Russia


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See also: Russian and Soviet Rulers since 1462 (table)Russian and Soviet Rulers since 1462
(including dates of rule)

House of Rurik
Ivan III (the Great), 1462–1505
Vasily III, 1505–33
Ivan IV (the Terrible), 1533–84
Feodor I, 1584–98

House of Godunov
Boris Godunov, 1598–1605
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Russia,

officially the

Russian Federation,

Rus. Rossiya, republic (2005 est. pop. 143,420,000), 6,591,100 sq mi (17,070,949 sq km). The country is bounded by Norway and Finland in the northwest; by Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, and Ukraine in the west; by Georgia and Azerbaijan in the southwest; and by Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China along the southern land border. The Kaliningrad Region is an exclave on the Baltic Sea bordered by Lithuania and Poland. MoscowMoscow
, Rus. Moskva, city (1991 est. pop. 8,802,000), capital of Russia and of Moscow region and the administrative center of the Central federal district, W central European Russia, on the Moskva River near its junction with the Moscow Canal.
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 is the capital and largest city.

In its political meaning, the term Russia applies to the Russian Empire until 1917, to the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR) from 1917 to 1991, and to the Russian Federation since 1991. The name also is often used informally to mean the whole of the former Union of Soviet Socialist RepublicsUnion of Soviet Socialist Republics
(USSR), Rus. Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik, former republic. It was established in 1922 and dissolved in 1991. The Soviet Union was the first state to be based on Marxist socialism (see also Marxism; communism).
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 (USSR); the Russia Federation was established in 1991 when the USSR disintegrated and the former RSFSR became an independent nation. The term Russia also is used to designate the area inhabited by the Russian people as distinguished from other Eastern Slavs and from non-Slavic peoples.

Land and People

Major Geographic Features

The world's largest country by land area, Russia ranks sixth in terms of population. It occupies much of E Europe and all of N Asia, extending for c.5,000 mi (8,000 km) from the Baltic Sea in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east and for 1,500 to 2,500 mi (2,400–4,000 km) from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea, the Caucasus, the Altai and Sayan mts., and the Amur and Ussuri rivers in the south. Russia also spans 11 time zones. The Urals form the conventional geographic boundary between the European and Siberian parts of Russia. Russia's dominant relief features are (from west to east) the East European plain, the Urals, the West Siberian lowland, and the central Siberian plateau.

Mt. Elbrus (18,481 ft/5,633 m), in the Caucasus, is the highest peak in the country. The chief rivers draining the European Russia are the Don (into the Black Sea), the Volga (into the Caspian Sea), the Northern Dvina (into the White Sea), the Western Dvina (into the Baltic Sea), and the Pechora (into the Barents Sea). (For the main physical features of the Siberian Russia, see SiberiaSiberia
, Rus. Sibir, vast geographical region of Russia, covering c.2,900,000 sq mi (7,511,000 sq km) and having an estimated population (1992) of 32,459,000. Historically it has had no official standing as a political or territorial division, but it was generally
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.) The climate of Russia, generally continental, varies from extreme cold in N Russia and Siberia (where Verkhoyansk, the coldest settled place on earth, is situated), to subtropical along the Black Sea shore. The soil and vegetation zones include the tundratundra
, treeless plains of N North America and N Eurasia, lying principally along the Arctic Circle, on the coasts and islands of the Arctic Ocean, and to the north of the coniferous forest belt.
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 and taigataiga
, northern coniferous-forest belt of Eurasia, bordered on the north by the treeless tundra and on the south by the steppe. This vast belt, comprising about one third of the forest land of the world, extends south from the tundra to about lat.
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 belts, the entire wooded steppesteppe
, temperate grassland of Eurasia, consisting of level, generally treeless plains. It extends over the lower regions of the Danube and in a broad belt over S and SE European and Central Asian Russia, stretching E to the Altai and S to the Transbaykal and Manchurian plains.
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 and northern black-earth steppes, and isolated sections of semidesert, desert, and subtropical zones. (For additional information, see the discussion of the nine physioeconomic regions under Economy below.)

Population and Ethnic Groups

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia experienced a decline in population. The decline was due in part to the difficult economic conditions the nation endured, especially in the 1990s, which led to a low birth rate, a reduced male life expectancy, and emigration. The population drop was slowed somewhat by immigration consisting mainly of ethnic Russians from other areas of the former Soviet Union, but it has continued during the early 21st cent.

There are at least 60 different recognized ethnic groups in Russia, but the vast majority of the population are Russians (80%). There are also Ukrainians (2%) and such non-Slavic linguistic and ethnic groups as Tatars (4%), Bashkirs, Chuvash, Komi, Komi-Permyaks, Udmurts, Mari, Mordovians, Jews, Germans, Armenians, and numerous groups in the Far North and in the Caucasus. Russian is the official language.

Political Subdivisions and Major Cities

Administratively, Russia has generally relied on regional divisions inherited from the Stalin and Brezhnev constitutions of 1936 and 1977. Each area with a predominantly Russian population is constituted as a territory (kray) or region (oblast); some non-Russian nationalities are constituted, in descending order of importance, as republics, autonomous regions (oblasts), and autonomous areas (okrugs). Russia has 21 republics: Adygey, Altai, Bashkortostan, Buryat, Chechnya, Chuvash, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkar, Kalmykia, Karachay-Cherkess, Karelia, Khakass, Komi, Mari El, Mordovia, North Ossetia-Alania, Sakha, Tatarstan, Tuva, and Udmurt; one autonomous region (or oblast): Jewish; 4 autonomous national areas (okrugs): Chukotka, Khanty-Mansi, Nenets, and Yamalo-Nenets; 46 Russian regions (oblasts); 9 Russian territories (krays); and 2 federal cities (gorods; the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg). In 2014 Russia occupied and annexed the Ukrainian territories of Crimea and Sevastopol, which are administered as a republic and a federal city, respectively; the annexations were not generally recognized internationally. Oblasts and krays are roughly equivalent to provinces. In addition to Moscow, other major urban areas in Russia include Saint PetersburgSaint Petersburg,
formerly Leningrad,
Rus. Sankt-Peterburg, city (1990 est. pop. 5,036,000), capital of the Leningrad region (although not administratively part of it) and the administrative center of the Northwestern federal district, NW European Russia, at
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 (formerly Leningrad), Nizhny NovgorodNizhny Novgorod
, formerly Gorky
or Gorki,
city (1989 pop. 1,438,000), capital of Nizhny Novgorod region and the administrative center of the Volga federal district, E European Russia, on the Volga and Oka rivers.
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 (formerly Gorky), Rostov-na-DonuRostov-na-Donu
or Rostov on the Don
, city (1989 pop. 1,019,000), capital of Rostov region and the administrative center of the Southern federal district, SE European Russia, on the Don River near its entrance into the Sea of Azov.
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, VolgogradVolgograd
, formerly Stalingrad,
city (1989 pop. 999,000), capital of Volgograd region, SE European Russia, a port on the Volga River and the eastern terminus of the Volga-Don Canal. As a transshipment point, the port handles oil, coal, ore, lumber, and fish.
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, KazanKazan
, city (1989 est. pop. 1,094,000), capital of Tatarstan, E European Russia, on the Volga. It is a major historic, cultural, industrial, and commercial center. Manufactures include chemicals, explosives, electrical equipment, building materials, consumer goods, and furs.
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, SamaraSamara
, formerly Kuybyshev,
city (1989 pop. 1,254,000), capital of its region, E central European Russia, on the left bank of the Volga and at the mouth of the Samara River.
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 (formerly Kuybyshev), UfaUfa
, city (1989 pop. 1,082,000), capital of Bashkortostan, E European Russia, at the confluence of the Belaya and Ufa rivers. An industrial center in the Urals, Ufa produces electrical and mining equipment and has oil refineries and a major petrochemical industry.
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, PermPerm
, city (1990 est. pop. 1,090,000), capital of Perm Territory, NE European Russia, on the Kama River. It is a transfer center for rail and river traffic and a major producer of machinery in the Urals industrial region. Perm also has chemical plants and oil refineries.
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, YekaterinburgYekaterinburg
or Ekaterinburg
, formerly Sverdlovsk
, city (1989 pop. 1,365,000), capital of the Sverdlovsk region and the administrative center of the Ural federal district, E European Russia, in the eastern foothills of the central Urals, on the Iset River.
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 (formerly Sverdlovsk), OmskOmsk
, city (1989 pop. 1,148,000), capital of Omsk region, W Siberian Russia, at the confluence of the Irtysh and Om rivers and on the Trans-Siberian RR. It is a major river port and produces agricultural machinery and railway equipment.
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, ChelyabinskChelyabinsk
, city (1989 pop. 1,142,000), capital of Chelyabinsk region, W Siberian Russia, in the southern foothills of the Urals and on the Mias River. It also lies on the Trans-Siberian RR.
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, NovosibirskNovosibirsk
, city (1989 pop. 1,437,000), capital of Novosibirsk region and the administrative center of the Siberian federal district, S Siberian Russia, on the Ob River and the Trans-Siberian RR.
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, and VladivostokVladivostok
, city (1989 pop. 634,000), capital of Maritime Territory (Primorsky Kray), Russian Far East, on a peninsula that extends between two bays of the Sea of Japan.
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.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, all of the former autonomous republics of the RSFSR were raised to full republic status, and four of the autonomous regions were made full republics as well. Under President Putin, the government undertook to consolidate the patchwork federal structure of the federation and assert central government authority. In 2000 the administrative units of Russia were grouped into regional administrative districts, which now number eight. The federal districts (and their adminstrative centers) are the Northwestern (St. Petersburg), Central (Moscow), Volga (Nizhny Novgorod), Southern (Rostov-na-Donu), North Caucasian (Pyatigorsk), Ural (Yekaterinburg), Siberian (Novosibirsk), and Far Eastern (Khabarovsk). Subsequently, a number of smaller administrative units have been abolished and merged with larger neighboring regions to form several new territories (krays)

Religion and Education

The majority of Russia's population has no religious affiliation due to the antireligious ideology of the Soviet Union. The Russian Orthodox Church, headquartered in Moscow, has about 60 million adherents; the numbers have grown rapidly since the end of Soviet rule. There are also communities of Old Believers, a group that broke with the Orthodox Church in the 17th cent., as well as a large Muslim minority. Other religions include various Christian churches, Lamaist Buddhism, Judaism, and tribal religions. Partly in reaction to proselytizing by Protestant evangelicals, Mormons, and others, a 1997 Russian law granted superior status to the Russian Orthodox Church (and other older Russian religions). The Orthodox Church has since developed even closer ties with the government.

Economy

General

The Russian Federation inherited a Marxist-Leninist command economy from the Union of Soviet Socialist RepublicsUnion of Soviet Socialist Republics
(USSR), Rus. Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik, former republic. It was established in 1922 and dissolved in 1991. The Soviet Union was the first state to be based on Marxist socialism (see also Marxism; communism).
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 (USSR). Chief among the characteristics of the economy was an almost total absence of private productive capital. All enterprises were owned by the state, with each person receiving a salary for his or her efforts. Farmland was also almost entirely state-owned: 95% of all farmland was either state-owned or collectivized. All economic planning was done by government officials based in Moscow. Market forces played no part in their decision-making. The workforce was estimated at about 70 million persons in 1989.

