- History of Russia
The history of
Russiabegins with that of the East Slavs. The first East Slavic state, Kievan Rus', adopted Christianityfrom the Byzantine Empirein 988, [cite web|title=Kievan Rus' and Mongol Periods|url=http://www.shsu.edu/~his_ncp/Kievan.html|work=Sam Houston State University|accessdate=2007-07-20] beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. [http://www.shsu.edu/~his_ncp/Kievan.html Kievan Rus' and Mongol Periods] , excerpted from Glenn E. Curtis (ed.), "Russia: A Country Study", Department of the Army, 1998. ISBN 0160612128.] Kievan Rus' ultimately disintegrated as a state, finally succumbing to Mongolinvaders in the 1230s. During this time a number of regional magnates, in particular Novgorod and Pskov, fought to inherit the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus'.
After the 13th century,
Moscowgradually came to dominate the former cultural center. By the 18th century, the Grand Duchy of Moscowhad become the huge Russian Empire, stretching from Polandeastward to the Pacific Ocean. Expansion in the western direction sharpened Russia's awareness of its separation from much of the rest of Europe and shattered the isolation in which the initial stages of expansion had occurred. Successive regimes of the 19th century responded to such pressures with a combination of halfhearted reform and repression. Russian serfdomwas abolished in 1861, but its abolition was achieved on terms unfavorable to the peasants and served to increase revolutionary pressures. Between the abolition of serfdom and the beginning of World War Iin 1914, the Stolypin reforms, the constitution of 1906 and State Duma introduced notable changes to the economy and politics of Russia, [See Jacob Walkin, "The Rise of Democracy in Pre-Revolutionary Russia: Political and Social Institutions under the Last Three Czars", Praeger, 1962.] but the tsars were still not willing to relinquish autocratic rule, or share their power. [ [http://www.ciaonet.org/atlas/countries/ru_data_loc.html#a0 CIAO - Atlas - Russia] ]
The Russian Revolution in 1917 was triggered by a combination of economic breakdown, war weariness, and discontent with the autocratic system of government, and it first brought a coalition of liberals and moderate socialists to power, but their failed policies led to seizure of power by the Communist
Bolsheviks on October 25. Between 1922 and 1991, the history of Russia is essentially the history of the Soviet Union, effectively an ideologically based empire which was roughly coterminous with Russia before the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The approach to the building of socialism, however, varied over different periods in Soviet history, from the mixed economy and diverse society and culture of the 1920s to the command economy and repressions of the Stalinera to the "era of stagnation" in the 1980s. From its first years, government in the Soviet Union was based on the one-party rule of the Communists, as the Bolsheviks called themselves, beginning in March 1918. [http://countrystudies.us/russia/8.htm Revolutions and Civil War] , excerpted from Glenn E. Curtis (ed.), "Russia: A Country Study", Department of the Army, 1998. ISBN 0160612128.] However, by the late 1980s, with the weaknesses of its economic and political structures becoming acute, the Communist leaders embarked on major reforms, which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.See Donald A. Filzer, "Soviet Workers and the Collapse of Perestroika: The Soviet Labour Process and Gorbachev's Reforms, 1985–1991", Cambridge University Press, 1994. ISBN 0521452929.]
The history of the Russian Federation is brief, dating back only to the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991. Since gaining its independence, Russia was recognized as the legal successor to the Soviet Union on the international stage. [See, for instance, [http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007029394365&a=KCountryProfile&aid=1019744935436 Country Profile for the Russian Federation] , by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Retrieved 21 July 2007.] However, Russia has lost its
superpowerstatus as it faced serious challenges in its efforts to forge a new post-Soviet political and economic system. Scrapping the socialist central planning and state ownership of property of the Soviet era, Russia attempted to build an economy with elements of market capitalism, with often painful results. Even today Russia shares many continuities of political culture and social structure with its tsarist and Soviet past.
In prehistoric times, the vast
steppes of Southern Russia were home to disunited tribes of nomadic pastoralists. In classical antiquity, the Pontic Steppewas known as Scythia.cite journal|last=Belinskij|first=Andrej|coauthors=H. Härke|title=The 'Princess' of Ipatovo|journal=Archeology|volume=52|issue=2|date=March/April 1999|url=http://cat.he.net/~archaeol/9903/newsbriefs/ipatovo.html|accessdate=2007-12-26] Remnants of these long-gone steppe civilizations were discovered in the course of the 20th century in such places as Ipatovo, Sintashta, [cite book | last = Drews | first = Robert | title = Early Riders: The beginnings of mounted warfare in Asia and Europe | year = 2004 | publisher = Routledge | location = New York | pages = 50] Arkaim, [Dr. Ludmila Koryakova, " [http://www.csen.org/koryakova2/Korya.Sin.Ark.html Sintashta-Arkaim Culture] " The Center for the Study of the Eurasian Nomads (CSEN). Retrieved 20 July 2007.] and Pazyryk. [ [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/transcripts/2517siberian.html 1998 NOVA documentary: "Ice Mummies: Siberian Ice Maiden"] Transcript.] In the latter part of the eighth century BC, Greek merchants brought classical civilizationto the trade emporiums in Tanaisand Phanagoria. [Esther Jacobson, "The Art of the Scythians: The Interpenetration of Cultures at the Edge of the Hellenic World", Brill, 1995, p. 38. ISBN 9004098569.] Between the third and sixth centuries AD, the Bosporan Kingdom, a Hellenistic polity which succeeded the Greek colonies, [Gocha R. Tsetskhladze (ed), "The Greek Colonisation of the Black Sea Area: Historical Interpretation of Archaeology", F. Steiner, 1998, p. 48. ISBN 3515073027.] was overwhelmed by successive waves of nomadic invasions, [Peter Turchin, "Historical Dynamics: Why States Rise and Fall", Princeton University Press, 2003, pp. 185–186. ISBN 0691116695.] led by warlike tribes which would often move on to Europe, as was the case with the Hunsand Turkish Avars. A Turkic people, the Khazars, ruled the lower Volga basin steppes between the Caspian and Black Seas through to the 8th century.David Christian, "A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia", Blackwell Publishing, 1998, pp. 286–288. ISBN 0631208143.] Noted for their laws, tolerance, and cosmopolitanism, [Frank Northen Magill, "Magill's Literary Annual, 1977" Salem Press, 1977, p. 818. ISBN 0893560774.] the Khazars were the main commercial link between the Baltic and the Muslim Abbasidempire centered in Baghdad. [André Wink, "Al-Hind, the Making of an Indo-Islamic World", Brill, 2004, p. 35. ISBN 9004092498.] They were important allies of the Byzantine Empire, [András Róna-Tas, "Hungarians and Europe in the Early Middle Ages: An Introduction to Early Hungarian History", Central European University Press, 1999, p. 257. ISBN 9639116483.] and waged a series of successful wars against the Arab Caliphates.Daniel H. Frank and Oliver Leaman, "History of Jewish Philosophy", Routledge, 1997, p. 196. ISBN 0415080649.] In the 8th century, the Khazars embraced Judaism.
Early East Slavs
The ancestors of the
Russianswere the Slavic tribes, whose original home is thought by some scholars to have been the wooded areas of the Pripet Marshes. [For a discussion of Slavic origins, see Paul M. Barford, "The Early Slavs", Cornell University Press, 2001, pp. 15-16. ISBN 0801439779.] The Early East Slavsgradually settled Western Russia in two waves: one moving from Kievtoward present-day Suzdaland Muromand another from Polotsktoward Novgorodand Rostov.David Christian, op cit., pp. 6–7.] From the 7th century onwards, the East Slavs constituted the bulk of the population in Western Russia and slowly but peacefully assimilated the native Finno-Ugrictribes, such as the Merya, [Henry K Paszkiewicz, "The Making of the Russian Nation", Darton, Longman & Todd, 1963, p. 262.] the Muromians, [Rosamond McKitterick, "The New Cambridge Medieval History", Cambridge University Press, 1995, p. 497. ISBN 0521364477.] and the Meshchera.Aleksandr Lʹvovich Mongaĭt, "Archeology in the U.S.S.R.", Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1959, p. 335.]
Scandinavian Norsemen, called " Vikings" in Western Europe and " Varangians" [See, for instance, [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9057004/Oleg Viking (Varangian) Oleg] and [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9064445/Rurik Viking (Varangian) Rurik] at Encyclopaedia Britannica.] in the East, combined piracyand trade in their roamings over much of Northern Europe. In the mid-9th century, they began to venture along the waterways from the eastern Baltic to the Black and Caspian Seas. [Dimitri Obolensky, "Byzantium and the Slavs", St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1994, p. 42. ISBN 088141008X.] According to the earliest Russian chronicle, a Varangian named Rurikwas elected ruler ("konung" or "knyaz") of Novgorod in about 860, before his successors moved south and extended their authority to Kiev, [James Westfall Thompson, and Edgar Nathaniel Johnson, "An Introduction to Medieval Europe, 300-1500", W. W. Norton & Co., 1937, p. 268.] which had been previously dominated by the Khazars. [David Christian, Op cit. p. 343.]
Thus, the first East Slavic state,
Kievan Rus', emerged in the 9th century along the Dnieper Rivervalley. A coordinated group of princely states with a common interest in maintaining trade along the river routes, Kievan Rus' controlled the trade route for furs, wax, and slaves between Scandinavia and the Byzantine Empire along the Volkhov and Dnieper Rivers.
The name "Russia," together with the Finnish "Ruotsi" and Estonian "Rootsi", are found by some scholars to be related to
Roslagen. [See "Relations Between Ancient Russia and Scandinavia and the Origin of the Russian State", Ayer Publishing, 1964. ISBN 0833735330.] The etymology of "Rus" and its derivatives are debated, and other schools of thought connect the name with Slavic or Iranic roots. [ [http://russia.rin.ru/guides_e/6480.html Russia the Great] . Retrieved 22 July 2007.]
By the end of the 10th century, the Norse minority had merged with the Slavic population, [Particularly among the aristocracy. See [http://history-world.org/BYZ4.htm World History] . Retrieved 22 July 2007.] which also absorbed Greek Christian influences in the course of the multiple campaigns to loot
Tsargrad, or Constantinople. [See Dimitri Obolensky, "Russia's Byzantine Heritage," in "Byzantium & the Slavs", St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1994, pp. 75–108. ISBN 088141008X.] One such campaign claimed the life of the foremost Slavic druzhinaleader, Svyatoslav I, who was renowned for having crushed the power of the Khazars on the Volga. [Serhii Plokhy, "The Origins of the Slavic Nations: Premodern Identities in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus", Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 13. ISBN 0521864038.] While the fortunes of the Byzantine Empirehad been ebbing, its culture was a continuous influence on the development of Russia in its formative centuries.
