Did the USSR have a colonial relationship with outer SSRs under Lenin and Stalin?
One of the staple errors of the Bolshevik line when it came to self-determination of oppressed peoples under tsarism was the lack of struggle or attempting to correct Great Russian Chauvinism (Lenin himself was guilty of this, and Stalin, as an ethnic Georgian, had even less influence to counter it), resulting in situations such as the Tashkent Soviet where the Bolsheviks established a Revolutionary Government with almost no participation from the local population/workers. However when these [workers] tried to set up their own [Muslim] Bolshevik branch, they were heavily repressed by the Bolsheviks.
While you could argue the following (from an otherwise anti-communist source):
“... the regime’s economic policy as a whole does not discriminate against the minority areas and their economic development in favor of the Great Russians. Soviet industrialization was, of course, based on forced savings, which the government extracted for investment at the cost of popular consumption. But the minorities were not asked to bear a disproportionate share of the resulting hardships of a depressed living standard. The burden fell on all; in fact, it might be argued that the Great Russian majority initially made the greater sacrifice in order to permit the development of the capital-hungry, economically backward areas.
One economist has estimated, for example, that while the all-Union living standard fell markedly during the 1930’s, in the four republics of Central Asia (not counting Kazakhstan), it may actually have improved to a slight degree. At the time the local economy was undergoing rapid change, as indicated by the fact that industrial output, which had been negligible, multiplied between six and nine times over between 1928 and 1937. Such an increase could only have been accomplished by the substantial investment of capital drawn from other parts of the country and by the application of new technology. Such help was even more important to the agriculture of the region.
In the initial stage of European colonial development, substantial capital was invested in the colonies, but often only in order to create a one-crop economy that in the long run was economically disadvantageous to the local people. There was an element of this approach in the Soviet regime’s insistence on the expansion of cotton acreage in Central Asia, usually at the expense of existing wheat crops. But the area was not treated simply as a vast cotton plantation for the rest of the Soviet Union. On the contrary, existing resources of other kinds were widely developed. A hydro-electric power industry was developed, the output of which increased 8.5 times over in the period 1928-37. Earlier virtually all cotton had been shipped to Russia to be made into textiles, which in turn had to be shipped back, but in the 1930’s a substantial textile industry was established in Tashkent. Leather shoe-making was established to utilize the hides from the region’s extensive herds. These efforts make it evident that capital was retained in the area and not syphoned off for accumulation at the center. The data already cited on the growth of education and other cultural and social facilities similarly indicate that a goodly share of the returns accrued from exploitation of the region’s natural wealth was reinvested in raising standards in the region.
Although the central Asian case may be one of the more outstanding examples, it reflects the general pattern of Soviet policy in the economic development of backward areas. The allocation of investment during the process of economic expansion has not in any significant degree been guided by considerations of nationality, but rather by those of economic efficiency or the defense needs of the country. And the benefits—as well as the burdens—which have resulted from economic development have been more or less equally shared by all peoples of the Soviet Union.“
(Alex Inkeles, “Nationalities in the USSR.” Problems of Communism Vol. 9 No. 3 (May 1960). pp. 33-34.)
The study of Soviet history gives you ample evidence that Great Russian colonialism was present until the dissolution of the Soviet Union (further intensifying during the decentralisation of the Soviet economy during Khrushchev), and this is noticeable on the expectations raised by the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic regarding other Soviet republics and their society, culture, etc.
Our overall opinion falls on that the USSR, as an alliance of Soviet Republics, had an important role in developing backward feudal societies into industrialised ones, revitalising their cultures, and providing material conditions for millions of workers, as well as promoting the liberation of women and their importance within a socialist society.
But this alliance was a deeply flawed one, and riddled with serious contradictions that remain unresolved even today as consequence of the colonial relationship between western Soviet republics and the eastern Soviet Republics – the continuous export of resources from the latter to the industry of the former, the concentration of industry in western Soviet republics, and the uneven development that kept eastern Soviet republics almost entirely agrarian save for a few specific industries.