During the GorbachevGorbachev, Mikhail Sergeyevich
, 1931–, Soviet political leader. Born in the agricultural region of Stavropol, Gorbachev studied law at Moscow State Univ., where in 1953 he married a philosophy student, Raisa Maksimovna Titorenko (1932?–99).
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 era many of the basic elements of the Soviet command economy were weakened. The policies of glasnostglasnost
, Soviet cultural and social policy of the late 1980s. Following his ascension to the leadership of the USSR in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev began to promote a policy of openness in public discussions about current and historical problems.
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 and perestroikaperestroika
, Soviet economic and social policy of the late 1980s. Perestroika [restructuring] was the term attached to the attempts (1985–91) by Mikhail Gorbachev to transform the stagnant, inefficient command economy of the Soviet Union into a decentralized
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 loosened social controls. Limited private ownership of businesses and land was granted, and prices were allowed to rise in accordance with market forces.

Following the failed August CoupAugust Coup,
attempted coup (Aug. 18–22, 1991) against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. On the eve of the signing ceremony for a new union treaty for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, members of the Politburo and the heads of the Soviet military and security
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 and independence, the assets of the Communist party were seized and a new era of a market-based economy was proclaimed. Companies were given permission to become private entities, except for those enterprises employing over 10,000 workers or providing gas, oil, or pharmaceuticals. In 1991, Russia joined with other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent StatesCommonwealth of Independent States
(CIS), community of independent nations established by a treaty signed at Minsk, Belarus, on Dec. 8, 1991, by the heads of state of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Between Dec. 8 and Dec.
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 (CIS) in a loose affiliation aimed in part at establishing a coordinated economic policy. The rapid change from a severely controlled system to the beginnings of a market economy created chaotic conditions; some Russians profited greatly, but most suffered economic hardship as privatization and other economic reforms progressed. By late 1997, inflation appeared to have been brought under control and industrial production had begun to slowly increase.

The country was once again plunged into economic upheaval, however, when the ruble plummeted in May, 1998, following a crisis in Asian financial markets. Unable to pay its foreign debts, Russia struggled to restructure loans and keep its new financial services sector from collapsing. By 2001, however, the Russian economy recovered and benefited from economic reforms and a rise in oil prices, and raw material exports, especially, oil and natural gas, have become more important economically since then. In July, 2003, a law permitting the sale of farmland was passed by the parliament; foreigners are banned from purchasing agricultural land but may lease it. Privatization of state-owned companies has continued, but more slowly, and under President Putin the government intervened more freely in economic affairs, for example, to solidify state ownership of Russia's energy industry. Because of this, foreign investment in the economy has remained relatively low. In 2006 the ruble became fully convertible when the government ended restrictions on currency transactions, and oil revenues enabled the government to pay off some $23 billion in foreign debt ahead of schedule.

The Russian Federation possesses a well-developed road and rail network in its European third, a more limited network in Siberia, and still fewer roads and rail lines in the Russian Far EastRussian Far East,
formerly Soviet Far East,
federal district (1989 est. pop. 7,941,000), c.2,400,000 sq mi (6,216,000 sq km), encompassing the entire northeast coast of Asia and including the Sakha Republic, Maritime Territory (Primorsky Kray), Khabarovsk Territory,
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. Barges on the vast network of inland waterways can carry a huge amount of traffic. In E Siberia, ships carry virtually all heavy freight. Most of Russia's cities and towns are connected by air. Exports are dominated by natural resources, particularly oil, natural gas, nickel, and timber; chemicals and military manufactures are also important exports. Imports include machinery and equipment, consumer goods, medicines, meat, sugar, and metal products. The main trading partners are Germany, Ukraine, China, and Italy.

Physioeconomically, the Russian Federation may be conveniently divided into 9 major regions: the Central European Region, the North and Northwest European Region, the Volga Region, the North Caucasus, the Ural Region, Western Siberia, Eastern Siberia, Northern and Northwestern Siberia, and the Russian Far East.

Central European Area

This flat, rolling country, with Moscow as its center, forms a major industrial region. Besides Moscow, major cities include Nizhniy Novgorod (formerly Gorky), Smolensk, Yaroslavl, Vladimir, Tula, Dzerzhinsk, and Rybinsk. Trucks, ships, railway rolling stock, machine tools, electronic equipment, cotton and woolen textiles, and chemicals are the principal industrial products. The Volga and Oka rivers are the major water routes, and the Moscow-Volga and Don-Volga canals link Moscow with the Caspian and Baltic seas. Many rail lines serve the area.

North and Northwest European Area

St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad), the industrial center of this area, has industries producing machine tools, electronic equipment, chemicals, ships, and precision instruments. Other cities include Pskov, Tver (formerly Kalinin), Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, and Vologda. The hills, marshy plains, lakes, and desolate plateaus contain rich deposits of coal (Pechora Basin), oil (Ukhta), iron ore, and bauxite, and the area is a prime source of lumber. The chief water routes are the Baltic-Belomor Canal and the Volga-Baltic Waterway.

Volga

This area, stretching along the greatest river of European Russia, has highly developed hydroelectric power installations, including major dams at Volgograd, Kazan, Samara (formerly Kuybyshev), and Balakovo. Farm machinery, ships, chemicals, and textiles are manufactured, and extensive oil and gas fields are worked. Agricultural products include wheat, vegetables, cotton, hemp, oilseeds, and fruit. Livestock raising and fishing are also important.

North Caucasus

In this area, descending northward from the principal chain of the Caucasus Mts. to a level plain, are found rich deposits of oil, natural gas, and coal. The major cities are Rostov-na-Donu, Krasnodar, Grozny, Vladikavkaz, and Novorossiysk. Sochi is a popular resort. Farm machinery, coal, petroleum, and natural gas are the chief products. The Kuban River region, a fertile black-earth area, is one of the chief granaries of Russia. Wheat, sugar beets, tobacco, rice, and sunflower seeds are grown, and cattle are raised. Other rivers include the Don, the Kuma, and the Terek, and the Volga-Don Canal is a major transportation route.

Ural Area

The southern half of the Ural region has been a major center of Russian iron and steel production. A substantial share of Soviet petroleum was produced there, mainly in Bashkortostan. Deposits of iron ore, manganese, and aluminum ore are mined. The major industrial centers are Magnitogorsk, Yekaterinburg (formerly Sverdlovsk), Chelyabinsk, Nizhni Tagil, and Perm. Several trunk railroads serve the area, and rivers include the Kama and Belaya in the west and the Ural in the south.

Western Siberia

This vast plain—marshy and thinly populated in the north, hilly in the south—is of growing economic importance. At Novosibirsk and Kamen-na-Obi are large hydroelectric stations. Other principal cities include Kemerovo and Novokuznetsk. The Kuznetsk Basin in the southwest is a center of coal mining, oil refining, and the production of iron, steel, machinery, and chemicals. The Ob-Irtysh drainage system crosses this area, which is also served by the Trans-Siberian and South Siberian rail lines. Barnaul is a major rail junction. Agricultural products include wheat, rice, oats, and sugar beets, and livestock is raised.

Eastern Siberia

In this area of plateaus, mountains, and river basins, the major cities—Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, and Chita—are located along the Trans-Siberian RRTrans-Siberian Railroad,
rail line, linking European Russia with the Pacific coast. Its construction began in 1891, on the initiative of Count S. Y. Witte, and was completed in 1905.
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. A branch line links Ulan-Ude with Mongolia and Beijing, China. There are hydroelectric stations at Bratsk, Krasnoyarsk, and Irkutsk. Coal, gold, graphite, iron ore, aluminum ore, zinc, and lead are mined in the area, and livestock is raised.

Northern and Northeastern Siberia

Covering nearly half of Russian territory, this is the least populated and least developed area. The Ob, Yenisei, and Lena rivers flow to the Arctic. Through the use of atomic-powered icebreakers, the Northern Sea Route has gained increasing economic importance. The Kolyma gold fields are the principal source of Russian gold, and industrial diamonds are mined in the Sakha Republic, notably at Mirny. Fur trapping and hunting are the chief activities in the taiga and tundra regions.

Russian Far East

Bordering on the Pacific Ocean, the region has Komsomolsk, Khabarovsk, Yakutsk, and Vladivostok as its chief cities. Machinery is produced, and lumbering, fishing, hunting, and fur trapping are important. The Trans-Siberian RR follows the Amur and Ussuri rivers and terminates at the port of Vladivostok.

Government

The Russian Federation is governed under the constitution of 1993 as amended. The head of state is a popularly elected president who is eligible to serve two consecutive six-year terms (and additional nonconsecutive terms). The president appoints the prime minister and can dissolve the legislature if it three times refuses to approve his choice for that post. The legislature, or Federal Assembly, is divided into an upper Federation Council and a lower State Duma. The Federation Council has 166 members, consisting of two representatives from the governments of each republic, territory, region, and area; their terms parallel the terms of the governmental body that elected or appointed them (unless that body removes them from office). The State Duma has 450 members. Half the seats are distributed proportionally among those parties whose national vote is at least 7%, the rest are elected by districts. Members of the State Duma serve five-year terms. The Civic Chamber, which was established in 2005, is empowered to investigate elected and appointed government officials and advise on national legislation. Its 126 members are appointed by the president or chosen by the members of the chamber from among prominent nongovernmental individuals. Members serve two-year terms. Administratively, the country is divided into 46 Russian regions, 21 ethnically non-Russian republics, 4 autonomous national areas, 9 largely Russian territories, the federal cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and one autonomous region.

History

The following article deals with the formation and history of the Russian state and empire until 1917 and after the formation of the contemporary Russian Federation in 1991. Information on the period from 1917 to 1991 can be found in the entry on the Union of Soviet Socialist RepublicsUnion of Soviet Socialist Republics
(USSR), Rus. Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik, former republic. It was established in 1922 and dissolved in 1991. The Soviet Union was the first state to be based on Marxist socialism (see also Marxism; communism).
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. See also the table entitled Russian and Soviet Rulers since 1462Russian and Soviet Rulers since 1462
(including dates of rule)

House of Rurik
Ivan III (the Great), 1462–1505
Vasily III, 1505–33
Ivan IV (the Terrible), 1533–84
Feodor I, 1584–98

House of Godunov
Boris Godunov, 1598–1605
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.

Early Russia

Numerous remains indicate that Russia was inhabited in the Paleolithic period. By the 7th cent. B.C. the northern shore of the Black Sea and the Crimea were controlled by the Scythians (see under ScythiaScythia
, ancient region of Eurasia, extending from the Danube on the west to the borders of China on the east. The Scythians flourished from the 8th to the 4th cent. B.C. They spoke an Indo-Iranian language but had no system of writing.
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); in the 3d cent. B.C. the Scythians were displaced by the Sarmatians (see under SarmatiaSarmatia
, ancient district between the Vistula River and the Caspian Sea, gradually conquered and occupied by the Sarmatians [Lat. Sarmatae] or Sauromatians (a term used by Herodotus and now used by archaeologists for early Sarmatians) from the 6th cent. B.C.
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). Later the open steppes of Russia were invaded by numerous peoples, notably the Germanic Goths (3d cent. A.D.), the Asian HunsHuns,
nomadic and pastoral people of unknown ethnological affinities who appeared in Europe in the 4th cent. A.D., and built up an empire there. They were organized in a predominantly military manner.
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 (4th cent.), and the Turkic AvarsAvars
, mounted nomad people who in the 4th and 5th cent. dominated the steppes of central Asia. Dislodged by stronger tribes, the Avars pushed west, increasing their formidable army by incorporating conquered peoples into it. Reaching their greatest power in the late 6th cent.
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 (6th cent.). The Turkic KhazarsKhazars
, ancient Turkic people who appeared in Transcaucasia in the 2d cent. A.D. and subsequently settled in the lower Volga region. They emerged as a force in the 7th cent. and rose to great power. The Khazar empire extended (8th–10th cent.
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 built up (7th cent.) a powerful state in S Russia, and the Eastern BulgarsBulgars, Eastern
, Turkic-speaking people, who possessed a powerful state (10th–14th cent.) at the confluence of the Volga and the Kama, E European Russia. The Bulgars appeared on the Middle Volga by the 8th cent. and became known as the Eastern, Volga, or Kama Bulgars.
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 established (8th cent.) their empire in the Volga region. By the 9th cent. the Eastern SlavsSlavs
, the largest ethnic and linguistic group of peoples in Europe belonging to the Indo-European linguistic family. It is estimated that the Slavs number over 300 million in the world. They are usually classified in three main divisions.
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 had settled in N Ukraine, in Belarus, and in the regions of Novgorod and Smolensk, and they had established colonies to the east on the Oka and upper Volga rivers. The chief Slavic tribes in S Russia were dominated by the Khazars.

