Russia’s history deals with Russia from the earliest settlements in Crimea in the 6th century BCE. and to this day. The first state formation in the area were Rus (in Scandinavia called Gardarike) and Novgorod, which was established in 800 CE. From the late 1200s followed the Moscow kingdom, which eventually became the tsar -Russia.
After the Russian Revolution in 1917, Russia became a republic, which from 1922 became a member of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was disbanded in 1991.
Russia’s earliest history
The earliest written accounts of the steppe people north of the Black Sea (shooters, sarmatians, gutters, hunters, avars) were handed down by the Greeks, as early as the 6th century BCE. build colonies in Crimea.
The forest areas further north were inhabited by Finno-Ugric peoples. Southwest of them and northwest of the steppe, lived Baltic tribes.
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Early Middle Ages
In the twentieth century the Germanic Goths invaded the Black Sea region, but in 375 the Mongol Huns crossed the Volga, the Goths were pushed out and retained only Crimea. When Attila died in 453, the female kingdom broke down. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Russia.
Slaves lived in the forests of Poland and Belarus, which from the 500s of support advanced east and northeast. Until the 8th century, these Eastern Slavs were divided into a large number of tribes (the oldest Russian chronicle counts 15 tribes). They were politically gathered in connection with the Scandinavians (wards) establishing themselves as merchants and princes in Novgorod (in the north-east called Holmgard), Ladoga, Kiev and elsewhere along the waterway “from the wards to the Greeks”.
Trade in Byzantium was expanded and Kiev, the southernmost major outpost, developed into the capital of the First East Slavic Empire. The prince here gained control of the entire route between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. The kingdom was called “Kiev-Rus”, a name that lives on in the word ” Russian “. Most historians have considered this the first Russian state formation, but politically it is disputed. Since most of Kiev-Rus (Kiev Kingdom) was within what is today Ukraine, Ukrainian historians claim that this was a Ukrainian (proto) state.
In all cases, there was no ethnic differentiation among the East Slavs ((large) Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians) until the 1300s and 1400s.
Kiev State to 1169
Initially, the “kingdom” was just a loose union of East Slavic tribes, held together by the princes of Kiev, Oleg (Helge) to 912 and Igor (Ingvar) in 912−945. They were, like most of the shepherds (druzhina) of Scandinavian origin. The dynasty was founded by Igor’s father Rjurik (Rørek), and ruled in Russia until 1598. The rulers soon began to use Slavic names, in the second half of the 900s also the languages of their Slavic subjects.
The prince and the shepherd were directly engaged in the revenue-generating foreign trade. Export goods were honey, wax and fur, which were partly taken as taxes; until the middle of the 9th century, the prince and his companion went around in winter and recovered these benefits. They also plundered raids to other countries, and in order to secure their merchants favorable conditions in the trade of Byzantium, supported the Kiev prince several times just before the walls of Constantinople. First Svyatoslav was crushed in the 969 Khazar Empire, as part of the East Slavic tribes had paid tribute to in the 800s.
It was only after Christianity was introduced that the princes abandoned the looting and went on to consolidate the state inward. Already Princess Olga (Helga, dead 969), who ruled for her minor son Svyatoslav, created the core of a firmer administration. Svatoslav’s son Vladimir the Great (978-1015) entered into a military alliance with the Byzantine Emperor Basileios 2, got his sister as his wife and embarked on Christianizing the people with the help of Bulgarian and Greek priests. They brought with them the Church Slavic liturgy, in a language understood by the East Slavs.
Vladimir’s work to expand the state and church administration was continued by Yaroslav the Wise (1019–1054). He organized the church under a metropolitan in Kiev that was subject to the patriarch of Constantinople in 1037. From now on, the church gained a special position in the Russian Empire, a dominant position in cultural and intellectual life, and soon also significant political influence. Jaroslav promoted Church Slavic teaching and literature and erected the first large stone structures (for example, the famous Sofia Church in Kiev). His decrees formed the original core of the first Russian Code of Law, Russkaya Pravda.
In the time of Yaroslav, all three Norwegian kings visited the Russian Empire and stayed at his court (Olav the saint in 1028–1030, Magnus the good in 1028–1035 and Harald Hardråde, who married Yaroslav’s daughter Ellisiv (Elisabet)).
Yaroslav shared his kingdom between the sons, but gave the oldest precedence with Kiev as the city of residence. The intention was to prevent family feud and the division of the kingdom, but even though the primacy of Kiev in the first period was at least theoretically respected, this did not prevent the descendants from waging war against each other. This hampered an effective defense against the Polo vets, who mastered the steppe in the south and hindered trade with Byzantium.
