Union. The soviet authority considered this as a threat and they proceeded to seal any possible loophole that might result into future breakups and independence of states under the Soviet Union. Following the breakups Gorbachev declared that independence of nationalities based on their nationalism was illegal since it posed a threat to the soviet movement and political system. The collapse of the Berlin wall also inspired the race towards independence of the soviet nationalities. Before the independent movement began Russia stood out as a major pillar of the Soviet Union, however inspiration from the collapse of the Berlin wall led it to demand independence from the Soviet Union. A referendum that was conducted following the independence of Russia had independent presidential election for the new Russian state as a major issue. People voted for an independent Russian election and in June, the following year Yelstin was elected as the first Russian president (Dash, 1989). The independence of Russia posed a major threat to the existence of the Soviet Union and the problem of nationality. The movement however did not stop with the independence of Russia since in other nationality that were considered to have a lower sense of nationalism such as Read More
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