Russia Old History

By | January 2, 2023

Russia is an independent nation in Eastern Europe. With the capital city of Moscow, Russia 2020 population is estimated at 145,934,473 according to countryaah. 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. For Russia political system, please check computerminus.

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 was established.

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 Sweden.

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 hardened.

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 others.

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 1918-1921.

“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 Committee.

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 magazine
Russian revolution – inevitable and catastrophic



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Russia Old History