Under the USSR, Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics were formed for the larger non-Russian ethnic minorities.
There are 16 autonomous republics, 5 autonomous regions and 10 autonomous districts.
When the USSR broke up, these remained part of the Russian Federation. Although Russia promised considerable autonomy, several ASSRs declared independence and sovereignty after 1990 and made it difficult to set up the new Federation.
Republics of the Russian Federation:
Bashkir Republic (Bashkortostan)
The Bashkirs remained on the edge of the Muscovite expansion during the C16th but the area was under Russian control by the mid C17th.
This gas-rich region near the border with Kazahkstan declared sovereignty after 1990.
Area on the shores of Lake Bakal.
This autonomous republic is in southern Russia on the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains. The population is 53% Chechen and 12% Ingush. It was conquered by Russia in the 1850s and has a large oilfield. In October 1991, it declared independence but unlike many of the USSR's Asian republics, was not allowed to secede. Moscow sent in armed forces to try to put down the rebellion but failed to do so and agreed to negotiations over the future of the republic. With Tartarstan, it refused to join the federal treaty signed by 18 of Russia's 20 main political sub-divisions and clashes between those for and against separation forced the republic's parliament to declare a state of emergency. The struggle for independence continues and the recent killing of Western hostages has drawn international attention.
The Chuvashi territories were acquired by Russia in 1552.
This area on the border with Georgia remained outside the Russian Empire when the areas south of it (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan) came under Russian control during the early C19th.
Area in the Caucasus bordering Georgia.
The Kalmyks or Kalmuks, inland from the Caspian sea, north of the Caucasus came under Russian control in the C17th.
Kara Kalpak Republic
This region is between the Aral sea to the north and the new state of Turkmenistan to the south.
Karelia was a former independent Finnish state which came under Swedish rule in the C17th. When it was annexed by Russia in 1721, the greater part of it remained in Finland but was ceded to Russia in 1944. Part of it is still within Finland, as the province of Pohjois-Karjalan lääni (North Carelia) with an area of about 8 331 sq feet and a population of 176 800 but most of it is part of Russia.
This area north of Russia was part of the territory of the city-republic of Novgorod until it was annexed by the Muscovite Tsar, Ivan III.
This region east of the Volga came under the control of Muscovy in 1489
Mordovian Republic (Mordvinia)
Mordva remained outside the borders of Kievan Russia but was acquired by expanding Muscovy during the C16th.
North Ossetian Republic (Ossetia)
The northern part of Ossetia is part of the Russian Federation whilst the southern part is inside the Georgian border. It was acquired by Tsarist Russia in the early C19th.
Tatar Republic (Tatarstan)
The Tartars or Tatars are descended from the mixed Mongol and Turkic followers of Genghis Khan which invaded many regions of Asia in the C13th and are the largest ethnic minority in Russia. There are now about 5 million speakers of the Tartar language which belongs to the Turkic branch of the Altaic family. They live mainly in the autonomous Russian republics of Tartarstan, West Siberia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, to which they were deported from the Crimea in 1944. They are mostly Muslim but some have converted to the Russian Orthodox Church.
Modern Tartarstan was a territory of the Volga-Kama Bulgar state from the C10th, when Islam was intoduced. It was conquered by the Mongols in 1236 and became the capital of the powerful Khanate of Kazan until the large Tartar state was conquered by Russia in 1552. After the Russian revolution, it became an autonomous republic in 1920 and is now an industrial and oil-producing area.
There have been moves towards increased autonomy and in 1990, its assembly gave Tatarstan full republic status and proclaimed its economic and political sovereignty, supported by popular demonstrations. It refused to take part in the Russian presidential election of 1991 and would not join the federal treaty signed by 18 of Russia's 20 main political sub-divisions. In 1992, a referendum voted in favour of being a sovereign state within Russia.
Region bordering Mongolia.
Region north of Yekaterinburg which came under Muscovite control during the C16th.
Yakut Republic (Yakutia, Sakha)
This large, thinly populated Siberian republic declared sovereignty after 1990.
Autonomous Districts under the USSR
This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.
Copies may be made for personal use only.
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