While reading Kappeller’s article regarding what he called the “Multi-Ethnic Empire”, I began to realize how culturally and ethnically diverse Russia actually is compared to many other countries. Being so large, Russia encompasses many different regions and through the course of history has been invaded and controlled by several different cultures, adding to the already rich diversity in the country. By the 1800’s this led to Russia being populated by not only Russians, but also Poles, Tatars, Jews, Fins, Latvians, etc.
In Kappeller’s article we see evidence of a significant level of separation of the different ethnic groups in Russia; in a geographic sense, as well as a political and economical sense. Kappeller shows that for the most part, we see ethnic Russians holding positions of high class, power, and wealth where as many of the other groups were primarily lower class peasants and merchants. As I read all of this I was wondering how a country as large and diverse as Russia was able to govern itself effectively with all of these different cultures and how these different cultures affected the development of the country as a whole.
Clearly the answer to this question is far to complex to be answered in a few paragraphs, or even in an article like Kappeller’s, but I think that we can begin to see the answer just by looking back through some of the historical events that we have studied in class. Many of the ideas that changed Russia’s development were ideas that were adopted from the new cultures that were entering Russia, either by invasion, immigration, or cultural borrowing. For instance, one of the most powerful institutions in Russia would be the Eastern Orthodox Church. However, much of the churches power began during the rule of the Golden Horde, who granted the church enormous power in controlling the state, something that allowed Orthodoxy to become a defining aspect of Russian culture long after the Mongols were gone. Many more examples could be added yet the basic point remains the same: Russia’s development and progression could easily be argued as a result of the vast diversity that the country had from its beginning stages.