Kriashen Tatars - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. The basic social unit above the family level was the village council, which was comprised of the aqsaqallar (the senior male members of the community). The most senior member of the council was called abïz. Traditionally, this council, which corresponded to the Russian mir, arbitrated disputes, periodically redistributed land, and organized communal religious rituals, such as animal sacrifices. After the Bolshevik Revolution the village council was supplanted by the village or collective-farm soviet. This transition presumably reduced the authority of the village elders.

Political Organization. Kriashen villages were integrated into the czarist, then the Soviet political structure. In the czarist period political institutions in the Kriashen regions were dominated by the Russian nobility, and in the early twentieth century by Russian and Islamic Tatar political organizations. Kriashens were subject to the same tax and military obligations as other peasants in the former Russian Empire. The fact that Kriashen nationhood was not recognized in the Soviet period has deprived the Kriashens of those political institutions afforded the other nationalities of the middle Volga region.

Social Control. Traditionally, social control was exercised by communal opinion, in more extreme cases by the village council or local courts. In the Soviet period social control was exercised by judicial and law-enforcement authorities.

Conflict. The Kriashens participated in all of the major uprisings against czarist authority in the middle Volga region, most notably the Stenka Razin Revolt in the seventeenth century and the Pugachev Uprising of the eighteenth century. Little is known of agrarian unrest in the Kriashen villages during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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