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Russia - HISTORY




Russia - Chronology of Important Events

  Russia

Period Description
  NINTH CENTURY  
ca. 860 Rurik, a Varangian, according to earliest chronicle of Kievan Rus', rules Novgorod and founds Rurik Dynasty.
ca. 880 Prince Oleg, a Varangian, first historically verified ruler of Kievan Rus'.
TENTH CENTURY  
911 Prince Oleg, after attacking Constantinople, concludes treaty with Byzantine Empire favorable to Kievan Rus'.
944 Prince Igor' compelled by Constantinople to sign treaty adverse to Kievan Rus'.
ca. 955 Princess Olga, while regent of Kievan Rus', converts to Christianity.
971 Prince Svyatoslav makes peace with Byzantine Empire.
988 Prince Vladimir converts Kievan Rus' to Christianity.
ELEVENTH CENTURY  
1015 Prince Vladimir's death leads Rurik princes into fratricidal war that continues until 1036.
1019 Prince Yaroslav (the Wise) of Novgorod assumes throne of Kievan Rus'.
1036 Prince Yaroslav the Wise ends fratricidal war and later codifies laws of Kievan Rus' into Rus'ka pravda (Justice of Rus').
1037 Prince Yaroslav defeats Pechenegs; construction begins on St. Sofia Cathedral in Kiev.
1051 Ilarion becomes first native metropolitan of Orthodox Church in Kievan Rus'.
TWELFTH CENTURY  
1113-25 Kievan Rus' experiences revival under Grand Prince Vladimir Monomakh.
1136 Republic of Novgorod gains independence from Kievan Rus'.
1147 Moscow first mentioned in chronicles.
1156 Novgorod acquires its own archbishop.
1169 Armies of Prince Andrey Bogolyubskiy of Vladimir-Suzdal' sack Kiev; Andrey assumes title "Grand Prince of Kiev and all Rus'" but chooses to reside in Suzdal'.
THIRTEENTH CENTURY  
1219-41 Mongols invade: Kiev falls in 1240; Novgorod and Moscow submit to Mongol "yoke" without resisting.
1242 Aleksandr Nevskiy successfully defends Novgorod against attack by Teutenic Knights.
1253 Prince Daniil (Danylo) of Galicia-Volhynia accepts crown of Kievan Rus' from pope.
FOURTEENTH CENTURY  
1327 Ivan I, prince of Moscow, nicknamed Ivan Kalita ("Money Bags"), affirmed as "Grand Prince of Vladimir" by Mongols; Moscow becomes seat of metropolitan of Russian Orthodox Church.
  1380   Dmitriy Donskoy defeats Golden Horde at Battle of Kulikovo, but Mongol domination continues until 1480.
FIFTEENTH CENTURY  
1462 Ivan III (the Great) becomes grand prince of Muscovy and first Muscovite ruler to use titles of tsar and "Ruler of all Rus'."
1478 Muscovy defeats Novgorod.
1485 Muscovy conquers Tver'.
SIXTEENTH CENTURY  
1505 Vasiliy III becomes grand prince of Muscovy.
1510 Muscovy conquers Pskov.
1533 Grand Prince Ivan IV named ruler of Muscovy at age three.
1547 Ivan IV (the Terrible) crowned tsar of Muscovy.
1552 Ivan IV conquers Kazan' Khanate.
1556 Ivan IV conquers Astrakhan' Khanate.
1565 Oprichnina of Ivan IV creates a state within the state.
1571 Tatars raid Moscow.
1581 Yermak begins conquest of Siberia.
1584 Fedor I crowned tsar.
1589 Patriarchate of Moscow established.
1596 Union of Brest establishes Uniate Church.
1598 Rurik Dynasty ends with death of Fedor; Boris Godunov named tsar; Time of Troubles begins.
SEVENTEENTH CENTURY  
1601 Three years of famine begin.
1605 Fedor II crowned tsar; first False Dmitriy subsequently named tsar after Fedor II's murder.
1606 Vasiliy Shuyskiy named tsar.
1610 Second False Dmitriy proclaimed tsar.
1610-13 Poles occupy Moscow.
1611-12 Forces from northern cities and Cossacks organize counterattack against Poles.
1613 Mikhail Romanov crowned tsar, founding Romanov Dynasty.
1631 Metropolitan Mogila (Mohyla) founds academy in Kiev.
1645 Aleksey crowned tsar.
1648 Ukrainian Cossacks, led by Bogdan Khmel'nitskiy (Bohdan Khmel'nyts'kyy), revolt against Polish landowners and gentry.
1649 Serfdom fully established by law.
1654 Treaty of Pereyaslavl' places Ukraine under tsarist rule.
1667 Church council in Moscow anathemizes Old Belief but removes Patriarch Nikon; Treaty of Andrusovo ends war with Poland.
1670-71 Stenka Razin leads revolt.
1676 Fedor III crowned tsar.
  1682   Half brothers Ivan V and Peter I named co-tsars; Peter's half sister, Sofia, becomes regent.
1689 Peter I (the Great) forces Sofia to resign regency; Treaty of Nerchinsk ends period of conflict with China.
1696 Ivan V dies, leaving Peter the Great sole tsar; port of Azov captured from Ottoman Empire.
EIGHTEENTH CENTURY  
1700 Calendar reformed; war with Sweden begins.
1703 St. Petersburg founded; becomes capital of Russia in 1713.
1705-11 Bashkirs revolt.
1708 First Russian newspaper published.
1709 Swedes defeated at Battle of Poltava.
1710 Cyrillic alphabet reformed.
1721 Treaty of Nystad ends Great Northern War with Sweden and establishes Russian presence on Baltic Sea; Peter the Great proclaims Muscovy the Russian Empire; Holy Synod replaces patriarchate.
1722 Table of Ranks established.
1723-32 Russia gains control of southern shore of Caspian Sea.
1725 Catherine I crowned empress of Russia.
1727 Peter II crowned emperor of Russia.
1730 Anna crowned empress of Russia.
1740 Ivan VI crowned emperor of Russia.
1741 Elizabeth crowned empress of Russia.
1762 Peter III crowned emperor of Russia; abolishes compulsory state service for the gentry; Catherine II (the Great) crowned empress of Russia after Peter III's assassination.
1768-74 War with Ottoman Empire ends with Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji.
1772 Russia participates in first partition of Poland.
1773-74 Emel'yan Pugachev leads peasant revolt.
1785 Catherine II confirms nobility's privileges in Charter to the Nobility.
1787-92 War with Ottoman Empire ends with Treaty of Jassy; Ottomans recognize 1783 Russian annexation of Crimea.
1792 Government initiates Pale of Settlement, restricting Jews to western part of the empire.
1793 and 1795 Russia participates in second and third partitions of Poland.
1796 Paul crowned emperor of Russia; establishes new law of succession.
NINETEENTH CENTURY  
1801 Alexander I crowned emperor; conquest of Caucasus region begins.
1809 Finland annexed from Sweden and awarded autonomous status.
1812 Napoleon's army occupies Moscow but is then driven out of Russia.
  1817-19   Baltic peasants liberated from serfdom but given no land.
1825 Decembrist Revolt fails; Nicholas I crowned emperor.
1831 Polish uprising crushed by forces of Nicholas I.
1833 "Autocracy, Orthodoxy, and nationality" accepted as guiding principles by regime.
1837 First Russian railroad, from St. Petersburg to Tsarskoye Selo, opens; Aleksandr Pushkin, foremost Russian writer, dies in duel.
1840s and 1850s Slavophiles debate Westernizers over Russia's future.
1849 Russia helps to put down anti-Habsburg Hungarian rebellion at Austria's request.
1853-56 Russia fights Britain, France, Sardinia, and Ottoman Empire in Crimean War; Russia forced to accept peace settlement dictated by its opponents.
1855 Alexander II crowned emperor.
1858 Treaty of Aigun signed with China; northern bank of Amur River ceded to Russia.
1860 Treaty of Beijing signed with China; Ussuri River region awarded to Russia.
1861 Alexander II emancipates serfs.
1863 Polish rebellion unsuccessful.
1864 Judicial system reformed; zemstva created.
1866 Crime and Punishment by Fedor Dostoyevskiy (1821-81) published.
1869 War and Peace by Lev Tolstoy (1828-1910) published.
1873-74 Army reformed; Russian radicals go "to the people."
1875 Kuril Islands yielded to Japan in exchange for southern Sakhalin Island.
1877-78 War with Ottoman Empire ends with Treaty of San Stefano; independent Bulgaria proclaimed; Russia forced to accept less advantageous terms of Congress of Berlin.
1879 Revolutionary society Land and Liberty splits; People's Will and Black Repartition formed.
1879-80 The Brothers Karamazov by Fedor Dostoyevskiy published.
1881 Alexander II assassinated; Alexander III crowned emperor.
1894 Nicholas II crowned emperor.
1898 Russian Social Democratic Labor Party established and holds first congress in March; Vladimir I. Lenin one of organizers of party.
TWENTIETH CENTURY  
1903 Russian Social Democratic Labor Party splits into Bolshevik and Menshevik factions.
1904-05 Russo-Japanese War ends with Russian defeat; southern Sakhalin Island ceded to Japan.
1905 Bloody Sunday massacre in January begins Revolution of 1905, a year of labor and ethnic unrest; government issues so-called October Manifesto, calling for parliamentary elections.
  1906   First Duma (parliament) elected.
1911 Petr Stolypin, prime minister since 1906, assassinated.
1914 World War I begins.
1916 Rasputin murdered.
1917 March February Revolution, in which workers riot in Petrograd; Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies formed; Provisional Government formed; Emperor Nicholas II abdicates; Petrograd Soviet issues Order Number One.
April Demonstrations lead to Aleksandr Kerenskiy's assuming leadership in government; Lenin returns to Petrograd from Switzerland.
July Bolsheviks outlawed after attempt to topple government fails.
November Bolsheviks seize power from Provisional Government; Lenin, as leader of Bolsheviks, becomes head of state; Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (Russian Republic) formed; Constituent Assembly elected.
December Cheka (secret police) created; Finns and Moldavians declare independence from Russia; Japanese occupy Vladivostok.
1918 January Constituent Assembly dissolved; Ukraine declares its independence, followed, in subsequent months, by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belorussia, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
February Basmachi Rebellion begins in Central Asia; calendar changed from Julian to Gregorian.
March Treaty of Brest-Litovsk signed with Germany; Russia loses Poland, Finland, Baltic lands, Ukraine, and other areas; Russian Social Democratic Labor Party becomes Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik).
April Civil War begins.
July Constitution of Russian Republic promulgated; imperial family murdered.
Summer War communism established; intervention in Civil War by foreign expeditionary forces--including those of Britain, France, and United States--begins.
August Attempt to assassinate Lenin fails; Red Terror begins.
November Treaty of Brest-Litovsk repudiated by Soviet government after Germany defeated by Allied Powers.
1919 January Belorussia established as theoretically independent Soviet republic.
March Communist International (Comintern) formally founded at congress in Moscow; Ukrainian Soviet established.
1920 January Blockade of Russian Republic lifted by Britain and other Allies.
February Peace agreement signed with Estonia; agreements with Latvia and Lithuania follow.
April War with Poland begins; Azerbaijan Soviet republic established.
July Trade agreement signed with Britain.
  October   Truce reached with Poland.
November Red Army defeats Wrangel's army in Crimea; Armenian Soviet republic established.
1921 March War with Poland ends with Treaty of Riga; Red Army crushes Kronshtadt naval mutiny; New Economic Policy proclaimed; Georgian Soviet republic established.
Summer Famine breaks out in Volga region.
August Aleksandr Blok, foremost poet of Russian Silver Age, dies; large number of intellectuals exiled.
1922 March Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic formed, uniting Armenian, Azerbaijan, and Georgian republics.
April Joseph V. Stalin made general secretary of party; Treaty of Rapallo signed with Germany.
May Lenin suffers his first stroke.
June Socialist Revolutionary Party members put on trial by State Political Directorate; Glavlit organized with censorship function.
December Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Soviet Union) established, comprising Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, and Transcaucasian republics.
1924 January Lenin dies; constitution of Soviet Union put into force.
February Britain recognizes Soviet Union; other European countries follow suit later in year.
Fall Regime begins to delimit territories of Central Asian nationalities; Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan elevated to Soviet republic status.
1925 April Theoretician Nikolay Bukharin calls for peasants to enrich themselves.
November Poet Sergey Yesenin commits suicide.
December Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) becomes All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik).
1926 April Grigoriy Zinov'yev ousted from Politburo.
October Leon Trotsky and Lev Kamenev ousted from Politburo.
1927 Fall Peasants sell government less grain than demanded because of low prices; peasant discontent increases; grain crisis begins.
December Fifteenth Party Congress calls for large-scale collectivization of agriculture.
1928 January Trotsky exiled to Alma-Ata.
May Shakhty trial begins; first executions for "economic crimes" follow.
July Sixth Congress of Comintern names socialist parties main enemy of communists.
October Implementation of First Five-Year Plan begins.
1929 January Trotsky forced to leave Soviet Union.
April Law on religious associations requires registration of religious groups, authorizes church closings, and bans religious teaching.
Fall Red Army skirmishes with Chinese forces in Manchuria.
  October   Tajikistan split from Uzbek Republic to form separate Soviet republic.
November Bukharin ousted from Politburo.
December Stalin formally declares end of New Economic Policy and calls for elimination of kulaks; forced industrialization intensifies, and collectivization begins.
1930 March Collectivization slows temporarily.
April Poet Vladimir Mayakovskiy commits suicide.
November "Industrial Party" put on trial.
1931 March Mensheviks put on trial.
August School system reformed.
1932 May Five-year plan against religion declared.
December Internal passports introduced for domestic travel; peasants not issued passports.
1932-33 Terror and forced famine rage in countryside, primarily in southeastern Ukrainian Republic and northern Caucasus.
1933 November Diplomatic relations with United States established.
1934 August Union of Soviet Writers holds its First Congress.  
September Soviet Union admitted to League of Nations.
December Sergey Kirov assassinated in Leningrad; Great Terror begins, causing intense fear among general populace, and peaks in 1937 and 1938 before subsiding in latter year.
1935 February Party cards exchanged; many members purged from party ranks.
May Treaties signed with France and Czechoslovakia.
Summer Seventh Congress of Comintern calls for "united front" of political parties against fascism.
August Stakhanovite movement to increase worker productivity begins.
September New system of ranks issued for Red Army.
1936 June Restrictive laws on family and marriage issued.
August Zinov'yev, Kamenev, and other high-level officials put on trial for alleged political crimes.
September Nikolay Yezhov replaces Genrikh Yagoda as head of NKVD (secret police); purge of party deepens.
October Soviet Union begins support for antifascists in Spanish Civil War.
November Germany and Japan sign Anti-Comintern Pact.
December New constitution proclaimed; Kazakstan and Kyrgyzia become Soviet republics; Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic splits into Armenian, Azerbaijan, and Georgian Soviet republics.
1937 January Trial of "Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Center."
June Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevskiy and other military leaders executed.
1938 March Russian language required in all schools in Soviet Union.
  July   Soviet and Japanese forces fight at Lake Khasan.
December Lavrenti Beria replaces Yezhov as chief of secret police; Great Terror diminishes.
1939 May Vyacheslav Molotov replaces Maksim Litvinov as commissar of foreign affairs; armed conflict with Japan at Halhin Gol in Mongolia continues until August.
August Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact signed; pact includes secret protocol.
September Stalin joins Adolf Hitler in partitioning Poland.
October Soviet forces enter Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
November Remaining (western) portions of Ukraine and Belorussia incorporated into Soviet Union; Soviet forces invade Finland.
December Soviet Union expelled from League of Nations.
1940 March Finland sues for peace with Soviet Union.
April Polish officers massacred in Katyn Forest by Soviet troops.
June New strict labor laws enacted; northern Bukovina and Bessarabia seized from Romania and subsequently incorporated into Ukrainian Republic and newly created Moldavian Republic, respectively.
August Soviet Union annexes Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; Trotsky murdered in Mexico.
1941 April Neutrality pact signed with Japan.
May Stalin becomes chairman of Council of People's Commissars.
June Nazi Germany attacks Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa.
August Soviet and British troops enter Iran.
November Lend-Lease Law of United States applied to Soviet Union.
December Soviet counteroffensive against Germany begins.
1942 May Red Army routed at Khar'kov; Germans halt Soviet offensive; treaty signed with Britain against Germany.
July Battle of Stalingrad begins.
November Red Army starts winter offensive.
1943 February German army units surrender at Stalingrad; 91,000 prisoners taken.
May Comintern dissolved.
July Germans defeated in tank battle at Kursk.
September Stalin allows Russian Orthodox Church to appoint patriarch.
November Tehran Conference held.
1944 January Siege of Leningrad ends after 870 days.
May Crimea liberated from German army.
June Red Army begins summer offensive.
October Tuva incorporated into Soviet Union; armed struggle against Soviet rule breaks out in western Ukrainian, western Belorussian, Lithuanian, and Latvian republics and continues for several years.
  1945 February   Stalin meets with Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt at Yalta.
May Red Army captures Berlin.
July-August Potsdam Conference attended by Stalin, Harry S. Truman, and Churchill, who later is replaced by Clement R. Attlee.
August Soviet Union declares war on Japan; Soviet forces enter Manchuria and Korea.
1946 March Regime abolishes Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (Uniate); Council of People's Commissars becomes Council of Ministers.
Summer Beginning of "Zhdanovshchina," a campaign against Western culture.
1947 Famine in southern and central regions of European part of Soviet Union.
September Cominform established to replace Comintern.
1948 June Blockade of Berlin by Soviet forces begins and lasts into May 1949.
Summer Trofim Lysenko begins his domination of fields of biology and genetics that continues until 1955.
1949 January Council for Mutual Economic Assistance formed; campaign against "cosmopolitanism" launched.
August Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb.
1952 October All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik) becomes Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU); name of Politburo is changed to Presidium.
1953 January Kremlin "doctors' plot" exposed, signaling political infighting, new wave of purges, and anti-Semitic campaign.
March Stalin dies; Georgiy Malenkov, Beria, and Molotov form troika (triumvirate); title of party chief changes from general secretary to first secretary.
April "Doctors' plot" declared a provocation.
July Beria arrested and shot; Malenkov, Molotov, and Nikita S. Khrushchev form new troika.
August Soviet Union tests hydrogen bomb.
September Khrushchev chosen CPSU first secretary; rehabilitation of Stalin's victims begins.
1955 February Nikolay Bulganin replaces Malenkov as prime minister.
May Warsaw Pact organized.
1956 February Khrushchev's "secret speech" at Twentieth Party Congress exposes Stalin's crimes.
September Minimum wage established.
November Soviet forces crush Hungarian Revolution.
1957 July "Antiparty group" excluded from CPSU leadership.
August First Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile tested successfully.
October World's first artificial satellite, Sputnik I, launched.
1958 March Khrushchev named chairman of Council of Ministers.
  October   Nobel Prize for Literature awarded to Boris Pasternak; campaign mounted against Pasternak, who is forced to decline award.
1959 September Khrushchev visits United States.
1960 May Soviet air defense downs United States U-2 reconnaissance aircraft over Soviet Union.
1961 April Cosmonaut Yuriy Gagarin launched in world's first manned orbital space flight.
July Khrushchev meets with President John F. Kennedy in Vienna.
August Construction of Berlin Wall begins.
October Stalin's remains removed from Lenin Mausoleum.
1962 June Workers' riots break out in Novocherkassk.
October Cuban missile crisis begins, bringing United States and Soviet Union close to war.
November Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich published in Soviet journal.
1963 August Limited Test Ban Treaty signed with United States and Britain.
1964 October Khrushchev removed from power; Leonid I. Brezhnev becomes CPSU first secretary.
1965 August Volga Germans rehabilitated.
1966 February Dissident writers Andrey Sinyavskiy and Yuliy Daniel tried and sentenced.
April Brezhnev's title changes from first secretary to general secretary; name of Presidium is changed back to Politburo.
1967 April Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, defects to West.
September Crimean Tatars rehabilitated but not allowed to return home.
1968 June Andrey Sakharov's dissident writings published in samizdat.
July Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) signed by Soviet Union.
August Soviet-led Warsaw Pact armies invade Czechoslovakia.
1969 March Soviet and Chinese forces skirmish on Ussuri River.
May Major General Petr Grigorenko, a dissident, arrested and incarcerated in psychiatric hospital.
1970 October Jewish emigration begins to increase substantially.
December Solzhenitsyn awarded Nobel Prize for literature.
1972 May Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) result in signing of Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) and Interim Agreement on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms; President Richard M. Nixon visits Moscow.
1973 June Brezhnev visits Washington.
1974 February Solzhenitsyn arrested and sent into foreign exile.
1975 July Apollo/Soyuz space mission held jointly with United States.
  August   Helsinki Accords signed, confirming East European borders and calling for enforcement of human rights.
December Sakharov awarded Nobel Prize for Peace.
1976 Helsinki watch groups formed to monitor human rights safeguards.
1977 June Brezhnev named chairman of Presidium of Supreme Soviet.
October New constitution promulgated for Soviet Union.
1979 June Second SALT agreement signed but not ratified by United States Senate.
December Soviet armed forces invade Afghanistan.
1980 January Sakharov exiled to Gor'kiy.
August Summer Olympics held in Moscow and boycotted by United States and other Western nations.
1981 February CPSU holds its Twenty-Sixth Party Congress.
1982 June Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) talks begin.
November Brezhnev dies; Yuriy V. Andropov named general secretary.
1983 September Soviet fighter aircraft downs South Korean civilian airliner KAL 007 near Sakhalin Island.
1984 February Andropov dies; Konstantin U. Chernenko becomes general secretary.
1985 March Chernenko dies; Mikhail S. Gorbachev becomes general secretary.
November Gorbachev meets with President Ronald W. Reagan in Geneva.
1986 February-March CPSU holds its Twenty-Seventh Party Congress.
April Nuclear power plant disaster at Chernobyl' releases large amounts of radiation over Russia, Ukraine, and Belorussia.
  Glasnost launched.
October Gorbachev and Reagan hold summit at Reykjavik.
December Ethnic riots break out in Alma-Ata.
1987 January Gorbachev launches perestroika.
December Soviet Union and United States sign Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty).
1988 Winter Ethnic disturbances begin in Caucasus.
May Soviet authorities stop jamming Voice of America broadcasts.
May-June Reagan visits Moscow.
June Millennium of establishment of Christianity in Kievan Rus' celebrated in Moscow.
June-July CPSU's Nineteenth Party Conference tests limits of glasnost and perestroika in unprecedented discussions.
October Gorbachev replaces Andrey Gromyko as chairman of Presidium of Supreme Soviet; Gromyko retires, and others are removed from Politburo.
December Supreme Soviet dissolves itself, preparing way for new elected parliament.
  1989 February   Soviet combat forces complete withdrawal from Afghanistan.
March-April Initial and runoff elections held for the 2,250 seats in Congress of People's Deputies (CPD); many reform candidates, including Boris N. Yeltsin, win seats.
April Soviet troops break up rally in Tbilisi, Georgia, killing at least twenty civilians.
May CPD openly criticizes past and present regimes; Gorbachev elected by CPD to new position of chairman of Supreme Soviet.
June Free elections in Poland begin rapid decline of Soviet Union's empire in Central Europe.
July Coal miners strike in Russia and Ukraine.
August Nationalist demonstrations in Chisinau, Moldavia, lead to reinstatement of Romanian as official language of republic. Russians and Ukrainians living along Dnestr River go on strike, demanding autonomy.
  Soviet Union admits existence of secret protocols to 1939 Nazi-Soviet Nonagression Pact, which allotted to Soviet Union the Baltic countries, parts of then eastern Poland, and Moldavia.
  Mass exodus from East Germany begins.
September Ukrainian Popular Movement for Perestroika (Rukh) holds founding congress in Kiev.
October Mass protests take place in Berlin and Leipzig.
November Berlin Wall falls. Bulgaria's Todor Zhivkov deposed. Communist party of Czechoslovakia falls from power.
December Violent revolution in Romania. Nicolae Ceaucescu arrested, tried, and shot.
  CPD condemns Nazi-Soviet Nonagression Pact and secret protocols.
  Lithuanian Communist Party leaves CPSU.
  Latvian parliament deletes from its constitution reference to communist party's "leading role."
  At hasty shipboard summit off Malta, Gorbachev and United States president George H.W. Bush declare Cold War ended.
1990 January Azerbaijani demonstrators on Soviet side of border with Iran dismantle border posts.
  Gorbachev fails to heal rift with Lithuanian communists.
  Anti-Armenian pogroms in Azerbaijan. Gorbachev sends troops to Baku.
February Central Committee of CPSU votes to strike Article 6, which guarantees leading role of communist party, from Soviet constitution.
March In elections for Supreme Soviet of Russian Republic, Yeltsin wins seat.
  Newly elected Lithuanian parliament declares independence.
  Estonian parliament declares itself in a state of transition to independence.
  May   Latvian parliament votes to declare independence after unspecified transition period.
  Anti-Soviet demonstrations break out in and around Yerevan.
  Yeltsin becomes chairman of Supreme Soviet of Russian Republic.
June Communists in Russian Republic vote to form Communist Party of the Russian Republic.
  Russia, Uzbekistan, and Moldavia issue declarations of sovereignty. By October most of the other Soviet republics have done likewise.
July Twenty-Eighth Party Congress: Yeltsin quits CPSU; Politburo stripped of almost all meaning.
  Meeting of Gorbachev and West German chancellor Helmut Kohl in Stavropol'. German unification within North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) secured.
  Soviet government and republics open negotiations on a new treaty of union.
August Russia and Lithuania sign agreement on trade and economic cooperation.
  Armenia declares independence.
October Germany united; Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE Treaty) signed in Paris.
  Parliament of Russian Republic passes resolution proclaiming that no Soviet law can take effect in the republic without republican parliamentary approval.
  Parliament of Russian Republic approves radical economic reform plan, thereby undercutting all-union Supreme Soviet's economic reform package.
  Gorbachev awarded Nobel Prize for peace.
November Violence breaks out in Moldavia between Moldavians and Russian and Ukrainian separatists.
  Gorbachev proposes new union treaty.
December Eduard Shevardnadze resigns as minister of foreign affairs, warning of oncoming dictatorship.
  Parliament of Russian Republic votes to contribute to Soviet budget less than one-tenth of central government's request.
1991 January Soviet crackdown on Lithuanian and Latvian independence movements.
  Soviet Ministry of Defense announces plan to send troops to seven union republics to enforce military conscription and to round up draft dodgers.
  Russian Republic and the Baltic republics sign mutual security pact.
February Baltic countries hold nonbinding plebiscites as demonstration of their people's will to secede from Soviet Union.
March Coal miners go on strike in Ukraine, Kazakstan, Arctic mines, and Siberia.
  Mass pro-Yeltsin rallies in Moscow.
      Referendum held on preservation of Soviet Union: 70 percent vote to remain in union, but Armenia, Georgia, Moldavia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia boycott.
  Warsaw Pact officially dissolves.
April Georgia declares independence.
  Russian parliament grants Yeltsin emergency powers.
May Yeltsin gains control over coal mines in Russian Republic.
  Russian government establishes foreign ministry and internal security organization. Russian television begins broadcasting on second all-union channel.
June By universal suffrage, Yeltsin elected president of Russian Republic.
  Last Soviet troops leave Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
  Gorbachev and leaders of seven Soviet republics sign draft union treaty.
July Yeltsin bans political activity at workplaces and government establishments in Russian Republic; Gorbachev signs START I agreement in Moscow with United States president Bush.
August Hard-line officials attempt to unseat Gorbachev government; coup fails after three days, elevating Yeltsin's prestige.
  Ukraine, Belorussia, Moldavia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyz Republic declare independence. Armenia and Tajikistan follow in September, Turkmenistan in October, and Kazakstan in December.
October Dzhokar Dudayev elected president of newly declared Chechen Republic.
November Russian parliament grants Yeltsin sweeping powers to introduce radical economic reform. Yeltsin cuts off Russian funding of Soviet central ministries.
  Chechens demand independence. Ingush members of Chechen National Congress resign.
  Russia gains control of Soviet natural resources; Yeltsin places Russian economy above that of Soviet Union, ending possibility of Russia remaining in union.
  Gorbachev fails to win support of republics for new union treaty.
December Presidents of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia meet in Minsk and proclaim initial Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
  Yeltsin meets with Soviet defense officials and army commanders to gain support for CIS.
  Russian foreign minister Andrey Kozyrev asks United States secretary of state James Baker to recognize independence of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine.
  Gorbachev announces that at year's end all central government structures will cease to exist.
  Eleven republics form CIS.
  Soviet Union ceases to exist. Russian flag rises over Kremlin. Control of nuclear arsenal handed over to Yeltsin.
  1992 January   Russian government lifts price controls on almost all goods.
  Beginning of rift between Yeltsin and speaker of Russian Supreme Soviet Ruslan Khasbulatov and Russian vice president Aleksandr Rutskoy.
February First United States-Russia summit.
  International airlift of food and medical supplies to Russian cities begins.
March Fighting breaks out between Moldovan forces and Russian and Ukrainian separatists along Dnestr River.
  Eighteen of twenty autonomous republics within Russian Federation sign Federation Treaty. Tatarstan and Chechnya refuse.
April At first post-Soviet session of Russian CPD, Yeltsin fends off vote of no-confidence in his economic program. CPD also changes name of Russian Socialist Federation of Soviet Republics to Russian Federation.
  Yeltsin calls for a referendum on new constitution that would abolish Russian CPD.
May Formation of Russian armed forces. Army general Pavel Grachev appointed minister of defense.
  Ten of the eleven CIS presidents sign mutual security treaty in Tashkent. Treaty acknowledges demise of unified CIS armed forces.
  United States and all four post-Soviet nuclear states vow to comply with START agreement.
June Russia joins International Monetary Fund (IMF).
  Russian Supreme Soviet establishes Republic of Ingushetia within Russian Federation.
  Russian troops complete withdrawal from Republic of Chechnya.
  General Aleksandr Lebed' takes command of 14th Army in Moldova.
July Yeltsin makes first appearance at Group of Seven (G-7) meeting.
  Russian Supreme Soviet ratifies CFE Treaty.
August Black Sea Fleet evacuates 1,700 Russians from Sukhumi in civil-war-torn Georgia.
September Russia completes troop withdrawal from Mongolia.
October Russia launches privatization.
  Last Russian combat troops leave Poland.
November Yeltsin declares state of emergency in North Ossetia and Ingushetia in order to halt outbreak of ethnic conflicts.
  Russian troops attack Georgian forces deployed in Abkhazia.
  Russian troops enter Ingushetia.
December Seventh Russian CPD opens. Yeltsin and parliament clash over economic reform and powers. Viktor Chernomyrdin becomes prime minister. Yeltsin and congress agree to hold referendum on presidential power. Part of same deal grants Yeltsin extraordinary powers.
      Russia and China pull most of their troops back 100 kilometers along common border.
1993 March CPD revokes December 1992 deal with Yeltsin, who then attempts to impose special rule, but fails.
  Russian troops deployed in Tajikistan as part of CIS peacekeeping operation.
April Referendum approves Yeltsin as president and Yeltsin's social and economic programs.
  Yeltsin and CPD issue differing draft versions of new Russian constitution.
July Constitutional assembly passes draft Russian constitution worked out by conciliatory committee.
  Parliament annuls presidential decrees on economic reforms.
  Marshal Yevgeniy Shaposhnikov, having resigned as commander in chief of CIS joint forces, hands over his launch authorization codes to Russian defense minister Grachev.
  Russian Central Bank (RCB) announces withdrawal from circulation of Soviet and Russian banknotes issued between 1961 and 1992. Yeltsin eases some of RCB's provisions.
  Yeltsin counters parliament's suspension of privatization. Two weeks later, parliament again suspends privatization. Yeltsin issues decree continuing program.
August Yeltsin formally requests that parliament hold early elections.
September Yeltsin suspends Vice President Rutskoy based on charges of corruption.
  Yeltsin dissolves the CPD and Supreme Soviet and sets date for elections in December.
  Supreme Soviet votes to impeach Yeltsin and swears in Rutskoy as president; CPD confirms decisions.
  Clashes in Moscow between Yeltsin and Supreme Soviet supporters.
October Church mediation of government split collapses; further clashes on Moscow streets.
  Top leaders of opposition surrender. Sniper fire continues for several days.
  Russia officially asks for revisions to CFE Treaty.
  Yeltsin suspends Constitutional Court and disbands city, district, and village soviets.
November Russian troops land in Abkhazia.
December Parliamentary elections and referendum on new constitution are held. Constitution approved. Chechnya does not participate in elections.
  Yeltsin and Turkmenistan's president Saparmyrat Niyazov sign accord on dual citizenship, first such agreement between Soviet successor states.
1994 January Trilateral agreement among Russia, Ukraine, and United States prepares for denuclearizing Ukraine's armed forces.
      Chernomyrdin states that radical economic reform has come to an end in Russia. Reformers quit posts. Western advisers withdraw their services as advisers to Russian government.
February United States Central Intelligence Agency arrests Aldrich Ames on charges of spying for Soviet Union and Russia.
  State Duma (lower house of parliament beginning with 1993 election) grants amnesty to leaders of 1991 coup against Gorbachev and leaders of parliamentary revolt of October 1993.
  Yeltsin gives speech calling for continued radical restructuring of economy.
April Russia and Belarus agree to monetary union.
  Central Asian republics, Georgia, and Armenia allow Russian participation in patrolling their borders.
  Political leaders meet to sign Civic Accord, which calls on signatories to refrain from violence in pursuing political goals. Three of 248 participants refuse to sign, among them Gennadiy Zyuganov, leader of Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF).
June Yeltsin accelerates market reforms.
  Foreign Minister Kozyrev signs NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) accord.
July Russian and United States troops conduct joint peacekeeping exercise in Orenburg, Russia. United States conducts maneuvers in Black Sea with Russia, Ukraine, and other Black Sea countries.
  Russian government issues statement that situation in Chechnya is getting out of control.
August Last Russian troops leave Germany, Estonia, and Latvia.
September Fighting breaks out in Chechnya between Dudayev's and opposition forces.
October Ruble loses one-fifth of its value in one day.
  Chernomyrdin and Prime Minister Sangheli of Moldova sign agreement on withdrawal of Russia's 14th Army from Moldova.
November Dudayev proclaims martial law throughout republic and mobilizes all men aged seventeen and older.
  Yeltsin issues ultimatum to warring parties in Chechnya to lay down their arms.
December Kozyrev suspends Russia's participation in PfP.
  Russian armored columns enter Chechnya.
1995 January Russia and Kazakstan agree to unify their armies by end of 1995.
April Human rights activist Sergey Kovalev estimates 10,000 Russian soldiers and 25,000 Chechen civilians killed in Chechnya since 1994.
June State Duma votes no-confidence in Government (cabinet). Second no-confidence vote fails in State Duma.
July Yeltsin hospitalized, returns to work in August.
October Yeltsin again hospitalized, reappears in November.
  December   In parliamentary elections, communists and nationalists gain strength, reformists split and in decline.
1996 January Yeltsin replaces Foreign Minister Andrey Kozyrev with Yevgeniy Primakov. Leading liberal reformists dismissed or resign.
March After slowdown in privatization and increase in government spending, Russia granted loan agreement worth US$10 billion by IMF.
  Leaders of Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Belarus sign customs union treaty in Moscow.
April Russia and Belarus sign union treaty with substantial elements of reunification.
  Dzhokar Dudayev killed in rocket attack in Chechnya.
May Chechens sign cease-fire agreement, whose terms are immediately violated; fighting resumes.
June Yeltsin and Zyuganov, candidate of KPRF, finish first and second, respectively, in first round of presidential elections, qualifying them for second round.
  Yeltsin fires Grachev and other senior hard-line officials and appoints Lebed' chief of Security Council.
  Yeltsin disappears from public view because of undisclosed illness.
July Yeltsin defeats Zyuganov in second round of presidential election, 54 percent to 40 percent.
  Fighting in Chechnya intensifies.
  Lebed' associate Igor' Rodionov named minister of defense, promises military reform; Anatoliy Chubays named presidential chief of staff.
  Citing failure of Russian economic reform, IMF withholds tranche of 1996 assistance package.
  Yeltsin creates civilian Defense Council.
  Pravda, voice of communism since 1912, renamed Pravda 5 and begins more objective reporting.
August Yeltsin staff announces Yeltsin will rest for prolonged period to recover from election campaign.
  Chernomyrdin confirmed for second term as prime minister; Yeltsin names new Government with reformists in key positions.
  Chechen guerrillas recapture Chechen capital Groznyy, exposing weakness of Russian military; Lebed' achieves cease-fire in direct talks with Chechen leaders.
  IMF resumes economic assistance payments.
  Bellona Foundation report exposes mishandling of nuclear materials in Arctic regions.
September As cease-fire terms hold, first Russian troops leave Chechnya.
  NATO offers Russia special terms of military cooperation.
  Yeltsin announces he will undergo heart surgery; under pressure, he temporarily cedes military command and control of internal security agencies to Chernomyrdin.
      Controversy continues over locus of government authority.
  Election cycle begins in subnational jurisdictions, continues through March 1997.
October Lebed' dismissed as Security Council chief; negotiations with Chechnya continue under Ivan Rybkin.
  United States secretary of defense William Perry rebuffed in attempt to gain passage of START II by State Duma.
  Government establishes emergency tax commission to improve tax collection; collection rate remains poor in ensuing months.
  Chubays begins campaign for compliance of regional laws with federal constitution.
October-December Escalating conflict between military and civilian defense officials over military reform methods.
November Russia's first bond issue on international market nets US$1 billion.
  Yeltsin undergoes successful open-heart surgery.
  Primakov visits China, Japan, and Mongolia to expand markets.
  Third Kilo-class submarine sold to Iran.
  Yeltsin remains out of public view until February 1997, his administration inactive; opposition calls for impeachment on health grounds.
December Four-person Consultative Council formed to smooth differences between Government and parliament.
  Primakov agrees to negotiate charter giving Russia special status with NATO.
  Federation Council (upper house of parliament since 1993 elections) claims Ukrainian port of Sevastopol' as Russian territory, reopening dispute with Ukraine.
1997 January Long-delayed new Criminal Code goes into effect.
  State Duma passes 1997 budget after long discussions and amendments; experts call revenue projections unrealistic.
  Opposing military reform programs issued by Ministry of Defense and civilian Defense Council.
  Presidential and legislative elections in Chechnya; moderate Aslan Maskhadov wins presidency on independence platform.
  Yeltsin approves Russia's participation in NATO's Bosnia peacekeeping force until 1998.
  IMF withholds loan payment because of continued tax system problems.
February Last Russian troops leave Chechnya.
  NATO talks with Russia bring modification of CFE Treaty demands on Russia, subject to ratification by members.
February-March NATO chief Javier Solana visits several CIS nations, which entertain closer NATO ties.
March Yeltsin reestablishes his leadership with vigorous state of the federation speech.
    Government streamlining begins with appointments of Chubays and Boris Nemtsov to powerful positions; Chernomyrdin's power wanes.
  Second issue of Russian bonds sold on international market; third issue scheduled.
  Nationwide labor action gains lukewarm participation; uncoordinated local actions intensify.
  At CIS summit, Yeltsin fails to reassert Russian domination as several members take independent positions.
  Helsinki summit with President William J. Clinton yields some economic agreements, continued discord on NATO expansion.
  Bilateral treaty reaffirms integration of Russia and Belarus.
April Moscow summit with Chinese president Jiang Zemin expresses disapproval of United States world domination, yields agreement to reduce troops along shared border.
  State Duma postpones ratification of Chemical Weapons Convention following United States Congress ratification.
  Government proposal to limit government housing subsidies brings strong political opposition.
  Prompted by revenue shortages, Finance Minister Chubays submits budget revision to State Duma, cutting US$19 billion in spending.
May Peace treaty signed by Russia and Chechnya (Chechnya-Ichkeria); Chechen independence issue remains unresolved.
  Igor' Sergeyev replaces Igor' Rodionov as minister of defense following Rodianov's open conflict with other defense authorities.
  New privatization programs begin in housing, natural gas, railroads, and electric power.
  Security Council issues new national security doctrine.
  Terms set for new pipeline from Tengiz oil fields (Kazakstan) to Black Sea port of Novorossiysk.
  Russia signs "founding act" agreement with NATO, allowing participation in NATO decision making; Russia agrees to drop opposition to NATO expansion in Central Europe.
  Yeltsin and Ukraine's president Leonid Kuchma sign treaty of friendship and cooperation, nominally settling disputes over territory and ownership of Black Sea Fleet.
June State Duma recesses for summer without acting on budget-cut proposal, leaving determination of cuts to Government.
  Yeltsin names his daughter Tat'yana Dyachenko an official adviser.
  Yeltsin participates in Denver G-8 (formerly G-7) meeting as full partner for first time.
  Government announces allocation of US$2.9 billion to pay long-overdue pensions.
    Government announces sale of shares in six state-owned oil companies to increase revenues.
  Under pressure from Yeltsin, Duma approves new tax code aimed at broadening government's revenue base.
June-July Mishaps aboard Mir space station reinforce international doubts about Russia's space program.
July Yeltsin declares Russia's economy has "turned the corner" toward growth and stability; statistics show some improvement.
  New CFE treaty reduces arms in Europe, does not limit NATO movement into Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland as Russia had demanded.
  Russia offers Japan new conditions for development of disputed Kuril Islands; bilateral talks address Japanese investment elsewhere in Russia's Far East.
  Constitutinal Court rejects Moscow's residency fees as unconstitutional.
  Yeltsin announces large-scale program for military reform and streamlining.
  First meeting of NATO-Russia joint council establishes operational procedures.
  Yeltsin vetoes law restricting activities of non-Orthodox religions, after both houses of parliament had overwhelmingly passed it, Russian Orthodox Church supported it, and human rights organizations condemned it.
  Yeltsin's drive against official corruption thwarted as high officials refuse to divulge personal finances.
August Pro-Yeltsin party, Our Home Is Russia, shaken by resignation of parliamentary leader Sergey Belyayev.
  NATO's Sea Breeze 97 exercise in Ukraine modified from military to humanitarian maneuver after protest by Russia.
  Yeltsin announces ruble reform for January 1998, dropping three zeros from denomination of currency.
  Government submits privatization plan for 1998 and draft 1998 budget to Sate Duma; budget calls for 2 percent growth in GDP and annual inflation of 5 percent.
  Russia and Armenia sign friendship and cooperation treaty tightening military and economic ties.
September Duma reconvenes; atop agenda are tax reform bill and consideration of 1998 budget proposal.
  Shakeups of military establishment continue as Yeltsin dismisses his Defense Council chief, Yuriy Baturin, and reorganizes Rosvooruzheniye, the foreign arms sales cartel.
  Overdue tax payments by Gazprom reach US$2.4 billion.
  Agreement with Chechnya sets terms for repair of Baku (Azerbaijan)-Novorossiysk pipeline through Chechnya, with October 1997 as completion deadline; negotiations continue on new pipelines from Central Asia westward.
    Russia warns NATO against pressure on Bosnian Serb Karadzic faction.
  Foreign trade figures for first half of 1997 announced; overall surplus US$18.5 billion, down 3.9 percent from first half 1996, including decrease of 11.7 percent in CIS trade.
  Duma passes land code without provision for sale of land by owner, frustrating Yeltsin's long campaign for reform of land ownership.
  Worker protests spread across Russia as wage non-payment continues, especially among coal, defense industry, and scientific workers.
  Yeltsin signs revised bill on religious organizations after "Christianity" added to list of Russia's "traditional," unrestricted faiths; human rights and religious groups protest.

