Conditions of the National Elites Loyalty towards the Central Government in the Soviet Period of Russian HistoryFilippov Sergey
The article deals with the analysis of the Soviet national policy from a historical perspective with a focus on investigating into conditions of the loyalty of national elites towards the central government in the last period of the USSR existence. The indicators of the low level loyalty are as follows: supporting the ideas of national sovereignty and independence, participating in the national movement by ruling cadres, influential intellectuals and population. The author shows low sympathy of both groups of representatives: elites and broad population to nationalist ideas. The analysis is based on comparing contrastive cases – the Soviet elites of the Baltic republics (Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia) and Belorussia in their interactions with the central government as well as local population in the period from 1945 to 1991. These republics, their population and elites were similar regarding some important aspects such as historical and cultural as well as demographic characteristics in the case of Belorussia and Lithuania; some important features of the industry (big export-oriented enterprises) regarding Estonia, Latvia and Belorussia. At the same time, these cases showed a different level of the loyalty towards the Union center, namely, relatively high among the Belorussian Soviet ruling cadres and population and relatively low in the Baltic republics by the end of 1980s.
The important aspect of the Soviet national policy was establishing new national elites, educational and cultural institutions preserving their native languages as well as the promotion of native cadres into the positions of power in the regional administration. In some respects, this policy was similar to the “indirect rule” implemented in the imperial period of Russian history and consisted in the cooperation between the central government and local elites as the main approach to administrating a multinational state. However, in comparison with the previous practice tending to include national elites in the imperial nobility, the post revolutionary approach considered the creation of national elites through promoting local cultural and educational institutions that offer quite prestigious but specific positions occupied mostly by representatives of the respective ethnic group.
Creating local elites reduced the competition for “universal” positions since socialization and career of “national staff” were oriented towards national institutes. However, increasing numbers of “national staff” with limited positions for them had negative social consequences (elite overproduction). Intra-elite tension increased due to the migration from other regions (in the case of Latvia and Estonia). The other reason of this phenomenon was pursuing socialization strategies oriented to the places of origin (in the case of Lithuania). The attractiveness of the Baltic republics both for local population and migrants from other regions of the USSR was caused by a relatively high level of living standards in these union republics.
Location of big export-oriented enterprises in the territory of Belorussia created conditions for preferring socialization strategies oriented towards integration with the Soviet Union economy and, therefore, enhanced loyalty towards the USSR center from both elites and population. Besides, the administrative apparatus of the Soviet Belorussia was recruited extensively among participants of the Soviet partisan movement 1941–1944 what explains the devotion of the Belorussian elite to the Soviet symbols and values. At the same time, the base of the legitimization of the Soviet Lithuanian elite was its ability to control the anti-Soviet (nationalist) movement as well supporting national culture and language.