The origin of the Russian state coincides with the arrival (9th cent.) of Scandinavian traders and warriors, the VarangiansVarangians
, name given by Slavs and Byzantine Greeks to Scandinavians who began to raid the eastern shores of the Baltic and penetrate Eastern Europe by the 9th cent. Their leader, Rurik, established himself at Novgorod in 862, thus laying the traditional foundation for Kievan
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. Tradition has it that one of their leaders, RurikRurik
, d. 879, semilegendary Varangian warrior, regarded as the founder of the princely dynasty of Kievan Rus. Rurik and his two brothers, at the head of an armed band, apparently seized Novgorod and nearby districts (c.862).
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, established himself peaceably at Novgorod by 862 and founded a dynasty. The name Russ or Rhos possibly originally designated the Varangians, or some of them, but it was early extended to the Eastern Slavs and became the name of their country in general. Rurik's successor, OlegOleg
or Oleh
, d. c.912, founder of Kievan Rus. Succeeding his kinsman Rurik as leader of the Varangians at Novgorod, Oleg led forth his retainers to seize Kiev (c.879).
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 (reigned 879–912), transferred (882) his residence to Kiev, which remained the capital of Kievan RusKievan Rus
, medieval state of the Eastern Slavs. It was the earliest predecessor of modern Ukraine and Russia. Flourishing from the 10th to the 13th cent., it included nearly all of present-day Ukraine and Belarus and part of NW European Russia, extending as far N as Novgorod
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 until 1169. He united the Eastern Slavs and freed them from Khazar suzerainty, and signed (911) a commercial treaty with the Byzantine Empire. Under SviatoslavSviatoslav
or Svyatoslav
, d. 972, duke of Kiev (945–72), son of Igor and of St. Olga. His mother acted as regent for him until c.962, when he came of age.
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 (reigned 964–72) the duchy reached the peak of its power.

Christianity was made the state religion by Vladimir IVladimir I
, Volodymyr I
, or Saint Vladimir,
d. 1015, first Christian grand duke of Kiev (c.980–1015); son of Sviatoslav. In 970, Vladimir was sent by his father to govern Novgorod.
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 (reigned 980–1015), who adopted (988–89) the Greek Orthodox rite. Thus Byzantine cultural influence became predominant. After the death of YaroslavYaroslav
(Yaroslav the Wise) , 978–1054, grand duke of Kiev (1019–54); son of Vladimir I. Designated by his father to rule in Novgorod, he became grand duke of Kiev after defeating his older brother Sviatopolk, who succeeded Vladimir I.
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 (reigned 1019–54), Kievan Rus was divided in a rotation system among his sons. Political supremacy shifted, passing from Kiev to the western principalities of Halych and Volodymyr (see Volodymyr-VolynskyyVolodymyr-Volynskyy
, Pol. Włodzimierz, Rus. Vladimir-Volynski, city (1989 pop. 38,000), NW Ukraine. It was founded in the 9th cent. and supposedly refounded in 988 by the Grand Duke Vladimir I (Volodymyr I) of Kievan Rus.
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 and VolhyniaVolhynia
, Ukr. and Rus. Volyn, Pol. Wołyń, historic region, W Ukraine, around the headstreams of the Pripyat and Western Bug rivers in an area of forests, lakes, and marshlands.
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) and to the northeastern principality of Suzdal-Vladimir (see VladimirVladimir
, city (1989 pop. 350,000), capital of Vladimir region, W central European Russia, on the Klyazma River. A rail junction, it has industries producing machinery, chemicals, cotton textiles, and plastics. Tourism is also important. Founded in the early 12th cent.
..... Click the link for more information.
). In 1169, Kiev was stormed by the Suzdal prince Andrei Bogolubsky (reigned 1169–74), who made Vladimir the capital of the grand duchy. In 1237–40 the Mongols (commonly called TatarsTatars
or Tartars
, Turkic-speaking peoples living primarily in Russia, Crimea, and Uzbekistan. They number about 10 million and are largely Sunni Muslims; there is also a large population of Crimean Tatar descent in Turkey.
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) under Batu Khan invaded Russia and destroyed all the chief Russian cities except Novgorod and Pskov. In S and E Russia the Tatars established the empire of the Golden HordeGolden Horde, Empire of the,
Mongol state comprising most of Russia, given as an appanage to Jenghiz Khan's oldest son, Juchi, and actually conquered and founded in the mid-13th cent. by Juchi's son, Batu Khan, after the Mongol or Tatar (see Tatars) conquest of Russia.
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, which lasted until 1480.

BelarusBelarus
or Byelarus
, formerly Belorussia,
officially Republic of Belarus, republic (2005 pop. 9,799,000), c.80,150 sq mi (207,600 sq km), E central Europe. It is sometimes called White Russia.
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, most of UkraineUkraine
, Ukr. Ukraina, republic (2005 est. pop. 47,425,000), 232,046 sq mi (601,000 sq km), E Europe. It borders on Poland in the northwest; on Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova in the southwest; on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov in the south; on Russia in the
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, and part of W Russia were incorporated (14th cent.) into the grand duchy of LithuaniaLithuania
, Lithuanian Lietuva, officially Republic of Lithuania, republic (2005 est. pop. 3,597,000), 25,174 sq mi (65,201 sq km), N central Europe. Lithuania borders on the Baltic Sea in the west, Latvia in the north, Belarus in the east and southeast, Poland in the
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. Thus NE Russia became the main center of economic and political life. At the end of the 13th cent. Tver was the most important political center, but in the 14th cent. the Muscovite princes of the grand duchy of Vladimir, although still tributary to the Tatars, began to consolidate their position. Under Ivan I (Ivan Kalita; reigned 1328–41), Moscow took precedence over the other cities. After the victory of Dmitri DonskoiDmitri Donskoi
, 1350–89, Russian hero, grand duke of Moscow (1359–89). He successfully resisted Lithuanian attempts to invade Moscow, and was the first Russian prince since the Mongol conquest who dared to wage open war on the Tatars.
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 (reigned 1359–89) over the Tatars at KulikovoKulikovo, battle of
, 1380, victory of Grand Duke Dmitri Donskoi of Moscow over Khan Mamai of the Golden Horde. The battle was fought on a plain by the Don near the present village of Kurkino, Russia, SE of Tula.
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 in 1380, the grand duchy of Vladimir was bequeathed, without the sanction of the Golden Horde, to his son Vasily (reigned 1389–1425), and its rulers began to be called grand dukes of Moscow or Muscovy (see Moscow, grand duchy ofMoscow or Muscovy, grand duchy of,
state existing in W central Russia from the late 14th to mid-16th cent., with the city of Moscow as its nucleus.
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).

Consolidation of the Russian State

Under Ivan IIIIvan III
or Ivan the Great,
1440–1505, grand duke of Moscow (1462–1505), creator of the consolidated Muscovite (Russian) state. He subjugated (1478) Great Novgorod, asserted his sway over Vyatka, Tver, Yaroslavl, Rostov-Suzdal, and other territories, and
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 (1462–1505) and his successor, Vasily IIIVasily III
(Vasily Ivanovich) , 1479–1533, grand duke of Moscow (1505–33). Carrying on the policies of his father, Ivan III, he rounded out the territorial consolidation of the Russian state, formally annexing Pskov (1510), Ryazan (1517), and Novgorod-Seversk (1523)
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 (1505–33), the Muscovite state expanded, and its rulers became more absolute. The principality of Yaroslavl was annexed in 1463 and Rostov-Suzdal in 1474; Novgorod was conquered in 1478, Tver in 1485, Pskov in 1510, and Ryazan in 1521. The Mari, Yurga, and Komi were subjugated at the end of the 14th cent., and the Pechora and Karelians at the end of the 15th cent. Ivan ceased to pay tribute to the Tatars, and in 1497 he adopted the first code of laws. Having married the niece of the last Byzantine emperor, Ivan considered Moscow the "third Rome" and himself heir to the tradition of the Byzantine Empire.

In 1547, at the age of 17, Ivan IVIvan IV
or Ivan the Terrible,
1530–84, grand duke of Moscow (1533–84), the first Russian ruler to assume formally the title of czar. Early Reign

Ivan succeeded his father Vasily III, who died in 1533, under the regency of his mother.
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 (Ivan the Terrible; reigned 1533–84) was crowned czar of all Russia. He conquered the Tatar khanates of KazanKazan
, city (1989 est. pop. 1,094,000), capital of Tatarstan, E European Russia, on the Volga. It is a major historic, cultural, industrial, and commercial center. Manufactures include chemicals, explosives, electrical equipment, building materials, consumer goods, and furs.
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 (1552) and AstrakhanAstrakhan
, city (1990 pop. 521,000), capital of Astrakhan region, SE European Russia. A Caspian Sea port on the Volga River's southern delta, it is a center for river transport thanks to a canal built for barge traffic.
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 (1556), establishing Russian rule over the huge area of the middle and lower Volga; thus he laid the basis for the colonization and annexation of SiberiaSiberia
, Rus. Sibir, vast geographical region of Russia, covering c.2,900,000 sq mi (7,511,000 sq km) and having an estimated population (1992) of 32,459,000. Historically it has had no official standing as a political or territorial division, but it was generally
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, begun by the Cossack YermakYermak
or Ermak
, d. 1584?, Russian conqueror of Siberia; his name also occurs as Yermak Timofeyevich. The leader of a band of independent Russian Cossacks, he spent his early career plundering the czar's ships on the Volga and later entered the service of a merchant
..... Click the link for more information.
 in 1581. The conquered border territories were colonized by Russian settlers and defended by the CossacksCossacks
, Rus. Kazaki, Ukr. Kozaky, peasant-soldiers in Ukraine and in several regions of Russia who, until 1918, held certain privileges in return for rendering military service. The first Cossack companies were formed in the 15th cent.
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. At home, Ivan crushed the opposition of the great feudal nobles—the boyars—and set up an autocratic government. After the reign of the sickly Feodor I (1584–98), state power passed to Boris GodunovGodunov, Boris
, c.1551–1605, czar of Russia (1598–1605). A favorite of Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible), he helped organize Ivan's social and administrative system.
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 (reigned 1598–1605), who was elected czar by a zemsky sobor [national council].

