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The early history of Siberiamarker is greatly influenced by the sophisticated nomadic civilizations of the Scythians (Pazyryk) and Xiongnu (Noin-Ula), both flourishing before the Christian era. The steppes of South Siberia saw a succession of nomadic empires, including the Turkic Empire and the Mongol Empire. In the late Middle Ages, Tibetan Buddhism spread into the areas south of Lake Baikalmarker.

A milestone in the history of the region was the arrival of the Russians in the 16th and 17th centuries, contemporaneous and in many regards analogous to the European settlement in the Americas. During the Russian Empiremarker, Siberia was an agricultural province and served as a place of exile, among others for Avvakum, Dostoevsky, and the Decembrists. The 19th century witnessed the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway, industrialization and the discovery of vast reserves of Siberian mineral resources.


According to the field of genetic genealogy, people first resided in Siberia by 45,000 BP and spread out east and west to populate the Americas and Europe. According to Vasily Radlov, among the earliest inhabitants of Central Siberia were the Yeniseians, who spoke a language different from the later Uralic and Turkic peoples. The Kets are considered the last remainder of this early migration.

The shores of all Siberian lakes which filled the depressions during the Lacustrine period abound in remains dating from the Neolithic age. Countless kurgans (tumuli), furnaces, and other archaeological artifacts bear witness to a dense population. In fact some of the earliest artifacts found in Central Asia derive from Siberia

The Yeniseians were followed by the Uralic Samoyedes, who came from the northern Uralmarker region. Some traces of them, like the Selkup, remain in the Sayanmarker region. They are credited with leaving behind the very numerous remains dating from the Bronze Age which are scattered all over southern Siberia. Iron was unknown to them, but they excelled in bronze, silver, and gold work. Their bronze ornaments and implements, often polished, evince considerable artistic taste, and their irrigated fields covered wide areas in the fertile tracts.

Indo-Iranian influences in southern Siberia can be dated as far back as the 2300–1000 BCE Andronovo culture. Between the 7th and 3rd centuries BC the Indo-Iranian Scythians flourished in the Altai region (Pazyryk culture). They were a major influence on all later steppe empires.

As early as the first millennium BC silk goods began turning up in Siberia having traveled over the Silk Road.
The establishment of the Xiongnu empire in the 3rd century BCE started a series of population movements. Many peoples were probably driven to the northern borders of the great Central Siberian Plateaumarker. Turkic peoples like the Yenisei Kirghiz had already been present in the Sayan region. Various Turkic tribes such as the Khakas and Uyghur migrated north-westwards from their former seats and subdued the Ugric peoples. These new invaders likewise left numerous traces of their stay, and two different periods may be easily distinguished in their remains. They were acquainted with iron, and learned from their subjects the art of bronze-casting, which they used for decorative purposes only, and to which they gave a still higher artistic stamp. Their pottery is more artistic and of a higher quality than that of the Bronze period, and their ornaments are accounted included in the collections at the Hermitage Museummarker in Saint Petersburgmarker.

Mongol conquest of Siberia

The Mongols had long maintained intimate relations with the peoples of Siberian forest (taiga). They called those in the forest "People of the forest" (Oin irged). Many of them, such as the Barga and Uriankhai, were little different from the Mongols. While the tribes around Lake Baikalmarker were Mongol speaking, those to the west spoke Turkic, Samoyedic, or Yeniseian languages.

By 1206, Genghis Khan had conquered all Mongol and Turkic tribes in Mongoliamarker and southern Siberia. In 1207 his eldest son Jochi subjugated the Siberian forest people, the Uriankhai, the Oirats, Barga, Khakas, Buryats, Tuvans, Khori-Tumed, and Kyrgyz. He then organized the Siberians into three tumens. Genghis Khan gave the Telengit and Tolos along the Irtysh Rivermarker to an old companion, Qorchi. While the Barga, Tumed, Buriats, Khori, Keshmiti, and Bashkirs were organized in separate thousands, the Telengit, Tolos, Oirats and Yenisei Kirghiz were numbered as tumens. Genghis settled a colony of Chinese craftsmen and farmers at Kem-kemchik after the first phase of the Mongol-Jin Dynasty War. The Great Khans favored gyrfalcons, furs, women and Kyrgyz horses for tribute.

Western Siberia came under the Golden Horde. The descendants of Orda Khan, the eldest son of Jochi, directly ruled the area. In the swamps of western Siberia, dog sled Yam stations were set up to facilitate collection of tribute.

