Sebastian Gehrig, James Mark, Paul Betts, Kim Christiaens and Idesbald Goddeeris

Anti-apartheid advocacy allowed Eastern Bloc countries to reframe their ideological language of solidarity towards African countries into a legalist rhetoric during the 1960s and 70s. Support for international anti-racial discrimination law and self-determination from colonial rule reinforced their ties to Africa after the disenchantment of the Hungarian Uprising. Rights activism against apartheid showcased the socialist Bloc’s active contribution to the international rise of human rights language and international law during the Cold War. By the mid-1970s, however, international rights engagement became problematic for most Eastern European states, and dissidents at home eventually appropriated the term apartheid based on decades of state-mandated international rights activism to criticise socialism.

The Failure of the Socialist Declaration of Human Rights

Ideology, Legitimacy, and Elite Defection at the End of State Socialism

Ned Richardson-Little

In the mid-1980s, the Eastern Bloc faced increased pressure on the issue of human rights from western governments, ngos, and indigenous dissident. Although the Socialist Bloc had claimed to represent the ideals of human rights throughout the Cold War, by 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev called on the leaders of the Eastern Bloc to work together on a coordinated response to this threat and in response East Germany proposed the creation of an international declaration based on the principles of socialist—rather than bourgeois—human rights. Within a few years, however, the project collapsed in ignominious failure as it provided a vehicle for reformers to challenge the status quo in the name of human rights by demanding greater democratization. Although the project was originally devised to refute the human rights claims of the West, it instead acted to spur on the intellectual collapse of the Eastern Bloc’s ideological unity at its time of greatest crisis.

Erika Szívós

Since its publication, Pieter M. Judson’s history of the Habsburg Empire: A New History has sparked discussion and debate as a result of its novel reframing of the relationship between nationalism and empire in the Central European polity. Judson offers a new narrative of a vibrant and adaptive state that had the ability to balance empire and nationality, and thus was not doomed to fail, as has been one of the well-worn interpretations of the empire. The contributors to this debate come to the book from different regional and academic standpoints, and take on a number of key issues raised by the book: the role of nationality in the empire; the nature of Habsburg imperial rule within the broader context of European empire building; the relationship of Hungary within the larger empire; and the position of the Habsburg Empire within European history as a whole. Together, these perspectives shed light on core issues raised by the book as well as offer reflections on the future of Habsburg studies.

Ned Richardson-Little, Hella Dietz and James Mark

In recent years, the study of human rights history has expanded beyond Western-centered narratives, though the role of Eastern European state socialism and socialists in the evolution of human rights concepts and politics has not received sufficient attention. This introductory essay synthesizes recent research of the role of Eastern Bloc socialist states in shaping the emergence of the post-war human rights system and the implications of this new research for the history of the Cold War, dissent as well as the collapse of state socialism in 1989/91. Ultimately, state socialist actors were not merely human rights antagonists, but contributed to shaping the international arena and human rights politics, motivated both strategically as well as ideologically. And the Eastern Bloc was not merely a region that passively absorbed the idea of human rights from the West, but a site where human rights ideas where articulated, internationalized and also contested.

Marco Antonio Guzman

This historical and comparative analysis shows that neoliberal economic policy creating a domestic private sector triggered a series of events that culminated with the dissolution of post-communist Czechoslovakia in 1992. Placing primary emphasis on neoliberal economic reform, this research departs from existing accounts of the breakup positing ideological differences between Czech and Slovak elites or preexisting regional economic structures as the primary factors behind the dissolution. As neoliberal policies took place through the entire federation, an unexpected boom in tourism in Prague fostered the creation of a service sector catering to visitors, lowering the capital’s unemployment rate. Outside of Prague, neoliberal policy failed to alleviate the economic crisis. As federal economic policies failed to resolve mounting economic problems in Slovakia, particularly unemployment, the perception that federal policies did not fit regional needs gained salience. By 1992, whereas parties calling for the perpetuation of the federation lost popular support, separatist political parties gained the majority of seats in both regional parliaments, leading to the dissolution of the federation.

Todor Hristov

Social rights are essentially rights to the betterment of life. And because of this, they lack any internal principle of limitation. Socialist governments recognized social rights as the core of human rights and therefore as legal rights, the implementation of which was a matter of obligation rather than policy. However, since the governments commanded limited resources, they had to limit the implementation of social rights. The article describes the ad hoc limitations on the implementation of social rights, developed by the Bulgarian Communist Party, which brought forth their transformation into instruments of government, and their appropriation by different forms of counter-conduct.

Michal Kopeček

Much has been written about human rights language as a keystone of democratic dissent in Eastern Europe as well as about its damaging impact on the communist dictatorships—the so called “Helsinki effect.” This article analyzes the less familiar criticism of the core of the socialist theory of human rights and discusses whether this criticism proved to be particularly damaging for the socialist regimes’ legitimacy, self-esteem, and international standing, leading to their defensive stance in this sphere. Simultaneously, it will question, to some extent, the prevailing and rather one-sided “liberal” reading of dissident human rights theory itself. With this aim in mind, the article begins with the specific “developmental” socialist conception of human rights elaborated in the 1950s and the 1960s by prominent legal scholars and philosophers such as I. Szabó and I. Kovács, and outlines how this theory served as a tool of self-confident state socialist human rights politics in the first decades of the Cold War. Second, it will follow the diverging paths of this socialist human rights theory during the period of consolidation and the authoritarian turn in the late 1960s and the 1970s. Third, the article turns to some of the 1970s–80s dissident criticism of human rights abuses in communist countries. It will focus not on the best-known cases, which serve to emphasize encroachments upon civil and political rights and freedoms, but rather on critical approaches (like those of J. Tesař, J. Šabata, O. Solt, M. Duray, or the Solidarity’s Charter of Workers Rights) directed at the heart of the socialist theory of human rights, that is the abuses and unfulfilled promises in the area of social, economic, and—prominently in the Hungarian case—cultural rights.

Universal Rights or Everyday Necessities?