Kievan Rus' is important for its introduction of a Slavic variant of the Eastern Orthodox religion, dramatically deepening a synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next thousand years. The region adopted
Christianityin 988 by the official act of public baptism of Kiev inhabitants by Prince Vladimir I. [See [http://www.dur.ac.uk/a.k.harrington/christin.html The Christianisation of Russia] , an account of Vladimir's baptism, followed by the baptism of the entire population of Kiev, as described in "The Russian Primary Chronicle".] Some years later the first code of laws, Russkaya Pravda, was introduced.Gordon Bob Smith, "Reforming the Russian Legal System", Cambridge University Press, 1996, p. 2–3. ISBN 052145669X.] From the onset the Kievan princes followed the Byzantine example and kept the Church dependent on them, even for its revenues, [P. N. Fedosejev, "The Comparative Historical Method in Soviet Mediaeval Studies", USSR Academy of Sciences, 1979. p. 90.] so that the Russian Church and state were always closely linked.
By the 11th century, particularly during the reign of
Yaroslav the Wise, Kievan Rus' could boast an economy and achievements in architecture and literature superior to those that then existed in the western part of the continent. [Russell Bova, "Russia and Western Civilization: Cultural and Historical Encounters", M.E. Sharpe, 2003, p. 13. ISBN 0765609762.] Compared with the languages of European Christendom, the Russian languagewas little influenced by the Greek and Latinof early Christian writings. This was due to the fact that Church Slavonicwas used directly in liturgyinstead. [Timothy Ware: "The Orthodox Church" (Penguin, 1963; 1997 revision) p.74]
A nomadic Turkic people, the
Kipchaks(also known as the Cumans), replaced the earlier Pechenegsas the dominant force in the south steppe regions neighbouring to Rus' at the end of 11th century and founded a nomadic state in the steppes along the Black Sea (Desht-e-Kipchak). Repelling their regular attacks, especially on Kiev, which was just one day's ride from the steppe, was a heavy burden for the southern areas of Rus'. The nomadic incursions caused a massive influx of Slavs to the safer, heavily forested regions of the north, particularly to the area known as Zalesye.
Kievan Rus' ultimately disintegrated as a state because of in-fighting between members of the princely family that ruled it collectively. Kiev's dominance waned, to the benefit of
Vladimir-Suzdalin the north-east, Novgorod in the north, and Halych-Volhyniain the south-west. Conquest by the Mongol Golden Hordein the 13th century was the final blow. Kiev was destroyed.In 1240. See Michael Franklin Hamm, "Kiev: A Portrait, 1800-1917", Princeton University Press, 1993. ISBN 0691025851] Halych-Volhynia would eventually be absorbed into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, while the Mongol-dominated Vladimir-Suzdal and independent Novgorod Republic, two regions on the periphery of Kiev, would establish the basis for the modern Russian nation.
The invading Mongols accelerated the fragmentation of the Rus'. In 1223, the disunited southern princes faced a Mongol raiding party at the Kalka River and were soundly defeated. [See
David Nicolle, "Kalka River 1223: Genghiz Khan's Mongols Invade Russia", Osprey Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1841762334.] In 1237-1238 the Mongols burnt down the city of Vladimir(February 4, 1238) [Tatyana Shvetsova, [http://www.vor.ru/English/homeland/home_004.html The Vladimir Suzdal Principality] Retrieved 21 July 2007.] and other major cities of northeast Russia, routed the Russians at the Sit' River, [Janet Martin, "Medieval Russia, 980-1584", Cambridge University Press, 1995, p. 139. ISBN 052136832.] and then moved west into Polandand Hungary. [Piero Scaruffi, [http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/mongols.html A Time-line of the Mongols] , 1999. Retrieved 21 July 2007.] By then they had conquered most of the Russian principalities. [ [https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/citd/RussianHeritage/4.PEAS/4.L/12.III.5.html The Destruction of Kiev] ] Only the Novgorod Republic escaped occupation and continued to flourish in the orbit of the Hanseatic League. [Jennifer Mills, [http://depts.washington.edu/baltic/papers/hansa.html The Hanseatic League in the Eastern Baltic] , SCAND 344, May 1998. Retrieved 21 July 2007.]
The impact of the Mongol invasion on the territories of Kievan Rus' was uneven. The advanced city culture was almost completely destroyed. As older centers such as Kiev and Vladimir never recovered from the devastation of the initial attack, the new cities of
Moscow, [http://countrystudies.us/russia/3.htm Muscovy] , excerpted from Glenn E. Curtis (ed.), "Russia: A Country Study", Department of the Army, 1998. ISBN 0160612128.] Tverand Nizhny Novgorod[Sigfried J. De Laet, "History of Humanity: Scientific and Cultural Development", Taylor & Francis, 2005, p. 196. ISBN 9231028146.] began to compete for hegemony in the Mongol-dominated Russia. Although a Russian army defeated the Golden Hordeat Kulikovo in 1380, [http://www.fanaticus.org/DBA/battles/Kulikovo/index.html The Battle of Kulikovo (8 September 1380)] . Retrieved 22 July 2007.] mongoldomination of the Russian-inhabited territories, along with demands of tribute from Russian princes, continued until about 1480.
After the fall of the
Khazarsin the 10th century, the middle Volga came to be dominated by the mercantile state of Volga Bulgaria, the last vestige of Greater Bulgaria centered at Phanagoria. In the 10th century the Turkic population of Volga Bulgaria converted to Islam, which facilitated its trade with the Middle East and Central Asia.Fact|date=July 2007 In the wake of the Mongol invasions of the 1230s, Volga Bulgaria was absorbed by the Golden Hordeand its population evolved into the modern Chuvashes and Kazan Tatars.
The Mongols held Russia and Volga Bulgaria in sway from their western capital at Sarai,cite web
url = http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=aa76
title = History of the Mongols
accessdate = 2007-07-26
publisher = History World] one of the largest cities of the medieval world. The princes of southern and eastern Russia had to pay tribute to the Mongols of the Golden Horde, commonly called
Tatars; but in return they received charters authorizing them to act as deputies to the khans. In general, the princes were allowed considerable freedom to rule as they wished, while the Russian Orthodox Churcheven experienced a spiritual revival under the guidance of Metropolitan Alexisand Sergius of Radonezh.
To the Orthodox Church and most princes, the fanatical Northern Crusaders seemed a greater threat to the Russian way of life than the Mongols. In the mid-13th century,
Alexander Nevsky, elected prince of Novgorod, acquired heroic status as the result of major victories over the Teutonic Knightsand the Swedes. Alexander obtained Mongol protection and assistance in fighting invaders from the west who, hoping to profit from the Russian collapse since the Mongol invasions, tried to grab territory and convert the Russians to Roman Catholicism. Fact|date=August 2008
The Mongols left their impact on the Russians in such areas as military tactics and transportation. Under Mongol occupation, Russia also developed its postal road network, census, fiscal system, and military organization. Eastern influence remained strong well until the 17th century, when Russian rulers made a conscious effort to Westernize their country.In popular memory, this period left a very unpleasant impression, and is referred to as the Tataro-Mongol Yoke.Fact|date=July 2008fuck
Grand Duchy of Moscow
The rise of Moscow
Daniil Aleksandrovich, the youngest son of Alexander Nevsky, founded the principality of Moscow (known in the western tradition as Muscovy), which eventually expelled the Tatars from Russia. Well-situated in the central river system of Russia and surrounded by protective forests and marshes, Moscow was at first only a vassalof Vladimir, but soon it absorbed its parent state. A major factor in the ascendancy of Moscow was the cooperation of its rulers with the Mongol overlords, who granted them the title of Grand Prince of Moscow and made them agents for collecting the Tatar tribute from the Russian principalities. The principality's prestige was further enhanced when it became the center of the Russian Orthodox Church. Its head, the Metropolitan, fled from Kiev to Vladimir in 1299 and a few years later established the permanent headquarters of the Church in Moscow under the original title of Kiev Metropolitan.
By the middle of the 14th century, the power of the Mongols was declining, and the Grand Princes felt able to openly oppose the
Mongol yoke. In 1380, at Kulikovoon the Don River, the Mongols were defeated, and although this hard-fought victory did not end Tatar rule of Russia, it did bring great fame to the Grand Prince. Moscow's leadership in Russia was now firmly based and by the middle of the fourteenth century its territory had greatly expanded through purchase, war, and marriage.
Ivan III, the Great
In the 15th century, the grand princes of Moscow went on gathering Russian lands to increase the population and wealth under their rule. The most successful practitioner of this process was Ivan III who laid the foundations for a Russian national state. Ivan competed with his powerful northwestern rival, the
Grand Duchy of Lithuania, for control over some of the semi-independent Upper Principalitiesin the upper Dnieper and Oka Riverbasins. [ [http://www.bartleby.com/65/iv/Ivan3.html Ivan III] , The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05.] ] [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-3598 Ivan III] , Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007] Through the defections of some princes, border skirmishes, and a long war with the Novgorod Republic, Ivan III was able to annex Novgorod and Tver. [Donald Ostrowski in "The Cambridge History of Russia", Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 234. ISBN 0521812275.] As a result, the Grand Duchy of Moscowtripled in size under his rule. During his conflict with Pskov, a monk named Filofei(Philotheus of Pskov) composed a letter to Ivan III, with the prophecy that the latter's kingdom will be the Third Rome.See eg. [http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-60463 Easten Orthodoxy] , Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.] The Fall of Constantinopleand the death of the last Greek Orthodox Christian emperor contributed to this new idea of Moscow as 'New Rome' and the seat of Orthodox Christianity.
A contemporary of the Tudors and other "new monarchs" in Western Europe, Ivan proclaimed his absolute sovereignty over all Russian princes and nobles. Refusing further tribute to the Tatars, Ivan initiated a series of attacks that opened the way for the complete defeat of the declining
Golden Horde, now divided into several Khanates and hordes. Ivan and his successors sought to protect the southern boundaries of their domain against attacks of the Crimean Tatars and other hordes. [ [http://www.allempires.com/article/index.php?q=The_Crimean_Khanate The Tatar Khanate of Crimea] ] To achieve this aim, they sponsored the construction of the Great Abatis Beltand granted manors to nobles, who were obliged to serve in the military. The manor system provided a basis for an emerging horse army.
In this way, internal consolidation accompanied outward expansion of the state. By the
16th century, the rulers of Moscow considered the entire Russian territory their collective property. Various semi-independent princes still claimed specific territories, but Ivan III forced the lesser princes to acknowledge the grand prince of Moscow and his descendants as unquestioned rulers with control over military, judicial, and foreign affairs. Gradually, the Russian ruler emerged as a powerful, autocratic ruler, a tsar. The first Russian ruler to officially crown himself " Tsar" was Ivan IV.
