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The flag of Chuvashia

Chuvash nationalism or the Chuvash national movement (Chuvash: Чӑваш наци юмӑхӗ) is the belief that the Chuvash people constitute a nation, as well as the fight among the Chuvash people for equality. Spontaneous elements of Chuvash nationalism were manifested, starting from the 16th century, in various forms of social performances. Evasion of taxes and duties, local armed actions of local importance, submission of petitions to the authorities, withdrawal to regions weakly controlled by the state, participation in large-scale anti-government protests, persistent resistance to mass Christianization (see O. Tomeev, Razin's Rebellion, Pugachev's Rebellion, Commission of Lieutenant Colonel A. I. Svechin, Shoorcha rebellion) were evidence of the protest potential of the ethnos.[1]

The beginning of unity of the Chuvash people

Deputies of the Second State Duma from Kazan Governorate
Standing: Grigory Petrukhin, Aleksandr Fyodorov, Sadri Maksudi Arsal, Gumer Musin;
sitting: Zinoviy Talantsev, Mikhail Baturov, Mikhil Kapustin, Dmitry Kushnikov Safiulla Maksyutov

The reforms of Alexander II and related socio-economic, political and spiritual transformations opened a new era in the history of the peoples of the Volga region. A significant factor in the national mobilization of the Chuvash people was the liberalization of social and political life associated with the expansion of citizens, both in the legal and educational spheres. Nikolay Ilminsky, Nikolai Zolotnitsky, Ivan Yakovlev, Ilya Ulyanov, Simbirsk Chuvash school played an important role in the development of school business and culture among the Chuvash population. Socio-economic shifts and changes in the second half of the 19th century were reflected in the public consciousness. They prepared the ideological basis for the emergence of Chuvash nationalism, the formulation of its slogans, political interests, and demands.

At the turn of the 19th century, the Chuvash people consolidated themselves. Unifying them was the Chuvash language, which has grown to a single literary language, professional culture, and the emergence of national intelligentsia. Language and culture, the commonality of the Chuvash nation, was supported by the compact residence of most people in the common territory. By the end of the 19th century, there was a final formation and stabilization of the configuration of the ethnic territory of the Chuvash (7 adjacent counties of Kazan and Simbirsk Governorates), where 78% of the Chuvash lived—based on ethnoconsolidation processes and the growth of consciousness among the Chuvash in the early 20th century marked the beginnings of an organized Chuvash nationalism movement.

In the first decade of the 20th century, the national movement of the Chuvash people moved from an early phase characterized by the emergence of national educators, Patriotic figures of education and culture, who were engaged in the study of the language, history, and culture of the people, to a second phase, involving the spread of self-consciousness among Chuvash. The third phase of Chuvash nationalism ended with a mass movement with open political slogans and a network of national organizations formed for ethnic emancipation in 1917.

Chuvash nationalism in the 1905 revolution

The peoples of the Volga region national movement was accelerated by the Russian Revolution of 1905, which intertwined socio-political, economic, and national contradictions and conflicts. The ideas of national rise were, first of all carried by the young Chuvash intelligentsia, represented by teachers, priests, and lawyers. Many were pupils of the Simbirsk Chuvash teacher's school but could not be satisfied with the goals and objectives that Ivan Yakovlev set at the time. The vast majority of representatives of the Chuvash intelligentsia shared the ideas of the SR party, which had the strongest influence on the Chuvash population of all revolutionary movements in the Volga region—the ideology and leadership of Chuvash nationalism formed in this environment. The Chuvash social revolutionaries demanded national and cultural autonomy. Publication of the newspaper "Khypar" (January 1906) contributed to the unity of the avant-garde forces of the nation, understanding the ways of the social and cultural revival of the people. The newspaper "Khypar" stood at the origins of national journalism, which testified to a significant shift in Chuvash social thought, the range of which has expanded from educational to socio-political, state-legal views. The newspaper played a role in the state Duma elections. Parliamentarians from Chuvashia (Y.A. Abramov, N. P. Efremov, D. A. Kushnikov, K. V. Lavrsky, I. I. Sokolov, Z. M. Talantsev, A. F. Fedorov), regardless of party affiliation, spoke in their parliamentary activities for the development of education, in defense of national equality.

During the revolution of 1905–07 the movement turned Chuvash peasants, in which the agrarian question was put forward with socio-political and national demands – civil rights and freedoms, equality of languages, schooling in their native language, the election of judges by the local population, the use of the Chuvash language in the proceedings, the formation of local management taking into account the national composition of the population, etc. In 1905–07, new forces in the face of youth and political radicals entered the arena of Chuvash social life, supplementing the concept of national unification based on comprehensive education and culture with an emphasis on the growth of political consciousness, the class struggle for the social liberation of the Chuvash people. Qualitative changes occurred in the Chuvash socio-political thought, which based on enlightenment and liberal ideas, had a General tendency to form a national ideology, and did not go beyond the requirement of cultural and national autonomy. The idea of territorial autonomy was expressed only by some figures of Chuvash culture (I. N. Yurkin, G. A. Korenkov).