  Russia

  Source: U.S. Library of Congress

Russia - History

Russia

Early History

Many ethnically diverse peoples migrated onto the East European Plain, but the East Slavs remained and gradually became dominant. Kievan Rus', the first East Slavic state, emerged in the ninth century A.D. and developed a complex and frequently unstable political system that flourished until the thirteenth century, when it declined abruptly. Among the lasting achievements of Kievan Rus' are the introduction of a Slavic variant of the Eastern Orthodox religion and a synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures. The disintegration of Kievan Rus' played a crucial role in the evolution of the East Slavs into the Russian, Ukrainian, and Belorussian peoples.

The Inhabitants of the East European Plain

Long before the organization of Kievan Rus', Iranian and other peoples lived in the area of present-day Ukraine. The best known of those groups was the nomadic Scythians, who occupied the region from about 600 B.C. to 200 B.C. and whose skill in warfare and horsemanship is legendary. Between A.D. 100 and A.D. 900, Goths and nomadic Huns, Avars, and Magyars passed through the region in their migrations. Although some of them subjugated the Slavs in the region, those tribes left little of lasting importance. More significant in this period was the expansion of the Slavs, who were agriculturists and beekeepers as well as hunters, fishers, herders, and trappers. By A.D. 600, the Slavs were the dominant ethnic group on the East European Plain.

Little is known of the origin of the Slavs. Philologists and archaeologists theorize that the Slavs settled very early in the Carpathian Mountains or in the area of present-day Belarus. By A.D. 600, they had split linguistically into southern, western, and eastern branches. The East Slavs settled along the Dnepr River in what is now Ukraine; then they spread northward to the northern Volga River valley, east of modern-day Moscow, and westward to the basins of the northern Dnestr and the western Bug rivers, in present-day Moldova and southern Ukraine. In the eighth and ninth centuries, many East Slavic tribes paid tribute to the Khazars, a Turkic-speaking people who adopted Judaism about A.D. 740 and lived in the southern Volga and Caucasus regions.

The East Slavs and the Varangians

By the ninth century, Scandinavian warriors and merchants, called Varangians, had penetrated the East Slavic regions. According to the Primary Chronicle , the earliest chronicle of Kievan Rus', a Varangian named Rurik first established himself in Novgorod, just south of modern-day St. Petersburg, in about 860 before moving south and extending his authority to Kiev. The chronicle cites Rurik as the progenitor of a dynasty that ruled in Eastern Europe until 1598. Another Varangian, Oleg, moved south from Novgorod to expel the Khazars from Kiev and founded Kievan Rus' about A.D. 880. During the next thirty-five years, Oleg subdued the various East Slavic tribes. In A.D. 907, he led a campaign against Constantinople, and in 911 he signed a commercial treaty with the Byzantine Empire as an equal partner. The new Kievan state prospered because it controlled the trade route from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and because it had an abundant supply of furs, wax, honey, and slaves for export. Historians have debated the role of the Varangians in the establishment of Kievan Rus'. Most Russian historians--especially in the Soviet era--have stressed the Slavic influence in the development of the state. Although Slavic tribes had formed their own regional jurisdictions by 860, the Varangians accelerated the crystallization of Kievan Rus'.

The Golden Age of Kiev

The region of Kiev dominated the state of Kievan Rus' for the next two centuries (see fig. 2). The grand prince of Kiev controlled the lands around the city, and his theoretically subordinate relatives ruled in other cities and paid him tribute. The zenith of the state's power came during the reigns of Prince Vladimir (r. 978-1015) and Prince Yaroslav (the Wise; r. 1019-54). Both rulers continued the steady expansion of Kievan Rus' that had begun under Oleg. To enhance their power, Vladimir married the sister of the Byzantine emperor, and Yaroslav arranged marriages for his sister and three daughters to the kings of Poland, France, Hungary, and Norway. Vladimir's greatest achievement was the Christianization of Kievan Rus', a process that began in 988. He built the first great edifice of Kievan Rus', the Desyatinnaya Church in Kiev. Yaroslav promulgated the first East Slavic law code, Rus'ka pravda (Justice of Rus'); built cathedrals named for St. Sophia in Kiev and Novgorod; patronized local clergy and monasticism; and is said to have founded a school system. Yaroslav's sons developed Kiev's great Peshcherskiy monastyr' (Monastery of the Caves), which functioned in Kievan Rus' as an ecclesiastical academy.

Vladimir's choice of Eastern Orthodoxy reflected his close personal ties with Constantinople, which dominated the Black Sea and hence trade on Kiev's most vital commercial route, the Dnepr River. Adherence to the Eastern Orthodox Church had long-range political, cultural, and religious consequences. The church had a liturgy written in Cyrillic (see Glossary) and a corpus of translations from the Greek that had been produced for the South Slavs. The existence of this literature facilitated the East Slavs' conversion to Christianity and introduced them to rudimentary Greek philosophy, science, and historiography without the necessity of learning Greek. In contrast, educated people in medieval Western and Central Europe learned Latin. Because the East Slavs learned neither Greek nor Latin, they were isolated from Byzantine culture as well as from the European cultures of their neighbors to the west.

In the centuries that followed the state's foundation, Rurik's purported descendants shared power over Kievan Rus'. Princely succession moved from elder to younger brother and from uncle to nephew, as well as from father to son. Junior members of the dynasty usually began their official careers as rulers of a minor district, progressed to more lucrative principalities, and then competed for the coveted throne of Kiev.

In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the princes and their retinues, which were a mixture of Varangian and Slavic elites and small Finno-Ugric and Turkic elements, dominated the society of Kievan Rus'. Leading soldiers and officials received income and land from the princes in return for their political and military services. Kievan society lacked the class institutions and autonomous towns that were typical of West European feudalism. Nevertheless, urban merchants, artisans, and laborers sometimes exercised political influence through a city assembly, the veche, which included all the adult males in the population. In some cases, the veche either made agreements with their rulers or expelled them and invited others to take their place. At the bottom of society was a small stratum of slaves. More important was a class of tribute-paying peasants, who owed labor duty to the princes; the widespread personal serfdom characteristic of Western Europe did not exist in Kievan Rus', however.

The Rise of Regional Centers

Kievan Rus' was not able to maintain its position as a powerful and prosperous state, in part because of the amalgamation of disparate lands under the control of a ruling clan. As the members of that clan became more numerous, they identified themselves with regional interests rather than with the larger patrimony. Thus, the princes fought among themselves, frequently forming alliances with outside groups such as the Polovtsians, Poles, and Hungarians. The Crusades brought a shift in European trade routes that accelerated the decline of Kievan Rus'. In 1204 the forces of the Fourth Crusade sacked Constantinople, making the Dnepr trade route marginal. As it declined, Kievan Rus' splintered into many principalities and several large regional centers. The inhabitants of those regional centers then evolved into three nationalities: Ukrainians in the southeast and southwest, Belorussians in the northwest, and Russians in the north and northeast.

In the north, the Republic of Novgorod prospered as part of Kievan Rus' because it controlled trade routes from the Volga River to the Baltic Sea. As Kievan Rus' declined, Novgorod became more independent. A local oligarchy ruled Novgorod; major government decisions were made by a town assembly, which also elected a prince as the city's military leader. In the twelfth century, Novgorod acquired its own archbishop, a sign of increased importance and political independence. In its political structure and mercantile activities, Novgorod resembled the north European towns of the Hanseatic League, the prosperous alliance that dominated the commercial activity of the Baltic region between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries, more than the other principalities of Kievan Rus'.

In the northeast, East Slavs colonized the territory that eventually became Muscovy by intermingling with the Finno-Ugric tribes already occupying the area. The city of Rostov was the oldest center of the northeast, but it was supplanted first by Suzdal' and then by the city of Vladimir. By the twelfth century, the combined principality of Vladimir-Suzdal' had become a major power in Kievan Rus'.

In 1169 Prince Andrey Bogolyubskiy of Vladimir-Suzdal' dealt a severe blow to the waning power of Kievan Rus' when his armies sacked the city of Kiev. Prince Andrey then installed his younger brother to rule in Kiev and continued to rule his realm from Suzdal'. Thus, political power shifted to the northeast, away from Kiev, in the second half of the twelfth century. In 1299, in the wake of the Mongol invasion, the metropolitan of the Orthodox Church moved to the city of Vladimir, and Vladimir-Suzdal' replaced Kievan Rus' as the religious center.

To the southwest, the principality of Galicia-Volhynia had highly developed trade relations with its Polish, Hungarian, and Lithuanian neighbors and emerged as another successor to Kievan Rus'. In the early thirteenth century, Prince Roman Mstislavich united the two previously separate principalities, conquered Kiev, and assumed the title of grand duke of Kievan Rus'. His son, Prince Daniil (Danylo; r. 1238-64) was the first ruler of Kievan Rus' to accept a crown from the Roman papacy, apparently doing so without breaking with Orthodoxy. Early in the fourteenth century, the patriarch of the Orthodox Church in Constantinople granted the rulers of Galicia-Volhynia a metropolitan to compensate for the move of the Kievan metropolitan to Vladimir.

However, a long and unsuccessful struggle against the Mongols combined with internal opposition to the prince and foreign intervention to weaken Galicia-Volhynia. With the end of the Mstislavich Dynasty in the mid-fourteenth century, Galicia-Volhynia ceased to exist; Lithuania took Volhynia, and Poland annexed Galicia.

The Mongol Invasion

As it was undergoing fragmentation, Kievan Rus' faced its greatest threat from invading Mongols. In 1223 an army from Kievan Rus', together with a force of Turkic Polovtsians, faced a Mongol raiding party at the Kalka River. The Kievan alliance was defeated soundly. Then, in 1237-38, a much larger Mongol force overran much of Kievan Rus'. In 1240 the Mongols sacked the city of Kiev and then moved west into Poland and Hungary. Of the principalities of Kievan Rus', only the Republic of Novgorod escaped occupation, but it paid tribute to the Mongols. One branch of the Mongol force withdrew to Saray on the lower Volga River, establishing the Golden Horde (see Glossary). From Saray the Golden Horde Mongols ruled Kievan Rus' indirectly through their princes and tax collectors.

The impact of the Mongol invasion on the territories of Kievan Rus' was uneven. Centers such as Kiev never recovered from the devastation of the initial attack. The Republic of Novgorod continued to prosper, however, and a new entity, the city of Moscow, began to flourish under the Mongols. Although a Russian army defeated the Golden Horde at Kulikovo in 1380, Mongol domination of the Russian-inhabited territories, along with demands of tribute from Russian princes, continued until about 1480.

Historians have debated the long-term influence of Mongol rule on Russian society. The Mongols have been blamed for the destruction of Kievan Rus', the breakup of the "Russian" nationality into three components, and the introduction of the concept of "oriental despotism" into Russia. But most historians agree that Kievan Rus' was not a homogeneous political, cultural, or ethnic entity and that the Mongols merely accelerated a fragmentation that had begun before the invasion. Historians also credit the Mongol regime with an important role in the development of Muscovy as a state. Under Mongol occupation, for example, Muscovy developed its postal road network, census, fiscal system, and military organization.

Kievan Rus' also left a powerful legacy. The leader of the Rurik Dynasty united a large territory inhabited by East Slavs into an important, albeit unstable, state. After Vladimir accepted Eastern Orthodoxy, Kievan Rus' came together under a church structure and developed a Byzantine-Slavic synthesis in culture, statecraft, and the arts. On the northeastern periphery of Kievan Rus', those traditions were adapted to form the Russian autocratic state.

Russia

Russia - History

Russia

Early History

Many ethnically diverse peoples migrated onto the East European Plain, but the East Slavs remained and gradually became dominant. Kievan Rus', the first East Slavic state, emerged in the ninth century A.D. and developed a complex and frequently unstable political system that flourished until the thirteenth century, when it declined abruptly. Among the lasting achievements of Kievan Rus' are the introduction of a Slavic variant of the Eastern Orthodox religion and a synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures. The disintegration of Kievan Rus' played a crucial role in the evolution of the East Slavs into the Russian, Ukrainian, and Belorussian peoples.

The Inhabitants of the East European Plain

Long before the organization of Kievan Rus', Iranian and other peoples lived in the area of present-day Ukraine. The best known of those groups was the nomadic Scythians, who occupied the region from about 600 B.C. to 200 B.C. and whose skill in warfare and horsemanship is legendary. Between A.D. 100 and A.D. 900, Goths and nomadic Huns, Avars, and Magyars passed through the region in their migrations. Although some of them subjugated the Slavs in the region, those tribes left little of lasting importance. More significant in this period was the expansion of the Slavs, who were agriculturists and beekeepers as well as hunters, fishers, herders, and trappers. By A.D. 600, the Slavs were the dominant ethnic group on the East European Plain.

Little is known of the origin of the Slavs. Philologists and archaeologists theorize that the Slavs settled very early in the Carpathian Mountains or in the area of present-day Belarus. By A.D. 600, they had split linguistically into southern, western, and eastern branches. The East Slavs settled along the Dnepr River in what is now Ukraine; then they spread northward to the northern Volga River valley, east of modern-day Moscow, and westward to the basins of the northern Dnestr and the western Bug rivers, in present-day Moldova and southern Ukraine. In the eighth and ninth centuries, many East Slavic tribes paid tribute to the Khazars, a Turkic-speaking people who adopted Judaism about A.D. 740 and lived in the southern Volga and Caucasus regions.

The East Slavs and the Varangians

By the ninth century, Scandinavian warriors and merchants, called Varangians, had penetrated the East Slavic regions. According to the Primary Chronicle , the earliest chronicle of Kievan Rus', a Varangian named Rurik first established himself in Novgorod, just south of modern-day St. Petersburg, in about 860 before moving south and extending his authority to Kiev. The chronicle cites Rurik as the progenitor of a dynasty that ruled in Eastern Europe until 1598. Another Varangian, Oleg, moved south from Novgorod to expel the Khazars from Kiev and founded Kievan Rus' about A.D. 880. During the next thirty-five years, Oleg subdued the various East Slavic tribes. In A.D. 907, he led a campaign against Constantinople, and in 911 he signed a commercial treaty with the Byzantine Empire as an equal partner. The new Kievan state prospered because it controlled the trade route from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and because it had an abundant supply of furs, wax, honey, and slaves for export. Historians have debated the role of the Varangians in the establishment of Kievan Rus'. Most Russian historians--especially in the Soviet era--have stressed the Slavic influence in the development of the state. Although Slavic tribes had formed their own regional jurisdictions by 860, the Varangians accelerated the crystallization of Kievan Rus'.

The Golden Age of Kiev

The region of Kiev dominated the state of Kievan Rus' for the next two centuries (see fig. 2). The grand prince of Kiev controlled the lands around the city, and his theoretically subordinate relatives ruled in other cities and paid him tribute. The zenith of the state's power came during the reigns of Prince Vladimir (r. 978-1015) and Prince Yaroslav (the Wise; r. 1019-54). Both rulers continued the steady expansion of Kievan Rus' that had begun under Oleg. To enhance their power, Vladimir married the sister of the Byzantine emperor, and Yaroslav arranged marriages for his sister and three daughters to the kings of Poland, France, Hungary, and Norway. Vladimir's greatest achievement was the Christianization of Kievan Rus', a process that began in 988. He built the first great edifice of Kievan Rus', the Desyatinnaya Church in Kiev. Yaroslav promulgated the first East Slavic law code, Rus'ka pravda (Justice of Rus'); built cathedrals named for St. Sophia in Kiev and Novgorod; patronized local clergy and monasticism; and is said to have founded a school system. Yaroslav's sons developed Kiev's great Peshcherskiy monastyr' (Monastery of the Caves), which functioned in Kievan Rus' as an ecclesiastical academy.

Vladimir's choice of Eastern Orthodoxy reflected his close personal ties with Constantinople, which dominated the Black Sea and hence trade on Kiev's most vital commercial route, the Dnepr River. Adherence to the Eastern Orthodox Church had long-range political, cultural, and religious consequences. The church had a liturgy written in Cyrillic (see Glossary) and a corpus of translations from the Greek that had been produced for the South Slavs. The existence of this literature facilitated the East Slavs' conversion to Christianity and introduced them to rudimentary Greek philosophy, science, and historiography without the necessity of learning Greek. In contrast, educated people in medieval Western and Central Europe learned Latin. Because the East Slavs learned neither Greek nor Latin, they were isolated from Byzantine culture as well as from the European cultures of their neighbors to the west.

In the centuries that followed the state's foundation, Rurik's purported descendants shared power over Kievan Rus'. Princely succession moved from elder to younger brother and from uncle to nephew, as well as from father to son. Junior members of the dynasty usually began their official careers as rulers of a minor district, progressed to more lucrative principalities, and then competed for the coveted throne of Kiev.

In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the princes and their retinues, which were a mixture of Varangian and Slavic elites and small Finno-Ugric and Turkic elements, dominated the society of Kievan Rus'. Leading soldiers and officials received income and land from the princes in return for their political and military services. Kievan society lacked the class institutions and autonomous towns that were typical of West European feudalism. Nevertheless, urban merchants, artisans, and laborers sometimes exercised political influence through a city assembly, the veche, which included all the adult males in the population. In some cases, the veche either made agreements with their rulers or expelled them and invited others to take their place. At the bottom of society was a small stratum of slaves. More important was a class of tribute-paying peasants, who owed labor duty to the princes; the widespread personal serfdom characteristic of Western Europe did not exist in Kievan Rus', however.

The Rise of Regional Centers

Kievan Rus' was not able to maintain its position as a powerful and prosperous state, in part because of the amalgamation of disparate lands under the control of a ruling clan. As the members of that clan became more numerous, they identified themselves with regional interests rather than with the larger patrimony. Thus, the princes fought among themselves, frequently forming alliances with outside groups such as the Polovtsians, Poles, and Hungarians. The Crusades brought a shift in European trade routes that accelerated the decline of Kievan Rus'. In 1204 the forces of the Fourth Crusade sacked Constantinople, making the Dnepr trade route marginal. As it declined, Kievan Rus' splintered into many principalities and several large regional centers. The inhabitants of those regional centers then evolved into three nationalities: Ukrainians in the southeast and southwest, Belorussians in the northwest, and Russians in the north and northeast.

In the north, the Republic of Novgorod prospered as part of Kievan Rus' because it controlled trade routes from the Volga River to the Baltic Sea. As Kievan Rus' declined, Novgorod became more independent. A local oligarchy ruled Novgorod; major government decisions were made by a town assembly, which also elected a prince as the city's military leader. In the twelfth century, Novgorod acquired its own archbishop, a sign of increased importance and political independence. In its political structure and mercantile activities, Novgorod resembled the north European towns of the Hanseatic League, the prosperous alliance that dominated the commercial activity of the Baltic region between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries, more than the other principalities of Kievan Rus'.

In the northeast, East Slavs colonized the territory that eventually became Muscovy by intermingling with the Finno-Ugric tribes already occupying the area. The city of Rostov was the oldest center of the northeast, but it was supplanted first by Suzdal' and then by the city of Vladimir. By the twelfth century, the combined principality of Vladimir-Suzdal' had become a major power in Kievan Rus'.

In 1169 Prince Andrey Bogolyubskiy of Vladimir-Suzdal' dealt a severe blow to the waning power of Kievan Rus' when his armies sacked the city of Kiev. Prince Andrey then installed his younger brother to rule in Kiev and continued to rule his realm from Suzdal'. Thus, political power shifted to the northeast, away from Kiev, in the second half of the twelfth century. In 1299, in the wake of the Mongol invasion, the metropolitan of the Orthodox Church moved to the city of Vladimir, and Vladimir-Suzdal' replaced Kievan Rus' as the religious center.