Tsardom of Russia
Ivan IV, the Terrible
The development of the Tsar's autocratic powers reached a peak during the reign (1547–1584) of Ivan IV ("Ivan the Terrible"). He strengthened the position of the monarch to an unprecedented degree, as he ruthlessly subordinated the nobles to his will, exiling or executing many on the slightest provocation. Nevertheless, Ivan is often seen a farsighted statesman who reformed Russia as he promulgated a new code of laws (
Sudebnik of 1550), [ cite web|url=http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/history/russia/ivantheterrible.html|title=Ivan the Terrible|accessdate=2007-07-23|work=Minnesota State University Mankato] established the first Russian feudal representative body ( Zemsky Sobor), curbed the influence of clergy, [cite journal |last=Zenkovsky |first=Serge A. |year=1957 |month=10 |title=The Russian Church Schism: Its Background and Repercussions|journal=Russian Review |volume=16 |issue=4 |url=http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0036-0341(195710)16%3A4%3C37%3ATRCSIB%3E2.0.CO;2-P |accessdate=2007-07-23 |pages=37 |doi=10.2307/125748] and introduced the local self-management in rural regions, [Skrynnikov R., "Ivan Grosny", p.58, M., AST, 2001]
Although his long
Livonian Warfor the control of the Baltic coast and the access to sea trade ultimately proved a costly failure, [cite web|work=LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES|title=THE ORIGIN OF THE LIVONIAN WAR, 1558|accessdate=2007-07-23|author=William Urban|url=http://www.lituanus.org/1983_3/83_3_02.htm] Ivan managed to annex the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia.Janet Martin, "Medieval Russia, 980-1584", Cambridge University Press, 1995, p. 395. ISBN 052136832.] These conquests complicated the migration of the aggressive nomadic hordes from Asia to Europe through Volga and Ural. Through these conquests, Russia acquired a significant Muslim Tatar population and emerged as a multiethnicand state. Also around this period, the mercantile Stroganovfamily established a firm foothold at the Uralsand recruited Russian Cossacksto colonize Siberia. [ Siberian Chronicles, Строгановская Сибирская Летопись. изд. Спаским, СПб, 1821]
In the later part of his reign, Ivan divided his realm in two. In the zone known as the "
oprichnina", Ivan's followers carried out a series of bloody purges of the feudal aristocracy (which he suspected of treachery after the betrayal of prince Kurbsky), culminating in the Massacre of Novgorod(1570). This combined with the military losses, epidemics, poor harvests so weakened Russia that the Crimean Tatarswere able to sack central Russian regions and burn down Moscow (1571). [Skrynnikov R. "Ivan Grozny", M, 2001, pp.142-173] In 1572 Ivan abandoned the "oprichnina". [Robert I. Frost "The Northern Wars: 1558-1721" (Longman, 2000) pp.26-27] [ [http://www.economist.com/cities/printStory.cfm?obj_id=9141603&city_id=MCW Moscow - Historical background] ]
At the end of Ivan IV's reign the Polish-Lithuanian and Swedish armies carried out the powerful intervention into Russia, devastating its northern and northwest regions. [Skrynnikov. "Ivan Grozny", M, 2001, pp.222-223]
Time of Troubles
to raise a volunteer army against the Poles.Chester S. L. Dunning, "Russia's First Civil War: The Time of Troubles and the Founding of the Romanov Dynasty", Penn State Press (2001), ISBN 0271020741, pp. 433-434.] ] The death of Ivan's childless son Feodor was followed by a period of civil wars and foreign intervention known as the "
Time of Troubles" (1606–13). Extremely cold summers (1601-1603) wrecked crops, [Borisenkov E, Pasetski V. "The thousand-year annals of the extreme meteorological phenomena", ISBN 5-244-00212-0, p.190] which led to the Russian famine of 1601 - 1603and increased the social disorganization. Boris Godunov's reign ended in chaos, civil war combined with foreign intrusion, devastation of many cities and depopulation of the rural regions. The country rocked by internal chaos also attracted several waves of interventions by Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. [Solovyov. "History of Russia...", v.7, pp.533-535, pp.543-568] The invaders reached Moscow and installed, first, the impostor False Dmitriy Iand, later, a Polish prince Władysław IV Vasaon the Russian throne. Moscow population revolted but the riots were brutally suppressed and the city was set on fire. George Vernadsky, "A History of Russia", Volume 5, Yale University Press, (1969). [http://www.spsl.nsc.ru/history/vernad/vol5/vgv522.htm#vgv522note35 Russian translation] ] [Mikolaj Marchocki "Historia Wojny Moskiewskiej", ch. "Slaughter in the capital", [http://www.vostlit.info/Texts/rus8/Marchockij/pred.phtml?id=902 Russian translation] ] [Sergey Solovyov. History of Russia... Vol. 8, p. 847]
The crisis provoked the patriotic national uprising against the
invasionand in autumn, 1612, the volunteer army led by the merchant Kuzma Mininand prince Dmitry Pozharsky, expelled the foreign forces from the capital. [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9073517 Troubles, Time of] ." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006] [ [http://www.bartleby.com/65/e-/E-Pozharsk.html Pozharski, Dmitri Mikhailovich, Prince] ", Columbia Encyclopedia] Chester S L Dunning, "Russia's First Civil War: The Time of Troubles and the Founding of the Romanov Dynasty", [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0271020741&id=9NUYtSJaO8cC&pg=PA434&lpg=PA434&dq=moscow+minin+patriot&sig=R7i94-fA_3vcjadJ8j0WonuPQys p. 434] Penn State Press, 2001, ISBN 0-271-02074-1]
The Russian statehood survived the "Time of Troubles" and the rule of weak or corrupt Tsars because of the strength of the government's central bureaucracy. Government functionaries continued to serve, regardless of the ruler's legitimacy or the faction controlling the throne. However, the "
Time of Troubles" provoked by the dynastic crisis resulted in the loss of much territory to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealthin the the Russo-Polish war, as well as to Swedish Empirein the Ingrian War.
The accession of Romanovs and early rule
In February, 1613, with the chaos ended and the Poles expelled from Moscow, a national assembly, composed of representatives from fifty cities and even some peasants, elected Michael Romanov, the young son of
Patriarch Filaret, to the throne. The Romanovdynasty ruled Russia until 1917.
The immediate task of the new dynasty was to restore peace. Fortunately for Moscow, its major enemies, the
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealthand Sweden, were engaged in a bitter conflict with each other, which provided Russia the opportunity to make peace with Sweden in 1617 and to sign a truce with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1619. Recovery of lost territories started in the mid-17th century, when the Khmelnitsky Uprising in Ukraine against the Polish rule brought about the Treaty of Pereyaslavconcluded between Russia and the Ukrainian Cossacks.
According to the treaty, Russia granted protection to the Cossacks state in the
Left-bank Ukraine, formerly under the Polish control. This triggered a prolonged Russo-Polish War which ended with the Treaty of Andrusovo(1667) were Poland accepted the loss of Left-bank Ukraine, Kievand Smolensk.
Rather than risk their estates in more civil war, the great nobles or "
boyars" cooperated with the first Romanovs, enabling them to finish the work of bureaucratic centralization. Thus, the state required service from both the old and the new nobility, primarily in the military. In return the tsars allowed the "boyars" to complete the process of enserfing the peasants.
In the preceding century, the state had gradually curtailed peasants' rights to move from one landlord to another. With the state now fully sanctioning serfdom, runaway peasants became state fugitives, and the power of the landlords over the peasants "attached" to their land have become almost complete. Together the state and the nobles placed the overwhelming burden of taxation on the peasants, whose rate was 100 times greater in the mid-17th century than it had been a century earlier. In addition, middle-class urban tradesmen and craftsmen were assessed taxes, and, like the serfs, they were forbidden to change residence. All segments of the population were subject to military levy and to special taxes. [For a discussion of the development of the class structure in Tsarist Russia see Skocpol, Theda. "
States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China". Cambridge U Press, 1988.]
Under such circumstances, peasant disorders were endemic; even the citizens of Moscow revolted against the Romanovs during the
Salt Riot(1648),Jarmo Kotilaine and Marshall Poe, "Modernizing Muscovy: Reform and Social Change in Seventeenth-Century Russia", Routledge, 2004, p. 264. ISBN 0415307511.] Copper Riot(1662), and the Moscow Uprising (1682). [ru icon [http://militera.lib.ru/common/solovyev1/13_03.html Moscow Uprising of 1682] in the "History of Russia" of Sergey Solovyov] By far the greatest peasant uprising in 17th century Europe erupted in 1667. As the free settlers of South Russia, the Cossacks, reacted against the growing centralization of the state, serfs escaped from their landlords and joined the rebels. The Cossack leader Stenka Razinled his followers up the Volga River, inciting peasant uprisings and replacing local governments with Cossack rule. The tsar's army finally crushed his forces in 1670; a year later Stenka was captured and beheaded. Yet, less than half a century later, the strains of military expeditions produced another revolt in Astrakhan, ultimately subdued.
Peter the Great
Peter I, the Great (1672–1725), brought Autocracy in Russia and played a major role in bringing his country into the European state system. From its modest beginnings in the 14th century principality of Moscow, Russia had become the largest state in the world by Peter's time. Three times the size of continental Europe, it spanned the Eurasian landmass from the
Baltic Seato the Pacific Ocean. Much of its expansion had taken place in the 17th century, culminating in the first Russian settlement of the Pacific in the mid-17th century, the reconquest of Kiev, and the pacification of the Siberian tribes. However, this vast land had a population of only 14 million. Grain yields trailed behind those of agriculture in the West (that can be partly explained by the heavier climatic conditions, in particular long cold winters and short vegetative period [http://bookz.ru/authors/milov-lv/milovlv01/1-milovlv01.html] ) compelling almost the entire population to farm. Only a small fraction of the population lived in the towns. Russia remained isolated from the sea trade, its internal trade communications and many manufactures were dependent on the seasonal changes. [ [http://bookz.ru/authors/milov-lv/milovlv01/1-milovlv01.html Milov L.V. «Russian peasant and features of the Russian historical process», the research of Russian economic history of XV-XVIIIth centuries.] ]
Peter's first military efforts were directed against the Ottoman Turks. [His aim was to establish a Russian foothold on the
Black Seaby taking the town of Azov. See Lord Kinross, "The Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire", Perennial, 1979, p. 353. ISBN 0688030939.] His attention then turned to the north. Peter still lacked a secure northern seaport except at Archangel on the White Sea, whose harbor was frozen nine months a year. Access to the Baltic was blocked by Sweden, whose territory enclosed it on three sides. Peter's ambitions for a "window to the sea" led him in 1699 to make a secret alliance with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealthand Denmarkagainst Sweden resulting in the Great Northern War. The war ended in 1721 when an exhausted Sweden sued for peace with Russia. Peter acquired four provinces situated south and east of the Gulf of Finland, thus securing his coveted access to the sea. There, in 1703, he had already founded the city that was to become Russia's new capital, Saint Petersburg, as a "window opened upon Europe" to replace Moscow, long Russia's cultural center. Russian intervention in the Commonwealth marked, with the Silent Sejm, beginning of 200-year domination of that region by the Russian Empire.In celebration of his conquests, Peter assumed the title of emperor as well as tsar, and Russian Tzardom officially became the Russian Empirein 1721.
