The first state formation in what later
became Russian territory occurred in the 11th century BC
in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Black Sea. In the
850s AD, the eastern Slavic state of Kiev was founded,
and in Novgorod (Holmgård), Swedish Vikings under Rurik
formed another center of power (Gårdarike).
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Russia, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
Since Kiev also ended up under the Rurikatten, the
kingdom grew, and in the late 900s it was Christianized
by missionaries from Byzantium (Östrom). However, it was
weakened and divided as a result of power struggles and
invaded by Mongols in the middle of the 13th century,
which turned the Russian princes into vassals under the
Golden Horde khans.
During the 1300s, the Principality of Moscow began to
grow in importance. After Dmitri Donkoji's victory over
the Mongols at Kulikovo in 1380, a Russian central state
began to take shape with Moscow as the center. Ivan "the
terrible" diminished the power of the great men, the
boers, and in 1547 made himself the "tsar of all
Russia". During his time, the kingdom extended to the
Caspian Sea, and Siberia began to colonize. After "the
great mess", in 1613 Michail Romanov was elected tsar.
During his reign, the life trait was enacted, which made
the peasants socially, economically and legally totally
dependent on the landlords.
With Peter the Great (1682-1725) Russia became a
great power. Management was modernized according to a
Western European model. Trade and industry were
developed and a regular army and navy were created. To
the east, the Russians reached the Pacific coast. In the
west they reached through conquests from Sweden to the
Baltic Sea, and here the new capital of St. Petersburg
The Russian expansion continued under Peter's
successor, including Catherine the Great (1762-1796).
The area south of the Caucasus was incorporated, as was
Bessarabia (including present-day Moldova, among
others). Crimea was conquered through war with Turkey.
Russia also provided territories at the divisions of
Poland 1792-1795, and in 1809 Finland was conquered from
Following Napoleon's defeat in Russia in 1812,
Russian politics was marked imperialist outward and
reactionary inward. At the same time, however, the
demands for social and political reforms grew, and as
early as 1825 the so-called decabrists tried to carry
out a coup d'état to force a liberal constitution.
Following the Russian defeat of the Crimean War in
1856, Tsar Alexander II sought to calm down through a
series of reforms. The quality of life was abolished in
1861. However, the reforms were inadequate. In line with
rapid development in trade and industry, a revolutionary
movement emerged. Extreme terror groups were formed and
in 1881 Alexander II was murdered. The handle then
When Russia lost a war to Japan in 1904, the social
contradictions intensified. The following year, the
regime rebelled (1905 revolution), but at the same time,
Tsar Nicholas II was forced to introduce a constitution,
allow political parties and set up a parliament, the
duma, in 1906. The following year a land reform was
adopted. Democratization, however, was half-hearted and
unrest grew. In 1911 Pjotr Stolypin was assassinated.
Constant strikes swept through the country.
The Russian setbacks in World War I led to a new
crisis, which in 1917 led to the February Revolution
(March according to our calendar). The Tsar abdicated,
and there was a tug of war over the power (dual power)
between the revolutionary workers 'and soldiers'
councils (the Soviets) and the other duma, which formed
a provisional government.
The government did not succeed in getting the
domestic political turmoil under control. On November 7
(the October Revolution according to the Julian
calendar), the communists, then called the Bolsheviks,
seized power. A government, the Council of People's
Commissioners, was established. The Council included
Vladimir Lenin, Lev Trotsky and Josef Stalin, among
Among the Bolsheviks' first measures were the
nationalization of the earth and peace negotiations with
Germany. By the capitulation, signed in March 1918,
Russia lost vast territories, which, however, largely
recovered after Germany's final defeat. Finland and the
Baltic countries declared themselves independent. When
"white" generals with some support from Britain, France,
the United States and Japan tried to overthrow the "red"
regime, civil war broke out, which took place in
"The Red" won the Civil War, but economic chaos at
the end of the war forced a temporary retreat from the
previous socialization policy. The New Economic Policy (NEP)
allowed some private enterprise in agriculture, trade
and small industry during the years 1921-1928. The goal
was to restore the economy to the same level as before
the war, which also succeeded.
In 1922, the Soviet Union was formed. It was formally
a voluntary union between the Union republics of Russia,
Ukraine, Belarus and Transcaucasia with a certain degree
of autonomy for the individual republics, but since
power was not with the state institutions but with the
Communist Party, the voluntariness was apparent.
Communist Party leader Lenin laid the foundation for
a system that was characterized by an all-powerful
apparatus of power consisting of the party, the state
and the security service. Opportunities for free debate
within the Communist Party were stripped. In 1921, the
same year that Lenin banned all political parties except
the Communist Party, the so-called factional ban was
introduced within the party. This meant a ban on group
formation within the party, that is, a ban on all
attempts to design alternative political programs.
