Toward a Postimperial Order?

The Sakha Intellectuals and the Revolutionary Transformations in Late Imperial Russia, 1905–1917

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  • 1 Ph.D. Student and Research Assistant, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary and Vienna, Austria aleksandrkorobeinikov.spb@gmail.com
  • 2 Candidate of Historical Sciences, Docent and Head of the History Department at the Institute for Humanities and Minority Peoples of the North, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Yakutsk antonegor@gmail.com

Abstract

Focusing on the works and intellectual activity of the Sakha intelligentsia, this article examines the development of postimperial political imagination in the region of Yakutia. The formation of the Sakha intellectuals was a result of the circulation of wider imperial discourses on nationalism, anticolonialism, socialism, and regionalism during the crisis of the Russian Empire. By discussing the Sakhas’ marginal, even colonial, conditions, the Sakha national intellectuals followed self-governing aspirations inherited from political exiles and Siberian regionalists, whose ideas became frequent demands for many Siberian indigenous movements. Despite the Stalinist myth that the Soviet Union (and its social engineers) created autonomy in Yakutia for the first time in Russian history, it was the Sakha intellectuals who developed the autonomist discourse during the first two decades of the twentieth century.

On April 27, 1922, a few months before the formation of the USSR, the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee adopted a resolution “On the Autonomous Sakha Socialist Soviet Republic” as an equal part of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) with its administrative center in the city of Yakutsk. The Sakha ASSR was among the first autonomist cohorts of the RSFSR and the first autonomous republic in Siberia and the Far East. In the Soviet administrative system, autonomy implied granting authority to national representatives of the region. It, in turn, meant that the titular nation a priori received more political, social, cultural, and other rights compared to other national or ethnic groups in the region (Smith 1999, 2013: 51). By creating national autonomies, the Bolsheviks hoped to gain loyalty from natives to establish a proper post-colonial Soviet order in the postimperial space (Khalid 2016: 2-8, 179–183; Sablin 2016: 10). For natives, by contrast, it was an opportunity to officially proclaim their nations to protect national rights and promote the development of cultural and social conditions within the new authorities. Socialist autonomy became one of the forms of the postcolonial, postimperial reordering of the state. But was the concept of autonomy a widespread phenomenon in a non-Russian Siberian space (especially in such remote parts as this region) before the Soviets, and who were the main actors conducting the autonomist discourse there?

This article encompasses the spheres of Russia's postimperial transformation from a non-Russian perspective by focusing on nation-, autonomy-, and state-building during the Russian imperial crisis. It addresses the following questions: What factors (discourses and practices) influenced the formation of the Sakha national intellectuals in the late Russian Empire (the imperial moment)? And what practices and discourses did the national intellectuals use to build the postimperial order in Yakutia? The article examines the history of a group of intellectuals, consolidated by national and regional identification, who were capable of political and social activity in Sakha (Yakutia). These individuals put forward anticolonial ideas, demanded broader representation within existing power structures, imagined new political orders, defended their native language, literature, and other forms of cultural expression, as well as prepared the establishment of the zemstvo self-government and autonomy. Analyzing the Sakha intelligentsia of the first two decades of the twentieth century, we concentrate on the continuity of imperial practices and languages that were adopted by the Sakha national intelligentsia and then applied by the Sakha Bolsheviks during the formation of the Sakha socialist autonomy in the early Soviet period.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 marked a turning point in Russian imperial and global history. It can be interpreted as a tectonic shift, which nonetheless cannot be reduced to a Russo-centric narrative. The revolution revealed the existence of multiple ideas and projects out of the imperial centers. They were initiated by local political actors in various regions of the empire. The collapse of the Russian Empire, or rather its transformation, that resulted in a long-term process of postimperial reorganization of a diverse population, was accompanied by a high level of regional self-organization, the growth of political imagination, the importance of nationalism, decolonization, autonomism, and other widespread discourses, as well as the need to regulate social and political control in many stateless regions (Siegelberg 2020). In addition to the traditionally important and widely studied cases of the Western borderlands, the Caucasus, and the Volga region (see Breyfogle 2005; Crews 2006; Geraci 2001; Sunderland 2004; Werth 2002), historiography has begun to pay more attention to the provinces of the so-called Asiatic Russia (Engelstein 2018: 414–20; Smith 2017: 1–9, 170–175; Sunderland and Wolff 2018: 1–22). Among the latest additions to Asiatic Russia, Yakutia takes a certain place in the postimperial transformations despite its “marginal” status within the empire. Being for many decades the freezing land of exile in the Russian Empire, Yakutia accumulated political, social, and scientific experience of exiled activists that, along with increasing mobility, cross-regional cooperation, and accessibility of university education, contributed considerably to the formation of intellectual strata among the native Sakhas by the beginning of the imperial crisis.

Despite the Stalinist myth that the Soviet Union's social engineers created autonomy in Yakutia for the first time in Russian history, it was not the Bolsheviks but indigenous Sakha intelligentsia who developed the autonomist discourse in Siberia as a form of postcolonial political and administrative self-organization during the crisis and transformation of the Russian Empire (on the meaning of inorodtsy, see Bobrovnikov and Konev 2016: 167–206; Slocum 1998: 173–190; Ssorin-Chaikov 2003; see also Sablin and Korobeynikov 2016: 211; Sablin and Semyonov 2020: 543–550). In this vein, the Sakha intellectuals played a crucial role in the postimperial transformations of Yakutia. These intellectuals—for example, Vasilii Nikiforov-Kulumnur (1866–1928), Alexei Kulakovskii (1877–1926), Gavriil Ksenofontov (1888–1938), and Semyon Novgorodov (1892–1924)—are often overlooked by the modern historiography on the early Soviet nationalities policy which does not fully consider Asiatic Russia (Hirsch 2005; Kaiser 1994; Martin 2001; Smith 2013; Suny 1993). The existing literature on the early Soviet autonomy-building continues to pay a lot of attention to the exclusive role of the Bolsheviks who granted the right on national autonomies for various ethnic and national groups in postimperial Russia (Baron 2007; Pipes 1950; Saparov 2015; Slezkine 1994b; Smith 1999). At the same time, without diminishing the merits of the Bolsheviks, it is possible to consider the processes of autonomy-building with the leading role of local actors who produced the autonomist discourse even before the emergence of Soviet power (Khalid 2016; Sablin 2016, 2019). In Siberia, these processes were closely related to different widespread discourses, including nationalism, anticolonialism, and self-government. Because of their extreme popularity among the locals, these ideas were adopted by the new government in the context of the civil war and turned into Soviet autonomy (Schafer 2001: 173). It is, therefore, appropriate to shed light on the crisis of the Russian Empire, the 1917 Revolution, and the postimperial transformation of Russia from the regional perspective of Yakutia and to consider the role of local actors in the development of governance structures in the context of postimperial diversity management.