Peter reorganized his government on the latest Western models, molding Russia into an absolutist state. He replaced the old "boyar"
Duma(council of nobles) with a nine-member senate, in effect a supreme council of state. The countryside was also divided into new provinces and districts. Peter told the senate that its mission was to collect tax revenues. In turn tax revenues tripled over the course of his reign. As part of the government reform, the Orthodox Church was partially incorporated into the country's administrative structure, in effect making it a tool of the state. Peter abolished the patriarchateand replaced it with a collective body, the Holy Synod, led by a lay government official. Meanwhile, all vestiges of local self-government were removed, and Peter continued and intensified his predecessors' requirement of state service for all nobles.
Peter the Great died in 1725, leaving an unsettled succession and an exhausted realm. His reign raised questions about Russia's backwardness, its relationship to the West, the appropriateness of reform from above, and other fundamental problems that have confronted many of Russia's subsequent rulers. Nevertheless, he had laid the foundations of a modern state in Russia.
Ruling the Empire (1725–1825)
Nearly forty years were to pass before a comparably ambitious and ruthless ruler appeared on the Russian throne. Catherine II, the Great, was a German princess who married the German heir to the Russian crown. Finding him incompetent, Catherine tacitly consented to his murder. It was announced that he had died of "
apoplexy", and in 1762 she became ruler.
Catherine contributed to the resurgence of the Russian nobility that began after the death of Peter the Great. Mandatory state service had been abolished, and Catherine delighted the nobles further by turning over most government functions in the provinces to them.
Catherine the Great extended Russian political control over the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with actions including the support of the
Targowica Confederation, although the cost of her campaigns, on top of the oppressive social system that required lords' serfs to spend almost all of their time laboring on the lords' land, provoked a major peasant uprising in 1773, after Catherine legalized the selling of serfs separate from land. Inspired by another Cossack named Pugachev, with the emphatic cry of "Hang all the landlords!" the rebels threatened to take Moscow before they were ruthlessly suppressed. Catherine had Pugachev drawn and quartered in Red Square, [ [http://www.bookrags.com/biography/emelyan-ivanovich-pugachev/ Emelyan Ivanovich Pugachev Biography] in the "Encyclopedia of World Biography".] but the specter of revolution continued to haunt her and her successors.
Catherine successfully waged war against the decaying Ottoman Empire [cite web|url=http://www.parallelsixty.com/history-russia.shtml|title=History|work=Parallel 60|accessdate=2007-07-23] and advanced Russia's southern boundary to the Black Sea. Then, by allying with the rulers of Austria and
Prussia, she incorporated the territories of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, where after a century of Russian rule non-Catholic mainly Orthodox population prevailed [According to Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary: 1891 Grodno province - catholics 384,696, total population 1,509,728 [http://gatchina3000.ru/brockhaus-and-efron-encyclopedic-dictionary/031/31772.htm] ; Curland province - catholics 68,722, total population 555,003 [http://gatchina3000.ru/brockhaus-and-efron-encyclopedic-dictionary/057/57501.htm] ; Volyhnia Province - catholics 193,142, total population 2,059,870 [http://gatchina3000.ru/brockhaus-and-efron-encyclopedic-dictionary/022/22861.htm] ] ) during the Partitions of Poland, pushing the Russian frontier westward into Central Europe. By the time of her death in 1796, Catherine's expansionist policy had made Russia into a major European power. This continued with Alexander I's wresting of Finlandfrom the weakened kingdom of Swedenin 1809 and of Bessarabiafrom the Ottomans in 1812.
Napoleon made a major misstep when he declared war on Russia after a dispute with Tsar Alexander I and launched an invasion of Russia in 1812. The campaign was a catastrophe. In the bitterly cold Russian weather, thousands of French troops were ambushed and killed by peasant guerrilla fighters. As Napoleon's forces retreated, the Russian troops pursued them into Central and Western Europe and to the gates of Paris. After Russia and its allies defeated Napoleon, Alexander became known as the 'savior of Europe,' and he presided over the redrawing of the map of Europe at the
Congress of Vienna(1815), which made Alexander the monarch of Congress Poland.
Although the Russian Empire would play a leading political role in the next century, secured by its defeat of Napoleonic France, its retention of serfdom precluded economic progress of any significant degree. As West European economic growth accelerated during the
Industrial Revolution, sea trade and exploitation of colonies which had begun in the second half of the 18th century, Russia began to lag ever farther behind, creating new problems for the empire as a great power.
Imperial Russia following the Decembrist Revolt (1825–1917)
Nicholas I and the Decembrist Revolt
Russia's great power status obscured the inefficiency of its government, the isolation of its people, and its economic backwardness. [Riasonovsky "A History of Russia" (fifth ed.) pp.302-3; Charques "A Short History of Russia" (Phoenix, second ed. 1962) p.125] Following the defeat of Napoleon, Alexander I was willing to discuss constitutional reforms, and though a few were introduced, no thoroughgoing changes were attempted. [Riasonovsky p.302-307]
The tsar was succeeded by his younger brother, Nicholas I (1825–1855), who at the onset of his reign was confronted with an uprising. The background of this revolt lay in the Napoleonic Wars, when a number of well-educated Russian officers traveled in Europe in the course of the military campaigns, where their exposure to the liberalism of Western Europe encouraged them to seek change on their return to autocratic Russia. The result was the
Decembrist Revolt(December 1825), the work of a small circle of liberal nobles and army officers who wanted to install Nicholas' brother as a constitutional monarch. But the revolt was easily crushed, leading Nicholas to turn away from the Westernization program begun by Peter the Great and champion the maxim " Autocracy, Orthodoxy, and Nationality." [Riasonovsky p.324]
In the early decades of the 19th century, Russia expanded into
South Caucasusand the highlands of the North Caucasus. [Riasonovsky p.308] In 1831 Nicholas crushed a major uprising in Congress Poland; it would be followed by another large-scale Polish and Lithuanian revolt in 1863. [See Norman Davies: "God's Playground: A History of Poland" (OUP, 1981) vol. 2, pp.315-333; and 352-63]
Ideological schisms and reaction
In this setting
Michael Bakuninwould emerge as the father of anarchism. He left Russia in 1842 to Western Europe, where he became active in the socialist movement. After participating in the May Uprising in Dresdenof 1849, he was imprisoned and shipped to Siberia, but eventually escaped and made his way back to Europe. There he practically joined forces with Karl Marx, despite significant ideological and tactical differences. Alternative social doctrines were elaborated by such Russian radicals as Alexander Herzenand Peter Kropotkin.
The question of Russia's direction had been gaining steam ever since Peter the Great's program of Westernization.Clarifyme|date=March 2008 Some favored imitating Europe while others renounced the West and called for a return of the traditions of the past. The latter path was championed by
Slavophiles, who heaped scorn on the "decadent" West.Fact|date=July 2007 The Slavophiles were opponents of bureaucracy, preferred the collectivismof the medieval Russian "mir", or village community, to the individualismof the West.
Alexander II and the abolition of serfdom
Tsar Nicholas died with his philosophy in dispute. One year earlier, Russia had become involved in the
Crimean War, a conflict fought primarily in the Crimean peninsula. [cite web|url=http://www.iep.utm.edu/r/russian.htm|work=The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy|title=Russian Philosophy|accessdate=2007-07-23|author=Thomas Nemeth] Since playing a major role in the defeat of Napoleon, Russia had been regarded as militarily invincible, but, once pitted against a coalition of the great powers of Europe, the reverses it suffered on land and sea exposed the decay and weakness of Tsar Nicholas' regime.
When Alexander II came to the throne in 1855, desire for reform was widespread. A growing humanitarian movement, which in later years has been likened to that of the abolitionists in the
United Statesbefore the American Civil War, attacked serfdom. In 1859, there were 23 million serfs(total population of Russia 67.1 Million) [ [http://demoscope.ru/weekly/2007/0293/nauka02.php Excerpt from "Enserfed population in Russia] published at "Демоскоп Weekly", No 293 - 294, June 18 July 1, 2007] living under conditions frequently worse than those of the peasants of Western Europeon 16th century manors. Alexander II made up his own mind to abolish serfdom from above rather than wait for it to be abolished from below through revolution.
The emancipation of the serfs in 1861 was the single most important event in 19th century Russian history. It was the beginning of the end for the landed aristocracy's monopoly of power. Emancipation brought a supply of free labor to the cities, industry was stimulated, and the middle class grew in number and influence; however, instead of receiving their lands as a gift, the freed peasants had to pay a special tax, called redemption payments, for what amounted to their lifetime to the government, which in turn paid the landlords a generous price for the land that they had lost. In numerous instances the peasants wound up with the poorest land. All the land turned over to the peasants was owned collectively by the "mir", the village community, which divided the land among the peasants and supervised the various holdings. Although serfdom was abolished, since its abolition was achieved on terms unfavorable to the peasants, revolutionary tensions were not abated, despite Alexander II's intentions.
In the late 1870s Russia and the Ottoman Empire again clashed in the Balkans. The Russo-Turkish War was popular among Russians, who supported the independence of their fellow Orthodox Slavs, the Serbs and the Bulgarians. However, the war increased tension with Austria-Hungary, which also had ambitions in the region. [Riasonovsky pp.386-7] During this period Russia expanded its empire into
Central Asia, which was rich in raw materials, conquering the khanates of Kokand, Bokharaand Khiva. as well as the Trans-Caspian region. [Riasonovsky p.349]
In the 1860s a movement known as Nihilism developed in Russia. A term originally coined by
Ivan Turgenev, in his novel "Fathers and Sons," Nihilism basically means the negation of human institutions and laws, based on the idea that such institutions and laws are artificial and corrupt. For some time many Russian liberals had been dissatisfied by what they regarded as the empty discussions of the intelligentsia. The Nihilists questioned all old values and shocked the Russian establishment. [Riasonovsky pp.381-2, 447-8]
The Nihilists first attempted to convert the aristocracy to the cause of reform.Fact|date=July 2007 Failing there, they turned to the peasants. Their "go to the people"
v Narodcampaign became known as the Narodnikmovement, and was based upon the belief that the common people Narodpossessed the wisdom and peaceful ability to lead the nation.. [http://countrystudies.us/russia/6.htm Transformation of Russia in the Nineteenth Century] , excerpted from Glenn E. Curtis (ed.), "Russia: A Country Study", Department of the Army, 1998. ISBN 0160612128.]
