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.

Revolutionary strikes. Alexander originated the Holy Alliance. and new territory was gained. 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. Alexander II (1855-81) pushed Russia's borders to the Pacific and into central Asia. Serfdom was abolished in 1861. 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. a group of young. In the Decembrist revolt in 1825. Disorders broke out in Petrograd (renamed Leningrad . Napoleon's attempt to invade Russia was unsuccessful and his troops defeated in 1812. They failed utterly. following Russia's defeat in the war with Japan. forced Nicholas II (1894-1917) to grant a representative national body (Duma).During the reign of Alexander I (1801-25). which eventually led to the Russia revolution. It met for the first time in 1906. and Nicholas became the most reactionary leader in Europe. which for a time crushed Europe's rising liberal movement. but heavy restrictions were imposed on the emancipated class.

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

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

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

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

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

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