Nationality and Ethnicity in Russia and the Post-Soviet Republics
The Soviet Union inherited a multinational state from the Russian Empire. That empire had gained a reputation as ‘the prisonhouse of nations’, and the Bolsheviks exploited the grievances of non-Russians in rallying support for their cause. Leaders of the Soviet state claimed to have the solution to the ‘national question’: all peoples would be equal and then they would come to realise that class, not ethnicity or religion, was the important dividing line in society. In line with Marx’s teachings, the Bolsheviks expected ethnic consciousness to recede and nations to disappear, just as the state would.
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