With the death of Boris in 1605 began the "Time of Troubles"—a political crisis marked by the appearance of pretenders (see DmitriDmitri
or Demetrius
, 1582–91, czarevich, son of Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) of Russia. His brother, Feodor I, succeeded Ivan in 1584, but Boris Godunov actually ruled Russia for the period of Feodor's reign (1584–98).
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) and the intervention of foreign powers. In 1609, Sigismund IIISigismund III,
1566–1632, king of Poland (1587–1632) and Sweden (1592–99). The son of John III of Sweden and Catherine, sister of Sigismund II of Poland, he united the Vasa and Jagiello dynasties.
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 of Poland invaded Russia, and in 1610 Polish troops entered Moscow according to an agreement concluded with the boyars. However, in 1612, Russian forces led by Prince Dmitri Pozharski took Moscow, and in 1613 a zemsky sobor unanimously chose Michael Romanov as czar (see MichaelMichael
(Michael Romanov), 1596–1645, czar of Russia (1613–45), founder of the Romanov dynasty; grandnephew of Anastasia, first wife of Ivan IV. His election as czar, following successive appearances of false pretenders (see Dmitri), ended the so-called Time of
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; reigned 1613–45). Thus began the RomanovRomanov
, ruling dynasty of Russia from 1613 to 1917. The name Romanov was adopted in the 16th cent. by a family of boyars (great nobles) that traced its beginnings to the 14th cent. Czar Ivan IV took as his first wife Anastasia Romanov.
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 dynasty, which ruled Russia until 1917. Michael was succeeded by AlexisAlexis
(Aleksey Mikhailovich) , 1629–76, czar of Russia (1645–76), son and successor of Michael. His reign, marked by numerous popular outbreaks, was crucial for the later development of Russia.
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 (reigned 1645–76), who gained E Ukraine from Poland.

Russia in the 17th cent. was still medieval in culture and outlook, and it was not regarded as a member of the European community of nations. In its economic development it was centuries behind Western Europe; distrust of foreign ways and innovations kept its inhabitants ignorant and isolated. The consolidation of central power was effected not with the help of the almost nonexistent middle class or by social reforms but by forcibly depriving the nobility and gentry of their political influence. The nobles were compensated with land grants and with increasing rights over the peasants. Thus serfdom (see serfserf,
under feudalism, peasant laborer who can be generally characterized as hereditarily attached to the manor in a state of semibondage, performing the servile duties of the lord (see also manorial system).
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), which became a legal institution in Russia in 1649, included growing numbers of persons and became increasingly oppressive. The process of enserfment, which reached its peak in the 18th cent., resulted in several violent peasant revolts, notably those led by Stenka RazinRazin, Stenka
, d. 1671, Don Cossack leader, head of the peasant revolt of 1670. As commander of a band of propertyless Don Cossacks, he raided and pillaged (1667–69) through the lower Volga valley and across the Caspian Sea.
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 (1667–71) and by PugachevPugachev, Emelian Ivanovich
, c.1742–75, Russian peasant leader, head of the peasant rebellion of 1773–74. A Don Cossack, he exploited a widespread peasant belief that Peter III had not actually been murdered.
..... Click the link for more information.
 (1773–75).

Empire and European Eminence

During the reign (1689–1725) of Peter IPeter I
or Peter the Great,
1672–1725, czar of Russia (1682–1725), major figure in the development of imperial Russia. Early Life

Peter was the youngest child of Czar Alexis, by Alexis's second wife, Natalya Naryshkin.
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 (Peter the Great) Russian politics, administration, and culture were altered considerably. However, the trend of increased autocracy and enserfment of peasants was accelerated by the changes. Peter, who assumed (1721) the title of emperor, "Westernized" Russia by using stringent methods to force on the people a series of reforms. He created a regular conscript army and navy. He abolished the patriarchate of Moscow (see Orthodox Eastern ChurchOrthodox Eastern Church,
community of Christian churches whose chief strength is in the Middle East and E Europe. Their members number some 300 million worldwide. The Orthodox agree doctrinally in accepting as ecumenical the first seven councils (see council, ecumenical) and in
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) and created (1721) the Holy Synod, directly subordinate to the emperor, thus depriving the church of the last vestiges of independence. He recast the administrative and fiscal systems, creating new organs of central government and reforming local administration, and he also founded the first modern industries and made an attempt to introduce elements of Western education.

Seeking to make Russia a maritime power, Peter acquired LivoniaLivonia
, region and former Russian province, comprising present Estonia and parts of Latvia (Vidzeme and Latgale). It borders on the Baltic Sea and its arms, the Gulf of Riga and the Gulf of Finland, in the west and the north and extends E to Lake Peipus (Chudskoye) and the
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, IngermanlandIngermanland
or Ingria
, Finnish Ingerinta, historic region, NW European Russia, along the Neva River and on the east bank of the Gulf of Finland. Its name derives from the ancient Finnic inhabitants, the Ingers, some of whose descendants (about 93,000) still
..... Click the link for more information.
 (Ingria), EstoniaEstonia
, Estonian Eesti, officially Republic of Estonia, republic (2005 est. pop. 1,333,000), 17,505 sq mi (45,339 sq km). It borders on the Baltic Sea in the west; the gulfs of Riga and Finland (both arms of the Baltic) in the southwest and north, respectively; Latvia
..... Click the link for more information.
, and parts of Karelia and Finland as a result of the Northern WarNorthern War,
1700–1721, general European conflict, fought in N and E Europe at the same time that the War of the Spanish Succession was fought in the west and the south.
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 (1700–1721), thus securing a foothold on the Baltic Sea. As a symbol of the new conquests he founded (1703) Saint PetersburgSaint Petersburg,
formerly Leningrad,
Rus. Sankt-Peterburg, city (1990 est. pop. 5,036,000), capital of the Leningrad region (although not administratively part of it) and the administrative center of the Northwestern federal district, NW European Russia, at
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 on the Gulf of Finland and transferred (1712) his capital there. Russia was rapidly becoming a European power. Peter also began the Russian push to the Black Sea, taking AzovAzov
, city (1990 est. pop. 82,000), SE European Russia, a port on the Don River delta near the Sea of Azov. It is a rail junction, a light industrial center, and a fishing center. Tourism supplements the economy. Founded as the Greek colony of Tanaïs (3d cent. B.C.
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 in 1696, but his war with Turkey from 1711 to 1713 ended in failure and the loss of Azov. In addition, he sent (1725) Vitus BeringBering, Vitus Jonassen
, 1681–1741, Danish explorer in Russian employ. In 1725 he was selected by Peter I to explore far NE Siberia. Having finally moved men and supplies across Siberia, Bering in 1728 sailed N through Bering Strait but sighted no land and did not
..... Click the link for more information.
 on an exploratory trip to NE Siberia.

The Russo-Turkish WarsRusso-Turkish Wars.
The great eastward expansion of Russia in the 16th and 17th cent., during the decline of the Ottoman Empire, nevertheless left the shores of the Black Sea in the hands of the Ottoman sultans and their vassals, the khans of Crimea.
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 of the next two centuries resulted in the expansion of Russia at the expense of the Ottoman Empire and in the growing influence of Russia on Ottoman affairs (see Eastern QuestionEastern Question,
term designating the problem of European territory controlled by the decaying Ottoman Empire in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th cent. The Turkish threat to Europe was checked by the Hapsburgs in the 16th cent.
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). Russia also took an increasing part in European affairs. The immediate successors of Peter the Great were Catherine ICatherine I,
1683?–1727, czarina of Russia (1725–27). Of Livonian peasant origin, Martha Skavronskaya was a domestic when she was captured (1702) by Russian soldiers. As mistress of Aleksandr D.
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 (reigned 1725–27), Peter IIPeter II,
1715–30, czar of Russia (1727–30). A grandson of Peter I and the son of the czarevich Alexis, he succeeded on the death of Catherine I. He was too young to rule, but he willingly lent himself to a court intrigue, led by the Gallitzin and Dolgoruki families,
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 (reigned 1727–30), AnnaAnna
(Anna Ivanovna) , 1693–1740, czarina of Russia (1730–40), daughter of Ivan V and niece of Peter I (Peter the Great). On the death of her distant cousin, Peter II, she was chosen czarina by the supreme privy council, which thus hoped to gain power for itself.
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 (reigned 1730–40), and Ivan VIIvan VI,
1740–64, czar of Russia (1740–41), great-grandson of Ivan V. He was the son of Prince Anthony Ulric of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel and of Anna Leopoldovna.
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 (reigned 1740–41). Empress ElizabethElizabeth,
1709–62, czarina of Russia (1741–62), daughter of Peter I and Catherine I. She gained the throne by overthrowing the young czar, Ivan VI, and the regency of his mother, Anna Leopoldovna.
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 (reigned 1741–62) successfully sided against Prussia in the Seven Years WarSeven Years War,
1756–63, worldwide war fought in Europe, North America, and India between France, Austria, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and (after 1762) Spain on the one side and Prussia, Great Britain, and Hanover on the other.
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, but her successor, Peter IIIPeter III,
1728–62, czar of Russia (1762), son of Charles Frederick, dispossessed duke of Holstein-Gottorp, and of Anna Petrovna, daughter of Peter the Great. He succeeded to the throne on the death of his aunt, Czarina Elizabeth.
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, took Russia out of the war.

Peter's wife successfully seized power from him (1762), and when he was murdered shortly thereafter she became empress as Catherine IICatherine II
or Catherine the Great,
1729–96, czarina of Russia (1762–96). Rise to Power

A German princess, the daughter of Christian Augustus, prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, she emerged from the obscurity of her relatively modest background in 1744
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 (Catherine the Great; reigned 1762–96). Under her rule Russia became the chief power of continental Europe. She continued Peter I's policies of absolute rule at home and of territorial expansion at the expense of neighboring states. The three successive partitions of Poland (1772, 1793, 1795; see Poland, partitions ofPoland, partitions of.
The basic causes leading to the three successive partitions (1772, 1793, 1795) that eliminated Poland from the map were the decay and the internal disunity of Poland and the emergence of its neighbors, Russia and Prussia, as leading European powers.
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), the annexations of the CrimeaCrimea
, Rus. and Ukr. Krym, peninsula and republic (1991 est. pop. 2,363,000), c.10,000 sq mi (25,900 sq km), SE Europe, linked with the mainland by the Perekop Isthmus. The peninsula is bounded on the S and W by the Black Sea.
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 (1783) and of CourlandCourland
or Kurland
, Latvian Kurzeme, historic region and former duchy, in Latvia, between the Baltic Sea and the Western Dvina River. It is an agricultural and wooded lowland. Jelgava (Ger. Mitau), the historic capital, and Liepaja (Ger.
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 (1795), and the treaties of Kuchuk Kainarji (1774) and Jassy (1792) with Turkey gave Russia vast new territories in the west and south, including what is now Belarus, parts of Ukraine W of the Dnieper River, and the Black Sea shores. Catherine's administrative reforms further centralized power. The suppression of Pugachev's rebellion strengthened the privileged classes and lessened the chances of social reform. However, under her "enlightened despotism," Russian writers, scientists, and artists began the great creative efforts that culminated in the late 19th and early 20th cent.

