/rush"euh/, n.
1. Also called Russian Empire. Russian, Rossiya. a former empire in E Europe and N and W Asia: overthrown by the Russian Revolution 1917. Cap.: St. Petersburg (1703-1917).

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Introduction Russia -
Background: The defeat of the Russian Empire in World War I led to the seizure of power by the Communists and the formation of the USSR. The brutal rule of Josef STALIN (1924-53) strengthened Russian dominance of the Soviet Union at a cost of tens of millions of lives. The Soviet economy and society stagnated in the following decades until General Secretary Mikhail GORBACHEV (1985- 91) introduced glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in an attempt to modernize Communism, but his initiatives inadvertently released forces that by December 1991 splintered the USSR into 15 independent republics. Since then, Russia has struggled in its efforts to build a democratic political system and market economy to replace the strict social, political, and economic controls of the Communist period. A determined guerrilla conflict still plagues Russia in Chechnya. Geography Russia
Location: Northern Asia (that part west of the Urals is sometimes included with Europe), bordering the Arctic Ocean, between Europe and the North Pacific Ocean
Geographic coordinates: 60 00 N, 100 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 17,075,200 sq km water: 79,400 sq km land: 16,995,800 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly less than 1.8 times the size of the US
Land boundaries: total: 19,990 km border countries: Azerbaijan 284 km, Belarus 959 km, China (southeast) 3,605 km, China (south) 40 km, Estonia 294 km, Finland 1,313 km, Georgia 723 km, Kazakhstan 6,846 km, North Korea 19 km, Latvia 217 km, Lithuania (Kaliningrad Oblast) 227 km, Mongolia 3,485 km, Norway 196 km, Poland (Kaliningrad Oblast) 206 km, Ukraine 1,576 km
Coastline: 37,653 km
Maritime claims: continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: ranges from steppes in the south through humid continental in much of European Russia; subarctic in Siberia to tundra climate in the polar north; winters vary from cool along Black Sea coast to frigid in Siberia; summers vary from warm in the steppes to cool along Arctic coast
Terrain: broad plain with low hills west of Urals; vast coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia; uplands and mountains along southern border regions
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m highest point: Gora El'brus 5,633 m
Natural resources: wide natural resource base including major deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, and many strategic minerals, timber note: formidable obstacles of climate, terrain, and distance hinder exploitation of natural resources
Land use: arable land: 7.46% permanent crops: 0.11% other: 92.43% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 46,630 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: permafrost over much of Siberia is a major impediment to development; volcanic activity in the Kuril Islands; volcanoes and earthquakes on the Kamchatka Peninsula Environment - current issues: air pollution from heavy industry, emissions of coal-fired electric plants, and transportation in major cities; industrial, municipal, and agricultural pollution of inland waterways and seacoasts; deforestation; soil erosion; soil contamination from improper application of agricultural chemicals; scattered areas of sometimes intense radioactive contamination; groundwater contamination from toxic waste Environment - international party to: Air Pollution, Air
agreements: Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Antarctic- Environmental Protocol, Antarctic- Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note: largest country in the world in terms of area but unfavorably located in relation to major sea lanes of the world; despite its size, much of the country lacks proper soils and climates (either too cold or too dry) for agriculture; Mount Elbrus is Europe's tallest peak People Russia -
Population: 144,978,573 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 16.7% (male 12,334,659; female 11,840,058) 15-64 years: 70.2% (male 49,330,660; female 52,402,610) 65 years and over: 13.1% (male 6,150,775; female 12,919,811) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.33% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 9.71 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 13.91 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 0.94 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.48 male(s)/ female total population: 0.88 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 19.78 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 67.5 years female: 72.97 years (2002 est.) male: 62.29 years
Total fertility rate: 1.3 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.18% (1999 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 130,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 850 (1999 est.)
Nationality: noun: Russian(s) adjective: Russian
Ethnic groups: Russian 81.5%, Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 3%, Chuvash 1.2%, Bashkir 0.9%, Belarusian 0.8%, Moldavian 0.7%, other 8.1%
Religions: Russian Orthodox, Muslim, other
Languages: Russian, other
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 98% male: 100% female: 97% (1989 est.) Government Russia -
Country name: conventional long form: Russian Federation conventional short form: Russia local long form: Rossiyskaya Federatsiya former: Russian Empire, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic local short form: Rossiya
Government type: federation
Capital: Moscow Administrative divisions: 49 oblasts (oblastey, singular - oblast), 21 republics* (respublik, singular - respublika), 10 autonomous okrugs**(avtonomnykh okrugov, singular - avtonomnyy okrug), 6 krays*** (krayev, singular - kray), 2 federal cities (singular - gorod)****, and 1 autonomous oblast*****(avtonomnaya oblast'); Adygeya (Maykop)*, Aginskiy Buryatskiy (Aginskoye)**, Altay (Gorno-Altaysk)*, Altayskiy (Barnaul)***, Amurskaya (Blagoveshchensk), Arkhangel'skaya, Astrakhanskaya, Bashkortostan (Ufa)*, Belgorodskaya, Bryanskaya, Buryatiya (Ulan-Ude)*, Chechnya (Groznyy)*, Chelyabinskaya, Chitinskaya, Chukotskiy (Anadyr')**, Chuvashiya (Cheboksary)*, Dagestan (Makhachkala)*, Evenkiyskiy (Tura)**, Ingushetiya (Nazran')*, Irkutskaya, Ivanovskaya, Kabardino- Balkariya (Nal'chik)*, Kaliningradskaya, Kalmykiya (Elista)*, Kaluzhskaya, Kamchatskaya (Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy), Karachayevo-Cherkesiya (Cherkessk)*, Kareliya (Petrozavodsk)*, Kemerovskaya, Khabarovskiy***, Khakasiya (Abakan)*, Khanty- Mansiyskiy (Khanty-Mansiysk)**, Kirovskaya, Komi (Syktyvkar)*, Koryakskiy (Palana)**, Kostromskaya, Krasnodarskiy***, Krasnoyarskiy***, Kurganskaya, Kurskaya, Leningradskaya, Lipetskaya, Magadanskaya, Mariy-El (Yoshkar- Ola)*, Mordoviya (Saransk)*, Moskovskaya, Moskva (Moscow)****, Murmanskaya, Nenetskiy (Nar'yan- Mar)**, Nizhegorodskaya, Novgorodskaya, Novosibirskaya, Omskaya, Orenburgskaya, Orlovskaya (Orel), Penzenskaya, Permskaya, Komi-Permyatskiy (Kudymkar)**, Primorskiy (Vladivostok)***, Pskovskaya, Rostovskaya, Ryazanskaya, Sakha (Yakutiya)*, Sakhalinskaya (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk), Samarskaya, Sankt-Peterburg (Saint Petersburg)****, Saratovskaya, Severnaya Osetiya-Alaniya [North Ossetia] (Vladikavkaz)*, Smolenskaya, Stavropol'skiy***, Sverdlovskaya (Yekaterinburg), Tambovskaya, Tatarstan (Kazan')*, Taymyrskiy (Dudinka)**, Tomskaya, Tul'skaya, Tverskaya, Tyumenskaya, Tyva (Kyzyl)*, Udmurtiya (Izhevsk)*, Ul'yanovskaya, Ust'-Ordynskiy Buryatskiy (Ust'-Ordynskiy)**, Vladimirskaya, Volgogradskaya, Vologodskaya, Voronezhskaya, Yamalo- Nenetskiy (Salekhard)**, Yaroslavskaya, Yevreyskaya*****; note - when using a place name with an adjectival ending 'skaya' or 'skiy,' the word Oblast' or Avonomnyy Okrug or Kray should be added to the place name note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)
Independence: 24 August 1991 (from Soviet Union)
National holiday: Russia Day, 12 June (1990)
Constitution: adopted 12 December 1993
Legal system: based on civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Vladimir Vladimirovich PUTIN (acting president since 31 December 1999, president since 7 May 2000) head of government: Premier Mikhail Mikhaylovich KASYANOV (since 7 May 2000); Deputy Premiers Aleksey Leonidovich KUDRIN (since 18 May 2000), Aleksey Vasilyevich GORDEYEV (since 20 May 2000), Viktor Borisovich KHRISTENKO (since 31 May 1999), Valentina Ivanovna MATVIYENKO (since 22 September 1998) cabinet: Ministries of the Government or "Government" composed of the premier and his deputies, ministers, and other agency heads; all are appointed by the president note: there is also a Presidential Administration (PA) that provides staff and policy support to the president, drafts presidential decrees, and coordinates policy among government agencies; a Security Council also reports directly to the president election results: Vladimir Vladimirovich PUTIN elected president; percent of vote - Vladimir Vladimirovich PUTIN 52.9%, Gennadiy Andreyevich ZYUGANOV 29.2%, Grigoriy Alekseyevich YAVLINSKIY 5.8% elections: president elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 26 March 2000 (next to be held NA 2004); note - no vice president; if the president dies in office, cannot exercise his powers because of ill health, is impeached, or resigns, the premier succeeds him; the premier serves as acting president until a new presidential election is held, which must be within three months; premier appointed by the president with the approval of the Duma
Legislative branch: bicameral Federal Assembly or Federalnoye Sobraniye consists of the Federation Council or Sovet Federatsii (178 seats; as of July 2000, members appointed by the top executive and legislative officials in each of the 89 federal administrative units - oblasts, krays, republics, autonomous okrugs and oblasts, and the federal cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg; members serve four-year terms) and the State Duma or Gosudarstvennaya Duma (450 seats; 225 seats elected by proportional representation from party lists winning at least 5% of the vote, and 225 seats from single- member constituencies; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve four-year terms) election results: State Duma - percent of vote received by parties clearing the 5% threshold entitling them to a proportional share of the 225 party list seats - KPRF 24.29%, Unity 23.32%, OVR 13.33%, Union of Right Forces 8.52%, LDPR 5.98%, Yabloko 5.93%; seats by party - KPRF 113, Unity 72, OVR 67, Union of Rightist Forces 29, LDPR 17, Yabloko 21, other 16, independents 106, repeat election required 8, vacant 1 elections: State Duma - last held 19 December 1999 (next to be held NA December 2003)
Judicial branch: Constitutional Court; Supreme Court; Superior Court of Arbitration; judges for all courts are appointed for life by the Federation Council on the recommendation of the president Political parties and leaders: Agrarian Party [Mikhail Ivanovich LAPSHIN]; Communist Party of the Russian Federation or KPRF [Gennadiy Andreyevich ZYUGANOV]; Fatherland- All Russia or OVR [Yuriy Mikhaylovich LUZHKOV]; Liberal Democratic Party of Russia or LDPR [Vladimir Volfovich ZHIRINOVSKIY]; Union of Rightist Forces [Anatoliy Borisovich CHUBAYS, Yegor Timurovich GAYDAR, Irina Mutsuovna KHAKAMADA, Boris Yefimovich NEMTSOV]; Unity [Sergey Kuzhugetovich SHOYGU]; Yabloko Bloc [Grigoriy Alekseyevich YAVLINSKIY] note: some 150 political parties, blocs, and movements registered with the Justice Ministry as of the 19 December 1998 deadline to be eligible to participate in the 19 December 1999 Duma elections; of these, 36 political organizations actually qualified to run slates of candidates on the Duma party list ballot, 6 parties cleared the 5% threshold to win a proportional share of the 225 party seats in the Duma, 9 other organizations hold seats in the Duma: Bloc of Nikolayev and Academician Fedorov, Congress of Russian Communities, Movement in Support of the Army, Our Home Is Russia, Party of Pensioners, Power to the People, Russian All-People's Union, Russian Socialist Party, and Spiritual Heritage; primary political blocs include pro-market democrats - (Yabloko Bloc and Union of Right Forces), anti-market and/or ultranationalist (Communist Party of the Russian Federation and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization APEC, ARF (dialogue partner), ASEAN
participation: (dialogue partner), BIS, BSEC, CBSS, CCC, CE, CERN (observer), CIS, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, ESCAP, G- 8, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, LAIA (observer), MINURSO, MONUC, NAM (guest), NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, UN, UN Security Council, UNAMSIL, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNITAR, UNMEE, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNMOP, UNMOVIC, UNOMIG, UNTAET, UNTSO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (observer), ZC Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Yuriy Viktorovich USHAKOV FAX: [1] (202) 298-5735 consulate(s) general: New York, San Francisco, and Seattle telephone: [1] (202) 298-5700, 5701, 5704, 5708 chancery: 2650 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador
US: Alexander VERSHBOW embassy: Bolshoy Devyatinskiy Pereulok No. 8, 121099 Moscow mailing address: APO AE 09721 telephone: [7] (095) 728-5000 FAX: [7] (095) 728-5203 consulate(s) general: Saint Petersburg, Vladivostok, Yekaterinburg
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of white (top), blue, and red Economy Russia
Economy - overview: A decade after the implosion of the Soviet Union in December 1991, Russia is still struggling to establish a modern market economy and achieve strong economic growth. In contrast to its trading partners in Central Europe - which were able to overcome the initial production declines that accompanied the launch of market reforms within three to five years - Russia saw its economy contract for five years, as the executive and legislature dithered over the implementation of many of the basic foundations of a market economy. Russia achieved a slight recovery in 1997, but the government's stubborn budget deficits and the country's poor business climate made it vulnerable when the global financial crisis swept through in 1998. The crisis culminated in the August depreciation of the ruble, a debt default by the government, and a sharp deterioration in living standards for most of the population. The economy subsequently has rebounded, growing by an average of more than 6% annually in 1999- 2001 on the back of higher oil prices and a weak ruble. This recovery, along with a renewed government effort in 2000 and 2001 to advance lagging structural reforms, have raised business and investor confidence over Russia's prospects in its second decade of transition. Yet serious problems persist. Russia remains heavily dependent on exports of commodities, particularly oil, natural gas, metals, and timber, which account for over 80% of exports, leaving the country vulnerable to swings in world prices. Russia's industrial base is increasingly dilapidated and must be replaced or modernized if the country is to achieve sustainable economic growth. Other problems include widespread corruption, lack of a strong legal system, capital flight, and brain drain.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $1.2 trillion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 5.2% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $8,300 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 7% industry: 37% services: 56% (2000 est.) Population below poverty line: 40% (1999 est.) Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 2.4%
percentage share: highest 10%: 33.5% (2001 est.) Distribution of family income - Gini 39.9 (2000)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 21.9% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 71.3 million (2001 est.) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 10.8%, industry 27.8%, services 61.4% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate: 8.7% (2001 est.), plus considerable underemployment
Budget: revenues: $45 billion expenditures: $43 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)
Industries: complete range of mining and extractive industries producing coal, oil, gas, chemicals, and metals; all forms of machine building from rolling mills to high- performance aircraft and space vehicles; shipbuilding; road and rail transportation equipment; communications equipment; agricultural machinery, tractors, and construction equipment; electric power generating and transmitting equipment; medical and scientific instruments; consumer durables, textiles, foodstuffs, handicrafts Industrial production growth rate: 5.2% (2001 est.) Electricity - production: 835.572 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 66.14% hydro: 18.89% other: 0.31% (2000) nuclear: 14.66% Electricity - consumption: 767.082 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 18 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 8 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: grain, sugar beets, sunflower seed, vegetables, fruits; beef, milk
Exports: $103.3 billion (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas, wood and wood products, metals, chemicals, and a wide variety of civilian and military manufactures
Exports - partners: Germany 9.0%, US 7.2%, Italy 7.0%, Belarus 5.4%, China 5.1%, Ukraine 4.9%, Netherlands (2000)
Imports: $51.7 billion (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, consumer goods, medicines, meat, grain, sugar, semifinished metal products
Imports - partners: Germany 11.5%, Belarus 11.1%, Ukraine 10.8%, US 8.0%, Kazakhstan 6.5%, Italy 3.6% (2000)
Debt - external: $157 billion (2001 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $8.523 billion (1995)
Currency: Russian ruble (RUR)
Currency code: RUR
Exchange rates: Russian rubles per US dollar - 30.4669 (January 2002), 29.1685 (2001), 28.1292 (2000), 24.6199 (1999), 9.7051 (1998), 5,785 (1997) note: the post-1 January 1998 ruble is equal to 1,000 of the pre- 1 January 1998 rubles
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Russia - Telephones - main lines in use: 30 million (1998) Telephones - mobile cellular: 2.5 million (October 2000)
Telephone system: general assessment: the telephone system has undergone significant changes in the 1990s; there are more than 1,000 companies licensed to offer communication services; access to digital lines has improved, particularly in urban centers; Internet and e-mail services are improving; Russia has made progress toward building the telecommunications infrastructure necessary for a market economy; however, a large demand for main line service remains unsatisfied domestic: cross-country digital trunk lines run from Saint Petersburg to Khabarovsk, and from Moscow to Novorossiysk; the telephone systems in 60 regional capitals have modern digital infrastructures; cellular services, both analog and digital, are available in many areas; in rural areas, the telephone services are still outdated, inadequate, and low density international: Russia is connected internationally by three undersea fiber-optic cables; digital switches in several cities provide more than 50,000 lines for international calls; satellite earth stations provide access to Intelsat, Intersputnik, Eutelsat, Inmarsat, and Orbita systems Radio broadcast stations: AM 420, FM 447, shortwave 56 (1998)
Radios: 61.5 million (1997) Television broadcast stations: 7,306 (1998)
Televisions: 60.5 million (1997)
Internet country code: .ru Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 35 (2000)
Internet users: 9.2 million (2000) Transportation Russia -
Railways: total: 87,157 km broad gauge: 86,200 km 1.520-m gauge (40,300 km are electrified) narrow gauge: 957 km 1.067-m gauge (installed on Sakhalin Island) note: an additional 63,000 km of broad gauge routes serve specific industries and are not available for common carrier use (2002)
Highways: total: 952,000 km paved: 752,000 km (including about 336,000 km of conventionally paved roads, and about 416,000 km of roads with all-weather gravel surfaces) unpaved: 200,000 km (these roads are made of unstabilized earth and are difficult to negotiate in wet weather) (1998)
Waterways: 95,900 km (total routes in general use) note: routes with navigation guides serving the Russian River Fleet - 95,900 km; routes with night navigational aids - 60,400 km; man- made navigable routes - 16,900 km (Jan 1994)
Pipelines: crude oil 48,000 km; petroleum products 15,000 km; natural gas 140,000 km (June 1993 est.)
Ports and harbors: Aleksandrovsk-Sakhalinsky, Arkhangel'sk, Astrakhan', De-Kastri, Indigirskiy, Kaliningrad, Kandalaksha, Kazan', Khabarovsk, Kholmsk, Krasnoyarsk, Lazarev, Mago, Mezen', Moscow, Murmansk, Nakhodka, Nevel'sk, Novorossiysk, Onega, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, Rostov, Shakhtersk, Saint Petersburg, Sochi, Taganrog, Tuapse, Uglegorsk, Vanino, Vladivostok, Volgograd, Vostochnyy, Vyborg
Merchant marine: total: 888 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 4,390,745 GRT/5,357,436 DWT ships by type: barge carrier 1, bulk 21, cargo 556, chemical tanker 7, combination bulk 21, combination ore/oil 6, container 29, multi- functional large-load carrier 1, passenger 41, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 153, refrigerated cargo 22, roll on/roll off 20, short-sea passenger 7 note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Belize 1, Cambodia 1, Cyprus 9, Denmark 1, Estonia 4, Greece 3, Honduras 1, Latvia 4, Lithuania 3, Moldova 3, Netherlands 1, South Korea 1, Turkey 18, Turkmenistan 2, Ukraine 10, United Kingdom 5, United States 1 (2002 est.)
Airports: 2,743 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 471 over 3,047 m: 56 2,438 to 3,047 m: 178 1,524 to 2,437 m: 76 914 to 1,523 m: 69 under 914 m: 92 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 2,272 over 3,047 m: 28 2,438 to 3,047 m: 118 1,524 to 2,437 m: 204 914 to 1,523 m: 324 under 914 m: 1,598 (2001) Military Russia -
Military branches: Ground Forces, Navy, Air Forces, Space Forces, Airborne Forces, Strategic Rocket Forces Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 38,906,796 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 30,392,946 (2002
service: est.) Military manpower - reaching military males: 1,242,778 (2002 est.)
age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $NA
figure: Military expenditures - percent of NA%
GDP: Transnational Issues Russia - Disputes - international: 2001 Treaty of Good Neighborliness, Friendship, and Cooperation commits Russia and China to seek peaceable unanimity over disputed alluvial islands at the confluence of the Amur and Ussuri rivers and a small island on the Argun; Russia hastens to delimit and demarcate boundary with Kazakhstan to limit illegal border activities; in 2002, Russia is the first state to submit data to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to extend its continental shelf by claiming two undersea ridges in the Arctic; Russia signed bilateral agreements with Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan delimiting the Caspian seabed, but littoral states are far from multilateral agreement on dividing the waters and seabed regimes - Iran insists on division of Caspian Sea into five equal sectors while Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan have generally agreed upon equidistant seabed boundaries; despite recent discussions, Russia and Norway dispute their maritime limits in the Barents Sea and Russia's fishing rights beyond Svalbard's territorial limits within the Svalbard Treaty zone; Russia continues to reject signing and ratifying the joint December 1996 technical border agreement with Estonia; the Russian Duma refuses to ratify boundary treaties signed with Latvia and Lithuania; Russia and Ukraine have successfully delimited land boundary in 2001, but disagree on delimitation of maritime boundary in the Sea of Azov and Black Sea; boundary with Georgia has been largely delimited, but not demarcated; several small, strategic segments remain in dispute; islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, and Shikotan, and the Habomai group occupied by the Soviet Union in 1945, now administered by Russia, claimed by Japan
Illicit drugs: limited cultivation of illicit cannabis and opium poppy and producer of amphetamine, mostly for domestic consumption; government has active eradication program; increasingly used as transshipment point for Southwest and Southeast Asian opiates and cannabis and Latin American cocaine to Western Europe, possibly to the US, and growing domestic market; major source of heroin precursor chemicals; corruption and organized crime are major concerns; heroin an increasing threat in domestic drug market

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Country, eastern Europe and northern Asia, formerly a republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Area: 6,592,800 sq mi (17,075,400 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 143,673,000. Capital: Moscow. The population is primarily Russian; minorities include Tatars and Ukrainians. Languages: Russian (official), various Turkic and Uralic languages. Religion: Russian Orthodox Christianity, Islam. However, most of the people are nonreligious. Currency: ruble. The land and its environments are varied, including the Ural Mountains and ranges in eastern Siberia, with the highest peaks on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The Russian Plain contains the great Volga and Northern Dvina rivers, and in the Siberia are the valleys of the Ob, Yenisey, Lena, and Amur rivers. Tundra covers extensive portions in the north, and in the south there are forests, steppes, and fertile areas. The economy was industrialized from 1917 to 1945 but was in serious decline by the 1980s. In 1992 the government decreed radical reforms to convert the centrally planned economy into a market economy based on private enterprise. Russia is a federal republic with a bicameral legislative body; its head of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. The region between the Dniester and the Volga rivers was inhabited from ancient times by various peoples, including the Slavs. The area was overrun in the 8th century BC–6th century AD by successive nomadic peoples, including the Sythians, Sarmatians, Goths, Huns, and Avars. Kievan Rus, a confederation of principalities ruling from Kiev, emerged с 10th century. It lost supremacy in the 11th–12th centuries to independent principalities, including Novgorod and Vladimir. Novgorod ascended in the north and was the only Russian principality to escape the domination of the Mongol Golden Horde in the 13th century. In the 14th–15th centuries the princes of Moscow gradually overthrew the Mongols. Under Ivan IV (the Terrible), Russia began to expand. The Romanov dynasty arose in 1613. Expansion continued under Peter I (the Great) and Catherine II (the Great). The area was invaded by Napoleon in 1812; after his defeat, Russia received most of the grand duchy of Warsaw (1815). Russia annexed Georgia, Armenia, and Caucasus territories in the 19th century. The Russian southward advance against the Ottoman Empire was of key importance to Europe (see Crimea). Russia was defeated in the Crimean War. Chinese cession of the Amur River's left bank in 1858 marked Russia's expansion in the Far East. It sold Alaska to the U.S. in 1867 (see Alaska Purchase). Its defeat in the Russo-Japanese War led to an unsuccessful uprising in 1905 (see Russian Revolution of 1905). In World War I it fought against the Central Powers. The popular overthrow of the tsarist regime in 1917 marked the beginning of a government of soviets (see Russian Revolution of 1917). The Bolsheviks brought the main part of the former empire under communist control and organized it as the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (coextensive with present-day Russia). The Russian S.F.S.R. joined other soviet republics in 1922 to form the U.S.S.R. Upon the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. in 1991, the Russian S.F.S.R. was renamed and became the leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States. It adopted a new constitution in 1993. During the 1990s and into the early 21st century, it struggled on several fronts, beset with economic difficulties, political corruption, and independence movements (see Chechnya).

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▪ 2009

17,075,400 sq km (6,592,800 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 141,841,000
Chief of state:
Presidents Vladimir Putin and, from May 7, Dmitry Medvedev
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Viktor Zubkov and, from May 8, Vladimir Putin

Domestic Politics.
      On March 2, 2008, Dmitry Medvedev (Medvedev, Dmitry ) was elected Russia's president. He was the handpicked successor of outgoing president Vladimir Putin, who was, after two consecutive terms in office, obliged by the constitution to stand down. Putin's longtime aide and protégé, Medvedev had never before run for elected office, but Putin's endorsement ensured that he was elected in the first round of balloting. He garnered about 70% of the vote, though the fairness of the election was disputed. Europe's largest vote-monitoring body, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, canceled plans to observe the election, saying that the Russian authorities had placed unacceptable limitations on the size and duration of its mission. At the same time, there was little doubt that the majority of the Russian population supported Medvedev's candidacy. As soon as Medvedev was sworn in as president on May 7, he nominated Putin as prime minister—a popular move.

      Putin had been a hugely popular president, credited with rescuing Russia from the virtual economic disintegration of the 1990s and ensuring the country's stability and territorial integrity. High world energy prices had boosted Russia's economy and enabled its population to grow more prosperous. Above all, Putin had restored Russians' pride in their country and put Moscow back on the map as a power with which to be reckoned. On the other hand, Putin had also concentrated power in the Kremlin, muffled the political opposition, and tightened state control over the mass media. Corruption, a perennial problem, had grown during his presidency, as had state intervention in key areas of the economy.

      There was much speculation about how the Putin-Medvedev tandem would work. In the past, power-sharing governments in Russia had not lasted long and had usually resulted in a ruthless struggle for political control. According to Russia's constitution, the prime minister was significantly less powerful than the president and was confined to running the economy. The president, by contrast, was head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces, with extensive powers to determine domestic and foreign policy. Moreover, the constitution empowered the president to dismiss the prime minister and government virtually at will.

      Medvedev, aged 43, was the first Russian leader who had not held office in the Soviet system, and there were hopes among some that he might turn out to be a more liberal president than Putin had been. Initially, Medvedev made a series of high-profile statements that seemed to confirm that image. Campaigning for election in Krasnoyarsk in February, for example, Medvedev set out a liberal-sounding agenda that included calls to tackle corruption, reform the judiciary, and reduce the role of the state in the economy. Following the handover of power, however, it soon became clear that Putin retained the dominant role in the relationship and that Medvedev was playing the role of apprentice. Putin was not only leader of the United Russia party, which dominated the Duma (lower house of parliament), but was also Russia's most popular politician and remained the only person able to balance the competing factions within the elite. While Medvedev formally led on foreign policy—as the constitution required—events suggested that Putin was overseeing foreign and security policy as well as the economic decision making traditionally entrusted to the government. Indeed, the new foreign policy strategy that Medvedev approved in July explicitly created a new role for the government, giving it responsibility for the implementation of foreign policy. Entrusting the government with executing foreign policy, though not forbidden by the constitution, suggested that, at least for the time being, Medvedev would defer to Putin in the realm of foreign as well as domestic policy.

      Once appointed prime minister, Putin lost no time in announcing his new government. While very few political appointees could be identified as Medvedev's confidants, Putin kept his inner circle intact, moving many of his closest associates from the Kremlin (headquarters of the presidency) to the White House (headquarters of the government). The main centre of decision making was accordingly seen as having moved from the former to the latter. On November 5, in his first state of the nation address, Medvedev called for extending the presidential term from four to six years. There was speculation that the move, which received parliamentary approval, might be intended to prepare the ground for Putin's eventual return to presidential office.

      While levels of violence continued to decline in the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, instability escalated in neighbouring Ingushetia, which had seen a sharp escalation of tensions ever since 2002, when President Putin appointed Murat Zyazikov, a former KGB officer, as president of the republic. In October 2008 Medvedev sacked Zyazikov and replaced him with Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, a serving military officer.

      August saw the death and state funeral in Moscow of Nobel prize-winning Russian writer and historian Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Isayevich ). Through his writings, particularly The Gulag Archipelago, 1918–1956 (1973), Solzhenitsyn made the world aware of Stalin's Gulag—the Soviet Union's network of penal labour camps. Following Solzhenitsyn's death, Russian and world leaders paid glowing tribute to him. December marked the death of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Aleksey II of Moscow and All Russia, who had become leader in 1990.

The Economy.
      Russia in 2008 recorded its 10th year of strong economic growth, with GDP projected to climb by about 7%—though a fall from the 8.1% growth recorded in 2007. At the start of the year, government leaders asserted that Russia would be immune from the financial crisis gripping other parts of the world. Russia had the advantage of a massive budget surplus and large financial and foreign-exchange reserves. In December, however, the deputy economy minister announced that Russia was in a recession and that economic growth would be lower than predicted. Vladimir Putin as prime minister stressed continuity and said that his government would implement “Putin's Plan,” which he had mapped out in a series of speeches over the preceding months. This scheme promised to modernize and diversify Russia's overly energy-dependent economy in an effort to turn it into one of the world's leading economies by 2020. Observers also expressed hope that some liberal-sounding statements by President Dmitry Medvedev early in the year might presage a return to economic reform. By the autumn, however, it was clear that Russia would not escape the global financial crisis. The economy was already slowing down by midyear; a decline in manufacturing output was recorded in August; and oil and gas output also fell. Inflation, estimated at about 13% for 2008, was a source of concern. A crisis of confidence in financial markets provoked a rapid outflow of funds from the Russian stock market, forcing it to close temporarily in September and October. In part, this was attributable to the global financial crisis, but Russia suffered more than other emerging markets, owing to a decline in world oil prices and a heightened perception of political risk in Russia following Putin's public criticism in July of the Mechel Steel Co. and Russia's conflict with Georgia in August. (See Foreign Policy, below.) Medvedev was left trying to reassure the business community that economic policies were not changing at a time when Russian business had lost billions of dollars from its market capitalization. In October the government set out a package of anticrisis measures, which in many ways resembled those adopted in Western Europe and the U.S. Amounting to about $220 billion, or some 13% of GDP, this was a larger package relative to GDP than in any other Group of Eight country. The ruble was also repeatedly devalued late in the year.

      Commentators described the government formed by Prime Minister Putin as effectively containing two “inner cabinets.” One “cabinet,” which was headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov (who was seen as a relative liberal), was responsible for overseeing external economic relations and foreign-trade negotiations on Russia's (still-delayed) entry to the World Trade Organization and developing small businesses (one of Medvedev's declared priorities). Also included among the relative liberals was Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin. The other “cabinet” was headed by Putin himself and his close associate Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin and was seen as focussing on nurturing “national champion” companies, deemed by the leadership to be of strategic importance for national security, particularly in the energy sector. Conflict between these two camps bubbled under the surface. The arrest and detention of Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak at year's end 2007 was widely interpreted as an attack by the Sechin camp on the Kudrin-Shuvalov camp; Storchak's release on bail in autumn 2008 was accordingly seen as a victory for the liberals.

      In October, Russia, Iran, and Qatar announced plans to coordinate their natural gas industries in what some observers called a potential “gas OPEC.” These three countries together controlled about 55% of the world's known gas reserves, but it remained to be seen how the new organization would develop in practice.

      The year saw a continuation of a trend that began in 2007—that is, a sharp increase in the number of industrial protests by Russian workers. The strikes were led by “alternative” trade unions, organizations that were not affiliated with Russia's officially approved unions. This activity was significant; it came after a period of 15 years during which Russian workers had been quiescent. Pointing out that Russia's demographic crisis had begun to reduce the number of working-age males in the population, commentators suggested that the resultant shortage of skilled labour was for the first time making Russian workers conscious of their worth.

Foreign and Security Policy.
      Under Vladimir Putin's leadership, Russia had become an assertive and self-confident player on the international stage. Tensions over Russia's demand for droit de regard in former Soviet territory culminated in August in five days of armed conflict with neighbouring Georgia. Moscow's relations with Tbilisi had been fraught ever since the collapse of the U.S.S.R., the flashpoint being Russia's support for Georgia's secessionist provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Tensions erupted when on August 7 the Georgian military launched a ground and air attack against the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali. Russia, which had peacekeepers stationed in the region, sent additional armed forces into South Ossetia and launched bombing raids against Georgia proper. The Russians went on to eject the Georgian forces from South Ossetia and occupy one-third of the territory of Georgia proper, halting not far short of Tbilisi itself. The conflict caused substantial loss of civilian life and displaced more than 100,000 people.

      This was the first time that Russia had sent troops outside its territory since the U.S.S.R. occupied Afghanistan in 1979. Moscow protested that it had been compelled to act in order to protect the lives both of its peacekeepers and of those residents of South Ossetia who possessed Russian citizenship. Moscow accused Georgia of genocide and ethnic cleansing and said that it had evidence to back up its claims. After five days of fighting, the EU brokered a cease-fire on August 12, though each side subsequently accused the other of having breached the terms of the accord. The international community condemned the actions of both Georgia and Russia. The EU—Russia's largest trading partner—responded by temporarily suspending talks with Russia on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), the activities of the NATO-Russia Council were also temporarily suspended. Although Medvedev announced on August 26 Russia's formal recognition of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, Russian failed to persuade any other country—with the sole exception of Nicaragua—to recognize the breakaway provinces. Moscow also signed friendship treaties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia that included pledges of military assistance as well as diplomatic and economic cooperation. In October, following the conflict, Moscow withdrew most of its forces, though Russian troops remained in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and in two regions of Georgia proper. On November 18 French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner stated that while Russia had implemented 90% of what it had pledged in EU-brokered agreements between Moscow and Tbilisi, it had not yet withdrawn its troops from 10% of the territory of South Ossetia and from part of Abkhazia. The situation remained unchanged at year's end.

      Commentators interpreted the conflict as a proxy war waged by Russia to warn NATO not to grant the Membership Action Plans being sought not only by Georgia but also by Ukraine—even more sensitive from Moscow's point of view. The Georgian government accused Moscow of having aspirations to annex the two regions. Russia denied any imperial ambitions, however, and complained that NATO enlargement was intended to isolate and encircle Russia by potentially hostile states. At the end of August, following the Georgian conflict, Medvedev announced five foreign-policy priorities that would, he said, guide Russia's policy. First, Russia recognized the fundamental principles of international law. Second, the world should be multipolar; domination by any one state or bloc of states represented a threat to global stability. Third, Russia was not seeking confrontation and had no intention of isolating itself from the rest of the world. Fourth, Russia claimed the right to protect the lives and dignity of its citizens and Russia's business interests, “wherever they may be,” and would respond whenever those interests were threatened. Finally, Russia, “just like other countries in the world,” had “regions where it has privileged interests.”

      In speeches in Berlin in June and Évian-les-Bains, France, in October, Medvedev outlined plans for a “new European security architecture” stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok. Saying that existing international institutions did not meet the needs of the moment, Medvedev called for a pact that would include “a clear affirmation of the inadmissibility of the use of force—or the threat of force—in international relations.” Such a treaty would, Medvedev maintained, affirm the principle of the territorial integrity of independent countries and prevent “the development of military alliances to threaten the security of other members of the treaty.” Commentators interpreted this as a reference to NATO enlargement, described by Moscow as a significant threat to its own security.

      Moscow continued to object to U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic, describing the installations as intended to weaken Russia's military capability. In his state of the nation address on November 5, Medvedev announced that if the U.S. went ahead with the planned antimissile shield, Moscow would respond by deploying short-range missiles in Russia's Kaliningrad region, situated between Poland and Lithuania. He also said that Russia would electronically jam the U.S. antimissile system.

      In September Medvedev announced far-reaching plans to rearm and modernize Russia's armed forces. The Georgian conflict had served as a reminder that the Russian military lacked modern equipment and was weighed down by a top-heavy military bureaucracy. Moscow announced that by 2012 the number of personnel in uniform would fall from the current 1.13 million to 1 million. The officer corps would be reduced from 400,000 to 150,000; the posts of hundreds of generals and colonels would be cut, while the number of junior officers would increase, bringing the Russian military more closely into line with the way in which the armed forces were structured in other countries.

      In October Russia ended a decades-long border dispute with China by handing over a stretch of island territory along the Amur River. Skirmishes over the territory in the 1960s caused a bitter rift between Moscow and Beijing. The ending of the dispute symbolized the warming of relations between the two countries and, in particular, their desire to establish closer economic ties.

      In other news, in May Russia won the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time. Dima Bilan's performance of the rhythm-and-blues ballad “Believe” secured the prize.

Elizabeth Teague

▪ 2008

17,075,400 sq km (6,592,800 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 141,378,000
Chief of state:
President Vladimir Putin
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Mikhail Fradkov and, from September 14, Viktor Zubkov

Domestic Politics.
  Elections to the State Duma (the lower house of the parliament) were held in Russia on Dec 2, 2007. With Pres. Vladimir Putin heading the electoral list of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party (UR), the elections turned into a referendum on Putin's leadership. Thanks to Putin's popularity, UR won an overwhelming 64.3% of the vote, ensuring that it would have well over the 300 seats needed to pass any legislation, including constitutional amendments. The Communist Party, with 11.6%, was the only opposition party to make it into the Duma. The ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party and A Just Russia, both loyal to the Kremlin, won 8.1% and 7.7% respectively. No other party overcame the 7% threshold required to enter the parliament. Turnout was 63.8%—a record for the post-Soviet period. International observers expressed concern about the elections, which they said were not free or fair. The elections were seen as paving the way for the presidential election scheduled for March 2008, when Putin would stand down after two terms in office. Putin was constitutionally debarred from running for a third consecutive presidential term, but he remained extremely popular, and there were calls for the constitution to be amended to allow him to remain in office. Putin repeatedly ruled out that possibility, saying that it was essential that the constitution be observed. Following the elections, UR announced that it would nominate First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a close Putin associate, to run for president in the election scheduled for March 2008. Medvedev declared that were he elected president, he would ask Putin to take the post of prime minister. In December Putin announced his willingness to accept the post.

      Russia's first elected president, Boris Yeltsin (Yeltsin, Boris Nikolayevich ), received a state funeral when he died in April. Yeltsin had led Russia to independence following the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, but his legacy was controversial. Under his leadership, Russia began its transition to a market economy, an upheaval that entailed massive disruption and hardship for many members of the population. Toward the end of his presidency, moreover, the ailing Yeltsin often disappeared from view for stretches of time, and many Russians believed that their country was suffering from a humiliating lack of leadership. As Yeltsin's successor, Putin made strengthening the state his overriding objective. He was aided by soaring oil and gas revenues that filled the state's coffers. Many Russians came to see the political stability and relative economic prosperity that Putin achieved in stark contrast to the economic turmoil and political uncertainty of the Yeltsin years. Other Russians, meanwhile, lamented what they saw as the increasingly authoritarian tone of Putin's leadership, and they contrasted it with the greater political freedom permitted not only during Yeltsin's leadership but also under that of the last Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev.

      In August Prosecutor General Yury Chaika announced that a number of people had been arrested in connection with several high-profile criminal cases, including the 2006 murders of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya and Russian Central Bank First Deputy Chairman Andrey Kozlov and the 2004 killing of Paul Klebnikov, the editor of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine. Chaika said that the operation to kill Politkovskaya had been headed by a leader of a Moscow criminal gang from Russia's southern breakaway republic of Chechnya, assisted by former and acting members of Russia's Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service. In addition, he stated that the (as-yet-unidentified) person who ordered Politkovskaya's murder was living abroad.

      The level of violence in Chechnya continued to decline, which indicated a substantial weakening of the rebel forces. In April Ramzan Kadyrov was sworn in as the republic's president. Kadyrov's appointment marked the culmination of the policy of “Chechenization,” launched in 2002, whereby the federal centre had distanced itself from the conflict in the republic by devolving responsibility for the everyday running of affairs to a pro-Moscow Chechen elite. Kadyrov continued his efforts to rebuild Chechnya's war-ravaged infrastructure and economy. Meanwhile, violence and instability increased in other parts of the North Caucasus—most notably in neighbouring Ingushetia, Dagestan, and Kabardino-Balkaria.

      In May the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad ended their 80-year schism and were reunited—a reconciliation that Putin personally worked hard during his leadership to achieve. This ended nearly a century of religious hostility that had followed the Bolshevik Revolution.

      Russia in 2007 recorded its ninth year of strong economic growth, with the economy projected to grow by 7.2–7.4%, compared with 6.9% recorded in 2006. The macroeconomic situation remained strong, with large budget surpluses accompanied by high and rising foreign-exchange reserves. Nonstate foreign borrowing rose fast—a significant amount of it entered into by state-controlled companies such as gas-giant Gazprom and oil-company Rosneft—but even so Russia's overall (state and nonstate) foreign debt remained modest. While high world oil prices and a relatively cheap ruble played key roles in this economic resurgence, investment and consumer-driven demand were increasingly important factors. Domestic consumption, underpinned by high commodity prices, was the main driver of growth. Living standards improved, and wages rose, which made many people feel better off and more secure financially. Both unemployment and the proportion of the population living below the official poverty line fell. Although Putin stated in February that the raising of living standards was the government's top priority, a general sense of increasing prosperity was one of the main achievements of his presidency and, in all probability, the chief source of his popularity. Though the rate of inflation in 2006 was down to single digits, the government predicted that the figure for 2007 would rise to 12%.

      The growth of total fixed investment, which was already rapid, accelerated in 2007. This reflected a surge of investment by state-controlled companies. While the development was a positive one, some doubts remained about the quality of this investment. Commentators described Russia as having a dual economy, in which two sectors worked according to different rules. One sector consisted of industries in which the state appeared to take no vital interest and in which activity by foreign investors was not restricted. Another sector, consisting of areas deemed by the Kremlin to be of strategic importance for national security, had since 2003 been characterized, if not by state ownership, then at least by tight state intervention and control. This included the natural-resource sector, aerospace, and other defense-related production, while the status of banking and some metals remained unclear. In these “strategic” sectors, the state authorities either set up state-controlled companies and sectorwide state-controlled holding companies—such as the United Aircraft Co. and similar holding companies in shipbuilding, atomic power, and nanotechnology—or left much of the sector in private hands but intervened to ensure that Kremlin-friendly private owners were in place. The tax service and prosecutor's office were, for example, mobilized in 2007 to force Mikhail Gutseriyev to quit Russneft, the medium-sized oil company that he had founded and controlled. His offense appeared to be that he had tried to acquire assets of the bankrupt Yukos oil company that the Kremlin wanted to control. When the Kremlin insisted on having a controlling stake—as in Russneft, the fading car giant AvtoVAZ, or the world's largest titanium producer, VSMPO-Avisma—it typically sought alliances or minority investments from private, often foreign, partners; in this respect the Kremlin's “statist” policies contained a strong dash of pragmatism.

      Concern continued to be expressed internationally over Russia's reliability as an energy supplier. In January Russia briefly suspended crude oil deliveries to Belarus following a dispute over energy prices. The dispute began after Gazprom forced Belarus to accept a large increase in the price of Russian gas. Belarus retaliated by halting oil supplies to Poland, Germany, and Ukraine. Though the dispute was quickly resolved, it had damaged Russia's relations with Belarus. In October Gazprom threatened to cut gas supplies to Ukraine in what some interpreted as a political move following the return to power in Kiev of a Western-leaning administration.

      Russian leaders, Putin included, referred during the year to the possibility that Russia, which held one-third of the world's natural gas reserves, might take up Iran's proposal to form a gas cartel (a “gas OPEC”) with other major gas-producing countries, such as Algeria. In the existing arrangement, gas was supplied across national borders through pipelines and on long-term contracts. Analysts therefore argued that the gas market was divided into noncompeting segments, in which an OPEC-style cartel could achieve very little. Others qualified this argument, noting that over the longer term an alliance of gas exporters might be able to coordinate the development of pipelines and liquefied-natural-gas terminals in such a way as to carve up the market between them.

      Russia remained someway short of achieving World Trade Organization membership, even though Moscow had overcome a major hurdle by signing a bilateral agreement with the U.S. on the terms of its accession. Lesser, but still tricky, bilateral negotiations remained to be concluded, including with Georgia, a country whose relations with Russia remained tense. In addition, the concluding multilateral negotiations encountered a host of problems, often to do with details of Russian legislation or its implementation. The likely date of accession remained unclear. Russia's Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with the EU was due to expire at the end of 2007. Relations between Brussels and Moscow had become rather frosty, and it was not clear what sort of agreement would replace the PCA, or when. Nevertheless, the EU remained Russia's largest trading partner, and business could continue very much as usual without a PCA.

Foreign and Security Policy.
      Russia in 2007 was an increasingly assertive player on the international stage. Moscow was also, in some respects, a revisionist power—eager to amend some of the commitments that it had forged under Yeltsin's leadership in the 1990s, when Russia had felt itself to be in a weaker position. Confident of their country's newfound stability and prosperity, Russian leaders in 2007 reacted angrily to Western criticisms that democratic freedoms had been curtailed during Putin's leadership. Moscow accused the West of double standards and expressed strong irritation with what it saw as attempts to lecture Russia about its internal affairs. Accusing the Western powers of conspiring to damage Russian interests and of preventing Moscow from assuming its rightful place in world affairs, the Kremlin demanded that the international community treat Russia with the respect it was due. While some excited media speculated about the advent of “a new Cold War,” more sober commentators pointed out that modern Russia was neither advancing an anticapitalist ideology to challenge the Western way of life nor leading an anti-NATO military bloc.

      Relations between Russia and the U.S. grew increasingly prickly as the year wore on. Russia strongly objected to U.S. plans to install antimissile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic. Washington argued that the proposed installations were needed to protect Europe against ballistic missiles from potential rogue states. Moscow countered, however, that the installations would upset the balance of power in the region and, by providing the U.S. with information on Russia's satellites and missiles, undermine Russian national security. Addressing an international security conference in Munich in February, Putin railed against U.S. “unipolarity,” accusing Washington of provoking a new nuclear arms race by undermining international institutions, dividing Europe, and destabilizing the Middle East through its clumsy handling of the Iraq War. The U.S., Putin complained, had “overstepped its boundaries in every way” and was pushing Russia to the brink of a direct confrontation. If the U.S. went ahead with its plans to erect a missile-defense shield in Eastern Europe, he threatened, Russia would aim its nuclear missiles against targets in Central and Eastern Europe. Moscow also threatened to pull out of a number of arms-control agreements, including the revised Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. In July Putin said that Russia had to build up its military and step up its espionage activity against the West in the face of the new security threats. The following month Russian strategic bombers resumed long-range patrols for the first time since the U.S.S.R. collapsed in 1991, and in September Russia announced that it had tested what it described as the world's most powerful nonnuclear bomb. As threatened, Russia in December suspended its participation in the CFE Treaty.

      Russian opposition forced the U.S. and the EU to abandon efforts to adopt a UN Security Council resolution preparing Kosovo for independence from Serbia. Russia also continued to oppose Western calls for sanctions against Iran, insisting that the standoff over Iran's nuclear program needed to be resolved diplomatically, despite Western fears that Tehran was seeking to produce nuclear weapons. Russia and China saw eye to eye on these issues and mutually supported each other's position. Meanwhile, Russia continued to strengthen its cooperation with China and, to a lesser extent, with India. In October Putin made an official visit to Iran, the first in more than 60 years by a head of the Russian state. During his visit Putin reiterated Russia's support for Iran's right to a peaceful nuclear program. In December Russia began to supply enriched nuclear fuel for Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant.

      Russia's relations with neighbouring Estonia deteriorated sharply, following Estonia's decision to relocate a Soviet war memorial from the centre of the Estonian capital, Tallinn. The statue of a Soviet soldier, erected in 1947, was seen by Estonia's large ethnic Russian population as a memorial to Estonia's liberation from Nazi occupation, but many Estonians viewed it as a symbol of the subsequent Soviet occupation of their country. Moscow denounced the move as a desecration of the Soviet war dead and as a move toward fascism. The dispute quickly turned violent. One Russian was killed in fighting in Tallinn, while members of pro-Kremlin youth groups besieged the Estonian embassy in Moscow and blockaded frontier posts. Estonian banks and government departments complained of electronic attacks that temporarily disabled their computer networks. Russia's relations with neighbouring Georgia remained equally tense.

      Relations with the United Kingdom also deteriorated after Moscow refused London's request to extradite Russian citizen and former KGB officer Andrey Lugovoy to stand trial for the murder in 2006 of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who had received political asylum in the U.K. Litvinenko died in London after having been poisoned with radioactive polonium-210. Putin responded to Britain's demand by accusing the U.K. of giving shelter to thieves and terrorists—a reference to the political asylum granted by the British government to Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky and to Akhmed Zakayev, representative of the Chechen secessionist movement. In December Lugovoy won a seat in the Duma.

      In July the Black Sea resort of Sochi won the international contest to host the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. The effort made by Putin personally was credited with having persuaded the judges to award the honour to Russia. At year's end Time magazine named Putin its Person of the Year.

  A Russian minisubmarine in August planted the Russian national flag on the seabed at the North Pole. Russian scientists claimed to have found new evidence that Siberia was linked to the Arctic by the undersea Lomonosov mountain ridge. If substantiated, this would support Russia's claim to ownership of the Arctic's vast untapped gas and oil reserves. Meanwhile, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and the U.S. were also hoping to find evidence that would allow them to claim jurisdiction. (See Map—>.)

Elizabeth Teague

▪ 2007

17,075,400 sq km (6,592,800 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 142,394,000
Chief of state:
President Vladimir Putin
Head of government:
Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov

Domestic Politics.
 Russia in 2006 was stable, prosperous, and self-confident. The year's high point occurred in July when Pres. Vladimir Putin welcomed world leaders to his native St. Petersburg for the annual summit of the Group of Eight leading industrial countries (G8). Even the situation in the breakaway republic of Chechnya, while still giving cause for considerable concern, appeared to be gradually stabilizing. Putin's popular approval rating soared to 79% after he hosted the G8 summit and security forces claimed responsibility for killing Russia's most-wanted terrorist, Chechen rebel Shamil Basayev (Basayev, Shamil ). (See Obituaries.) A disturbing trend was the apparent resurgence of contract killings. Particularly shocking was the October murder, apparently by a hired gunman, of the investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya (Politkovskaya, Anna ). (See Obituaries.)

      Already preoccupying the Kremlin elite was the “2008 problem”—that is, the need to identify a successor to Putin, who would be constitutionally debarred from running for a third presidential term when his second expired in 2008. A series of measures enacted during the year seemed designed to ensure that the presidency would pass smoothly to Putin's handpicked successor, whoever that might turn out to be. These measures included tighter state control over the mass media, especially national television channels; changes to electoral legislation to exclude independent candidates from running for the parliament and making it harder for smaller parties to win seats; and new registration procedures for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The Russian authorities said that new regulations allowing the monitoring of the activities and finances of foreign NGOs were intended to prevent foreign governments from using NGOs for political, as opposed to humanitarian, purposes, but there was anxiety among the NGO community that they might also be used to harass, persecute, or even close down NGOs of which the authorities disapproved.

      A new federal institution, the Public Chamber, began work in 2006. Created on Putin's initiative, it included well-known personalities and representatives of various social groups picked by the president and his administration. Described as a kind of ombudsman that would alert the authorities to potential sources of public discontent, the Public Chamber was tasked with commenting on the activities of the parliament, analyzing draft legislation, and monitoring the press.

      In October three small parties—the Party of Life, Motherland, and the Pensioners' Party—announced that they were merging to form a new centre-left party. To be called A Just Russia, this new party would support Putin, just like the right-wing United Russia party, which dominated the lower house of the parliament. Commentators interpreted the merger as a Kremlin-inspired attempt to form a loyal two-party system by attracting votes away from both the still-popular Russian Communist Party and the nationalistic Motherland.

      The situation in Chechnya appeared to be gradually stabilizing as a result of Moscow's policy of “Chechenization,” which saw the federal authorities distance themselves from the conflict by devolving responsibility for the everyday running of affairs to the Chechens themselves. By pitting Chechen against Chechen, this turned what had begun as a secession struggle into a civil war. As the pro-Moscow Chechen forces gained the upper hand, the separatists became increasingly marginalized. In March Ramzan Kadyrov, son of the republic's pro-Moscow president assassinated in 2004, was appointed prime minister and assumed responsibility for social and economic affairs in the republic. Initially discounted as uncouth and uneducated, Kadyrov worked hard to rebuild Chechnya's war-wrecked housing, roads, and schools, to restore running water and electricity, and to revive traditional Islamic customs. Many ordinary people welcomed his efforts, grateful for the order he imposed and for the improvements they experienced in their everyday lives. At the same time, human rights abuses remained high, many of them being attributed to troops loyal to Kadyrov. June saw the death at the hands of federal forces of Chechen separatist leader Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev. Sadulayev, a young Muslim cleric, was replaced as leader of the rebel forces by veteran warlord Doku Umarov. Umarov's appointment was seen by many as meaning that the fight of the Chechen rebels would refocus on the search for political and territorial independence for Chechnya instead of on spreading radical Islam throughout the North Caucasus. Even so, instability continued to spread through the area, most notably to Ingushetia and Dagestan.

The Economy.
      Russia recorded its eighth year of strong economic growth, with the economy projected to grow by 6.5% in 2006. Living standards improved, and wages rose. Inflation was held below 10%, which made 2006 the first year of single-digit inflation since the collapse of the U.S.S.R. The macroeconomic situation remained strong, with large budget surpluses, high and rising foreign-exchange reserves, sharply reduced foreign public debt, and Western credit ratings agencies' all placing Russian state debt in the “investment grade” category. While high world oil prices and a relatively cheap ruble played key roles in this economic resurgence, investment and consumer-driven demand were increasingly important. Domestic consumption, underpinned by high commodity prices, became the main driver of growth. Some commentators argued that growth could and should have been even higher, given the favourable external economic conditions, but there were still signs that Russia's business community remained unsure about property rights and reluctant to make large-scale long-term investment in the home economy. The continuing slowdown in the growth of oil output appeared to be a direct result of the Yukos affair of 2003, which caused private oil companies to scale back their investment. In July the International Monetary Fund sounded the alarm about the increase in Russian spending planned for 2006–07. This increase was driven in part by the four “national projects.” Launched in 2005, these aimed to tackle Russia's biggest problems—lack of housing, poor health care and education, and low quality of life in rural areas—and to serve as Putin's presidential legacy. Delivering his annual address to the nation in May, Putin acknowledged that low birth rates, high mortality, and out-migration were creating a “critical” demographic situation in Russia; he pledged increased state aid to encourage women to have more children.

      The Kremlin laid great emphasis in its economic policy on considerations of security and sovereignty. State ownership and control of strategic areas of the economy continued to increase—not only in the natural resource sector but also in aerospace, some metals, and motorcar manufacturing. Kremlin spokesmen referred at various times to different lists of strategic activities, in some cases including long-distance communications and financial services. These statements, together with the delays in producing a new subsoil law and a new law on strategic enterprises, heightened business uncertainty. The tenor of public pronouncements appeared to reflect the growing influence of those in the Kremlin who were wary both of the outside world and of independent sources of social and economic influence within Russia. At the same time, different parts of the state machinery were often at odds with one another, prompting suspicion that what was going on had partly to do with the grabbing of assets by highly placed officials and companies close to them.

      Despite policies damaging to the business climate, economic performance was boosted by high and rising oil prices, so that Russia continued to run record trade and fiscal surpluses. Foreign reserves exceeded $270 billion, making Russia the third largest holder of gold and hard currency in the world. In July the ruble became fully convertible, formally establishing Russia as a fully open economy. The significance of this was largely symbolic, since the currency had long established current-account convertibility. In September Russia cleared its debts to the Paris Club of creditor nations. This too was symbolic, underlining Russia's strong international finances and fiscal independence.

      In December 2005 Putin spoke of the importance of energy to Russia's standing and influence in the world, and in 2006 the Kremlin actively pursued the concept of Russia as an “energy superpower.” By various means the state increased its direct ownership of the oil industry from about 19% to about 34% of production, and plans were in place to raise it further. The gas industry had remained largely state-controlled since communist times, but here too the tendency was to increase the state's ownership share, to close to 90%. Export pipelines for both oil and gas remained entirely under state control. Drafting continued of a new subsoil law that would specify which oil, gas, and metals deposits would be classed as “strategic”—that is, closed to development by majority-foreign-owned companies unless special exemption was granted. Successive drafts of the law reportedly kept raising the number of fields from which foreign investors were normally to be excluded. As a result, uncertainty about the real rules of the game for investors in the natural resource sector remained high. In the autumn Russia's state-controlled gas giant, Gazprom, announced that it would proceed without foreign participation with the development of the Shtokman gas field in the Barents Sea. This was despite the fact that one year earlier Gazprom had invited bids and selected a short list of potential foreign partners to help it develop this large and difficult field. Toward the end of the year, the world's largest oil and gas project, led by Royal Dutch Shell on Russia's Far Eastern Sakhalin Island, was slowed down by state intervention on environmental grounds; the issue was finally resolved in December, when Gazprom announced that it was purchasing a controlling stake in the project.

      If Russia wished to strengthen its reputation as a reliable energy supplier, this aim was not achieved. It began the year badly, cutting gas supplies to Ukraine over a price dispute and creating alarm among Western European countries that depended on Russian supplies through Ukraine. Then, at year's end, Russia raised the prices it charged for gas to most of the other former Soviet countries. A row erupted between Russia and its close ally, Belarus, after Gazprom threatened to cut gas supplies unless Minsk accepted a steep price increase. Meanwhile, Western governments expressed concern over the interest shown by several Russian state-owned companies in acquiring foreign assets. Especially notable was Gazprom's pursuit of gas-distribution companies in Western Europe. Concern was heightened because Gazprom did not reciprocate by allowing Western companies access to Gazprom's own pipelines inside Russia.

      In November, Russia and the U.S. signed a bilateral agreement concerning Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization. Before Russia could become a full member, however, multilateral negotiations would have to be completed, a process that could take another year or so.

      The initial public share offering of Russia's major state-owned oil company, Rosneft, took place in July. This made headlines both because it was the largest IPO ever conducted on the London Stock Exchange and because an important part of the company's assets had been acquired from the Yukos oil company at almost the same time the company was being forced into bankruptcy by the Russian state.

Foreign, Military, and Security Policy.
      In 2006 Russia assumed the presidency of the G8 for the first time. July's G8 summit in St. Petersburg served as a potent symbol of Russia's renewed economic and political status and its importance in world affairs. Russia's newfound self-confidence was reflected in the Kremlin's adoption of the concept “sovereign democracy” as its new ideology, and as the year progressed, Russian leaders grew increasingly assertive. Calls from critics, notably in the U.S., for Russia to be ejected from the G8 because of its poor human rights record were ignored. Russia responded robustly to criticism from Western countries, especially the U.S., that democratic freedoms had been curtailed during Putin's second term in office. Particularly notable was a speech delivered in May by U.S. Vice Pres. Dick Cheney in which he accused Moscow of sending “mixed signals” over democracy and of using its energy resources as tools to “intimidate and blackmail” its neighbours. Putin hit back, speaking of a hungry wolf that “eats and listens to no one.” While Putin refrained from mentioning the U.S. by name, it was clear to whom he was referring. The exchange appeared to feed a growing conviction on the Kremlin's part that the Western powers were out to hold Russia back and prevent it from assuming its rightful place in world affairs. Moscow accused the West of applying double standards and expressed strong irritation with what it saw as attempts to lecture it about its internal affairs. As a result, relations between Russia and the West grew increasingly prickly as the year wore on. The strengthening of relations between Georgia and Ukraine on the one hand and NATO and the European Union on the other was a source of particular tension. Further tensions arose as a result of independence referenda held in September in Moldova's breakaway Transnistria region and in November in Georgia's South Ossetia. At an EU-Russia summit in November, Poland blocked agreement on launching negotiations on a successor to the EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which was due to expire at the end of 2007.

      Russia began to take a more selective approach to cooperation with the rest of the world, appearing to grow less concerned about Western opinion and concentrating instead on building new strategic relationships with China, India, Venezuela, and other members of the nonaligned movement. The strength of Moscow's ties with India and China was underlined when in July Putin held a trilateral summit in St. Petersburg with Chinese Pres. Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh—the first such meeting between the three countries. Russia also positioned itself as a mediator in the Middle East, maintaining close ties with Syria and Egypt. In March Moscow hosted the highest-profile foreign visit by Hamas since the Palestinian militant movement won January's parliamentary elections in the Palestinian Authority. Russia continued to play a key role in Iran's nuclear energy program, despite the fears of the international community that Tehran might be seeking to produce nuclear weapons under its cover. In September the two countries signed an agreement under which the nuclear power plant that Russia was helping Iran build in the city of Bushehr would be launched in September 2007. Russia joined the rest of the international community in expressing concern over North Korea's missile and nuclear tests in July and October, and called for the resumption of six-party talks (China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the U.S.) on North Korea's nuclear program. In November British police launched a murder investigation after a former Russian intelligence officer, Alexander Litvinenko, died in London of radiation poisoning. (See Obituaries.)

      A U.S. congressional study published in October found that Russia in 2005 had surpassed the United States as the world leader in arms sales to less-developed countries for the first time since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Russia's total sales amounted to $7 billion, up from $5.4 billion in 2004. In addition to its traditional markets in China, India, Iran, and the Middle East, Russia also signed a series of major arms deals with Venezuela.

      In May, Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov promised to speed up the modernization of Russia's armed forces. He stopped short of promising that conscription would be eliminated altogether but said his aim was to ensure that by 2008, 70% of servicemen and all noncommissioned officers would be volunteers employed under contract.

Elizabeth Teague

▪ 2006

17,075,400 sq km (6,592,800 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 143,420,000
Chief of state:
President Vladimir Putin
Head of government:
Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov

Domestic Politics.
 The year 2005 began with thousands of angry pensioners taking to the streets all over Russia to protest against changes in the way welfare benefits were paid. These apparently spontaneous demonstrations took the authorities by surprise. They occurred, moreover, at a time when the Russian leadership was struggling to come to terms with the outcome of Ukraine's “Orange Revolution” of December 2004, seen by the Kremlin as a significant setback for Russia's geopolitical position. The combination of the two events plunged the Kremlin into apparent alarm that Russia might be the next post-Soviet state to experience a “coloured” revolution—that is, a change of regime brought about as a result of peaceful popular protest.

      This was remarkable in that Pres. Vladimir Putin had barely completed the first year of his second term in office. Parliamentary elections were not due until 2007, and the next presidential election—when Putin would be obliged to leave office, since the constitution restricted a president to no more than two successive terms in office—would be held in 2008. Putin had used his first term (2000–04) to wage a sustained campaign aimed at restoring stability to Russian society, recentralizing power, and modernizing the economy. He and his team had also succeeded in neutralizing the electronic media, taming the parliament, forcing the political opposition to the margins, launching a pro-Kremlin youth movement, and concentrating almost all the levers of state power in the hands of the presidency. As a result, Putin faced no credible opposition. His approval ratings dipped following the monetization of welfare benefits in January but soon returned to their previously high levels of 70% or above. Putin was described as the most powerful Russian leader since Leonid Brezhnev or even, some said, Joseph Stalin. Having consolidated power in his first term, he had been expected to use the second to enact tough but necessary reforms to enable the Russian economy to catch up with those of the advanced Western world.

      Instead the Kremlin seemed in the first half of 2005 to fall into indecision. The main concerns of the members of Putin's entourage appeared to be fear of civil disorder (however improbable that looked to outside observers), determination to ensure that nothing undermined the president's approval ratings or hindered an orderly transfer of power in 2008 to a Putin-nominated successor, desire to safeguard their own positions in the post-Putin period, and professed fear of Western plans to weaken Russia and dismember its territory. As a result, the Kremlin appeared for much of 2005 able to focus on little other than the upcoming elections, far off though these were.

      By year's end the leadership appeared to have recovered its composure. In September Putin announced the creation of new national programs. In November he carried out a major government reshuffle. Mikhail Fradkov remained prime minister, but the head of the Presidential Administration, Dmitry Medvedev, was appointed first deputy prime minister with responsibility for the new national projects, while Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov became deputy prime minister. There was speculation that the appointments put Medvedev and Ivanov, both close Putin confidants, in line as possible presidential candidates. Meanwhile, Sergey Sobyanin succeeded Medvedev as head of the Presidential Administration.

      At the beginning of the year, Putin began to exercise his new power to appoint regional governors (previously they had been popularly elected). At first he tended merely to reappoint incumbents, but as the year wore on, he began to appoint new faces. In March he used his power for the first time to sack a governor whose performance was deemed unsatisfactory.

      In May a Moscow court sentenced billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky to nine years in prison after he was convicted of fraud and tax evasion. Reduced to eight years on appeal, the sentence was widely seen as punishment for meddling in politics. The Yukos oil company, which Khodorkovsky had headed, was broken up, and its largest production unit, Yuganskneftegaz, was taken into state ownership and subsumed into the state oil company, Rosneft. Taking the hint, other Russian businessmen took care to avoid political activity and to pay their taxes in full and on time. After former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov suggested that he might be a candidate in the 2008 presidential election, prosecutors launched an investigation into his business dealings. While the Kremlin denied any involvement, commentators said the probe showed that the authorities were determined not only to choose Putin's successor but even to decide who else would contest the election.

      Legislation came into force in August that was expected to have a major impact on future election campaigns. Single-mandate constituencies in the State Duma, the lower house of the parliament, were to be abolished, and all 450 deputies would in future be elected by proportional representation on the basis of party lists; parties would also be prohibited from campaigning in blocs. To secure representation a party would have to win at least 7% of the votes cast (previously the threshold was 5%). These changes were accompanied by new regulations, due to enter into force in 2006, requiring parties running for election to meet tighter registration criteria, including providing proof of membership in each of Russia's 89 republics and regions. The new system was expected to reduce sharply the number of parties eligible to run in national elections, eliminate parties formed on a regional or minority basis, and end the election of locally popular maverick politicians. New restrictions were also announced banning independent domestic monitors and journalists from observing vote counts, while international monitors would be permitted only by invitation. There was alarm at the end of the year when the Duma moved to adopt legislation that would severely restrict the work of foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations. Putin promised to soften the bill's harshest clauses but insisted that Russia would not permit foreign governments and organizations to finance political activities in its territory.

      The situation in Chechnya remained highly unstable. In March federal security forces announced that they had killed separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, who had been Chechnya's first democratically elected president; observers opined that with Maskhadov out of the picture, what was probably the last chance of a negotiated settlement between Moscow and the separatist forces had disappeared. His place was taken by a previously little-known cleric, Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev. Sadulayev represented a younger, more radicalized, and more devoutly Muslim generation of Chechen fighters. In November Chechens took part in the first local parliamentary elections since Russia wrested control from the rebel government in 2000.

 Meanwhile, instability appeared to be spreading from Chechnya into other parts of the North Caucasus. In July Putin's representative to the region, Dmitry Kozak, warned that tensions were close to the boiling point in Dagestan, which adjoined Chechnya. Experts agreed that the causes of the tensions, while complex, were largely local. They included rampant corruption, poverty, unemployment, and high birthrates as much as religious extremism or interethnic conflict. In October more than a hundred people were killed when Islamic militants launched a coordinated attack on Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria.

      Russia recorded its seventh consecutive year of economic growth since the prolonged output collapse of 1989–98. The economy grew robustly and had high international liquidity. For 2005 as a whole, GDP was projected to grow at a rate of 6%, compared with the 7.1% officially reported in 2004. Growth was largely attributable to record world oil prices, which generated big export revenues. As a result, Russia maintained a high trade surplus and was able to meet its external-debt repayments ahead of schedule. In January it fully repaid its outstanding $3.3 billion debt to the International Monetary Fund. The state budget recorded its sixth successive surplus. For much of the year, Russia continued to accumulate foreign-currency reserves, which exceeded a year's supply of merchandise imports. The Stabilization Fund—based on tax revenues from high oil prices and designed to protect the budget against any subsequent fall in the oil price—largely offset the potentially inflationary impact of large capital inflows.

      With oil at record world prices, however, Russia was awash with petrodollars that many politicians and spending departments of the government said should be used to lay the groundwork for a more diversified economy. The pressure to spend this money—whether on public-sector pay, infrastructure projects, or both—was hard to resist. The Finance Ministry, supported for much of the time by Putin, resisted this pressure for many months, citing the need for macroeconomic stability. A compromise was reached in the spring whereby the threshold price at which oil- tax revenues would be diverted into the Stabilization Fund was raised from $20 per barrel of Ural crude to $27, with effect from the beginning of 2006. Oil-tax revenue accruing from prices between $20 and $27 would be allocated to a new investment fund. The plans Putin announced in September included initiatives to spend an additional $4.7 billion in 2006 on human capital development: education, health care, housing, and rural development. This alarmed some economists, who saw it as a sign of reduced fiscal prudence. Others viewed it as the first shot in the campaign for the 2008 presidential election. Meanwhile, the authorities continued to put off many structural reforms. Liberal economists warned that, in so doing, Russia was laying itself open to the so-called resource curse and long-term stagnation.

      Economic growth slowed considerably from summer 2004 through summer 2005. While there was some improvement in the third quarter of 2005, the year as a whole showed a clear slowdown from 2003 and 2004. On the demand side the slowdown came above all from fixed investment, particularly in the natural-resource sector. This had an immediate impact on oil output, which slowed sharply, bringing the overall growth of the industrial sector down to quite modest rates. The causes of the slowdown were a fall in business confidence following the Yukos affair in addition to a sudden upsurge in large back-tax demands against other companies. Foreign direct investment did increase, thanks partly to Russian-controlled money returning from abroad, but these inflows were outweighed by large and increasing flows of capital out of the country. A further probable factor in the slowdown in the oil industry was increases in oil-industry taxation in late 2004 and 2005. Household consumption continued to grow strongly as the inflow of petrodollars helped to boost personal income.

