Holding the Hinterlands

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This video program features two case studies on Russia: Dagestan; Caucuses Disconnect? and Bratsk: The Legacy of Central Planning.

Since the dissolution of the vast Soviet Union, the various nationalities within Russia have been confronted with a choice between nationalist anarchy and peaceful cooperation with the Russian core. Among the dry reaches of the Caucasus Mountains lies the Republic of Dagestan, which is composed of over thirty ethnic groups. In Dagestan: Caucuses Disconnect?, we see how a complex tapestry of religion, culture, history, and economy unifies the people of this republic, who are Russian by rule but not by background.

Updates to this program include in-depth discussion of the forces that held the Soviet Union together and then split the Soviet Union apart, further background on Dagestan, and recent events in the region, including the war in Chechnya. Commentary is provided by Dr. Ronald Wixman.

Bratsk: The Legacy of Central Planning visits a city built by government decree. The Siberian city grew in this remote location because, in the twentieth century, Russia's new technologies were powered by the region's rich resources. This exploitation of Siberia greatly contributed to the Soviet central economy. Russia's use of hydroelectric power and mineral reserves continues to support Bratsk today.

Updated material for this case study includes an update on the situation in Bratsk since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

The contrast between the peoples of Dagestan and Bratsk illustrates the variety of thought and behavior found in Russians from places far apart yet under the same federal rule. The diversity of their problems stems in large part from their disparate locations, climates, and histories -- their geography -- within this vast country. Just as their past has been shaped by these factors, the solutions that will occur to them and seem suitable are strongly influenced by background, culture, traditional beliefs, and environmental limitations.

Find additional resources, including primary source materials, interactives, and downloadable print materials, at: http://www.learner.org/series/powerofplace/page8.html

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