To the southwest, the principality of Galicia-Volhynia had highly developed trade relations with its Polish, Hungarian, and Lithuanian neighbors and emerged as another successor to Kievan Rus'. In the early thirteenth century, Prince Roman Mstislavich united the two previously separate principalities, conquered Kiev, and assumed the title of grand duke of Kievan Rus'. His son, Prince Daniil (Danylo; r. 1238-64) was the first ruler of Kievan Rus' to accept a crown from the Roman papacy, apparently doing so without breaking with Orthodoxy. Early in the fourteenth century, the patriarch of the Orthodox Church in Constantinople granted the rulers of Galicia-Volhynia a metropolitan to compensate for the move of the Kievan metropolitan to Vladimir.

However, a long and unsuccessful struggle against the Mongols combined with internal opposition to the prince and foreign intervention to weaken Galicia-Volhynia. With the end of the Mstislavich Dynasty in the mid-fourteenth century, Galicia-Volhynia ceased to exist; Lithuania took Volhynia, and Poland annexed Galicia.

The Mongol Invasion

As it was undergoing fragmentation, Kievan Rus' faced its greatest threat from invading Mongols. In 1223 an army from Kievan Rus', together with a force of Turkic Polovtsians, faced a Mongol raiding party at the Kalka River. The Kievan alliance was defeated soundly. Then, in 1237-38, a much larger Mongol force overran much of Kievan Rus'. In 1240 the Mongols sacked the city of Kiev and then moved west into Poland and Hungary. Of the principalities of Kievan Rus', only the Republic of Novgorod escaped occupation, but it paid tribute to the Mongols. One branch of the Mongol force withdrew to Saray on the lower Volga River, establishing the Golden Horde (see Glossary). From Saray the Golden Horde Mongols ruled Kievan Rus' indirectly through their princes and tax collectors.

The impact of the Mongol invasion on the territories of Kievan Rus' was uneven. Centers such as Kiev never recovered from the devastation of the initial attack. The Republic of Novgorod continued to prosper, however, and a new entity, the city of Moscow, began to flourish under the Mongols. Although a Russian army defeated the Golden Horde at Kulikovo in 1380, Mongol domination of the Russian-inhabited territories, along with demands of tribute from Russian princes, continued until about 1480.

Historians have debated the long-term influence of Mongol rule on Russian society. The Mongols have been blamed for the destruction of Kievan Rus', the breakup of the "Russian" nationality into three components, and the introduction of the concept of "oriental despotism" into Russia. But most historians agree that Kievan Rus' was not a homogeneous political, cultural, or ethnic entity and that the Mongols merely accelerated a fragmentation that had begun before the invasion. Historians also credit the Mongol regime with an important role in the development of Muscovy as a state. Under Mongol occupation, for example, Muscovy developed its postal road network, census, fiscal system, and military organization.

Kievan Rus' also left a powerful legacy. The leader of the Rurik Dynasty united a large territory inhabited by East Slavs into an important, albeit unstable, state. After Vladimir accepted Eastern Orthodoxy, Kievan Rus' came together under a church structure and developed a Byzantine-Slavic synthesis in culture, statecraft, and the arts. On the northeastern periphery of Kievan Rus', those traditions were adapted to form the Russian autocratic state.

Russia

Russia - Muscovy

Russia

The development of the Russian state can be traced from Vladimir-Suzdal' through Muscovy to the Russian Empire. Muscovy drew people and wealth to the northeastern periphery of Kievan Rus'; established trade links to the Baltic Sea, the White Sea, and the Caspian Sea and to Siberia; and created a highly centralized and autocratic political system. Muscovite political traditions, therefore, exerted a powerful influence on Russian society.

The Rise of Muscovy

When the Mongols invaded the lands of Kievan Rus', Moscow was an insignificant trading outpost in the principality of Vladimir-Suzdal'. The outpost's remote, forested location offered some security from Mongol attack and occupation, and a number of rivers provided access to the Baltic and Black seas and to the Caucasus region. More important to Moscow's development in what became the state of Muscovy, however, was its rule by a series of princes who were ambitious, determined, and lucky. The first ruler of the principality of Muscovy, Daniil Aleksandrovich (d. 1303), secured the principality for his branch of the Rurik Dynasty. His son, Ivan I (r. 1325-40), known as Ivan Kalita ("Money Bags"), obtained the title "Grand Prince of Vladimir" from his Mongol overlords. He cooperated closely with the Mongols and collected tribute from other Russian principalities on their behalf. This relationship enabled Ivan to gain regional ascendancy, particularly over Muscovy's chief rival, the northern city of Tver'. In 1327 the Orthodox metropolitan transferred his residency from Vladimir to Moscow, further enhancing the prestige of the new principality.

In the fourteenth century, the grand princes of Muscovy began gathering Russian lands to increase the population and wealth under their rule (see table 2, Appendix). The most successful practitioner of this process was Ivan III (the Great; r. 1462-1505), who conquered Novgorod in 1478 and Tver' in 1485. Muscovy gained full sovereignty over the ethnically Russian lands in 1480 when Mongol overlordship ended officially, and by the beginning of the sixteenth century virtually all those lands were united. Through inheritance, Ivan obtained part of the province of Ryazan', and the princes of Rostov and Yaroslavl' voluntarily subordinated themselves to him. The northwestern city of Pskov remained independent in this period, but Ivan's son, Vasiliy III (r. 1505-33), later conquered it.

Ivan III was the first Muscovite ruler to use the titles of tsar and "Ruler of all Rus'." Ivan competed with his powerful northwestern rival Lithuania for control over some of the semi-independent former principalities of Kievan Rus' in the upper Dnepr and Donets river basins. Through the defections of some princes, border skirmishes, and a long, inconclusive war with Lithuania that ended only in 1503, Ivan III was able to push westward, and Muscovy tripled in size under his rule.

The Evolution of the Russian Aristocracy

Internal consolidation accompanied outward expansion of the state. By the fifteenth century, the rulers of Muscovy 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 Muscovy and his descendants as unquestioned rulers with control over military, judicial, and foreign affairs.

Gradually, the Muscovite ruler emerged as a powerful, autocratic ruler, a tsar. By assuming that title, the Muscovite prince underscored that he was a major ruler or emperor on a par with the emperor of the Byzantine Empire or the Mongol khan. Indeed, after Ivan III's marriage to Sophia Paleologue, the niece of the last Byzantine emperor, the Muscovite court adopted Byzantine terms, rituals, titles, and emblems such as the double-headed eagle. At first, the term autocrat connoted only the literal meaning of an independent ruler, but in the reign of Ivan IV (r. 1533-84) it came to mean unlimited rule. Ivan IV was crowned tsar and thus was recognized, at least by the Orthodox Church, as emperor. An Orthodox monk had claimed that, once Constantinople had fallen to the Ottoman Empire in 1453, the Muscovite tsar was the only legitimate Orthodox ruler and that Moscow was the Third Rome because it was the final successor to Rome and Constantinople, the centers of Christianity in earlier periods. That concept was to resonate in the self-image of Russians in future centuries.

Ivan IV

The development of the tsar's autocratic powers reached a peak during the reign of Ivan IV, and he became known as the Terrible (his Russian epithet, groznyy , means threatening or dreaded). Ivan strengthened the position of the tsar to an unprecedented degree, demonstrating the risks of unbridled power in the hands of a mentally unstable individual. Although apparently intelligent and energetic, Ivan suffered from bouts of paranoia and depression, and his rule was punctuated by acts of extreme violence.

Ivan IV became grand prince of Muscovy in 1533 at the age of three. Various factions of the boyars (see Glossary) competed for control of the regency until Ivan assumed the throne in 1547. Reflecting Muscovy's new imperial claims, Ivan's coronation as tsar was an elaborate ritual modeled after those of the Byzantine emperors. With the continuing assistance of a group of boyars, Ivan began his reign with a series of useful reforms. In the 1550s, he promulgated a new law code, revamped the military, and reorganized local government. These reforms undoubtedly were intended to strengthen the state in the face of continuous warfare.

During the late 1550s, Ivan developed a hostility toward his advisers, the government, and the boyars. Historians have not determined whether policy differences, personal animosities, or mental imbalance cause his wrath. In 1565 he divided Muscovy into two parts: his private domain and the public realm. For his private domain, Ivan chose some of the most prosperous and important districts of Muscovy. In these areas, Ivan's agents attacked boyars, merchants, and even common people, summarily executing some and confiscating land and possessions. Thus began a decade of terror in Muscovy. As a result of this policy, called the oprichnina , Ivan broke the economic and political power of the leading boyar families, thereby destroying precisely those persons who had built up Muscovy and were the most capable of administering it. Trade diminished, and peasants, faced with mounting taxes and threats of violence, began to leave Muscovy. Efforts to curtail the mobility of the peasants by tying them to their land brought Muscovy closer to legal serfdom. In 1572 Ivan finally abandoned the practices of the oprichnina .

Despite the domestic turmoil of Ivan's late period, Muscovy continued to wage wars and to expand. Ivan defeated and annexed the Kazan' Khanate on the middle Volga in 1552 and later the Astrakhan' Khanate, where the Volga meets the Caspian Sea. These victories gave Muscovy access to the entire Volga River and to Central Asia. Muscovy's eastward expansion encountered relatively little resistance. In 1581 the Stroganov merchant family, interested in fur trade, hired a Cossack (see Glossary) leader, Yermak, to lead an expedition into western Siberia. Yermak defeated the Siberian Khanate and claimed the territories west of the Ob' and Irtysh rivers for Muscovy (see fig. 3).

Expanding to the northwest toward the Baltic Sea proved to be much more difficult. In 1558 Ivan invaded Livonia, eventually embroiling him in a twenty-five-year war against Poland, Lithuania, Sweden, and Denmark. Despite occasional successes, Ivan's army was pushed back, and Muscovy failed to secure a coveted position on the Baltic Sea. The war drained Muscovy. Some historians believe that Ivan initiated the oprichnina to mobilize resources for the war and to quell opposition to it. Regardless of the reason, Ivan's domestic and foreign policies had a devastating effect on Muscovy, and they led to a period of social struggle and civil war, the so-called Time of Troubles (Smutnoye vremya, 1598-1613).

The Time of Troubles

Ivan IV was succeeded by his son Fedor, who was mentally deficient. Actual power went to Fedor's brother-in-law, the boyar Boris Godunov. Perhaps the most important event of Fedor's reign was the proclamation of the patriarchate of Moscow in 1589. The creation of the patriarchate climaxed the evolution of a separate and totally independent Russian Orthodox Church.

In 1598 Fedor died without an heir, ending the Rurik Dynasty. Boris Godunov then convened a zemskiy sobor , a national assembly of boyars, church officials, and commoners, which proclaimed him tsar, although various boyar factions refused to recognize the decision. Widespread crop failures caused a famine between 1601 and 1603, and during the ensuing discontent, a man emerged who claimed to be Dmitriy, Ivan IV's son who had died in 1591. This pretender to the throne, who came to be known as the first False Dmitriy, gained support in Poland and marched to Moscow, gathering followers among the boyars and other elements as he went. Historians speculate that Godunov would have weathered this crisis, but he died in 1605. As a result, the first False Dmitriy entered Moscow and was crowned tsar that year, following the murder of Tsar Fedor II, Godunov's son.

Subsequently, Muscovy entered a period of continuous chaos. The Time of Troubles included a civil war in which a struggle over the throne was complicated by the machinations of rival boyar factions, the intervention of regional powers Poland and Sweden, and intense popular discontent. The first False Dmitriy and his Polish garrison were overthrown, and a boyar, Vasiliy Shuyskiy, was proclaimed tsar in 1606. In his attempt to retain the throne, Shuyskiy allied himself with the Swedes. A second False Dmitriy, allied with the Poles, appeared. In 1610 that heir apparent was proclaimed tsar, and the Poles occupied Moscow. The Polish presence led to a patriotic revival among the Russians, and a new army, financed by northern merchants and blessed by the Orthodox Church, drove the Poles out. In 1613 a new zemskiy sobor proclaimed the boyar Mikhail Romanov as tsar, beginning the 300-year reign of the Romanov family.

Muscovy was in chaos for more than a decade, but the institution of the autocracy remained intact. Despite the tsar's persecution of the boyars, the townspeople's dissatisfaction, and the gradual enserfment of the peasantry, efforts at restricting the power of the tsar were only halfhearted. Finding no institutional alternative to the autocracy, discontented Russians rallied behind various pretenders to the throne. During that period, the goal of political activity was to gain influence over the sitting autocrat or to place one's own candidate on the throne. The boyars fought among themselves, the lower classes revolted blindly, and foreign armies occupied the Kremlin (see Glossary) in Moscow, prompting many to accept tsarist absolutism as a necessary means to restoring order and unity in Muscovy.

The Romanovs

The immediate task of the new dynasty was to restore order. Fortunately for Muscovy, its major enemies, Poland and Sweden, were engaged in a bitter conflict with each other, which provided Muscovy the opportunity to make peace with Sweden in 1617 and to sign a truce with Poland in 1619. After an unsuccessful attempt to regain the city of Smolensk from Poland in 1632, Muscovy made peace with Poland in 1634. Polish king Wladyslaw IV, whose father and predecessor Sigismund III had manipulated his nominal selection as tsar of Muscovy during the Time of Troubles, renounced all claims to the title as a condition of the peace treaty.

The early Romanovs were weak rulers. Under Mikhail, state affairs were in the hands of the tsar's father, Filaret, who in 1619 became patriarch of the Orthodox Church. Later, Mikhail's son Aleksey (r. 1645-76) relied on a boyar, Boris Morozov, to run his government. Morozov abused his position by exploiting the populace, and in 1648 Aleksey dismissed him in the wake of a popular uprising in Moscow.

The autocracy 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 boyar faction controlling the throne. In the seventeenth century, the bureaucracy expanded dramatically. The number of government departments (prikazy ; sing., prikaz ) increased from twenty-two in 1613 to eighty by mid-century. Although the departments often had overlapping and conflicting jurisdictions, the central government, through provincial governors, was able to control and regulate all social groups, as well as trade, manufacturing, and even the Orthodox Church.

The comprehensive legal code introduced in 1649 illustrates the extent of state control over Russian society. By that time, the boyars had largely merged with the elite bureaucracy, who were obligatory servitors of the state, to form a new nobility, the dvoryanstvo . The state required service from both the old and the new nobility, primarily in the military. In return, they received land and peasants. In the preceding century, the state had gradually curtailed peasants' rights to move from one landlord to another; the 1649 code officially attached peasants to their domicile. The state fully sanctioned serfdom, and runaway peasants became state fugitives. Landlords had complete power over their peasants and bought, sold, traded, and mortgaged them. Peasants living on state-owned land, however, were not considered serfs. They were organized into communes, which were responsible for taxes and other obligations. Like serfs, however, state peasants were attached to the land they farmed. 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. By chaining much of Muscovite society to specific domiciles, the legal code of 1649 curtailed movement and subordinated the people to the interests of the state.

Under this code, increased state taxes and regulations exacerbated the social discontent that had been simmering since the Time of Troubles. In the 1650s and 1660s, the number of peasant escapes increased dramatically. A favorite refuge was the Don River region, domain of the Don Cossacks. A major uprising occurred in the Volga region in 1670 and 1671. Stenka Razin, a Cossack who was from the Don River region, led a revolt that drew together wealthy Cossacks who were well established in the region and escaped serfs seeking free land. The unexpected uprising swept up the Volga River valley and even threatened Moscow. Tsarist troops finally defeated the rebels after they had occupied major cities along the Volga in an operation whose panache captured the imaginations of later generations of Russians. Razin was publicly tortured and executed.

Expansion and Westernization

Muscovy continued its territorial growth through the seventeenth century. In the southwest, it acquired eastern Ukraine, which had been under Polish rule. The Ukrainian Cossacks, warriors organized in military formations, lived in the frontier areas bordering Poland, the Tatar lands, and Muscovy. Although they had served in the Polish army as mercenaries, the Ukrainian Cossacks remained fiercely independent and staged a number of uprisings against the Poles. In 1648 most of Ukrainian society joined the Cossacks in a revolt because of the political, social, religious, and ethnic oppression suffered under Polish rule. After the Ukrainians had thrown off Polish rule, they needed military help to maintain their position. In 1654 the Ukrainian leader, Bogdan Khmel'nitskiy (Bohdan Khmel'nyts'kyy), offered to place Ukraine under the protection of the Muscovite tsar, Aleksey I, rather than under the Polish king. Aleksey's acceptance of this offer, which was ratified in the Treaty of Pereyaslavl', led to a protracted war between Poland and Muscovy. The Treaty of Andrusovo, which ended the war in 1667, split Ukraine along the Dnepr River, reuniting the western sector with Poland and leaving the eastern sector self-governing under the suzerainty of the tsar.

In the east, Muscovy had obtained western Siberia in the sixteenth century. From this base, merchants, traders, and explorers pushed eastward from the Ob' River to the Yenisey River, then to the Lena River. By the middle of the seventeenth century, Muscovites had reached the Amur River and the outskirts of the Chinese Empire. After a period of conflict with the Manchu Dynasty, Muscovy made peace with China in 1689. By the Treaty of Nerchinsk, Muscovy ceded its claims to the Amur Valley, but it gained access to the region east of Lake Baikal and the trade route to Beijing. Peace with China consolidated the initial breakthrough to the Pacific that had been made in the middle of the century.

Muscovy's southwestern expansion, particularly its incorporation of eastern Ukraine, had unintended consequences. Most Ukrainians were Orthodox, but their close contact with the Roman Catholic Polish Counter-Reformation also brought them Western intellectual currents. Through Kiev, Muscovy gained links to Polish and Central European influences and to the wider Orthodox world. Although the Ukrainian link stimulated creativity in many areas, it also undermined traditional Russian religious practices and culture. The Russian Orthodox Church discovered that its isolation from Constantinople had caused variations to creep into its liturgical books and practices. The Russian Orthodox patriarch, Nikon, was determined to bring the Russian texts back into conformity with the Greek originals. But Nikon encountered fierce opposition among the many Russians who viewed the corrections as improper foreign intrusions, or perhaps the work of the devil. When the Orthodox Church forced Nikon's reforms, a schism resulted in 1667. Those who did not accept the reforms came to be called the Old Believers (starovery ); they were officially pronounced heretics and were persecuted by the church and the state. The chief opposition figure, the archpriest Avvakum, was burned at the stake. The split subsequently became permanent, and many merchants and peasants joined the Old Believers.

The tsar's court also felt the impact of Ukraine and the West. Kiev was a major transmitter of new ideas and insight through the famed scholarly academy that Metropolitan Mogila (Mohyla) founded there in 1631. Among the results of this infusion of ideas into Muscovy were baroque architecture, literature, and icon painting. Other more direct channels to the West opened as international trade increased and more foreigners came to Muscovy. The tsar's court was interested in the West's more advanced technology, particularly when military applications were involved. By the end of the seventeenth century, Ukrainian, Polish, and West European penetration had undermined the Muscovite cultural synthesis--at least among the elite--and had prepared the way for an even more radical transformation.

Russia

Russia - Early Imperial Russia

Russia

In the eighteenth century, Muscovy was transformed from a static, somewhat isolated, traditional state into the more dynamic, partially Westernized, and secularized Russian Empire. This transformation was in no small measure a result of the vision, energy, and determination of Peter the Great. Historians disagree about the extent to which Peter himself transformed Russia, but they generally concur that he laid the foundations for empire building over the next two centuries. The era that Peter initiated signaled the advent of Russia as a major European power. But, although the Russian Empire would play a leading political role in the next century, its retention of serfdom precluded economic progress of any significant degree. As West European economic growth accelerated during the Industrial Revolution, which had begun in the second half of the eighteenth century, Russia began to lag ever farther behind, creating new problems for the empire as a great power.

Peter the Great and the Russian Empire

As a child of the second marriage of Tsar Aleksey, Peter at first was relegated to the background of Russian politics as various court factions struggled to control the throne. Aleksey was succeeded by his son from his first marriage, Fedor III, a sickly boy who died in 1682. Peter then was made co-tsar with his half brother, Ivan V, but Peter's half sister, Sofia, held the real power. She ruled as regent while the young Peter was allowed to play war games with his friends and to roam in Moscow's foreign quarters. These early experiences instilled in him an abiding interest in Western military practice and technology, particularly in military engineering, artillery, navigation, and shipbuilding. In 1689, using troops that he had drilled during childhood games, Peter foiled a plot to have Sofia crowned. When Ivan V died in 1696, Peter became the sole tsar of Muscovy.

War dominated much of Peter's reign. At first Peter attempted to secure the principality's southern borders against the Tatars and the Ottoman Turks. His campaign against a fort on the Sea of Azov failed initially, but after he created Russia's first navy, Peter was able to take the port of Azov in 1696. To continue the war with the Ottoman Empire, Peter traveled to Europe to seek allies. The first tsar to make such a trip, Peter visited Brandenburg, Holland, England, and the Holy Roman Empire during his so-called Grand Embassy. Peter learned a great deal and enlisted into his service hundreds of West European technical specialists. The embassy was cut short by the attempt to place Sofia on the throne instead of Peter, a revolt that was crushed by Peter's followers. As a result, Peter had hundreds of the participants tortured and killed, and he publicly displayed their bodies as a warning to others.

Peter was unsuccessful in forging a European coalition against the Ottoman Empire, but during his travels he found interest in waging war against Sweden, then an important power in northern Europe. Seeing an opportunity to break through to the Baltic Sea, Peter made peace with the Ottoman Empire in 1700 and then attacked the Swedes at their port of Narva on the Gulf of Finland. However, Sweden's young king, Charles XII, proved his military acumen by crushing Peter's army. Fortunately for Peter, Charles did not follow up his victory with a counteroffensive, becoming embroiled instead in a series of wars over the Polish throne. This respite allowed Peter to build a new, Western-style army. When the armies of the two leaders met again at the town of Poltava in 1709, Peter defeated Charles. Charles escaped to Ottoman territory, and Russia subsequently became engaged in another war with the Ottoman Empire. Russia agreed to return the port of Azov to the Ottomans in 1711. The Great Northern War, which in essence was settled at Poltava, continued until 1721, when Sweden agreed to the Treaty of Nystad. The treaty allowed Muscovy to retain the Baltic territories that it had conquered: Livonia, Estonia, and Ingria. Through his victories, Peter acquired a direct link with Western Europe. In celebration, Peter assumed the title of emperor as well as tsar, and Muscovy officially became the Russian Empire in 1721.

Peter achieved Muscovy's expansion into Europe and its transformation into the Russian Empire through several major initiatives. He established Russia's naval forces, reorganized the army according to European models, streamlined the government, and mobilized Russia's financial and human resources. Under Peter, the army drafted soldiers for lifetime terms from the taxpaying population, and it drew officers from the nobility and required them to give lifelong service in either the military or civilian administration. In 1722 Peter introduced the Table of Ranks, which determined a person's position and status according to service to the tsar rather than to birth or seniority. Even commoners who achieved a certain level on the table were ennobled automatically.

Peter's reorganization of the government structure was no less thorough. He replaced the prikazy with colleges or boards and created a senate to coordinate government policy. Peter's reform of local government was less successful, but his changes enabled local governments to collect taxes and maintain order. As part of the government reform, the Orthodox Church was partially incorporated into the country's administrative structure. Peter abolished the patriarchate and replaced it with a collective body, the Holy Synod, led by a lay government official.

Peter tripled the revenues of the state treasury through a variety of taxes. He levied a capitation, or poll tax, on all males except clergy and nobles and imposed a myriad of indirect taxes on alcohol, salt, and even beards. To provide uniforms and weapons for the military, Peter developed metallurgical and textile industries using serf labor.

Peter wanted to equip Russia with modern technology, institutions, and ideas. He required Western-style education for all male nobles, introduced so-called cipher schools to teach the alphabet and basic arithmetic, established a printing house, and funded the Academy of Sciences (see Glossary), which was established just before his death in 1725 and became one of Russia's most important cultural institutions. He demanded that aristocrats acquire the dress, tastes, and social customs of the West. The result was a deepening of the cultural rift between the nobility and the mass of Russian people. The best illustration of Peter's drive for Westernization, his break with traditions, and his coercive methods was his construction in 1703 of a new, architecturally Western capital, St. Petersburg, situated on land newly conquered from Sweden on the Gulf of Finland. Although St. Petersburg faced westward, its Westernization was by coercion, and it could not arouse the individualistic spirit that was an important element in the Western ways Peter so admired.

Peter's 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. In the nineteenth century, Russians debated whether Peter was correct in pointing Russia toward the West or whether his reforms had been a violation of Russia's natural traditions.

The Era of Palace Revolutions

Peter changed the rules of succession to the throne after he killed his own son, Aleksey, who had opposed his father's reforms and served as a rallying figure for antireform groups. A new law provided that the tsar would choose his own successor, but Peter failed to do so before his death in 1725. In the decades that followed, the absence of clear rules of succession left the monarchy open to intrigues, plots, coups, and countercoups. Henceforth, the crucial factor for obtaining the throne was the support of the elite palace guard in St. Petersburg.

After Peter's death, his wife, Catherine I, seized the throne. But when she died in 1727, Peter's grandson, Peter II, was crowned tsar. In 1730 Peter II succumbed to smallpox, and Anna, a daughter of Ivan V, who had been co-ruler with Peter, ascended the throne. The clique of nobles that put Anna on the throne attempted to impose various conditions on her. In her struggle against those restrictions, Anna had the support of other nobles who feared oligarchic rule more than autocracy. Thus the principle of autocracy continued to receive strong support despite chaotic struggles for the throne.

Anna died in 1740, and her infant grandnephew was proclaimed tsar as Ivan VI. After a series of coups, however, he was replaced by Peter the Great's daughter Elizabeth (r. 1741-62). During Elizabeth's reign, which was much more effective than those of her immediate predecessors, a Westernized Russian culture began to emerge. Among notable cultural events were the founding of Moscow University (1755) and the Academy of Fine Arts (1757) and the emergence of Russia's first eminent scientist and scholar, Mikhail Lomonosov.

During the rule of Peter's successors, Russia took a more active role in European statecraft. From 1726 to 1761, Russia was allied with Austria against the Ottoman Empire, which France usually supported. In the War of Polish Succession (1733-35), Russia and Austria blocked the French candidate to the Polish throne. In a costly war with the Ottoman Empire (1734-39), Russia reacquired the port of Azov. Russia's greatest reach into Europe was during the Seven Years' War (1756-63), which was fought on three continents between Britain and France with numerous allies on both sides. In that war, Russia continued its alliance with Austria, but Austria shifted to an alliance with France against Prussia. In 1760 Russian forces were at the gates of Berlin. Fortunately for Prussia, Elizabeth died in 1762, and her successor, Peter III, allied Russia with Prussia because of his devotion to the Prussian emperor, Frederick the Great.

Peter III had a short and unpopular reign. Although he was a grandson of Peter the Great, his father was the duke of Holstein, so Peter III was raised in a German Lutheran environment. Russians therefore considered him a foreigner. Making no secret of his contempt for all things Russian, Peter created deep resentment by forcing Prussian military drills on the Russian military, attacking the Orthodox Church, and depriving Russia of a military victory by establishing his sudden alliance with Prussia. Making use of the discontent and fearing for her own position, Peter III's wife, Catherine, deposed her husband in a coup, and her lover, Aleksey Orlov, subsequently murdered him. Thus, in June 1762 a German princess who had no legitimate claim to the Russian throne became Catherine II, empress of Russia.

Imperial Expansion and Maturation: Catherine II

Catherine II's reign was notable for imperial expansion, which brought the empire huge new territories in the south and west, and for internal consolidation. Following a war that broke out with the Ottoman Empire in 1768, the parties agreed to the Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji in 1774. By that treaty, Russia acquired an outlet to the Black Sea, and the Crimean Tatars were made independent of the Ottomans. In 1783 Catherine annexed Crimea, helping to spark the next war with the Ottoman Empire, which began in 1787. By the Treaty of Jassy in 1792, Russia expanded southward to the Dnestr River. The terms of the treaty fell far short of the goals of Catherine's reputed "Greek project"--the expulsion of the Ottomans from Europe and the renewal of a Byzantine Empire under Russian control. The Ottoman Empire no longer was a serious threat to Russia, however, and was forced to tolerate an increasing Russian influence over the Balkans.

Russia's westward expansion under Catherine was the result of the partitioning of Poland. As Poland became increasingly weak in the eighteenth century, each of its neighbors--Russia, Prussia, and Austria--tried to place its own candidate on the Polish throne. In 1772 the three agreed on an initial partition of Polish territory, by which Russia received parts of Belorussia and Livonia. After the partition, Poland initiated an extensive reform program, which included a democratic constitution that alarmed reactionary factions in Poland and in Russia. Using the danger of radicalism as an excuse, the same three powers abrogated the constitution and in 1793 again stripped Poland of territory. This time Russia obtained most of Belorussia and Ukraine west of the Dnepr River. The 1793 partition led to an anti-Russian and anti-Prussian uprising in Poland, which ended with the third partition in 1795. The result was that Poland was wiped off the map.

Although the partitioning of Poland greatly added to Russia's territory and prestige, it also created new difficulties. Having lost Poland as a buffer, Russia now had to share borders with both Prussia and Austria. In addition, the empire became more ethnically heterogeneous as it absorbed large numbers of Poles, Ukrainians, Belorussians, and Jews. The fate of the Ukrainians and Belorussians, who were primarily serfs, changed little at first under Russian rule. Roman Catholic Poles resented their loss of independence, however, and proved to be difficult to integrate. Russia had barred Jews from the empire in 1742 and viewed them as an alien population. A decree of January 3, 1792, formally initiated the Pale of Settlement, which permitted Jews to live only in the western part of the empire, thereby setting the stage for anti-Jewish discrimination in later periods (see Other Religions, ch. 4). At the same time, Russia abolished the autonomy of Ukraine east of the Dnepr, the Baltic republics, and various Cossack areas. With her emphasis on a uniformly administered empire, Catherine presaged the policy of Russification that later tsars and their successors would practice.

Historians have debated Catherine's sincerity as an enlightened monarch, but few have doubted that she believed in government activism aimed at developing the empire's resources and making its administration more effective. Initially, Catherine attempted to rationalize government procedures through law. In 1767 she created the Legislative Commission, drawn from nobles, townsmen, and others, to codify Russia's laws. Although the commission did not formulate a new law code, Catherine's Instruction to the Commission introduced some Russians to Western political and legal thinking.

During the 1768-74 war with the Ottoman Empire, Russia experienced a major social upheaval, the Pugachev Uprising. In 1773 a Don Cossack, Emel'yan Pugachev, announced that he was Peter III. Other Cossacks, various Turkic tribes that felt the impingement of the Russian centralizing state, and industrial workers in the Ural Mountains, as well as peasants hoping to escape serfdom, all joined in the rebellion. Russia's preoccupation with the war enabled Pugachev to take control of a part of the Volga area, but the regular army crushed the rebellion in 1774.

The Pugachev Uprising bolstered Catherine's determination to reorganize Russia's provincial administration. In 1775 she divided Russia into provinces and districts according to population statistics. She then gave each province an expanded administrative, police, and judicial apparatus. Nobles no longer were required to serve the central government, as they had since Peter the Great's time, and many of them received significant roles in administering provincial governments.

Catherine also attempted to organize society into well-defined social groups, or estates. In 1785 she issued charters to nobles and townsmen. The Charter to the Nobility confirmed the liberation of the nobles from compulsory service and gave them rights that not even the autocracy could infringe upon. The Charter to the Towns proved to be complicated and ultimately less successful than the one issued to the nobles. Failure to issue a similar charter to state peasants, or to ameliorate the conditions of serfdom, made Catherine's social reforms incomplete.