Translating Human Rights between Local Workers and Transnational Activism in late 1970s Poland

Anna Delius

Polish opposition against the state-socialist government emerged out of the political engagement of predominantly left-leaning intellectuals with repressed workers in the 1970s. In their writings, these intellectuals addressed not only workers in the country, but also Western European left-wing intellectuals and politicians. Based on an analysis of relevant samizdat publications, this article shows how Polish intellectuals modified their rhetorical strategies depending on their audience. It thus challenges the monothematic focus on an internationally salient human rights language as the main tool for political empowerment during the 1970s. Whereas the universalizing human rights discourse presented repression and the lack of democratic labor structures negatively, the inner Polish debate between intellectuals and workers initially framed these issues as basic necessities deduced from tangible problems. It was only after two years of organizational work that the Warsaw-based Workers’ Defense Committee, in their “Charter of Workers’ Rights” (1979), depicted repression as a violation of human and labor rights. The rhetoric changed so drastically because the Charter addressed not only workers, but also different target groups on an international and national level. Even so, a singularizing narrative of repression made more sense in the context of Polish labor protests than the adoption of a universalizing human rights language.

Elena Borisovna Smilianskaia

Looking at eighteenth-century relations between Russia and the West through the prism of diplomatic culture and rituals, this article concentrates on a “happy period” in Anglo-Russian contacts in 1768–1772, when Sir Charles Cathcart was dispatched to St. Petersburg to negotiate a treaty between the British and Russian Empires. The article argues that close relations between Great Britain and Russia at that time influenced ceremonial practices, individual contacts, and the transfer of the British culture to the Russian court. Study of the Cathcart’s archive points to the peculiar character of his mission – to the leading role that he, as British ambassador, played among diplomats in Russia; to the role of his wife, who became the first ambassadrice officially presented to Catherine ii; to their residence, which they transformed into an exemplar of “British taste” in St. Petersburg. The Cathcart case study opens up new perspectives on the diplomats in the Age of the Enlightenment.

Alexander Kamenskii

Catherine ii’s foreign policy has been traditionally considered very successful. She won three wars and incorporated large territories into the Russian Empire making her country one of Europe’s great powers. But arguments for this kind of evaluation miss Catherine’s own perspective. The article argues that the empress failed to reach any of the initial goals she had put forward. Her foreign policy lacked a considered long-term strategy and from the very start was characterized by a series of mistakes. Catherine did turn Russia into a great power but with quite a different reputation from what she initially had planned.

Elise Kimerling Wirtschafter

Despite the impressive scholarship devoted to the peacemaking that followed the defeat of Napoleon, significant aspects of European politics remain understudied. These include the intellectual apparatus articulated in diplomatic communications and the relationship of diplomacy to national or local political cultures. This article focuses on Russian diplomacy, itself a relatively understudied topic, by exploring the ideas and concepts that defined Alexander i’s foreign policy and the Russian understanding of European order. The article addresses these matters by focusing on Russia’s proposal for a treaty of guarantee which was presented to the allies at the 1818 Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle.

Vitalii Gennad’evich Ananiev and Mikhail Dmitrievich Bukharin

The article examines the history of the May 1927 elections of full members of the Academy of Sciences of the ussr. At the center of attention are issues such as the procedure of the electoral campaign and the criteria that ought to have guided the Academy of Sciences in electing new members – particularly the attitude of academicians to “improper borrowing of materials” (plagiarism) in candidates’ works. The article introduces several dozen documents – private letters, meeting protocols, reports and the like – illustrating the complex system of personal relationships within the Academy, the sharp disagreements of its members over crucial matters of scholarly ethics, and the archaic nature of the Academy’s organizational structure. These documents enable the authors to suggest that, in the 1927 elections of full members of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, all participants ignored fundamental principles of scholarly ethics. The last elections to occur before the scandalous “Academy affair” showed that the Academy of Sciences badly needed organizational reforms: the cumbersome nature of the structure and the ease with which electoral manipulations occurred were too obvious to be ignored. Yet the reforms which followed the 1927 elections led to establishment of total state control over the Academy.

Anna Ananieva

From September 1781 to November 1782 Grand Duke Paul Petrovich, in the company of his wife, Grand Duchess Mariia Feodorovna, visited the major royal courts of Europe under the pseudonym “Comte & Comtesse du Nord.” By emphasizing the ceremonial meanings of high-status incognito tour, this article addresses the seemingly paradoxical relationship between the private status public visibility of the traveling Russian court analyzes the narratives about it in the European press in other documentary accounts related to the tour.

Claus Scharf

Not only in Soviet patriotic historiography the conduct of war and the foreign policy of Alexander i were regarded as heroic only from the battle of Borodino onward. The earlier years of the Napoleonic Era and the retreat of Russian armies during the summer of 1812 appeared in a negative light. Revisionist research in Russia and abroad offers another interpretation. When the French army in 1807 after some victorious battles reached the Russian border Alexander maintained a much better bargaining position in talks with Napoleon than disappointed critics among the Russian elite recognized. The emperor of the French was not prepared to continue the war on Russian soil and did not make territorial demands on Russia. Napoleon wanted not only an armistice and peace, but also an alliance with Russia against Britain. Thus Alexander, using the power of the weak opponent, succeeded in winning time. Russia was able not only to maintain her strategic goals against the Ottoman Empire in the Rumanian principalities and in the Black Sea, but also to defend the political existence of Prussia as a possible Russian ally in a future coalition with Austria against Napoleon, which meant a sacrifice of Polish interests by Russia.

Andrei Borisovich Nikolaev

This article analyzes the formula of authority that constituted the basis for the Provisional Government. The author labels this formula the Third of March system. The Third of March system began to dissolve during the political crisis of the “April days”, when the Provisional Government decided to jettison the formulation of its authority that had been so convenient to the Chairman of the State Duma, Mikhail Vladimirovich Rodzianko. The government had contemplated vesting sovereign authority in the Temporary Committee of the State Duma, thereby resurrecting the legislative function of the bicameral Russian parliament, and making the legislature responsible to the executive. The Third of March system finally disintegrated on 6 October 1917, when the Provisional Government dispersed the State Duma and recognized that the authority of members of the State Council had lost its force. The demolition of the Third of March political system led to the liquidation of the Provisional Government’s authority.

