In his monograph The Burden of the Empire. The Administrative Policy of Russia in Central Asia. Second Half of the 19th Century, D. V. Vasilyev analyses imperial Russian policy in the region, focusing on the administration of the steppe provinces and Russian Turkestan between 1865 and 1891. This approach allows the author to observe the evolution of views of the central and regional authorities responsible for the administration of these regions and compare broader imperial policy. The monograph is innovative, as it provides a parallel examination of Russian policy in the steppe provinces and in Russian Turkestan, with the author analysing draft regulations in chronological order. The measures taken to adapt the administrative system in both regions are considered at specific stages of their development. Vasilyev refers to new archival materials, which should be of interest both to researchers of the imperial Russian policy in Central Asia and specialists in the administrative and legal history of the Russian state. Careful and comprehensive analysis of the sources offers the reader an informed perspective on these documents and makes it possible to trace specific aspects and changes in imperial policy.
Russian, as a pluricentric language, demonstrates differences in pronunciation, lexis, syntactical structures, and regional specificity of grammar deviations. The imposition of a norm, which is difficult even in the metropolis, is hardly possible in the diaspora, where host countries’ realities have a strong impact on the Russian language spoken outside of Russian borders. Even support of the Russian language turns into a double-edged sword, as Russian institutions offering it to the diasporic communities refuse to admit the growing pluricentricity of the Russian language. Although almost 30 years have passed since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russian heritage remains strong in the post-Soviet space, and many countries continue using Russian in public settings and in education. Regional varieties of Russian increasingly drift away from the “Moscow norm”, although it still dominates culturally. New European borders and economic conditions stipulate new regulations in the use of traditional international languages. The debate on the norm and the struggle for bi- and multilingualism characterize the current situation with the Russian language in the world. At the same time, it is important to point out that due to diasporans’ transnational ties, globalization of Russian electronic media, and growing commodification of Russian, it is often used as a lingua franca on the territory of the former Soviet Union and in immigrants’ host countries. This requires a high degree of stability of the main linguistic features to ensure mutual understanding in communication. Russian speakers stick to their language and elevate its status whenever they feel mistreated or underrepresented in their countries of residence, or when they see economic benefits in its use.
The role of Belgium in reception of Dostoevsky's work in the West is far less known than the role of France. Philologist, freethinker, freemason, socialist and anarchist close to Bakunin, Eugène Hins was the major translator from Russian to French in Belgium in the second half of the 19th century. Hins, whose ideas of Russia turn out to be close to those of the catholic viscount Eugène-Melchior de Vogüé, wrote a novel entitled The Confessions of an assassin (1884-1885). After the accusations of having plagiarized Dostoevsky’s Crime and punishment, Hins revealed the particular reasons for which he had decided to adapt Dostoevsky’s novel to the Belgian cultural milieu. The present article focuses on The Confessions of an Assassin in the light of an unpublished document – a sort of preface that Hins wrote in order to justify his enterprise. In addition, the article highlights different forms of adaptation and transformation of Dostoevsky's works in France and Belgium.
The article is devoted to the phenomenon of a twenty-year moratorium on the death penalty in Russia of the 18th century, during the reign of Elizaveta Petrovna. The paper analyzes the most important reasons for the unofficial abolition of capital punishment and the correlationbetween this decision of the Empress and the events of the palace coup of 1741. The moratorium on the death penalty raised the urgent issue of the fate of “pardoned man of convicts”, whose conditions of detention on Rogervik Island are also described in the article. Such a harsh and peremptory humanization of criminal penalties, undertaken solely on the internal motives of the empress, aroused the displeasure of the Senate and affected the preparation of the draft of the New Law Code. Only the death of Elizabeth Petrovna prevented the impending conflict of the throne with the court elite. The moratorium on the death penalty had profound consequences influenced not only the internal political climate of the subsequent reigns, but also the foreign perception of the Russian Empire.Three years after the death of Elizabeth Petrovna in 1764, the Italian philosopher Cesare Bekkaria published his famous treatise On Crimes and Punishments, in which he proved the inconsistency of the death penalty, neither in terms of the concept of a social contract, nor in terms of the effectiveness of the prevention of serious crimes. Beccaria used the “Great Example of the Russian Empress” as an important argument not only in his famous treatise, but also in discussions with Leopold I, Duke of Tuscany, who in 1786 abolished the death penalty for the first time in Europe under the influence of the philosopher’s arguments.