      In January Soviet-era welfare benefits such as free transportation and prescription drugs ceased to be dispensed in kind and were replaced by cash payments. The reform was sensible, but its implementation was bungled. Thousands of angry pensioners, suddenly unable to pay for bus rides, medicines, and utilities, came out in protest. Some demonstrations became violent. Clearly shaken, the government backed down. A compromise was reached in which the monetary value of the benefits was increased and recipients were given the choice of taking the benefits, as of 2006, in money or kind. Inflation began to rise and, as of August, was running at 13% year on year—well above the 8.5% targeted by the central bank for the year as a whole. Concessions to pensioners over welfare payments were one factor that helped fuel inflation, as did the inflow of petrodollars arising from high oil prices, insofar as this was not offset by payments to the Stabilization Fund.

      Meanwhile, the state was taking over the “commanding heights” of the economy. The most dramatic illustration of this was the state's reacquisition of Yuganskneftegaz. The presidential administration strengthened its hold over natural-resource companies in the state sector through the appointment to board positions of close associates of the president. This was not, however, a well-coordinated process. The leading state-controlled energy companies, Gazprom and Rosneft, engaged in a long battle over which of them should acquire Yuganskneftegaz. Rosneft was the eventual winner. This indicated that there was infighting over the control of assets within the president's entourage and that the leadership was fragmented. In September Gazprom bought a 72.7% share in Sibneft, Russia's fifth largest producer of crude oil, from Russia's richest man, Roman Abramovich. This, plus another minor acquisition of Sibneft shares, gave Gazprom a stake in Sibneft of just over 75%. This meant that under Russian law no other Sibneft shareholder would have a blocking vote on major decisions.

      Accession negotiations with the World Trade Organization (WTO) reached a stage at which, it was generally believed, Russia could become a member in 2006. Bilateral negotiations had been completed with a majority of the WTO members concerned. Some bilateral and some multilateral issues remained unresolved, however.

Foreign, Military, and Security Policy.
      The former Soviet republics on Russia's borders remained the chief focus of Moscow's attention, with Russian leaders in shock over the “loss” of Ukraine in the Orange Revolution. The Kremlin looked on with dismay as Ukraine and Georgia talked of setting up an alternative alliance to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and when mass demonstrations in the spring led to the ouster of Kyrgyzstan's Pres. Askar Akayev. In May Russia agreed to a timetable for closing its two remaining military bases in Georgia by the end of 2008; no plans were announced, however, for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova's breakaway Transnistria. Moscow paid increasing attention to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), set up in 2003 and including Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), set up in 1996 and now including China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Russia's relations with China remained excellent, with the two countries engaging in joint military exercises in August for the first time.

      In May Putin invited world leaders to Moscow for celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. The event was preceded by mudslinging with Polish and Baltic leaders who urged Russia to use the opportunity to publicly disavow the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which opened Hitler's path to war; Moscow angrily refused. In September Russia formally withdrew its signature from the border treaty that it had earlier negotiated with Estonia but that the Russian parliament had yet to ratify. Russia clashed with Western countries over the election-observation missions run by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which Moscow complained were characterized by “double standards” and pro-Western bias. At the end of the year, as the West continued to express concern over Iran's planned nuclear program, Moscow proposed a possible compromise whereby the final stage of the fuel-enrichment process would be carried out not in Iran but in Russia.

      In February the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, passed a landmark judgment for the first time obliging the Russian authorities to pay compensation to six Chechen civilians whose family members had been killed by Russian forces.

      The defense budget for 2005 was sharply up from that of 2004. This, however, was before adjusting for inflation. In real terms the increase was more modest. The officially declared national defense budget was narrower in coverage than the definition of defense spending in NATO countries; adjusted for comparability, the 2005 budget was reckoned to be 4.4% of GDP rather than the officially declared 2.7%. There appeared to be problems in the acquisition of new military hardware, and it was not clear that increased spending would substantially improve the equipping of the Russian military.

Elizabeth Teague

▪ 2005

17,075,400 sq km (6,592,800 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 144,315,000
Chief of state:
President Vladimir Putin
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Mikhail Kasyanov, Viktor Khristenko (acting) from February 24, and, from March 5, Mikhail Fradkov

Domestic Politics.
      Major political events in 2004 included a presidential election and a series of terrorist atrocities that provoked proposals for a sweeping consolidation of presidential power. In March, Vladimir Putin was elected to a second presidential term. The outcome of the election was never in doubt, since none of the other five candidates represented serious opposition. Putin won handsomely in the first round with more than 70% of the votes cast (compared with 53% in 2000). International observers praised the professionalism with which the election had been organized but criticized the state-controlled media for their pro-Putin bias. Such criticisms aside, no one doubted that the election outcome accurately reflected the will of the majority of the Russian population.

      In a surprise move three weeks before the election, Putin sacked the entire government. He appointed as prime minister a little-known technocrat, Mikhail Fradkov, who was associated with no political party. Commentators explained the move in terms of Putin's determination to conduct his second term in office standing on his own legs. Putin had come to power in 2000 as the anointed successor of Pres. Boris Yeltsin, and during his first term in office he had worked with members of the so-called Yeltsin “family,” notably the outgoing prime minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, and the head of the Presidential Administration, Aleksandr Voloshin. Now Putin was his own man and no longer owed his position to Yeltsin. The policies he began to implement in his second term indicated that he was indeed a very different leader from his predecessor.

      Putin's landslide victory put him in an extremely powerful position. The victory of the pro-presidential United Russia party in the December 2003 elections to the State Duma had already given his supporters a two-thirds majority in the lower house of the parliament and assured Putin of parliamentary approval for his legislative initiatives. Opposition parties were virtually eliminated. Liberals lamented the emasculation of the parliament and government and warned that while it might make it easier for the Kremlin to enact reforms, it would make it harder to ensure that the policies adopted were the right ones and, if they were not, to correct them after they had been adopted. The Kremlin's tightening grip on power, these observers argued, was incompatible with political pluralism and mature democracy. Other commentators pointed the finger not at Putin's centralizing policies but at the continuing weakness of civil society and the political indifference of the Russian population; in these circumstances, it was argued, strong central government was both inevitable and desirable. When Fradkov unveiled his new government, however, it turned out that many members of the former government had changed their titles but kept their jobs. In particular, the teams running the economic ministries and the security agencies remained in place. The stage was accordingly set for continuing clashes of opinion between liberal reformers, who advocated the lowest-possible level of state intervention in society and the economy, and the so-called siloviki (“men of power”), who favoured the reassertion of state control over the “commanding heights” of the economy.

      In his annual address to the parliament on May 26, Putin laid out his priorities for his second term. These included consolidating the political stability established during his first four-year term and boosting economic growth to ensure that all members of the population would begin to benefit. Putin called on the government to raise the living standards of the poorest sections of society, modernize education and health care, create an affordable housing market, and establish an effective mortgage-finance system. Putin spoke of the importance of democracy but at the same time accused human rights groups that had been critical of his record of “receiving funding from influential foreign and domestic foundations” and “serving dubious groups and commercial interests.”

      Human rights activists and liberal journalists were particularly critical of what they saw as the Kremlin's efforts to control the mass media, which led during the summer to the cancellation of Russian TV's last live discussion program. Following a terrorist attack on a Russian school in September, the editor of one of Russia's leading newspapers was forced to resign on the grounds that his paper had published information that could have aided the terrorists. In another blow to media freedom—though there was no suggestion of Kremlin involvement in this event—Paul Klebnikov, editor of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, was gunned down in Moscow in July; Klebnikov was the first Western journalist to have been killed in Russia since 1996.

      There was no letup in the separatist conflict in the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya. Moscow continued its policy of “Chechenization”—that is, the gradual transfer of responsibility for public administration to Moscow-approved members of the Chechen community. February saw the assassination in Qatar of exiled Chechen separatist Zelimkhan Yanderbiyev; two Russian intelligence officers were tried and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder. In May, Chechnya's pro-Moscow president, Akhmad Kadyrov, was assassinated by a bomb in the republic's capital, Grozny. An election for a new president was held on August 29 and was won by a landslide by Moscow's preferred candidate, former interior minister Alu Alkhanov.

      The summer saw an escalation of terrorist attacks on Russian targets. In each case Chechen separatists claimed responsibility. These included the nearly simultaneous midair explosions in August of two Russian commercial aircraft that killed all 90 people aboard, an August suicide bombing outside a Moscow subway station, and in September a siege at a provincial school in Beslan, North Ossetia, in which over 1,000 people were held hostage and more than 330 died, nearly half of them children. The scale of the violence at Beslan, and, in particular, the fact that the terrorists deliberately targeted young children, traumatized public opinion and horrified the outside world. The failure of the law-enforcement agencies to prevent these atrocities shook public confidence, and there was even some muted criticism of Putin himself.

      In September, following the Beslan massacre, Putin proposed a set of measures that would, he said, strengthen the Russian state against the terrorist threat. These included a proposal that regional governors no longer be popularly elected but instead be appointed by the president, subject to endorsement by regional legislatures, which the president would be empowered to dissolve if they rejected his nominations on two occasions. The legislation, which was approved by overwhelming majorities in both houses of the parliament, returned Russia to the unitary system of government that had existed prior to the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. It was therefore seen as a sign that Putin was abandoning the attempts made by Yeltsin to turn Russia into a federation in substance as well as in name. Putin also proposed that candidates standing on party lists only, and not independents, in the future be allowed to run for the parliament. These proposals were met with dismay by many both inside and outside Russia. Liberals warned that they would remove the last checks on presidential power, that Russia was too large and ethnically diverse to be ruled from a single centre, and that in a country where parties were weakly developed, confining elections to party lists could weaken democracy.

      In July 17-year-old Mariya Sharapova became the first Russian woman to win the singles All-England (Wimbledon) tennis championships, while in September 19-year-old Svetlana Kuznetsova became the first Russian tennis player to win the U.S. Open women's championship.

The Economy.
      The economy recorded its sixth consecutive year of growth since the prolonged output collapse of 1989–98. For 2004 as a whole, GDP was projected to grow at a rate of 6.6%, compared with the 7.3% achieved in 2003. Growth was boosted by record world oil prices, which generated big export revenues for Russia. High energy prices were the result partly of growing demand, partly of uncertainty over supplies from the conflict-ridden Middle East, and partly, ironically enough, of nervousness over the fate of Russian oil giant Yukos. As a result, Russia maintained a high trade surplus and was able to meet its external-debt repayments ahead of schedule. Inflation continued to decline, albeit slowly, and was projected at somewhat over 11% over the year. The state budget recorded its fifth successive surplus. For much of the year, Russia continued to accumulate foreign-currency reserves, which exceeded a year's supply of merchandise imports. At the same time, sovereign foreign debt fell relative to GDP and was below a quarter of the national income. Thus, the economy not only was growing robustly but also had high international liquidity, which made it sounder than at any other time since 1991.

      Behind the impressive macroeconomic headlines, however, there was growing concern about the Putin leadership's turn toward a more interventionist economic policy. Dominating the year was the trial, on charges of fraud and tax evasion, of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former CEO of Yukos. Liberals criticized the trial as politically motivated and legally unsound. They accused the Kremlin of seeking to bankrupt or break up the oil company in order to reestablish control over the “commanding heights” of the Russian economy—that is, the key natural resource-exporting branches: oil, gas, and metals. This raised as-yet-unanswered questions about the Kremlin's attitude toward big business as a whole. During the summer there were indeed signs that the Kremlin was tightening rather than loosening its control as officials from the presidential administration replaced government officials in leading posts in the energy and other sectors, and the end of the year saw the state effectively renationalize Yukos's core assets. Concern was also raised by moves to weaken the power of the regions by stripping them of the right to issue licenses to exploit subsoil resources, particularly oil, gas, and ores. Liberals saw this too as an indication that the Putin administration intended to centralize economic management, and some analysts detected signs of an increase in capital flight. A sustained increase in capital flight would tend to reduce the growth of investment and ultimately of output.

      Putin put his main focus on the economy when he delivered his annual address to the parliament in May. He repeated the pledge, which he had first made in 2003, to double Russia's GDP within 10 years (though the precise target date was never specified) and to improve the living conditions of the many Russians who had yet to feel the benefit of the market reforms of the 1990s. Meeting Putin's target would require an average annual growth rate of 7.5%. (Doubling GDP by 2010 would bring Russia within striking distance of current living standards in European countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovenia, but it would have to double its GDP once again before it would catch up with current levels in leading industrialized nations such as Denmark, Switzerland, or The Netherlands.) Putin also called on the government to ensure that the ruble would become fully convertible by 2006, average annual incomes would grow by 150% by 2008, and at least one-third of Russians would have the opportunity to purchase affordable housing by 2010. He urged the government to work harder to push inflation to 3%—well below its target of 10% for 2004. He promised to maintain low rates of taxation but called for further reform of the tax system to prevent the abuse of so-called tax-optimization schemes.

      Significant progress was made in 2004 toward Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). In May Moscow secured the approval of the EU; this was expected to facilitate negotiations with leading WTO members, including the United States. Following the agreement with the EU, Russia ratified the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement intended to control the emission of greenhouse gases believed to cause global warming. Putin also announced that in exchange for an EU undertaking to minimize the negative consequences of EU enlargement for the Russian economy, Russia would reduce import duties, open its banking, insurance, and telecommunications markets to European companies, and gradually increase domestic gas prices. Meanwhile, Moscow secured China's provisional agreement to Russia's WTO accession in a deal reported to include promises of a pipeline to China and low oil prices.

      July saw the parliament approve controversial legislation to replace social benefits dispensed in kind, such as free transportation and prescription drugs, with monetary payments. The legislation was unpopular with many sections of the population, especially pensioners, veterans, and the disabled. It was also unwelcome for regional governments, because it put most of the burden of financing such payments onto them. The changes in the way social benefits were awarded provoked angry demonstrations in many parts of the country. Eventually a compromise was reached in which the monetary value of the benefits was increased and recipients were given the choice of taking the benefits, as of 2006, in money or kind.

Foreign, Military, and Security Policy.
      On the whole, Russia's relations with the outside world remained good. President Putin continued to place the greatest emphasis on rebuilding close relations with the other 11 members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)—that is, the other former Soviet states on or close to Russia's borders (the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania excepted). He did so, however, not through the unwieldy mechanism of the CIS itself but through the pursuit of smaller bilateral or multilateral alliances within the CIS framework, such as the Single Economic Space consisting of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. Relations with neighbouring Georgia remained volatile.

      Moscow responded calmly in the spring when the three Baltic states, which had until 1991 been part of the U.S.S.R., joined the EU and NATO. Under the impact of the Chechen terrorist atrocities, Russia's relations with several leading Western states came under strain. Following the Beslan siege, Russia announced that it reserved the right to take preemptive action—the use of nuclear weapons alone excepted—against terrorists inside or outside Russia; commentators pointed out that this was not a new departure. Despite Putin's emotional reaction immediately following the Beslan siege, when he accused foreign states of encouraging terrorism in order to dismantle the Russian Federation, he enthusiastically endorsed the reelection of U.S. Pres. George W. Bush in November. At the end of the year, however, Russia's relations with both the U.S. and the EU were strained by mutual accusations of interference in Ukraine's fiercely contested presidential election.

      Russia's security and intelligence services preserved their dominant position in the Kremlin corridors of power. Amendments to the Law on Defense seemed set to change the structure of the military high command by significantly reducing the role of the General Staff in controlling the armed forces; until then, the General Staff had been effectively coequal with the Ministry of Defense, and infighting between the two had hindered efforts at military reform. At the beginning of the year, a law on alternative service came into effect that allowed conscripts for the first time to choose civilian instead of military service.

Elizabeth Teague

▪ 2004

17,075,400 sq km (6,592,800 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 144,893,000
Chief of state:
President Vladimir Putin
Head of government:
Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov

Domestic Politics.
      A general election to the State Duma, the 450-member lower house of the Russian parliament, was held on Dec. 7, 2003. The result was an overwhelming victory for parties supporting the policies of Pres. Vladimir Putin and a crushing defeat for the opposition. First place went to the pro-presidential United Russia, commonly known as the “party of power,” which took 37.6% of the national vote. The Communist Party (CPRF) came in second with 12.6%—half the size of its vote in the preceding election of 1999. The maverick Liberal Democratic Party came in third with 11.5%, while the nationalistic Motherland bloc won 9%. Neither of Russia's liberal right-wing parties, Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces (SPS), cleared the 5% hurdle to win seats. No one doubted that these results accurately reflected the wishes of the voters, but the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which observed the election, criticized the misuse of “administrative resources” (state infrastructure and personnel on the public payroll) to campaign for United Russia and media coverage excessively favourable to the pro-presidential parties.

      While the parliamentary election was the major formal political event of 2003, the strong executive and legislative powers that the Russian constitution vested in the office of the president meant that the main issue preoccupying the political elite was the presidential election scheduled for March 2004. Opinion polls indicated that Putin's popularity remained high and he was virtually certain to win a second term. Following the general election, Putin publicly confirmed that he would run for reelection. Throughout the year, however, observers detected increasingly bitter signs of rivalry within the presidential administration, divided as it was commonly believed to be into opposing factions, each determined to ensure that it, not its rivals, would have the president's ear during his anticipated second term. These groups were popularly nicknamed the “Family” and the Siloviki. The Family represented the interests of those who came to power under former president Boris Yeltsin and benefited (sometimes by dubious means) from the privatization of formerly state-owned assets in the 1990s; they were seen as liberal, pro-market, and Western-oriented. The second group was known both as Siloviki (denoting their roots in state institutions with the right to wield force) and as Gosudarstvenniki (“Statists”). They favoured a strong state role in the economy; they were seen as opposing foreign investment in key areas of the Russian economy and wary of Russia's rapprochement with the West, especially the U.S. They included the leaders of state-owned industries, the military, and the intelligence and security agencies. Their status had risen sharply since Putin became president, with many of their number having been promoted to top posts in all branches of government and administration. Having missed out during the privatization of the 1990s, they were believed to want both to secure their slice of the pie and to ensure that key sectors of the economy remained under state control. They also called for state intervention to tax the “superprofits” accruing from high world prices and the redistribution of the funds to foster social welfare and Russia's technological advancement.

      The Yukos affair brought the clash between these two groups into the open. It began in early July, when the prosecutor general's office launched an investigation into the activities of Yukos, Russia's leading oil company. A Yukos shareholder, billionaire Platon Lebedev, was arrested and imprisoned on suspicion of financial wrongdoing during the privatization of a fertilizer company in the 1990s. Alarm bells rang because similar charges could have been leveled against most, if not all, Russian businesses established at that time. Prosecutors announced that they were also investigating allegations of tax evasion, fraud, and even murder. Police conducted numerous searches of offices belonging to or associated with Yukos. In October, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, chairman of Yukos and the richest man in Russia, was arrested and imprisoned on suspicion of tax evasion. Many commentators believed the case to be politically motivated. Khodorkovsky, they argued, had run afoul of the so-called historic compromise that Putin had struck with Russia's business tycoons (commonly known as “oligarchs”) after becoming president in 2000; as long as the oligarchs stayed out of politics, they would be allowed to keep the properties they had acquired under privatization, regardless of how these had been obtained, but they were not to use their billions to interfere in the political process.

      One of seven bankers who built huge fortunes during the controversial “loans-for-shares” scheme of 1995, Khodorkovsky had had a typically controversial rise to the top of the business world. Latterly, however, he had tried to turn Yukos into a model of transparency. In so doing, he had won the admiration of Western business circles. At the same time, Khodorkovsky began to take an interest in politics. He established a charitable foundation that contributed large sums of money to universities and the arts, sponsored the use of the Internet in the regions, and made financial contributions to Russian political parties such as Yabloko, the SPS, and even, reportedly, the CPRF. According to some reports, Khodorkovsky hoped to ensure that smaller political parties would be represented in the Duma elected in December, which thereby would reduce the chances that the “party of power” would dominate the new parliament. According to more hostile reports, he had been planning to “buy” the Duma and turn Russia into a parliamentary republic in which the prime minister, not the president, played the dominant role. There was general agreement that whatever his aim, Khodorkovsky had violated the terms of Putin's historic compromise. The affair took a fresh turn in October when prosecutors froze the controlling stake in Yukos owned by Khodorkovsky and his partners. Alarmed, other businessmen called on the Kremlin for assurances that the Yukos investigation did not signal the beginning of a witch hunt against Russian business as a whole. Putin assured them that he was committed to a market economy and that the privatization process would not be reversed.

      The Yukos affair provoked tensions between the Kremlin and Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. Its immediate effect was to lead to a reduction in the influence of the Family. At the end of October, Putin accepted the resignation of Aleksandr Voloshin, as head of the presidential administration the Family's most highly placed representative. Voloshin had been seen as a counterbalance to the Siloviki. Putin replaced Voloshin not with a representative of the opposing camp but with a young lawyer from St. Petersburg, Dmitry Medvedev, who was seen, like Voloshin, as a supporter of the liberal rather than the statist faction.

      Human rights activists accused the Putin administration of curtailing democracy at home, especially as regards press freedom. The U.S.-based civil rights monitor Freedom House downgraded Russia's media status to “Not Free” after Boris Jordan was forced out of his post as the last independent head of the state-owned television station NTV in January. In June, TVS, Russia's last private television station with a nationwide audience, was closed on orders of the Press Ministry. These curbs notwithstanding, a wide range of newspapers continued to be published, while growing Internet use allowed people access to alternative views.

      June saw the refurbished city of St. Petersburg celebrate the 300th anniversary of its foundation by Peter the Great as his “window on the West.” This was seen as symbolic of Russia's post-Soviet opening to the outside world. Symbolic also of the Russian people's reconciliation with its troubled past was the consecration in July of the Cathedral on the Blood in Yekaterinburg, built on the spot where the last tsar and his family were assassinated in 1918.

The Economy.
      The economy recorded its fifth consecutive year of growth since the prolonged output collapse of 1989–98. For 2003 as a whole, GDP was projected to grow at a rate of over 6.5%. Kick-started by the ruble devaluation of 1998, growth was maintained by high world oil prices. Russia maintained a high trade surplus and met its external-debt repayments ahead of schedule. The government won praise for its decision to establish a budgetary-stabilization fund from revenue arising from oil prices higher than that on which the budget had been based; this would give the economy some protection for debt-service commitments in the event of sharp fluctuations in the oil price. Growth did not depend solely on high oil prices, however, or even on the substantial volume of Russian oil exports. It also reflected—at least, until the eruption of the Yukos case in July—increasing business confidence in the Russian economy, boosted by the fact that the Putin administration was continuing to follow a path of liberalizing institutional reform.

      Consumer price inflation declined slowly and reached 12% by year's end. Unemployment remained low by international standards. Living standards rose. In the first half of 2003, both average real wages and retail sales in real terms (that is, adjusted for inflation) rose some 8% over the first half of 2002. The immediate effects of the economic boom, however, were largely confined to Moscow and other big cities, and many people in the countryside and small towns remained mired in poverty.

      Rising confidence encouraged foreign investment. Foreign direct investment (FDI) totaled $3.9 billion in January–September, against $2.1 billion in the first nine months of 2002. Particularly notable was the decision of British Petroleum (BP) to invest in the creation of a new oil and gas holding company, TNK-BP Ltd., formed through the merger of the oil and gas assets of Russia's Tyumen Oil Co. (TNK) and those of BP in Russia. The deal represented the largest overseas investment in the Russian economy to date and made the U.K. the largest source of FDI in Russia. Russia's economic achievements were recognized in October when the international ratings agency, Moody's, raised its rating of Russian sovereign debt to the investment-grade category.

      At the same time, however, some of Russia's richest businessmen began to remove their capital from the country. The first sign came in the spring when Family member Boris Abramovich sold his Russian assets, bought Britain's prestigious Chelsea Football Club, and declared his intention of setting up home in the U.K.

Military and Security Policy.
      Military reform remained stalled. In March, Putin announced a major reorganization of Russia's security and intelligence agencies. Whereas former president Yeltsin had clipped the wings of the security apparatus, dividing the Soviet-era Committee for State Security (KGB) into several smaller organizations, Putin's changes consolidated and strengthened the apparatus. The main beneficiary of his reorganization was the domestic-security agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), which regained nearly all of the functions lost when the KGB, its parent organization, was disbanded in 1991. Under Putin's reorganization the only KGB functions left outside the control of the FSB were foreign intelligence—which remained the responsibility of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR)—and the physical protection of state officials—the preserve of the small Federal Protection Service (FSO). Meanwhile, the Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information (FAPSI) was disbanded; its functions, which included monitoring radio and other communications both at home and abroad, were distributed between the FSB, SVR, and FSO. The Federal Border Guards were resubordinated to the FSB, the aim being to tighten control over Russia's borders and combat illegal immigration, people trafficking, and weapons smuggling. In a move expected to benefit small and medium-size businesses, the notoriously corrupt Federal Tax Police was downsized and subordinated to the Interior Ministry. A new body was created to combat Russia's growing drug problem. If successful this could help to alleviate the threat of HIV/AIDS infection; in 2003 Russia and neighbouring Ukraine reported the world's fastest-growing infection rates.

      Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in the United States, the Kremlin redefined Russia's conflict with its secessionist republic as an integral part of the international terrorist threat. This deflected international criticism of Russia's handling of the conflict and enabled the Kremlin to maintain its refusal to negotiate with the rebels, who in turn became more radicalized. Until 2003, suicide bombings were a rare occurrence in Russia. In 2003 they became the rebels' weapon of choice, enabling them to shift the conflict to the Russian heartland. In July, 17 people were killed when two women blew themselves up at the entrance to a rock festival in Moscow. By year's end well over 150 people had been killed by suicide bombings.

      In March the Russian authorities organized a referendum in Chechnya. Voter turnout was put at 88%, and what some thought an improbably high 96% of those who voted supported a new constitution defining Chechnya as an integral part of the Russian Federation. Moscow declared that the “counterterrorism operation” in Chechnya, which had been conducted by the FSB, was complete; in September command and control passed to the Interior Ministry. In October an election was held for president of the republic. Turnout was put at 81%, and the election was won—with 80% of the votes cast—by Akhmad Kadyrov, who had since June 2000 been acting head of Chechnya's pro-Kremlin administration. The presidential election was to be followed by the negotiation of a bilateral treaty on the division of powers between Chechnya and the Russian Federation.

Foreign Policy.
      President Putin steered Russia through a difficult year in international relations, and, on the whole, Russia's relations with the outside world remained good. Relations with the U.S. hit a rocky patch in the spring following Russia's decision to side with France and Germany in refusing to support the U.S.-led military operation in Iraq. The administration of Pres. George W. Bush declared in the aftermath of the Iraq war, however, that while it intended to punish France and ignore Germany, Russia was to be forgiven. France, Germany, and Italy made efforts to maintain good relations with Moscow, while in June the U.K. welcomed Putin on the first state visit to Britain by a Russian leader since 1874. A continuing irritant in U.S.-Russian relations was Moscow's refusal to slow down or halt its nuclear cooperation with Iran. At first Russia brushed aside U.S. fears that Iran might use the technology to develop a secret nuclear-weapons program. Later, however, Moscow pressed Iran to agree to return to Russia all spent nuclear fuel and to accept short-notice inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

      Russia's relations with its post-Soviet neighbours were more stormy. During his first two years in office, Putin had seemed to switch Russia's focus from the (often ineffectual) framework of multilateral relations within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and concentrate instead on building effective bilateral relations. In 2003, however, Russia's increasing self-confidence on the international stage translated into a more assertive attitude toward its neighbours. Russia opened an air base in Kyrgyzstan; the move appeared designed to reassert Russia's military influence in Central Asia, where in the period after 9/11 the United States had established its own semipermanent military presence. Russia failed, however, to persuade Moldova to accept a constitutional settlement with its breakaway Transnistria region that would have sanctioned the continuing presence of Russian troops on Moldovan territory. Border frictions erupted with Ukraine, and Moscow was alarmed by the change of regime in Georgia.

      Finally, the year saw hints that a two- or even three-speed CIS was beginning to evolve. In September the most economically developed of the CIS states—Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus—signed an agreement on the creation of a Single Economic Space, intended to lead eventually to the establishment of full economic union and even a single currency. In December a new Collective Security Treaty Organization, bringing together Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan, was officially recognized by the UN as a regional international organization.

Elizabeth Teague

▪ 2003

17,075,400 sq km (6,592,800 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 143,673,000
Chief of state:
President Vladimir Putin
Head of government:
Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov

Domestic Policy.
      Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin's popularity remained high in 2002 and, in the year that he celebrated his 50th birthday, his political position continued to be strong. Russia's regions remained compliant, many of them repudiating the idiosyncratic power-sharing treaties they had signed during the Boris Yeltsin period. The most independent-minded of Russia's republics, Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, reluctantly brought their constitutions into accord with that of the Russian Federation.

      The mass media were made to toe the line. In January TV6, Russia's last independent TV station, was forced off the air by a court order. As exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky lost control of the company, the station's managers accused the presidential administration of concentrating control of the media in the hands of the state; the Kremlin denied the charge. In November, however, Putin vetoed the parliament's attempt to introduce new media curbs following a three-day hostage-taking drama in central Moscow; Putin explained his action by saying that the restrictions would introduce media censorship.

      Others of Russia's “oligarchs” came to heel as well, abandoning the overtly political roles they had adopted during the Yeltsin years and confining themselves to the serious business of making money. Putin assured them that, as long as they did not challenge the state's authority, there would be no review of the often questionable deals that had made them rich. Above all, the tycoons were told, they had to stop trying to manipulate the media. Instead, they formed themselves into a business lobby and began to diversify their interests. Analysts calculated that eight major Russian business groups controlled 85% of the Russian economy.

      A coalition of Kremlin-oriented parties headed by United Russia—a centre-right coalition set up at the end of 2001—dominated the parliament and ensured legislative enactment of presidential and governmental initiatives. With the coalition's support, important reforms of taxation, property rights in agricultural land, the judicial system, and the bankruptcy law were enacted, all directed at achieving a more level playing field. Reforms included legislation aimed at protecting companies from spurious bankruptcy proceedings by preventing corporate raiders from seizing the assets of rivals and wrecking their businesses. Implementation of reform legislation remained uneven, however.

      A new Labour Code came into force in February, replacing the one adopted in the 1970s. It established a 40-hour workweek and specified for the first time that the minimum wage was not to fall below the official state-determined subsistence minimum. In June a law was passed allowing the free sale and purchase of agricultural land. Marking the first step since 1917 toward the creation of a nationwide market in farmland, the law represented a significant legal and psychological departure not only from the Soviet period but also from centuries of serfdom. It was adopted in the face of strong opposition from rural constituencies backed by Communist members of the parliament. Opponents were not mollified by provisions allowing regional governments to set the pace of privatization locally and barring foreigners from owning farmland (though they might lease it). The Kremlin ignored the Communist Party's call for a national referendum on the sale of agricultural land.

      As part of a larger reform of the judicial system, a new Code of Criminal Procedure came into force in July, replacing that adopted in 1960 and aiming to protect citizens against the abuses of the Soviet past. The presumption of innocence was enshrined in Russian law, and suspects were promised a fair trial. They would be entitled to immediate access to a lawyer and could be remanded in custody for no longer than 48 hours without an extension approved by a judge. Serious crimes would be tried by jury. State prosecutors lost the power to authorize arrests; in the future this right would be exercised only by judges. New rules of evidence were instituted to help defendants in criminal cases challenge evidence produced by the prosecution. At the same time, a law against extremism was adopted in a bid to combat a perceived rise in racist and neofascist activity. It empowered the Interior Ministry, without a court decision, to suspend any organization considered to be extremist and to freeze its assets. This provoked protests from human rights lobbyists, who saw it as a potential threat to free speech.

      In June military journalist Grigory Pasko lost his appeal against his 2001 conviction for espionage and high treason. Pasko had been arrested in 1997 after he revealed the Pacific Fleet's practice of dumping nuclear waste at sea. Human rights groups in Russia and abroad expressed concern over this case and others brought by the security services against journalists and scientists. In July the government confirmed that it was leaky torpedo fuel, not a foreign submarine, that caused the explosion that sank the nuclear submarine Kursk in August 2000.

      In March, Russia's Constitutional Court overturned rulings by lower courts that banned the Salvation Army from operating in Russia as a religious organization and charity. Russia's relations with the Vatican became strained when the Roman Catholic Church announced its intention of setting up four dioceses in Russia; the Russian Orthodox Church accused Rome of trying to poach converts in traditionally Orthodox lands. In August, Russia refused the Dalai Lama a visa to visit his followers in Russian regions with substantial Buddhist populations and close to the border with China.

      The Russian economy saw its fourth consecutive year of growth since the prolonged output collapse of 1989–98. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth slowed in 2002 to around 4% from the annual average rate of 6% recorded in 1999–2001. Growth was expected to continue at this relatively healthy pace into 2003, even though the outlook for most of the rest of the world was highly uncertain.

      This growth translated into gains in material well-being for much of the population. In the first half of 2002, real wages were running 8% above the same period of the previous year. The economy had stuttered in late 2001 and the first quarter of 2002, depressing some social indicators; by the autumn of 2002, however, unemployment (as measured by the International Labour Organization) had fallen below 8%, while the proportion of the population estimated to be living below the subsistence level was less than 30%—still a high proportion but one that was tending to decline.

      The continuing economic recovery was driven by domestic demand and, in particular, by consumption. Investment growth was lower than forecast, growing in the first seven months of 2002 by only 2.5% year on year, but this reflected influences that might prove transient. Changes in taxation reduced incentives to report the reinvestment of profits, but that too might prove a one-off phenomenon. The fall in world oil prices in late 2001 and early 2002 had a dampening effect on profits and therefore on investment, but from spring 2002 oil prices began to see growth again.

      The business environment tended to improve, and a survey of Russian firms found that a majority of the business community expected output to continue to grow. Their fortunes made, Russian tycoons began to work on their images, adopting international accounting standards and codes of corporate governance. Several said they were ready to sell out to foreign strategic investors and move on—a significant departure from the recent past. Several members of the business elite appeared also to support a real opening up of the economy as part of the requirement for Russia to join the World Trade Organization. Most telling of all, capital flight fell sharply, from around $20 billion a year to an expected $10 billion in 200, although an exact figure remained subject to debate.

      Deep structural problems remained, however. Plans for the reform of electricity and gas production and supply proved highly contentious. Meanwhile, domestic users—households as well as companies—continued to obtain gas and electricity at far below world prices and below cost. Eliminating this implicit subsidy to producers remained on the government agenda but politically was extremely sensitive, and Putin signaled that it would not be rushed before the presidential election in 2002. The same was true of housing reform; the great majority of Russians, rich as well as poor, continued to pay well below cost for the maintenance of the housing stock and the domestic supply of gas and water as well as electricity.

      The direction of institutional change was nonetheless toward better-functioning markets. At the same time, the government and central bank were keeping public-sector finances in good order. Foreign and domestic debt was being serviced without the need for significant new borrowing; the budget stayed in surplus; and inflation was around 15% a year and falling.

      The most immediate source of concern was Russia's sensitivity to changes in world oil prices. Exports in 2002 of crude oil, oil products, and natural gas were equivalent to around 16% of GDP. War in the Middle East could send oil prices very high and be followed—especially if Iraqi oil was released onto the market—by a sharp fall. Insulating the Russian budget and money supply from such fluctuations would not be easy.

      Signs of improving economic health left some underlying social problems untouched. In particular, the population continued to decline by nearly one million people per year. That is to say, deaths plus emigration continued to exceed the sum of the births and immigration. Premature deaths among males, often linked to excessive alcohol consumption, remained common. The incidence of tuberculosis and of HIV/AIDS increased.

      A nationwide census was held in October 2002, the first since 1989, and a new law on citizenship came into effect in July. The new regulations made it considerably harder than it had previously been for people from the other former Soviet states to acquire Russian citizenship; they made no exception for those who were ethnic Russians. Meanwhile, recognizing that Russia needed immigrants, the government tried to assert more control over who those immigrants would be and for the first time made plans to introduce quotas for foreign workers.

Foreign and Defense Policy.
      The year saw the continuation of the trend toward warmer relations with the West that began with President Putin's election to office and that received a further boost when Russia joined the U.S.-led antiterror coalition after Sept. 11, 2001. Putin told foreign ambassadors in Moscow in July that for Russia the period of confrontation in international relations was past. Russia, he said, wanted to be seen by the rest of the world not just as a partner but as an ally. Moscow reacted calmly not only when the U.S. abandoned the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty but also when it established temporary military bases in several of the former Soviet states in Central Asia and dispatched special forces on a training mission to Georgia. While Moscow continued to express unhappiness at the prospect that the three Baltic states would be invited to join NATO at the alliance's meeting in Prague in November, Russian leaders publicly acknowledged the right of those states to decide for themselves which international alliances they should join.

      Analysts spoke of a fundamental shift in Russian foreign policy when, at a NATO summit in Rome in late May, East-West rapprochement was cemented by the establishment of the NATO-Russia Council. The new body, on which Russia was to sit as an equal alongside NATO's 19 member-states, gave Moscow a voice in NATO security matters without granting it a veto over NATO decisions. The council would focus on issues ranging from counterterrorism to nonproliferation and civil emergencies. Also in May, Putin and U.S. Pres. George W. Bush signed the Moscow Treaty, according to which Russia and the U.S. would both, by the end of 2012, cut the number of operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads by two-thirds (that is, to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads from current levels of between 5,000 and 6,000). Each side retained the right to hold warheads in reserve and to continue to produce nuclear weapons. A bilateral commission was established to ensure a transparent inspection process, including on-site inspections.

      Putin made it clear that Russia would remain in the U.S.-led antiterror coalition, since it saw participation as in its own interests. On the other hand, he expressed Russia's disquiet with Washington's switch of focus from Afghanistan to three other countries—Iran, Iraq, and North Korea—with which Russia had close relations. Moscow warned that it would oppose any move made by Washington to oust Saddam Hussein without UN sanction. Among broader concerns, Russia was eager both to ensure that Iraq repaid the billions of dollars it owed to Russia and to protect its substantial investments in Iran's oil industry. Russia's relations with Iran were, as in previous years, another source of tension between Moscow and Washington. Russia continued to help Iran to build a nuclear reactor at Bushehr. Russia was unwilling to cut its ties with Iran, seeing the country as an important market and a reliable ally against the threat of militant Islamism from Russia's south. Russia expressed concern throughout the year that the anticipated enlargement of the European Union (EU) to include Poland and Lithuania would cut off the population of Russia's Baltic exclave, Kaliningrad, from the rest of Russia. A compromise was worked out in November that satisfied both sides by introducing controls over travelers between Kaliningrad and mainland Russia but avoiding the use of the term “visa regime.” Putin had the opportunity to size up China's new leadership when, in December, he was the first major world leader to visit Beijing and meet new Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao.

      Russia continued its efforts to pacify its breakaway republic, Chechnya. Moscow declared that the military phase of the campaign was over, but casualties remained high. The ranks of the rebels were much weakened, yet they refused to give up the fight. Human rights groups complained about the violation of human rights by Russian forces, but Moscow continued to insist that it would not negotiate with the rebels and would accept only their surrender. Opinion polls indicated that 90% of the Russian population supported this position and that one-third favoured even tougher methods. The Moscow-installed government worked on a new constitution for the ravaged republic. The seizure of more than 800 hostages in a Moscow theatre by a group of armed Chechens on October 23–26 led many to predict an even tougher Russian policy toward Chechnya. Of the hostages, 129 died during the incident, 5 from gunfire and the rest as a result of inhaling gas released by the security forces in order to subdue the terrorists. The authorities' initial refusal to identify what turned out to have been a potentially lethal gas provoked controversy. The authorities said 50 hostage-takers—18 of them women—were killed during the storming of the building.

      Tension rose between Russia and Georgia following Russian complaints that Georgia was sheltering Chechen guerrillas in the Pankisi Gorge, a mountainous area in northeastern Georgia adjoining the border with Chechnya. Moscow called on Tbilisi to crack down on the rebels. Tempers cooled in October after Moscow and Tbilisi agreed jointly to monitor their common border.

      In November, Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov promised to relaunch reforms of the armed forces that had run aground amid strong opposition within the military establishment. Though precise figures were elusive, the Russian army remained somewhere in excess of one million soldiers. Senior officers argued against a hasty transition to a professional army, claiming that such a transition would be prohibitively expensive. Some limited experiments were launched, however, including the transfer of one airborne division to a professional-contract basis. If successful, the measure was expected to speed the transformation of other army units. June saw the adoption for the first time in Russia of a law on alternative military service. This allowed conscripts to opt for civilian service in hospitals, prisons, or orphanages in place of the normally obligatory military service. The law was criticized by the military establishment, which considered it too lenient, and by the human rights lobby, which viewed the conditions for alternative service as too harsh.

Elizabeth Teague

▪ 2002

17,075,400 sq km (6,592,800 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 144,417,000
Chief of state:
President Vladimir Putin
Head of government:
Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov

Domestic Affairs.
      Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin's popularity remained consistently high in 2001, and Russians drew renewed confidence from the fact that their country was headed by a young and vigorous leader. Putin's efforts to bring Russia's rebellious regions to heel were particularly successful. Central control was tightened over tax collection, the police, and the law courts. Regional governors were compensated for the loss of their seats in the Federation Council (upper house of the parliament) by the adoption in January of a law allowing the leaders of 69 of the country's 89 regions to stand for a third or even fourth term in office. In February Putin used his new power to remove regional governors to secure the resignation of the controversial governor of Primorsky kray in Russia's Far East. Regional legislatures gradually brought local laws into accord with federal legislation, though some of the larger republics, notably Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, continued to drag their feet in this respect.

      Putin's strong support in the parliament enabled him to promote potentially far-reaching reforms. Promising to make the law apply equally to everyone, Putin in May announced a reform of the judicial system. Bills submitted to the State Duma (lower house of the parliament) sought to raise the status and powers of judges and defense lawyers and to enhance the rights of defendants. A revised Code of Criminal Procedure promised to transfer the right to issue arrest and search warrants from prosecutors to judges and to institute trial by jury throughout the country. Educational reform was also promised.

      Putin continued his campaign to wrest the mass media from the control of the “oligarchs.” Tycoons Vladimir Gusinsky (see Biographies (Gusinsky, Vladimir )) and Boris Berezovsky were stripped of their electronic media holdings. Gusinsky lost control of the independent television network, NTV, the only major national electronic media outlet not controlled by the state, while Berezovsky was removed from his position of influence at Russian Public Television, Russia's most widely watched TV channel. Threatened with arrest on corruption charges, both men went into self-imposed exile. Legislation was passed to restrict foreign ownership of the Russian media.

      In July a Kremlin-inspired law on political parties was adopted. Parties would be officially registered and permitted to compete in national elections only if they had a minimum of 10,000 members and registered offices in at least half of Russia's regions. Those that met the criteria would receive federal funding after the 2003 legislative elections. As many as 60% of Russia's existing 180 parties were not expected to meet the criteria and would therefore be forced to disband. The Kremlin argued that the law would prevent corrupt businessmen from funding pocket parties, but regional political movements were also expected to be hard hit. In October the pro-Kremlin Unity party merged with its erstwhile archrival, the Fatherland movement led by Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov. The merger was expected to produce Russia's dominant political organization.

      Economic growth continued in 2001, though at a reduced rate from that of 2000. Revised official data put gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2000 at 8.3% above 1999. In the first half of 2001, the increase in output was about 5% up from the level of first-half 2000. The government revised its medium-term forecasts (through 2004) down to around 3.5–4% a year.

      Growth revived somewhat in mid-2001, and the government remained bullish, maintaining that in the longer term (through 2010) output could be expected to grow at an average annual rate of 5%. Independent economists in Moscow were more skeptical, and there were good reasons to question the sustainability of rapid growth. The output recovery that followed the August 1998 financial crisis had been jump-started by the massive devaluation from 6 rubles to the dollar before the crisis to an average of 25 in 1999 and 28 in 2000. By the end of 2001 the rate was 30.5. With inflation still quite high (heading for a rise in consumer prices of 18.6% in 2001), the leveling off of the exchange rate meant that Russian producers were gradually losing the competitive advantage they had gained from devaluation. Similarly, Russian external finances, company profits, and tax revenues had all benefited from the steep rise in international oil prices in 1999. A downturn in oil prices in late 2001 reduced those gains.

      The state both of Russia's balance of payments and of public finances in 2000–01 reflected the combination of a devalued currency and a high oil price. Imports fell dramatically as their ruble prices inside Russia soared. Producers in the hitherto severely depressed manufacturing sector—especially in textiles, clothing, food processing, and engineering—suddenly found life much easier as competition from imports dried up. That, plus the higher oil and gas prices on world markets, had given Russia a current-account balance of payments surplus of over $46 billion in 2000—an extraordinary 17% of GDP. Gold and foreign exchange reserves grew to $35 billion by July 2001. That level, enough to finance almost nine months' imports, was far above what was needed on grounds of prudence.

      The federal budget moved into surplus in 2000 and (with some fluctuations) in 2001. This enabled Moscow to service its external debt without significant new borrowing. Having paid off some of its external sovereign debt in 2000, Russia went on in 2001 to make debt-service payments (repayment of principal plus payment of interest) equivalent to 5% of GDP. Western governments and international financial institutions, faced with this revival in Russian fortunes, were less disposed than before to charitable giving. Until spring 2001 the Russian government had been counting on rolling over its inherited Soviet-era debt to Western governments while keeping current with its servicing of post-Soviet debt. Western governments, negotiating with Moscow in the framework of the Paris Club, began instead to insist on payment in full, and they got their way. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), negotiating with the Russian government over IMF approval (and associated loan facilities) for Russian economic policies, held out for a reform agenda that was quite demanding. Eventually, a compromise was reached: Russian reforms would be monitored by the Fund, without formal approval of them; Moscow would forgo new IMF loans.

      The government and the central bank were pushed to pursue more liberal policies than they had perhaps wished at the beginning of 2001. Domestic critics (notably Putin's economic adviser Andrey Illarionov) and foreign governments wanted external-debt service in full and got it. They also wanted to see the implementation of structural reforms: tax reform, including a lowering of profits tax; land reform to allow a free market in all land; measures to strengthen corporate governance; the introduction of competition into the gas, electricity, and rail industries; banking reform; an easing of foreign exchange controls; and a general reduction in the bureaucratic (read “bribery”) burden on producers.

      Putin, most notably in a state of the nation address to the Russian parliament in April, espoused the cause of radical economic reform. Strikingly, he spoke of the precarious nature of Russia's economic recovery and the urgent need to improve the business environment. It appeared that, in his concern to see Russia strong again, he had become convinced that free-market reforms were needed to provide the economic sinew that a revived Russia would require—hence his resolve to back economic liberalization. Legislative progress was achieved in all the measures mentioned, though with concessions over land reform and banking reform.

      In September the Duma gave its approval to a land code that would pave the way for the creation of a property market in Russia for the first time since the establishment of Soviet power. Communist and nationalist parliamentarians vehemently opposed the bill, warning that it would lead to the country's being bought up by foreigners and wealthy Russians, and the bill's first reading saw a punch-up among parliamentarians. The final version of the code was a compromise, setting rules for the sale only of commercial land in towns and cities (about 2% of the total) and leaving the vexing issue of farmland to the discretion of regional authorities.

      Promising to introduce a wide-ranging restructuring of the natural gas industry, the Kremlin in May asserted control over Russia's state-controlled natural gas monopoly, Gazprom, by replacing veteran Rem Vyakhirev as chief executive with its own appointee, 39-year-old Aleksey Miller. Anatoly Chubais—chief executive of the state-controlled United Energy Systems (UES), which controlled Russia's electricity grid—launched a series of reforms aimed at separating the distribution of electricity from its generation and gradually privatizing the latter. Minority investors expressed concern over some of Chubais's proposals to break up UES. Regional governors were also wary of the reforms, which would reduce the power hitherto enjoyed by local politicians to manipulate electricity prices.

      Plans were accelerated to raise charges for the maintenance of urban housing and for the provision of electricity, gas, water, and sewerage to cost-recovery (that is, unsubsidized) levels by 2003. Low-income families would continue to receive housing subsidies, but others would be required to pay their own way.

Defense and Foreign Policy.
      In March a cabinet reshuffle saw Putin's close associate Sergey Ivanov shifted laterally from the post of Security Council secretary to head the Defense Ministry as its first civilian minister. Ivanov was expected to spearhead a long-awaited reform of the armed forces. In October Putin met with top military leaders and told them bluntly to speed up reform. He promised to increase defense spending in response to the terrorist attacks in the U.S. He also announced that Russia would close two relics of the Cold War—its electronic reconnaissance centre in Cuba and its last big overseas naval base at Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam.

      Russia's military campaign in the breakaway Chechen Republic dragged on. The rebels showed no sign of giving up the fight. Polling data suggested that the Russian population was growing unhappy with the failure to bring the conflict to a close. Optimists spied light at the end of the tunnel when, in June, Putin told a press conference that Chechnya's independence was not the issue; what was vital, he said, was to ensure that Chechen territory would never again be used as a bridgehead for an attack on Russia. In September Putin issued an “ultimatum” that was essentially a proposal to begin talks with those rebels prepared to lay down their arms. Although the offer expired without visible effect and the fighting continued, the two sides did begin to negotiate about negotiating. It seemed unlikely, however, that Chechnya's relatively moderate Pres. Aslan Maskhadov would be able to negotiate on behalf of uncompromising rebel leaders who controlled their own armies and territory.

      In October after a difficult three-month operation, the remains of the nuclear submarine Kursk were salvaged from the Barents Sea, where it had sunk after an explosion in August 2000.

      During the year Putin maintained a busy program of foreign meetings and visits. In a speech in January, he defined Russia's major foreign policy objective as creating stable and secure conditions on Russia's borders to allow the government to concentrate on solving the country's social and economic problems. He identified Europe as an important partner for Russia.

      Putin shifted Russia's relations with its closest allies, the Commonwealth of Independent States, from the multilateral focus that had characterized the years of Boris Yeltsin's presidency to highlight bilateral relations. Russian analysts interpreted this as a sign that Putin recognized that the close ties that had existed during the Soviet period could not be reestablished. Meanwhile, Russia maintained and in some cases strengthened links with former allies and markets for Soviet and Russian arms—India, Iraq, Cuba, Libya, Vietnam, and North Korea. In July a 20-year friendship treaty was signed with China.

      Relations with the new U.S. administration were initially strained. Missile defense (NMD), U.S. plans to abandon the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, and NATO's possible enlargement to include Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were the main bones of contention. Russia opposed U.S.-British plans for revised sanctions against Iraq. Russia planned too to continue arms sales to Iran and to finish construction work on the controversial Iranian nuclear power reactor at Bushehr in the Persian Gulf, identifying Iran as a key ally in the struggle against fundamentalist Islamic movements on Russia's southern borders.

      Relations with the U.S. improved in May when Moscow responded positively to a call by U.S. Pres. George W. Bush for new nuclear arms reductions and for improved relations between Russia and the U.S. A breakthrough occurred in June when the two presidents met in Slovenia for direct talks and established an immediate rapport. Bush spoke enthusiastically of Putin as “honest, straightforward” and “a family man who loves his country,” and Putin expressed satisfaction with Bush's description of Russia as a European country and potential ally.

      The terrorist attacks of September 11 brought a further improvement in U.S.-Russian relations. Putin was the first world leader to call Bush after the attacks, pledging Russia's support and cooperation in the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism and offering use of Russia's airspace for humanitarian deliveries and help in search and rescue operations. Overruling his defense minister, Putin said Russia would not object if the former Soviet republics of Central Asia made their airspace and military facilities available to the U.S. In October Putin became the first Russian leader to visit NATO headquarters in Brussels, where he spoke of “qualitatively new” relations between Russia and the alliance. Also in October Putin attended a Russia–European Union (EU) summit at which it was decided to hold monthly consultations on security issues. The European Commission said afterward that it and the U.S. would work to give fresh impetus to Russia's eight-year-old bid to join the World Trade Organization. While the EU had long said that it supported Russia's accession bid—though not uncritically or unconditionally—U.S. support was seen as a significant new departure. Later in October Putin met Bush in Shanghai; in November the two presidents met again in the U.S. and announced plans for steep cuts in offensive nuclear weapons. On this basis, Russia reacted calmly when in December the U.S. announced its intention to withdraw from the ABM Treaty and to develop its NMD system. In November a new form of partnership between NATO and Russia was proposed— “Russia-NATO at 20.” The aim was to replace the existing Russia-NATO Permanent Joint Council, set up in 1997, with a new institution on which Russia and NATO's 19 member countries would sit as equals. Though details remained to be worked out, the aim was to allow Moscow to help shape decision making in areas of common concern such as terrorism.

Elizabeth Teague

▪ 2001

17,075,400 sq km (6,592,800 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 146,001,000
Chief of state:
President Vladimir Putin (acting until May 7)
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Vladimir Putin and, from May 7 (acting until May 17), Mikhail Kasyanov

Domestic Affairs.
      Pres. Boris Yeltsin surprised the world on New Year's Eve 1999 by resigning six months before his official term was due to expire. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a former career KGB officer, was named acting president and held both posts until a presidential election at the end of March. Putin was elected in the first round of that election with 53% of the vote. International monitors gave the ballot a positive report while conceding that irregularities had taken place. Later in the year a Moscow newspaper published evidence supporting allegations of substantial vote rigging.

      Following his inauguration in May, Putin appointed former finance minister Mikhail Kasyanov to head the government. Putin declared his priorities to be reestablishing a strong state, restoring law and order, and relaunching economic reform. His election was welcomed by world leaders, who expressed hopes that it would mark the beginning of a period of stability and prosperity for Russia as a whole.

      Putin provided few clues as to what specific foreign and domestic policies he intended to pursue. By contrast with the drift of the late Yeltsin years, however, the new president's drive and determination were palpable. Putin's first move was to reassert central control over Russia's wayward regions and thereby turn the country into “a single economic and legal space.” Under a presidential decree issued in May, Russia's 89 republics and regions were divided into seven new “federal districts.” Each was to be headed by a plenipotentiary representative appointed by the president. Many of the powers that regional governors had accumulated during the Yeltsin decade were transferred to these presidential representatives. Security and law enforcement were to be key elements of their work. This was underscored by the fact that five of the seven new appointees came from the army or security services. The presidential representatives were granted ex officio membership in the Security Council, an executive body responsible directly to the president and headed by Putin's most trusted associate, Sergey Ivanov. Under Putin's leadership, this body acquired important new policy-making responsibilities.

      Next, Putin relieved the governors of the right to sit in the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament. This reduced regional leaders' influence over federal policy and stripped them of their immunity from criminal prosecution. Moreover, Putin introduced legislation empowering the president to dismiss democratically elected governors and regional legislatures if they violated federal law. Putin's government rescinded tax concessions that Yeltsin had granted to some of Russia's most powerful regions and announced its intention to adjust in 2001, in the centre's favour, the division of tax revenues between the federal government and the regions.

      The governors resisted, but Putin was able to push his legislation through the lower house of the parliament, the State Duma, thanks to the pro-government majority the Kremlin had commanded since the December 1999 parliamentary elections. This enabled Putin effectively to rewrite the constitution. His purpose was to assert presidential control not only over the regional barons but also over the regionally deployed officials of the federal government, who were similarly perceived as having escaped central control during the Yeltsin years.

      Putin then began to implement his vow to “liquidate the oligarchs as a class,” by which he meant ousting Russia's most powerful financiers and media tycoons from the corridors of power. First the tax police moved against Vladimir Gusinsky, founder of Media-Most, a private media holding that controlled the NTV independent television channel. NTV had criticized several of Putin's policies—in particular, the conduct of the military campaign in Chechnya (see below). Gusinsky was briefly imprisoned on charges of embezzlement; he subsequently agreed to relinquish control of NTV and left the country. Next came the turn of Boris Berezovsky, controller of Russia's most widely watched TV channel, Russian Public Television (ORT). (See Biographies (Berezovsky, Boris ).) Berezovsky claimed to have been threatened with imprisonment if he did not turn ORT over to the state.

      The Kremlin denied any attempt to muzzle the press, but there was widespread concern not only over the future of NTV and ORT but also over the February disappearance, arrest, and subsequent trial (on charges of possessing a false identity document) of journalist Andrey Babitsky, whose coverage of the Chechen conflict for the U.S.-funded Radio Liberty had infuriated the Kremlin. Alarm bells rang in both Russia and the West when, in September, Putin endorsed a new information security doctrine that implied, among other things, the need to restrict access by the Russian public to foreign news media.

      The federal government struggled throughout the year to assert control over the breakaway Republic of Chechnya. Allegations of human rights violations by Russian troops abounded and provoked criticism from the international community. Casualties mounted on both sides. The rebels sustained heavy losses when they were forced out of the lowland areas of the republic in the late winter, which prompted Moscow to declare that the military phase of the “antiterrorist” campaign was over. All that remained, the government claimed, was a mopping-up operation. The rebels had merely retreated to the mountains, however; from there they launched a guerrilla campaign to which Russian forces were ill-equipped to respond. In June Putin appointed Chechen Mufti Akhmed Kadyrov interim head of administration in the republic, but Moscow's failure to provide funding for postwar reconstruction prevented Kadyrov from winning the support of the local population. Nevertheless, the military campaign remained popular with the Russian population, and there was no sign that Putin was under pressure to negotiate a political settlement with the rebels.

      August saw the sinking in the Barents Sea of the nuclear submarine Kursk with the loss of all 118 crew members aboard; the tragedy remained unexplained at year's end. The prevarication with which the Russian naval authorities and the presidential administration responded to the tragedy provoked criticism at home and abroad. Also in August a terrorist bomb attack in central Moscow killed 12 people; shortly afterward three people lost their lives when the Ostankino television tower, a Moscow landmark, was swept by fire. In a controversial move, the parliament voted in December to adopt as Russia's national anthem the music—though not the words—of the anthem of the U.S.S.R.

The Economy.
      Production continued to grow in 2000. Analysts began to question their original assumption that recorded growth was merely a devaluation-induced “dead cat bounce.” Perhaps Russia was beginning to experience a sustainable increase in output rather than just a short-lived recovery dependent on the onetime effect of the massive August 1998 ruble devaluation combined with record-high world oil prices.

      It was certainly the case that, from early 1999 to early 2000, all the main components of final demand were increasing. The growth of exports and of import-substituting production for the home market could be attributed to devaluation. After the initial shock effects of the August 1998 devaluation had worn off, however, there was also growth in household consumption, domestic investment, and government spending on goods and services—all in real (inflation-adjusted) terms. Enterprise profits grew substantially, which allowed government tax revenue to increase. Moreover, government revenue growth exceeded the requirements of debt service—hence the improvement in the federal government's budgetary balance and the scope for real growth in government spending.

      Skeptics pointed out that the structural reforms that were needed in 1998 were still not under way two years later. In the absence of such reforms, the argument went, long-term growth averaging more than 2–3% a year was simply not feasible. Meanwhile, the favourable effects of devaluation were wearing off as the exchange rate stabilized around 27–29 rubles to the U.S. dollar, but Russian inflation exceeded that of Russia's trade partners; by mid-2000 there were signs that investment growth was faltering and inflation accelerating.

      The inflation problem was hard for Russian policy makers to deal with. Russia's merchandise trade surplus continued to be huge; it was running at an annual rate of more than $50 billion in the first half of the year. The current account surplus was somewhat smaller but still massive; net capital flows did not offset it. Foreign exchange reserves grew, therefore, and that increased the monetary base. The inflationary pressure exerted by the growth of reserves could not be neutralized by the sale of government paper (bonds and treasury bills) because the treasury-bill market had collapsed in the 1998 financial crisis. The running of a budgetary surplus (excluding interest payments) was helping to constrain aggregate demand; nonetheless, inflation was tending to rise, and the government and the central bank could not easily contain it.

      There were favourable considerations to which the more sanguine commentators could (and did) point. Most notably, the Putin administration showed signs of serious reform intentions. During the summer the parliament approved the government's proposal to institute a flat 13% income tax. The move was hailed as a first step toward reducing Russia's massive shadow economy. In June the government approved a package of reform plans. These included an action plan to the end of 2001 and a framework plan to 2010. The latter envisaged growth in gross domestic product of at least 5% a year over the following decade. The language on reforms was clearly liberal—there should be a level playing field for businesses, with government intervention reduced and barriers to competition minimized—and tax and land reform were high on the agenda. Three leading officials were serious reformers: German Gref, economy minister and the main author of the reform plan, presidential adviser Andrey Illarionov, and Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin. Doubts centred, however, on the ability of government reformers to implement their plans. Prime Minister Kasyanov was regarded as less committed to reform; government administrative capacity was weak; corruption was pervasive; and the resistance of powerful interest groups—comprising, above all, people who had done well out of incomplete reform—would have to be overcome.

      One impediment to the implementation of reform had been the power of regional governors. Most government intervention in the fate of businesses in Russia—usually propping up failing concerns—came from regional and local levels. It was above all at these levels that payment arrears and the use of barter and money surrogates had been promoted. It was also the case that effective tax reform required a separation of subnational from national tax bases, a change that could not easily be negotiated with powerful governors. Putin's assault on the powers of regional leaders was therefore expected to assist the process of reform. Even if the main motive was simply to increase Putin's own power, the president's downgrading of the governors would reduce their capacity for economic mischief.

      It was less clear whether the same could be said of Putin's assault on the oligarchs. Improved tax compliance was certainly one of Russia's needs. But enforcement by various more or less forceful means had been tried from 1997 with little effect. It was also unclear whether Putin would continue the tradition of regarding some oligarchs as “more equal than others”—in short, of being in cahoots with a few financially powerful cronies. For these reasons the prospects of real progress with structural reforms remained unclear. If enough Russian businesspeople came to think that the economy would continue to grow strongly, their expectations could become self-fulfilling. In that sense it was dispiriting that capital flight showed little sign of diminishing.

      Western support remained on hold. Russia's policy of defaulting on inherited Soviet-era external debt while maintaining the service of post-Soviet debt appeared to be working. In February provisional agreement was reached in the London Club with Western banks and hedge funds holding Soviet-era commercial debt; a third of that debt was to be written off and the rest upgraded into long-term Eurobonds. Progress was harder in the Paris Club, where Russia was negotiating a restructuring of Soviet-era debt to Western governments; Germany, by far the largest official creditor, opposed a write-off. There might have been progress with Paris Club debt restructuring had the International Monetary Fund given its approval to Russian economic policy. An IMF delegation visited Moscow in November, however, without reaching an agreement on structural reforms to be carried out. Meanwhile, Russia serviced the rest of its debt from its large current- account surplus, largely without new credits from the IMF or other multilateral or bilateral official sources (the exception being some World Bank disbursements of project loans). Agreement on a new deal with the IMF, providing a kind of official Western endorsement of Putin's economic policies, remained to be concluded.

Foreign Policy.
      Putin embarked on a busy program of foreign meetings and visits aimed at projecting Russia's interests in an assertive and energetic manner. The first half of the year saw him repairing the relations with the West that had broken down following NATO's 1999 military intervention in Yugoslavia. In February NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson visited Moscow to put relations with the alliance back on track. This included reviving meetings of the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council and improving cooperation within the Kosovo Force.

      Putin's position was bolstered in April by the Russian parliament's ratification of the START-II nuclear arms reduction treaty just as he set out for his first foreign trip, to Minsk and London. Though the parliament also ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Russia remained strongly opposed to U.S. proposals to amend the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in order to deploy nuclear missile defense. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe suspended the Russian delegation's voting rights in protest against Russia's conduct of its military campaign in Chechnya.

      The second half of the year saw the Putin leadership balance its contact with the West by consolidating Russia's ties with China and India as well as Soviet-era friends such as Vietnam, Mongolia, and Cuba. Overtures were also made to Japan while, in July, Putin made a landmark visit to North Korea. He returned with a proposal whereby Pyongyang would relinquish its ballistic missile development program in return for access to foreign space-rocket technology; from Moscow's standpoint this had the advantage of undermining the U.S. case for nuclear missile defense. In October Putin and the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Belarus, and Armenia signed a framework agreement for the deployment of joint forces in the face of the perceived threat of Islamic extremism in Central Asia. In December Putin traveled to Canada, where he received additional support for the Russian position on defensive missile issues.

      Putin pursued the reform of Russia's bloated armed forces, ordering deep cuts in both nuclear and conventional forces despite strong opposition from the military. Institutional tensions erupted in July between backers of Russia's strategic missile troops and those arguing for a shift of funding to the conventional forces.

Elizabeth Teague

▪ 2000

17,075,400 sq km (6,592,800 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 146,394,000
Chief of state:
Presidents Boris Yeltsin and, from December 31, Vladimir Putin
Head of government:
Prime Ministers Yevgeny Primakov, Sergey Stepashin from May 12 to August 9, and, from August 16, Vladimir Putin

Domestic Affairs.
      On Dec. 31, 1999, Pres. Boris Yeltsin surprised the world by announcing his resignation six months before his term in office was officially due to end. He named Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (see Biographies (Putin, Vladimir Vladimirovich )) as acting president. Under the constitution an election must be held within three months. The year was also dominated by the parliamentary elections to the State Duma on December 19.

      Yeltsin's health continued to deteriorate throughout the year, which caused him to act in unpredictable ways. On May 12 he dismissed Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and his government. Primakov had been in power for less than eight months. Yeltsin cited Primakov's failure to tackle Russia's economic problems. In reality, the president appeared to view Primakov as a rival, since the prime minister was widely seen as having brought stability to Russia. As measured by public opinion polls, his popularity was growing, and he was being openly spoken of as potential presidential material. It was also likely that Yeltsin was angered by the prime minister's failure to head off the (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt by the communist-dominated Duma to impeach the president. Yeltsin replaced Primakov with Sergey Stepashin. Stepashin, who had earlier headed the Federal Security Service (FSB; domestic successor to the KGB security police) and the Interior Ministry, was chiefly distinguished by his personal loyalty to Yeltsin, but he lasted only three months as premier. During that period he did his best to keep the country on an even keel by ensuring that wages and pensions were paid on time and that social unrest was averted.

      As the elections grew closer, political scheming and alliance-building intensified. Allegations and counterallegations of nepotism and corruption flew back and forth with increasing frequency. Russia's influential regional governors began to group themselves in electoral blocs. First to be formed was the short-lived Voice of Russia bloc set up by the governor of Samara oblast. Longer-lasting was the Fatherland–All Russia (OVR) alliance struck in early August between Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov's Fatherland movement and the All Russia bloc led by Pres. Mintimer Shaymiyev of Tatarstan and Gov. Vladimir Yakovlev of St. Petersburg. The left-of-centre alliance saw its ratings rise when on August 17 it announced that Primakov had agreed to head its electoral list for the parliamentary elections. Primakov was expected to use the bloc to campaign for the presidency.

      The Yeltsin entourage (known in the Russian media as “the Family,” although it included businessmen and financiers as well as members of the president's true family) saw the Luzhkov-Primakov alliance as a threat to its long-term interests. Members of the entourage wanted assurances of immunity from prosecution after the president's retirement and were not confident that these would be forthcoming under a Primakov presidency. They were not reassured by Luzhkov's call for enterprises that had been illegally privatized or were being managed inefficiently to be reprivatized.

      It was apparently Stepashin's failure to prevent the formation of OVR or to put together a viable alternative that prompted Yeltsin's decision, announced on August 9, to replace Stepashin as prime minister with Putin, secretary of the Security Council and a former KGB agent who had headed the FSB since the previous year. The Duma narrowly approved Putin's appointment on August 16, and he thus became Russia's fifth prime minister in 17 months. Yeltsin declared Putin his preferred candidate to succeed him as president. This was the first time that Yeltsin had ever nominated a successor. Moreover, Putin was given unprecedented control of the government, including the so-called power ministries (Defense, Interior, Foreign Affairs, and Justice—the agencies with security and law-enforcement responsibilities), which are normally subordinated directly to the Russian president. This was more power than any previous Russian prime minister had enjoyed.

      Putin's leadership was immediately put to the test in the North Caucasus. In early August insurgents based in the separatist republic of Chechnya seized villages in the neighbouring republic of Dagestan, where they declared an independent Islamic state. The invaders did not meet the popular support they had anticipated, however. The federal government responded vigorously, and by early September Russian forces had beaten the guerrillas back into Chechnya. There followed a series of terrorist bombings in Moscow and other Russian cities that left some 300 dead. Although Chechen leaders denied involvement, the bombings prompted the federal government to counterattack. Russian troops were dispatched to Chechnya for the first time since 1996. Their orders were to hunt down those whom Russia held responsible for the bombings.

      By October federal forces were in control of the northern third of Chechnya, which Moscow declared it would turn into a security zone from which to uproot the terrorists from their strongholds. A campaign of heavy aerial bombardment inflicted high civilian casualties and prompted the flight of more than 250,000 people from Chechnya. Many fled to the neighbouring republic, Ingushetia, but others remained trapped inside Chechnya. International concern grew that Russia was ignoring the search for a political solution and resorting to disproportionate military force in its efforts to resolve the conflict. Russia responded with the assertion both that it was in the forefront of the struggle against international terrorism and that Chechnya was an internal issue in which outsiders should not interfere. Back in Russia proper, Putin's popularity ratings soared.

      By October 24, the closing date by which parties and blocs were required by law to have registered in order to run candidates in the December elections, all the major parties and alliances had done so. OVR's appearance on the stage shook up existing political alignments and undermined support for the Communist Party (KPRF), hitherto Russia's largest political party. Staking out the centre-left, OVR attracted the support of part of the nationalist wing and part of the Agrarian Party, both of which had been allied with the KPRF in the 1995 and 1996 elections. Far-left communists set up their own Stalinist bloc to contest the election. This left the KPRF to fight the parliamentary campaign virtually bereft of allies. Russia's small band of market reformers joined the Union of Right Forces. Stepashin allied with the liberal Yabloko Party, led by Grigory Yavlinsky, while the Our Home Is Russia Party, led by former prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, slid down the public opinion ratings. A late starter was another “governors' bloc” known as Unity, whose members made little effort to conceal the fact that the alliance had been set up with Kremlin backing in an attempt to counterbalance OVR.

      In the election on December 19 the KPRF emerged as the largest party with 24.2% of the vote, but this was a sharp reduction from the near majority it and its allies had enjoyed in the previous parliament. Unity finished a close second with 23.3%, having received the boost of Putin's endorsement. OVR gained only 13.3%, while the Union of Right Forces got 8.5% and Yabloko 5.9%.