A lordship meeting in 1097 divided the kingdom “forever” between the princes as hereditary property; The Kiev prince should only take care of common interests. “Rus” was now a first-rate union, and the rollout quickly developed into a nobility of big-landowners (boers). Kiev’s Vladimir 2 Monomakh was able to impose his will on the other princes for a short time, but after his death soon came to feud again, although some kind of unity remained the political ideal until 1169.
Dissolution time 1169−1240
After Monomakh’s death, each of the principalities increasingly operated on their own, although Galicia in the southwest and Vladimir-Susdal in the northeast came to play a particularly prominent role. Kiev definitely lost its position as chief princess when Vladimir-Susdal, Andrei Bogoljubsky, took the unprecedented step of occupying and destroying the city in 1169. He refused to reside there.
Its economic and cultural significance was lost to Kiev when the Mongols destroyed it in 1240, and religiously it was out of the picture when the metropolitan moved to Vladimir in 1300. The prince of Vladimir went on to call himself the great prince, and his position and residence here soon became the heritage prince of Moscow, a strategically located city in the north mentioned in the annals for the first time during the year 1147.
In the Kiev realm, the most important decisions were made in collaboration between the prince, the shepherd (the aristocratic element) and the parliament (the weasel, the democratic element), but from now on, the aristocracy dominated more and more in the southwest (Galicia) and the monarch in the northeast (Vladimir, and later Moscow). Novgorod, which was the center of the now most Baltic-oriented trade, was given a constitution with strong merchant democratic character.
Ecclesiastically, however, the East Slavic areas were still a unit; whatever the place of residence, the metropolitan was the undisputed head of the church. The colonization of the areas in the north was continued by the great princes of Vladimir and Novgorod, and the steppe border in the south and southeast was not seriously threatened between 1150 and 1236.
“The Tatar Rook” 1240−1480
In 1223, the Mongols, later often called the Tatars because of a later element in the so-called Golden Horde, began to penetrate the Eurasian plain. Kiev fell in 1240 (to be incorporated into the Lithuanian Empire in 1363). Of all the major Russian cities, only Novgorod escaped direct destruction, for the vast forests of the north and east made it virtually impossible to make any mass attack on horses. But since Novgorod was threatened from the west at the same time, the inhabitants here had to settle for paying a high annual tribute.
In 1240, it was the Swedes who attacked, and who were scarcely beaten back by Prince Aleksandr. He has gone down in history with the nickname Nevsky, after the victory in the battle of the ice-covered Nevada River. Two winters later he beat the German sword-knights on the ice on Lake Peipus, and in 1243–1245 it was the Lithuanians who repeatedly sent armies into Novgorod’s territory. Consequently, the city’s military resources were soon so exhausted that it had to accept the supremacy of the Mongols.
In Norwegian history, Aleksandr has noted that the first Norwegian-Russian treaty was signed with him in 1251, on tax liability and boundary conditions in Finnmark.
When the Mongols had established their dominion, they did not interfere in the internal affairs of the Russian vassals. They were left alone as long as they fulfilled their obligations; it was primarily a matter of tributes and recruits. As the khan- appointed formal head of the princes, it was the great prince of Vladimir (later in Moscow) who was given the responsibility to collect the money from his relatives and transfer them to the khan capital of Saraj at lower Volga, and he also had to get approval from the khan before he got to ascend the Grand Prince.
The title was not inherited, but from the time of Ivan 1 (1325 – 1340) it was always the heir of Moscow who received such a “letter” on the great prince of Vladimir. Ivan secured the Khan’s favor by proving himself to be an exceptionally persistent tax collector.
During Dmitry (Donskoj, 1359–1389), the Russians felt strong enough to venture a first settlement with the Mongols, who were defeated at the Kulikovo plain by Don in 1380. The victory was by no means definitive. In addition, Moscow had now gained a western rival in the unification efforts. The Lithuanian prince Algirdas (Olgerd) had subjugated much of the Smolensk principality, and attacked Moscow three times during Dmitri’s reign.
Culturally, the Moscow Empire lived its own life, first because of political isolation, then up to Peter the Great’s time because of deliberate foreclosure against Catholic, Western European culture. In 1439, the settlement in Florence created a brief union between the Greek and the Roman Church, and in protest the Russian Church declared itself independent of Constantinople in 1448. In 1453 Constantinople was conquered by the Turks; “The new Rome” had fallen, Moscow was now the “third” and final Rome. In 1472, Ivan 3 (1462-1505) adopted the Byzantine National Weapon, the double-headed eagle.