While the Narodnik movement was gaining momentum, the government quickly moved to extirpate it. In response to the growing reaction of the government, a radical branch of the Narodniks advocated and practiced
terrorism. One after another, prominent officials were shot or killed by bombs. This represented the ascendancy of Anarchismas a powerful revolutionary force in Russia. Finally, after several attempts, Alexander II was assassinated by Anarchistsin 1881, on the very day he had approved a proposal to call a representative assembly to consider new reforms in addition to the abolition of serfdom designed to ameliorate revolutionary demands.Fact|date=July 2007
Autocracy and reaction under Alexander III
Unlike his father, the new tsar Alexander III (1881–1894) was throughout his reign a staunch reactionary who revived the maxim of "
Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and National Character". [ [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9057487/Orthodoxy-Autocracy-and-Nationality Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality] , Encyclopædia Britannica] A committed Slavophile, Alexander III believed that Russia could be saved from chaos only by shutting itself off from the subversive influences of Western Europe. In his reign Russia concluded the union with republican France to contain the growing power of Germany, completed the conquest of Central Asia, and exacted important territorial and commercial concessions from China.
The tsar's most influential adviser was
Konstantin Pobedonostsev, tutor to Alexander III and his son Nicholas, and procurator of the Holy Synod from 1880 to 1895. He taught his royal pupils to fear freedom of speech and press and to hate democracy, constitutions, and the parliamentary system. [Hugo S. Cunninggam, [http://www.cyberussr.com/rus/pobedonostsev.html Konstantin Petrovich Pobedonostsev (1827-1907): Reactionary Views on Democracy, General Education] . Retrieved 21 July 2007.] Under Pobedonostsev, revolutionaries were hunted down [Robert F. Byrnes, "Pobedonostsev: His Life and Thought," in "Political Science Quarterly", Vol. 85, No. 3 (Sep., 1970), pp. 528–530.] and a policy of Russificationwas carried out throughout the empire. [Arthur E. Adams, "Pobedonostsev's Religious Politics," in "Church History", Vol. 22, No. 4 (Dec., 1953), pp. 314–326.]
Nicholas II and a new revolutionary movement
Alexander was succeeded by his son
In 1903 the RDSLP split into two wings: the radical
Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, and the relatively moderate Mensheviks, led by Lenin's former friend Yuli Martov.Fact|date=July 2007 The Mensheviks believed that Russian socialism would grow gradually and peacefully and that the tsar’s regime should be succeeded by a democratic republic in which the socialists would cooperate with the liberal bourgeois parties.Fact|date=July 2007 The Bolsheviks, under Vladimir Lenin, advocated the formation of a small elite of professional revolutionists, subject to strong party discipline, to act as the vanguard of the proletariat in order to seize power by force. [For an analysis of the reaction of the elites to the revolutionaries see Manning, Roberta. "The Crisis of the Old Order in Russia: Gentry and Government". Princeton University Press, 1982.]
The disastrous performance of the Russian armed forces in the
Russo-Japanese Warwas a major blow to the Russian State and increased the potential for unrest. [http://countrystudies.us/russia/7.htm The Last Years of the Autocracy] , excerpted from Glenn E. Curtis (ed.), "Russia: A Country Study", Department of the Army, 1998. ISBN 0160612128.] In January 1905, an incident known as "Bloody Sunday" occurred when Father Gaponled an enormous crowd to the Winter Palacein Saint Petersburgto present a petition to the tsar. When the procession reached the palace, Cossacks opened fire on the crowd, killing hundreds. The Russian masses were so aroused over the massacre that a general strike was declared demanding a democratic republic.Fact|date=July 2007 This marked the beginning of the Russian Revolution of 1905. Soviets (councils of workers) appeared in most cities to direct revolutionary activity.Fact|date=July 2007
In October 1905, Nicholas reluctantly issued the famous
October Manifesto, which conceded the creation of a national Duma (legislature) to be called without delay. The right to vote was extended,Fact|date=July 2007 and no law was to go into force without confirmation by the Duma.Fact|date=July 2007 The moderate groups were satisfied; but the socialists rejected the concessions as insufficient and tried to organize new strikes.Fact|date=July 2007 By the end of 1905, there was disunity among the reformers,Fact|date=July 2007 and the tsar's position was strengthened for the time being.
Bound by treaty, Tsar Nicholas II and his subjects entered
World War Iat the defense of Serbia. At the opening of hostilities in August 1914, the Russians took the offensive against both Germanyand Austria-Hungaryin support of her French ally. [Keegan, 139.]
Later, military failures and bureaucratic ineptitude soon turned large segments of the population against the government. Control of the Baltic Sea by the German fleet, and of the Black Sea by combined German and Ottoman forces prevented Russia from importing supplies and exporting goods.
By the middle of
1915the impact of the war was demoralizing. Food and fuel were in short supply, casualties kept occurring, and inflation was mounting.Facts|date=July 2007 Strikes increased among low-paid factory workers, and the peasants, who wanted land reforms, were restless.Facts|date=July 2007 Meanwhile, public distrust of the regime was deepened by reports that a semiliterate mystic, Grigory Rasputin, had great political influence within the government. His assassination in late 1916 ended the scandal but did not restore the autocracy's lost prestige.
March 3, 1917, a strike occurred in a factory in the capital Petrograd(formerly Saint Petersburg). On February 23( March 8) 1917, International Women's Day, thousands of women textile workers in Petrograd walked out of their factories protesting the lack of food and calling on other workers to join them. Within days, nearly all the workers in the city were idle, and street fighting broke out.Fact|date=July 2007 When the tsar ordered the Duma to disband, ordered strikers to return to work, and ordered troops to shoot at demonstrators in the streets, his orders triggered the February Revolution, especially when soldiers openly sided with the strikers.Facts|date=July 2007 On March 2(15), Nicholas II abdicated. To fill the vacuum of authority, the Duma declared a Provisional Government, headed by Prince Lvov. [http://www.history.com/encyclopedia.do?articleId=221104 The Russian Revolution] in the History ChannelEncyclopedia.] Meanwhile, the socialists in Petrograd organized elections among workers and soldiers to form a soviet (council) of workers' and soldiers' deputies, as an organ of popular power that could pressure the "bourgeois" Provisional Government.
In July, following a series of crises that undermined their authority with the public, the head of the Provisional Government resigned and was succeeded by
Alexander Kerensky, who was more progressive than his predecessor but not radical enough for the Bolsheviks or many Russians discontented with the deepening economic crisis and the continuation of the war.Facts|date=July 2007 While Kerensky's government marked time, the socialist-led soviet in Petrograd joined with soviets that formed throughout the country to create a national movement.
Lenin returned to Russia from exile in
Switzerlandwith the help of Germany, which hoped that widespread strife would cause Russia to withdraw from the war.Facts|date=July 2007 After many behind-the-scenes maneuvers,Fact|date=July 2007 the soviets seized control of the government in November 1917, and drove Kerensky and his moderate provisional government into exile, in the events that would become known as the October Revolution.
When the national Constituent Assembly, elected in December 1917 and meeting in January 1918, refused to become a rubber-stamp of the Bolsheviks, it was dissolved by Lenin's troops.Fact|date=July 2007 With the dissolution of the constituent assembly, all vestiges of bourgeois democracy were removed.Fact|date=July 2007 With the handicap of the moderate opposition removed, Lenin was able to free his regime from the war problem by the harsh
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk(1918) with Germany,Fact|date=July 2007 in which Russia lost the territories of Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, the parts of the territories of Latvia and Belarus (line Riga-Dvinsk-Druia-Drisvyaty-Mikhalishki-Dzevalishki-Dokudova-r.Neman-r.Yelvyanka-Pruzhany-Vidoml), and the territories captured from the Ottoman Empire during World War I. [See Articles III-VI of the [http://net.lib.byu.edu/~rdh7/wwi/1918/brestlitovsk.html Treaty of Brest-Litovsk] , 3 March 1918.] On November, 13, 1918 the Soviet government cancelled the Treaty of Brest [http://www.cultinfo.ru/fulltext/1/001/008/001/283.htm] .
Russian Civil War
The Bolshevik grip on power was by no means secure and a lengthy struggle broke out between the new regime and its opponents, who included the Socialist Revolutionaries, right-wing "Whites" and large numbers of peasants. At the same time the Allied powers sent several expeditionary armies to support the anti-Communist forces in an attempt to force Russia to rejoin the world war. The Bolsheviks fought against these forces and against national independence movements in the former Russian Empire. By 1921, they had defeated their internal enemies and brought most of the newly independent states under their control, with the exception of Finland, the Baltic States, the
Moldavian Democratic Republic(which joined Romania), and Poland (with whom they had fought the Polish-Soviet War). [See Orlando Figes: "A People's Tragedy" (Pimlico, 1996) "passim"] Finland also annexed the region Pechengaof the Russian Kola peninsula, Romania annexed Northern Bukovina; Soviet Russia and allied Soviet republics conceded the parts of its territory to Estonia ( Pechoryand the right bank of Narva), Latvia ( Pytalovo) and Turkey (Kars). Poland incorporated the contested territories of Western Belarusand Western Ukraine, the former parts of the Russian Empire (except Galicia) east to Curzon Line.
Creation of the Soviet Union
The history of Russia between 1922 and 1991 is essentially the history of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or
Soviet Union. This ideologically-based union, established in December 1922 by the leaders of the Russian Communist Party, [" [http://library.thinkquest.org/27629/themes/society/rsussr.html Tsar Killed, USSR Formed] ," in "20th Century Russia". Retrieved 21 July 2007.] was roughly coterminous with Russia before the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. At that time, the new nation included four constituent republics: the Russian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR, Belarusian SSR, and the Transcaucasian SFSR. [Soviet Union Information Bureau, [http://www.marxists.org/history/ussr/government/1928/sufds/ch01.htm Area and Population] . Retrieved 21 July 2007.]
The constitution, adopted in 1924, established a federal system of government based on a succession of soviets set up in villages, factories, and cities in larger regions. This pyramid of soviets in each constituent republic culminated in the All-Union Congress of Soviets. But while it appeared that the congress exercised sovereign power, this body was actually governed by the Communist Party, which in turn was controlled by the Politburo from Moscow, the capital of the Soviet Union, just as it had been under the tsars before Peter the Great.
War Communism and the New Economic Policy
The period from the consolidation of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 until 1921 is known as the period of
war communism.cite journal
last = Richman
middle = L.
first = Sheldon
year = 1981
title = War Communism to NEP: The Road to Serfdom
url = http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/5_1/5_1_5.pdf
journal = The Journal of Libertarian Studies
volume = 5
issue = 1
pages = 89–97] Land, all industry and small businesses were
nationalizedand the money economy was restricted. Strong opposition soon developed. The peasants wanted cash payments for their products and resented having to surrender their surplus grain to the government as a part of its civil war policies. Confronted with peasant opposition, Lenin began a strategic retreat from war communism known as the New Economic Policy(NEP). The peasants were freed from wholesale levies of grain and allowed to sell their surplus produce in the open market. Commerce was stimulated by permitting private retail trading. The state continued to be responsible for banking, transportation, heavy industry, and public utilities.
