Declaration of the Rights of the Peoples of Russia

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The Declaration of the Rights of the Peoples of Russia (Russian : Деклара́ция прав наро́дов Росси́и) was a document promulgated by the Bolshevik government of Russia on November 15 (November 2 by Old Style), 1917 (signed by Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin).

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although, nowadays, nearly three decades after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia, the rise of state-specific varieties of this language tends to be strongly denied in Russia, in line with the Russian World ideology.

Vladimir Lenin Russian politician, communist theorist and founder of the Soviet Union

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known by the alias Lenin, was a Russian revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He served as head of government of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1924 and of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924. Under his administration, Russia and then the wider Soviet Union became a one-party communist state governed by the Russian Communist Party. Ideologically a communist, he developed a variant of Marxism known as Leninism; his ideas were posthumously codified as Marxism-Leninism.

Joseph Stalin Soviet leader

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was a Soviet revolutionary and politician of Georgian ethnicity. He led the Soviet Union from the mid–1920s until 1953 as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1922–1952) and Premier (1941–1953). While initially presiding over a collective leadership as first among equals, he ultimately consolidated enough power to become the country's de facto dictator by the 1930s. A communist ideologically committed to the Leninist interpretation of Marxism, Stalin helped to formalise these ideas as Marxism–Leninism, while his own policies became known as Stalinism.

Contents

The document proclaimed:

  1. Equality and sovereignty of peoples of Russia
  2. Right of peoples of Russia  of a free self-determination, including secession and formation of a separate state
  3. Abolition of all national and religious privileges and restrictions
  4. Free development of national minorities and ethnographical groups populating the territory of Russia.

The meaning of the Declaration is still disputed in Russian historiography. In 1917 the Bolshevist thinking was still largely idealistic, dominated by vague ideas of "universal happiness". Also, at that moment Bolsheviks believed that the World revolution was imminent, so they did not care much about loss of territories. 

World revolution Marxist concept of overthrowing capitalism in all countries

World revolution is the Marxist concept of overthrowing capitalism in all countries through the conscious revolutionary action of the organized working class. These revolutions would not necessarily occur simultaneously, but where and when local conditions allowed a revolutionary party to successfully replace bourgeois ownership and rule, and install a workers' state based on social ownership of the means of production. In most Marxist schools, such as Trotskyism, the essentially international character of the class struggle and the necessity of global scope are critical elements and a chief explanation of the failure of socialism in one country.

However, in the cold-war western literature, it is often argued that in fact Lenin and Stalin agreed to liberate mostly the territories they had no sovereignty over since Russia had lost them to Central Powers in 1915 and 1916. Many historians suggest that the purpose of the document was to limit the public dissent after Russia lost most of its western areas to the advancing German Empire and try to complicate the matters behind the front lines.

Central Powers group of countries defeated in World War I

The Central Powers, consisting of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria—hence also known as the Quadruple Alliance —was one of the two main coalitions that fought World War I (1914–18).

But in reality, the declaration had the effect of rallying some ethnic non-Russians behind the Bolsheviks. Latvian riflemen were important supporters of Bolsheviks in the early days of Russian Civil War and Latvian historians recognize the promise of sovereignty as an important reason for that. The anti-revolutionary White Russians did not support self-determination and, as a result, few Latvians fought on the side of the White movement.

Russian Civil War multi-party war in the former Russian Empire, November 1917-October 1922

The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war in the former Russian Empire immediately after the two Russian Revolutions of 1917, as many factions vied to determine Russia's political future. The two largest combatant groups were the Red Army, fighting for the Bolshevik form of socialism led by Vladimir Lenin, and the loosely allied forces known as the White Army, which included diverse interests favoring political monarchism, economic capitalism and alternative forms of socialism, each with democratic and antidemocratic variants. In addition, rival militant socialists and nonideological Green armies fought against both the Bolsheviks and the Whites. Eight foreign nations intervened against the Red Army, notably the former Allied military forces from the World War and the pro-German armies. The Red Army eventually defeated the White Armed Forces of South Russia in Ukraine and the army led by Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak to the east in Siberia in 1919. The remains of the White forces commanded by Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel were beaten in Crimea and evacuated in late 1920. Lesser battles of the war continued on the periphery for two more years, and minor skirmishes with the remnants of the White forces in the Far East continued well into 1923. The war ended in 1923 in the sense that Bolshevik communist control of the newly formed Soviet Union was now assured, although armed national resistance in Central Asia was not completely crushed until 1934. There were an estimated 7,000,000–12,000,000 casualties during the war, mostly civilians. The Russian Civil War has been described by some as the greatest national catastrophe that Europe had yet seen.