Russia became involved in the French Revolutionary Wars under Catherine's successor, the demented Paul IPaul I,
1754–1801, czar of Russia (1796–1801), son and successor of Catherine II. His mother disliked him intensely and sought on several occasions to change the succession to his disadvantage.
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, who was murdered in 1801. His son, Alexander IAlexander I,
1777–1825, czar of Russia (1801–25), son of Paul I (in whose murder he may have taken an indirect part). In the first years of his reign the liberalism of his Swiss tutor, Frédéric César de La Harpe, seemed to influence Alexander.
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 (reigned 1801–25), joined the third coalition against Napoleon I, but made peace with France at Tilsit (1807) and annexed (1809) FinlandFinland,
Finnish Suomi , officially Republic of Finland, republic (2005 est. pop. 5,223,000), 130,119 sq mi (337,009 sq km), N Europe. It borders on the Gulf of Bothnia and Sweden in the west, on Norway in the north, on Russia in the east, and on the Gulf of Finland and
..... Click the link for more information.
 from Sweden. In wars with Turkey and Persia, Alexander gained BessarabiaBessarabia
, historic region, c.17,600 sq mi (45,600 sq km), largely in Moldova and Ukraine. It is bounded by the Dniester River on the north and east, the Prut on the west, and the Danube and the Black Sea on the south.
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 by the Treaty of Bucharest (1812) and Caucasian territories by the Treaty of GulistanGulistan, Treaty of
, 1813, signed by Russia and Iran (Persia) at Gulistan, a village in what is now NW Azerbaijan. It ended the Russo-Persian war that had begun in 1804. Persia ceded the khanates forming the present-day state of Azerbaijan and renounced its claim on Georgia and Dagestan.
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 (1813). In 1812, Napoleon began his great onslaught on Russia and took Moscow, but his army was repulsed and nearly annihilated in the winter of that year. Napoleon's downfall and the peace settlement (see Vienna, Congress ofVienna, Congress of,
Sept., 1814–June, 1815, one of the most important international conferences in European history, called to remake Europe after the downfall of Napoleon I.
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) made Russia and Austria the leading powers on the Continent at the head of the Holy AllianceHoly Alliance,
1815, agreement among the emperors of Russia and Austria and the king of Prussia, signed on Sept. 26. It was quite distinct from the Quadruple Alliance (Quintuple, after the admission of France) of Great Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia, arrived at first in
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.

Reaction, Reform, and Expansion

Liberal ideas gained influence among the Russian aristocracy and educated bourgeoisie despite Alexander I's growing intransigence. They found an outlet in the unsuccessful Decembrist Conspiracy of 1825 (see DecembristsDecembrists
, in Russian history, members of secret revolutionary societies whose activities led to the uprising of Dec., 1825, against Czar Nicholas I. Formed after the Napoleonic Wars, the groups comprised officers who had served in Europe and had been influenced by Western
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), which sought to prevent the accession of Nicholas INicholas I,
1796–1855, czar of Russia (1825–55), third son of Paul I. His brother and predecessor, Alexander I, died childless (1825). Constantine, Paul's second son, was next in succession but had secretly renounced (1822) the throne after marrying a Polish
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. Under Nicholas (reigned 1825–55), Russia became the most reactionary European power, acting as the "policeman of Europe" in opposing liberalism and helping Austria to quash the Hungarian revolution (1848–49). Russian PolandPoland,
Pol. Polska, officially Republic of Poland, republic (2005 est. pop. 38,635,000), 120,725 sq mi (312,677 sq km), central Europe. It borders on Germany in the west, on the Baltic Sea and the Kaliningrad region of Russia in the north, on Lithuania, Belarus, and
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, nominally a kingdom ruled by the Russian emperor, lost its autonomy after an unsuccessful rising there in 1830–31.

A clash of interests between Russia and the Western powers over the Ottoman Empire led to the Crimean WarCrimean War
, 1853–56, war between Russia on the one hand and the Ottoman Empire, Great Britain, France, and Sardinia on the other. The causes of the conflict were inherent in the unsolved Eastern Question.
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 (1854–56), which revealed the inner weakness of Russia. Alexander IIAlexander II,
1818–81, czar of Russia (1855–81), son and successor of Nicholas I. He ascended the throne during the Crimean War (1853–56) and immediately set about negotiating a peace (see Paris, Congress of).
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 (reigned 1855–81), who acceded one year before the war ended, passed important liberal reforms during the first decade of his reign, after which time he became increasingly conservative. Just as he seemed to be entering another liberal phase, Alexander was assassinated in 1881. Among his reforms, the liberation (1861) of the serfs (see Emancipation, Edict ofEmancipation, Edict of,
1861, the mechanism by which Czar Alexander II freed all Russian serfs (one third of the total population). All personal serfdom was abolished, and the peasants were to receive land from the landlords and pay them for it.
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) was the most far-reaching, but significant changes were also made in local government, the judicial system, and education.

During the second half of the 19th cent., Russia continued its territorial expansion, and industrialization was accelerated. The remainder of the CaucasusCaucasus
, Rus. Kavkaz, region and mountain system, SE European Russia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. Armenia is not crossed by the Caucasus range but is considered part of the greater region. The mountain system extends c.
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 was acquired and pacified; the territories of what is now the Central Asian Republics, including TurkistanTurkistan
or Turkestan
, historic region of central Asia. Western, or Russian, Turkistan extended from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Chinese frontier in the east and from the Aral-Irtysh watershed in the north to the borders of Iran and Afghanistan in the south.
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, were taken during 1864–65; and the southern section of the Far Eastern Territory (see Russian Far EastRussian Far East,
formerly Soviet Far East,
federal district (1989 est. pop. 7,941,000), c.2,400,000 sq mi (6,216,000 sq km), encompassing the entire northeast coast of Asia and including the Sakha Republic, Maritime Territory (Primorsky Kray), Khabarovsk Territory,
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) was acquired from China. Russia thus reached the frontiers of Afghanistan and China and the shores of the Pacific Ocean. VladivostokVladivostok
, city (1989 pop. 634,000), capital of Maritime Territory (Primorsky Kray), Russian Far East, on a peninsula that extends between two bays of the Sea of Japan.
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 was founded in 1860; in the early 20th cent. it became an important naval base. The Trans-Siberian RRTrans-Siberian Railroad,
rail line, linking European Russia with the Pacific coast. Its construction began in 1891, on the initiative of Count S. Y. Witte, and was completed in 1905.
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 (constructed 1891–1905) opened much of Siberia to colonization and exploitation.

Alexander IIIAlexander III,
1845–94, czar of Russia (1881–94), son and successor of Alexander II. Factors that contributed to Alexander's reactionary policies included his father's assassination, his limited intelligence and education, his military background, and the influence
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 (reigned 1881–94), who succeeded Alexander II, pursued a reactionary domestic policy, guided by the influential PobyedonostzevPobyedonostzev, Konstantin Petrovich
, 1827–1907, Russian public official and jurist. He was professor of civil law at Moscow when he attracted the attention of Czar Alexander II and was appointed (1865) tutor to the future Alexander III.
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. Alexander was followed by Nicholas IINicholas II,
1868–1918, last czar of Russia (1894–1917), son of Alexander III and Maria Feodorovna. Road to Revolution

Nicholas was educated by private tutors and the reactionary Pobyedonostzev.
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 (reigned 1894–1917), the last Russian emperor, a generally incompetent ruler surrounded by a reactionary entourage. However, there was considerable financial and industrial development, directed largely by Count Witte. Russia, having suffered a severe diplomatic setback at the Congress of Berlin (see Berlin, Congress ofBerlin, Congress of,
1878, called by the signers of the Treaty of Paris of 1856 (see Paris, Congress of) to reconsider the terms of the Treaty of San Stefano, which Russia had forced on the Ottoman Empire earlier in 1878.
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, 1878), eventually abandoned the Three Emperors' LeagueThree Emperors' League,
informal alliance among Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Russia, announced officially in 1872 on the occasion of the meeting of emperors Francis Joseph, William I, and Alexander II.
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 with Germany and Austria-Hungary and in 1892 entered into an alliance with republican France. This alliance led to the Triple Entente (see Triple Alliance and Triple EntenteTriple Alliance and Triple Entente
, two international combinations of states that dominated the diplomatic history of Western Europe from 1882 until they came into armed conflict in World War I.
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) of England, France, and Russia.

War and Revolution

The disastrous and unpopular Russo-Japanese WarRusso-Japanese War,
1904–5, imperialistic conflict that grew out of the rival designs of Russia and Japan on Manchuria and Korea. Russian failure to withdraw from Manchuria and Russian penetration into N Korea were countered by Japanese attempts to negotiate a division of
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 (1904–5) led to the Revolution of 1905 (see Russian RevolutionRussian Revolution,
violent upheaval in Russia in 1917 that overthrew the czarist government. Causes

The revolution was the culmination of a long period of repression and unrest.
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). Nicholas II was forced to grant a constitution, and a parliament (see dumaduma
, Russian name for a representative body, particularly applied to the Imperial Duma established as a result of the Russian Revolution of 1905. The parliamentary organization of 1906, largely the work of Count Witte, provided for a state council (an upper house, with some
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) was established. Soon, however, the new democratic freedoms were curtailed, as the government again became reactionary. As a result, there was renewed agitation by revolutionaries; the emperor countered with police terror and attempted to channel popular discontent into anti-Semitic outbreaks (see pogrompogrom
, Russian term, originally meaning "riot," that came to be applied to a series of violent attacks on Jews in Russia in the late 19th and early 20th cent. Pogroms were few before the assassination of Alexander II in 1881; after that, with the connivance of, or at least
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). At the same time, Piotr StolypinStolypin, Piotr Arkadevich
, 1862–1911, Russian premier and minister of the interior (1906–11) for Czar Nicholas II. He sought to fight the revolutionary movement with both severe repression and social reform.
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 (prime minister during 1906–11) tried to create a class of independent landowning peasants by breaking up and redistributing the land held by village communities (see mirmir
, former Russian peasant community. The mir, which antedated serfdom (16th cent.) in Russia, persisted in its primitive form until after the Russian Revolution of 1917.
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); however, he refused to split up the estates held by large landlords and generally ignored the peasant masses.

Although the Russian economy was mainly agricultural and underdeveloped, industry—largely financed by foreign capital—was growing rapidly in a few centers, notably St. Petersburg, Moscow, and the Baku (Bakı; now in Azerbaijan) oil fields. It was particularly among the industrial workers, who because of their geographic concentration possessed great political strength, that the leftist Social Democratic party found its adherents. The formal split of the party into Bolshevism and MenshevismBolshevism and Menshevism
, the two main branches of Russian socialism from 1903 until the consolidation of the Bolshevik dictatorship under Lenin in the civil war of 1918–20.
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 in 1912 had crucial consequences after the outbreak of the Russian Revolution of 1917. By promoting Pan-SlavismPan-Slavism,
theory and movement intended to promote the political or cultural unity of all Slavs. Advocated by various individuals from the 17th cent., it developed as an intellectual and cultural movement in the 19th cent.
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 in the Balkan Peninsula and in Austria-Hungary, Russia played a leading role in the events that led to the outbreak (1914) of World War IWorld War I,
1914–18, also known as the Great War, conflict, chiefly in Europe, among most of the great Western powers. It was the largest war the world had yet seen.
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. Ill-prepared and cut off from its allies in the West, the country suffered serious reverses in the war at the hands of the Germans and Austrians.