The intellectual westernization of the elite continued during Catherine's reign. An increase in the number of books and periodicals also brought forth intellectual debates and social criticism (see Literature and the Arts, ch. 4). In 1790 Aleksandr Radishchev published his Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow , a fierce attack on serfdom and the autocracy. Catherine, already frightened by the French Revolution, had Radishchev arrested and banished to Siberia. Radishchev was later recognized as the father of Russian radicalism.

Catherine brought many of the policies of Peter the Great to fruition and set the foundation for the nineteenth-century empire. Russia became a power capable of competing with its European neighbors on military, political, and diplomatic grounds. Russia's elite became culturally more like the elites of Central and West European countries. The organization of society and the government system, from Peter the Great's central institutions to Catherine's provincial administration, remained basically unchanged until the emancipation of the serfs in 1861 and, in some respects, until the fall of the monarchy in 1917. Catherine's push to the south, including the establishment of Odessa as a Russian port on the Black Sea, provided the basis for Russia's nineteenth-century grain trade.

Despite such accomplishments, the empire that Peter I and Catherine II had built was beset with fundamental problems. A small Europeanized elite, alienated from the mass of ordinary Russians, raised questions about the very essence of Russia's history, culture, and identity. Russia achieved its military preeminence by reliance on coercion and a primitive command economy based on serfdom. Although Russia's economic development was almost sufficient for its eighteenth-century needs, it was no match for the transformation the Industrial Revolution was causing in Western countries. Catherine's attempt at organizing society into corporate estates was already being challenged by the French Revolution, which emphasized individual citizenship. Russia's territorial expansion and the incorporation of an increasing number of non-Russians into the empire set the stage for the future nationalities problem. Finally, the first questioning of serfdom and autocracy on moral grounds foreshadowed the conflict between the state and the intelligentsia that was to become dominant in the nineteenth century.

Russia

Russia - Ruling the Empire

Russia

During the early nineteenth century, Russia's population, resources, international diplomacy, and military forces made it one of the most powerful states in the world. Its power enabled it to play an increasingly assertive role in Europe's affairs. This role drew the empire into a series of wars against Napoleon, which had far-reaching consequences for Russia and the rest of Europe. After a period of enlightenment, Russia became an active opponent of liberalizing trends in Central and Western Europe. Internally, Russia's population had grown more diverse with each territorial acquisition. The population included Lutheran Finns, Baltic Germans, Estonians, and some Latvians; Roman Catholic Lithuanians, Poles, and some Latvians; Orthodox and Uniate (see Glossary) Belorussians and Ukrainians; Muslim peoples along the empire's southern border; Orthodox Greeks and Georgians; and members of the Armenian Apostolic Church. As Western influence and opposition to Russian autocracy mounted, the regime reacted by creating a secret police and increasing censorship in order to curtail the activities of persons advocating change. The regime remained committed to its serf-based economy as the means of supporting the upper classes, the government, and the military forces. But Russia's backwardness and inherent weakness were revealed in the middle of the century, when several powers forced the surrender of a Russian fortress in Crimea.

War and Peace, 1796-1825

Catherine II died in 1796, and her son Paul (r. 1796-1801) succeeded her. Painfully aware that Catherine had planned to bypass him and name his son, Alexander, as tsar, Paul instituted primogeniture in the male line as the basis for succession. It was one of the few lasting reforms of Paul's brief reign. He also chartered a Russian-American company, which eventually led to Russia's acquisition of Alaska. Paul was haughty and unstable, and he frequently reversed his previous decisions, creating administrative chaos and accumulating enemies.

As a major European power, Russia could not escape the wars involving revolutionary and Napoleonic France. Paul became an adamant opponent of France, and Russia joined Britain and Austria in a war against France. In 1798-99 Russian troops under one of the country's most famous generals, Aleksandr Suvorov, performed brilliantly in Italy and Switzerland. Paul reversed himself, however, and abandoned his allies. This reversal, coupled with increasingly arbitrary domestic policies, sparked a coup, and in March 1801 Paul was assassinated.

The new tsar, Alexander I (r. 1801-25), came to the throne as the result of his father's murder, in which he was implicated. Groomed for the throne by Catherine II and raised in the spirit of enlightenment, Alexander also had an inclination toward romanticism and religious mysticism, particularly in the latter period of his reign. Alexander tinkered with changes in the central government, and he replaced the colleges that Peter the Great had set up with ministries, but without a coordinating prime minister. The brilliant statesman Mikhail Speranskiy, who was the tsar's chief adviser early in his reign, proposed an extensive constitutional reform of the government, but Alexander dismissed him in 1812 and lost interest in reform.

Alexander's primary focus was not on domestic policy but on foreign affairs, and particularly on Napoleon. Fearing Napoleon's expansionist ambitions and the growth of French power, Alexander joined Britain and Austria against Napoleon. Napoleon defeated the Russians and Austrians at Austerlitz in 1805 and trounced the Russians at Friedland in 1807. Alexander was forced to sue for peace, and by the Treaty of Tilsit, signed in 1807, he became Napoleon's ally. Russia lost little territory under the treaty, and Alexander made use of his alliance with Napoleon for further expansion. He wrested the Grand Duchy of Finland from Sweden in 1809 and acquired Bessarabia from Turkey in 1812.

The Russo-French alliance gradually became strained. Napoleon was concerned about Russia's intentions in the strategically vital Bosporus and Dardenelles straits. At the same time, Alexander viewed the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, the French-controlled reconstituted Polish state, with suspicion. The requirement of joining France's Continental Blockade against Britain was a serious disruption of Russian commerce, and in 1810 Alexander repudiated the obligation. In June 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia with 600,000 troops--a force twice as large as the Russian regular army. Napoleon hoped to inflict a major defeat on the Russians and force Alexander to sue for peace. As Napoleon pushed the Russian forces back, however, he became seriously overextended. Obstinate Russian resistance combined with the Russian winter to deal Napoleon a disastrous defeat, from which fewer than 30,000 of his troops returned to their homeland.

As the French retreated, the Russians pursued them into Central and Western Europe and to the gates of Paris. After the allies defeated Napoleon, Alexander became known as the savior of Europe, and he played a prominent role in the redrawing of the map of Europe at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. In the same year, under the influence of religious mysticism, Alexander initiated the creation of the Holy Alliance, a loose agreement pledging the rulers of the nations involved--including most of Europe--to act according to Christian principles. More pragmatically, in 1814 Russia, Britain, Austria, and Prussia had formed the Quadruple Alliance. The allies created an international system to maintain the territorial status quo and prevent the resurgence of an expansionist France. The Quadruple Alliance, confirmed by a number of international conferences, ensured Russia's influence in Europe.

At the same time, Russia continued its expansion. The Congress of Vienna created the Kingdom of Poland (Russian Poland), to which Alexander granted a constitution. Thus, Alexander I became the constitutional monarch of Poland while remaining the autocratic tsar of Russia. He was also the limited monarch of Finland, which had been annexed in 1809 and awarded autonomous status. In 1813 Russia gained territory in the Baku area of the Caucasus at the expense of Persia. By the early nineteenth century, the empire also was firmly ensconced in Alaska.

Historians have generally agreed that a revolutionary movement was born during the reign of Alexander I. Young officers who had pursued Napoleon into Western Europe came back to Russia with revolutionary ideas, including human rights, representative government, and mass democracy. The intellectual Westernization that had been fostered in the eighteenth century by a paternalistic, autocratic Russian state now included opposition to autocracy, demands for representative government, calls for the abolition of serfdom, and, in some instances, advocacy of a revolutionary overthrow of the government. Officers were particularly incensed that Alexander had granted Poland a constitution while Russia remained without one. Several clandestine organizations were preparing for an uprising when Alexander died unexpectedly in 1825. Following his death, there was confusion about who would succeed him because the next in line, his brother Constantine, had relinquished his right to the throne. A group of officers commanding about 3,000 men refused to swear allegiance to the new tsar, Alexander's brother Nicholas, proclaiming instead their loyalty to the idea of a Russian constitution. Because these events occurred in December 1825, the rebels were called Decembrists. Nicholas easily overcame the revolt, and the Decembrists who remained alive were arrested. Many were exiled to Siberia.

To some extent, the Decembrists were in the tradition of a long line of palace revolutionaries who wanted to place their candidate on the throne. But because the Decembrists also wanted to implement a liberal political program, their revolt has been considered the beginning of a revolutionary movement. The Decembrist Revolt was the first open breach between the government and liberal elements, and it would subsequently widen.

Reaction under Nicholas I

Nicholas completely lacked his brother's spiritual and intellectual breadth; he saw his role simply as one paternal autocrat ruling his people by whatever means were necessary. Having experienced the trauma of the Decembrist Revolt, Nicholas I was determined to restrain Russian society. A secret police, the so-called Third Section, ran a huge network of spies and informers. The government exercised censorship and other controls over education, publishing, and all manifestations of public life. In 1833 the minister of education, Sergey Uvarov, devised a program of "autocracy, Orthodoxy, and nationality" as the guiding principle of the regime. The people were to show loyalty to the unlimited authority of the tsar, to the traditions of the Orthodox Church, and, in a vague way, to the Russian nation. These principles did not gain the support of the population but instead led to repression in general and to suppression of non-Russian nationalities and religions in particular. For example, the government suppressed the Uniate Church in Ukraine and Belorussia in 1839.

The official emphasis on Russian nationalism contributed to a debate on Russia's place in the world, the meaning of Russian history, and the future of Russia. One group, the Westernizers, believed that Russia remained backward and primitive and could progress only through more thorough Europeanization. Another group, the Slavophiles, idealized the Russia that had existed before Peter the Great. The Slavophiles viewed old Russia as a source of wholeness and looked askance at Western rationalism and materialism. Some of them believed that the Russian peasant commune, or mir , offered an attractive alternative to Western capitalism and could make Russia a potential social and moral savior. The Slavophiles, therefore, represented a form of Russian messianism.

Despite the repressions of this period, Russia experienced a flowering of literature and the arts. Through the works of Aleksandr Pushkin, Nikolay Gogol', Ivan Turgenev, and numerous others, Russian literature gained international stature and recognition. Ballet took root in Russia after its importation from France, and classical music became firmly established with the compositions of Mikhail Glinka (1804-57) (see Literature and the Arts, ch. 4).

In foreign policy, Nicholas I acted as the protector of ruling legitimism and guardian against revolution. His offers to suppress revolution on the European continent, accepted in some instances, earned him the label of gendarme of Europe. In 1830, after a popular uprising had occurred in France, the Poles in Russian Poland revolted. Nicholas crushed the rebellion, abrogated the Polish constitution, and reduced Poland to the status of a Russian province. In 1848, when a series of revolutions convulsed Europe, Nicholas was in the forefront of reaction. In 1849 he intervened on behalf of the Habsburgs and helped suppress an uprising in Hungary, and he also urged Prussia not to accept a liberal constitution. Having helped conservative forces repel the specter of revolution, Nicholas I seemed to dominate Europe.

Russian dominance proved illusory, however. While Nicholas was attempting to maintain the status quo in Europe, he adopted an aggressive policy toward the Ottoman Empire. Nicholas I was following the traditional Russian policy of resolving the so-called Eastern Question by seeking to partition the Ottoman Empire and establish a protectorate over the Orthodox population of the Balkans, still largely under Ottoman control in the 1820s. Russia fought a successful war with the Ottomans in 1828 and 1829. In 1833 Russia negotiated the Treaty of Unkiar-Skelessi with the Ottoman Empire. The major European parties mistakenly believed that the treaty contained a secret clause granting Russia the right to send warships through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits. By the London Straits Convention of 1841, they affirmed Ottoman control over the straits and forbade any power, including Russia, to send warships through the straits. Based on his role in suppressing the revolutions of 1848 and his mistaken belief that he had British diplomatic support, Nicholas moved against the Ottomans, who declared war on Russia in 1853. Fearing the results of an Ottoman defeat by Russia, in 1854 Britain and France joined what became known as the Crimean War on the Ottoman side. Austria offered the Ottomans diplomatic support, and Prussia remained neutral, leaving Russia without allies on the continent. The European allies landed in Crimea and laid siege to the well-fortified Russian base at Sevastopol'. After a year's siege the base fell, exposing Russia's inability to defend a major fortification on its own soil. Nicholas I died before the fall of Sevastopol', but he already had recognized the failure of his regime. Russia now faced the choice of initiating major reforms or losing its status as a major European power.

Russia

Russia - Transformation of Russia in the Nineteenth Century

Russia

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were times of crisis for Russia. Not only did technology and industry continue to develop more rapidly in the West, but also new, dynamic, competitive great powers appeared on the world scene: Otto von Bismarck united Germany in the 1860s, the post-Civil War United States grew in size and strength, and a modernized Japan emerged from the Meiji Restoration of 1868. Although Russia was an expanding regional giant in Central Asia, bordering the Ottoman, Persian, British Indian, and Chinese empires, it could not generate enough capital to support rapid industrial development or to compete with advanced countries on a commercial basis. Russia's fundamental dilemma was that accelerated domestic development risked upheaval at home, but slower progress risked full economic dependency on the faster-advancing countries to the east and west. In fact, political ferment, particularly among the intelligentsia, accompanied the transformation of Russia's economic and social structure, but so did impressive developments in literature, music, the fine arts, and the natural sciences.

Economic Developments

Throughout the last half of the nineteenth century, Russia's economy developed more slowly than did that of the major European nations to its west. Russia's population was substantially larger than those of the more developed Western countries, but the vast majority of the people lived in rural communities and engaged in relatively primitive agriculture. Industry, in general, had greater state involvement than in Western Europe, but in selected sectors it was developing with private initiative, some of it foreign. Between 1850 and 1900, Russia's population doubled, but it remained chiefly rural well into the twentieth century. Russia's population growth rate from 1850 to 1910 was the fastest of all the major powers except for the United States. Agriculture, which was technologically underdeveloped, remained in the hands of former serfs and former state peasants, who together constituted about four-fifths of the rural population. Large estates of more than fifty square kilometers accounted for about 20 percent of all farmland, but few such estates were worked in efficient, large-scale units. Small-scale peasant farming and the growth of the rural population increased the amount of land used for agricultural development, but land was used more for gardens and fields of grain and less for grazing meadows than it had been in the past.

Industrial growth was significant, although unsteady, and in absolute terms it was not extensive. Russia's industrial regions included Moscow, the central regions of European Russia, St. Petersburg, the Baltic cities, Russian Poland, some areas along the lower Don and Dnepr rivers, and the southern Ural Mountains. By 1890 Russia had about 32,000 kilometers of railroads and 1.4 million factory workers, most of whom worked in the textile industry. Between 1860 and 1890, annual coal production had grown about 1,200 percent to over 6.6 million tons, and iron and steel production had more than doubled to 2 million tons per year. The state budget had more than doubled, however, and debt expenditures had quadrupled, constituting 28 percent of official expenditures in 1891. Foreign trade was inadequate to meet the empire's needs. Until the state introduced high industrial tariffs in the 1880s, it could not finance trade with the West because its surpluses were insufficient to cover the debts.

Reforms and Their Limits, 1855-92

Tsar Alexander II, who succeeded Nicholas I in 1855, was a conservative who saw no alternative but to implement change. Alexander initiated substantial reforms in education, the government, the judiciary, and the military. In 1861 he proclaimed the emancipation of about 20 million privately held serfs. Local commissions, which were dominated by landlords, effected emancipation by giving land and limited freedom to the serfs. The former serfs usually remained in the village commune, but they were required to make redemption payments to the government over a period of almost fifty years. The government compensated former owners of serfs by issuing them bonds.

The regime had envisioned that the 50,000 landlords who possessed estates of more than 110 hectares would thrive without serfs and would continue to provide loyal political and administrative leadership in the countryside. The government also had expected that peasants would produce sufficient crops for their own consumption and for export sales, thereby helping to finance most of the government's expenses, imports, and foreign debt. Neither of the government's expectations was realistic, however, and emancipation left both former serfs and their former owners dissatisfied. The new peasants soon fell behind in their payments to the government because the land they had received was poor and because Russian agricultural methods were inadequate. The former owners often had to sell their lands to remain solvent because most of them could neither farm nor manage estates without their former serfs. In addition, the value of their government bonds fell as the peasants failed to make their redemption payments.

Reforms of local government closely followed emancipation. In 1864 most local government in the European part of Russia was organized into provincial and district zemstva (sing., zemstvo), which were made up of representatives of all classes and were responsible for local schools, public health, roads, prisons, food supply, and other concerns. In 1870 elected city councils, or dumy (sing., duma ), were formed. Dominated by property owners and constrained by provincial governors and the police, the zemstva and dumy raised taxes and levied labor to support their activities.

In 1864 the regime implemented judicial reforms. In major towns, it established Western-style courts with juries. In general, the judicial system functioned effectively, but the government lacked the finances and cultural influence to extend the court system to the villages, where traditional peasant justice continued to operate with minimal interference from provincial officials. In addition, the regime instructed judges to decide each case on its merits and not to use precedents, which would have enabled them to construct a body of law independent of state authority.

Other major reforms took place in the educational and cultural spheres. The accession of Alexander II brought a social restructuring that required a public discussion of issues and the lifting of some types of censorship. When an attempt was made to assassinate the tsar in 1866, the government reinstated censorship, but not with the severity of pre-1855 control. The government also put restrictions on universities in 1866, five years after they had gained autonomy. The central government attempted to act through the zemstva to establish uniform curricula for elementary schools and to impose conservative policies, but it lacked resources. Because many liberal teachers and school officials were only nominally subject to the reactionary Ministry of Education, however, the regime's educational achievements were mixed after 1866.

In the financial sphere, Russia established the State Bank in 1866, which put the national currency on a firmer footing. The Ministry of Finance supported railroad development, which facilitated vital export activity, but it was cautious and moderate in its foreign ventures. The ministry also founded the Peasant Land Bank in 1882 to enable enterprising farmers to acquire more land. The Ministry of Internal Affairs countered this policy, however, by establishing the Nobles' Land Bank in 1885 to forestall foreclosures of mortgages.

The regime also sought to reform the military. One of the chief reasons for the emancipation of the serfs was to facilitate the transition from a large standing army to a reserve army by instituting territorial levies and mobilization in times of need. Before emancipation, serfs could not receive military training and then return to their owners. Bureaucratic inertia, however, obstructed military reform until the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) demonstrated the necessity of building a modern army. The levy system introduced in 1874 gave the army a role in teaching many peasants to read and in pioneering medical education for women. But the army remained backward despite these military reforms. Officers often preferred bayonets to bullets, expressing worry that long-range sights on rifles would induce cowardice. In spite of some notable achievements, Russia did not keep pace with Western technological developments in the construction of rifles, machine guns, artillery, ships, and naval ordnance. Russia also failed to use naval modernization as a means of developing its industrial base in the 1860s.

In 1881 revolutionaries assassinated Alexander II. His son Alexander III (r. 1881-94) initiated a period of political reaction, which intensified a counterreform movement that had begun in 1866. He strengthened the security police, reorganizing it into an agency known as the Okhrana, gave it extraordinary powers, and placed it under the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Dmitriy Tolstoy, Alexander's minister of internal affairs, instituted the use of land captains, who were noble overseers of districts, and he restricted the power of the zemstva and the dumy . Alexander III assigned his former tutor, the reactionary Konstantin Pobedonostsev, to be the procurator of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church and Ivan Delyanov to be the minister of education. In their attempts to "save" Russia from "modernism," they revived religious censorship, persecuted non-Orthodox and non-Russian populations, fostered anti-Semitism, and suppressed the autonomy of the universities. Their attacks on liberal and non-Russian elements alienated large segments of the population. The nationalities, particularly Poles, Finns, Latvians, Lithuanians, and Ukrainians, reacted to the regime's efforts to Russify them by intensifying their own nationalism. Many Jews emigrated or joined radical movements. Secret organizations and political movements continued to develop despite the regime's efforts to quell them.

Foreign Affairs after the Crimean War

After the Crimean War, Russia pursued cautious and well-calculated foreign policies until nationalist passions and another Balkan crisis almost caused a catastrophic war in the late 1870s. The 1856 Treaty of Paris, signed at the end of the Crimean War, had demilitarized the Black Sea and deprived Russia of southern Bessarabia and a narrow strip of land at the mouth of the Danube River. The treaty gave the West European powers the nominal duty of protecting Christians living in the Ottoman Empire, removing that role from Russia, which had been designated as such a protector in the 1774 Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji. Russia's primary goal during the first phase of Alexander II's foreign policy was to alter the Treaty of Paris to regain naval access to the Black Sea. Russian statesmen viewed Britain and Austria (redesignated as Austria-Hungary in 1867) as opposed to that goal, so foreign policy concentrated on good relations with France, Prussia, and the United States. Prussia (Germany as of 1871) replaced Britain as Russia's chief banker in this period.

Following the Crimean War, the regime revived its expansionist policies. Russian troops first moved to gain control of the Caucasus region, where the revolts of Muslim tribesmen--Chechens, Cherkess, and Dagestanis--had continued despite numerous Russian campaigns in the nineteenth century. Once the forces of Aleksandr Baryatinskiy had captured the legendary Chechen rebel leader Shamil in 1859, the army resumed the expansion into Central Asia that had begun under Nicholas I. The capture of Tashkent was a significant victory over the Quqon (Kokand) Khanate, part of which was annexed in 1866. By 1867 Russian forces had captured enough territory to form the Guberniya (Governorate General) of Turkestan, the capital of which was Tashkent. The Bukhoro (Bukhara) Khanate then lost the crucial Samarqand area to Russian forces in 1868. To avoid alarming Britain, which had strong interests in protecting nearby India, Russia left the Bukhoran territories directly bordering Afghanistan and Persia nominally independent. The Central Asian khanates retained a degree of autonomy until 1917.

Russia followed the United States, Britain, and France in establishing relations with Japan, and, together with Britain and France, Russia obtained concessions from China consequent to the Second Opium War (1856-60). Under the Treaty of Aigun in 1858 and the Treaty of Beijing in 1860, China ceded to Russia extensive trading rights and regions adjacent to the Amur and Ussuri rivers and allowed Russia to begin building a port and naval base at Vladivostok. Meanwhile, in 1867 the logic of the balance of power and the cost of developing and defending the Amur-Ussuri region dictated that Russia sell Alaska to the United States in order to acquire much-needed funds.

As part of the regime's foreign policy goals in Europe, Russia initially gave guarded support to France's anti-Austrian diplomacy. A weak Franco-Russian entente soured, however, when France backed a Polish uprising against Russian rule in 1863. Russia then aligned itself more closely with Prussia by approving the unification of Germany in exchange for a revision of the Treaty of Paris and the remilitarization of the Black Sea. These diplomatic achievements came at a London conference in 1871, following France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. After 1871 Germany, united under Prussian leadership, was the strongest continental power in Europe. In 1873 Germany formed the loosely knit League of the Three Emperors with Russia and Austria-Hungary to prevent them from forming an alliance with France. Nevertheless, Austro-Hungarian and Russian ambitions clashed in the Balkans, where rivalries among Slavic nationalities and anti-Ottoman sentiments seethed. In the 1870s, Russian nationalist opinion became a serious domestic factor in its support for liberating Balkan Christians from Ottoman rule and making Bulgaria and Serbia quasi-protectorates of Russia. From 1875 to 1877, the Balkan crisis escalated with rebellions in Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Bulgaria, which the Ottoman Turks suppressed with such great cruelty that Serbia, but none of the West European powers, declared war.

In early 1877, Russia came to the rescue of beleaguered Serbian and Russian volunteer forces when it went to war with the Ottoman Empire. Within one year, Russian troops were nearing Constantinople, and the Ottomans surrendered. Russia's nationalist diplomats and generals persuaded Alexander II to force the Ottomans to sign the Treaty of San Stefano in March 1878, creating an enlarged, independent Bulgaria that stretched into the southwestern Balkans. When Britain threatened to declare war over the terms of the Treaty of San Stefano, an exhausted Russia backed down. At the Congress of Berlin in July 1878, Russia agreed to the creation of a smaller Bulgaria. Russian nationalists were furious with Austria-Hungary and Germany for failing to back Russia, but the tsar accepted a revived and strengthened League of the Three Emperors as well as Austro-Hungarian hegemony in the western Balkans.

Russian diplomatic and military interests subsequently returned to Central Asia, where Russia had quelled a series of uprisings in the 1870s, and Russia incorporated hitherto independent amirates into the empire. Britain renewed its concerns in 1881 when Russian troops occupied Turkmen lands on the Persian and Afghan borders, but Germany lent diplomatic support to Russian advances, and an Anglo-Russian war was averted. Meanwhile, Russia's sponsorship of Bulgarian independence brought negative results as the Bulgarians, angry at Russia's continuing interference in domestic affairs, sought the support of Austria-Hungary. In the dispute that arose between Austria-Hungary and Russia, Germany took a firm position toward Russia while mollifying the tsar with a bilateral defensive alliance, the Reinsurance Treaty of 1887 between Germany and Russia. Within a year, Russo-German acrimony led to Bismarck's forbidding further loans to Russia, and France replaced Germany as Russia's financier. When Kaiser Wilhelm II dismissed Bismarck in 1890, the loose Russo-Prussian entente collapsed after having lasted for more than twenty-five years. Three years later, Russia allied itself with France by entering into a joint military convention, which matched the dual alliance formed in 1879 by Germany and Austria-Hungary.

The Rise of Revolutionary Movements

Alexander II's reforms, particularly the lifting of state censorship, fostered the expression of political and social thought. The regime relied on journals and newspapers to gain support for its domestic and foreign policies. But liberal, nationalist, and radical writers also helped to mold public opinion that was opposed to tsarism, private property, and the imperial state. Because many intellectuals, professionals, peasants, and workers shared these opposition sentiments, the regime regarded the publications and the radical organizations as dangerous. From the 1860s through the 1880s, Russian radicals, collectively known as Populists (Narodniki), focused chiefly on the peasantry, whom they identified as "the people" (narod ).

The leaders of the Populist movement included radical writers, idealists, and advocates of terrorism. In the 1860s, Nikolay Chernyshevskiy, the most important radical writer of the period, posited that Russia could bypass capitalism and move directly to socialism (see Glossary). His most influential work, What Is to Be Done? (1861), describes the role of an individual of a "superior nature" who guides a new, revolutionary generation. Other radicals such as the incendiary anarchist Mikhail Bakunin and his terrorist collaborator, Sergey Nechayev, urged direct action. The calmer Petr Tkachev argued against the advocates of Marxism (see Glossary), maintaining that a centralized revolutionary band had to seize power before capitalism could fully develop. Disputing his views, the moralist and individualist Petr Lavrov made a call "to the people," which hundreds of idealists heeded in 1873 and 1874 by leaving their schools for the countryside to try to generate a mass movement among the narod . The Populist campaign failed, however, when the peasants showed hostility to the urban idealists and the government began to consider nationalist opinion more seriously.

The radicals reconsidered their approach, and in 1876 they formed a propagandist organization called Land and Liberty (Zemlya i volya), which leaned toward terrorism. This orientation became stronger three years later, when the group renamed itself the People's Will (Narodnaya volya), the name under which the radicals were responsible for the assassination of Alexander II in 1881. In 1879 Georgiy Plekhanov formed a propagandist faction of Land and Liberty called Black Repartition (Chernyy peredel), which advocated redistributing all land to the peasantry. This group studied Marxism, which, paradoxically, was principally concerned with urban industrial workers. The People's Will remained underground, but in 1887 a young member of the group, Aleksandr Ul'yanov, attempted to assassinate Alexander III, and authorities arrested and executed him. The execution greatly affected Vladimir Ul'yanov, Aleksandr's brother. Influenced by Chernyshevskiy's writings, Vladimir joined the People's Will, and later, inspired by Plekhanov, he converted to Marxism. The younger Ul'yanov later changed his name to Lenin.

Witte and Accelerated Industrialization

In the late 1800s, Russia's domestic backwardness and vulnerability in foreign affairs reached crisis proportions. At home a famine claimed a half-million lives in 1891, and activities by Japan and China near Russia's borders were perceived as threats from abroad. In reaction, the regime was forced to adopt the ambitious but costly economic programs of Sergey Witte, the country's strong-willed minister of finance. Witte championed foreign loans, conversion to the gold standard, heavy taxation of the peasantry, accelerated development of heavy industry, and a trans-Siberian railroad. These policies were designed to modernize the country, secure the Russian Far East, and give Russia a commanding position with which to exploit the resources of China's northern territories, Korea, and Siberia. This expansionist foreign policy was Russia's version of the imperialist logic displayed in the nineteenth century by other large countries with vast undeveloped territories such as the United States. In 1894 the accession of the pliable Nicholas II upon the death of Alexander III gave Witte and other powerful ministers the opportunity to dominate the government.

Witte's policies had mixed results. In spite of a severe economic depression at the end of the century, Russia's coal, iron, steel, and oil production tripled between 1890 and 1900. Railroad mileage almost doubled, giving Russia the most track of any nation other than the United States. Yet Russian grain production and exports failed to rise significantly, and imports grew faster than exports. The state budget also more than doubled, absorbing some of the country's economic growth. Western historians differ as to the merits of Witte's reforms; some believe that domestic industry, which did not benefit from subsidies or contracts, suffered a setback. Most analysts agree that the Trans-Siberian Railroad (which was completed from Moscow to Vladivostok in 1904) and the ventures into Manchuria and Korea were economic losses for Russia and a drain on the treasury. Certainly the financial costs of his reforms contributed to Witte's dismissal as minister of finance in 1903.

Radical Political Parties Develop

During the 1890s, Russia's industrial development led to a significant increase in the size of the urban bourgeoisie and the working class, setting the stage for a more dynamic political atmosphere and the development of radical parties. Because the state and foreigners owned much of Russia's industry, the working class was comparatively stronger and the bourgeoisie comparatively weaker than in the West. The working class and peasants were the first to establish political parties because the nobility and the wealthy bourgeoisie were politically timid. During the 1890s and early 1900s, abysmal living and working conditions, high taxes, and land hunger gave rise to more frequent strikes and agrarian disorders. These activities prompted the bourgeoisie of various nationalities in the empire to develop a host of different parties, both liberal and conservative.

Socialists of different nationalities formed their own parties. Russian Poles, who had suffered significant administrative and educational Russification, founded the nationalistic Polish Socialist Party in Paris in 1892. That party's founders hoped that it would help reunite a divided Poland with the territories held by Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Russia. In 1897 Jewish workers in Russia created the Bund (league or union), an organization that subsequently became popular in western Ukraine, Belorussia, Lithuania, and Russian Poland. The Russian Social Democratic Labor Party was established in 1898. The Finnish Social Democrats remained separate, but the Latvians and Georgians associated themselves with the Russian Social Democrats. Armenians, inspired by both Russian and Balkan revolutionary traditions, were politically active in this period in Russia and in the Ottoman Empire. Politically minded Muslims living in Russia tended to be attracted to the pan-Islamic and pan-Turkic movements that were developing in Egypt and the Ottoman Empire. Russians who fused the ideas of the old Populists and urban socialists formed Russia's largest radical movement, the United Socialist Revolutionary Party, which combined the standard Populist mix of propaganda and terrorist activities.

