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(Russian: fist) Wealthy or prosperous landed peasant in Russia. Before the Russian Revolution of 1917, kulaks were major figures in peasant villages, often lending money and playing central roles in social and administrative affairs. In the War Communism period (1918–21), the Soviet government undermined the kulaks' position by organizing poor peasants to administer the villages and requisition grain from richer peasants. The kulaks regained their position under the New Economic Policy, but in 1929 the government began a drive for rapid collectivization of agriculture and liquidation of the kulaks as a class (dekulakization). By 1934 most kulaks had been deported to remote regions or arrested and their land and property confiscated.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on kulak, visit Britannica.com.