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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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