A short overview of the Russian history

The early beginning
Tradition says the Viking Rurik came to Russia in C.E. 862 and founded the first Russian dynasty in Novgorod. The fact is that in the course of the 9th century, Viking tribes from Scandinavia moved southward into European Russia, tracing a path along the main waterway connecting the Baltic and Black Seas. The various tribes were united by the spread of Christianity in the 10th and 11th centuries; Vladimir the Saint was converted in 988. During the 11th century, the grand dukes of Kiev held such centralizing power as existed. In 1240, Kiev was destroyed by the Mongols, and the Russian territory was split into numerous smaller dukedoms. The Mongol Empire stretched across the Asian continent and Russia was put under the suzerainty of the Khanate of the Golden Horde. The next two centuries saw the rise of Moscow as a provincial capital and centre of the Christian Orthodox Church. In the late 15th century, Duke Ivan III acquired Novgorod and Tver and threw off the Mongol yoke. Ivan IV, the Terrible (1533-84), first Muscovite tsar, is considered to have founded the Russian state. He crushed the power of rival princes and boyars (landowners), but Russia remained largely medieval until the reign of Peter the Great (1689-1725), grandson of the first Romanov tsar, Michael (1613-45). Peter made extensive reforms aimed at westernization and, through his defeat of Charles XII of Sweden at the Battle of Poltava in 1709, he extended Russia's boundaries to the west. Catherine the Great (1762-96) continued Peter's westernization program and also expanded Russian territory, acquiring the Crimea, Ukraine, and part of Poland.

Russian revolution World War I demonstrated tsarist corruption and inefficiency and only patriotism held the poorly equipped army together for a time. It met for the first time in 1906. In the Decembrist revolt in 1825. little influencing Nicholas in his reactionary course. a group of young. forced Nicholas II (1894-1917) to grant a representative national body (Duma). but heavy restrictions were imposed on the emancipated class. Revolutionary strikes. which for a time crushed Europe's rising liberal movement. reformist military officers attempted to force the adoption of a constitutional monarchy in Russia by preventing the accession of Nicholas I. and new territory was gained. following Russia's defeat in the war with Japan. Alexander II (1855-81) pushed Russia's borders to the Pacific and into central Asia.During the reign of Alexander I (1801-25). They failed utterly. and Nicholas became the most reactionary leader in Europe. Disorders broke out in Petrograd (renamed Leningrad . which eventually led to the Russia revolution. including Finland (1809) and Bessarabia (1812). Alexander originated the Holy Alliance. elected by narrowly limited suffrage. Napoleon's attempt to invade Russia was unsuccessful and his troops defeated in 1812. Serfdom was abolished in 1861.

The death of Lenin on Jan. 1917. 1917. He was murdered in Mexico City on . wing of the Socialist Democratic Labor Party. 1918) concluded the war with Germany. who favored swifter socialization at home and fomentation of revolution abroad.S. lost ground to the radical. The humiliating Treaty of BrestLitovsk (March 3. Trotsky was dismissed as commissar of war in 1925 and banished from the Soviet Union in 1929. but a brutal civil war and foreign intervention delayed Communist control of all Russia until 1920. A brief war with Poland in 1920 resulted in Russian defeat. and Trotsky.and now St. The series of events leading to the revolution was from now on as October Revolution. precipitated an intraparty struggle between Joseph Stalin. A provisional government under the successive premierships of Prince Lvov and a moderate. and he and his family were killed by revolutionists on July 16. since Nov 7 was actually Oct 25 under the Old Russian Calendar.S. Nicholas II was forced to abdicate on March 15. 1918. general secretary of the party. Alexander Kerensky. the Bolshevik revolution. and defection of the Petrograd garrison launched the revolution.R. On Nov. overthrew the Kerensky government and authority was vested in a Council of People's Commissars. 30. with Lenin as premier. 1924. or Bolshevik. Lenin (Lenin was the pseudonym taken by Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov) and Leon Trotsky. 21. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was established as a federation on Dec. engineered by N. 1922 and the New Economic Policy started which installed the community (called soviets) as owners of land and property. Emergence of the U. 7. Petersburg) in March 1917.