The Economy.
      After having fallen in 1998 by 4.6% in comparison with the year before, gross domestic product made a partial recovery in 1999. In the autumn the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted GDP growth of about 2% for the year as a whole. This was not, however, the beginning of sustainable growth. Following the August 1998 devaluation of the ruble and a recovery in world oil prices, the recovery looked, at first sight, quite impressive, but by mid-1999 it was already faltering. Figures for both GDP and industrial output looked good on a year-on-year basis—for instance, industrial output in January–August 1999 was 5.3% up on the same period in 1998—but this reflected the fact that economic activity had begun to decline as early as spring 1998, well ahead of the financial crisis, so there was a low basis for comparison.

      Underlying factors remained unpromising. Growth was recorded in 1999 in only two areas: net exports and government spending. Meanwhile, household consumption was depressed by the steep fall in personal real incomes. At mid-1999, retail sales were still in real terms (after adjustment for inflation) 15% below 1998 levels, and the average real wage was down one-third from December 1997. Gross investment (including replacement of existing capital stock as equipment wore out) continued its decade-long decline, while net investment (additions to the capital stock) was negative.

      The negative elements in this picture were stronger than the positive ones. The growth in the dollar value of Russia's exports was driven by rising world oil prices, while the still stronger growth in their ruble value was the result of the massive devaluation of the Russian currency (from about 6 rubles = $1 in August 1998 to about 27 rubles = $1 in December 1999). Devaluation was also the main cause of the fall in imports. Neither of these influences was likely to last. At the same time, the volume of Russian exports, about three-fifths of which were oil, oil products, gas, and metals, was constrained on both the demand and the supply side and not, therefore, capable of strong growth. The growth in government spending (net of debt service) was possible only because of the temporary buoyancy of export duties.

      The continuing fall in investment, on the other hand, was the result of deep-seated influences. Confidence in the currency, the banks, and Russia's further economic prospects was low and was further depressed by the collapse of bank payments that followed the August 1998 devaluation. In fact, the crisis reinforced all the wrong incentives to Russian firms and households. It undermined the prospects for a general restoration of confidence in the ruble and of the development of banks as intermediaries channeling savings to the real sector. Instead, the population's preferences for saving in cash dollars, placing assets offshore, and relying on subsistence food production were all reinforced.

      Among the symptoms of Russians' lack of confidence in their economy was the continuing flight of capital from the country. This was estimated to be running at least $1 billion a month, not including the “internal capital flight” represented by the hoarding of cash dollars inside the country. Much (though by no means all) of this was illegal, since it included the evasion of both liabilities and capital controls. How much of it involved the laundering of money from criminal activities such as racketeering was impossible to estimate.

      In mid-1999 several high-profile investigations drew public attention to this outflow. One investigation involved the alleged laundering of funds from Russia through New York and led to the bringing of indictments in U.S. courts. Another was initiated by the IMF into the Russian central bank's unreported placement of funds offshore. Yet another centred on accounts held in Switzerland, allegedly in the names of members of Yeltsin's family, and included allegations of kickbacks paid to members of the presidential administration by a construction company, Mabetex, in return for the contract to oversee a multimillion-dollar refurbishment of the Kremlin. All this fed into U.S. domestic political controversies and gave rise to much breast-beating over the record of Western financial assistance to Russia.

      Gloomy as the economic situation was, the news was not entirely bad. The governments of Primakov, Stepashin, and Putin were all considered “postreform,” in contrast to the “last reformist government” headed by Sergey Kiriyenko. All nonetheless confounded the predictions of doomsayers by steering clear of extreme financial laxity and hyperinflation and by acting to restrict the growth of the money supply and reduce the budget deficit. One result was that consumer-price inflation headed toward 50% (December 1999 over December 1998). Another was that the 1999 federal budget was not far from its target for the year of a deficit of 2.5% of GDP and a primary surplus of about 2% of GDP (that is, excluding debt-service expenditure). Western donors, nominally headed by the IMF but with U.S. influence predominant, held back from releasing any more finance for a year (July 1998 to July 1999) while negotiating detailed pledges of good fiscal and monetary behaviour. Meanwhile, the postreform governments managed to pass some reform-friendly legislation, notably a new law in January 1999 on production-sharing agreements that reduced the obstacles to foreign direct investment in Russian natural-resource development.

      On this basis, the IMF negotiated with the Russian government over the conditions for any further financial assistance. Eventually in July 1999, one year after the IMF had last released a tranche of money to Russia, assistance from the Fund was renewed with a loan of about $4.5 billion (to be released in tranches). The purpose of this loan was to enable Russia to maintain its service of existing debts to the IMF. The new credit was not, accordingly, transferred to Russian control but merely moved from one IMF account to another IMF account. It also had the effect of triggering the release of already committed World Bank and Japanese government loans. Citing lack of progress on structural criteria, the IMF in December postponed disbursement of the latest $640 million tranche of its loan.

Foreign Affairs.
      The issue of Kosovo dominated Russian diplomacy throughout the year and led to a sharp deterioration in Russia's relations with the West. In March Russia suspended all ties with the NATO alliance in protest against NATO's air campaign against Yugoslav targets; these ties had not formally resumed by year's end. Anti-Western sentiment spread in Russian society. Russian frustration over its inability to influence the Kosovo conflict reflected its relative impotence on the international stage at a time of economic crisis and its anxiety about its resultant loss of great-power status. Nonetheless, Russia confined its protest to sabre rattling. It played a key role in persuading Yugoslav Pres. Slobodan Milosevic to agree to NATO's demands, and it subsequently took part in peacekeeping in Kosovo. On June 12 Russia stunned NATO by deploying its troops to the airport outside Kosovo's capital, Pristina, and thereby beating NATO peacekeepers into Kosovo. Contrary to the fears of some Western observers, the “dash to Pristina” appeared to have reflected not military insubordination but the desire of the Russian government not to be excluded from the peacekeeping process.

      NATO enlargement, the prospect of which had created tension between Russia and the West in the past, was accepted calmly by Moscow when, in April, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland eventually joined the alliance. In July, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Russia hoped the NATO/Russia Permanent Joint Council would soon be able to resume its work. Russia continued however to warn NATO against trying to play the role of “international policeman,” while talks between Russian and U.S. officials failed to inject momentum into stalled arms control negotiations.

      In February, after an emotional debate in the upper house of the Russian parliament, Russia finally ratified a major Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership with Ukraine. Signed by the Russian and Ukrainian presidents in May 1997, the document legalized the post-Soviet territorial status quo between the two countries and included official Russian recognition of Ukraine's title to the Crimea. Ratification had been held up for nearly two years by persistent bilateral disputes.

      In December Yeltsin visited China, where he and Pres. Jiang Zemin signed a border treaty resolving almost all of the territorial disputes between the two countries. That same month Yeltsin and Belarus Pres. Alyaksandr Lukashenka signed a long-postponed Treaty of Union between the two nations.

Elizabeth Teague

▪ 1999

      Area: 17,075,400 sq km (6,592,800 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 146,861,000

      Capital: Moscow

      Chief of state: President Boris Yeltsin

      Head of government: Prime Ministers Viktor Chernomyrdin until March 23, Sergey Kiriyenko until August 23, and, from September 11, Yevgeny Primakov

Domestic Affairs.
      Pres. Boris Yeltsin's health deteriorated during 1998 until he was reportedly working no more than a few hours a day. On the increasingly rare occasions that he was seen in public, Yeltsin appeared weak and confused. On a state visit to Central Asia in October, he stumbled, spoke incoherently, and signed his name slowly. By late in the year, Yeltsin's popularity was at an all-time low, and calls for his resignation were increasing. The communist-dominated opposition launched impeachment proceedings. Yeltsin's aides insisted that he was suffering from nothing more serious than exhaustion and would serve out his term, due to expire in mid-2000. In October, however, they announced that the president was handing day-to-day management of state affairs over to Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov (see BIOGRAPHIES (Primakov, Yevgeny Maksimovich )) and would concentrate on ensuring a smooth succession.

      Power remained a highly personalized commodity, and Yeltsin's incapacitation contributed to the vacuum of state power that was the country's most serious problem. Everyone agreed that the 1993 constitution, which had been tailor-made for Yeltsin, generated instability by failing to distribute power evenly between the legislature and the executive. Amending the constitution was so difficult, however, that there seemed little chance that the situation could be changed in that way. Yeltsin replaced the government twice during the year, acting each time on an apparent whim and provoking alarm about Russia's political and economic stability. On March 23 he fired the entire Cabinet of Viktor Chernomyrdin, his prime minister of five years, saying that economic reform was not dynamic enough. Instead, Yeltsin named virtually unknown Energy Minister Sergey Kiriyenko as acting prime minister. Many expressed doubts about Kiriyenko's youth and inexperience. The lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, rejected his candidacy twice. Only after a month-long standoff, during which Yeltsin threatened to dissolve the legislature, did the Duma on April 24 confirm Kiriyenko on the third vote.

      Kiriyenko appointed a new, heavily reformist Cabinet, but concerns about the financial crisis in Asia and the slump in world oil prices were already prompting investors to withdraw from Russia. Budget cuts did nothing to restore confidence, since the main problem was seen to be not the size of the budget deficit but the fact that it was larger than the government's ability to raise revenue. Investor confidence was further undermined by concern about the extent of Russia's foreign indebtedness. In an effort to defend the currency and stem the flight of capital, the central bank in May hiked interest rates to a dizzying 150%. Investors were not reassured, and markets continued to plunge. As the government dug itself deeper into a pit of indebtedness, wage arrears accumulated. Coal miners were hard hit; for several weeks in the summer, they blocked sections of the Trans-Siberian railroad, effectively cutting the country in two. As time wore on, they added calls for the resignation of Yeltsin and his government to their wage demands.

      Kiriyenko's government struggled to put together a program of emergency measures to resolve the financial crisis. In July the International Monetary Fund agreed to Russia's request for new emergency credits to prop up the ruble, putting together a package of IMF, World Bank, and Japanese government money totaling $22.6 billion. The loan depended on Russia's fulfilling a series of measures to reduce the budget deficit by cutting expenditures and increasing tax receipts. The Duma rejected many of these measures when they were put forward by the government, approving measures that Kiriyenko said would provide only one-third of the targeted revenues. The IMF signaled its disquiet later in July by disbursing a first payment of only $4.8 billion instead of the $5.6 billion anticipated. The value of the ruble resumed its fall.

      On August 17 Kiriyenko's government and the central bank announced an effective devaluation of the ruble by extending the exchange-rate band within which the ruble traded against the dollar by 34%. The ruble promptly fell below the new "floor," and the central bank soon gave up trying to keep the currency within even the new, widened band. The government imposed restrictions on foreign exchange operations, freezing trade in short-term government debt (Treasury bills, known as GKOs) and unilaterally announcing a restructuring of that debt. It also declared a 90-day moratorium on commercial foreign debt servicing. The ruble went into free fall as Russians sought frantically to buy dollars. Western creditors lost heavily. A large part of Russia's fledgling banking sector was destroyed, since many banks had large GKO holdings and the larger banks had substantial dollar borrowings.

      A week later, on August 23, Yeltsin fired Kiriyenko and declared his intention of returning Chernomyrdin to office. This time the Duma dug in its heels. After it twice rejected Chernomyrdin's candidacy, Yeltsin, his power clearly on the wane, backed down. Instead, he nominated Foreign Minister Primakov, who on September 11 was overwhelmingly approved by the Duma.

      Primakov's appointment restored political stability because he was seen as a compromise candidate able to heal the rifts between Russia's quarreling interest groups. There was popular enthusiasm, too, when he promised to make the payment of wage and pension arrears his government's first priority. Primakov invited members of all the leading parliamentary factions into his Cabinet. The appointment of Yury Maslyukov—a communist who had been the last head of the U.S.S.R. State Planning Agency—as first deputy premier in charge of the economy, however, prompted fears of a return to Soviet-era policies. Apprehension intensified with the appointment of Viktor Gerashchenko to head the central bank. Gerashchenko had held the same post in 1992-94, when he allowed a rapid growth of the money supply and thereby fueled high inflation.

      Primakov's government acted with caution, and by year's end the feared printing of money had not begun. Primakov had great difficulty in persuading his coalition government to agree on an economic rescue program. Maslyukov's first proposals for reviving the economy were sharply criticized by Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov, and it was not until late October that a new draft was submitted to the IMF. This included plans to let the ruble float, introduce some price controls, and expand the role of the government in regulating the economy. Calls for government support for domestic industry were seen as a shift toward Russia's "red directors"—the managers of big Soviet-era industrial enterprises—and away from the "oligarchs"—the small group of financiers and media tycoons who bankrolled Yeltsin's 1996 presidential campaign and had been hard hit by the August 17 financial crisis. Calling the program a significant step backward from market reforms, the IMF expressed concern about the lack of projected cuts in public spending and continued to withhold the second installment of its emergency loan, originally due in September. In late October the national and regional governments together took control of Kamaz, Russia's largest manufacturer of trucks, in return for assuming approximately one-third of its debts.

      Inflation was 84.4% in 1998, up from 11% in 1997 and eating away at popular living standards. Gross domestic product fell 5% by comparison with the year before. Real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) incomes fell 15.6% by comparison with 1997. The ruble lost 71% of its value, ending 1998 at 20.65 to the U.S. dollar compared to 5.96 at the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, market reform was discredited in the eyes of much of the population. Anatoly Chubais, one of those who oversaw the early phases of Russia's economic transformation, commented in September that he originally had expected Russia's transition to the market to be difficult and to last "three, five, seven years." Now, he said, "it is clear that it will take decades."

The Economy.
      Alarmed by the nation's financial crisis and determined to protect their populations from hardship, many of Russia's regional leaders went their own ways without consulting the federal government. Tensions heightened as it became clear that the 1998 grain harvest would be the worst in more than 40 years. Many regions responded to the August crisis by imposing price controls on foodstuffs and trying to prevent the shipment of goods produced in their territories to neighbouring regions. The republics of Tatarstan and Kalmykia announced that they were halting the payment of taxes to the federal budget; Buryatia and the Samara region ordered local branches of Moscow banks not to transfer payments outside republic borders; and the Republic of Sakha declared that it was assuming control of its gold production and cutting back sales to the federal centre. Observers began to warn of a real danger that the Russian Federation might disintegrate—not by design but by default. With the exception of the breakaway Republic of Chechnya, which continued to maintain its independence, none of the regions wanted the federation to dissolve, but there was concern that the federal government was powerless to keep the country together.

      As for war-ravaged Chechnya, the cash-strapped Russian government met none of its promises of financial aid. Russia, consequently, was unable to influence developments in the republic, where civil war seemed increasingly likely. Warlords resorted to kidnapping and gunrunning, and there were fears that lawlessness would spill over from Chechnya to neighbouring parts of the northern Caucasus. In October three British and one New Zealand engineers were kidnapped for ransom; their decapitated bodies were found in December.

      Violent crime also continued in the rest of Russia. The nation was shocked by the assassination in St. Petersburg of Galina Starovoytova, one of Russia's leading democratic parliamentarians, in November.

      In July Yeltsin unexpectedly attended the entombment in St. Petersburg of Russia's last tsar and his family. Yeltsin used the occasion to condemn the murders of the imperial family by the Bolsheviks as "one of the most shameful episodes" in Russian history. A commentator predicted that Yeltsin would be remembered for two things: "the overthrow of communism and the burial of the tsar."

Foreign Affairs.
      Russia's foreign relations in 1998 were characterized by continuity. In September Primakov was replaced as foreign minister by his former first deputy and close political associate, Igor Ivanov. Russia lacked the political, military, and economic power to reclaim the U.S.S.R.'s role as a great power, but the government worked hard to maintain relations with old allies such as India and Iraq and to improve relations with China, Iran, and Japan. In May a telephone hot line opened between the Kremlin and the Chinese president's office.

      Tensions arose between Russia and the U.S. and its allies. In February Yeltsin warned that threatened U.S. military strikes against Iraq could spark a world war. Later in the year Moscow denounced NATO's threats to use force against Serbia over its policy toward the province of Kosovo and the U.S.-British air strikes against Iraq. Primakov continued to voice strong opposition to NATO's planned eastward enlargement, and Russia clashed with the U.S. over a lucrative Russian-Indian nuclear deal. During the summer the G-7 group of leading industrialized nations renamed itself the G-8 and welcomed Russian participation in its deliberations, but the innovation was quietly dropped after the August financial crisis revealed the full weakness of Russia's economy.

      By fall Russia's foreign relations were becoming stymied by Yeltsin's failing health. Meanwhile, a number of Russia's republics pursued their own foreign relations with increasing vigour. This aroused resentment on the part of the federal government, which was, however, powerless to prevent it. Planned reforms of the military were stalled. This was due partly to lack of funding and partly to Yeltsin's September firing of Security Council Secretary Andrey Kokoshin. The International Institute for Strategic Studies noted in its annual report that lack of money was undercutting Russia's ability to carry out military operations. In May-July, for example, not one of Russia's 26 nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines was at sea. There were reports of malnutrition among young conscripts and of hardship suffered by officers and their families as a result of wage arrears.

      In December the Russian and Belarusian presidents signed a series of accords aimed at unifying their two countries, perhaps as soon as mid-1999, with a common currency and a common citizenship but retaining separate armed forces and distinct foreign policies. The move was seen by some as an attempt to promote the reintegration of the former Soviet republics.


▪ 1998

      Area: 17,075,400 sq km (6,592,800 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 147,231,000

      Capital: Moscow

      Chief of state: President Boris Yeltsin

      Head of government: Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin

Domestic Affairs.
      Pres. Boris Yeltsin bounded back into the political fray in March 1997 after eight months' absence caused by sickness. His first action was to reshuffle the Cabinet to include new ministers with strong reform credentials. Anatoly Chubais, Russia's most determined reformer, was appointed first deputy prime minister and finance minister. Boris Nemtsov, one of Russia's youngest and most popular regional leaders, was appointed first deputy prime minister alongside Chubais. Together, the "young reformers" announced plans to overhaul taxation, housing, and welfare; restore central control over headstrong regional leaders; and curb the power of Russia's monopolies (natural gas, electricity, and railways). Stock markets and foreign investors were jubilant, confident that Russia was beginning a new round of economic liberalization. By year's end, however, many of the brave intentions of the new team were still confined to paper, stalled by opposition from Russia's communist-dominated Duma (the lower house of the Russian parliament) and vested interests in finance, industry, and the increasingly autonomous regions.

      The new government's avowed determination to move Russia from the "crony capitalism" of the early Yeltsin years to a more liberal, transparent model brought it into conflict with the group of financiers who had bankrolled Yeltsin's 1996 reelection campaign. In return for services rendered, the bankers had been allowed to take their pick of influential government posts and companies being privatized. Chubais and Nemtsov argued that this relationship between government and big business was distorting the operation of Russia's fledgling market, degrading the government in the eyes of the population, and deterring foreign investment.

      In July the government sold a 25% stake in Svyazinvest, the national telecommunications holding company. The auction was the first in which the winning bid was significantly higher than the reserve price, so the government realized an appreciable cash profit rather than simply privatizing a previously state-owned enterprise. Won by Unexim Bank, Russia's largest private bank, it was judged by many to be the most straightforward and fair of Russia's privatization transactions to date, but it earned Chubais the bitter enmity of the losing consortium, which unleashed a media war accusing him of being as corrupt as anyone else.

      Matters came to a head in November when it was revealed that Chubais and several of his associates had accepted improbably high advance royalties on a book from a company owned by Unexim Bank. Yeltsin stripped Chubais of his post as finance minister but kept him on as first deputy prime minister in an apparent effort to reassure the international financial community that economic reform remained on track.

      Debate over military reform continued throughout the year. Defense Minister Igor Rodionov was replaced in May by Gen. Igor Sergeyev, but expectations that Sergeyev's appointment would accelerate reforms were unfulfilled. At the end of the year, Yeltsin approved a "National Security Concept" designed to orient Russian policy makers in the post-Cold War period. There were hopes that the new document, which concluded that Russia faced no immediate danger of large-scale external aggression, would allow resources to be directed away from defense.

      A major shift in the balance of power between the federal government and the provinces followed the election of regional leaders in Russia's 89 increasingly autonomous republics and regions. The republic of Chechnya continued to assert that it was a sovereign state, whereas the federal government insisted it was part of the Russian Federation. In January former guerrilla leader Aslan Maskhadov was elected president of Chechnya, but the territory remained divided among local warlords, and it was questionable how much control Maskhadov exercised outside the capital. Yeltsin and Maskhadov signed a provisional peace treaty in May but left the question of Chechnya's eventual status undetermined.

The Economy.
      The recovery of output, predicted by the Russian government for each of the past three years, failed once more to materialize. Gross domestic product (GDP), however, as officially recorded, did stop falling in 1997. Indeed, some analysts reckoned that the official statistics were failing to capture a recovery that had in fact begun; if so, this would be the first time the economy had grown since 1989.

      One important factor contributing to the growth of optimism was the government's continued success in curbing inflation. Consumer-price inflation was 11.3% in 1997, down from 21.8% in 1996.

      At the start of the year, the situation had looked a great deal more fragile. The country was riddled with payment arrears—large tax debts to the state budget, large state payments behind schedule both to state employees and to government suppliers, and chains of overdue payments between firms and between firms and their employees. As a result, the use of barter and of a variety of money surrogates was growing.

      The situation changed dramatically in March when the government reshuffle brought in what enthusiasts called a "dream team" of reformers. They promptly set about putting macroeconomic stabilization on a sounder, more durable footing. The first step was to make federal government taxing and spending plans more realistic. Federal spending plans were cut in a "sequestration" of the 1997 budget designed to bring spending closer to the level of revenue raising that was achievable in practice. This entailed large cuts in subsidies to producers; though these were resisted by the Duma, the government pressed ahead.

      The "young reformers" followed up by increasing pressure on some of the largest tax debtors, including the giant natural gas monopoly, Gazprom. This allowed the government to make good some of its own arrears, such as state pension payments. These were emergency measures, however. The need remained to put federal government finances on a sustainable basis over the following year and beyond. The government embarked on two more battles with the Duma—over the 1998 budget and a new tax code.

      The draft budget for 1998 was a logical successor to the "sequestrated" version of the 1997 budget and was correspondingly unpopular with the communist-dominated Duma. The new tax code aimed to simplify the existing tax structure by cutting the number of taxes from 200 to 28. Western investors, especially, saw the introduction of the new tax code as a major step forward in reducing the turbulence and unpredictability of the existing Russian tax system. Many were therefore disheartened when, in October, President Yeltsin, fighting to stave off a Duma vote of no confidence in the government, conceded a delay in the attempt to push the new code through. Most Russian analysts, however, were less impressed by the new code. They considered that it had been drafted in a hurry and would cause problems if implemented without revision.

      The new government team also launched a long-term program to cut state spending on housing maintenance and housing utilities (gas, water, heating, and electricity supplies to domestic dwellings). Many, probably most, Russian city budgets were dominated by housing subsidies, distributed indiscriminately to all households regardless of their income levels. Privatization of more than half the urban housing stock had not disposed of the problem. Charges for maintenance and utilities had continued to be subsidized for all—whether municipal tenants or new owners. The housing-reform program, led by Nemtsov, aimed to raise these charges in steps until they covered costs by the year 2003. At the same time, part of the public spending released would be targeted at direct support for low-income households. This policy was highly sensitive politically; Yeltsin appeared in the fall to be hinting at concessions on that front, too.

      Thus, after initial successes the initiatives of the new reform team had begun to run into difficulties by the fall. The rate of tax collection, after some major tax arrears had been captured, remained low; federal tax revenue in the first eight months of the year was down to only 8.1% of GDP. As a result, the government's ability to reduce the state deficit and the rate of government borrowing (with total government debt, external plus internal, around 50% of GDP and rising) remained in doubt. The government was, therefore, still borrowing at levels that tended to "crowd out" borrowing for private-sector investment. Indeed, investment continued to fall in 1997—not a good augury for the recovery expected (once more) by the government "next year" (1998).

      Finance from abroad, however, increased. Having gained an international sovereign credit rating in late 1996, the government had begun to issue Eurobonds on Western markets. This access to Western financial markets was also gained by several Russian cities and provinces, including Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Nizhny Novgorod.

      The increased inflow of foreign private capital, though undoubtedly welcome in many respects, carried some dangers. In the first half of the year, the total inflow was $6.7 billion, accounting for more than a third of the cumulative stock of foreign investment at midyear. Much of this new surge, however, was portfolio rather than direct investment, and a further large slice was private-sector borrowing rather than equity investment. That meant that the flows in could easily be reversed and become flows out. Meanwhile, a good deal of smart Russian money continued to be placed offshore, so on balance there probably remained a net outflow of capital. Qualms about the prospects for a sustained recovery seemed to be borne out at year's end when, in an indication of the extent to which the Russian economy had been integrated into the global economy, the Russian government found itself forced to raise interest rates to protect the ruble against the turmoil afflicting emerging markets worldwide.

Foreign Affairs.
      Tensions persisted throughout the year over NATO's potential enlargement to include former Soviet allies in Central and Eastern Europe. In the event, Russia did not carry out its early threat to abandon some of its arms control commitments if NATO went ahead with eastward expansion. Instead, in May Yeltsin signed the Russia-NATO Founding Act—a political agreement that established a consultative council and promised Russia "a voice but no veto" in the affairs of the alliance.

      Russia worked hard throughout the year to cultivate relations with China, India, and Japan. Moscow's declared aim was to construct a "multipolar" system of international relations in contrast to the "unipolar," U.S.-dominated system seen as having replaced the bipolar world of the Cold War era. In addition, Moscow declared its intention to follow through on a nuclear construction project in Iran that aroused strong U.S. opposition. Russia also announced a series of new oil deals with its old ally, Iraq.

      In April Russia and Belarus agreed to ratify a treaty of union calling for union of the two nations, common citizenship, coordinated security and economic policies, and a single currency. The reform wing of the Russian government expressed strong reservations, as did liberal opinion in Belarus, and the terms of the treaty were confined to paper only.

      In May Russia and Ukraine finally resolved their five-year dispute over the division of the Black Sea Fleet and signed a long-awaited friendship treaty under which Russia formally acknowledged its neighbour's independence and territorial integrity.


▪ 1997

      Russia is a federal republic occupying eastern and northeastern Europe and all of northern Asia. It is the world's largest country and covers more than 10% of the globe's total land mass. The name Russia is officially synonymous with the Russian Federation. Area: 17,075,400 sq km (6,592,800 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 148,070,000. Cap.: Moscow. Monetary unit: ruble, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a free rate of 5,437 rubles = U.S. $1 (8,564 rubles = £1 sterling). President in 1996, Boris Yeltsin; prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin.

      The first six months of 1996 in Russia were dominated by the presidential election campaign. There was alarm inside and outside Russia that incumbent Pres. Boris Yeltsin would be defeated by Communist challenger Gennady Zyuganov. (See BIOGRAPHIES (Zyuganov, Gennady Andreyevich ).) Russia bucked the post-Soviet trend to elect reformed communists, however, and Yeltsin was reelected. (See SIDEBAR (RUSSIA: Russia's Democratic Election ).) The election confirmed that Russia remained on track to implement a market economy and a democratic society. The effort of campaigning proved so strenuous, however, that in June, between the first and second rounds of the election, Yeltsin suffered a heart attack, his third in 15 months. He underwent heart bypass surgery in November; immediately before and after the operation, he was a virtual lame duck. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin was given state power while Yeltsin was incapacitated. As a result, the period until the summer was characterized by political uncertainty, which discouraged investment and held back economic growth, while the second half of the year was marked by a covert power struggle as Kremlin leaders maneuvered for position in the Yeltsin succession stakes.

      On one level the struggle took the form of a clash of personalities. On a deeper level it was a power contest between Kremlin clans representing influential financial groups, oil and gas producers, heavy industry, and arms manufacturers. Losers in the struggle were Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and longtime Yeltsin confidant Aleksandr Korzhakov, who were ousted from power in June. A comeback was staged by Anatoly Chubais, who had been dismissed from the government in January and was appointed chief of the presidential staff in July. By year's end, with Yeltsin convalescing from his heart operation, Chubais, if not universally loved, was recognized as the driving force behind Kremlin policy.

      The brightest meteor in the Kremlin firmament was the retired general Aleksandr Lebed (see BIOGRAPHIES (Lebed, Aleksandr Ivanovich )), who captured the public imagination when he placed third in the presidential election in June. The ambitious Lebed was then co-opted by the Yeltsin campaign and appointed secretary of Russia's influential Security Council. Almost single-handedly, Lebed brought an end to Russia's war against the breakaway republic of Chechnya, where federal troops had been engaged in a bitter and bloody struggle since December 1994. Officials put the number of casualties at 30,000, Lebed at three times that figure.

      In April separatist leader Dzhokhar Dudayev was killed (see OBITUARIES (Dudayev, Dzhokhar )), probably by a Russian missile. Dudayev's departure from the scene, followed by Lebed's appointment to the Kremlin, facilitated a rapprochement between the warring sides. A cease-fire signed in August postponed a decision on Chechnya's status vis-à-vis the Russian Federation for five years and made it possible for federal troops to withdraw from Chechen territory and for elections to be planned. By the end of the year Chechnya was, in all but name, an independent state.

      Lebed's abrasive personality won him powerful enemies, and in October Yeltsin sacked him. Lebed left with his popularity and the trust of the electorate intact, however, and his chances of replacing Yeltsin as Russia's next president appeared strong.

      The year was marked by little progress toward achieving a functioning multiparty system. Only the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, with half a million members, could boast a nationwide organization. Its support, at about one-third of the electorate, had remained more or less constant since 1991 but showed no sign of growing. Other parties were weak and confined to Moscow or St. Petersburg. The federal government was also weak, especially in comparison with the leaders of Russia's increasingly autonomous and differentiated regions. Fall elections gave many voters their first opportunity to elect local governors, who had until then been appointed by the president; this further enhanced the autonomy of regional leaders, some of whom ruled virtually private fiefdoms.

The Economy.
      Rumours of imminent economic crisis recurred throughout the year, and the long-awaited turnaround in the economy did not materialize. Gross domestic product (GDP) continued to decline, with output for the year as a whole 6% lower than in 1995. Although by year's end an increasing number of foreign investors seemed ready to commit funds to Russia, overall investment was too low to spark economic growth. The budget deficit remained a problem and threatened to be greater than planned. Nonetheless, Russia moved significantly closer to financial stabilization in 1996. Thanks to strict government austerity policies, the inflation rate fell steadily throughout the year and totaled 21.8% for the year as a whole.

      The economic year began inauspiciously when, in January, President Yeltsin sacked Chubais, who had been the standard-bearer of market reform. Contrary to expectations, however, Chubais's ouster was not accompanied by a reversal of government economic policy, and, after Yeltsin's reelection in July, the balance tipped back to the reformers.

      During the election campaign Yeltsin made lavish populist spending promises and tax concessions. These helped him win reelection but were almost all rescinded within a month of his inauguration. This did not make the government popular with the public. Austerity was offered as the reason for the late payment of wages and pensions and the axing of subsidies to industries, which in turn stoked unemployment. The most comprehensive figure for unemployment and underemployment (non-full-time workers and those on enforced leave) was 15% of the workforce by the summer of 1996. There were frequent strikes throughout the year.

      Support for Russia from the West continued to flow as economic reforms were maintained. In February the government negotiated a three-year, $10.2 billion loan with the International Monetary Fund. The second largest loan in the IMF's history, this action signaled Western confidence in Russian economic reforms and support for Yeltsin's candidacy. Nonetheless, the IMF obligated Russia to meet a string of conditions concerning inflation levels, budget deficit, and removal of export tariffs. The loan was payable in monthly installments that could be withdrawn whenever (as happened in July and again in October and November) the IMF believed that Russia was not meeting its targets.

      In April Russia made an important move toward entering international capital markets when it signed a rescheduling agreement on about $40 billion of its inherited (that is, ex-Soviet) debt to Western governments within the framework of the Paris Club of creditor governments. The hoped-for rescheduling of Russian debt to the London Club of Western creditor banks was not, however, finalized.

      Considerable trade liberalization, including the abandonment of most direct administrative controls on exports and imports, took place during the year. The government announced its intention to make the ruble fully convertible for current-account transactions. The stronger ruble that resulted was one of the main planks of the government's stabilization program aimed at attracting investment. In the short term, however, the strength of the ruble was felt to work against domestic producers. One branch of industry that seemed unaffected was arms exports, which increased sharply.

      The government successfully launched Russia's first Eurobond issue at the end of the year. As a precondition for the bond issue, U.S. and European agencies in October awarded Russia its first long-term credit rating since the 1917 revolution. Russia's higher-than-anticipated BB grading allowed the government to borrow at rates more favourable than the treasury bill market that had until then been Moscow's main source of financing.

      Tax collection emerged as the government's main headache in the fall. Federal government tax receipts dropped in the first half of the year to half their 1995 levels. The decline in tax revenue relative to GDP was a long-term trend that partly reflected the disorganization and ineffectiveness of the government, and large firms with influential political patrons often got away without paying taxes.

      President and the parliament waged an ongoing battle over private land ownership. The parliament introduced a land code explicitly designed to outlaw the free sale of arable land. This was vetoed by President Yeltsin, who signed a decree of his own giving farmers the right to freely sell and lease agricultural land. The presidential edict required supporting legislation that was not in the president's gift, however, and the impasse continued to impede agricultural reform.

Foreign Affairs.
      The year opened with the dismissal of Russia's long-serving foreign minister, Andrey Kozyrev, and his replacement by Yevgeny Primakov. Kozyrev was generally described as pro-Western, and the expectation was that Primakov, former director of Russia's foreign intelligence service (one of the KGB's successors), would adopt a more anti-Western policy. In fact, Primakov turned out to be a pragmatist with whom the West felt able to do business. This was partly because a hard-headed foreign policy consensus had emerged in Russia as early as 1992-93, and Kozyrev had already adapted to it. That consensus held that Russia could and should work in tandem with the West on a range of issues as long as its national interests were not challenged. In January, for example, Russia joined the Council of Europe (CE), but Russian politicians reacted angrily when the CE and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) launched sustained criticism of human rights abuses in Chechnya—in particular, the unacceptably high rate of civilian casualties.

      Throughout the year Russian leaders fulminated against the possibility of NATO expansion into Central and Eastern Europe. Russia continued to press for the OSCE—not NATO—to become the central pillar of a new European security architecture. By year's end, however, there were signs that Russian leaders were gradually and grudgingly moving toward acceptance of an enlarged NATO and that Russia itself might be preparing to cooperate more closely with the alliance.

      Moscow continued to push for closer integration with the other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States. In April Russia signed an integration agreement with Belarus but steered clear of the full reunion of the two countries desired by Belarusian Pres. Alyaksandr Lukashenka, evidently fearing Belarus's economic problems would be a drain on Russia's budget.

      The battle over NATO enlargement was paralleled inside Russia by a deepening conflict over Russia's armed forces. There was concern that drastic cuts in the defense budget were undermining military capability and destroying Russia's status as a great power. Military leaders charged that underfinancing had humiliated the army to the point where armed mutiny was a real possibility. Military reform was hotly debated, the aim being a smaller army that would be cheaper to maintain. The transition to an all-volunteer force, which Yeltsin pledged during his campaign would be completed by the year 2000, was postponed until 2005. There was strong military opposition to the government's plans to reduce Russia's army from a nominal strength of 1.7 million soldiers in 1996 to 1.2 million by 1998.

      In April Yeltsin visited Beijing. The warming of Sino-Russian relations was further accentuated after Yeltsin's heart surgery when Chinese Premier Li Peng in December became the first foreign leader to visit him. (ELIZABETH TEAGUE)

▪ 1996

      Russia is a federal republic occupying eastern and northeastern Europe and all of northern Asia. Area: 17,075,400 sq km (6,592,800 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 147,168,000. Cap.: Moscow. Monetary unit: ruble, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a free rate of 4,496 rubles = U.S. $1 (7,107 rubles = £1 sterling). President in 1995, Boris Yeltsin; prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin.

      In the tumultuous year of 1995, Pres. Boris Yeltsin's hold on power was challenged on many occasions. He was hospitalized in July with heart trouble and again in October, after returning from New York. The victory of the Communists in the December elections was widely seen as a rejection of the government's reform policies. All this created the impression that the Yeltsin era was coming to an end and that the president could not stand for reelection in June 1996.

Domestic Affairs.
      An intense struggle for influence took place during the year among Yeltsin's aides and ministers. Two main centres of power emerged, the government and its central ministries on the one side and the president and his administration on the other, but many administrative functions overlapped, which promoted inefficient decision making as officials fought for the president's ear. Another conflict also was raging throughout the country, this one between the pro- and antireform lobbies. Communists and nationalists opposed the government's commitment to the market economy and democracy and its essentially pro-Western foreign policy stance.

      The disastrous war in Chechnya, launched in December 1994, dragged on, and by year's end no binding peace agreement had been negotiated with the forces of the rebellious Chechen president, Dzhokhar Dudayev. Militarily defeated, the rebels took to the southern hills of Chechnya and launched daring attacks on the occupying Russian forces. In June Chechen rebels penetrated southern Russia and attacked Budennovsk, killing over 100. The rebels had bribed Russian guards to pass through the border. They later took hostages and used them to negotiate their safe return to Chechnya. The Chechen terrorists took their campaign to the heart of Moscow in November by placing a radioactive parcel in a public park and causing great anxiety.

      The president and the government were savaged in the State Duma (lower house of the parliament) for their handling of the affair and the Chechen war in general. On June 30 Yeltsin made concessions on the eve of the State Duma's no-confidence motion in the government by sacking Minister of the Interior Viktor Yerin; Sergey Stepashin, head of the Federal Counterintelligence Service; and Nikolay Yegorov, deputy prime minister responsible for nationality affairs. In the no-confidence vote on July 1, only 193 deputies voted against the government, far short of the 226 needed to carry the motion. This was the most dangerous confrontation with the parliament since the bloody events of October 1993.

      On several occasions during the early part of the year, Yeltsin stated that Russian bombardment of Grozny and Russian attacks on stated targets had ceased. Local observers refuted these claims, however, and revealed that the war was continuing. Some commentators took this to mean that the president was not in control of his own armed forces, but the more likely explanation was that the "war party" in Moscow, centred in the Security Council, had a mandate to defeat the Chechens militarily as quickly as possible. Yeltsin maintained that Russia would never negotiate with the "bandit" Dudayev, but his assurances seemed to be for international consumption only. While noting Yeltsin's erratic behaviour, commentators praised Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin for his flexibility and willingness to compromise.

      The war in Chechnya weakened ties between the centre and the non-Russian republics and polarized Russians and non-Russians (about 19% of the population) in a way not seen since 1991. A summit meeting of various republican leaders from the Volga and Urals regions held in Cheboksary, Chuvash Republic, in early January revealed the depth of opposition to the war, especially among Muslims. The meeting condemned the war, demanded its immediate cessation, and criticized Yeltsin, notably for his disinclination to consult with republican leaders. The meeting called for the convening of a "congress of the peoples of Russia" to debate, draft, and take action on national issues. Although the congress had not come into being by the end of the year, the implicit warning that another centre of power, rivaling Moscow and speaking for the regions, could emerge in the future was not lost. The president of the Ingush Republic, which borders Chechnya and was home to many refugees, strongly criticized Russia's use of force and warned that it could lead in turn to the use of force against Russians throughout the Caucasus. The president of the North Ossetian Republic, on the other hand, welcomed Moscow's intervention—apparently the only republican leader to do so. The imams everywhere criticized Russia's military action and attempted to increase feelings of solidarity among Muslims (about 12% of Russia's population). The leaders of several ethnically Russian oblasts, including Moscow, as well as of Stavropol Kray, criticized the anti-interventionist stance of the Cheboksary summit. Opinion polls in Russia revealed little enthusiasm for the war, and by the summer there was a clear majority in favour of letting Chechnya secede. This paralleled the isolationist feeling in Russia that Chechnya, as well as the now independent republics of Ukraine and Belarus, were millstones around Russia's neck. There was little sympathy for the 22 million Russians living outside Russia. All this was related to declining living standards in Russia and the belief that Russian policy should concentrate on its domestic agenda.

      The political climax of the year was the December 17 elections, which, if only an early act in the much more important drama of the presidential election in the summer of 1996, revealed the depth of popular disenchantment with the reform policies of the government and the erratic performance of President Yeltsin. In the event, the Communists came out on top with 22.3% of the vote, while the ultranationalists of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) were in second place with 11.2%; moderate and reformist parties generally fared poorly. Taken together, three radical parties—the Communists, their Agrarian Party allies, and the LDP—would control over half the seats in the State Duma. The December elections threw the spotlight on likely challengers to Yeltsin for the presidency; Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, Zhirinovsky, reformist Grigory Yavlinsky (of Yabloko, which won 6.9%), and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin (of the Our Home Is Russia party, 10.1%) were in, as was Lieut. Gen. Aleksandr I. Lebed, the nationalist veteran of the Afghanistan war, who threw his hat in the ring at year's end even though his party in the elections failed to win seating in the State Duma.

The Economy.
      The major government objectives—increasing budget revenue, restricting expenditure, and reining in inflation—were, on the whole, achieved. In the first half of the year, the federal budget deficit was only 3.2% of gross domestic product (GDP), below the target agreed with the International Monetary Fund when it made available a $6.5 billion standby loan to Russia. The small deficit was due to increased revenue and lower expenditure than in 1994. In turn, the monthly rate of inflation fell from about 18% in January to 4.5% in October.

      On the downside, however, the government was tardy in paying its bills, and there were many strikes resulting from the nonpayment of wages. Cuts in federal subsidies hurt poorer regions, especially those in the north. After falling almost continuously for three years against the dollar, the ruble began to appreciate in May, and from May 4 to August 7 it rose 16%. In July the government and the central bank announced that the ruble would be held within a corridor of 4,300-4,900 to the dollar until October 1, and that date was later extended to the end of the year. Gross foreign exchange reserves reached $10 billion in June, the highest amount since the beginning of reforms. The ruble also appreciated against the currencies of other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Total credits provided by Russia to the CIS climbed to $5.6 billion in mid-1995, and these states were proving quite unable to service the debt. Total CIS and Baltic states shortfall for Russia's energy supplies was $3.1 billion by July 1.

      Wealth was spread unevenly over the country. The Far East, with 5% of the population, reported 8% of national income; the Central region, including Moscow, increased its share in 1995 (20% of the population and 29% of national income), while the Volga region and the North Caucasus had the lowest income figures.

      Federal provision for health, social security, and education was proving inadequate. Unemployment climbed to 7.6% of the labour force in July. Benefits were kept low in order to encourage the unemployed to seek new employment rapidly. There was a great increase in the number of Russians with second jobs. In July about 28% of the population was living below the poverty line, compared with 25% in July 1994. The old and the very young were the most seriously affected. Real consumption declined by 6% in the first half of the year compared with the previous year; retail trade was 8% less over the same period. Russia's GDP fell an estimated 5% in 1995, compared with 15% in 1994.

      Agriculture turned in a dismal performance, recording a harvest of about 65 million metric tons of grain and necessitating imports of at least 10 million metric tons. Production figures for meat, poultry, milk, and eggs were significantly down during the first half of the year compared with the same period in 1994, following a steady trend since 1991. Only about 2% of food output came from private farms, which demonstrated that privatization in the countryside was only just beginning.

      Privatization of Russia's state-owned industries encountered some difficulties in early 1995, but in April the government published a list of some 7,000 companies in which it planned to sell its remaining shares. The sales took place between September and December and boosted the second stage of privatization, which involved large companies. Sell-offs were slow during the first half of the year because the government feared that its assets would move at excessively low prices, given the depressed state of the Russian stock market. Initially the government expected revenue of some 9.1 trillion rubles, with 3.6 trillion rubles coming in the first half of the year, but the actual total was 100 billion rubles, partly because over 3,000 of the most attractive Russian companies were excluded from privatization.

      Given the need to boost budget revenue, however, the government had second thoughts. In October it announced it would sell 25% of Svyazinvest, a state-owned telecommunications holding company, to an Italian investor for $1.2 billion. The deal fell through on December 25, however. Privatization nevertheless had changed the face of the Russian economy. By April 1995, 73% of industrial enterprises responsible for 85% of total industrial production were in the private sector. In some industries the advance was more spectacular. Practically all companies in ferrous metallurgy were private, and in the fuel industry the figure stood at over 90%.

      In housing only 33%, or 11 million, apartments designated for privatization had been sold. Renters were wary of buying, fearing high taxes and repair bills. An increasingly popular method of restructuring enterprises was the formation of financial industrial groups, clusters of enterprises and commercial banks. In July there were 18 such groups in Russia, notably in the metals and automobile sectors.

      In July Russia's first hostile takeover attempt occurred. The bid for the Red October chocolate factory failed, but the suitor, a company controlled by Menatep Bank, was granted two seats on Red October's board.

      In 1995 just over 2,500 commercial banks traded, and 770 possessed licenses to engage in foreign-currency transactions. Bad debts jumped to 20% of total loans in January, however, and this contributed to the first banking crisis in Russia. Panic spread in August as 10 banks acknowledged that they could not repay their loans, and overnight interbank rates reached 1,000%. The crisis was overcome when the Russian central bank bought government bonds to provide liquidity. It seemed clear that some banks would have to be closed, if only because only 20% of the 1,000 joint stock banks met the central bank's requirement of charter capital over 6 billion rubles. Western banking authorities mentioned these figures as one reason why they would not be granting any Russian bank a banking license in the near future.

Foreign Affairs.
      Publicly President Yeltsin and U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton got on famously; they met in Moscow in May and in New York in October and enjoyed many telephone conversations as well. Behind the smiles, however, there were several points of friction in the relationship; Russia insisted that it would supply nuclear reactors to Iran, was resolutely opposed to the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe, and made clear that its troops would not serve under a NATO general in Bosnia and Herzegovina—much to the U.S.'s chagrin. Russia also went its own way over Cuba, signing an oil-for-sugar deal and promising to finish building a Soviet-era nuclear reactor. Two undiplomatic comments late in the year, in turn, roused Russia's ire. First, a senior political officer at the U.S. embassy in Moscow published an unflattering article in a Moscow newspaper about the level of democracy in the forthcoming elections. Then, on December 8, Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering told journalists on Sakhalin Island that the U.S. supported Japanese claims in the sensitive Kuril Islands dispute with Russia.

      Yeltsin also lacked faith in his own foreign minister, Andrey Kozyrev, for not prosecuting Russia's interests vigorously enough abroad and went so far as to talk about sacking him in October.

      Within the CIS the war in Chechnya sowed distrust of Russia among most states, which resisted entering into a close security arrangement with Moscow; the exception was Kazakhstan. Russian trade with CIS states increased, and Russia obtained stakes in some companies in Ukraine and elsewhere in a debt-for-equity swap. Gazprom, the Russian monopoly gas producer, attempted to gain control over pipelines in Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova.


▪ 1995

      Russia is a federal republic occupying eastern and northeastern Europe and all of northern Asia. Area: 17,075,400 sq km (6,592,800 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 148,174,000. Cap.: Moscow. Monetary unit: ruble, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a free rate of 2,927 rubles = U.S. $1 (4,656 rubles = £1 sterling). President in 1994, Boris Yeltsin; prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin.

      An uneasy truce prevailed during 1994 between Pres. Boris Yeltsin and the opposition, within the State Duma (lower house of parliament) and outside. In elections in December 1993 Yeltsin succeeded in getting a popular mandate for the new constitution, which conferred much greater powers on the president than Yeltsin had enjoyed under the 1978 (Soviet) constitution. The president had wanted the vote on the constitution to be a measure of the confidence of the electorate in him and his policies, but the low turnout (55%) and the fact that only 58.4% voted in favour of the constitution rather undermined the legitimacy of the president. Moreover, in May the results of an analysis of voting published in Izvestiya concluded that voter turnout had been only 46.1%; by these calculations the constitution had not been adopted. Both the president and the Duma ignored the report.

      More bad news for Yeltsin was that the new Duma did not have a pro-reform majority. Twenty-one parties had applied to contest the election, but only 13 were permitted to do so. Here the pro-Yeltsin forces miscalculated. By banning some of the more extreme parties, they succeeded only in concentrating the antireform vote. Yeltsin, to the consternation of his supporters, refused to support Russia's Choice openly. As the main pro-reform party, Russia's Choice had confidently expected about a third of the vote but was shocked to discover that only 15.4% of voters chose it. With 22.8% of the vote, the clear winner, especially among businessmen, was the Liberal Democratic Party (in reality a right-wing nationalist party) of Vladimir Zhirinovsky (see BIOGRAPHIES (Zhirinovsky, Vladimir )), who promised to clamp down on crime and corruption and also to exclude Western capital from the country. Moreover, many Russians were having second thoughts about the wisdom of breaking up the Soviet Union, and Zhirinovsky's promise to subordinate the U.S.S.R. successor states to Russia was very appealing.

      This vote, however, in which the seats were allocated according to proportional representation, applied to only half of the 450 seats in the Duma. The other half were allocated according to the "first-past-the-post" principle, and here the pro-reformers did much better. Altogether, radical reformers (Russia's Choice and others) won 88 seats, moderate reformers (Russian Party of Unity and Accord and the Yavlinsky-Boldyrev-Lukin bloc) received 41 seats; centrists (New Regional Policy and Democratic Party), 80 seats; pro-communist (Agrarian Union, Women of Russia, and Communist Party), 104 seats; Russian nationalist (Russian Way), 25; and the extreme right (Liberal Democratic Party), 64. Ivan Rybkin of the Agrarian Union, a staunch communist, was elected speaker. Since much of the government's economic policy was opposed by the Yavlinsky-Boldyrev-Lukin bloc, there was little prospect that radical legislation would be passed. The tension that had existed between the legislative (parliament) and the executive (president and government) continued under the new constitutional order.

      In the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, the situation was much more satisfactory from Yeltsin's point of view. Most of the 178 members were independents, but the pro-reform democrats had the largest group, 48 members. There were 23 moderate reformers. The Liberal Democratic Party was not formally represented. Vladimir Shumeyko, a Yeltsin supporter, was elected speaker.

      Under the new constitution the president—not the parliament—proposed the prime minister and government. If the Duma rejected his nominees three times, he could dissolve the Duma. The constitution afforded the parliament, the president, the federal government, and the representative bodies of the subdivisions (republics, krays, oblasts) of the federation the right to initiate legislation. There were no legal or procedural means to prevent or mediate clashes between different types of legislation, however, one of the many instances that revealed that the constitution was drawn up in haste. On the other hand, it was extremely difficult to impeach the president; nothing short of a charge of treason or similar grave crime would suffice.

      Although Yeltsin's attitude toward the Duma was conciliatory, the legislature was frustrated by its inability, under the constitution, to make the government accountable to it or even to obtain the information it sought. The opposition saw that the only recourse was to force a vote of no confidence in the government. Such a vote occurred in October, and the government came within 32 votes of losing.

      From time to time the Duma openly challenged the president. For instance, in February the Duma granted an amnesty to the leaders of the attempted coup of August 1991, those responsible for attacks on the police at a Moscow demonstration on May Day 1993, and the leaders of the parliamentary revolt crushed by Yeltsin in October 1993 (including Yeltsin foes Ruslan Khasbulatov and Aleksandr Rutskoy). Yeltsin responded by phoning Prosecutor General Aleksey Kazannik and instructing him to find a legal device to block the amnesty. Kazannik refused to obey the "telephone law," declared that the amnesty was legal, and resigned.

      The defeat of the pro-reform parties in the elections strengthened the hand of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Radical deputy prime ministers, except Anatoly Chubais (responsible for privatization), were replaced by more conservative men in order to appeal to the industrial, military-industrial, and agrarian lobbies. A major casualty was Yegor Gaydar, who stepped down as first deputy prime minister, whereupon Boris Fyodorov, the minister of finance, and Aleksandr Shokhin, the minister of economics, contended for the key reform post. Fyodorov threatened to resign from the Cabinet and demanded the resignation of Aleksandr Zaveryukha, deputy prime minister in charge of agriculture, and Viktor Gerashchenko, chairman of the Russian central bank. Fyodorov was also keen to succeed Gerashchenko. Chernomyrdin asked Fyodorov to withdraw his conditions and return as minister of finance. He refused, and the two main proponents of reform in the government, Gaydar and Fyodorov, were gone. Chernomyrdin also dismissed several of the government's pro-Western economic advisers and stressed that Russia was not going to adopt a Western economic model. He also pushed for closer ties (i.e., more Russian influence) within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

      Regional and local elections resulted in further defeats for the reformist movement and successes for the former communist elites. Many of the elections were declared invalid since less than 25% of the electorate went to the polls, revealing political apathy, which was partly due to the perception that local elected institutions were too weak to deal with pressing local problems.

      In April the Civic Accord was signed by the president, representatives of the government and the parliament, and regional and republican leaders. Yeltsin had proposed the accord in February as a means for contentious political forces to work together to stabilize Russia's economic position. The draft had to be amended several times to satisfy the several participants, and the final version deleted provisions for sanctions against signatories who violated the accord. The Agrarian Union, the Communist Party, and the Yavlinsky-Boldyrev-Lukin bloc refused to sign.

      In June Russia's Choice announced the formation of a new political party, Russia's Democratic Choice, headed by Gaydar. In October Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democrats boycotted the Duma in protest against what they called an official campaign of harassment against the party. They were joined by the Agrarian Union and the Communist Party, and this led to the Duma's being deprived for a time of a working majority.

      Matters took an alarming turn beginning in September when the currency began dropping in value; on October 11, dubbed Black Tuesday, the ruble lost over 20% against the U.S. dollar. The president dismissed the acting minister of finance, Sergey Dubinin, and demanded that the Duma remove Gerashchenko. When the Duma refused, he dismissed the central bank chairman himself, a violation of the constitution.

      Chernomyrdin also lost face in the episode, and it appeared that the president might sacrifice him. On October 27 the prime minister narrowly survived a vote of no confidence. Only 54 deputies sided with the government, which revealed how thin support for the reform program was. Opposition was marshaled by the Communists, but the Agrarians were divided in their votes. Yeltsin dismissed the liberal minister of agriculture, Viktor Khlystun, and replaced him with the Agrarian Aleksandr Nazarchuk. This deal appeared to save the day for the government. The fallout from Black Tuesday permitted the president on November 4 to appoint Vladimir Panskov the new minister of finance and accept the resignation of Aleksandr Shokhin as deputy prime minister and minister of economics.

      Pessimists thought that this meant a lurch to the right by Yeltsin, but he appointed Anatoly Chubais first deputy prime minister and Yevgeny Yasin, an academic who had worked on Mikhail Gorbachev's 500-day program, minister of economics. It appeared that the president's tactics were to include in his government all shades of opinion, from radical reformer Chubais to ex-Communist Nazarchuk. The Communist Party was offered a place in government, but it declined. Thus, three levels of executive power evolved: the president, the Security Council (which was concerned mainly with security, defense, and police affairs), and the government. Foreign affairs came directly under the president, while the government was mainly responsible for economic policy.

      During the year Yeltsin distanced himself from all groups and attempted to placate pro-communists, nationalists, and reformers from time to time. He did not commit himself to a coherent policy of political or economic reform. The main information agencies remained under state control, and major initiatives were still launched by presidential decree. In some ways Yeltsin began to resemble Gorbachev in 1991.

      A crisis of a different sort beset Yeltsin in the latter half of the year. Following the withdrawal of Russian troops from Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, Moscow signed an agreement with the government of Moldova on the eventual withdrawal of the Russian 14th Army from the territory of the self-declared "Dniester republic." At the same time, it also began to increase the support for a group in the southern oil-producing area of Chechnya that opposed that republic's nationalist president, Dzhokhar Dudayev (see BIOGRAPHIES (Dudayev, Dzhokhar )), and his drive to take Chechnya out of the Russian Federation. Dudayev had declared Chechnya's independence in 1991.

      Fighting between the Chechen government and the opposition escalated slowly throughout the fall, then intensified sharply at the end of November. On December 10 Yeltsin ordered the borders of Chechnya sealed, and the following day Russian troops entered the heavily Muslim-populated republic. They made slow, very costly progress toward Grozny, the capital, amid a growing chorus of criticism of Russian involvement—in Chechnya itself, among many Russian civilians and politicians, as well as some in the military, and almost universally abroad. Russian troops had not secured Grozny by year's end, and there seemed to be confusion among the leaders in Moscow about who was in charge.

The Economy.
      The economy appeared to be in free fall for most of the year. Gross national product declined by 27%, production by 28%, and investment by 27% during the first half of the year. Gross domestic product (GDP) was expected to fall 15% over the year. Agriculture suffered badly, with the private sector accounting for less than 10% of arable farming. Most food on sale in Moscow was imported. About 18% of the population lived below the poverty line. On the other hand, Russia enjoyed a balance of payments surplus, and by autumn about $500 million in venture capital was flowing in monthly. The service sector was booming, and privatization had resulted in about half the labour force working in the private sector. Small- and medium-scale privatization was almost completed, and Chubais envisaged 1995 as the year when large-scale privatization could really get under way.

      Most conflict centred on the budget. The 1994 budget was passed by the parliament only in June, but the 1995 budget was already being hotly debated in November. This was an austerity budget, strongly backed by Chernomyrdin, and was tailored to please the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rather than the Duma. The draft abandoned the previous gradualist approach in the battle against inflation. There was to be a pegged exchange rate, strict rules against printing money to cover the budget deficit, and a planned $13 billion in Western aid. Tax revenues would most likely fail to meet targets, however (in 1994 tax revenues were only 11% of GDP). Spending cuts were implied, but the agrarian and military-industrial lobbies fought fiercely for large increases. Budget deficits would be financed by bond sales and help from outside. Demand for government bonds was weak in 1994, as there was little faith in the ruble. Half of all savings were being placed into foreign currencies.

Foreign Affairs.
      In December, at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe session in Budapest, Yeltsin launched a blistering attack on NATO's plans to expand eastward and embrace the Eastern European states. He talked about the Cold War giving way to the Cold Peace. After some vacillation, in November Russia declined to join NATO's Partnership for Peace program, a rude shock for the U.S., which had doggedly stood behind Yeltsin throughout the year (Pres. Bill Clinton had visited Moscow in January). These moves signaled a toughening of the Russian position on relations with the West and made it clear that Moscow still regarded Eastern Europe as lying within its zone of influence.

      In the area Russia had called the "near abroad," Moscow continued to expand its political, economic, and military influence as well. An Interstate Economic Committee was set up in the CIS (see Commonwealth of Independent States ), which pointed toward gradual economic integration. Russia also moved to improve relations with China and Japan, and a number of agreements were signed, but the key question of Russo-Japanese relations, the fate of the Kuril Islands, remained unsolved. Russia upgraded its relations with Iraq and sought to mediate in the Iraq-Kuwait conflict. Russia strongly opposed an expanded role for NATO in Bosnia and Herzegovina, although it did on occasion sanction NATO bombing of Serb positions and pressed for a negotiated settlement.

      The conflict between Westernizers (those who favoured an Atlanticist foreign policy and close relations with the West) and nationalists (those who favoured a Eurasian and Russocentric foreign policy) appeared to be tipping in favour of the latter. Several influential scholars known for their Atlanticist position gradually moved toward the nationalists, and in May author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn returned to his homeland after 20 years in exile. Rumours about Yeltsin's health, his passion for vodka, and his fitness to rule were fueled by his failure to keep a date with Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds at Shannon Airport on September 30 on his way home from an official visit to the U.S. He was severely criticized in the Duma, and one deputy claimed that his behaviour had shamed Russia. Earlier, in Berlin for the withdrawal of the last Russian troops in August, Yeltsin had seized the bandleader's baton and delivered a rendition of a Russian folk song. His conspicuous absences and erratic decision making during the Chechen crisis led to speculation about the degree to which Yeltsin was in control of the country. (MARTIN McCAULEY)

▪ 1994

      Russia is a federal republic occupying eastern and northeastern Europe and all of northern Asia. Area: 17,075,400 sq km (6,592,800 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 148 million. Cap.: Moscow. Monetary unit: ruble, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a free rate of 1,165 rubles = U.S. $1 (1,765 rubles = £1 sterling). President in 1993, Boris Yeltsin; prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin.

      Pres. Boris Yeltsin began 1993 in retreat but ended it in partial triumph. The year offered dramatic scenes of confrontation between Yeltsin and the conservative parliament, reached its apotheosis in October with the storming of the White House (the parliament building), and saw its denouement in the December vote on a new constitution and a new parliament for Russia.

Politics and Government.
      Yeltsin's attempt to browbeat the seventh Congress of People's Deputies (December 1992) into submission backfired. In a series of collisions over policy, the congress whittled away the president's extraordinary powers, which it had granted him in late 1991. The legislature, marshaled by Speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov, began to sense that it could block and even defeat the president. The tactic it adopted was gradually to erode presidential control over the government. Blocked by the legislature, the president called a referendum on a new constitution for April 11.

      The eighth Congress of People's Deputies opened on March 10 with a strong attack on the president by Khasbulatov, who accused Yeltsin of acting unconstitutionally. The congress voted to amend the constitution, strip Yeltsin of many of his powers, and cancel the scheduled April referendum. The president stalked out of the congress. Vladimir Shumeyko, first deputy prime minister, declared that the referendum would go ahead, but on April 25.

      The parliament was gradually expanding its influence over the government. On March 16 the president signed a decree that conferred Cabinet rank on Viktor Gerashchenko, chairman of the central bank, and three other officials; this was in accordance with the decision of the eighth congress that these officials should be members of the government. The congress's ruling, however, had made it clear that as ministers they would continue to be subordinate to the parliament.

      The president's response was dramatic. On March 20 he declared that he intended to introduce a "special regime." He bitterly attacked the parliament, accusing the deputies of trying to restore the communist order. Vice Pres. Aleksandr Rutskoy condemned Yeltsin's grab for special powers, and the Constitutional Court ruled that Yeltsin had indeed acted unconstitutionally.

      The ninth congress, which opened on March 26, began with a virulent attack on Yeltsin by Khasbulatov. Yeltsin conceded that he had made mistakes and appealed for a compromise, but he was rejected contemptuously by the congress. The legislators could not muster a two-thirds majority to impeach the president, however, falling 72 short of the 689 votes necessary. When it became known that Khasbulatov had attempted to cut a deal with the president that involved abandoning the April 25 referendum and simultaneous elections for president and the parliament in November 1993, the congress turned on him, and one-third of the deputies voted in favour of his removal. The referendum would go ahead, but the congress voted that in order to win, the president would need to obtain 50% of the whole electorate, not 50% of those who voted. The Constitutional Court supported Yeltsin and ruled that the president required only a simple majority on two issues: confidence in him, and economic and social policy; he would need the support of half the electorate in order to call new parliamentary and presidential elections.

      Yeltsin's gamble paid off in the referendum of April 25. With a surprisingly high voter turnout of 64.5%, fully 58.7% expressed confidence in the president and 53% in his economic and social policies, 49.5% were in favour of early presidential elections, and 67.2% supported early parliamentary elections. Although this permitted the president to declare that the population supported him, not the parliament, he lacked a constitutional mechanism to implement his victory. As before, the president had to appeal to the people over the heads of the legislature.

      In an attempt to outmaneuver the parliament, Yeltsin convened a constitutional assembly in June. After much hesitation the Constitutional Committee of the Congress of People's Deputies decided to participate. Some 700 representatives adopted a draft constitution on July 12 that envisaged a bicameral legislature and the dissolution of the congress. The Supreme Soviet, the standing parliament, immediately rejected the draft and declared that the Congress of People's Deputies was the supreme lawmaking body and hence would decide on the new constitution. Because the new constitution would dissolve the congress, there was little likelihood that it would vote itself into oblivion.

      The parliament was active in July, while the president was on vacation, and passed a raft of decrees that revised economic policy in order "to end the division of society." It also launched investigations of key advisers of the president, accusing them of corruption. The president returned in August and declared that he would deploy all means, including circumventing the constitution, to achieve new parliamentary elections.

      The president launched his offensive on September 1 when he temporarily suspended Rutskoy as vice president. Two weeks later he declared that he would agree to early presidential elections provided the parliament also called elections. The parliament ignored him. Yeltsin then brought economist Yegor Gaidar back into the government as a deputy prime minister and minister for the economy. Predictably the Supreme Soviet rejected this appointment. On September 21 the president dissolved the Congress of People's Deputies and the Supreme Soviet and set new elections to a two-chamber parliament for December 11-12. According to the new plan, the lower house would have 450 deputies and be called the State Duma, the pre-1917 name of the Russian legislature. The Federation Council, which would bring together representatives from the 89 subdivisions of the Russian Federation, would play the role of an upper house.

      The reaction of the Supreme Soviet was instantaneous. During an all-night session, chaired by Khasbulatov, it declared the president's decree null and void. Rutskoy was proclaimed president and took the oath on the constitution. He dismissed Yeltsin and key ministers Pavel Grachev (defense), Nikolay Golushko (security), and Viktor Yerin (interior). Russia now had two presidents and two ministers of defense, security, and interior. It was dual power in earnest.

      Yeltsin received strong backing from leaders of the Western democracies and the other Soviet successor states. The Congress of People's Deputies adopted a hostile position; Khasbulatov, especially, was uncompromising. The Russian Orthodox Church acted as host to desultory discussions between representatives of the parliament and the president. The political impasse developed into an armed conflict in the afternoon of October 3 after Moscow police failed to control a demonstration near the White House. The crowd, urged on by Rutskoy and Khasbulatov, who had barricaded themselves inside, sacked the mayor's office and routed the troops inside. Demonstrators then marched toward Ostankino, the television centre. A pitched battle ensued that resulted in many fatalities.

      Khasbulatov called for the storming of the Kremlin. The military equivocated for several hours about how to respond to the president's call for action. Army tanks began to shell the White House on October 4. By late afternoon the charred upper floors of the building bore eloquent testimony to the viciousness of the conflict. Hostilities were stopped several times to allow some of those in the White House to leave, but Rutskoy and Khasbulatov stayed to the bitter end before surrendering.

      The "second October Revolution" had lasted one day and cost perhaps 200 lives. It had been a close call. Yeltsin owed his victory to the military, the former KGB, and Ministry of Interior forces—not to support from the regions. The instruments of coercion had gained the most, and they would expect Yeltsin to reward them in the future. General Grachev became a key political figure.

      The president moved quickly to consolidate his position. Many political parties and newspapers that had supported the parliament were banned, and Yeltsin called on those regional councils that had opposed him—by far the majority—to disband. Valery Zorkin, chairman of the Constitutional Court, was forced to resign, and the court was suspended. The prosecutor general was also removed and was replaced by a pro-Yeltsin lawyer. The chairman of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions, formerly dominated by trade unions, was also sacked, and the president took the opportunity to deprive trade unions of their administration of the social security system.

      "Russia needs order," Yeltsin told the people in a television broadcast in November in introducing his new draft constitution, which was to be put to a referendum on December 12. The new basic law would confer enormous powers upon the president. The bicameral legislature, to sit for only two years, was restricted in crucial areas. The president could choose the prime minister even if the parliament objected and could appoint the military leadership without parliamentary approval. He would head and appoint the members of a new, more powerful Security Council. If a vote of no confidence in the government was passed, the president would be enabled to keep it in office for three months and could dissolve the parliament if it repeated the vote. He could veto any bill passed by a simple majority in the lower house, after which a two-thirds majority would be required for the legislation to be passed. The president could not be impeached for contravening the constitution. The central bank would become independent, but the president would need the approval of the State Duma to appoint the bank's governor, who would thereafter be independent of the parliament. Most political observers regarded the draft constitution as shaped by and for Yeltsin but unlikely to survive him.

      Twenty-one parties and blocs garnered the requisite 100,000 signatures to qualify for participation in the December 12 election. Eight, including the Constitutional Democratic Party-Party of Popular Freedom led by Mikhail Astafyev and the Russian National People's Union headed by Sergey Baburin, were disqualified. Both these nationalist leaders were virulent opponents of the president. Russia's Choice, headed by Gaidar, was touted as the most democratic; the Yavlinsky-Boldyrev-Lukin bloc and the Russian Party of Unity and Accord were also broadly in favour of market reform; the Civic Union was the industrialists' lobby and keen on steady progress toward the market; and the Communist Party and the Agrarian Union opposed the market route.

      Yeltsin won half a victory on December 12. The draft constitution was approved by approximately 60% of the voters (on a turnout of about 53%). The parliament elected on the same day, however, produced no clear majority in favour of the market economy and democracy. The most popular group, however, proved to be the Liberal Democratic Party (whose program was neither liberal nor democratic). Its leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, opposed almost everything that Yeltsin stood for, and in the weeks following the elections, he managed to offend and alarm many people in Russia and abroad with his Russian-chauvinistic declarations. (For tabulated election results, see Political Parties, above.)

The Economy.
      Russian gross domestic product (GDP) declined by 12% in 1993, after an approximate 20% drop in 1992. Industrial output was down by 16.4%, compared with 18.8% the year before. The harvest was 100 million tons, down 7 million from 1992. The budget deficit for the year was 10% of GDP. Another survey stated that the bottom 10% of the population had experienced an improvement in their standard of living. Unemployment, officially, was very low, at somewhat over 1% of the labour force. Workers were kept in employment by the liberal credit policy of the central bank, which provided huge subsidies to ailing enterprises. Negative rates of interest were charged, the normal practice throughout the commercial banking sector. The largest commercial banks were all tied to a particular branch of the economy and serviced their branch. The policies of the central bank led to many confrontations with the government, especially the Ministry of Finance, headed by Boris Fedorov. The latter regarded stabilization and the reduction of the budget deficit as top priorities, but bank chairman Gerashchenko disagreed, stating that industrial chaos and monopolies rendered these policies inoperative. At year's end inflation had reached 20% a month.

      In July the central bank decreed that pre-1993 rubles were no longer legal tender, setting in motion panic attempts to change currency in the allotted time. Inflation increased as other republics sought to transfer vast amounts of rubles to Russia to circumvent the decree. The central bank estimated that Russian companies were holding $15.5 billion in Western accounts, eloquent testimony to their lack of confidence in the Russian economy. Not surprisingly, foreign investment was very modest. The promised aid from the International Monetary Fund was not forthcoming because it was contingent on economic reform and stabilization in Russia proceeding toward agreed targets. The European Community offered Russia trade concessions and a possible free-trade zone in 1998.