The Russian Imperial Moment and the Formation of the Sakha Intellectuals

It is still difficult to say whether Siberia was a colony or not. Although the methods of controlling territories in the continental empires differed from the overseas ones, the practices of managing Siberia had much in common with colonialism (Remnev 2012a; Sunderland 2010). Siberian natives perceived imperial power ambiguously. On the one hand, it hindered the free development of ethnic groups by forcing people to leave their usual places of residence; on the other hand, it promoted social mobility and the inclusion of people into broad imperial discourses and practices. The situation changed due to the strengthening of the policy of Russification as well as the spread of regionalist rhetoric, which involved more and more people in the internal problems of Siberia (Remnev 2012a: 114). Because of that, by the turn of the century, the demands for the decolonization of Siberia became increasingly insistent.

As Cooper (2005) demonstrates, the escalation of decolonizing processes usually occurs against the backdrop of great political crises, wars, and militarized conflicts. According to Sanborn, the period of the Great War with the subsequent revolution and civil war in Russia is better understood as decolonization since people were primarily dissatisfied with the results of war, violence, and imperial inactivity (Sanborn 2014: 3–8). Although the Great War and the revolution that followed influenced the growth of anticolonial aspirations, Siberian decolonization did not necessarily mean separation from Russia. Rather people imagined Siberia as an inseparable part of the restored imperial space freed from tsarist influence (Gerasimov 2017: 30). Following the conjuncture of the revolutionary time and pragmatically taking advantage of the needs of the natives, the Bolsheviks used the same decolonizing and autonomist discourses to preserve the territorial integrity of postimperial Russia and build the new Soviet order there. Thus, the development of the postimperial political imagination in Siberia had much to do with decolonization, but the reasons for this were rooted in Russian imperial politics in Siberia.

Among other things, the consolidation of non-Russian peoples in Siberia resulted from the imperial logic regarding the land issue. The land issue in Siberia became an outcome of the resettlement policy of imperial Russia that promoted massive relocation of peasants in the non-Russian regions to “merge” (sliianie) Siberia with central Russia (Miller 2008: 176). The land question, together with a policy of resettlement in late imperial Russia, became one of the precursors of the anticolonial discourse that rapidly spread across many non-Russian Siberian regions. By the late nineteenth century, in Irkutsk province, Russian peasants and Cossacks had 52.75 percent of the land at their disposal, and the indigenous population had the rest 47.25 percent. As a result of land management, this ratio changed, respectively, among Russian peasants and Cossacks to 62.5 percent, and among natives to 25.3 percent. The allotments of Buryats decreased by 46.9 percent that meant that “the Buryat lands were used mainly for the formation of the colonization fund” (Dameshek 2007: 55–56). The Buryats were frustrated by the seizure of their lands, which subsequently affected the massive “national” rise in the Baikal region.

Unlike the Buryat case, there was no mass migration from central Russia to Yakutia. The latter was the place where the territorial consolidation of people began comparatively late due to the remote geographical location, severe climatic conditions, and population homogeneity. According to the 1897 census, the territory of the Yakut oblast’ was mostly inhabited by the Sakhas (221,467 people out of 269,880) (Vseobshchaia perepis naseleniia 1897 g. Iakutskaia oblast’ 1905: 14–16). These peculiarities promoted stable social and cultural practices among the locals. This played a certain role in the unsuccessful attempt at Russification of the region when the Sakhas were able to stop the onslaught of the Russian colonists, which culminated in the phenomenon known as Sakhaization (Sunderland 1996: 806–825). Imperial Russia's continued to have a strong interest in the natural resources of Yakutia. In 1908, the commission for the study of land resources of the Lena region, headed by S. O. Margrave, presented a project for the resettlement of two million Slavic peasants from central Russia to Yakutia to exploit natural resources there and the resettlement of the Sakhas out to the Arctic Ocean (Basharin 1974: 12). Despite the heated debates, the project was not realized. Although Russian colonial policy on the settlement of Russian peasant men (muzhiki) to Asiatic Russia did not bring the desired results, it affected the perception of the Russian Empire among the natives and accelerated the growth of anticolonial and intellectual activity in Siberian regions (Remnev 2012b: 126–145). The perception of the Siberian natives as objectified “colonial elements” and the impossibility of their political representation within the imperial power authorities caused strong dissatisfaction of the local educated elites who gradually groped for the ground for the unification at the turn of the century.

The process of crystallization of a group called the Sakha national intellectuals began in the early twentieth century (Korobeinikov 2017: 77–118). The main catalysts of the members’ unification were the land issue, anticolonial discourse, and the denial of the right to political representation in the imperial parliament. The opportunity to take part in the elections to the Duma became one of the instruments of intellectual revitalization in various non-Russian regions and the formation of political groups representing the interests of the region (Tsiunchuk 2007: 389). Similar patterns of national intellectuals’ emerging were in the case of the Buryats: colonization, the land question, and resettlement contributed to the emergence of national movements among them (Montgomery 2011: 1–28). One of the leaders of the Siberian regionalists, Grigorii Potanin, was outraged by the lack of an organized group among natives claiming that they still “have neither social consolidation nor the Kyrgyz (Kazakh) or Buryat intellectual center.” In his view, the Sakhas were the most promising indigenous group for intellectual and cultural growth: due to differences in the region's economic development, “only the Sakhas seemed to have resolved this issue [of cultural development], or at least have the makings to resolve it” (Potanin 1908a: 259).

The discursive influence of the Siberian regionalism that spread the ideas of anticolonial liberation and possibilities for autonomy and federation of Siberia, as well as the thoughts on the intellectual centers for cultural education, which would create prospects for natives to be a part of civic (grazhdanskii) imperial relations, were valuable markers that navigated indigenous elites (Dameshek 2007: 452–454; Potanin 1907; Yadrintsev 1883). Further, the presence of political exiles, who gave impetus to regional cultural and scientific developments and collaborated with the indigenous populations, was also significant for Yakutia and its emerging intellectuals (Eklof and Saburova 2017: 164–171, 198–201; Glebov 2014: 292). According to the 1884 data, Yakutia was home to 4,725 (74 percent) criminal exiles, 1,540 (24 percent) religious sectarians, 64 (1 percent) Polish exiles, and only 86 (1 percent) participants in the revolutionary movement in Russia (Badcock 2017: 118). Most political exiles were Socialist Revolutionaries and representatives of the Russian Democratic Labor Party, which explains the reason for the popularity of socialist ideas among indigenous people (Badcock 2016). Criminal exile to the Lena region was the same form of colonialism as the exile of convicts from England to Australia. Therefore, one of the permanent political demands of the emerging national intellectuals was the abolition of exile to Yakutia that, at the same time, was a continuation of the Siberian regionalists’ discourse (Korobeinikov 2017: 81).