Inflation, food shortages, and poor morale among the troops contributed to the outbreak of the February Revolution of 1917. Nicholas abdicated in Mar., 1917 (he was executed in July, 1918). A provisional government under Prince LvovLvov, Prince Georgi Yevgenyevich
, 1861–1925, Russian public official, head of the provisional government (Mar.–July, 1917). He played a prominent part in the development of the zemstvo system of local self-government and was chairman of the all–Russian union
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, a moderate, tried to continue the war effort, but was opposed by the soviets (councils) of workers and soldiers. KerenskyKerensky, Aleksandr Feodorovich
, 1881–1970, Russian revolutionary. A lawyer, he was elected to the fourth duma in 1912 as a representative of the moderate Labor party.
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, who succeeded Lvov as prime minister in July, 1917, was also unable to enforce the authority of the central government. Finally, on Nov. 7, 1917 (Oct. 25 O.S.), the Bolsheviks, led by LeninLenin, Vladimir Ilyich
, 1870–1924, Russian revolutionary, the founder of Bolshevism and the major force behind the Revolution of Oct., 1917. Early Life
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, seized the government. Russia ended its involvement in World War I by signing the humiliating Treaty of Brest-LitovskBrest-Litovsk, Treaty of
, separate peace treaty in World War I, signed by Soviet Russia and the Central Powers, Mar. 3, 1918, at Brest-Litovsk (now Brest, Belarus). After the separate armistice of Dec.
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 (Mar., 1918), under which it lost much territory to the Central Powers.

Shortly after the signing of the treaty, and partly because of the reaction to its poor terms, civil war (complicated by foreign intervention) broke out in Russia. It continued until 1920, when the Soviet regime emerged victorious. (For a more detailed account of the intellectual and political background of the Russian Revolution and for the events of the revolution and the civil war, see Russian RevolutionRussian Revolution,
violent upheaval in Russia in 1917 that overthrew the czarist government. Causes

The revolution was the culmination of a long period of repression and unrest.
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.) Poland, Finland, and the Baltic countries emerged as independent states in the aftermath of the civil war; Ukraine, Belorussia, and the Transcaucasian countries of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia proclaimed their independence, but by 1921 were conquered by the Soviet armies. In 1917, Russia was officially proclaimed the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, which in 1922 was united with the Ukrainian, Belorussian, and Transcaucasian republics to form the see Union of Soviet Socialist RepublicsUnion of Soviet Socialist Republics
(USSR), Rus. Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik, former republic. It was established in 1922 and dissolved in 1991. The Soviet Union was the first state to be based on Marxist socialism (see also Marxism; communism).
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.

Post-Soviet Russia

After more than seven decades of Soviet rule, the regime of President GorbachevGorbachev, Mikhail Sergeyevich
, 1931–, Soviet political leader. Born in the agricultural region of Stavropol, Gorbachev studied law at Moscow State Univ., where in 1953 he married a philosophy student, Raisa Maksimovna Titorenko (1932?–99).
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 marked the end of repressive political controls and permitted nationalist movements to arise in the constituent republics of the USSR. In 1990, Boris YeltsinYeltsin, Boris Nikolayevich
, 1931–2007, Soviet and Russian politician, president of Russia (1991–99). Born in Yekaterinburg (then Sverdlovsk) and educated at the Urals Polytechnic Institute, Yeltsin began his career as a construction worker (1953–68).
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 and other nationalists and reformers were elected to the Russian parliament; Yeltsin was subsequently chosen Russian president. Under Yeltsin, Russia declared its sovereignty (but not its independence) and began to challenge the central government's authority. In 1991, Yeltsin was reelected in the first popular election for president in the history of the Russian Republic.

Yeltsin and the leaders of eight other republics reached a power-sharing agreement with Gorbachev, but its imminent signing provoked a coup attempt (Aug., 1991) by Soviet hard-liners. In the aftermath, the USSR disintegrated. With Ukraine and Belarus, Russia established the Commonwealth of Independent StatesCommonwealth of Independent States
(CIS), community of independent nations established by a treaty signed at Minsk, Belarus, on Dec. 8, 1991, by the heads of state of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Between Dec. 8 and Dec.
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. When Gorbachev resigned (Dec., 1991), Yeltsin had already taken control of most of the central government, and Russia assumed the USSR's UN seat.

Yeltsin moved rapidly to end or reduce state control of the economy, but control of parliament by former Communists led to conflicts and power struggles. On Sept. 21, 1993, Yeltsin suspended the parliament and called for new elections. Parliament retaliated by naming Vice President Aleksandr RutskoiRutskoi or Rutskoy, Aleksandr Vladimirovich
, 1947–, Russian politician, b. Ukraine. A Russian nationalist and former air force officer who fought in Afghanistan, he was Boris Yeltsin's vice presidential running
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 as acting president, and anti-Yeltsin forces barricaded themselves inside the parliament building. On Oct. 3, supporters of the anti-Yeltsin group broke through a security cordon to join the occupation, and also attacked other sites in the capital. The military interceded on Yeltsin's side, and on Oct. 4, after a bloody battle, troops recaptured the parliament building. Many people were jailed, and the parliament was dissolved.

In Dec., 1993, voters approved a new constitution that strengthened presidential power, establishing a mixed presidential-parliamentary system similar to that of France. In legislative elections at the same time, Yeltsin supporters fell short of a majority, as voters also supported ultranationalists, radical reformers, Communists, and others. The Russian government, under Prime Minister Viktor ChernomyrdinChernomyrdin, Viktor Stepanovich
, 1938–2010, Soviet and Russian government official. Beginning in 1957, he held positions in the Soviet national oil and gas industry, serving (1985–89) as minister in control of the nation's huge energy complex.
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, generally advocated moderate reform. The program made slow but discernible progress in stimulating growth and halting rampant inflation, but the economy continued to suffer from serious malfunctions, including a weak banking system and widespread corruption. Corruption has since worsened and become more pervasive.

In Feb., 1994, parliament granted amnesty to persons implicated in the Aug., 1991, coup attempt and the Oct., 1993, rebellion. In the Dec., 1995, legislative elections the Communist party won the largest share of the vote (22%) and more than a third of the seats in the State Duma. The results were a new rebuff to Yeltsin and his government, and he subsequently replaced the more liberal ministers in the government with pragmatists and conservatives. Although his popularity had significantly diminished since he was first elected president, he ran again in June, 1996. He finished ahead of his chief rival, Communist Gennady ZyuganovZyuganov, Gennady or Gennadi Andreyevich
, 1944–, Russian politician, b. Mymrino. The son and grandson of country schoolteachers, he grew up in the tiny farming village where he was born, joined the Communist
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, in the first round and was reelected after a runoff in July. Ministerial replacements continued, and in Mar., 1998, Yeltsin dismissed his entire cabinet, hiring a new group of economic reformers and naming Sergei Kiriyenko as prime minister. By August he had dismissed many of his top aides and attempted to reinstate Chernomyrdin as prime minister. The nomination was rejected by parliament, however, and Yevgeny PrimakovPrimakov, Yevgeny Maksimovich
, 1929–2015, Russian government official and economist, b. Kiev (now in Ukraine). An Arabic scholar, grad. (1953) Moscow Inst. for Oriental Studies, and a member of the Soviet Communist party (1959–91), he worked in the Middle East for
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, a compromise candidate agreeable to reformers and Communists, became the prime minister in September; two Communists became ministers in the government.

Primakov acted as a stabilizing influence, avoiding economic disaster in the wake of Russia's Aug., 1998, financial crisis, but his increasing popularity and his public support for the Communists in his government even as their party was mounting an impeachment of Yeltsin in the Duma led to his firing in May, 1999. Yeltsin appointed Sergei Stepashin as prime minister, and the impeachment failed to win the necessary votes. A sense of political crisis returned in August when Islamic militants from Chechnya invaded Dagestan (see below), and Yeltsin replaced Stepashin with Vladimir PutinPutin, Vladimir Vladimirovich
, 1952–, Russian government official and political leader, b. Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). After graduating from the Leningrad State Univ.
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. After a series of terrorist bombings in Moscow and elsewhere that were blamed on Chechen militants, Putin launched an invasion of Chechnya. That action bolstered his popularity, as did a slight upturn in the economy due to rising prices for oil, Russia's most important export (industrial output continued to contract). Although with slightly less than a quarter of the vote the Communist party remained the single largest vote-getter in the Dec., 1999, parliamentary elections, center-right parties allied with Putin won nearly a third, and the vote was regarded as a mandate for Putin. On Dec. 31, Yeltsin resigned as president, and Putin became acting president.

One of Putin's first acts was to form an alliance with the Communists in the Duma; together his supporters (the Unity bloc) and the Communists held about 40% of the seats. In the elections of Mar., 2000, Putin bested ten other candidates to win election as Russia's president. Putin introduced several measures designed to increase central government control over the various Russian administrative units, including grouping them in seven large regional districts, ending the right of the units' executives to serve in the Federation Council, and suspending a number of laws that conflicted with federal law. He also won the authority to remove governors and dissolve legislatures that enact laws that conflict with the national constitution. Mikhail M. Kasyanov, a liberal, was appointed prime minister, and a broad plan for liberal economic reforms was enacted. The alliance with the Communists lasted until 2002, when Unity, which had earlier absorbed the populist Fatherland bloc, was strong enough to control the Duma alone.

Putin secured parliamentary ratification of the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty and the SALT II treaty (see disarmament, nucleardisarmament, nuclear,
the reduction and limitation of the various nuclear weapons in the military forces of the world's nations. The atomic bombs dropped (1945) on Japan by the United States in World War II demonstrated the overwhelming destructive potential of nuclear weapons
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), and actively opposed modifying the ABM treaty so that the United States could build a larger missile defense system than the agreement permitted. Russia has proposed, however, a mobile, pan-European missile defense system that would function similarly, although it would not violate the ABM treaty. Significant reductions in the size of the armed forces also have been undertaken.

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia had to confront separatist movements in several ethnically based republics and other areas, including TatarstanTatarstan
, Tatar Republic
, or Tataria
, republic (1990 est. pop. 3,660,000), 26,255 sq mi (68,000 sq km), E European Russia, in the middle Volga and lower Kama river valleys.
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 and, most notably, ChechnyaChechnya
or Chechen Republic
, republic (1990 est. pop. 1,300,000, with neighboring Ingushetia), c.6,100 sq mi (15,800 sq km), SE European Russia, in the N Caucasus. Grozny is the capital. Prior to 1992 Chechnya and Ingushetia comprised the Checheno-Ingush Republic.
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, which declared independence upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union in Dec., 1991. Russian troops were sent there in Dec., 1994; subsequent fighting resulted in heavy casualties, with the Chechen capital of Grozny reduced to rubble by Russian bombardment. A peace accord between Russia and Chechnya was signed in Moscow in May, 1996. The invasion of DagestanDagestan Republic
or Daghestan Republic
, constituent republic (1999 pop. 2,074,000), c.19,400 sq mi (50,250 sq km), SE European Russia, bounded on the E by the Caspian Sea. Makhachkala (the capital) and Derbent are the chief cities.
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 by Islamic militants from Chechnya in 1999 and a series of terrorist bombings in Russia during Aug.–Sept., 1999, however, led to Russian air raids on Chechnya in Sept., 1999, and a subsequent full-scale ground invasion of the breakaway republic that again devastated its capital and resulted in ongoing guerrilla warfare. Chechen terrorists have also continued to mount attacks outside Chechnya, including the seizure of a crowded Moscow theater in Oct., 2002, and a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, in Sept, 2004.