      Russia and nine other former Soviet republics signed a treaty of economic union on September 24. Six states opted to stay within the ruble zone and have their fiscal monetary policy decided by Russia. By November, however, this union was unraveling after Russia insisted that its partner states transfer their gold and hard-currency reserves to the central bank. In December the CIS Interstate Bank was established to facilitate CIS trade transactions, with 5 billion rubles contributed as initial working capital. Russia's prorated share was 50%.

Foreign Affairs.
      Yeltsin and Foreign Minister Andrey Kozyrev concentrated on cultivating the Group of Seven states throughout the year, and their support proved important during the October showdown. In April Yeltsin and U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton declared themselves very satisfied after their summit in Vancouver, B.C. The U.S. extended a $1.6 billion aid package. In October Yeltsin made a successful visit to Japan and apologized for the treatment by the U.S.S.R. of Japanese prisoners of war during World War II, and he all but affirmed that the unfulfilled 1956 agreements on the contested Kuril Islands, by which Russia would return two of the islands, were still valid.


* * *

Russia, flag of   country that stretches over a vast expanse of eastern Europe and northern Asia. Once the preeminent republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.; commonly known as the Soviet Union), Russia became an independent country after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

      Russia is a land of superlatives. By far the world's largest country, it covers nearly twice the territory of Canada, the second largest. It extends across the whole of northern Asia and the eastern third of Europe, spanning 11 time zones and incorporating a great range of environments and landforms, from deserts to semiarid steppes to deep forests and Arctic tundra. Russia contains Europe's longest river, the Volga (Volga River), and its largest lake, Ladoga (Ladoga, Lake). Russia also is home to the world's deepest lake, Baikal (Baikal, Lake), and the country recorded the world's lowest temperature outside the North and South poles.

 The inhabitants of Russia are quite diverse. Most are ethnic Russians, but there also are more than 120 other ethnic groups present, speaking many languages and following disparate religious and cultural traditions. Most of the Russian population is concentrated in the European portion of the country, especially in the fertile region surrounding Moscow, the capital. Moscow and St. Petersburg (Saint Petersburg) (formerly Leningrad) are the two most important cultural and financial centres in Russia and are among the most picturesque cities in the world. Russians are also populous in Asia, however; beginning in the 17th century, and particularly pronounced throughout much of the 20th century, a steady flow of ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking people moved eastward into Siberia, where cities such as Vladivostok and Irkutsk now flourish.

      Russia's climate is extreme, with forbidding winters that have several times famously saved the country from foreign invaders. Although the climate adds a layer of difficulty to daily life, the land is a generous source of crops and materials, including vast reserves of oil, gas, and precious metals. That richness of resources has not translated into an easy life for most of the country's people, however; indeed, much of Russia's history has been a grim tale of the very wealthy and powerful few ruling over a great mass of their poor and powerless compatriots. serfdom endured well into the modern era; the years of Soviet communist rule (1917–91), especially the long dictatorship of Joseph Stalin (Stalin, Joseph), saw subjugation of a different and more exacting sort.

      The Russian republic was established immediately after the Russian Revolution of 1917 and became a union republic in 1922. During the post-World War II era, Russia was a central player in international affairs, locked in a Cold War struggle with the United States. In 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia joined with several other former Soviet republics to form a loose coalition, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Although the demise of Soviet-style communism and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union brought profound political and economic changes, including the beginnings of the formation of a large middle class, for much of the postcommunist era Russians had to endure a generally weak economy, high inflation, and a complex of social ills that served to lower life expectancy significantly. Despite such profound problems, Russia showed promise of achieving its potential as a world power once again, as if to exemplify a favourite proverb, stated in the 19th century by Austrian statesman Klemens, Fürst (prince) von Metternich (Metternich, Klemens, Fürst von): “Russia is never as strong as she appears, and never as weak as she appears.”

      Russia can boast a long tradition of excellence in every aspect of the arts and sciences. Prerevolutionary Russian society produced the writings and music of such giants of world culture as Anton Chekhov (Chekhov, Anton), Aleksandr Pushkin (Pushkin, Aleksandr Sergeyevich), Leo Tolstoy (Tolstoy, Leo), Nikolay Gogol (Gogol, Nikolay), Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Dostoyevsky, Fyodor), and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyich). The 1917 revolution and the changes it brought were reflected in the works of such noted figures as the novelists Maksim Gorky (Gorky, Maksim), Boris Pasternak (Pasternak, Boris Leonidovich), and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Isayevich) and the composers Dmitry Shostakovich (Shostakovich, Dmitry) and Sergey Prokofiev (Prokofiev, Sergey). And the late Soviet and postcommunist eras witnessed a revival of interest in once-forbidden artists such as the poets Vladimir Mayakovsky (Mayakovsky, Vladimir Vladimirovich) and Anna Akhmatova (Akhmatova, Anna) while ushering in new talents such as the novelist Victor Pelevin and the writer and journalist Tatyana Tolstaya, whose celebration of the arrival of winter in St. Petersburg, a beloved event, suggests the resilience and stoutheartedness of her people:

The snow begins to fall in October. People watch for it impatiently, turning repeatedly to look outside. If only it would come! Everyone is tired of the cold rain that taps stupidly on windows and roofs. The houses are so drenched that they seem about to crumble into sand. But then, just as the gloomy sky sinks even lower, there comes the hope that the boring drum of water from the clouds will finally give way to a flurry of…and there it goes: tiny dry grains at first, then an exquisitely carved flake, two, three ornate stars, followed by fat fluffs of snow, then more, more, more—a great store of cotton tumbling down.

      For the geography and history of the other former Soviet republics, see Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Ukraine. See also Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Land (Russia)
  Russia is bounded to the north and east by the Arctic and Pacific oceans, and it has small frontages in the northwest on the Baltic Sea at St. Petersburg (Saint Petersburg) and at the detached Russian oblast (region) of Kaliningrad (a part of what was once East Prussia annexed in 1945), which also abuts Poland and Lithuania. To the south Russia borders North Korea, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. To the southwest and west it borders Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, and Estonia, as well as Finland and Norway.

      Extending nearly halfway around the Northern Hemisphere and covering much of eastern and northeastern Europe and all of northern Asia, Russia has a maximum east-west extent of some 5,600 miles (9,000 km) and a north-south width of 1,500 to 2,500 miles (2,500 to 4,000 km). There is an enormous variety of landforms and landscapes, which occur mainly in a series of broad latitudinal belts. Arctic deserts lie in the extreme north, giving way southward to the tundra and then to the forest zones, which cover about half of the country and give it much of its character. South of the forest zone lie the wooded steppe and the steppe, beyond which are small sections of semidesert along the northern shore of the Caspian Sea. Much of Russia lies at latitudes where the winter cold is intense and where evaporation can barely keep pace with the accumulation of moisture, engendering abundant rivers, lakes, and swamps. permafrost covers some 4 million square miles (10 million square km)—an area seven times larger than the drainage basin of the Volga River, Europe's longest river—making settlement and road building difficult in vast areas. In the European areas of Russia, the permafrost occurs in the tundra and the forest-tundra zone. In western Siberia permafrost occurs along the Yenisey River, and it covers almost all areas east of the river, except for south Kamchatka province, Sakhalin Island, and Primorsky Kray (Primorsky) (the Maritime Region).

 On the basis of geologic structure and relief, Russia can be divided into two main parts—western and eastern—roughly along the line of the Yenisey River. In the western section, which occupies some two-fifths of Russia's total area, lowland plains predominate over vast areas broken only by low hills and plateaus. In the eastern section the bulk of the terrain is mountainous, although there are some extensive lowlands. Given these topological factors, Russia may be subdivided into six main relief regions: the Kola-Karelian region (Russia), the Russian Plain (Russia), the Ural Mountains (Russia), the West Siberian Plain (Russia), the Central Siberian Plateau (Russia), and the mountains of the south and east (Russia).

The Kola-Karelian region (Kola Peninsula)
 Kola-Karelia (Karelia), the smallest of Russia's relief regions, lies in the northwestern part of European Russia between the Finnish border and the White Sea. Karelia is a low, ice-scraped plateau with a maximum elevation of 1,896 feet (578 metres), but for the most part it is below 650 feet (200 metres); low ridges and knolls alternate with lake- and marsh-filled hollows. The Kola Peninsula is similar, but the small Khibiny mountain range rises to nearly 4,000 feet (1,200 metres). Mineral-rich ancient rocks lie at or near the surface in many places.

      Western Russia makes up the largest part of one of the great lowland areas of the world, the Russian Plain (also called the East European Plain), which extends into Russia from the western border eastward for 1,000 miles (1,600 km) to the Ural Mountains and from the Arctic Ocean more than 1,500 miles (2,400 km) to the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian Sea. About half of this vast area lies at elevations of less than 650 feet (200 metres) above sea level, and the highest point (in the Valdai Hills, northwest of Moscow) reaches only 1,125 feet (343 metres). Nevertheless, the detailed topography is quite varied. North of the latitude on which Moscow lies, features characteristic of lowland glacial deposition predominate, and morainic ridges, of which the most pronounced are the Valdai Hills and the Smolensk Upland, which rises to 1,050 feet (320 metres), stand out above low, poorly drained hollows interspersed with lakes and marshes. South of Moscow there is a west-east alternation of rolling plateaus and extensive plains. In the west the Central Russian Upland, with a maximum elevation of 950 feet (290 metres), separates the lowlands of the upper Dnieper River valley from those of the Oka (Oka River) and Don (Don River) rivers, beyond which the Volga Hills rise gently to 1,230 feet (375 metres) before descending abruptly to the Volga River. Small river valleys are sharply incised into these uplands, whereas the major rivers cross the lowlands in broad, shallow floodplains. East of the Volga is the large Caspian Depression, parts of which lie more than 90 feet (25 metres) below sea level. The Russian Plain also extends southward through the Azov-Caspian isthmus (in the North Caucasus region) to the foot of the Caucasus Mountains, the crest line of which forms the boundary between Russia and the Transcaucasian states of Georgia and Azerbaijan; just inside this border is Mount Elbrus (Elbrus, Mount), which at 18,510 feet (5,642 metres) is the highest point in Russia. The large Kuban and Kuma plains of the North Caucasus are separated by the Stavropol Upland at elevations of 1,000 to 2,000 feet (300 to 600 metres).

 A belt of low mountains and plateaus 1,150 to 1,500 feet (350 to 460 metres) high flanks the Ural Mountains proper along the eastern edge of the Russian Plain. The north-south spine of the Urals extends about 1,300 miles (2,100 km) from the Arctic coast to the border with Kazakhstan and is extended an additional 600 miles (1,000 km) into the Arctic Ocean by Novaya Zemlya, an archipelago that consists of two large islands and several smaller ones. Although the Urals form the traditional boundary between Europe and Asia, they do not significantly impede movement. The highest peak, Mount Narodnaya (Narodnaya, Mount), reaches 6,217 feet (1,895 metres), but the system is largely composed of a series of broken, parallel ridges with summits generally between 3,000 and 5,000 feet (900 and 1,500 metres); several low passes cut through the system, particularly in the central section between Perm and Yekaterinburg, which carry the main routes from Europe into Siberia. Many districts contain mineral-rich rocks.

 Russia's most extensive region, the West Siberian Plain, is the most striking single relief feature of the country and quite possibly of the world. Covering an area well in excess of 1 million square miles (2.6 million square km)—one-seventh of Russia's total area—it stretches about 1,200 miles (1,900 km) from the Urals to the Yenisey and 1,500 miles (2,400 km) from the Arctic Ocean to the foothills of the Altai Mountains. Only in the extreme south do elevations exceed 650 feet (200 metres), and more than half the plain lies below 330 feet (100 metres). Vast floodplains and some of the world's largest swamps (swamp) are characteristic features, particularly of the plain's northern half. Slightly higher and drier territory is located south of latitude 55° N, where the bulk of the region's population is concentrated.

      Occupying most of the area between the Yenisey and Lena (Lena River) rivers, the Central Siberian Plateau comprises a series of sharply dissected plateau surfaces ranging in elevation from 1,000 to 2,300 feet (300 to 700 metres). Toward its northern edge the Putoran Mountains rise to 5,581 feet (1,701 metres). The plateau's southern side is bounded by the Eastern Sayan (Sayan Mountains) and Baikal (Baikalia) mountains; to the north it descends to the North Siberian Lowland, an eastward extension of the West Siberian Plain. Farther north the Byrranga Mountains reach 3,760 feet (1,146 metres) on the Taymyr (Taimyr) Peninsula (Taymyr Peninsula), which extends into the Arctic Ocean. On its eastern side the Central Siberian Plateau gives way to the low-lying Central Yakut Lowland.

The mountains of the south and east
      Russia's remaining territory, to the south and east, constitutes about one-fourth of the country's total area and is dominated by a complex series of high mountain systems. Although these mountains, which form part of the barrier that encloses Russia on its southern and eastern sides, are of varied geologic origin, they may be considered a single major relief region.

      The mountain barrier is relatively narrow in the section to the west of Lake Baikal (Baikal, Lake). The Altai Mountains, which reach a maximum elevation of 14,783 feet (4,506 metres), lie on Russia's borders with Kazakhstan and Mongolia; they are succeeded eastward by the V-shaped system of the Western Sayan and Eastern Sayan (Sayan Mountains), which rise to 10,240 and 11,453 feet (3,121 and 3,491 metres), respectively, and which enclose the high Tuva Basin. Subsidiary ranges extend northward, enclosing the Kuznetsk (Kuznetsk Coal Basin) and Minusinsk basins.

      The area around Lake Baikal (Baikal, Lake) is one of massive block faulting in which major faults separate high plateaus and mountain ranges from deep valleys and basins. The scale of relief in this area is indicated by the fact that the floor of the lake at its deepest is more than 3,800 feet (1,160 metres) below sea level (the total depth of the lake is 5,315 feet [1,620 metres]), while the mountains rising from its western shore reach elevations of 8,400 feet (2,560 metres) above sea level, a vertical difference of some 12,200 feet (3,700 metres).

      Mountain ranges fan out east of Lake Baikal to occupy most of the territory between the Lena River and the Pacific coast. Conventionally, this section is divided into northeastern and southeastern Siberia along the line of the Stanovoy Range. Rising to 7,913 feet (2,412 metres), the Stanovoy runs some 400 miles (640 km) eastward to the Pacific coast and separates the Lena and Amur drainage systems, which flow to the Arctic and Pacific oceans, respectively. Branching northeastward from the eastern end of the Stanovoy, the Dzhugdzhur Range rises to 6,253 feet (1,906 metres) along the coast, and its line is continued toward the Chukchi Peninsula by the Kolyma Mountains (Kolyma Upland). Major ranges branching off this chain to the northwest include the Verkhoyansk Mountains, which rise to 7,838 feet (2,389 metres) immediately east of the Lena, and the Chersky Range, which reaches a maximum elevation of 10,325 feet (3,147 metres). North of this system the low-lying, swampy Kolyma Lowland fronts the Arctic Ocean, extending for some 460 miles (740 km) to the Chersky Range.

 A narrow lowland corridor from the Sea of Okhotsk (Okhotsk, Sea of) to the Bering Sea (Bering Sea and Strait) separates these complex fold-mountain systems from the Kamchatka-Kuril region, where the Koryak and Sredinny mountains rise to 8,405 and 11,880 feet (2,562 and 3,621 metres), respectively, forming a northeast-southwest chain that extends along the Pacific-rimmed Kamchatka Peninsula. The peninsula contains numerous volcanic (volcano) peaks (many of which are still active), including Klyuchevskaya Volcano, which at 15,584 feet (4,750 metres) is the highest point in far-eastern Russia; several other volcanoes rise well above 10,000 feet (3,050 metres). This volcanic zone, part of the great circum-Pacific ring of seismic activity, continues southeastward through the Kuril Islands chain and into Japan.

      Southeastern Siberia contains many high mountain ranges and extensive lowland plains. The most prominent mountains are the Badzhalsky Mountains, which rise to 8,661 feet (2,640 metres), to the west of the lower Amur, and the Sikhote-Alin, which reach 6,814 feet (2,077 metres), between the Amur-Ussuri lowlands and the Pacific.

       Sakhalin Island is separated from the Siberian mainland by the Tatar Strait, which is only about 4 miles (6 km) wide at its narrowest point. Some 600 miles (970 km) from north to south but only 25 to 95 miles (40 to 150 km) across, Sakhalin comprises a lowland plain in the north and, in the south, the parallel Eastern and Western Sakhalin mountain ranges, which reach 5,279 and 4,347 feet (1,609 and 1,325 metres), respectively.

 The vast lowland plains that dominate the Russian landscape carry some of the world's longest rivers. Five main drainage basins may be distinguished: the Arctic, Pacific, Baltic, Black Sea, and Caspian. Of these basins the most extensive by far is the Arctic, which lies mostly in Siberia but also includes the northern part of the Russian Plain. The greater part of this basin is drained by three gigantic rivers: the Ob (Ob River) (2,268 miles [3,650 km], which with its main tributary, the Irtysh (Irtysh River), extends for a continuous 3,362 miles [5,410 km]), the Yenisey (Yenisey River) (2,540 miles [4,090 km]), and the Lena (Lena River) (2,734 miles [4,400 km]). Their catchments cover a total area in excess of 3 million square miles (8 million square km) in Siberia north of the Stanovoy Range, and their combined discharge into the Arctic averages 1,750,000 cubic feet (50,000 cubic metres) per second. Smaller, but still impressive, rivers make up the remainder of the Arctic drainage: in the European section these include the Northern Dvina (Northern Dvina River) (with its tributaries the Vychegda (Vychegda River) and Sukhona) and the Pechora (Pechora River), and in Siberia the Indigirka (Indigirka River) and Kolyma (Kolyma River). The Siberian rivers provide transport arteries from the interior to the Arctic sea route, although these are blocked by ice for long periods every year. They have extremely gentle gradients—the Ob, for example, falls only 650 feet (200 metres) in more than 1,250 miles (2,010 km)—causing them to meander slowly across immense floodplains. Owing to their northward flow, the upper reaches thaw before the lower parts, and floods occur over vast areas, which lead to the development of huge swamps (swamp). The Vasyuganye Swamp at the Ob-Irtysh confluence covers some 19,000 square miles (49,000 square km).

      The rest of Siberia, some 1.8 million square miles (4.7 million square km), is drained into the Pacific. In the north, where the watershed is close to the coast, numerous small rivers descend abruptly from the mountains, but the bulk of southeastern Siberia is drained by the large Amur (Amur River) system. Over much of its 1,755-mile (2,824-km) length, the Amur forms the boundary that divides Russia and China. The Ussuri (Ussuri River), one of the Amur's tributaries, forms another considerable length of the border.

      Three drainage basins cover European Russia south of the Arctic basin. The Dnieper (Dnieper River), of which only the upper reaches are in Russia, and the 1,162-mile- (1,870-km-) long Don (Don River) flow south to the Black Sea, and a small northwestern section drains to the Baltic (Baltic Sea). The longest European river is the Volga (Volga River). Rising in the Valdai Hills northwest of Moscow, it follows a course of 2,193 miles (3,530 km) to the Caspian Sea. Outranked only by the Siberian rivers, the Volga drains an area of 533,000 square miles (1,380,000 square km). Separated only by short overland portages and supplemented by several canals, the rivers of the Russian Plain have long been important transport arteries; indeed, the Volga system carries two-thirds of all Russian waterway traffic.

 Russia contains some two million fresh- and saltwater lakes. In the European section the largest lakes are Ladoga (Ladoga, Lake) and Onega (Onega, Lake) in the northwest, with surface areas of 6,830 (inclusive of islands) and 3,753 square miles (17,690 and 9,720 square km), respectively; Peipus (Peipus, Lake), with an area of 1,370 square miles (3,550 square km), on the Estonian border; and the Rybinsk Reservoir on the Volga north of Moscow. Narrow lakes 100 to 200 miles (160 to 320 km) long are located behind barrages (dams) on the Don, Volga, and Kama. In Siberia similar man-made lakes are located on the upper Yenisey and its tributary the Angara (Angara River), where the 340-mile- (550-km-) long Bratsk Reservoir is among the world's largest. All of these are dwarfed by Lake Baikal (Baikal, Lake), the largest body of fresh water in the world. Some 395 miles (636 km) long and with an average width of 30 miles (50 km), Baikal has a surface area of 12,200 square miles (31,500 square km) and a maximum depth of 5,315 feet (1,620 metres). (See Researcher's Note: Maximum depth of Lake Baikal.)

      There are innumerable smaller lakes found mainly in the ill-drained low-lying parts of the Russian and West Siberian plains, especially in their more northerly parts. Some of these reach considerable size, notably Beloye (White) Lake and Lakes Top, Vyg, and Ilmen (Ilmen, Lake), each occupying more than 400 square miles (1,000 square km) in the European northwest, and Lake Chany (770 square miles [1,990 square km]) in southwestern Siberia.

      Several basic factors determine Russia's variable climates. The country's vast size and compact shape—the great bulk of the land is more than 250 miles (400 km) from the sea, while certain parts lie as much as 1,500 miles (2,400 km) away—produce a dominance of continental regimes. The country's northerly latitude ensures that these are cold continental regimes—only southwestern Russia (the North Caucasus region and the lower Don and Volga basins), small sections of southern Siberia, and the maritime region of southeastern Siberia are below latitude 50° N, and more than half the federation is north of latitude 60° N. The great mountain barriers to the south and east prevent the ingress of ameliorating influences from the Indian and Pacific oceans, but the absence of relief barriers on the western and northern sides leaves the country open to Atlantic and Arctic influences. In effect there are only two seasons, winter and summer; spring and autumn are brief periods of rapid change from one extreme to the other.

Atmospheric pressure and winds
      The cooling of the Eurasian landmass in winter leads to the development of an intense high-pressure cell over the country's interior; mean January pressures range above 1,040 millibars along the southern boundary of Siberia, from which a ridge of high pressure runs westward along Russia's borders with Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Movement of air outward from these high-pressure zones ensures that winds are mainly from the southwest in European Russia, from the south over much of Siberia, and from the northwest along the Pacific coast. This situation reverses itself in summer, when the landmass heats up; low pressure develops over the Asian interior, and air moves inward—from the northwest in the European section, from the north in Siberia, and from the southeast along the Pacific.

      The air movements even out the north-south contrasts in winter temperatures, which might be expected to occur as a result of latitude. Thus, on the Russian Plain isotherms have a north-south trend, and temperatures at each latitude decline from the west toward a cold pole in northeastern Siberia. From west to east within a narrow latitudinal range, the January mean is 18 °F (−8 °C) at St. Petersburg, −17 °F (−27 °C) at Turukhansk in the West Siberian Plain, −46 °F (−43 °C) at Yakutsk, and −58 °F (−50 °C) at Verkhoyansk. Along the Mongolian border the average temperature is only a degree or two above that along the Arctic coast 1,500 miles (2,400 km) farther north. Outblowing winds also depress temperatures along the Pacific coast; Vladivostok, at the same latitude as the French Riviera, has a January mean of 7 °F (−14 °C). In summer, temperatures are more closely connected with latitude; July mean temperatures range from 39 °F (4 °C) in the Arctic islands to 68 °F (20 °C) along the country's southern border. Extreme temperatures diverge greatly from these means. The world's lowest minimum January temperature (outside Antarctica) occurred at Oymyakon, southeast of Verkhoyansk, where a temperature of −96 °F (−71 °C) was recorded, while July maxima above 100 °F (38 °C) have occurred at several stations. The net result is a vast seasonal range that increases toward the country's interior; for example, January and July means differ by 52 °F (29 °C) at Moscow, 76 °F (42 °C) at Turukhansk, and 115 °F (64 °C) at Yakutsk. Extreme winter cold is characteristic of most of Russia; the frost-free period exceeds six months only in the North Caucasus and varies with latitude from five to three months in the European section to three months to less than two in Siberia.

      The main characteristics of precipitation throughout Russia are the modest to low total amounts and the pronounced summer maximum. Across the European plains and western Siberia, total precipitation declines from northwest to southeast. In these regions, except in a few places close to the Baltic, precipitation generally remains below 24 inches (600 mm), falling from 21 inches (533 mm) at Moscow to about 8 inches (203 mm) along the border with Kazakhstan. In eastern Siberia, totals are generally less than 16 inches (406 mm) and as little as 5 inches (127 mm) along the Arctic coast. Precipitation increases again along the Pacific (24 inches [600 mm] in Vladivostok), where the moisture-laden onshore summer monsoon brings significant precipitation. Amounts vary with elevation; the higher parts of the Urals receive more than 28 inches (711 mm), and the mountains of Kamchatka province and the Sikhote-Alin receive well over 40 inches (1,015 mm) annually. Snow is a pronounced feature for the entire country, and its depth and duration have important effects on agriculture. The duration of snow cover varies with both latitude and altitude, ranging from 40 to 200 days across the Russian Plain and from 120 to 250 days in Siberia.

Soils and plant and animal life
      Climate, soils, vegetation, and animal life are closely interrelated, and variations among these within Russia form a series of broad latitudinal environmental belts that sweep across the country's plains and plateaus from the western border to the Lena River. In the mountain zones of the south and east, the pattern is more complex because elevation rather than latitude is the dominant factor, and there are striking changes over relatively short distances. Within Russia there are six main environmental belts (some with subdivisions): Arctic desert, tundra, taiga, mixed and deciduous forest, wooded steppe, and steppe. Forests of various kinds account for more than two-fifths of Russia's total land area.

Arctic desert
      Arctic desert—confined to the islands of Franz Josef Land, much of the Novaya Zemlya and Severnaya Zemlya archipelagoes, and the New Siberian Islands—is completely barren land with little or no vegetation. Considerable areas are ice-covered.

      Nearly one-tenth of Russian territory is tundra, a treeless, marshy plain. Occupying a narrow coastal belt in the extreme north of the European Plain, the tundra widens to a maximum of about 300 miles (500 km) in Siberia. Tundra soils are extremely poor. The moisture surplus caused by low temperatures results in the area's being poorly drained, and the limited and discontinuous vegetation cover provides little organic matter; moreover, this matter decays slowly, and the soils are highly acidic. Tundra soils are frozen for much of the year, and during the summer thaw drainage is inhibited by the presence of permafrost beneath the thawed surface layer. A typical tundra soil has a shallow surface layer of raw humus, beneath which there is a horizon (soil layer) of gley (sticky, clayey soil) resting on the permafrost. Vegetation changes from north to south, and three subdivisions are recognized: Arctic tundra, with much bare ground and extensive areas of mosses and lichens; shrubby tundra, with mosses, lichens, herbaceous plants, dwarf Arctic birch, and shrub willow; and wooded tundra, with more extensive areas of stunted birch, larch, and spruce. There are considerable stretches of sphagnum bog. Apart from reindeer, which are herded by the indigenous population, the main animal species are the Arctic foxes, musk oxen, beavers, lemmings, snowy owls, and ptarmigan.

      South of the tundra lies the vast taiga ( boreal forest) zone, the largest of the environmental regions. It occupies the Russian and West Siberian plains north of latitude 56°–58° N together with most of the territory east of the Yenisey River. The western taiga, where the climate is less extreme, is often distinguished from the eastern taiga beyond the Yenisey. In the western section forests of spruce and fir in moister areas alternate with shrubs and grasses interspersed with pine on lighter soils. These species also are present in the east, but the larch becomes dominant there. Only small areas have been cleared for agriculture, mainly in the European part, and the taiga remains the world's largest timber reserve. However, coniferous forest is not continuous; there are large stands of birch, alder, and willow and, in poorly drained areas, huge stretches of swamp and peat bog. The taiga is rich in fur-bearing animals, such as sables, squirrels, marten, foxes, and ermines, and it is also home to many elks, bears, muskrat, and wolves.

      Throughout the taiga zone the dominant soil type is the Podzol, a product of the intense leaching characteristic of this area of moisture surplus. The forest vegetation provides a surface layer of highly acidic raw humus that decomposes slowly, producing humic acids. Percolating downward, acidic groundwater removes iron and calcium compounds from the upper layers, which, as a result, are pale in colour. Soluble materials are redeposited at lower levels, often resulting in an iron-rich hardpan that impedes the drainage of the upper horizons, which leads to the formation of gley podzols. Applications of lime and fertilizer are required for successful agriculture.

      As conditions become warmer with decreasing latitude, deciduous species appear in greater numbers and eventually become dominant. The triangular mixed and deciduous forest belt is widest along Russia's western border and narrows toward the Urals. Oak and spruce are the main trees, but there also are growths of ash, aspen, birch, elm, hornbeam, maple, and pine. East of the Urals as far as the Altai Mountains, a narrow belt of birch and aspen woodland separates the taiga from the wooded steppe. Much of the mixed and deciduous forest zone has been cleared for agriculture, particularly in the European section. As a result, the wildlife is less plentiful, but roe deer, wolves, foxes, and squirrels are common. Soils also show a north-south gradation. As the moisture surplus diminishes, leaching becomes less intense, and true podzols give way to gray and brown forest soils, which are less acidic and have a much greater organic content and a higher natural fertility. A second zone of mixed forest occurs in the Amur-Ussuri-Zeya lowlands of southeastern Siberia and includes Asiatic species of oak, hornbeam, elm, and hazel.

Wooded steppe and steppe
      The southward succession is continued by the wooded steppe, which, as its name suggests, is transitional between the forest zone and the steppe proper. Forests of oak and other species (now largely cleared for agriculture) in the European section and birch and aspen across the West Siberian Plain alternate with areas of open grassland that become increasingly extensive toward the south. The wooded steppe eventually gives way to the true steppe, which occupies a belt some 200 miles (320 km) across and extends from southern Ukraine through northern Kazakhstan to the Altai. Russia has a relatively small share of the Eurasian Steppe, mainly in the North Caucasus and lower Volga regions, though pockets of wooded steppe and steppe also occur in basins among the mountains of southern Siberia.

      The natural steppe vegetation is composed mainly of turf grasses such as bunchgrass, fescue, bluegrass, and agropyron. Perennial grasses, mosses, and lichens also grow on the steppe, and drought-resistant species are common in the south, where the sequence continues in Kazakhstan through dry steppe and semidesert to the great deserts of Central Asia. Woodland is by no means wholly absent, occurring in damper areas in river valleys and depressions. Much of the steppe vegetation, particularly in the west, has been replaced by grain cultivation.

      The absence of natural shelter on the open steppe has conditioned the kind of animals that inhabit it. Typical rodents of the zone include the marmot and other such burrowing animals and various mouse species. Skunks, foxes, and wolves are common, and antelope inhabit the south. The most common birds are bustards, eagles, kestrels, larks, and gray partridge.

      Chernozem (black earth) is the distinctive soil of the steppe, taking its name from the very dark upper horizon—often more than three feet (one metre) thick—which is rich in humus derived from the thick grass cover. Winter frost and summer drought inhibit the decomposition of organic matter, and high evaporation rates prevent leaching; as a result, humus accumulates. Calcium compounds are leached downward by the spring snowmelt but are drawn upward in summer and become concentrated in a lime-rich horizon beneath the humus layer. Low acidity and a high humus content combine to give the chernozems a high natural fertility, which has helped make the steppe the country's main source of grain.


Ethnic (ethnic group) groups and languages
      Although ethnic Russians comprise more than four-fifths of the country's total population, Russia is a diverse, multiethnic society. More than 120 ethnic groups, many with their own national territories, speaking some 100 languages live within Russia's borders. Many of these groups are small—in some cases consisting of fewer than a thousand individuals—and, in addition to Russians, only a handful of groups have more than a million members each: the Tatars (Tatar), Ukrainians, Chuvash, Bashkir, Chechens, and Armenians (Armenian). The diversity of peoples is reflected in the 21 minority republics, 10 autonomous districts, and autonomous region contained within the Russian Federation. In most of these divisions, the eponymous nationality (which gives its name to the division) is outnumbered by Russians. Since the early 1990s, ethnicity has underlain numerous conflicts (e.g., in Chechnya and Dagestan) within and between these units; many national minorities have demanded more autonomy and, in a few cases, even complete independence. Those parts of Russia that do not form autonomous ethnic units are divided into various territories (kraya) and regions (oblasti), and there are two federal cities (St. Petersburg and Moscow). For more detail on Russian regions, see below Regional and local government (Russia).

      Linguistically, the population of Russia can be divided into the Indo-European (Indo-European languages) group, comprising East Slavic speakers and smaller numbers speaking several other languages; the Altaic (Altaic languages) group, including Turkic, Manchu-Tungus, and Mongolian (Mongolian languages); the Uralic (Uralic languages) group, including Finno-Ugric (Finno-Ugric languages) and Samoyedic; (Samoyedic languages) and the Caucasian (Caucasian languages) group, comprising Abkhazo-Adyghian (Abkhazo-Adyghian languages) and Nakho-Dagestanian (Nakho-Dagestanian languages). Because few of the languages of the smaller indigenous minorities are taught in the schools, it is likely that some will disappear.

The Indo-European group (Indo-European languages)
      East Slavs—mainly Russians but including some Ukrainians and Belarusians—constitute more than four-fifths of the total population and are prevalent throughout the country. The Slavs (Slav) emerged as a recognizable group in eastern Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD, and the first Slav state, Kievan Rus, arose in the 9th century. After the Mongol invasions the centre of gravity shifted to Moscow, and the Russian Empire expanded to the Baltic, Arctic, and Pacific, numerically overwhelming the indigenous peoples. Despite its wide dispersal, the Russian language is homogeneous throughout Russia. Indo-Iranian (Indo-Iranian languages) speakers include the Ossetes of the Caucasus. In addition, there are sizable contingents of German speakers, who mainly populate southwestern Siberia, and Jews (recognized as an ethnolinguistic group rather than a religious one), who live mainly in European Russia; the numbers of both groups have declined through emigration.

The Altaic group (Altaic languages)
      Turkic (Turkic languages) speakers dominate the Altaic group. They live mainly in the Central Asian republics, but there is an important cluster of Turkic (Turkic peoples) speakers between the middle Volga and southern Urals, comprising the Bashkir, Chuvash, and Tatars. A second cluster, in the North Caucasus region, includes the Balkar, Karachay, Kumyk, and Nogay. There also are numerous Turkic-speaking groups in southern Siberia between the Urals and Lake Baikal: the Altai, Khakass, Shor, Tofalar, and Tuvans (who inhabit the area once known as Tannu Tuva, which was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1944). The Sakha (Yakut) live mainly in the middle Lena basin, and the Dolgan are concentrated in the Arctic.

       Manchu-Tungus languages are spoken by the Evenk, Even, and other small groups that are widely dispersed throughout eastern Siberia. The Buryat, who live in the Lake Baikal region, and the Kalmyk, who live primarily to the west of the lower Volga, speak Mongolian tongues.

The Uralic group (Uralic languages)
      The Uralic group, which is widely disseminated in the Eurasian forest and tundra zones, has complex origins. Finnic Peoples inhabit the European section: the Mordvin, Mari (formerly Cheremis), Udmurt (Votyak) and Komi (Zyryan), and the closely related Komi-Permyaks live around the upper Volga and in the Urals, while Karelians, Finns, and Veps inhabit the northwest. The Mansi (Vogul) and Khanty (Khanty and Mansi) (Ostyak) are spread thinly over the lower Ob basin (see Khanty and Mansi).

      The Samoyedic (Samoyedic languages) group also has few members dispersed over a vast area: the Nenets in the tundra and forest tundra from the Kola Peninsula to the Yenisey, the Selkup around the middle Ob, and the Nganasan mainly in the Taymyr Peninsula.

The Caucasian group (Caucasian languages)
      There are numerous small groups of Caucasian speakers in the North Caucasus region of Russia. Abaza (Abaza language), Adyghian, and Kabardian (Kabardian language) (Circassian) are similar languages but differ sharply from the languages of the Nakh (Nakh languages) group (Chechen and Ingush) and of the Dagestanian (Dagestanian languages) group (Avar, Lezgian, Dargin, Lak, Tabasaran, and a dozen more).

Other groups
      Several Paleo-Siberian (Paleo-Siberian languages) groups that share a common mode of life but differ linguistically are located in far eastern Siberia. The Chukchi, Koryak, and Itelmen (Kamchadal) belong to a group known as Luorawetlan (Luorawetlan languages), which is distinct from the Eskimo-Aleut group. The languages of the Nivkh (Gilyak) along the lower Amur and on Sakhalin Island, of the Yukaghir of the Kolyma Lowland, and of the Ket of the middle Yenisey are completely isolated, though it is likely that Yukaghir is a relative of the Uralic languages.

 Although ethnic differences in Russia have long contained a religious element, the position of religious organizations and of their individual adherents has varied with political circumstances. In the 10th century Prince Vladimir I, who was converted by missionaries from Byzantium, adopted Christianity as the official religion for Russia, and for nearly 1,000 years thereafter the Russian Orthodox church was the country's dominant religious institution. After the communists took power in 1917, religious institutions suffered. The church was forced to forfeit most of its property, and many monks were evicted from their monasteries. The constitution of the former Soviet Union nominally guaranteed religious freedom, but religious activities were greatly constrained, and membership in religious organizations was considered incompatible with membership in the Communist Party. Thus, open profession of religious belief was a hindrance to individual advancement. More-open expression of Christian (Christianity) beliefs was permitted during World War II, when the government sought the support of Christians and Jews in the fight against fascism, but restrictions were reimposed when the war ended. In the 1980s, under the reformist regime of Mikhail Gorbachev (Gorbachev, Mikhail), a policy of glasnost (“openness”) was declared, allowing greater toleration for the open practice of religion. The subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union made religious freedom a reality and revealed that large sections of the population had continued to practice a variety of faiths. Indeed, Russian nationalists who emerged beginning in the 1990s identified the Russian Orthodox church as a major element of Russian culture.

      Today Russian Orthodoxy is still the country's largest religious denomination, constituting about half of all total congregations. However, because of official repression by Soviet authorities for most of the 20th century, adherents of Russian Orthodoxy number only about one-sixth of the population, and the nonreligious still constitute an overwhelming majority of the population. Other Christian denominations are much smaller and include the Old Believers, who separated from the Russian Orthodox church in the 17th century, and Baptist and Evangelical groups, which grew somewhat in membership during the 20th century. Catholics, both Western rite (Roman) and Eastern rite (Uniate), and Lutherans were numerous in the former Soviet Union but lived mainly outside present-day Russia, where there are few adherents. Muslims constitute Russia's second largest religious group. In 1997 legislation was enacted that constrained denominations outside five “traditional” religions—Russian Orthodoxy, several other Christian denominations, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism—restricting the activities of groups not registered in the country for at least 15 years. For example, groups not meeting this requirement at the time the law was implemented (such as Roman Catholics and Mormons) were unable to operate educational institutions or disseminate religious literature.

 Although there is some degree of correlation between language and religion, the two do not correspond entirely. Slavs are overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian. Turkic speakers are predominantly Muslim (Islāmic world), although several Turkic groups in Russia are not. For example, Christianity predominates among the Chuvash, Buddhism prevails among large numbers of Altai, Khakass, and Tuvans, and many Turkic speakers east of the Yenisey have retained their shamanistic (shamanism) beliefs (though some have converted to Christianity). Buddhism is common among the Mongolian-speaking Buryat and Kalmyk.

      Jews (Jew) long suffered discrimination in Russia, including purges in the 19th century, repression under the regime of Joseph Stalin (Stalin, Joseph), and Nazi atrocities on Russian soil during World War II. Beginning with Gorbachev's reformist policies in the 1980s, Jewish emigration to Israel and elsewhere was permitted on an increasing scale, and the number of Jews living in Russia (and all parts of the former Soviet Union) has decreased. Prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union, about one-third of its Jewish population lived in Russia (though many did not practice Judaism), and now about one-tenth of all Jews in Russia reside in Moscow. In the 1930s the Soviet government established Yevreyskaya as a Jewish autonomous province, though by the end of the 20th century only about 5 percent of the province's population was Jewish.

Settlement patterns
      Beginning in the 1890s and continuing throughout the next century, many people in Russia migrated from the European portion of the country to Siberia, which constitutes three-fourths of the country's territory but contains only about one-fifth of its population. Some four-fifths of the country's population live in the main settled belt of European Russia, extending between St. Petersburg (Saint Petersburg) (northwestern Russia), Kemerovo (Siberia), Orsk (southern Urals), and Krasnodar (northern Caucasus). Population densities in the rural areas in this section range from 25 to 250 persons per square mile, with the higher concentrations occurring in the wooded steppe. In the cities, particularly Moscow, population densities are comparable to other European cities. East of the Urals, across the southern part of the West Siberian Plain, rural densities are considerably lower, rarely exceeding 65 persons per square mile. Beyond the Yenisey the settled zone breaks up into a series of pockets in the extreme south, along the line of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, of which the largest is that in the Amur-Ussuri-Zeya lowlands of southeastern Siberia. In the second half of the 20th century, rural depopulation was a pronounced characteristic, occurring faster in the European section. In the last decades of the 20th century, the rural population fell by some one-fourth in the European section, though it grew in what is now the Southern federal district. Because migration out of rural areas was particularly prevalent among the young, many rural areas are now inhabited primarily by the elderly.

      The bulk of the rural population lives in large villages associated with the collective and state farms (kolkhozy (kolkhoz) and sovkhozy (sovkhoz), respectively) established by the former Soviet regime. These farms have carried on the long-established Russian tradition of communal farming from nucleated settlements. Individual farms started to reappear in the post-Soviet years. By 1995 there were nearly 300,000 private farms, though in the next decade the numbers stagnated or declined. Private farms, however, still produce a tiny fraction of agricultural output. Vast stretches of thinly settled and empty territories lie north of the main settled belt. Sakha (Yakutia)—a minority republic that, with an area of about 1.2 million square miles (3.1 million square km) and about one million inhabitants, has a density of less than one person per square mile—is typical of this zone.

      Since the mid-19th century, industrialization and economic development have led to a substantial increase in urbanization. Nearly three-fourths of Russia's population live in what are classified as urban areas. Moscow, the largest metropolis, has twice the population of its nearest rival, St. Petersburg (Saint Petersburg), which in turn dwarfs the size of Russia's other major cities, such as Chelyabinsk, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod (formerly Gorky), Novosibirsk, Omsk, Perm, Rostov-na-Donu, Samara (formerly Kuybyshev), Ufa, and Yekaterinburg (formerly Sverdlovsk). Several major urban concentrations have developed in the main industrial regions. St. Petersburg (the tsarist capital) stands alone as the northernmost metropolis, whereas Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod are part of the large urbanized central industrial region, which has a score of large cities, numerous smaller towns, and an urban population that constitutes about one-fifth of Russia's total. In the Ural Mountains region, the towns are more widely spaced and include numerous small mining and industrial centres as well as a number of towns with more than 250,000 inhabitants, which altogether amount to an urban population about half that of the Moscow region. The only slightly less-populous Volga region has towns strung out along the riverbanks, with a particularly dense concentration in the vicinity of Samara. European Russia also includes a portion of the Donets Basin (Donbass) industrial zone, arbitrarily split by the Russia-Ukraine boundary; this area's largest city is Rostov-na-Donu, but there are numerous smaller centres.

 The main urban concentration east of the Urals is in the Kuznetsk Basin (Kuznetsk Coal Basin) (Kuzbass), which is a centre for mining and industry. Major cities also occur at widely separated points along the length of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, including, from west to east, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Ulan-Ude, Chita, Khabarovsk, and Vladivostok. A few very isolated cities are located in the far north, notably the ports of Murmansk and Arkhangelsk and mining centres such as Vorkuta and Norilsk. Resort towns are a feature of the North Caucasus region, including Sochi (on the Black Sea), Pyatigorsk, and Mineralnye Vody. Elsewhere, the capitals of provinces and other administrative divisions are the main towns, having grown to considerable size as the organizing centres for their territories.

Demographic trends
      During the 1990s Russia began experiencing a negative population growth rate. Primary reasons for this was a decline in the fertility rate (particularly of ethnic Russians) similar to that in Japan and in many western European countries. There was also a steep drop in life expectancy beginning in the early 1990s, a result of inadequacies in the health-care system and poor nutrition; high smoking and alcoholism rates and environmental pollution were also considered contributing factors.

      Declines in life expectancy were more pronounced among men and resulted in a growing gap between the number of men and women in the country. Higher rates of natural increase (population growth resulting from more births than deaths) continue among some minority groups, particularly those of Islamic background. Until the 1990s migration from the European sector to Siberia was the primary cause of regional variations in population growth rates. For example, in the 1980s, when Russia's population increased by about 7 percent, growth exceeded 15 percent in much of Siberia but was less than 2 percent in parts of western Russia. During the 1990s, however, eastern Siberia (at least according to official statistics) suffered a dramatic population decline, a result of substantial outmigrations caused by the phaseout of heavy government subsidies, upon which it was heavily dependent.

      The long-declining Russian birth rate has led to a progressive aging of the population. At the beginning of the 21st century, for example, less than one-fifth of the population of Russia was below age 15, while the proportion of those age 60 and above was approaching one-fifth. The proportion of children was generally higher, and that of the elderly lower, among the non-Russian ethnic groups, which have maintained a somewhat higher birth rate. An aging population and the drop in fertility rates led many demographers to foresee a long-term labour shortage.

      The Russian republic, by virtue of its great size and abundant natural resources, played a leading role in the economy of the Soviet Union. In the first decades of the Soviet regime, these resources made possible great economic advances, including the rapid development of mining, metallurgy, and heavy engineering, the expansion of the railway network, and a massive increase in the energy supply. In the 1960s a second phase of Soviet industrial development began to exert a particularly strong effect on the Russian republic. In addition to further growth in established industries—especially in the production of oil, gas, and electricity and in the chemical industries—there was a marked diversification in industrial output, including a limited expansion in consumer goods. In the years before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, however, the economy of Russia and of the entire country was in a state of decline, and official statistics masked industrial inefficiencies.

      After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian government implemented a series of radical reforms designed to transform the economy from one that was centrally planned and controlled to one based on capitalist (capitalism) principles. Major components of the reforms included establishing privately owned industrial and commercial ventures (using both foreign and Russian investment) and privatizing state-owned enterprises. To encourage privatization, the government issued vouchers to Russian citizens that enabled them to purchase of shares in privatized firms, though in practice these vouchers frequently were sold for cash and were accumulated by entrepreneurs. A commodity- and stock-exchange system also was established.

      The privatization process was slow, however, and many firms—particularly in the heavy industries—remained under state ownership. In addition, there was significant debate regarding the buying and selling of land. In 2001 the government legalized the sale of land, though it did so only for urban housing and industrial real estate—which together accounted for only a small fraction of Russia's total area. At the beginning of the 21st century, similar legislation was also under discussion for rural and agricultural areas. Though full private ownership of land is provided for in the 1993 constitution, the practice has not yet been implemented. As a result of delays in implementing structural reforms, the conversion to market-based agriculture was slow, as many clung to the old, familiar collective system.

      The reforms beginning in the 1990s caused considerable hardships for the average Russian citizen; in the decade after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Russian economy contracted by more than two-fifths. The monetary system was in disarray: the removal of price controls caused a huge escalation in inflation and prices; the value of the ruble, the country's currency, plummeted; and real incomes fell dramatically. Conditions began to improve by the mid-1990s, but the recovery was interrupted in 1998 by a severe financial crisis, which caused the government to sharply devalue the ruble. Numerous banks became insolvent, and millions of citizens lost their life savings. Gradually, corrective measures were implemented. For example, the licensing of private banks became more rigorous, and the government cracked down on tax evasion, which had been rampant since the implementation of economic reforms. To accommodate business growth, taxes on medium and small enterprises were moderated, and the government began to offer incentives for reinvesting profits into the domestic economy. By the early 21st century, the measures had begun to have a positive effect on the Russian economy, which showed signs of recovery and stable growth. Steady earnings from oil exports permitted investments in factories, and the devalued currency made Russian goods more competitive on the international market.

      In the post-Soviet years, foreign direct investment was encouraged, but it was constrained by unfavourable conditions, including state intervention in industry, corruption, and weakness in the rule of law. An upsurge in violence by organized crime syndicates contributed to hampering Western investment, and though the activity of such groups was curtailed in the early 21st century, it still presented severe obstacles to both Western and Russian businesses. Investment by non-Russian companies was also discouraged by moves taken by the Russian government to increase state ownership in various industries, including oil and gas, aviation, and automobile manufacturing.

      In addition to the difficulties the country encountered in its effort to restructure the economy, Russia had been subjected to serious long-term environmental degradation during the Soviet period, the full extent of which became apparent only in the 1990s. The most visible aspects of this situation—such as the Chernobyl accident at a nuclear power plant in Ukraine in 1986, widespread industrial pollution, and the drastic reduction in the volume of the Aral Sea as a result of inflow diversions—were only symptomatic of decades of wasteful resource exploitation. These environmental concerns placed another burden on Russia's already overwhelmed economic structure.

      The economic foundation of the country itself remained similar to that which had been developed during the Soviet period. For purposes of description it is convenient to refer to the official set of 11 traditional economic regions into which Russia is divided (though the federal districts created in 2000 have begun to replace the traditional economic regions for statistical purposes). In Europe the regions are the North, Northwest, Central, Volga-Vyatka, Central Black Earth, North Caucasus, Volga, and Ural, and in Asia they are West Siberia, East Siberia, and the Far East.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
      The harshness of the Russian environment is reflected in the small proportion of land that is used for farming. Agricultural land constitutes less than one-sixth of the country's territory, and less than one-tenth of the total land area is arable. About three-fifths of Russian farmland is used to grow crops; the remainder is devoted to pasture and meadow. Overall, agriculture contributes little more than 5 percent to Russia's gross domestic product (GDP), though the sector employs about one-eighth of the total labour force.

      The main product of Russian farming has always been grain, which occupies considerably more than half of the cropland. Wheat is the chief cereal, followed by barley, rye, and oats. More than one-third of the sown area is devoted to fodder crops—sown grasses, clovers, root crops, and, in the southern districts, corn (maize). The remaining farmland is devoted to industrial crops, such as sunflowers, sugar beets, and flax, and to potatoes and other vegetables.

      Variations in relief, soil, and climate produce pronounced regional variations in agriculture. In European Russia the proportion of land devoted to crops increases southward, from virtually none in the North region to about two-thirds in the Central Black Earth region. In West and East Siberia and the Far East, crops are largely confined to the southern fringe. Even in West Siberia, where the cultivated zone is at its widest, crops occupy less than one-tenth of the region's territory, and the proportion falls to negligible levels in East Siberia and the Far East. Cereals occupy more than two-thirds of the cropland in most regions but less than half in the damper Northwest and Central regions, where fodder crops and livestock are more important. The intensity of farming and the yields achieved are generally much higher in the European section than in Siberia. The same is also the case for livestock farming.

      In general, the old collective farms and state farms have continued to function in post-Soviet Russia, though they have often been renamed as cooperatives or labour-management firms. Privatized farms have experienced significant obstacles, because many in the agricultural sector treated them as pariahs, and the land that many were allocated was unproductive or inaccessible. Thus, the bulk of the grain continues to be produced by very large agricultural enterprises, particularly those in the Northern Caucasus and in the Volga economic regions.

      Russia contains the world's largest forest reserves, and its lumbering, pulp, paper, and woodworking industries are particularly important. More than two-fifths of Russia is forested, and the country has more than one-fifth of the world's total forests—an area nearly as large as the continental United States. However, Russian forests have very slow rates of growth because of the cold, continental climate, and the country has lost about one-third of its estimated original forest area. Legislation was implemented in the late 1990s to moderate further deforestation. Nevertheless, logging continued to endanger the last intact forest landscapes of northern European Russia. Similar risks have also spread to areas east of the Urals.

      The forestry industry employs some one million people. Coniferous species are predominant; Russia produces about one-fifth of the world's softwood. The country is among the world leaders in the production of many other wood-related products, and timber, saw lumber, pulp, paper, cardboard, and roundwood contribute to Russia's export income.

 The fishing industry plays a significant role in the Russian economy. With access to the substantial resources of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, marine fishing is particularly well developed, and Russia's fleet of factory ships (factory ship) can process huge catches at remote locations. The chief European ocean-fishing ports are Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg on the Baltic Sea and Murmansk and Arkhangelsk in the far north. Russia's chief Pacific port is Vladivostok, but there are several others, particularly in Sakhalin and Kamchatka provinces. Smaller-scale fishing takes place in the Sea of Azov and the Black and Caspian seas (the Caspian sturgeon is the source of the world's finest caviar), but reduced river flows and pollution from agricultural runoff, industrial waste, and sewage dumping have thinned fish populations. There are important inland fisheries on lakes and rivers, including a good deal of fish farming.

      The Russian fishing industry rivals the size of the world's other leading producers (Japan, the United States, and China). Russia produces about one-third of all canned fish and some one-fourth of the world's total fresh and frozen fish. The privatization of fishing in the 1990s shifted the industry's focus from production for domestic consumption to exports. Especially important catches are pollack, herring, cod, and salmon. Russia's earnings from the export of fish are steadily larger than from grain export. Salmon, crabmeat, caviar, beluga, sterlet, and herring were among the important seafoods generating export income.

Resources and power
 Russia has enormous energy resources and significant deposits of many different minerals. Most, if not all, of the raw materials required by modern industry are found within its borders. Its coal reserves are particularly extensive. The biggest fields lie in the remote Tunguska and Lena basins of East Siberia and the Far East, but these are largely untapped, and the bulk of output comes from more southerly fields along the Trans-Siberian (Siberia) Railroad. About three-fourths of Russia's coal is produced in Siberia—some two-fifths from the Kuznetsk Basin (Kuznetsk Coal Basin) alone and the remainder from the Kansk-Achinsk, Cheremkhovo, and South Yakut basins and numerous smaller sources. The production of hard (anthracite) coal in European Russia takes place mainly in the eastern Donets Basin and, in the Arctic, in the Pechora Basin around Vorkuta.

      Privatization of the coal industry began in the 1990s, and by the early 21st century some three-fifths of overall coal production was coming from privatized mines. However, the removal of state subsidies also forced the closure of many unprofitable mines. The most severe cuts in coal output occurred in the Central and Ural economic regions and in Rostov province of the North Caucasus region. Coal mines in regions with access to large reserves of oil and natural gas fared better.

      Russia is among the world's leading producers of oil (petroleum), extracting about one-fifth of the global total. It also is responsible for more than one-fourth of the world's total natural gas output. The great bulk of oil and natural gas comes from the huge fields (Siberia) that underlie the northern part of the West Siberia region. Another significant source of reserves is the Volga-Ural zone, and the remainder is derived mainly from the Komi-Ukhta field (North region); the North Caucasus region, once the Soviet Union's leading producer, is now of little importance. Extensive pipeline systems link production sites to all regions of the country, the neighbouring former Soviet republics, and, across the western frontier, numerous European countries.

      There are some 600 large thermal power plants, more than 100 hydroelectric stations, and several nuclear power plants that generate electricity. About three-fourths of electricity is generated in thermal stations; some two-thirds of thermal generation is from oil and gas. The remaining power output is produced by hydroelectric and nuclear plants. Most of the hydroelectricity comes from huge stations on the Volga, Kama, Ob, Yenisey, Angara, and Zeya rivers. Nuclear power production expanded rapidly before development was checked by the Chernobyl accident in Ukraine in 1986. Much of Siberia's electricity output is transmitted to the European region along high-voltage lines.

      Russia also produces large quantities of iron (iron processing) ore, mainly from the Kursk Magnetic Anomaly (Central Black Earth region), Kola Peninsula, Urals, and Siberia. Although there is steel production in every economic region, the largest steel-producing plants are located mainly in the Urals, Central Black Earth region, and Kuznetsk Basin. Russia produces about one-sixth of the world's iron ore and between one-tenth and one-fifth of all nonferrous, rare, and precious metals.

      Nonferrous metals are available in great variety from many districts, but by far the most important are those of the Ural region, which is Russia's main centre of nonferrous metallurgy. Russia is a major producer of cobalt, chrome, copper, gold, lead, manganese, nickel, platinum, tungsten, vanadium, and zinc. The country produces much of its aluminum from plants powered by the Siberian hydroelectric stations, but bauxite deposits are relatively meagre.

Machine building
      Russia's machine-building industry provides most of the country's needs, including steam boilers and turbines, electric generators, grain combines, automobiles, and electric locomotives, and it fills much of its demand for shipbuilding, electric-power-generating and transmitting equipment, consumer durables, machine tools, instruments, and automation components. Russia's factories also produce armaments, including tanks, jet fighters, and rockets, which are sold to many countries and contribute significantly to Russia's export income. Older automobile factories are located in Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod; the largest plants are those at Tolyatti (near Samara) and at Naberezhnye Chelny (in Tatarstan; a heavy truck factory). Smaller producers of road vehicles are in Miass, Ulyanovsk, and Izhevsk.

Chemicals (chemical industry)
      Because of the complex history of the development of the chemical industries and the great variety of raw materials involved, chemical manufacture is widely dispersed. The industry initially utilized mineral salts, coke-oven and smelter gases, timber, and foodstuffs (mainly potatoes) as their raw materials. On this basis synthetic-rubber factories were built in the Central Black Earth and Central regions, areas of large-scale potato production; sulfuric acid plants were developed in the Urals and North Caucasus, where there was nonferrous metallurgy; and potassium and phosphatic fertilizer plants were constructed at sites in several regions, near deposits of potassium salts and phosphorites.

      As oil and gas input increased in the second half of the 20th century, new chemical plants were built, particularly in the Volga, Ural, and North Caucasus zones and in other regions served by pipelines, which helped to reduce the dependence on traditional resources. Chemical industries requiring large quantities of electric power, such as those based on cellulose, are particularly important in Siberia, where both timber and electricity are plentiful. Overall, Russia's chemical industry lags in scale and diversity compared with those of the United States, Canada, China, and the countries of the European Union.

Light industry
       textile industries are heavily concentrated in European Russia, especially in the Central region, which produces a large share of the country's clothing and footwear. cotton textiles are dominant, with the raw cotton supplied mainly by Central Asian countries. In the zone between the Volga and Oka rivers, east of Moscow, there are numerous cotton-textile towns, the largest of which are Ivanovo, Kostroma, and Yaroslavl. Durable consumer goods (e.g., refrigerators, washing machines, radios, and television sets) are produced primarily in areas with a tradition of skilled industry, notably in and around Moscow and St. Petersburg.

      Russia's monetary unit is the ruble, which is now freely convertible, a radical departure from the practice of artificial exchange rates and rigid restrictions that existed during the Soviet era. The Russian Central Bank (RCB), which took over the functions of the Soviet-era Gosbank, is exclusively responsible for regulating the country's monetary system. The bank's primary function is to protect and stabilize the ruble, which it attempts to do through its control of foreign exchange. Under the constitution adopted in 1993, the RCB was given greater autonomy from the central government than the Gosbank had enjoyed, but its head is appointed by the president and subject to approval by the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian legislature. In 1995 the RCB was granted the authority to oversee all banking transactions, set exchange-rate policies, license banks, and service the country's debt. To maintain its hard currency reserves, the RCB relies on the obligation of all exporters to convert half their hard-currency earnings into rubles. In the mid-1990s the RCB established a system of supervision and inspection of the country's commercial banks.

      During much of the 1990s Russia's financial system was in a state of chaos, largely because many of the thousands of banks that formed after the fall of communism became insolvent, particularly during the economic crisis of the late 1990s. Even with consolidation of the banking industry, at the beginning of the early 21st century there were more than 1,000 Russian commercial banks, many of which were state-owned or were institutions that offered few financing opportunities for small- and medium-size businesses. Dozens of foreign banks also operate in the country.

      The state-owned Russian commercial banks, such as Vneshtorgbank and Sberbank, shadow the RCB both in the pursuit of stability and in operations philosophy. The banking sector is frequently accused of cronyism, benefiting only a select few, particularly former communist apparatchiks. Before the banking crisis in the late 1990s, private commercial banks mushroomed, but most of them acted as outsourcing financial agents for enterprises inherited from the Soviet era. By the beginning of the 21st century, two major clusters of banks had survived. One cluster, which included the National Reserve Bank, Gazprombank, Promstroybank, and International Moscow Bank, served the oil and gas industry. The second cluster, consisting of banks servicing the government of Moscow, included the Bank of Moscow, Mosbusinessbank, Guta Bank, Most Bank, Unikombank, International Financial Corporation, Sobinbank, MDM Bank, Toribank, Promradtekhbank, and dozens of smaller banks.

      During the communist period the Russian republic traded extensively with the other Soviet republics, from which it “imported” a variety of commodities that it was unable to produce in sufficient quantities itself. These included cotton (from Central Asia) and other high-value agricultural products, grain (mainly from Kazakhstan), and various minerals. In return, Russia “exported” oil and gas to republics with a weak energy base, such as Belorussia (now Belarus) and the Baltic states, and sent its skilled-engineering products and consumer goods to most of its partners.

      By the late 1990s trade between the former union republics no longer continued in any systematic manner, particularly because agreement could not be reached on the prices to be charged for goods previously exchanged at artificially low rates during the Soviet period. Still, Russia generally has a positive trade balance with the former republics of the Soviet Union.

 International trade during the Soviet era was rather limited until the 1960s, and most of it was governed by bilateral and multilateral arrangements with the other members of Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance), the Soviet-led trade organization of communist eastern European countries. As Soviet economic expansion slowed during the 1970s and '80s, it became apparent that further growth required large quantities of high-tech equipment from the West. To finance these imports, increasing amounts of hard currency were needed, and this could be obtained only by increasing exports to the West. As a result, Russia came to rely heavily on oil and gas exports as a source for its hard currency needs. With Comecon's collapse and the dissolution of the Soviet Union itself, individual republics began to develop their own trading relations with the outside world. Russia, with its large resources of oil, gas, and minerals, seemed well placed to continue the type of trading relations with the West already developed by the former Soviet Union. In 1994 Russia signed an agreement that strengthened economic ties with the European Union, and Russia soon joined economic discussions with the Group of Seven (G-7), which represented the most advanced economies of the world; in 1997 it was admitted as member of the Group of Eight (G-8). However, Russia's integration into the world economy was not complete, as it did not fully participate in that organization's economic and financial discussions, and its application to join the World Trade Organization was delayed.

      Foreign trade is tremendously important to the Russian economy. The country has generally enjoyed a healthy trade surplus since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Primary exports include oil, metals, machinery, chemicals, and forestry products. Principal imports include machinery and foods. Among Russia's leading trade partners are Germany, the United States, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.

      During the Soviet era the service sector suffered from drastic inadequacies. The state-owned services, which made no effort to respond to consumer demand, were hampered by inefficient bureaucratization. In the post-Soviet era private-sector services grew dramatically, and many of the shortages that characterized the previous era were eliminated. By the beginning of the 21st century, services accounted for more than half of GDP. Still, complaints remained regarding the provision of services by the public sector, particularly the police, schools, and hospitals. Owing to budget shortfalls, many of the public-sector services are poorly financed and have been unable to retain skilled employees.

      Travel and tourism account for several million jobs in Russia. Some 20 million foreign visitors travel to Russia each year, though many of these visitors are seasonal workers from former Soviet republics. Free from the restrictions of Soviet times, Russians have increasingly traveled abroad.

Labour and taxation
      Before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, an overarching All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions nominally represented the interests of workers, though it was controlled by the governing Communist Party. In the mid-1980s there was increasing labour unrest, particularly from miners, and greater rights were granted to workers. Since the collapse of communism, labour relations have been in constant flux, and several labour codes have been adopted. Trade union reform in 2001 effectively provided the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of the Russian Federation, which represents some 50 million workers organized into various branches, a monopoly on most union activity. Alternative trade unions were unable to operate unless they represented at least half of the employees at a company.

      The primary sector continues to provide employment for a large proportion of the workforce, with one-eighth of workers employed in agriculture and one-fifth in mining and manufacturing. Still, the service sector (including banking, insurance, and other financial services) has grown appreciably and now employs about three-fifths of all Russian workers.

      Tax laws have undergone dramatic reform since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. As a result of high tax rates, the large number of unreported incomes (particularly related to organized-crime syndicates), and general fraud, the government failed to collect a significant proportion of the revenue to which it was legally entitled. In the early 21st century, to combat fraud and encourage investment, the government simplified the tax system and reduced the overall tax burden, particularly on businesses. For example, corporate taxes were reduced by about one-third, a flat tax was imposed on incomes, and the value-added tax on the sale of goods was reduced. A single natural resource extraction tax also replaced three existing resource taxes. The value-added tax is a large source of government revenue.

Transportation and telecommunications
      Russia's vast size and the great distances that often separate sources of raw materials and foodstuffs from consumers place a heavy burden on the transport system. One result has been the continuing dominance of the railways (railroad), which account for about nine-tenths of the country's freight turnover (three-fifths if pipelines are included) and half of all passenger movement. Nevertheless, the rail network is a very open one, and its density varies regionally: it is highest in the Northwest, Central, and Central Black Earth regions and lowest in East and West Siberia and the Far East. Some two-thirds of the railway network lies along the main belt of settlements. The railway network of European Russia is nearly seven times as dense as that found in the Asian portion of the country. Indeed, east of the Urals the term network is a misnomer, since the system consists of only a few major trunk routes (e.g., the Trans-Siberian Railroad and Baikal-Amur Mainline) with feeder branches to sites of economic importance. Russian railways are among the world's leading freight carriers, the line from the Kuznetsk Basin to the Urals being especially prominent. The railways are owned and run by a joint-stock company controlled by the state. Much of the country's rolling stock is obsolete.

      Apart from highways linking the major cities of European Russia, the road system is underdeveloped and carries only a tiny fraction of all freight. The private automobile became a symbol of middle-class status in the post-Soviet years, but the percentage of people owning vehicles is still quite small. Inland waterways carry a much larger volume. Although the greatest volume is carried on the Volga system, river transport is most vital in areas devoid of railways. In addition to its vital role in foreign trade, maritime transport also has some importance in linking the various regions of Russia, particularly those that face the Arctic seaboard. Traffic on the Arctic Ocean route is seasonal.

      Air transport plays an increasingly important role. Russian airlines carry only a minute fraction of all freight, chiefly high-value items to and from the remote parts of Siberia, where aircraft are sometimes the only means of transport. Airlines are responsible for nearly one-fifth of all passenger movement. Aeroflot (renamed Aeroflot-Russian Airlines in June 2000), formerly the state airline of the Soviet Union, is the country's largest air carrier; the Russian government maintains majority ownership of Aeroflot. Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo in Moscow and Pulkovo in St. Petersburg are the country's major airports, with the older Sheremetyevo airport losing tenants to the more modern Domodedovo. Most major cities have service to international or domestic locations.

      The Russian telecommunications sector is inferior to those of other industrialized countries. For example, in the early 1990s only about one-third of the country's households had a telephone. Largely through foreign investment, however, the country's telecommunications infrastructure has been greatly improved. In 1997 the State Committee on Communications and Informatics was formed from the Ministry of Communications and the State Committee on Information Technology to regulate telecommunications policies, oversee the liberalization of the sector, and encourage competition; by the beginning of the 21st century, there were more than 1,000 telecommunications companies. Nevertheless, several large companies, such as Svyazinvest and Rostelkom, control much of Russia's telecommunications industry. In addition, Internet use in Russia grew very slowly in the 1990s, particularly outside the major urban areas, but it has since grown fairly steadily.

Government and society
 During the Soviet (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) era the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (the R.S.F.S.R.) was subject to a series of Soviet constitutions (1918, 1924, 1936, 1977), under which it nominally was a sovereign socialist state within (after 1936) a federal structure. Until the late 1980s, however, the government was dominated at all levels by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which was all-powerful and whose head was the country's de facto leader. Indeed, in the elections that were held, there was only a single slate of candidates, the great majority of whom were in effect chosen by the Communist Party.

      From the late 1980s through 1991—the period of Mikhail Gorbachev (Gorbachev, Mikhail)'s perestroika (“restructuring”), glasnost (“openness”), and demokratizatsiya (“democratization”) reform policies—fundamental changes took place in the political system and government structures of the Soviet Union that altered both the nature of the Soviet federal state and the status and powers of the individual republics. In 1988 the Soviet Congress of People's Deputies was created, and a Congress of People's Deputies was established in each republic. For the first time, elections to these bodies presented voters with a choice of candidates, including noncommunists, though the Communist Party continued to dominate the system.

      Thereafter, the pace of change accelerated. In June 1990 the Congress of the Russian republic proclaimed that Russian laws took precedence over Soviet laws, and the following year Boris Yeltsin (Yeltsin, Boris) became the republic's first democratically elected president. An abortive coup in August 1991 by hard-liners opposed to Gorbachev's reforms led to the collapse of most Soviet government organizations, the abolition of the Communist Party's leading role in government, and the dissolution of the party itself. Republic after republic declared its “sovereignty,” and in December, when the Soviet Union was formally dissolved, Russia was established as an independent country.

Constitutional framework
      The structure of the new Russian government differed significantly from that of the former Soviet republic. It was characterized by a power struggle between the executive and legislative branches, primarily over issues of constitutional authority and the pace and direction of democratic and economic reform. Conflicts came to a head in September 1993 when President Yeltsin dissolved the Russian parliament (the Congress of People's Deputies and the Supreme Soviet); some deputies and their allies revolted and were suppressed only through military intervention.

      On December 12, 1993, three-fifths of Russian voters ratified a new constitution proposed by Yeltsin, and representatives were elected to a new legislature. Under the new constitution the president, who is elected in a national vote and cannot serve more than two terms consecutively, is vested with significant powers. As Russia's head of state, the president is empowered to appoint the chairman of the government (prime minister), key judges, and cabinet members. The president is also commander in chief of the armed forces and can declare martial law or a state of emergency. When the legislature fails to pass the president's legislative initiatives, he may issue decrees that have the force of law. In 2008 an amendment to the constitution, to take effect with the 2012 election, extended the presidential term from four to six years.

      Under the new constitution the Federal Assembly became the country's legislature. It consists of the Federation Council (an upper house in which each of Russia's administrative divisions has two representatives) and the State Duma (a 450-member lower house). The president's nominee for chairman of the government is subject to approval by the State Duma; if it rejects a nominee three times or passes a vote of no confidence twice in three months, the president may dissolve the State Duma and call for new elections. All legislation must first pass the State Duma before being considered by the Federation Council. A presidential veto of a bill can be overridden by the legislature with a two-thirds majority, or a bill may be altered to incorporate presidential reservations and pass with a majority vote. With a two-thirds majority (and approval by the Russian Constitutional Court), the legislature may remove the president from office for treason or other serious criminal offenses. The Federation Council must approve all presidential appointments to the country's highest judicial bodies (Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, and Supreme Court of Arbitration).

