The Peoples of the Soviet Far East

The Peoples of the Soviet Far East

The Peoples of the Soviet Far East

The Peoples of the Soviet Far East

Excerpt

This book, though self-contained, is the continuation of Russia and her Colonies. It deals with Russian colonization and Soviet nationalities (colonial) policy in a vast territory which I have described, for lack of a better term, as the 'Soviet Far East'. From the official Soviet point of view, the Soviet Far East comprises all territories of the U.S.S.R. situated to the east of Lake Baikal. It covers the Autonomous Republics of Yakutia and Buryat-Mongolia as well as the whole expansive Pacific coastal areas of the Soviet Union reaching from the Bering Straits down to Vladivostok. On the whole, I have accepted this official definition of the 'Soviet Far East' but I have added to it the Mongol People's Republic, the former People's Republic of Tuva, and a number of small nationalities which are closely connected with the latter.

Few foreigners have visited the Soviet Far Eastern territories during the last fifteen or twenty years and most of these few were not exactly 'visitors' but were inmates of Far Eastern forced labour camps. Some of them, like Mrs. Elinor Lipper, have written moving and revealing accounts of their experience, but naturally they could not deal with the problems of Soviet colonial policy in the Far East except in a few casual though valuable remarks. The only group of foreigners given a chance to travel extensively as tourists in the Soviet Far East and to visit even such normally prohibited places as Magadan and Irkutsk consisted of the former United States Vice-President, Henry Wallace and his entourage. The Wallace trip took place under the close supervision of the Soviet Police Ministry. This fact alone made it impossible for Mr. Wallace and the members of his mission to get access to the more essential relevant material on Soviet colonial policy in the Far East.

The isolation of the Soviet Far East from the outside world was completed in the second half of 1948. In August of that year the only Western diplomatic representation in the whole of Soviet Asia, the American Consulate-General in Vladivostok, was closed down at the request of the Soviet authorities. On September 30th, 1948, the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a circular which listed as forbidden areas practically all administrative units of the Far East from Irkutsk to Vladivostok.

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