In 1270, Kublai Khan sent a Chinese official, with a new batch of colonists, to serve as judge of the Kyrgyz and Tuvan basin areas. Ogedei's grandson Kaidu occupied Central Siberia from 1275 on. The Yuan armymarker under Kublai's Kipchak general Tutugh reoccupied the Kyrgyz lands in 1293. From then on the Empire of the Great Khan controlled Central and Eastern Siberia.

Khanate of Sibir

Siberian Khanate in 15th-16th centuries
With the break up of the Golden Horde late in the 14th century, the Khanate of Sibir was founded with its center at Tyumenmarker. The non-Borjigin Taybughid dynasty vied for rule with the descendants of Shiban, a son of Jochi.

In the beginning of the 16th century Tatar fugitives from Turkestan subdued the loosely associated tribes inhabiting the lowlands to the east of the Ural Mountainsmarker. Agriculturists, tanners, merchants, and mullahs (Islamic clerics) were called from Turkestan, and small principalities sprang up on the Irtyshmarker and the Ob. These were united by Khan Yadegar Mokhammad of Kazan. Conflicts with the Russians, who were then colonising the Urals, brought him into collision with Muscovy. Khan Yadegar's envoys came to Moscowmarker in 1555 and consented to a yearly tribute of a thousand sables.

Novgorod and Muscovy

As early as the 11th century the Novgorodians had occasionally penetrated into Siberia. In the 14th century the Novgorodians explored the Kara Seamarker and the West-Siberian river Ob (1364). After the fall of the Novgorod Republic its communications between Northern Russia and Siberia have been inherited by the Grand Duchy of Moscow. On May, 9, 1483 the Moscow troops of princes Feodor Kurbski-Cherny and Ivan Saltyk-Travin moved to West Siberia. The troops moved on the rivers Tavdamarker, Tura, Irtysh up to the river Ob. In 1499 Muscovites and Novgorodians skied to West Siberia up to the river Ob and subdued some local tribes. In the 1570s the entrepreneur Semyon Stroganov enlisted many cossacks for protection of the Ural settlements against attacks by the Siberian Tatars. Stroganov suggested to their chief Yermak to conquer the Khanate of Sibir, promising to help him with supplies of food and arms.

Yermak and the Cossacks

Yermak entered Siberia in 1580 with a band of 1,636 men, following the Tagil and Tura Rivers. The following year they were on the Tobol, and 500 men successfully laid siege to Isker, the residence of Khan Kuchum, near what is now Tobolskmarker. Kuchum fled to the steppes, abandoning his domains to Yermak, who, according to tradition, by presenting Siberia to tsar Ivan IV achieved his own restoration to favour.

Yermak drowned in the Irtysh in 1584 and his Cossacks left Siberia. But every year new bands of hunters and adventurers, supported by Moscow, poured into the country. To avoid conflicts with the denser populations in the south, they preferred to advance eastwards along higher latitudes. Meanwhile, Moscow erected forts and settled farmers around them to supply the garrisons with food. Within eighty years the Russians had reached the Amurmarker and the Pacific Oceanmarker (see Siberian River Routes). This rapid conquest is accounted for by the circumstance that neither Tatars nor other peoples were able to offer any serious resistance.

Imperial Russian expansion

The main treasure to attract Cossacks to Siberia was the fur of sables, foxes, and ermines. Explorers brought back many furs from their expeditions. Local people, submitting to the Russian Empire, received defense from the southern nomads. In exchange they were obliged to pay yasak (tax) in the form of furs. There was a set of yasachnaya roads, used to transport yasak to Moscow.

A number of peoples showed open resistance to Russians. Others submitted and even requested to be subordinated, though sometimes they later refused to pay yasak, or not admitted to the Russian authority.Зуев А. С. «Русская политика в отношении аборигенов крайнего Северо-Востока Сибири (XVIII в.) » // Вестник НГУ. Серия: История, филология. Т. 1. Вып. 3: История / Новосиб. гос. ун-т. Новосибирск, 2002. C. 14–24.

Zuyev A. S. Russian Policy Towards the Aborigines of the Extreme North-East of Russia (18th century) // Vestnik NGU. History and Philosophy, vol. 1, issue 3: History / Novosibirsk State University, 2002. P. 14-24. Online version

There is evidence of collaboration and assimilation of Russians with the local peoples in Siberia. Though the more they advanced to the East, the less developed the local people were, and the more resistance they offered. Most resisting were the Koryak (in the Kamchatka Peninsulamarker) and Chukchi (in the Chukchi Peninsulamarker), the latter still being at the Stone Age level of development.According to Зуев А. С. «Немирных чукчей искоренить вовсе...» // Родина, №1, 1998.

