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(Russian, pereselenchestvo,) in Russia from the mid-18th century to the early 20th, the resettlement of peasants on vacant lands in sparsely settled outlying regions because of rural overpopulation and an agrarian crisis. It began spontaneously and later received some government support. The resettlement was a form of migration and an important means of internal colonization.

In the late 18th century the government took steps to regulate resettlement. In 1775 the provincial revenue departments (kazennye palaty) began to promote the more rapid settlement of undeveloped lands, and from 1802 the Senate and the Ministry of the Interior also encouraged migration. In the early 19th century the Ministry of State Domains undertook the resettlement of state peasants, relocating approximately 170,000 census souls (male peasants) and about 400,000 persons in all. After the peasant reform of 1861 the pace of resettlement quickened. Most of the settlers headed for Siberia (along the route later followed by the Trans-Siberian Railroad and through river valleys), the southern Urals, the northern Caucasus, Novorossiia, and the lower Volga region. In 1861–62 some 240,000 persons were resettled in Siberia, mainly in Tobol’sk and Tomsk provinces, and about 50,000 in the Far East. Most of the newcomers in the Far East came from Irkutsk Province and the Trans-Baikal region.

The rate of migration to Siberia, the Far East, and Middle Asia increased in the early 1880’s. Between 1883 and 1905, 1,640,000 persons moved to these regions, about 740,000 of them settling in Tomsk Province, 162,000 in the Far East, and 230,000 in Akmolinsk Province. The settlers came primarily from the densely populated, land-hungry provinces of European Russia that were poorly developed industrially; 160,000 migrated from Poltava Province, 145,000 from Chernigov Province, and 105,000 from Mogilev Province. From the mid-1890’s, and especially after the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, resettlement intensified markedly. Whereas 56,000 settlers moved to Siberia in 1893, two years later 107,000 arrived there. Between 1906 and 1914, 3.3 million new settlers came to Siberia. In 1896 a special Resettlement Administration was created, initially under the Ministry of the Interior, to study the areas designated for resettlement. Whereas migration to Western Siberia and Middle Asia increased during this period, the number of new settlers coming to Eastern Siberia and the Far East declined. Between 1861 and 1917 some 5.3 million persons in all crossed the Urals, not counting those who returned.

The government, fearing that the large landlords might be left without cheap labor, tried to limit resettlement, for example, by the Regulations of June 1, 1882, and those of June 6, 1904. But after the Stolypin land reform it began to encourage resettlement by landless or land-poor peasants, hoping thereby to take the edge off the problem of land hunger in the central regions. However, the tsarist authorities were unable to alleviate the agrarian crisis or avert revolutionary outbreaks among the peasantry. Lenin wrote: “As far as resettlement is concerned, the Revolution of 1905 revealed to the landowners the political awakening of the peasantry and forced them to ‘open’ the safety valve a little and, instead of hampering migration as they had done before, to try to pack off as many restless peasants as possible to Siberia in an attempt to render the atmosphere ‘less’ tense in Russia” (Poln. sobr. soch, 5th ed., vol. 23, p. 265).

Because they received no real assistance from the government, some of the settlers were ruined, and many returned (in 1911, 60 percent of all those who had migrated). “This enormous stream of destitute returned settlers reveals with irrefutable clarity the complete failure of the government’s resettlement policy” (ibid., p. 266). With the outbreak of World War I, resettlement dropped off sharply. In 1913, 337,000 settlers crossed the Urals; in 1914, 232,000; in 1915, 15,000; and in 1916, only 2,600. After the October 1917 Revolution, resettlement gave way to planned government development of remote and sparsely settled regions.


Lenin, V. I. “Znachenie pereselencheskogo dela.” Poln. sobr. soch, 5th ed., vol. 23.
Lenin, V. I. “Eshche o pereselencheskom dele.” ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “K voprosu ob agrarnoi politike (obshchei) sovremennogo pravitel’stva.” ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “Kapitalizm i immigratsüa rabochikh.” Ibid., vol. 24.
Gurvich, I. A. Pereseleniia krest’ian ν Sibir’. Moscow, 1888.
Kaufman, A. A. Pereselenie i kolonizatsiia. St. Petersburg, 1905.
Pestrzhetskii, D. Zaselenie okrain. St. Petersburg, 1908.
Pokshishevskii, V. V. Zaselenie Sibiri. Irkutsk, 1951.
Skliarov, L. F. Pereselenie i zemleustroistvo ν Sibiri ν gody stolypinskoi agrarnoi reformy. Leningrad, 1962.
Brusnikin, E. M. “Pereselencheskaia politika tsarizma ν kontse XIX v.” Voprosy istorii, 1965, no. 1.
Kabuzan, V. M. Izmeneniiaν razmeshchenii narodonaseleniia Rossii ν XVIII-pervoi polovine XIX v. Moscow, 1971.
Vodarskii, la. E. Naselenie Rossii za 400 let (XVI-nachalo XX vv.). Moscow, 1973.
Drobizhev, V. Z., I. D. Koval’chenko, and A. V. Murav’ev. Istoricheskaia geografiia SSSR. Moscow, 1973.


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