Macedonian Turmoil - Perspective of the Russian Consuls

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"MACEDONIAN TURMOIL": PERSPECTIVE OF THE RUSSIAN CONSULS[уреди]

ISAEVA Olga Nikolaevna[уреди]

Slavjanskij sbornik, Issue 6 - 2003, Saratov University, ISBN 5-292-02993-9[уреди]

At the beginning of the XX century Macedonia - a vast historical and geographical area of the Balkan Peninsula - became the first "hot spot" in south-eastern Europe. The "Macedonian Turmoil", as events in the region at the time were called in 1902-1908, had a very complex nature, it absorbed almost all the factors that determined then the situation in the region. Born, first of all, of the deep crisis of the Ottoman Empire, it began with powerful anti-Turkish speeches of the Macedonian population, aimed at eliminating socio-economic and political inequality. However, the sources of the unrest were rooted not only in the general problems of the empire, but also in the specifics of the historical, ethnocultural and ethno-confessional development of the region. An important component of the events in Macedonia of those years was the sharp increase in ethno-political processes associated with the completion of the Macedonian nation formation and national-state building in the Balkans. The "Macedonian Turmoil", which contained all the signs of ethno-national confrontation with distinct religious features, opened the era of ethnic intolerance, extremism and violence in the Balkans and became "the beginning of a barbaric chapter of European history" [1].

Returning to the history of this large-scale and long-lasting crisis in the Balkans, the author of this article tries to single out from the whole variety of factors that constituted its essence those that were not previously in the focus of researchers' attention. First of all, it is a question of considering the ethnic aspects of the "Macedonian Turmoil", which makes it possible to better understand the extremely complex process of developing the self-awareness of the Macedonian people, to identify the dramatic circumstances of the formation of the Macedonian ethnos.

Needless to say, the problem of the formation and development of the Macedonian nation has been and continues to be the subject of heated debate. The detailed analysis of various views on this question, existing in national historiographies of Balkan countries and in a domestic science, is not included in a problem of the given article. It should only be noted that the historiography of the Macedonian issue reflected two directly opposite trends: some researchers claimed the original specificity of the Macedonian people, while others were inclined to consider the Macedonians as part of the Bulgarian or Serbian nation or, at best, to recognize the beginning of the formation of the Macedonian nation only after the Second World War.

It must be said that most of the domestic historians did not adhere to such extreme concepts, but tried to consider the formation of the Macedonian nation from the standpoint of historicism. For the first time comparatively full history of Macedonia was described in the two-volume "History of Yugoslavia", published in 1963. By the beginning of the 70's historians and cultural scientists of our country have developed their own concept of history of formation and development of the Macedonian people, set out in the 15th volume of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia. However, in Soviet times, the study of the Macedonian issue was extremely difficult due to political and ideological reasons. Only with the fall of the former bans imposed by the Soviet partyocracy, the first publications on the Macedonian issue began to appear in Russia, which contained an attempt to study more deeply the process of formation and development of the Macedonian nation [2].

This article is based on reports of Russian consuls from the main cities of Macedonia - Monastery (Bitola), Uskub (Skopje) and Solun (Thessaloniki). Their detailed reports, statistical calculations and analytical notes present the entire chronicle of local life and highlight the most important features of the then Macedonian reality. In the period of turmoil in the thickest of the events, Russian consuls A. Rostkovsky, A. Petryaev, V. Kal, A. Orlov became witnesses of unprecedented in scale and cruelty ethno-religious struggle in Macedonia. Before their eyes there were metamorphoses with the national self-determination of the Orthodox population, which belonged to different autocephalous churches, the degree of "ethnization" of the Slavs of Macedonia was increasing. Noting the fluctuations of "ethnic mood" among the population of the region, Russian consuls were the first to catch the sprouts of their own, Macedonian self-consciousness and identify factors that contributed to the affirmation of this process. Testimonies of Russian consuls, who served in Macedonia for a long time and knew perfectly the language, the life of the local population, are a valuable source that contributes to the approach to a reliable study of the history of the Macedonian people.

The most common reference in the consuls' reports was to the ethnic and confessional heterogeneity of the population of the three vilayets of European Turkey that were commonly referred to as Macedonia: Monastyrski, Uskubski (Kosovo) and Solunski. They pointed out that out of the 2.5 million people, most are Slavs, in addition to whom Greeks, Turks, Albanians and Vlachs (Romanians) have long lived here. At the same time, it was rightly noted that repeated conquests, inclusion of this area into the borders of various medieval state formations had influenced the composition of its population, its life, language, political traditions and culture. A. Petriayev in his historical review "The movement and development of tribal composition in Macedonia" wrote: "The type of Macedonian in its original and pure form has not reached us, over the course of several centuries it was subjected to various changes under strong foreign influence: from the west - Romanesque, from the south - Greek-Byzantine, from the east and north - Slavic. Romans, Greeks, and behind them Bulgarian and Serbs, appearing on Balkan peninsula and dominating on it alternately, mixed up with subordinated population and left in it traces of the statehood and culture, and also ethnic features " [3].

