Soviet Multinationality

The USSR: A Diverse State


While other diverse countries have become that way due to immigration, Russia hadn't seen many immigrants. Instead, the diversity of the Soviets comes from the expansion of Russia under the royal family. Much of the land controlled by Russia held many different cultures, which had been integrated into the Soviet Union.


The Soviets granted important rights to the nations in the USSR. Soviet republics were granted many rights of self-government and the legal right to secede from the USSR. Yet, their ability to utilize those rights were limited until 1990.

The Russian Majority

While the USSR was home to many nations, Russians made of 52 percent of the Soviet population in 1979. Despite this, the Russians held 67 percent of the seats on the Central Committee.
In non-Russian republics the top post was always held by a person of the local nationality, yet the second seat was usually held by a Russian, and always held by Slav.

Control and Language

The Soviets saw a need to maintain the balance between exercising control and making allowances for the reality of cultural differences between the different nations of the USSR. The use of national languages was recognized as a necessity. National languages were used in schools, yet students would soon learn Russian as a second language. The Soviet government realized that everyone had to communicate with one another in order to for the nations to feel like a single state.
Mastery of the Russian language was essential for native students to learn if they were eager to have a career of great importance. Yet, some citizens of non-Russian nationalities considered the emphasis on Russian a threat to the survival and development of their national cultures.

Despite tensions, the Soviet state was able to keep the peace until the 1990's.