By the beginning of the revolution of 1905–1907, a range of issues that later transformed into an anticolonial and autonomist movement emerged among the Sakha intellectual strata. The First Russian Revolution as a turning point in the crisis of political and social structures of the Russian Empire enforced the formation of the Sakha regional actors, who after 1905 declared their political and intellectual mobilization. The newly formed Sakha national intelligentsia was looking for ways to overcome the political exclusion of the region and its social and economic backwardness, using the mechanisms of a public organization aimed at solving the problems of Yakutia.

According to contemporaries, by the beginning of the revolutionary events, there were two sociopolitical currents in Yakutia. “At the head of one was the majority of the toyons [Sakha tribal aristocrats], at the head of another—mostly teachers and generally representatives of free professions; the first was nationalist and sought to return to the ancestral life, the second was progressive and stood for the introduction of self-government based on the territorial principle, linking the cause of reforms in Yakutia and meeting the needs of national development of the Sakhas with the democratization of the state system of Russia” (Zalevskii 1911: 240–241).

The progressive part of the Sakha intellectuals consisted of ambitious representatives of the Sakha-educated people, proponents of social, cultural, and political reforms in the Russian Empire. These included Georgii Sleptsov, a graduate of the St. Petersburg Military Medical Academy, ulus (an administrative unit in territorial division of the Sakha region) clerk; Prokopii Sokolnikov, a graduate of the Medical Faculty of Moscow University; Vasilii Nikiforov-Kulumnur, a native of Dupsyunskii ulus who actively championed the idea of territorial self-government; Mikhail Afanasiev, also from Dupsyunskii ulus, a graduate of the law faculty of Moscow University, who worked in the Sakha district court; Mikhail Timofeev-Tereshkin, a native of Suntarsky ulus and one of the first Sakha writers; Alexei Kulakovskii, a native of Botuurus ulus and another of the first Sakha writers; Gavriil Ksenofontov, a native of the Zapadno-Kangalass ulus and graduate of the Faculty of Law of Tomsk University, a private attorney of the Sakha district court; Vasilii Nikolaev, a native of Botuurus ulus and graduate of the Faculty of Law of the University of Kiev; A. Diakonov, a native of the Zapadno-Kangalass ulus and graduate of the Faculty of Law of St. Petersburg University. Most of these men received a good education in various imperial cities. Some of them also came from wealthy families able to cover the cost of education and living. Moreover, to get from Yakutsk to Irkutsk or Tomsk (not to mention St. Petersburg), a person had to pay an expensive ticket and spend many weeks (if not months) on the road. Yet these were not just random young people who sought to study outside the Sakha region. They were educated, well-off representatives of prominent families who knew the existing social and economic laws of the Russian Empire and wanted to change them. After all, it was the Russian Empire and its diversity management politics that did not put any barriers in obtaining education for the indigenous people and promoted the formation of national intellectuals among them. This paradox can be explained by the concept of the imperial situation, which describes the diversity and hierarchy, not as static structures of power, but as dynamic systems of interaction and as a fundamental human condition (Gerasimov et al. 2005).

Projects of self-government and autonomy did not arise among the Sakhas by chance. Since the second half of the nineteenth century, the ideas on Siberian autonomy were widely spread in the Siberian regionalists’ rhetoric. They considered decentralization—an increased involvement of Siberian provinces into their internal life while developing ethno-federal principles, economic federalism, national and cultural autonomy—as one of the ways to reorganize the Russian Empire (Potanin 1908b: 287; Von Mohrenschildt 1981). Through the circulation in the press, the regionalists’ discourse covered diverse Siberian spaces, involving many social and ethnic groups in the study of regional issues. The indigenous agenda in the program of the regionalists helped the Siberian natives to delve into the problem of colonialism and the formation of the regional (national) intelligentsia. Moreover, the regionalists promoted the study of the living conditions of natives, widely welcomed cooperation with them, and called for the need for their cultural education. In the mid-nineteenth century Afanasii Shchapov, a Russian-Buryat ethnographer, historian, and one of the inspirators for Siberian regionalists declared: “The time has come for eight million natives to recognize their land rights on an equal basis with all; only with equal and friendly, full and comprehensive self-expression of the fundamental social forces and interests there can be a genuine, reasonable, and, if possible, equal progress of society and the people” (1883: 45).

The emerging Sakha national intellectuals significantly diversified Sakha political life that previously was strictly regulated by the government. In 1907, the Sakha intellectuals appealed to the governor of Yakutia with a request to invite representatives of eight uluses to discuss the issue of a deprivation of the right to elect a deputy to the State Duma of the Russian Empire. The governor proposed to elect a delegation to Saint Petersburg at the upcoming Sakha Congress (that was supposed to take place in 1908) to secure the right to elect a deputy to the Parliament (Iakutskii krai July 12, 1907). It was assumed that a deputy from Yakutia was to discuss several issues such as the land question, the transition of indigenous peoples from nomadism to settlement, the issue of indigenous peoples’ dying out, the introduction of the zemstvo self-government, road construction, public education, and much more (Lenskie volny December 21, 1913). Almost simultaneously, the Buryat intellectuals put forward the same requirements at their Indigenous Congresses that symbolically and practically linked two non-Russian Siberian intellectual groups (Kornev 1916: 11). In 1905, many Buryat intellectuals grouped around the starodumtsy led by Taisha of the Khorinskii department E. Vambotsyrenov, who fought for a return to the national administration under the charter of Michael Speransky as the basis of “autonomy.” They were opposed by a small “party of progressive Buryats” led by professor G. Tsybikov, a deputy of the Second Duma B.-D. Ochirov, and doctor B. Yampilov, who advocated the introduction of zemstvo self-government (Ivanov, Kalmina, and Kuras 2012: 187). The latter were also the proponents of Siberian regionalism. Hence, both Sakha and Buryat intellectual groups appealed to the Siberian parliamentary faction in the State Duma to support the petition of the introduction of zemstvo self-government in the Sakha and Baikal regions (Iakutskaia zhizn’ May 4, 1908).

