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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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