Vladimir I. Ul'yanov was the most politically talented of the revolutionary socialists. In the 1890s, he labored to wean young radicals away from populism to Marxism. Exiled from 1895 to 1899 in Siberia, where he took the name Lenin from the mighty Siberian Lena River, he was the master tactician among the organizers of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party. In December 1900, he founded the newspaper Iskra (Spark). In his book What Is to Be Done? (1902), Lenin developed the theory that a newspaper published abroad could aid in organizing a centralized revolutionary party to direct the overthrow of an autocratic government. He then worked to establish a tightly organized, highly disciplined party to do so in Russia. At the Second Party Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party in 1903, he forced the Bund to walk out and induced a split between his majority Bolshevik (see Glossary) faction and the minority Menshevik (see Glossary) faction, which believed more in worker spontaneity than in strict organizational tactics. Lenin's concept of a revolutionary party and a worker-peasant alliance owed more to Tkachev and to the People's Will than to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the developers of Marxism. Young Bolsheviks, such as Joseph V. Stalin and Nikolay Bukharin, looked to Lenin as their leader.

Imperialism in Asia and the Russo-Japanese War

At the turn of the century, Russia gained room to maneuver in Asia because of its alliance with France and the growing rivalry between Britain and Germany. Tsar Nicholas failed to orchestrate a coherent Far Eastern policy because of ministerial conflicts, however. Russia's uncoordinated and aggressive moves in the region ultimately led to the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05).

By 1895 Germany was competing with France for Russia's favor, and British statesmen hoped to negotiate with the Russians to demarcate spheres of influence in Asia. This situation enabled Russia to intervene in northeastern Asia after Japan's victory over China in 1895. In the negotiations that followed, Japan was forced to make concessions in the Liaotung Peninsula and Port Arthur in southern Manchuria. The next year, Witte used French capital to establish the Russo-Chinese Bank. The goal of the bank was to finance the construction of a railroad across northern Manchuria and thus shorten the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Within two years, Russia had acquired leases on the Liaotung Peninsula and Port Arthur and had begun building a trunk line from Harbin in central Manchuria to Port Arthur on the coast.

In 1900 China reacted to foreign encroachments on its territory with an armed popular uprising, the Boxer Rebellion. Russian military contingents joined forces from Europe, Japan, and the United States to restore order in northern China. A force of 180,000 Russian troops fought to pacify part of Manchuria and to secure its railroads. The Japanese were backed by Britain and the United States, however, and insisted that Russia evacuate Manchuria. Witte and some Russian diplomats wanted to compromise with Japan and trade Manchuria for Korea, but a group of Witte's reactionary enemies, courtiers, and military and naval leaders refused to compromise. The tsar favored their viewpoint, and, disdaining Japan's threats--despite the latter's formal alliance with Britain--the Russian government equivocated until Japan declared war in early 1904.

In the war that followed, Japan's location, technological superiority, and superior morale gave it command of the seas, and Russia's sluggishness and incompetent commanders caused continuous setbacks on land. In January 1905, after an eight-month siege, Russia surrendered Port Arthur, and in March the Japanese forced the Russians to withdraw north of Mukden. In May, at the Tsushima Straits, the Japanese destroyed Russia's last hope in the war, a fleet assembled from the navy's Baltic and Mediterranean squadrons. Theoretically, Russian army reinforcements could have driven the Japanese from the Asian mainland, but revolution at home and diplomatic pressure forced the tsar to seek peace. Russia accepted mediation by United States president Theodore Roosevelt, ceded southern Sakhalin Island to Japan, and acknowledged Japan's ascendancy in Korea and southern Manchuria.

Russia

Russia - The Last Years of the Autocracy

Russia

The Russo-Japanese War was a turning point in Russian history. It led to a popular uprising against the government that forced the regime to respond with domestic economic and political reforms. In the same period, however, counterreform and special-interest groups exerted increasing influence on the regime's policies. In foreign affairs, Russia again became an intrusive participant in Balkan affairs and in the international political intrigues of the major European powers. As a consequence of its foreign policies, Russia was drawn into a world war for which its domestic policies rendered it unprepared. Severely weakened by internal turmoil and lacking leadership, the regime ultimately was unable to overcome the traumatic events that would lead to the fall of tsarism and initiate a new era in Russian and world history.

Revolution and Counterrevolution, 1905-07

The Russo-Japanese War accelerated the rise of political movements among all classes and the major nationalities, including propertied Russians. By early 1904, Russian liberal activists from the zemstva and from the professions had formed an organization called the Union of Liberation. In the same year, they joined with Finns, Poles, Georgians, Armenians, and Russian members of the Socialist Revolutionary Party to form an antiautocratic alliance.

In January 1905, Father Georgiy Gapon, a Russian Orthodox priest who headed a police-sponsored workers' association, led a huge, peaceful march in St. Petersburg to present a petition to the tsar. Nervous troops responded to the throng with gunfire, killing several hundred people and initiating the Revolution of 1905. This event, which came to be called Bloody Sunday, combined with the embarrassing failures in the war with Japan to prompt more strikes, agrarian disorders, army mutinies, and terrorist acts organized by opposition groups. Workers formed a council, or soviet, in St. Petersburg. Armed uprisings occurred in Moscow, the Urals, Latvia, and parts of Poland. Activists from the zemstva and the broad professional Union of Unions formed the Constitutional Democratic Party, whose initials lent the party its informal name, the Kadets.

Some upper-class and propertied activists called for compromise with opposition groups to avoid further disorders. In late 1905, Witte pressured Nicholas to issue the so-called October Manifesto, which gave Russia a constitution and proclaimed basic civil liberties for all citizens. In an effort to stop the activity of liberal factions, the constitution included most of their demands, including a ministerial government responsible to the tsar, and a national Duma (see Glossary)--a parliament to be elected on a broad, but not wholly equitable, franchise. Those who accepted this arrangement formed a center-right political party, the Octobrists, and named Witte the first prime minister. Meanwhile, the Kadets held out for a ministerial government and equal, universal suffrage. Because of their political principles and continued armed uprisings, Russia's leftist parties were undecided whether to participate in the Duma elections, which had been called for early 1906. At the same time, rightist factions actively opposed the reforms. Several new monarchist and protofascist groups also arose to subvert the new order. Nevertheless, the regime continued to function through the chaotic year of 1905, eventually restoring order in the cities, the countryside, and the army. In the process, terrorists murdered several thousand officials, and the government executed an equal number of terrorists. Because the government had been able to restore order and to secure a loan from France before the first Duma met, Nicholas was in a strong position that enabled him to replace Witte with the much less independent functionary Petr Stolypin.

The First Duma was elected in March 1906. The Kadets and their allies dominated it, with the mainly nonparty radical leftists slightly weaker than the Octobrists and the nonparty center-rightists combined. The socialists had boycotted the election, but several socialist delegates were elected. Relations between the Duma and the Stolypin government were hostile from the beginning. A deadlock of the Kadets and the government over the adoption of a constitution and peasant reform led to the dissolution of the Duma and the scheduling of new elections. In spite of an upsurge of leftist terror, radical leftist parties participated in the election, and, together with the nonparty left, they gained a plurality of seats, followed by a loose coalition of Kadets with Poles and other nationalities in the political center. The impasse continued, however, when the Second Duma met in 1907.

The Stolypin and Kokovtsov Governments

In 1907 Stolypin instituted a series of major reforms. In June 1907, he dissolved the Second Duma and promulgated a new electoral law, which vastly reduced the electoral weight of lower-class and non-Russian voters and increased the weight of the nobility. This political coup had the desired short-term result of restoring order. New elections in the fall returned a more conservative Third Duma, which Octobrists dominated. Even this Duma quarreled with the government over a variety of issues, however, including the composition of the naval staff, the autonomous status of Finland, the introduction of zemstva in the western provinces, the reform of the peasant court system, and the establishment of workers' insurance organizations under police supervision. In these disputes, the Duma, with its appointed aristocratic-bureaucratic upper house, was sometimes more conservative than the government, and at other times it was more constitutionally minded. The Fourth Duma, elected in 1912, was similar in composition to the third, but a progressive faction of Octobrists split from the right and joined the political center.

Stolypin's boldest measure was his peasant reform program. It allowed, and sometimes forced, the breakup of communes as well as the establishment of full private property. Stolypin hoped that the reform program would create a class of conservative landowning farmers loyal to the tsar. Most peasants did not want to lose the safety of the commune or to permit outsiders to buy village land, however. By 1914 only about 10 percent of all peasant communes had been dissolved. Nevertheless, the economy recovered and grew impressively from 1907 to 1914, both quantitatively and through the formation of rural cooperatives and banks and the generation of domestic capital. By 1914 Russian steel production equaled that of France and Austria-Hungary, and Russia's economic growth rate was one of the highest in the world. Although external debt was very high, it was declining as a percentage of the gross national product (GNP--see Glossary), and the empire's overall trade balance was favorable.

In 1911 a double agent working for the Okhrana assassinated Stolypin, and Finance Minister Vladimir Kokovtsov replaced him. The cautious Kokovtsov was very able and a supporter of the tsar, but he could not compete with the powerful court factions that dominated the government.

Historians have debated whether Russia had the potential to develop a constitutional government between 1905 and 1914. The failure to do so was partly because the tsar was not willing to give up autocratic rule or share power. By manipulating the franchise, the government obtained progressively more conservative, but less representative, Dumas. Moreover, the regime sometimes bypassed the conservative Dumas and ruled by decree.

During this period, the government's policies waivered from reformist to repressive. Historians have speculated about whether Witte's and Stolypin's bold reform plans could have "saved" the Russian Empire. But court politics, together with the continuing isolation of the tsar and the bureaucracy from the rest of society, hampered all reforms. Suspensions of civil liberties and the rule of law continued in many places, and neither workers nor the Orthodox Church had the right to organize themselves as they chose. Discrimination against Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, and Old Believers was common. Domestic unrest was on the rise while the empire's foreign policy was becoming more adventurous.

Active Balkan Policy, 1906-13

Russia's earlier Far Eastern policy required holding Balkan issues in abeyance, a strategy Austria-Hungary also followed between 1897 and 1906. Japan's victory in 1905 had forced Russia to make deals with the British and the Japanese. In 1907 Russia's new foreign minister, Aleksandr Izvol'skiy, concluded agreements with both nations. To maintain its sphere of influence in northern Manchuria and northern Persia, Russia agreed to Japanese ascendancy in southern Manchuria and Korea, and to British ascendancy in southern Persia, Afghanistan, and Tibet. The logic of this policy demanded that Russia and Japan unite to prevent the United States from establishing a base in China by organizing a consortium to develop Chinese railroads. After China's republican revolution of 1911, Russia and Japan recognized each other's spheres of influence in Outer Mongolia. In an extension of this reasoning, Russia traded recognition of German economic interests in the Ottoman Empire and Persia for German recognition of various Russian security interests in the region. Russia also protected its strategic and financial position by entering the informal Triple Entente with Britain and France, without antagonizing Germany.

In spite of these careful measures, after the Russo-Japanese War Russia and Austria-Hungary resumed their Balkan rivalry, focusing on the Kingdom of Serbia and the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which Austria-Hungary had occupied since 1878. In 1881 Russia secretly had agreed in principle to Austria's future annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. But in 1908, Izvol'skiy foolishly consented to support formal annexation in return for Austria's support for revision of the agreement on the neutrality of the Bosporus and Dardanelles--a change that would give Russia special navigational rights of passage. Britain stymied the Russian gambit by blocking the revision, but Austria proceeded with the annexation. Then, backed by German threats of war, Austria-Hungary exposed Russia's weakness by forcing Russia to disavow support for Serbia.

After Austria-Hungary's annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia became a major part of the increased tension and conflict in the Balkans. In 1912 Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, and Montenegro defeated the Ottoman Empire in the First Balkan War, but the putative allies continued to quarrel among themselves. Then in 1913, the alliance split, and the Serbs, Greeks, and Romanians defeated Bulgaria in the Second Balkan War. Austria-Hungary became the patron of Bulgaria, which now was Serbia's territorial rival in the region, and Germany remained the Ottoman Empire's protector. Russia tied itself more closely to Serbia than it had previously. The complex system of alliances and Great Power support was extremely unstable; among the Balkan parties harboring resentments over past defeats, the Serbs maintained particular animosity toward the Austro-Hungarian annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In June 1914, a Serbian terrorist assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, which then held the Serbian government responsible. Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to Serbia, believing that the terms were too humiliating to accept. Although Serbia submitted to the ultimatum, Austria-Hungary declared the response unsatisfactory and recalled its ambassador. Russia, fearing another humiliation in the Balkans, supported Serbia. Once the Serbian response was rejected, the system of alliances began to operate automatically, with Germany supporting Austria-Hungary and France backing Russia. When Germany invaded France through Belgium, the conflict escalated into a world war.

Russia at War, 1914-16

Russia's large population enabled it to field a greater number of troops than Austria-Hungary and Germany combined, but its underdeveloped industrial base meant that its soldiers were as poorly armed as those of the Austro-Hungarian army. Russian forces were inferior to Germany's in every respect except numbers. In most engagements, the larger Russian armies defeated the Austro-Hungarians but suffered reverses against German forces.

In the initial phase of the war, Russia's offensives into East Prussia drew enough German troops from the western front to allow the French, Belgians, and British to stop the German advance. One of Russia's two invading armies was almost totally destroyed, however, at the disastrous Battle of Tannenberg--the same site at which Lithuanian, Polish, and Russian troops had defeated the German Teutonic Knights in 1410. Meanwhile, the Russians turned back an Austrian offensive and pushed into eastern Galicia, the northeastern region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Russians halted a combined German-Austrian winter counteroffensive into Russian Poland, and in early 1915 they pushed more deeply into Galicia. Then in the spring and summer of that year, a German-Austrian offensive drove the Russians out of Galicia and Poland and destroyed several Russian army corps. In 1916 the Germans planned to drive France out of the war with a large-scale attack in the Verdun area, but a new Russian offensive against Austria-Hungary once again drew German troops from the west. These actions left both major fronts stable and both Russia and Germany despairing of victory--Russia because of exhaustion, Germany because of its opponents' superior resources. Toward the end of 1916, Russia came to the rescue of Romania, which had just entered the war, and extended the eastern front south to the Black Sea.

Wartime agreements among the Allies reflected the Triple Entente's imperialist aims and the Russian Empire's relative weakness outside Eastern Europe. Russia nonetheless expected impressive gains from a victory: territorial acquisitions in eastern Galicia from Austria, in East Prussia from Germany, and in Armenia from the Ottoman Empire, which joined the war on the German side; control of Constantinople and the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits; and territorial and political alteration of Austria-Hungary in the interests of Romania and the Slavic peoples of the region. Britain was to acquire the middle zone of Persia and share much of the Arab Middle East with France; Italy--not Russia's ally Serbia--was to acquire Dalmatia along the Adriatic coast; Japan, another ally of the entente, was to control more territory in China; and France was to regain Alsace-Lorraine, which it had lost to Germany in the Franco-Prussian War, and to have increased influence in western Germany.

The Fatal Weakening of Tsarism

The onset of World War I exposed the weakness of Nicholas II's government. A show of national unity had accompanied Russia's entrance into the war, with defense of the Slavic Serbs the main battle cry. In the summer of 1914, the Duma and the zemstva expressed full support for the government's war effort. The initial conscription was well organized and peaceful, and the early phase of Russia's military buildup showed that the empire had learned lessons from the Russo-Japanese War. But military reversals and the government's incompetence soon soured much of the population. German control of the Baltic Sea and German-Ottoman control of the Black Sea severed Russia from most of its foreign supplies and potential markets. In addition, inept Russian preparations for war and ineffective economic policies hurt the country financially, logistically, and militarily. Inflation became a serious problem. Because of inadequate matériel support for military operations, the War Industries Committee was formed to ensure that necessary supplies reached the front. But army officers quarreled with civilian leaders, seized administrative control of front areas, and refused to cooperate with the committee. The central government distrusted the independent war support activities that were organized by zemstva and cities. The Duma quarreled with the war bureaucracy of the government, and center and center-left deputies eventually formed the Progressive Bloc to create a genuinely constitutional government.

After Russian military reversals in 1915, Nicholas II went to the front to assume nominal leadership of the army, leaving behind his German-born wife, Alexandra, and Rasputin, a member of her entourage, who exercised influence on policy and ministerial appointments. Rasputin was a debauched faith healer who initially impressed Alexandra because he was able to stop the bleeding of the royal couple's hemophiliac son and heir presumptive. Although their true influence has been debated, Alexandra and Rasputin undoubtedly decreased the regime's prestige and credibility.

While the central government was hampered by court intrigue, the strain of the war began to cause popular unrest. In 1916 high food prices and fuel shortages caused strikes in some cities. Workers, who had won the right to representation in sections of the War Industries Committee, used those sections as organs of political opposition. The countryside also was becoming restive. Soldiers were increasingly insubordinate, particularly the newly recruited peasants who faced the prospect of being used as cannon fodder in the inept conduct of the war.

The situation continued to deteriorate. In an attempt to alleviate the morass at the tsar's court, a group of nobles murdered Rasputin in December 1916. But the death of the mysterious "healer" brought little change. Increasing conflict between the tsar and the Duma weakened both parts of the government and increased the impression of incompetence. In early 1917, deteriorating rail transport caused acute food and fuel shortages, which resulted in riots and strikes. Authorities summoned troops to quell the disorders in Petrograd (as St. Petersburg had been called since 1914, to Russianize the Germanic name). In 1905 troops had fired on demonstrators and saved the monarchy, but in 1917 the troops turned their guns over to the angry crowds. Public support for the tsarist regime simply evaporated in 1917, ending three centuries of Romanov rule.

Russia

Russia - Revolutions and Civil War

Russia

The chaos and hardship that resulted from Russia's entry into World War I in 1914 were exacerbated in the years that followed. Russians saw the fall of the Romanov Dynasty, which had ruled for more than 300 years, followed by a long struggle for power between the Bolsheviks and a series of disparate armies, known collectively as the Whites, supported by Russia's erstwhile wartime allies. The combination of military occupation and economic disorder bled the country for three years until the Bolsheviks triumphed and began to establish a new order.

The February Revolution

By early 1917, the existing order in Russia was verging on collapse. The country's involvement in World War I had already cost millions of lives and severely disrupted Russia's already struggling economy. In an effort to reverse the worsening military situation, Nicholas II took personal command of Russian forces at the front, leaving the conduct of government in Petrograd (St. Petersburg before 1914; Leningrad after 1924; St. Petersburg after 1991) to his unpopular wife and a series of incompetent ministers. As a consequence of these conditions, the morale of the people rapidly deteriorated.

The spark to the events that ended tsarist rule was ignited on the streets of Petrograd in February 1917 (according to the Julian calendar then still in use in Russia; according to the modern Gregorian calendar, which was adopted in February 1918, these events occurred in March). Driven by shortages of food and fuel, crowds of hungry citizens and striking workers began spontaneous rioting and demonstrations. Local reserve troops, called in to suppress the riots, refused to fire on the crowds, and some soldiers joined the workers and other rioters. A few days later, with tsarist authority in Petrograd disintegrating, two distinct groups emerged, each claiming to represent the Russian people. One was the Executive Committee, which the Duma (see Glossary), the lower house of the Russian parliament, had established in defiance of the tsar's orders. The other body was the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies.

With the consent of the Petrograd Soviet, the Executive Committee of the Duma organized the Provisional Government on March 15. The government was a cabinet of ministers chaired by aristocrat and social reformer Georgiy L'vov. A legislature, the Constituent Assembly, also was to be created, but election of the first such body was postponed until the fall of 1917. Delegates of the new government met Nicholas that evening at Pskov, where rebellious railroad workers had stopped the imperial train as the tsar attempted to return to the capital. Advised by his generals that he lacked the support of the country, Nicholas informed the delegates that he was abdicating in favor of his brother, Grand Duke Michael. When Michael in turn refused the throne, imperial rule in Russia came to an end.

The Period of Dual Power

The collapse of the monarchy left two rival political institutions--the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet--to share administrative authority over the country. The Petrograd Soviet, drawing its membership from socialist deputies elected in factories and regiments, coordinated the activities of other soviets that sprang up across Russia at this time. The Petrograd Soviet was dominated by moderate socialists of the Socialist Revolutionary Party and by the Menshevik (see Glossary) faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party. The Bolshevik (see Glossary) faction of the latter party provided the opposition. Although it represented the interests of Russia's working class, the Petrograd Soviet at first did not seek to undermine the Provisional Government's authority directly. Nevertheless, the Petrograd Soviet's first official order, which came to be known as Order Number One, instructed soldiers and sailors to obey their officers and the government only if their orders did not contradict the decrees of the Petrograd Soviet--a measure formulated to prevent continuation of Russia's war effort by crippling the Provisional Government's control of the military.

The Provisional Government, in contrast to the socialist Petrograd Soviet, chiefly represented the propertied classes. Headed by ministers of a moderate or liberal bent, the new government pledged to convene a constituent assembly that would usher in a new era of bourgeois democracy modeled on European constitutionalism. In the meantime, the government granted unprecedented rights--full freedom of speech, press, and religion, as well as legal equality--to all citizens. The government did not take up the matter of land redistribution, however, leaving that issue for the Constituent Assembly. Even more damaging, the ministers favored keeping Russia's military commitments to its allies, a position that became increasingly unpopular as the war dragged on. The government suffered its first crisis in the "April Days," when demonstrations against the government's war aims forced two ministers to resign, an event that led to the appointment of Aleksandr Kerenskiy--the only socialist among the government's ministers--as war minister. Quickly assuming de facto leadership of the government, Kerenskiy ordered the army to launch a major offensive in June. After early successes, that offensive turned into a full-scale retreat in July.

While the Provisional Government grappled with foreign foes, the Bolsheviks, who were opposed to bourgeois democracy, gained new strength. Lenin, the Bolshevik leader, returned to Petrograd in April 1917 from his wartime residence in Switzerland. Although he had been born into a noble family, from his youth Lenin espoused the cause of the common workers. A committed revolutionary and pragmatic Marxist thinker, he astounded the Bolsheviks in Petrograd with his April Theses , in which he boldly called for the overthrow of the Provisional Government, the transfer of "all power to the soviets," and the expropriation of factories by workers and of land belonging to the church, the nobility, and the gentry by peasants. Lenin's dynamic presence quickly won the other Bolshevik leaders to his position, and the radicalized orientation of the Bolshevik faction attracted new members.

Inspired by Lenin's slogans, crowds of workers, soldiers, and sailors took to the streets of Petrograd in July to wrest power from the Provisional Government. But the spontaneity of the "July Days" caught the Bolshevik leaders by surprise, and the Petrograd Soviet, controlled by moderate Mensheviks, refused to take power or to enforce Bolshevik demands. After the uprising had died down, the Provisional Government outlawed the Bolsheviks and jailed Leon Trotsky, leader of a leftist Menshevik faction. Lenin fled to Finland.

In the aftermath of the "July Days," conservatives sought to reassert order in society. The army's commander in chief, General Lavr Kornilov, who protested the influence of the soviets on both the army and the government, appeared as a counterrevolutionary threat to Kerenskiy, now prime minister. Kerenskiy dismissed Kornilov from his command, but Kornilov, disobeying the order, launched an extemporaneous revolt on September 10 (August 28). To defend the capital, Kerenskiy sought help from all quarters and relaxed his ban on Bolshevik activities. Railroad workers sympathetic to the Bolsheviks halted Kornilov's troop trains, and Kornilov soon surrendered, ending the only serious challenge to the Provisional Government from the right.

The Bolshevik Revolution

Although the Provisional Government survived the Kornilov revolt, popular support for the government faded rapidly as the national mood swung to the left in the fall of 1917. Workers took control of their factories through elected committees; peasants expropriated lands belonging to the state, church, nobility, and gentry; and armies melted away as peasant soldiers deserted to take part in the land seizures. The Bolsheviks, skillfully exploiting these popular trends in their propaganda, achieved domination of the Petrograd and Moscow soviets by September. Trotsky, freed from prison after the Kornilov revolt, was recruited as a Bolshevik and named chairman of the Petrograd Soviet.

Realizing that the time was ripe to seize power by force, Lenin returned to Petrograd in October and convinced a majority of the Bolshevik Central Committee, which had hoped to take power legally, to accept armed uprising in principle. Trotsky won the Petrograd garrison over to the soviet, depriving the Provisional Government of its main military support in Petrograd.

The actual insurrection--the Bolshevik Revolution--began on November 6, when Kerenskiy ordered the Bolshevik press closed. Interpreting this action as a counterrevolutionary move, the Bolsheviks called on their supporters to defend the Petrograd Soviet. By evening, the Bolsheviks had taken control of utilities and most government buildings in Petrograd, thus enabling Lenin to proclaim the downfall of the Provisional Government on the morning of the next day, November 7. The Bolsheviks captured the Provisional Government's cabinet at its Winter Palace headquarters that night with hardly a shot fired in the government's defense. Kerenskiy left Petrograd to organize resistance, but his countercoup failed and he fled Russia. Bolshevik uprisings soon took place elsewhere; Moscow was under Bolshevik control within three weeks. The Second Congress of Soviets met in Petrograd to ratify the Bolshevik takeover after moderate deputies (mainly Mensheviks and right-wing members of the Socialist Revolutionary Party) quit the session. The remaining Bolsheviks and left-wing Socialist Revolutionaries declared the soviets the governing bodies of Russia and named the Council of People's Commissars (Sovet narodnykh kommissarov--Sovnarkom) to serve as the cabinet. Lenin became chairman of this council. Trotsky took the post of commissar of foreign affairs; Stalin, a Georgian, became commissar of nationalities. Thus, by acting decisively while their opponents vacillated, the Bolsheviks succeeded in effecting their coup d'état.

On coming to power, the Bolsheviks issued a series of revolutionary decrees ratifying peasants' seizures of land and workers' control of industries, abolished laws sanctioning class privileges, nationalized the banks, and set up revolutionary tribunals in place of the courts. At the same time, the revolutionaries now constituting the regime worked to secure power inside and outside the government. Deeming Western forms of parliamentary democracy irrelevant, Lenin argued for a "dictatorship of the proletariat" based on single-party Bolshevik rule, although for a time left-wing Socialist Revolutionaries also participated in the Sovnarkom. The new government created a secret police agency, the VChK (commonly known as the Cheka), to persecute enemies of the state (including bourgeois liberals and moderate socialists). Having convened the Constituent Assembly, which finally had been elected in November with the Bolsheviks winning only a quarter of the seats, the Soviet government dissolved the assembly in January after a one-day session, ending a short-lived experiment in parliamentary democracy.

In foreign affairs, the Soviet government, seeking to disengage Russia from World War I, called on the belligerent powers for an armistice and peace without annexations. The Allied Powers rejected this appeal, but Germany and its allies agreed to a cease-fire. Negotiations began in December 1917. After dictating harsh terms that the Soviet government would not accept, however, Germany resumed its offensive in February 1918, meeting scant resistance from disintegrating Russian armies. Lenin, after bitter debate with leading Bolsheviks who favored prolonging the war in hopes of precipitating class warfare in Germany, persuaded a slim majority of the Bolshevik Central Committee that peace must be made at any cost. On March 3, Soviet government officials signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, relinquishing Poland, the Baltic lands, Finland, and Ukraine to German control and giving up a portion of the Caucasus region to Turkey. With the new border dangerously close to Petrograd, the government was soon transferred to Moscow. An enormous part of the population and resources of the Russian Empire was lost by this treaty, but Lenin understood that no other alternative could ensure the survival of the fledgling Soviet state.

Civil War and War Communism

Soon after buying peace with Germany, the Soviet state found itself under attack from other quarters. By the spring of 1918, elements dissatisfied with the radical policies of the communists (as the Bolsheviks started calling themselves) established centers of resistance in southern and Siberian Russia. Beginning in April 1918, anticommunist forces, called the Whites and often led by former officers of the tsarist army, began to clash with the Red Army, which Trotsky, named commissar of war in the Soviet government, organized to defend the new state. A civil war to determine the future of Russia had begun.

The White armies enjoyed varying degrees of support from the Allied Powers. Desiring to defeat Germany in any way possible, Britain, France, and the United States landed troops in Russia and provided logistical support to the Whites, whom the Allies trusted would resume Russia's struggle against Germany after overthrowing the communist regime. (In March 1918, the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party officially was renamed the Russian Communist Party [Bolshevik].) After the Allies defeated Germany in November 1918, they opted to continue their intervention in the Russian Civil War against the communists, in the interests of averting what they feared might become a world socialist revolution.

During the Civil War, the Soviet regime also had to deal with struggles for independence in regions that it had given up under the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (which the regime immediately repudiated after Germany's defeat by the Allies in November 1918). By force of arms, the communists established Soviet republics in Belorussia (January 1919), Ukraine (March 1919), Azerbaijan (April 1920), Armenia (November 1920), and Georgia (March 1921), but they were unable to take back the Baltic region, where the independent states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania had been founded shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution. In December 1917, the Soviet government recognized the independence of Finland as a gesture of support to the Finnish Reds. However, that strategy failed when Finland became a parliamentary republic in 1918. Poland, reborn after World War I, fought a successful war with Soviet Russia from April 1920 to March 1921 over the location of the frontier between the two states.

During its struggle for survival, the Soviet state relied heavily on the prospect that revolution would spread to other European industrialized countries. To coordinate the socialist movement under Soviet auspices, Lenin founded the Communist International (Comintern) in March 1919. Although no successful socialist revolutions occurred elsewhere immediately after the Bolshevik Revolution, the Comintern provided the communist leadership with the means for later control of foreign communist parties.

By the end of 1920, the communists had clearly triumphed in the Civil War. Although in 1919 Soviet Russia had shrunk to the size of sixteenth-century Muscovy, the Red Army had the advantage of defending the heartland with Moscow at its center (see fig. 4). The White armies, divided geographically and without a clearly defined cause, went down to defeat one by one. Hopes of restoring the monarchy ended effectively when communists executed the imperial family in July 1918. The Allied governments, lacking support for intervention from their nations' war-weary citizenry, withdrew most of their forces by 1920. The last foreign troops departed Siberia in 1922, leaving the Soviet state unchallenged from abroad.

During the Civil War, the communist regime took increasingly repressive measures against its domestic opponents. The constitution of 1918 deprived members of the former "exploiting classes"--nobles, priests, and capitalists--of civil rights. Left-wing Socialist Revolutionaries, formerly partners of the Bolsheviks, became targets for persecution during what came to be known as the Red Terror, which followed an attempt on Lenin's life in August 1918 and lasted into 1920. In those desperate times, both Reds and Whites murdered and executed without trial large numbers of suspected enemies. The party also took measures to ensure greater discipline among its members by tightening its organization and creating specialized administrative organs.

In the economic life of the country, too, the communist regime sought to exert control through a series of drastic measures that came to be known as war communism. To coordinate what remained of Russia's economic resources after years of war, in 1918 the government nationalized industry and subordinated it to central administrations in Moscow. Rejecting workers' control of factories as inefficient, the regime brought in expert managers to run the factories and organized and directed the factory workers as in a military mobilization. To feed the urban population, the Soviet government requisitioned quantities of grain from the peasantry.

The results of war communism were unsatisfactory. Industrial production continued to fall. Workers received wages in kind because inflation had made the ruble practically worthless. In the countryside, peasants rebelled against payments in valueless currency by curtailing or consuming their agricultural production. In late 1920, strikes broke out in the industrial centers, and peasant uprisings sprang up across the land as famine ravaged the countryside. To the Soviet government, however, the most disquieting manifestation of dissatisfaction with war communism was the rebellion in March 1921 of sailors at the naval base at Kronshtadt (near Petrograd), which had earlier won renown as a bastion of the Bolshevik Revolution. Although Trotsky and the Red Army succeeded in putting down the mutiny, it signaled to the party leadership that war communism had to end. The harsh economic policies of the Civil War period, however, would have a profound influence on the future development of the country.

