The Empire of the Tsars and the Russians

By Anatole L. Leroy-Beaulieu; Zaenaefde A. Ragozin | Go to book overview
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BOOK II. CHAPTER V.

Russia and the Historical Nationalities of Her Western Boundaries--Obstacles to Russification--Germans and German Influence--Antipathy against the Niémets--Germans in the Baltic Provinces and in Poland --The Polish Question--Mutual Interest of Russians and Poles in a Reconciliation--Plebeian Nationalities and Democratical Policy.

THE Russian nation, including even the Little-Russians and White-Russians, occupies the interior of the empire, but does not begin to fill out the frame. On no side, unless it be the Black and White Seas, and unless we take the Ukraïnians skirting Eastern Galicia, does the Russian people reach the limits of Russia. On nearly all its frontiers, it is encompassed by populations of alien origin, divided into two principal bands: one in the east, towards Asia, composed of Finns, Bashkirs, Tatars, Kirghiz, Kalmyks; the other, more considerable but not more homogeneous, in the west, facing Europe, along the most vulnerable flank line of Russia, the only one on which she confines with powerful neighbors. At certain times the government at St. Petersburgh may well find there material for weighty and apprehensive thought.

It is to be noted that the main element of the nation--the nucleus of it--the Great-Russian--comes into actual contact with these western populations on one point only, and that the least exposed, the shore of the Gulf of Finland, by a region, moreover, that counts among the poorest and least peopled. In the centre and south, between ancient Moscovia and the conquests of Peter the Great and Catherine II., between Great-Russia on one side and Livonia, Lithuania, Poland, on the other, lie White-Russia

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