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

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

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

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

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

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

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