Until 1903, the national question was not discussed in the RSDLP. It was not the task of the social democracy to come out in defense of the new national states. But soon the importance of this problem was perceived by many. V.I. Lenin, developing a theory about the right of nations to self-determination, was convinced that the unity of the proletariat was of paramount importance, and national sentiments should die off over time. The main Leninist principles on this issue were outlined at the VII All-Russian Conference of the RSDLP (b) in April 1917. The rise of the national liberation movement in Russia made it necessary to further develop the national program.
In the first months of its existence, the Soviet Republic was not a federation. She was a single multinational state and included the territories of the former Russian Empire. The beginning of the practical implementation of the program of the Bolshevik Party on the national question was laid after November 2, 1917, the Council of People's Commissars approved the draft Declaration of the Rights of Russian Peoples. It proclaimed the main provisions of the Soviet national policy. The peoples of Russia gained the right to free self-determination up to the secession and creation of independent states; national privileges and restrictions were abolished; It condemned the policy of controlling one nation to another.
On November 20, 1917, the Council of People's Commissars adopted the appeal "To all working Muslims of Russia and the East", which stated that all the beliefs and customs of Muslims, their national and cultural institutions are declared free and inviolable. Working Muslims were called upon to organize their national life freely and without hindrance, to support the socialist revolution and the government created by it.
Adhering to the proclaimed principles in the field of national policy, SNK on December 18, 1917. recognized the state independence of Finland (the Grand Duchy of Finland was part of the Russian Empire from 1809, taking advantage of internal autonomy). However, the recognition of Finland’s independence did not guarantee the non-interference of Soviet Russia in its affairs, since, speaking of the right of nations to self-determination, the Bolsheviks had in mind the right of self-determination of the proletariat, not the bourgeoisie.
The national-state development of Soviet Russia proceeded along the line of transforming the emerging autonomous regions into autonomous republics and autonomous republics into union ones. The oldest in terms of creation from the autonomous republics that were part of the RSFSR was the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (TASSR), proclaimed by the 5th All-Turkestan Congress of Soviets on April 30, 1918. It was a multinational state formation.
In March 1919, an agreement was signed in Moscow between the central government and Bashkir representatives on the formation of an autonomous Bashkir Soviet Republic. At the beginning of 1920, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the RKP (b) decided to create the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, which accelerated the resolution of the question of the national autonomy of other peoples of the Volga region. In 1920, the creation of autonomies within the RSFSR covered almost all national regions.
Their social and political system had a common basis, they were all states of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The state apparatus of the Soviet republics was of the same type: the highest organs of power were the congresses of the Soviets, the highest organs of governing were the governments. On the territory of the republics there were decrees and resolutions of congresses of Soviets, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars of the RSFSR.
Simultaneously with the establishment of autonomy in the RSFSR, its rapprochement with other Soviet republics took place. Cooperation developed on a wide range of issues, and the process of uniting the state apparatus of the republics soon began: the armed forces united into a single army, managing industry, transport, communications and foreign trade became centralized. But since the treaties between the RSFSR and other Soviet republics did not provide for the subordination of the highest governing bodies in the republics to similar RSFSR bodies, this gave rise to uncertainty, conflicts and friction.
In general, however, in the years 1921-1922. between the republics established strong federative relations, developing the principles of the "contractual federation" of the period of civil war.
The issues of improving relations with the RSFSR almost simultaneously were raised in the spring of 1922 by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine and Belarus (the Ukrainian SSR appeared on December 12, 1917, and the Belarusian SSR - on January 1, 1919). In the summer of 1922, a similar decision on the Transcaucasian republics (Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia), united on March 12, 1922 into the Transcaucasian Federation (ZSFSR - Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic), was adopted by the plenum of the regional committee of the RCP (B). The revision of the existing forms of interrelations between the republics was demanded by economic, internal and foreign factors.
There was no consensus on the principles of the creation of a union state. Among a number of proposals, two were distinguished: the inclusion of other Soviet republics in the RSFSR on the rights of autonomy (Stalin’s proposal) and the creation of a federation of equal republics. The Stalin project "On the Relations of the RSFSR with the Independent Republics" was approved by the Central Committee of the Communist Parties of Azerbaijan and Armenia. The plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia declared it premature, and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Belarus spoke in favor of preserving the existing contractual relations between the BSSR and the RSFSR. Ukrainian Bolsheviks refrained from discussing the Stalinist project. Nevertheless, the autonomization plan was approved at a meeting of the commission of the Central Committee of the RCP (B.) On September 23-24, 1922.
V.I. Lenin, who did not participate in the discussion of the project, after familiarizing himself with the materials presented to him, rejected the idea of autonomization and spoke in favor of forming a union of republics. He considered the Soviet Socialist Federation the most acceptable form of government in a multinational country.
The new draft commission of the Central Committee of the RCP (B) was finally approved at the plenary session of the Central Committee on October 6, 1922. Soon the discussion between the central leadership and the Georgian side on the issue of joining the future union by individual republics turned into a "Georgian incident". At the end of October 1922, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia collectively resigned. This happened after the Georgian side proposed to consider the question of the separate entry of the Transcaucasian republics into the union being created, which required a review of the decisions of the plenum of the Central Committee of the RCP (B). This statement by the representative of the Center G. K. Ordzhonikidze was immediately qualified as “an unacceptable violation of party discipline”. Followed by mutual insults, overgrown into assault. The commission of F.E. Dzerzhinsky, who went to the scene to review the current situation, submitted a report to the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, condemning the position of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia. V.I. Lenin, due to illness, could not actively come out in defense of Georgian communists. He was aware of the excesses of the chauvinists in the Caucasus, who had issued a decree depriving Georgian citizenship of those who marry residents of other republics. However, he considered Great-Russian chauvinism a much greater evil, calling Stalin a "crude Great-Russian captain."
The First Transcaucasian Congress of Soviets (December 13, 1922), as well as the CEC of the Ukrainian SSR (October 16) and the Fourth All-Belarusian Congress of Soviets (December 18), expressed their support for the draft commission of the Central Committee of the RCP (B) dated October 6. On December 26, the 10th All-Russian Congress of Soviets approved the idea of creating the USSR.
December 30, 1922 I All-Union Congress of Soviets approved the most important constitutional documents - the Declaration and the Treaty on the formation of the USSR. This was the final stage of the unification movement of peoples. The republics that were part of the USSR (RSFSR, Ukrainian SSR, BSSR, ZSFSR) secured the “right of free withdrawal from the Union”. Lenin, however, believed that this moment wore a purely formal character, was "an empty piece of paper, unable to protect Russian aliens" from the chauvinism of the Russian bureaucrat. Measures to more effectively protect the non-Russian population have not been taken.
Despite this, the complex and ambiguous process of the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics represented a great political undertaking. The peoples acquired their statehood, although the limits of their powers were limited, and their sovereignty was very modest.