Another significant step for the Sakha intelligentsia was the creation of the Union of the Sakhas, a political and cultural initiative of Nikiforov-Kulumnur. On January 4, 1906, he and other organizing members wrote a proclamation that advocated for the introduction of zemstvo self-government, the recognition of the right to possess all lands belonging to the Sakhas, and representation in the State Duma. The union's goal was “to establish civil and economic rights” in the region (Korzhikhina, Tebekin, and Tebekina 1957: 164–165). “This movement resulted in … the accumulated discontent … with arbitrariness and injustice, … with the oppression of the Russian autocratic government and … with the obstacle to the cultural development and enlightenment of the Sakha people, and the desire for the development of national consciousness and self-government” (Nikiforov-Kulumnur 2001: 367).

After the union was established, many of its representatives went to uluses and naslegs [Sakha village, part of an ulus] to create local branches. Such activities attracted the attention of not only the locals but also regional administrative bodies and even the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Empire. In his telegram to Governor V. N. Bulatov on January 13, the Russian Imperial minister of interior Petr Durnovo demanded immediate arrest of the union's members. On January 18, 1906, the leaders and members (sixteen people) of the Union of the Sakhas were arrested. In September, Nikiforov-Kulumnur was sentenced to a year and a half of imprisonment; other participants were fined, some were acquitted. Nikiforov-Kulumnur filed an appeal in cassation impact on retrial. On July 23, 1908, all the defendants were released, except for Nikiforov-Kulumnur, who had to spend a year in prison. Despite the union's short existence, it contributed to the elaboration of the language of self-description among the Sakha national intellectuals and also promoted among the locals the image of the intelligentsia as people who were able to question the current political order in Yakutia and put forward cultural initiatives that responded to the interests of the Sakhas. One of the representatives of the Union of Sakhas, Ivan Govorov, had evaluated the results of actions during the revolutionary period in the following way: “The winged word ‘freedom,’ flying over Rus, came to our blessed city Yakutsk … The first meetings, the first demonstrations were political. Then rallies and trade unions were organized. Everyone here became more interested in reading newspapers and telegrams, judgment on politics, on the four freedoms, and so on. We had a good time—we talked freely!” (Boyakova 2000: 95).

The anticolonial and self-government discourses began to spread in Siberia through the rudimentary mechanisms of the public sphere: press, public speeches, literary evenings (Clowes, Kassow, and West 1991). Although in many provinces of European Russia the introduction of zemstvo was a public initiative, a tool for a more independent administrative activity together with an effort to deconcentrate power or to Russify Russia's Western borderlands, in non-Russian regions of Siberia it served as almost an alternative to political autonomy (Emmons and Vucinich 1982). Indeed, being for many decades unable to have a zemstvo, Siberian intellectuals in different corners of Siberia initiated public discussions and led various projects that somehow attempted to establish zemstvo or at least negotiate the possibilities of its introduction (Dameshek 2007). On August 21, 1908, the newspaper Iakutskaia zhizn’ published an article by an unknown author who defended the statement that “every nation has the right not only to the zemstvo institutions but even to an autonomy up to federation; this point of view has a solid scientific ground” (Iakutskaia zhizn’ August 21, 1908). To increase the popularization of the self-government's idea, Nikiforov-Kulumnur and other intellectuals also spread information about the tax side of potential zemstvo: “To allocate the money for zemstvo activity corresponding to the importance and breadth of its tasks, it is necessary that the zemstvo budget would be not cut in favor of any other estimates that have nothing to do with the development of culture, and that the hard-earned money donated by the population would go to the development of their prosperity, and not the oppression of the people and suppression of the cultural undertakings arising in their environment” (Iakutskaia zhizn’ May 11, 1909).

By so doing, he and other intellectuals attempted to explain the importance of long-awaited self-government for a small Sakha reading public and promote the need to finance zemstvo activity, “which is democratically organized and proceeding in the conditions of full freedom” (Iakutskaia zhizn’ May 11, 1909).

The growth of public activity in Yakutia against the background of revolutionary euphoria of 1905–1907 was enthusiastically welcomed in the regional press. On the one hand, many authors wrote about the activities of the Union of the Sakhas and the organization of educational societies or centers (which aimed at public education); on the other hand, there was the administrative reaction, which had prevented the registration of new initiatives and closed regional newspapers every year (Iakutskaia mysl’ February 5, 1909). One of the results of the intraregional activities of the Sakha intelligentsia was “to break the order,” the reorganization of the Sakha social life that helped to involve more Sakhas into the problems of the region: “for the sake of ‘fair, uniform, and unencumbered’ development, a bold experience was made over the system of the whole nation” (Sakha 1910: 25). According to the testimony of Sergei Poluyan (who wrote under the pseudonym Yasenovich), the Sakhas were able to organize a public space because they founded a club in Yakutsk where they could read literary works, organize several theatrical performances, as well as demand the introduction of zemstvo self-government, a regional court, and Sakha representatives in the State Duma. Almost all of them were rejected, and the leaders of the movement were condemned (Yasenovich 1909); they did not get representatives in the Duma nor did they get a regional court. However, they eventually received zemstvo self-government after the imperial collapse. These actions had an unforeseen mobilizing effect: during the prewar years, the Sakha intellectuals not only shaped the Sakha public but also sparked interest in national life among the locals through the circulation of knowledge in the press, clubs, and theater.

The Great War defined a new stage in the activity of the Sakha intelligentsia. To a large extent, the Great War became the imperial moment for the Russian and other empires that competed for the world's dominance and global reordering of power while using the most advanced military and social technologies (Hoffmann 2014; Lohr 2003; Stockdale 2016). Mobilization of the population, patriotic mood, and rejection of internal conflicts had to result in joint national activities. The tsarist order of June 25, 1915, on the call of the Sakhas for the construction of rear structures in the area of the active army was perceived negatively by the Sakhas since the order was issued amid the summer fieldwork. In the event of mass mobilization, thousands of farms could be left without a breadwinner, which meant ruin and death. The Sakha governor received numerous applications from Sakhas asking for a postponement of the draft for various reasons. Many of these farmers went to remote areas to avoid conscription. The mobilization of the Sakhas was canceled due to the petition of the Lena gold industry association, which in its request indicated that the mass appeal of Sakha suppliers of meat, oil, and fish for rear work would lead to reduced production in the gold mines (Fedorov 2013: 225–227). This symbolic exclusion of Asiatic Russia from the empire led to the reinterpretation of the regional space by local actors.

