Presentation on theme: "Russia: a brief history. Introduction 9000 km from East to West and 5000 from North to South Ural mountains divide Russia into a European and Asian part."— Presentation transcript:
Russia: a brief history
Introduction 9000 km from East to West and 5000 from North to South Ural mountains divide Russia into a European and Asian part Population of about 143 million (3/4 live in the European part) Moscow is the capital and the largest city Russian is official language but many others in component parts President is Dmitry Medvedev
Geography of Russia
Area: 17,025,200 square km. Around twice the size of the U.S. Climate: ranging from sub-arctic in Siberia to humid in much of European Russia. Terrain: Low hills, steppe, forest, arctic tundra, mountains…. Despite its size, much of the country is either too cold or the soil is too dry for agriculture.
In the beginning…… First came the Slavs who settled along the rivers of Southern Russia and the Ukraine in the 6 th Century.
The Vikings Then came the Vikings who in the 9 th century established the large and powerful state of ‘Kievan Russia.’
Free peasant farmers City dwellers Small ruling class of nobles & princes some slaves Traded with the Byzantine Empire from which Russians learnt : skills, culture & religion – Orthodox Christianity. 988 AD it became the official religion. Kievan Russia
The Mongols Then came the Mongols….In 1236 a vast Mongol horde successfully invaded the Russian city states. For the next 240 years, the Russians were forced to pay tribute to the Mongol khans.
Moscow’s rise to power Moscow grew in power as the chief tax collector for the Mongols. In the 14 th Century, Moscow’s Grand Prince led several other cities in a battle to overthrow the Mongols. They were successful and this marks the beginning of a united Russia.
Ivan the Terrible ( ): Russia’s first tsar Mother was poisoned when he was 7yrs old. Ivan developed a dangerous paranoia. Would throw live animals from the palace towers for fun. After his wife, Anastasia died, Ivan developed a really nasty streak – sentenced thousands to death, would give detailed instructions on how to torture victims so as to ‘recreate hell’. Killed his own son in a fit of rage. Then came a period of remorse. Became a monk towards the end of his life and prayed for the souls of his victims.
The Romanov Rulers Peter the Great ( ) Determined to make Russia a modern European state. Just about 2.3m tall. Built a new city on the boggy banks of the River Neva and named it St Petersburg. In 1712 he declared this city the new capital of Rus sia.
Catherine the Great ( ) Overthrew her feeble husband Peter III (who soon afterwards died ‘in an accident’) and took over the throne with the help of her lover. Russia became even more powerful and prestigious during her reign, gaining more land. Turned St. Petersburg into one of the most impressive European capitals. Story of her death is shrouded in myth and mystery. It definitely did not involve a horse although she may have been on the toilet.
Last of the Romanovs Tsar Alexander II: a ‘great reformer’ although still disliked by others. Abolished serfdom. Ended up being blown up by a bomb. Tsar Alexander III: tall, mean, liked a drink, and drank himself to death. Tsar Nicholas II, last Tsar, he and his family executed in October Revolution, 1917.
Mainly from western educated elite Various attempts to overthrow tsar failed – severe punishment. 1840s & esp. after 1860: most revolutionaries wanted a socialist govt. Economy in hands of the people Against constitutional democracy 1881 Tsar assassinated- no peasantry involvement Revolutionary Movements 1800 s
1880s Ideas of Karl Marx: No socialist rev. until capitalism had developed, industry built, so that a new class of workers-factory workers =the proletariat became the majority. 1890s. Organised small groups of Marxists= Social Democrats 1903 national party: Mensheviks, Bolsheviks
Mensheviks- Russia should follow Western European socialist parties(democratically run party) Bolsheviks (followed tradition of Russian revolutionaries): tightly run & organised group of prof. revs. who would order the proletariat, take charge of rev. Led by Vladimir Ulyanov- Lenin.
