Russia : a brief history. Introduction. 9000 km from East to West and 5000 from North to South Ural mountains divide Russia into a European and Asian part Population of about 143 million (3/4 live in the European part) Moscow is the capital and the largest city
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Introduction • 9000 km from East to West and 5000 from North to South • Ural mountains divide Russia into a European and Asian part • Population of about 143 million (3/4 live in the European part) • Moscow is the capital and the largest city • Russian is official language but many others in component parts • President is Dmitry Medvedev
Area: 17,025,200 square km. Around twice the size of the U.S. • Climate: ranging from sub-arctic in Siberia to humid in much of European Russia. • Terrain: Low hills, steppe, forest, arctic tundra, mountains…. • Despite its size, much of the country is either too cold or the soil is too dry for agriculture.
In the beginning…… First came the Slavs who settled along the rivers of Southern Russia and the Ukraine in the 6th Century.
The Vikings Then came the Vikings who in the 9th century established the large and powerful state of ‘Kievan Russia.’
Kievan Russia • Free peasant farmers • City dwellers • Small ruling class of nobles & princes • some slaves • Traded with the Byzantine Empire from which Russians learnt : skills, culture & religion – Orthodox Christianity. • 988 AD it became the official religion.
The Mongols Then came the Mongols….In 1236 a vast Mongol horde successfully invaded the Russian city states. For the next 240 years, the Russians were forced to pay tribute to the Mongol khans.
Moscow’s rise to power Moscow grew in power as the chief tax collector for the Mongols. In the 14th Century, Moscow’s Grand Prince led several other cities in a battle to overthrow the Mongols. They were successful and this marks the beginning of a united Russia.
Ivan the Terrible (1533-84): Russia’s first tsar Mother was poisoned when he was 7yrs old. Ivan developed a dangerous paranoia. Would throw live animals from the palace towers for fun. After his wife, Anastasia died, Ivan developed a really nasty streak – sentenced thousands to death, would give detailed instructions on how to torture victims so as to ‘recreate hell’. Killed his own son in a fit of rage. Then came a period of remorse. Became a monk towards the end of his life and prayed for the souls of his victims.
The Romanov RulersPeter the Great (1682-1725) Determined to make Russia a modern European state. Just about 2.3m tall. Built a new city on the boggy banks of the River Neva and named it St Petersburg. In 1712 he declared this city the new capital of Russia.
Catherine the Great (1762-96) Overthrew her feeble husband Peter III (who soon afterwards died ‘in an accident’) and took over the throne with the help of her lover. Russia became even more powerful and prestigious during her reign, gaining more land. Turned St. Petersburg into one of the most impressive European capitals. Story of her death is shrouded in myth and mystery. It definitely did not involve a horse although she may have been on the toilet.
Tsar Alexander II: a ‘great reformer’ although still disliked by others. Abolished serfdom. Ended up being blown up by a bomb. Last of the Romanovs Tsar Alexander III: tall, mean, liked a drink, and drank himself to death. Tsar Nicholas II, last Tsar, he and his family executed in October Revolution, 1917.
Revolutionary Movements 1800s • Mainly from western educated elite • Various attempts to overthrow tsar failed – severe punishment. • 1840s & esp. after 1860: most revolutionaries wanted a socialist govt. • Economy in hands of the people • Against constitutional democracy • 1881 Tsar assassinated- no peasantry involvement
1880s • Ideas of Karl Marx: • No socialist rev. until capitalism had developed, industry built, so that a new class of workers-factory workers =the proletariat became the majority. • 1890s. Organised small groups of Marxists= Social Democrats • 1903 national party: Mensheviks, Bolsheviks
Mensheviks- Russia should follow Western European socialist parties(democratically run party) • Bolsheviks (followed tradition of Russian revolutionaries): tightly run & organised group of prof. revs. who would order the proletariat, take charge of rev. Led by Vladimir Ulyanov- Lenin.