The Soviet Union exploded a hydrogen bomb in 1953. Karafuto. with the signing of a nonaggression pact with Nazi Germany. The illegal annexation of the Baltic republics was never recognized by the U. liquidating prominent party leaders and military officers. sent the first satellite into space (Sputnik I) in 1957. and British arms. 2. 1945.S. He was also blamed for the ideological break with China after 1963. Latvia. 6. completed unification of West Germany. 1941.R. 1953. and Lithuania's independence on Sept. Khrushchev formalized the Eastern European system into a Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) and a Warsaw Pact Treaty Organization as a counterweight to NATO. 15th. English/Russian/English Electronic Dictionary The new power in the Kremlin was Nikita S.S. and Romania. the Soviet Union launched a political offensive against the non-Communist West. With its Eastern front solidified. for the 51 years leading up to Soviet recognition of Estonia. set up March 31. after denouncing a 1941 nonaggression pact with Japan in April 1945. on Aug. Stalin further consolidated his power by a series of purges in the late 1930s. developed an intercontinental ballistic missile by 1957.S. 1991. composed of the territories Soviet troops occupied at the war's end. The Soviet resurgence at Stalingrad from Nov. at first friendly toward Germany and antagonistic toward Britain and France and then. The Western powers countered with an airlift. 1942 to Feb. Czechoslovakia. 1943 marked the turning point in a long battle. after Hitler's rise to power in 1933. and 16th Soviet Republics. and Lithuania in June 1940 created the 14th. and the Kuril islands.Aug. Brezhnev as first secretary of the party and Aleksei N. built a cordon of Communist states running from Poland in the north to Albania and Bulgaria in the south. 24. 1964. M. the Soviet Union declared war on Japan on Aug.R. took an abrupt turn on Aug. 1940. The war with Finland (1939-40) added territory to the Karelian S. aided by U.S.S. Malenkov as premier. Kosygin as premier.S.'s. 21. first secretary of the party. and was succeeded the next day by G. The U.S. The Soviet-German collaboration ended abruptly with a lightning attack by Hitler on June 22. moving first to block the Western access to Berlin. seizing territory later incorporated into the Ukrainian and Belarussian S.R. when Allied forces were nearing victory in the Pacific. and organized the defense of Western Europe in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Then. 1940. Stalin died on March 6. which seized 500. the annexation of Bessarabia and Bukovina from Romania became part of the new Moldavian S.R. Hungary. including East Germany. Soviet foreign policy. 1945. and the annexation of the Baltic republics of Estonia. ending in the final offensive of Jan. becoming anti-Fascist and pro-League of Nations. and put Yuri Gagarin in the first orbital flight around the earth in 1961. could halt it. Khrushchev. Stalin assumed the premiership May 6. Khrushchev's downfall stemmed from his decision to place Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba and then. and was replaced by Leonid I.000 square miles of Russian territory before Soviet defenses. Khrushchev was forced into retirement on Oct. when challenged by the U.S. Latvia. backing down and removing the weapons. 1939. Moscow joined in the German attack on Poland. . The next month. 1940. 15.. and quickly occupied Manchuria. 8. by a political agent. 1941.