Despite the organization of donations and participation in the activities of the Red Cross, the war did not unify the people in Yakutia. On the contrary, the Great War was an important factor in the fragmentation and collapse of the Russian Empire and played a role in the decolonization and regionalization of the state, ensuring the development of intraregional postimperial projects (Sanborn 2014). United around the newspaper Iakutskie voprosy founded in 1916, the intellectuals published articles about the benefits of rear works and irrationality of clashes with the local administration and, according to Ksenofontov, “steadfastly, persistently, and purposefully agitated and promoted the same ideas: representation in the Duma, zemstvo self-government, decolonization, and autonomy.” The imperial paradox, which allowed for the free coexistence of various, even contradictory groups and discourses in Yakutia, caused the rapid spread of ideas of decolonization ideas, which were closely related to the postimperial political imagination. The Russian imperial crisis, intensified by World War I and then the revolution, was a period in global history when Russia's external colonies intersected with its internal ones, and the imperial moment was transformed into a postimperial and stateless order.

The Russian Postimperial Moment: Revolutionary Transformation of the Sakha Region

The Sakha national intelligentsia perceived the February Revolution as the realization of fundamental civil rights, freedom, decolonization, national equality, and regional self-government. The long-awaited expectations of changes resulted in lively discussions among many political representatives of Yakutia and statements on the potential political order in Russia. After a meeting of Yakutsk's residents on March 4, 1917, the Sakha Committee of Public Safety (YaKOB)—the leading platform for discussing the social and political conditions in Yakutia that united the representatives of all existing political parties in the region—was created. The participants of the meeting chose a Provisional Executive Committee of the YaKOB that included the Bolsheviks Petrovsky, Yaroslavsky, and Oyunsky; the Mensheviks Ohnyansky, Oleynikov, and Akulovsky; the Socialist Revolutionaries Pivovarov, Solov'ev, and Blankov; and several other independent members (Fedorov 2013: 319). According to the Resolution of the YaKOB's Executive Bureau, the composition of the Committee of Public Safety was to consist of

representatives of revolutionary political parties, who have taken over the initiative in the organization of the new Russia and who have sided with the people, the army, and political exiles, who have rendered every assistance to the revolutionary movement, all workers unions, cooperative, cultural, and educational public organizations, and the organizing social elements, who have strongly joined and give decisive support to them. The committee considers unacceptable the representation of such persons, institutions, and societies that have caused all kinds of obstacles to the creation of a new order and that are unable to submit to the current sincere and consistent measures to strengthen the democratic system. (The National Archive of the Sakha Republic, Yakutia [NARS] 1-1-3: 3)

As a former deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Empire, Grigory Petrovsky was elected chairman of the committee, and Maxim Ammosov, a future leader of the Sakha Bolsheviks and one of the founders of the Yakut Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, was appointed the secretary of the YaKOB. Nikiforov-Kulumnur, Ksenofontov, Novgorodov, and other national intellectuals became the organizing members of the Peasant-Indigenous Commission that was one of the YaKOB's subdivisions (D'iachkova 2000: 51). In addition to the socioeconomic, cultural, and educational activities, the commission's tasks included the organization of the First Congress of the Sakha and Russian peasants, which were to take place on March 26, 1917.

The ideas and thoughts on the potential political life in Yakutia and Russia were expressed in the newspaper Vestnik Ispolnitel'nogo Komiteta Obschestvennoi Bezopasnosti. On March 6, 1917, Vestnik published an appeal by Petrovskii to the Minister of Justice Alexander Kerensky, stating that “the YaKOB was appealing to the new government to formally recognize the Committee of Public Safety.” The representative of the Sakha national intellectuals, Novgorodov, stressed the need to experience the “upcoming sermon of the high doctrine of socialism” and establish “the state system based on the broadest democratic foundation, providing distinctive prosperity of tribes and nationalities living in vast Russia” (Vestnik Ispolnitel'nogo Komiteta March 12, 1917) The socialist sentiment very powerful in the region because of the presence of the exiled SRs in Yakutia and the general popularity of socialists in Siberia due to their projects of the federalist reconstruction of Russia (Rainbow 2013: 334–336). The Sakha intellectuals drew attention to the transformation of the status of the Sakhas from “the indigenous people” to “the full citizens of the Russian state” with their own national characteristics and distinctive features. Another representative pointed to the fact that the Sakhas, like other national groups, freed themselves from colonial and national oppression, standing on the same civil level of renewed Russia as other nationalities (Vestnik Ispolnitel'nogo Komiteta April 22, 1917). After the revolution, liberation from colonial oppression was a popular topic in the Sakha and Siberian press. Intellectuals used this topic not only to prove the end of the old regime and the beginning of something new but also to underline that the colonial oppression was an exclusively tsarist politics that has nothing to do with the rest of the Russians. This was a common way of recognizing the inexpediency of separating the regions of the former Russian Empire and proclaiming a new imperial agreement based on revolutionary principles (Gerasimov 2017).

The same rhetoric of the “old oppression” circulated in the Social Democrats’ periodic press. The author of the article “To All Party Comrades and to All of You, Citizens!” published in the newspaper Socialdemokrat on March 18, 1917, declared the birth of a moment of something “new, free, and great!” igniting the flame of socialism in Yakutia and new Russia. Warmly welcoming the revolution, Petrovskii appealed to the newspaper's readers “to avoid both military and national chauvinism: the slogan of revolutionary socialism should be—through the European revolution to a democratic Republic, to peace, and socialism” (Socialdemokrat March 18, 1917). The Social Democrats also actively campaigned locals to join their party: “The oppressed classes—proletariat and peasants—oppressed nations—the Sakhas, Buryats, Tatars and so on—powerless estates, limited in rights and subordinate to the exceptional laws of the outskirts—all these groups will find the protection of their democratic rights in the Social Democratic party” (Socialdemokrat May 21, 1917).

Yet the Sakha Bolsheviks had no clear project of regional postimperial transformation right after “the Great Russian Revolution.” They continued to follow the central course of the Bolsheviks on “the full equality of all citizens regardless of gender, religion, race or nationality” and unification of (the Sakha) workers, soldiers, and peasants as a vanguard of socialist revolution. Perhaps because of the remote location and difficulties in receiving news from Petrograd, the future first secretary of the Transcaucasian Regional Committee of the Russian Communist Party, Grigory Ordzhonikidze, contradicted Lenin's April Theses and the decisions of the April conference of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party of Bolsheviks on the attitude to the Provisional Government. He warmly welcomed the admission of the socialists to the Provisional Government and even appealed to the fact that “the new government should be treated with trust, as it furthers the revolution” (NARS 1-1-1: 71). That we consider as a local break away from the official course during the revolutionary period because of the vast spaces and remote localities of postimperial Russia. Moreover, evaluating the results of the national intellectuals’ activity, the Bolsheviks decided to adopt the same rhetoric of self-government, applying it not to the Sakha nation exclusively, but to all citizens “who have reached twenty years, whether it is male or female, rich or poor, Russian, Sakha, the Jew or the Tungus, the cattleman or the farmer” (Socialdemokrat May 21, 1917). To achieve these goals, the Bolsheviks suggested a wider political representation of Social Democrats in the Constituent Assembly.