1905 Revolution “ Bloody Sunday” Set off by peasants, workers’ strikes, business people & professionals, along with mutinies by the armed forces St. Petersburg workers formed a council= “soviet” to run the strike Oct. 30, Tsar Nicholas II relented, est. a parliament Duma, first ever Basic civil rights for people & limited powers to the parliament Then Tsar hunted down the revolutionaries- fled overseas
Work of Duma Legislation to improve people’s life: Laws to protect factory workers Education expanded A progamme to improve peasants’ life; free to move & aid to improve farms BUT TSAR still had a lot of power: 1. could appoint & fire all ministers 2. Control over foreign policy & military budget
Powers of the Tsar TSAR still had a lot of power: 1. could appoint & fire all ministers 2. Control over foreign policy & military budget 3. Veto all legislation & manipulate parliament with other powers he had retained Most Russians very poor. Time needed for reforms to be completed
1914 WWI Russia suffered, not able to withstand a modern German army Late : > 8 million soldiers killed, wounded, or captured Civilians could not find basic nec. for survival MARCH 1917 demos. in Petrograd supported by workers & soldiers
February 1917 Revolution Started with protests about food shortages in St. Petersburg. Russia was doing very badly in World War I. Ended with the Tsar abdicating and the start of a new Russian Parliament.
Problems Economy Backwardness What direction to take in the future Shortage of FOOD!
General Institutions of Communist Regime Single Party State System Dictatorship of the Proletariat Central Planned Economy Abolishment of Private Property Rights Collectivisation Universal Public Programs Surveillance System Strong Military Unit under Party Control
Provisional Government Unable to control the armed forces Thwarted by the Bolsheviks Petrograd Soviet in charge Lenin decided to overthrow Prov. Govt. Autumn 1917: WWI still going on- unpopular November 6-7, 1917 Bolsheviks grabbed power
October 1917 Revolution Lenin and the Bolshevik Party seized power after storming the Winter Palace. Bolshevik Dictatorship: Lenin Trotski Stali n
Nov. 8, 1917 Land decree- confiscated landlords’ estates & church lands to hand over to peasant committees. Peace neg. with Germany- Treaty of Litovsk: Russia had to cede a lot of territory to Germany & left the Allies (GB, Fr, US) to negotiate on their own with German y
After a long and bloody civil war , the Bolsheviks (now the Communist Party) took complete control of Russia, or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic. They were inspired by the ideas of Karl Marx and claimed that they would establish a state in which power and wealth would be held by the masses and not the few. Cheka: secret police. Arrests & execution w/o trial. One party dictatorship- crushed all opponents, no non- Bolsheviks in govt.
NEP: New Economic Policy Peasants allowed to sell food on the open market Many factories & businesses returned to private ownership Govt. controlled :factories, railroads, mines Widespread and rapid economic recovery Food supplies replenished in 2 years
Lenin’s Legacy Successfully overthrew the Tsar Empire, first communist country. Successfully improved Russian economy by adopting New Economic Policy
A popular joke set-up is Lenin interacting with the head of the secret police, Dzerzhinsky in the Smolny Institute, seat of the revolutionary communist government in Petrograd, or with khodoki, peasants that came to see Lenin. During the famine of the civil war, a delegation of starving peasants comes to the Smolny, wishing to file a petition. "We have even started eating the grass like horses," says one peasant. "Soon we will start neighing like horses!" "Come on! Don't worry!" says Lenin reassuringly. "We are drinking tea with honey here, and we are not buzzing like bees, are we?"
Lenin’s death Lenin had a series of strokes and died in In his will, he warned of the dangers of letting power fall into the hands of one particular man…
Josef Stalin (“Uncle Joe” to the Americans) “A loveable rogue” who completely transformed Russian life and was largely responsible for the deaths of millions of Russians. Born Josef Vissarionovich Djugashvili. During the Revolution he named himself Stalin: “man of steel”.
Stalin’s purges , 000 Suspected critics or opponents (army officers, revolutionaries, peasants, landowners, intelligentsia), or anyone that Stalin didn’t like the look of were systematically rounded up and executed. Or, if they were lucky, they were sent to a Siberian labour camp for maybe 10 or 20 years. Class struggle Regional conflicts Social unrest
Collective farming Stalin’s policy was to organise farms into collective units which would ‘feed the state’. This turned into a disaster and he was responsible for one of the biggest man-made famines in history.
Generalissimo Stalin Stalin stayed in power through a mixture of propaganda, terror, and genuine devotion from some Russians. He attained god-like status particularly after defeating the Nazis in World War II. Cult of Personality
Made Time Magazine’s Man of the Year in 1942 for holding the Nazis at bay. Although true this showed how little Americans actually knew of Stalin. They thought his methods tough but fair.