      The constitution provides for welfare protection, access to social security, pensions, free health care, and affordable housing. The constitution also guarantees local self-governance, though national law takes precedence over regional and local laws and the constitution enumerates many areas that either are administered jointly by the regions and the central government or are the exclusive preserve of the central government. In the decade after the constitution's enactment, the government implemented several measures to reduce the power and influence of regional governments and governors; for example, in 2000 President Vladimir Putin (Putin, Vladimir) created seven federal districts (see discussion below) above the regional level to increase the central government's power over the regions.

Regional and local government
      Under the Russian constitution the central government retains significant authority, but regional and local governments have been given an array of powers. For example, they exercise authority over municipal property and policing, and they can impose regional taxes. Owing to a lack of assertiveness by the central government, Russia's administrative divisions—oblasti (regions), minority republics, okruga (autonomous districts), kraya (territories), federal cities (Moscow and St. Petersburg), and the one autonomous oblast—exerted considerable power in the initial years after the passage of the 1993 constitution. The constitution gives equal power to each of the country's administrative divisions in the Federal Assembly. However, the power of the divisions was diluted in 2000 when seven federal districts (Central, Far East, Northwest, Siberia, Southern, Urals, and Volga), each with its own presidential envoy, were established by the central government. The envoys were given the power to implement federal law and to coordinate communication between the president and the regional governors. Legally, the envoys in federal districts had solely the power of communicating the executive guidance of the federal president. In practice, however, the guidance has served more as directives, as the president was able to use the envoys to enforce presidential authority over the regional governments.

      In comparison to the federal government, regional governments generally have inadequate tax revenue to support mandatory items in their budgets, which have barely been able to cover wages for teachers and police. The budgets of regional governments also are overburdened by pensions.

      Legislation has further affirmed the power of the federal government over the regions. For example, the regional governors and their deputies were prohibited from representing their region in the Federation Council on the grounds that their sitting in the Federation Council violated the principle of the separation of powers; however, under a compromise, both the legislative and executive branch of each region sent a member to the Federation Council. Legislation enacted in 2004 permitted the president to appoint the regional governors, who earlier were elected. In the first decade of the 21st century, the country began to undergo administrative change aimed at subordinating smaller okruga to neighbouring members of the federation.

      Following these reforms in regional government, the new federal districts began to replace the 11 traditional economic regions, particularly for statistical purposes. The Central district unites the city of Moscow with all administrative divisions within the Central and Central Black Earth economic regions. The Northwest district combines the city of St. Petersburg with all areas in the North and Northwest regions, including Kaliningrad oblast. The Southern district includes the units of the North Caucasus economic region and the republic of Kalmykia. The Volga district merges two economic regions, Volga-Vyatka and Volga, with the exception of Kalmykia. Additionally, some administrative divisions from the Ural economic region are included in the Volga federal district. The Urals district consists of the remaining administrative divisions of the Ural economic region along with several from the West Siberia economic region. The Siberia district unites the remainder of the West Siberia economic region and all of East Siberia. Finally, the Far East district is congruent with the Far East economic region.

      Several of the administrative divisions established constitutions that devolved power to local jurisdictions, and, though the 1993 constitution guaranteed local self-governance, the powers of local governments vary considerably. Some local authorities, particularly in urban centres, exercise significant power and are responsible for taxation and the licensing of businesses. Moscow and St. Petersburg have particularly strong local governments, with both possessing a tax base and government structure that dwarf the country's other regions. Local councils in smaller communities are commonly rubber-stamp agencies, accountable to the city administrator, who is appointed by the regional governor. In the mid-1990s municipal government was restructured. City councils (dumas), city mayors, and city administrators replaced former city soviets.

Justice (judiciary)
      Russia's highest judicial body is the Supreme Court, which supervises the activities of all other judicial bodies and serves as the final court of appeal. The Supreme Court has been supplemented since 1991 by a Constitutional Court, established to review Russian laws and treaties. The Constitutional Court is presided over by 19 judges, who are nominated by the president and approved by the Federation Council. Appointed to life terms, judges for both the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court must be at least 25 years of age and hold a law degree. The Constitutional Court has the power of judicial review, which enables it to rule on the constitutionality of laws. The Russian legal system has attempted to overcome the repression practiced during the Soviet era by requiring public trials and guaranteeing a defense for the accused. The Supreme Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation rules on commercial disputes. (For discussion of the legal system during the Soviet period, see Soviet law.)

Political process
      Soviet-era politics was authoritarian and predictable. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union dominated the political process, and elections were merely ritualistic, with voters not allowed a choice between freely competing political parties. Political reform in the 1980s and '90s brought greater freedom, but it also spawned the formation of hundreds of political organizations and parties. With so many parties and with wide disagreement over the pace and direction of reforms, Russian elections have been characterized by instability. Although reform-oriented parties won victories in the early 1990s, institutions such as the army and the intelligence services continued to exert considerable influence, and many bureaucrats were highly resistant to change. Some political parties that attracted wide support at the time of Russia's independence were moribund by the beginning of the 21st century, and some coalitions were formed solely around the appeal of an individual charismatic leader. In contrast to 1995, when 43 political parties competed, only 26 contested the 1999 election. Legislation enacted under the Putin regime attempted to further reduce the number of political parties by mandating that they have at least 10,000 members and registered offices in at least half of Russia's regions to compete in national elections. In the 2007 legislative elections, only four parties gained enough votes to be represented in the State Duma.

      All citizens at least age 18 are eligible to vote. Presidential elections are contested in two rounds; if no candidate receives a majority in the first round, there is a runoff between the top two candidates. For elections to the State Duma, voters cast separate ballots for a party and for a representative from a single-member district. Half the seats in the State Duma are allocated based on the party vote, with all parties winning at least 5 percent of the national vote guaranteed representation on a proportional basis, and half through the single-member-district contests. Each regional governor and the head of each regional assembly appoint one member to serve in the Federation Council.

      Several of the political parties that formed in the 1990s had a notable impact. Despite the dissolution of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the general demise of communism, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation emerged as a major political force. Indeed, in both 1996 and 2000 the Communist Party's leader finished second in the presidential balloting, and in 2000 its contingent in the State Duma was the largest (though the party was a distant second in 2003). The ultranationalist and xenophobic Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) capitalized on popular disenchantment and fear in the early 1990s. Led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who finished third in the presidential election of 1991, the LDP won more than one-fifth of the vote and 64 seats in the State Duma elections in 1993. By the end of the decade, however, support for the party had dropped dramatically; its support rebounded slightly in 2003, when it won nearly one-eighth of the vote. Throughout the 1990s Yeltsin's government was viewed unfavourably by a large proportion of the Russian public. To secure legislative support for his policies, Yeltsin encouraged the formation of the Our Home Is Russia party in 1995 and the Unity party in 1999; both parties finished behind the Communist Party in parliamentary elections. Parties supportive of the most liberal policies, such as Grigory Yavlinsky's Yabloko (Apple) party, found themselves unable to secure a firm base outside the intelligentsia. One of the most intriguing parties that formed in the 1990s was the Women of Russia party, which captured 8 percent of the vote in the 1993 State Duma election, though its level support had dropped by about three-fourths by the end of the decade. In 2001 a number of parties merged to form the pro-Putin United Russia party; beginning in 2003, this bloc held the largest number of seats in the State Duma.

      In the Soviet era women played a prominent role in politics. The Soviet Congress of People's Deputies required that women constitute at least one-third of the total membership. Quotas subsequently were removed after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and representation for women had declined dramatically by the mid-1990s to roughly 10 percent in the State Duma and 5 percent in the Federation Council.

      In 2005 a People's Chamber was established to serve as an advisory board for Russia's civil society. A Soviet-style amalgam of officials (President Putin supervised the confirmation of the initial members), it added additional support for the presidency.

      The Russian armed forces consist of an army, navy, air force (which merged with the air defense force in 1998), and strategic rocket force, all under the command of the president. About half the troops are conscripts: military service, lasting 18 months for the army or 24 months for the navy, is compulsory for men over age 18, although draft evasion is widespread. In the 1990s controversy arose over attempts to reduce the size of the armed forces and create a professional military by abolishing conscription. In addition to an extensive reserve force, Russia maintains defense facilities in several former Soviet republics and contributes a small proportion of its troops to the joint forces of the CIS. Russia's military capacity has declined since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, it still has one of the world's largest armed forces establishments, which includes a vast nuclear arsenal.

      During the Cold War the Soviet Union established the Warsaw Pact (1955), a treaty that was designed to counter the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Warsaw Treaty Organization was dissolved in 1991, after which Russia maintained an uneasy military relationship with the United States and NATO, particularly during the fighting in the Balkans in the 1990s. Nevertheless, by the end of the 1990s Russia and NATO had signed a cooperation agreement, and in 2002 the NATO-Russia Council was established to help develop a consensus on foreign and military policies. In 1991 Russia assumed the Soviet Union's permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

      Foreign and domestic intelligence operations are managed, respectively, by the Foreign Intelligence Service and the Federal Security Service, agencies that emerged in the 1990s after the reorganization of the Soviet KGB (Committee for State Security) in 1991. High officials are protected by the Presidential Security Service, which was established in 1993. A Federal Border Service, which combats transborder crimes (particularly drug trafficking and smuggling), and several other intelligence agencies were also established in the 1990s. Local police forces have been overwhelmed by the organized crime that flourished in Russia after the fall of communism. Well-trained private security forces have become increasingly common.

Health and welfare
      Public welfare funds from the state budget, enterprises, and trade unions are used substantially to improve the material and social conditions of workers in Russia. Social welfare programs formerly were funded by the central government, but in the 1990s employer-based social insurance and pension funds, to which workers also contributed, were introduced. A major portion of the public welfare budget funds free medical service, training, pensions, and scholarships. Russian workers and professionals receive paid vacations of up to one month.

      During much of the Soviet period, advances in health care and material well-being led to a decline in mortality, the control or eradication of the more dangerous infectious diseases, and an increase in the average life span. After 1991, however, public health deteriorated dramatically.

      In the 1990s the death rate reached its highest level of the 20th century (excluding wartime). Life expectancy fell dramatically (though it began to rise again by the end of the decade), and infectious diseases that had been under control spread again. In addition, the country suffered high rates of cancer, tuberculosis, and heart disease. Various social, ecological, and economic factors underlay these developments, including funding and medicine shortages, insufficiently paid and trained medical personnel (e.g., many medical schools lack sufficient supplies and instructors), poor intensive and emergency care, the limited development of specialized services such as maternity and hospice care, contaminated food and drinking water, duress caused by economic dislocation, poor nutrition, contact with toxic substances in the workplace, and high rates of alcohol and tobacco consumption. Air pollution in heavily industrialized areas has led to relatively high rates of lung cancer in these regions, and high incidences of stomach cancer have occurred in regions where consumption of carbohydrates is high and intake of fruits, vegetables, milk, and animal proteins is low.

       alcoholism, especially among men, has long been a severe public health problem in Russia. At the beginning of the 21st century, it was estimated that some one-third of men and one-sixth of women were addicted to alcohol. The problem is particularly acute in rural areas and among the Evenk, Sakha, Koryak, and Nenets in Russia's northern regions. Widespread alcoholism has its origins in the Soviet-era “vodka-based economy,” which countered shortages in the supply of food and consumer goods with the production of vodka, a nonperishable product that was easily transportable. The government has sponsored media campaigns to promote healthy living and imposed strict tax regulations aimed at reducing the profitability of vodka producers; in addition, group-therapy sessions (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous) have spread. There also have been proposals to prohibit the sale of hard liquors in the regions with the highest rates of alcoholism.

 Prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, nearly all of the housing stock of urban areas was owned by the state. Indeed, private property was prohibited in urban areas, and in rural areas the size of private homes was strictly limited. High-rise apartment buildings with a very unpretentious architecture made up the bulk of the stock. Local authorities were responsible for renting arrangements, and in “company towns” the management of state enterprises was given this responsibility. Rental payments were kept extremely low and, in most cases, were not enough to pay maintenance costs. Deterioration of housing was rapid and vandalism widespread. In addition, many apartments were shared by tenants, with joint-access kitchens and bathrooms, and the space of the average apartment in Russia was about one-third to one-half the size of those found in western Europe.

 The housing sector underwent vigorous privatization in the 1990s, and there was a decline in state-supported construction. Many renters were offered title to their units for free, though many older Russians decided to forego the necessary paperwork and continued to rent. Nevertheless, by the mid-1990s more than half of Russia's housing was privately owned, with the remainder administered by municipal authorities. Conditions improved considerably in owner-occupied housing, as the owners in apartment buildings were able to ensure the enforcement of maintenance rules, but public housing, owing to a lack of funds from local authorities, continued to deteriorate.

      In the 1990s many of the housing shortages characteristic of the Soviet period disappeared, and the floor space of homes per person steadily increased, largely the result of a construction boom for private homes. For example, the construction of private housing tripled in urban areas and nearly doubled in the rural areas. However, there were sharp declines in the construction of public housing, particularly in rural areas.

      Education in the Soviet Union was highly centralized, with the state owning and operating nearly every school. The curriculum was rigid, and the system aimed to indoctrinate students in the communist system. As with many aspects of the Soviet system, schools were often forced to operate in crowded facilities and with limited resources. With democratization there was widespread support for educational reforms. In 1992 the federal government passed legislation enabling regions where non-Russians predominated to exercise some degree of autonomy in education; still, diplomas can be conferred only in the Russian, Bashkir, and Tatar languages, and the federal government has responsibility for designing and distributing textbooks, licensing teachers, and setting the requirements for instruction in the Russian language, sciences, and mathematics. School finance and the humanities, history, and social science curricula are entrusted to regional authorities.

      Preschool education in Russia is very well developed; some four-fifths of children aged 3 to 6 attend crèches (day nurseries) or kindergartens. Schooling is compulsory for nine years. It starts from age 7 (in some areas from 6) and leads to a basic general education certificate. An additional two or three years of schooling are required for the secondary-level certificate, and some seven-eighths of Russian students continue their education past this level. Non-Russian schoolchildren are taught in their own language, but Russian is a compulsory subject at the secondary level.

      Admission to an institute of higher education is selective and highly competitive: first-degree courses usually take five years. Higher education is conducted almost entirely in Russian, although there are a few institutions, mainly in the minority republics, where the local language is also used.

 Russia's oldest university is Moscow State University, which was founded in 1755. Throughout the 19th century and into the 20th, Russian universities in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kazan produced world-class scholars, notably the mathematician Nikolay Lobachevsky (Lobachevsky, Nikolay Ivanovich) and the chemist Dmitry Mendeleyev (Mendeleyev, Dmitry Ivanovich). Although universities suffered severely during the purges of the Stalinist regime, a number have continued to provide high-quality education, particularly in the sciences. In addition to Moscow State University, the most important institutions include St. Petersburg State University (Saint Petersburg State University) (founded 1819) and Novosibirsk State University (1959).

      Since the demise of the Soviet Union, the quantity and diversity of universities and institutes have undergone unprecedented expansion. In 1991 the country had some 500 institutions of higher education, all of which were controlled by the state. By the beginning of the 21st century, the number of state schools had increased by nearly one-fifth, though many suffered from inadequate state funding, dated equipment, and overcrowding. The state schools were joined by more than 300 private colleges and universities. which were all established after 1994. Licensed by the state, these schools generally enjoyed better funding than the state schools; however, they were very costly and served mainly Russia's new middle class.

Sergey Arsentyevich Vodovozov Richard Hellie John C. Dewdney Olga L. Medvedkov Yuri V. Medvedkov

Cultural life

The development of Russian culture
      Russia's unique and vibrant culture developed, as did the country itself, from a complicated interplay of native Slavic cultural material and borrowings from a wide variety of foreign cultures. In the Kievan period (c. 10th–13th centuries), the borrowings were primarily from Eastern Orthodox Byzantine culture. During the Muscovite period (c. 14th–17th centuries), the Slavic and Byzantine cultural substrates were enriched and modified by Asiatic influences carried by the Mongol hordes. Finally, in the modern period (since the 18th century), the cultural heritage of western Europe was added to the Russian melting pot.

The Kievan period
      Although many traces of the Slavic culture that existed in the territories of Kievan Rus survived beyond its Christianization (which occurred, according to The Russian Primary Chronicle (Russian Primary Chronicle, The), in 988), the cultural system that organized the lives of the early Slavs is far from being understood. From the 10th century, however, enough material has survived to provide a reasonably accurate portrait of Old Russian cultural life. High culture in Kievan Rus was primarily ecclesiastical. Literacy was not widespread, and artistic composition was undertaken almost exclusively by monks. The earliest circulated literary works were translations from Greek into Old Church Slavonic (Old Church Slavonic language) (a South Slavic dialect that was, in this period, close enough to Old Russian to be understandable). By the 11th century, however, monks were producing original works (on Byzantine models), primarily hagiographies, historical chronicles, and homilies. At least one great secular work was produced as well: the epic The Song of Igor's Campaign (Igor's Campaign, The Song of), which dates from the late 12th century and describes a failed military expedition against the neighbouring Polovtsy. Evidence also exists (primarily in the form of church records of suppression) of a thriving popular culture based on pre-Christian traditions centring on harvest, marriage, birth, and death rituals. The most important aspects of Kievan culture for the development of modern Russian culture, however, were not literary or folkloric but rather artistic and architectural. The early Slavic rulers expressed their religious piety and displayed their wealth through the construction of stone churches, at first in Byzantine style (such as the 11th-century Cathedral of St. Sophia, which still stands in Kiev, Ukraine) and later in a distinctive Russian style (best preserved today in churches in and around the city of Vladimir, east of Moscow). The interiors of many of these churches were ornately decorated with frescoes and icons.

The Muscovite period (Moscow, Grand Principality of)
      The Mongol (Tatar) invasions of the early 13th century decimated Kievan Rus. By the time Russian political and cultural life began to recover in the 14th century, a new centre had arisen: Muscovy (Moscow). Continuity with Kiev was provided by the Orthodox church, which had acted as a beacon of national life during the period of Tatar domination and continued to play the central role in Russian culture into the 17th century. As a result, Russian cultural development in the Muscovite period was quite different from that of western Europe, which at this time was experiencing the secularization of society and the rediscovery of the classical cultural heritage that characterized the Renaissance. At first the literary genres employed by Muscovite writers were the same as those that had dominated in Kiev. The most remarkable literary monuments of the Muscovite period, however, are unlike anything that came before. The correspondence between Tsar Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) and Andrey Mikhaylovich, Prince Kurbsky (Kurbsky, Andrey Mikhaylovich, Prince) during the 1560s and '70s is particularly noteworthy. Kurbsky, a former general in Ivan's army, defected to Poland, whence he sent a letter critical of the tsar's regime. Ivan's diatribes in response are both wonderful expressions of outraged pride and literary tours de force that combine the highest style of Muscovite hagiographic writing with pithy and vulgar attacks on his enemy. Similarly vigorous in style is the first full-scale autobiography in Russian literature, Avvakum Petrovich's The Life of the Archpriest Avvakum, by Himself (c. 1672–75).

 As in the Kievan period, however, the most significant cultural achievements of Muscovy were in the visual arts and architecture rather than in literature. The Moscow school of icon painting produced great masters, among them Dionisy and Andrey Rublyov (Rublyov, Saint Andrey) (whose Old Testament Trinity, now in Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery, is among the most revered icons ever painted). Russian architects continued to design and build impressive churches, including the celebrated Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed (Saint Basil the Blessed) on Moscow's Red Square. Built to commemorate the Russian capture of Kazar, the Tatar capital, St. Basil's is a perfect example of the confluence of Byzantine and Asiatic cultural streams that characterizes Muscovite culture.

The emergence of modern Russian culture
      The gradual turn of Russia toward western Europe that began in the 17th century led to an almost total reorientation of Russian interests during the reign of Peter I (1682–1725). Although Peter (known as Peter the Great) was not particularly interested in cultural questions, the influx of Western ideas (which accompanied the technology Peter found so attractive) and the weakening of the Orthodox church led to a cultural renaissance during the reigns of his successors. In the late 1730s poets Mikhail Lomonosov (Lomonosov, Mikhail Vasilyevich) and Vasily Trediakovsky (Trediakovsky, Vasily Kirillovich) carried out reforms as far-reaching as those of Peter. Adapting German syllabotonic versification to Russian, they developed the system of “classical” metres that prevails in Russian poetry to this day. In the 1740s, in imitation of French Neoclassicism, Aleksandr Sumarokov (Sumarokov, Aleksandr Petrovich) wrote the first Russian stage tragedies. In the course of the century, Russian writers assimilated all the European genres; although much of their work was derivative, the comedies of Denis Fonvizin (Fonvizin, Denis Ivanovich) and the powerful, solemn odes of Gavrila Derzhavin (Derzhavin, Gavrila Romanovich) were original and have remained part of the active Russian cultural heritage. Prose fiction made its appearance at the end of the century in the works of the sentimentalist Nikolay Karamzin (Karamzin, Nikolay Mikhaylovich). By the beginning of the 19th century, after a 75-year European cultural apprenticeship, Russia had developed a flexible secular literary language, had a command of modern Western literary forms, and was ready to produce fully original cultural work.

Daily life and social customs
      During the Soviet era most customs and traditions of Russia's imperial past were suppressed, and life was strictly controlled and regulated by the state through its vast intelligence network. Beginning in the 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms eased political and social restrictions, and common traditions and folkways, along with the open practice of religion, began to reappear.

      Many folk holidays, which are often accompanied by traditional foods, have gained popularity and have become vital elements of popular culture. Festivities generally include street carnivals that feature entertainers and children in traditional Russian dress. Boys usually wear a long-sleeved red or blue shirt with a round, embroidered collar, while girls wear a three-piece ensemble consisting of a red or green sarafan (jumper), a long-sleeved peasant blouse, and an ornate kokoshnik (headdress).

      Maslyanitsa, the oldest Russian folk holiday, marks the end of winter; a purely Russian holiday, it originated during pagan times. During Maslyanitsa (“butter”), pancakes—symbolizing the sun—are served with caviar, various fish, nuts, honey pies, and other garnishes and side dishes. The meal is accompanied by tea in the ever-present samovar (tea kettle) and is often washed down with vodka.

      Baked goods are ubiquitous on Easter, including round-shaped sweet bread and Easter cake. Traditionally, pashka, a mixture of sweetened curds, butter, and raisins, is served with the cake. Hard-boiled eggs painted in bright colours also are staples of the Easter holiday.

      The Red Hill holiday is observed on the first Sunday after Easter and is considered the best day for wedding ceremonies. In summer the Russian celebration of Ivan Kupalo (St. John the Baptist) centres on water, and celebrants commonly picnic or watch fireworks from riverbanks.

      Another popular traditional holiday is the Troitsa (Pentecost), during which homes are adorned with fresh green branches. Girls often make garlands of birch branches and flowers to put into water for fortune-telling. In the last month of summer, there is a cluster of three folk holidays—known collectively as the Spas—that celebrate honey and the sowing of the apple and nut crops, respectively.

      Russia also has several official holidays, including the Russian Orthodox Christmas (January 7), Victory Day in World War II (May 9), Independence Day (June 12), and Constitution Day (December 12). Women's Day (March 8), formerly known as International Women's Day and celebrated elsewhere in the world by its original name, was established by Soviet authorities to highlight the advances women made under communist rule. During the holiday women usually receive gifts such as flowers and chocolates.

      Although a wide array of imported packaged products are now found in Russian cities, traditional foods and ingredients remain popular, including cabbage, potatoes, carrots, sour cream, and apples—the principal ingredients of borsch, the famous Russian soup made with beets. Normally, Russians prefer to finish their daily meals with a cup of tea or coffee (the latter more common in the larger cities). Also popular is kvass, a traditional beverage that can be made at home from stale black bread. On a hot summer day, chilled kvass is used to make okroshka, a traditional cold soup laced with cucumbers, boiled eggs, sausages, and salamis.

       vodka, the national drink of Russia, accompanies many family meals, especially on special occasions. The basic vodkas have no additional flavouring, but they are sometimes infused with cranberries, lemon peel, pepper, or herbs. Vodka is traditionally consumed straight and is chased by a fatty salt herring, a sour cucumber, a pickled mushroom, or a piece of rye bread with butter. It is considered bad manners and a sign of weak character to become visibly intoxicated from vodka.

      The growth of the Russian middle class has generated dramatic changes in Russia's lifestyles and social customs. Travel abroad has become popular, and consumption, particularly of imported luxury goods, has increased. Many wealthy individuals have purchased private land and built second homes, often of two or three stories. Russia's middle class has adopted values that are distinctly different from Soviet practice. The new values include self-reliance and viewing work as source of joy and pride; the middle class also tends to avoid political extremes, to participate in charitable organizations, and to patronize theatres and restaurants. Estimates of the size of the middle class vary (as do definitions of it), but it is generally assumed that it constitutes about one-fourth of Russian society, and much of that is concentrated in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other urban areas.

      The rebirth of religion is another dimension of the changed lifestyles of new Russia. Although a majority of Russians are nonbelievers, religious institutions have filled the vacuum created by the downfall of communist ideology, and even many nonbelievers participate in the now-ubiquitous religious festivities.

The arts

The 19th century
      The first quarter of the 19th century was dominated by Romantic poetry. Vasily Zhukovsky (Zhukovsky, Vasily Andreyevich)'s 1802 translation of Thomas Gray (Gray, Thomas)'s An Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard (elegy) ushered in a vogue for the personal, elegiac mode that was soon amplified in the work of Konstantin Batyushkov (Batyushkov, Konstantin Nikolayevich), Prince Pyotr Vyazemsky, and the young Aleksandr Pushkin (Pushkin, Aleksandr Sergeyevich). Although there was a call for civic-oriented poetry in the late 1810s and early '20s, most of the strongest poets followed Zhukovsky's lyrical path. However, in the 1820s the mature Pushkin went his own way, producing a series of masterpieces that laid the foundation for his eventual recognition as Russia's national poet (the equivalent of William Shakespeare (Shakespeare, William) for English readers or Dante for Italians). Pushkin's works include the Byronic long poems The Prisoner of the Caucasus (1820–21) and The Gypsies (1824), the novel in verse Yevgeny Onegin (published 1833), and the Shakespearean tragedy Boris Godunov (1831), as well as exquisite lyrical verse. Pushkin's poetry is remarkable for its classical balance, brilliant and frequently witty use of the Russian literary language, and philosophical content.

      During the 1830s a gradual decline in poetry and a rise of prose took place, a shift that coincided with a change in literary institutions. The aristocratic salon, which had been the seedbed for Russian literature, was gradually supplanted by the monthly “thick journals,” the editors and critics of which became Russia's tastemakers. The turn to prose was signaled in the work of Pushkin, whose Tales of the Late Ivan Petrovich Belkin (1831), The Queen of Spades (1834), and The Captain's Daughter (1836) all appeared before his death in 1837. Also in the 1830s the first publications appeared by Nikolay Gogol (Gogol, Nikolay), a comic writer of Ukrainian origin, whose grotesquely hilarious oeuvre includes the story The Nose, the play The Government Inspector (both 1836), and the epic novel Dead Souls (1842). Although Gogol was then known primarily as a satirist, he is now appreciated as a verbal magician whose works seem akin to the absurdists of the 20th century. One final burst of poetic energy appeared in the late 1830s in the verse of Mikhail Lermontov (Lermontov, Mikhail), who also wrote A Hero of Our Time (1840), the first Russian psychological novel.

      In the 1840s the axis of Russian literature shifted decisively from the personal and Romantic to the civic and realistic (realism), a shift presided over by the great Russian literary critic Vissarion Belinsky (Belinsky, Vissarion Grigoryevich). Belinsky desired a literature primarily concerned with current social problems, although he never expected it to give up the aesthetic function entirely. By the end of the 1840s, Belinsky's ideas had triumphed. Early works of Russian realism include Ivan Goncharov (Goncharov, Ivan Aleksandrovich)'s antiromantic novel A Common Story (1847) and Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Dostoyevsky, Fyodor)'s Poor Folk (1846).

      From the 1840s until the turn of the 20th century, the realist novel dominated Russian literature, though it was by no means a monolithic movement. In the early period the favoured method was the “physiological sketch,” which often depicted a typical member of the downtrodden classes; quintessential examples are found in Ivan Turgenev (Turgenev, Ivan Sergeyevich)'s 1852 collection A Sportsman's Sketches. In these beautifully crafted stories, Turgenev describes the life of Russian serfs (serfdom) as seen through the eyes of a Turgenev-like narrator; indeed, his powerful artistic depiction was credited with convincing Tsar Alexander II of the need to emancipate the serfs. Turgenev followed Sketches with a series of novels, each of which was felt by contemporaries to have captured the essence of Russian society. The most celebrated is Fathers and Sons (1862), in which generational and class conflict in the period of Alexander II's reforms is described through the interactions of the Kirsanov family (father, son, and uncle) with the young “nihilist” Bazarov.

      The two other great realists of the 19th century were Dostoyevsky (Dostoyevsky, Fyodor) and Leo Tolstoy (Tolstoy, Leo). Dostoyevsky, who was arrested in 1849 for his involvement in a socialist reading group, reentered the literary scene in the late 1850s. He experienced a religious conversion during his imprisonment, and his novels of the 1860s and '70s are suffused with messianic Orthodox ideas. His major novels—Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1868–69), The Possessed (1872), and The Brothers Karamazov (1879–80)—are filled with riveting, often unstable characters and dramatic scenes. While Dostoyevsky delves into the psychology of men and women at the edge, Tolstoy's novels treat the everyday existence of average people. In both War and Peace (1865–69) and Anna Karenina (1875–77), Tolstoy draws beautifully nuanced portraits filled with deep psychological and sociological insight.

      By the early 1880s the hegemony of the realist novel was waning, though what would replace it was unclear. Russian poetry, notwithstanding the civic verse of Nikolay Nekrasov (Nekrasov, Nikolay Alekseyevich) and the subtle lyrics of Afanasy Fet (Fet, Afanasy Afanasyevich), had not played a central role in the literary process since the 1830s, and drama, despite the able work of Aleksandr Ostrovsky (Ostrovsky, Aleksandr Nikolayevich), was a marginal literary activity for most writers. The only major prose writer to appear in the 1880s and '90s was Anton Chekhov (Chekhov, Anton), whose specialty was the short story. In his greatest stories—including The Man in a Case (1898), The Lady with a Lapdog (1899), The Darling (1899), and In the Ravine (1900)—Chekhov manages to attain all the power of his great predecessors in a remarkably compact form. Toward the end of his career, Chekhov also became known for his dramatic work, including such pillars of the world theatrical repertoire as Uncle Vanya (1897) and The Cherry Orchard (first performed 1904). Chekhov's heirs in the area of short fiction were Maksim Gorky (Gorky, Maksim) (later the dean of Soviet letters), who began his career by writing sympathetic portraits of various social outcasts, and the aristocrat Ivan Bunin (Bunin, Ivan Alekseyevich), who emigrated after the Russian Revolution of 1917 and received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1933.

The 20th century
      The beginning of the 20th century brought with it a new renaissance in Russian poetry and drama, a “Silver Age” that rivaled, and in some respects surpassed, the Pushkinian “Golden Age.” The civic orientation that had dominated Russian literature since the 1840s was, for the moment, abandoned. The avant-garde's new cry was “art for art's sake,” and the new idols were the French Symbolists (Symbolist movement). The first, “decadent” generation of Russian Symbolists included the poets Valery Bryusov (Bryusov, Valery Yakovlevich), Konstantin Balmont, and Zinaida Gippius (Gippius, Zinaida Nikolayevna). The second, more mystically and apocalyptically oriented generation included Aleksandr Blok (Blok, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich) (perhaps the most talented lyric poet Russia ever produced), the poet and theoretician Vyacheslav Ivanov (Ivanov, Vyacheslav), and the poet and prose writer Andrey Bely (Bely, Andrey). The Symbolists dominated the literary scene until 1910, when internal dissension led to the movement's collapse.

      The period just before and immediately following the Russian Revolution of 1917 was marked by the work of six spectacularly talented, difficult poets. Anna Akhmatova (Akhmatova, Anna)'s brief, finely chiseled lyrics brought her fame at the outset of her career, but later in life she produced such longer works as Requiem, written from 1935 to 1940 but published in Russia only in 1989, her memorial to the victims of Joseph Stalin's purges (particularly her son, who was imprisoned in 1937). The Futurists (Futurism) Velimir Khlebnikov (Khlebnikov, Velimir Vladimirovich) and Vladimir Mayakovsky (Mayakovsky, Vladimir Vladimirovich) engaged in innovative experiments to free poetic discourse from the fetters of tradition. Marina Tsvetayeva (Tsvetayeva, Marina Ivanovna), another great poetic experimenter, produced much of her major work outside the country but returned to the Soviet Union in 1939, only to commit suicide there two years later. Boris Pasternak (Pasternak, Boris Leonidovich), who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958, produced lyrics of great depth and power in this period, and Osip Mandelshtam (Mandelshtam, Osip Emilyevich) created some of the most beautiful and haunting lyric poems in the Russian language.

      Many of the writers who began to publish immediately after the 1917 revolution turned to prose, particularly the short story and the novella. Those who had been inspired by the recent revolution and the subsequent Russian Civil War (1918–20) included Boris Pilnyak (Pilnyak, Boris) (The Naked Year [1922]), Isaak Babel (Babel, Isaak Emmanuilovich) (Red Cavalry [1926]), and Mikhail Sholokhov (Sholokhov, Mikhail Aleksandrovich), who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1965. Others described life in the new Soviet Union with varying degrees of mordant sarcasm; the short stories of Mikhail Zoshchenko (Zoshchenko, Mikhail Mikhaylovich), the comic novels of Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov (Ilf and Petrov), and the short novel Envy (1927) by Yury Olesha (Olesha, Yury Karlovich) fall into this category. Writing in Russian also flourished in communities of anticommunist exiles in Germany, France, Italy, and the United States, as represented by writers as various as the novelists Vladimir Nabokov (Nabokov, Vladimir) and Yevgeny Zamyatin (Zamyatin, Yevgeny Ivanovich) and the theologian-philosophers Vladimir Nikolayevich Lossky, Sergey Bulgakov, and Nikolay Berdyayev.

      In the first decade after the revolution, there were also advances in literary theory and criticism, which changed methods of literary study throughout the world. Members of the Moscow Linguistic Circle and of OPOYAZ (Obshchestvo Izucheniya Poeticheskogo Yazyka; Society for the Study of Poetic Language) in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) combined to create Formalist (Formalism) literary criticism (see Formalism), a movement that concentrated on analyzing the internal structure of literary texts. At the same time, Mikhail Bakhtin (Bakhtin, Mikhail) began to develop a sophisticated criticism concerned with ethical problems and ways of representing them, especially in the novel, his favourite genre.

      By the late 1920s the period of Soviet experimentation had ended. censorship became much stricter, and many of the best writers were silenced. During the late 1920s and the '30s, there appeared what became known as the classics of Socialist Realism, a literary method that in 1934 was declared to be the only acceptable one for Soviet writers. Only a few of these works produced in this style—notably Fyodor Gladkov (Gladkov, Fyodor Vasilyevich)'s Cement (1925), Nikolay Ostrovsky's How the Steel Was Tempered (1932–34), and Valentin Katayev (Katayev, Valentin)'s Time, Forward! (1932)—have retained some literary interest. The real masterpieces of this period, however, did not fit the canons of Socialist Realism and were not published until many years later. They include Mikhail Bulgakov (Bulgakov, Mikhail Afanasyevich)'s grotesquely funny The Master and Margarita (1966–67) and Andrey Platonov (Platonov, Sergey Fyodorovich)'s dark pictures of rural and semiurban Russia, The Foundation Pit (1973) and Chevengur (1972).

      With Stalin's death in 1953 and the subsequent “thaw,” new writers and trends appeared in the 1950s and early '60s. Vibrant young poets such as Joseph Brodsky (Brodsky, Joseph), Yevgeny Yevtushenko (Yevtushenko, Yevgeny), and Andrey Voznesensky (Voznesensky, Andrey Andreyevich) exerted a significant influence, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Isayevich) emerged from a Soviet prison camp ( Gulag) and shocked the country and the world with details of his brutal experiences in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962). “Youth” prose on the model of American writer J.D. Salinger (Salinger, J D) appeared as well, particularly in the work of Vasily Aksyonov (Aksyonov, Vasily Pavlovich) and Vladimir Voynovich (Voynovich, Vladimir). By the late 1960s, however, most of these writers had again been silenced. Solzhenitsyn—who was charged with treason shortly after the publication of the first volume of The Gulag Archipelago in 1973—and Brodsky, Aksyonov, and Voynovich had all been forced into exile by 1980, and the best writing was again unpublishable. Practically the only decent writing published from the late 1960s through the early 1980s came from the “village prose” writers, who treated the clash of rural traditions with modern life in a realistic idiom; the most notable members of this group are the novelist Valentin Rasputin and the short-story writer Vasily Shukshin. The morally complex fiction of Yury Trifonov, staged in the urban setting (e.g., The House on the Embankment [1976]), stands somewhat apart from the works of Rasputin and Shukshin that praise Russian rural simplicity. Nevertheless, as with the 1930s and '40s, the most important literature of this period was first published outside the Soviet Union. Notable writers include Varlam Shalamov (Shalamov, Varlam), whose exquisitely artistic stories chronicled the horrors of the prison camps; Andrey Sinyavsky (Sinyavsky, Andrey Donatovich), whose complex novel Goodnight! appeared in Europe in 1984, long after he had been forced to leave the Soviet Union; and Venedikt Yerofeyev, whose grotesque latter-day picaresque Moscow-Petushki—published in a clandestine ( samizdat) edition in 1968—is a minor classic.

      Some of the best work published in the 1980s was in poetry, including the work of conceptualists such as Dmitry Prigov and the meta-metaphoric poetry of Aleksey Parshchikov, Olga Sedakova, Ilya Kutik, and others. The turbulent 1990s were a difficult period for most Russian writers and poets. The publishing industry, adversely affected by the economic downturn, struggled to regain its footing in the conditions of a market economy. Nonetheless, private foundations began awarding annual literary prizes, such as the Russian Booker Prize and the Little Booker Prize. The so-called Anti-Booker Prize—its name, a protest against the British origins of the Booker Prize, was selected to emphasize that it was a Russian award for Russian writers—was first presented in 1995 by the Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Tatyana Tolstaya began to occupy a prominent role following the publication of her novel The Slynx (2000), a satire about a disastrous hypothetical future for Moscow. Some critics considered the decade the “twilight period in Russian literature,” because of the departure from traditional psychological novels about contemporary life in favour of detective novels. Indeed, such novels were among the best-selling fiction of the period, particularly the work of Boris Akunin, whose Koronatsiia (“Coronation”) won the Anti-Booker Prize in 2000. (For further discussion, see Russian literature.)

Andrew B. Wachtel Olga L. Medvedkov Yuri V. Medvedkov

The 19th century
      Before the 18th century, Russian music was dominated by folk and church music. Secular music on a Western model began to be cultivated in the 1730s, when the Empress Anna Ivanovna (Anna) imported an Italian opera troupe to entertain her court. By the end of the 18th century, there was a small body of comic operas based on Russian librettos, some by native composers and others by foreign maestri di cappella (Italian: “choirmasters”). The first Russian composer to gain international renown was Mikhail Glinka (Glinka, Mikhail), a leisured aristocrat who mastered his craft in Milan and Berlin. His patriotic A Life for the Tsar (1836) and his Pushkin-inspired Ruslan and Lyudmila (1842) are the oldest Russian operas that remain in the standard repertoire.

      By the second half of the 19th century, an active musical life was in place, thanks mainly to the efforts of the composer and piano virtuoso Anton Rubinstein (Rubinstein, Anton), who with royal patronage founded in St. Petersburg Russia's first regular professional orchestra (1859) and conservatory of music (1862). Both became models that were quickly imitated in other urban centres. The first major full-time professional composer in Russia was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyich), a member of the initial graduating class of Rubinstein's conservatory. Tchaikovsky's powerful compositions (e.g., Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and The Sleeping Beauty) are still performed widely today. Other composers of Tchaikovsky's generation were self-taught and usually earned their living in nonmusical occupations. They include Modest Mussorgsky (Mussorgsky, Modest), who worked in the civil service, Aleksandr Borodin (Borodin, Aleksandr), equally famous in his day as a chemist, and Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolay), who eventually gave up a naval career to become a professor at the St. Petersburg conservatory. The self-taught composers tended to effect a more self-consciously nationalistic style than the conservatory-bred Tchaikovsky, and among their most important works were operas such as Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov (final version first performed 1874) and Borodin's Prince Igor (first perf. 1890), along with Rimsky-Korsakov's symphony Scheherazade (first perf. 1888).

The 20th century
      Three major Russian composers emerged in the early 20th century: Aleksandr Scriabin (Scriabin, Aleksandr), Sergey Rachmaninoff (Rachmaninoff, Sergey), and Igor Stravinsky (Stravinsky, Igor). Scriabin, a piano virtuoso, infused his music with mysticism and evolved a modernistic idiom through which he created a musical counterpart to the Symbolist literature of the period. Rachmaninoff, also a major pianist, is best known for his concerti and for his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (1954) for piano and orchestra. Stravinsky, a pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov, was catapulted to early fame through his association with Sergey Diaghilev (Diaghilev, Sergey Pavlovich), for whose Ballets Russes he composed a trio of sensational works that received their premieres in Paris: The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911), and The Rite of Spring (1913). Both Stravinsky (in 1914) and Rachmaninoff (in 1917) emigrated from Russia, first to western Europe and then to the United States, though Stravinsky made several returns to Russia toward the end of his career.

      Soviet music was dominated by Sergey Prokofiev (Prokofiev, Sergey), who returned in the mid-1930s from his postrevolutionary emigration, and Dmitry Shostakovich (Shostakovich, Dmitry), who spent his entire career in Soviet Russia. While living abroad Prokofiev was a modernist like Stravinsky, but he eventually adopted a more conservative, accessible idiom in conformity with Soviet expectations. Prokofiev's most ambitious early work was the opera The Fiery Angel (radio premiere 1954), after a Symbolist novel by Valery Bryusov (Bryusov, Valery Yakovlevich). The crowning works of his Soviet period were the ballet Romeo and Juliet (1935–36), the cantata Aleksandr Nevsky (1939; adapted from the music that he had written for Sergey Eisenstein (Eisenstein, Sergey Mikhaylovich)'s film of the same name), and the operatic interpretation (1942) of Tolstoy's classic novel War and Peace. Shostakovich is best known as a prolific composer of instrumental music, with 15 symphonies and 15 string quartets to his credit. His promising career as a stage composer was cut short when, in 1936, his very successful opera The Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, after a novella by Nikolay Leskov (Leskov, Nikolay Semyonovich), was denounced in Pravda (“Truth”), the official publication of the Communist Party, and banned (not to be performed again until the 1960s). He and many other Russian artists also suffered repression in the Zhdanovshchina period (1946–53), during which Soviet authorities attempted to exert greater control over art.

      The best-known composers of the late- and post-Soviet period include Edison Denisov, Sofia Gubaidulina, and Alfred Schnittke (Schnittke, Alfred). In the early 1990s Gubaidulina and Schnittke moved to Germany, where they joined other Russian émigrés. Soviet conservatories have turned out generations of world-renowned soloists. Among the best known are violinists David Oistrakh (Oistrakh, David) and Gidon Kremer, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich (Rostropovich, Mstislav), pianists Sviatoslav Richter (Richter, Sviatoslav) and Emil Gilels (Gilels, Emil), and vocalist Galina Vishnevskaya. From the mid-1980s, when Mikhail Gorbachev's reform policies eased restrictions on Soviet artists, many of Russia's émigrés, such as Rostropovich and pianist Vladimir Horowitz (Horowitz, Vladimir), made triumphant returns.

      Popular music also produced a number of renowned figures, not all of whom enjoyed official sanction. Particularly notable is the legacy of two “balladeers”—songwriters who performed their own works to guitar accompaniment. The raspy-voiced actor and musician Vladimir Vysotsky (Vysotsky, Vladimir), whose songs circulated on thousands of bootleg cassettes throughout the 1960s and '70s, was perhaps the best-known performer in the Soviet Union until his death in 1980. Georgian Bulat Okudzhava had an almost equally loyal following. Jazz flourished with the sanction of Soviet authorities and evolved into one of the country's most popular musical forms. The Ganelin Trio, perhaps Russia's most famous jazz ensemble, toured Western countries throughout the 1980s. The pop singer Alla Pugacheva also drew large audiences in the 1970s. Until the 1970s, rock musicians in Russia were content to reproduce not only the styles but the songs of British and American models; however, by the early 1980s Russian rock had found its native voice in the band Akvarium (“Aquarium”), led by charismatic songwriter and vocalist Boris Grebenshikov. The band's “concerts,” played in living rooms and dormitories, were often broken up by the police, and, like Vysotsky, the band circulated its illegal music on bootleg cassettes, becoming the legendary catalyst of an underground counterculture and an inspiration to other notable bands, such as Kino. Both rock and pop music continued to flourish in post-Soviet Russia.

Andrew B. Wachtel Richard Taruskin Ed.

The visual arts (painting, Western)

The 19th century
 Like music, the visual arts in Russia were slower to develop along European lines than was literature. With the exception of the portraitist Dmitry Levitsky, no great Russian painters emerged in the 18th and early 19th centuries. In the 1830s the Russian Academy of Arts (which had been founded in 1757) began sending Russian painters abroad for training. Among the most gifted of these were Aleksandr Ivanov and Karl Bryullov (Bryullov, Karl Pavlovich), both of whom were known for Romantic historical canvases. A truly national tradition of painting did not begin, however, until the 1870s with the appearance of the “Itinerants.” Although their work is not well known outside Russia, the serene landscapes of Isaac Levitan, the expressive portraits of Ivan Kramskoy and Ilya Repin (Repin, Ilya Yefimovich), and the socially oriented genre paintings of Vladimir Makovsky, Vasily Perov, and Repin arguably deserve an international reputation.

      The architecture of Russia in the 19th century developed as the Slavic Revival focused on the medieval art and the affirmation of Russian heritage. New interpretative approaches came, in particular, with the mass construction of railway stations, such as Moscow Rail Terminal on the Nevsky Prospect (1851) in St. Petersburg, and by several of the older railway terminals in Moscow dating from the second half of the 19th century, including Leningrad Station (originally Nikolaevskiy; 1844–51). The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (Moscow), consecrated in 1883, was an imposing monument; it was destroyed by the Soviets in 1932 and rebuilt in the 1990s.

The 20th century
 As with literature, there was a burst of creativity in the visual arts in the early 20th century, with Russian painters playing a major role in the European art scene. This period was marked by a turning away from realism to primitivism, Symbolism, and abstract painting. Members of the Jack of Diamonds group of artists advocated the most advanced European avant-garde trends in their own painting and exhibited works by European artists such as Albert Gleizes and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig). Vasily Kandinsky (Kandinsky, Wassily) created his highly influential lyrical abstractions during this period, while Kazimir Malevich (Malevich, Kazimir) began to explore the rigid, geometric abstraction of Suprematism. Architecture also often pushed boundaries, as seen in Vladimir Tatlin (Tatlin, Vladimir Yevgrafovich)'s visionary though never executed design known as the Monument to the Third International (1920), a dramatic spiraling iron-and-glass tower that would have been the world's tallest building. In this design Tatlin rejected architectural models from the past and instead looked forward to a more utopian future based on technology and progress. During this same period Marc Chagall (Chagall, Marc) began his lifelong pursuit of poetic, whimsical paintings based on his own personal mythology, work that defies classification within any one group or trend.

      The 1920s were a period of continued experimentation. Perhaps the most noteworthy movement was Constructivism. Based on earlier experiments by Tatlin and led by El Lissitzky (Lissitzky, El) and Aleksandr Rodchenko (Rodchenko, Aleksandr Mikhailovich), the Constructivists favoured strict geometric forms and crisp graphic design. Many also became actively involved in the task of creating living spaces and forms of daily life; they designed furniture, ceramics, and clothing, and they worked in graphic design and architecture. Non-Constructivist artists, including Pavel Filonov and Mariya Ender, also produced major works in this period.

      By the end of the 1920s, however, the same pressures that confronted experimental writing were brought to bear on the visual arts. With the imposition of Socialist Realism, the great painters of the early 1920s found themselves increasingly isolated. Eventually, their works were removed from museums, and in many cases the artists themselves were almost completely forgotten. Experimental art was replaced by countless pictures of Vladimir Lenin (Lenin, Vladimir Ilich) (the founder of the Russian Communist Party and the first leader of the Soviet Union)—as, for example, Isaak Brodsky's Lenin at the Smolny (1930)—and by a seemingly unending string of rose-tinted Socialist Realist depictions of everyday life bearing titles like The Tractor Drivers' Supper (1951). It was not until the late 1980s that the greatest works of Russian art of the early 20th century were again made available to the public. In architecture a staid, monumental Neoclassicism dominated.

      The visual arts took longer to recover from the Stalinist years than did literature. It was not until the 1960s and '70s that a new group of artists, all of whom worked “underground,” appeared. Major artists included Ernst Neizvestny, Ilya Kabakov, Mikhail Shemyakin, and Erik Bulatov. They employed techniques as varied as primitivism, hyperrealism, grotesque, and abstraction, but they shared a common distaste for the canons of Socialist Realism. Bland, monumental housing projects dominated the architectural production of the postwar period; later in the century such structures were increasingly seen as eyesores, however, and a new generation of architects focused on creating buildings that fit their contexts, often combining elements of European and Russian traditions. Beginning in the mid-1980s, aided by liberalization, artistic experimentation began a resurgence within Russia, and many Russian painters enjoyed successful exhibitions both at home and abroad. By the late 1980s a large number of Russian artists had emigrated, and many became well known on the world art scene. Particularly notable was the team of Vitaly Komar and Alex Melamid, who became internationally recognized in the 1990s for a project in which they systematically—and ironically—documented what people throughout the world said they valued most in a painting.

The performing arts

The 19th century
      Ballet was first introduced in Russia in the early 18th century, and the country's first school was formed in 1734. However, much of Russian dance was dominated by western European (particularly French and Italian) influences until the early 19th century, when Russians infused the ballet with their own folk traditions. The dramatic and ballet theatres were entirely under government control until the end of the 19th century. Actors and dancers were government employees and often were treated badly. Nevertheless, theatrical life was quite active throughout the century. Famous Russian actors and dancers of the early part of the century included the ballerina Istomina and the actor Mikhail Shchepkin (Shchepkin, Mikhail Semenovich). From an international perspective, however, the greatest success of the Russian theatre was in the area of classical ballet. Since the 1820s Russian dancers have reigned supreme on the ballet stage. Many great choreographers, even those of non-Russian origin, worked for the Russian Imperial Theatres, including Marius Petipa (Petipa, Marius), who choreographed Tchaikovsky's ballets Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty.

The 20th century
      Producer Sergey Diaghilev (Diaghilev, Sergey Pavlovich) and directors Konstantin Stanislavsky (Stanislavsky, Konstantin Sergeyevich) and Vsevolod Meyerhold (Meyerhold, Vsevolod Yemilyevich) dominated Russian theatrical life in the first decades of the 20th century. Together with Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko (Nemirovich-Danchenko, Vladimir Ivanovich), Stanislavsky founded the Moscow Art Theatre (later called the Moscow Academic Art Theatre (Moscow Art Theatre)) in 1898. Stanislavsky's insistence on historical accuracy, exact realism, and intense psychological preparation by his actors led to a string of successful productions from the beginning of the century into the 1930s. The theatre was known particularly for its productions of Chekhov's plays, including The Seagull (1896), the hit of the theatre's inaugural season.

      Meyerhold was one of Stanislavsky's actors, but he broke with his master's insistence on realism. He welcomed the Russian Revolution and put his considerable talent and energy into creating a new theatre for the new state. Throughout the 1920s and into the '30s, he staged brilliant, inventive productions, both of contemporary drama and of the classics. However, his iconoclastic style fell out of favour in the 1930s, and he was arrested and executed in 1940.

      Diaghilev was a brilliant organizer and impresario whose innovative Ballets Russes premiered many of the most significant ballets of the first quarter of the century. Although the legendary company was based primarily in Paris, Diaghilev employed major Russian composers (particularly Stravinsky), artists (e.g., Alexandre Benois (Benois, Alexandre), Natalya Goncharova (Goncharova, Natalya), and Mikhail Larionov (Larionov, Mikhail Fyodorovich)), and dancers (including Vaslav Nijinsky (Nijinsky, Vaslav) and Tamara Karsavina (Karsavina, Tamara Platonovna)).

      Ballet (Bolshoi Ballet) enjoyed great success in the Soviet period, not because of any innovations but because the great troupes of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and the Kirov (now Mariinsky (Mariinsky Ballet)) Theatre in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) were able to preserve the traditions of classical dance that had been perfected prior to 1917. The Soviet Union's choreography schools produced one internationally famous star after another, including the incomparable Maya Plisetskaya (Plisetskaya, Maya), Rudolf Nureyev (Nureyev, Rudolf) (who defected in 1961), and Mikhail Baryshnikov (Baryshnikov, Mikhail) (who defected in 1974).

 Another extremely successful area of theatrical performance was puppet theatre (puppetry). The Obraztsov Puppet Theatre (formerly the State Central Puppet Theatre), founded in Moscow by Sergey Obraztsov (Obraztsov, Sergey Vladimirovich), continues to give delightful performances for patrons of all ages. The same can be said for the spectacular presentations of the Moscow State Circus, which has performed throughout the world to great acclaim. Using since 1971 a larger building and renamed the Great Moscow State Circus, it excelled even in the darkest of the Cold War years.

      Theatrical life in post-Soviet Russia has continued to thrive. The Moscow and St. Petersburg theatres have maintained their leading position, but they have been joined by hundreds of theatres throughout the country. Liberated from state censorship, the theatres have experimented with bold and innovative techniques and subject matter. The repertoire of the theatres experienced a shift away from political topics and toward classical and psychological themes. Since the late 1990s the Bolshoi Theatre's dominance has been challenged by the Novaya (New) Opera Theatre in Moscow. Among other successful theatres in Moscow are the Luna Theater, Arbat-Opera, Moscow City Opera, and the Helikon-Opera. (For further discussion, see theatre, Western and dance, Western.)

      The Soviet cinema was a hotbed of invention in the period immediately following the 1917 revolution. Its most celebrated director was Sergey Eisenstein (Eisenstein, Sergey Mikhaylovich) (a student of Meyerhold), whose great films include Battleship Potemkin (1925) and Ivan the Terrible (released in two parts, 1944 and 1958). Eisenstein also was a student of filmmaker and theorist Lev Kuleshov (Kuleshov, Lev Vladimirovich), who formulated the groundbreaking editing process called montage at the world's first film school, the All-Union Institute of Cinematography in Moscow. Supported by Lenin, who recognized film's ability to communicate his revolutionary message to illiterate and non-Russian-speaking audiences, the school initially trained filmmakers in the art of agitprop (agitation and propaganda). Like Eisenstein, who incorporated the Marxist dialectic in his theory of editing, another of Kuleshov's students, Vsevolod Illarionovich Pudovkin (Pudovkin, Vsevolod Illarionovich), made his mark on motion picture history primarily through his innovative use of montage, especially in his masterwork, Mother (1926). Similarly important was Dziga Vertov (Vertov, Dziga), whose kino-glaz (“film-eye”) theory—that the camera, like the human eye, is best used to explore real life—had a huge impact on the development of documentary filmmaking and cinema realism in the 1920s.

      Film did not escape the strictures of Socialist Realism, but a few post-World War II films in this style were artistically successful, including The Cranes Are Flying (1957; directed by Mikhail Kalatozov) and Ballad of a Soldier (1959; directed by Grigory Chukhrai). A number of successful film versions of classic texts also were made in the 1950s and '60s, particularly Grigory Kozintsev's spectacular versions of Hamlet (1964) and King Lear (1971). Prominent among the notable Russian directors who emerged in the 1960s and '70s were Andrey Tarkovsky (Tarkovsky, Andrey Arsenyevich) (Ivan's Childhood [1962], Andrey Rublev [1966], Solaris [1971], and Nostalgia [1983]) and the Georgian-born Armenian Sergey Paradzhanov (Paradzhanov, Sergey Yosifovich) (Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors [1964] and The Colour of Pomegranates [1969]).

      The 1980s and '90s were a period of crisis in the Russian cinema. Although Russian filmmakers were free from the diktat of the communist authorities, the industry suffered from drastically reduced state subsidies. The state-controlled film-distribution system also collapsed, and this led to the dominance of Western films in Russia's theatres. Private investment did not quickly take the place of subsidies, and many in Russia complained that the industry often produced elitist films primarily for foreign film festivals while the public was fed a steady diet of second-rate movies.

      Nonetheless, Russian cinema continued to receive international recognition. Two films—Vladimir Menshov's Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (1979) and Nikita Mikhalkov's Burnt by the Sun (1994)—received the Academy Awards for best foreign-language film. The work of Andrey Konchalovsky, who has plied his craft in Russia as well as in Europe and the United States with features such as Runaway Train (1985) and House of Fools (2002), is also highly regarded. In the late 1990s Aleksandr Sokurov emerged as a director of exceptional talents, gaining international acclaim for Mother and Son (1997) and Russian Ark (2002), the first feature film ever to be shot in a single take. (For further discussion, see motion picture, history of the.)

Cultural institutions
 Some of the most-renowned museums in the world are found in Moscow and St. Petersburg (Saint Petersburg). In Moscow the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum houses treasures of western European art, while the Tretyakov Gallery has a strong collection of Russian art. Moscow's Kremlin, the former seat of communist power and the home of the Russian president, also contains a series of museums that include notable cathedrals and features the stunning architecture of the Kremlin building. The Tolstoy Museum Estate in Moscow features an excellent literary collection. In St. Petersburg the Hermitage is one of the great art museums of the world, the Russian Museum displays the world's largest collection of Russian art, and the Russian Museum of Ethnography details Russian culture and daily life throughout history. St. Petersburg is also home to the country's oldest museum, the Kunstkammer (formally Peter the Great's Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography), which is now under the direction of the history department of the prestigious Russian Academy of Sciences. Moreover, in the suburbs of St. Petersburg, the former tsarist palaces at Pavlovsk, Pushkin, and Petrodvorets have been restored as museums. They are popular destinations for both Russians and foreign tourists.

      Elsewhere, there also are various notable museums, many of which specialize in regional art, ethnography, and historical collections. For example, the Archangelsk State Museum, founded in 1737, houses collections that focus on the history of Russia's north coast, and the State United Museum of the Republic of Tatarstan has a wide array of decorative art and historical, archaeological, and ethnographic resources from Tatarstan. In addition, the Yaroslavl State Historical, Architectural, and Art Museum-Preserve offers an extensive collection focusing on Russian history and culture. Russian private philanthropy in the post-Soviet era resulted in the establishment of a number of important foundations to support the arts and education, including the Vladimir Potanin Foundation, the Open Russia Foundation, and the Dynasty Foundation.

Sports and recreation
 Sports played a major role in the Soviet state in the post-World War II period. The achievements of Soviet athletes in the international arena, particularly in the Olympic Games (the Soviets first participated in the 1952 Summer and the 1956 Winter Olympics), were a source of great national pride. Although Soviet athletes were declared amateurs, they were well supported by the Sports State Committee. Soviet national teams were especially successful in ice hockey—winning numerous world championships and Olympic gold medals—volleyball, and, later, basketball. Soviet gymnasts and track-and-field athletes (male and female), weight lifters, wrestlers, and boxers were consistently among the best in the world. Even since the collapse of the Soviet empire, Russian athletes have continued to dominate international competition in these areas.

 As in most of the world, football (soccer) enjoys wide popularity in Russia. At the centre of the country's proud tradition is legendary goalkeeper Lev Yashin (Yashin, Lev Ivanovich), whose spectacular play in the 1956 Olympics helped Russia capture the gold medal. Today there are three professional divisions for men, and the sport is also growing in popularity among women.

       ice hockey was introduced to Russia only during the Soviet era, yet the national team soon dominated international competitions. The Soviet squad claimed more than 20 world championships between 1954 and 1991. The success of the national team can be attributed to both the Soviet player-development system and the leadership of coach Anatoly Tarasov (Tarasov, Anatoly), who created the innovative team passing style characteristic of Soviet hockey. Goaltender Vladislav Tretiak (Tretiak, Vladislav) (the first Soviet player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto) and defenseman Vyacheslav Fetisov (Fetisov, Vyacheslav) (who was among the first players whom Soviet authorities allowed to play in the North American National Hockey League [NHL]) were two of the finest players on those great Soviet teams. Although Russia's top professional league is quite popular, many of the best Russian players now ply their trade in the NHL.

      Russia has had no peer on the international chess scene. The first Russian world chess champion was Alexander Alekhine (Alekhine, Alexander), who left Russia after the revolution in 1917. Undaunted by Alekhine's departure, the Soviet Union was able to produce top-ranked players by funding chess schools to find and train talented children. The best of these students were then supported by the state—they were the first chess professionals—at a time when no one in the West could make a living wage from chess alone. From 1948, Soviet and Russian grand masters, including Mikhail Botvinnik (Botvinnik, Mikhail Moiseyevich), Vasily Smyslov (Smyslov, Vasily Vasilyevich), Boris Spassky (Spassky, Boris Vasilyevich), Anatoly Karpov (Karpov, Anatoly Yevgenyevich), Garry Kasparov (Kasparov, Garry), and Vladimir Kramnik (Kramnik, Vladimir), held the title of world champion almost continuously. During the same period, three Russian women reigned as women's world champion: Ludmilla Rudenko, Olga Rubtsova, and Elizaveta Bykova. Earlier, Vera Menchik-Stevenson (Menchik-Stevenson, Vera Francevna), who became a British citizen in 1937, was world champion from 1927 until her death in 1944.

      On the amateur level, the lack of facilities and equipment has prevented many average Russian citizens from participating in sporting activities, but jogging, football, and fishing are popular pastimes.

Media and publishing
      Russian 19th-century journalism was extremely vigorous, with newspapers and monthly “thick” journals being the most important forums. Daily newspapers and monthly journals of all political and artistic stripes continued to appear in the immediate aftermath of the 1917 revolution. However, the state's desire to control sources of information and propaganda manifested itself quickly, and most independent publications were eliminated by the early 1920s. What remained were the ubiquitous daily duo of Pravda (“Truth”) and Izvestiya (“News”). Journals were in a somewhat better position, especially those that published mostly works of literature. Periodicals such as Krasnaya nov (“Red Virgin Soil”) and LEF (“The Left Front of Art”) published much significant literature in the 1920s. In the 1960s this tradition was revived by the journal Novy Mir (“New World”), which in the 1980s was joined by a revitalized Ogonyok (“Spark”), though the latter was only briefly innovative.

      Radio and television from the time of their appearance in the Soviet Union were heavily dominated by the Communist Party apparatus and were seen as primary tools for propaganda. Until the mid-1980s most television programming consisted of either direct or indirect propaganda spiced with high art (e.g., filmed concerts and plays) and occasional grade-B thriller motion pictures.

      During the glasnost period groundbreaking television programming helped create the situation in which the Soviet state was destroyed. Government control of the media began to weaken, and by 1989 official censorship had been completely abolished. A significant portion of the press was privatized, but important elements still remained under the control and regulation of the government, particularly the television news media. Among the leading newspapers, Rossiyskaya Gazeta (“Russian Newspaper”) is the government's official organ and enjoys wide circulation. Independent newspapers, such as the weekly Argumenty i Fakty (“Arguments and Facts”), the daily Moskovskii Komsomolets (“Moscow Komsomol”), and Nezavisimaya Gazeta (“Independent Newspaper”), also exert influence and are widely read. Pravda declined in significance during the 1980s, and Komsomolskaya Pravda (“Komsomol Truth”) and Sovetskaya Rossiya (“Soviet Russia”) became the principal news sources for Russian communists. There are also several independent newspapers (e.g., The Moscow Times) that publish in English.

      In the early post-Soviet years, Russian television exhibited signs of independence from the central government, but by the mid-1990s the Yeltsin government was exerting considerable influence. Much of Russian television is under state control; for example, Russian Public Television (Obschestvennoye Rossiyskoye Televideniye; ORT) is owned by the state, and another channel, commonly called Russian TV, is operated by the state-run Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (Vserossiyskaya Gosudartstvennaya Teleradiokompaniya). There were also several independent commercial television stations, some with wide viewership, such as Independent Television (Nezavisimoye Televideniye; NTV) and TV-6, both of which were available throughout Russia. Moreover, there were several hundred television stations that broadcast only regionally or locally. Some independently owned outlets that criticized the government found themselves the subject of official harassment during the presidency of Vladimir Putin; for example, TV-6 was ordered to cease broadcasting, and media tycoons Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris Berezovksy lost their media holdings and were forced into exile. The government operates two press agencies, ITAR-TASS, which succeeded the Soviet-era TASS agency, and the Russian Information Agency-Novosti.

Andrew B. Wachtel Olga L. Medvedkov Yuri V. Medvedkov


From the beginnings to c. 1700
Prehistory and the rise of the Rus
      Indo-European, Ural-Altaic, and diverse other peoples have occupied what is now the territory of Russia since the 2nd millennium BCE, but little is known about their ethnic identity, institutions, and activities. In ancient times, Greek and Iranian settlements appeared in the southernmost portions of what is now Ukraine. Trading empires of that era seem to have known and exploited the northern forests—particularly the vast triangular-shaped region west of the Urals between the Kama and Volga rivers—but these contacts seem to have had little lasting impact. Between the 4th and 9th centuries CE, the Huns, Avars, Goths, and Magyars passed briefly over the same terrain, but these transitory occupations also had little influence upon the East Slavs, who during this time were spreading south and east from an area between the Elbe River and the Pripet Marshes. In the 9th century, as a result of penetration into the area from the north and south by northern European and Middle Eastern merchant adventurers, their society was exposed to new economic, cultural, and political forces.

      The scanty written records tell little of the processes that ensued, but archaeological evidence—notably, the Middle Eastern coins found in eastern Europe—indicates that the development of the East Slavs passed through several stages.

      From about 770 to about 830, commercial explorers began an intensive penetration of the Volga region. From early bases in the estuaries of the rivers of the eastern Baltic region, Germanic (Germanic peoples) commercial-military bands, probably in search of new routes to the east, began to penetrate territory populated by Finnic and Slavic tribes, where they found amber, furs, honey, wax, and timber products. The indigenous population offered little resistance to their incursions, and there was no significant local authority to negotiate the balance between trade, tribute, and plunder. From the south, trading organizations based in northern Iran and North Africa, seeking the same products, and particularly slaves, became active in the lower Volga, the Don, and, to a lesser extent, the Dnieper region. The history of the Khazar state is intimately connected with these activities.

      About 830, commerce appears to have declined in the Don and Dnieper regions. There was increased activity in the north Volga, where Scandinavian traders who had previously operated from bases on Lakes Ladoga and Onega established a new centre, near present-day Ryazan. There, in this period, the first nominal ruler of Rus (called, like the Khazar emperor, khagan) is mentioned by Islamic and Western sources. This Volga Rus khagan state may be considered the first direct political antecedent of the Kievan state.

      Within a few decades these Rus, together with other Scandinavian groups operating farther west, extended their raiding activities down the main river routes toward Baghdad and Constantinople, reaching the latter in 860. The Scandinavians involved in these exploits are known as Varangians (Viking); they were adventurers of diverse origins, often led by princes of warring dynastic clans. One of these princes, Rurik, is considered the progenitor of the dynasty (Rurik Dynasty) that ruled in various portions of East Slavic territory until 1598 (see Rurik Dynasty). Evidences of the Varangian expansion are particularly clear in the coin hoards of 900–930. The number of Middle Eastern coins reaching northern regions, especially Scandinavia, indicates a flourishing trade. Written records tell of Rus raids upon Constantinople and the northern Caucasus in the early 10th century.

      In the period from about 930 to 1000, the region came under complete control by Varangians from Novgorod. This period saw the development of the trade route from the Baltic to the Black Sea, which established the basis of the economic life of the Kievan principality and determined its political and cultural development.

      The degree to which the Varangians may be considered the founders of the Kievan state has been hotly debated since the 18th century. The debate has from the beginning borne nationalistic overtones. Recent works by Russians have generally minimized or ignored the role of the Varangians, while non-Russians have occasionally exaggerated it. Whatever the case, the lifeblood of the sprawling Kievan organism was the commerce organized by the princes. To be sure, these early princes were not “Swedes” or “Norwegians” or “Danes”; they thought in categories not of nation but of clan. But they certainly were not East Slavs. There is little reason to doubt the predominant role of the Varangian Rus in the creation of the state to which they gave their name.

The rise of Kiev
 The consecutive history of the first East Slavic state begins with Prince Svyatoslav (Svyatoslav I) (died 972). His victorious campaigns against other Varangian centres, the Khazars, and the Volga Bulgars and his intervention in the Byzantine-Danube (Byzantine Empire) Bulgar conflicts of 968–971 mark the full hegemony of his clan in Rus and the emergence of a new political force in eastern Europe. But Svyatoslav was neither a lawgiver nor an organizer; the role of architect of the Kievan state fell to his son Vladimir (Vladimir I) (c. 980–1015), who established the dynastic seniority system of his clan as the political structure by which the scattered territories of Rus were to be ruled. He invited or permitted the patriarch of Constantinople to establish an episcopal see in Rus.

      Vladimir extended the realm (to include the watersheds of the Don, Dnieper, Dniester, Neman, Western Dvina, and upper Volga), destroyed or incorporated the remnants of competing Varangian organizations, and established relations with neighbouring dynasties. The successes of his long reign made it possible for the reign of his son Yaroslav (Yaroslav I) (ruled 1019–54) to produce a flowering of cultural life. But neither Yaroslav, who gained control of Kiev only after a bitter struggle against his brother Svyatopolk (1015–19), nor his successors in Kiev were able to provide lasting political stability within the enormous realm. The political history of Rus is one of clashing separatist and centralizing trends inherent in the contradiction between local settlement and colonization on the one hand and the hegemony of the clan elder, ruling from Kiev, on the other. As Vladimir's 12 sons and innumerable grandsons prospered in the rapidly developing territories they inherited, they and their retainers acquired settled interests that conflicted both with one another and with the interests of unity.

