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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.
but heavy restrictions were imposed on the emancipated class. They failed utterly. Serfdom was abolished in 1861. Disorders broke out in Petrograd (renamed Leningrad . which for a time crushed Europe's rising liberal movement. It met for the first time in 1906. and Nicholas became the most reactionary leader in Europe. Alexander originated the Holy Alliance. following Russia's defeat in the war with Japan. a group of young. Revolutionary strikes. In the Decembrist revolt in 1825. elected by narrowly limited suffrage. Russian revolution World War I demonstrated tsarist corruption and inefficiency and only patriotism held the poorly equipped army together for a time. including Finland (1809) and Bessarabia (1812). little influencing Nicholas in his reactionary course. reformist military officers attempted to force the adoption of a constitutional monarchy in Russia by preventing the accession of Nicholas I.During the reign of Alexander I (1801-25). which eventually led to the Russia revolution. Alexander II (1855-81) pushed Russia's borders to the Pacific and into central Asia. forced Nicholas II (1894-1917) to grant a representative national body (Duma). and new territory was gained. Napoleon's attempt to invade Russia was unsuccessful and his troops defeated in 1812.
Lenin (Lenin was the pseudonym taken by Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov) and Leon Trotsky. 1918) concluded the war with Germany. A brief war with Poland in 1920 resulted in Russian defeat. 1917. since Nov 7 was actually Oct 25 under the Old Russian Calendar. with Lenin as premier. but a brutal civil war and foreign intervention delayed Communist control of all Russia until 1920. 1924.R.S. A provisional government under the successive premierships of Prince Lvov and a moderate. overthrew the Kerensky government and authority was vested in a Council of People's Commissars. The death of Lenin on Jan. On Nov. the Bolshevik revolution. and Trotsky.S. 21. Emergence of the U. wing of the Socialist Democratic Labor Party. and he and his family were killed by revolutionists on July 16. He was murdered in Mexico City on . 30. Petersburg) in March 1917. who favored swifter socialization at home and fomentation of revolution abroad. Trotsky was dismissed as commissar of war in 1925 and banished from the Soviet Union in 1929. and defection of the Petrograd garrison launched the revolution. Alexander Kerensky.and now St. 1922 and the New Economic Policy started which installed the community (called soviets) as owners of land and property. The humiliating Treaty of BrestLitovsk (March 3. lost ground to the radical. 7. 1918. general secretary of the party. 1917. engineered by N. Nicholas II was forced to abdicate on March 15. precipitated an intraparty struggle between Joseph Stalin. The series of events leading to the revolution was from now on as October Revolution. or Bolshevik. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was established as a federation on Dec.
after Hitler's rise to power in 1933. when Allied forces were nearing victory in the Pacific. ending in the final offensive of Jan. With its Eastern front solidified. 1941. and Lithuania in June 1940 created the 14th. The Soviet Union exploded a hydrogen bomb in 1953. took an abrupt turn on Aug. M. Latvia..S. developed an intercontinental ballistic missile by 1957. Brezhnev as first secretary of the party and Aleksei N.S. with the signing of a nonaggression pact with Nazi Germany.S. The Soviet resurgence at Stalingrad from Nov. set up March 31. and was succeeded the next day by G. aided by U. The U. for the 51 years leading up to Soviet recognition of Estonia. and the annexation of the Baltic republics of Estonia. 1941. moving first to block the Western access to Berlin. and put Yuri Gagarin in the first orbital flight around the earth in 1961. Khrushchev. The Western powers countered with an airlift. Khrushchev was forced into retirement on Oct. Stalin assumed the premiership May 6. and was replaced by Leonid I. 1964. 24. 1945. and organized the defense of Western Europe in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). liquidating prominent party leaders and military officers.Aug. Kosygin as premier. built a cordon of Communist states running from Poland in the north to Albania and Bulgaria in the south. becoming anti-Fascist and pro-League of Nations. by a political agent. the Soviet Union declared war on Japan on Aug. Karafuto. and quickly occupied Manchuria. The Soviet-German collaboration ended abruptly with a lightning attack by Hitler on June 22.000 square miles of Russian territory before Soviet defenses. 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. 1942 to Feb.R. The war with Finland (1939-40) added territory to the Karelian S. and British arms. backing down and removing the weapons. at first friendly toward Germany and antagonistic toward Britain and France and then. Then. The next month. on Aug. 21. Moscow joined in the German attack on Poland. 1940. composed of the territories Soviet troops occupied at the war's end. 2. Czechoslovakia.S. 1940.R. 1953. 1991. 1939. Latvia. seizing territory later incorporated into the Ukrainian and Belarussian S. and Romania. the Soviet Union launched a political offensive against the non-Communist West.R. He was also blamed for the ideological break with China after 1963.S. and the Kuril islands.S. 15. completed unification of West Germany.S. Khrushchev's downfall stemmed from his decision to place Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba and then. English/Russian/English Electronic Dictionary The new power in the Kremlin was Nikita S.S. 1945. 15th. 8. Hungary. first secretary of the party. the annexation of Bessarabia and Bukovina from Romania became part of the new Moldavian S. The illegal annexation of the Baltic republics was never recognized by the U. and 16th Soviet Republics. Malenkov as premier. including East Germany. 1943 marked the turning point in a long battle. Soviet foreign policy. 6. Stalin died on March 6. after denouncing a 1941 nonaggression pact with Japan in April 1945. could halt it. 1940. which seized 500.R. Stalin further consolidated his power by a series of purges in the late 1930s. and Lithuania's independence on Sept.'s. sent the first satellite into space (Sputnik I) in 1957. when challenged by the U. .
