Nationalism and the Breakup of an Empire: Russia and Its Periphery

Nationalism and the Breakup of an Empire: Russia and Its Periphery

Nationalism and the Breakup of an Empire: Russia and Its Periphery

Nationalism and the Breakup of an Empire: Russia and Its Periphery


Since Mikhail Gorbachev launched his reform program under the rubric of perestroika and glasnost, the most dramatic changes taking place in the USSR have been in the area of ethnic and minority nationalism. The Soviet nationalities problem has become central to the nations of the world--to all minority and national groups. The purpose of this book is to present a comprehensive analysis of the impact of nationalism on the break-up of the Soviet Union, measure the effects of this dissolution, and examine the remnants and revisions.


Nineteen ninety-two opened with the most astounding event in recent history. The Soviet state was officially dead, and 74 years of its history came to a close. Each of the 15 former Soviet republics had either declared or obtained their independence. It was a sad Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev who agreed to transfer to the Russian federation a number of key agencies, including the State Bank (the country's central bank) and the Kremlin (federal government) itself. Other Soviet central agencies, such as the highly centralized Soviet economic and trade ministries, were being abolished. The empire had crumbled. All the republics were planning to move swiftly to a market economy.

The theme of this book portrays the long struggle of this empire with its seat of government at the Center, and analyzes both the disintegration of that Center and the collapse of its periphery.

Readers will be happy to learn that the chapters in this volume are based on sources in Russian, Latvian, Ukrainian, Georgian, Azeri, Uzbek, Turkish, and Chinese, not to mention French, German, and English. This testifies to the need for scholarly collaboration in a work of this scope. I wish to thank all the contributors to this volume for their excellent efforts and patience. I also wish to thank Wendy Boone and Angela Williams for their assistance with both the copyediting and the typing, and I am whole- heartedly indebted to the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and to the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security (CIIPS) for their support in subsidizing this project.

Finally, I wish to thank both colleagues and friends for their unstinting encouragement during the months it took to bring all the chapters together, making sure that the materials presented here have kept pace with the events that have shaken the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I am particularly indebted to historian Anthony Rhinelander of . . .

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