The Ottoman conquest, accompanied by a significant Islamization of the population of the Balkan Peninsula and the creation of a millet system (confessional communities), caused significant demographic shifts. The peoples of the empire were clearly divided by their religion and position in society: all Muslims occupied a privileged position, and all non-Believers (Christians and Jews) were deprived of any rights. The administrative-territorial structure of the European part of the empire and the millet into which the entire non-Muslim population was divided contributed to the mixing of peoples, religions and languages.

Under the millet system, which replaced national consciousness with religious consciousness, all Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire were regarded as one "Greek community". All of them were subject to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which was Greek in terms of ethnicity of the hierarchs. Initially, the Ecumenical Church, by curbing the assimilative onslaught of Islam and supporting the traditions of faith and ethnicity, contributed to the preservation of the ethnocultural image of the multi-tribal local population. But then the Greek Orthodox clergy began to vigorously pursue a policy of hellenizing the Christians under their control, opening their churches and schools. Greek became the language of communication for Balkan Christians. As a result, a significant part of the urban residents of Macedonia became "Greek", i.e. there was an emerging transformation of Greek Orthodox millet into a religious and national community.

As the national consciousness of the Christian peoples of the Balkan Peninsula awakened, the movement for their own church with the local language of worship became one of the main forms of national liberation struggle in the XIX century. Patriarchs of Constantinople condemned the nationalization of the church system, opposed the formation of new church-administrative centers of Orthodoxy, which reduced the scope of their influence. The patriarchate reacted especially painfully to the appearance of the Bulgarian Exarchy in 1870: Bulgarians were declared schismatic and excommunicated from the Ecumenical Church. The ensuing strife in the Orthodox world hid under the church banner the struggle of national and political interests of the Greeks and Bulgarians.

The Exarchate, which had the opportunity to freely open churches and schools, managed for a short period of time to attract tens of thousands of Slavs in Macedonia that worship and education they were given in a close and understandable language. The Christians who came under the jurisdiction of the Bulgarian church began to be called "Bulgaromans", as opposed to the patriarchs called "Grecomans", and thus belonging to the exarchy or patriarchate became a kind of indicator of ethnicity in Macedonia. The Orthodox population in Macedonia was divided into two large groups, holding on to their churches as symbols of a separate nation. Thus, as noted by V. Kal, "people masses, though divide themselves into patriarchs and exarchists, in fact do not feel hostility to each other, being aware of their tribal affinity and community of interests" [4]. Both spoke in local Macedonian (Slavic) dialects, only patriarchs used the Greek alphabet for writing.

The question of national identification of Slavs of Macedonia became especially acute during the Great East crisis. The national liberation uprisings and wars of 1875 - 1878 intensified the processes of national self-determination and set the Balkan peoples the historical task of uniting their ethnic territories into one state. It was a time of national and state self-affirmation of Serbia, Montenegro, Romania, Bulgaria and the promotion of the Macedonian issue as an important international problem. As is known, the Macedonian territories according to the San Stefano Treaty of 1878 were included in the newly formed Bulgarian principality, but three months later, by decision of the Berlin Congress, they were left to the Ottoman Empire with the obligation to reform their governance and the equation of rights of Christians with Muslims. The decision of the great powers and the rampant Turkish repression raised the Macedonian population to a mass armed struggle, during which the rebels first demanded the autonomy of the region [5].

Major international events of the second half of the 70s of the XIX century, which affected the fate of the Macedonian lands and their population, had a significant impact on their further development. According to the national historiography, the national liberation and cultural-educational movement in Macedonia during most of the XIX century, at least until the liberation of Bulgaria in 1878, was in the general direction of the Bulgarian national revival, i.e. in school, church struggle and even in the language area, the whole development of Macedonia was part of the overall Bulgarian development and was directed against the Greek spiritual power. The participation of the Macedonian population in the armed struggle against the Ottoman oppression was of the same nature. The majority of the population of Macedonian lands was not fully developed in national terms at that time, but was developing towards the formation of Bulgarian national identity. During this period, the inhabitants of Macedonia called themselves "Bulgarians", "Macedonian Bulgarians", and only a few documents of the 70s of the XIX century contain the name "Macedonians", and even then mixed with the above names.

It should be stressed that domestic researchers, considering the development of Macedonia in the course of the all-Bulgarian process, noted the significant regional features of the region. First of all, it was pointed out that the Macedonian lands are seriously lagging behind the Bulgarian territories to the east, and that the national revival process is slowing down. It was stressed that the national educational movement that started in Bulgaria in the first third of the nineteenth century started later in the Macedonian lands and developed more slowly than in the Bulgarian territories. The rise of the mass struggle that swept Bulgaria in the 60s - first half of the 70s of the XIX century, which became the highest point of the whole process of national revival, almost did not affect Macedonia. Thus, the Macedonian lands were as if away from the center of the Bulgarian National Rise, the center of consolidation of the Bulgarian nation that was forming.

