history of Russia

occurrences and people in Russia throughout history

The history of Russia begins with the histories of the East Slavs. The traditional start-date of specifically Russian history is the establishment of the Rus' state in the north in 862, ruled by Varangians. Staraya Ladoga and Novgorod became the first major cities of the new union of immigrants from Scandinavia with the Slavs and Finns. In 882, Prince Oleg of Novgorod seized Kiev, thereby uniting the northern and southern lands of the Eastern Slavs under one authority, moving the governance center to Kiev by the end of the 10th century, and maintaining northern and southern parts with significant autonomy from each other. The state adopted Christianity from the Byzantine Empire in 988, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Kievan Rus' ultimately disintegrated as a state due to the Mongol invasions in 1237–1240 along with the resulting deaths of significant numbers of the population, and with the numerous principalities being forced to accept the overlordship of the Mongols. After the 13th century, Moscow became a political and cultural magnet for the unification of Russian lands. By the end of the 15th century, many of the petty principalities around Moscow had been united with the Grand Duchy of Moscow. The Grand Duchy stopped paying tribute to the Mongols in 1480 and took full control of its own sovereignty under Ivan the Great, who began styling himself "Tsar". Ivan the Terrible, the grandson of Ivan the Great, transformed the Grand Duchy of Moscow into the Tsardom of Russia in 1547. However, the death of Ivan's son Feodor I without issue in 1598 created a succession crisis and led Russia into a period of chaos and civil war known as the Time of Troubles. Russia emerged from the Time of Troubles on the coronation of Michael Romanov as the first Tsar of the Romanov dynasty in 1613. During the rest of the seventeenth century, Russia completed the exploration and conquest of Siberia, claiming lands as far as the Pacific Ocean by the end of the century. Domestically, Russia faced numerous uprisings of the various ethnic groups under their control, as exemplified by the Cossack leader Stenka Razin, who led a revolt in 1670–1671. In 1721, in the wake of the Great Northern War, Tsar Peter the Great renamed the state as the Russian Empire; he is also noted for establishing St. Petersburg as the new capital of his Empire, and for his introducing Western European culture to Russia. Peter's death without a direct male heir left a confused succession, and a number of different relatives served as Emperor or Empress for the next several decades. In 1762, Russia came under the control of Catherine the Great, a German princess who was famous for her use of court intrigue to consolidate her power; she continued the westernizing policies of Peter the Great, and ushered in the era of the Russian Enlightenment. Catherine's grandson, Alexander I, repulsed an invasion by the French Emperor Napoleon, leading Russia into the status of one of the great powers of Europe. Peasant revolts intensified during the nineteenth century, culminating with Alexander II abolishing Russian serfdom in 1861. In the following decades, reform efforts such as the Stolypin reforms of 1906–1914, the constitution of 1906, and the State Duma (1906–1917) attempted to open and liberalize the economy and political system, but the emperors refused to relinquish autocratic rule and resisted sharing his power. A combination of economic breakdown, mismanagement over Russia's involvement in World War I, and discontent with the autocratic system of government triggered the Russian Revolution in 1917. The overthrow of the monarchy initially brought into office a coalition of liberals and moderate socialists, but their failed policies led to the October Revolution by the communist Bolsheviks on 25 October 1917 (7 November New Style). In 1922, Soviet Russia, along with Soviet Ukraine, Soviet Belarus, and the Transcaucasian SFSR signed the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR, officially merging all four republics to form the Soviet Union as a country. Between 1922 and 1991 the history of Russia became essentially the history of the Soviet Union, effectively an ideologically based state roughly coterminous with the Russian Empire before the 1918 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. From its first years, government in the Soviet Union based itself on the one-party rule of the Communists, as the Bolsheviks called themselves. The approach to the building of socialism, however, varied over different periods in Soviet history: from the mixed economy and diverse society and culture of the 1920s through the command economy and repressions of the Joseph Stalin era to the "era of stagnation" from the 1960s to the 1980s. During this period, the Soviet Union was one of the victors in World War II after recovering from a massive surprise invasion in 1941 by Nazi Germany, who had previously signed a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union. It became a superpower competing with fellow new superpower the United States and other Western countries in the Cold War. The USSR was successful with its space program, launching the first artificial satellite and first man into space. By the mid-1980s, with the weaknesses of Soviet economic and political structures becoming acute, Mikhail Gorbachev embarked on major reforms, which eventually led to overthrow of the communist party and dissolution of the Soviet Union, leaving Russia again on its own and marking the start of the history of post-Soviet Russia. The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic renamed itself as the Russian Federation and became one of the several successors to the Soviet Union. The Russian Federation was the only post-soviet republic to assume the USSR's permanent membership in the UN Security Council. Later on, Russia inherited the Soviet Union's entire nuclear arsenal in 1994 after signing the Budapest Memorandum. Russia retained its nuclear arsenal but lost its superpower status. Scrapping the socialist central planning and state-ownership of property of the socialist era, new leaders, led by President Vladimir Putin, took political and economic power after 2000 and engaged in an assertive foreign policy. Coupled with economic growth, Russia has since regained significant global status as a world power. Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula led to economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union. Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine led to massive sanctions designed to permanently weaken the modern sector of the economy. Under Putin's leadership, corruption in Russia is rated as the worst in Europe, and Russia's human rights situation has been increasingly criticized by international observers.
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