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The following is the Abstract of a recently completed Ph.D. dissertation,"The Search for National Identity Among the Muslims of Russia in the years 1905-1907, According to the Newspaper Tercüman" by Giray Saynur Bozkurt. The dissertation is based on the author's careful analysis of reports and articles that appeared in Tercüman, the well known newspaper published in Crimea by Ismail Bey Gaspirali. Following the 1905 Revolution in Tsarist Russia, the Muslim people of the Empire found new freedoms to hold congresses, to form a political party, and to seek rights equal to those of Russian citizens. The Tercüman played an important role in disseminating information among the Turkic speaking people of Russia and thus facilitating the discussions on the national identity. Ms. Bozkurt completed her dissertation at the Institute of Turkic Studies, Marmara University, Istanbul, Turkey, in November 2003. The dissertation is in Turkish, with the original title "Tercüman Gazetesine Göre 1905-1907 Yılları Arasında Rusya Müslümanlarının Siyasi Kimlik Arayışı." Ed.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the Muslims of Russia lived in various parts of Russia under different administrative status. Although they belonged to the same ethnic background and belief, they were aware of each other to a limited degree due to the lack of effective means of communication and transportation. Their dialects differed from each other while in general they had a low degree of education. In such an environment, Ismail Gaspirali's newspaper Tercüman played a very important role in the awakening of the Muslims of Russia by taking primary steps in linguistic union and fundamental education although he confronted with the obstacles such as fanaticism and assimilation policies of the Czarist government.
The results of Russo-Japanese War increased the existing dissatisfaction within the Russian Empire. Emperor Nicolas II felt obligated to compromise with the requests in order to relieve the pressure of circumstances of the 1905 Revolution. He accepted to give some rights and freedoms while Constitution was introduced.
In this process of change, the Muslims of Russia had a chance to know each other through three Congresses they organized. They began to express themselves in political platform by organizing the party called the Union of the Muslims of All-Russia. In the beginning, most of their requests for freedom of expression and equality found positive responses. The legal discrimination against the Muslims were removed to a certain degree and the Muslims of Russia continued to seek their rights further as equal citizens of Russia. In their meetings they organized the party of Muslim Fraction and collectively they pursued religious, economic, cultural and political rights. However, their requests were not accepted by the Czarist government, except the problems related with the equality, religion and education. Especially, the problems of territory remained unsolved, and therefore, the Czarist government closed the First National Assembly with the excuse of going to referendum and then cancelled the Second National Assembly because of the Leftist revolutionary activities. A reactionary movement was set in and pro-government Rightists dominated over politics in the Third National Assembly. Although Muslims of Russia did not gain much to solve the territorial and migration issues, they succeeded to form a national identity and equal status with Russians and, to a limited degree, gained socio-political advantages through their activities that took place between 1905 and 1907.
Giray Saynur Bozkurt