Zuyev A. S. Unpeaceful Chukchi are to be Eradicated... // Rodina, #1, 1998. Online version

In 1607–1610, the Tungus fought strenuously for their independence, but were subdued around 1623. In 1628, the Russians reached the Lenamarker, founded the fort of Yakutskmarker in 1632, and seven years later reached the Sea of Okhotskmarker at the mouth of the Ulya River. The Buryats offered some opposition, but between 1631 and 1641 the Cossacks erected several palisaded forts in their territory, and in 1648 the fort on the upper Uda River beyond Lake Baikalmarker. In 1643, Vassili Poyarkov's boats descended the Amur, returning to Yakutsk by the Sea of Okhotsk and the Aldan Rivermarker, and in 1649–1650 Yerofey Khabarov established the fort of Albazinmarker on the bank of the Amur.

The Manchu resistance, however, obliged the Cossacks to quit Albazin, and by the Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689) Russia abandoned her advance into the basin of the river, instead concentrating on the colonisation of the vast expanses of Siberia and trading with China via the Siberian trakt. In 1852 a Russian military expedition under Nikolay Muravyov explored the Amur, and by 1857 a chain of Russian Cossacks and peasants were settled along the whole course of the river. The accomplished fact was recognised by China in 1860 by the Treaty of Aigun.

In the same year in which Khabarov explored the Amur (1648), the Cossack Semyon Dezhnev sailed from the Kolyma River around the north-eastern extremity of Asia through the strait which was rediscovered and described eighty years later by Bering. Cook in 1778, and La Pérouse after him, settled definitively the broad features of the northern Pacific coast.

Although the Arctic Oceanmarker had been reached as early as the first half of the 17th century, the exploration of its coasts by a series of expeditions under Dmitry Ovtsyn, Fyodor Minin, Vasili Pronchishchev, Lasinius, and Laptev—whose labours constitute a brilliant page in the annals of geographical discovery—was begun only in the 18th century (1735–1739).

Scientists in Siberia

The scientific exploration of Siberia, commenced in the period of 1733 to 1742 by Messerschmidt, Gmelin, and De L'isle de la Croyere, was followed up by Müller, Fischer, and Georgi. Pallas, with several Russian students, laid the first foundation of a thorough exploration of the topography, fauna, flora, and inhabitants of the country. The journeys of Christopher Hansteen and Georg Adolf Erman were the most important step in the exploration of the territory. Humboldt, Ehrenberg, and Gustav Rose also paid short visits to Siberia, which gave a new impulse to the accumulation of scientific knowledge; while Ritter elaborated in his Asien (1832–1859) the foundations of a sound knowledge of the structure of Siberia. T von Middendorff's journey (1843–1845) to north-eastern Siberia—contemporaneous with Castrén's journeys for the special study of the Ural-Altaic languages—directed attention to the far north and awakened interest in the Amur, the basin of which soon became the scene of the expeditions of Akhte and Schwarz (1852), and later on of the Siberian expedition, advanced knowledge of East Siberia.

The Siberian branch of the Russian Geographical Society was founded at the same time in Irkutsk, and afterwards became a permanent centre for the exploration of Siberia; while the opening of the Amur and Sakhalinmarker attracted Maack, Schmidt, Glehn, Radde, and Schrenck, who created works on the flora, fauna, and inhabitants of Siberia.

Early settlement

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Russians that migrated into Siberia were hunters, and those who had escaped from the Central Russia: fugitive peasants in search for life free of serfdom, fugitive convicts, and Old Believers. The new settlements of Russians and the existing local peoples required defence from nomads, for which forts were founded. This way forts of Tomskmarker and Berdskmarker were founded.

In the beginning of the eighteenth century the threat of the nomads' attacks weakened; thus the region became more and more populated; normal civic life was established in the cities.

Established life

In the eighteenth century in Siberia, a new administrative guberniya was formed with Irkutskmarker, then in the nineteenth century the territory was several times re-divided with creation of new guberniyas: Tomsk (with center in Tomskmarker) and Yenisei (Yeniseyskmarker, later Krasnoyarskmarker).

In the 1730, the first large industrial project—the metallurgical production found by Demidov family—gave birth to the city of Barnaulmarker. Later, the enterprise organized social institutions like library, club, theatre. Pyotr Semenov-Tyan-Shansky, who stayed in Barnaulmarker in 1856–1857 wrote: "The richness of mining engineers of Barnaul expressed not merely in their households and clothes, but more in their educational level, knowledge of science and literature. Barnaul was undoubtedly the most cultured place in Siberia, and I've called it Siberian Athenesmarker, leaving Spartamarker for Omsk".