To strengthen political control in Yakutia, the Sakha national intellectuals decided to unite around a new political body—the Union of Freedom. The name referred to the Union of the Sakhas of 1906 and emphasized its revolutionary character (Korobeinikov 2017: 97–100; Steinberg 2016). The union's main goal echoed the earlier demands of the Sakha intelligentsia—the organization of zemstvo in Yakutia (Vestnik Ispolnitel'nogo Komiteta April 22, 1917). But unlike the previous demands, now zemstvo was a platform for the future institution of Sakha autonomy. In matters of state-building, the Union of Freedom considered “the federal autonomy of Siberia to be its immediate task.” According to the union's program, in this autonomy, Yakutia should represent “a separate zemstvo self-governing unit built on the broadest democratic principles” (Vol'naia Sibir’ April 7, 1918). Another important part of the program was the justification of the Sakhas’ independent place in history. The authors wanted to prove that the Sakhas had enough potential to liberate themselves from colonial oppression and stand in a row with other nations. In the first paragraph of their program, the authors set the task to ensure the preservation of “our tribe” from the invasion of a “strong nation” by “raising the spiritual and material well-being” (Vol'naia Sibir’ April 7, 1918). The union also promoted the evolutionist idea emphasizing that “if we, the Sakhas, successfully pass through the first school of our political development and with honor conduct zemstvo self-government, it will be possible in the future to strive for the ideal of full autonomy” (Vol'naia Sibir’ April 7, 1918). In the field of culture, the authors of the program put the publishing and “general national education” in the first place, assuming that the main condition for their implementation might be teaching in the students’ mother tongue. The authors also stressed the importance of rodinovedenie (homeland studies) by which they understood “a comprehensive study of the historical and modern conditions of life, nature, and culture of the ulus, as well as the awakening of the people's love for their native places and the desire to bring them all possible benefits” (Sakha 1918). By so doing, the Sakha intellectuals not just reproduced the pre-revolutionary autonomist program but attempted to draw the necessary forward steps of Yakutia's decolonization, political, administrative, and cultural development.

After discussing principal points in their program, the representatives of the Union of Freedom proposed the project of the Sakha zemstvo self-government and autonomy for consideration in the YaKOB. Sergey Shirokhikh stated that on August 12, 1917, the Tomsk Siberian Congress discussed the issue of Siberian autonomy and that the YaKOB had to discuss the same issue in relation to the Sakha region. The Sakha intellectual suggested developing the idea of federation, not autonomy, for Siberia and the Sakha region. In Shirokhikh's view, the federation could provide more political and administrative resources to such “backward” regions as Yakutia. He believed that if the Siberian “backward” peoples had their own autonomy, it would help them to approach the cultural and political level of the advanced nations (NARS 1-1-1: 99). This evolutionary paradigm, we assume, could be traced back to Speransky's 1822 law and generally to enlightenment thinking of the nineteenth century; moreover, the same evolutionist rhetoric became the main principle of the early Soviet nation- and autonomy-building in the East (Hirsh 2005; Slezkine 1994a: 80–92; Tolz 2011).

Shirokhikh explained his logic in the following way:

the remoteness of Siberia from the central administration on its vast land territory, located as if on another continent, in its climatic conditions completely different from the rest of the Russian Empire created such a situation that Siberia was considered as a colony, and then as a place of exile of people. This situation, with a low level of the industry, determined Siberia in such conditions that, with the means of communication available to it, it not only did not develop industry but completely killed all independence of initiative under the existing system, in which all originality was always suppressed. … Only Siberia itself can resolve such issues as the settlement of Siberia, and not the Central Government which, is tens of thousands of kilometers away. … These features of Siberia are reflected in the works of Siberian thinkers. Since the time of Yadrintsev, the issue of isolation, inequality, and exploitation of Siberian natural resources has been widely discussed, and the solution to this situation, according to the proposals of the Siberian intelligentsia and publicists, was the creation of Siberian regionalism. The idea of Siberian regionalism could not be suppressed; it should relate to the Siberian federation, regional zemstvo self-government, and a large budget. (NARS 1-1-1: 100)

The speech caused a lively discussion about the federal structure of Siberia and the possibility of self-government or autonomy for the Sakha region. The representatives of the SRs unanimously agreed with Shirokhikh, arguing that Russia did not understand the needs of Siberians and adding that the “decolonization” of Siberia might lead to a federative political organization as was in the case of North America. However, a Bolshevik representative, Oleynikov, reasonably doubted that Siberia could find enough financial resources to maintain itself. He also pointed out that if because of “selfish interests,” Siberia would become independent, then Russia, weakened after the war, would lose its status as a great united power (NARS 1-1-1: 102). In this respect, the Bolsheviks in Yakutia followed the same unitarian patterns as other Bolsheviks in Siberia, who could not imagine the region being separated from the rest of Russia (Khalid 2016: 16–22). Arguing with Oleynikov, the representative of the Sakha national intellectuals, Ksenofontov, concluded the discussion by emphasizing that “a federation is a developed self-government, which the Provisional Government wants to implement primarily, and the objection to it is an objection to the covenants of the great renewed Russia” (NARS 1-1-1: 104). He also stressed the importance of national self-determination for Siberian natives and the need to establish zemstvo in the region to reinforce revolutionary transitions in Yakutia. Even though this discussion did not have tangible results, it revealed various ideas from different political unions on the question of postimperial order that during the time of the Russian Empire had been impossible in the region. The possibility of discussing the topic of the postimperial political order in a particular region (even such remote as Yakutia) revealed the existence of nonlinear patterns of imagining Russia's future development which, in turn, meant the likelihood of an alternative revolutionary scenario in the postimperial space (Semyonov 2007: 355).