Mikhail Pavlovich Miliutin and Aleksandra Iur’evna Veselova

The article examines the political views of Andrei Timofeevich Bolotov, as expressed in his memoirs and handwritten collections of news from 1792–1793, which described the events of the French Revolution, as well as in other writings and translations made in the 1760s–1790s. Bolotov’s sources of information (foreign press, François Pictet, Christian Friedrich Schwan and Christoph Girtanner), his range of communication, and the nature of his writings suggest that his political outlook was not determined solely by the class perspective of a provincial landowner. His political views, formed under the influence of the Catherine ii’s coup of 1762, which he called the Russia’s “Glorious Revolution,” combined ideas underpinning Catherine’s absolutism with notions of natural law and drawn from European intellectuals.

Dellas Oliver Herbel


Throughout their history in America, Orthodox Christians have promoted their religious freedom primarily through legal changes (e.g., executive orders, court decisions, or legislation). More recently, some Orthodox Christian leaders have begun to respond to the issue of religious freedom by engaging in American political discourse as established by larger conservative religious groups. Orthodox Christians now find themselves utilizing both approaches, exhibiting an Americanization of their faith by accepting the behavior patterns of native-born Americans as valid and authentic. This article explores the three distinct shifts that occurred in this process: self preservation to self-promotion, self-promotion to promoting the religious freedoms of Orthodox overseas, and the adoption of the religious rhetoric and tactics of some American religious conservatives.

Boris N. Mironov

In Russia of 1917, two-thirds of the male and female peasants age 10 and older had not had systematic schooling and were illiterate; the rest were able to read and do basic arithmetic. Only 0.1% of peasants studied in secondary or higher educational institutions. As a result, 99.9% of all peasants had a particular mode of thinking - concrete, situational, and directly related to sensations and actions. Mastery of the world in practical terms, through the window of the senses, left a deep imprint on the nature and content of peasants’ knowledge, on how they conceptualized the social and physical world, and on how they behaved.

Contact, Conflict, and Crisis in Eastern Christianity

Selected Papers from the Sixth Biennial Conference of the Association for the Study of Eastern Christian History and Culture

J. Eugene Clay


In this issue of Canadian-American Slavic Studies, eight authors explore Eastern Christian communities from the sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Originating as papers presented at the sixth biennial conference of the Association for the Study of Eastern Christian History and Culture ( at Rhodes College in 2015, these articles have been carefully selected for their original contributions and revised for publication. From disputes over monastic landholding in the sixteenth century to the vicious persecutions of the Soviet period, Eastern Christians have responded creatively to historical crises, even as they have faced both internal and external conflicts. These thought-provoking essays provide significant analyses of these responses and offer penetrating insights into Eastern Christianity.

Charles J. Halperin

On the basis of 734 dated colophons in sixteenth-century Russian manuscript books, Sergei Usachev examines where the books were written, who copied them, and who ordered them. He concludes that the books were produced in all regions of Russia and that members of all social classes ordered them and copied them, although in different proportions: the former had a higher social profile than the latter. His publication of the full texts of the colophons makes it possible for historians to explore additional themes of sixteenth-century Russian social and cultural history.

Christopher D.L. Johnson


Between the years 1948 and 1963, British spiritual seeker Gerald Palmer, who edited the English Philokalia, carried on a written correspondence with the Russian hieromonk and Athonite elder Fr. Nikon Strandtman. Through a regular exchange of letters, these men were able to build a bridge between their disparate worlds and establish a close lifelong relationship. Their letters functioned devotionally to extended the practices of pilgrimage and spiritual direction and supplement their face-to-face encounters with virtual interactions, which allowed Palmer to maintain a continuous link to the place of Athos and the person of Fr. Nikon.

Amy A. Slagle


This article explores how American Orthodox Christians today use and interpret icons in the course of their everyday devotional lives. Drawing upon ethnographic data collected through participant observation and interviews with parishioners of an Orthodox Church in Mississippi in 2015, I highlight the ways that diverse and multiple media within a wider American context of “buffet-style” spiritual appropriation affect informant considerations of and interactions with icons. Fundamental to this article is the tension between informants’ experiences with icons as the conveyance of divine “presence” and the concerns they express over the extent to which American commodification and mass-media cultures threaten the status and sacrality of images in Orthodox devotional practice.

Robert Romanchuk

This survey of intellectual endeavor in medieval Slavia orthodoxa proposes a different way to think through the problem of the “intellectual silence of Old Rus′,” first set forth by Georges Florovsky and explored by George Fedotov, Francis Thomson, Simon Franklin, and now Donald Ostrowski. It examines the resources and opportunities for secondary schooling and their apparent outcomes in Kyivan Rus′ from the eleventh through the thirteenth century, among South Slavs on Mount Athos in the later fourteenth century, and at the Kirillo-Belozerskii (Kirillov) Monastery in northern Russia in the later fifteenth century. It concludes that intellectual endeavor is not necessarily bound to an international language of scholarship (e.g., Greek), one the one hand, or to a particular religious mentalité (e.g., that of the Western Church), on the other. Rather, it is cultivated by “schematizing” (educational) institutions oriented upon academic (heuristic) interpretive strategies and—most importantly—supported by textbooks and teachers.

David Prestel

This essay addresses the long-standing and much-discussed question of the intellectual silence of Rus’ culture, which was first formally posed by Georges Florovsky in a 1962 forum published in the Slavic Review. Initially viewing the issue within the context of Donald Ostrowski ‘s recent book, Europe, Byzantium, and the “Intellectual Silence” of Rus’ Culture (2018), the study contends that in contrast to the practice of theology in Byzantium and the West, Rus’ theology, as Gerhard Podskalsky maintained, is not expressed through traditional theological disciplines but assumes a decidedly pragmatic function that is best served by narration, exhortation, and admonition. The analysis leads to the conclusion that questions concerning the absence of intellectual developments of the medieval West are not helpful in the study of Rus’ culture, as they can obstruct a more productive approach that focuses on Rus’ narrative sources. A brief example illustrating the direction such an approach might take is provided.

Carol Dockham


In the early Soviet period, the long Christian tradition of praying for secular and ecclesiastical rulers played an important role in Orthodox debates over legitimate authority, especially after the death of Patriarch Tikhon (Bellavin, 1865–1925) in March 1925. When Metropolitan Sergii (Stragorodskii, 1867–1944), the acting leader of the patriarchal church, ordered the liturgical commemoration of the atheistic Soviet government as the secular authority and himself as the ecclesiastical authority in October 1927, he immediately provoked strong resistance from a group of hierarchs, clergy and laypersons in Leningrad. Because this opposition was expressed publicly at worship services, the Bolsheviks considered it a form of anti-Soviet agitation. For Orthodox believers, however, commemoration represented an ecclesiastical rather than a secular question. Sergii himself resisted Soviet pressure to stop commemorating his own superior, the imprisoned Metropolitan Petr (Polianskii, 1862–1937). Despite the bitter divisions among the followers of Patriarch Tikhon in the decade that followed his death, both Sergii and his opponents both prayed for Petr – a fragile thread that united the church’s contending factions.

