From February to October 1992, Valery Tishkov served as Minister of Nationalities of the government of Russia. This book is his account of ethnicity, nationalism, and conflict in the territory of the former Soviet Union, focusing particularly on the Russian federation, and drawing on his personal political experience and inside knowledge of major events. He analyzes the demographic, ecological, and cultural backgrounds of ethnic tensions and conflict, and carefully measures grassroots ethnic attitudes and cultural interactions, which do not always correspond to intellectual and political statements and claims.

Soviet Ethnic Engineering: Success and Failure
Soviet ethnic engineering: Success and failure
2.1 Introduction

Various interpretations have been offered of the history of inter-ethnic relations and causes of ethnic conflict in the former Soviet Union. The dominant paradigm is that of the ‘disintegration of an empire’ combined with the ‘national revival’ of the peoples of the former USSR. Such a concept presupposes that the major reason behind the disintegration of the USSR as a multi-ethnic state was the diminished status of and discrimination against the non-Russian peoples whose cultures and identities were forcibly suppressed to conform to the official concept of the ‘merging of nations’ and the creation of a single ‘Soviet people’.

The main conclusion drawn by the supporters of such an approach is that the Soviet ...

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