The Moscow State (1480–1700)
In 1480 Ivan 3 ended the obedience relationship with the Khans in Saraj; Eventually, the Mongol Empire was in a fairly disintegrated state, so that there were only a few, but not harmless, khanates in the periphery: in Astrakhan, around Kazan and in Crimea. Ivan 3 also made a great effort to create a centralized state around Moscow. He succumbed to Tver (1485), and in 1471–1478 he conquered Novgorod, which was eliminated as an independent trading center. Thus, all of northern and northeastern Russia came under Moscow. To consolidate his position, Ivan 3 married Zoe (in Moscow called Sofia), the brother-in-law of the last Byzantine emperor, and considered himself his successor.
Ivan 3 confiscated most of the earth in the severe Novgorod Empire after the conquest and distributed it again to a new class of service nobility, Pomeranian. These received small goods as salaries for services rendered and could not without a will bequeath the goods to their children. This service nobility acted as a counterweight to the old, powerful hereditary nobility, the boyars, which represented a serious obstacle to Tsars ambitions to achieve despotism.
Ivan 4 (“the Terrible”, 1533-1584) took a dramatic showdown with the boyars under the so-called Oprichnina -terroren (1565-1584). He set up his own Uprisingnina corps, which was fanatically loyal to the Tsar, and ruled freely over large parts of the kingdom. The terror apparently struck blindly, but went especially hard over the bad guys. Ivan 4 was the first Moscow prince to take the title of Tsar (from Lat. Caesar) at a coronation ceremony in 1547.
Ivan 4’s hard and arbitrary rule strengthened the tsar power vis-à-vis other social forces, but weakened the country financially. In 1598, his son Fjodor Ivanovich died childless, and thus the Rjurik dynasty died out. This became the prelude to the so-called “turmoil” in 1598–1613, when a number of false cronyists emerged, foreign troops moved into the country, and a series of peasant revolts took place. The central power was almost non-existent at times, and there were several serious years.
It was succeeded by low-party Boris Godunov to be elected tsar at a town meeting in 1598. He had questionable legitimacy and was opposed by the Boers. After his death in 1605, an alleged son of Ivan 4, Dmitrij, emerged who ruled for a short time. After he was murdered, further “false Dmitrias” emerged, which, however, no one believed. But they had military support from Poland, and their Russian supporters were aristocrats who, among others, Fjodor (Filaret) Romanov, leader of the strongest nobility.
The great crisis culminated with the Poles occupying Moscow in 1610–1612. This led to national travel and national assembly. After Fjodor’s son Mikhail Romanov was elected tsar in 1613, the political struggles in the kingdom ceased. However, the business community did not catch up until much later.
Russia continued to expand during the new dynasty as well. After the war with Poland in 1654–1656 and in 1658–1667, significant parts of Ukraine fell under the Czars. But because of the new Turkish threat, Poland was no longer the main enemy. The first Russo-Ottoman war in 1676–1681 was one of a long series (ended in 1878). In 1686, peace was made with Poland; this lasted in practice until the divisions of Poland in 1772–1795.
Attempts in 1558–1582 and in 1656–1658 to facilitate trade relations with Western Europe through conquests in the Baltic countries failed. Nevertheless, foreign trade was no longer entirely dependent on the goodwill of the western neighbors after Richard Chancellor rediscovered the northern sea route around the North Cape in 1553; However, freight costs here were very high. On the other hand, the expansion to the east was very successful.
Economically, Moscow suffered heavy losses due to frequent attacks and robberies, especially from the Khanate of Kazan and Crimea. Ivan 4 conquered Kazan in 1552 and incorporated the territory, but the Crimean Tatars had back cover from the Ottomans and natural protection of the steppe belt. Two years after Kazan, Astrakhan was also captured at Volga’s mouth. Thus, all of Volga’s race came under Russian rule, and it opened for trade with Iran. The fourth successor khanate in Siberia was destroyed between 1581 and 1598.
The expansion eastward through northern Asia led to a very large and sparsely populated area. In 1632, the colonists reached the Lena River, in 1637 a “Siberian Ministry” was established in Moscow, in 1645 the Pacific coast was discovered, and in 1697 Russian explorers came to Kamchatka. The Russian expansion first stopped in the south at the Chinese border (Sino-Russian Treaty in Nerchinsky in 1689).