S. Senate refused to ratify the treaty because of the invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet troops on Dec. principally between Yeltsin and a Communist loyalist. resulted in a major victory for . Gorbachev obtained the support of the Central Committee for proposals that would loosen some government controls over the economy and in June 1988. After 13 months in office. leader of the Russian S. After months of illness. By mid-June 1983. Andropov. 75. had also assumed the title of president. 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. On Nov. who urged faster reform. an unusually open party conference approved several resolutions for changes in the structure of the Soviet system. These included a shift of some power from the party to local soviets. by midApril. Under Gorbachev. The elections to the Congress were the first competitive elections in the Soviet Union since 1917. Andropov died in Feb. who had formerly headed the K. the Soviet Union began its longawaited shift to a new generation of leadership. Chernenko died on March 10. Chernenko. Gorbachev was elected president in 1989. and a ten-year limit on the terms of elected government and party officials. left the Communist Party along with other radicals. 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. in the view of most observers.B. 1979. 1979. President Jimmy Carter and the ailing Brezhnev signed the SALT II treaty in Vienna on June 18. Yuri V. 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.R. In June 1987. at 54 the youngest man to take charge of the Soviet Union since Stalin. was chosen to succeed Brezhnev as general secretary. Eduard Shevardnadze. Led by Moscow.S. 27. succeeded him as general secretary and. 57. Dissident candidates won a surprisingly large minority although pro-Government deputies maintained a strong lock on the Supreme Soviet. He had been ill much of the time and left only a minor imprint on Soviet history.G.S. Konstantin U. the Soviet people were asked to vote on a referendum on national unity engineered by President Gorbachev.-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games. In March 1991. Gorbachev. to the largely ceremonial post of president. 1984. The U. for 28 years the Soviet Union's stony-faced foreign minister. Soviet radio and television announced the death of Leonid Brezhnev. a 72-year-old party stalwart who had been close to Brezhnev. In a surprise move.S. The bitter election contest for the Russian presidency.U. 10. Dissolution of the U. In the months following Chernenko's assumption of power.R. as foreign minister. 1982. Unlike his immediate predecessors. 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. 1985.S..S. He installed a younger man with no experience in foreign affairs. Andropov had assumed all of Brezhnev's three titles. Gorbachev elevated Andrei Gromyko. all the Soviet bloc countries except Romania boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles for the U. setting ceilings on each nation's arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Chosen to succeed him as Soviet leader was Mikhail S.