1905 Revolution • “ Bloody Sunday” Set off by peasants, workers’ strikes, business people & professionals, along with mutinies by the armed forces • St. Petersburg workers formed a council= “soviet” to run the strike • Oct. 30, 1905. Tsar Nicholas II relented, est. a parliament Duma, first ever • Basic civil rights for people & limited powers to the parliament • Then Tsar hunted down the revolutionaries- fled overseas
Work of Duma • Legislation to improve people’s life: • Laws to protect factory workers • Education expanded • A progamme to improve peasants’ life; free to move & aid to improve farms • BUT TSAR still had a lot of power: • 1. could appoint & fire all ministers • 2. Control over foreign policy & military budget
Powers of the Tsar • TSAR still had a lot of power: • 1. could appoint & fire all ministers • 2. Control over foreign policy & military budget • 3. Veto all legislation & manipulate parliament with other powers he had retained • Most Russians very poor. Time needed for reforms to be completed
1914 WWI • Russia suffered , not able to withstand a modern German army • Late 1914-1917: > 8 million soldiers killed, wounded, or captured • Civilians could not find basic nec. for survival • MARCH 1917 demos. in Petrograd supported by workers & soldiers
February 1917 Revolution Started with protests about food shortages in St. Petersburg. Russia was doing very badly in World War I. Ended with the Tsar abdicating and the start of a new Russian Parliament.
Problems • Economy • Backwardness • What direction to take in the future • Shortage of FOOD!
General Institutions of Communist Regime • Single Party State System • Dictatorship of the Proletariat • Central Planned Economy • Abolishment of Private Property Rights • Collectivisation • Universal Public Programs • Surveillance System • Strong Military Unit under Party Control
Provisional Government • Unable to control the armed forces • Thwarted by the Bolsheviks • Petrograd Soviet in charge • Lenin decided to overthrow Prov. Govt. • Autumn 1917: WWI still going on- unpopular • November 6-7, 1917 Bolsheviks grabbed power
October 1917 Revolution Lenin and the Bolshevik Party seized power after storming the Winter Palace. Bolshevik Dictatorship: Lenin Trotski Stalin
Nov. 8, 1917 • Land decree- confiscated landlords’ estates & church lands to hand over to peasant committees. • Peace neg. with Germany- Treaty of Litovsk: Russia had to cede a lot of territory to Germany & left the Allies (GB, Fr, US) to negotiate on their own with Germany
Cheka: secret police. Arrests & execution w/o trial. After a long and bloody civil war 1918-1920, the Bolsheviks (now the Communist Party) took complete control of Russia, or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic. They were inspired by the ideas of Karl Marx and claimed that they would establish a state in which power and wealth would be held by the masses and not the few. One party dictatorship- crushed all opponents, no non-Bolsheviks in govt.
NEP: New Economic Policy • Peasants allowed to sell food on the open market • Many factories & businesses returned to private ownership • Govt. controlled :factories, railroads, mines • Widespread and rapid economic recovery • Food supplies replenished in 2 years
Lenin’s Legacy 1917-1924 • Successfully overthrew the Tsar Empire, first communist country. • Successfully improved Russian economy by adopting New Economic Policy
A popular joke set-up is Lenin interacting with the head of the secret police, Dzerzhinsky in the Smolny Institute, seat of the revolutionary communist government in Petrograd, or with khodoki, peasants that came to see Lenin. • During the famine of the civil war, a delegation of starving peasants comes to the Smolny, wishing to file a petition. "We have even started eating the grass like horses," says one peasant. "Soon we will start neighing like horses!" "Come on! Don't worry!" says Lenin reassuringly. "We are drinking tea with honey here, and we are not buzzing like bees, are we?"
Lenin’s death Lenin had a series of strokes and died in 1924. In his will, he warned of the dangers of letting power fall into the hands of one particular man…
Born Josef VissarionovichDjugashvili. During the Revolution he named himself Stalin: “man of steel”. Josef Stalin (“Uncle Joe” to the Americans) “A loveable rogue” who completely transformed Russian life and was largely responsible for the deaths of millions of Russians.