The same events took place in other cities; public libraries, museums of local lore, colleges, theatres were being built, although the first university in Siberia was opened as late as 1880 in Tomskmarker.

Siberian peasants more than those in European Russia relied on their own force and abilities. They had to fight against the harder climate without outside help. Lack of serfdom and landlords also contributed to their independent character. Unlike peasants in European Russia, Siberians had no problems with land availability; the low population density gave them the ability to intensively cultivate a plot for several years in a row, then to leave it fallow for a long time and cultivate other plots. Siberian peasants had an abundance of food, while Central Russian peasantry had to moderate their families' appetites. Leonid Blummer noted that the culture of alcohol consumption differed significantly; Siberian peasants drank frequently but moderately: For a Siberian vodka isn't a wonder, unlike for a Russian peasant, which, having reached it after all this time, is ready to drink a sea. The houses, according to the travellers' notes, were unlike the typical Russian izbas: the houses were big, often two-floored, the ceilings were high, the walls were covered with boards and painted with oil-paint.A large article that quotes Chekhov and Blummer on Siberia:

Старцев А. В. Homo Sibiricus // Земля Сибирь. Новосибирск. 1992. № 5–6.

Startsev A. V. Homo Sibiricus // Zemlya Sibir'. Novosibirsk, 1992. #5-6.

Decembrists and other exiles

Siberia was deemed a good place to exile for political reasons, as it was far from any foreign country. A St. Petersburgmarker citizen would not wish to escape in vast Siberian countryside as the peasants and criminals did. Even the larger cities such as Irkutsk, Omsk, and Krasnoyarsk, lacked that intensive social life and luxurious high life of the capital.

About eighty people involved in the Decembrist revolt were sentenced to obligatory work in Siberia and perpetual settlement here. Eleven wives followed them and settled near the labour camps. In their memoirs, they noted the benevolence and the prosperity of rural Siberians and severe treatment by the soldiers and officers.

Travelling through Siberia, I was wondered and fascinated at every step by the cordiality and hospitality I met everywhere. I was fascinated by the richness and the abundance, with which the people live until today (1861), but that time there was even more expanse in evertything. The hospitality was especially developed in Siberia. Everywhere we were received like being in friendly countries, everywhere we were fed well, and when I asked how much I owed them, they didn't want to take anything, saying "Put a candle to the God".

...Siberia is extremely rich country, the land is ususually fruitful, and a few work is needed to get a plentiful harvest.

Polina Annenkova, Notes of a Decembrist's Wife

A number of Decembrists died of diseases, some suffered psychological shock and even went out of their mind.

After completing the term of obligatory work, they were sentenced to settle in specific small towns and villages. There, some started doing business, which was well permitted. Only several years later, in the 1840s, they were allowed to move to big cities or to settle anywhere in Siberia. Only in 1856, 31 years after the revolt, Alexander II pardoned and restituted the Decembrists in honour of his coronation.

Living in the cities of Omsk, Krasnoyarsk, and Irkutsk, the Decembrists contributed extensively to the social life and culture. In Irkutsk, their houses are now the museums. In many places, memorial plaques with their names have been installed.

Yet, there were exceptions: Vladimir Raevskiy was arrested for participation in Decembrists' circles in 1822, and in 1828 was exiled to Olonki village near Irkutsk. There he married and had nine children, traded with bread, and founded a school for children and adults to teach arythmetics and grammar. Being pardoned by Alexander II, he visited his native town, but returned back to Olonki.

Despite the wishes of the central authorities, the exiled revolutioners unlikely felt outcast in Siberia. Quite the contrary, Siberians having lived all the time on their own, "didn't feel tenderness" to the authorities. In many cases, the exiled were cordially received and got paid positions.

Fyodor Dostoevsky was exiled to katorga near Omsk and to military service in Semipalatinskmarker. In the service he also had to make trips for Barnaulmarker and Kuznetskmarker, where he married.

Anton Chekhov was not exiled, but in 1890 made a trip on his own to Sakhalin through Siberia and visited a katorga there. In his trip, he visited Tomsk, speaking disapprovingly about it, then Krasnoyarsk, which he called "the most beautiful Siberian city". He noted that despite being more a place of criminal rather than political exile, the moral atmosphere was much better: he did not face any case of theft. Blummer suggested to prepare a gun, but his attendant replied: What for?! We are not in Italy, you know. Chekhov observed that besides of the evident prosperity, there was an urgent demand for cultural development.