B. Eduard Shevardnadze. was chosen to succeed Brezhnev as general secretary. who had formerly headed the K. 10. Under Gorbachev. 75. Chernenko died on March 10. Dissident candidates won a surprisingly large minority although pro-Government deputies maintained a strong lock on the Supreme Soviet. The U. principally between Yeltsin and a Communist loyalist. and a ten-year limit on the terms of elected government and party officials. resulted in a major victory for . 27. Andropov died in Feb. Andropov.S. The Soviet Union took much criticism in early 1986 over the April 24 meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear plant and its reluctance to give out any information on the accident. Chernenko. the Soviet people were asked to vote on a referendum on national unity engineered by President Gorbachev. an unusually open party conference approved several resolutions for changes in the structure of the Soviet system. The elections to the Congress were the first competitive elections in the Soviet Union since 1917. The bitter election contest for the Russian presidency. Unlike his immediate predecessors. 1984. 1979. Gorbachev obtained the support of the Central Committee for proposals that would loosen some government controls over the economy and in June 1988. By mid-June 1983. setting ceilings on each nation's arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles. had also assumed the title of president. The resultant victory for the federal government was tempered by the separate approval in Russia for the creation of a popularly elected presidency of the Russian republics. Led by Moscow. all the Soviet bloc countries except Romania boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles for the U. who urged faster reform.R. Gorbachev was elected president in 1989. Gorbachev did not also assume the title of president but wielded power from the post of party general secretary. The possible beginning of the fragmentation of the Communist Party and the Soviet era took place when Boris Yeltsin. to the largely ceremonial post of president. succeeded him as general secretary and.-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games. in the view of most observers.S.S. the Soviet Union began its longawaited shift to a new generation of leadership. leader of the Russian S. In a surprise move. After 13 months in office.S. as foreign minister. at 54 the youngest man to take charge of the Soviet Union since Stalin. These included a shift of some power from the party to local soviets. by midApril. On Nov. In the months following Chernenko's assumption of power. After months of illness. In March 1991. 1979. Andropov had assumed all of Brezhnev's three titles. Yuri V. Dissolution of the U. left the Communist Party along with other radicals. 1982. Senate refused to ratify the treaty because of the invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet troops on Dec. Konstantin U.R. Soviet radio and television announced the death of Leonid Brezhnev.S.. the Kremlin took on a hostile mood toward the West of a kind rarely seen since the height of the cold war 30 years before. President Jimmy Carter and the ailing Brezhnev signed the SALT II treaty in Vienna on June 18. In June 1987. 57.S.U. for 28 years the Soviet Union's stony-faced foreign minister. 1985. Gorbachev elevated Andrei Gromyko. Chosen to succeed him as Soviet leader was Mikhail S.G. He had been ill much of the time and left only a minor imprint on Soviet history. He installed a younger man with no experience in foreign affairs. a 72-year-old party stalwart who had been close to Brezhnev. Gorbachev.

which led to an immediate downturn. After the end of the Soviet Union. Boris Yeltsin. the Russian parliament ratified Yeltsin's plea to establish a new commonwealth of independent nations open to all former members of the Soviet Union. the president and his shock-therapy program won by a resounding margin. The Russian military forces met firm and costly resistance. and Yeltsin supporters fortified barricades surrounding the parliament building. the republic's President Boris Yeltsin was the most popular political figure in the lands comprising the former Soviet Union. Yeltsin convened a constitutional conference in June. He took the oath of office for the new position on July 10. with Western-oriented parties performing relatively poorly. In December. The next day huge crowds demonstrated in Leningrad. 3 with vicepresident Rutskoi opposing the orders of Yeltsin and barricading the White House. Yeltsin prevailed largely through the support of the military which bombed the White House and arrested the Rutskoi and the opposing parliament members. Yeltsin started the year . Russia embarked on a series of dramatic economic reforms. which adopted a draft constitution in July. which was meant to preserve the unity of the nation. 1991. An attempted coup d'état took place on August 19.Yeltsin. To the surprise of many. Two days later he resigned from his position as General-Secretary of the Communist Party and recommended that its Central Committee be disbanded. The Soviet parliament formally reinstated Gorbachev as president. In September. 12 was a victory for Yeltsin. 21. he became the first directly elected leader in Russian history and received 60% of the vote for president of the Russian Republic. At the start of 1992. Russia and ten other Soviet republics joined in a Commonwealth of Independent States on Dec. In exchange the federal government would have turned over control of industrial and natural resources to the individual republics. On August 29 the parliament approved the suspension of all Communist Party activities pending an investigation of its role in the failed coup. and at least some of its members attempted to flee Moscow. At the time of the attempted coup. The constitutional referendum on Dec. 12. Shortly before the scheduled presidential election of June 1996. Gorbachev together with leaders of nine Soviet republics signed an accord called the Union Treaty. On August 21 the coup committee disbanded. defiantly called for a general strike. On Dec. The impasse between the executive and the legislature resulted in an armed conflict on Oct. 1991. Yeltsin dissolved the legislative bodies left over from the Soviet era. 1991. A leading reformer. including the freeing of prices on most goods. Reversing his relative hard-line position. The new union was created with the governments of Ukraine and Belarus who along with Russia were the three original cofounders of the Soviet Union in 1922. barricaded in the Russian parliament building. A national referendum on confidence in Yeltsin and his economic program took place in April 1993. a ceasefire was arranged in Chechnya. Russian troops closed the borders and sought to squelch the independence drive. but the parliamentary election on the same day saw the rise of the extreme nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky. orchestrated by a group of eight senior officials calling itself the State Committee on the State of Emergency. The southern republic of Chechnya's president accelerated his region's drive for independence in 1994. 1991. Yeltsin championed the cause for national reconstruction and the adoption of a Union Treaty with the other republics to create a free-market economic association.