Domestic researchers noted that even before the liberation of Bulgaria, part of the Macedonian trade and crafts bourgeoisie and intelligentsia had a keen interest in elements of local folk culture (language, folklore, past), there was an awakening of patriotic feelings, there was a desire to preserve its regional specificity. Already in the 60s of the XIX century. some of the educators in Macedonia began to create educational aids on the basis of local dialects, and later some figures, who began to be called "Macedonists", came up with the idea of creating an independent Macedonian language, i.e. in the period before the Great Eastern crisis, it was noticed the awakening of national consciousness in part of the population of Macedonia.

After the Berlin Congress, when Bulgaria and Macedonia found themselves in different political and economic conditions, a new national perspective was created for the Macedonian population, clearly outside the framework of the overall Bulgarian development. With the deepening differences between the above two areas, the growth of ethnic identity among Macedonian intellectuals has increased, as well as an understanding of the well-known isolation of Macedonia's political and cultural interests. The ideas of "Macedonianism" began to grow, which was reflected in disputes over the relationship between the Bulgarian literary language and Macedonian dialects. This was also facilitated by the position of Bulgaria's ruling circles, which viewed Macedonia only as an object of their interests and strongly refuted the slightest mention of its linguistic and cultural specificity.

The development of ethnic processes in Macedonia was greatly influenced by the rivalry of neighboring countries, which engaged in an open struggle for the population of the region. After 1878, in addition to Greece and Bulgaria, Serbia claimed its rights to Macedonia. Athens, Sofia and Belgrade used a variety of arguments to justify their claims: confessional, ethnic, so-called "historical law", etc. The main agents of the influence of the Balkan monarchies in Macedonia were churches and their subordinate schools. In each village, which had at least 30 families, the religious community had the right to open its own school. In the larger villages, there were several religious schools. In these conditions, according to consuls, the school became a "national banner": sending their children to this or that school, the parents expressed their political gravitation towards a well-known nationality. Not only did most schools in Macedonia not charge any tuition fees for their children, but they often paid allowances to parents. It is clear that the influence of Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia was strongest in the regions of Macedonia adjacent to their borders. Inhabitants of suburbs of Macedonia, wrote A.Petryaev "christen themselves with original ethnographic names of 'greekomans', 'bulgaromans', 'serbo-mans' depending on belonging to this or that nationalist propaganda" [6].

The Turkish authorities skillfully took advantage of the struggle of national-church propaganda. Adhering to the principle of "divide and conquer", they began to maintain Serbian influence in Macedonia, considering it less dangerous for themselves, in order to weaken the position of their main opponents in the province - Greeks and Bulgarians. The Ottoman administration began to facilitate the organization of Serbian schools and the appointment of Belgrade candidates for vacant bishopric chairs. As a result, the north-east of the province became the main battlefield for Bulgarian and Serbian propaganda. It should be noted that the "serbomans" were listed as patriarchists, as they had no separate church administration and were subordinate to the Greek metropolitans. Most of the villagers, as noted by the Russian consuls, were completely indifferent to whether a Serbian or Bulgarian priest was serving in their church, all that mattered to them was that the service was performed in the Slavic language they understood [7]. The consuls, stating that the Slavic population of Macedonia, especially in rural areas, did not have a consciousness of their nationality, believed that this circumstance favors the activities of the propaganda of neighboring states.

The rivalry between Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia, which dreamed of a total or partial takeover of Macedonia, influenced the development of Macedonian national ideology, the main content of which was to emphasize the ethnic identity of Macedonians, to defend their rights to their own territory. This defensive dominance was most vividly reflected in the program of a secret revolutionary organization created by young students in Thessaloniki in 1893. Aimed at achieving political and administrative autonomy within the Ottoman Empire, the organization put forward the slogan "Macedonia for Macedonians". In this slogan, the organization's leaders saw the way to unite the entire population of the region in a common liberation struggle for social justice. In order to emphasize its autonomy and non-participation in the Macedonian committees that existed in Sofia, Athens and Belgrade, it became known as the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization (IMRO). By the beginning of the 20th century, the region had been covered by a network of local clandestine committees that led mobile armed groups (the Chetas) and collected funds for their maintenance among peasants.

