“The peoples of Russia were consistently repressed by their rulers”. How far do you agree with this view of the period 1855 to 1921? (25 marks)
It could be viewed that the peoples of Russia were consistently repressed by their rulers during 1855 to 1921 to a significant extent. The use of ‘consistently’ suggests that the people of Russia were continually subjugated by the leaders of their country. This oppressive conduct towards them can be evidently seen through the treatment of serfs, introduction of Russification and terror used by the Cheka.
Repression was a recurring problem faced by the peoples of Russia during 1855 to 1921. It was carried out by Tsar Alexander III through a series of oppressive policies introduced during the 1880’s which included the introduction of Russification in 1883. It was a policy designed to transform the different populations of the Russian Empire into ‘pure’. The tsar essentially forced this upon the population and commanded that all citizens no matter of their culture and language must adopt the Russian language and practisings. This meant that a large amount of people in Russia was to leave their identities and adopt the aggressive promotion of Russian culture and to accept the forceful suppression of other national cultures. The Tsar went one step further with this repressive policy and established Russian-language universities such as Iur’ev University in Estonia to exaggerate his beliefs. This can be ultimately seen as one of the most repressive acts by the Tsar as he is physically taking away the people's identities and forcing them to adopt a culture of which many probably did not believe in. Furthermore, repression continued as aggressive Russification resulted in an increased sense of anti-semitism. However, following Lenin's rise to power in 1917 he further introduced a new set of policies. He enforced a Decree on the Press and banned all newspapers by his opposition parties. This was undeniably as repressive act towards them as he is hindering their ability to rightfully express their views and opinions. This was a very controversial act by Lenin as the newspapers and press was citizens main way of retrieving information on world occurrences and so this action ultimately repressed not only the opposing parties but also the citizens who read the newspapers and listened to the press.
On the contrary the statement that the peoples of Russia were ‘consistently repressed’ could be seen as not fully factually correct. This is due to the fact that following the coronation of Alexander II, he introduced a series of reforms that were deliberately made to try and improve the peasants lifestyle but also to counter the ongoing repression they were faced with. His Emancipation Edict was his most important measure enacted by him in 1861. It was ultimately designed to give serfs freedom and give them the chance to own their own property to run their own commercial enterprises. They also had the ability to marry...