Russia

Russia - The Era of the New Economic Policy

Russia

The period of war communism was followed in the 1920s by a partial retreat from Bolshevik principles. The New Economic Policy (Novaya ekonomicheskaya politika--NEP; see Glossary) permitted certain types of private economic activity, so that the country might recover from the ravages of the Civil War. The interval was cut short, however, by the death of Lenin and the sharply different approach to governance of his successor, Joseph Stalin.

Lenin's Leadership

With the Kronshtadt base rebelling against war communism, the Tenth Party Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) met in March 1921 to hear Lenin argue for a new course in Soviet policy. Lenin realized that the radical approach to communism (see Glossary) was unsuited to existing conditions and jeopardized the survival of his regime. Now the Soviet leader proposed a tactical retreat, convincing the congress to adopt a temporary compromise with capitalism under the NEP program. Under the NEP, market forces and the monetary system regained their importance. The state scrapped its policy of grain requisitioning in favor of taxation, permitting peasants to dispose of their produce as they pleased. The NEP also denationalized service enterprises and much small-scale industry, leaving the "commanding heights" of the economy--large-scale industry, transportation, and foreign trade--under state control. Under the mixed economy called for under the NEP, agriculture and industry staged recoveries, with most branches of the economy attaining prewar levels of production by the late 1920s. In general, standards of living improved during this time, and the "NEP man"--the independent private trader--became a symbol of the era.

About the time that the party sanctioned partial decentralization of the economy, it also approved a quasi-federal structure for the state. During the Civil War, the non-Russian Soviet republics on the periphery of Russia were theoretically independent, but in fact they were controlled by the central government through the party and the Red Army. Some communists favored a centralized Soviet state, while nationalists wanted autonomy for the borderlands. A compromise between the two positions was reached in December 1922 with the formation of the USSR. The constituent republics of this "Soviet Union" (the Russian, Belorussian, Ukrainian, and Transcaucasian republics--the last combining Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia) exercised a degree of cultural and linguistic autonomy, while the communist, predominantly Russian, leadership in Moscow retained political authority over the entire country. The giant Central Asian territory was given republic status piecemeal, beginning with the inclusion of the Turkmen and Uzbek republics in 1924 and concluding with the separation of Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan in 1936. By that year, the Soviet Union included eleven republics, all with government structures and ruling communist parties identical to the one in the Russian Republic.

The party consolidated its authority throughout the country, becoming a monolithic presence in state and society. Potential rivals outside the party, including prominent members of the abolished Menshevik faction and the Socialist Revolutionary Party, were exiled. Within the party, Lenin denounced the formation of factions, particularly by radical-left party members. Central party organs subordinated local soviets to their authority. Party members perceived as less committed periodically were purged from the rosters. The Politburo (Political Bureau), which became the elite policy-making agency of the nation, created the new post of general secretary for the supervision of personnel matters and assigned Stalin to this office in April 1922. A minor member of the party's Central Committee at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution, Stalin was thought to be a rather lackluster personality and therefore well suited to the routine work required of the general secretary.

From the time of the Bolshevik Revolution and into the early NEP years, the actual leader of the Soviet state was Lenin. Although a collective of prominent communists nominally guided the party and the Soviet Union, Lenin commanded such prestige and authority that even such brilliant theoreticians as Trotsky and Nikolay Bukharin generally yielded to his will. But when Lenin became temporarily incapacitated after a stroke in May 1922, the unity of the Politburo fractured, and a troika (triumvirate) formed by Stalin, Lev Kamenev, and Grigoriy Zinov'yev assumed leadership in opposition to Trotsky. Lenin recovered late in 1922 and found fault with the troika, and particularly with Stalin. In Lenin's view, Stalin had used coercion to force non-Russian republics to join the Soviet Union, he was uncouth, and he was accumulating too much power through his office of general secretary. Although Lenin recommended that Stalin be removed from that position, the Politburo decided not to take action, and Stalin still was in office when Lenin died in January 1924.

As important as Lenin's activities were to the establishment of the Soviet Union, his legacy to the Soviet future was perhaps even more significant. By willingly changing his policies to suit new situations, Lenin had developed a pragmatic interpretation of Marxism (later called Marxism-Leninism--see Glossary) that implied that the party should follow any course that would ultimately lead to communism. His party, while still permitting intraorganizational debate, insisted that its members adhere to the organization's decisions once they were adopted, in accordance with the principle of democratic centralism. Finally, because the party embodied the dictatorship of the proletariat, organized opposition could not be tolerated, and adversaries would be prosecuted. Thus, although the Soviet regime was not totalitarian when he died, Lenin had nonetheless laid the foundation upon which such a tyranny would later arise.

Stalin's Rise to Power

After Lenin's death, two conflicting schools of thought about the future of the Soviet Union arose in party debates. Left-wing communists believed that world revolution was essential to the survival of socialism in the economically backward Soviet Union. Trotsky, one of the primary proponents of this position, called for Soviet support of a permanent world revolutionary movement. As for domestic policy, the left wing advocated the rapid development of the economy and the creation of a socialist society. In contrast to these militant communists, the right wing of the party, recognizing that world revolution was unlikely in the immediate future, favored the gradual development of the Soviet Union through continuation of pragmatic programs like the NEP. Yet even Bukharin, one of the major right-wing theoreticians, believed that socialism could not triumph in the Soviet Union without assistance from more economically advanced socialist countries.

Against this backdrop of contrasting perceptions of the Soviet future, the leading figures of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik)--the new name of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) as of December 1925--competed for influence. The Kamenev-Zinov'yev-Stalin troika, although it supported the militant international program, successfully maneuvered against Trotsky and engineered his removal as commissar of war in 1925. In the meantime, Stalin gradually consolidated his power base and, when he had sufficient strength, broke with Kamenev and Zinov'yev. Belatedly recognizing Stalin's political power, Kamenev and Zinov'yev made amends with Trotsky in order to join against their former partner. But Stalin countered their attacks on his position with his well-timed formulation of the theory of "socialism in one country." This doctrine, calling for construction of a socialist society in the Soviet Union regardless of the international situation, distanced Stalin from the left and won support from Bukharin and the party's right wing. With this support, Stalin ousted the leaders of the "Left Opposition" from their positions in 1926 and 1927 and forced Trotsky into exile in 1928. As the NEP era ended, open debate within the party became increasingly limited as Stalin gradually eliminated his opponents.

Foreign Policy, 1921-28

In the 1920s, as the new Soviet state temporarily retreated from the revolutionary path to socialism, the party also adopted a less ideological approach in its relations with the rest of the world. Lenin, ever the practical leader, having become convinced that socialist revolution would not break out in other countries in the near future, realized that his government required normal relations with the Western world for it to survive. Not only were good relations important to national security, but the economy also required trade with the industrial countries. Blocking Soviet attainment of these objectives were lingering suspicions about communism on the part of the Western powers and concern over foreign debts incurred by the tsarist government, which the Soviet government had unilaterally repudiated. In April 1922, the Soviet commissar of foreign affairs, Georgiy Chicherin, circumvented these difficulties by achieving an understanding with Germany, the other pariah state of Europe, in the Treaty of Rapallo. Under the treaty, Germany and Russia agreed on mutual recognition, cancellation of debt claims, normalization of trade relations, and secret cooperation in military development. Soon after concluding the treaty, the Soviet Union obtained diplomatic recognition from other major powers, beginning with Britain in February 1924. Although the United States withheld recognition until 1933, private American firms began to extend technological assistance and to develop commercial links in the 1920s.

Toward the non-Western world, the Soviet leadership limited its revolutionary activity to promoting opposition among the indigenous populations against "imperialist exploitation." The Soviet Union did pursue an active policy in China, aiding the Guomindang (Nationalist Party), a non-Marxist organization committed to reform and national sovereignty. After the triumph of the Guomindang in 1927, a debate developed among Soviet leaders concerning the future status of relations with China. Stalin wanted the Chinese Communist Party to join the Guomindang and infiltrate the government from within, while Trotsky proposed an armed communist uprising and forcible imposition of socialism. Although Stalin's plan was finally accepted, it came to naught when in 1927 the Guomindang leader Chiang Kai-shek ordered the Chinese communists massacred and Soviet advisers expelled.

Society and Culture in the 1920s

In many respects, the NEP period was a time of relative freedom and experimentation in the social and cultural life of the Soviet Union. The government tolerated a variety of trends in these fields, provided they were not overtly hostile to the regime. In art and literature, numerous schools, some traditional and others radically experimental, proliferated. Communist writers Maksim Gor'kiy and Vladimir Mayakovskiy were active during this time, but other authors, many of whose works were later repressed, published work lacking socialist political content (see Literature and the Arts, ch. 4). Filmmaking, as a means of influencing a largely illiterate society, received encouragement from the state; much of legendary cinematographer Sergey Eisenstein's best work dates from this period.

Under Commissar Anatoliy Lunacharskiy, education entered a phase of experimentation based on progressive theories of learning. At the same time, the state expanded the primary and secondary school systems and introduced night schools for working adults. The quality of higher education suffered, however, because admissions policies gave preference to entrants from the proletarian class over those with bourgeois backgrounds, regardless of qualifications.

In family life, attitudes generally became more permissive. The state legalized abortion, and it made divorce progressively easier to obtain. In general, traditional attitudes toward such institutions as marriage were subtly undermined by the party's promotion of revolutionary ideals.

Russia

Russia - Transformation and Terror

Russia

The gradual accession of Stalin to power in the 1920s eventually brought an end to the liberalization of society and the economy, leading instead to a period of unprecedented government control, mobilization, and terrorization of society in Russia and the other Soviet republics. In the 1930s, agriculture and industry underwent brutal forced centralization, and Russian cultural activity was highly restricted. Purges eliminated thousands of individuals deemed dangerous to the Soviet state by Stalin's operatives.

Industrialization and Collectivization

At the end of the 1920s, a dramatic new phase in economic development began when Stalin decided to carry out a program of intensive socialist construction. To some extent, Stalin pressed economic development at this point as a political maneuver to eliminate rivals within the party. Because Bukharin and some other party members would not give up the gradualistic NEP in favor of radical development, Stalin branded them "right-wing deviationists" and during 1929 and 1930 used the party organization to remove them from influential positions. Yet Stalin's break with the NEP also revealed that his doctrine of building "socialism in one country" paralleled the line that Trotsky had originally supported early in the 1920s. Marxism supplied no basis for Stalin's model of a planned economy, although the centralized economic controls of the war communism years seemingly furnished a Leninist precedent. Between 1927 and 1929, the State Planning Committee (Gosudarstvennyy planovyy komitet--Gosplan) worked out the First Five-Year Plan (see Glossary) for intensive economic growth; Stalin began to implement this plan--his "revolution from above"--in 1928.

The First Five-Year Plan called for rapid industrialization of the economy, with particular emphasis on heavy industry. The economy was centralized: small-scale industry and services were nationalized, managers strove to fulfill Gosplan's output quotas, and the trade unions were converted into mechanisms for increasing worker productivity. But because Stalin insisted on unrealistic production targets, serious problems soon arose. With the greatest share of investment put into heavy industry, widespread shortages of consumer goods occurred, and inflation grew.

To satisfy the state's need for increased food supplies, the First Five-Year Plan called for the organization of the peasantry into collective units that the authorities could easily control. This collectivization program entailed compounding the peasants' lands and animals into collective farms (kolkhozy; sing., kolkhoz --see Glossary) and state farms (sovkhozy; sing., sovkhoz --see Glossary) and restricting the peasants' movement from these farms. The effect of this restructuring was to reintroduce a kind of serfdom into the countryside. Although the program was designed to affect all peasants, Stalin in particular sought to eliminate the wealthiest peasants, known as kulaks. Generally, kulaks were only marginally better off than other peasants, but the party claimed that the kulaks had ensnared the rest of the peasantry in capitalistic relationships. In any event, collectivization met widespread resistance not only from the kulaks but from poorer peasants as well, and a desperate struggle of the peasantry against the authorities ensued. Peasants slaughtered their cows and pigs rather than turn them over to the collective farms, with the result that livestock resources remained below the 1929 level for years afterward. The state in turn forcibly collectivized reluctant peasants and deported kulaks and active rebels to Siberia. Within the collective farms, the authorities in many instances exacted such high levels of procurement that starvation was widespread.

By 1932 Stalin realized that both the economy and society were under serious strain. Although industry failed to meet its production targets and agriculture actually lost ground in comparison with 1928 yields, Stalin declared that the First Five-Year Plan had successfully met its goals in four years. He then proceeded to set more realistic goals. Under the Second Five-Year Plan (1933-37), the state devoted attention to consumer goods, and the factories built under the first plan helped increase industrial output in general. The Third Five-Year Plan, begun in 1938, produced poorer results because of a sudden shift of emphasis to armaments production in response to the worsening international climate. In general, however, the Soviet economy had become industrialized by the end of the 1930s. Agriculture, which had been exploited to finance the industrialization drive, continued to show poor returns throughout the decade.

The Purges

The complete subjugation of the party to Stalin, its leader, paralleled the subordination of industry and agriculture to the state. Stalin had assured his preeminent position by squelching Bukharin and the "right-wing deviationists" in 1929 and 1930. To secure his absolute control over the party, however, Stalin began to purge leaders and rank-and-file members whose loyalty he doubted.

Stalin's purges began in December 1934, when Sergey Kirov, a popular Leningrad party chief who advocated a moderate policy toward the peasants, was assassinated. Although details remain murky, many Western historians believe that Stalin instigated the murder to rid himself of a potential opponent. In any event, in the resultant mass purge of the local Leningrad party, thousands were deported to camps in Siberia. Zinov'yev and Kamenev, Stalin's former political partners, received prison sentences for their alleged role in Kirov's murder. At the same time, the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (Narodnyy komissariat vnutrennikh del--NKVD), the secret police agency that was heir to the Cheka of the early 1920s, stepped up surveillance through its agents and informers and claimed to uncover anti-Soviet conspiracies among prominent long-term party members. At three publicized show trials held in Moscow between 1936 and 1938, dozens of these Old Bolsheviks, including Zinov'yev, Kamenev, and Bukharin, confessed to improbable crimes against the Soviet state. Their confessions were quickly followed by execution. (The last of Stalin's old enemies, Trotsky, who supposedly had masterminded the conspiracies against Stalin from abroad, was murdered in Mexico in 1940, presumably by the NKVD.) Coincident with the show trials of the original leadership of the party, unpublicized purges swept through the ranks of younger leaders in party, government, industrial management, and cultural affairs. Party purges in the non-Russian republics were particularly severe. The Yezhovshchina ("era of Yezhov," named for NKVD chief Nikolay Yezhov) ravaged the military as well, leading to the execution or incarceration of about half the officer corps. The secret police also terrorized the general populace, with untold numbers of common people punished after spurious accusations. By the time the purges subsided in 1938, millions of Soviet leaders, officials, and other citizens had been executed, imprisoned, or exiled.

The reasons for the period of widespread purges, which became known as the Great Terror, remain unclear. Western historians variously hypothesize that Stalin created the terror out of a desire to goad the population to carry out his intensive modernization program, or to atomize society to preclude dissent, or simply out of brutal paranoia. Whatever the causes, the purges must be viewed as having weakened the Soviet state.

In 1936, just as the Great Terror was intensifying, Stalin approved a new Soviet constitution to replace that of 1924. Hailed as "the most democratic constitution in the world," the 1936 document stipulated free and secret elections based on universal suffrage and guaranteed the citizenry a range of civil and economic rights. But in practice the freedoms implied by these rights were denied by provisions elsewhere in the constitution that indicated that the basic structure of Soviet society could not be changed and that the party retained all political power.

The power of the party, in turn, now was concentrated in the persons of Stalin and the members of his handpicked Politburo. As if to symbolize the lack of influence of the party rank and file, party congresses were convened less and less frequently. State power, far from "withering away" after the revolution as Karl Marx had prescribed, instead grew. With Stalin consciously building what critics would later describe as a cult of personality, the reverence accorded him in Soviet society gradually eclipsed that given to Lenin.

Mobilization of Society

Concomitant with industrialization and collectivization, society also experienced wide-ranging regimentation. Collective enterprises replaced individualistic efforts across the board. Not only did the regime abolish private farms and businesses, but it collectivized scientific and literary endeavors as well. As the 1930s progressed, the revolutionary experimentation that had characterized many facets of cultural and social life gave way to conservative norms.

Considerations of order and discipline dominated social policy, which became an instrument of the modernization effort. Workers came under strict labor codes demanding punctuality and discipline, and labor unions served as extensions of the industrial ministries. At the same time, higher pay and privileges accrued to productive workers and labor brigades. To provide greater social stability, the state aimed to strengthen the family by restricting divorce and abolishing abortion.

Literature and the arts came under direct party control during the 1930s, with mandatory membership in unions of writers, musicians, and other artists entailing adherence to established standards. After 1934 the party dictated that creative works had to express socialistic spirit through traditional forms. This officially sanctioned doctrine, called "socialist realism," applied to all fields of art. The state repressed works that were stylistically innovative or lacked appropriate content.

The party also subjected science and the liberal arts to its scrutiny. Development of scientific theory in a number of fields had to be based upon the party's understanding of the Marxist dialectic, which derailed serious research in certain disciplines. The party took a more active role in directing work in the social sciences. In the writing of history, the orthodox Marxist interpretation employed in the late 1920s was modified to include nationalistic themes and to stress the role of great leaders to create legitimacy for Stalin's dictatorship.

Education returned to traditional forms as the party discarded the experimental programs of Lunacharskiy after 1929. Admission procedures underwent modification: candidates for higher education now were selected on the basis of their academic records rather than their class origins. Religion suffered from a state policy of increased repression, starting with the closure of numerous churches in 1929. Persecution of clergy was particularly severe during the purges of the late 1930s, when many of the faithful went underground (see The Russian Orthodox Church, ch. 4).

Foreign Policy, 1928-39

Soviet foreign policy underwent a series of changes during the first decade of Stalin's rule. Soon after assuming control of the party, Stalin oversaw a radicalization of Soviet foreign policy that paralleled the severity of his remaking of domestic policy. To heighten the urgency of his demands for moderniza-tion, Stalin portrayed the Western powers, particularly France, as warmongers eager to attack the Soviet Union. The Great Depression, which seemingly threatened to destroy world capitalism in the early 1930s, provided ideological justification for the diplomatic self-isolation practiced by the Soviet Union in that period. To aid the triumph of communism, Stalin resolved to weaken the moderate social democratic parties of Europe, which seemed to be the communists' rivals for support among the working classes of the Western world.

Conversely, the Comintern ordered the Communist Party of Germany to aid the anti-Soviet National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazi Party) in its bid for power, in the hopes that a Nazi regime would exacerbate social tensions and produce conditions that would lead to a communist revolution in Germany. In pursuing this policy, Stalin thus shared responsibility for Adolf Hitler's rise to power in 1933 and its tragic consequences for the Soviet Union and the rest of the world.

The dynamics of Soviet foreign relations changed drastically after Stalin recognized the danger posed by Nazi Germany. From 1934 through 1937, the Soviet Union tried to restrain German militarism by building coalitions hostile to fascism. In the international communist movement, the Comintern adopted the "popular front" policy of cooperation with socialists and liberals against fascism, thus reversing its line of the early 1930s. In 1934 the Soviet Union joined the League of Nations, where Maksim Litvinov, the Soviet commissar of foreign affairs, advocated disarmament and collective security against fascist aggression. In 1935 the Soviet Union formed defensive military alliances with France and Czechoslovakia, and from 1936 to 1939 it gave assistance to antifascists in the Spanish Civil War. The menace of fascist militarism to the Soviet Union increased when Germany and Japan (which already posed a substantial threat to the Soviet Far East) signed the Anti-Comintern Pact in 1936. But the West proved unwilling to counter German provocative behavior, and after France and Britain acceded to Hitler's demands for Czechoslovak territory at Munich in 1938, Stalin abandoned his efforts to forge a collective security agreement with the West.

Convinced now that the West would not fight Hitler, Stalin decided to come to an understanding with Germany. Signaling a shift in foreign policy, Vyacheslav Molotov, Stalin's loyal assistant, replaced Litvinov, who was Jewish, as commissar of foreign affairs in May 1939. Hitler, who had decided to attack Poland despite the guarantees of Britain and France to defend that country, soon responded to the changed Soviet stance. While Britain and France dilatorily attempted to induce the Soviet Union to join them in pledging to protect Poland, the Soviet Union and Germany engaged in intense negotiations. The product of the talks between the former ideological foes--the Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact (also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) of August 23, 1939--shocked the world. The open provisions of the agreement pledged absolute neutrality in the event one of the parties should become involved in war, while a secret protocol partitioned Poland between the parties and assigned Romanian territory as well as Estonia and Latvia (and later Lithuania) to the Soviet sphere of influence. With his eastern flank thus secured, Hitler began the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939; Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later. World War II had begun.

Russia

Russia - The War Years

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The security that Stalin bought with the German treaty was short-lived. Hitler repudiated the agreement in 1941, and Russian, Belorussian, and Ukrainian territory subsequently became the scene of fierce fighting and the eventual repulsion of a huge Nazi invasion force. Stalin was able to rally patriotic support for the war effort, and Soviet forces entered Berlin triumphantly in April 1945. Together with the United States, the Soviet Union entered the postwar era as a superpower.

Prelude to War

When German troops invaded Poland, the Soviet Union was ill prepared to fight a major war. Although military expenditures had increased dramatically during the 1930s and the standing army was expanded in 1939, Soviet weaponry was inferior to that of the German army. More important, eight of the nation's top military leaders, including Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevskiy, had been executed in 1937 in the course of Stalin's purges; thus the armed forces' morale and effectiveness were diminished. The time gained through the pact with the Nazis was therefore critical to the recovery of Soviet defenses, particularly because Hitler's forces had overrun much of Western Europe by the summer of 1940. To strengthen its western frontier, the Soviet Union quickly secured the territory located in its sphere of interest. Soviet forces seized eastern Poland in September 1939; entered Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in October 1939; and seized the Romanian territories of Bessarabia (later incorporated into the Moldavian Republic) and northern Bukovina (later added to the Ukrainian Republic) in June 1940. Only Finland resisted Stalin's program of expansion, first by refusing to cede territory and then by putting up a determined defense along the Mannerheim Line when the Red Army invaded in November 1939. The Soviet-Finnish War (also known as the Winter War) of 1939-40 exposed grave deficiencies in Soviet military capabilities, which Hitler undoubtedly noted.

As the European war continued and the theaters of the conflict widened, Hitler began to chafe under his pact with the Soviet Union. The German dictator refused to grant Stalin a free hand in the Balkans, instead moving the German forces deeper into Eastern Europe and strengthening his ties with Finland. Hitler thus prepared for war against the Soviet Union under a plan that he officially approved in December 1940. At this point, however, Stalin still apparently believed that the Soviet Union could avert war by appeasing Germany. To achieve this goal, regular shipments of Soviet materials to Germany continued, and the Soviet armed forces were kept at a low stage of readiness. But despite Stalin's efforts to mollify Hitler, Germany declared war on the Soviet Union just as 180 German divisions swept across the border early on the morning of June 22, 1941.

The Great Patriotic War

The German blitzkrieg, known as Operation Barbarossa, nearly succeeded in breaking the Soviet Union in the months that followed. Caught unprepared, the Soviet forces lost whole armies and vast quantities of equipment to the German onslaught in the first weeks of the war. By November the German army had seized the Ukrainian Republic, besieged Leningrad, the Soviet Union's second largest city, and threatened Moscow itself (see fig. 5). The Great Patriotic War, as the Soviet Union and then Russia have called that phase of World War II, thus began inauspiciously for the Soviet Union.

By the end of 1941, however, the German forces had lost their momentum. German movements were increasingly restricted by harsh winter weather, attacks from bands of partisans, and difficulties in maintaining overextended supply lines. At the same time, the Red Army, after recovering from the initial blow, launched its first counterattacks against the invaders in December. To ensure the army's ability to fight the war, the Soviet authorities moved thousands of factories and their key personnel from the war zone to the interior of the country--often to Central Asia--where the plants began producing war matériel. Finally, the country was bolstered by the prospect of receiving assistance from Britain and the United States.

After a lull in active hostilities during the winter of 1941-42, the German army renewed its offensive, scoring a number of victories in the Ukrainian Republic, Crimea, and southern Russia in the first half of 1942. Then, in an effort to gain control of the lower Volga River region, the German forces attempted to capture the city of Stalingrad (present-day Volgograd) on the west bank of the river. Here, Soviet forces put up fierce resistance even after the Germans had reduced the city to rubble. Finally, Soviet forces led by General Georgiy Zhukov surrounded the German attackers and forced their surrender in February 1943. The Soviet victory at Stalingrad proved decisive; after losing this battle, the Germans lacked the strength to sustain their offensive operations against the Soviet Union.

After Stalingrad, the Soviet Union held the initiative for the rest of the war. By the end of 1943, the Red Army had broken through the German siege of Leningrad and recaptured much of the Ukrainian Republic. By the end of 1944, the front had moved beyond the 1939 Soviet frontiers into Eastern Europe. With a decisive superiority in troops and weaponry, Soviet forces drove into eastern Germany, capturing Berlin in May 1945. The war with Germany thus ended triumphantly for the Soviet Union.

In gaining the victory, the Soviet government had to rely on the support of the people. To increase popular enthusiasm for the war, Stalin reshaped his domestic policies to heighten patriotic spirit. Nationalistic slogans replaced much of the communist rhetoric in official pronouncements and the mass media. Active persecution of religion ceased, and in 1943 Stalin allowed the Russian Orthodox Church to name a patriarch (see Glossary) after the office had stood vacant for nearly two decades. In the countryside, authorities permitted greater freedom on the collective farms. Harsh German rule in the occupied territories also aided the Soviet cause. Nazi administrators of conquered Soviet territories made little attempt to exploit the population's dissatisfaction with Soviet political and economic policies. Instead, the Nazis preserved the collective farm system, systematically carried out genocidal policies against Jews, and deported others (mainly Ukrainians) to work in Germany. Given these circumstances, the great majority of the Soviet people chose to fight and work on their country's behalf, thus ensuring the regime's survival.

The war with Germany also brought about a temporary alliance with the two greatest powers in the "imperialist camp," namely Britain and the United States. Despite deep-seated mistrust between the Western democracies and the Soviet state, the demands of war made cooperation critical. The Soviet Union benefited from shipments of weaponry and equipment from the Western allies; during the course of the war, the United States alone furnished supplies worth more than US$11 billion. At the same time, by engaging considerable German resources, the Soviet Union gave the United States and Britain time to prepare to invade German-occupied Western Europe.

Relations began to sour, however, when the war turned in the Allies' favor. The postponement of the European invasion to June 1944 became a source of irritation to Stalin, whose country meanwhile bore the brunt of the struggle against Germany. Then, as Soviet armies pushed into Eastern Europe, the question of the postwar order increased the friction within the coalition. At the Yalta Conference in February 1945, Stalin clashed with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill over Stalin's plans to extend Soviet influence to Poland after the war. At the same time, however, Stalin promised to join the war against Japan ninety days after Germany had been defeated. Breaking the neutrality pact that the Soviet Union had concluded with Japan in April 1941, the Red Army entered the war in East Asia several days before Japan surrendered in August 1945. Now, with all common enemies defeated, little remained to preserve the alliance between the Western democracies and the Soviet Union.

The end of World War II saw the Soviet Union emerge as one of the world's two great military powers. Its battle-tested forces occupied most of Eastern Europe. The Soviet Union had won island holdings from Japan and further concessions from Finland (which had joined Germany in invading the Soviet Union in 1941) in addition to the territories seized as a consequence of the Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact. But these achievements came at a high cost. An estimated 20 million Soviet soldiers and civilians perished in the war, the heaviest loss of life of any of the combatant countries. The war also inflicted severe material losses throughout the vast territory that had been included in the war zone. The suffering and losses resulting from the war made a lasting impression on the Soviet people and leaders that influenced their behavior in the postwar era.

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Russia - Reconstruction and Cold War

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The end of the common cause again exposed the underlying hostility between the capitalist countries and the Soviet Union. And the favorable position in which the Soviet Union finished World War II rapidly made it the prime postwar threat to world peace in the eyes of Western policy makers. The so-called Cold War that emerged from that situation featured Soviet domination of all of Eastern Europe, the development of nuclear weapons by the Soviet Union, and dangerous conflicts and near-conflicts in several areas of the world.

Reconstruction Years

Although the Soviet Union was victorious in World War II, its economy had been devastated in the struggle. Roughly a quarter of the country's capital resources had been destroyed, and industrial and agricultural output in 1945 fell far short of prewar levels. To help rebuild the country, the Soviet government obtained limited credits from Britain and Sweden but refused assistance proposed by the United States under the economic aid program known as the Marshall Plan (see Glossary). Instead, the Soviet Union compelled Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe to supply machinery and raw materials. Germany and former Nazi satellites (including Finland) made reparations to the Soviet Union. The Soviet people bore much of the cost of rebuilding because the reconstruction program emphasized heavy industry while neglecting agriculture and consumer goods. By the time of Stalin's death in 1953, steel production was twice its 1940 level, but the production of many consumer goods and foodstuffs was lower than it had been in the late 1920s.

During the postwar reconstruction period, Stalin tightened domestic controls, justifying the repression by playing up the threat of war with the West. Many repatriated Soviet citizens who had lived abroad during the war, whether as prisoners of war, forced laborers, or defectors, were executed or sent to prison camps. The limited freedoms granted in wartime to the church and to collective farmers were revoked. The party tightened its admission standards and purged many who had become party members during the war.

In 1946 Andrey Zhdanov, a close associate of Stalin, helped launch an ideological campaign designed to demonstrate the superiority of socialism over capitalism in all fields. This campaign, colloquially known as the Zhdanovshchina ("era of Zhdanov"), attacked writers, composers, economists, historians, and scientists whose work allegedly manifested Western influence. Although Zhdanov died in 1948, the cultural purge continued for several years afterward, stifling Soviet intellectual development. Another campaign, related to the Zhdanovshchina, lauded the real or purported achievements of past and present Russian inventors and scientists. In this intellectual climate, the genetic theories of biologist Trofim Lysenko, which were supposedly derived from Marxist principles but lacked a scientific foundation, were imposed upon Soviet science to the detriment of research and agricultural development. The anticosmopolitan trends of these years adversely affected Jewish cultural and scientific figures in particular. In general, a pronounced sense of Russian nationalism, as opposed to socialist consciousness, pervaded Soviet society.

Onset of the Cold War

Soon after World War II, the Soviet Union and its Western allies parted ways as mutual suspicions of the other's intentions and actions flourished. Eager to consolidate influence over a number of countries adjacent to the Soviet Union, Stalin pursued an aggressive policy of intervention in the domestic affairs of these states, provoking strong Western reaction. The United States worked to contain Soviet expansion in this period of international relations that came to be known as the Cold War.

Mindful of the numerous invasions of Russia and the Soviet Union from the West throughout history, Stalin sought to create a buffer zone of subservient East European countries, most of which the Red Army (known as the Soviet army after 1946) had occupied in the course of the war. Taking advantage of its military occupation of these countries, the Soviet Union actively assisted local communist parties in coming to power. By 1948 seven East European countries--Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia--had communist governments. The Soviet Union initially maintained control behind the "Iron Curtain" (a phrase coined by Churchill in a 1946 speech) through the use of troops, security police, and the Soviet diplomatic service. Inequitable trade agreements with the East European countries permitted the Soviet Union access to valued resources.

