Taking its name from the Russian word for “putting down roots,” korenizatsiia is traditionally translated as “indigenization” or “nativization.” Originally a Leninist policy intended to accelerate the spread of Bolshevism to Soviet Russia’s ethnic minorities, the program eventually was directed at the indigenous populations of the Soviet Union’s 14 non-Russian union republics, as well as the titular groups in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic’s Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republics (ASSRs). Though it was no longer an official policy after the 1930s, indigenization remained the de facto policy in the non-Russian regions of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Korenizatsiya solidified national identity, promoted the use of local languages, and created an indigenous nomenklatura>. While linguistic and cultural Russification remained a major issue and ethnic Russians generally commanded the secondary position in every political, industrial, educational, and scientific hierarchy, korenizatsiya laid the groundwork for the flowering of nationalism in the 1980s under perestroika and glasnost. With the introduction of democratization (demokratizatsiia), many of these national elites abandoned Communism and embraced populism and Russophobia in order to secure office or promote their own political-economic agendas.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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