More than 80 percent of production fell on agriculture, which had very low productivity due to scarce soil in the areas that were then under Moscow, and also difficult climatic conditions. Production fell further due to the legal position of the original free peasants: the Sudebnik statute from 1497 introduced stave bands; a law against escaped peasants was passed in 1597, and the provisions were tightened in the great statute Ulosjenije of 1649. Many peasants still managed to escape and joined the free Cossack communities on the outskirts of the kingdom.
The Tsar had unlimited political power. For his part, he had an advisory assembly, the Duma, which at first only spoke to members of the high nobility (Bojarans), but which from the time of Ivan 4 also included selected people from the ministry and officials. Between 1566 and 1653, an assembly was sometimes called together to commemorate the Western European days (Semsky sobor), but it received no political profile. In the 1600s, the czars began to rule more and more with the help of officials.
A strong support for the tsars was also the church, whose head from 1589 had the title of patriarch. During Mikhail Romanov (1613–1645), his father was the Filaret patriarch in 1619–33, and he acted as co-ruler until his death. The church reforms under the patriarch Nikon (1652–1666) were not particularly pervasive, but they led to a large group of “old-believers” breaking out, and then being subjected to cruel persecution. In connection with Nikon’s patriarchy, there was also a conflict between the powerful church leader and the state, from which the state prevailed; Nikon was removed in 1666 by a council.
The church prevented Western impulses from asserting itself in Russian spiritual life and shielded the entire society from modernization. As a result, the technical progress was also greatly hampered, which already from ca. 1580 was very negative in the wars against Poland and for a time Russia put in an almost hopeless situation in the conflict with the modern military power Sweden for access to the Baltic Sea. The need for technical and organizational modernization therefore became increasingly pressing in the latter half of the 1600s, until Peter the Great (1682–1725) carried out his pervasive reforms after the turn of the century.
Peter the Great reforms Russia
The “Petersburg period” in Russian history (until 1917) began when Peter the Great in 1713 moved the capital, and thus the center of the kingdom, from Moscow, northwest to the new city of St. Petersburg (founded in 1703) at the Gulf of Finland. At the same time, a significant part of the Baltic Sea coast was conquered (Estonia and Livland incorporated in 1710, and definitely relinquished by Sweden at the peace in Nystad in 1721) in connection with the Great Nordic War in 1710-1721. The imperial title (imperator), which Peter took for himself and his descendants after the victorious end of the war, was to symbolize Russia’s new position as European superpower.
Peter’s reforms and measures were in part a further development of older trends (reorganization and extensive strengthening of the army, a strong increase in iron extraction, multiplication of the number of craft companies). But he also created entirely new things, such as a Russian navy of war (which won a first victory over the Swedes in 1714). In the long term, there were also profound changes in the state administration and the social structure.
In 1710, the kingdom was divided into eight major provinces, governments (they later had to be divided and reorganized). The Senate, formed in 1711 with limited duties, gradually became the supreme central authority. In 1718, instead of the Moscow state’s “chancellors”, Peter introduced a central administration based on “colleges” with collegiate leadership according to the Swedish pattern. The new church system of 1721 abolished the patriarchy (until it was reintroduced in 1917) and replaced it with a “sacred synod ” under a state-directed layman’s leadership. The ranking of 1722 (valid until 1917) introduced three parallel rank or career paths of 14 steps each, for the state administration, the armed forces and the court. Officials in the state gave hereditary nobility over a certain step, and the old nobility was also required to serve.
Peter also sought to promote cultural development: he created a secular school system, started Russia’s first newspaper, modernized the old alphabet, implemented a calendar reform (in force until 1917) and founded the Russian Academy of Sciences in English in English in English after 1725. But farmers’ dependence on landlords increased, and their status was leveled, not least through the transition to a uniform cup tax for all.
As a result, the division of society was deepened. On one side stood the peasantry, the vast majority of the people, who carried almost all the tax burdens and had little legal protection. The peasants had then also risen in violent uprisings in the 17th century (among other things under Stenka Razin in 1670–1671), and did so again in the 17th century (among others under Jemeljan Pugachov in 1773–1775). On the other hand stood the privileged landowner estate, which Peter 3 in 1762 freed from all service obligations, and who lived his patriarchal life as before in the province and often led a strongly Europeanized existence in his city residences.