In the autumn of 1902, in the north-east of Macedonia, an uprising broke out, which was called Gornodzumaysko, which, in fact, began the turmoil in the Balkans. This revolt was inspired by the ruling circles of Bulgaria with the intention to achieve with the help of Europe the autonomy of Macedonia and its subsequent accession to the Bulgarian Principality. The neighboring countries were worried, being afraid that in case of avoidance of participation in the beginning of events, they would lose their share of expected production. The unsuccessful rebellion of 1902, which caused great losses among the local population, forced Russia and Austria-Hungary to intensify their policy in the Balkans: the two powers demanded from the Porte to carry out reforms in the Macedonian vilayets. The news of the beginning of administrative reforms provoked opposition from local Albanians, who served as the pillar of the Sultan power in European vilayets. Fear of losing their privileges led to unrest among Muslim Albanians, who took the form of beating local Slavs. Two Russian consuls - G. Shcherbina in Mitrovica and A. Rostkovsky in Monastery - fell victims of the riots.

Rostkovsky's death coincided with the beginning of the most large-scale uprising in Macedonia against Ottoman rule. On August 2, 1903 began the Ilinden Uprising, raised by local forces led by IMRO and became the culmination of the national liberation movement of Macedonia. Its most significant event was the proclamation of a republic by rebels in the city of Krushevo. The brutal suppression of the Ilinden Uprising made the situation in the region extremely difficult. In autumn 1903, more than two hundred villages were burned, the number of those killed was estimated at several thousand, tens of thousands of Macedonians turned into refugees and emigrants. Russian consuls reported on the unbearable living conditions of Macedonian peasants, who were oppressed by both revolutionary Chetas and government troops, as well as by Albanian gangs who committed looting and robberies [8].

In autumn 1903 Russia and Austria-Hungary, which took up the pacification of Macedonia, developed the first reform program, which provided for the organization of an international gendarmerie and a system of limited administrative and financial control of Europe over the three Macedonian vilayets. The action of the great powers to reform the three Macedonian vilayets, carried out from 1904 to 1908, reduced the Turkish arbitrariness. In any case, the systematic persecution of local Christians by the Turks was stopped, and the situation with regard to property and personal security, as well as religious freedom, was significantly improved. However, Macedonia faced a new test: the weakening of the Turkish oppression broke through "the long-standing mutual hatred of the diverse tribal Christian nations, which resulted in the unfortunate country becoming an arena of fratricidal bloody strife" [9]. In the spring of 1905, Russian Foreign Minister Count Lamsdorf described the situation in the region with such words.

The strengthening of the former ethno-confessional tension, which had grown from 1904 into a real internecine war of Christian peoples, was caused by a number of reasons. The force of inertia of previous contradictions in the Orthodox world acted and factors of an ethnopolitical nature unusually increased. This was primarily due to the policies of neighboring countries in Macedonia, when in the struggle for Hellenization, Bulgarianization and serbization of the local Slavic population, severe measures of violence began to be applied and pronounced ethnic fanaticism manifested itself. The aggravation of the situation in Macedonia was promoted by the inept, and sometimes very ambiguous, policy of the great powers in the region. So, the escalation of tension in Macedonia was facilitated by the extremely unsuccessful both in form, in essence, the proposal of Russia and Austria-Hungary to carry out administrative-territorial reform taking into account the resettlement of nationalities. Literally, it was a question of "territorial delimitation of administrative units in the forms of a more correct grouping of nationalities." This proposal of St. Petersburg and Vienna pursued an apparently good goal - to introduce church-school disputes into a relatively acceptable framework, by dividing the population along ethnic and religious lines. The authors of this proposal did not take into account, however, the fact that the tendency to delimitation always leads to fierce conflicts that develop into military clashes, and encourages fierce rivalry between ethnic groups.

The news of the upcoming census aimed at establishing "the true ratio of religions and nationalities" caused great excitement among the population of Macedonia. It was very difficult for an individual person included in the social interweaving of religions, language and culture to decide on the choice of one or another nationality. Consuls began to be contacted with questions regarding the criteria for determining nationality. Moreover, as noted by V. Kal, each of the warring parties defended their determinant of nationality. So the Greeks, considering each patriarchist to be Hellenic, wanted only religion to be noted during the survey. Serbs and Vlachs, subordinate to the patriarchy, sought to include in the questionnaire only a determination of nationality, without mentioning religion. Bulgarians were most interested in defining a language. They wanted so that during the census, it was not men who spoke often in many dialects who were interviewed, but women who in most cases knew only their mother tongue. The Bulgarians, Kal wrote, were convinced that “in this way dozens of patriarchist villages will be recognized as Bulgarian, since the women in them really speak the Macedonian dialect, which they consider Bulgarian”[10] . The Turkish government, which scheduled the census for the fall of 1905, put both religion and nationality on the questionnaire.