Stalin’s purges 1922-1953400, 000 Class struggle Social unrest Suspected critics or opponents (army officers, revolutionaries, peasants, landowners, intelligentsia) , or anyone that Stalin didn’t like the look of were systematically rounded up and executed. Regional conflicts Or, if they were lucky, they were sent to a Siberian labour camp for maybe 10 or 20 years.
Collective farming Stalin’s policy was to organise farms into collective units which would ‘feed the state’. This turned into a disaster and he was responsible for one of the biggest man-made famines in history.
Generalissimo Stalin Stalin stayed in power through a mixture of propaganda, terror, and genuine devotion from some Russians. He attained god-like status particularly after defeating the Nazis in World War II. Cult of Personality
Made Time Magazine’s Man of the Year in 1942 for holding the Nazis at bay. Although true this showed how little Americans actually knew of Stalin. They thought his methods tough but fair.
Stalin Joke • "Comrade Stalin! This man is your exact double!" • "Shoot him!“ • "Maybe we should shave off his moustache?“ • "Good idea! Shave it off and then shoot him!".
Stalin Joke no. 2 • Stalin reads his report to the Party Congress. Suddenly someone sneezes. "Who sneezed?" (Silence.) "First row! On your feet! Shoot them!" (Applause.) "Who sneezed?" (Silence.) "Second row! On your feet! Shoot them!" (Long, loud applause.) "Who sneezed?" (Silence.) ... A dejected voice in the back: "It was me" (Sobs.) Stalin leans forward: "Bless you, comrade!"
Nikita Khrushchev1958-1964 After his death, Khrushchev, his successor, denounced some of Stalin’s policies at a communist party congress.
Revisionist Khrushchev 1953-1964 • Labeled Stalin as Cult of Personality, began de-Stalinisation* • Could not attempt reform without opposition • As he didn’t have a power base like Stalin
De-Stalinisation • 1954 Released labour camp prisoners • 1956-7: closed labour camps, more release of prisoners • Eased censorships for writers & artists • Raised standard of living by increasing food supply; new housing • Improved relations with the West & US, toured 1959 • 1955 Withdrew occupation forces from Austria • 1963 Signed agreement with US banning above ground nuclear testing
Krushchev (cont.) • But in 1961 Berlin Wall built • 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis
Krushchev (cont.) • Space Race: 1957 Sputnik I, first artificial satellite first man to orbit Earth first man to spacewalk first woman in space first rocket to hit the moon
Krushchev’s failures & the end of reforms • 1. impatience • 2. commitment to Soviet’s policies, eg, collectivisation • 3. failures in F.P. (Foreign Policy) • 4. Opposition from those who would lose their positions if K. continued his reforms. (1962- K. wanted to reorganise the C.P. but many opposed this.)
Krushchev (cont.) • He failed to reform Stalin’s institutions • Left economy tightly controlled by the govt. & inefficient • Secret police was still part of daily life, KGB • These problems would be left unaddressed for 2 decades.
Why was Khrushchev deseated? — Because of the Seven "C"s: Cult of personality, Communism, China, Cuban Crisis, Corn, and Cuzka's mother In Russian this is the seven "K"s. To "show somebody Kuzka's mother" is a Russian idiom meaning "to give somebody a hard time". Khrushchev had used this phrase during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly referring to the Tsar Bomba test over Novaya Zemlya.
Leonid Brezhnev 1964-1982 • Stabilty & Stagnation
Technocrat Brezhnev 1964-1982 • The “happiest time” for Russians in the 20th century. • Russia peaked its highest status in international game. • Lack of reforms also symbolised this decade. It seeds the decline of the Empire. • Brezhnev Doctrine: labeled the revival of Soviet Power and its hostility toward the international society (and its own decline)