ABSTRACT

Since the spring of 1921, there had been two polities in the Russian Far East – the Far Eastern Republic (FER) and the Priamur State Formation – which claimed to represent the Russian nation. The two governments in Chita and Vladivostok respectively tried to pose as the “third way” in the Russian Civil War and defend the Russian nation from its main enemies – Japan and the reactionaries in the case of the former and the anti-national Bolsheviks in the case of the latter. Both governments used the language of left-liberal imperial nationalism foregrounding democratic self-organization. In both cases, however, the “third way” was a pretense intended for international and domestic audiences. The FER, which was close to the mainstream socialist projects of the February Revolution by design, had a legislative parliament and granted national minorities the right to autonomy. Yet in practice it was a Bolshevik-controlled autocracy subordinate to Soviet Russia. The Priamur State Formation, which foregrounded democratic government and economic freedom, was run by a similar autocratic authority – the Provisional Priamur Government – and proved incapable of making its dependency on Japan fit with the slogans of Russian national independence.