The History of Russia

The history of Russia is a long and complex story. It all begins with that of the East Slavs, the racial group that eventually split into the Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians. The first East Slavic state, Kievan Rus, adopted Christianity from the Byzantine Empire in the 10th century, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next seven centuries.

Kievan Rus ultimately collapsed as a state, leaving a number of states challenging for claims to be the heirs to its civilization and dominant position. After the 13th century, Muscovy gradually came to rule the former cultural center. In the 18th century, the principality of Muscovy had become the huge Russian Empire, stretching from Poland eastward to the Pacific Ocean. Development in the western direction sharpened Russia's alertness of its backwardness and devastated the isolation in which the initial stages of development had occurred. Consecutive establishments of the 19th century reacted to such pressures with a mixture of halfhearted improvement and domination. Russian serfdom was abolished in 1861, but its elimination was achieved on terms unfavorable to the peasants and served to increase revolutionary pressures. Between the elimination of serfdom and beginning of World War I in 1914, the Stolypin reforms, the constitution of 1906 and State Duma introduced notable changes in economy and politics of Russia, but the tsars were still not willing to yield autocratic rule.

Military defeat and food shortages triggered the Russian Revolution in 1917, bringing the Communist Bolsheviks to power. Between 1922 and 1991, the history of Russia is essentially the history of the Soviet Union, efficiently an ideologically based territory which was roughly coterminous with the Russian Empire, whose last monarch, Tsar Nicholas II, ruled until 1917. From its first years, regime in the Soviet Union was based on the one-party rule of the communists, as the Bolsheviks called themselves beginning in March 1918. However, by the late 1980s, with the weaknesses of its economic and political structures becoming acute, noteworthy changes in the economy and the party leaderships spelled the end of the Soviet Union.

The history of the Russian Federation is brief, dating back only to the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991. But Russia has existed as a state for over a thousand years, and during most of the 20th century Russia was the core of the Soviet Union. Since gaining its independence, Russia claimed to be the legal heir to Soviet Union on the international stage. However, Russia lost its superpower status as it faced serious challenges in its efforts to forge a new post-Soviet political and economic system. Scrapping the socialist central planning and state ownership of property of the Soviet era, Russia attempted to build an economy with elements of market capitalism, with often painful results. Russia today shares many continuities of political culture and social structure with its tsarist and Soviet past. The question of how well Russia's fragile democratic and federal institutions will fare in the meantime is in doubt, with recent signs of the presidency increasing its already tight control over parliament, regional officeholders, and civil society.


User Comments & Reviews: 1 Comment(s)

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Marvel - 2009-09-10 14:57:40

I love Russia a lot because I see it as being the only country with the ability of "calling a spade a spade" and not being afraid of being attacked by the so called "mighty" U.S.A, I also view having a powerful country like Russia as being a healthy cause to mankind.

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