In the capitals of the Balkan states at the beginning of the reforms, a strong conviction arose in the imminent and inevitable division of Macedonia along ethnic borders, in connection with which each interested party tried to consolidate as vast territories as possible. The methods of propaganda, previously reduced to the organization of churches and schools, as well as the material impact on the Christian population of Macedonia, have also changed. Now, in neighboring countries and in Macedonia itself, the formation of armed detachments intended for the struggle to expand the scope of national propaganda has begun. Detachments sent from outside were usually led by cadre officers, and the four formed on the spot were often led by priests and teachers. The role of the organizers of the armed struggle in Macedonia was performed by official representatives of the Balkan countries: consuls, trade agents. IMRO actively intervened in the struggle, but now it has completely directed its activity against the propaganda of neighboring states. Thus, Macedonia was seized by the element of separatism, which took either the form of national-religious irredentism or the national liberation struggle.

Russian consuls from the beginning of 1904 began to report on the activities of "multi-tribal gangs" and the remnants of "rebel gangs", stressing that all of them have regained their struggle against the Turkish authorities and through threats and violence began to increase the number of individual groups of the population on ethnic and religious grounds. Preparing for the future demarcation of Macedonia, the Bulgarian chetas forced the Slavic patriarchs to pass under the jurisdiction of the exarchy, and the Greek units, in turn, pounded on the exarchist villages, demanding their return to the bosom of the patriarchy. The most fierce struggle between the Bulgarian and Greek units took place in the middle part of Macedonia, where between 1904 and 1908 they committed brutal violence and mass murder. Serbs also took part in the struggle for spheres of influence, their clashes with Bulgarians took place in the Kosovo Vilayet to the south of Uskub and in the northern part of Monastyr Vilayet.

Later on, the Romanian propaganda came into battle through the Vlachs. It sought recognition of their rights as a separate nation and independence from the Universal Church. The Romanian government, not wanting to lag behind the other Balkan countries in supporting its national element, spent considerable funds on supporting the church and school propaganda. It expected to have a "bargaining chip" in the form of Vlach communities by the time Macedonia was partitioned, in order to claim territorial compensation from the state to which those communities would be "ceded".

Troubles reached their peak at the time of the census, when the number of killed and wounded was in the hundreds, and the population at risk of terror was forced to declare themselves Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs and Vlachs, depending on the domination of the gang. Russian consuls, from the very beginning considering the census not only useless, but also harmful, insisted on its rapid suspension. V. Kal wrote: "Many people here do not know their nationality, others will not name it, and third will deliberately hide it under the influence of threats and violence. As an example, the consul cited villagers in the Prilep district who flatly refused to name their nationality and asked to be recorded as Turks, knowing that if they call themselves Serbs or Bulgarians, they risk being slaughtered by this or that gang. The population of another village was called Greeks, and the next day sent a telegram to the governor-general with a request to consider their statement false and forced, under the threat of the Greek metropolitan, to excommunicate them from the church if they declared themselves to be vlachs. In general, as the consul in Uskub A.Orlov wrote, nobody can guarantee that " whether in a week in the given village Bulgarians become Serbs, Vlachs Greeks or Greeks Bulgarians " [11].

Russia together with Austria-Hungary tried in vain to extinguish the bloody feud of the Christian nations. For this purpose, the preservation of the church and school status was introduced in 1903, due to which the transition from patriarchs to exarchists and back was suspended, some disputed churches were closed, and in others alternate ministry was introduced. But this measure, as further events have shown, proved to be untenable. The violent confrontation in the Orthodox world continued, and questions about the rights of ownership of the disputed churches and schools, as well as the languages of worship and teaching, remained the most acute in the life of Macedonia at that time. Neither European representatives during the reform period, nor the special mixed commission established in 1908 by the Young Turk Committee, nor the Ottoman government or parliament could resolve them.

In the autumn of 1906. V. Kal made a long trip to the north of the Monastyr Vilayet, which resulted in a detailed report with a careful calculation of the population of the largest cities. He wrote that except for the town of Krusevo, a large center of Vlachs, the entire Christian population of the north of the vilayet was exclusively Slavic, with the inhabitants of exarchist villages calling themselves Bulgarians and the patriarchs - Serbs. During this trip, the consul made every effort to find out the question that interested him from the first day of his arrival in Macedonia - "how much is this Slavic population really 'Bulgarian' or 'Serbian', whether this population has a consciousness of its nationality, whether it has a connection with Bulgaria and Serbia, and what language is their supradialect more like? [12].