      The conflicts were not confined to Slavic lands: the Turkic (Turkic peoples) nomads who moved into the southern steppe during the 11th century (first the Torks, later the Kipchaks (Kipchak)—also known as the Polovtsy, or Cumans (Cuman)) became involved in the constant internecine rivalries, and Rurikid and Turkic princes often fought on both sides. In 1097, representatives of the leading branches of the dynasty, together with their Turkic allies, met at Liubech, north of Kiev, and agreed to divide the Kievan territory among themselves and their descendants; later, however, Vladimir II Monomakh made a briefly successful attempt (1113–25) to reunite the land of Rus.

The decline of Kiev
      The hegemony of the prince of Kiev depended on the cohesion of the clan of Rurik and the relative importance of the southern trade, both of which began to decline in the late 11th century. This decline seems to have been part of a general shift of trade routes that can for convenience be associated with the First Crusade (Crusades) (1096–99) and that made the route from the Black Sea to the Baltic less attractive to commerce. At the same time, conflicts among the Rurikid princes acquired a more pronounced regional and separatist nature, reflecting new patterns in export trade along the northern and western periphery. Novgorod, in particular, began to gravitate toward closer relations with the cities of the Hanseatic League, which controlled the Baltic trade. Smolensk, Polotsk, and Pskov became increasingly involved in trade along western land routes, while Galicia and Volhynia established closer links with Poland and Hungary. The princes of these areas still contested the crown of the “grand prince of Kiev and all of Rus,” but the title became an empty one; when Andrew Bogolyubsky (Andrew I) ( Andrew I) of Suzdal won Kiev and the title in 1169, he sacked the city and returned to the upper Volga, apparently seeing no advantage in establishing himself in the erstwhile capital. (Roman Mstislavich of Galicia and Volhynia repeated these actions in 1203.) By the middle of the 12th century, the major principalities, owing to the prosperity and colonization of the Kievan period, had developed into independent political and economic units.

Social and political institutions
      The paucity of evidence about social and political institutions in Kievan Rus suggests that they were rudimentary. The East Slavs had no significant tradition of supratribal political organization before the coming of the Varangians, who themselves, until well into the 10th century, had little interest in institutions more elaborate than those necessary for the exploitation of their rich, new territory. The territory of Rus, moreover, was immense and sparsely settled. The scattered towns, some probably little more than trading posts, were separated by large primeval forests and swamps.

      Thus, although the campaigns of Svyatoslav indicate the extent of the political vacuum that his clan filled, he construed his domains as a clan possession rather than as a territorial or national state. His successor, Vladimir, however, seems to have been conscious of one political element—organized religion—that distinguished both the contemporary empires and the newly established principalities in Poland and Hungary from his own. The church (Christianity) provided the concepts of territorial and hierarchical organization that helped to make states out of tribal territories; its teachings transformed a charismatic prince into a king possessing the attributes and responsibilities of a national leader, judge, and first Christian of the realm.

      Once Vladimir had adopted Christianity in 988, his rule was supported by the propagation of Byzantine notions of imperial authority (absolutism). The political traditions and conditions of Rus, however, required that the actual workings of the political system and some of its style be derived from other sources. The succession system, probably a vestige of the experience of the Rus khaganate in the upper Volga, was based upon two principles: the indivisibility of the basic territory of Rus (the principalities of Kiev, Chernigov, and Pereyaslavl) and the shared sovereignty of a whole generation. Seniority passed through an ascension by stages from elder brother to younger and from the youngest eligible uncle to the eldest eligible nephew. Such a system was admirably suited to the needs of the dynasty, because, by providing a rotating advancement of members of the clan through apprenticeships in the various territories of the realm, it assured control of the key points of the far-flung trading network by princes who were subject to traditional sanctions, and it gave them experience in lands over which they could someday expect to rule from Kiev. This system served well for a century after it was given final form by Vladimir and was revived by Monomakh (Vladimir II (Vladimir II Monomakh), ruled 1113–25), but it could not survive the decline of Kiev's importance.

      Individual Rurikid princes maintained military retinues led by boyars (boyar). The princes and boyars drew their most significant revenues from the tribute or taxes collected annually in kind from territories under their control and disposed of in the export trade. The bulk of the population, apparently free peasants living in traditional agricultural communes, had little other connection with the dynasty and its trading cities.

      Little is known of law in this period; it may be assumed that juridical institutions had not developed on a broad scale. The earliest law code (1016), called the “Russian Law,” was one of the “Barbarian” law codes common throughout Germanic Europe. It dealt primarily with princely law—that is, with the fines to be imposed by the prince or his representative in the case of specified offenses.

      Some scholars have held that, since land was in the hands of the boyar class, who exploited the labour of slaves and peasants, Kievan society should be termed feudal (feudalism). The meagre sources indicate, however, that Kiev experienced nothing like the complex and highly regulated legal and economic relationships associated with feudalism in western Europe. Kiev's political system existed primarily for and by international trade in forest products and depended on a money economy in which the bulk of the population scarcely participated. The subsistence agriculture of the forest regions was not the source of Kiev's wealth, nor was it the matrix within which law and politics and history were made.

      Formal culture came to Rus, along with Christianity, from the multinational Byzantine synthesis, primarily through South Slavic intermediaries. A native culture, expressed in a now-lost pagan ritual folklore and traditions in the arts and crafts, existed before the Kievan period and then persisted alongside the formal culture, but its influence on the latter is conjectural.

      No single one of the regional (or, later, national) cultures, perhaps least of all that of Muscovy, can be called the heir of Kiev, although all shared the inheritance. The strands of continuity were everywhere strained, if not broken, in the period after Kiev's decline. But “Golden Kiev” was always present, in lore and bookish tradition, as a source of emulation and renascence.

The lands of Rus
      The decline of Kiev led to regional developments so striking that the subsequent period has often been called the “Period of Feudal Partition.” This phrase is misleading: feudal is hardly more applicable to the widely varying institutions of this time than to those of the Kievan period, and partition implies a former unity of which there is insufficient evidence. The distinctiveness of the character and historical fortunes of each of the major East Slavic regions, discussed briefly below, is clear even in the Kievan period and has persisted into the 21st century.

      Novgorod arose in the 9th century as one of the earliest centres of the exploitation of the forest hinterland and remained the most important commercial centre of the Kievan period. The changes of the latter Kievan period did not diminish the town's importance, for it benefited both from the increased activity of the Hanseatic League and from the development of the upper Volga region, for which it was a major trade outlet. Although Novgorod was an early base for the Rurikids, the princely traditions characteristic of Kiev and other post-Kievan centres never developed there. When Kiev declined, Novgorod soon (1136) declared its independence from princely power, and, although it accepted princely protectors from various neighbouring dynasties, it remained a sovereign city until conquered by Muscovy (Moscow).

      During the 13th century, Novgorod's burghers easily found an accommodation with the invading Mongols. In the Mongol period its energetic river pirates pushed farther north and east toward the Urals and even down the Volga, and Novgorod's prosperity was generally unbroken until the commercial revolution of the 16th century. Its absorption by the growing principality of Muscovy in 1478 ended its political independence and changed its social structure, but Novgorod's characteristic economic and cultural life did not end with that catastrophe.

      Novgorod was governed by an oligarchy of great trading boyar families who controlled the exploitation of the hinterland. They chose (from among themselves) a mayor, a military commander, and a council of aldermen, who controlled the affairs of the city and its territories. The town itself was divided into five “ends,” which seem to have corresponded to the “fifths” into which the hinterland was divided. There was in addition a veche (council), apparently a kind of town meeting of broad but indeterminate composition whose decisions, it would appear, were most often controlled by the oligarchy. A major role in politics was played by the archbishop, who after 1156 controlled the lands and incomes previously owned by the Kievan princes and who appears throughout Novgorod's history as a powerful, often independent figure.

The northwest
      During this period, much of the territory of the principalities of Smolensk, Polotsk, Turov, and Pinsk was controlled by the grand duchy of Lithuania (Lithuania, grand duchy of), which was essentially an international or nonnational formation led by a foreign dynasty (of eastern Lithuanian pagan origins) ruling over predominantly Belarusian and Ukrainian populations. By the 15th century the dynasty had become Slavic in culture (a version of Belarusian was the official language of the realm), and at its height under Vytautas (Vytautas the Great) (1392–1430) it controlled all the old Kievan territory outside Russia proper—that is, most of present-day Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine. In 1385 the grand duchy joined the kingdom of Poland, and the union was sealed shortly thereafter by the marriage of Grand Prince Jogaila (see Władysław II Jagiełło) to Jadwiga, the Polish queen.

The northeast
      The region bounded by the Oka and Volga rivers, later to be the heartland of the Grand Principality of Moscow (Moscow, Grand Principality of), was settled before the arrival of Slavs from Novgorod and the Baltic area by a Finnic tribe. Rostov, the earliest princely centre, was from Vladimir's time included in the princely rotation system. In the 12th century it became the patrimony of the younger branch of Vladimir II Monomakh (Vladimir)'s family (who founded the new princely centre Vladimir in 1108). Under his son Yury Dolgoruky (1125–57) and grandson Andrew I (1157–74), the principality reached a high political and cultural development, which it retained through much of the succeeding century. Early in the 13th century the principality of Moscow was created as an appanage (royal grant) within the grand principality of Vladimir, and this new seat grew in importance when Michael Khorobrit, brother of Alexander Nevsky, conquered Vladimir (1248) and made himself prince of both centres. Daniel, Nevsky's son and the progenitor of all the later Rurikid princes of Moscow, had a long and successful reign (1276–1303), but at his death the principality still embraced little more than the territory of the present Moscow province (an area of 140 miles [225 km] in length and width). The beginning of Moscow's rise to its later preeminence came during the reign of Daniel's son Ivan (Ivan I) (1328–41), who, by cooperating with Öz Beg, khan of the Golden Horde, and also by his shrewd purchases (probably of tax-farming rights), greatly expanded the influence of his principality.

The southwest
      The lands of Galicia and Volhynia were always ethnically and economically distinct from the Kievan region proper, as well as from more distant regions. Agriculture was highly developed, and trade, particularly in the valuable local salt, tended to take westward and overland routes. Galicia, already a separate principality by 1100, grew as Kiev declined. Later, Roman Mstislavich of Volhynia (ruled 1199–1205) conquered Galicia and united the two principalities. Under his son Daniel (Daniel Romanovich) (1201–64), difficulties with the Galician landed magnates and the interference of the Hungarians weakened the principality, and it was subjugated in 1240 by the Mongol invasion. Eventually this region came under the domination of Lithuania (Volhynia) and Poland (Galicia).

The Mongol period

The Mongol invasion
      In 1223, when the first Mongol reconnaissance into former Kievan territory led to the disastrous defeat of a Volhynian-Galician-Polovtsian army on the Kalka River, the Rurikid principalities had for generations been intermittently at war. Kiev was in ruins, Novgorod was preoccupied with commerce and with its northern neighbours, Galicia was being torn internally and drawn increasingly into Polish and Hungarian dynastic affairs, and Vladimir-Suzdal (Suzdal), apparently the leading principality, was unable to resist the finely organized and skillful mounted bowmen of the steppe, the greatest military force of the age.

      Pious tradition, born of the works of monkish annalists and court panegyrists, has exaggerated both the destructiveness of the first Mongol conquests and the strength of the resistance. The Mongols aimed to revive, under a unified political system, the trade that had traditionally crossed the Central Asian steppe and vitalized the economy of the pastoral nomads. As they moved westward, they gained the collaboration of groups of Turkic nomads and the predominantly Iranian and Muslim traders in the towns of the old Silk Road; they encountered the greatest resistance in sedentary political centres and among landowning elites. The lands of the Rus presented numerous similarities with the Central Asian areas that the Mongols had already conquered. There too, a former commercial empire had fallen apart into an aggregation of warring principalities. There too, ready recruits were to be found—in the Polovtsians, who controlled the lower Dnieper and Volga and Don, and in the Muslim merchants, who dealt in the towns of the Crimea (Crimean Peninsula) and the upper Volga. These merchants showed the way, first (1223) to the Crimea and up the Volga to the old centre of Bulgar (Bolgary), later to Ryazan, Rostov, and the Suzdalian towns, and still later (1240) to Kiev and Galicia.

      Many of the conquered cities made a striking recovery and adjustment to the new relationships. Some towns, such as Kiev, never fully recovered in Mongol times, but the cities of the Vladimir-Suzdal region clearly prospered. New centres, such as Moscow and Tver, hardly mentioned in any source before the Mongol period, arose and flourished in Mongol times.

      Thus, the Mongol invasion was not everywhere a catastrophe. The local princely dynasties continued unchanged in their traditional seats; some princes resisted the new authority and were killed in battle, but no alien princes ever became established in Slavic territory. Few Mongols remained west of the Urals after the conquest; political and fiscal administration was entrusted to the same Turkic clan leaders and Islamic merchants who had for generations operated in the area. The whole of the Novgorodian north remained outside the sphere of direct Tatar control, although the perspicacious burghers maintained correct relations with the khans.

Tatar rule
      After a brief attempt to revive the ancient centres of Bulgar and the Crimea, the Jucids (the family of Jöchi, son of Genghis Khan, who inherited the western portion of his empire) established a new capital, Itil. (It was moved to New Sarai, near the site of Tsaritsyn, modern Volgograd, about 1260.) These towns became the commercial and administrative centres of what was later to be called the “ Golden Horde” (the term is probably a Western invention). Its East Slavic territories were tributaries of an extensive empire, including, at its height, the Crimea, the Polovtsian steppe from the Danube to the Ural River, the former territories of the Bulgar empire (including the fur-rich Mordvinian forests and parts of western Siberia), and in Asia the former kingdom of Khwārezm, including Urgench, the cultural capital of the Jucids. Control of the Slavic lands was exercised through the native princes, some of whom spent much of their time at the Mongol capital, and through agents charged with overseeing the activities of the princes and particularly the fiscal levies.

      This multinational commercial empire was unstable. Early in the history of the Golden Horde, the khans of Sarai, who tended to reflect the interests of the Volga tribes, were challenged by the tribal princes of the west, whose control of the Danube, Bug, and Dnieper routes and of the access to the Crimea gave them considerable political and economic power. As early as 1260, Nokhai, one of these western chieftains, showed his independence of Sarai by establishing his own foreign policy, and toward the end of the 13th century he seized control of Sarai itself. At his death the eastern tribes reestablished their control in Sarai, but, in the reign of the great Öz Beg (1313–41), the high point of Golden Horde power, the west was again ascendant. Öz Beg based his power upon firm control of the Crimea and had extensive relations with the Genoese and Venetians, who controlled the main ports there. After the death of Öz Beg's son Jani Beg in 1357, however, the empire began to reveal serious internal strains. The tribes of the west paid little heed to the khans who appeared in dizzying succession in Sarai; the northern Russian princes fell to quarreling and to maneuvering for their own advantage in the internecine politics of the Golden Horde; the Volga Bulgar region was detached by a dissident Tatar prince; and the lands of the east were drawn into the orbit of the Turkic conqueror Timur (Tamerlane).

      The Golden Horde's last cycle of integration and dismemberment was closely linked with events in Timur's domains. Tokhtamysh, son of a minor Tatar prince, had been unsuccessfully involved in the skirmishes around the throne of Sarai in the 1370s and had fled to the court of Timur, with whose aid he returned to Sarai and vanquished the tribal leaders who had opposed him. Having defeated and made peace with them, he now turned to defeat Mamai (1381), who had the previous year been defeated by Prince Dmitry Donskoy (Dmitry (II) Donskoy) (grand prince of Moscow, 1359–89). Mamai's western tribal allies went over to Tokhtamysh, and, for a brief time, the major components of the tribal structure of the Golden Horde were reunited. Tokhtamysh successfully attacked Moscow (just as Mamai had hoped to do) and set about consolidating his gains. As his power grew, however, Tokhtamysh was drawn into a struggle with Timur, who had conquered much of Iran, the south Caucasus, and eastern Anatolia. After a number of encounters in the northern Caucasus, Timur, who apparently was intent upon diversion of east-west trade through his own Transoxanian and north Iranian territories, set out to destroy Tokhtamysh and the latter's commercial centres. In 1395–96 Timur's armies systematically annihilated Sarai, Azov, and Kaffa. The Golden Horde never recovered; its subsequent history is a record of struggles among its erstwhile subjects for supremacy and attempts to restore political and commercial stability to the steppe.

The rise of Muscovy (Moscow, Grand Principality of)
      From the beginning of the Tatar period, the Rurikid princes displayed much disunity. During the reign of Öz Beg there was a shift of alignments. The princes of Moscow and their allies, together with Öz Beg and his Crimean supporters, generally opposed the princes of Tver, Pskov, and, intermittently, Novgorod. The major punitive measures directed by Öz Beg against Tver with Muscovite support were a part of this pattern.

      The links forged in the 14th century between Moscow and the Crimea (Crimean Peninsula) (and Sarai, while Öz Beg controlled it) were crucial to Moscow's later preeminence. They not only afforded Moscow a steady and profitable export trade for its furs but, because of contacts between Crimean merchants and Byzantium, also led quite naturally to close relations between the Muscovite hierarchy and the patriarchate of Constantinople. This special relationship was but one of the reasons for the eventual rise of Moscow as leader of the Russian lands. Admirably situated in the northeast, linked with all of the major navigable river systems and with the steppe, close to the major fur-producing regions and to the most intensely settled agricultural lands, served by a succession of shrewd and long-lived princes, Moscow came naturally to a position of preeminence during the 14th century and was best equipped to enter the struggle for the political inheritance of the Golden Horde that followed the destruction of its capitals by Timur.

Cultural life and the “Tatar influence”
      Most traditional scholarship has accepted the notions that (1) the Mongol invasion “destroyed” Kievan culture, (2) the Tatar period was one of “stultification” and “isolation from the West,” and (3) “Russian” culture was deeply influenced by Golden Horde culture, in particular by “Oriental” conceptions of despotism. These views do not accord with the evidence and should probably be discarded.

      In the first place, it seems incorrect to say that Kievan culture was destroyed. In the shift of the cultural centre of gravity to the numerous regional centres, Kievan traditions were in the main continued and in some cases (i.e., Galician literature, Novgorodian icon painting, Suzdalian architecture) enjoyed remarkable development.

      Similarly, the notions of stultification and isolation from the West cannot be supported. The enormous Novgorodian culture sphere, the upper Dnieper territories that eventually came under Lithuanian control, and the principalities of Volhynia and Galicia all had, if anything, closer contacts with western and central Europe than in the previous period.

      As to “Tatar influence,” in the areas of religion and intellectual life, it was practically nonexistent. Control of formal culture by the Orthodox clergy (Russian Orthodox church) and Muslim (Islāmic world) divines and limited contact between the Slavic and Turkic populations prevented it. There is no evidence that any single Turkic or Islamic text of religious, philosophical, literary or scholarly content was translated directly into Slavonic or any East Slavic vernacular during the period.

      Concerning the secular culture of the court and counting house, the situation was radically different. These spheres were controlled by very pragmatic princes, merchants, and diplomats. There, Slavs and Tatars elaborated together an international subculture whose language was Turkic and whose administrative techniques and chancellery culture were essentially those of the Golden Horde. Slavic merchants took full part in this culture, and the princes of Muscovy in particular developed their original court culture and chancellery practices within its context. These borrowings, however, were not of a theoretical or ideological nature, and to ascribe later despotism—and its theoretical basis—to “Oriental” influence is to misunderstand the development of Muscovite absolutism.

The post-Sarai period
      The collapse of the Golden Horde saw a growth in the political power of the old sedentary centres—Muscovy, Lithuania, the Volga Bulgar region (which became the khanate of Kazan), and the Crimea. This growth was accompanied by dynastic struggles. This period of recovery also saw cooperation among the emerging dynasties against their internal enemies and toward the stabilization of the steppe.

      Even by the end of the 14th century, Moscow's position was by no means as dominating as the cartographers' conventions or the historians' hindsight makes it seem. Other centres—Lithuania, Tver, Novgorod—were as rich and powerful as Moscow; many of the areas nominally subject to the Muscovite princes retained their own dynasties, whose members often broke away and sided with one of Moscow's rivals. Only after a series of dynastic conflicts in the early 15th century did Moscow emerge as the leader of the Russian territory.

 The struggle began at the death of Vasily I, a son of Dmitry Donskoy, in 1425. The succession of his 10-year-old son Vasily II was challenged by his uncle Yury, prince of the important upper Volga commercial town of Galich. After many turns of fortune, Vasily II succeeded, with the help of Lithuanian and Tatar allies, in establishing his house permanently as the rulers of Muscovy.

Rurikid Muscovy (Rurik Dynasty)

  Ivan III (ruled 1462–1505) consolidated from a secure throne the gains his father, Vasily II, had won. The “gathering of the Russian lands,” as it has traditionally been known, became under Ivan a conscious and irresistible drive by Moscow to annex all East Slavic lands, both the Russian territories, which traditionally had close links with Moscow, and the Belarusian and Ukrainian regions, which had developed under distinctly different historical and cultural circumstances. In 1471 Ivan mounted a simultaneous attack upon Novgorod and its upper Volga colonies, which capitulated and accepted Moscow's commercial and political demands. The trading republic, however, retained considerable de facto independence and became involved with the Lithuanian princes in an attempt to resist Moscow. Ivan, using these dealings as a pretext, attacked again, and in 1478 Novgorod was absorbed by Moscow. A Muscovite governor was installed, and 70 Novgorodian boyar families were deported and assigned estates elsewhere to hold in service tenure, being replaced by members of the Moscow military-service class.

       Tver suffered a similar fate. Ivan had agreed with Prince Michael Borisovich of Tver to conduct foreign relations in concert and by consultation, but, when the Tverite complained that Ivan was not consulting him on important matters, Ivan attacked him and annexed his lands (1485). By the end of Ivan's reign, there were no Russian princes who dared conduct policies unacceptable to Moscow.

      The success of Ivan's expansion was determined by his skillful dealings with the Polish-Lithuanian state (Lithuania, grand duchy of), which had expanded down the Dnieper basin and into Slavic territories on the south flank of Moscow. After 1450 a competition developed for control of the numerous semi-independent principalities of the Dnieper and upper Donets regions. In the early 1490s some minor East Slavic princes defected from Lithuania to Moscow. The first phase of the conflict, confined to border skirmishes, ended in 1494 with a treaty ceding Vyazma to Moscow and with the marriage of Ivan's daughter Yelena to Alexander, grand duke of Lithuania. In 1500, on the initiative of Lithuanian defectors, Ivan's armies seized a number of important border towns, thus beginning a war that ended somewhat inconclusively in 1503 with a truce that extended Ivan's border considerably to the west.

      The third major element of Ivan's foreign policy comprised his relations with the various Tatar confederations. In the 1470s the Crimean khan Mengli Giray came into increasing conflict with Khan Ahmed of the Golden Horde and became interested in an alliance with Moscow against Ahmed and Lithuania. Ivan, eager to dissolve the connection between Lithuania and the Crimea but not wanting to alienate Ahmed, stalled for time. In 1481, when Ahmed died, Ivan was able to forge an alliance with the Nogais, Mengli Giray, and Kazan. The security provided by this system became the cornerstone of his later policies.

      In addition to problems of war and diplomacy, Ivan was faced with a number of challenges from within his own family and court. In 1472 his eldest brother, Yury, died childless, and Ivan appropriated his entire estate. This action antagonized the two eldest surviving brothers, Andrey and Boris, whose grievances were further increased by Ivan's refusal to give them a share of conquered Novgorod. In 1480 they rebelled, and only with difficulty were they persuaded to remain loyal. A more serious conflict arose (1497–1502) in the form of an open and murderous struggle among Ivan's relatives for succession to the throne. Ivan had originally named as his heir his grandson Dmitry, son of his deceased son Ivan and the Moldavian princess Yelena, but a group close to Ivan's second wife, Sofia (Zoë) Palaeologus, opposed this; her son Vasily threatened and perhaps attempted an insurrection, and Ivan was forced to accept Vasily.

      Ivan made the first effort on the part of a Muscovite ruler to become involved in the diplomacy of western Europe. He and his advisers realized the need for a counterpoise to the Polish-Lithuanian power, while the diplomats of Rome and Vienna were interested in the possibility of flanking the growing empire of the Ottomans (Ottoman Empire) with a Muscovite-Tatar force. In the 1470s and '80s there was an unprecedented traffic between these capitals and Moscow. It was through these channels that Ivan arranged his marriage to Sofia Palaeologus, a niece of the last Byzantine emperor. Sofia has been credited with considerable influence over Ivan, in particular with urging him to adopt the Byzantine political style (e.g., autocracy, state domination of the church, etc.), but in fact she probably had little influence over Ivan's policies. His reign ended on a note of failure, with his overtures to the West and his brief rapprochement with Lithuania both disrupted by the intractable territorial and religious conflicts of the Slavic East and by the opportunism of the local magnates. Moscow's situation was worsened after Ivan's death by the collapse of the alliance with the Crimean khan Mengli Giray upon the khan's death in 1515, opening a new period of chaos and readjustment in the steppe.

      A similar appraisal must be made of Ivan's domestic policies. Although his reign was notable for the annexation of the rich Novgorodian provinces and for the establishment of a regular bureaucracy and a land-tenure system, these achievements created new problems for his successors. The system of land grants to military servitors, maintained for centuries (with changes) in all conquered lands, ultimately suppressed the interest of both landlords and tenants in increasing agricultural productivity.

 Ivan's son Vasily (Vasily III), who came to the throne in 1505, greatly strengthened the monarchy. He completed the annexation of Russian territories with the absorption of Pskov (1510) and Ryazan (1521) and began the advance into non-Russian territories (Smolensk, 1514). Faced with a continuing Lithuanian war and with the breakdown of his father's Tatar policy, Vasily carefully temporized in order to avoid uniting his enemies. Once he had secured peace in the west, he was able to deal directly with the khan of the Crimean Tatars. In the end, however, much of what Vasily accomplished was undone by his failure as a procreator: divorcing his first wife for her apparent barrenness, he married Yelena Glinskaya, who bore him only two children—the retarded Yury and the sickly Ivan, who was three years old at Vasily's death in 1533.

 Vasily had been able to appoint a regency council composed of his most trusted advisers and headed by his wife Yelena, but the grievances created by his limitation of landholders' immunities and his antiboyar policies soon found expression in intrigue and opposition, and the bureaucracy he had relied upon could not function without firm leadership. Although Yelena continued Vasily's policies with some success, on her death, in 1538, various parties of boyars sought to gain control of the state apparatus. A decade of intrigue followed, during which affairs of state, when managed at all, went forward because of the momentum developed by the bureaucracy. Foreign policy was moribund, in spite of considerable opportunities presented by the continuing decay of the khanate of Kazan, and domestic policy vacillated so wildly that scholars cannot agree upon an appraisal of its main directions.

      Toward the end of the 1540s, however, there emerged a strong coalition of Muscovite boyars. Apparently inspired by a common awareness of the needs of the state, they ended the debilitating intrigues and embarked upon a thoroughgoing program of reform. The first important step was the reestablishment of the monarch—for the first time to be officially designated tsar—accomplished through the coronation of the 16-year-old Ivan (Ivan IV) in unprecedented solemnity and pomp. Shortly afterward he was married to Anastasia Romanovna Zakharina of a leading boyar family.

      Although there is a voluminous literature devoted to Ivan, almost nothing is known of his personality, his political views, or his methods of rule. There is little reliable biographical information about him aside from the facts of his six marriages, his lifelong ill health, and his mercurial temper. It is not even known when he began to rule in fact or which of the policies of his reign can be considered his.

      Ivan was doubtless a puppet in the hands of the leading politicians long after his coronation. The major reforms of the middle 1550s, which produced a new law code, a new military organization, a reform of local government, and severe restrictions on the powers of hereditary landowners (including the monasteries), were probably the work of the bureaucrats and boyars, their objective being to modernize and standardize the administration of the growing state. The immediate goal was to strengthen the state and military apparatus in connection with major campaigns (the first undertaken in 1547) against the khanate of Kazan and to prepare for the major colonization of the new lands that the conquest and others were expected to secure. Toward the end of the 1550s, Ivan seems to have gained the support of certain groups opposed to these policies and to have seized control of the government. The issue was evidently foreign policy. The planned conquest of the Volga and steppe region had been delayed in execution, and the Kazan campaigns had been enormously costly. By 1557, when the campaigns against the Crimea began, there was much opposition in the highest military circles. Ivan took the dissidents' part and for the first time emerged as an independent figure.

      Ivan was a disastrously bad ruler, in part because no one had ever anticipated that he would rule. His poor health and the mental failings of his brother made it quite natural for the regency and the politicians to ignore him and to neglect his education. In adulthood he contracted a painful and incurable bone disease, from which he sought relief in alcohol and in potions provided by a succession of foreign doctors and quacks. Once he had acquired full power, he set about destroying those who had ruled during the interregnum, as well as the machinery of government they had built up.

      Ivan established his famous oprichnina, an aggregate of territory separated from the rest of the realm and put under his immediate control as crown land, in 1564; this was the device through which he expressed his rejection of the established government. As it was his private domain, a state within the state, he took into it predominantly northern and commercial territories that had enjoyed a special prosperity in preceding decades. Specific towns and districts all over Russia were included in the oprichnina, their revenues being assigned to the maintenance of Ivan's new court and household. He established a new, much simplified officialdom and a court composed of sycophants and mercenaries, prone to rule through terror, accompanied by persecution of precisely those groups that had contributed so much to the modernization of the state. As trained statesmen and administrators were replaced by hirelings and cronies, the central government and military organization began to disintegrate. The destructiveness of the oprichnina was heightened by Ivan's involvement in the costly and ultimately disastrous Livonian War (1558–83) throughout this period (indeed, some historians have viewed the oprichnina as a device for the prosecution of that lengthy war's taxing campaigns). Even before the war ended, Ivan was forced by the utter incompetence of his special oprichnina army to reintegrate it (1572) with the regular army and to revert, in theory at least, to the previous institutions of government. By the time he died, in 1584, the state that he had wanted to reclaim from its makers was in ruins.

 Ivan the Terrible had murdered his eldest son, Ivan, in a fit of rage in 1581, and his only surviving legitimate heir, Fyodor (Fyodor I), was mentally unfit to succeed him. Power passed to those who were at Ivan's deathbed, among whom Boris Godunov (Godunov, Boris), who had capped a rapid rise in court circles with the marriage of his sister Irina to Fyodor, soon emerged as the leading contender. Godunov's judicious combination of chicanery, vision, and force enabled him to disarm his most dangerous enemies and to have himself proclaimed tsar after Fyodor's death in 1598. His policies during Fyodor's reign had been consistently restorative and conciliatory, and he had apparently succeeded in repairing much of the damage done to the state in Ivan's time. He conducted a cautious and generally successful foreign policy: the 20 years of his reign were, except for a short, successful war against Sweden, peaceful. In domestic matters, he returned to the modernizing and standardizing policies of the mid-century. He reorganized the land-tenure system, commerce, and taxation.

      For a number of his problems Godunov could find no solution. Chief among these were the depopulation of the central Muscovite lands and the discontent among small landholders in the territories recently acquired in the south and southwest. Added to these problems was the continuing opposition of the boyars.

      In spite of these difficulties and widespread famine caused by crop failures in 1601–02, Godunov remained well in control of the situation until the appearance of the so-called first False Dmitry (Dmitry, False), a defrocked monk who had appeared in Poland in 1601 claiming to be the son of Ivan IV. (The true Dmitry had died during an epileptic seizure in 1591.) The False Dmitry found some supporters in Poland—notably Jerzy Mniszech, to whose 15-year-old daughter, Maryna, he became engaged. As the impostor moved northeast toward Muscovy, he acquired growing support among the disaffected petty gentry and Cossacks (Cossack) (peasants who had escaped from serfdom to a nomadic life) of the regions through which he passed, and border cities throughout the south opened their gates to him. Godunov's troops easily defeated the ragtag force, which apparently had many secret supporters among Muscovite boyars, but a few weeks later Godunov died. The boyars staged a coup against Godunov's family and declared Dmitry tsar. The pretender entered Moscow in triumph, was crowned, and married Maryna Mniszchówna.

The Time of Troubles (Troubles, Time of)
      In the period from 1606 to 1613, during the so-called Time of Troubles (Troubles, Time of), chaos gripped most of central Muscovy; Muscovite boyars, Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian Cossacks, and assorted mobs of adventurers and desperate citizens were among the chief actors. In May 1606 a small-scale revolt supported by popular indignation at the foolishly insulting behaviour of Dmitry and his Polish garrison brought the overthrow and murder of the pretender. The boyars gave the crown to Prince Vasily Shuysky (Vasily (IV) Shuysky), a leader of the revolt against Dmitry, with the understanding that he would respect the special rights and privileges of the boyars. While the new tsar had the support of most boyars and of the northern merchants, he could not end the disorders in the south or the adventures of the Polish and Swedish kings, who used Muscovy as a battlefield in their continuing conflict with each other. In 1608 a number of boyars, led by the Romanovs, went over to a second False Dmitry, who had ridden a wave of discontent and freebootery from the Cossack south into the centre of Muscovy. A kind of shadow government was formed in the village of Tushino, 9 miles (14 km) west of Moscow, in which the boyars and bureaucrats of the Romanov circle took leading posts. It managed to gain Cossack support and to manipulate Dmitry's pretensions while negotiating with the Polish king Sigismund III (Sigismund III Vasa) on terms by which his son Władysław IV (Władysław IV Vasa) might become tsar. Shuysky, in desperation, turned to Sweden for aid, promising territorial concessions along the Swedish-Muscovite border. At this the Polish king invaded Muscovy and besieged Smolensk (September 1609). The Tushino coalition dissolved, and Dmitry withdrew to the south. The position of the Shuysky government deteriorated, and in 1610 the tsar was deserted by his army and his allies. The boyars formed a seven-man provisional government with the aim of installing a Polish tsar. This government proved unable to settle its affairs and to restore order to the country. A new insurgent army, financed by northern merchants and staffed with Swedish troops, marched on Moscow with the intention of ousting the Polish garrison and of bringing the various Cossack bands under control. It nearly gained Moscow but fell apart because its leadership could make no arrangement with the Cossack leaders. A year later a second force, raised in the same northern cities and supported by Cossacks who had been part of the Tushino camp, was able to take possession of the Kremlin. A call was issued for the election of a new tsar.

Social and economic conditions
      In the flux of social and economic life in the 15th and 16th centuries, three interconnected processes may be observed: a steady economic growth, mainly from colonization and trade; an expansion in the power of the central government; and the encroachment of the nobility upon the lands previously held by the free peasantry (peasant), accompanied by the reduction of the bulk of the peasantry to serf (serfdom) status.

      In the middle of the 15th century, society and the economy were still organized along traditional lines. The land was sparsely settled. Life for most of the population was simple and probably close to the subsistence level. Serfdom did not yet exist. Most of the peasantry lived on state lands and paid whatever taxes could be extracted from them by their prince or his bailiff.

      A number of changes occurred in this pattern in the latter part of the 15th century. About 1460, measures were taken to bring the peasantry under more regular control of the state and the landlord. Peasant registration appeared at this time, and also the requirement spread that peasants might renounce the tenancy of the land they were working only at the end of the agricultural cycle, in the week of St. Yury's Day (November 26 [December 8, New Style]). The growing controls upon the peasantry received impetus from the large-scale deportations and colonizations that accompanied the annexations of Novgorod, Tver, Pskov, and Ryazan, when the old nobility were replaced with nobility owing service to the prince of Muscovy. The nationwide promulgation of the restriction on movement to St. Yury's Day was contained in the law code of 1497, which added the stipulation that peasants leaving a former situation must pay the landlord all arrears in addition to a departure fee. All of the measures, together with the expansion of the state apparatus for tax gathering and adjudication of disputes over land and peasants, were associated with the growing complexity and power of the central government.

      The law code of 1550 repeated the stipulation of 1497 limiting peasant departure, but with much more specific provisions and stronger sanctions. Other reforms put an end to local administration by rotating military governors and limited monastic landholding and the juridical rights of landlords over their peasants. The events and policies of the latter half of the reign of Ivan IV destroyed many of the beneficial results of the reforms. The Livonian War imposed unprecedented burdens upon the taxpaying population and the landowning military caste. The political disruption caused by Ivan's oprichnina further undermined the position of the service class and led to the looting of Novgorod and other towns. At the same time, other new trends provided the basis for economic growth: trade in local and Asian transit goods, organized through Arkhangelsk, primarily by English and Dutch merchants, brought unprecedented wealth and luxury to the court; the opening of Siberia provided additional income; and the extension of Russian agriculture into the steppe promised, for the first time, agricultural prosperity.

Cultural trends
      This period also saw the crystallization of that complex of forms and ideas that can, for the first time, be identified as Russian culture. There was a gathering and integration of the Novgorodian, Tverite, and Suzdalian cultural traditions. Moscow began to attract the artists, craftsmen, and learned monks who built the eclectic but “national” churches of Ivan III's otherwise Italianate Kremlin and who wrote the revised national, pro-Muscovite versions of the chronicles that had been kept in Rostov, Ryazan, and Novgorod. The regional traditions were not always easily reconciled. Novgorodian attitudes in particular clashed with those of Muscovy.

      The reign of Ivan III saw a marked turning toward the West. Ivan surrounded himself with Italian and Greek diplomats and craftsmen. His palace of 1487, his Kremlin with its Latin inscription over the main gate, and his churches, the original aspect of which has been altered by successive Russifying restorations, were clearly in the Italian style, as contemporary foreign visitors noted. His marriage to Sofia Palaeologus had, in addition to its diplomatic significance, a symbolic function of bringing Ivan into the circle of Western princes. Muscovy supposedly regarded itself as the heir of Byzantium and as the spiritual leader of the Orthodox world. It may be that the church leadership, militantly anti-Roman, thought of itself in this light. Ivan and many around him viewed the Byzantine heritage as Western, in contrast to the Ottoman and Tatar world, and were at pains to associate Muscovy with Western traditions and interprincely relations. This striving to be accepted in the Western world marked most of the changes in regalia and style of Ivan's reign, although these were later to be buried in the lore of Muscovite Byzantinism (Byzantine Empire).

      Three significant causes can be discerned for the evolution of Muscovite culture in the 16th century. The first was the growth and prosperity of the Russian population, united under a stable and increasingly centralized monarchy, which produced the conditions for the rise of a national culture. The second was the diplomatic and cultural isolation in which Muscovy found itself, particularly in the first half of the 16th century, as a result of hostile relations with increasingly powerful Lithuania and Poland, a cause that, more than any other, brought an end to Ivan III's westward turn and to the revolutionary adjustments of the age of exploration. The third cause was the resolution of church-state relations, in the course of which the church submitted to the power of the princes in politics but gained control over the culture, style, and ideology of the dynasty, producing the peculiar amalgam of nationalistic, autocratic, and Orthodox elements that became the official culture of high Muscovy. This new synthesis was reflected in the great undertakings associated with the name of Metropolitan Makary of Moscow: St. Basil's Cathedral in the Kremlin; the encyclopaedic Menolog, or calendar of months, which contained all the literature, translated and original, permitted to be read in the churches; and the Illustrated Codex, a compilation of East Slavic and Greek chronicles in an official Muscovite version.

Romanov Muscovy (Romanov Dynasty)

 The military drive that finally expelled the Poles from Moscow led to the election of Michael (Mikhail Fyodorovich), the 16-year-old son of Fyodor Romanov, as the new tsar. The composition of the coalition that elected him is not clear, but he evidently represented a compromise between the Cossacks, the boyars (especially the Tushino boyars), and the leaders of the northern army. It would be difficult to imagine circumstances less favourable for the beginning of the reign of the adolescent monarch and a new ruling coalition. The military campaigns had left much of the central and southwestern portions of the country in ruins. In many areas, populations had fled, land lay fallow, and administration was in disarray. Significant portions of the Novgorod, Smolensk, and Ryazan regions were occupied by Swedish and Polish armies and by sundry insurrectionary forces, who threatened to renew hostilities.

      The Romanov (Romanov Dynasty) government required more than a decade to establish itself politically and to restore economic and social order. Few had expected the election of a new tsar (the fourth in eight years) to bring an end to the turmoil. But the election of Michael reflected a resolution of political forces that permitted the coalition government to address itself to the problems of reconstruction. Another cause was the survival of the central bureaucracy; the civil servants in Moscow had served all successive governments without much interruption and were ready to restore administrative regularity as soon as political order was established. Fortunately, the new government refrained from involving itself in the Polish-Swedish conflicts, which reached their height at this period. This restraint was a most important element in the success of the 1613 settlement, for the international situation was, if anything, grimmer than the domestic. Polish-Swedish differences permitted Muscovite diplomats to bring the two countries to separate truces (Sweden (Stolbovo, Treaty of), 1617; Poland (Deulino, Truce of), 1618); although these left substantial territories under the control of Poland and Sweden, they provided a needed interlude of peace. The Romanov government wisely avoided any significant participation in the Thirty Years' War, in which most European states engaged. At the death of the Polish king Sigismund III in 1632, Muscovy made an ill-advised attempt to regain Smolensk that ended in military disaster, but in 1634 it obtained Władysław's formal abjuration of the Polish king's questionable claim to the title of tsar.

      After the failure of the Smolensk campaign, the government refrained from further military involvement with Poland for nearly a generation. It concentrated instead upon the extension and fortification of its southern borders, where the incursions of Crimean Tatars were an impediment to colonization. Moscow, however, was not prepared to go to war with the Ottomans, who were the protectors of the Crimean khan; when the Don Cossacks, Muscovy's clients, captured the critical port of Azov in 1637 and appealed to Moscow for aid in holding off a counterattack, a zemsky sobor, or national assembly (see below Trends in the 17th century (Russia)), decided not to intervene, and the port was lost.

 The reign of Michael's son Alexis (Aleksey Mikhaylovich), whom later generations considered the very model of a benevolent and gentle tsar, began badly. Like his father, Alexis came to the throne a mere boy. Immediately the boyar who controlled the government, Boris Ivanovich Morozov (Morozov, Boris Ivanovich), embarked upon policies that brought the government to the brink of disaster. Morozov cut government salaries; he also introduced a tax on salt and a state monopoly of tobacco, the former causing widespread hardship and discontent and the latter bringing the church's condemnation. At the same time, he alienated boyar groups close to the throne by his interference in his ward's marriage.

      Morozov's actions exacerbated an already dangerous situation in the country. The city populations and the service gentry in particular were heavily burdened by taxes and other obligations and were increasingly angry at the growing wealth and power of the ruling clique. During a riot in Moscow in May 1648, a mob surrounded the 19-year-old tsar and demanded the execution of Morozov and the leading officials. Some of the latter were thrown to the mob, and a brief protective exile was arranged for Morozov. Morozov's boyar enemies, who may have abetted the riot, took control of affairs and carried out a series of reforms. The salt tax and tobacco monopoly were ended, and a commission was established for the drafting of a new law code. Serious disorders continued in the cities of the north, particularly in Pskov and Novgorod, where force was required to reimpose authority.

      In Novgorod the principal actor in the government's interest was the metropolitan Nikon, an energetic and authoritarian monk who had made influential friends in Moscow while archimandrite at the Romanov family church and continued assiduously to cultivate the tsar and his relations while in Novgorod. In 1652 his solicitations earned him the patriarchate. Tradition has it that Nikon, before accepting the position, demanded a declaration of full obedience in religious and moral matters from the tsar. In the first years of Nikon's tenure, his relations with Alexis and the court were good. The patriarch, with official support, carried out a number of liturgical and organizational reforms, surrounding himself with an impressive bureaucracy modeled upon the state apparatus. Relations with the tsar became strained in 1658, however, and, after he was publicly snubbed by Alexis, Nikon announced that he was abandoning the patriarchate. He later held that he had simply gone into temporary seclusion, but his effective power and influence were at an end.

      The main event of Alexis's reign was the annexation of eastern Ukraine. His government had continued the previous policy of avoiding entanglements in the West while expanding eastward but could not resist the opportunity offered in 1654 when Bohdan Khmelnytsky (Khmelnytsky, Bohdan), the leader of a Cossack revolution against Polish rule in Ukraine, appealed to Moscow for the help he had been unable to obtain from Sweden and the Turks. Moscow accepted his allegiance in return for military assistance and thus became involved in a protracted struggle with Poland and Sweden for the Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Baltic territories. At first the war went well, but the differing objectives of the Ukrainian and Muscovite allies soon revealed themselves. When Charles X of Sweden entered the fray against Poland, Alexis made peace, in 1656; he feared a strong Sweden as much as a strong Poland. Muscovite forces plunged into war with Sweden for the Estonian, Livonian, and Karelian territories along the Baltic coast. The situation in Ukraine became increasingly confused and dangerous for Moscow, and it was necessary to end the war with Sweden in 1661, even at the cost of yielding, once again, the Baltic coast.

      In Ukraine the war took on a new aspect when in 1664 Peter Doroshenko, a new leader, put himself under the protection of the Ottomans. The Turks joined in a number of major military operations, alarming both Poland and Moscow sufficiently to bring them to a truce at Andrusovo (Andrusovo, Truce of) (1667). Poland recognized Moscow's control over eastern Ukraine and Kiev, while Moscow yielded the part of Ukraine west of the Dnieper and most of Belarusia.

      The peace did not greatly improve the government's position, for the same year saw the beginning of a threatening movement among the Don Cossacks and peasants of the Volga region, led by Stenka Razin (Razin, Stenka), and a political battle within the inner circles at court, caused by the death of Alexis's wife. After two years, Alexis was married to Nataliya Naryshkina (Naryshkina, Natalya Kirillovna). In 1676, however, Alexis himself died, and Fyodor (Fyodor III), a sickly son of his first wife, Mariya Miloslavskaya, succeeded him. A struggle began between the rival Naryshkin and Miloslavsky families. The Naryshkins were exiled, and the Miloslavskys, with their clients and supporters, took over. In 1682, however, Fyodor died, and the Naryshkin faction sought to place his half brother Peter (Peter I) on the throne instead of Fyodor's full brother, the ailing Ivan (Ivan V). The elite corps of streltsy (a hereditary military caste) revolted and established Ivan's elder sister Sophia as regent. For the accession and reign of Peter the Great, see below The reign of Peter I (the Great; 1689–1725) (Russia).

Trends in the 17th century
      Economic reconstruction was slow, particularly in agriculture and in the old central lands, but it was accompanied by a growth of trade and manufacturing. The state revenues profited from the expansion eastward beyond the Urals and southward into the black-soil region. In the north the port of Arkhangelsk handled the export of forest products and semimanufactures (naval stores, potash) to the English and Dutch, and its merchants took a leading role in the early exploitation of Siberia. The government itself became deeply involved in the development of trade and commerce, both through its monopolistic control of certain areas and commodities and by its efforts to build up such strategic industries as metallurgy. The economy grew at unprecedented speed during the 17th century. By 1700 Russia was a leading producer of pig iron and potash, and the economic base on which Peter's military successes were to depend had been firmly established.

      The political recovery of the Russian state after the Time of Troubles was largely due to the survival of the central bureaucracy and ruling oligarchy. The lines of subsequent development were determined by the growth, consolidation, and almost unimpeded self-aggrandizement of these groups in the 17th century. The expansion of the bureaucratic apparatus can be measured in various ways. In 1613 there were 22 prikazy, or departments; by mid-century there were 80. At the beginning of the period, the jurisdiction of the bureaucracy included primarily fiscal, juridical, and military matters; by the end of the century, it also covered industrial, religious, and cultural life. At the close of the Time of Troubles, the bureaucracy's functions were exercised by leading boyars and professional administrators; by Peter's time the mercantile class, the whole of the nobility, and the clergy had become part of its ubiquitous network. This bureaucracy was the buttress—indeed, the substance—of an absolute monarchy whose prerogatives knew few internal bounds.

      The ease with which the extension of central authority overwhelmed all other political and social forces is to be explained by the frailty of local institutions and by the absence of independent ecclesiastical or social authority. The Muscovite administration was extended first into the devastated areas, where local institutions had been swept away, and then into new territories that had no significant political institutions, until it became a standardized and centralized mechanism powered by the colossal wealth generated by its own expansion.

      These processes were reflected in the great law code of 1649, the first general codification since 1550, which was to remain the basis of Russian law until 1833. Its articles make clear the realities of Muscovite political practice: the rule of the bureaucrats and the extension of the powers of the state into all spheres of human activity. It was based in large measure upon the accumulated ad hoc decisions of the officials and was intended for their guidance. The code made ecclesiastical affairs a matter of state jurisdiction; it gave legal expression to the practice of serfdom; and, in an important new article, it enumerated crimes “of word and deed” against the “Sovereign”—by which were to be understood the state and all its agents.

      Social development paralleled and was to a great extent determined by the developments just described. By the end of the century, only those families that had made new careers in the state apparatus through service as generals, ministers, and ambassadors remained at the apex of society; they were joined by numerous parvenu families that had risen in government service. Particularly striking was the prosperity of the dyak class of professional administrators, which had become a closed hereditary estate by a decree of 1640; this class had become a new and powerful “nobility of the seal” that was to survive into modern times.

      During much of the 17th century, the government was run for all practical purposes by high officials in cooperation with relatives and cronies of the reigning tsar. Historians in the 19th century, eager to find constitutional traditions in Russia's past, stressed the role of the zemsky sobor—an assembly of dignitaries that from the time of Ivan IV had been called together when matters of crucial importance had to be decided. In the period after 1613 it was in almost continuous session for some years. After 1619, however, the services of these assemblies were no longer required. It is questionable whether they ever had, in law or in fact, any power beyond that of a crowd of military and administrative leaders. They were summoned by the government, and their composition was determined by the government.

Cultural life
      No period of Russia's cultural history has been as full of change, turmoil, creativity, failure, and sheer destructiveness as the 17th century. Russian society emerged from the Time of Troubles shattered and unsure of itself, disoriented and impoverished. This shaken society was then subject to wrenching social and economic change and strong external influences.

      The old culture, in its formal aspects, had been the culture of the monasteries. Art, literature, architecture, and music remained traditional, canonical, and orthodox until the end of the 16th century. The 17th century produced, first among the officials and boyars and later among the merchants and middle classes, a new elite that was increasingly interested in European culture and that had mainly secular interests. Yet the government of these same officials and boyars worked to stifle native cultural development, and many of these merchants and nobles were drawn into movements opposed to Westernization.

      There were three reasons for this paradoxical development. First, Western culture had reached Muscovy largely through Polish and Roman Catholic mediation, which rendered it unacceptable to all but those sophisticated enough to take a very broad view of the events of the Time of Troubles. In the Ukrainian and Belarusian territories, the Polish Counter-Reformation had brought a national cultural revival. The books, ideas, and people flowing from these lands into Muscovy in the 17th century, however, were hardly less suspect than those of Roman Catholic Poland, and, as these “aliens” acquired a dominant position in Muscovite cultural affairs, resentment was added to suspicion.

      A second reason for the character of Muscovite cultural development in the 17th century was the preponderant role of the church and, later, of the state, which took over at last the assets, liabilities, and responsibilities of the ecclesiastical establishment. From 1620, when the patriarch Philaret pronounced an anathema upon “books of Lithuanian imprint” (in effect, the only secular books in print for the Russian reader), until the end of the century, when the government turned to imposing Greek and “Lithuanian” (i.e., Ukrainian and Belarusian) views upon a resisting populace, the state and its ecclesiastical adjunct had a repressive and stultifying influence.

      Finally, indigenous cultural forces (Russian literature) were, for various reasons, unable to assert themselves. They were physically dispersed, socially diverse, and set at odds by cultural and political disaffection. The development of a vernacular literature, which can be seen in the synthetic “folk songs,” pamphlets, tales, and imitations produced for and by the growing educated class, remained a marginal phenomenon; they were unpublished because of the ecclesiastical monopoly of the press, and they were anonymous. The promising experiments of a group of noble writers who worked within the formal Slavonic tradition were ended by exile and repression.

      Despite these negative influences, the court itself, especially in the time of Alexis, was a centre of literary and artistic innovation, and many of the leading men of the realm were considered cultured and cosmopolitan by Westerners who knew them.

The great schism (schism)
      The contradictions of the age were reflected in the great schism within the Russian church. The doctrinal debate began over obscure and petty matters of ritual, but larger, unarticulated issues were at stake. Religion after the Time of Troubles had taken two directions, which were at first closely associated: the reformation of religious life (with stress on the pastoral functions of the clergy and the simplification of the liturgy) and the correction and standardization of the canonical books (which had come to vary widely from the Greek originals). The government had at first supported these linked objectives, but the supporters of “Old Russian piety (Old Believer)” fell into opposition to the reforms as they were officially promulgated. When, in the 1650s, the patriarch Nikon began to enforce the reforms in the parishes, where they had been generally ignored, the discontent developed into a massive religious and regional insurrection. Towns and parishes of the north were riven by warring “old” and “new” bishops. The Old Believers (Old Believer), dissenters who refused to accept Nikon's liturgical reforms imposed upon the Russian Orthodox Church, were either crushed by government force, driven to self-destruction, or reduced to silent resistance.

      In the end, the Western secular culture fostered at the court and the new religious culture and education spread by Ukrainians and Belarusians, who came to dominate church life, submerged and displaced the disparate beginnings of a modern synthesis within native matrices and cleared the way for Peter's cultural policies, which erected a Western facade over the ruins of the native traditions.

Edward Louis Keenan

The 18th century
The reign of Peter I (the Great; 1689–1725)

Peter's youth and early reign
  The accession of Peter I ushered in and established the social, institutional, and intellectual trends that were to dominate Russia for the next two centuries. Both Russian and Western historians, whatever their evaluation of Peter's reign, have seen it as one of the most formative periods of Russia's history. The seminal nature of the reign owes much to Peter's own personality and youth. The child of his father's second marriage, Peter was pushed into the background by his half brother Fyodor and exiled from the Kremlin during the turbulent years of the regency (1682–89) of his half sister Sophia. He grew up among children of lesser birth, unfettered by court etiquette. Playing at war and organizing his young friends into an effective military force, he could manifest his energy, vitality, and curiosity almost untrammeled. He also came into close contact with the western Europeans who lived in Moscow; the association kindled his interest in navigation and the mechanical arts—of which he became a skilled practitioner—and gave him the experience of a socially freer and intellectually more stimulating atmosphere than he might otherwise have had. He resolved to introduce this more dynamic and “open” style of life into Russia, a goal he pursued after the overthrow of Sophia in 1689 and that he erected into a policy of state after he became sole ruler following the death of his mother in 1694. (His half brother Ivan V remained co-tsar but played no role and died in 1696.)

      Peter's first political aim was to secure Muscovy's southern borders against the threat of raids by Crimean Tatars supported by the Ottoman Empire. For lack of adequate sea power, his initial attempt, in 1695, failed to gain a foothold on the Sea of Azov. Undaunted, Peter built up a navy—he was the first Russian ruler since early Kievan times to do so—and succeeded in capturing Azov a year later. The experience convinced him of the necessity of extending his own technical knowledge and of securing tools and personnel from the West. To this end Peter traveled to western Europe, something no Muscovite tsar had ever done; he spent almost a year in Holland and England acquiring mechanical and maritime skills, hiring experts in various fields, purchasing books and scientific curiosities, and carrying on diplomatic negotiations for a crusade against the Turks. In the course of negotiations with Poland-Saxony and Denmark, an alliance was formed, not against Turkey but against Sweden. The alliance led to the Second Northern War (Northern War, Second) (also called the Great Northern War; 1700–21), which became Peter's major concern for almost the remainder of his reign.

      The war started inauspiciously for Peter when King Charles XII of Sweden, disembarking suddenly on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, inflicted a severe defeat on the Russians before the fortress of Narva (November 1700). Thinking that he had eliminated Russia as a military factor, Charles invaded Poland to force King Augustus II to make peace and to install his own candidate, Stanisław Leszczyński, on the Polish throne ( Stanisław I, ruled 1704–09, 1733). In the meantime Peter proceeded to reorganize and equip his troops systematically, while the generals B.P. Sheremetev and A.D. Menshikov gradually conquered the Swedish Baltic provinces of Ingria and Livonia. By terms of the capitulations of Riga and Revel (now Tallinn), Swedish sovereignty was ended and the provinces incorporated into the Russian Empire; the local German landed nobility and urban patriciate were confirmed in their historic corporate privileges. In 1703 Peter laid the foundations of his new capital, St. Petersburg (Saint Petersburg) (called Leningrad (Saint Petersburg) between 1924 and 1991), at the mouth of the Neva River; the site was chosen to secure a firm footing on the Gulf of Finland and to open direct sea access to western Europe.

      Having forced Augustus II to withdraw from the war (Treaty of Altranstädt (Altranstädt, treaties of), September 1706), Charles again turned eastward. Invading Russia in 1708, he decided to first secure Ukraine as a source of supplies and manpower (promised by the Cossack hetman Ivan Stepanovich Mazepa (Mazepa, Ivan), who had defected from Peter's side) and await reinforcements from the north. These reinforcements, however, were prevented from reaching Charles by Menshikov's victory at Lesnaya in September 1708. After much maneuvering, Charles laid siege to the Ukrainian town of Poltava (Poltava, Battle of) in the spring of 1709. Peter hastened to relieve the town, and it was before its walls that the crucial battle was fought on June 27 (July 8, New Style), 1709. Russian victory was complete—Charles and Hetman Mazepa barely escaped capture, and the remainder of their troops were taken prisoner when they tried to cross the Dnieper at Perevolochnaya a few days later. Charles took refuge with the Turkish army encamped on the banks of the Prut River. Peter made the mistake of pursuing him into Turkish territory and barely escaped entrapment by the Turks, whom Charles had persuaded to renew war with Russia. With the help of bribery and diplomacy, Peter extricated himself from the trap by signing a peace treaty (July 1711) under which he gave up Azov and promised to dismantle fortresses near the Turkish border.

      Charles remained interned in Turkey (he did not escape until 1714), hoping to rebuild a coalition and rejecting all peace proposals. The war dragged on: Augustus II recovered the Polish throne, and Peter consolidated his hold on the Baltic by invading southern Finland. Russia won its first significant naval victory in July 1714 off the Hangö (Gangut) peninsula and raided the Swedish mainland. The death of Charles XII (killed accidentally in Norway in 1718, soon after his return from Turkey) led to protracted negotiations (Congress of Åland) that ultimately resulted in the Peace of Nystad (Aug. 30 [Sept. 10, New Style], 1721), under the terms of which Sweden acquiesced to Russian conquests on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. Thereafter Russia was the dominant power in the Baltic region, while Sweden rapidly sank to second-rate status; Russia meddled in Sweden's political affairs throughout the 18th century.

      Russia's acquisition of Ingria and Livonia (and later of Kurland (Courland)) brought into the empire a new national and political minority: the German elites—urban bourgeoisie and landowning nobility—with their corporate privileges, harsh exploitation of native (Estonian and Latvian) servile peasantry, and Western culture and administrative practices. Eventually these elites made significant contributions to the imperial administration (military and civil) and helped bring German education, science, and culture to Russian society. From a diplomatic point of view, Peter's triumph over Sweden secured for Russia an important voice (enhanced by matrimonial connections) in the affairs of the German states; this culminated in Catherine II's guarantee of the constitutional integrity of the Holy Roman Empire (see below The reign of Catherine II [the Great; 1762–96] (Russia)). By the same token Russia was to be drawn into all the diplomatic and military conflicts that beset western and central Europe throughout the 18th century, most particularly in connection with the rise of Prussian power, the decline of the Ottoman Empire, and the domestic turmoil in Poland. As a result, Russia was forced to maintain great military strength, which naturally put a heavy burden on the fiscal, social, and economic development of the empire.

      The long war's requirements determined most domestic policy measures as well. Only when victory was well in sight could Peter devote more of his attention to a systematic overhaul of Russia's institutions. The hastiness and brutality of steps taken under the stress of war had an effect on subsequent history. Historians have debated whether Peter's legislation was informed by an overall plan based on more or less clearly formulated theoretical considerations or whether it was merely a series of ad hoc measures taken to meet emergencies as they occurred. Pragmatic elements predominated, no doubt, over theoretical principles. The prevailing intellectual climate and administrative practices of Europe, however, contributed to orient Peter's thinking.

The Petrine state
      Formally, Peter changed the tsardom of Muscovy into the Empire of All Russias, and he himself received the title of emperor from the Senate at the conclusion of the peace with Sweden. Not only did the title aim at identifying the new Russia with European political tradition, but it also bespoke the new conception of rulership and of political authority that Peter wanted to implant: that the sovereign emperor was the head of the state and its first servant, not the patrimonial owner of the land and “father” of his subjects (as the tsar had been). Peter stressed the function of his office rather than that of his person and laid the groundwork of a modern system of administration. Institutions and officials were to operate on the basis of set rules, keep regular hours and records, apply laws and regulations dispassionately, and have individual and collective responsibility for their acts. Reality, of course, fell far short of this ideal, because Muscovite traditions and conditions could not be eradicated so rapidly. Furthermore, there was a great shortage of educated and reliable persons imbued with such rationality and efficiency (a problem that bedeviled the imperial government until its end). They were mainly to be found in the military establishment, where officer and noncommissioned ranks acquired the requisite outlook, experience, and values in the army and navy established by Peter.

      The changeover from the traditional militia-like military organization to a “European” professional army (as it developed in the course of the so-called military revolution of the 17th century) had been initiated during the reigns of Tsars Michael and Alexis. But it was Peter who gave it the full-fledged “modern” form it retained until the middle of the 19th century. The army—and, for the first time in Russia, the navy as well—was manned by recruits drawn from the peasantry (and other taxable groups) whose service obligation was for 25 years (i.e., virtually for life). Recruitment entailed liberation from serf status both for the soldier and for all his children born after his recruitment. Eventually this provided a path, however steep and narrow, for lower-class children to follow to join the ranks of petty officialdom and nobility. Submitted to cruel and savage discipline, the soldier was isolated from direct contact with the population, and his total commitment was to the state. Drilled in modern battle order and technology, the peasant recruit was forcibly “modernized,” and there are indications of some minimal influence of this on the population at large.

      The officer corps was recruited in similar fashion from the landowning service class. The terms of service prevailing in Muscovite times, however, were transformed radically. The young noble serviceman was called to serve from age 15 until his death or total incapacity. In principle, service was permanent with only rare leaves granted to attend to family and estate matters. Called up individually, the service noble was assigned and transferred at the will of the state. In principle, service nobles were remunerated by regular salary payments, though in the reign of Peter I and for long afterward salaries were paid neither promptly nor fully in cash; officers still had to rely on their family estates or special gifts and awards. Starting as soldiers and noncommissioned officers, service nobles were to progress through the ranks on the basis of merit and longevity; eventually the latter became the principal criterion. Minimum educational standards had to be met by officers and officials, and they came to play a crucial role in both the careers and the social status of the service nobility. The empire's large population, which grew at a rapid rate throughout the century, enabled the government to maintain the largest standing army in Europe. Good generalship and the soldiers' loyalty and resilience, as well as excellent artillery and cavalry, made for a formidable military force that achieved the notable expansion of the empire during the 18th century. The Russian bureaucracy, whose members were often drawn from the military, thus acquired a preference for uniformity and militarism that did not foster respect or concern for the individual needs of the various regions and peoples of the far-flung empire.

      In the new administration, performance was to be the major criterion for appointment and promotion. Peter wanted this principle to apply to the highest offices, starting with that of the emperor himself. As a result of his bad experience with his own son, Alexis (who fled abroad, was brought back, and died in prison), Peter decreed in 1722 that every ruler would appoint his own successor. He did not have the opportunity to avail himself of this right, however, and the matter of regular succession remained a source of conflict and instability throughout the 18th century. Peter's concern for performance lay at the basis of the Table of Ranks (Ranks, Table of) (1722), which served as the framework for the careers of all state servants (military, civil, court) until the second half of the 19th century. In it the hierarchy was divided into 14 categories, or ranks; theoretically one had to begin at the bottom (14th rank) and proceed upward according to merit and seniority. Throughout the 18th century the 8th rank (1st commissioned officer grade) automatically conferred hereditary nobility on those who were not noble by birth. In a sense, therefore, the Table of Ranks opened all offices to merit and thus democratized the service class. But because service was contingent on good preparation (i.e., education), it was accessible only to the few—nobility and clergy—until later in the 18th century.

      The same need for qualified personnel that had brought about the Table of Ranks also determined Peter's policies toward the several social classes of his realm. The traditional obligation of members of all estates to perform service to the state, each according to his way of life (i.e., the nobleman by serving in the army and administration, the peasantry and merchants by paying taxes, the clergy by prayer), was given a modern, rational form by Peter. Paradoxically, the reform helped to transform the traditional estates into castelike groups from which—except in rare instances of clergy and rich merchants—it became impossible to escape. The nobility was most directly affected by the change, not only in Peter's lifetime but under his successors as well. The nobleman's service obligation became lifelong, regular, and permanent. The staffs of military and government institutions were no longer recruited on the basis of regional origin or family ties, but strictly according to the need of the state and the fitness of the individual for the specific task at hand. The serviceman was transferred from one assignment, branch, or locality to another as the state saw fit. The office of heraldry within the Senate kept the service rosters up-to-date and decided on appointments and transfers. It was not easy to break traditional family and clan ties, however. Family connection continued to be a factor in successful service careers, especially if a relative was close to the ruler or was a favourite. On the level of the central government and the court, the struggle between cliques for imperial favour was the major factor in determining policy orientations and appointments to high positions.

      Peter also introduced single inheritance of real estate (1714), attempting in this way to break the traditional inheritance pattern that had led to the splintering of estates. In so doing he hoped to create a professional service nobility unconnected with the land and totally devoted to the state, but the resistance the law met in its application forced its revocation in 1731. He also required the nobility to be educated as a prerequisite for service. Schooling, whether at home or in an institution, became a feature of the nobleman's way of life. Schooling was a radical innovation, at first resented and resisted; but within a generation it was accepted as a matter of course and became the decisive element in the status and self-image of the nobility.

      The peasantry had been enserfed during the 17th century, but the individual peasant had retained his traditional ties to the village commune and to the land that he worked. To prevent tax evasion through the formation of artificial households, Peter introduced a new unit of taxation, the “soul”—i.e., a male peasant of working age—and the lords were made responsible for the collection of the tax assessed on each of their souls. The peasant thus became a mere item on the tax roll who could be moved, sold, or exchanged according to the needs and whims of his master—whether a private landlord, the church, or the state. The serf became practically indistinguishable from a slave.

      As befitted a secular-minded autocrat who saw his main task as enlightening and leading his people to “modernity,” Peter had little regard for the church. He recognized its value only as an instrument of control and as an agent of modern education. When the patriarch died in 1700, Peter appointed no successor. Finally in 1721 he gave the church a bureaucratic organization: a Holy Synod composed of several appointed hierarchs and a lay representative of the emperor; the latter, called the chief procurator, came to play the dominant role. Ecclesiastical schools turned into closed institutions with a narrowly scholastic curriculum. Membership in the clerical estate became strictly hereditary; the priesthood was transformed into a closed caste of government religious servants cut off from the new secular culture being introduced in Russia and deprived of their traditional moral authority. Both on economic and religious grounds, therefore, the reign of Peter I appeared particularly oppressive to the common people. It seemed unnatural and contrary to tradition; for many it clearly was the reign of the Antichrist, from which one escaped only through self-immolation (practiced by some of the Old Believers (Old Believer)), open rebellion, or flight to the borderlands of the empire.

      Resistance and flight were made possible by Peter's failure, despite all his modernizing and rationalizing, to endow the government with effective means of control on the local level. Regular officials were short in number and experience and could not be easily spared for local administration. Peter tried to have the officers of the regiments that were garrisoned in the provinces double as local officials, but the experiment failed because of the necessities of war and because regular officers proved incompetent to administer peasants. The attempts at copying Western models were also unsuccessful, for the Russian nobility lacked (and was not allowed to develop) a local corporate organization that could serve as the foundation for local self-government.

      Peter concentrated his attention almost entirely on the central administration, for which his reforms provided the basic framework within which the imperial government was to operate until its fall in 1917. To prosecute the war, the Petrine state had to mobilize all the resources of the country and to supervise practically every aspect of national life. This required that the central executive apparatus be extended and organized along functional lines. Peter hoped to accomplish this by replacing the numerous haphazard prikazy (administrative departments) with a coherent system of functional and well-ordered colleges (their number fluctuating around 12 in the course of the century). Each college was headed by a board for more effective control; it had authority in a specific area such as foreign affairs, the army, the navy, commerce, mining, finances, justice, and so on. The major problems with this form of organization proved to be the coordination, planning, and supervision of the colleges.

      Peter tried to cope with these defects pragmatically through the creation of a Senate, which came to serve as a privy council as well as an institution of supervision and control. In addition, he set up a network of agents (fiskaly) who acted as tax inspectors, investigators, and personal representatives of the emperor.

      Much reliance was put on the obligation to denounce all would-be violators of imperial orders. Those failing to do so suffered the same punishment as the actual violator, while the informer was rewarded with the property confiscated from the “criminal.” Internal security was vested in 1689 in the chancery of the Preobrazhensky Guards, the tsar's own regiment, which became a much-dreaded organ of political police and repression. Under different names the police apparatus remained a permanent feature of the imperial regime. The police were also the instrument of the ruler's personal intervention, an essential function for the preservation of the autocracy as a viable political system.

      The needs of war, as well as the desire to modernize (economic development) Russia, led Peter to promote and expand industry (industrialization), particularly mining, naval construction, foundries, and the production of glass and textiles. The emperor aimed at maximizing the use of all potential resources of the country to heighten its power and further its people's welfare; these goals were pursued in mercantilist fashion through discriminatory tariffs, state subsidies, and regulation of manufactures. Peter hoped to involve the rich merchants and the nobility in economic enterprise and expansion. As a class, however, the merchants failed to follow his lead; many were Old Believers who refused to work for what they considered the Antichrist. Nor did Peter's urban legislation provide the townspeople with the incentives and freedom necessary to change them into an entrepreneurial class; as a matter of fact, the municipal reforms were simply means to collect taxes and dues in kind. As to the nobility, only a few had the necessary capital to become entrepreneurs, and their time and energies were completely taken up by their service obligations. Nor did Peter provide for the security of property and for the landowner's right to dispose of the mineral, water, and timber resources on his estate. The shortage of capital could be, and in some specific cases was, overcome by direct government grants. But the equally serious shortage of labour was not so easily resolved. Peter permitted the use of servile labour (forced labour) in mines and manufactures, with the result that thousands of peasants were moved and forced to work under unfamiliar conditions, in new places, at very difficult tasks. Resentment ran high and the productivity of this forced labour was very low. Most of the enterprises established in Peter's lifetime did not survive him. But the impetus he had given to Russian industrial development was not altogether lost; it revived with new vigour—under different policies—in the middle of the 18th century.