Although the left opposition among the Communists criticized the rich peasants or
kulaks who benefited from the NEP, the program proved highly beneficial and the economy revived. The NEP would later come under increasing opposition from within the party following Lenin's death in early 1924.
Changes in Russian society
While the Russian economy was being transformed, the social life of the people underwent equally drastic changes. From the beginning of the revolution, the government attempted to weaken patriarchal domination of the family.Fact|date=July 2007
Divorceno longer required court procedure;cite web
url = http://www.iisg.nl/~womhist/pushkareva.doc
title = Marriage in Twentieth Century Russia: Traditional Precepts and Innovative Experiments
accessdate = 2007-07-23
last = Pushkareva
first = Natalia
format = .doc
publisher = Russian Academy of Sciences] and to make women completely free of the responsibilities of childbearing,
abortionwas made legal as early as 1920. [Larissa Remennick (1991), "Epidemology and Determinants of Induced Abortion in the USSR," in "Soc. Sci. Med." 33(7): 841-848.] As a side effect, the emancipation of the women increased the labor market. Girls were encouraged to secure an education and pursue a career in the factory or the office. Communal nurseries were set up for the care of small children and efforts were made to shift the center of people's social life from the home to educational and recreational groups, the soviet clubs.
The regime abandoned the tsarist policy of discriminating against
national minoritiesin favor of a policy of incorporating the more than two hundred minority groups into Soviet life.Fact|date=July 2007 Another feature of the regime was the extension of medical services. Campaigns were carried out against typhus, cholera, and malaria; the number of doctors was increased as rapidly as facilities and training would permit; and infant mortalityrates rapidly decreased while life expectancyrapidly increased.Fact|date=July 2007
The government also promoted
atheismand materialism, which formed the basis of Marxist theory. It opposed organized religion, especially in order to break the power of the Russian Orthodox Church, a former pillar of the old tsarist regime and a major barrier to social change.Fact|date=July 2007 Many religious leaders were sent to internal exile camps.Fact|date=July 2007 Members of the party were forbidden to attend religious services and the education system was separated from the Church.Fact|date=July 2007 Religious teaching was prohibited except in the home and atheist instruction was stressed in the schools.
Industrialization and collectivization
The years from 1929 to 1939 comprised a tumultuous decade in Russian history—a period of massive industrialization and internal struggles as
Joseph Stalinestablished near total control over Russian society, wielding virtually unrestrained power. Following Lenin's death Stalin wrestled to gain control of the Soviet Union with rival factions in the Politburo, especially Leon Trotsky's. By 1928, with the Trotskyists either exiled or rendered powerless, Stalin was ready to put a radical program of industrialization into action.I. Deutscher, "Stalin: A Political Biography", Oxford University Press, 1949, pp. 294–344.]
In 1928 Stalin proposed the
First Five-Year Plan. Abolishing the NEP, it was the first of a number of plans aimed at swift accumulation of capital resources through the buildup of heavy industry, the collectivization of agriculture, and the restricted manufacture of consumer goods. For the first time in history a government controlled all economic activity.
As a part of the plan, the government took control of agriculture through the state and collective farms ("
kolkhozes"). Conquest, Robert. "The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine". New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. ISBN 0195051807.] By a decree of February 1930, about one million individual peasants (" kulaks") were forced off their land. Many peasants strongly opposed regimentation by the state, often slaughtering their herds when faced with the loss of their land. In some sections they revolted, and countless peasants deemed "kulaks" by the authorities were executed. [Viola, Lynne. "Peasant Rebels under Stalin. Collectivization and the Culture of Peasant Resistance". 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0195131045.] The combination of bad weather, deficiencies of the hastily-established collective farms, and massive confiscation of grain precipitated a serious famine, and several million peasants died of starvation, mostly in Ukraine and parts of southwestern Russia. The deteriorating conditions in the countryside drove millions of desperate peasants to the rapidly growing cities, fueling industrialization, and vastly increasing Russia's urban population in the space of just a few years.
The plans received remarkable results in areas aside from agriculture. Russia, in many measures the poorest nation in Europe at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution, now industrialized at a phenomenal rate, far surpassing Germany's pace of industrialization in the nineteenth century and Japan's earlier in the twentieth century.
While the Five-Year Plans were forging ahead, Stalin was establishing his personal power. The
NKVDgathered in tens of thousands of Soviet citizens to face arrest, deportation, or execution. Of the six original members of the 1920 Politburo who survived Lenin, all were purged by Stalin. Old Bolsheviks who had been loyal comrades of Lenin, high officers in the Red Army, and directors of industry were liquidated in the Great Purges. Conquest, Robert. "". New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. ISBN 0195071328.] Purges in other Soviet republics also helped centralize control in the USSR.
Stalin's repressions led to the creation of a vast system of internal exile, of considerably greater dimensions than those set up in the past by the tsars. [ [http://www.jamestown.org/getman_paintings.php?painting_id=22 The Gulag Collection: Paintings of Nikolai Getman] ] Draconian penalties were introduced and many citizens were prosecuted for fictitious crimes of sabotage and espionage. The labor provided by convicts working in the
labor camps of the Gulagsystem became an important component of the industrialization effort, especially in Siberia.Gregory, Paul R. & Valery Lazarev (eds.). "The Economics of Forced Labor: The Soviet Gulag". Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 2003. ISBN 0817939423.] Ivanova, Galina M. "Labor Camp Socialism: The Gulag in the Soviet Totalitarian System". Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2000. ISBN 0765604272.] An estimated 18 million people passed through the Gulag system, and perhaps another 15 million had experience of some other form of forced labor. [ [http://www.anneapplebaum.com/communism/2000/06_15_nyrb_gulag.html Anne Applebaum -- Inside the Gulag] ] Applebaum, Anne. "Gulag: A History of the Soviet Camps". London: Penguin Books, 2003. ISBN 0713993227.]
The Soviet Union on the international stage
The Soviet Union viewed the 1933 accession of fervently
anti-Communist Hitler's government to power in Germany with the great alarm from the onset, especially since Hitler proclaimed the Drang nach Ostenas one of the major objectives in his vision of the German strategy of Lebensraum.See, eg. Mein Kampf] The Soviets supported the republicans of Spain who struggled against the fascist German and Italian troops in the Spanish Civil War[Payne, Stanley G. "The Spanish Civil War, the Soviet Union, and Communism". New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004. ISBN 030010068X.] [Radosh, Ronald, Mary Habeck & Grigory Sevostianov (eds.). "Spain Betrayed: The Soviet Union in the Spanish Civil War". New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001. ISBN 0300089813.] In 1938-1939, immediately prior to the WWII, the Soviet Union successfully fought against Imperial Japanin the Soviet-Japanese Border Warsin the Russian Far East, which led to the Soviet-Japanese neutrality and the tense border peace that lasted until August 1945. [Coox, Alvin D. "The Anatomy of a Small War: The Soviet-Japanese Struggle for Changkufeng/Khasan, 1938". Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1977. ISBN 0837194792.] [Coox, Alvin D. "Nomonhan: Japan against Russia, 1939". 2 vols. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990. ISBN 0804718350.]
In 1938 Germany annexed Austria and, together with major Western European powers, signed the
Munich Agreementfollowing which Germany, Hungary and Poland divided the Czech territory between themselves. German plans the further eastward expansion as well as the lack of resolve from the Western powers to oppose it became more apparent. Despite Soviet Union strongly opposed the Munich deal and repeatedly reaffirmed its readiness to militarily back the Soviet commitments given earlier to Czechoslovakia, the Western Betrayalof Czechoslovakia reached over the Soviet opposition further increased fears in the Soviet Union of a coming German attack, which led the Soviet Union to rush the modernization of Soviet military industry and carry its own diplomatic maneuvers. In 1939 the Soviet Union signed the Non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany dividing spheres of influence between themselves in Eastern Europe. [Roberts, Geoffrey (1992). [http://www.jstor.org/view/00385859/ap010173/01a00030/0 The Soviet Decision for a Pact with Nazi Germany] . " Soviet Studies" 44 (1), 57-78.] Following the agreement, the USSR normalized the relations with Nazi Germany and resumed the Soviet-German trade. [Ericson, Edward E. "Feeding the German Eagle: Soviet Economic Aid to Nazi Germany, 1933-1941". New York: Praeger, 1999. ISBN 0275963373.]
World War II
September 17 1939, seventeen days after the start of World War IIand victorious German advance deep into the Polish territory, the Red Armyinvaded eastern portions of Poland stating the protection of Ukrainians and Belarusians as their operation's primary goal and Poland's "seizure to exist" as the justification of the action. [Gross, Jan Tomasz. "Revolution from Abroad: The Soviet Conquest of Poland's Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia". Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002. 2nd ed. ISBN 0691096031.] [Zaloga, Steven & Victor Madej. "The Polish Campaign 1939". 2nd ed. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1991. ISBN 087052013X.] As a result, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Soviet republics' western borders were moved westward and the new Soviet western border was drawn close to the original Curzon line. In the meantime the negotiations with Finlandabout the Soviet-proposed land swap that would redraw the Soviet-Finnish border further away from Leningradfailed; and in December, 1939 the USSR started a campaign against Finland, known as the Winter War(1939–40). The war took a heavy death toll on the Red Armybut forced Finland to sign a Moscow Peace Treatyand cede the Karelian Isthmusand Ladoga Karelia. [Vehviläinen, Olli. "Finland in the Second World War: Between Germany and Russia". New York: Palgrave, 2002. ISBN 0-333-80149-0] [Van Dyke, Carl. "The Soviet Invasion of Finland 1939-1940". London: Frank Cass, 1997. ISBN 0714643149.] In summer 1940 the USSR issued an ultimatum to Romania forcing it to cede the territories of Bessarabiaand Northern Bukovina. At the same time, the Soviet Union also occupied the three formerly independent Baltic states ( Estonia, Latviaand Lithuania). [Dima, Nicholas. "Bessarabia and Bukovina: The Soviet-Romanian Territorial Dispute". Boulder, CO: East European Monographs, 1982. ISBN 0880330031.] [Tarulis, Albert N. "Soviet Policy Toward the Baltic States 1918-1940". Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1959.] [Misiunas, Romuald J. & Rein Taagepera. "The Baltic States: The Years of Dependence, 1940-90". 2nd ed. London: Hurst & Co, 1993. ISBN 1850651574.]
