Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Essential Book on Almost Mythical Far Eastern Republic (1920-1922) Now Available in Russian

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 14 – Almost from the beginning of the Khabarovsk protests, some of the demonstrators have talked about the possibility of restoring something like the Far Eastern Republic which existed as a buffer state between Soviet Russia and Japan in the early 1920s (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/07/protesters-in-khabarovsk-now-talking.html).

            The FER is an almost mythical structure, given that the Soviet government played down its importance lest anyone get any ideas and that Western scholars seldom focused directly on it, preferring to study the White Movement or the Siberian Civil War rather than what was an intriguing compromise in which many forces were represented.

            A happy exception to this appeared two years ago when Ivan Sablin, a Russian professor of history at the University of Heidelberg, published his Rise and Fall of Russia’s Far Eastern Republic (London, 2018) and provided the most comprehensive discussion yet of the forces which led to its appearance and to its demise.

            Drawing on archives and the memoirs of those who took part, Sablin showed that the various forces involved, Bolshevik, Siberian regionalist, and various political parties in the region, all made use of the FER and thus justify the interest if not always the interpretations their successors have placed on it.

            Few Russians know much about the RFE, but now that can change as a Russian translation of Sablin’s book has been published in Russian and is available as an e-book for as little as 4.79 US dollars. The accessibility that provides should spark new interest in this important part of regionalist history.

            The bibliographic details are as follows: Ivan Sablin, Dalnevostochnaya Respublika. Ot idei do likvidatsii (Moscow: NLO, 2020, 480 pp., ISBN: 978-5-4448-1240-2; electronic versions are available from various outlets.

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