Following the political destabilization in Petrograd in the summer of 1917, a simultaneous reorganization of power came to Yakutia (Forsyth 1998: 253–259). Based on the Union of Freedom, the Sakha Labor Union of Federalists was created during the Second Congress of Sakha and Russian peasants held in Yakutsk on June 25, 1917. Uniting the ideas of the Siberian regionalists, national identity, and social equality, the program of the party imagined a potential postimperial Russia as a parliamentary republic headed by an elected president. Representation in Parliament, according to the program, was based on a fair extension of the elected population by direct, secret, and equal vote of deputies, without distinction of sex, age, or nationality (NARS 1-1-115: 1–2). The Sakha intellectuals proclaimed a type of regional territorial separation on the principle of “cultural-historical, national, and economic” existence, which was granted the right of self-government and control of internal affairs. The program also addressed the opportunities for “oppressed tribes” and peoples to acquire national rights to “full cultural self-determination, the use of native language in public life and legal institutions, the opening of national schools, unions, institutions aimed at preserving and developing the native language, literature, culture, and identity of each nation” (NARS 1-1-115: 2).

Eventually, the Sakha Federalists prepared the appeal “To All Citizens of Yakutia” for a public explanation of the program, tasks of the party, and nomination of the Sakha representatives to the Constituent Assembly: “The interests of the nation demand that we send a man, who would firmly stand for the people, for their blood needs, to the Constituent Assembly. We must entrust our destiny to non-random people and cast our votes. Our representatives can only be those whom we indeed trust, know well, and who fully know us and the conditions of our life in the remote, cold, and harsh borderland” (Iakutskii golos November 7, 1917). Ksenofontov and Nikiforov-Kulumnur were elected as candidates for the upcoming elections to the Constituent Assembly (NARS 1-1-72: 3). Later, the Sakha national intellectuals created the National Committee for the coordination of all institutions of the intelligentsia, including cultural society Sakha Aimakh [the Sakha Nation], the Sakha Labor Union of Federalists, and the newspaper Iakutskii golos.

At the Congress of the Sakha Deputies on September 13, 1917, Ksenofontov thanked the Sakha Labor Union of Federalists for the opportunity to be elected to the Constituent Assembly and proceeded to declare the tasks of the Sakhas in the transformed social and political conditions to be as follows:

You all hear and well know the general meaning of the Revolution: it has destroyed fetters that bound the hands and feet of the Russian people, it freed the will of a great people, that had been captured by autocratic tsardom for hundreds of years, and returned it to its source, that is, to itself. Now, in the coming days, this creative thought and the will of the people, their unwavering desire to organize a new bright and free life, will be fully reflected in the decisions of the Constituent Assembly. The great Russian revolution brings with it the creative work and will of our small-numbered people. Besides, we—the Sakhas—as an equal part of the Russian people, have two seats in the Constituent Assembly. So, dear citizens, if the will of all the Sakha people will follow the path outlined by You, if the people please to call my name in the upcoming elections, I will consider it my sacred and indispensable duty to serve You with my last strength. (Iakutskii golos November 7, 1917)

Yet the issue of anticolonial liberation remained uncertain in the rhetoric of the Sakha national intellectuals. On the one hand, they pointed out the unacceptability and cruelty of Russia's imperial colonial policy in Siberia and called for the inadmissibility of returning to the previous conditions of life. On the other hand, the intelligentsia strongly emphasized the importance of cooperation with the Russians because thanks to them all tribes and nations of postimperial Russia were finally given the long-awaited freedom and equality. Calling for unification primarily to the Sakhas, the Sakha Labor Union of Federalists “does not aim at narrow national isolation; on the contrary, cultural reunification with the great fraternal Russian people and the assimilation of the principles of democracy proclaimed by them are the only way to the revival of the Sakha nation” (NARS 1-1-72: 3). However, unlike the SRs or the Bolsheviks, the Federalists paid much attention to the Sakha nation to strengthen support from the Sakhas taking advantage of their national activity before the revolution. Although the Sakha intellectuals always underlined the “international” character of their political activity, the question of the indigenous small-numbered peoples of the North was not evident in the Federalists’ program (Slezkine 1994a). Moreover, following the evolutionist paradigm, the Sakha intelligentsia deliberately excluded the non-Sakha people of Yakutia from the “cultural nations,” preferring to compare the level of cultural development of the Sakhas with the Russians.

The Sakha intellectuals’ calls for political representation in Siberia were eventually taken into consideration by the regionalists, and three delegates from Yakutia became the representatives in the First Siberian Regional Congress, held in Tomsk fon October 8–17, 1917 (Serebrennikov 1934: 407). The Congress defined the administrative status of Siberia as a federal entity within Russia with a representative Legislative Duma and proclaimed the executive body, the Siberian Regional Council headed by Potanin (Pervyi Sibirskii oblastnoi s’’ezd 1917: 2–3). In the case of provincial autonomy, the regionalists adhered to the same evolutionist principle concerning indigenous people: “if a nationality has strengthened its national consciousness, if it has a consciousness of its interests, and there are cultural forces capable of organizing the management of local needs and benefits of indigenous people, then there is no need to interfere with the self-determination of this nationality: it is possible to grant to such nationalities the right of provincial autonomy” (Serebrennikov 1917 12). The elected representatives of the Sakha intellectuals, Novgorodov and Sabunaev, agreed on the adopted measures, highlighting the close ties of Yakutia with Siberian space. The main task of the Sakha national intelligentsia was to be elected to the Constituent Assembly that, according to their views, could legally grant the rights of the Sakhas to be an equal part of a new political order. Elections to the Constituent Assembly were held over three days (November 12–14), and their first results were published in People's Freedom, the Kadets’ newspaper, on November 20, 1917. According to these results, the votes were distributed as follows: M. T. Popov (Menshevik)—7.2 percent; D. A. Kochnev (Kadet)—17.9 percent; V. S. Pankratov (the SR)—32.2 percent; G. V. Ksenofontov (Federalist)—42.7 percent. Ksenofontov and Pankratov were elected as deputies to the Constituent Assembly by a majority vote (Narodnaia volia November 20, 1917).

The October events in Petrograd transformed the aspirations of the Sakha intellectuals as well as political disposition in Yakutia. The Federalists condemned the forcible seizure of power and the coup, publishing articles about the inevitability of the election of the Constituent Assembly. They urged the Sakhas to refuse all possible interactions with representatives of the Bolsheviks, arguing that “ignoring the interests of the working agricultural population and the democratic intelligentsia, the [Bolsheviks] party above all represents the interests of only the proletariat. Being essentially a handful of people insignificant in comparison with the entire population of the state, they are instilling in the workers that they can lead state construction without education, without knowledge, without any political experience” (Iakutskii golos November 7, 1917). On the contrary, the Sakha national intelligentsia considered interaction with the Russians and the development of public institutions as the most important tasks of political activity in Yakutia (Iakutskii golos November 7, 1917). The Federalists also noted the importance of interethnic cooperation with the other formerly oppressed national groups in Siberia.