In the mid- and late 1990s, Russia took steps toward closer relations with some of the former Soviet republics. Several agreements designed to bring about economic, military, and political integration with Belarus were signed, but progress toward that goal has been slow. Both nations also signed an agreement with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan that called for establishing stronger ties. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan later joined the economic grouping the four established, which has been known as the Eurasian Economic Community since 2001. Years of negotiations with Ukraine over the disposition of the Black Sea fleet ended in an accord in 1997 that divided the ships between them and permitted Russia to base its fleet in Sevastopol for 20 years. A 25-year extension of that lease (in exchange for Russia's giving Ukraine a discounted price for natural gas) was negotiated in 2010.

The agreement with Ukraine was seen in part as an attempt to forestall closer Ukrainian ties with NATO. Russia has objected to any NATO expansion that excludes Russia; in June, 1994, Russia reluctantly agreed to an association with NATO under the arrangement known as the Partnership for Peace. Although several former Eastern European satellites joined NATO in 1999, any expansion that included nations once part of the Soviet Union would be highly sensitive. In the civil war and subsequent clashes in the former Yugoslavia, Russia was sympathetic toward the Serbs, a traditional ally, and there was considerable Russian opposition to such policies as NATO's bombing of Serb positions, especially in 1999.

Under Putin, Russia also revived its ties with many former Soviet client states, and used its economic leverage to reassert its sway over the more independent-minded former Soviet republics, particularly Georgia. The country nonetheless continued to maintain warmer ties with the West than the old Soviet Union did. Putin was a supporter of the U.S. "war on terrorism", and in 2001 Russia began to explore establishing closer ties with NATO, which culminated in the establishment (2002) of a NATO-Russia Council through which Russia could participate in NATO discussions on many nondefense issues. Russia even returned to Afghanistan, providing aid in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Taliban. Russia did, however, resist the idea of resorting to military intervention in Iraq in order to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, and as the United States pressed in 2003 for a Security Council resolution supporting the use of force, Russia joined France in vowing to veto such a resolution. By the end of 2003, Russia had experienced five years of steady economic growth, and recovered (and even seen benefits) from the collapse of the ruble in 1998.

In 2003 tensions flared with Ukraine over the Kerch StraitKerch Strait,
shallow channel, c.25 mi (40 km) long, connecting the Sea of Azov with the Black Sea and separating Crimea in the west from Russia's Taman Peninsula in the east. Its northern end, opening into the Sea of Azov, is narrowed to a width of from 2 to 3 mi (3.2–4.
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, sparked by Russia's building of a sea dike there, but the conflict was peacefully resolved. In Sept., 2003, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine signed an agreement to create a common economic space. Internally, there was a conflict between the government and the extremely rich tycoons known as the oligarchs over the extent of the role business executives would be allowed to play in politics. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, chairman of the Russian oil giant Yukos, was arrested in October on charges of fraud and tax evasion, but his political aspirations and the government's desire to regain control over valuable resources were believed to have had as much to due with the government's move against him as any crime. In Dec., 2004, Yukos assests were sold to a little-known, newly established company that was soon acquired by a state-run oil company. Khodorkovsky was convicted in May, 2005; he was convicted of additional charges in Dec., 2010, after a trial that was seen by many as pretext for keeping him in prison. In 2014 a group of Yukos shareholders were awarded some $50 billion in damages by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered Russia to pay roughly $2.5 billion to Yukos shareholders. Both decisions criticized the Russian governments' actions against the company; in 2017 Russia's constitutional court ruled that the government had no obligation to adhere to the ECHR decision. A number of national courts also rendered verdicts in favor of Yukos shareholders.

The Dec., 2003, elections resulted in a major victory for the United Russia bloc and its allies. The loose group of Putin supporters ultimately secured two thirds of the seats, but outside observers criticized the election campaign for being strongly biased toward pro-government candidates and parties. Prior to the Mar., 2004 presidential elections Putin dismissed Prime Minister Kasyanov and his government; the prime minister had been critical of Yukos investigation. Mikhail Y. Fradkov, who had served largely in a number of economic and trade positions, was named to replace Kasyanov. Putin was reelected by a landslide in Mar., 2004, but observers again criticized the campaign as biased.

A series of deadly, Chechnya-related terror attacks during the summer culminated in the seizure of a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, which ended with the deaths more of more than 300 people, many of them children. Putin responded by calling for, among other changes, an end to the election of Duma representatives from districts and the appointment (instead of election) of the executives of oblasts and similar divisions of Russia. These moves, which were subsequently enacted, further centralized power in the Russian Federation and diminished its federal aspects. The federal government also sought to reduce the number of oblasts and regions by encouraging the merger of smaller units into larger ones.

Russia's reputation suffered internationally in late 2004 when it threw its support behind presidential candidates in Ukraine and the Georgian region of Abkhazia; in both elections, the candidates Moscow opposed ultimately succeeded despite strong resistance on the part of the existing governments to change. Russia subsequently (Mar., 2005) moved quickly to side with opponents of Kyrgyzstan president Akayev when he was forced from office. Large-scale violence re-erupted in the Caucasus in Oct., 2005, when militants with ties to the Chechen rebels mounted coordinated attacks in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria.

In late 2005 Russia found itself accused of using its state-controlled gas monopoly, Gazprom, as a punitive instrument of foreign policy when the company insisted that Ukraine pay market rates for natural gas, despite having been given a favorable long-term contract when Russia had unsuccessfully tried to influence the Ukrainian presidential race. When negotiations failed, Gazprom cut off supplies to Ukraine in Jan., 2006, a move that also affected supplies in transit to other European nations, provoking European concerns about the reliability of Russian gas deliveries. (The subsequent reduction in deliveries to Europe during a extreme cold snap in Russia in Jan., 2006, only reinforced concerns about reliability.) Although the dispute was soon resolved by a compromise, the affair hurt Russia's and Gazprom's image, and led to tensions with with the nations of the European Union.

The question of Russia's manipulation of its energy shipments for political purposes became an issue again in late 2006 when Gazprom announced it would double the rate it charged Georgia (to roughly market rates); the move followed several retaliatory actions taken against Georgia by the Russian government (see below). Gazprom also increased its charges for natural gas to several other formerly Soviet-ruled nations. One such nation, Belarus, usually a strong Russian ally, responsed to an increase in the Russian duty on oil exported to it by imposing a transit tax on Russian oil exported through pipelines in Belarus. The move provoked a spat that led Russia to cut off oil for several days before Belarus revoked the tax; the cutoff again raised questions in the EU about Russia's reliability as an energy supplier.

Tensions with Moldova (over the Trans-Dniester regionTrans-Dniester Region
or Transnistria,
region (2004 preliminary pop. 555,000), E Moldova, between the Dniester River and the Ukrainian border. A narrow territory some 120 mi (195 km) long but barely 20 mi (32 km) across at its widest, the Trans-Dniester Region has a
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) and with Georgia increased in early 2006, and Russia banned the imports of wine and brandy from both nations, supposedly for health reasons. The arrest by Georgia in Sept., 2006, of several Russians on charges of spying provoked a strong retaliatory response from Russia, including the breaking of all transport and postal links; the links were not restored until 2008. Within Georgia, however, the Russian actions seemed to solidify support for the Georgian government. Asserted health issues have been used by Russia to ban food imports from other nations, such as Poland and Ukraine, with whom Russia has had conflicts, and other forms of economic retaliation were used against Estonia in 2007 after a Soviet war memorial was relocated from downtown Tallinn. New membership requirements for political parties, introduced in 2007, forced the dissolution of a number of opposition parties, but those requirements were greatly eased by legislation passed in 2012.

American plans, revealed in 2007, to include components of its missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic provoked a strong response from Russia. President Putin said in June that such a move would force Russia to target Europe with its weapons; the president also announced that he was suspending Russia's participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (the suspension took effect in Dec., 2007, and all participation was ended in Mar., 2015). In Sept., 2007, Putin replaced Prime Minister Fradkov with Viktor Zubkov, the head of Russia's financial monitoring service and an associate of Putin's since the early 1990s.

United Russia, running in Dec., 2007, with Putin's explicit support, again dominated the parliamentary elections; once again, foreign observers noted the progovernment bias of the campaigning, and there were some complaints of vote fraud. The same month Putin announced his support for Dmitri MedvedevMedvedev, Dmitri Anatolyevich
, 1965–, Russian political leader, president of Russia (2008–12), b. Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). He earned a doctorate in law in 1990 and was a law professor at St. Petersburg State Univ. until 1999.
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, a first deputy prime minister, to succeed him as president in 2008. In the Mar., 2008, vote Medvedev was easily elected to the post, but the presidential election also was marred by progovernment bias and other irregularities.

Meanwhile, in February, Russia's Gazprom threatened to cut Ukraine's gas supply over unpaid debts; although the cut was averted, the issue reemerged in March, when supplies were reduced for several days. Russia's strong objections to NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia contributed to NATO's decision to offer those nations eventual membership but not begin the process that would ultimately lead to their admission. Those objections may also have been behind Russia's increasingly provocative actions in 2008 with respect to the Georgian separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In July, 2008, the Czech Republic signed an agreement with the United States to base a radar system there; shortly thereafter there was a decrease in Russian oil supplies to the Czech Republic that Russia attributed to technical problems. Poland agreed to allow the basing of interceptors on its territory the following month. Also in July, Russia and China signed an agreement that finalized the demarcation of their shared borders; the pact was the last in a series of border agreements (1991, 1994, and 2004).

In Aug., 2008, after Georgia attempted to reestablish control over South Ossetia by force following a period of escalating tensions and violence, Russian troops drove Georgian troops from the region and invaded and occupied for a time neighboring parts of Georgia. Russia also reinforced its forces in Abkhazia, and it subsequently recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent and established defense pacts with them. (In 2014 and 2015, Russia signed treaties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, respectively, intended to integrate their militaries and economies with Russia's.) Putin's active and public role in the events of Aug., 2008, was seen as confirmation of his continuing preeminence in Russia's leadership.

Russia's attack against Georgia sparked concern in the United States and Europe, especially in E Europe, but also in the Commonwealth of Independent States, which President Medvedev subsequently declared by all but name as an area of special Russian privilege and influence. The fighting in Georgia also negatively affected international investment in Russia. Subsequently, the global financial crisis and falling oil, gas, and metals prices adversely affected Russian banks and stock markets, requiring massive government financial interventions, some of which continued into 2010. In Jan., 2009, Russia and Ukraine again reached an impasse over Russian natural gas sales to Ukraine, and it led a three-week shipment stoppage that also affected many European nations for part of that time. Shipments resumed after a new, ten-year agreement between Russian and Ukrainian energy companies was signed, but relations remained prickly. A drop in Ukrainian energy needs led Ukraine seek modification of the agreement in late 2009, and gas shipments and transshipments remained a point of contention is subsequent years.

In Nov., 2009, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia signed agreements to establish in 2010 the customs union envisioned in the 2003 common economic space agreement; Ukraine, whose relations with Russia had soured since 2003, did not join. Although Russia's relations with Belarus were strained in Jan., 2010, over the amount of discounted oil Russia would sell its neighbor—Russia agreed to sell Belarus only enough discounted oil to meet its needs, but Belarus had been refining and exporting additional discounted oil at significant profit—when the customs union was begun in July, 2010, Belarus was a member. The three signatories subsequently agreed in May, 2014, to establish the Eurasian Economic Union in Jan., 2015, to increase economic integration and coordination.