Many Poles were also exiled to Siberia (see Sybiraks).

Trans-Siberian Railway

The development of the Siberia was hampered by poor transportation links within the region as well as between Siberia and the rest of the country. Aside from the Sibirsky trakt, good roads suitable for wheeled transport were few and far apart. For about five months of the year, rivers were the main means of transportation; during the cold half of the year, cargo and passengers travelled by horse-drawn sleds over the winter roads, many of which were the same rivers, now ice-covered.

The first steamboat on the Ob, Nikita Myasnikov's "Osnova", was launched in 1844; but the early starts were difficult, and it was not until 1857 that steamboat shipping started developing in the Ob system in the serious way. Steamboats started operating on the Yeniseimarker in 1863, on the Lenamarker and Amurmarker in the 1870s.

While the comparably flat Western Siberia was at least fairly well served by the giganticOb-Irtyshmarker-Tobol-Chulymmarker river system, the mighty rivers of Eastern Siberia --Yeniseimarker, Upper Angara River (Angara Rivermarker below Bratskmarker was not easily navigable because of the rapids),Lenamarker -- were mostly navigable only in the north-south direction. An attempt to somewhatremedy the situation by building the Ob-Yenisei Canalmarker were not particularly successful.Only a railroad could be a real solution to the region's transportation problems.

The first projects of railroads in Siberia emerged since the creation of the MoscowmarkerSt. Petersburgmarker railroad. One of the first was IrkutskmarkerChitamarker project, intended to connect the former to the Amur Rivermarker and, consequently, to the Pacific Oceanmarker.

Prior to 1880 the central government seldom responded to such projects, due to the weakness of Siberian enterprises, fear of Siberian territories' integration with the Pacific region rather than with Russia, and thus falling under the influence of the United Statesmarker and Great Britainmarker. The heavy and clumsy bureaucracy and the fear of financial risks also contributed to the inaction: the financial system always underestimated the effects of the railway, assuming that it would take only the existing traffic.

Namely the fear of losing Siberia convinced Alexander II in 1880 to make a decision to build the railway. Construction started in 1891.

Trans-Siberian Railroad gave a great boost to Siberian agriculture, allowing for increased exports to Central Russia and European countries. It pushed not only the territories closest to the railway, but also those connected with meridional rivers, such as the Ob (Altaimarker) and the Yeniseimarker (Minusinskmarker and Abakanmarker regions).

Siberian agriculture exported a lot of cheap grain to the West. The agriculture in Central Russia was still under pressure of serfdom, formally abandoned in 1861.

Thus, to defend it and to prevent possible social destabilization, in 1896 (when the eastern and western parts of the Trans-Siberian did not close up yet), the government introduced Chelyabinsk tariff break ( )—a tariff barrier for grain in Chelyabinskmarker, and a similar barrier in Manchuria. This measure changed the form of cereal product export: mills emerged in Altai, Novosibirskmarker, and Tomsk; many farms switched to butter production. From 1896 to 1913 Siberia on average exported 30.6 million poods (~500,000 tonnes) of cereal products (grain, flour) annually.Храмков А. А. Железнодорожные перевозки хлеба из Сибири в западном направлении в конце XIX — начале XX вв. // Предприниматели и предпринимательство в Сибири. Вып.3: Сборник научных статей. Барнаул: Изд-во АГУ, 2001.

Khramkov A. A. Railroad Transportation of Cereal Products from Siberia to the West in the Late 19th — Early 20th Centuries. // Entrepreneurs and Business Undertakings in Siberia. 3rd issue. Collection of scientific articles. Barnaul: Altai State University publishing house, 2001. ISBN 5-7904-0195-3

Stolypin's resettlement programme

One early significant settlement campaign was carried out under Nicholas II by Prime Minister Stolypin in 1906–1911.

The rural areas of Central Russia were overcrowded, while the East was still lightly populated despite having fertile lands. On May 10, 1906, by the decree of the Tsar, agriculturalists were granted the right to transfer, without any restrictions, to the Asian territories of Russia, and to obtain cheap or free land. A large advertising campaign was conducted: six million copies of brochures and banners entitled What the resettlement gives to peasants, and How the peasants in Siberia live were printed and distributed in rural areas. Special propaganda trains were sent throughout the countryside, and transport trains were provided for the migrants. The State gave loans to the settlers for farm construction.