The peace with Germany was tense, as both sides were preparing for the military conflict,А. В. Десять мифов Второй мировой. — М.: Эксмо, Яуза, 2004, ISBN 5699076344] [
Mikhail Meltyukhov, " Stalin's Missed Chance", М. И. Мельтюхов "Упущенный шанс Сталина: Советский Союз и борьба за Европу 1939-1941 гг. : Документы, факты, суждения." Изд. 2-е, испр. , доп. ISBN 5-7838-1196-3 (second edition)] and abruptly ended when the Axis forcesled by Germany swept across the Soviet border on June 22, 1941. By the autumn the German army had seized Ukraine, laid a siege of Leningrad, and threatened to capture the capital, Moscow, itself. [ Gilbert, Martin. The Second World War: A Complete History. 2nd ed. New York: Owl Books, 1991. ISBN 0805017887.] [Thurston, Robert W. & Bernd Bonwetsch (ed.). "The People's War: Responses to World War II in the Soviet Union". Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000. ISBN 0252026004.] [ Clark, Alan. "Barbarossa: The Russian-German Conflict, 1941-1945". New York: Harper Perennial, 1985. ISBN 0688042686.] Despite the fact that in December 1941 the Red Army threw off the German forces from Moscow in a successful counterattack, the Germans retained the strategic initiative for approximately another year and held a deep offensive in the south-eastern direction, reaching the Volgaand the Caucasus. However, two major German defeats in Stalingrad and Kursk proved decisive and reversed the course of the entire World War as Germans never regained the strength to sustain their offensive operations and the Soviet Union recaptured the initiative for the rest of the conflict. [ Beevor, Antony. "". New York: Viking, 1998. ISBN 0670870951.] By the end of 1943, the Red Army had broken through the German siege of Leningrad and liberated much of Ukraine, much of Western Russia and moved into Belarus. [ Glantz, David M.& Jonathan M. House. "When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler". Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1998. ISBN 070060717X.] By the end of 1944, the front had moved beyond the 1939 Soviet frontiers into eastern Europe. Soviet forces drove into eastern Germany, capturing Berlin in May 1945. [ Beevor, Antony. "Berlin: The Downfall, 1945". 3rd ed. London: Penguin Books, 2004. ISBN 0141017473.] The war with Germany thus ended triumphantly for the Soviet Union.
As agreed at the
Yalta Conference, three months after the Victory Day in Europe the USSR launched the Operation August Stormdefeating the Japanese troops in neighboring Manchuria, the last Soviet battle of World War II. [ Glantz, David M."The Soviet 1945 Strategic Offensive in Manchuria: ‘August Storm’". London: Routledge, 2003. ISBN 0714652792.]
Although the Soviet Union was victorious in
World War II, the war resulted in around 26–27 million Soviet deaths (estimates vary) [This is far higher than the original number of 7 million given by Stalin, and, indeed, the number has increased under various Soviet and Russian Federation leaders. See Mark Harrison, "The Economics of World War II: Six Great Powers in International Comparison", Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 291 (ISBN 0521785030), for more information.] and had devastated the Soviet economy in the struggle. Some 1,710 towns and 70 thousand settlements were destroyed. [As evidenced at the post-war Nuremberg Trials. See Ginsburg, George, "The Nuremberg Trial and International Law", Martinus Nijhoff, 1990, p. 160. ISBN 0792307984.] The occupied territories suffered from the ravages of German occupation and deportations of slave laborin Germany. [ [http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,1757323,00.html Final Compensation Pending for Former Nazi Forced Laborers] ] Thirteen million Soviet citizens became victims of a repressive policy of Germans and their allies on an occupied territory, where died because of mass murders, famine, absence of elementary medical aid and slave labor. [Gerlach, C. «Kalkulierte Morde» Hamburger Edition, Hamburg, 1999] [Россия и СССР в войнах ХХ века", М. "Олма- Пресс", 2001 год] [http://www.tr.rkrp-rpk.ru/get.php?1379] , [http://www.gumer.info/bibliotek_Buks/History/Article/_Rubak_VelOtech.php] . The Nazi Genocide of the Jews carried by German " Einsatzgruppen", along the local collaborators resulted in almost complete annihilation of the Jewish population over the entire territory temporary occupied by Germany and its allies. [http://www.un.int/russia/other/latv1941.htm] , [http://www.un.int/russia/other/eest1941.htm#english] , [http://www1.yadvashem.org/about_holocaust/chronology/1939-1941/1941/chronology_1941_18.html#top] , [http://www.einsatzgruppenarchives.com/hofer.html] . During occupation, Russia's Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg, region lost around a quarter of its population [http://www.gumer.info/bibliotek_Buks/History/Article/_Rubak_VelOtech.php] . Soviet Belarus lost from a quarter to a third of its population. 3.6 million Soviet prisoners of war(of 5.5 million) died in German camps. [cite web|url=http://www.gendercide.org/case_soviet.html|title=Case Study: Soviet Prisoners-of-War (POWs), 1941-42|work=Gendercide Watch|accessdate=2007-07-22] ["Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century", Greenhill Books, London, 1997, G. F. Krivosheev] [Christian Streit: Keine Kameraden: Die Wehrmacht und die Sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen, 1941-1945, Bonn: Dietz (3. Aufl., 1. Aufl. 1978), ISBN 3801250164]
Collaboration among the major Allies had won the war and was supposed to serve as the basis for postwar reconstruction and security. However, the conflict between Soviet and U.S. national interests, known as the
Cold War, came to dominate the international stage in the postwar period.
The Cold War emerged out of a conflict between Stalin and U.S. President
Harry Trumanover the future of Eastern Europe during the Potsdam Conferencein the summer of 1945. [cite web|url=http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resources/JFK+in+History/The+Cold+War.htm|title=The Cold War|work=John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum] Russia had suffered three devastating Western onslaughts in the previous 150 years during the Napoleonic Wars, the First World War, and the Second World War, and Stalin's goal was to establish a buffer zone of states between Germany and the Soviet Union.cite book
last = Gaddis
middle = Lewis
first = John
authorlink = John Lewis Gaddis
title = Russia, the Soviet Union, and the United States: An Interpretive History
year = 1990
pages = 176
isbn = 0075572583] Truman charged that Stalin had betrayed the
Yaltaagreement.Fact|date=July 2007 With Eastern Europe under Red Army occupation, Stalin was also biding his time, as his own atomic bomb project was steadily and secretly progressing. [Cochran, Thomas B., Robert S. Norris & Oleg Bukharin. [http://docs.nrdc.org/nuclear/nuc_01019501a_138.pdf "Making the Russian Bomb: From Stalin to Yeltsin"] (PDF). Boulder,. CO:. Westview Press, 1995. ISBN 0813323282.] [ Gaddis, John Lewis. "We now know. Rethinking Cold War History". Oxford: Clarendon press, 1997. ISBN 0198780710.]
In April 1949 the United States sponsored the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO), a mutual defense pact in which most Western nations pledged to treat an armed attack against one nation as an assault on all. The Soviet Union established an Eastern counterpart to NATO in 1955, dubbed the Warsaw Pact. [Mastny, Vojtech, Malcolm Byrne & Magdalena Klotzbach (eds.). "Cardboard Castle?: An Inside History Of The Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991". Budapest: Central European University Press, 2005. ISBN 9637326081.] [Holloway, David & Jane M. O. Sharp. "The Warsaw Pact: Alliance in Transition?" Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984. ISBN 0801417759.] [Holden, Gerard. "The Warsaw Pact: Soviet Security and Bloc Politics". Oxford: Blackwell, 1989. ISBN 0631167757.] The division of Europe into Western and Soviet blocks later took on a more global character, especially after 1949, when the U.S. nuclear monopoly ended with the testing of a Soviet bomb and the Communist takeover in China.
The foremost objectives of Soviet foreign policy were the maintenance and enhancement of national security and the maintenance of hegemony over Eastern Europe. The Soviet Union maintained its dominance over the Warsaw Pact through crushing the
1956 Hungarian Revolution, [Litvan, Gyorgy, Janos M. Bak & Lyman Howard Legters (eds.). "The Hungarian Revolution of 1956: Reform, Revolt and Repression, 1953-1963". London – New York: Longman, 1996. ISBN 0582215048.] suppressing the Prague Springin Czechoslovakia in 1968, and supporting the suppression of the Solidaritymovement in Poland in the early 1980s. The Soviet Union opposed the United States in a number of proxy conflictsall over the world, including Korean Warand Vietnam War.
As the Soviet Union continued to maintain tight control over its sphere of influence in Eastern Europe, the Cold War gave way to "
Détente" and a more complicated pattern of international relations in the 1970s in which the world was no longer clearly split into two clearly opposed blocs. Less powerful countries had more room to assert their independence, and the two superpowers were partially able to recognize their common interest in trying to check the further spread and proliferation of nuclear weapons in treaties such as SALT I, SALT II, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
U.S.-Soviet relations deteriorated following the beginning of the nine-year
Soviet War in Afghanistanin 1979 and the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, a staunch anti-communist, but improved as the Soviet bloc started to unravel in the late 1980s. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia lost the superpowerstatus that it had won in the Second World War.
The Khrushchev and Brezhnev years
In the power struggle that erupted after Stalin's death in 1953, his closest followers lost out.
Nikita Khrushchevsolidified his position in a speech before the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party in 1956 detailing Stalin's atrocities.cite web|work=CNN|url=http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/kbank/profiles/khrushchev/|title=Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev|accessdate=|2007-07-22] After a brief period of collective leadership, a veteran bureaucrat, Leonid Brezhnev, took Khrushchev's place. [cite web|work=CNN|url=http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/kbank/profiles/brezhnev/|title=Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev|accessdate=|2007-07-22] Brezhnev followed Stalin's emphasis on heavy industry,cite web|url=http://www.historyguide.org/europe/brezhnev.html|title=Leonid Brezhnev, 1906-1982|work=The History Guide|accessdate=2007-07-22|quote=During the 1970s Brezhnev attempted to normalize relations between West Germany and the Warsaw Pact and to ease tensions with the United States through the policy known as détente. At the same time, he saw to it that the Soviet Union's military-industrial complex was greatly expanded and modernized.", "After his death, he was criticized for a gradual slide in living standards, the spread of corruption and cronyism within the Soviet bureaucracy, and the generally stagnant and dispiriting character of Soviet life in the late 1970s and early '80s.] and also attempted to ease relationships with the United States.
