Minorities policy according to Count Witte

As well as aiming to improve the lot of the Russian rural peasantry, Witte saw that the plight of the minorities, non-Russians, had to be dealt with in order for the nation to develop at its full potential. Witte saw also that the error of Russia’s recent policies toward non-Russian subjects derives from forgetting that since the days of Peter the Great we have been not “Russia” but “the Russian Empire. When thirty-five percent of the population is not Russian (...) it is impossible to follow a policy that ignores the language, religion of the non-Russian nationalities that have become part of the Russia Empire, The aim of such Empire cannot be to turn everyone into a “true Russian”...

“I asked if he (His Majesty) could drop all the Jews of Russia into the Black Sea. If he could, the Jewish problem could be solved. But since that was impossible the only choice as a means of solving the Jewish question was the gradual elimination of all discriminatory laws against the Jews.” Another minority were the Finns “...we must return to the policies of the forebears with respect to Finland. I pointed out that as long as we had behaved correctly toward the Finns, so had the Finns, most correctly indeed. Moreover, I noted, Finland was the only borderland that owed us nothing, the only borderland for which we had not paid with the blood of our peasant soldiers (...) but I did stress that we had to come to terms with the Finns. How this was to be done was for the next governor-general to decide.

”The Russian Empire also covered the Caucasus and Witte criticized the way Russia was was handling the minorities there: “the Caucasus has a peculiar character, because the natives are in essence Asiatic, with their own psychology, their own conception of what civilization means, particularly with their own respect to the value of human life. The prince (...) came to the region with a program of Russification, which he carried out in a vigorous but confused manner. He wished of Russify all the natives of the region...”