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The Far East: a region with an exiled past

Leonid Blyakher about what happened, but - as if there were not

The Far East: a region with an exiled past

Leonid Blyakher

Professor, Head of the Department of Philosophy and Culturology of the Pacific State University, Doctor of Philosophy
The history of the Far East of Russia is a mysterious thing. Especially in the mass consciousness. Moreover, not only in the minds of those who look at it from the outside, but also in the minds of the Far Easterners themselves. Not so long ago I talked with a colleague about to leave our hospitable land. The main argument in favor of leaving was simple: this is a place without history. Yesterday there was nothing here. How was it not? - I was surprised - A dozen of giant empires, including the largest empire in the history of mankind - Mongolian, covering almost a third of the world's population. How was it not, if it was here that new ethnic groups and cultures were created?

Even, in fact, the Russian period provides unique historical paintings. Siege and chase, battle and negotiation. After all, the very development of Eastern Siberia and the Far East took place under the sign of more than a century of Manchu-Dzungar wars, covering the space from the Caspian Sea to the Pacific Ocean, from the Yenisei to Tibet.

And the very course of "development" doesn't make the Spaniards, who are proud of the adventures of the conquistadors, nervously smoke on the sidelines? Why is it that an intelligent and intelligent person who has lived here all his life speaks of the Far East as a region without a past? Surprised, I went to the textbooks. After all, it is from there that people for the most part learn about their past. Not from thin and bright monographs of researchers, but from popular articles and textbooks. And ... a strange picture. The story, however, was not.

It was a long and troubled exploration of the harsh expanses. Not quite understandable life of some pioneers, who, of course, well done, but it is not entirely clear why. In passing, mastering "empty lands" pioneers defended the indigenous peoples (where did they come from?) From the invaders. Again, it is not entirely clear where the invaders are from the empty lands.

For example, Erofei Pavlov’s son, nicknamed Khabarov, sailed to the Amur River. Well done. But not the first sailed. And for some reason he swam away, having a row with his own Cossacks. The fact that it was a military campaign in which the Cossacks instead of the "savages" were faced with the regular Manchu army, somehow falls out of focus. The fact that Khabarov, having understood that this clash did not end with anything good for his squad, decided to retreat, and his comrades wanted to try Cossack luck again (which ended in their death), also disappeared from the description.

And the very Russian history of the Far East from the adventures of the conquistadors is turning into a report on the meeting of the party activists. Not the adventurers Plyusnin and Tetyukov, Churin and Kasyanov, Semyonov and Dattan, but some vague workers and peasants who were exploring the region. They mastered poorly. Since the tsarist government, local world eaters, remoteness and all sorts of bad foreigners interfered with them. Therefore, the region remained not quite developed, developing. True, even with the departure of the world eaters after the victory of the revolutionary people, the region, although it flourished, but not completely. So it has been developing for an unknown number of centuries. Here's a story. The attitude of my interlocutor to her also becomes clear. And only her would sit down. Why is it so? Why did the rich, bright, full of tragedy history disappear, and this… boring one appeared? Without pretending to know the ultimate truth, I will try to make an assumption.

The point is not only that the ancient and partly medieval history of the region was not Russian history. They study ancient monuments on the territory of our country in schools, including them in the history of Russia. And in the former republics of Central Asia, history is being conducted long before modern ethnic groups arose. Here's something else. Apparently, having adopted the concept of "Moscow - the third Rome" as the basic ideology, the Muscovy, and then the Russian Empire, diligently tried to forget about their Asian history, strove to "become Europe." As a result, the skirmish on Lake Peipsi turned out to be a battle, and the forty-year war in the Amur region turned out to be “border conflicts”. After all, there is "emptiness" in the east. There's nothing there.

So the world empires disappeared from the history of the Russian Far East and Eastern Siberia. Gone not quite. But their story was separate. Somewhere in the “north of China”, “in the foothills of Tibet, Xinjiang and Tien Shan”. Yes, and like any non-European history was not significant and not interesting. Only not in the territory that later occupied the Russian Empire. Officially, there was only a rush to “meet the sun” on “empty lands”. They were studied by ethnographers.

Well, well, let's say, for various geopolitical reasons, the ancient history of the region was consigned to oblivion. But the Russian history of the Far East - what for? Except for those accidentally preserved in the textbooks of Dezhnev, Poyarkov, Khabarov and Atlasov, there is no one there. And these characters are given extremely poorly. Without a biography, without adventures, without adventures, which was full of life for each of them. Even not all residents of the Amur Region know about the heroic defense of the Albazin fortress, they remember about the Peter and Paul defense only in Petropavlovsk, and even then, not very much. About the brave and adventurous people, thanks to whom this region became Russian and remains somehow forgotten. A rich region with a developed and mechanized agriculture has also been forgotten (almost every farm at the turn of the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries had mechanical seeders, reapers, etc.), which provided itself and its neighbors with food. Commercial and industrial region with huge shops and cinema, newspapers and its own literature. All this also fell out. How did the unique projects of Ivan Churin and Adolf Dattan, who decorated the Far Eastern cities with their "trade palaces", fell out? Projects of the Babintsevs, Kasyanovs, Plyusnins, Cherdymovs, who created schools and temples, hospitals, printing houses and newspapers at their own expense.

Here everything is clearer. The rich Amur Governor-General, destroyed during the civil war, tens of thousands of refugees to China. And for the most part not fugitives from distant capitals, but peasants, artisans, businessmen, Cossacks — all this did not fit into the image of the Russian Far East blessed by the Bolsheviks. Indeed, as a result of the new, Bolshevik “happiness,” the land was empty and abandoned, and only by the middle of the 30-s had they restored the pre-revolutionary population. And the new inhabitants were fundamentally different from those who settled the Far East before. That is why the rich land was not remembered even when the Bolsheviks were gone. That is why the history of the Far East turned out to be poor, boring and short. 
But there is something unbelievable in this land. Her whole history lived on it, different, incredibly different people came and came here. But those of them who could resist did not escape becoming Far Easterners. 
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