Not all the settlers decided to stay; 17.8% migrated back. All in all, more than three million people officially resettled in Siberia, and 750,000 came as foot-messengers. From 1897 to 1914 Siberian population increased 73%, and the area of land under cultivation doubled.

Tunguska event

Photograph from the Soviet Academy of Science 1927 expedition led by Leonid Kulik

The Tunguska Event, or Tunguska explosion, was a powerful explosion that occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Kraimarker of Russiamarker, at around 7:14 a.m. (0:14 UT, 7:02 a.m. local solar time) on June 30, 1908 (June 17 in the Julian calendar, in use locally at the time).

The cause of the explosion is controversial, and still much disputed to this day. Although the cause of the explosion is the subject of debate, it is commonly believed to have been caused by the air burst of a large meteoroid or comet fragment at an altitude of 5–10 kilometres (3–6 miles) above the Earth's surface. Different studies have yielded varying estimates of the object's size, with general agreement that it was a few tens of metres across.

Although the Tunguska event is believed to be the largest impact event on land in Earth's recent history, impacts of similar size in remote ocean areas would have gone unnoticed before the advent of global satellite monitoring in the 1960s and 1970s. Because the event occurred in a remote area, there was little damage to human life or property, and it was in fact some years until it was properly investigated.

The first recorded expedition arrived at the scene more than a decade after the event. In 1921, the Russian mineralogist Leonid Kulik, visiting the Podkamennaya Tunguska River basin as part of a survey for the Soviet Academy of Sciencesmarker, deduced from local accounts that the explosion had been caused by a giant meteorite impact. He persuaded the Sovietmarker government to fund an expedition to the Tunguska region, based on the prospect of meteoric iron that could be salvaged to aid Soviet industry.

Kulik's party reached the site in 1927. To their surprise, no crater was to be found. There was instead a region of scorched trees about 50 kilometres (30 miles) across. A few near ground zero were still strangely standing upright, their branches and bark stripped off. Those farther away had been knocked down in a direction away from the center.

The Civil War

By the time of the revolution Siberia was an agricultural region of Russia, with weak entrepreneur and industrial class. The intelligentsia had vague political ideas. Only 13% Шиловский М.В. Политические процессы в Сибири в период социальных катаклизмов 1917-1920 гг. — Новосибирск, ИД "Сова", 2003.

Shilovsky M. V. The Political Processes in Siberia in the Period of Social Cataclysms of 1917-1920s. — Novosibirsk, "Sova" publishing house, 2003. ISBN 5-87550-150-2 of the region's population lived in the cities and possessed some political knowledge. The lack of strong social difference, scarcity of urban population and intellectuals led to uniting of formally different political parties under ideas of regionalism. Шиловский М. В. Консолидация "демократической" контрреволюции в Сибири весной-летом 1919 г. // Актуальные вопросы истории Сибири. Вторые научные чтения памяти проф. А.П. Бородавкина: Материалы конф. Барнаул: Изд-во Алт. ун-та, 2000. 421 с.

Shilovsky M. V. Consolidation of the "Democratic" Counter-Revolution in Siberia in the Spring-Summer 1919 // Questions of Siberian History of Current Importance. The Second Scientific Conference devoted to prof. A. P. Borodavkin. — Barnaul, Altai State University, 2000. ISBN 5-7904-0149-X

The anti-Bolsheviks forces failed to offer a united resistance. While Kolchak fought against the Bolsheviks intending to eliminate them in the capital of the Empire, the local Socialists-Revolutioners and Mensheviks tried to sign a peaceful treaty with Bolsheviks, on terms of independence. The foreign allies, though being able to make a decisive effort, preferred to stay neutral, although Kolchak himself rejected the offer of help from Japanmarker.

For more detailed chronology of the civil war in Siberia, see articles on Siberian separatism, Aleksandr Kolchak and Siberian Intervention

After a series of defeats in the Central Russia, Kolchak's forces had to retreat to Siberia. The resistance of SR-s and waning support from the allies, the Whites had to evacuate from Omsk to Irkutsk, and finally Kolchak resigned under pressure of SR-s, who soon submitted to Bolsheviks.

1920s and 1930s

By the 1920s the agriculture in Siberia was in decline. With the large number of immigrants, land was used very intensively, which led to exhaustion of the land and frequent bad harvests. Михалин В. А. Из истории изучения сельского хозяйства Сибири в начале 1920-х гг. (записка Н. Я. Новомбергского) // Сибирь в XVII–XX веках: Проблемы политической и социальной истории: Бахрушинские чтения 1999–2000 гг.; Межвуз. сб. науч. тр. / Под ред. В. И. Шишкина. Новосиб. гос. ун-т. Новосибирск, 2002.