      Among the important factors in Russia's economic development under Peter was the building of St. Petersburg (Saint Petersburg) on the then inhospitable shores of the Gulf of Finland (Finland, Gulf of). Its construction cost an estimated 30,000 lives (lost from disease, undernourishment, and drowning) and engulfed vast sums of public and private money. Nobles who served in the central administration and at court were required to settle in the new city and to build townhouses.

      The location of the new capital symbolized the shift in the empire's political, economic, and cultural centre of gravity toward western Europe. Trade and social intercourse with western Europe became easier, and the icebound peripheral ports of what is now Murmansk and of Arkhangelsk were abandoned for the more convenient harbours of Riga, Revel, and the new St. Petersburg. After 1721 Peter also extended the borders of the empire in the south along the Caspian Sea as a result of a successful war against Persia (Treaty of St. Petersburg, 1723).

      The changes that made Peter's reign the most seminal in Russian history were not the administrative reforms and the military conquests, significant as those were, but the transformation in the country's culture and style of life, at least among the service nobility. Foreign observers made much of Peter's requirement that the nobility shave off their beards, wear Western clothes, go to dances and parties, and learn to drink coffee. These were only the external marks of more profound changes that in a generation or so were to make the educated Russian nobility members of European polite society. Commoners, especially the peasantry, were not so immediately affected, although by the end of the 18th century most peasants, and all inhabitants of towns, had moved a considerable distance from the values and habits of their 16th- and 17th-century forebears.

      Most important of all, perhaps, the reign of Peter I marked the beginning of a new period in Russian educational and cultural life. Peter was the first to introduce secular education on a significant scale and to make it compulsory for all state servants. (More significant than the limited quantitative results during Peter's lifetime was the fact that education eventually became indispensable to membership in the upper class.) First, Peter tried to use the church to establish a network of primary schools for all children of the free classes—a plan that failed largely because the clergy were unable to finance and staff schools for secular learning. But the specialized technical schools Peter founded, such as the Naval Academy, struck roots and provided generations of young men with the skills necessary for leadership in a modern army and navy. Although he did not live to see its formal inauguration, Peter also organized the Academy of Sciences (Sciences, Academy of) as an institution for scholarship, research, and instruction at the higher level. The academy's beginnings were quite modest—German professors lectured in Latin to a handful of poorly prepared students—and its development was not free from difficulties, but at the end of the 18th century it was a leading European centre of science and enlightenment, preparing and guiding Russia's scientific and technological flowering in the 19th century.

Assessment of Peter's reign
      Contemporaries as well as later historians have given first place among Peter's accomplishments to his conquest of the Baltic provinces and areas on the Caspian Sea. More important was the fact that during his reign Russia became a major European power, in regular intercourse with the major trading powers and especially with Holland and Great Britain. This status of European power, however, burdened Russia with the maintenance of a large and up-to-date military establishment that became involved in many costly conflicts. The new institutional forms that Peter introduced helped to shape a less personal and more modern (i.e., routinized and bureaucratized) political authority. This led to an ambiguous relationship between the autocratic ruler and his noble servants and also to a sense of alienation between the common people and the ruler.

      Contemporaries and later generations alike shared the feeling that Peter's reign had been revolutionary—a radical and violent break with the centuries-old traditions of Muscovy. To some extent this was the consequence of Peter's ruthless manner, his dynamism, his harsh suppression of all opposition, and his obstinate imposition of his will. From a historical perspective, Peter's reign may appear to have been only the culmination of 17th-century trends rather than a radical break with the past. But people are more conscious of changes in manners and customs than of deeper transformations that require a long time for their working out. Thus, Russia's cultural Europeanization in the early 18th century produced works of literature in a new manner, using foreign styles and techniques, such as the treatises and sermons of Feofan Prokopovich (Prokopovich, Feofan), Peter's main assistant in church matters, and the satires and translations of Prince Antiokh Kantemir (Kantemir, Antiokh Dmitriyevich), the first modern Russian poet. These writers and many lesser ones praised Peter's work, stressing its innovative and necessary character. The educated elite, reared on the cultural elements introduced by Peter, perceived his reign as the birth of modern Russia. This in itself became the source of critical thought and raised the question of whether the break with the past was desirable or a betrayal of the genuinely national patterns of development of Russian culture. It appeared that forcible imposition of foreign elements had led to an alienation between the elite and the Russian people. This debate as to the nature and value of the reign of Peter I served as the main stimulus to a definition of Russian national culture and to the elaboration of competing political and social philosophies in the 19th century (e.g., those of the Slavophiles (Slavophile) and the Westernizers (Westernizer)). Peter's reign has been at the centre of all debates over Russian history, since any attempt to define its periods and to assess Russia's development in modern times requires a prior judgment of the reign and work of Peter I. (For a more detailed biography, see Peter I.)

Peter I's successors (1725–62)
      Peter's unexpected death in 1725 at age 52 left unresolved two major institutional problems. The first was the succession to the throne, which remained unsettled not only because Peter did not choose his own successor but also because during the remainder of the century almost any powerful individual or group could disregard the choice of the preceding ruler. The second problem was the lack of firm central direction, planning, and control of imperial policy; closely related to it was the question of who would have the determining role in shaping policy (i.e., what would be the nature of the “ruling circle” and its relationship to the autocrat). The failure to solve these problems produced a climate of instability and led to a succession of crises in St. Petersburg and Moscow that make it difficult to give unity to the period from 1725 until the accession of Catherine II (the Great) (Catherine II) in 1762.

      Normal and peaceful succession to the throne was thwarted by a combination of biological accidents and palace coups. At Peter's death his chief collaborators, who were headed by Prince Aleksandr Danilovich Menshikov (Menshikov, Aleksandr Danilovich) and were assisted by the guard regiments (the offshoots of the play regiments of Peter's youth), put on the throne Peter's widow—his second wife, Catherine I, the daughter of a Lithuanian peasant. Quite naturally, Menshikov ruled in her name. Soon, however, he was forced to share his power with other dignitaries of Peter's reign. A Supreme Privy Council was established as the central governing body, displacing the Senate in political influence and administrative significance. Catherine I's death in 1727 reopened the question of succession; Peter's grandson (the son of Alexis, who had perished in prison) was proclaimed Emperor Peter II by the council. An immature youngster, Peter II fell under the influence of his chamberlain, Prince Ivan Alekseyevich Dolgoruky, whose family obtained a dominant position in the Supreme Privy Council and brought about the disgrace and exile of Menshikov. It looked as if the Dolgorukys (Dolgoruky family) would rule in fact because Peter II was to wed the chamberlain's sister, but Peter's sudden death on Jan. 18 (Jan. 29, New Style), 1730—on the day set for the wedding—crossed the plans of that ambitious family.

Anna (1730–40)
 Under the leadership of Prince Dmitry Golitsyn (Golitsyn, Dmitry Mikhaylovich, Knyaz)—scion of an old Muscovite boyar family and himself a prominent official under Peter I—the Supreme Privy Council elected to the throne Anna, dowager duchess of Courland and niece of Peter I (daughter of his co-tsar, Ivan V). At the same time, Golitsyn tried to circumscribe Anna's power by having her accept a set of conditions that left to the council the decisive voice in all important matters. This move toward oligarchy was foiled by top-level officials (the generalitet—i.e., those with the service rank of general or its equivalent), in alliance with the rank-and-file service nobility. While the former wanted to be included in the ruling oligarchy (and Golitsyn seemed to have been ready to concede them this right), the latter opposed any limitation on the autocratic power of the sovereign. Indeed, the ordinary service nobles feared that an oligarchy, however broad its membership, would shut them off from access to the ruler and thus limit their opportunity to rise in the hierarchy of the Table of Ranks.

      Anna left most of her authority to be exercised by her Baltic German favourite, Ernst Johann Biron (Biron, Ernst Johann, Reichsgraf von), who acquired a reputation for corruption, cruelty, tyranny, and exploitation and who was felt to have set up a police terror that benefited the Germans in Russia at the expense of all loyal and patriotic Russians. Recent scholarship has modified this image and shown that Biron's bad reputation rested on his inflexibility in applying the law and collecting taxes, rather than on malevolence. The Supreme Privy Council was abolished upon Anna's accession in 1730, and the functions of coordination, supervision, and policy planning were vested in a cabinet of ministers composed of three experienced high officials, all Russians.

Elizabeth (1741–62)
  Anna, who was childless, appointed as successor her infant nephew, Ivan Antonovich (Ivan VI) ( Ivan VI), under the regency of his mother, Anna Leopoldovna. Biron, who had at first retained his influence, was overthrown by Burkhard Christoph, count von Münnich (Münnich, Burkhard Christoph, Count von), who had made his fortune in Russia. The continuing domination of a few favourites—many of whom were Germans—much displeased the high officials, whose position was threatened by the personal caprices of ruler or favourite, and incensed even more the rank and file of the service nobility, who could not obtain rewards or favours from the sovereign without the approval and help of the favourites. The malcontents banded together around Peter I's daughter Elizabeth, whose easygoing and open ways had gained her many friends; she was also popular because of her Russian outlook, which she emphasized, and because she shared the aura of her great father. With the help of the guard regiments and high officers and with the financial support of foreign diplomats (in particular the French envoy), Elizabeth overthrew the infant Ivan VI and the regent Anna Leopoldovna in 1741. Her 20-year reign saw the rise of certain trends and patterns in public life, society, and culture that were to reach their culmination under Catherine the Great. On the political plane, the most significant development was the restoration of the Senate to its earlier function of chief policy-making and supervising body. At the end of her reign, Elizabeth also established a kind of permanent council or cabinet for planning and coordination—the Special Conference at the Imperial Court.

      During this period Peter's administrative reforms began to bear fruit. The Table of Ranks (Ranks, Table of) became the framework for a class of servicemen whose lives were devoted to the interests of the state. In principle, entry to this class of officials was open to anyone with the required ability and education, including the sons of priests and non-Russian landowners. In fact, however, promotion in the Table of Ranks was possible only if the individual's merit and performance were recognized by the ruler or, more likely, by high officials and dignitaries who had access to the ruler. The personal element, bolstered by family and marriage ties, came to play an important role in the formal system of promotion; most significantly, it determined the makeup of the very top echelon of the administrative and military hierarchies (which were interchangeable). This group constituted an almost permanent ruling elite, co-opting its own membership and promoting the interests of the families most directly connected with it; in order to solidify its influence and function, it aimed at bringing as many routine government operations as possible under a system of regulations that would make appeal to the ruler unnecessary. The ruler's autocratic power could not be infringed, however, because his authority was needed not only to settle special cases but also to promote, protect, and reward members of the ruling group and their clients. The greatest threat to the system was the interference or interposition of favourites—“accidental people”—and, to guard against this, the oligarchy entered into an alliance with the rank-and-file service nobles who wanted to join its ranks and could hope to do so with the help of the dignitaries' patronage. This alliance permitted successful palace coups against favourites. The system worked well enough to allow the consolidation of Peter's reforms, some success in foreign policy, and a general increase in the power and wealth of the state, despite the low calibre of the rulers and the mismanagement of favourites.

      The system rested on the availability to all nobles of the minimum education necessary for entrance and promotion in service. As a consequence, cultural policy became a major concern of the government and the nobility alike; the members of the service class demanded that institutions of learning be set up to prepare the nobility for better careers, permitting them to skip the lowest ranks. That demand was fulfilled in 1731 with the creation of the Corps of Cadets. In the course of the following decades, the original corps was expanded, and other special institutions for training the nobility were added. General education became accessible to a large stratum of the rank-and-file nobility with the founding of the Moscow State University in 1755, although the lack of automatic preferment for its graduates kept it from being popular among the wealthier nobles until the end of the century. The Corps of Cadets and similar public and private institutions also acted as substitutes for local and family bonds; these schools were also the seedbeds for an active intellectual life, and their students played a leading role in spreading the literature and ideas of western Europe in court circles and in the high society of the capitals.

      The service noblemen were also landlords and serf owners. The majority of them, however, were quite poor for a number of reasons, chief among which were the low productivity of Russian agriculture, absentee management, and the scattered and splintered character of the landholdings. The average small or middling estate yielded only the bare necessities for the survival of the serviceman's family. As long as he remained in service, away from the estate, and without capital, he could do little to improve his property, especially since any change in the agrarian routine would have to be accepted by his peasant-serfs and the noble neighbours among whose lands his own lay scattered in an inextricable patchwork. He thus depended on the ruler for additional income, either in the form of a salary or as grants of land (and serfs) in reward for service. The salary was not very large, it was often in kind (furs), and it was paid out rather irregularly; lands and serfs could be obtained only from the ruler, and most went to favourites, courtiers, or high dignitaries. Service, it is true, provided the nobleman with some extras, such as uniforms, sometimes lodgings, and—most important—greater accessibility to court, cultural life, and education for his children. Thus, he remained in service and took little direct interest in his estates and serfs.

      Elizabeth's chief adviser, Pyotr Shuvalov (Shuvalov, Pyotr Andreyevich, Count), had the government grant exclusive privileges and monopolies to some of the nobility, hoping to involve them in the development of mining and manufacturing. Shuvalov also initiated a gradual loosening of state controls over economic life in general. He began to dismantle the system of internal tariffs, so that local trade could develop; he strengthened the landlord's control over all the resources on his estate; and he gave the nobles the right to distill alcohol.

      At the same time, the landlords were obtaining still greater power over their serfs. The full weight of these powers fell on the household serfs, whose number increased because their masters used them as domestics and craftsmen in their town houses to make the Western-style objects with which they surrounded themselves. When noblemen established factories or secured estates in newly conquered border areas, they transferred their serfs to them without regard for family or village ties. The operation of most estates was, in the absence of the landlord, left to the peasants. This only perpetuated the traditional patterns of agriculture and made the modernization and improvement of agricultural productivity impossible.

      Elizabeth's reign also witnessed Russian victories over Turkey that expanded and consolidated the empire's control in southwestern Ukraine, between the Bug (Buh) and Dniester rivers, and promoted settlement in Ukraine. Moreover, Russia was interfering more and more in the domestic politics of Poland and in the diplomatic game of central and western Europe. Elizabeth joined Austria, France, Sweden, and Saxony in a coalition against Prussia, under Frederick II, Great Britain, and Hanover; this led to Russia's involvement in the Seven Years' War. Russian armies were successful in conquering East Prussia and occupied Berlin briefly. The empress's death saved the king of Prussia from total disaster.

The reign of Catherine II (the Great; 1762–96)
  Elizabeth too was childless, and the throne passed to the heir she had selected—her nephew the duke von Holstein-Gottorp, who became Peter III. Peter III made himself personally unpopular with St. Petersburg society; in addition, he allowed his entourage (mainly his Holstein relatives and German officers) to take control of the government. The regular hierarchy of officials—particularly the Senate—was pushed into the background; power passed into the hands of the emperor's favourites, while a modernized police, under the personal control of a general who was one of the emperor's minions, spread its net over the empire. The pro-Prussian foreign and military policy pursued by Peter III (who abruptly ended Russia's victorious involvement in the Seven Years' War) and his treatment of his wife, Catherine, provoked much resentment. As a result, the emperor lost all support in society. It was easy for Catherine, with the help of the senators, high officials, and officers of the guard regiments (led by her lover Grigory Orlov (Orlov, Grigory Grigoryevich, Graf) and his brothers), to overthrow Peter on June 28 (July 9, New Style), 1762. Thus began the long and important reign of Catherine II, whom her admiring contemporaries named “the Great.”

      The daughter of a poor German princeling, Catherine had come to Russia at age 15 to be the bride of the heir presumptive, Peter. She matured in an atmosphere of intrigue and struggle for power. She developed her mind by reading contemporary literature, especially the works of the French Encyclopaedists and of German jurists and cameralists. When she seized power at age 33, she was intellectually and experientially prepared, as the more than 30 years of her reign were to show.

      The historiography of Catherine's reign has been dominated by two approaches: a dramatization and romanticization of her personal life, which was indeed colourful for the number and variety of her lovers; and the viewpoint of 19th-century liberalism, which took literally her self-description as a “philosophe on the throne.” Marxist and Soviet historians, to the extent that they have dealt with her reign at all, see it primarily in terms of the pressures put on the state by the serf-owning nobility faced with the demands of an expanding market economy. In recent years, scholars have seen Catherine's government as working to further the formation of a modern civil society in which social classes and groups pursue their own interests rather than serving the needs of the state exclusively.

      Even before she seized power, Catherine wrote that the task of good government was to promote the general welfare of the nation by providing for the security of person and property; to that end, government should operate in a legal and orderly fashion, furthering the interests of individual subjects and giving groups and classes as much autonomy in the pursuit of their normal activities as possible. All the same, Catherine believed that the autocratic state had important functions; she had no intention of relinquishing or limiting her authority, even though she was willing to withdraw from those areas of national life that could be safely administered by an educated elite.

Expansion of the empire (imperialism)
      Catherine's reign was notable for imperial expansion. First in importance for the empire were the securing of the northern shore of the Black Sea (Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca (Küçük Kaynarca, Treaty of), 1774), the annexation of the Crimea (1783), and the expansion into the steppes beyond the Urals and along the Caspian Sea. This permitted the adequate protection of Russian agricultural settlements in the south and southeast and the establishment of trade routes through the Black Sea and up the Danube. On the other hand, these gains involved Russia more and more in the political and military struggle over the crumbling Ottoman Empire in the Balkans.

 Grigory Aleksandrovich Potemkin (Potemkin, Grigory Aleksandrovich, Prince Tavrichesky, Imperial Prince), Catherine's favourite in the 1770s, may be considered the chief architect of her imperial policy. He promoted large-scale foreign colonization and peasant resettlement in the south—with only mediocre success so far as agricultural settlements went but with great success in the foundation and rapid growth of such towns and ports as Odessa, Kherson, Nikolayev (Mykolayiv), Taganrog, and Mariupol (Pavlovsk). Within a generation or two, these became lively cultural centres and major commercial cities for all of southern Russia, contributing to the reorientation of Russia's pattern of trade with the development of agricultural exports from Ukraine. Local society was transformed on the Russian pattern: the landlords became imperial service nobles with full control over their peasants; vast new lands were parceled out to prominent officials and made available for purchase by wealthy Russian nobles, who also received the right to resettle their own serfs from the central regions. Thus serfdom, along with elements of the plantation system, was extended to still more people and over whole new provinces. If this expansion benefited the state and a small and already wealthy part of the Russian nobility, it increased the misery and exploitation of the Ukrainian and Russian peasantries. The traditional military democracies of the Cossack hosts on the Dnieper, Don, Ural, Kuban, and Volga rivers lost their autonomy and special privileges; the wealthier officers became Russian service nobles, receiving the right to own and settle serfs on their own lands, while the rank-and-file Cossacks sank to the level of state peasants with special military obligations.

      Integration of the new territories required the absorption of a large number of non-Russian, non-Christian nomadic peoples (nomadism). The approach that prevailed until the late 19th century was based on the idea, taken from Enlightenment writings, that there is a natural progress of society from primitive hunting and fishing groups through the stage of nomadism to settled agriculture, trade, and urbanization. Accordingly, the government sought to bring the nomadic peoples up to what it considered to be the Russian peasantry's higher way of life; this policy had the advantage also of producing uniformity in administrative and legal structures. Catherine's government was quite willing to let religious, cultural, or linguistic differences stand, although it did not feel committed to protect them actively. Inevitably, however, its effort to change the ways of the nomads affected their culture and religion and, through these, their social equilibrium and sense of national identity. While Catherine's policy led some peoples to accept (more or less under duress) changes in their way of life, thus facilitating the extension of Russian agricultural settlements onto the open steppes, it also gave rise to a growing sense of identity based on cultural, linguistic, and religious traditions. These nationalistic sentiments clashed with the outlook and practices of officials accustomed to thinking in universal categories. The policy thus defeated its own aims: it handicapped the economic development of the empire's border regions (e.g., in Siberia) and worked against the social and cultural integration of the natives into the fold of the dominant Russian culture (although Russification did take place on a significant scale in the case of some native elites, as in the Caucasus and the Crimea).

      In the course of the Russo-Turkish War (Russo-Turkish wars) of 1768–74, considerations of balance of power led Frederick II of Prussia to suggest that Russia, Austria, and Prussia find territorial compensation at the expense of Poland rather than squabble over the spoils of the Ottoman Empire. The internal situation of the Polish Commonwealth—in particular the treatment of non-Catholics, which allegedly was grossly discriminatory—had led the three neighbours to meddle in Poland (Poland, Partitions of)'s domestic affairs. After much diplomatic and political maneuvering, Russia, Prussia, and Austria compelled Poland to cede large chunks of its territory in the First Partition (1772–73; see Partitions of Poland (Poland, Partitions of)), the major beneficiaries of which were Russia (which obtained the Belarusian lands) and Austria (Prussia obtained less actual territory, but what it acquired was of great economic value). Polish patriots attempted to bring political stability to their country by drafting the “Constitution of 3 May 1791,” which provided for stronger royal authority, established four-year sessions of the elected Sejm (the Polish diet), abolished the liberum veto in its proceedings (under the liberum veto, any single member of the Sejm could kill a measure), and introduced significant liberal reforms in education and law. The prospect of social and political progress within the framework of a stable government did not suit the partitioning powers, so that the Second Partition was forced on the Poles in 1792. The revolt led by Tadeusz Kościuszko (Kościuszko, Tadeusz) to save Poland's independence was crushed, and in 1795 the three neighbours seized the remainder of the country and ended its political sovereignty and national independence.

      In the short term the partitions seemed a significant success for the Russian Empire, completing the “gathering of ‘Russian' lands” (begun in the 15th century) with the acquisition of Belarusia and Volyn, but in the long run they proved more of a liability than an asset. Russia became politically tied to Prussia and had to shoulder an increased military burden to defend its new boundaries as well as to maintain law and order among a people restive under foreign occupation. It also proved difficult to co-opt the Polish elites into the imperial establishment, as had been the case with the Ukrainians, the Baltic Germans, and non-Slavic natives. In addition, the empire acquired for the first time a large Jewish population, which created numerous unforeseen problems. It may also be argued that controlling the obstreperous nation resulted in a regime of harsh police supervision and oppressive censorship throughout the empire.

Government administration under Catherine
      The reforms of local government carried out by Catherine also contained contradictions. The successors of Peter I had not solved the problem of local administration. St. Petersburg relied on appointed officials, too few in number and much given to abuse and corruption, and on the informal control exercised by individual landowners and village communes. However, a great peasant rebellion led by Yemelyan Ivanovich Pugachov (Pugachov, Yemelyan Ivanovich) in 1773–74 demonstrated the inadequacy of this system. Taking up suggestions of various officials and mindful of the information and complaints offered by the deputies to the Legislative Commission (1767–68), Catherine shaped the local administration into a structure that remained in force until the middle of the 19th century and also served as a foundation for the zemstvos (zemstvo) (local elected councils), established in 1864. The basic pattern was established by the statute on the provinces of 1775 and complemented by the organization of corporate self-administration contained in the Charters to the Nobility and the Towns (1785). Essentially, the reforms divided the empire's territory into provinces of roughly equal population; the division paid heed to military considerations. Each of these units (guberniya) was put under the supervision and responsibility of a governor or governor-general acting in the name of the ruler, with the right of direct communication with him. A governor's chancery was set up along functional lines (paralleling the system of colleges) and subordinated to and supervised by the Senate. The regular provincial administration was assisted by officials who were elected from among the nobility for the countryside and from the higher ranks of townspeople for the cities; these elected officials took care of routine police matters in their jurisdictions, helped to enforce orders received from the central authorities, and assisted in the maintenance of law and the collection of taxes. Other elected personalities (marshals of the nobility and heads of city councils) protected the interests of their respective classes and helped to settle minor conflicts without recourse to regular tribunals. This delegation of some administrative functions to the local level multiplied the number of state agents on the local level but also fostered a sense of responsibility among the active and cultured members of the local upper classes. On the other hand, the serfs and the lower classes in the towns found themselves without anyone to protect their interests.

      Catherine made no fundamental changes in the administration of the central government. The system of colleges was retained, but the authority of the presidents increased at the expense of the boards, initiating an evolution that culminated in the establishment of monocratic ministries in 1802. The Senate supervised all branches of administration, regulating the orderly flow of business. The Senate was also involved—albeit indirectly—in coordination, mainly because its procurator general, Prince Aleksandr A. Vyazemsky, held the office for a quarter of a century with the full trust of the empress. At the same time, the judicial functions of the Senate as a high court of appeal and administrative review were widened.

      The major institutional weakness of the Petrine system remained—namely, the lack of a body to coordinate the jurisdictions and resolve the conflicts of the colleges and to plan policies and control their implementation. A ruler as energetic, hardworking, and intelligent as Catherine could perform these tasks almost single-handedly, as had Peter I; but with the growing complexity of administration even Catherine felt the need for such a body, if only to reduce her involvement in every small detail or contested matter and to provide a wider scope for government by permanent laws (law code) and uniform regulations.

      A major need of the empire was an up-to-date code of laws. The last code, issued in 1649, had become largely inoperative as a result of Peter's reforms and the transformation of society. Peter and his successors had recognized this need by appointing commissions to prepare a new code; none of the several efforts having reached a successful conclusion, Catherine tried to tackle the job again, but in a different manner. In 1767 she convoked a commission of representatives elected by all classes except private serfs. For their guidance she drafted an instruction (Catherine the Great, Instruction of) largely inspired by Western political thinkers, but, far from providing a blueprint for a liberal code, it emphasized the need for autocracy. In its civil part the instruction owed much to German political philosophy and natural-law jurisprudence, putting the individual's duties before his rights, emphasizing the state's responsibility for the welfare of the nation, and encouraging the pursuit of material self-interest within the established order. Although not implemented by the commission (which was adjourned indefinitely in 1768), the instruction stimulated the modernization of Russian political and legal thought in the early 19th century.

      In her social policy Catherine aimed at steering the nobility (aristocracy) toward cultural interests and economic activity so as to reduce their dependence on state service. (They had already been freed from compulsory service by Peter III in 1762.) To this end she ordered a general land survey that fixed clearly and permanently the boundaries of individual estates, and she granted the nobility the exclusive right to exploit both the subsoil and surface resources of their land and to market the products of their estates and of their serfs' labour. The nobles also obtained a monopoly of ownership of inhabited estates, which in fact restricted ownership of agricultural serfs to the noble class. Catherine hoped to stimulate agricultural expansion and modernization by providing easy credit and by disseminating the latest techniques and achievements of Western agriculture through the Free Economic Society, founded in 1765. She also fostered the nobility's corporate organization. The Charter to the Nobility (Gentry, Charter to the) (1785) gave the corps of nobility in every province the status of a legal entity. The corporation's members gathered periodically in the provincial and district capitals to elect a marshal, who represented their interests before the governor and the ruler himself; they also elected a number of officials to administer welfare institutions for the nobility (schools, orphanages, and so on), to help settle disputes, and to provide guardianships for orphans. The corporate life of the nobility did not develop as well as expected, however, and the nobility never became the class it was in Prussia or England, but the charter did foster a sense of class consciousness and afforded legal security to the members and their property. The periodic electoral meetings stimulated social intercourse, led to a livelier cultural life in the provinces, and helped to involve the nobility in local concerns. The charter provided both a framework and the stage for the gradual formation of a “civil society” whose members cultivated interests, activities, and values independent of the state's—a trend that would come to full bloom and manifest itself in the first half of the 19th century.

      Turning the nobility's interests toward economic activity brought the return home of many landowners to supervise the operation of their estates. Interested in obtaining greater income, they not only intensified the exploitation of serf labour but also interfered in the traditional routine of the village by attempting to introduce new agricultural techniques. In most cases, this meant increased regimentation of the serfs. The secularization of the lands (estates) of monasteries and episcopal sees in 1764 had brought a considerable amount of land into the possession of the state. To reward her favourites and to encourage the nobility to economic activity, Catherine gave away large tracts with many peasants, who now had to work for ambitious and capricious masters.

      Serfdom, which had never been acceptable to the Russian peasant, now became particularly burdensome and unjust; it became even more so since the lord's extensive police powers removed his serfs from the state's protection, and the new local officials enforced strictly the prohibition against appealing to the sovereign for relief. There were also the specific grievances of the Cossacks, whose traditional liberties had been sharply curtailed and their social organization undermined, as well as the discontent of the nomadic peoples forced to accept a new way of life. Peasant misery erupted in rebellion, led by the Cossack Yemelyan Pugachov (Pugachov, Yemelyan Ivanovich), that engulfed all of eastern European Russia in 1773–74. The peasant forces captured a number of towns and cities before they were finally defeated by government armies. The revolt demonstrated the inadequacy of local controls and was thus partly responsible for the reform of provincial administration mentioned above. It also brought the educated elite to a new awareness of the profound alienation of the peasantry from the culture of St. Petersburg.

      The reign of Catherine II was a period of active town planning and building (urbanization). The number and size of the urban centres grew slowly but steadily. Along with new cities in the south, many old towns were rebuilt and developed. The renaissance of the old provincial centres was in part due to the administrative reforms of 1775 and 1785, which brought an influx of officials and nobles. Along with them came craftsmen, artisans, and merchants. An act of Peter III that permitted peasants to trade in neighbouring towns without passports or controls at the gates gave impetus to the emergence of a class of small merchants from among the peasantry. This trend received support from the administrative reorganization of the towns and the limited degree of corporate self-administration granted by the Charter to the Towns of 1785.

Education and social change in the 18th century
      Secular education had been actively propagated by Peter I. At first it focused on technical subjects—those directly related to the prosecution of war, the building of a navy, and the running of the government. This was also the original emphasis of the Academy of Sciences and the school connected with it. But, as education became the prerequisite for advancement in service and as Western ways of life spread among the upper classes, the focus of education gradually broadened. There developed a class of nobles who were interested in culture for the sake of their own development, as well as for cutting a good figure in society. Beginning in the 1760s, the demand for western European artistic and cultural works grew increasingly in the salons of St. Petersburg. By the 1780s the major classics of European literature had become easily available in translation to any educated person. Private boarding and day schools proliferated, as did the tutors hired by wealthy nobles for their children (and for less fortunate neighbours and relatives). The Academy of Sciences took its place among the major academies of Europe. Moscow State University and the chief schools of the military, naval, and civil services had become regular institutions.

      There were also ecclesiastical schools. The seminaries and theological academies not only trained future members of the episcopate and officials of the Holy Synod but also staffed government bureaus on the middle and higher levels and produced the first native Russian academics, scholars, and scientists. Russia's lack of professional experts in such fields as jurisprudence, civil and military engineering, astronomy, and geophysics brought a great influx of foreigners. They brought with them French and German philosophy: the metaphysics and epistemology of René Descartes (Descartes, René) and the natural law doctrines of the German school of Gottfried Leibniz (Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm), Samuel, baron von Pufendorf (Pufendorf, Samuel, Freiherr von), and Christian, baron von Wolff (Wolff, Christian, Freiherr (Baron) von). These emphasized social obligation and the individual's dependence on the community and thereby laid the foundation for a critique of society. The critique was at first directed against the moral inadequacies of individuals, but it soon broadened into the view that the educated man had an obligation to help others improve themselves. In the Russian context the class most obviously in need of improvement was the peasantry. Moral progress, it was quickly realized, was not possible without material progress, and this led quite naturally to an advocacy of practical philanthropy and social action.

      Imported German professionals furthered the dissemination of German Pietism, with its emphasis on spiritual progress and on the need to serve man and the community. Similar tendencies underlay the most influential branch of Freemasonry; the Freemasons devoted themselves to disseminating knowledge, relieving hunger, and caring for orphans and other destitutes. The publisher Nikolay Novikov (Novikov, Nikolay Ivanovich) carried the Pietist and Masonic messages to the public in his satiric journals and periodicals for women and children. The major writers of Catherine II's reign (including the empress herself, who dabbled in journalism and drama) produced satires, fables, and comedies of manners attuned to the belief that moral and spiritual progress would lead to social improvements. A similar approach was noticeable in education, which stressed the development of moral feeling in the conviction that a good heart would guide the well-filled head in the proper direction.

      All these intellectual currents combined to awaken among educated Russians a sense of national pride (nationalism) and a feeling that, thanks to the impetus given by Peter I, Russia had managed to lift itself to the cultural and political level of a great European state. The educated Russian was no longer a servile and mute slave of the tsars; he had made himself into a gentleman, a man of heart and honour, a “true son of the fatherland,” concerned about his compatriots and his country's condition and future.

      The response of the empress and her entourage to these intellectual developments was ambivalent. The new sense of national pride and personal dignity enhanced the government's prestige and was in line with Catherine's own aspirations for the nobility. But moral criticism of abuses could easily turn into criticism of Russia's social and political system. The outbreak of the French Revolution in the late 1780s made Catherine II particularly anxious. She felt that large-scale private philanthropic and educational activities without government guidance and control were trespassing on her own prerogatives as an enlightened autocrat. By the end of the 18th century, the ideal of service to the state, which had underlain the Russian nobility's value system, had been transformed into one of service to the people; this meant the elite's separation from the state, which Catherine II could not accept. A dramatic illustration of Catherine's concern occurred on the appearance in 1790 of Aleksandr Radishchev (Radishchev, Aleksandr Nikolayevich)'s A Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow. In it Radishchev depicted social conditions as he saw them, particularly the dehumanization of the serfs and the corruption of their masters, warning that these threatened the stability of the existing order. Incensed by the book, Catherine had Radishchev arrested and banished to Siberia. He became the first political martyr of the Russian elite; his book and his fate foreshadowed the antagonism between the intelligentsia and the government that was to dominate Russia's history in the 19th century.

The reign of Paul I (Paul) (1796–1801)
 Catherine died in 1796 and was succeeded by her son Paul. A capricious, somewhat unstable individual, Paul had a passion for military order that conflicted with the basic values of the developing civil society; he felt that the nobility should again become a service class (or withdraw completely into agriculture) and help the ruler in implementing his reform program, even at the expense of its private interests. In trying to reestablish compulsory state service, he made it more rigid, harsh, and militaristic. He sought to promote the welfare of the serfs, but the manner of his approach—a decree permitting a maximum of three days of labour service per week—was clumsy and high-handed; it did nothing to help the serfs and angered their lords. Paul also wanted to govern with his own minions, disregarding both tradition and the administrative patterns that had developed during his mother's 30-year reign. Paul's hatred of the French Revolution and of everything connected with it led him to impose tight censorship on travel abroad and to prohibit foreign books, fashions, music, and so forth. He thereby earned the enmity of upper society in St. Petersburg. On March 11 (March 23, New Style), 1801, he was murdered by conspirators drawn from high officials, favourites of Catherine, his own military entourage, and officers of the guard regiments. The accession of his son Alexander I inaugurated a new century and a new period in the history of imperial Russia.

Marc Raeff

Russia from 1801 to 1917
The reigns of Alexander I and Nicholas I

General survey
   When Alexander I came to the throne in March 1801, Russia was in a state of hostility with most of Europe, though its armies were not actually fighting; its only ally was its traditional enemy, Turkey. The new emperor quickly made peace with both France and Britain and restored normal relations with Austria. His hope that he would then be able to concentrate on internal reform was frustrated by the reopening of war with Napoleon in 1805. Defeated at Austerlitz (Austerlitz, Battle of) in December 1805, the Russian armies fought Napoleon (Napoleon I) in Poland in 1806 and 1807, with Prussia as an ineffective ally. After the Treaty of Tilsit (Tilsit, Treaties of) (1807), there were five years of peace, ended by Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812. From the westward advance of its arms in the next two years of heavy fighting, Russia emerged as Europe's greatest land power and the first among the continental victors over Napoleon. The immense prestige achieved in these campaigns was maintained until mid-century. During this period, Russian armies fought only against weaker enemies: Persia in 1826, Turkey (Russo-Turkish wars) in 1828–29, Poland in 1830–31, and the mountaineers of the Caucasus during the 1830s and '40s. When Europe was convulsed by revolution in 1848 (see Revolutions of 1848 (1848, Revolutions of)), Russia and Great Britain alone among the great powers were unaffected, and in the summer of 1849 the tsar sent troops to crush the Hungarians in Transylvania. Russia was not loved, but it was admired and feared. To the upper classes in central Europe, Nicholas I was the stern defender of monarchical legitimacy; to democrats all over the world, he was “the gendarme of Europe” and the chief enemy of liberty. But the Crimean War (1853–56) showed that this giant had feet of clay. The vast empire was unable to mobilize, equip, and transport enough troops to defeat the medium-size French and English forces under very mediocre command. Nicholas died in the bitter knowledge of general failure.

      Alexander I as a young man had longed to reform his empire and benefit his subjects. His hopes were disappointed, partly by the sheer inertia, backwardness, and vastness of his domains, partly perhaps because of defects of his own character, but also because Napoleon (Napoleon I)'s aggressive enterprises diverted Alexander's attention to diplomacy and defense. Russia's abundant manpower and scanty financial resources were both consumed in war. The early years of his reign saw two short periods of attempted reform. During the first, from 1801 to 1803, the tsar took counsel with four intimate friends, who formed his so-called Unofficial Committee, with the intention of drafting ambitious reforms. In the period from 1807 to 1812, he had as his chief adviser the liberal Mikhail Speransky (Speransky, Mikhail Mikhaylovich, Graf). Both periods produced some valuable administrative innovations, but neither initiated any basic reform. After 1815 Alexander was mainly concerned with grandiose plans for international peace; his motivation was not merely political but also religious—not to say mystical—for the years of war and national danger had aroused in him an interest in matters of faith to which, as a pupil of the 18th-century Enlightenment, he had previously been indifferent. While he was thus preoccupied with diplomacy and religion, Russia was ruled by conservatives and reactionaries, among whom the brutal but honest Gen. Aleksey Arakcheyev (Arakcheyev, Aleksey Andreyevich, Graf) was outstanding. Victory in war had strengthened those who upheld the established order, serfdom and all. The mood was one of intense national pride: Orthodox Russia had defeated Napoleon, and therefore it was not only foolish but also impious to copy foreign models. Educated young Russians, who had served in the army and seen Europe, who read and spoke French and German and knew contemporary European literature, felt otherwise. Masonic lodges and secret societies flourished in the early 1820s. From their deliberations emerged a conspiracy to overthrow the government, inspired by a variety of ideas: some looked to the United States for a model, others to Jacobin France. The conspirators, known as the Decembrists (Decembrist) because they tried to act in December 1825 when the news of Alexander I's death became known and there was uncertainty about his successor, were defeated and arrested; five were executed, and many more sentenced to various terms of imprisonment in Siberia. Nicholas I, who succeeded after his elder brother Constantine (Constantine, Veliky Knyaz) had finally refused the throne, was deeply affected by these events and set himself against any major political change, though he did not reject the idea of administrative reform. After the Revolutions of 1848 in Europe, his opposition to all change, his suspicion of even mildly liberal ideas, and his insistence on an obscurantist censorship reached their climax.

      The sections that follow cover the development under Alexander I and Nicholas I of the machinery of government, of social classes and economic forces, of education and political ideas, of the relations between Russians and other peoples within the empire, and of Russian foreign policy.

      The discussions of Alexander I's Unofficial Committee were part of an ongoing debate that was to remain important until the end of the imperial regime. This may be called the debate between enlightened oligarchy and enlightened autocracy. The proponents of oligarchy looked back to a somewhat idealized model of the reign of Catherine II. They wished greater power to be placed in the hands of the aristocracy for the purpose of achieving a certain balance between the monarch and the social elite, believing that both together were capable of pursuing policies that would benefit the people as a whole. Their opponents, of whom the most talented was the young count Pavel Stroganov, were against any limitation on the power of the tsar. Whereas the oligarchs wished to make the Senate an important centre of power and to have it elected by senior officials and country nobility, Stroganov maintained that if this were done the sovereign would have “his arms tied, so that he would no longer be able to carry out the plans which he had in favour of the nation.” In any event, neither enlightened oligarchs nor enlightened absolutists had their way: Russia's government remained autocratic but reactionary. Alexander, however, never quite abandoned the idea of representative institutions. He encouraged Speransky to prepare in 1809 a draft constitution that included a pyramid of consultative elected bodies and a national assembly with some slight powers of legislation. In 1819 he asked Nikolay Novosiltsev (Novosiltsev, Nikolay Nikolayevich, Count), a former member of the Unofficial Committee who had made a brilliant career as a bureaucrat, to prepare another constitution, which turned out to be rather similar to the first, although somewhat more conservative and less centralist. Neither was ever implemented, though Alexander took some features of the first, notably the institution of the State Council, and used them out of their intended context.

      In 1802 Alexander instituted eight government departments, or ministries, of which five were essentially new. The organization of the departments was substantially improved in 1811 by Speransky. In the 1820s the Ministry of the Interior became responsible for public order, public health, stocks of food, and the development of industry and agriculture. Inadequate funds and personnel and the dominant position of the serf-owning nobility in the countryside greatly limited the effective power of this ministry. There was no question of a formal council of ministers, or of anything corresponding to a cabinet, and there was no prime minister. A committee of ministers coordinated to some extent the affairs of the different departments, but its importance depended on circumstances and on individuals. When the tsar was abroad, the committee was in charge of internal affairs. Aleksey Arakcheyev was for a time secretary of the committee, but he did not cease to be the strongest man in Russia under the tsar when he ceased to hold this formal office. The committee had a president, but this office did not confer any significant power or prestige.

      Under Nicholas I the committee of ministers continued to operate, but the individual ministers were responsible only to the emperor. The centre of power to some extent shifted into the emperor's personal chancery, which was built up into a formidable apparatus. The Third Department of the chancery, created in July 1826, under Count Aleksandr Benckendorff (Benckendorff, Aleksandr Khristoforovich, Count), was responsible for the security police. Its head was also chief of gendarmes, and the two offices were later formally united. The task of the security force was to obtain information on the state of political opinion and to track down and repress all political activity that might be considered dangerous to the regime. The Third Department was also considered by the tsar as an instrument of justice in a broad sense, the defender of all those unjustly treated by the powerful and rich. Some of the department's reports show that there were officials who took these duties seriously, but as a whole it showed more talent for wasting time and effort and for repressing opposition and stifling opinion than for redressing the grievances of the powerless. In addition, the department was often on the worst of terms with other branches of the public service.

      Russia under Alexander I and Nicholas I was ruled by its bureaucracy. The efforts of successive sovereigns after Peter the Great to establish a government service of the European type had had partial success. The Russian bureaucracy of 1850 combined some features of a central European bureaucracy of 1750 with some features of pre-Petrine Russia. One may speak of a “service ethos” and trace this back to 16th-century Muscovy. But the foundation of this ethos was, for the great majority of Russian officials, servile obedience to the tsar and not service to the state as that phrase was understood in a country such as Prussia. The notion of the state as something distinct from and superior to both ruler and ruled was incomprehensible to most government servants. Russian bureaucrats were obsessed with rank and status. Indeed, because salaries were quite meagre, this was the only incentive that the government could give. Rank was not so much a reward for efficient service as a privilege to be grasped and jealously guarded. In order to prevent able persons, especially of humble origin, from rising too quickly, great emphasis was placed on seniority. There were exceptions, and outstandingly able, cultured, and humane men did reach the top under Nicholas I, but they were few.

      The rank and file of the bureaucracy was mediocre, but its numbers steadily increased, perhaps trebling in the first half of the century. It remained poorly paid. The government's poverty was caused by the underdeveloped state of the economy, by the fact that no taxes could be asked of the nobility, and by the cost of waging wars—not only the great wars but also the long colonial campaigns in the Caucasus. Government officials were badly educated. They lacked not only precise knowledge but also the sort of basic ethical training that competent officials need. They were reluctant to make decisions: responsibility was pushed higher and higher up the hierarchy, until thousands of minor matters ended on the emperor's desk. Centralization of responsibility meant slowness of decision, and delays of many years were not unusual; death often provided the answer. There were also many antiquated, discriminatory, and contradictory laws. Large categories of the population, such as Jews and members of heretical Christian sects, suffered from various legal disabilities. Since not all those discriminated against were poor and since many small officials were unable to support their families, bending or evasion of the law had its market price, and the needy official had a supplementary source of income. Corruption of this sort existed on a mass scale. To a certain extent it was a redeeming feature of the regime: if there had been less corruption the government would have been even slower, less efficient, and more oppressive.

Social classes
      No significant changes were made in the condition of the serfs in the first half of the century. Alexander I, perhaps from fear of the nobility and with the memory of his father's fate in mind, approached the problem with caution, though with a desire for reform, but first war and then diplomacy diverted him. His successor, Nicholas, disliked serfdom, but there were political hazards in eliminating it. The power of the central government extended down to the provincial governors and, more tenuously, down to the ispravnik, or chief official of the district, of which each province had several. The ispravnik was elected by the local nobility. Below the level of the district, the administration virtually ceased to operate: the sole authority was the serf owner. If serfdom were to be abolished, some other authority would have to be put in its place, and the existing bureaucratic apparatus was plainly inadequate. The Decembrist conspiracy in 1825 had greatly increased the tsar's distrust of the nobility. He was determined to avoid public discussion of reform, even within the upper class.

      The one important exception to the general picture of bureaucratic stagnation was the creation of the Ministry of State Domains, under Gen. Pavel Kiselev (Kiselyov, Pavel Dmitriyevich). This became an embryonic ministry of agriculture, with authority over peasants who lived on state lands. These were a little less than half the rural population: in 1858 there were 19 million state peasants and 22.5 million private serfs. Kiselev set up a system of government administration down to the village level and provided for a measure of self-government under which the mayor of the volost (a district grouping several villages or peasant communes) was elected by male householders. There was also to be a volost court for judging disputes between peasants. Kiselev planned to improve medical services, build schools, establish warehouses for stocks of food in case of crop failure, and give instruction in methods of farming. Something was done in all these fields, even if less than intended and often in a manner that provoked hostility or even violent riots; the personnel of the new ministry was no more competent than the bureaucracy as a whole.

      Only minor measures were taken to benefit the serfs on private estates. Opposition to serfdom grew steadily, however, not only among persons of European outlook and independent thought but also among high officials. It seemed not only unjust but intolerable that in a great nation men and women could be owned. Serfdom was also obviously an obstacle to economic development.

      Whether serfdom was contrary to the interests of serf owners is a more complex question. Those who wished to abolish it argued that it was, since their best hope of getting the nobility to accept abolition lay in convincing them that their self-interest required it. Certainly in parts of southern Russia where the soil was fertile, labour was plentiful, and potential profits in the grain trade with Europe were high, a landowner would do better if he could replace his serfs with paid agricultural labour and be rid of obligations to those peasants whom he did not need to employ. In other regions, where the population was scanty, serfdom provided the landowner with an assured labour supply; if it were abolished, he would have to pay more for his labour force or see it melt away. In large parts of northern Russia where the land was poor, many serfs made a living from various crafts—in cottage industry or even in factories—and from their wages had to pay dues to their masters. The abolition of serfdom would deprive the serf owner of this large income and leave him with only what he could make from farming and from tenants with rather poor economic prospects. On balance, it seems likely that the short-term interests of the great majority of serf owners favoured the maintenance of serfdom, and, in any case, there is no doubt that this is what most serf owners believed.

      Industry (industrialization) and trade (international trade) made slow progress during these years. In the latter part of the 18th century, Russia had been, thanks to its Urals mines, one of the main producers of pig iron. In the next 50 years, it was left far behind by Great Britain, Germany, and the United States. In cotton textiles and sugar refining, Russia was more successful. Count Egor Frantsevich Kankrin (Kankrin, Egor Frantsevich, Count), minister of finance from 1823 to 1844, tried to encourage Russian industry by high protective tariffs. He also set up schools and specialized institutes for the advancement of commerce, engineering, and forestry. Russia's exports of grain increased substantially, though its share of total world trade remained about the same in 1850 as in 1800. The first railways also appeared; rail traffic between St. Petersburg and Moscow was opened in 1851. The road system remained extremely inadequate, as was demonstrated in the Crimean War.

      The urban population (urbanization) grew significantly. There were a few prosperous merchants, well protected by the government. Some centres, such as Ivanovo in central Russia, with its textile industry, had the beginnings of an industrial working class. The rest of the inhabitants of the cities consisted of small tradesmen and artisans, together with serfs living in town with their owners' permission as household servants or casual labourers.

Education and intellectual life
      Alexander I's School Statute (1804) provided for a four-tier system of schools from the primary to the university level, intended to be open to persons of all classes. Under its provisions several new universities were founded, and gymnasiums (pre-university schools) were established in most provincial capitals. Less was done at the lower levels, for the usual reason of inadequate funds. In the latter part of Alexander's reign, education was supervised by Prince Aleksandr Nikolayevich Golitsyn, head of the Ministry of Education and Spiritual Affairs. In an effort to combat what he believed to be dangerous irreligious doctrines emanating from western Europe, Golitsyn encouraged university students to spy on their professors and on each other; those who taught unacceptable ideas were frequently dismissed or threatened with prison. Under Nicholas I there was some improvement. Count Sergey Uvarov (Uvarov, Sergey Semyonovich, Count), minister of education from 1833 to 1849, permitted a much freer intellectual atmosphere, but he also began the practice of deliberately excluding children of the lower classes from the gymnasiums and universities, a policy continued under his successors.

      Nevertheless, in increasing numbers the children of minor officials, small tradesmen, and especially priests were acquiring education. Together with the already Europeanized nobility, they began to form a new cultural elite. Direct political criticism was prevented by the censorship of books and periodicals. Petty police interference made life disagreeable even for writers who were not much concerned with politics. Aleksandr Pushkin (Pushkin, Aleksandr Sergeyevich), Russia's greatest poet, got into trouble with the police for his opinions in 1824; he was also a friend of some leading Decembrists. After 1826 he lived an unhappy life in St. Petersburg, tolerated but distrusted by the authorities and producing magnificent poetry until he met his death in a duel in 1837. The writers Mikhail Lermontov (Lermontov, Mikhail) and Nikolay Gogol (Gogol, Nikolay) were also objects of suspicion to the bureaucrats.

      The censorship was not always efficient, and some of the censors were liberal. It became possible to express political ideas in the form of philosophical arguments and literary criticism. Thus, it was partly in intellectual periodicals and partly in discussions in the private houses of Moscow noblemen that the controversy between “Westernizers (Westernizer)” and “Slavophiles (Slavophile)” developed. It began with the publication of a “philosophical letter” by Pyotr Chaadayev (Chaadayev, Pyotr Yakovlevich) in the periodical Teleskop in 1836. One of the most brilliant essays ever written about Russia's historical heritage, it argued that Russia belonged neither to West nor to East, neither to Europe nor to Asia:

Standing alone in the world, we have given nothing to the world, we have learnt nothing from the world, we have not added a single idea to the mass of human ideas; we have made no contribution to the progress of the human spirit, and everything that has come to us from that spirit, we have disfigured.… Today we form a gap in the intellectual order.

      Nicholas declared that Chaadayev must be mad and gave orders that he should be confined to his house and regularly visited by a doctor.

      It is misleading to represent the Westernizers as wishing to slavishly copy all things Western or the Slavophiles as repudiating everything European and rejecting reform. The chief Slavophiles—Aleksey S. Khomyakov (Khomyakov, Aleksey Stepanovich), the brothers Ivan (Kireyevsky, Ivan Vasilyevich) and Pyotr Kireyevsky, the brothers Konstantin (Aksakov, Konstantin Sergeyevich) and Ivan Aksakov, and Yury Samarin—were men of deep European culture and, with one exception, bitter opponents of serfdom. Indeed, as landowners they knew more about the problems and sufferings of the serfs than did many Westernizers. The leading Westernizers—Aleksandr Herzen (Herzen, Aleksandr Ivanovich), Vissarion Belinsky (Belinsky, Vissarion Grigoryevich), and Mikhail Bakunin (Bakunin, Mikhail Aleksandrovich)—were for their part profoundly Russian. Belinsky was ill at ease with foreigners, and Herzen and Bakunin, despite many years' residence in France, Germany, England, and Italy, remained not only hostile to the world of European bourgeois liberalism and democracy but also strangely ignorant of it.

      The difference between Westernizers (Westernizer) and Slavophiles (Slavophile) was essentially that between radicals and conservatives, a familiar theme in the history of most European nations. It was the difference between those who wished to pull the whole political structure down and replace it with a new building, according to their own admirable blueprints, and those who preferred to knock down some parts and repair and refurnish others, bit by bit. Another basic difference was that the Slavophiles were Orthodox Christians and the Westernizers either atheists or, like the historian T.N. Granovsky, Deists with their own personal faith. Belinsky described the Orthodox church in his famous “Letter to Gogol” (1847) as “the bulwark of the whip and the handmaid of despotism.” He maintained that the Russian populace was “by its nature a profoundly atheistic people” and that it viewed the priesthood with contempt. These were but half-truths: the church was indeed subject to the government and upheld autocracy, and priests were often unpopular, but this did not mean that the peasants and a large part of the upper and middle classes were not devoted to the Orthodox faith.

      The Slavophiles idealized early Russian history. They believed that there had once been a happy partnership between tsar and people: the tsar had consulted the people through their elected spokesmen in the zemsky sobor. This had been changed by Peter the Great when he sought to copy foreign models and interposed an alien bureaucracy, staffed largely by Germans, between himself and his people. The Slavophiles held that Russia should return to the way from which it had strayed under Peter. They asked not for a legislative body of the Western type, still less for parliamentary government, but for a consultative assembly to advise the emperor. This was quite unacceptable to Nicholas, who was proud of Peter the Great and believed himself his political heir. To the Westernizers, on the other hand, Peter the Great was a symbol of radical change, not of autocracy.

The Russian Empire
 Russia in the 19th century was both a multilingual and a multireligious empire. Only about half the population was at the same time Russian by language and Orthodox by religion. The Orthodox were to some extent privileged in comparison with the other Christians; all Christians enjoyed a higher status than Muslims; and the latter were not so disadvantaged as the Jews. The basis of legitimacy was obedience to the tsar: Nicholas expected all his subjects to obey him, but he did not expect non-Russians to become Russians. Admittedly, he detested the Poles, but that was because they had been disloyal subjects and revolted against him.

      The idea that Russians, as such, should have a status superior to that of other peoples of the empire was distasteful to Nicholas. Russian nationalism nevertheless received some support from Count Uvarov (Uvarov, Sergey Semyonovich, Count), who, in his famous report to the tsar in 1832, proclaimed three principles as “truly Russian”: Orthodoxy (Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality), autocracy, and the national principle ( narodnost). In 1833 Uvarov set up a new university in Kiev to be the centre for a policy of spreading Russian language and culture through the schools in the western provinces, at the expense of the Polish. Nicholas approved of this, for the Poles had been guilty of rebellion, but when the attempt was made to Russify the Germans of the Baltic provinces, he objected. The Baltic Germans were loyal subjects and provided admirable officers and officials; they were therefore allowed to preserve their German culture and to maintain their cultural and social domination over the Estonians and Latvians. The young Slavophile and landowning nobleman Yury Samarin, a junior official in Riga, was severely reprimanded by the emperor for his anti-German activities.

      The most revolutionary of the Decembrist leaders, Pavel Pestel (Pestel, Pavel Ivanovich), had insisted that all non-Russian peoples of the empire except the Poles should “completely fuse their nationality with the nationality of the dominant people.” Another group of Decembrists, however, the Society of United Slavs, believed in a federation of free Slav peoples (Pan-Slavism), including some of those living under Austrian and Turkish rule. In 1845 this idea was put forward in a different form in the Brotherhood of SS. Cyril and Methodius, in Kiev. This group, among whose members was the Ukrainian (Ukrainian literature) poet Taras Shevchenko (Shevchenko, Taras Hryhorovych), believed that a federation of Slav peoples should include the Ukrainians, whom they claimed were not a part of the Russian nation but a distinct nationality. The society was crushed by the police, and Shevchenko was sent as a private soldier to the Urals; Nicholas himself gave orders that the great poet should be forbidden to write or draw. But Ukrainian (Ukrainian language) national consciousness, though still confined to an educated minority, was growing, and nothing did more to crystallize Ukrainian as a literary language than Shevchenko's poetry.

      During the first half of the century, Russia made substantial conquests in Asia. In the Caucasus the kingdom of Georgia united voluntarily with Russia in 1801, and other small Georgian principalities were conquered in the next years. Persia ceded northern Azerbaijan, including the peninsula of Baku, in 1813 and the Armenian province of Erivan ( Yerevan) in 1828. The mountain peoples of the northern Caucasus, however, proved more redoubtable. The Chechens, led by Shāmil, resisted Russian expeditions from 1834 until 1859, and the Circassians (Circassian) were not finally crushed until 1864. In the 1840s Russian rule was established over the pastoral peoples of Kazakhstan (Kazakh). In East Asia, Russian ships explored the lower course of the Amur River and discovered the straits between Sakhalin and the mainland of Asia in 1849. The Russian-American Company, founded in 1799, controlled part of the coast and islands of Alaska.

      At the beginning of the 19th century, Russian foreign policy was essentially concentrated on the three western neighbour countries with which it had been preoccupied since the 16th century: Sweden, Poland, and Turkey. The policy toward these countries also determined Russian relations with France, Austria, and Great Britain.

      Russo-Swedish relations were settled during the Napoleonic (Napoleon I) era. When Napoleon met with Alexander at Tilsit, he gave the latter a free hand to proceed against Sweden. After two years of war, in which the Russians did not always fare well, the Swedish government ceded Finland to the tsar in 1809. Alexander became grand duke of Finland, but Finland was not incorporated into the Russian Empire, and its institutions were fully respected. In 1810, when Napoleon's former marshal, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte (Charles XIV John), was elected heir to the Swedish throne, he showed no hostility toward Russia. In 1812 he made an agreement recognizing the tsar's position in Finland in return for the promise of Russian support in his aim to annex Norway from Denmark. Bernadotte achieved this in the Treaty of Kiel (Kiel, Treaty of) (Jan. 14, 1814), and thereafter the relations between Russia and Sweden, now a small and peaceful state, were not seriously troubled.

      Alexander I, influenced by his Polish friend Prince Adam Czartoryski (Czartoryski, Adam Jerzy, Prince), had plans for the liberation and unity of Poland, which had ceased to exist as a state in the 18th century, when it was partitioned among Russia, Prussia, and Austria. After his defeat by Napoleon in 1805, Alexander abandoned those plans in favour of an alliance with Prussia. In 1807 Napoleon established a dependency called the Grand Duchy of Warsaw (Warsaw, Duchy of) and in 1809 increased its territory at the expense of Austria. Alexander's attempts to win the Poles to his side in 1811 and to persuade Austria to make concessions to them failed; when Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812, he had 100,000 first-class Polish troops fighting for him. After Napoleon's defeat, Alexander was not vindictive. He protected the Poles against the demands of Russian nationalists who wanted revenge and sought once more to create a large Polish kingdom comprising the territories annexed by Russia and Prussia in the partitions of the 18th century. He was opposed at the Congress of Vienna in 1814–15 by Austria and Britain; the ensuing kingdom of Poland, which, though nominally autonomous, was to be in permanent union with the Russian Empire, consisted of only part of the Prussian and Russian conquests.

      Alexander was popular in Poland for a time after 1815. But real reconciliation between Poles and Russians was made impossible by their competing claims for the borderlands, which had belonged to the former grand duchy of Lithuania (Lithuania, grand duchy of). The majority of the population of this region was Belarusian, Ukrainian, or Lithuanian; its commercial class was Jewish; and its upper classes and culture were Polish. Neither Russians nor Poles considered Belarusians, Ukrainians, or Lithuanians to be nations, entitled to decide their own fates: the question was whether Lithuania was to be Polish or Russian. Russians could argue that most of Lithuania had been part of “the Russian land” until the 14th century, and the Poles that it had been Polish since the 16th. Alexander had some sympathy for the Polish point of view and allowed the Poles to hope that he would reunite these lands with Poland, but the effective political forces in Russia were strongly opposed to any change. The disappointment of Polish hopes for Lithuania was probably the most important single cause of the growing tension between Warsaw and St. Petersburg in the late 1820s, which culminated in the revolt of the Poles in November 1830 (November Insurrection) and the war of 1831 between Polish and Russian armies. It ended in the defeat of the Poles and the exile of thousands of political leaders and soldiers to western Europe. Poland's constitution and thus its autonomy were abrogated, and there began a policy of Russification of Poland.

      International reactions to the Russo-Polish war were of some importance. Although the governments of France and Britain had failed to come to the aid of Poland during the war, there was much sympathy for the Poles in these countries; nonetheless, sympathy alone was not sufficient to influence Russian actions. On the other hand, the governments of Prussia and Austria strongly supported Russia. It is arguable that the cooperation among the three monarchies, which continued over the next two decades and was revived from time to time later in the century, had less to do with their eloquently proclaimed loyalty to monarchical government than with their common interest in suppressing the Poles.

      Turkey had long been the main object of Russian territorial expansion; through a certain inertia of tradition, the Turkish policy had become almost automatic. It was to some extent reinforced by religious motives—by the romantic desire to liberate Constantinople (Istanbul), the holy city of Orthodoxy—but more important in the second half of the 19th century was the desire to assure the exit of Russian grain exports through the Black Sea. During certain periods, Russia sought to dominate Turkey as a powerful ally; this was its policy from 1798 to 1806 and again from 1832 to 1853. When this policy was successful, Russia supported the integrity of the Ottoman Empire and made no territorial demands. When it was not successful, Russia sought to undermine Turkey by supporting rebellious Balkan (Balkans) peoples or, more directly, by war: this was the case in 1806–12, 1828–29, and 1853–56.

      The periods of cooperation were more profitable for Russia than those of conflict. During the first period, a promising foothold was established in the Ionian Islands, which had to be abandoned after the Treaty of Tilsit (Tilsit, Treaties of). During the second period of cooperation, Russia achieved a great success with the 1833 Treaty of Hünkâr İskelesi (Hünkâr İskelesi, Treaty of), which in effect opened the Black Sea straits (Straits Question) to Russian warships. Russia achieved a more limited but more durable gain by the Straits Convention of 1841, signed by all the great powers and by Turkey, which forbade the passage of foreign warships through either the Dardanelles or the Bosporus as long as Turkey was at peace, thus protecting Russia's position in the Black Sea unless it was itself at war with Turkey.

      In the periods of hostility between Russia and Turkey, the main object of Russian expansion was the area later known as Romania—the Danubian principalities of Moldavia and Walachia. In 1812 Moldavia was partitioned between Russia and Turkey: the eastern half, under the name of Bessarabia, was annexed to Russia. In the war of 1828–29, Russian armies marched through the principalities and afterward remained in occupation until 1834. In 1848 the Russians returned, with Turkish approval, to suppress the revolution that had broken out in Bucharest. It appeared to be only a matter of time before the two Romanian principalities were wholly annexed to Russia. This did not occur, however, because of Russia's defeat in the Crimean War.

      The Crimean War (1853–56) pitted Russia against Great Britain, France, and Turkey. It arose from a series of misunderstandings and diplomatic errors among the powers in their conflict of interests in the Middle East, particularly over Turkish affairs. It has been called “the unnecessary war.” The fact that it was fought in the Crimea was due to Austrian diplomacy. In June 1854 the Russian government accepted the Austrian demand that Russian troops be withdrawn from the Danubian principalities, and in August Austrian troops entered. It is arguable whether, on balance, the presence of Austrian troops benefited Russia by preventing French and British forces from marching on Ukraine or whether it damaged Russia by preventing its troops from marching on Istanbul. The tsar resented the Austrian action as showing ingratitude toward the power that had saved Austria from the Hungarian rebels in 1849. When the British and French were unable to attack in the principalities, they decided to send an expedition to the Crimea to destroy the Russian naval base at Sevastopol (Sevastopol, Siege of). It was there that the war dragged out its course. The war showed the inefficiency of Russia's top military command and of its system of transport and supply. The Russian armies nevertheless won victories over the Turks in the Caucasus, and the defense of Sevastopol for nearly a year was a brilliant achievement.

Hugh Seton-Watson Nicholas V. Riasanovsky

From Alexander II to Nicholas II

Emancipation and reform
   Alexander IIDefeat in the Crimea made Russia's lack of modernization clear, and the first step toward modernization was the abolition of serfdom. It seemed to the new tsar, Alexander II (reigned 1855–81), that the dangers to public order of dismantling the existing system, which had deterred Nicholas I from action, were less than the dangers of leaving things as they were. As the tsar said to the nobility of Moscow in March 1856, “It is better to abolish serfdom from above than to wait until the serfs begin to liberate themselves from below.” The main work of reform was carried out in the Ministry of the Interior, where the most able officials, headed by the deputy minister Nikolay Milyutin (Milyutin, Nikolay Alekseyevich), were resolved to get the best possible terms for the peasants. In this they were assisted by a few progressive landowners, chief among whom was the Slavophile Yury Samarin. But the bulk of the landowning class (land reform) was determined, if it could not prevent abolition of serfdom, to give the freed peasants as little as possible. The settlement (Emancipation Manifesto), proclaimed on Feb. 19 (March 3, New Style), 1861, was a compromise. Peasants were freed from servile status, and a procedure was laid down by which they could become owners of land. The government paid the landowners compensation and recovered the cost in annual “redemption payments” from the peasants. The terms were unfavourable to the peasants in many, probably most, cases. In the north, where land was poor, the price of land on which the compensation was based was unduly high; in effect, this served partly to compensate the landowners for the loss of their serfs and also for the loss of the share that they had previously enjoyed of the peasants' earnings from nonagricultural labour. In the south, where land was more valuable, the plots given to the peasants were very small, often less than they had been allowed for their own use when they were serfs.

      It is arguable that the main beneficiary of the reform was not the peasant and certainly not the landowner but the state. A new apparatus of government was established to replace the authority of the serf owner. From the ispravnik, the chief official of the district, who in 1862 ceased to be elected by the nobility and became an appointed official of the Ministry of the Interior, the official hierarchy now stretched down to the village notary, the most powerful person at this level, who was assisted by an elder elected by an assembly of householders. The lowest effective centre of power was the village commune (obshchina), an institution of uncertain origin but great antiquity, which had long had the power to redistribute land for the use of its members and to determine the crop cycle, but which now also became responsible for collecting taxes on behalf of the government.

      Further important reforms followed the emancipation. A new system of elected assemblies at the provincial and county levels was introduced in 1864. These assemblies, known as zemstvos (zemstvo), were elected by all classes including the peasants, although the landowning nobility had a disproportionately large share of both the votes and the seats. The zemstvos were empowered to levy taxes and to spend their funds on schools, public health, roads, and other social services, but their scope was limited by the fact that they also had to spend money on some of the tasks of the central government. In 1864 a major judicial reform (judiciary) was completed. Russia received a system of law courts based on European models, with irremovable judges and a proper system of courts of appeal. Justices of the peace, elected by the county zemstvos, were instituted for minor offenses. A properly organized, modern legal profession now arose, and it soon achieved very high standards. The old system of endless delays and judicial corruption rapidly disappeared. There were, however, two important gaps in the system: one was that the Ministry of the Interior had power, regardless of the courts, to banish persons whom it regarded as politically dangerous; the other was that the courts for settling disputes between peasants were maintained and operated on the basis of peasant custom. Their institution by Kiselev (Kiselyov, Pavel Dmitriyevich) in the 1840s had been a well-intentioned reform, but their continuation after emancipation meant that the peasants were still regarded as something less than full citizens.

      During the first years of Alexander II's reign there was some demand from a liberal section of the nobility for representative government at the national level—not for full parliamentary rule, still less for a democratic suffrage, but for some sort of consultative assembly in which public issues could be debated and which could put before the emperor the views of at least the educated section of the Russian people. The tsar and his bureaucrats refused to consider this, above all because they saw constitutional reform as a slippery slope that would lead to the disintegration of state and empire and to class war between landowners and peasants. The principle of autocracy must remain sacred; such was the view not only of bureaucrats but also of men such as Nikolay Milyutin and Yury Samarin, both of whom rested their hopes for the progressive reforms they so ardently desired on the unfettered power of the emperor. Their attitude was essentially that of Pavel Stroganov at the beginning of the century, that the sovereign must not have “his arms tied” and so be prevented from realizing “the plans which he had in favour of the nation.” The decision against a national assembly in the early 1860s was a negative event of the greatest importance: it deprived Russia of the possibility of public political education such as that which existed, for example, in contemporary Prussia, and it deprived the government of the services of hundreds of talented men.

Revolutionary activities
      The emancipation was received with bitter disappointment by many peasants as well as by the radical intellectuals. The serfs' view of their relationship to the landowners had been traditionally summed up in the phrase, “We are yours, but the land is ours.” Now they were being asked to pay for land that they felt was theirs by right. During the 1860s small revolutionary groups began to appear. The outstanding figure was the socialist writer N.G. Chernyshevsky (Chernyshevsky, N.G.); the extent of his involvement in revolutionary action remains a subject of controversy, but of his influence on generations of young Russians there can be no doubt. In 1861–62 revolutionary leaflets were distributed in St. Petersburg, ranging from the demand for a constituent assembly to a passionate appeal for insurrection. The Polish uprising of 1863 strengthened the forces of repression. An unsuccessful attempt on the tsar's life in 1866 led to a certain predominance of extreme conservatives among Alexander's advisers. Nevertheless, there were still some valuable reforms to come. In 1870 the main cities of Russia were given elected municipal government (on a very narrow franchise), and in 1874 a series of military reforms was completed by the establishment of universal military service. This was the work of Dmitry Milyutin (Milyutin, Dmitry Alekseyevich, Count), the brother of Nikolay and like him a liberal, who was minister of war from 1861 to 1881.

      In the 1870s revolutionary activity (Narodnik) revived. Its centre was the university youth, who were increasingly influenced by a variety of socialist ideas derived from Europe but adapted to Russian conditions. These young people saw in the peasantry the main potential for revolutionary action. In 1873–74 hundreds of the youth, including women, “went to the people,” invading the countryside and seeking to rouse the peasants with their speeches. The peasants did not understand, and the police arrested the young revolutionaries. Some were sentenced to prison, and hundreds were deported to remote provinces or to Siberia. It became clear that no progress could be expected from overt action: conspiratorial action was the only hope. In 1876 a new party was founded that took the title of Zemlya i Volya (“Land and Freedom”). Some of its members favoured assassination of prominent officials in reprisal for the maltreatment of their comrades and also as a means to pressure the government in order to extract Western-type political liberties. Experience also had shown them that, while the peasants were physically too scattered to be an effective force and were in any case too apathetic, the workers in the new industrial cities offered a more promising audience. This faction was opposed by others in the party who deprecated assassination, continued to pay more attention to peasants than to workers, and were indifferent to the attainment of political liberties. In 1879 the party split. The politically minded and terrorist wing took the name Narodnaya Volya (“People's Will”) and made its aim the assassination of Alexander II. After several unsuccessful attempts, it achieved its aim on March 1 (March 13, New Style), 1881, when the tsar was fatally wounded by a bomb while driving through the capital. All the main leaders of the group were caught by the police, and five of them were hanged.