Already in the Old Moscow Empire, efforts had been made to recruit and attract foreign professionals, a policy which Peter the Great had continued to an even greater extent. This was long needed because of the lack of opportunities to obtain higher education in Russia. Its first university received Russia as late as 1755 (Moscow), and the next two (in Kazan and Kharkiv) did not come until 1804 and 1805, respectively. Of all the well-known senior officials in Russian civil service from the time of Peter the Great until 1917, ca. 1/3 Western European names.
War and territorial expansions
During the Seven Years’ War, the Russians occupied Berlin in 1760 and East Prussia in 1757 (evacuated 1762). Catherine 2 the Great (1762–1796), who had overthrown his painter Peter 3 in 1762 and agreed to his death, founded Russia’s hegemony in European politics. Russia gained access to the Black Sea and diplomatic intervention rights of the Sultan of Constantinople after the Russo-Turkish War in 1768–1774. The country secured Crimea in 1784 and a further part of the Black Sea coast in 1790-1792.
By Poland’s three divisions 1772–1795, Russia secured the eastern part of this country with Greek Orthodox (Ukrainian and Belarusian) peasantry, as well as Lithuania and Kurland, which were merged with Livland and Estonia into one general government. Aleksander 1 (1801–1825) secured an understanding with Napoleon Finland in 1809 and then Bessarabia in 1812, but in connection with the French invasion of Russia and the fighting afterwards, he remained standing as Europe’s great “liberator”. At the Vienna Congress in 1814–1815 a new Polish kingdom (“Congress-Poland”) was established, united with Russia with Alexander as king. It first had its own army and extensive internal self-government, but lost it again after the great uprising in 1830-1831.
The peasant liberation in the Baltic Sea provinces in 1816–1819 was not extended to the rest of the empire, although in the coming decades certain relief was introduced in the position of the living. The plans to introduce constitutional rule dropped Alexander 1 after 1819. The “sacred alliance”, which he had initiated in 1815, led Austria’s Metternich to enforce very conservatively, and from 1820 Alexander also supported anti-liberal intervention policy.
After the decadence shortcoming -oppstanden was turned down in 1825 and the uprising in Poland in 1831, was Russia under Nicholas 1 the foremost power in the conservative Europe, and at the request of Austria oppressed Russian troops in 1849 revolution in Hungary. During the Crimean War in 1853–1856, Russia fought against the Ottoman Empire, Britain and France. The country suffered its first serious military defeat in over 150 years and lost its hegemony in Europe. At the Paris peace in 1856, Russia had to find, among other things, that the Black Sea was neutralized and demilitarized.
The time of Nikolai 1 (1825–1855) was marked by sharp surveillance of the entire social life, but also of flourishing in cultural life, especially in literature, with big names such as Aleksandr Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov and Nikolaj Gogol. The intelligentsia was characterized by the conflict between ” slavophiles ” and “western friends” (zapadniki), but also by a critical opposition to the regime demanding greater freedom in society.
In the “new era” under Alexander 2 (1855–1881), a far-reaching transformation of Russia was initiated, with a series of reform laws according to Western principles. The most important thing was that the quality of life was finally abolished in 1861, after a long debate. Unlike the Baltic Sea provinces, where the peasants were released without land, the Russian peasants were allowed to buy land from the landowners. Since they usually had nothing to pay, the state staggered the purchase price and demanded it by the farmers over 49 years. Most farmers received such a considerable debt burden, and also less land to cultivate than they had planned before the reform.
Although the farmers were now in principle legally free, they were still subject to the village community, miren. The disappointment over the reforms was great, but only approx. half of the Russian peasants had been viable. The rest had been state farmers, and these were granted their freedom in 1866 on more favorable terms. The turmoil in the countryside was compounded by a sharp increase in Russian population in the last third of the 19th century. The increasing land famine was to some extent remedied with migration to the outskirts of the kingdom.
In 1864 local self-government was also introduced by the so-called zemstvo bodies. All men had the right to vote for semstvo, which in practice was dominated by the liberal lavadas and persons from “the free professions”. The jurisdiction and tax authority of the holiday was very limited. In the same year, the justice system was also modernized and separated from the executive power. The cities were given limited autonomy by an electoral reform in 1870 and general conscription was introduced in 1874.
But at the same time, revolutionary tendencies spread. Already in 1866 an attempt was made to assassinate Alexander 2, and his “friends” (narodniki) were soon replaced by revolutionary terrorists. In 1876, the secret revolutionary organization Earth and Freedom (Semlja in Volja) was formed, and in 1878 it established a terrorist group, the People’s Will, with the aim of killing the emperor. Aleksander had already approved plans to set up an indirectly elected advisory assembly, but these were put on hold when he was assassinated in 1881. His son Aleksander 3 (1881–1894) returned to the policy of oppression, and for the first time made extensive attempts to Russification of non-Russian peoples in the realm.
