Почему численность караимов уменьшается?

A history of the Karaites has over 1 century. However, the Karaites, the aboriginals of Russia, Crimea and Lithuania are disapearing as an ethnic nation. For 70-100 years to come and you can know of them only from
publications and reminiscences. At the same time, the history of this people serves as the most striking and typical example of the State system and the gradual vanishing of indigenous population who suffered from all conceivable and inconceivable circumstances led to reduction of their numbers. The analysis of such an experience is likely to help other native nationalities to preserve themselves as an ethnic homogenity of the population. Short generalization of factors, influenced on reducing of Karaites as an ethnic group, shows that maximal quantity of possible causes resulted in shortening of the population number existed. We shall exemplify some of them.

1. Ecologo-climatic factor
The Caspian Sea has endured multiple transgressions (Bakinskaya, Khazorskaya, Khvalunskaya) and regressions. The level of Caspian Sea oscillated for centures up to 28 meters. The ups and downs in the sea level within 400 years led in VII-VIII centuries to negative effects: the ara of Khazaria and, subsequently, arable lands and pastures were cut down, thus trade, economic and military activities of Khazar Khaghanat declined, resulting in military defeat and collapse of the state structure.

2. National and religious factors
The existence of different nationalities and religions in Khazaria after its military defeat led to migration of the population on national and religious signs into Altai, Crimea, Middle Asia, Prichernomorie (Black Sea areas), forest-steppes in the North of Khazar kingdom.

3. Formation of military caste
In Khazaria, which was at war for the whole history of its existence, a professional arme was organized. The military caste was formed with men striving for military service. It is typical that Karaites kept their love for soldiering for centuries. It was no accident that Karaites served in the army headed by Vitovt, Lithuanian prince, Poland. The colonel Eliash Karaimovich was even at the head of Zaporozhian host. The Karaites took the field with A.V.Suvorov and they served as officers in the Russian army. Military service in the army, frontier guards, participation in ware could hardly lead to increasing of male population, the Karaites.

4. Invasion of different tribes and peoples
Crimea as no other territory was exposed to invasions of different tribes and peoples from East and West. In connection to this the Karaites, who occupied a great part of the peninsular territory, began to mass up in fortresses-cities and around them: Dzhuft-Cale (Kyrk-Or, Kyrkor, Kyrk-Er, Chuft-Cale, Chufut-Cale), Manghup-Cale, Eski-Kermen etc., where it was impossible to use cavalry effectively. Constant devasting invasions shortened the area where the Karaites lived, but the fortresses-cities helped to save native population of the Karaites-Turks. As a consequence of ware the Karaites were taken prisoners or they moved to another places. Thus, for example, in the Middle Ages a part of the Karaites left to Lithuania with prince Vitovt. During Crimean war the Karaites migrated to the various cities of Russia.

5. Dissolution and formation of new states
Disappearing of Khazaria as a state, dissolution of Austria-Hungary, formation and disintegration of the USSR brought into migration of the Karaites in Russia, Crimea, Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, France as well as in the other countries. All factors said above hampered and reduced the possibilities of the Karaites to contact with other peoples,
caused definite isolation without promoting the growth of population.

6. Epidemic and Pandemia
High level of hygiene, the cleanliness in the Karaite houses, availability of their own pharmaceutics could not protect the Karaites from such diseases as plague and typhus. The pandemia of plague in Crimea, Lithuania and Poland reduced sharply the numbers of the Karaite population. It has taken the centuries to restore the previous numbers of the native population.

7. Civil and the Second World Wars
The Revolution and the Civil War effected extremely negative onthe numbers of Karaites in the context of their participation both, mainly, in the White and Red Armies. During the World War II nazi did not disturb the Karaites as national minority. However, the Karaites were often taken hostages and Sjhot down. Total mobilization during the World War II and participation in cease hostilities led to significant losses of manpower resources among the Karaites. Approximately, up to 70% of the Karaite men were killed during the Second World War.

