With the conservative backgrounds on Alexander III and Nicolas II from their tutor, Pobedonostev, they were in favour or returning Russia to its original state. "Russification" was the policy that Russia would only talk in a certain language and be taught only about Russia's history. However, there was a major problem with this: 44% of Russia's population were native Russians.
The Tsar wanted to enforce the Orthodox Church because 30% (38 million people) of all religious people supported other religions except the Orthodox Church in 1897. Russian was the only language to be used in school or by the government or in courts or in the legal system.
There was a difference of how different groups were treated. As an example, the Polish were treated the worst, while the Finnish and the Ukrainians were treated less harshly. Finland had been gained by Russia from Sweden in 1809, and the Finns retained their original beliefs and language. Russian was strongly imposed on them in 1891 when the Tsar announced that he could bypass the Finnish Diet.
Ukraine enjoyed a relationship with Russia because of their access to the Black Sea and they were the richest grain producing region in the empire. The Cossacks, the native Ukrainians, had been a part of the Russian empire for centuries, and they played a key part in the military and the police. They also were able to become full citizens of the empire and could occupy posts in the administration.
But books in Ukranian language were banned and the revolutionary party was a main target of the Okhrana.
Until the late 18th century, Poland was an independent nation. Russia had inherited a state of protesting Polish people (6 million people) which erupted into a huge rebellion in 1863. The Tsar dealt with the rebellion with extreme brutality, so he had an entire state despising Russification. Therefore, the Poles were a little compliant in 1881, but there was a major spurt of revolutionary and nationalist groups.
In 1885, a law was passed which made all Polish schools teach in Russian. This was a failure given that the Poles found ways to keep their language, culture and history remembered and educated. Another combat to Russification in Poland took form in the creation of the National League, which was a movement of Polish independence.
Alike the Ukrainians, the Finnish had a special status but was destroyed by Alexander III. Their Parliament (or "Diet"), language and history were "russified". The language in Finland was officially Russian in 1891. Finland's Diet could be overruled by the Tsar from 1899, when Nicholas II made the "Imperial Manifesto of 1899". The Finnish, therefore, played a huge part in both the 1905 and 1917 revolutions and dedicated themselves to political parties, namely the Mensheviks who were becoming increasingly popular.
Many provinces in Russia were very complex to handle, even the traditional ones, because some had the population believe in the Islamic religion. There was an attempt to make these traditional Russians change their beliefs without forming an opposing threat.
Russian native schools were established in 1884, which used Russian language and religion as a basis of a curriculum; state expenditure for Muslim schools was cut off. However, primary schools were left self-governed to teach their traditional language and religion. A Russian Governor General was appointed to supervise the military, and conscription was not imposed on the local populations of these types of places.
Immigration was encouraged in these parts with Russian peasants travelling to Turkestan. By 1911, 1 and a half million Russian peasants had moved.
The Tsar wanted to impose Russification, but as lightly as possible. His aloof figure confused the people of Turkestan, because they turned against him and were originally in favour of him.
In 1897, there were 5 million Jews who lived in the "Pale of Settlement" (since 1835), a large region of western Russia. Although they were alienated, Alexander II's polcies were less trivial and not that harsh. After the 1863 Polish revolt, there was an increase in anti-Semitism and Jewish schools were closed.
However, Alexander III was an anti-Semite and the Jews were open to more discrimination than ever before. He brought in the Imperial Court which was prejudice to many Jewish cases, and this coincided with "pogroms", which were mobs on Jewish areas which affected their lives through looting, **** and arson.
Anti-Jewish riots were common in Russia, with an example in Yekaterinoslav in April 1881 which made 20,000 Jews homeless. There was a group, called the the "Holy League", that coordinated hundreds of pogroms that was led by a brief Minister of the Interior, N.P. Ignatiev.
The Extraordinary Laws of August 1881 restricted the Jews' rights to settle, travel, own land and to get education. 1400 regulations out of 1900 inflicted upon Jews. Also, a document formed by the Okhrana was fabricated in 1895 to frame the Jews for plans of world domination. This document was named the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion".
The Union of Russian People, the social movement group, strengthened consensus of hatred to Jews after the October Manifesto. They unleashed 700 pogroms throughout the Empire where 3000 Jews were murdered from 1905-1906.
To conclude, all of the negative behaviour surrounding Jews made them, too, opposers of the regime and "russification". It also led to thousands of Jews leaving to the USA, "the land of opportunity". Julius Martov and Leon Trotsky were leaders of the Social Democrats and they were Jews.
R v Beilis (1913) was a case where a young Jew was accused of murdering a child to get Christian blood for one of his "rituals". He was found innocent on jury trial and on a re-trial, but the courts were willing to imply the guilt of the Jews.
To conclude, Russification was used by the Tsar to hinder the movements of the Intelligentsia from gathering more support and spreading their ideas into politics, the police force or, even worse, the army. It is not surprising that opposition did exist because of the introduction of Russification. The Social Democrats were becoming extremely popular in Finland, the Baltic States and Georgia, especially the Mensheviks.
The Finnish also supported the "Young Finns" and the "Active Resistance". The Ukrainians supported the "Revolutionary Ukrainian Party" and the "Ukrainian Social Democratic Party". The Armenians supported the "Dashnaks" to oppose Russification in education.
The Tsar's actions were so stupid! How could he not forsee the consequences of his actions? Russification was a long term factor for the 1905 and 1917 revolution.