All leading Bolsheviks supported this decision. When
Stalin silenced his last competitor for power, Nikolaj
Bukharin, in the late 1920s, he could use the party
rules that Bukharin himself had introduced. The party
rules also included so-called democratic centralism,
which forced lower levels within the party to submit to
the ruling party group. This principle of organization,
which was formed when the party operated underground in
Tsarist Russia, continued to apply throughout all years
of Soviet power. The party's highest body consisted of
the Politburo, the Secretariat and the Central
In 1924 Lenin passed away. In the following years,
the head of the party's secretariat, Josef Stalin,
succeeded in gradually gaining power in his hands and
removing all competitors in the senior party leadership.
During the years 1929-1932 he carried out a brutal
collectivization of agriculture, where all land was
nationalized and turned into so-called kolchoses, which
on paper were collectively owned, or in large state
farms, sleeping choses. Well-to-do farmers, so-called
kulaks, were banished with their families to remote
areas where the majority died.
In the fertile agricultural areas of Ukraine, severe
famine broke out and several millions of people starved
to death. At the same time, intensive industrialization
was started, with special emphasis on the heavy
industry. A system for central plan control of the
entire economy was built up.
This "revolution from the top" shattered the former
economic and social structure of society and made all
people dependent on the state for their livelihood. The
price for this social transformation became very high in
the form of starvation, diseases and other hardships.
The Security Police was given ever greater powers to
curb all protests.
The Stalinist terror against so-called enemy enemies
in the years 1934–1938 hit all sectors of social life,
primarily the state apparatus, the party apparatus and
the military, but the hit high which was low. Millions
of people were executed, deported or died in camps.
Towards the end of the 1930s, Stalin tried to prevent
a feared attack from Hitler-Germany. In August 1939, the
Soviet Union and Germany's foreign ministers Vyatjeslav
Molotov and Joachim von Ribbentrop signed a pact with
promises of neutrality and secret clauses that divided
Europe into Russian and German spheres of interest. The
following week Germany attacked Poland. The Soviet Union
marched into Poland from the east, attacked Finland and
occupied the Baltic States and Bessarabia.
However, when the German attack on the Soviet Union
came on June 22, 1941, Soviet preparedness was poor. The
military leadership was largely young and inexperienced,
as Stalin's terror had struck hard against the officer
corps. The Germans advanced lightning fast. In the late
autumn of 1941, they occupied an area that accommodated
nearly half of the Soviet war population.
The turning point of the war was the battle at
Stalingrad 1942-1943, which ended with German
capitulation. The Red Army then went on offensive,
recaptured lost areas and penetrated Eastern Europe and
into Germany. At the Yalta Conference in 1945, Stalin,
Roosevelt and Churchill drew up plans for the occupation
of Germany after the end of the war.
The costs of the war became terrible for the Soviet
Union. At least 27 million people lost their lives and
the country was subjected to immense material damage.
Nevertheless, the country went out of war as the only
real great power in Europe with subordinate states in an
emerging "socialist bloc". Territorially, the Soviet
Union had grown significantly through the incorporation
of eastern Poland, northern eastern Prussia,
Transcarpathia, Bessarabia, northern Bukovina, parts of
Karelia, the Baltic States as well as parts of the Kuril
Islands and the southern part of the island of Sakhalin.
READING! Read more about the Russian
revolution in UI's online magazine Foreign
Russian revolution - inevitable and catastrophic
Magnitsky dies in prison
Attorney Sergey Magnitsky dies in prison. Authorities say he died of a heart
failure while human rights activists claim he was denied care and also beaten by
police. The case is attracting great attention in the outside world. Magnitsky
had revealed how some high-ranking militants had taken over companies illegally
and created great wealth. Following the disclosure, Magnitsky was arrested for
tax offenses on the initiative of one of those identified as guilty of fraud
fraud. (See also September 2011.)
Explosion kills 26 people
At least 26 people are killed in an explosion against a high-speed train from
Moscow to St. Petersburg.
Big victory for United Russia
United Russia wins big in local and regional elections. The opposition talks
about electoral fraud.
Politkovskaya trial is suspended
The new trial against three men, charged with involvement in the
assassination of Anna Politkovskaya, is suspended at the request of
Politkovskaya's relatives. They require a supplementary investigation into who
ordered the murder.
Suicide bomber in Ingushetia
At least 20 people are killed when suicide bombers attack a police station in
GRU manager dismissed
Medvedev dismisses the head of the military intelligence service GRU, General
Valentin Korabelnikov. This has been critical of the transformation of the army
into a mobile combat force. New GRU boss becomes former deputy chief Aleksandr
Accused of murder of Politovskaya is released
Three people, two Chechen brothers and a Russian former police officer
accused of participating in the 2006 murder of Anna Politkovskaya, are acquitted
in a trial. The judgment is appealed.
Action for more jobs
Medvedev promises great support packages to create new jobs. Several
governors are dismissed.