The paper presents firsts results of the pilot fieldwork of the Russian language of one group of East Siberian old-settlers in the context of their ethnic and cultural history and their role in Russian expansion eastward, including to Alaska in 18th -19th centuries. From one perspective, regional features of the old-settlers’ Russian testify to the cultural and historical processes that had involved various groups of Russian-speaking population of the East Siberia. From another perspective, these linguistic materials are compared to the data on Russian language in Alaska, which, supposedly, will help to clarify the processes that shaped Russian linguistic and cultural heritage of the only overseas Russian region.
The article examines the history of the museum of the history of political repressions «Tomsk Memorial NKVD Prison» in Siberia, located in the basement of the former parochial school, which from 1923 to 1944 was converted into cells for prisoners and through which thousands of repressed residents of Tomsk and Tomsk region passed. Thousands of them were shot. The purpose of the study was to analyze the reasons for its occurrence in 1989 thanks to the Tomsk society «Memorial», the original concepts of the development of the museum and its further development over the past almost thirty years. The sources of the work were materials from the Archive of the Tomsk Regional Museum of Local Lore. M. B. Shatilov (Archive TKMM), publications in the media of different years and electronic resources on the museum's website, and the interior with the museum staff in Tomsk. The article shows the problems that this memorial museum faced. The history of the creation of this museum demonstrates the role played by the favorable situation in Perestroika, which combined the public request and the active participation of the authorities and even the employees of the Federal Penitentiary Service and the KGB, and how in the post-Soviet history it became a hostage of financial problems that the authorities and employees of the museum. So in addition to economic problems and problems with documents for the premises, the museum was faced with the fact that the basement of the former prison after World War II was converted into apartments, so there were no doors, lattices, or objects left from the cameras, which made it very difficult work on the formation of the museum. In addition, after the discovery, it turned out that the former prison often attracts more interest from visitors than the exposition on the history of Soviet repressions and the Gulag. The study also compares the museum «Tomsk Memorial NKVD Prison» with other similar memorial museums in other cities.
At first glance, the question of the exact date of the beard shaving decree might seem insignificant or too narrow. In reality, however, this tiny issue could play an important role in discussions of how Russia was transformed in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Oddly enough, there is no consensus on the date when Peter ordered his subjects to shave their beards in the scholarly literature. The author of this article summarizes all the available sources on this subject, both those previously used by historians and those he has uncovered, including documents from Peter’s personal chancellery, the Privy Chancellery, the Moscow chancelleries and local authorities, as well as testimonies of contemporaries (Zheliabuzhskii’s diary, the autobiography of Prince Boris Kurakin, the diary of Johann Georg Korb etc.). The author concludes that, on the one hand, the introduction of beard shaving was conceived by the Peter the Great, apparently, during his Grand Embassy or immediately afterwards. On the other hand, considerable tangential evidence and financial accounts of the Moscow chancelleries confirm that a formal prohibition on wearing beards apparently did not exist until the decree of January 1705. So the author assumes that beard shaving was gradually introduced in Russia. Peter first planted the idea in the minds of members of the elite through playful shaving spectacles and personalized oral decrees, allowing its diffusion among ever widening circles of people. By the end of 1704, Peter probably had concluded that his subjects were prepared for a legislative ban on maintaining a beard. Indeed, by the time Peter’s famous 1705 decree was announced in Russian cities, many of his subjects had already parted with their facial hair, and they did so voluntarily.
An investigation of Peter I's motives to withdraw from the Northern Allies' plan to invade Schonia in September 1716, based on formerly unpublished sources (dispatches of the Prussian envoy, F.E. von Cnyphausen).
Catherine II inspired many Russian projects in historical science. She herself was an active, if amateur, historian. The Empress eagerly used history to promote her own political ideas, but she was also an avid reader of history, both Russian and Ancient. But what about Byzantine history? One would think she would have been interested in it as well, since between the late 1770s and the early 1790s Catherine was enraptured by a plan to dismember the Ottoman Empire and recreate Byzantium. This “Greek Project”, broadly regarded to have been the main thrust of Russian foreign policy for fifteen years, had very solid cultural “wrappings” such as architectural phantasies, poetry, drama, paintings, medals, etc. Here I will examine whether this campaign was accompanied by a deeper interest in, and knowledge of the history of the Byzantium that she wanted to revive.
