Being a minority has prove to be challenging within any nation throughout history. Russia, considering it’s multi nationality in 1905, had similar obstacles. “At varying rates and intensity, minority discontent (in some cases reflected in massive emigration to America and elsewhere) was steadily mounting, especially once Alexander III had made coerced assimilation, though unevenly applied, official policy,” (255). These obstacles provided tension that influenced a push towards the 1905 revolution.
Among the highest number of minorities that influenced tension were the Polish, the Finnish, and the Jewish. Although there were other groups discriminated against within the 19th and 20th centuries, these three distinct groups had a relatively tougher situation than most. Particularly aggrieved were Poles (whose rights were sharply curtailed after the 1863 uprising), the Finns (whose status as a semi-independent grand duchy was subjected to major encroachments), and Jews (who though always subject to official discrimination, fell victim to a series of bloody pogroms in 1881-2 and most notoriously in Kishinev in 1903, and were exposed to a new series of discriminatory measures beginning with the infamous ‘May Laws’ of 1882),” (256). Needless to say, these groups did not have the easiest time under Russian authority. In addition to their sufferings, they were not able to speak up on their own behalf. However, even though their position in society did not give them a voice to interject their thoughts, others within Russia spoke up on the behalf of these minorities, particularly those that desired systemic change in Russia.
Many of the individuals that helped to establish rights for minorities were liberals or Marxists. “Within certain limits, many Russian political groups, including liberals and Marxists, sympathized with the national and religious minorities and incorporated defense of their rights in their platforms, including some cases the right to national autonomy and even independence,” (256). Considering situations such as the famine during the 19th century and treatment towards individuals within the Russian society, people wanted change and recognition of their suffering. Furthermore, these Marxists and Liberals aiming to help the minorities through their own platform desired to grasp the attention of the Russian government and the wrongdoings that it had inflicted on it’s people.
Source: Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History 3rd Edition. Oxford University Press, 2009. Kindle Edition.