White movement anti-Bolshevik movement

The White movement and its military arm the White Army, also known as the White Guard, the White Guardsmen or simply the Whites, was a loose confederation of anti-communist forces that fought the Communist Bolsheviks, also known as the Reds, in the Russian Civil War (1917–1922/1923) and to a lesser extent continued operating as militarized associations insurrectionists both outside and within Russian borders in Siberia until roughly World War II (1939–1945).

Intended or not, the deceleration's provided right to secede was soon exercised by peripheral regions in western Russia, part or which had already been under German army's rather than Moscow's control. But as the revolution spread, also many areas within Russia that have long been integrated declared themselves independent republics. Bolshevist Russia would, however, attempt to establish Soviet power in as many of those as possible. All three Baltic states experienced wars between Soviet governments aiming to establish a Communist state allied with Bolshevist Russia and non-Communist governments aiming for an independent state. The Soviet governments received direct military support from Russia. After the non-Communist side won, Russia recognized them as the legitimate governments of the Baltic states in 1920.

Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Republic in the USSR (1922–1991) and sovereign state (1917–1922 and 1990–1991)

The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, previously known as the Russian Soviet Republic and the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, as well as being unofficially known as the Russian Federation, Soviet Russia, or simply Russia, was an independent state from 1917 to 1922, and afterwards the largest, most populous and most economically developed of the 15 Soviet socialist republics of the Soviet Union (USSR) from 1922 to 1991, then a sovereign part of the Soviet Union with priority of Russian laws over Union-level legislation in 1990 and 1991, during the last two years of the existence of the USSR. The Russian Republic comprised sixteen smaller constituent units of autonomous republics, five autonomous oblasts, ten autonomous okrugs, six krais and forty oblasts. Russians formed the largest ethnic group. The capital of the Russian SFSR was Moscow and the other major urban centers included Leningrad, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Samara.

Baltic states Countries east of the Baltic Sea

The Baltic states, also known as the Baltic countries, Baltic republics, Baltic nations or simply the Baltics, is a geopolitical term used for grouping the three sovereign states in Northern Europe on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The term is not used in the context of cultural areas, national identity, or language. The three countries do not form an official union, but engage in intergovernmental and parliamentary cooperation.

Russian historiography often cited the document as one of the main bases for the liberation of Central European states. However, it is to be noted that Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus and Estonia were either created as puppet states by the Central Powers or liberated by the nations of the abovementioned countries themselves after the collapse of Germany and Austria-Hungary.

Central Europe region of Europe

Central Europe is the region comprising the central part of Europe. It is said to occupy continuous territory that are otherwise conventionally Western Europe, Southern Europe, and Eastern Europe. The concept of Central Europe is based on a common historical, social and cultural identity. Central Europe is going through a phase of "strategic awakening", with initiatives such as the CEI, Centrope and the Visegrád Four. While the region's economy shows high disparities with regard to income, all Central European countries are listed by the Human Development Index as very highly developed.

Poland republic in Central Europe

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.

Ukraine sovereign state in Eastern Europe

Ukraine, sometimes called the Ukraine, is a country in Eastern Europe. Excluding Crimea, Ukraine has a population of about 42.5 million, making it the 32nd most populous country in the world. Its capital and largest city is Kiev. Ukrainian is the official language and its alphabet is Cyrillic. The dominant religions in the country are Eastern Orthodoxy and Greek Catholicism. Ukraine is currently in a territorial dispute with Russia over the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014. Including Crimea, Ukraine has an area of 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi), making it the largest country entirely within Europe and the 46th largest country in the world.

List of seceded lands

The following countries declared their independence soon after the Bolsheviks' declaration, establishing themselves as non-Communist states. Although the role this declaration played in their declared independence is doubtful, it eased Bolshevist Russia's recognition of their independence. Except for Finland, all of these areas were outside of Russian sovereignty following the Austro-German successes in the Great War and were officially ceded in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, but note that the Bolsheviks could not have known this development at the time of the Declaration.

(exact dates need correction)

These countries declared their independence, as Communist states, soon after the declaration:

Several other independent republics were proclaimed but were short-lived:

Later developments

Bolsheviks never rejected the idea of self-determination, but the Soviet Constitutions (of 1924, 1936 and 1977) limited the right of secession to the constituent republics only. In 1990 Lithuania declared its independence again, citing their right to secession as written down in the Soviet Constitution. This would be followed by Estonia and Latvia.

See also

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