I conclude that the Empress did not bother to learn anything about this great civilization. Byzantine history, apart from Russo-Byzantine relations, did not become a subject of scholarly research during her reign. Catherine herself began reading Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire then popular in Europe, but dropped it at the 8th volume of its French translation, thus going no further than the 5th century when Byzantium proper was just emerging. In her play Oleg’s Early Rule, she demonstrated complete ignorance of Byzantine history, culture, court ceremonies, etc. Finally, numerous and blatant errors in the “Byzantine” parts of her Sketches on Russian History suggest that Catherine had no interest in nor “a big picture” of Byzantine history.
Only once in this extensive book, and even then only in a footnote, do we suddenly come across a very precise, thoughtful, and detailed description of Byzantine realia, namely, of the Varangian guards at the imperial court of Constantinople. This suggests that when Catherine deemed a subject important, she was able to find exhaustive information on any “Byzantine” question. Yet, of all things Byzantine, Catherine showed interest in only one issue, and that was because it concerned the “Norman question”, a highly sensitive topic of the Old Russian history in her time and ever since. Otherwise, the Empress remained completely indifferent to Byzantium.
It can be surmised that Catherine never saw the “Greek Project” as a practical task of recreating a real state with its distinct laws, officials, territorial division and, last but not least, the role of the church.
Review of: Surzhikova N. V. (2014). Voennyj plen v rossijskoj provintsii (1914-1922) [Military Captivity in the Russian Province (1914-1922)]. 423 p. Moscow: Politicheskaya encyclopediya. The review was submitted on 24.05.2014. This is a review of a monograph by historian N. V. Surzhikova, Military Captivity in the Russian Province (1914-1922) (Moscow: Politicheskaya Encyclopediya, 2014) published for the series World War I. A Great War. 1914-1918. The reviewer acknowledges the value of the archival material supplied in the work but is critical of its interpretation. The author’s use of sociological concepts, though justified, has a number of flaws in the research’s theoretical model. Additionally, the reviewer maintains that it is incorrect to apply the terminology of professional identity to the category of employment.
This article is part of a project studying the phenomenon of suicide in eighteenth-century Russia. It is based on the investigation of Major Vasily Apukhtin’s death in 1731. The investigation materials demonstrate that the major committed suicide by drowning himself in his own well. According to the testimonies of his servants, relatives, and acquaintances, Apukhtin was insane: the reason for his insanity (or, rather, the circumstance that aggravated his mental illness) was fear of being taken to court as a result of a pending lawsuit. An ordinary property trial, inadequately perceived by the suicide, made him terrified of being declared unreliable, which could therefore mean torture as part of the criminal proceedings. This circumstance allows the author to consider Apukhtin’s case within the framework of the concept of “state fear”, first introduced into historiography by Evgeny Anisimov. Analysis of the causes of the mental agony which the unfortunate major was experiencing through the prism of this concept seems helpful when considering many other cases that led numerous Russians of the eighteenth century to do the same.
The article provides the analysis of the conflict-settlement efforts of the Soviet GONGOs, which transformed after the collapse of the USSR into independent NGOs. The research is based on the personal archives and the professional experience of one of the co-authors who worked for the organizations in question. The focus is on the conflicts in the USSR two years before the collapse and conflicts in the post-Soviet space after the collapse until 1995. This period of time was chosen by the authors to demonstrate the transformation of GONGOs into NGOs and their role in conflict-settlement as actors independent from the state structures, which, in their turn, to a certain extent lost initiative in the settlement of local and regional conflicts in the former Soviet republics. The current academic literature suggests that GONGOs lack agency, especially in the times of crises. The case-study of the Soviet Committee for the Defense of Peace later renamed to the Federation for Peace and Conciliation shows that during the first years after the dissolution of the USSR this organization managed to organize a vast number of conflict-settlement practical and academic events with the participation of high-ranking representatives from the Parliaments, the governments, the political parties not only from the post-Soviet republics, but also involving representatives of the Western governments and international organizations, like NATO. The conclusion of the article is that partially the success of these activities can be explained by the openness of the representatives of authorities towards a mutual dialogue in a format of Track 1.5 (officials communicating to other officials in an informal setting in their personal capacity) initiatives and their readiness to learn from the expert community and study the best international p
Long-distance public transportation via regular stagecoach services between the cities of the Russian Empire from the 1820s to the 1850s is studied as a social institution that structured people’s everyday lives, forming a set of rules, practices, and models of behaviour. In contrast with the traditional view that transport services and ‘passengers’ as a socio-cultural phenomenon came into being with the development of railway communication and urban public transport, this article presents a different point of view. An analysis of a variety of materials reflecting the operations of transportation companies (regulations, schedules, bureaucratic correspondence, etc.), along with periodicals, memoirs, diaries, private correspondence, and works of fiction, has helped us to reconstruct how public transport came into being in Russia in the first half of the 19th century and how the public became accustomed to the new service.
