The article aims at identifying features of grain production in Siberia and Kazakhstan during the campaign for developing virgin and fallow lands (second half of the 1950s) and subsequent decades of the Soviet and post-Soviet era; such features determined the results and consequences of the Virgin Project in 1954. The author identifies objective and subjective factors affecting the adoption and realization of the virgin land program; considers general and particular practices of plowing new lands; describes the dynamics of sown areas for crops, grain productivity and gross production, its qualitative characteristics in Siberia and Kazakhstan. The author argues that the campaign for developing virgin and fallow lands was a means of N. S. Khrushchev’s struggle for power, which explains its excessively large scale and relatively long duration. The author shows that the virgin land campaign is more significant for the history of Kazakhstan than for the history of Siberia. Due to the new land development in Kazakhstan, the sown areas of crops, primarily wheat, significantly increased; the network of large agricultural enterprises expanded; the infrastructure of agricultural production started to develop. In 1991, these production capacities became the foundations of the contemporary economy of independent Kazakhstan. In Siberia, the sown area of crops has decreased since the mid-1960s, but the gross grain harvest has grown, which indicates opportunities for intensive farming, and such opportunities are gradually realized.
The article considers one of the key resources for peasants in Eastern Europe — wood pastures. Based on the new archival materials, the author shows that peasant communities, in the spirit of James Scott, consistently sabotaged the state efforts to ban woodland grazing. During the long 19th century, the state was strengthening control over many aspects of the rural economic life, which gradually made peasant conflicts with the state forest administration more acute. The author applies the casestudy approach to the relationships of peasants and local and metropolitan administration in Białowieża Forest. Its unique feature is a long history of the effective protection measures which facilitated finding sources on the topic. The research revealed the struggle for the control over forest resources between peasants and officials as experts in the ‘rational’ forestry. In the long 19th century, peasants used all available means of resistance: petitions to the authorities of all levels, sabotage of administrative orders, bribes to forestry personnel, and direct violations of orders. The decades of conflicts prove that peasant communities only partially followed the rules introduced by the state administration which tried to change the principles of forestry management to make forests more profitable and ‘rational’. The administration spent significant resources to control wood grazing but achieved very modest results in terms of both reducing the number of livestock in forests and collecting compensation for the damage from ungulates. In the second half of the 19th — early 20th century, there were the most important changes associated with the more consistent and strict control over traditional forest resources, especially in 1889–1915. The administration’s reactions to the peasant petitions were sympathetic and positive at the provincial and ministerial levels, which can be explained by the shortage of pasture and fodder and the general paternalistic sentiments of the government. The administration tried not so much to increase income from wood grazing as to ‘accustom’ peasants to the idea that forests were rather private or state than public property.
The author reports the discovery in the regional archives of the primary documents and uyezd data compiled for the governors’ harvest statistics in the first half of the 19th century, although historiography used to question or deny their existence. According to the archival data, the primary information about harvest in estates and villages was collected annually in autumn. This information was provided by the elders of peasant communities and the managers of landlords’ estates. Since the end of the 18th century, information was collected by the officials of the Lower Zemstvo Court: they either wrote it down from what their informants told or collected the already prepared notes. The final report on the uyezd harvest was compiled by the secretary of the Lower Zemstvo Court and sent to the Governor’s Office. The Governor’s Office compiled a similar record for the province, in which the uyezd data was duplicated and summarized. Provincial reports on sowing and harvest were sent to the government (Ministry of Internal Affairs and/or Ministry of Police) as urgent messages in November. The collection of harvest data was not related to the governors’ annual reports which duplicated the previously sent information. The discovered documents do not solve the problem of reliability and representativeness of the governors’ crop statistics but correct the historiographic ideas about the functions of the imperial administration in the field of control over harvests and food security in the Russian regions.