In his report, the Consul clearly separated the urban and rural populations. He noted that in all the big centers of the vilayet there are many notables, which are convinced Bulgarians and ardent Bulgarian patriots. Most of them had been brought up in Bulgaria themselves and were teaching their children there. In these people, V. Kal, saw the main power of Bulgaria in Macedonia. The rural population, according to the consul, has no national consciousness, and it is completely indifferent to call themselves Bulgarians or Serbs. The consul described families in which one son passes off as the Bulgarian, and another - as the Serb. "Bulgarians, - wrote the consul, - villagers usually call themselves out of fear of gangs, and Serbs - because of material benefits, as the Serbian propaganda pays them money for it, as well as for security reasons, as the Turkish authorities treat Serbs much more lenient than Bulgarians". The success of the Serbian propaganda (transition of a number of villages to the patriarchy and declaration of themselves as Serbian villages, opening of Serbian schools in the cities) has alarmed the Bulgarians, who realized that not Greek, but this kindred Slavic propaganda is much more dangerous for them. The activation of the Bulgarian chetas in areas with Serb influence has forced the Serbian side to change the methods of its policy. Kal wrote in 1907 that Serbian propaganda, convinced that fear for life played a greater role than the attractive power of money, went on the offensive and also started its armed units. They did not torture unarmed villagers, women and children like the Greek chetas, but usually took away several notables from the village, which were released only if the village declared itself Serbian by a certain date, otherwise they were killed [13].

Russian consuls repeatedly reported to St. Petersburg that Macedonian peasants were asked to write them down as "Russians". They noted that this was the case when the village was threatened by gangs of different nationalities. "Whatever the name of the villagers," wrote V. Kal, "they equally risked being slaughtered. Not having consciousness of the nationality which they frequently change under pressure of this or that propaganda, peasants assume, that to become Russian as it is easy, as Greeks, Bulgarian or Serbs" [14].

The attack of the Greek, Bulgarian, Serbian nationalism on the Slavic population of Macedonia has generated in the latter a force of opposition which has helped to confirm consciousness of its own identity, has strengthened the national origin. In autumn 1907, A. Petriayev reported: "The population is tired of the national struggle. Some villagers in the Kastorian kaza, abandoning any other ethnographic self-determination, persistently call themselves Macedonians, and among them begins to emerge a special Macedonian national consciousness" [15]. Later A. Petryaev informed about the request of seven villages in the Dibra kaza with a population of four thousand souls to recognize them as “Macedonian Slavs” and to introduce Russian teaching with the help of teachers from Russia before setting up their own Macedonian schools. “This in itself is a highly naive request,” wrote Petryaev, “is characteristic of the cry of the sore soul of the local population, who wants to live their own way and speak their native dialect, and not according to the programs of the Bulgarian or Serbian committees” [16] .

В. Kal, summing up in the end of 1907 the results of Greek and Serbian propaganda in Monastery Vilayet, noted their insignificant results. It considered, that the terror unleashed by the Greek and Serbian chetas, has pushed away sympathy of local population from Serbs, and concerning Greeks has caused strong dislike. "While peaceful church propaganda tried to inspire the Slavic patriarchs that they were Greeks, they probably believed it, but when they first saw Greek and Cretan chetniks speaking a language they did not understand and had nothing to do with them, the population could not help but see their delusion. The peasants understood that the "tribesmen" coming to them from Greece were much worse for them than the neighbors with whom they had previously been hostile" [17].

Very significant, from the consul's point of view, was the attack on the patriarchist villages of Rakovo and Negovan by residents of neighboring exarchist villages in the fall of 1907. V. Kal particularly noted that the role of the organizers of the attack on these villages, which served as a haven for Greek gangs, belonged to Macedonians who had returned from emigration. These acts of revenge, in his view, showed the reluctance of Macedonians who came from America to bear the intolerable conditions of Macedonian reality. "Previously, being poor and intimidated, the villagers had been forced to submit to some kind of propaganda, change their religion and even join revolutionary gangs. Nowadays, having returned with the means and being convinced of the inaction of the Turkish authorities, the emigrants themselves took up arms in order to fight against all alien propaganda with their violence and murder. They went to the centers of Greek gangs to destroy these pockets of terrorism. The consul wrote, that the emigrants representing "a close-knit friendly mass with sharply expressed national idea", have begun "national self-defense", "movement purely Macedonian, instead of Bulgarian as Turks believe" [18].

According to V. Kal, emigration to America, which after the suppression of the Ilinden Uprising became a mass phenomenon in the life of Macedonia, which will have serious economic and political consequences. "No Macedonian, - wrote V. Kal, - does not leave his homeland forever, he seeks to accumulate more money and return to his family, which is waiting for his return, but in the meantime, - on the money sent to them - pays Turkish taxes and, if successful, buys from the local Beg their farm. Summing up the temporary emigration of Macedonians to America, the consul expressed his belief in the inevitability of the transition of Turkish lands to Macedonian villagers, as a result of which without excessive shedding of blood may be implemented long-born doctrine "Macedonia for Macedonians" [19].