Donald Ostrowski

This article is a response to four responses to my book Europe, Byzantium, and the “Intellectual Silence” of Rus’. That book in turn responded to the question posed by Francis Thompson, “Where was the Russian Peter Abelard?” It began with two premises − that theology was “the crown jewel of disciplined thought” in both the Eastern and Western Churches during the medieval period and that medieval Christian theology represented an amalgamation of prior Christian thought with Neoplatonism. The literature of early Rus’ was little more than what would have been contained in a large Byzantine monastic library, because those in charge of educating the newly baptized pagan Rus’ on the basic principles of Christianity felt compelled to provide them only necessary information to save their souls. But why did the package not include the seven liberal arts (including dialectic), which were the basis of the Western Church curriculum?

Neighbors Are Not Always Friendly

Conflicts between Muscovite Monasteries and Their Neighbors during the Reign of Ivan IV

Charles J. Halperin


On the basis of a data base of 137 instances of conflict between Muscovite monasteries and their neighbors during the reign of Ivan IV (1533–1584), this article concludes that such conflicts occurred during the entire course of Ivan IV’s reign, that they occurred with members of all Muscovite social classes, including other monks, and that they occurred in many regions of Muscovy. These data do not permit concluding whether all monasteries engaged in disputes with their neighbors in all years in all districts of Muscovy. Although monasteries tended to settle disputes peacefully, they did not always act properly, even in relations with other monasteries. Monasteries were not immune to the violence endemic to such disputes, many of which involved litigation, although they may have been slightly more peaceful in their relations with other monasteries than with lay landowners and landholders and the residents of their estates.

Barbara Skinner


A little known issue in the history of the conversion of Belarusian Uniates to Orthodoxy, formally completed in 1839, was the conflict between Russian Orthodox bishops who preferred to conduct missions among the Uniate population in Belarus to win personal conversions, incrementally, and the Uniate hierarchy who preferred the vossoedinenie, or general “reunification” en masse of the Uniate parishes. In the end, the Uniate strategy won the support of imperial officials and of Tsar Nicholas I himself, while the Orthodox eparchial representatives were compelled to cease their efforts in order not to impede the greater goal of general vossoedinenie. This issue sheds light on Orthodox priorities and imperial Russian prerogatives for the religious status of the lands of “western Russia,” and it also reveals the strength of the Orthodox and Uniate episcopal personalities involved.

Pilgrims and Profits

The Russian Company of Steam Navigation and Trade, 1856–1914

Lucien Frary


The Russian Company of Steam Navigation and Trade (Русское общество пароходства и торговли, or ROPiT) during the second half of the nineteenth century was more closely connected with national politics than any other merchant marine in the world. Politically, ROPiT enabled the Russian state to penetrate the tangled web of rivalry and prejudice that epitomized this era of European imperialism. Commercially, ROPiT improved the empire’s international trade and communications, while providing a foundation for the training of sailors. ROPiT also performed crucial postal services and yielded a useful fleet of transport vessels for public and private use. Based on company records and passengers’ reports, this paper focuses on the functioning of ROPiT as an aspect of the upsurge of pilgrimages to the sacred places of the Orthodox East during the late imperial period. It argues that ROPiT helped assert Russian influence and generate a sense of community within the Orthodox realm, from the Neva to the Nile.

Heather Bailey


In the mid-nineteenth century it was typical for French Roman Catholic publicists to allege that the tsar was the supreme head or “pope” of the Russian Church and that consequently, the Russian Church was completely enslaved to the state. While this idea was largely created by Catholic publicists, some Russian Orthodox individuals contributed intentionally or unintentionally to exaggerated notions of the Russian emperor’s spiritual authority, demonstrating that the Orthodox publicists who wanted to defend Russian interests did not always agree about what those interests really were or about how best to defend them. Following Italy’s national unification (1859–1860), French public figures used these narratives about the Russian tsar-pope to promote specific policies towards Rome and the papacy. For French Roman Catholic publicists, the tsar-pope myth proved that it was vital to preserve unity between the French Church and Rome and to defend the papacy’s temporal power as a guarantor of the Roman Catholic Church’s independence.

Sergey A. Ivanov

The critique of Francis Thomson constitutes only part of Ostrowski’s book. The other part, completely unrelated to the first one, is dedicated to a comparison of the intellectual development of the two halves of the Christian world in the Middle Ages. Ostrowski’s assertion that the Byzantines did not include logic in their school curriculum is untrue. What seems to him to be the main difference between East and West does not take root until the end of the 12th century. The West was drifting away from the common patterns of ancient Mediterranean civilization. The East largely remained the same. The Byzantines did not feel any special inclination toward the practical application of theoretical ideas. The people of Old Rus’, on the contrary, were quick at learning and innovating. Respect for tradition inevitably played a smaller role in a nascent culture than in a culture that had been born old.

Kati Parppei

The invasion of Napoleon’s troops all the way to Moscow in 1812 has been seen as a turning point that accelerated the development of nationalistic thinking in Russia, already burgeoning at the turn of the century. Depictions of the invasion, produced from 1812–1814 indicate that perceptions of the collective past were in a state of both fermentation and formation, together with questions of Russia’s geopolitical position. The authors were leaning simultaneously on the eighteenth-century image of enlightened, imperial and European Russia, and the medieval ideas of religion as the dividing line between “us” and “them.”

Alexandra Vukovich

The central question in the comparative history Rus has been its differential development vis-à-vis its western neighbours and the meaning and reasons for this difference. The recent publication by Donald Ostrowski, Europe, Byzantium, and the “Intellectual Silence” of Rus’ Culture, is a further contribution to this debate that revisits the reasons for a differential development between Rus and medieval Europe, focussing on the intellectual contributions of the Eastern Christian Church and Latin Church to their respective spheres of influence. Ostrowski’s book, along with other analogous studies, produces a regime of knowledge that shapes information about the intellectual history of Rus as diametrically opposed to that of medieval Europe. A postcolonial critique of the treatment of information about the emergence of Rus questions some of the ideas (or yardsticks) (re)produced here and suggests new critical ways to approach the study of early Rus.