At the foreign policy level, in 1870, the restrictive provisions of the Paris Treaty of 1856 were abolished. After a new uprising in Poland in 1863 triggered a wave of Russian power patriotism, transient Pan- Slavic sentiments prompted Russia to support the Serbs and the Bulgarians in the Balkans and go to a new and last major war against Turkey in 1877–1878. Nevertheless, the very good peace conditions of San Stefano had to be modified after the British and Austro-Hungarian pressure at the Berlin Congress in 1878.
Despite continued tension in relations with Austria-Hungary in the Balkans and occasionally also with Germany, Aleksander 2 and Aleksander 3 both adhered to the “Trekkers policy” (Consultation Pact of 1873, Treaty of Neutrality in 1881). German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s anti-Russian credit policy and other factors led to an alliance with the French Republic in 1893, and Russia received large French loans and investments. The Russian initiative for the first peace conference in The Hague in 1898-1999 was on the part of Nikolai 2 religiously and humanely motivated.
Borders and possessions
Russia’s Asian possessions between the Urals and the Pacific were a legacy of the ancient Moscow Empire. In the 1730s and 1740s, the northernmost part of the vast Kazakh plain was also included under the kingdom. However, the southernmost Kazakh tribes did not come under Russian rule until the 1860s. In Transcaucasia, the Christian territories of Georgia and Armenia were more or less voluntarily incorporated into the tsarist kingdom in the early 1800s. By contrast, the Muslim tribes of the Caucasus Mountains to the north provided fierce resistance to Russian troops for over 25 years until their legendary leader Shamil was captured in 1864. The present Azerbaijan was renounced from Iran between 1813 and 1828.
After conquering the cities of Turkestan (1864), Tashkent (1865) and Samarkand (1868) in Central Asia, and the emir of Bukhara and the Khiva of Khiva made vassals, Russia needed further east to the Caspian Sea. When Merv was occupied in 1884, this led to a crisis in relations with Britain, which felt threatened in India because of the pressure on Afghanistan.
Siberia, a newly created country with a growing Russian population (from about 170,000 in 1719 to about 8 million in 1914), was also the refuge for politically “impossible” elements, from overthrowing dignitaries in the 18th century via decabris and Fjodor Dostoevsky, to numerous socialists. The Amur area was incorporated in 1858–1860, Vladivostok (the name means ruler of the East) was founded in 1860, and the southern part of Sakhalin acquired from Japan in 1875 in exchange for the Kurils. Alaska, officially annexed in 1799, was sold reasonably to the United States in 1867. Siberia was bound all the way to the Far East with its 8,000 km long Trans-Siberian Railways (1891-1904). The Russian expansion in Manjury and Korea led to conflicts with Japan.
From approx. In 1890, Russia was undergoing a forced industrialization process, promoted by Finance Minister Sergei Witt’s strict protectionist policy and consistent borrowing abroad. Private entrepreneurship was encouraged while foreign investment increased, from approx. 100 million rubles in 1880 to double the turn of the century. These investments went not least to the oil fields of the Caspian Sea, which around 1890 were the world’s largest. The Russian state was at all times the most important initiator and customer for the new products and industrialization had relatively few effects outside the cities and the new industrial centers. It was never questioned that the kingdom had to be an agricultural land in the first place.
Nevertheless, all social conditions gradually changed. The centers of industry were Moscow, St. Petersburg, southern Ukraine, the Polish territories, the Ural mountains, and Transcaucasia. The main activities were the textile industry, railway construction, mining and metallurgy, coal mining and oil production. The number of factory workers rose in 1914 to approx. 3 million, 5 percent of the total working population. The workers made poor living, lived miserably, and often worked at giant factories. Many developed their own class consciousness despite the fact that most came straight from the farmer’s country and still had roots in the countryside. Strikes and free unions was banned, but in 1897 a half-hearted labor inspection law was passed which put working hours to 11½ hours for adults and 9 hours for children. The revolutionary movement was kept in check by a strong police apparatus, with so-called police socialism (trade unions created by and controlled by the secret police).
