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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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