October 4, 1957Soviet Union launched the first space satellite Sputnik.cite web|work=NASA|url=http://history.nasa.gov/sputnik/|title=Sputnik and The Dawn of the Space Age|accessdate=2007-07-22|date=2007-01-19|author=Steve Garber|quote=History changed on October 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I. The world's first artificial satellite ...] On April 12, 1961 Yuri Gagarinbecame the first human to travel into space in the Soviet spaceship Vostok 1. [cite web|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/netnotes/article/0,,470879,00.html|title=Yuri Gagarin|work=Guardian Unlimited|quote=April 12 2001 is the fortieth anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's flight into space, the first time a human left the planet|author=Neil Perry|accessdate=2007-07-22|date=2001-04-12]
In the 1960s the USSR became a leading producer and exporter of
petroleumand natural gas.Fact|date=July 2007
Breakup of the Union
Two developments dominated the decade that followed: the increasingly apparent crumbling of the Soviet Union's economic and political structures, and the patchwork attempts at reforms to reverse that process. After the rapid succession of former KGB Chief
Yuri Andropovand Konstantin Chernenko, transitional figures with deep roots in Brezhnevite tradition, Mikhail Gorbachevannounced perestroikain an attempt to modernize Soviet communism, and made significant changes in the party leadership.Facts|date=July 2007 However, Gorbachev's social reforms led to unintended consequences. Because of his policy of " glasnost", which facilitated public access to information after decades of government repression, social problems received wider public attention, undermining the Communist Party's authority. In the revolutions of 1989the USSR lost its satellites in Eastern Europe. "Glasnost" allowed ethnic and nationalist disaffection to reach the surface.Fact|date=July 2007 Many constituent republics, especially the Baltic republics, Georgian SSRand Moldavian SSR, sought greater autonomy, which Moscow was unwilling to provide. Gorbachev's attempts at economic reform were not sufficient, and the Soviet government left intact most of the fundamental elements of communist economy. Suffering from low pricing of petroleum and natural gas, ongoing war in Afghanistan, outdated industry and pervasive corruption, the Soviet planned economyproved to be ineffective, and by 1990 the Soviet government had lost control over economic conditions. Due to price control, there were shortages of almost all products, reaching their peak in the end of 1991, when people had to stand in long lines and to be lucky enough to buy even the essentials. Control over the constituent republics was also relaxed, and they began to assert their national sovereignty over Moscow.
The tension between Soviet Union and Russian SFSR authorities came to be personified in the bitter power struggle between Gorbachev and
Boris Yeltsin. [cite web|url=http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NmZjYmUzZmQ1ZmFlMTc5NjA1ZWZiZTgwMTM1ZDVkOTk=|title=Boris on a Pedestal|quote=In the process he engaged in a power struggle with Mikhail Gorbachev... |author=David Pryce-Jones|work=National Review Online|accessdate=2007-07-22|date=2000-03-20] Squeezed out of Union politics by Gorbachev in 1987, Yeltsin, an old-style party boss with no dissident background or contacts, needed an alternative platform to challenge Gorbachev. He established it by representing himself as a committed democrat.Fact|date=July 2007 In a remarkable reversal of fortunes, he gained election as chairman of the Russian republic's new Supreme Soviet in May 1990. [cite web|work=CNN|title=Boris Yeltsin|url=http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/kbank/profiles/yeltsin/|quote=The first-ever popularly elected leader of Russia, Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was a protégé of Mikhail Gorbachev's.|accessdate=2007-07-22] The following month, he secured legislation giving Russian laws priority over Soviet laws and withholding two-thirds of the budget.Fact|date=July 2007 In the first Russian presidential election in 1991 Yeltsin became president of the Russian SFSR.At last Gorbachev attempted to restructure the Soviet Union into a less centralized state. However, on August 19 1991, a coup against Gorbachev, conspired by senior Soviet officials, was attempted. The coup faced wide popular opposition and collapsed in three days, but disintegration of the Union became imminent. The Russian government took over most of the Soviet Union government institutions on its territory. Because of the dominant position of Russians in the Soviet Union, most gave little thought to any distinction between Russia and the Soviet Unionbefore the late 1980s. In the Soviet Union, only Russian SFSR lacked even the paltry instruments of statehood that the other republics possessed, such as its own republic-level Communist Party branch, trade unioncouncils, Academy of Sciences, and the like. [cite web|quote=Because of the Russians' dominance in the affairs of the union, the RSFSR failed to develop some of the institutions of governance and administration that were typical of public life in the other republics: a republic-level communist party, a Russian academy of sciences, and Russian branches of trade unions, for example.|work=Country Studies|title=Government|url=http://countrystudies.us/russia/68.htm|accessdate=2007-07-22] The Communist Party of the Soviet Unionwas banned in Russia in 1991-1992, although no lustrationhas ever taken place, and many of its members became top Russian officials. However, as the Soviet government was still opposed to market reforms, the economic situation continued to deteriorate. By December 1991, the shortages had resulted in the introduction of food rationingin Moscow and Saint Petersburg for the first time since World War II. Russia received humanitarian food aid from abroad. After the Belavezha Accords, the Congress of Soviets of RSFSRwithdrew Russia from the Soviet Union on December 12. The Soviet Union officially ended on December 25 1991,cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1112551.stm|work=BBC|title=Timeline: Soviet Union|quote=1991 25 December - Gorbachev resigns as Soviet president; US recognises independence of remaining Soviet republics|accessdate=2007-07-22] and the Russian Federation (formerly the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic[cite web|url=http://encyclopedia.farlex.com/Russian+Soviet+Federal+Socialist+Republic|work=The Free Dictionary|title=Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic|quote=The largest republic of the former Soviet Union; it became independent as the Russian Federation in 1991|accessdate=2007-07-22] ) took power on December 26. The Russian government lifted price control on January 2 1992. Prices raised dramatically, but shortages disappeared.
Although Yeltsin came to power on a wave of optimism, he never recovered his popularity after endorsing
Yegor Gaidar's "shock therapy" of ending Soviet-era price controls, drastic cuts in state spending, and an open foreign trade regime in early 1992 ("see" Russian economic reform in the 1990s). The reforms immediately devastated the living standards of much of the population. In the 1990s Russia suffered an economic downturn more severe than the United States or Germany had undergone six decades earlier in the Great Depression. [Peter Nolan, "China's Rise, Russia's Fall". Macmillan Press, 1995. pp. 17–18.]
Meanwhile, the profusion of small parties and their aversion to coherent alliances left the legislature chaotic. During 1993, Yeltsin's rift with the parliamentary leadership led to the September–October 1993 constitutional crisis. The crisis climaxed on
October 3, when Yeltsin chose a radical solution to settle his dispute with parliament: he called up tanks to shell the Russian White House, blasting out his opponents. As Yeltsin was taking the unconstitutional step of dissolving the legislature, Russia came close to a serious civil conflict. Yeltsin was then free to impose the current Russian constitution with strong presidential powers, which was approved by referendum in December 1993. The cohesion of the Russian Federation was also threatened when the republic of Chechnyaattempted to break away, leading to two bloody conflicts.
Economic reforms also consolidated a semi-criminal oligarchy with roots in the old Soviet system. Advised by Western governments, the
World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, Russia embarked on the largest and fastest privatizationthat the world had ever seen in order to reform the fully nationalizedSoviet economy. By mid-decade, retail, trade, services, and small industry was in private hands. Most big enterprises were acquired by their old managers, engendering a new rich (Russian tycoons) in league with criminal mafias or Western investors. [See Fairbanks, Jr., Charles H. 1999. "The Feudalization of the State". "Journal of Democracy" 10(2):47–53.]
By the mid-1990s Russia had a system of multiparty electoral politics. [cite web|url=http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9176-3.cfm|title=Russian president praises 1990s as cradle of democracy|work=Johnson's Russia List|accessdate=2007-07-20] But it was harder to establish a representative government because of two structural problems—the struggle between president and parliament and the anarchic party system.
Meanwhile, the central government had lost control of the localities, bureaucracy, and economic fiefdoms; tax revenues had collapsed. Still in deep depression by the mid-1990s, Russia's economy was hit further by the financial crash of 1998. After the 1998 financial crisis, Yeltsin was at the end of his political career. Just hours before the first day of 2000, Yeltsin made a surprise announcement of his resignation, leaving the government in the hands of the little-known Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin, a former KGB official and head of the KGB's post-Soviet successor agency FSB. [CNN [http://archives.cnn.com/1999/WORLD/europe/12/31/yeltsin.resigns.04/ Apologetic Yeltsin resigns; Putin becomes acting president] . Written by Jim Morris. Published December 31, 1999.] In 2000, the new acting president defeated his opponents in the presidential election on March 26, and won a landslide 4 years later.cite news |title=Putin's hold on the Russians |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/667749.stm |work=BBC |date=2007-06-28 |accessdate=2007-07-22 |quote=In the 2000 election, he took 53% of the vote in the first round and, four years later, was re-elected with a landslide majority of 71%.] International observers were alarmed by late 2004 moves to further tighten the presidency's control over parliament, civil society, and regional officeholders.cite news |title=Putin's hold on the Russians |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/667749.stm|work=BBC |date=2007-06-28 |accessdate=2007-07-22 |quote=But his critics believe that it has come at the cost of some post-communist democratic freedoms.", "2003: General election gives Putin allies control over parliament"]
Nevertheless, reversion to a socialist command economy seemed almost impossible, meeting widespread relief in the West. Russia ended 2006 with its eighth straight year of growth, averaging 6.7% annually since the financial crisis of 1998. Although high oil prices and a relatively cheap ruble initially drove this growth, since 2003 consumer demand and, more recently, investment have played a significant role.CIA World Fact Book - Russia] Russia is well ahead of most other resource-rich countries in its economic development, with a long tradition of education, science, and industry. [ [http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/dec2006/gb20061207_520461_page_2.htm Russia: How Long Can The Fun Last?] businessweek.com]
Timeline of Russian history
Timeline of the Tataro-Mongol Yoke in Russia
History of Siberia
List of Recipients of Tribute from China
Russian colonization of the Americas
History of the administrative division of Russia
Military history of the Soviet Union
World War II casualties
Sergey Solovyov. "History of Russia from the Earliest Times", ISBN 5-17-002142-9
Nikolay Karamzin. "History of the Russian State", ISBN 5-02-009550-8
# Full Collection of Russian Annals, Moscow,2001, ISBN 5-94457-011-3.
Further readingOverall histories
*"The Cambridge History of Russia". 3 volumes. Cambridge, Eng: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
*Freeze, Gregory L. (ed.). "Russia: A History". 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN 0198605110.
*McKenzie, David & Michael W. Curran. "A History of Russia, the Soviet Union, and Beyond". 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0534586988.
*Riasanovsky, Nicholas V. and Mark D. Steinberg. "A History of Russia". 7th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 800 pages. ISBN 0195153944Pre-revolutionary Russia
*Christian, David. "A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia". Vol. 1: "Inner Eurasia from Prehistory to the Mongol Empire". Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1998. ISBN 0631208143.
*Russia : a country study / Federal Research Division, Library of Congress; edited by Glenn E. Curtis. Washington, DC: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress,1998. DK510.23 .R883 1998
*Hobsbawm, Eric. "The Age of Revolution", 1789–1848 Vintage, 1996, 368 pages. ISBN 0679772537
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