In historiography, agricultural transformations started by G. M. Malenkov and N. S. Khrushchev are usually considered as having improved the situation of the peasantry and the level of production. The author assesses the effectiveness of these reforms with a microhistorical approach based on the study of the collective farm Bolshevik in the Pravdinsky district of the Kaliningrad Region — as typical for the region and the country. The research is based on the archives of this kolkhoz: collective farmers’, communist party members’ and managers’ meetings, annual reports, documents of the regional agricultural authorities. The article describes the main changes in the structure of agricultural production: reorganization of labor brigades, daily routines and machine-tractor stations, consolidation of the collective farm, etc. The author examines the state policy regarding personal subsidiary economies of collective farmers: on the one hand, there were new restrictions, on the other hand, resources of peasant economies improved the statistical indicators of the kolkhoz. The article focuses on administrative and economic ways for motivating peasants to work in the collective farm and shows their inconsistency in terms of increasing labor productivity. Annual statistical reports of the collective farm on animal husbandry and crop production show no sustainable growth of any indicators and only modest progress due to the extensive methods of development and exploitation of the collective farmers’ personal subsidiary economies. The author emphasizes the absence of any significant results from the 1950s reforms which did not affect the roots of the collective-farm system inefficiency.
The article considers the development and work of the volost peasant cells of the RCP (b) in 1918–1920 through the relationship between the state and the people. The article is based on the archival materials from the Central State Archive of the Kirov Region and the State Archive of the Social and Political History of the Udmurt Republic, and on the historical-genetic and historical-institutional approaches. The author also analyzed materials from the funds of the Vyatka Gubkom and the Vyatka, Glazov, Kotelnich, Malmyzh, Nolin, Orlov, Soviet, Urzhum and Yaran regional committees of the RCP (b), Provincial Commission on the Party History, Vyatka Province Executive Committee of the Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’ and Red Army Deputies, Yaransk Regional Committees of the Workers’, Peasants’ and Red Army Deputies Councils, Vyatka Regional Statistical Committee, and the personal fund of Vasily Georgievich Plenkov. The author examines the development and crisis of the volost peasant cells of the RCP (b) in the Vyatka Province in 1918–1920 in order to identify the features of the Vyatka peasantry in the early 20th century and peasants’ expectations from the new power; of the interaction between the Soviet power and peasants; of the crisis of volost cells and their transformation into power structures consisting of the employees of the Soviet volost institutions. The study revealed that on the eve of the 1917 Revolution, the Vyatka village community still existed though middle peasants prevailed. Peasants expected from the new government to solve primarily social-economic tasks: the lack of land, construction of road infrastructure, and social development. Bolsheviks only partially satisfied the peasants’ demands, which led to the strongest peasants’ dissatisfaction under the forced food policy and other political measures, and, thus, determined the crisis of volost cells in 1919–1920. The author argues that in the village dominated by communist peasants who wanted to develop their economy on the market basis, there was hardly any ground for the voluntary acceptance of communist ideas. Volost peasant cells were created as associations supporting the new government, but eventually either disintegrated or turned into the ‘party of power’.
The article considers the life and work of the great Russian and Soviet economist A. V. Chayanov in the watershed year of 1918. The article introduces into the scientific circulation a number of documents from the funds of the Russian State Archive of Economics and of the Department of Manuscripts of the Russian State Library. The author describes the work of Chayanov in the bodies of cooperation — cooperative publishing house, Council of the Central Association of Flax Growers, and Committee for the Protection of Art Treasures which was established at his suggestion by the decision of the cooperative congress. The author emphasizes the role of cooperation in the survival of the scientific and creative intelligentsia under the hunger, devastation and chaos after the outbreak of the Civil War. Among the few surviving documents of the Council of All-Russian Cooperative Congresses, the most interesting are the meetings of the publishing commission, which prove that in 1918, Chayanov was one of the most published authors. The Council of the Central Association of Flax Growers helped Chayanov to survive, although its position as a key member of the All-Russian Cooperative Congresses was greatly shaken. The article describes the work of Chayanov in the Committee for the Protection of Art Treasures. The author considers the creation, criticism and role in Chayanov’s biography of his two fiction works — History of Miusskaya Square (to the history of the University named after A. L. Shanyavsky) and History of a Barber’s Doll, or the Last Love of the Moscow Architect M. — and the ideology of Chayanov at the end of 1918, which helps to understand his psychological condition and the evolution of his worldview when searching for his place in the life of new Russia.