Mikhalin V. A. From the History of Siberian Agriculture Studies in the Early 1920-s (N. Ya. Novombergskiy's Note) // Siberia in the XVII-XX centuries: Problems of the Political and Social History. — Novosibirsk State University, Novosibirsk, 2002.Agriculture wasn't destroyed by the civil war, but the disorganization of the exports destroyed the food industry and reduced the peasants' incomes. Furthermore, prodrazvyorstka and then the natural food tax contributed to growing discontent. In 1920-1924 there was a number of anti-communistic riots in rural areas, with up to 40,000 people involved. Шишкин В. И. Партизанско-повстанческое движение в Сибири в начале 1920-х годов // Гражданская война в Сибири. — Красноярск, 1999. C. 161–172.

Shishkin V. I. Partisan-Rebellious Movement in Siberia in the Early 1920s //The Civil War in Siberia. — Krasnoyarsk, 1999. P. 161-172. Both old Whites (Cossacks) and old "Reds" partisans, who earlier fought against Kolchak, the marginals, who were the major force of the Communists, took part in the riots. According to a survey of 1927 in Irkutsk Oblastmarker, the peasants openly said they'd participate in anti-Soviet rebel and hoped for the foreign help. Исаев В. И. Военизация молодежи и молодежный экстремизм в Сибири (1920-е — начало 1930-х гг.) // Вестник НГУ. Серия: История, филология. Т. 1. Вып. 3: История / Новосиб. гос. ун-т. Новосибирск, 2002.

Isayev V. I. Militarization of the Youth and Youth Extremism in Siberia (1920s - early 1930s). // Vestnik NGU. History and philosophy series. Vol. 1, Issue 3: History. / Novosibirsk State University, Novosibirsk, 2002. It should be noticed also that the Soviet authorities declared by a special order the KVZhD builders and workers enemies of the people.

The youth, that had socialized in the age of war, was highly militarized, and the Soviet government pushed the further military propaganda by Komsomol. There are many documented evidences of "red banditism", especially in the countryside, such as desecration of churches and Christian graves, and even murders of priests and believers. Also in many cases a Komsomol activist or an authority representative, speaking with a person opposed to the Soviets, got angry and killed him/her and anybody else. The Party faintly counteracted this.

In 1930s, the Party started the collectivization, which automatically put the "kulak" label on the well-off families living in Siberia for a long time. Naturally, raskulachivanie applied to everyone who protested. From the Central Russia many families were exiled in low-populated, forest or swampy areas of Siberia, but those who lived here, had either to escape anywhere, or to be exiled in the Northern regions (such as Evenk and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrugsmarker and the northern parts of Tomsk Oblast). Collectivization destroyed the traditional and most effective stratum of the peasants in Siberia and the natural ways of development, and its consequences are still persisting. Карлов С. В. К вопросу о ликвидации кулачества в Хакасии (начало 30-х гг.) // Актуальные вопросы истории Сибири. Вторые научные чтения памяти проф. А.П. Бородавкина: Материалы конф. Барнаул: Изд-во Алт. ун-та, 2000. 421 с.

Karlov S. V. On the Liquidation of Kulaks in Khakassia (Early 1930s) // Questions of Siberian History of Current Importance. The Second Scientific Conference devoted to prof. A. P. Borodavkin. — Barnaul, Altai State University, 2000. ISBN 5-7904-0149-X

In the cities, during the NEP and later, the new authorities, driven by the romantic socialistic ideas made attempts to build new socialistic cities, according to the fashionable constructivism movement, but after all have left only numbers of square houses. For example, the Novosibirsk theatremarker was initially designed in pure constructivistic style. It was an ambitious project of exiled architects. In the mid-1930s with introduction of new classicism, it was significantly redesigned.

After the Trans-Siberian was built, Omskmarker soon became the largest Siberian city, but in 1930s Soviets favoured Novosibirskmarker. In the 1930s the first heavy industrialization took place in the Kuznetsk Basinmarker (coal mining and ferrous metallurgy) and at Norilskmarker (nickel and other rare-earth metals). The Northern Sea Route saw industrial application. The same time, with growing number of prisoners, Gulag established a large network of labour camps in Siberia.

World War II

In 1941, many enterprises and people were evacuated into Siberian cities by the railroads. In urgent need of ammunition and military equipment, they started working right after being unloaded near the stations. The workshops' buildings were built simultaneously with work.