8. Depriving of property and land; declining of the living standard
Expropriation of the enterprises organized by the Karaites, of dwelling-houses built by them, as wellas of network of health resorts and educational institutions, trade premises, industries and all agricultural lands conducted by the Bolsheviks undermined the economy, the foundations of the people’s life. The Karaites became the only native population lodt thitrown land. The standard of the Karaite families under the Soviet form ofgovemment dropped down sharply, in connection to this the Karaites could not afford to have as many children as they had until 1917 when almost every usual family had, on the average, 6-7 children in spite of 1-2 ones in the period of Soviet power. Depopulation of the Karaite nation started.

9. Disbalance between men and woman
The enhanced mortality among the Karaite men over the whole history, in particular among the professional servicemen, resulted in increasing of the mixed marriages between the Karaite women and the representatives of another nationalities, with a consequent reduction of the Karaite families.

10. Erroneous deportation
The Soviet practice of forced eviction and deportationof the peoples was not concerned with Karaites who was not mentioned in the orders. Heanwhile, in practice, accounting the wholesale and severe character of deportation the Karaites were, partially suffered from it, since the officials from NKVD (People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs) could not differ the Karaites from the Tatars. There were Tatar-and-Karaite families, so a part of the Karaites were deported to the Urals and Middle Asia. Erroneous deportation, considering the small numbers of the Karaites, turned out to be not so inoffensive act of.the Soviet authorities.

11. Sharp transition into the XIX centuryfromcommunalandpatriarchal mode of life tocivilization of big cities
The life of the Karaites in Russian Empire passed quietly, comfortably and prosperously. However, the Karaites experienced the impact of civilization gradually. They started to be educated and moved to the cities, that is the Karaites settled over the whole territory of Russia resulting in the late marriages with the Karaite women or the mixed marriages.

12. Liquidation of all privileges
The Russian national policy of the imperial court until 1917 was exclusively favourable for the Karaites who obtained a whole system of the privileges including the cancellation of universal military service, equation °f any rights of’the Karaites with civil lights °f the Russiancitizens, allowance of religious features of the Karaite nation. The Soviet authorities liquidated all privileges given to the Karaites.

13. Closure of national schools, culture and religious societiesduring the Soviet power
The Soviet national policy has been marked by a complete absence even of apparent democracy and taking the national interests of native peoples into consideration. All Karaite schools, kenasas and public organizatioas were closed in the USSR. An attemp to set up the national Karaite society in Moscow was nipped in the bud by NKVD with a resolution «inexpedient»

14. Inbreeding and seclusion of communal-religious system
In a certain time of living the Karaites were prohibited by instructions of religious leaders to marry the persons of another nationalities. However, considering the insignificant numbers of the Karaites, this led to negative effects: to the so-called inbreeding phenomenon at which the marriages within a small population could result in sterility, arbitrary abortions, anomalies in chromosome set and other diseases.

15. Change of nationality in documents
Prior to 1917 in birth certificates of the Karaites as in the documents for all Russian citizens one should find the faith mark, «the Karaite». In Soviet time the nationality came to be written into certificate upon an application or nationality of one of the parents. There were many cases when another nationalities had been written into the Karaite passports. We also established some precedents when the Karaites themselves, having regard definite oppressions as national minorities when employing or for years changed their nationality.

16. Absence of national ethnographic Karaite region and non-fulfillment of legislative acts
In Crimea, in the cities Evpatoria, Feodosia etc., there is no national ethnographic region. Dzhuft-Cale, the patrimony of the Karaites, was not handed to the Karaite Society, «Krymkarailar». A decision of the Council of Ministres of 1992 to regenerate national culture of the Karaites and inhabitants of Crimea has not been implemented. We can also call a great number of reasons influenced directly or indirectly on reducing the numbers of the Karaite nation. The analysis shows that a number of factors persist to effect negatively further on the numbers of ethnic population, and there are no prospects in the present state of affairs in the nearest future.

The Karaite folk encyclopaedia created enables us to preserve the memory of the Karaite people in the most complete and informative form. Every volume od the Karaite encyclopaedia will be studied in Sunday schools. Our experience in preparing and publishing of this edition can be used by the other native peoples of Russia in order to create their own encyclopaedia.

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