ruining the nation's military. 11 elected foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov as prime minister. 31. 1999. and impoverishing the Russian people through ruinous economic policies . But bolstered by favorable media attention. Dmitry Medvedev. restore central control over headstrong regional leaders. In May 1997. keeping control of the government. as new Prime Minister. starting the ill-conceived 1994-96 war in Chechnya. and curb the power of Russia's monopolies (natural gas. The repercussions of Russia's financial emergency were felt throughout the world. who was confirmed by the Duma May 19. Boris Yeltsin dismissed Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and replaced him with Interior Minister Sergey Stepashin. the two-year war formally ended with the signing of a peace treaty that adroitly avoided the issue of Chechen independence. 1998. On August 9. This financial crisis led to a long-term economic downturn and to political upheaval. Yeltsin bounded back into the political fray in March 1997 after eight months' absence caused by sickness.the charge regarding Chechnya was considered the only one with a chance of approval. In keeping with his capricious style. 2000. In March 1998 Yeltsin dismissed his entire government and replaced Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin with the young and little known fuel and energy minister Sergey Kiriyenko. is elected President with about 70% of the votes. His first action was to reshuffle the Cabinet to include new ministers with strong reform credentials. electricity. The Chechnya conflict surged again after the government blamed Chechen terrorist for bombings in Moscow that had killed hundreds of people. But the impeachment motion was quickly quashed and soon Yeltsin was on the ascendancy again. The young reformers announced plans to overhaul taxation. Dec. the Duma attempted to impeach him in May 1999 on five charges: provoking the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. Impatient with Yeltsin's chronic illnesses and increasingly erratic behavior. went awry. Ever since. and on Sept. These plans for reform. 2008. housing. Boris Jelzin announces his resignation. however.with slim chances for reelection. The Duma rejected Chernomyrdin. the conflict with Chechen rebels and terrorists has continued and Russia's military force have increased their presence in the region to enforce stability. v . and vigorous campaigning he won the second round of voting in July against a Communist opponent. amid the Russian stock market's free fall. the Russian government halted trading of the ruble on international currency markets. using force to dissolve the parliament in 1993. Vladimir Putin assumes the role of Prime Minister. Vladimir Putin is his successor and is elected president of Russia on March 26. former head of KGB. On the last day of the century. fear of a Communist resurgence. a protege of Putin. and railways). On August 28. and welfare. President Boris Yeltsin then sacked Prime Minister Kiriyenko and reappointed Chernomyrdin. 1999 Borits Yeltsin announced Vladimir Putin. On March 2.