Despite grossly dividing the peasant laborers and at the same time typifying typically capitalist tendencies of monopolization, Russian industry did not become competitive in the world market. Most of the export revenue in 1914 came from agriculture (39 percent from grain production), which was only possible because the population as a whole was forced to low consumption with tax policy. Since capital formation and thus also industrialization depended on agriculture to produce profits, the agricultural issue was still the main economic problem. Prime Minister Pjotr Stolypin’s large land reform (after 1906) led to a differentiation in the peasantry, aimed at dissolving the mir regime and strengthening the peasants’ private property rights.
In 1904, Russia went to a meaningless war against Japan that led to food shortages in the cities. When the Tsar sent armed soldiers to meet peaceful protesters on ” Bloody Sunday, ” January 9, 1905, at least 130 were killed. This triggered the 1905 revolution, which forced the tsar to issue the so-called October manifesto on October 30, 1905. A legislative National Assembly, the Riksduma, was established, which had control over ca. half the state budget. Russia thus got a political life with parties.
However, the first and second duma were dissolved after a short time when the tsar perceived them as too radical. They were dominated by the bourgeois-radical constitutional Democrats (KD or “cadet”), as well as by a number of revolutionary and socialist groups. The Tsarist right wing had only approx. 10 percent of the seats. At Stolypin’s “coup d’état” on June 16, 1907, the right to vote for the Duma was severely restricted. The third Duma in 1908-1912 was dominated by the moderate right-wing Octobristene, a cadet breakout group, and was allowed to sit out for a while. The fourth and final duma was interrupted by the world war.
The technical backwardness of Russia could not long to master such an effort as the First World War was. Little by little, the entire state power apparatus fell into disrepair. However, when the revolution of March 1917 came, this was not due to the parliamentary opposition of the progressive parties in the Reich Duma. As in 1905, it was triggered by a collapse in food and commodity supplies, which led to famine in the big cities. The immediate reason for Nikolai 2 abdication on March 15, 1917, was mass demonstrations in Petrograd (St. Petersburg’s name from 1914), as well as pressure from the army leadership. The so-called provisional government was formed by the Duma majority and led by a partyless, Lvov prince.
The new government promised elections to a constitutional assembly and aimed to continue the war on the entente powers. Initially, it had only one socialist member, Justice Minister Aleksandr Kerensky. Only in May was it supplemented by six other socialists (40 percent of ministerial posts). Kerensky took over as prime minister in July, and with new replacements in September, the government gained a socialist majority. But the government failed to restore a strong state power, continue the war or prevent economic chaos. The major offensive Kerensky launched in Galicia in June, broke down with heavy losses.
One important reason why the provisional government was so weak was that it was never allowed to govern alone. Everywhere there were soviets (councils) of labor and soldier deputies, who agreed to end Russia’s participation in the war soon. The Petrograd Soviet in particular soon became a serious rival to the Provisional Government. This developed into so-called double power. The councils had high legitimacy in the population and also a nationwide apparatus. While there was a constant delay in holding elections to the Constitutional Assembly, an all-Russian Soviet Congress was held in June and a new one is scheduled for November.
The Bolshevik party
From the 1890s Marxism had entered revolutionary circles in Russia. In 1898 a Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDAP) was secretly formed, while the equally secret Social Revolutionary Party (SR) was formed in 1902 by people from terrorist narodnik groups. RSDAP was split at its 2nd congress in 1903 between the ” Bolsheviks ” (“the majority”) and the ” Mensheviks ” (the “minorities”). The Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin advocated a strictly organized, revolutionary elite party, while the Mensheviks wanted a revolutionary mass party.
In spite of the names and programs, the two party factions were long uniform, and both tried to gain control of the whole party. They cooperated during the revolution in 1905 and at a party congress in 1906 a joint central committee was elected, but in 1912 Lenin’s faction broke over and organized itself as an independent party. The Bolsheviks were completely committed to conspiratorial revolutionary work, and boycotted the elections for the first Duma. But in order to provide the party with an effective agitation forum, Lenin agreed to participate in the elections for the other Duma. The party’s press agency became the daily newspaper Pravda.
From the “February Revolution” to the “October Revolution”
After the tsar regime was overthrown in March 1917, Lenin and other Bolsheviks, with German help, managed to return from their exile in Switzerland in April. After arriving in Petrograd, Lenin took a radical settlement in the “April” times with the policy of the Provisional Government. With slogans such as “All Power to the Soviets”, “Earth to the Peasants” and “Immediate Peace”, he gained popularity in the starving and war-torn population. Nevertheless, the Bolsheviks were still clearly in the minority in the Soviets, where the Mensheviks and the social revolutionaries dominated.