Research of process of awakening of national consciousness in the Macedonian lands has induced the Russian consuls to carry out some ethnolinguistic analysis of local dialects. V. Kal, generalizing the long-term observations, has believed that the Macedonian dialect resembles both Bulgarian and Serbian depending on influence of school. In those places where the Bulgarian school had been spreading and promoting the Bulgarian language for years, the Macedonian language was similar to it, just as it was similar to Serbian in those districts where Serbian schools had been established, displacing Bulgarian propaganda. According to V. Kal, the Macedonian-Slavic language has nothing in common with the Greek language, but in the southern districts, under the influence of the Greek school and church, it included a mass of Greek words, as Turkish and Albanian words entered the Macedonian language, living side by side with Turks and Albanians. The consul's conclusion is as follows: "The local language is typical, characteristic and peculiar before that, precisely because of the different influences to which it was subjected and the admixture of foreign words that were included in its composition, which deserves between Slavic languages a separate independent name "Macedonian dialect" [20].

A similar conclusion was contained in the note by A. Orlov on the definition of Macedonian nationalities. " the Macedonian Slavic dialect has some dialects close to Bulgarian and Serbian language, but neither Serbs from Serbia, nor Bulgarian from Bulgaria can speak in it. Depending on neighborhood with the population speaking Serbian or Bulgarian, the Macedonian population adapts the language to the language of the neighbors and makes it comprehensible to them" [21]. A. Petriyaev in the " Note on question of nationalities of Macedonia " wrote, that dialects spoken in Macedonia, include many Slavic-Greek elements and quite do not correspond neither Greek, nor Bulgarian, nor Serbian, nor Romanian. “The natives of these states, who go to Macedonia, understand with difficulty, or sometimes do not understand their Macedonian relatives at all” [22] .

At a time when the Russian consuls, who knew Macedonian reality better, noted in their reports the visible features of the formation of the Macedonian nation, the leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tsarist Russia continued to remain captive to previous ideas about the national composition of the region. According to senior tsarist diplomats, the Slavs, representing the majority of the population of Macedonia, consisted mainly of Bulgarians and Serbs. So, N. Hartwig, the envoy to Serbia, wrote: “There are no Macedonians in the world: there are Serbs, Bulgarians, Turks, Greeks, Albanians, Kutzo-Vlachs” [23]. Unfortunately, we have to admit that the reports containing fundamentally new information were not deeply understood in the Russian Foreign Ministry. Stagnation and bureaucratic routine reigned there, damping new impulses. When preparing reports to the Minister and the Tsar, officials consistently ignored the new ethnic definition of "Macedonians" found in consular reports, preferring traditional confessional or established ethnic categories.

Troubles in Macedonia were muted by the 1908 coup d'état, known as the Young Turk Revolution. The announcement of the restoration of the constitutional regime, the convening of parliament and the proclamation by the Young Turks of the slogan "freedom, equality and brotherhood" of all peoples of the Ottoman Empire stopped the infighting in Macedonia. In anticipation of change, all warring parties stopped fighting and chetas descended from the mountains. V. Kal described the solemn meeting in Monastery of the great cheta, consisting of 170 people, which entered the city under a huge black banner with a picture of the skull and bones and attached a photograph of one of the dead leaders of IMRO - D. Gruev. The head of the detachment M. Matov answered the consul's question about the national composition of the cheta: "We are all Macedonians" [24].

The Young Turks, who came to power with the help of non-Turkish peoples and at the beginning put forward slogans about national equality, soon moved to the policy of restriction and suppression of national movement in the empire. The policy of centralization and ottomanization they pursued gave rise to a new upturn in the national liberation movement, which became particularly strong in Albania and Macedonia. Since then, the Albanian factor has played a very important role in Macedonia's life.

Originally, the Albanian national movement originated in southern Macedonia, inhabited by Albanian Christians who called themselves "Greco-Christians". According to consuls' reports, since 1907 they had been fighting against the policy of Hellenization pursued by the Patriarchate, and began to openly call themselves Albanians. From 1910, the Albanian national liberation movement aimed at gaining administrative and territorial autonomy within the Ottoman Empire became an armed uprising. Albanian nationalists at that time started talking about the creation of "Great Albania", which was to include most of the Macedonian territories. " They, - wrote A. Petryaev, - try to spread the idea that the people inhabiting Macedonia, known under the name of Bulgarians, Greeks, Vlach and Serbs, are nothing but propagandized Albanians " [25].

The Russian consuls in the reports noted unusual energy of the Albanian national propaganda. Albanian committees, taking the experience of neighboring countries into account, began to create political gangs, spreading the Albanian national idea through violence among the Macedonian population. A. Petryayev reported in early 1912: "They do what the Bulgarian and Greek chetas once did, i.e. they threaten or promise to attract Macedonian villages to the Albanians' side. Along with existing Macedonian terms "Grekoman", "Bulgaroman", "Serboman" there is a new ethnic name "Albanoman" [26]. The consul noted that the onslaught of Albanian nationalism first of all fell on the southwestern part of the Monastery Vilayet. Further development of the Pan-Albanian movement, in his opinion, would make it extremely difficult to resolve the Macedonian issue, as the new militant element would put the motto "Macedonia for the Albanians" on its banner [27].