After the February Revolution

The development of Chuvash nationalism after the February Revolution of 1917 initially went within the framework of multiethnic territorial bodies of the peoples of the Volga-Kama region, developed a common form of organization-society (then the Union of small nationalities of the Volga region) and congresses of small nationalities of the Volga region. The first national Chuvash associations began to emerge in the spring of 1917: on 27 March, the Ufa Chuvash national society was created under the chairmanship Of G. I. Komissarov; by the summer, a network of Chuvash national organizations was formed, which included not only provincial but also County and rural ones.

The national upsurge was, in its way, transformed in Church life. A number of clergymen became active figures of Chuvash nationalism (P. P. Shlenkin, D. F. Filimonov, T. A. Zemlyanitsky, G. T. Tikhonov, A. S. Ivanov, K. P. Prokopiev, etc.). As the main requirements they put forward: the appointment of Chuvash priests to Chuvash parishes, the introduction of the native language into Church worship, the establishment of the post of Chuvash Bishop.

Revived on 1 May 1917, Khypar became a mouthpiece of Chuvash nationalism, calling for the unity of all Chuvash.

A distinctive feature of the post-February period was the radical democratization of existing and the emergence of new political institutions in the nation. they were inevitably filled with ethnic content. Chuvash people were elected as chairmen of the Civil, Cheboksary, and Yadrin Zemstvo councils for the first time in history. There were alternative forms of mass participation of the Chuvash population in social and political life-councils of deputies, peasant congresses and unions, and soldiers—organizations, etc.

The most clearly national specificity was manifested in the activities of the County peasant congresses, which raised and discussed the issues of national self-determination of peoples and Russia's administrative and territorial structure. Nationally oriented were the associations of Chuvash servicemen (Chuvash military committees and fellow countrymen), in their midst, a new generation of political leaders was emerging (A. D. Krasnov, D. P. Petrov, G. T. Titov, etc.). The diversity of forms of Cuvash nationalism after the February Revolution reflected other public associations, such as teachers ' unions, the Union of Chuvash students, etc. They did not set themselves a program of national and political goals but formed a social space for the development of social and civic initiatives of Chuvash society.

February 1917 sharply stimulated multipartyism, bringing to the fore the liberal and socialist parties, which in their programs, inevitably had to articulate clearly the vision and ways of solving national problems. Political parties, except the black hundreds, operating in the Chuvash region, put forward a demand for autonomy within the Russian state, transformed into a democratic or Federal. The leaders of the socialist revolutionaries, as the program goals of the party in the summer of 1917, put forward the slogans of the democratic Republic with the prospect of transformation into a Federal state with the onset of appropriate socio-political conditions, national-cultural autonomy for the Chuvash, proportional-national representation in elected authorities.

The strategy of the national rise and ideological platform of the Chuvash national movement was adopted at the All-Chuvash National Forum in June 1917 in Simbirsk, which elected the members of the Chuvash National Society.

After the October Revolution

The overthrow of the Russian Republic and the transfer of power into the hands of a coalition of Bolsheviks and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries in October 1917 created a new configuration of political forces in the country. The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic proclaimed in its decrees the de jure right of the peoples of Russia to free self-determination until the formation of an independent state.

Largely under the influence of this circumstance, at the end of 1917, the national leaders of the Tatars and Bashkirs put forward a plan for regional autonomy of the Middle Volga region and the Urals (Volga-Ural state, Ural-Volga state, middle Volga and South Ural state, Volga-Kama state, Volga-Ural Soviet Republic or Tatar-Bashkir Soviet Republic).

In the discussions about its creation, the main requirements of the Chuvash representatives attended the equality and sovereignty of all its Nations and all national-cultural autonomy; the generated state was seen as an inseparable part of Russia, and internal administrative unit as "regiona (regional) Federal Republic of nationalities". The final position in the disputes about the Tatar-Bashkir Soviet Republic was expressed at the all-Chuvash workers 'and peasants' Congress (June 1918), which opposed the inclusion of the Chuvash population.

Between February and March 1918, there was a split in the Chuvash national movement between left- and right-wing groups, ultimately ending in a leftist victory. The leftists included the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Chuvash Socialist-Nationalist Party, and nonpartisan soldiers, teachers, and students who supported the Bolsheviks. Members of the left bloc seized the property of the newspaper's editorial office, "Khypar" from the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, and started publishing a new printing body, "Kanash". On 5 March the Chuvash left socialist Committee was formed, and on its initiative, the Commissariat for Chuvash Affairs under the Kazan Provincial Council was opened.

The final disengagement among Chuvash nationalist leaders occurred in the summer of 1918, when a large group of national figures, Chuvash delegates of the Constituent Assembly (G. F. Alunov, S. N. Nikolaev, D. P. Petrov, G. T. Titov, I. V. Vasiliev) moved to the anti-Soviet camp. However, the movement continued its organizational formalization in the form of Soviet-party organizations. In 1918–19 in Kazan, Simbirsk, Samar. and Saratov provinces arose Chuvash sub-departments in the provincial departments of the Executive committees of the Soviets, created the corresponding section at the provincial committees of the RCP(b); the Chuvash sub-divisions (sections) also operated under the political departments of the red Army headquarters and revolutionary military councils. The Central Soviet institution was the Chuvash Department under the People's Commissariat for Nationalities of the RSFSR headed by D. S. Elmen.