Referring to relevant approaches to the study of diplomatic culture and the semiotics of gestures, this article examines the significance of kissing the sovereign’s hands in diplomatic ceremonies in western Europe, and, more particularly, in Britain and Russia. Confusion and disagreement over the meaning of this gesture could become a major stumbling block in the evolution of Anglo-Russian relations at the very moment when there was a willingness to become closer owing to the expanding sphere of mutual political interests. With the arrival of the British ambassador Charles Cathcart and his wife in Russia in 1768, the ceremony of the first audience of the ambassador and (especially) the ambassadress with the sovereign was the subject of intense negotiations in the highest echelons of power. The discussion focused on the act of kissing the sovereign’s hands. A gesture that in Russia had long been considered a sign of the monarch’s mercy towards the ambassador of another Christian state might seem an acknowledgement of subordination or submission to the Scottish Lord Cathcart. The tradition had no parallel in the diplomatic ceremonies of other European courts. Why did the Russian government, which sought to match diplomatic ceremonies at the court with Western European protocols, not compromise when it came to this formality? How did the key persons of the story – Cathcart and Count Nikita Panin – evaluate the possible consequences of not carrying out the required ceremonial protocols? What concessions and violations were the two sides prepared for in these disputes over ceremony in the name of “high politics”? Referring to archival materials from the National Archives of the United Kingdom, the personal papers of the Cathcart family kept in the National Library of Scotland, and several published dispatches of British representatives in Russia, the author studies the reflections of Lord and Lady Cathcart on their introduction to Empress Catherine II. The analysis leads the author to conclude that Catherine II perceived the kissing of the sovereign’s hands as an indispensable prerequisite for starting any diplomatic mission and as a historically established gesture that demonstrated the grandeur of the crown. Negotiations over the act of hand-kissing in 1768 showed that this ceremonial detail was not a mere formality but could become the key factor in the success of an ambassador’s mission.
Article «"The earth to the working people" : Agrarian Question in the Political Program of Old Believers in 1917» contains the analysis of provisions of Old Believers of various denominations on an agrarian question. Program and assembly documents of the Old Belief organizations, congresses and meetings, publicist materials and also epistolary are used. Historical genetic, historical comparative and historical typological methods of a historical research are used. The Old Belief in general suggested resolving the land question within the concept with elements of the liberal (cadet) program. However, unlike the cadets offering in 1917 transfer of the earth of Fund to unlimited use, Old Believers (including peasants) insisted in the majority on the private-ownership nature of the country farms which have received the earth. A small part of Old Believers peasants in certain regions have apprehended the slogans of Social Revolutionaries. But in general the Old Belief version of the solution of a land problem had a unique combination of lines. It in many respects was explained by specifics of the democratic and polemic structure of Old Belief community. Old Believers peasants (on the whole - strong business executives) never refused trust to the representative to the organizations and forums in which took active part. The points of view formulated at congresses and meetings by peasants on a land problem were really considered by a political top a Old Belief and exerted considerable impact on resolutions of these congresses. The major disagreement, at the same time, was since summer of 1917 the principle of a “nepredreshenchestvo” which was strictly reproduced in political documents of adherents of ancient piety of various denominations. The position of Old Believers on the most important political and economic problems of revolutionary time, differed from other political forces in the fact that they attached great value to Christian and even chilidially coloring of the political projects which were based on Christianity "with his requirements of the truth and justice, brotherhood and love".
For Peter the Great, beards and the traditional “Russian” clothing marked the hated old times (N. Ustryalov, S. Solovyov, L. Hughes, etc.). However, this statement has never been proved by references to any sources which could reveal the tsar’s own opinion or that of his associates on the problem in question. The author undertakes the first attempt to establish the position of Peter the Great and his associates on the need for “Europeanization” of the appearance of Russian subjects. The article analyzes the story of the introduction of beard shaving and the adoption of “European” clothing in different versions of The History of the Swedish War. The collected data enable the author to suppose that the ideological justification of the introduction of beard shaving and “European” clothing in Peter the Great’s Russia was based upon the opposition between the traditional Russian appearance associated with the appearance of “pagan peoples” and the appearance of European subjects viewed as a Christian one. This ideologeme is supposed to have been formed within the cultural and political elite at the end of the 17th century, probably, under the influence of the treaty Politika by Juraj Križanić.