Soviet actions in Eastern Europe generated hostility among the Western states toward their former ally, but they could do nothing to halt consolidation of Soviet authority in that region short of going to war. However, the United States and its allies had greater success in halting Soviet expansion in areas where Soviet influence was more tenuous. British and American diplomatic support for Iran forced the Soviet Union to withdraw its troops from the northeastern part of that country in 1946. Soviet efforts to acquire territory from Turkey and to establish a communist government in Greece were stymied when the United States extended military and economic support to those countries under the Truman Doctrine, a policy articulated by President Harry S. Truman in 1947. Later that year, the United States introduced the Marshall Plan for the economic recovery of other countries of Europe. The Soviet Union forbade the countries it dominated from taking part in the program, and the Marshall Plan contributed to a reduction of Soviet influence in the participating West European nations.

Tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union became especially strained over the issue of Germany. At the Potsdam Conference of July-August 1945, the Allied Powers confirmed their decision to divide Germany and the city of Berlin into zones of occupation (with the eastern sectors placed under Soviet administration) until such time as the Allies would permit Germany to establish a central government. Disagreements between the Soviet Union and the Western Allies soon arose over their respective occupation policies and the matter of reparations. In June 1948, the Soviet Union cut off the West's land access to the American, British, and French sectors of Berlin in retaliation for steps taken by the United States and Britain to unite Germany. Britain and the United States thereupon sponsored an airlift that kept the beleaguered sectors provisioned until the Soviet Union lifted the blockade in May 1949. Following the Berlin blockade, the Western Allies and the Soviet Union divided Germany into two countries, one oriented to the West, the other to the East. The crisis also provided the catalyst for the Western countries in 1949 to form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO--see Glossary), a collective security system under which conventional armies and nuclear weapons would offset Soviet forces.

While the Soviet Union gained a new satellite nation in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), it lost its influence in Yugoslavia. The local communists in Yugoslavia had come to power without Soviet assistance, and their leader, Josip Broz Tito, refused to subordinate the country to Stalin's control. Tito's defiance led the Communist Information Bureau (Cominform--founded in 1947 to assume some of the functions of the Comintern, which had been abolished in 1943) to expel the Yugoslav party from the international communist movement in 1948. To avert the rise of other independent leaders, Stalin purged many of the chief communists in other East European states.

In Asia the Chinese communists, headed by Mao Zedong and assisted by the Soviet Union, achieved victory over the Guomindang in 1949. Several months afterward, in 1950, China and the Soviet Union concluded a mutual defense treaty against Japan and the United States. Hard negotiations over concessions and aid between the two communist countries served as an indication that China, with its independent party and enormous population, would not become a Soviet satellite, although for a time Sino-Soviet relations appeared particularly close. Elsewhere in Asia, the Soviet Union pursued a vigorous policy of support for national liberation movements, especially in Malaya and Indochina, which were still colonies of Britain and France, respectively. Thinking that the West would not defend the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Stalin allowed or encouraged the Soviet-equipped forces of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) to invade South Korea in 1950. But forces from the United States and other members of the United Nations came to the aid of South Korea, leading China to intervene militarily on behalf of North Korea, probably at Soviet instigation. Although the Soviet Union avoided direct participation in the conflict, the Korean War (1950-53) motivated the United States to strengthen its military capability and to conclude a peace treaty and security pact with Japan. Chinese participation in the war also strengthened China's independent position relative to the Soviet Union.

The Death of Stalin

In the early 1950s, Stalin, now an old man, apparently permitted his subordinates in the Politburo (enlarged and renamed the Presidium in October 1952) greater powers within their respective spheres. Also at the Nineteenth Party Congress, the name of the party was changed from the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik) to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU--see Glossary). Indicative of the Soviet leader's waning strength was top aide Georgiy Malenkov's presentation of the political report to the congress in Stalin's stead. Although the general secretary took a smaller part in the day-to-day administration of party affairs, he maintained his animosity toward potential enemies. In January 1953, the party newspaper announced that a group of predominantly Jewish doctors had murdered high Soviet officials, including Zhdanov. Western historians speculate that the disclosure of this "doctors' plot" may have been a prelude to an intended purge directed against Malenkov, Molotov, and secret police chief Lavrenti Beria. When Stalin died in March 1953, under circumstances that remain unclear, his inner circle, which for years had lived in dread of their leader, secretly rejoiced.

During his quarter-century of dictatorial control, Stalin had overseen impressive development in the Soviet Union. From a comparatively backward agricultural society, the country had been transformed into a powerful industrial state. But in the course of that transformation, many millions of people had been killed, and Stalin's use of repressive controls had become an integral function of his regime. The extent to which Stalin's system would be maintained or altered would be a question of vital concern to Soviet leaders for years after his passing.

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Russia - The Khrushchev Era

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The end of the Stalin era brought immediate liberalization in several aspects of Soviet life. Party leader Nikita S. Khrushchev denounced Stalin's tyrannical reign in 1956, signaling a sharp break with the past. Because Khrushchev lacked the all-encompassing power of Stalin, his time in office was marked by continuous maneuvering against political enemies much more real than Stalin's had been. Party control of cultural activity became much less restrictive with the onset of the first "thaw" in the mid-1950s. Khrushchev attempted reforms in both domestic and foreign policy, with mixed results. During his tenure (1953-64), world politics became much more complex as the insecurities of the Cold War persisted; Khrushchev ultimately was undone by a combination of failed policy innovations in agriculture, party politics, and industry.

Collective Leadership and the Rise of Khrushchev

Stalin died without naming an heir, and none of his associates had the power to make an immediate claim to supreme leadership. At first the deceased dictator's colleagues tried to rule jointly, with Malenkov holding the top position of prime minister. The first challenge to this arrangement occurred in 1953, when the powerful Beria plotted a coup. However, Beria, who had made many enemies during his bloody term as security chief, was arrested and executed by order of the Presidium. His death reduced the inordinate power of the secret police, although the party's strict control over the state security organs ended only with the demise of the Soviet Union itself (see Internal Security Before 1991, ch. 10).

After the elimination of Beria, the succession struggle became more subtle. Malenkov found a formidable rival in Khrushchev, whom the Presidium elected first secretary (Stalin's title of general secretary was abolished after his death) in September 1953. Of peasant background, Khrushchev had served as head of the Ukrainian party organization during and after World War II, and he was a member of the Soviet political elite during the late Stalin period. The rivalry between Malenkov and Khrushchev manifested itself publicly in the contrast between Malenkov's support for increased production of consumer goods and Khrushchev's stand-pat backing for continued development of heavy industry. After a poor showing by light industry and agriculture, Malenkov resigned as prime minister in February 1955. Because the new prime minister, Nikolay Bulganin, had little influence or real power, the departure of Malenkov made Khrushchev the most important figure within the collective leadership.

At the Twentieth Party Congress, held in February 1956, Khrushchev further advanced his position within the party by denouncing Stalin's crimes in a dramatic "secret speech." Khrushchev revealed that Stalin had arbitrarily liquidated thousands of party members and military leaders, thereby contributing to the initial Soviet defeats in World War II, and had established what Khrushchev characterized as a pernicious cult of personality. With this speech, Khrushchev not only distanced himself from Stalin and from Stalin's close associates, Molotov, Malenkov, and Lazar Kaganovich, but he also abjured the dictator's use of terror as an instrument of policy. As a direct result of the "de-Stalinization" campaign launched by Khrushchev's speech, the release of political prisoners, which had begun in 1953, was stepped up, and some of Stalin's victims were posthumously rehabilitated. Khrushchev intensified his campaign against Stalin at the Twenty-Second Party Congress in 1961, winning approval to remove Stalin's body from the Lenin Mausoleum, where it had originally been interred. De-Stalinization encouraged many in artistic and intellectual circles to speak out against the abuses of the former regime. Although Khrushchev's tolerance for critical creative works varied during his tenure, the new cultural period--known as the "thaw"--represented a clear break with the repression of the arts under Stalin.

After the Twentieth Party Congress, Khrushchev continued to expand his influence, although he still faced opposition. His rivals in the Presidium, spurred by reversals in Soviet foreign policy in Eastern Europe in 1956, potentially threatening economic reforms, and the de-Stalinization campaign, united to vote him out of office in June 1957. Khrushchev, however, demanded that the matter be put to the Central Committee of the CPSU, where he enjoyed strong support. The Central Committee overturned the Presidium's decision and expelled Khrushchev's opponents (Malenkov, Molotov, and Kaganovich), whom Khrushchev labeled the "antiparty group." In a departure from Stalinist procedure, Khrushchev did not order the imprisonment or execution of his defeated rivals but instead placed them in relatively minor offices.

Khrushchev moved to consolidate his power further in the ensuing months. In October he removed Marshal Zhukov (who had helped Khrushchev squelch the "antiparty group") from the office of defense minister, presumably because he feared Zhukov's influence in the armed forces. Khrushchev became prime minister in March 1958 when Bulganin resigned, thus formally confirming his predominant position in the state as well as in the party.

Despite his rank, Khrushchev never exercised the dictatorial authority of Stalin, nor did he ever completely control the party, even at the peak of his power. His attacks on members of the "antiparty group" at the Twenty-First Party Congress in 1959 and the Twenty-Second Party Congress in 1961 suggest that his opponents retained support within the party. Khrushchev's relative political insecurity probably accounted for some of his grandiose pronouncements, for example his 1961 promise that the Soviet Union would attain communism by 1980. His desire to undermine opposition and mollify critics explained the nature of many of his domestic reforms and the vacillations in his foreign policy toward the West.

Foreign Policy under Khrushchev

Almost immediately after Stalin died, the collective leadership began altering the conduct of Soviet foreign policy to permit better relations with the West and new approaches to the nonaligned countries. Malenkov introduced a change in tone by speaking out against nuclear war as a threat to civilization. Khrushchev initially contradicted this position, saying capitalism alone would be destroyed in a nuclear war, but he adopted Malenkov's view after securing his domestic political position. In 1955, to ease tensions between East and West, Khrushchev recognized permanent neutrality for Austria. Meeting President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Geneva later that year, Khrushchev confirmed a Soviet commitment to "peaceful coexistence" with capitalism. Regarding the developing nations, Khrushchev tried to win the goodwill of their national leaders, instead of following the established Soviet policy of shunning the governments while supporting local communist parties. Soviet influence over the international alignments of India and Egypt, as well as of other Third World countries, began in the middle of the 1950s. Cuba's entry into the socialist camp in 1961 was a coup for the Soviet Union.

With the gains of the new diplomacy came reversals as well. By conceding Yugoslavia's independent approach to communism in 1955 as well as by his de-Stalinization campaign, Khrushchev created an opening for unrest in Eastern Europe, where the policies of the Stalin era had been particularly onerous. In Poland, riots brought about a change in communist party leadership, which the Soviet Union reluctantly recognized in October 1956. A popular uprising against Soviet control then broke out in Hungary, where the local communist leaders, headed by Imre Nagy, called for a multiparty political system and withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact (see Glossary), the defensive alliance founded by the Soviet Union and its East European satellites in 1955. The Soviet army crushed the revolt early in November 1956, causing numerous casualties. Although the Hungarian Revolution hurt Soviet standing in world opinion, it demonstrated that the Soviet Union would use force if necessary to maintain control over its satellite states in Eastern Europe.

Outside the Soviet sphere of control, China grew increasingly restive under Chinese Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong. Chinese discontent with the new Soviet leadership stemmed from low levels of Soviet aid, feeble Soviet support for China in its disputes with Taiwan and India, and the new Soviet doctrine of peaceful coexistence with the West, which Mao viewed as a betrayal of Marxism-Leninism. Against Khrushchev's wishes, China embarked on a nuclear arms program, declaring in 1960 that communism could defeat "imperialism" in a nuclear war. The dispute between militant China and the more moderate Soviet Union escalated into a schism in the world communist movement after 1960. Albania left the Soviet camp and became an ally of China, Romania distanced itself from the Soviet Union in international affairs, and communist parties around the world split over whether they should be oriented toward Moscow or Beijing. The monolithic bloc of world communism had shattered.

Soviet relations with the West, especially the United States, seesawed between moments of relative relaxation and periods of tension and crisis. For his part, Khrushchev wanted peaceful coexistence with the West, not only to avoid nuclear war but also to permit the Soviet Union to develop its economy. Khrushchev's meetings with President Eisenhower in 1955 and President John F. Kennedy in 1961 and his tour of the United States in 1959 demonstrated the Soviet leader's desire for fundamentally smooth relations between the West and the Soviet Union and its allies. Yet Khrushchev also needed to demonstrate to Soviet conservatives and the militant Chinese that the Soviet Union was a firm defender of the socialist camp. Thus, in 1958 Khrushchev challenged the status of Berlin; when the West would not yield to his demands that the western sectors be incorporated into East Germany, he approved the erection of the Berlin Wall between the eastern and western sectors of the city in 1961. To maintain national prestige, Khrushchev canceled a summit meeting with Eisenhower in 1960 after Soviet air defense troops shot down a United States reconnaissance aircraft over Soviet territory. Finally, mistrust over military intentions clouded East-West relations during this time. The West feared the implications of Soviet innovations in space technology and saw in the buildup of the Soviet military an emerging "missile gap" in the Soviet Union's favor.

By contrast, the Soviet Union felt threatened by a rearmed Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), by a United States alliance system that seemed to be encircling the Soviet Union, and by the West's superior strategic and economic strength. To offset the United States military advantage and thereby improve the Soviet negotiating position, Khrushchev in 1962 tried to install nuclear missiles in Cuba, but he agreed to withdraw them after Kennedy ordered a blockade around the island nation. After coming close to war during the Cuban missile crisis, the Soviet Union and the United States took steps to reduce the nuclear threat. In 1963 the two countries established a "hot line" between Washington and Moscow to provide instant communication that would reduce the likelihood of accidental nuclear war. In the same year, the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which forbade nuclear weapons testing in the atmosphere.

Khrushchev's Reforms and Fall

Throughout his years of leadership, Khrushchev attempted to carry out reform in a range of fields. The problems of Soviet agriculture, a major concern of Khrushchev's, had earlier attracted the attention of the collective leadership, which introduced important innovations in this area of the Soviet economy. The state encouraged peasants to grow more on their private plots, increased payments for crops grown on collective farms, and invested more heavily in agriculture. In his dramatic Virgin Lands campaign in the mid-1950s, Khrushchev opened vast tracts of land to farming in the northern part of the Kazak Republic and neighboring areas of the Russian Republic. These new farmlands turned out to be susceptible to droughts, but in some years they produced excellent harvests. Later innovations by Khrushchev, however, proved counterproductive. His plans for growing corn and increasing meat and dairy production failed miserably, and his reorganization of collective farms into larger units produced confusion in the countryside.

Khrushchev's attempts at reform in industry and administrative organization created even greater problems. In a politically motivated move to weaken the central state bureaucracy, in 1957 Khrushchev did away with the industrial ministries in Moscow and replaced them with regional economic councils. Although he intended these economic councils to be more responsive to local needs, the decentralization of industry led to disruption and inefficiency. Connected with this decentralization was Khrushchev's decision in 1962 to recast party organizations along economic, rather than administrative, lines. The resulting bifurcation of the party apparatus into industrial and agricultural sectors at the oblast (province) level and below contributed to the disarray and alienated many party officials at all levels. Symptomatic of the country's economic difficulties was the abandonment in 1963 of Khrushchev's special seven-year economic plan (1959-65) two years short of its completion.

By 1964 Khrushchev's prestige had been damaged in a number of areas. Industrial growth had slowed, while agriculture showed no new progress. Abroad, the split with China, the Berlin crisis, and the Cuban fiasco hurt the Soviet Union's international stature, and Khrushchev's efforts to improve relations with the West antagonized many in the military. Lastly, the 1962 party reorganization caused turmoil throughout the Soviet political chain of command. In October 1964, while Khrushchev was vacationing in Crimea, the Presidium voted him out of office and refused to permit him to take his case to the Central Committee. Khrushchev retired as a private citizen after his successors denounced him for his "hare-brained schemes, half-baked conclusions, and hasty decisions." Yet along with his failed policies, Khrushchev must also be remembered for his public disavowal of Stalinism and the greater flexibility he brought to Soviet leadership after a long period of monolithic terror.

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Russia - The Brezhnev Era

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The regime that followed Khrushchev took a much more conservative approach to most problems. Stalinism did not return, but there was less latitude for individual expression. Foreign relations continued to roller-coaster, with the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 constituting a major setback for relations with the West. The Soviet economy continued to falter, reaping no apparent benefit from the end of Khrushchev's economic experimentation.

Collective Leadership and the Rise of Brezhnev

After removing Khrushchev from power, the leaders of the Politburo (as the Presidium was renamed in 1966 by the Twenty-Third Party Congress) and Secretariat again established a collective leadership. As was the case following Stalin's death, several individuals, including Aleksey Kosygin, Nikolay Podgornyy, and Leonid I. Brezhnev, contended for power behind a facade of unity. Kosygin accepted the position of prime minister, which he held until his retirement in 1980. Brezhnev, who took the post of first secretary, may have been viewed originally by his colleagues as an interim appointee.

Born to a Russian worker's family in 1906, Brezhnev became a Khrushchev protégé early in his career and through his patron's influence rose to membership in the Presidium. As his own power grew, Brezhnev built up a coterie of followers whom he, as first secretary, gradually maneuvered into powerful positions. At the same time, Brezhnev slowly demoted or isolated possible contenders for his office. For instance, in December 1965 he succeeded in elevating Podgornyy to the ceremonial position of chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, the highest legislative organization in the government, thus eliminating him as a rival. But Brezhnev's rise was very gradual; only in 1971, when he succeeded in appointing four close associates to the Politburo, did it become clear that his was the most influential voice in the collective leadership. After several more personnel changes, Brezhnev assumed the chairmanship of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet in 1977, confirming his primacy in both party and state.

The years after Khrushchev were notable for the stability of the cadres, groups of activists in responsible and influential positions in the party and state apparatus. By introducing the slogan "Trust in Cadres" in 1965, Brezhnev won the support of many bureaucrats wary of the constant reorganizations of the Khrushchev era and eager for security in established hierarchies. Indicative of the stability of the period is the fact that nearly half of the Central Committee members in 1981 were holdovers from fifteen years earlier. The corollary to this stability was the aging of Soviet leaders; the average age of Politburo members rose from fifty-five in 1966 to sixty-eight in 1982. The Soviet leadership (or the "gerontocracy," as it was referred to in the West) became increasingly conservative and ossified.

Conservative policies characterized the regime's agenda in the years after Khrushchev. Upon assuming power, the collective leadership not only reversed such Khrushchev policies as the bifurcation of the party, it also halted de-Stalinization. Indeed, favorable references to the dead dictator began to appear. The Soviet constitution of 1977, although differing in certain respects from the 1936 Stalin document, retained the general thrust of the latter. In contrast to the relative cultural freedom permitted during the early Khrushchev years, Brezhnev and his colleagues continued the more restrictive line of the later Khrushchev era. The leadership was unwilling or unable to employ Stalinist means to control Soviet society; instead, it opted to use repressive tactics against political dissidents even after the Soviet Union signed the Helsinki Accords of 1975, which bound signatory nations to higher standards of human rights observance. Dissidents persecuted during this time included writers and activists in outlawed religious, nationalist, and human rights movements. In the latter part of the Brezhnev era, the regime tolerated popular expressions of anti-Semitism. Under conditions of "developed socialism" (the historical stage that the Soviet Union attained in 1977, according to the CPSU), the precepts of Marxism-Leninism were taught and reinforced as a means to bolster the authority of the regime rather than as a tool for revolutionary action.

Foreign Policy of a Superpower

A major concern of Khrushchev's successors was to reestablish Soviet primacy in the community of communist states by undermining the influence of China. Although the new leaders originally approached China without hostility, Mao's condemnation of Soviet foreign policy as "revisionist" and his competition for influence in the Third World soon led to a worsening of relations between the two countries. The Sino-Soviet relationship reached a low point in 1969 when clashes broke out along the disputed Ussuri River boundary in the Far East. Later, the Chinese, intimidated by Soviet military strength, agreed not to patrol the border area claimed by the Soviet Union; but strained relations between the two countries continued into the early 1980s.

Under the collective leadership, the Soviet Union again used force in Eastern Europe, this time in Czechoslovakia. In 1968 reform-minded elements of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia rapidly began to liberalize their rule, loosen censorship, and strengthen Western ties. In response, Soviet and other Warsaw Pact troops entered Czechoslovakia and installed a new regime. Out of these events arose the so-called Brezhnev Doctrine (see Glossary), which warned that the Soviet Union would act to maintain its hegemony in Eastern Europe (see Central Europe, ch. 8). Soviet suppression of the reform movement reduced blatant gestures of defiance on the part of Romania and served as a threatening example to the Polish Solidarity trade union movement in 1980. But it also helped disillusion communist parties in Western Europe to the extent that by 1977 most of the leading parties embraced Eurocommunism, a pragmatic approach to ideology that freed them to pursue political programs independent of Soviet dictates.

Soviet influence in the developing world expanded somewhat during the 1970s. New communist or left-leaning governments having close relations with the Soviet Union took power in several countries, including Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Nicaragua. In the Middle East, the Soviet Union vied for influence by backing the Arabs in their dispute with Israel. After the June 1967 War in the Middle East, the Soviet Union rebuilt the defeated Syrian and Egyptian armies, but it suffered a setback when Egypt expelled Soviet advisers from the country in 1972 and subsequently entered into a closer relationship with the United States. The Soviet Union retained ties with Syria and supported Palestinians' claims to an independent state. But Soviet prestige among moderate Muslim states suffered in the 1980s as a result of Soviet military activities in Afghanistan (see The Middle East, ch. 8). Attempting to shore up a communist government in that country, Brezhnev sent in Soviet armed forces in December 1979, but a large part of the Afghan population resisted both the occupiers and the Marxist Afghan regime. The resulting war in Afghanistan continued to be an unresolved problem for the Soviet Union at the time of Brezhnev's death in 1982.

Soviet relations with the West first improved, then deteriorated in the years after Khrushchev. The gradual winding down of United States involvement in the war in Vietnam after 1968 opened the way for negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union on the subject of nuclear arms. The Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (commonly known as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty--NPT; see Glossary) went into effect in 1970, and the two countries began the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) the following year. At the Moscow summit meeting of May 1972, Brezhnev and President Richard M. Nixon signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty--see Glossary) and the Interim Agreement on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. Both agreements essentially froze the two countries' existing stockpiles of strategic defensive and offensive weapons. A period of détente, or relaxation of tensions, between the two superpowers emerged, with a further agreement concluded to establish ceilings on the number of offensive weapons on both sides in 1974. The crowning achievement of the era of détente was the signing in 1975 of the Helsinki Accords, which ratified the postwar status quo in Europe and bound the signatories to respect basic principles of human rights. In the years that followed, the Soviet Union was found to be in substantial violation of the accords' human rights provisions.

But even during the period of détente, the Soviet Union increased weapons deployments, with the result that by the end of the 1970s it achieved nuclear parity with--or even superiority to--the United States. The Soviet Union also intensified its condemnation of the NATO alliance in an attempt to weaken Western unity. Although a second SALT agreement was signed by Brezhnev and President Jimmy Carter in Vienna in 1979, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the Carter administration withdrew the agreement from consideration by the United States Senate, and détente effectively came to an end. Also in reaction to the Soviet involvement in Afghanistan, the United States imposed a grain embargo on the Soviet Union and boycotted the Moscow Summer Olympics in 1980. Tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union continued up to Brezhnev's death.

The Economy under Brezhnev

Despite Khrushchev's tinkering with economic planning, the economic system remained dependent on central plans drawn up with no reference to market mechanisms. Reformers, of whom the economist Yevsey Liberman was most noteworthy, advocated greater freedom for individual enterprises from outside controls and sought to turn the enterprises' economic objectives toward making a profit. Prime Minister Kosygin championed Liberman's proposals and succeeded in incorporating them into a general economic reform program approved in September 1965. This reform included scrapping Khrushchev's regional economic councils in favor of resurrecting the central industrial ministries of the Stalin era. Opposition from party conservatives and cautious managers, however, soon stalled the Liberman reforms, forcing the state to abandon them.

After Kosygin's short-lived attempt to revamp the economic system, planners reverted to drafting comprehensive centralized plans of the type first developed under Stalin. In industry, plans stressed the heavy and defense-related branches, slighting the light consumer-goods branches (see The Postwar Growth Period, ch. 6). As a developed industrial country, the Soviet Union by the 1970s found it increasingly difficult to maintain the high rates of growth in the industrial sector that it had enjoyed in earlier years. Increasingly large investment and labor inputs were required for growth, but these inputs were becoming more difficult to obtain. Although the goals of the five-year plans of the 1970s had been scaled down from previous plans, the targets remained largely unmet. The industrial shortfalls were felt most sharply in the sphere of consumer goods, where the public steadily demanded improved quality and increased quantity. Agricultural development continued to lag in the Brezhnev years. Despite steadily higher investments in agriculture, growth under Brezhnev fell below that attained under Khrushchev. Droughts occurring intermittently throughout the 1970s forced the Soviet Union to import large quantities of grain from Western countries, including the United States. In the countryside, Brezhnev continued the trend toward converting collective farms into state farms and raised the incomes of all farmworkers. Despite the wage increases, peasants still devoted much time and effort to their private plots, which provided the Soviet Union with a disproportionate share of its agricultural goods (see Agriculture, ch. 6).

The standard of living in the Soviet Union presented a problem to the Brezhnev leadership after the growth of the late 1960s stalled at a level well below that of most Western industrial (and some East European) countries. Although certain appliances and other goods became more accessible during the 1960s and 1970s, improvements in housing and food supply were slight. Shortages of consumer goods encouraged pilferage of government property and the growth of the black market. Vodka, however, remained readily available, and alcoholism was an important factor in both the declining life expectancy and the rising infant mortality rate that the Soviet Union experienced in the later Brezhnev years (see Health Conditions, ch. 5).

Culture and the Arts in the 1960s and 1970s

Progress in developing the education system was mixed during the Brezhnev years. In the 1960s and 1970s, the percentage of working-age people with at least a secondary education steadily increased. Yet at the same time, access to higher education grew more limited. By 1980 the percentage of secondary-school graduates admitted to universities had dropped to only two-thirds of the 1960 figure. Students accepted into universities increasingly came from professional families rather than worker or peasant households. This trend toward the perpetuation of the educated elite was not only a function of the superior cultural background of elite families but also, in many cases, a result of their power to influence admissions procedures (see The Soviet Heritage, ch. 5).

Progress in science also was variable under Brezhnev. In the most visible test of its advancement--the race with the United States to put a man on the moon--the Soviet Union failed, but through persistence the Soviet space program continued to make headway in other areas. In general, despite leads in such fields as metallurgy and thermonuclear fusion, Soviet science lagged behind that of the West, hampered in part by the slow development of computer technology.

In literature and the arts, a greater variety of creative works became accessible to the public than had previously been available. As in earlier decades, the state continued to determine what could be legally published or performed, punishing persistent offenders with exile or prison. Nonetheless, greater experimentation in art forms became permissible in the 1970s, with the result that more sophisticated and subtly critical work began to be produced. The regime loosened the strictures of socialist realism; thus, for instance, many protagonists of the novels of author Yuriy Trifonov concerned themselves with problems of daily life rather than with building socialism. In music, although the state continued to frown on such Western phenomena as jazz and rock, it began to permit Western musical ensembles specializing in these genres to make limited appearances. But the native balladeer Vladimir Vysotskiy, widely popular in the Soviet Union, was denied official recognition because of his iconoclastic lyrics (see Literature and the Arts, ch. 4).

In the religious life of the Soviet Union, a resurgence in popular devotion to the major faiths became apparent in the late 1970s despite continued de facto disapproval on the part of the authorities. This revival may have been connected with the generally growing interest of Soviet citizens in their respective national traditions (see The Russian Orthodox Church, ch. 4).

The Death of Brezhnev

Shortly after his cult of personality began to take root in the mid-1970s, Brezhnev began to experience periods of ill health. After Brezhnev suffered a stroke in 1975, Politburo members Mikhail Suslov and Andrey Kirilenko assumed some of the leader's functions for a time. Then, after another bout of poor health in 1978, Brezhnev delegated more of his responsibilities to Konstantin U. Chernenko, a longtime associate who soon began to be regarded as the heir apparent. His prospects of succeeding Brezhnev, however, were hurt by political problems plaguing the general secretary in the early 1980s. Not only were economic failures damaging Brezhnev's prestige, but scandals involving his family and political allies also were undermining his stature. Meanwhile, Yuriy V. Andropov, chief of the Committee for State Security (Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti--KGB; see Glossary), apparently also began a campaign to discredit Brezhnev. Andropov took over Suslov's functions after Suslov died in 1982, and he used his position to promote himself as the next CPSU general secretary. Although he suffered another stroke in March 1982, Brezhnev refused to relinquish his office. He died that November.

The Soviet Union paid a high price for the stability of the Brezhnev years. By avoiding necessary political and economic change, the Brezhnev leadership ensured the economic and political decline that the country experienced during the 1980s. This deterioration of power and prestige stood in sharp contrast to the dynamism that had marked the Soviet Union's revolutionary beginnings.

Russia

Russia - The Leadership Transition Period

Russia

By 1982 the decrepitude of the Soviet regime was obvious to the outside world, but the system was not yet ready for drastic change. The transition period that separated the Brezhnev and Gorbachev regimes resembled the former much more than the latter, although hints of reform emerged as early as 1983.

The Andropov Interregnum

Two days passed between Brezhnev's death and the announcement of the election of Andropov as the new general secretary, suggesting to many outsiders that a power struggle had occurred in the Kremlin. Once in power, however, Andropov wasted no time in promoting his supporters. In June 1983, he assumed the post of chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, thus becoming the ceremonial head of state. Brezhnev had needed thirteen years to acquire this post. During his short rule, Andropov replaced more than one-fifth of the Soviet ministers and regional party first secretaries and more than one-third of the department heads within the Central Committee apparatus. But Andropov's ability to reshape the top leadership was constrained by his poor health and the influence of his rival Chernenko, who had previously supervised personnel matters in the Central Committee.

Andropov's domestic policy leaned heavily toward restoring discipline and order to Soviet society. He eschewed radical political and economic reforms, promoting instead a small degree of candor in politics and mild economic experiments similar to those that had been associated with Kosygin in the mid-1960s. In tandem with such economic experiments, Andropov launched an anticorruption drive that reached high into the government and party ranks. Andropov also tried to boost labor discipline. Throughout the country, police stopped and questioned people in parks, public baths, and shops during working hours in an effort to reduce the rate of job absenteeism.

In foreign affairs, Andropov continued Brezhnev's policy of projecting Soviet power around the world. United States-Soviet relations, already poor since the late 1970s, began deteriorating more rapidly in March 1983, when President Ronald W. Reagan described the Soviet Union as an "evil empire . . . the focus of evil in the modern world," and Soviet spokesmen responded by attacking Reagan's "bellicose, lunatic anticommunism." In September 1983, the downing of a South Korean passenger airplane by a Soviet jet fighter resulted in the deaths of many United States citizens and further chilled United States-Soviet relations. United States-Soviet arms control talks on intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe were suspended by the Soviet Union in November 1983 in response to the beginning of United States deployments of intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe. The next month, Soviet officials also walked out of negotiations on reducing the number of strategic nuclear weapons.

Whether Andropov could have found a way out of the depths to which United States-Soviet relations had fallen, or whether he could have managed to lead the country out of its stagnation, will never be known. The Andropov regime was to last only fifteen months. The general secretary's health declined rapidly during the tense summer and fall of 1983, and he died in February 1984 after disappearing from public view for several months.