Lars T. Lih


This essay disputes the traditional view of Lenin’s April Theses as radical, pitting him against his own party shortly after his arrival in Petrograd. Instead, Bolsheviks before and after Lenin’s arrival in 1917 remained true to the party’s class scenario of revolution embodied in the slogan, “All Power to the Soviets.”

Guest Editor’s Introduction

On New Approaches to the Opposition to Stalin, Papers from the University of Texas Symposium, February 2016

Alexis Pogorelskin


The introduction describes the origins of a scholarly collaboration that has led to the articles that follow. The purpose of this issue of Canadian-American Slavic Studies is to address critical issues in Soviet politics of the 1920s, to offer new perspectives on those issues, and to showcase work in progress. The introduction also provides an overview of the contributions.

“Love Live Comrade Trotskii!”

The Discourse on the Intra-Party Opposition in the Documents of the OGPU

Irina Takala


В статье анализируется дискурс внутрипартийной оппозиции в документах органов безопасности 1924–1929 гг. (обзоры ОГПУ и сводки ГПУ Карелии). Автор приходит к выводу, что тема внутрипартийной оппозиции при наблюдении за политическим состоянием общества даже в разгар борьбы за власть была для ОГПУ и верховного руководства страны периферийной, в отличие от остальных. Документы свидетельствуют о слабости, разобщённости и малой активности внутрипартийной оппозиции на местах и ещё более слабом понимании в обществе происходящих в партии событий. Вместе с тем прослеживающиеся в документах коннотативные изменения слов «оппозиция» и «троцкизм» позволили применять их к 1930-м годам уже ко всем слоям населения и использовать при подготовке общества к Большому террору.

NEP’s Last Stand

Mikhail Tomsky and the Eighth Trade Union Congress

Charters Wynn


Forced collectivization and breakneck industrialization, with all their attendant hardships and suffering, as well as the brutal terror that followed, could have been prevented if the defenders of NEP within the Party leadership had been able to block Joseph Stalin and his supporters’ drive to power. In mid-1928, when Stalin was gaining the advantage over those soon to be labeled Right Deviationists, he considered Mikhail Tomsky and the trade unions the major obstacles to his plans to abandon NEP and push forward with forced collectivization and breakneck industrialization. The final showdown between the Stalinists and trade-union leadership occurred at the 8th Trade Union Congress, which met in December 1928. The broad outline of Tomsky’s defeat at the congress has long been known, but this episode remains largely unexplored. Examining how Stalin outmaneuvered Tomsky during 1928, and whether the trade unionists went down without a fight at the congress, is the focus of this article.

Regionalism or Clientelism?

Explaining the Zinoviev-Leningrad Opposition of 1925

Clayton Black


This article examines the Leningrad Opposition of 1925 not so much as a regionally based schism in the party opposed to Stalin’s increasing monopoly of power, but rather as a cohesive expression of the city’s frustration with NEP and the economic hardships it imposed on the most industrialized city in the Soviet Union in the first seven years of Soviet power. Contrary to Western historiography on the Opposition, Zinoviev did not so much lead as align with the city’s leaders.

Alexander Reznik


In 1923–1924 the Bolshevik Party experienced political conflict that took the form of a public confrontation between two trends related to issues of intra-party practice and economic policies. This essay examines the Left Opposition in the Bolshevik party, which is widely known as the Trotskyist Opposition; yet was not a unified faction led by Lev Trotsky, but a heterogeneous and informal movement in support of democratic reform in the party. The problem of party, government, and economic leadership led to friction and then a split in the party in 1926–1928. The majority of the Central Committee and the Opposition became the ideological and organizational core of the trends which combined into stable or situational coalitions.

Clayton Black


This article offers a brief tribute to the life and career of Sergei Viktorovich Yarov, whose works pioneered new avenues of research in the history of workers, popular mentalities, and the city of Leningrad, especially during the Siege. It provides an assessment of his key works, especially his monographs, and his role in the development of the historical discipline in Russia before and after the fall of the Soviet Union.

“Under Seven Seals”

New Perspectives on Lenin’s Testament

Alexis Pogorelskin


Biographies of Stalin in the past decade and a half have focused renewed attention on the document known as Lenin’s Testament in which the Bolshevik founder assessed six colleagues and, in an addendum, called for Stalin’s replacement as General-Secretary of the party. Russian scholar Valentine Sakharov argues in contrast that the document is the invention of Trotskyists concocted after the Twelfth Party Congress. This essay examines the new research on the Testament and offers its own interpretation of the document’s origins and motivation.

Barbara C. Allen


While Vladimir Lenin found it necessary to depend upon and support technical and managerial specialists who had been trained in pre-revolutionary educational institutions, the Bolsheviks were never comfortable with this dependency. Under Iosif Stalin, the specialists were vilified, persecuted, marginalized, and eventually replaced by highly specialized technical personnel trained in Soviet educational institutions. This article examines the attitudes toward specialists held by leading members of the Workers’ Opposition, a group of communist trade union leaders who promoted the economic management role of workers through their trade unions. In Western secondary literature, the stance of the Workers’ Opposition toward specialists is sometimes misunderstood or oversimplified. In correcting such errors, I will show that Stalin’s motivations for repression directed against engineers and technicians during the First Five-Year Plan should be sought elsewhere than in the attempt to expand the role and prominence of workers in the party bureaucracy and industrial administration of the new Soviet state.

Сионистские Организации в Воронеже

По материалам архивно – следственных дел ОГПУ конца 1920-х начала 1930-х годов

Виктор Викторович Бахтин


В статье на основе материалов архивно-следственных дел анализируется деятельность сионисткой партии и Гашомер-Гациор в Воронеже. Архивно-следственные дела – особый исторический источник советского периода, в нем содержатся материалы социобиографического характера и документы судебного процесса. Сионисты отбывали ссылку в городе после их осуждения в различных регионах страны. Большинство из них были осуждены на Украине. Их аресты в Воронеже были следствием продолжавшейся в Советском Союзе борьбы с сионизмом. Так как они уже были репрессированы ранее органами ОГПУ. Их обвинили в создание нелегальных кассы взаимопомощи и библиотеки. Лидером сионистов был Давид Браиловский. Спецификой дела дела Гашомер-Гациор 1932 года стало обвинение Наума Бройтмана в организации «итальянской забастовки». Введение в научный оборот материалов архивно-следственных дел позволило сформулировать автору ряд выводов.