with Western-oriented parties performing relatively poorly. he became the first directly elected leader in Russian history and received 60% of the vote for president of the Russian Republic. A leading reformer. Russia and ten other Soviet republics joined in a Commonwealth of Independent States on Dec. the Russian parliament ratified Yeltsin's plea to establish a new commonwealth of independent nations open to all former members of the Soviet Union. and Yeltsin supporters fortified barricades surrounding the parliament building. Russian troops closed the borders and sought to squelch the independence drive. 1991. Russia embarked on a series of dramatic economic reforms. After the end of the Soviet Union. a ceasefire was arranged in Chechnya. barricaded in the Russian parliament building. 1991. On August 21 the coup committee disbanded. the republic's President Boris Yeltsin was the most popular political figure in the lands comprising the former Soviet Union. In September. Yeltsin dissolved the legislative bodies left over from the Soviet era. In December. 1991. 12. 1991. To the surprise of many. Shortly before the scheduled presidential election of June 1996. The constitutional referendum on Dec. 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. and at least some of its members attempted to flee Moscow. An attempted coup d'état took place on August 19. which was meant to preserve the unity of the nation. including the freeing of prices on most goods. 12 was a victory for Yeltsin. A national referendum on confidence in Yeltsin and his economic program took place in April 1993. orchestrated by a group of eight senior officials calling itself the State Committee on the State of Emergency. In exchange the federal government would have turned over control of industrial and natural resources to the individual republics. 21. but the parliamentary election on the same day saw the rise of the extreme nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Yeltsin started the year . He took the oath of office for the new position on July 10. Boris Yeltsin. The southern republic of Chechnya's president accelerated his region's drive for independence in 1994. defiantly called for a general strike. The next day huge crowds demonstrated in Leningrad. which adopted a draft constitution in July. Two days later he resigned from his position as General-Secretary of the Communist Party and recommended that its Central Committee be disbanded. At the start of 1992. Gorbachev together with leaders of nine Soviet republics signed an accord called the Union Treaty. The Russian military forces met firm and costly resistance. which led to an immediate downturn. On August 29 the parliament approved the suspension of all Communist Party activities pending an investigation of its role in the failed coup. Yeltsin convened a constitutional conference in June. At the time of the attempted coup.Yeltsin. Reversing his relative hard-line position. the president and his shock-therapy program won by a resounding margin. Yeltsin prevailed largely through the support of the military which bombed the White House and arrested the Rutskoi and the opposing parliament members. On Dec. The impasse between the executive and the legislature resulted in an armed conflict on Oct. The Soviet parliament formally reinstated Gorbachev as president. 3 with vicepresident Rutskoi opposing the orders of Yeltsin and barricading the White House. 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.
Yeltsin bounded back into the political fray in March 1997 after eight months' absence caused by sickness. Boris Yeltsin dismissed Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and replaced him with Interior Minister Sergey Stepashin. On March 2. as new Prime Minister. 2000. fear of a Communist resurgence. This financial crisis led to a long-term economic downturn and to political upheaval. and impoverishing the Russian people through ruinous economic policies . ruining the nation's military. went awry. Dec. housing. the two-year war formally ended with the signing of a peace treaty that adroitly avoided the issue of Chechen independence. 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. and railways). the Duma attempted to impeach him in May 1999 on five charges: provoking the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. President Boris Yeltsin then sacked Prime Minister Kiriyenko and reappointed Chernomyrdin. keeping control of the government. 31. and on Sept. In keeping with his capricious style. amid the Russian stock market's free fall. Vladimir Putin assumes the role of Prime Minister. Vladimir Putin is his successor and is elected president of Russia on March 26. starting the ill-conceived 1994-96 war in Chechnya. who was confirmed by the Duma May 19. But bolstered by favorable media attention. In May 1997. 11 elected foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov as prime minister. 1999. the Russian government halted trading of the ruble on international currency markets. Ever since. 1998. On the last day of the century. former head of KGB. Impatient with Yeltsin's chronic illnesses and increasingly erratic behavior. using force to dissolve the parliament in 1993. 2008.the charge regarding Chechnya was considered the only one with a chance of approval. On August 9. and vigorous campaigning he won the second round of voting in July against a Communist opponent. the conflict with Chechen rebels and terrorists has continued and Russia's military force have increased their presence in the region to enforce stability. and welfare. But the impeachment motion was quickly quashed and soon Yeltsin was on the ascendancy again. a protege of Putin. however. These plans for reform. The Duma rejected Chernomyrdin.with slim chances for reelection. His first action was to reshuffle the Cabinet to include new ministers with strong reform credentials. On August 28. The repercussions of Russia's financial emergency were felt throughout the world. Dmitry Medvedev. and curb the power of Russia's monopolies (natural gas. 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. restore central control over headstrong regional leaders. The young reformers announced plans to overhaul taxation. electricity. Boris Jelzin announces his resignation. 1999 Borits Yeltsin announced Vladimir Putin. v .
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