With the publication of this volume, East View Publications is proud to have established yet another watermark in the publishing of important Russian archival guidebooks in the post-Soviet era. This guidebook, or putevoditel', is the first ever to be published for an archive totally devoted to the conduct of Russian foreign policy, Imperial or Soviet. Traditionally one of the most closed areas for research, the history of Russian foreign policy is only now beginning to yield its fruits as scholars gain access to previously unavailable primary sources. Foreign policy and diplomacy in all states are highly sensitive areas, and the situation is no different in Russia. As an empire-state, the foreign policy and diplomacy of Imperial Russia naturally dealt with issues of war and peace, expansion and territorial acquisition, the conquering of other peoples, the changing of borders, religion and ideology, trade, and a host of other issues. Many of these issues retain urgency even at the twilight of the 20th century—one, two or even three centuries after the occurrence of events described in the holdings of this fantastic archive.
The Archive of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire holds over 500,000 documents in about 400 record groups, or fondy, primarily encompassing the years 1720 to 1917, with some documents dating from 1537. Researchers will find holdings covering Russia's Collegium (and later Ministry) of Foreign Affairs, Russian embassies and diplomatic activities abroad, as well as reports, secret communiques, diaries and other materials of Russian diplomats and foreign policy figures. Diplomatic historians for the first time will be able to uncover archival documents describing a panoply of events and processes: the creation and expansion of the Russian Empire in all directions; the clash with the British Empire and the "Great Game" for dominance in Central Asia; the Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna; relations with the growing United States of America; relations with Japan, China, Persia, Turkey and other eastern powers; relations with Germany, France, Britain and others in Europe; the emergence of Russia as a world industrial power; and the origins and conduct of World War I.
A number of people played critical roles in bringing this book to print. Greatest credit of all goes to Igor Vladimirovich Budnik, Director of the Archive of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire, for his willingness to work with an American publisher at a time when such cooperation—especially in areas of national security—is subject to increasing criticism from many quarters.
Others deserving of special credit include the Archive's Svetlana Turilova, who proofread the manuscript, and Mikhail Turbovskoi, who designed the book jacket. East View staffpersons in Moscow, including especially Lev Rozhanskii, guided all operational aspects of manuscript preparation and are deeply thanked by the Publisher. Cathy Porter and Genie Petrovits of East View's Minneapolis office helped get the book to press in the United States. Special thanks goes to Sergei Dmitriev of RAIS, who helped negotiate the publishing agreement in the first place.
The publication of this archival guidebook is part of East View's continuing effort to promote a greater culture of freedom of information in Russian society. We believe that access to important archival records is fundamental to the development and maintenance of the democratic process; political leaders and the institutions they run must be subject to thorough scrutiny. In the Soviet era secrecy and unaccountability reigned throughout, including especially in foreign policy and diplomacy. Russia of the 1990s has begun to turn this tide, although much remains to be done. We hope that this archival guidebook will urge forward the process of openness in Russian society, and wish the best to all historians and researchers as they enter the fascinating and largely uncharted waters of Imperial Russian foreign policy.
Kent D. Lee
Publisher and President
East View Publications