Tibor Valuch

The main aim of the research project, that also includes this paper, is the investigation of the social history of Hungarian factory workers from the late nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth century in the case of Ózd, a small industrial city in northeast Hungary. For the purpose of this research the author uses not only the traditional historical and statistical sources and methods, but family history, personal history, and life story approaches too. The basic sources of the research are the registers of births, marriages, and deaths, and various kinds of family history and life story interviews. From this material, the author reconstructs a multigenerational worker family life story. Families were one of the determining groups of the Hungarian working class in the nineteenth and twentieth century. The major questions of the research and paper are the following: How is it possible to reconstruct the life stories of ordinary families and people? How can this reconstruction help us gain a deeper insight into the stratification and the internal power/hierarchical structures of the factory and local society? The first part of the study is an outline of the history of the factory and the settlement. The second part reconstructs and analyzes a typical multigenerational family history as a case study. Finally, the article investigates the process of socialization of multigenerational worker families. Through this analysis the author introduces and characterizes the main elements of the value system and the most typical patterns of social behavior of this section of Hungarian workers from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.

The Birth of the Militant Self

Working-Class Memoirs of Late Russian Poland

Wiktor Marzec

The 1905 Revolution was often considered by workers writing memoirs as the most important event in their lives. This paper examines biographical reminiscences of the political participation of working-class militants in the 1905 Revolution. I scrutinize four tropes used by working-class writers to describe their life stories narrated around their political identity. These are: (1) overcoming misery and destitution, (2) autodidacticism, (3) political initiation, and (4) feeling of belonging to the community of equals. All four demonstrate that the militant self cannot be understood in separation from the life context of the mobilized workers. Participation in party politics was an important factor modifying the life course of workers in the direction resonating with their aspirations and longings. The argument is informed by analysis of over a hundred of biographical testimonies written by militants from various political parties in different political circumstances.

Adam Kożuchowski

This paper addresses the intersection of moral condemnation, national antagonism, and civilizational critique in the images of the Teutonic Order as presented in Polish historical discourse since the early nineteenth century, with references to their medieval and early modern origins. For more than 150 years, the Order played the role of the archenemy in the historical imagination of Poles. This image is typically considered an element of the anti-German sentiment, fueled by modern nationalism. In this paper I argue that the scale and nature of the demonization of the Teutonic Knights in Polish historiography is more complex, and should be interpreted in the contexts of pre-modern religious rhetoric on the one hand, and the critique of Western civilization from a peripheral or semi-colonial point of view on the other. The durability and flexibility of the black legend of the Order, born in the late Middle Ages, and adapted by Romantic, modern nationalist, and communist historians, makes it a unique phenomenon, surpassing the framework of modern nationalism. It is the modern anti-German stereotype that owes much to this legend, rather than the other way around.

Natalia Koulinka

The coal miners’ strikes of 1989 and 1991 in the ussr have received significant attention from scholars in the country and abroad that peaked in the 1990s. Drawing on the existing scholarship, I argue that our understanding of the strikes remains incomplete unless we consider these events in their proper discursive contexts, which were different for the two waves of strikes. I explore the All-Union daily, Izvestiia, and weekly, Literaturnaia Gazeta, as well as a Belorussian daily, Sovetskaia Belorussiia, in order to restore the discursive contexts and apply them as a tool to explain the miners’ contradictory demands. From this contextualization, the wave of 1989 strikes emerges as a proto-class struggle played out within the peculiar sociopolitical conditions of Soviet society; while the strikes of 1991 appear as a result of the classical merging of the workers’ movement with that of intellectuals and politicians, who at that time aligned themselves with neoliberal ideals.

Jakub Štofaník

The article focuses on the role of religion among working-class inhabitants of two industrial towns in the Czech lands, Ostrava and Kladno, during the first half of twentieth century. It analyses the enormous conversion movement, the position of new actors of religious life, and the religious behavior of workers. Looking at the history of the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century, the study understands religion as one of the constituent factors of society and its historic change. Traditional, new, and nonconformist religious actors appear as active agents in the private and public life of industrial towns. They mobilized workers, young people, and women, and they produced the major arena in which social, cultural, and church history come together.

Veronika Pehe

Based on an oral history project that interviewed one hundred former Czech students active during the “Velvet Revolution” of 1989, this study investigates a motif that emerged particularly strongly among respondents. Many evinced positive memories of the perceived unrestrained freedom of the 1990s, here termed “transformation nostalgia.” The study traces the object of positive memories expressed by narrators in the context of their awareness of the increasingly critical public reception of the post-socialist democratic transformation in the Czech Republic and argues they employ two main narrative strategies: extricating their personal experience from wider political developments and performing a form of “self-criticism” in relation to false hopes placed in the political solutions of the time. The article thus aims to contribute to the ongoing process of the historicization of the 1990s and the democratic transformations in the former Eastern Bloc by examining the memories of this decade expressed by members of the generation that came of age and entered adulthood just as the socialist regime collapsed.

Women’s Industrial Labor in Hungary

An Overview of Main Tendencies and Turning Points from the End of the Nineteenth Century

Judit Acsády

This study is a part of the RE-WORK research project at the Centre for Social Science of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and it contributes to the initiative to create a social history overview of Hungarian industrial labor since the last decades of the nineteenth century. Women workers in Hungary have been part of the labor force ever since the beginning of industrialization, and yet they have mostly formed a distinct and in certain ways segregated group of industrial laborers. Based on statistical data, a review of secondary literature, and pointing at some original sources, the study provides an overview of the main characteristics and the tendencies as well as the most relevant features of women’s employment in industry in Hungary.

Alexander Lukin and Pavel Lukin

The article analyzes post-Soviet economic policy in the light of the previous periods of the Russian economic history. The authors find a striking similarity between the measures proposed by modern Russian economic liberals – as well as their consequences – and the actions taken by the Russian authorities during much earlier periods. They explain these similarities with the fact that “Western” terms can mean something very different in the context of a non-Western culture, phenomena and institutions with the same names in different types of societies can differ fundamentally and perform different functions. Furthermore, “Westernization” can be a purely superficial process intended more for show than for substance.