Andropov's most significant legacy to the Soviet Union was his discovery and promotion of Mikhail S. Gorbachev. Beginning in 1978, Gorbachev advanced in two years through the Kremlin hierarchy to full membership in the Politburo. His responsibilities for the appointment of personnel allowed him to make the contacts and distribute the favors necessary for a future bid to become general secretary. At this point, Western experts believed that Andropov was grooming Gorbachev as his successor. However, although Gorbachev acted as a deputy to the general secretary throughout Andropov's illness, Gorbachev's time had not yet arrived when his patron died early in 1984.

The Chernenko Interregnum

At seventy-two, Konstantin Chernenko was in poor health and unable to play an active role in policy making when he was chosen, after lengthy discussion, to succeed Andropov. But Chernenko's short time in office did bring some significant policy changes. The personnel changes and investigations into corruption undertaken by the Andropov regime came to an end. Chernenko advocated more investment in consumer goods and services and in agriculture. He also called for a reduction in the CPSU's micromanagement of the economy and greater attention to public opinion. However, KGB repression of Soviet dissidents also increased. Stalin was rehabilitated as a diplomat and a military leader, and there was discussion of returning the name Stalingrad to the city whose name had been changed back to Volgograd during the anti-Stalinist wave of the 1950s. The one major personnel change that Chernenko made was the firing of the chief of the General Staff, Nikolay Ogarkov, who had advocated less spending on consumer goods in favor of greater expenditures on weapons research and development.

Although Chernenko had called for renewed détente with the West, little progress was made toward closing the rift in East-West relations during his rule. The Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, retaliating for the United States boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. In the late summer of 1984, the Soviet Union also prevented a visit to West Germany by East German leader Erich Honecker. Fighting in Afghanistan also intensified, but in the late autumn of 1984 the United States and the Soviet Union did agree to resume arms control talks in early 1985.

The poor state of Chernenko's health made the question of succession an acute one. Chernenko gave Gorbachev high party positions that provided significant influence in the Politburo, and Gorbachev was able to gain the vital support of Foreign Minister Andrey Gromyko in the struggle for succession. When Chernenko died in March 1985, Gorbachev was well positioned to assume power.

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Russia - The Gorbachev Era

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In contrast to the uncertain handling of leadership vacancies in 1982 and 1984, upon the death of Chernenko the Politburo acted within hours to choose unanimously the healthy and relatively youthful Gorbachev as general secretary. In his speech before the Central Committee, Gorbachev announced that he would emphasize policies of labor discipline and increased productivity, calling for a "scientific and technological revolution" to revive heavy industry.

Gorbachev's First Year

Gorbachev quickly changed the composition of the highest CPSU and government bodies, eliminating Brezhnev-era appointees and promoting allies. Among the major changes in the July 1985 Central Committee plenum, Gorbachev promoted Georgian party first secretary Eduard Shevardnadze to full membership in the Politburo and nominated him as minister of foreign affairs, while Boris N. Yeltsin made his national political debut as one of two members added to the CPSU Secretariat. In December Yeltsin advanced again, this time as first secretary of the Moscow city committee of the party.

At the Twenty-Seventh Party Congress in February 1986, Gorbachev reaffirmed much of the existing CPSU doctrine and policies, giving little indication of future reforms. While calling for "radical reforms" in the economy, he merely reemphasized the need to increase production and to use more advanced technology in heavy industry. The new party program contained no surprises, and the congress made few changes in high-level CPSU bodies. Among the significant changes that did occur were the appointment to the Central Committee Secretariat of Aleksandr Yakovlev, an advocate of radical reform and the exposure of Stalin's crimes, and the promotion of Yeltsin to candidate membership in the Politburo. It was at this party gathering that Yeltsin first offended conservatives by denouncing the hidden privileges of the party elite.

See <>New Thinking: Foreign Policy under Gorbachev

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Russia - New Thinking: Foreign Policy under Gorbachev

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"New Thinking" was Gorbachev's slogan for a foreign policy based on shared moral and ethical principles to solve global problems rather than on Marxist-Leninist concepts of irreconcilable conflict between capitalism and communism. Rather than flaunt Soviet military power, Gorbachev chose to exercise political influence, ranging from the enhancement of diplomatic relations and economic cooperation to personally greeting the public in spur-of-the-moment encounters at home and abroad. Gorbachev used the world media skillfully and made previously unimaginable concessions in the resolution of regional conflicts and arms negotiations. In addition to helping the Soviet Union gain wider acceptance among the family of nations, the New Thinking's conciliatory policies toward the West and the loosening of Soviet control over Eastern Europe ultimately led to the collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War.

United States-Soviet relations began to improve soon after Gorbachev became general secretary. The first summit meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev took place in Geneva in November 1985. The following October, the two presidents discussed strategic arms reduction in Reykjavik, without making significant progress. In the late summer of 1987, the Soviet Union yielded on the long-standing issue of intermediate-range nuclear arms in Europe; at the Washington summit that December, Reagan and Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty--see Glossary), eliminating all intermediate- and shorter-range missiles from Europe. In April 1988, Afghanistan and Pakistan signed an accord, with the United States and Soviet Union as guarantors, calling for withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan by February 1989. The Soviet Union subsequently met the accord's deadline for withdrawal.

Gorbachev also assiduously pursued closer relations with China. Improved Sino-Soviet relations had long depended on the resolution of several issues, including Soviet support for the Vietnamese military presence in Cambodia, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and the large numbers of Soviet troops and weapons deployed along China's northern border. Soviet moves to resolve these issues led the Chinese government to agree to a summit meeting with Gorbachev in Beijing in May 1989, the first since the Sino-Soviet split in the 1950s.

Soviet relations with Europe improved markedly during the Gorbachev period, mainly because of the INF Treaty and Soviet acquiescence to the collapse of communist rule in Eastern Europe during 1989-90. Since the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the Soviet Union had adhered to the Brezhnev Doctrine upholding the existing order in socialist states. Throughout the first half of Gorbachev's rule, the Soviet Union continued this policy, but in July 1989, in a speech to the Council of Europe (see Glossary), Gorbachev insisted on "the sovereign right of each people to choose their own social system," a formulation that fell just short of repudiating the Brezhnev Doctrine. By then, however, the Soviet Union's control over its outer empire already was showing signs of disintegration.

That June the communist regime in Poland had held relatively free parliamentary elections, and the communists had lost every contested seat. In Hungary the communist regime had steadily accelerated its reforms, rehabilitating Imre Nagy, the reform communist leader of the 1956 uprising, and dismantling fortifications along Hungary's border with Austria. At the end of the summer, East German vacationers began escaping to the West through this hole in the Iron Curtain. They also poured into the West German embassy in Prague. The East German state began to hemorrhage as thousands of its citizens sought a better and freer life in the West.

With the East German government under increasing pressure to stem the outflow, East Germans who stayed behind demonstrated on the streets for reform. When the ouster of East German communist party leader Honecker failed to restore order, the authorities haphazardly opened the Berlin Wall in November 1989. The same night the Berlin Wall fell, the Bulgarian Communist Party deposed its longtime leader, Todor Zhivkov. Two weeks later, Czechoslovakia embarked on its "Velvet Revolution," quietly deposing the country's communist leaders. At an impromptu summit meeting in Malta in December 1989, Gorbachev and United States president George H.W. Bush declared an end to the Cold War.

Throughout 1990 and 1991, Soviet-controlled institutions in Eastern Europe were dismantled. At the January 1990 Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon--see Glossary) summit, several East European states called for disbanding that fundamental economic organization of the Soviet empire, and the summit participants agreed to recast their multilateral ties. At the next summit, in January 1991, Comecon dissolved itself. In March 1990, Gorbachev called for converting the Warsaw Pact to a political organization, but instead the body officially disbanded in July 1991. Soviet troops were withdrawn from Central Europe over the next four years--from Czechoslovakia and Hungary by mid-1991 and from Poland in 1993. By midsummer 1990, Gorbachev and West German chancellor Helmut Kohl had worked out an agreement by which the Soviet Union acceded to a unified Germany within NATO.

By the June 1990 Washington summit, the United States-Soviet relationship had improved to such an extent that Gorbachev characterized it as almost a "partnership" between the two countries, and President Bush noted that the relationship had "moved a long, long way from the depths of the Cold War." In August 1990, the Soviet Union joined the United States in condemning the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and supported United Nations resolutions to restore Kuwait's sovereignty. In November 1990, the United States, the Soviet Union, and most of the European states signed the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE Treaty--see Glossary), making reductions in battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery, and fighter aircraft "from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains."

During the Gorbachev years, improvements in United States-Soviet relations were not without complications. For example, in 1991 Soviet envoy Yevgeniy Primakov's attempted mediation of the Kuwait conflict threatened to undercut the allied coalition's demand that Iraq withdraw unconditionally from Kuwait. After the signing of the CFE Treaty, disputes arose over Soviet compliance with the treaty and the Soviet military's efforts to redesignate weapons or move them so that they would not be subject to the treaty's terms. United States pressure led to the resolution of these issues, and the CFE Treaty entered into force in 1992. The Soviet crackdown on Baltic independence movements in January 1991 also slowed the improvement of relations with the United States.

By the summer of 1991, the United States-Soviet relationship showed renewed signs of momentum, when Bush and Gorbachev met in Moscow to sign the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I--see Glossary). Under START, for the first time large numbers of intercontinental ballistic missiles were slated for elimination. The treaty foresaw a reduction of approximately 35 percent in United States ballistic missile warheads and about 50 percent in Soviet ballistic missile warheads within seven years of treaty ratification. Gorbachev recently had attended the Group of Seven (G-7; see Glossary) summit to discuss his proposals for Western aid. Gorbachev also established diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and, in the waning days of the Soviet Union's existence, Israel.

Gorbachev's foreign policy won him much praise and admiration. For his efforts to reduce superpower tensions around the world, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1990. Ironically, as a result of frequent rumors of a conservative coup, the leader of the Soviet empire, whose previous rulers had kept opposition figures Lech Walesa and Andrey Sakharov from collecting their Nobel prizes, was unable to collect his own until June 1991.

Perestroika

Domestic policy in the Gorbachev era was conducted primarily under three programs, whose names became household words: perestroika (rebuilding--see Glossary), glasnost (public voicing--see Glossary), and demokratizatsiya (democratization--see Glossary). The first of these was applied primarily to the economy, but it was meant to refer to society in general. Over the course of Soviet rule, society in the Soviet Union had grown more urbanized, better educated, and more complex. Old methods of exhortation and coercion were inappropriate, yet Brezhnev's government had denied change rather than mastered it. Despite Andropov's efforts to reintroduce some measure of discipline, the communist superpower remained stagnant. Once Gorbachev began to call for bolder reforms, the "acceleration" gave way to perestroika .

Throughout the early years of his rule, Gorbachev spoke of perestroika , but only in early 1987 did the slogan become a full-scale campaign and yield practical results. At that time, measures were adopted on the formation of cooperatives and joint ventures (see The Perestroika Program, ch. 6). At a plenum of the CPSU Central Committee in January 1987, Gorbachev explicitly applied the label to his program to devolve economic and political control. In economics, perestroika meant greater leeway in decision making for plant managers, allowance for a certain degree of individual initiative and the chance to make a profit.

In January 1988, the new Law on State Enterprises went into effect, allowing enterprises to set many of their own prices and wages. Results were disappointing, however, because workers demanded steep wage increases. As the government printed more money, products fetched higher prices outside the official economy. Thus, goods usually sold in state stores at fixed prices quickly disappeared as speculators snatched them up or producers ceased making deliveries. By September 1988, many staple products could not be found even in Moscow. During 1988-89 Gorbachev also issued orders to the oblast party committees to cease interfering in the economy, and he cut the staffs of state committees and ministries involved in the economy in order to prevent them from further tampering with it. Without the state and the party to hold it together and guide it, the economy went into free-fall (see Unforeseen Results of Reform, ch. 6).

In the summer of 1990, Yeltsin, who had been elected chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Republic in May, backed a radical economic reform plan that would have spelled the end of many special interests within the party. Gorbachev in turn presented a much less extreme "Presidential Plan," which the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union passed. Yeltsin threatened that the Russian Republic would proceed with the initial radical plan, but shortly thereafter he suspended it.

In January 1991, Gorbachev replaced Prime Minister Nikolay Ryzhkov, who had become identified with the regime's economic failures, with Valentin Pavlov, an opponent of radical reform. Pavlov immediately created a mass panic by withdrawing large-denomination banknotes from circulation and limiting the public's ability to convert them to lower-denomination notes. The move, designed to reduce the vast sums of money circulating and to punish "black marketeers" hoarding large banknotes, only intensified the people's mistrust of the Soviet government. The economy continued to spiral downward, and Gorbachev and Shevardnadze had to ask the West for financial aid in order to stave off collapse. Gorbachev's retreat marked the last time economic reform dominated the agenda of a Soviet government.

Glasnost

As perestroika was failing, the two policies designed to promote it, glasnost and demokratizatsiya , were moving out of control. To mobilize the populace in support of perestroika , Gorbachev and his aide Aleksandr Yakovlev introduced glasnost , a policy of liberalized information flow aimed at publicizing the corruption and inefficiency of Brezhnev's policies and colleagues--qualities that the Russian public long had recognized and accepted in its leadership but that had never been acknowledged by the Kremlin. Like perestroika , this policy had unintended results. Gorbachev had meant to shape the new information emanating from his government in a way that would encourage political participation in support of his economic and social programs. Instead, the process of calling into question the whole Stalinist system inevitably led to questions about the wisdom of Lenin, the man who had allowed Stalin to rise in the first place. Because Lenin was the undisputed founder of the Soviet Union, the process then moved even farther as open questioning signified that somehow the Soviet Union, supposedly immune to such doubts, had lost its raison d'être.

The official announcement of glasnost , scheduled for mid-1986, was overtaken by an event that lent new meaning to the term. In April 1986, a reactor explosion at the Chernobyl' Nuclear Power Station, located in northern Ukraine, covered Belorussia, the Baltics, parts of Russia, and Scandinavia with a cloud of radioactive dust (see table 3, Appendix). The efforts to contain the accident and its attendant publicity were handled with exceptional ineptitude, setting glasnost back by six months as official news sources scrambled to control the flow of information to the public.

Despite the clumsy reaction of the Soviet government to the Chernobyl' episode, Gorbachev turned the accident in his favor by citing it as an example of the need for economic perestroika . Taking their cue from Gorbachev, throughout the Soviet Union the news media reported numerous examples of mismanagement of resources, waste, ecological damage, and the effects of this damage on public health. In the Soviet republics, these revelations had the unintended effect of accelerating the formation of popular fronts pushing for autonomy or independence.

The officially controlled phase of glasnost began the examination of "blank pages" in Soviet history. Literary journals filled up with long-suppressed works by writers such as Anna Akhmatova, Joseph Brodsky, Mikhail Bulgakov, Boris Pasternak, and Andrey Platonov. Newspapers and magazines carried stories of Stalin-era acts of repression, concentration camps, and mass graves. The works of Marxist theoretician Nikolay Bukharin, shot in 1938 for alleged rightist deviation, appeared. By revealing communist party crimes against the Soviet peoples, and the peasants in particular, glasnost further undermined Soviet federalism and contributed to the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Demokratizatsiya

By 1987 Gorbachev had concluded that introducing his reforms required more than discrediting the old guard. He changed his strategy from trying to work through the CPSU as it existed and instead embraced a degree of political liberalization. In January 1987, he appealed over the heads of the party to the people and called for demokratizatsiya , the infusion of "democratic" elements into the Soviet Union's sterile, monolithic political process. For Gorbachev, demokratizatsiya meant the introduction of multicandidate--not multiparty--elections for local party and soviet offices. In this way, he hoped to rejuvenate the party with progressive personnel who would carry out his institutional and policy reforms. The CPSU would retain sole custody of the ballot box.

Despite Gorbachev's intentions, the elements of a multiparty system already were crystallizing. In contrast to previous Soviet rulers, Gorbachev had permitted the formation of unofficial organizations. In October 1987, the newspaper of the CPSU youth, Komsomol'skaya pravda , reported that informal groups, so-called neformaly , were "growing as fast as mushrooms in the rain." The concerns of these groups included the environment, sports, history, computers, philosophy, art, literature, and the preservation of historical landmarks. In August 1987, forty-seven neformaly held a conference in Moscow without interference from the authorities. In fact, one of the unofficial attendees was Yeltsin. In early 1988, some 30,000 neformaly existed in the Soviet Union. One year later, their number had more than doubled. These informal groups begot popular fronts, which in turn spawned political parties. The first of those parties was the Democratic Union, formed in May 1988.

Russia

Russia - Gorbachev's Reform Dilemma

Russia

Gorbachev increasingly found himself caught between criticism by conservatives who wanted to stop reform and liberals who wanted to accelerate it. When one of these groups pressed too hard, Gorbachev resorted to political methods from the Brezhnev era. For example, when Yeltsin spoke out in 1987 against the slow pace of reform, he was stripped of his Politburo and Moscow CPSU posts. At the party meeting where Yeltsin was removed from his post, Gorbachev personally subjected him to verbal abuse reminiscent of the Stalin era.

Despite some setbacks, reform efforts continued. In June 1988, at the CPSU's Nineteenth Party Conference, the first held since 1941, Gorbachev launched radical reforms meant to reduce party control of the government apparatus. He again called for multicandidate elections for regional and local legislatures and party first secretaries and insisted on the separation of the government apparatus from party bodies at the regional level as well. In the face of an overwhelming majority of conservatives, Gorbachev still was able to rely on party discipline to force through acceptance of his reform proposals. Experts called the conference a successful step in promoting party-directed change from above.

At an unprecedented emergency Central Committee plenum called by Gorbachev in September 1988, three stalwart old-guard members left the Politburo or lost positions of power. Andrey Gromyko retired from the Politburo, Yegor Ligachev was relieved of the ideology portfolio within the Secretariat, and Boris Pugo replaced Politburo member Mikhail Solomentsev as chairman of the powerful Party Control Committee. The Supreme Soviet then elected Gorbachev chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. These changes meant that the Secretariat, until that time solely responsible for the development and implementation of party policies, had lost much of its power.

Meaningful changes also occurred in governmental structures. In December 1988, the Supreme Soviet approved formation of a Congress of People's Deputies, which constitutional amendments had established as the Soviet Union's new legislative body. The Supreme Soviet then dissolved itself. The amendments called for a smaller working body of 542 members, also called the Supreme Soviet, to be elected from the 2,250-member Congress of People's Deputies. To ensure a communist majority in the new parliament, Gorbachev reserved one-third of the seats for the CPSU and other public organizations.

The March 1989 election of the Congress of People's Deputies marked the first time that voters of the Soviet Union ever chose the membership of a national legislative body. The results of the election stunned the ruling elite. Throughout the country, voters crossed off the ballot unopposed communist candidates, many of them prominent party officials, taking advantage of the nominal privilege of withholding approval of the listed candidates. However, the Congress of People's Deputies that emerged still contained 87 percent CPSU members. Genuine reformists won only some 300 seats.

In May the initial session of the Congress of People's Deputies electrified the country. For two weeks on live television, deputies from around the country railed against every scandal and shortcoming of the Soviet system that could be identified. Speakers spared neither Gorbachev, the KGB, nor the military. Nevertheless, a conservative majority maintained control of the congress. Gorbachev was elected without opposition to the chairmanship of the new Supreme Soviet; then the Congress of People's Deputies elected a large majority of old-style party apparatchiks to fill the membership of its new legislative body. Outspoken party critic Yeltsin obtained a seat in the Supreme Soviet only when another deputy relinquished his position. The first Congress of People's Deputies was the last moment of real control for Gorbachev over the political life of the Soviet Union.

In the summer of 1989, the first opposition bloc in the Congress of People's Deputies formed under the name of the Interregional Group. The members of this body included almost all of the liberal members of the opposition. Its cochairmen were Yeltsin, Andrey Sakharov, historian Yuriy Afanas'yev, economist Gavriil Popov, and academician Viktor Pal'm. Afanas'yev summed up the importance of this event, saying, "It is difficult for Gorbachev to get used to the thought that he is no longer the sole leader of perestroika . Other forces are already fulfilling that role." Afanas'yev had in mind not only the Interregional Group. He also was referring to the miners striking in Ukraine, Kazakstan, and Siberia, and the popular fronts in the Baltics, which were agitating for independence. In January 1990, a group of reformist CPSU members announced the formation of Democratic Platform, the first such CPSU faction since Lenin banned opposition groups in the 1920s.

A primary issue for the opposition was the repeal of Article 6 of the constitution, which prescribed the supremacy of the CPSU over all the institutions in society. Faced with opposition pressure for the repeal of Article 6 and needing allies against hard-liners in the CPSU, Gorbachev obtained the repeal of Article 6 by the February 1990 Central Committee plenum. Later that month, before the Supreme Soviet, he proposed the creation of a new office of president of the Soviet Union, to be elected by the Congress of People's Deputies rather than the people. Accordingly, in March 1990 Gorbachev was elected for the third time in eighteen months to a position equivalent to Soviet head of state. Former first deputy chairman of the Supreme Soviet Anatoliy Luk'yanov became chairman of the Supreme Soviet.

By the time of the Twenty-Eighth Party Congress in July 1990, the CPSU was regarded by liberals, intellectuals, and the general public as anachronistic and unable to lead the country. The CPSU branches in many of the fifteen Soviet republics began to split into large pro-sovereignty and pro-union factions, further weakening central party control.

In a series of humiliations, the CPSU had been separated from the government and stripped of its leading role in society and its function in overseeing the national economy. For seventy years, it had been the cohesive force that kept the union together; without the authority of the party in the Soviet center, the nationalities of the constituent republics pulled harder than ever to break away from the union.

Russia

Russia - Nationality Ferment

Russia

The issue Gorbachev understood least of all was that of the nationalities. Stalin, a Georgian, had been a commissar for nationalities, Khrushchev had built his career suppressing Ukrainian nationalism, and Brezhnev had risen through his work in Ukraine and Moldavia. Gorbachev was a Russian whose political background included little time outside Russia proper. His policies of glasnost and demokratizatsiya , which loosened authoritarian controls over society, facilitated and fueled the airing of national grievances in the republics. As the peoples of the Soviet Union began to assert their respective national characters, they clashed with ethnic minorities within their republics and with Soviet authorities (see table 4, Appendix).

As early as 1985, reports of clashes between Estonian and Russian students began seeping into the West. By 1987 the Baltic republics all had developed popular fronts and were calling for the restoration of their independence. In November 1988, Estonia issued a declaration of sovereignty, claiming that all Estonian laws superseded Soviet laws. Lithuania and Latvia followed with their own declarations of sovereignty in May and July 1989, respectively.

The first major flare-up of ethnic violence came in December 1986, when Gorbachev replaced the first secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakstan with an ethnic Russian. A large crowd gathered in the Kazakstani capital, Alma-Ata (renamed Almaty after independence), to protest the move. When a force of 10,000 Soviet troops was deployed in Alma-Ata to disperse the crowds, demonstrators rioted.

In 1987 citizens of the autonomous oblast of Nagorno-Karabakh, a landlocked enclave of Armenians inside Azerbaijani territory, petitioned the Central Committee, requesting that the region be made part of the Armenian Republic. The Central Committee's rejection of this petition was followed by demonstrations in the autonomous oblast and similar displays of sympathy in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. A promise by Gorbachev to establish a commission to study the Karabakh issue provoked outrage in Azerbaijan. After an anti-Armenian pogrom took place outside Baku, the Azerbaijani capital, large-scale fighting erupted between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, with both groups claiming to have been victimized by the Soviet regime in Moscow. In both republics, people rallied around popular fronts, which later became movements for independence from the Soviet Union. By the end of 1988, Georgia had developed its own popular front as well. In April 1989, more than twenty Georgians were killed as Soviet troops brutally dispersed demonstrators in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.

Ethnic violence became a frequent occurrence throughout the Soviet Union--in Uzbekistan's Fergana Valley between Uzbeks and Meskhetian Turks, and in Georgia, when that republic's Abkhazian Autonomous Republic and South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast sought status as separate Soviet republics. Wherever Soviet forces intervened, they either failed to master the situation or contributed to the violence. In January 1990, the Armenian Supreme Soviet enacted a measure giving its own legislation supremacy over Soviet law. In the Armenian government's view, this meant that the Soviet demarcation of autonomous jurisdictions such as Nagorno-Karabakh no longer was binding on Armenians in that enclave. That vote caused rioting to break out in Azerbaijan. When the Soviet government imposed a state of emergency in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku and deployed 11,000 troops to end the anti-Armenian and anticommunist riots, at least eighty-three Azerbaijanis were killed.

As it had in the republics along the Soviet southern perimeter, national consciousness reawakened in Ukraine and Belorussia. In Ukraine the first popular front, the Ukrainian Popular Movement for Perestroika, known as Rukh, held its founding congress in September 1989. On March 4, 1990, Ukraine and Belorussia elected new legislatures. In both cases, opposition movements and coalitions made good showings despite ballot tampering and legal obstacles erected by authorities.

In March 1990, Lithuania declared independence, and Gorbachev imposed a partial economic blockade in response. That same year, riots also took place in Tajikistan and in the Kyrgyz city of Osh, leading to hundreds of deaths and the imposition of a state of emergency in several areas of Kyrgyzstan. The Moldavian government also declared a state of emergency when Gagauz separatists tried to declare the independence of their region, prompting Gorbachev to deploy troops from the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Moldavia. Violence between ethic Romanian Moldavians and Russians broke out in the Transnistria region of the republic a few weeks later. In October 1990, multiparty legislative elections in Georgia resulted in victory for the pro-independence bloc, and the new Supreme Soviet in Tbilisi began to move toward declaring independence. The major challenge to Gorbachev, however, came not from the non-Russian constituent republics but from Russia itself.

Many institutions that existed in the other constituent republics did not exist in Russia. Russia had no television stations addressing specifically Russian interests. Unlike other republics, the Russian Republic had no academy of sciences (see Glossary). It also lacked a ministry of internal affairs, a republic-level KGB, and a Russian communist party. Between 1918 and 1925, the CPSU had been called the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik), but it was known as the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik) from 1925 until 1952 when Stalin changed the name to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Such a policy by the communists had aimed at tying the Russian people as closely as possible to the Soviet state. The strategy was based on the belief that, lacking internal security forces and the political base that would be furnished by a Russian communist party, the Russians would be unlikely to engage in opposition to the system. By 1990, however, Russians were beginning to think differently. Although the predominantly Russian CPSU promoted policies of Russification to facilitate its rule and to placate the large Russian population, in the late 1980s average Russians increasingly saw the CPSU's efforts to co-opt and coerce the other nationalities as debasing the Russian language and culture and depleting Russian natural and financial resources. Gorbachev viewed this growing body of opinion with fear, but Yeltsin, who had been learning from the Baltic republics' struggle, saw it as providing an opportunity. Yeltsin took up the cause of Russia's rights within the union, making alliances with both Russian nationalists and Russian liberals.

In July 1990, Gorbachev finally acceded to the founding of the Russian Communist Party, which became a bastion of Russian nationalist conservatism and opposition to Gorbachev. The party failed to gain control of the Russian Republic's legislative bodies, however. Instead, it faced formidable competition in the Russian Congress of People's Deputies, which by that time was dominated by Yeltsin. Yeltsin's May 1990 election as chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet had made him the de facto president of the Russian Republic, just as Gorbachev's election as chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union had made him de facto president of the country in 1989.

Yeltsin's new position enabled him to pose a serious challenge to Gorbachev. On June 11, 1990, Russia issued its declaration of sovereignty, the first republic to do so after the Baltic states. This move challenged Soviet jurisdiction over the very heart of the union. By the end of November, another nine republics had followed Russia's lead. The last instance of cooperation between Yeltsin and Gorbachev in this period was their effort in the fall of 1990 to draft a common economic policy. However, Gorbachev's desire to protect the favored position of the military-industrial establishment caused the effort to founder and the two men's relationship to deteriorate rapidly.

As the leader of the most populous and richest union republic, Yeltsin became the champion of all the republics' rights against control from the center. However, he did not advocate the breakup of the Soviet Union. Yeltsin originally hoped for the creation of a new federation anchored by bilateral and multilateral treaties between and among the union republics, with Russia as the preeminent member. When Soviet forces cracked down on the Baltic states in January 1991, Yeltsin went to Estonia in a show of support for the Baltics, signing agreements with the Baltic states that recognized their borders and promising assistance in the event of an attack on them from the Soviet center.

In June 1990, Gorbachev already had initiated talks on a new union treaty. The Supreme Soviet debated provisions of a draft union treaty throughout 1990 and into 1991. With tensions increasing between the center and the constituent republics, Gorbachev scheduled a national referendum in March 1991. The Baltic states, Armenia, Georgia, and Moldavia refused to participate. In the Russian referendum, Yeltsin included a question on the creation of a Russian presidential post. The overall referendum vote gave approval to Gorbachev's position on preserving the union, but the voters in Russia also approved Yeltsin's call for a president elected directly by the people. On June 12, Yeltsin, whose popularity had risen steadily as Gorbachev's plummeted, was elected president of the Russian Republic with 57 percent of the vote.

Russia

Russia - The August Coup and Its Aftermath

Russia

Gorbachev hoped that he could at least hold the union together in a decentralized form. However, in the eyes of the remaining CPSU conservatives, he had gone too far because his new union treaty dispersed too much of the central government's power to the republics. On August 19, 1991, one day before Gorbachev and a group of republic leaders were due to sign the union treaty, a group calling itself the State Emergency Committee attempted to seize power in Moscow. The group announced that Gorbachev was ill and had been relieved of his state post as president. Soviet Union vice president Gennadiy Yanayev was named acting president. The committee's eight members included KGB chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov, Internal Affairs Minister Pugo, Defense Minister Dmitriy Yazov, and Prime Minister Pavlov, all of whom had risen to their posts under Gorbachev.

Large public demonstrations against the coup leaders took place in Moscow and Leningrad, and divided loyalties in the defense and security establishments prevented the armed forces from crushing the resistance that Yeltsin led from Russia's parliament building. On August 21, the coup collapsed, and Gorbachev returned to Moscow.

Once back in Moscow, Gorbachev acted as if he were oblivious to the changes that had occurred in the preceding three days. As he returned to power, Gorbachev promised to purge conservatives from the CPSU. He resigned as general secretary but remained president of the Soviet Union. The coup's failure brought a series of collapses of all-union institutions. Yeltsin took control of the central broadcasting company and key economic ministries and agencies, and in November he banned the CPSU and the Russian Communist Party.

By December 1991, all of the republics had declared independence, and negotiations over a new union treaty began anew. Both the Soviet Union and the United States had recognized the independence of the Baltic republics in September. For several months after his return to Moscow, Gorbachev and his aides made futile attempts to restore stability and legitimacy to the central institutions. In November seven republics agreed to a new union treaty that would form a confederation called the Union of Sovereign States. But Ukraine was unrepresented in that group, and Yeltsin soon withdrew to seek additional advantages for Russia. In the absence of the CPSU, there was no way to keep the Soviet Union together. From Yeltsin's perspective, Russia's participation in another union would be senseless because inevitably Russia would assume responsibility for the increasingly severe economic woes of the other republics.

On December 8, Yeltsin and the leaders of Belarus (which adopted that name in August 1991) and Ukraine met at Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where they created the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS--see Glossary) and annulled the 1922 union treaty that had established the Soviet Union. Another signing ceremony was held in Alma-Ata on December 21 to expand the CIS to include the five republics of Central Asia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Georgia did not join until 1993; the three Baltic republics never joined. On December 25, 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Exactly six years after Gorbachev had appointed Boris Yeltsin to run the Moscow city committee of the party, Yeltsin now was president of the largest successor state to the Soviet Union.

Russia





CITATION: Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

Please note: This text comes from the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.


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