In July, hostile demonstrations were held in Petrograd that Kerensky interpreted as a Bolshevik coup attempt. Several of the party’s leaders were arrested and the party’s influence dropped to a low target. The following month, however, there was a right-wing coup attempt, the so-called Kornilov affair, which the Bolsheviks actively helped to defeat. The party was once again popular and gained a majority in the Petrograd Soviet. Most Bolshevik leaders strongly opposed Lenin’s plans for another coup attempt, but together with the leader of the Petrograd Soviet Military Revolutionary Committee, Lev Trotsky, he finally managed to turn the mood in the party.
The coup took place on November 7 (October 25, according to old times, hence the name of the October Revolution), in the Soviet name, the night before the 2nd All-Russian Soviet Congress was to convene. The military resistance in Petrograd broke down within a day. Faced with the coup’s fait accompli, the visiting Soviet delegates elected a new government – the People’s Commissioners’ Council – with Lenin as leader and Trotsky as foreign commissioner.
After the takeover, the Bolsheviks had to expand and consolidate their power over the rest of the empire. They faced considerable opposition from supporters of the old regime (the whites), as well as from social-revolutionary, independent peasant branches (the Greens) and national armies of non-Russians who wanted to create their own states. By 1920, the Bolsheviks had managed to scrape together an army force of 4-5 million men, the Red Army, from what everyone believed was a completely war-torn population.
Bolshevik adversaries during the Civil War were scattered throughout the geographical map; they occasionally controlled Siberia and Ural in the east, Ukraine, Don and Cuban in the south, and Arkhangelsk and Murmansk in the north. The Bolsheviks, on the other hand, controlled the center and had far better communication opportunities and access to the weapons factories in Petrograd. Several Western countries sent troops to Russian ports to support the white generals. This support utilized the Bolsheviks to stamp the whites as lackeys for foreigners. When the remains of the so-called Volunteer Army were evacuated from Crimea in the fall of 1920, the civil war was over.
The Bolshevik state is created
Elections to the Constitutional Assembly were held a few weeks after the October Revolution, but the Bolsheviks received only 175 of the 707 seats and dissolved the Assembly by force. Founded on the Soviet system, the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (RSFSR), now intended as the heir to the entire territory of the tsarist kingdom, arose. The Bolsheviks, who from 1918 called themselves the Communist Party of Russia (the Bolsheviks), left no doubt that they aimed to rule alone in the new state. The non-socialist parties were banned, and the socialist parties soon lost the opportunity to do political work of any significance. The new regime was to be the ” dictatorship of the proletariat ” and many of its opponents were killed under what was officially called “the red terror”. It should be an answer to it counter-revolutionary “white” terror.
As the Communists tried to consolidate their dominion within the country, during 1918 the territory of the Russian state became increasingly smaller. The Bolsheviks had seized power under the slogan “instant peace” and ended in March 1918 a separate peace with Germany in Brest-Litovsk under harsh conditions that created deep discontent in broad population groups and far into the party’s own ranks. Russia was pressured to relinquish difficult lands in the west with a total of over a quarter of the country’s population. However, in Germany’s military defeat against the Western powers later that year, the Brest-Litovsk agreement became a dead paper.
In the non-Russian outskirts of the former tsar regime, more or less representative assemblies proclaimed political independence during 1917-1918. A myriad of particularly short-lived state formation saw the light of day, while some managed to maintain their independence for a few years. A relatively stable state existed in Georgia 1918-1921. Several Ukrainian regimes succeeded at the same time as the civil war between the white and the red raged on Ukrainian territory. The Bolsheviks recognized the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with peace agreements in 1920 in Tartu and Riga. In addition, Finland and Poland managed to maintain their independence. After a bitter war in 1920, the border between Poland and Soviet Russia was drawn far into eastern Slavic territory.
At the end of 1922, the RSFSR was merged with the Soviet Republics of Ukraine, Belarus and the Transcaucasian Republic of the Soviet Union (USSR).
The RSFSR became the core area of the new Soviet state, as the largest and largest population in the Union (approximately three quarters of the total area and more than half of the population of the USSR), but also because it was here that business and communications were best developed, in that least in the European part. As part of the Soviet Union’s efforts to take the West’s lead in economic development, considerable resources were invested in developing Russia’s industrial capacity.
After World War II, extensive industrial exploitation was also established of the rich natural resources in the vast deserts of Siberia. Many of the projects were initiated without regard to the consequences for the environment, such as the attempts to “turn around” several of the major rivers.