By applying the methodology of substantivism which stresses the fundamental differences between economies based on gifts (reciprocity), redistribution, and exchange (market), they argue that Russia’s economy differs significantly from that of the countries of Western Europe and, in the typological sense, is closer to such European countries as Bulgaria, Albania, Romania, and Serbia. For this reason, similar measures of economic policy applied in Western Europe and Russia bring different results.

Elena Kochetkova

This article examines the nature of Soviet consumption and technological development through the history of milk and milk packaging between the 1950s and 1970s. Based on published and archival materials, the paper focuses on the role that milk played in Soviet nutrition and the role that packaging played in Soviet consumption. The article also examines the modernization of technology for making packaging as well as technology transfer from the West. It concludes that, as in many Western countries, both the Soviet state and Soviet specialists saw it as important to increase the consumption of milk after the war, but the meaning of milk changed. Milk, a basic staple for nutrition, became a matter of science and specialists sought to explain its positive effects. In addition, due to the development of the paper and chemical industries, new forms of milk packaging, more practical in their uses, were introduced in the West. Soviet leaders and specialists saw the new packaging as a desirable feature of modernity, but were unsuccessful in launching domestic technologies for manufacturing such packaging. While experimenting with domestic technology, Soviet producers also received foreign equipment for making milk packaging. Nevertheless, the capacity of such foreign equipment was not enough to satisfy growing demand and the consumption of “modern packaging” remained lower than in the West until the introduction of capitalism and, with it, foreign companies into the Russian market in the 1990s.

Rustam Alexander

Drawing on fresh archival sources – a type-written appeal submission launched by a Soviet advocate in a move to overturn his client’s sodomy conviction in 1969, and a handbook for advocates with guidelines on how to defend individuals accused of sodomy, published in 1977 – this article will shed new light on how sodomy cases were handled by the police under Brezhnev and how advocates sought to overturn sentences in these cases. The article will demonstrate that quashing sodomy convictions on appeal was a challenging task for Soviet advocates. It will also seek answers to the following questions: What arguments did Soviet advocates use to defend their clients in sodomy cases? What were the authorities’ responses to these arguments? And what challenges did investigators face when dealing with those accused of sodomy?

Boris N. Mironov

After the Great Reforms of the 1860s – 1870s the Russian government embarked on the construction of a modern nation-state and was faced with the need to unify all parts of the empire administratively, culturally, legally, and socially. The new ethno-confessional policy in Russian historiography is often called Russification because the order established after the Great Reforms in the Great Russian provinces served as a model for the transformation of all parts of the empire. The Russification policy included many aspects, including Russifying [obrusenie] - the introduction of the Russian language as obligatory in the record keeping of public institutions, in court and administration, in education and everyday life. While the policy of Russifying has found ample reflection in the historiography, its results have been insufficiently studied. The purpose of this article is to fill this gap and to try to assess the process of Russifying ethnic minorities at the imperial level, drawing upon the first general census of the Russian Empire in 1897. The analysis has led to the conclusion that the policy of Russifying did not provide the expected results.

Teresa Cierco


Albania began the democratic transformation process in 1991 with a heavy post-communist legacy. Since then, it has continued to experience many difficulties in its path towards democracy, especially in relation to two critical issues: respect for the rule of law and corruption. Following the theories of transition, this paper analyses important pillars of the rule of law: horizontal accountability, effective and legitimate institutions of governance, and transparent public administration, in order to understand why it is so difficult to establish the rule of law in Albania. This paper aims to bring to focus Albania’s democratization process by looking at the institutionalization of political society. Based on the assumption that corruption is tied up with the issue of governance, we try to show how endemic corruption in the state apparatus undermines the basis of the rule of law in Albania by eroding state capacity, civil society and legal culture.

‘Gutullae sanguinis Iagellonici’

Jagiellonian Identity among the Princes of Poland-Lithuania in the Early Modern Period

Jakub Rogulski


In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and (after 1569) the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth there lived many princely families who originated (or were supposed to have originated) from the House of Gediminas, the Gediminids. Their descent from this house linked them with the Jagiellonians, who were also Gediminids and who had become the powerful royal dynasty in Poland and Lithuania until 1572 (and other European countries). Using written and visual evidence from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, this article argues that real and claimed Jagiellonian descent played a crucial role in the social and political lives of many prominent Lithuanian princely families. Consequently, the princes sought to commemorate their relationship with the dynasty by exploiting forms both of “memory storage” (that is to say documents, genealogies or panegyrics that presented irrefutable information about their Jagiellonian kinship links), and “functional memory” (which included family symbols strongly identified with the Jagiellonians). In this way the princes created their identity as members of the “royal kin of Lithuanian princes” and presented themselves as the junior collateral of the powerful dynasty. This image of the origins of these princely families was in turn transmitted to the future generations, reinforcing their collective identity and their sense of status, and promoting variously their political ambitions.

Tatiana I. Afanasyeva


This study examines the history of an ancient Russian service book (sluzhebnik) dating from the first half of the fourteenth century, which was divided into two parts in the early nineteenth century. One of the two parts was purchased by the well-known Russian collector Alexander Sulakadzev and is currently held by the Manuscript Library of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland (USA). The other part was acquired by the Imperial Public Library in St. Petersburg (currently, the National Library of Russia) no later than the 1830s. Judging by the surviving inventories, Sulakadzev acquired the service book for his collection in 1816 at the earliest. While in his possession, Sulakadzev added several false notes to the sluzhebnik attempting to pass it off as a manuscript known to have been in Tmutarakan in 1079; other false handwritten notes in the service book were intended to imply that it had belonged to several famous Russian historical figures. This article corrects some errors made in earlier publications about the manuscript and establishes that Sulakadzev pasted into the service book a miniature of much later origin (which, however, has not survived). The article presents a reconstruction of the contents of the original sluzhebnik, including descriptions of both its parts.