Chuvash autonomy

Since the 2nd Polina of 1918, Chuvash nationalist leaders began to lean towards the idea of national-territorial autonomy-the creation of the Chuvash administrative-territorial unit. The project of the formation of the Chuvash labor commune is documented. The idea of organizing a separate national-territorial unit for the Chuvash people was embodied in the creation of the Chuvash Autonomous region with its subsequent transformation into the Chuvash ASSR.

There was a network of national educational institutions in Bashkiria, Tatarstan, Simbirsk, Samara, and other provinces. Chuvash newspapers were produced in Samara and Kazan. For Chuvash residents throughout the Soviet Union, the Chuvash-language Voice of Workers newspaper was published in Moscow. In Bashkiria, Simbirsk province, Tatar ASSR, Saratov province, Kazakhstan, and Siberia were formed Chuvash national administrative-territorial units. In the 1920s, there was a network of Chuvash representations at the Central Party and Soviet bodies and institutions.

The abandonment of the New Economic Policy and Joseph Stalin's rise to power were accompanied by the curtailment of democratic processes in the sphere of national relations: the prevailing trend since the early 1930s has been towards unification. The national began to be interpreted as nationalistic and opposed to the international. The network of Chuvash representations in Moscow was liquidated, and the publication of the Central newspaper in the Chuvash language "Kommunar" was suspended. Under the banner of the fight against "nationalism" was a forgotten experience considering the interests of all ethno-territorial groups of Chuvashes. Official documents disappeared mention of the Chuvash compactly living outside the Republic, curtailing the processes of indigenization and implementation of the Chuvash language policy. In the mid-1960s, the theory of erasing national differences and merging nationalities into one "Soviet people" was proclaimed.


The situation in national relations began to change radically in the years of perestroika. Since the late 1980s, Chuvash nationalism has again risen to prominence. One of its organizational forms was the Coordination Center for Support of Creative Youth (CSCY) at the Chuvash regional Committee of the Komsomol, the decision to establish which was taken in April 1987. The CSCY comprised young writers, artists, actors, scientists, humanitarians, and students. Kctm events caused sharp discussions about the prospects of the poetic word, the tradition of the artistic and poetic avant-garde of the early 20th century, the status of the native language and the future of national cultures, the right of the nation to free political, economic and cultural development.

In the spring of 1988, a group of CHNII YALE and ChSU researchers took the initiative to create the Society of I. ya. Yakovlev, the program and Charter of the society as a people's social and political movement were developed. Among the goals and objectives proclaimed the moral and national revival of the society, the Association of national-cultural aspirations of all Chuvash people regardless of where they live, the sovereignty of the Chuvash Autonomous Republic in the sphere of economy, politics, and culture, the preservation and development of national traditions, giving Chuvash state language, study, and popularization of a heritage of I. Ya. Yakovlev and others. A discussion took place in the Republican mass media, on 30 November 1988 a broad meeting was held to discuss the program goals and objectives of The Yakovlev Society.

The initiative met with opposition from the Chuvash. the regional Committee of the CPSU, and scheduled for April 1989 constituent Congress was banned.


As an alternative, in December 1989, the founding Congress of the Chuvash Social and Cultural Center (ChSCC) was held, and the Chairman was elected M. N. Yukhma. In February and March, the Council of Ministers of the Chuvash ASSR approved the Charter and platform of the ChSCC. In March 1991, the founding congress of the Chuvash National Revival Party (Chuvash Atalanu Party, CHAP) was held, the program of which was aimed at achieving the economic and political sovereignty of Chuvashia. On 9 October 1992, the founding congress of the Chuvash National Congress (CNC) was held, the leitmotif of which was the implementation of state sovereignty in full. Atner Khoosanguy was elected as chairman of the PNP.

Since the late 1980s, there have been national and cultural associations of Chuvash in various regions of Russia, primarily in the Volga region (the republics of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, Ulyanovsk and Samara regions), where the largest mass of the Chuvash population lives relatively compactly outside the territory of Chuvashia. Different forms of Chuvash cultural organisations were created in Moscow and St. Petersburg, in the CIS countries (Kazakhstan, Moldova, Ukraine) and the Baltic States (Latvia, Estonia). After the Russian government adopted the Law On National-Cultural Autonomy in 1996, the Chuvash National-Cultural Autonomy (ChNCA) began to form. As of 2011, 85 Chuvash cultural organisations in Russia, including 25 national-cultural autonomies. In 2001, the Federal National-Cultural Autonomy of the Chuvash people of Russia was approved as an extraterritorial public-state entity.

Most Chuvash cultural organisations are engaged in cultural and educational activities, such as the creation of folklore groups, a celebration of traditional Chuvash holidays, the publication of newspapers, folklore, and history books, initiatives to support Chuvash education (including the study of the Chuvash language and literature), and the organization of Chuvash radio and television programs.

See also