Stalin Joke "Comrade Stalin! This man is your exact double!" "Shoot him!“ "Maybe we should shave off his moustache?“ "Good idea! Shave it off and then shoot him!".
Stalin Joke no. 2 Stalin reads his report to the Party Congress. Suddenly someone sneezes. "Who sneezed?" (Silence.) "First row! On your feet! Shoot them!" (Applause.) "Who sneezed?" (Silence.) "Second row! On your feet! Shoot them!" (Long, loud applause.) "Who sneezed?" (Silence.)... A dejected voice in the back: "It was me" (Sobs.) Stalin leans forward: "Bless you, comrade!"
Nikita Khrushchev After his death, Khrushchev, his successor, denounced some of Stalin’s policies at a communist party congress.
Revisionist Khrushchev Labeled Stalin as Cult of Personality, began de-Stalinisation * Could not attempt reform without opposition As he didn’t have a power base like Stalin
De-Stalinisation 1954 Released labour camp prisoners : closed labour camps, more release of prisoners Eased censorships for writers & artists Raised standard of living by increasing food supply; new housing Improved relations with the West & US, toured Withdrew occupation forces from Austria 1963 Signed agreement with US banning above ground nuclear testing
Krushchev (cont.) But in 1961 Berlin Wall built 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis
Krushchev (cont.) Space Race: 1957 Sputnik I, first artificial satellite first man to orbit Earth first man to spacewalk first woman in space first rocket to hit the moon
First man in Space: Yuri Gagarin
Krushchev’s failures & the end of reforms 1. impatience 2. commitment to Soviet’s policies, eg, collectivisation 3. failures in F.P. (Foreign Policy) 4. Opposition from those who would lose their positions if K. continued his reforms. (1962- K. wanted to reorganise the C.P. but many opposed this.)
Krushchev (cont.) He failed to reform Stalin’s institutions Left economy tightly controlled by the govt. & inefficient Secret police was still part of daily life, KGB These problems would be left unaddressed for 2 decades.
Why was Khrushchev deseated? — Because of the Seven "C"s: Cult of personality, Communism, China, Cuban Crisis, Corn, and Cuzka's mother In Russian this is the seven "K"s. To "show somebody Kuzka's mother" is a Russian idiom meaning "to give somebody a hard time". Khrushchev had used this phrase during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly referring to the Tsar Bomba test over Novaya Zemlya.
Leonid Brezhnev Stabilty & Stagnation
Technocrat Brezhnev The “happiest time” for Russians in the 20th century. Russia peaked its highest status in international game. Lack of reforms also symbolised this decade. It seeds the decline of the Empire. Brezhnev Doctrine: labeled the revival of Soviet Power and its hostility toward the international society (and its own decline)
Brezhnev Clamp down on intellectuals Raised std. of living Strengthened USSR’s security by catching up with US in arms race, & reduced tension with US. Mid-1970s relations with US good. Reforms failed as party élite were left untouched
Brezhnev 1979 Relations with US down, arms build up. Invasion of Afghanistan Dissidents Economy stalled Brezhnev died Nov. 1982
Photograph by: Wally McNamee, 1973 Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev eyes actress Jill St. John at a poolside reception hosted by President Nixon in California.
Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker
After the Wall fell in 1989
One of the greatest kisses in History is the one that took place between communist leaders Erich Honneker from East Germany, and Brezhnev from Soviet Union, during the 30th Anniversary of the GDR in June Despite the controversy and ridicule arisen in the West, this was actually a common sign of socialist solidarity, very used since Khrushchev era. It seems, moreover, that both leaders were very keen on kissing.
Andropov Chernenko from 1983 to 1985.
" What is the main difference of succession under tsarist regime and under socialism?" "Under tsarist regime the power transferred from father to a son, and under socialism - from one grandfather to another." (A wordplay: 'grandfather' in Russian is traditionally used in a sense of 'old man')
The final 50 years in a nutshell Russia remained part of a huge ‘Communist empire’ ruling large parts of Eastern Europe during the cold war. By the late 1980’s the cracks were beginning to show and in 1991 the Communist system collapsed, bringing in a new era of capitalism to Russia.
Rise of a Superpower
Leaders Lenin Stalin Khrushchev Brezhnev Andropov Chernenko Gorbachev Yelstin Putin Medvedev present Putin again??