Анастасия Анатольевна Мещенина and Роман Александрович Соколов


Существовавшее с древних времен церковное почитание политического и военного деятеля XIII в. Александра Невского в эпоху реформ Петра Великого оказалось включенным в общую идеологию провозглашенной Российской империи. Обстоятельства переноса мощей князя в новую столицу страны – Санкт-Петербург (1723–1724) – дают основания утверждать, что император пытался придать святому статус покровителя вновь создаваемого русского флота. Установление нового канона иконописного изображения Александра было обусловлено решением государственной власти, но для этого имелись некоторые предпосылки объективного свойства. Временный отказ от нового порядка празднования памяти святого был связан исключительно с правлением Петра II (1727–1730), поскольку у него это вызывало ассоциации с гибелью отца – царевича Алексея. Возврат к установленной Петром I практике празднования, произошел уже при Анне Иоанновне (1730–1740) и в дальнейшем укреплялся вплоть до 1917 г. В новейших научных исследованиях преувеличивается значимость идеологической составляющей толкования политики Александра Невского в исторических трудах М.В. Ломоносова. Анализ содержания показывает, что рассмотрение деятельности князя в этих работах ученого не выделялость чем-то особенным и не имело, в частности, антишведской направленности. В то же время, в художественных и литературных произведениях М.В. Ломоносов, действительно, использовал сравнения древнерусского князя с Петром I, что, безусловно, вписывалось в идеологию Российской империи елизаветинской эпохи.

Денис А. Ляпин


Эта статья посвящена «Первому посланию Ивана Грозного Андрею Курбскому» в контексте политической борьбы в России в середине XVII в. В это время происходили важные политические дискуссии о пределах царской власти, некоторые аристократы хотели ограничить влияние монарха, но простой народ был против этого. 2 июня 1648 г. в Москве начались народные волнения против правительства в поддержку сильной власти царя. 10 июня мятежники подали царю Алексею Михайловичу челобитную. В этом документе они излагали свои взгляды на высшую власть и использовали текстовые и идейные заимствования из пространной редакции «Первого послания Ивана Грозного».

Conflicting Interests in the Comecon Integration

State Socialist Debates on East-West-South Relations

Tamás Gerőcs and András Pinkasz

In our analysis of Comecon’s role in the capitalist world system, we gauge its member nations’ joint and individual opportunities to take advantage of global processes of modernization and describe the systemic contradictions that hampered their efforts to integrate themselves into a common market. We examine the developmental history of the Comecon countries through the lens of semiperipheral dependent development, that is, from the perspective that these countries’ relative positions in the international division of labor limited their access to advanced technology and external financing. In the course of the economic reforms of the 1960s, authorities in the Comecon countries attempted to reduce their dependence on the world system by means of complementary specialization. Regionally dominant world economic forces, however, both obstructed the evolution of this cooperative system and intensified the economic competition among Comecon’s member states.

Vlad Pașca

The article explores the main features of cooperation between economic experts during the pre-csce (Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe) period (1947–1975) under the aegis of the most comprehensive all-European organization of the period, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (unece). At scientific and policy levels, contacts and exchanges between socialist and capitalist economic experts were circumscribed by common priorities and challenges faced by the unece staff and governments from both sides of the Iron Curtain. The article presents four types of activities pertaining to East-West cooperation: international conferences, training programs, institutionalized consultations (under the Committee for Trade Development and the group of Senior Economic Advisers to the unece Governments), and direct collaboration with the unece Secretariat and its subsidiary bodies. The contribution focuses on the institutional aspects of the socialist economic experts’ participation in the unece’s cooperative framework and the pan-European epistemic community. The study argues that the unece’s efforts towards détente also took into account community-building in the fields of economics, development of trade, and harmonization of policy-making from a transnational, all-European perspective.

Gabriela Nicolescu

This article discusses the meeting point of two political systems with their distinctive value imprints on individuals’ everyday lives. It focuses on two stories of care, aesthetics and labor of Romanian women before the fall of the socialist regimes in Eastern Europe and in the first two decades after 1989. The first account comes from an expert, the head of the Union of National Cooperatives of Production (ucecom) during socialist Romania, the main producer of artizanat objects for export. She tells the story of the benefits of employment in state factories for women, and how socialist products were sold for Western markets in the 1970s and 1980s. The second account is of a former Romanian factory worker who after 1989 quit her job in Romania when state socialist factories were about to collapse and became a healthcare worker in Italy, for a larger salary and more stable employment. This second ethnographic example discusses migration for caregiver jobs in Italy as the transborder continuity of autonomy and employment practices that survived socialism. It is also a form of downward migration, where former state socialist professionals are paid as unskilled migrant workers. This article emphasizes the persistence of socialism in post-1989 practices and values embodied by people’s work habits not only in Eastern and Central Europe, but in unexpected places, such as southern Italy. This article applies the idea of “tactical socialism” as a strategy derived from a close analysis of work practices, with their positive accomplished effects, in contexts where jobs are distributed by the state and citizens feel protected.

Corina Doboș

Population dynamics became a key variable of the developmentalist rhetoric during the postwar era. The World Population Conference (wpc) in Bucharest (1974) was marked by open disagreements regarding the interpretation of the relationship between the ‘Third World’s’ underdevelopment and its overpopulation. The main outcome of the wpc 1974, the World Population Plan of Action (wppa) was the product of negotiations and compromises reached by the parties involved. The study deals with the role that the Romanian representatives at wpc 1974 played in the creation of wppa’s final version. The organization of the wpc in Bucharest gave the Romanian delegation a privileged position. The study contextualizes its contribution to the wppa within the particular conditions of population expertise’s emergence in postwar Romania. The study investigates previously unexplored archival fonds (the Archive of Romanian Ministry for Foreign Affairs) and brings into play unknown details of the maneuvers by various actors during the Bucharest conference. The Romanian version of the story adds nuance to the general narrative on the wpc’s outcomes, which presumes a strict separation between the domains of expertise and politics. The article argues that the Romanians’ alternative interpretations of the wppa were not only the result of the political control and ideological conformity, but also an expression of the particular way in which the field of population expertise developed in twentieth-century Romania.

Neil Davidson

The article begins by reconstructing the theory of uneven and combined development from Trotsky’s own writings in relation to Russia. It then looks more closely at the notion of the “modern” which in Trotsky’s account combines with the “archaic” or “backward,” before arguing that role of modernity suggests that uneven and combined development has been a far more widespread process than solely in the Third World/Global South. Drawing attention first to the English exception, the article then surveys examples from both West and East before concluding with an assessment of the relative durability of both permanent revolution and uneven development in the twenty-first century.