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Setting the context for the crisis that has fragmented the former USSR, this reader presents key essays by notable Western scholars who have shaped the debates within the field of Soviet nationality studies. Focusing first on the historical development of the Soviet multi-ethnic state, the discussions then turn to specific problem areas, including federalism, elites, economy, language policy, and nationalism. An introductory essay by the editor discusses how the works in the book contribute to our understanding of the current disintegration and analyses opposing perspectives in the debates. Intended for use as a textbook in undergraduate or graduate courses on Soviet nationality problems or Soviet and post-Soviet domestic politics, this anthology will be valuable for students and professors alike.