N Caucasus Islamist insurgents mounted terror bombings in the Moscow subway in Mar., 2010, that killed 39 people; other bombings followed in Dagestan. The following month Russia and the United States signed the New START nuclear disarmament treaty; replacing START I, it set lower deployed warhead limits. In June–Aug., 2010, many parts of Russia suffered from an extended heat wave, which continued into September in some sections of S Russia. The heat and its associated drought had a devastating affect on crops, especially grain, and as a price-stabilization measure the government banned most grain exports until mid-2011. Conditions also led to an outbreak of wildfires, particularly in W Russia, which produced unhealthy smogs in Moscow and other cities. Caucasus Islamists claimed credit for the suicide bombing of one of Moscow's airports in Jan., 2011, in which 35 people died.

Putin announced in September that he would run again for president in 2012; at the same time, he called for Medvedev to lead United Russia in the Dec., 2011, parliamentary elections and become prime minister. In the parliamentary vote, United Russia won about 50% of the votes and a majority of the seats, but suffered significant losses compared to 2007 in a result that was seen as a personal setback for Putin. Observers criticized the election as flawed, and the Communists and others charged the government with fraud, leading to the most significant antigovernment protests in years. In the Mar., 2012, presidential election, Putin won with more than 60% of the vote amid charges of voting fraud and vote-counting irregularities. After Putin took office in May, he named Medvedev prime minister. Putin's new term as president was marked by increased government suppression and harassment of opposition groups, increased government control of the media, and recurring confrontations, mainly focused on trade and energy, with many of the E European nations that were formerly part of the Soviet Union.

After Ukrainian president YanukovychYanukovych, Viktor Fedorovych
, 1950–, Ukrainian politician, president of Ukraine (2010–14). The graduate of a mining college and a polytechnic institute (1980), he was a mechanical engineer and member of the Soviet Communist party, and became manager of a
..... Click the link for more information.
 was ousted (Feb., 2014), following weeks of protests beginning in late 2013 that were sparked by his rejection of an European Union association agreement in favor of aid and concessions from Russia, Russian forces moved to occupy Crimea and Sevastopol (the site of Russia's main Black Sea naval base) and then annexed the Crimean peninsula (Mar., 2014). The annexation was rejected in the UN General Assembly (Russia vetoed a Security Council resolution), and led to limited sanctions from Western nations, directed mainly at Putin's associates.

Russia also positioned sizable military forces not far from the Ukrainian border, promoted the destablization of SE Ukraine, and issued veiled threats that it might intervene militarily. Russia allowed arms and Russian paramilitaries across the border into Ukraine in the civil conflict in E Ukraine that followed its seizure of Crimea, and when Ukrainian forces appeared to be reestablishing control in August, Russian troops intervened on the side of the rebels. As a result, more severe sanctions were imposed, and Russia responded with sanctions of its own; Russia continued to support the rebels. These events, combined with falling oil prices, had a negative impact on the Russian economy and the value of the ruble. The significant economic effects of lower oil prices continued to be felt in subsequent years; the economy entered into a recession in 2014 that continued into 2016.

Disputes over payment for Russian natural gas led Gazprom to halt deliveries to Ukraine in June, 2014; EU-brokered negotiations led in October to a deal to restore gas deliveries. Ukraine suspended purchases in July, 2015, but purchased resumed the following October to November, when they stopped again. In December, Ukraine also refused to repay $3 billion owed to Russia; it said Russia had refused to renegotiate the terms to bring them in line offered other international creditors.

In Sept., 2015, Russia began air strikes in Syria against rebels fighting Syria's President Assad; unlike U.S. and other foreign strikes aimed at the Islamic StateIslamic State
(IS), Sunni Islamic militant group committed to the establishment of an Islamic caliphate that would unite Muslims in a transnational, strict-fundamentalist Islamic state.
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, the Russian sorties, which continued into 2017, were aimed at bolstering Assad and supporting his forces. In Nov., 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet that it said had entered its airspace from Syria; Russia subsequently imposed a number of economic sanctions on Turkey. Turkish relations began to improve in mid-2016, and in late 2016 the two nations began cooperating in Syria.

In Dec., 2015, Russia passed a law giving its constitutional court the right to reject international human rights rulings if they were found to contradict the Russian constitution; many European Court of Human Rights cases involving Russian citizens have resulted in rulings against the Russian government since Russia joined the Council of EuropeCouncil of Europe,
international organization founded in 1949 to promote greater unity within Europe and to safeguard its political and cultural heritage by promoting human rights and democracy. The council is headquartered in Strasbourg, France.
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 in 1996. The Sept., 2016, parliamentary elections were won in a landslide by United Russia, which was helped by Putin's popularity and a lower voter turnout; the other parties that won significant vote shares also supported the president. The campaign offered no significant challenge from true opposition parties, and the election was again marred by irregularities, but those were fewer than in 2011. In late 2016, accusations by the CIA and FBI that Russia had used cyberwarfare and disinformation in support of Donald TrumpTrump, Donald John,
1946–, 45th president of the United States (2017–), b. New York City. Prior to his election as president in 2016, he was a business executive rather than a political leader. After attending Fordham Univ. and the Wharton business school (B.Sc.
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's presidential campaign focused increased attention on Russian interference in Western democracies. Anticorruption protests in Mar., 2017, organized by Alexei NavalnyNavalny, Alexei Anatolyevich,
1976–, Russian lawyer and political activist. Navalny joined the Russian United Democratic party in 2000 but was expelled in 2007 for his support of ultranationalist activities.
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, occurred in dozens of Russian cities and represented the largest antigovernment protests since those following the 2011 elections. That same month the United States accused Russia of deploying intermediate-range cruise missiles with nuclear warheads in violation of a 1987 treaty that banned such weapons.

Bibliography

See V. O. Kliuchevskii, A History of Russia (tr., 5 vol., 1911–31; repr. 1960); H. Seton-Watson, The Russian Empire, 1801–1917 (1967); P. N. Miliukov et al., History of Russia (tr., 3 vol., 1968–69); R. E. Zelnik, Labor and Society in Tsarist Russia (1971); S. Galai, The Liberation Movement in Russia, 1900–1905 (1973); P. Dukes, The Making of Russian Absolutism, 1613–1801 (1982); H. Rogger, Russia in the Age of Modernisation and Revolution, 1881–1917 (1983); H. Smith, The Russians (1983) and The New Russians (1990); N. Riasanovsky, A History of Russia (1984); A. Kahan, The Plow, the Hammer, and the Knout: An Economic History of Eighteenth-Century Russia (1985); R. O. Crummey, The Formation of Muscovy, 1304–1613 (1987); S. H. Loory and A. Imse, Seven Days That Shook the World (1991); A. Roxburgh, The Second Russian Revolution (1991); R. Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution (1995); G. Hosking, Russia: People and Empire, 1552–1917 (1997); G. Freeze et al., Russia: A History (1998); R. Brady, Kapitalizm: Russia's Struggle to Free Its Economy (1999); M. Malia, Russia under Western Eyes (1999); D. K. Simes, After the Collapse: Russia Seeks Its Place as a Great Power (1999); S. F. Cohen, Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia (2000); C. Freeland, Sale of the Century: Russia's Wild Ride from Communism to Capitalism (2000); G. Hosking, Russia and the Russians: A History (2001); D. Lieven, Empire: The Russian Empire and Its Rivals (2001) and Russia against Napoleon (2010); O. Figes, Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia (2002); A. Soldatov and I. Borogan, The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB (2010); S. Plokhy, The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union (2014); A. Ostrovsky, The Invention of Russia: From Gorbachev's Freedom to Putin's War (2016).

Russia

 

a country (territory) and state populated mainly by Russians. Prior to the Great October Socialist Revolution, the term “Russia” was understood to mean the entire Russian Empire (formed in the early 18th century), whose territories were populated both by Russian and by non-Russian peoples. In Russian texts, the name “Russia” was first applied to the country in the late 15th century, but until the late 17th century the country was more often referred to as Rus’, the Russian land, or the Muscovite State.

In the mid-16th century, “Russia” or “Russian Tsardom” (Rossiiskoe tsarstvo) referred to all the lands that then constituted the centralized state headed by Moscow. Later, the term “Russian” (rossiiskii) came to refer to subjects of the state; the term “Russians” (russkie) was first used in reference to the people at the beginning of the 16th century. In the 17th century, the terms “Russia” (Rossiia) and “Russian Land” (Rossiiskaia zemlia) came into widespread use in Russian texts. In the early 18th century, the Russian State under Emperor Peter I became known officially as the Russian Empire.

As a result of the October Revolution of 1917, Soviet power was established in most of the territory of the former Russian Empire and the name “Soviet Russia” came into being. The Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic was formed. In 1922, the RSFSR, together with the Ukrainian SSR, Byelorussian SSR, and the Transcaucasian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic formed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. At present, “Russia” usually refers to the RSFSR. In foreign publications, the name “Russia” is frequently used to designate the entire USSR.

Russia

full name Russian Federation
1. the largest country in the world, covering N Eurasia and bordering on the Pacific and Arctic Oceans and the Baltic, Black, and Caspian Seas: originating from the principality of Muscovy in the 17th century, it expanded to become the Russian Empire; the Tsar was overthrown in 1917 and the Communist Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic was created; this merged with neighbouring Soviet Republics in 1922 to form the Soviet Union; on the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 the Russian Federation was established as an independent state. Official language: Russian. Religion: nonreligious and Russian orthodox Christian. Currency: rouble. Capital: Moscow. Pop.: 142 397 000 (2004 est.). Area: 17 074 984 sq. km (6 592 658 sq. miles)
2. another name for the former Soviet Union
3. another name for the former Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
References in classic literature ?
I was in a great hurry to depart, but of course I sat down, pulled out a copy of L'Opinion Nationale, and fell to reading an extraordinary piece of invective against Russia which it happened to contain.
This tract lay about two degrees north of the Columbia, and intervened between the territories of the United States and those of Russia.
Several of the officers of the Government have suggested that we take the ship to a little watering-place thirty miles from here, and pay the Emperor of Russia a visit.
I must also admit," said the prince, "that I have not seen much, or been very far into the question; but I cannot help thinking that you are more or less right, and that Russian liberalism-- that phase of it which you are considering, at least--really is sometimes inclined to hate Russia itself, and not only its existing order of things in general.
I only wished to say that this 'distortion,' as Evgenie Pavlovitch expressed it, is met with very often, and is far more the general rule than the exception, unfortunately for Russia.
In October, 1805, a Russian army was occupying the villages and towns of the Archduchy of Austria, and yet other regiments freshly arriving from Russia were settling near the fortress of Braunau and burdening the inhabitants on whom they were quartered.
Despite the un-Russian appearance of the locality and surroundings- fruit gardens, stone fences, tiled roofs, and hills in the distance- and despite the fact that the inhabitants (who gazed with curiosity at the soldiers) were not Russians, the regiment had just the appearance of any Russian regiment preparing for an inspection anywhere in the heart of Russia.
In the years immediately following the war with Russia, her agents swarmed over the Chinese Empire.
At such times the watering is naturally quite beyond the strength of two men; but as a garden is a place to be happy in, and not one where you want to meet a dozen curious eyes at every turn, I should not like to have more than these two, or rather one and a half--the assistant having stork-like proclivities and going home in the autumn to his native Russia, returning in the spring with the first warm winds.
The efforts she had made to like it seemed to her intolerable, and she felt a longing to get back quickly into the fresh air, to Russia, to Ergushovo, where, as she knew from letters, her sister Dolly had already gone with her children.
In any other country but their own she would have been certain of a great future for a man with the extraordinary abilities and the lofty character of her son--but in Russia.
He is still probably the most widely read writer in Russia.