As practical methods of achieving their goals in the region, the intellectuals advocated the Sakha populism (Iakutskoe narodnichestvo), the analog of Russian populism, whose ideals were transferred into the region through ideas and ideals of political exiles. A practical implementation of public initiatives and social and cultural activities was necessary for the involvement of the “dark mass of the Sakhas” in the new conditions. According to the intellectuals, zemstvo institutions were practically important as a school in which “the Sakha spirit will be hardened and where both the new local figures and public feeling will emerge. This forthcoming activity must be inspired by the idea of the common good and justice” (Iakutskii golos November 7, 1917). The organization of the social forces of the Sakha people was the main task of the Sakha intelligentsia, and the development of social life and the achievement of universal ideals were their main goals.

After a long period of discussions, plans, and ideas, a much anticipated by the Sakha intelligentsia regional zemstvo council was formed in January 1918 at the First Extraordinary Sakha regional Zemstvo Assembly. It established commissions on the road network, medical issues, postal affairs, public education, budget, and agriculture. The territorial network covered all five Sakha counties, including ulus, city, and district territorial units (county-level cities had their own zemstvos). The implementation of the zemstvo system turned the Federalists in the eyes of the locals from educators and cultural activists into officials and administrators. The growing political unrest and social discontent in Yakutia put the intellectuals in a situation of de facto political and administrative regulation of the region. Although they did not have enough knowledge of the administrative management, they nevertheless attempted to introduce reforms aiming at preserving the existing postimperial order in Yakutia.

The unstable political situation and the vast distances hindered the development of new zemstvo institutions. An unsuccessful attempt of the Bolsheviks to seize political control in Yakutia in mid-November 1918 helped the national intellectuals redevelop regional power—the Sakha Bolsheviks were expelled from the region by the authorities of the Sakha Zemstvo until the end of 1919. During the Civil War in Russia, Yakutia existed peacefully based on the principles of self-organization and self-governing (Fedorov 2013: 266). Public experience and local knowledge allowed the Sakha national intellectuals to establish the zemstvo institutions that they perceived as the first step toward autonomy. As a scenario of postimperial order, intellectuals proposed decolonization, federalization, and autonomy for the former Russian Empire and broader regional political representation in the future all-Russian democratic parliament. Yet, after 1919, the projects and ideas of national intellectuals were preempted by the Sakha Bolsheviks, who adopted the idea of Sakha autonomy within new political conditions by creating the Sakha Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1922 (Korobeinikov 2017).

Conclusion

The Russian Revolution of 1917 allowed the people across the former Russian Empire not only to imagine but also realize local projects of postimperial transformation. The study of regional activities contributes to the development of local social and political imagination in the moment of crisis and collapse of the Russian Empire and the early years of the Soviet Union.

Yakutia's example demonstrates the nonlinearity in the formation of postimperial projects among local actors and various trajectories of political and public actions before and after the revolution. Formed within the Russian imperial context, anticolonial and regionalist discourses, practices, and power relations, the Sakha national intellectuals acquired social and political experience even before the revolution. Because of that, they had a clear vision of their actions, which included national self-determination, the creation of the zemstvo self-government, and the ability to represent Yakutiain the Constituent Assembly. In the struggle to achieve the above-mentioned goals, the Sakha national intellectuals found a common language of self-description that was later re-echoed in the activity of the Sakha Bolsheviks. Being actively involved in the Sakha political and social life during the imperial transformation, the Sakha Bolsheviks used the rhetoric of the national intellectuals to build their own regional agenda, though they continued to follow the general course of Social Democrats. However, the social conditions and lack of political resources did not allow them to seize power in Yakutia soon after the October coup. Public support and a precise plan of action stimulated the national intellectuals to manage the region and establish self-governing zemstvo institutions in 1918. In this way, the Sakha case allows us to trace the dynamics of postimperial transformations from below and to examine the nonlinearity of revolutionary narrative by analyzing the various directions, projects, thoughts, and ideas before and after the 1917 Revolution.

Acknowledgments

The article was prepared within the framework of the research project “The Heritage of the North: Mental, Cultural, and Intellectual Practices of Exploration. The Experience of Centuries (Interdisciplinary Research).”

References

Archives

  • The National Archive of the Sakha Republic (Iakutiia), Collection 1, Inventory 1, File 3 (The Resolution of the Executive Bureau of the IAKOB based on a representation of delegates in the IaKOB, March 6, 1917).

  • The National Archive of the Sakha Republic (Iakutiia), Collection 1, Inventory 1, File 1 (Minutes of meetings of the IAKOB on the establishment of the age limit for elections to the KOB, the election of the chairmen of the YKOB, a delegate from Iakutiia to the all-Siberian Congress, March 8–October 10, 1917).

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  • Nikiforov, Vasilii. 1916. “O znachenii pechatnogo slova” [About the meaning of the printed word]. Iakutskie voprosy, July 2.

  • Nikiforov, Vasilii. 1915. “Pis'mo v redaktsiiu” [Letter to the editor]. Iakutskaia okraina, no. 27.

  • Nikiforov, Vasilii. 2001. Solntse svetit vsem: Stat'i. Pis'ma. Proizvedeniia. [The sun shines for all. Articles, Letters and Compositions]. Iakutsk: Bichik.

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Contributor Notes

Aleksandr Korobeinikov, a Ph.D. student, is a research assistant at the History Department at the Central European University in Budapest and Vienna. He is the author of several articles on the postimperial history of the Siberian native people. His current research focuses on the intellectual environmental history of postimperial Yakutia. E-mail: aleksandrkorobeinikov.spb@gmail.com; ORCID 0000-0002-3191-1187.

Egor Antonov, a candidate of historical sciences, is a docent and head of the History Department at the Institute for Humanities and Minority Peoples of the North, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Yakutsk. E-mail: antonegor@gmail.com.

Sibirica

Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies

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  • Novgorodov, Semyon. 1917. “10 Marta v Iakutskov soznanii” [March 10 in the consciousness of Sakhas]. Vestnik Ispolnitel'nogo Komiteta Obschestvennoi Bezopasnosti goroda Iakutska, March 12.

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  • Novgorodov, Semyon. 1916. “Ob obrazovanii Iakutov.” [About the education of Sakhas]. Iakutskie voprosy, September 10.

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