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.

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

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

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

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

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

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