Most of the evacuated enterprises remained at their new sites after the war. They increased industrial production in Siberia to a great extent, and became constitutive for many cities, like Rubtsovskmarker. The most Eastern city to receive them was Ulan-Udemarker, since Chitamarker was considered dangerously close to Chinamarker and Japanmarker.

On August 28, 1941 the Supreme Soviet stated an order "About the Resettlement of the Germans of Volga region", by which many of them were deported into different rural areas of Kazakhstan and Siberia.

By the end of war, thousands of captive soldiers and officers of German and Japanese armies were sentenced to several years of work in labour camps in all the regions of Siberia. These camps were directed by a different administration than Gulag. Though, Soviet camps hadn't the purpose to lead prisoners to death, the death rate was significant, especially in winters. The range of works differed from vegetable farming to construction of the Baikal Amur Mainline.

Industrial expansion

In the second half of the twentieth century, the exploration of mineral and hydroenergetic resources continued. Many of these projects were planned, but were delayed due to wars and the ever changing opinions of Soviet policans.

Krasnoyarsk hydroelectric powerstation
The most famous project is Baikal Amur Mainline. It was planned simultaneously with Trans-Siberian, but the construction began just before the WWII, was put on hold during the war and restarted after. After Stalin's death, it was again suspended for years to be continued under Brezhnev.

The cascade of hydroelecric powerplants was built in 1960s–1970s on the Angara Rivermarker, a project similar to Tennessee Valley Authority in the United States. The powerplants allowed the creation and support of large production facilities, such as the alluminium plant in Bratskmarker, Ust-Ilimskmarker, rare-earth mining in Angara basin, and those associated with the timber industry. The price of electricity in Angara basin is the lowest in Russia. But the Angara cascade is not fully finished yet: the Boguchany power plant waits to be finished, and a series of enterprises will be set up.

The downside of this development is the ecological damage due to the low standards of production and excessive sizes of dams (the bigger projects were favoured by the industrial authorities and received more funding), the increased humidity sharpened the already hard climate. Another powerplant project on Katun River in Altaimarker mountains in the 1980s, which was widely protested publicly, was cancelled.

There are a number of military-oriented centers like the NPO Vektormarker and closed cities like Severskmarker. By the end of 1980s a large portion of the industrial production of Omskmarker and Novosibirskmarker (up to 40%) was composed of military and aviation output. The collapse of state-funded military orders began an economic crisis.

The Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciencesmarker unites a lot of research institutes in the biggest cities, the biggest being the Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics in Akademgorodok (a scientific town) near Novosibirskmarker. Other scientific towns or just districts composed by research institutes, also named Akademgorodok, are in the cities of Tomskmarker, Krasnoyarskmarker and Irkutskmarker. These sites are the centers of the newly developed IT industry, especially in that of Novosibirsk, nicknamed Silicon Taiga, and in Tomskmarker.

A number of Siberian-based companies extended their businesses of various consumer products to meta-regional and an All-Russian level. Various Siberian artists and industries, have created communities that are not centralized in Moscow anymore, like the Idea (annual low-budged ads festival), Golden Capital (annual prize in architecture).

Future prospects

A new (2003) apartment building in Novosibirsk

Until the completion of the Chitamarker-Khabarovskmarker highway, the Transbaikalia was a dead end for automobile transport. While this recently constructed through road will at first benefit mostly the transit travel to and from the Pacific provinces, it will also boost settlement and industrial expansion in the scarsely populated regions of Zabaykalsky Krai and Amur Oblastmarker.

Expansion of transportation networks will continue to define the directions of Siberian regional development. The next project to be carried out is the completion of the railroad branch to Yakutskmarker. Another large project, proposed already in the 19th century as a northern option for the Transsiberian railroad, is the Northern-Siberian Railroad between Nizhnevartovskmarker,Belyi Yar, Lesosibirskmarker and Ust-Ilimskmarker. The Russian Railroads instead suggest an ambitious project of a railway to Magadanmarker, Chukchi Penunsula and then the supposed Bering Strait Tunnelmarker to Alaskamarker.

While the Russians continue to migrate from the Siberian andFar Eastern Federal Districts to Western Russia, the Siberian cities attract labour (legal or illegal) from the Central Asian republics and from China. While the natives are aware of the situation, in Western Russia myths about thousands and millions of Chinese living in the Transbaikalia and the Far East are widespread. Thus it is not uncommon in the Russian society, especially to the West of the Uralmarker, to be anxious about a supposed Chinese annexation of the South-East Siberia.


See also

External links

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