The article examines the life of Russian peasants in the steppe regions adjacent to Stalingrad and occupied by the German army at the time of the Stalingrad battle. The battle began in these regions in July–August 1942. In September, when the fighting moved into the city set on a narrow strip along the Volga River, the surrounding steppe was taken over by a more or less organized occupation regime. The occupation came to an end after the Soviet counterattack on November 19-23. While abundant literature has been devoted to the battle in the city, there is practically nothing on the life of peasants under occupation in the surrounding area. Relatively little has been written about the life of peasants during the Great Patriotic War. Studies of the occupation have focused on the western regions of the Soviet Union, where the occupation lasted for years. In the Volga Region, it lasted only for months. There was no occupation administration — only soldiers mostly preoccupied with daily fighting. The local population consisted primarily of the Don Cossacks who preserved Cossack traditions and retained sharp memories of collectivization. The article considers: (1) how the occupiers and the occupied negotiated such unusual conditions; (2) how traditional peasant values and behavioral norms were expressed; (3) how on occasion the occupiers defied their usual stereotypes. The study is based on the records of linguists, specifically dialectologists. Dialectology and oral history frequently use similar materials for different tasks. It is worth noting that the oral history began to develop in Russia only in the 1990s, while dialectology continues a tradition established in the 19th century. Especially in the study of the Russian peasantry, records made by dialectologists can be a valuable source for historians.
The article considers the impact of the Soviet state agrarian policy on the agricultural production in the Novosibirsk Region. In 1930s, the government was not far-sighted: for short-term gains (growth of production volumes) the long-term prospects were sacrificed. The ever-growing state plans for sowing and harvesting prevented the development of the rational agricultural system in Siberia. By the early 1940s, in most collective farms of the Novosibirsk Region, elementary agrotechnical rules were broken: fallow lands were reduced, deadlines for agricultural work were not kept, rules for crop rotation and seed production were ignored. Therefore, the long-term clogging and depletion of soils, among other factors, determined extremely low grain yields during the Great Patriotic War. In the prewar period, the state agrarian policy led to the rapid depletion of the agricultural production in the Novosibirsk Region. By 1941, the region was in a critical situation of an acute shortage of seeds, food, and livestock feed. In 1942, the Soviet government continued its blind sowing policy and obviously underestimated the negative impact of such a policy on production under the reduction in labor and inputs. Planning errors led to a sharp reduction in gross grain harvests from 1942. Until the end of the war, the Soviet agriculture was negatively affected by the short-sighted state policies that significantly reduced possibilities for the productive use of the local agricultural potential.
The article presents the results of the structural-dynamic analysis of the development of peasant (private) farms under the agricultural reform of 1991-2001 in the Central Black-Earth Region. The research is based on both published and unpublished sources—materials from the archives of the State Statistics Committee of the Russian Federation, data of the territorial statistical bodies, from statistical collections and regulatory legal acts. Statistical data is presented in tables and graphs. The study of the dynamics of the farms’ development in the period under study allowed the authors to identify general features of this process in the Central Black-Earth Region and its peculiarities in different areas of this region. The authors analyzed the number of farms, their average size, and the size of their land, and conclude that during the agrarian reform of 1991-2001, farmers of the Central Black-Earth Region were forced to fight for survival. Therefore, farms of extremely small size, in a poor financial situation and created by come-and-go people were eliminated; they made up a third of all farms. By 2001, the number of farmers had stabilized, there was a 1.5–2-fold increase in the area of farmers’ land and in the size of the average farm. Farmers who managed to pass the ‘test of strength’ found new opportunities for development.
The article considers a specific case of the peasant uprising in the large commercial settlement in the Kamyshinsky district of the Saratov Province at the initial stage of the Civil War in Russia. The author focuses on the investigative case against activists of the mass demonstration, and this source allowed to better identify the personal characteristics of the participants and activists of the uprising, describe their behavior during and after the outrage and defense strategies during the investigation. The personal features of the activists of the uprising, its course and development are considered based on the sources on the armed actions of the peasantry during the Civil War. The author argues that the most active participants of the armed struggle left their native places during uprisings. As a rule, there are no sources of biographical nature even in judicial and investigative materials, because personal data was poorly recorded by the representatives of political supervision. Therefore, the voice of activists is the most elusive, and the most active participants of peasant uprisings are poorly represented in the sources. Our ideas about the causes and dynamics of the peasant armed struggle are based mainly on the indirect and secondary evidence, which inevitably distorts the general picture and requires both archival and methodological searches.