Summarizing his ideas about the ethnic composition of the population of Macedonia, A. Petriayev, one of the most competent and authoritative representatives of Russia in the Balkans, wrote: "With the exception of the Turks, Jews, Gypsies, the rest of the population is a very special mixed "Macedonian" type, which can not be reduced to any of the known ethnographic groups. All names given to it - Bulgarians, Greeks, Serbs, Albanians, Romanians (Kutzo-Vlach) are only political labels imposed to it by the Balkan states neighboring with Macedonia, somehow interested in its destinies" [28].

In the beginning of XX century Macedonians, as well as other peoples of Central and South-Eastern Europe, faced an important historical task - to realize their aspiration for national self-determination, to become a subject of politics. This task was very difficult for Macedonians who had no elite of their own, no State tradition, no developed language, and no highly developed culture. The situation was complicated by the fact that for a long time Macedonia had been a field of fierce rivalry between small and great nations, exposed to the onslaught of Greek, Bulgarian, Serbian and Albanian nationalism. The events of the early 20th century testify to the fact that the ethno-national Balkanization process gained a great force.

Reports of Russian consuls allow to visually present conditions of formation of consciousness of ethnic unity among Slavs of Macedonia, defined and simultaneously complicated by coincidence with self-consciousness local-geographical and confessional. They show how, under the influence of church and school propaganda of neighboring states, the indifferent attitude of the rural population to the problems of nationality was replaced by an ambivalent, unspoken, and sometimes even "dual" identity, which is quite typical for an ethnically mixed environment where, in a relatively calm environment, people's self-consciousness is not actualized, "blurred". The Russian consuls noted that the offensive of militant nationalism of neighboring states during the turmoil, accompanied by terror and the marking of spheres of influence, caused the strengthening of ethnic identity of Macedonians, their desire to defend their identity and integrity of the territory they inhabited. The policy of the great powers, including their reform action of 1904-1908 and the rapid process of decomposition of the Ottoman statehood, was also a catalyst for ethnic processes in the province. The interrelationship between the processes of the collapse of the empire and the formation of the nation is well known.

The formation of a Macedonian nation, like any other ethnicity, was characterized by a multistage ethnic identity and, accordingly, a multistage ethnic self-name. During the "Macedonian Turmoil", the Russian consuls recorded the emergence of a distinct ethnic identity of the Slavic population of Macedonia, the most important manifestation of which was the spread of the general self-name "Macedonians". Appearance of a stable ethnonym, as it is known, is the evidence of completion of the ethnogenesis process.


  • [1] Altermatt W. Ethnonationalism in Europe. M., 2000.S. 93.
  • [2] See: Foci of anxiety in Eastern Europe (Drama of national contradictions). M., 1994; Macedonia: problems of history and culture. M., 1999.
  • [3] Archive of the foreign policy of the Russian Empire (hereinafter - AVPRI) F. Politarchive. 1909. D. 5268. L. 1.
  • [4] AVPRI. F. Politarchive. 1910. D. 2695. L. 20.
  • [5] Macedonia The path to independence. Documents. M., 1997.S. 13.
  • [6] AVPRI. F. Politarchive. 1909. D. 5268. L. 3.
  • [7] Ibid. 1907. D. 568. L. 59.
  • [8] AVPRI. F. Politarchive. 1907. D. 568. L. 152.
  • [9] AVPRI. F. Politarchive 1904/1905. D. 3386.L. 57.
  • [10] AVPRI. F. Politarchive. 1905. D. 566. L. 124.
  • [11] Ibid. F. Politarchive. 1910. D. 2694. L. 140.
  • [12] AVPRI. F. Politarchive. 1906. D. 567. L. 112.
  • [13] Ibid. 1907. D. 568. L. 48.
  • [14] AVPRI. F. Politarchive. 1910. D. 571. L. 12
  • [15] Ibid. 1907. D. 2690. L. 19.
  • [16] Ibid. 1911. D. 572. L. 239.
  • [17] Ibid. 1907. D. 568. LL. 125-126.
  • [18] AVPRI. LL 85-88.
  • [19] Ibid. LL 153.
  • [20] AVPRI. F. Politarchive. 1906. D. 567. LL. 114-115.
  • [21] Ibid. 1909. D. 2694. LL. 138.
  • [22] Ibid. 1909. D. 5268. LL. 2-3.
  • [23] Ibid. 1910. D. 2695. L. 75.
  • [24] AVPRI. F. Politarchive. 1908. D. 569. L. 83.
  • [25] Ibid. 1912-1914. D. 573. L. 229.
  • [26] Ibid. L. 275.
  • [27] AVPRI. F. Politarchive. L. 230.
  • [28] Ibid. 1909. D. 5268. L. 1.


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