Zaur Gasimov (Ed.)
Kampf um Wort und Schrift
(The War of Words and Writing)
Russifizierung in Osteuropa im 19.-20. Jahrhundert
(The Russification of Eastern Europe in the 19th and 20th Centuries)
1. Edition 2012
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Europäische Geschichte Mainz Beihefte -
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Since the beginning of the Modern Age, the Principality of Moscow was eager to expand toward the West and South of Europe. During the Romanov Dynasty Russia included broad swaths of populations that did not speak Russian and even had various different religions. After Poland was divided up and the Caucasus and parts of Central Asia had been conquered in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Czar obtained full control of very expansive cultural areas, which Russia attempted to assimilate as part of their colonization from the mid-1800s on. Such efforts were also undertaken with the weapons of language: speaking Polish, Ukrainian and Lithuanian was forbidden, and only Russian was allowed in schools and official public offices.
Even in the late Soviet Union one can still notice the continuity of Moscow´s language politics. Following the short period of Lenin´s liberal policy of "rootedness," Stalin called for greater efforts toward Russification - which was later continued with less terror but the same zeal by Khrushchev, Chernenko and Andropov. Only after Gorbachev came to power was the Russian language policy criticized as part of the Perestroika. By passing new laws the individual republics were able to stop the slow death of their local languages.