 Shortly before his death the tsar had been considering reforms that would have introduced a few elected representatives into the apparatus of government. His successor, Alexander III (reigned 1881–94), considered these plans. Under the influence of his former tutor, Konstantin Pobedonostsev (Pobedonostsev, Konstantin Petrovich), the procurator of the Holy Synod, he decided to reject them and to reaffirm the principle of autocracy without change. In 1882 he appointed Dmitry Tolstoy (Tolstoy, Dmitry Andreyevich, Graf) minister of the interior. Tolstoy and Pobedonostsev were the moving spirits of the deliberately reactionary policies that followed. Education was further restricted, the work of the zemstvos was hampered, and the village communes were brought under closer control in 1889 by the institution of the “land commandant” (zemsky nachalnik)—an official appointed by the Ministry of the Interior, usually a former officer or a local landowner, who interfered in all aspects of peasant affairs. The office of elected justice of the peace was abolished, and the government was authorized to assume emergency powers when public order was said to be in danger. By this time Russian public officials were better paid and educated, and less addicted to crude corruption, than they had been in the reign of Nicholas I, but they retained their arrogant contempt for the public and especially for the poorer classes. The discriminatory laws against Jews and members of dissenting Christian sects remained a source of widespread injustice, hardship, and resentment.

      The repressive policies of Dmitry Tolstoy worked for a time. But the economic development of the following decades created new social tensions and brought into existence new social groups, from whom active opposition once more developed. The zemstvos were in growing conflict with the central authorities. Even their efforts at social improvement of a quite nonpolitical type met with obstruction. The Ministry of the Interior, once the centre of Russia's best reformers, now became a stronghold of resistance. In the obscurantist view of its leading officials, only the central government had the right to care for the public welfare, and zemstvo initiatives were undesirable usurpations of power. Better that nothing should be done at all than that it should be done through the wrong channels. This attitude was manifested in 1891, when crop failures led to widespread famine; government obstruction of relief efforts was widely—though often unfairly—blamed for the peasantry's sufferings. The revival of political activity may be dated from this year. It was accelerated by the death of Alexander III in 1894 and the succession of his son Nicholas II (reigned 1894–1917), who commanded less fear or respect but nevertheless at once antagonized the zemstvo liberals by publicly describing their aspirations for reforms as “senseless dreams.” In the late 1890s moderate liberalism, aiming at the establishment of a consultative national assembly, was strong among elected zemstvo members, who were largely members of the landowning class. A more radical attitude, combining elements of liberalism and socialism, was to be found in the professional classes of the cities, including many persons employed by the zemstvos as teachers, doctors, engineers, or statisticians. The growth of an industrial working class provided a mass basis for socialist movements, and by the end of the century some interest in politics was beginning to penetrate even to the peasantry, especially in parts of the middle Volga valley.

Economic and social development
      Liberation from serfdom (land reform) was a benefit for the peasants that should not be underrated. The decades that followed brought a growth of prosperity and self-reliance to at least a substantial minority. In 1877, when about four-fifths of the land due to be transferred to the former serfs was actually in their possession, this “allotment land” constituted about half of the arable land in 50 provinces of European Russia. A further one-third of the arable land was still owned by the nobility, and the rest belonged to a variety of individual or collective owners. In 1905 substantially more than half the arable land was in allotment land, while another 10 percent belonged to individual peasants or to peasant associations; the nobility's share of arable land had fallen to a little more than 20 percent. Peasant land had increased by more than 99 million acres (40 million hectares) between 1877 and 1905, of which more than half had been obtained by purchase from landowners and the remainder by the completion of the transfer of allotment land. Peasant purchases had been assisted by loans from the Peasants' Land Bank, set up by the government in 1882. The Nobles' Land Bank, set up in 1885, made loans to landowners at more favourable rates of interest; it may have retarded, but did not prevent, the passage of land from landowners to peasants. In 1894 the rate of interest charged by the two banks was equalized.

      Though many peasants improved their position, agriculture remained underdeveloped, and widespread poverty continued to exist. One of the main reasons for this was the indifference of the government to agriculture. The government's economic policy was motivated by the desire for national and military power. This required the growth of industry, and great efforts were made to encourage it. Agriculture was regarded mainly as a source of revenue to pay for industry and the armed forces. Exports of grain made possible imports of raw materials, and taxes paid by peasants filled the state's coffers. The redemption payments were a heavy charge on the peasants' resources, though a gradual fall in the value of money appreciably reduced that burden with the passage of years. Consumption taxes, especially on sugar, tobacco, matches, and oil, affected the peasants, and so did import duties. In 1894 the government introduced a liquor monopoly that drew enormous revenues from the peasants, to whom vodka was a principal solace in a hard life. The techniques and tools of agriculture remained extremely primitive, and farm output low; virtually nothing was done to instruct peasants in modern methods.

      The second main cause of peasant poverty was overpopulation. The vast landmass of Russia was, of course, sparsely populated, but the number of persons employed in agriculture per unit of arable land, and relative to output, was extremely high compared with western Europe. There was a vast and increasing surplus of labour in the Russian villages. Outlets were available in seasonal migration to the southern provinces, where labour was needed on the great estates that produced much of the grain that Russia exported. Peasants could also move permanently to new land in Siberia, which at the end of the century was absorbing a yearly influx of 200,000, or they could find seasonal work in the cities or seek permanent employment in the growing industrial sector. These alternatives were not enough to absorb the growing labour surplus, which was most acute in the southern part of central Russia and in northern Ukraine, in the provinces of Kursk and Poltava. Peasants competed with each other to lease land from the landlords' estates, and this drove rents up. The existence of the large estates came to be resented more and more, and class feeling began to take the form of political demands for further redistribution of land.

      The difficulties of agriculture were also increased by the inefficiency of the peasant commune (mir), which had the power to redistribute holdings according to the needs of families and to dictate the rotation of crops to all members. In doing so, it tended to hamper enterprising farmers and protect the incompetent. In defense of the commune it was argued that it ensured a living for everyone and stood for values of solidarity and cooperation that were more important than mere profit and loss. Russian officials also found it useful as a means of collecting taxes and keeping the peasants in order. The 1861 settlement did provide a procedure by which peasants could leave the commune, but it was very complicated and was little used. In practice, the communal system predominated in northern and central Russia, and individual peasant ownership was widespread in Ukraine and in the Polish borderlands. In 1898 in 50 provinces of European Russia, about 198 million acres (80 million hectares) of land were under communal tenure, and about 54 million (22 million) were under individual tenure.

      The dispute over the peasant commune divided the ranks both of officialdom and of the government's revolutionary enemies. The Ministry of the Interior, which stood for paternalism and public security at all costs, favoured the commune in the belief that it was a bulwark of conservatism, of traditional Russian social values, and of loyalty to the tsar. The Socialist Revolutionaries (Socialist Revolutionary Party) favoured it because they took the view that the commune was, at least potentially, the natural unit of a future socialist republic. The Ministry of Finance, concerned with developing capitalism in town and country, objected to the commune as an obstacle to economic progress; it hoped to see a prosperous minority of individual farmers as a basis of a new and more modern type of Russian conservatism. The Social Democrats (Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party) agreed that the commune must and should be replaced by capitalist ownership, but they saw this only as the next stage in the progress toward a socialist revolution led by urban workers.

      The emancipation of the serfs undoubtedly helped capitalist (industrialization) development, though this began rather slowly. A rapid growth of railways came in the 1870s, and in the same decade the exploitation of petroleum began at Baku in Azerbaijan. There was also progress in the textile and sugar industries. Only in the 1890s did the demand for iron and steel, created by the railway program and by military needs in general, begin to be satisfied on a large scale within Russia. By the end of the century there was a massive metallurgical industry in Ukraine, based on the iron ore of Krivoy Rog and the coal of the Donets Basin. The iron industry of the Urals, which lost a large part of its labour force when the serfs (serfdom) became free to leave, lagged far behind. Poland was also an important metallurgical centre. Textiles were concentrated in the central provinces of Moscow and Vladimir; by the end of the century they were drawing much of their raw cotton from the newly conquered lands of Central Asia. Baku was also booming, especially as a supplier of petroleum to the Moscow region. St. Petersburg had begun to develop important engineering and electrical industries. Count Sergey Witte (Witte, Sergey Yulyevich, Graf), minister of finance from 1892 to 1903, was able to put Russia on the gold standard in 1897 and to encourage foreign investors. French and Belgian capital was invested mainly in the southern metallurgical industry, British in petroleum, and German in electricity.

      Industrial growth began to produce an urban working class (proletariat), which seemed fated to repeat the history of workers in the early stages of industrial capitalism in Western countries. The workers were unskilled, badly paid, overworked, and miserably housed. Uprooted from the village communities in which they had at least had a recognized place, the peasants' children who flocked into the new industrial agglomerations suffered both physical and moral privation. This was especially true of central Russia, where the surplus of labour kept wages down to the minimum. It was in St. Petersburg, where employers found it less easy to recruit workers, that the transformation of the amorphous mass of urban poor into a modern working class made the most progress. St. Petersburg employers were also less hostile to government legislation on behalf of the workers. In 1882 Finance Minister Nikolay Khristyanovich Bunge (Bunge, Nikolay Khristyanovich) introduced an inspectorate of labour conditions and limited hours of work for children. In 1897 Witte introduced a maximum working day of 11.5 hours for all workers, male or female, and of 10 hours for those engaged in night work. Trade unions (organized labour) were not permitted, though several attempts were made to organize them illegally. The Ministry of the Interior, being more interested in public order than in businessmen's profits, occasionally showed some concern for the workers. In 1901 the head of the Moscow branch of the security police, Col. Sergey Vasilyevich Zubatov (Zubatov, Sergey Vasilyevich), encouraged the formation of a workers' society intended to rally the workers behind the autocracy, but it was largely infiltrated by Social Democrats. Strikes were strictly forbidden but occurred anyway, especially in 1885, 1896, 1902, and 1903.

      A Russian business class also developed rapidly under the umbrella of government policy, benefiting especially from the high protective tariffs and the very high prices paid for government purchases from the metallurgical industry. Russia's industrial progress took place under private capitalism, but it differed from classical Western capitalism in that the motivation of Russian industrial growth was political and military, and the driving force was government policy. Russian and foreign capitalists provided the resources and the organizing skill, and they were richly rewarded. The richness of their rewards accounted for a second difference from classical capitalism: Russian capitalists were completely satisfied with the political system as it was. Whereas English and French capitalists had material and ideological reasons to fight against absolute monarchs and aristocratic upper classes, Russian businessmen accepted the principle and the practice of autocracy.

Education and ideas
      In 1897, at the time of the first modern census in Russia, there were 104,000 persons who had attended or were attending a university—less than 0.1 percent of the population—and 73 percent of these were children of nobles or officials. The number who had studied or were studying in any sort of secondary school was 1,072,977, or less than 1 percent of the population, and 40 percent of these were children of nobles and officials. In 1904, primary schools managed by the Ministry of Education had rather more than 3,000,000 pupils, and those managed by the Orthodox church not quite 2,000,000. The combined figure represented only 27 percent of the children of school age in the empire at that time. Persistent neglect of education could no longer be explained by sheer backwardness and lack of funds: the Russian Empire of 1900 could have afforded a modern school system, albeit rudimentary, if its rulers had considered it a top priority.

      In the last half of the 19th century, the word intelligentsia came into use in Russia. This word is not precisely definable, for it described both a social group and a state of mind. Essentially, the intelligentsia consisted of persons with a good modern education and a passionate preoccupation with general political and social ideas. Its nucleus was to be found in the liberal professions of law, medicine, teaching, and engineering, which grew in numbers and social prestige as the economy became more complex; yet it also included individuals from outside those professions—private landowners, bureaucrats, and even army officers. The intelligentsia was by its very nature opposed to the existing political and social system, and this opposition coloured its attitude toward culture in general. In particular, the value of works of literature (literary criticism) was judged by the intelligentsia according to whether they furthered the cause of social progress. This tradition of social utilitarianism was initiated by the critic Vissarion Belinsky (Belinsky, Vissarion Grigoryevich) and carried further by Nikolay Aleksandrovich Dobrolyubov (Dobrolyubov, Nikolay Aleksandrovich) in the late 1850s. Its most extreme exponent was Dmitry I. Pisarev, who held that all art is useless and that the only aim of thinking people should be “to solve forever the unavoidable question of hungry and naked people.” In the last decades of the century the chief spokesman of social utilitarianism was the sociological writer Nikolay K. Mikhaylovsky (Mikhaylovsky, Nikolay Konstantinovich), a former supporter of the revolutionary organization Narodnaya Volya. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that Russian literature was faced with two censorships—that of the official servants of the autocracy and that of the social utilitarian radicals. Yet the great writers of this period—Leo Tolstoy (Tolstoy, Leo), Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Dostoyevsky, Fyodor), and others—though profoundly concerned with social issues, did not conform to these criteria.

      The intelligentsia did not consist of active revolutionaries, although it preferred the revolutionaries to the government, but it was from the intelligentsia that the professional revolutionaries were largely recruited. The lack of civil liberties and the prohibition of political parties made it necessary for socialists to use conspiratorial methods. Illegal parties had to have rigid centralized discipline. Yet the emergence of the professional revolutionary, imagined in romantically diabolical terms in the Revolutionary Catechism of Mikhail Bakunin (Bakunin, Mikhail Aleksandrovich) and Sergey Nechayev (Nechayev, Sergey Gennadiyevich) in 1869 and sketched more realistically in What Is to Be Done? by Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin (Lenin, Vladimir Ilich), in 1902, was not entirely due to the circumstances of the underground political struggle. The revolutionaries were formed also by their sense of mission, by their absolute conviction that they knew best the interests of the masses. For these men and women, revolution was not just a political aim; it was also a substitute for religion. It is worth noting that a proportion of the young revolutionaries of the late 19th century were children of Orthodox priests or persons associated with religious sects. It is also worth noting that the traditional Russian belief in autocracy, the desire for an all-powerful political saviour, and the contempt for legal formalities and processes had left its mark on them. The autocracy of Nicholas II was, of course, odious to them, but this did not mean that autocratic government should be abolished; rather, it should be replaced by the autocracy of the virtuous.

      Russian revolutionary socialism at the end of the century was divided into two main streams, each of these being subdivided into a section that favoured conspiratorial tactics and one that aimed at a mass movement to be controlled by its members. The Socialist Revolutionary Party (Socialist Revolutionaries; founded in 1901 from a number of groups more or less derived from Narodnaya Volya) first hoped that Russia could bypass capitalism; when it became clear that this could not be done, they aimed to limit its operation and build a socialist order based on village communes. The land was to be socialized but worked by peasants on the principle of “labour ownership.” The Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party (Social Democrats; founded in 1898 from a number of illegal working-class groups) believed that the future lay with industrialization and a socialist order based on the working class. The Socialist Revolutionaries were divided between their extreme terrorist wing, the “Fighting Organization,” and a broader and looser membership that at one end merged imperceptibly with radical middle-class liberalism. The Social Democrats were divided between Lenin's group, which took the name Bolshevik (derived from the Russian word for “majority,” after a majority won by his group at one particular vote during the second congress of the party, held in Brussels and London in 1903), and a number of other groups that were by no means united but that came to be collectively known as Menshevik (derived from the word for “minority”). The personal, ideological, and programmatic issues involved in their quarrels were extremely complex, but it is a permissible oversimplification to say that Lenin favoured rigid discipline while the Mensheviks aimed at creating a mass labour movement of the western European type, that the Mensheviks were much more willing to cooperate with nonsocialist liberals than were the Bolsheviks, and that Lenin paid much more attention to the peasants as a potential revolutionary force than did the Mensheviks. These divisions arose because the Mensheviks adhered to orthodox Marxism, while Lenin was prepared to rework basic Marxist thought to fit Russian political reality as he saw it.

Russification policies
      After the Crimean War the Russian government made some attempt to introduce in Poland a new system acceptable to the Polish population. The leading figure on the Polish side was the nobleman Aleksander Wielopolski (Wielopolski, Count Aleksander). His pro-Russian program proved unacceptable to the Poles. Tension increased, and in January 1863 (January Insurrection) armed rebellion broke out. This rebellion was put down, being suppressed with special severity in the Lithuanian and Ukrainian borderlands. In order to punish the Polish country gentry for their part in the insurrection, the Russian authorities carried out a land reform on terms exceptionally favourable to the Polish peasants. Its authors were Nikolay Milyutin (Milyutin, Nikolay Alekseyevich) and Yury Samarin, who genuinely desired to benefit the peasants. The reform was followed, however, by an anti-Polish policy in education and other areas. In the 1880s this went so far that the language of instruction even in primary schools in areas of purely Polish population was Russian. At first, all classes of Poles passively acquiesced in their defeat, while clinging to their language and national consciousness, but in the 1890s two strong, though of course illegal, political parties appeared—the National Democrats and the Polish Socialist Party, both fundamentally anti-Russian.

      After 1863 the authorities also severely repressed all signs of Ukrainian nationalist activity. In 1876 all publications in Ukrainian, other than historical documents, were prohibited. In Eastern Galicia, however, which lay just across the Austrian border and had a population of several million Ukrainians, not only the language but also political activity flourished. There the great Ukrainian historian Mikhail Hrushevsky and the socialist writer Mikhail Drahomanov published their works; Ukrainian political literature was smuggled across the border. In the 1890s small illegal groups of Ukrainian democrats and socialists existed on Russian soil.

      From the 1860s the government embarked on a policy designed to strengthen the position of the Russian language and nationality in the borderlands of the empire. This policy is often described as “Russification.” The emphasis on the Russian language could also be seen as an attempt to make governing the empire easier and more efficient. However, though Russian was to be the lingua franca, the government never explicitly demanded that its non-Russian subjects abandon their own languages, nationalities, or religions. On the other hand, conversions to Orthodoxy were welcomed, and converts were not allowed to revert to their former religions. The government policy of Russification found its parallel in the overtly Russian nationalist tone of several influential newspapers and journals. Nor was Russian society immune to the attraction of national messianism, as the popularity of Nikolay Yakovlevich Danilevsky (Danilevsky, Nikolay Yakovlevich)'s Russia and Europe in the decades after its first appearance in 1869 attested. For most supporters of Russification, however, the policy's main aim was to consolidate a Russian national identity and loyalty at the empire's centre and to combat the potential threat of imperial disintegration in the face of minority nationalism.

      Ironically, by the late 19th and early 20th century some of the most prominent objects of Russification were peoples who had shown consistent loyalty to the empire and now found themselves confronted by government policies that aimed to curtail the rights and privileges of their culture and nationality. The Germans of the Baltic provinces were deprived of their university, and their ancient secondary schools were Russified. The Latvians and Estonians did not object to action by the government against the Germans, whom they had reason to dislike as landowners and rich burghers, but the prospect of the German language being replaced by the Russian had no attraction for them, and they strongly resented the pressure to abandon their Lutheran faith for Orthodoxy. The attempt to abolish many aspects of Finnish autonomy united the Finns in opposition to St. Petersburg in the 1890s. In 1904 the son of a Finnish senator assassinated the Russian governor-general, and passive resistance to Russian policies was almost universal. Effective and widespread passive resistance also occurred among the traditionally Russophile Armenians (Armenian) of the Caucasus when the Russian authorities began to interfere with the organization of the Armenian church and to close the schools maintained from its funds.

      Of the Muslim peoples of the empire, those who suffered most from Russification were the most economically and culturally advanced, the Tatars (Tatar) of the Volga valley. Attempts by the Orthodox church to convert Muslims and the rivalry between Muslims and Orthodox to convert small national groups of Finno-Ugrian speech who were still pagans caused growing mutual hostility. By the end of the century the Tatars had developed a substantial merchant class and the beginnings of a national intelligentsia. Modern schools, maintained by merchants' funds, were creating a new Tatar educated elite that was increasingly receptive to modern democratic ideas. In Central Asia (Central Asia, history of), on the other hand, modern influences had barely made themselves felt, and there was no Russification. In those newly conquered lands, Russian colonial administration was paternalistic and limited: like the methods of “indirect rule” in the British and French empires, it made no systematic attempt to change old ways.

      The position of the Jews (Jew) was hardest of all. As a result of their history and religious traditions, as well as of centuries of social and economic discrimination, the Jews were overwhelmingly concentrated in commercial and intellectual professions. They were thus prominent both as businessmen and as political radicals, hateful to the bureaucrats as socialists and to the lower classes as capitalists. The pogroms (pogrom), or anti-Jewish riots, which broke out in various localities in the months after the assassination of Alexander II, effectively ended any dreams for assimilation and “enlightenment” on the western European pattern for Russia's Jewish community. At this time there also arose the oft-repeated accusation that anti-Semitic excesses were planned and staged by the authorities, not only in Ukraine in 1881 but also in Kishinev in 1903 and throughout the Jewish Pale of Settlement in 1905. The view of government-sponsored pogroms has not, however, been corroborated by documental evidence. Indeed, the officials in St. Petersburg were too concerned with maintaining order to organize pogroms that might pose a direct threat to that order. However, some local government officials were certainly at least remiss in their duties in protecting Jewish lives and properties and at worse in cahoots with the anti-Semitic rioters. The most important result of the 1881 pogrom wave was the promulgation in May 1882 of the notorious “temporary rules,” which further restricted Jewish rights and remained in effect to the very end of the Russian Empire. By the turn of the century the terms Jews and revolutionaries had come to be synonymous for some officials.

      During the second half of the 19th century, Russian foreign policy gave about equal emphasis to the Balkans and East Asia. The friendship with Germany and Austria weakened, and in the 1890s the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy stood face to face with a Dual Alliance of France and Russia.

      The demilitarization of the Black Sea coast that had resulted from the Crimean War was ended by the London Conference of 1871, which allowed Russia to rebuild its naval forces. In 1876 the Serbo-Turkish War produced an outburst of Pan-Slav feeling in Russia. Partly under its influence, but mainly in pursuit of traditional strategic aims, Russia declared war on Turkey (Russo-Turkish wars) in April 1877. After overpowering heavy Turkish resistance at the fortress of Pleven (Pleven, Siege of) in Bulgaria, the Russian forces advanced almost to Istanbul. By the Treaty of San Stefano (San Stefano, Treaty of) of March 1878 the Turks accepted the creation of a large independent Bulgarian state. Fearing that this would be a Russian vassal, giving Russia mastery over all the Balkans and the straits, Britain and Austria-Hungary opposed the treaty. At the international Congress of Berlin (Berlin, Congress of), held in June 1878, Russia had to accept a much smaller Bulgaria. This was regarded by Russian public opinion as a bitter humiliation, for which the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck (Bismarck, Otto von) was blamed. In 1885–87 a new international crisis was caused by Russian interference in Bulgarian affairs, with Britain and Austria-Hungary again opposing Russia. Once more, Russia suffered a political reverse. In the 1890s, despite the pro-Russian sentiment of many Serbs and Bulgarians, neither country's government was much subject to Russian influence. In the crises that arose in connection with the Turkish Armenians and over Crete and Macedonia, Russian policy was extremely cautious and on the whole tended to support the Turkish government. In 1897 an Austro-Russian agreement was made on spheres of influence in the Balkans.

      The attempt of Bismarck to restore Russo-German friendship through the Reinsurance Treaty of 1887, with a view to an ultimate restoration of the alliance of Russia, Germany, and Austria, did not survive Bismarck's fall from power in 1890. The Russian government, alarmed by indications of a closer cooperation between the Triple Alliance and Britain and by some signs of a pro-Polish attitude in Berlin, reluctantly turned toward France. The French needed an ally against both Germany and Britain; the Russians needed French capital, in the form both of loans to the Russian government and of investment in Russian industry. The Franco-Russian alliance was signed in August 1891 and was supplemented by a military convention. Essentially, the alliance was directed against Germany, for it was only in a war with Germany that each could help the other. Later, however, there were to be plans in case war with Britain broke out.

      Russia established diplomatic and commercial relations with Japan by three treaties between 1855 and 1858. In 1860, by the Treaty of Beijing, Russia acquired from China a long strip of Pacific coastline south of the mouth of the Amur and began to build the naval base of Vladivostok. In 1867 the Russian government sold Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million. The Treaty of St. Petersburg between Russia and Japan in 1875 gave Russia sole control over all of Sakhalin (Sakhalin Island) and gave Japan the Kuril Islands.

      The systematic Russian conquest of Turkistan, the region of settled population and ancient culture lying to the south of the Kazakh steppes, began in the 1860s. This was watched with distrust by the British authorities in India, and fear of Russian interference in Afghanistan led to the Anglo-Afghan War (Anglo-Afghan Wars) of 1878–80. In the 1880s Russian expansion extended to the Turkmen lands on the east coast of the Caspian Sea, whose people offered much stiffer military resistance. The Russian conquest of Merv in 1884 caused alarm in Kolkata (Calcutta), and in March 1885 a clash between Russian and Afghan troops produced a major diplomatic crisis between Britain and Russia. An agreement on frontier delimitation was reached in September 1885, and for the next decades Central Asian affairs did not have a major effect on Anglo-Russian relations. At the same time, Russia and Britain battled for influence over the weakening Iranian state.

      Much more serious was the situation in East Asia. In 1894–95 the long-standing rivalry between the Japanese and Chinese in Korea led to a war between the two Asian empires, which the Japanese won decisively. Russia faced the choice of collaborating with Japan (with which relations had been fairly good for some years) at the expense of China or assuming the role of protector of China against Japan. The tsar chose the second policy, largely under the influence of Count Witte (Witte, Sergey Yulyevich, Graf). Together with the French and German governments, the Russians demanded that the Japanese return to China the Liaodong Peninsula, which they had taken in the treaty of peace. Russia then concluded an alliance with China in 1896, which included the establishment of the Russian-owned Chinese Eastern Railway, which was to cross northern Manchuria from west to east, linking Siberia with Vladivostok, and was to be administered by Russian personnel and a Russian police force with extraterritorial rights. In 1898 the Russian government went still further and acquired from China the same Liaodong Peninsula of which it had deprived the Japanese three years earlier. There the Russians built a naval base in ice-free waters at Port Arthur (Lüshun) (Lüshun; now in Dalian, China). They also obtained extraterritorial rights of ownership and management of a southern Manchurian railroad that was to stretch from north to south, linking Port Arthur with the Chinese Eastern Railway at the junction of Harbin. When in 1900 the European powers sent armed forces to relieve their diplomatic missions in Beijing, besieged by the Boxer Rebellion, the Russian government used this as an opportunity to bring substantial military units into Manchuria. All of this bitterly antagonized the Japanese. They might have been willing, nonetheless, to write off Manchuria as a Russian sphere of influence provided that Russia recognize Japanese priority in Korea, but the Russian government would not do this. It was not so much that the tsar himself wished to dominate all of East Asia; it was rather that he was beset by advisers with several rival schemes and could not bring himself to reject any of them, particularly since he underestimated Japan's resolution and power. The British government, fearing that Russia would be able to establish domination over the Chinese government and so interfere with the interests of Britain in other parts of China, made an alliance with Japan in January 1902. Negotiations between Russia and Japan continued, but they were insincere on both sides. On the night of Jan. 26/27 (Feb. 8/9, New Style), 1904, Japanese forces made a surprise attack on Russian warships in Port Arthur, and the Russo-Japanese War began.

Hugh Seton-Watson Nicholas V. Riasanovsky Dominic Lieven

The last years of tsardom

The revolution of 1905 (Russian Revolution of 1905)–06
 The Russo-Japanese War brought a series of Russian defeats on land and sea, culminating in the destruction of the Baltic fleet in the Tsushima Strait. The defeat finally brought to a head a variety of political discontents simmering back at home. First the professional strata, especially in the zemstvos and municipalities, organized a banquet campaign in favour of a popularly elected legislative assembly. Then, on Jan. 9 (Jan. 22, New Style), 1905, the St. Petersburg workers, led by the priest Georgy Gapon (leader of the Assembly of Russian Factory Workers), marched on the Winter Palace to present Emperor Nicholas with a loyal petition containing similar but wider-ranging demands. They were met by troops who opened fire on them, and about 130 were killed.

      News of this massacre, known as Bloody Sunday, spread quickly, and very soon most of the other social classes and ethnic groups in the empire were in uproar. There were student demonstrations, workers' strikes, peasant insurrections, and mutinies in both the army and navy. The peasants organized themselves through their traditional village assembly, the mir, to decide when and how to seize the land or property of the landlords. The workers, on the other hand, created new institutions, the Soviets (soviet) of Workers' Deputies: these, consisting of elected delegates from the factories and workshops of a whole town, organized the strike movement there, negotiated with the employers and police, and sometimes kept up basic municipal services during the crisis.

      The revolutionary movement reached its climax in October 1905, with the declaration of a general strike and the formation of a soviet (council) in St. Petersburg itself. Most cities, including the capital, were paralyzed, and Witte (Witte, Sergey Yulyevich, Graf), who had just concluded peace negotiations with the Japanese, recommended that the government yield to the demands of the liberals and create an elected legislative assembly (Duma). This the tsar reluctantly consented to do, in the manifesto of Oct. 17 (October Manifesto) (Oct. 30, New Style), 1905. It did not end the unrest, however. In a number of towns, armed bands of monarchists, known as Black Hundreds, organized pogroms against Jewish quarters and also attacked students and known left-wing activists. In Moscow the soviet unleashed an armed insurrection in December, which had to be put down with artillery, resulting in considerable loss of life. Peasant unrest and mutinies in the armed services continued well into 1906 and even 1907.

      Throughout the period from 1905 to 1907, disorders were especially violent in non-Russian regions of the empire, where the revolutionary movement took on an added ethnic dimension, as in Poland, the Baltic provinces, Georgia, and parts of Ukraine. There was also persistent fighting between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in the towns of Transcaucasia.

      A campaign of terrorism, waged by the Maximalists of the Socialist Revolutionary Party against policemen and officials, claimed hundreds of lives in 1905–07. The police felt able to combat it only by infiltrating their agents into the revolutionary parties and particularly into the terrorist detachments of these parties. This use of double agents (or agents provocateurs, as they were often known) did much to demoralize both the revolutionaries and the police and to undermine the reputation of both with the public at large. The nadir was reached in 1908, when it was disclosed that Yevno Azef, longtime head of the terrorist wing of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, was also an employee of the department of police and had for years been both betraying his revolutionary colleagues and organizing the murders of his official superiors.

      The split in the Social Democratic Party was deepened by the failure of the 1905 revolution. Both Mensheviks and Bolsheviks agreed that a further revolution would be needed but disagreed fundamentally on the way to bring it about. The Mensheviks favoured cooperation with the bourgeois parties in the Duma, the new legislative assembly, in order to legislate civil rights and then use them to organize the workers for the next stage of the class struggle. The Bolsheviks regarded the Duma purely as a propaganda forum, and Lenin (Lenin, Vladimir Ilich) drew from 1905 the lesson that in Russia, where the bourgeoisie was weak, the revolutionaries could combine the bourgeois and proletarian stages of the revolution by organizing the peasantry as allies of the workers. He was also moving closer to Leon Trotsky (Trotsky, Leon)'s theory that the forthcoming Russian revolution, taking place in the country that was the “weak link” of international imperialism, would spark a world revolution. Lenin did not reveal the full extent of the changes in his ideas until 1917, but in 1912 the split with the Mensheviks was finalized when the Bolsheviks called their own congress in Prague that year, claiming to speak in the name of the entire Social Democratic Party.

The State Duma
      The October Manifesto had split the opposition. The professional strata, now reorganizing themselves in liberal parties, basically accepted it and set about trying to make the new legislature, the State Duma, work in the interest of reform. The two principal socialist parties (Socialist Revolutionary Party), the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Social Democrats, saw the manifesto as just a first step and the Duma (which at first they boycotted) as merely a tribune to be exploited to project their revolutionary ideas.

      The empire's Fundamental Laws were amended in 1906 to take account of the Duma. Russia was still described as an “autocracy,” though the adjective “unlimited” was no longer attached to the term, and an article confirming that no law could take effect without the consent of the Duma effectively annulled its meaning. Alongside the Duma there was to be an upper chamber, the State Council, half of its members appointed by the emperor and half elected by established institutions such as the zemstvos and municipalities, business organizations, the Academy of Sciences, and so on. Both chambers had budgetary rights, the right to veto any law, and the ability to initiate legislation. On the other hand, the government was to be appointed, as before, by the emperor, who in practice seldom chose members of the Duma or State Council to be ministers. In addition, the emperor had the right to dissolve the legislative chambers at any time and, under Article 87, to pass emergency decrees when they were not in session.

      The Duma electoral law, though complicated, did give the franchise to most adult males. The first elections, held in spring 1906, produced a relative majority for the Constitutional Democratic Party (Kadets (Kadet)), a radical liberal group drawn largely from the professional strata that wished to go beyond the October Manifesto to a full constitutional monarchy on the British model and to grant autonomy to the non-Russian nationalities. The next largest caucus, the Labour Group (Trudoviki), included a large number of peasants and some socialists who had ignored their comrades' boycott. The two parties demanded amnesty for political prisoners, equal rights for Jews, autonomy for Poland, and—most important of all—expropriation of landed estates for the peasants. These demands were totally unacceptable to the government, which used its powers to dissolve the Duma. The new premier, Pyotr Arkadyevich Stolypin (Stolypin, Pyotr Arkadyevich), then used Article 87 to pass his own agrarian reform (Stolypin land reform) (see below), known as the Stolypin land reform, and to institute special summary courts-martial against terrorists; under the jurisdiction of these courts, some 600–1,000 suspects were executed.

      In early 1907 new elections were held; to the government's disappointment, the Social Democrats (Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party), having abandoned their boycott, did very well, coming in as the third largest party, behind the Kadets and the Trudoviki. The monarchists also performed better than before, so that the house was sharply polarized, but with a preponderance on the left. Unable to pass his agrarian law through it or to cooperate with its majority in any other way, Stolypin advised the tsar to dissolve the Second Duma on June 3 (June 16, New Style), 1907.

      Nicholas did not, however, abolish the Duma altogether, as some of his advisers wished. Instead, he and Stolypin altered the electoral law in favour of landowners, wealthier townsfolk, and Russians to the detriment of peasants, workers, and non-Russians. The Third Duma, elected in autumn 1907, and the Fourth, elected in autumn 1912, were therefore more congenial to the government. The leading caucus in both Dumas was the Union of October 17 (known as the Octobrists (Octobrist)), whose strength was among the landowners of the Russian heartland. The Octobrists acknowledged the October Manifesto as a sufficient basis for cooperation with the government and accepted Stolypin's agrarian program as well as his desire to strengthen the position of the Russian nation throughout the empire.

      In practice, however, their cooperation did not bear much legislative fruit beyond the agrarian reform. Many nobles were worried by Stolypin's proposed reform of local government and justice, which would have weakened their dominant position in the localities. They were also alarmed that more and more land was passing from their control to other social classes. Their opposition was articulated by a pressure group known as the United Nobility, which had numerous members in the State Council and close personal links with the imperial court. Stolypin increasingly found that his reform measures, passed by the Duma, were being blocked in the State Council.

      Frustrated but not wanting to lose all momentum, Stolypin fell back on nationalist measures, for which he could rely on support from his right-wing opponents both in the Duma and the State Council. Such was the bill restricting Finland's special liberties, passed in 1910. He proposed introducing zemstvos into the western provinces; since most landowners there were Polish, he added a special provision to bolster the vote of Russian peasants. The right wing of the State Council objected to this weakening of the landowners, and, receiving the tacit support of the emperor, they defeated the vital clause in the bill in March 1911. Stolypin, dismayed and angry, suspended both houses for three days and introduced the western zemstvos under Article 87. This egregious violation of the spirit of the Fundamental Laws lost him the support of the Octobrists, who went into opposition. Stolypin was, then, already fatally weakened politically when he was assassinated in September 1911. His murderer was both a Socialist Revolutionary and a police agent whose motives have remained obscure.

      Although the legislative achievements of the Duma were meagre, it should not be written off as an ineffective body. It voted credits for a planned expansion of education that was on target to introduce compulsory primary schooling by 1922. Although it could not create or bring down governments, it could exert real pressure on ministers, especially during the budget debates in which even foreign and military affairs (constitutionally the preserve of the emperor alone) came under the deputies' scrutiny. These debates were extensively reported in the newspapers, where they could not be censored, and enormously intensified public awareness of political issues. Partly as a result, the period 1905–14 saw a huge growth in the publication of newspapers, periodicals, and books, both in the capital cities and in the provinces.

      Not all the results of this heightened political awareness were happy for the government, of course. In 1910–11, following the death of Leo Tolstoy, who had been excommunicated by the Orthodox church and was refused an ecclesiastical burial, there was serious student unrest, and several Moscow State University professors resigned in protest at government arbitrariness. Furthermore, in 1912, after a disorder at the Lena gold mines, where some 200 workers were killed by troops, the workers' movement revived. Strikes and demonstrations broke out in many of the largest cities, culminating in the erection of barricades in St. Petersburg in July 1914. This time, however, the workers were on their own: there was no sign that peasants, students, or professional people were prepared to join their struggle.

      One area where the failure to reform had very serious effects was in the church. Most prelates and clergymen wanted to see the Orthodox church (Russian Orthodox church) given greater independence in relation to the state, perhaps by restoring the patriarchate and assigning authority within the church to a synod elected by clergy and laity. Many also favoured internal reform by strengthening the parish, ending the split between white (parish) and black (monastic) clergy, and bringing liturgy and scriptures closer to the people. An elected church council was to have taken place in 1906 to debate these reforms, but in the end Stolypin and Nicholas decided not to convene it, as they feared its deliberations would intensify political discontent in the country. Thus, the church remained under secular domination until 1917 and fell increasingly under the influence of Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin (Rasputin, Grigory Yefimovich), a starets (holy man) of dubious reputation who became a favourite of the imperial couple because he was able to stanch the bleeding of their son Alexis, who suffered from hemophilia.

Agrarian reforms
      The 1905 revolution showed that the village commune ( mir) was not a guarantor of stability, as its protagonists had claimed, but rather an active promoter of unrest. Stolypin's attempt to undermine it was therefore part of his program for restoring order. But he had economic aims in mind as well. He aimed to give peasant households the chance to leave the commune and also to consolidate their strip holdings, enclosing them in one place as privately owned smallholdings in order to lay the basis for a prosperous peasant commercial agriculture.

      The reforms, promoted energetically by the minister of agriculture, Aleksandr Vasilevich Krivoshein, enjoyed a tangible if not sensational measure of success. By 1915 some 20 percent of communal households had left the communes, and about 10 percent had taken the further step of consolidating their strips into one holding. All over the country, land settlement commissions were at work surveying, redrawing boundaries, and negotiating with the village assemblies on behalf of the new smallholders. Not unnaturally, individual withdrawals often aroused resentment, and the reform worked more effectively when whole villages agreed to consolidate and enclose their strips. Many households, both within and outside the commune, were joining cooperatives to purchase seeds and equipment or to market their produce. A good many peasants from the more densely settled regions of Russia were migrating to the open spaces of Siberia and northern Turkestan, whither Krivoshein attracted them by offering free land, subsidies for travel, and specialist advice. In nearly all categories, agricultural output rose sharply between 1906 and 1914, though in international grain markets Russia was beginning to lose ground to the United States, Canada, and Argentina.

      While the non-Russian peoples had made considerable political and cultural gains in 1905–06, these were largely reversed after 1907. Ukrainian nationalism gained ground despite the efforts to suppress it and spread from its nucleus among the professional strata to embrace a growing number of both peasants and workers. In Poland, Russian was restored (after a brief interval in 1905–07) as the language of tuition in all schools, while local government assemblies were introduced with artificially inbuilt Russian majorities. The Finnish Diet, resisting a reduction in its powers, was reduced to the status of a provincial zemstvo, and Finland was submitted to direct rule from St. Petersburg.

      Among Muslims the reform movement known as Jādid temporarily found an outlet for its political aspirations in the Muslim Group in the Duma. With the new electoral law of 1907, however, nearly all Muslims lost their representation in the house. Many of their leaders subsequently emigrated to Turkey, encouraged by the Young Turk Revolution of 1908. In Central Asia, industrialization and the increasing colonization of the grazing lands of the Turkic nomadic peoples by immigrants from European Russia caused bitter resentment and led to a widespread and violent rebellion that broke out in 1916.

War and the fall of the monarchy
      After 1906 Russia for some time had to pursue a cautious foreign policy in order to gain time to carry out reforms at home, to refit its army, and to rebuild its shattered navy. It set about these goals with the help of huge French loans that were contingent on the strengthening of the Franco-Russian alliance in both the diplomatic and military sense.

      Excluded as a serious player in East Asia, Russia paid much more attention to the affairs of the Balkans, where the vulnerability of the Habsburg monarchy and that of the Ottoman Empire were generating an increasingly volatile situation. Besides, the Octobrists and many of the Rights who supported the government in the Duma took a great interest in the fate of the Slav nations of the region and favoured more active Russian support for them.

      Operating from a position of weakness and under pressure from home, the Russian foreign minister, Aleksandr Petrovich Izvolsky (Izvolsky, Aleksandr, Count), attempted to conclude a deal with his Austrian counterpart, Alois, Count Lexa von Aehrenthal (Aehrenthal, Alois, Graf (count) Lexa von), whereby Austria would occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina (over which it had exercised nominal suzerainty since 1878) in return for permitting a revision of the Straits Convention (Straits Question) that would allow Russia to bring its warships out of the Black Sea if it were at war but Turkey were not. There was subsequent disagreement about what had been agreed, and, in the event, Austria occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnian crisis of 1908) unilaterally, without making Russia any reciprocal concessions. Russia protested but was unable to achieve anything, as Germany threw its support unequivocally behind Austria.

      Izvolsky had to resign after this public humiliation, and his successor, Sergey Dmitriyevich Sazonov (Sazonov, Sergey Dmitriyevich), set about building an anti-Austrian bloc of Balkan states, including Turkey. This failed, but instead Russia was able to sponsor a Serbian-Greek-Bulgarian-Montenegrin alliance, which was successful in the First Balkan War (Balkan Wars) against Turkey (1912–13). This seemed to herald a period of greater influence for Russia in the Balkans. Austria, however, reacted by demanding that the recently enlarged Serbia be denied an outlet to the Adriatic Sea by the creation of a new state of Albania. Russia supported the Serbian desire for an Adriatic port, but the European powers decided in favour of Austria. The Balkan alliance then fell apart, with Serbia and Greece fighting on the side of Turkey in the Second Balkan War (1913). (See also Balkan Wars.)

      The assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand (Francis Ferdinand, archduke of Austria-Este) in June 1914 and the subsequent Austrian ultimatum to Serbia thus placed Russia in a very difficult situation. If Russia let Serbia down and yielded yet again to Austrian pressure, it would cease to be taken seriously as a participant in Balkan affairs and its prestige as a European great power would be seriously compromised. The alternative was to escalate the Balkan conflict to the point where Germany would come in behind Austria and a general European war would ensue. Understandably by the standards of the time, Russia chose the second alternative. Nicholas II hoped that, by mobilizing only those forces on his border with Austria-Hungary, he could avoid both German intervention and escalation into world war. The result, however, was World War I and the destruction of the monarchy in 1917.

      The immediate effect of the outbreak of war was to strengthen social support for the monarchy. The Duma allowed its sessions to be suspended for some months, and a number of a voluntary organizations came into existence to lend support to the war effort. Zemstvo and Municipal unions were set up to coordinate medical relief, supplies, and transport. Unofficial War Industry Committees were established in major cities and some provinces to bring together representatives of local authorities, cooperatives, merchants, industrialists, and workers for mutual consultation on economic priorities. These were supplemented in the summer of 1915 by government-sponsored Special Councils in the fields of defense, transport, fuel, and food supplies. Civil society seemed to be maturing and diversifying as a result of the national emergency.

      In 1914 the Franco-Russian alliance proved its value. The German army could have crushed either France or Russia alone but not both together. The Russian invasion of East Prussia in August 1914 was a failure: in two unsuccessful battles nearly 150,000 Russians were taken prisoner. The invasion did, however, cause the Germans to withdraw troops from their western front and thus enable the French to win the First Battle of the Marne (Marne, First Battle of the) (Sept. 6–12, 1914). The entry of Turkey into the war on the side of Germany was a major setback, since it not only created a new front in the Caucasus (where the Russian armies performed rather well) but, by closing the straits, enormously reduced the supplies that the Allies could deliver to Russia. The failure of the British and French campaign in the Dardanelles and the entry of Bulgaria into the war on the German side meant that no relief could come from the south.

      When the Central Powers launched a spring offensive in 1915, therefore, the Russian army was already short of munitions. The Germans and Austrians were able to occupy the whole of Poland and begin advancing into the western provinces and the Baltic region, unleashing a flood of refugees, who aggravated the already serious transport situation.

      The military reverses of 1915, and especially the shortage of munitions, generated a strong swell of opinion in the Duma and State Council in favour of trying to compel the government to become more responsive to public opinion. The centre and left of the State Council combined with all the centre parties in the Duma, from the Moderate Rights to the Kadets, to form a Progressive Bloc. Its aim was to bring about the formation of a “government enjoying public confidence,” whose ministers would be drawn, if possible, partly from the legislative chambers. The bloc called for a broad program of political reform, including the freeing of political prisoners, the repeal of discrimination against religious minorities, emancipation of the Jews, autonomy for Poland, elimination of the remaining legal disabilities suffered by peasants, repeal of anti-trade-union legislation, and democratization of local government. This program had the support of eight ministers, at least as a basis for negotiation, but not of the premier, Ivan Logginovich Goremykin (Goremykin, Ivan Logginovich), who regarded it as an attempt to undermine the autocracy.

      The emperor did not approve of the Progressive Bloc either. For Nicholas, only the autocratic monarchy could sustain effective government and avoid social revolution and the disintegration of the multinational empire. He entertained quite different notions of how to deal with the crisis. In August 1915 he announced that he was taking personal command of the army, leaving the empress in charge of the government. He moved with his suite to Mogilyov, in Belarusia, where he remained until the revolution. However, he played only a ceremonial role, allowing his military chief of staff, Gen. Mikhail Vasilyevich Alekseyev (Alekseyev, Mikhail Vasilyevich), to act as true commander in chief. During the next few months Nicholas dismissed all eight ministers who had supported the Progressive Bloc. Though he was unable to play the coordinating role that was so vital to the running of government, he still insisted that he was autocrat, maintaining ultimate power in his hands and preventing capable ministers from coordinating the administration of the government and war effort. From afar he ordained frequent pointless ministerial changes (dubbed by malicious gossip “ministerial leapfrog”), partly under the influence of his wife and Rasputin. Even loyal monarchists despaired of the situation, and in December 1916 Rasputin was murdered in a conspiracy involving some of them.

      Ironically, the military situation improved greatly in 1916. The Polish and Baltic fronts were stabilized, and in 1916 Gen. Aleksey Alekseyevich Brusilov (Brusilov, Aleksey Alekseyevich) launched a successful offensive in Galicia, took nearly 400,000 Austrian and German prisoners, and captured Chernovtsy (Czernowitz).

      In the end it was the economic effect of the war that proved too much for the government. The shock of the munitions shortage prompted a partly successful reorganization of industry to concentrate on military production, and by late 1916 the army was better supplied than ever before. But life on the home front was grim. The German and Turkish blockade choked off most imports. The food supply was affected by the call-up of numerous peasants (peasant) and by the diversion of transport to other needs. The strain of financing the war generated accelerating inflation, with which the pay of ordinary workers failed to keep pace. Strikes began in the summer of 1915 and increased during the following year, taking on an increasingly political tinge and culminating in a huge strike centred on the Putilov armament and locomotive works in Petrograd (the name given to St. Petersburg in August 1914) in January 1917. The government made matters worse by arresting all the members of the worker group of the Central War Industries Committee.

      The February (March, New Style) Revolution (Russian Revolution of 1917) (see Russian Revolution of 1917) began among the food queues of the capital, which started calling for an end to autocracy. Soon workers from most of the major factories joined the demonstrations. The vital turning point came when Cossacks summoned to disperse the crowds refused to obey orders and troops in the city garrison mutinied and went over to the insurgents. The workers and soldiers rushed to re-create the institution they remembered from 1905, the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies (soviet). Soon their example was followed in many other towns and army units throughout the empire. Faced by the threat of a civil war that would undermine the war effort, the military high command preferred to abandon Nicholas II in the hope that the Duma leaders would contain the revolution and provide effective leadership of the domestic front.

      By agreement between the Petrograd soviet and the Duma, the Provisional Government was formed, headed by Prince Georgy Yevgenyevich Lvov (Lvov, Georgy Yevgenyevich, Prince) (chairman of the Zemstvo Union) and consisting mainly of Kadets and Octobrists, though Aleksandr Fyodorovich Kerensky (Kerensky, Aleksandr Fyodorovich) joined it from the Trudoviki. On March 2 (March 15, New Style), this government's emissaries reached Pskov, where the emperor (absolutism) had become stranded in his train, attempting to reach Petrograd. He dictated to them his abdication and thus brought to an end the 300-year-old Romanov dynasty.

Hugh Seton-Watson Geoffrey Alan Hosking Dominic Lieven

Soviet Russia
After the monarchy
      The following is a general overview of the history of Russia during the period of Soviet domination. For full coverage of the history of the Soviet Union, see the article Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

 The February Revolution of 1917 (Russian Revolution of 1917) was spontaneous, leaderless, and fueled by deep resentment over the economic and social conditions that had prevailed in imperial Russia under Tsar Nicholas. The country, having been sucked into World War I, found the strains of fighting a modern war with a premodern political and economic system intolerable. The tsar was well-meaning but fell short as a war leader and was unable to cope with the burdens of being head of state. His wife, Alexandra, meddled in government and, while encouraging her husband to be a strong tsar, sought the advice of Rasputin on matters of state. The strain of the war, complicated by the intrigues and machinations within the royal house, caused a great gulf to develop between the monarchy and educated society and between the tsar and the rest of the population.

      Hardly a hand was raised in support when the imperial order collapsed in February (March, New Style) 1917. The key factor had been the defection of the military. Without this instrument of coercion, the tsar could not survive. Most Russians rejoiced, but a political vacuum had been created that needed immediate attention. The Provisional Government that had been formed was to remain in office until a democratic parliament, the Constituent Assembly, was convened in January 1918. The new government was bourgeois, or middle-class, representing a tiny segment of the population. However, the soviets (soviet), which were proliferating rapidly, did not contest the right of the bourgeoisie to rule.

      As Bolshevik domination grew in Petrograd, Moscow, and other major cities, the soviets accepted the idea that the revolution that would give them power would take place in two stages: the bourgeois and the socialist. How long this transition period would last was a debatable point. The Mensheviks (Menshevik), the moderate socialists, held that Russia had to pass through its capitalist phase before the socialist one could appear. The Bolsheviks (Bolshevik), the radical socialists, wanted the transition period to be short. Their firebrand leader, Lenin (Lenin, Vladimir Ilich), sensed that power could be seized rather easily. The government was weak, and it could not rely on the army. With its large complement of peasants and workers in uniform, it was this group that formed the natural constituency of the socialists (Socialist Revolutionary Party). Like the Mensheviks, the Socialist Revolutionaries, the main agrarian party, did not advocate a rush to power. More than 80 percent of the population lived in the countryside, a fact that made the Socialist Revolutionaries certain to be the leading party when the Constituent Assembly was elected.

      The Provisional Government was undone by war, economic collapse, and its own incompetence. Being a temporary administration, it postponed all hard decisions—what should be done about land seizures by the peasants, for example—for the Constituent Assembly. A fatal mistake by the government was its continued prosecution of the war. Middle-class politicians believed wrongly that one of the reasons for the February Revolution was popular anger at the incompetence of the conduct of the war. Disgruntled peasant-soldiers wanted to quit the army. They did not perceive Germany to be a threat to Russian sovereignty, and they deserted in droves to claim their piece of the landlord's estate. Industrial decline and rising inflation radicalized workers and cost the Provisional Government the needed support of the professional middle classes. The Bolshevik slogan of “All power to the soviets” was very attractive. Dual power prevailed. The government seemingly spoke for the country, but in reality it represented only the middle class; the soviets represented the workers and peasants. Moderate socialists—Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries—dominated the Petrograd and Moscow soviets after February, but the radical Bolsheviks began to win local elections and by September had a majority in the Petrograd Soviet.

The October (November) Revolution (Russian Revolution of 1917)
      One of the turning points in the struggle for power was the attempt by Gen. Lavr Kornilov (Kornilov, Lavr Georgiyevich), who had been appointed commander in chief, to take control of Petrograd in August 1917 and wipe out the soviet. Aleksandr Kerensky (Kerensky, Aleksandr Fyodorovich), the prime minister, had been negotiating with Kornilov but then turned away and labeled Kornilov a traitor, perceiving his attack as a possible attempt to overthrow the government. Kerensky agreed to the arming of the Petrograd soviet, but after the failed coup the weapons were retained. The Bolsheviks could now consider staging an armed uprising. Had the Constituent Assembly been called during the summer, it could have undercut Lenin and his close colleague Leon Trotsky (Trotsky, Leon). Probably a majority of the population favoured state power passing to the soviets in October. They envisaged a broadly based socialist coalition government taking over. The October Revolution was precipitated by Kerensky himself when, angered by claims that the Bolsheviks controlled the Petrograd garrison, he sent troops to close down two Bolshevik newspapers. The Bolsheviks, led by Trotsky, feared that Kerensky would attempt to disrupt the Second All-Russian Congress, scheduled to open on October 25 (November 7, New Style); they reacted by sending troops to take over key communications and transportation points of the city. Lenin, who had been in hiding, appeared on the scene to urge the Bolsheviks to press forward and overthrow the Provisional Government, which they did on the morning of October 26. After the almost bloodless siege, Lenin proclaimed that power had passed to the soviets.

      Lenin, at the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets in October (November, New Style) 1917, managed to secure and head a solely Bolshevik government—the Council of People's Commissars, or Sovnarkom. The Bolsheviks also had a majority in the Soviet Central Executive Committee, which was accepted as the supreme law-giving body. It was, however, the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Communist Party of the Soviet Union), the Bolsheviks' party, in which true power came to reside. This governmental structure was to last until the convocation of the Constituent Assembly in January 1918. However, when it became clear that the Bolsheviks did not hold a majority, Lenin disbanded the assembly, setting the stage for civil war. If the October Revolution was accepted as democratic—supported by a majority of the population—then it ceased to be so soon after this event. In the immediate post-October days, a majority of the Bolshevik Central Committee favoured a coalition government, and Lenin eventually had to give in. Some Socialist Revolutionaries were added in December 1917, but the first and last coalition government remained in office only until March 1918, when, making great land concessions, the Bolsheviks accepted the defeatist Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (Brest-Litovsk, treaties of), ending Russian participation in World War I. The Socialist Revolutionaries, disagreeing with the terms of the treaty, resigned. The Bolsheviks, through the refined skills of the party leader Yakov Sverdlov, had the Congress of Soviets under control by the summer of 1918. Local soviets continued to defy the Bolsheviks but to no avail. Democracy received little nurturing and was never institutionalized; politics remained personalized. The cult of the strong leader gradually emerged, with local “Lenins” cropping up throughout the land.

The Civil War and War Communism (1918–21)

The Civil War (Russian Civil War)
      One side can start a war, but it takes two to end one. The Bolsheviks found that this principle applied to themselves after October, when they expected to disengage quickly from World War I. Of the three points of their effective slogan—“Peace, land, and bread”—the first proved to be the most difficult to realize. Trotsky, the silver-tongued Bolshevik negotiator, had lectured the Germans and Austrians on Georg Hegel (Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich)'s philosophy and other abstruse subjects at Brest-Litovsk. He thought that he had time on his side. He was waiting for news of revolution in Berlin and Vienna. It never came, and the Bolsheviks found themselves at the Germans' mercy. The issue of peace or war tore the Bolsheviks apart. Lenin favoured peace at any price, believing that it was purely an interim settlement before inevitable revolution. Nikolay Bukharin (Bukharin, Nikolay Ivanovich), a left-wing Bolshevik in the early Soviet period, wanted revolutionary war, while Trotsky wanted neither war nor peace. Trotsky believed the Germans did not have the military muscle to advance, but they did, and eventually the very harsh peace of the Brest-Litovsk treaty was imposed on Russia. The Socialist Revolutionaries left the coalition, and some resorted to terrorism, the target being the Bolshevik leadership. Ukraine slipped under German influence, and the Mensheviks held sway in the Caucasus. Only part of Russia—Moscow, Petrograd, and much of the industrial heartland—was under Bolshevik control. The countryside belonged to the Socialist Revolutionaries. Given the Bolshevik desire to dominate the whole of Russia and the rest of the former tsarist empire, civil war was inevitable.

      The Red Army was formed in February 1918, and Trotsky became its leader. He was to reveal great leadership and military skill, fashioning a rabble into a formidable fighting force. The Reds were opposed by the “Whites,” anticommunists led by former imperial officers. There were also the “Greens” and the anarchists, who fought the Reds and were strongest in Ukraine; the anarchists' most talented leader was Nestor Makhno. The Allies (Britain, the United States, Italy, and a host of other states) intervened on the White side and provided much matériel and finance. The Bolsheviks controlled the industrial heartland of Russia, and their lines of communication were short. Those of the Whites, who were dispersed all the way to the Pacific, were long. The Reds recruited many ex-tsarist officers but also produced many of their own. By mid-1920 the Reds had consolidated their hold on the country.

      The feat of winning the Civil War and the organizational methods adopted to do so made a deep impact on Bolshevik thinking. Joseph Stalin, a party leader, talked about the party in terms of an army. There were political fronts, economic struggles, campaigns, and so on. The Bolsheviks were ruthless in their pursuit of victory. The Cheka (a forerunner of the notorious KGB), or political police, was formed in December 1917 to protect communist power. By the end of the Civil War the Cheka had become a powerful force. Among the targets of the Cheka were Russian nationalists who objected strongly to the bolshevization of Russia. They regarded bolshevism as alien and based on western European and not Russian norms. Lenin was always mindful of “Great Russian” chauvinism, which was one reason he never permitted the formation of a separate Russian Communist Party apart from that of the Soviet Union. Russia, alone of the U.S.S.R.'s 15 republics, did not have its own communist party. It was belatedly founded in 1990.

      Lenin did not favour moving toward a socialist economy after October, because the Bolsheviks lacked the necessary economic skills. He preferred state capitalism, with capitalist managers staying in place but supervised by the workforce. Others, like Bukharin, wanted a rapid transition to a socialist economy. The Civil War caused the Bolsheviks to adopt a more severe economic policy known as War Communism, characterized chiefly by the expropriation of private business and industry and the forced requisition of grain and other food products from the peasants. The Bolsheviks subsequently clashed with the labour force, which understood socialism as industrial self-management. Ever-present hunger exacerbated the poor labour relations, and strikes became endemic, especially in Petrograd. The Bolsheviks, however, pressed ahead, using coercion as necessary. The story was the same in the countryside. Food had to be requisitioned in order to feed the cities and the Red Army. The Reds informed the peasants that it was in their best interests to supply food, because if the landlords came back the peasants would lose everything.

      Soviet Russia adopted its first constitution in July 1918 and fashioned treaties with other republics such as Ukraine. The latter was vital for the economic viability of Russia, and Bolshevik will was imposed. It was also imposed in the Caucasus, where Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan were tied to Bolshevik Russia by 1921. Many communists regarded Russia as acquiring imperialist ambitions. Indeed, Moscow under the Georgian Joseph Stalin (Stalin, Joseph), the commissar for nationalities, regarded imperial Russia's territory as its natural patrimony. Russia lost control of the Baltic states and Finland, however. Lenin's nationality policy was based on the assumption that nations would choose to stay in a close relationship with Russia, but this proved not to be the case. Many republics wanted to be independent in order to develop their own brand of national communism. The comrade who imposed Russian dominance was, ironically, Stalin. As commissar for nationalities, he sought to ensure that Moscow rule prevailed.

New Economic Policy (1921–28)
      Forced requisitioning led to peasant revolts, and the Tambov province revolt of 1920 in particular forced Lenin to change his War Communism policy. He and the Bolshevik leadership were willing to slaughter the mutinous sailors of the Kronstadt (Kronshtadt Rebellion) naval base in March 1921, but they could not survive if the countryside turned against them. They would simply starve to death. A tactical retreat from enforced socialism was deemed necessary, a move that was deeply unpopular with the Bolshevik rank and file. The New Economic Policy (NEP) was inaugurated at the 10th Party Congress in March 1921. A ban on factionalism in the party was also imposed. This ban was needed to prevent local party groups from overturning the decisions of the congress. The key sectors of the economy—heavy industry, communications, and transport—remained in state hands, but light and consumer-goods industries were open to the entrepreneur. The monetary reform of 1923 provided a money tax that brought an end to forced requisitioning. The economy was back to its 1913 level by the mid-1920s, and this permitted a vigorous debate on the future. All Communist Party members agreed that the goal was socialism, and this meant the dominance of the industrial economy. The working class, the natural constituency of the Communist Party, had to grow rapidly. There was also the question of the country's security. Moscow lived in fear of an attack during the 1920s and concluded a number of peace treaties and nonaggression pacts with neighbouring and other countries.

      Soviet Russia gave way to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) in 1922, but this did not mean that Russia gave up its hegemony within the new state. As before, Moscow was the capital, and it dominated the union. Lenin (Lenin, Vladimir Ilich)'s death in January 1924 set off a succession struggle that lasted until the end of the decade. Stalin eventually outwitted Trotsky, Lenin's natural successor, and various other contenders. Stalin, who had become general secretary of the party in 1922, used the party as a power base. The economic debate was won by those who favoured rapid industrialization and forced collectivization. The NEP engendered not only a flowering of Russian culture but also that of non-Russian and non-Slavic cultures. Russia itself had been an empire with many non-Russian citizens, and the emergence of numerous national elites was a trend of considerable concern to Stalin (Stalin, Joseph) and his leadership.

The Stalin era (1928–53)
 Stalin, a Georgian, surprisingly turned to “Great Russian” nationalism to strengthen the Soviet regime. During the 1930s and '40s he promoted certain aspects of Russian history, some Russian national and cultural heroes, and the Russian language, and he held the Russians up as the elder brother for the non-Slavs to emulate. Industrialization developed first and foremost in Russia. collectivization, though, met with considerable resistance in rural areas. Ukraine in particular suffered harshly at Stalin's hands because of forced collectivization. He encountered strenuous resistance there, for which he never forgave the Ukrainians. His policies thereafter brought widespread starvation to that republic, especially in 1932–33, when possibly millions may have died. Nevertheless, many party officials from Ukraine came to Moscow to make their careers, among them Nikita S. Khrushchev, who would succeed Stalin. The armed forces were dominated by Russians and Ukrainians, but the upper echelons of the Communist Party did not contain as many Ukrainians as might have been expected, given the size of that republic. The political police, on the other hand, had many non-Russians at the top, especially Georgians and Armenians.

      Russian industry expanded rapidly under Stalin, with Ukrainian in second place. The industrialization of the Caucasus and Central Asia (Central Asia, history of) began during the 1930s, and it was the Russians, aided by the Ukrainians, who ran the factories. The labour force was also predominantly Russian, as was the emerging technical intelligentsia. Stalin's nationality policy promoted native cadres and cultures, but this changed in the late 1920s. Stalin appears to have perceived that the non-Russians were becoming dangerously self-confident and self-assertive, and he reversed his nationality policy. He came to the conclusion that a Sovietized Russian elite would be more effective as an instrument of modernization. In the non-Russian republics, Russians and Ukrainians were normally second secretaries of the Communist Party and occupied key posts in the government and political police. Diplomats were predominantly Russian. The Soviet constitution of 1936 was democratic—but only on paper. It rearranged the political and nationality map. The boundaries of many autonomous republics and oblasts were fashioned in such a way as to prevent non-Russians from forming a critical mass. Moscow's fear was that they would circumvent central authority. For example, Tatars (Tatar) found themselves in the Tatar ( Tatarstan) and Bashkir (Bashkiriya) autonomous republics, although Tatars and Bashkirs spoke essentially the same language. Tatars also inhabited the region south of Bashkiriya and northern Kazakhstan, but this was not acknowledged, and no autonomous republic was established. Moscow played off the various nationalities to its own advantage. This policy was to have disastrous long-term consequences for Russians, because they were seen as imperialists bent on Russifying the locals. New industry usually attracted Russian and Ukrainian labour rather than the locals, and this changed the demographic pattern of the U.S.S.R. Russians spread throughout the union, and by 1991 there were 25 million living outside the Russian republic, including 11 million in Ukraine. Russians and Ukrainians made up more than half the population of Kazakhstan (Kazakh) in 1991. Almost half the population of the capital of Kyrgyzstan and more than a third of the population of Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, were Russian at the time the union ended in 1991.

      The German invasion in June 1941 resulted in much of Ukraine being overrun. Many Ukrainians welcomed the Wehrmacht (German armed forces). Stalin was already displeased with the Ukrainians, and this reinforced his feelings. (In his victory toast after the war, he drank to the Russian triumph over the Germans.) This was in line with Stalin's wartime policies, through which he rehabilitated the Russian Orthodox Church while identifying himself personally with previous Russian leaders such as the medieval prince Dmitri Donskoy and the tsars Ivan IV (the Terrible) and Peter I (the Great).

      The Russians, however, suffered as much as anyone else during the purges and repression that characterized Stalin's reign. Stalin vandalized Russian cultural monuments and destroyed many fine examples of Russian architecture. He was personally responsible for the destruction of some of Moscow's finest cathedrals. It was as if Stalin were trying to expunge Russia's past and build a new Russia in his own image. This was ironic given that Stalin spoke Russian with a Georgian accent.

      Victory over Germany precipitated an upsurge of Russian national pride (nationalism). Russia, in the guise of the U.S.S.R., had become a great power and by the 1970s was one of two world superpowers. The advent of the Cold War in the 1940s led to Stalin tightening his grip on his sphere of influence in eastern and southeastern Europe. Russian was imposed as the main foreign language, and Russian economic experience was copied. This was effected by having Russian and other communist officials in ministries. A dense network of treaties enmeshed the region in the Russian web. War reparations went first and foremost to Russian factories. Paradoxically, when the United Nations was first set up, in 1945, Stalin did not insist that Russia have a separate seat like the Ukrainian and Belorussian republics had, a move that suggests he regarded the U.S.S.R.'s seat as Russia's.

      The Bolsheviks had always been mindful of minorities on their frontiers, and the first deportation of non-Russian minorities to Siberia and Central Asia began in the 1920s. Russian Cossacks (Cossack) also were removed forcibly from their home areas in the north Caucasus and elsewhere because of their opposition to collectivization and communist rule. On security grounds, Stalin deported some entire small nationality groups, many with their own territorial base, such as the Chechen and Ingush, from 1944 onward. They were accused of collaborating with the Germans. The Volga Germans were deported in the autumn of 1941 lest they side with the advancing Wehrmacht. Altogether, more than 50 nationalities, embracing about 3.5 million people, were deported to various parts of the U.S.S.R. The vast majority of these were removed from European Russia to Asiatic Russia. Nearly 50 years later, Pres. Boris Yeltsin apologized for these deportations, identifying them as a major source of interethnic conflict in Russia.

      The late Stalin period witnessed campaigns against Jews and non-Russians. Writers and artists who dared to claim that Russian writers and cultural figures of the past had learned from the West were pilloried. Russian chauvinism took over, and anything that was worth inventing was claimed to have been invented by a Russian.

The Khrushchev (Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeyevich) era (1953–64)
 After Stalin's death in 1953, a power struggle for leadership ensued, which was won by Nikita Khrushchev (Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeyevich). His landmark decisions in foreign policy and domestic programs markedly changed the direction of the Soviet Union, bringing détente with the West and a relaxation of rigid controls within the country. Khrushchev, who rose under Stalin as an agricultural specialist, was a Russian who had grown up in Ukraine. During his reign Ukrainians prospered in Moscow. He took it for granted that Russians had a natural right to instruct less-fortunate nationals. This was especially evident in the non-Slavic republics of the U.S.S.R. and in eastern and southeastern Europe. His nationality policies reversed the repressive policies of Stalin. He grasped the nettle of the deported nationalities and rehabilitated almost all of them; the accusations of disloyalty made against them by Stalin were declared to be false. This allowed many nationalities to return to their homelands within Russia, the Volga Germans being a notable exception. (Their lands had been occupied by Russians who, fearing competition from the Germans, opposed their return.) The Crimean Tatars were similarly not allowed to return to their home territory. Their situation was complicated by the fact that Russians and Ukrainians had replaced them in the Crimea, and in 1954 Khrushchev made Ukraine a present of the Crimea. Khrushchev abided by the nationality theory that suggested that all Soviet national groups would come closer together and eventually coalesce; the Russians, of course, would be the dominant group. The theory was profoundly wrong. There was in fact a flowering of national cultures during Khrushchev's administration, as well as an expansion of technical and cultural elites.

      Khrushchev sought to promote himself through his agricultural policy. As head of the party Secretariat (which ran the day-to-day affairs of the party machine) after Stalin's death, he could use that vehicle to promote his campaigns. Pravda (“Truth”), the party newspaper, served as his mouthpiece. His main opponent in the quest for power, Georgy M. Malenkov (Malenkov, Georgy Maksimilianovich), was skilled in administration and headed the government. Izvestiya (“News of the Councils of Working People's Deputies of the U.S.S.R.”), the government's newspaper, was Malenkov's main media outlet. Khrushchev's agricultural policy involved a bold plan to rapidly expand the sown area of grain. He chose to implement this policy on virgin land in the north Caucasus and west Siberia, lying in both Russia and northern Kazakhstan. The Kazakh party leadership was not enamoured of the idea, since they did not want more Russians in their republic. The Kazakh leadership was dismissed, and the new first secretary was a Malenkov appointee; he was soon replaced by Leonid I. Brezhnev (Brezhnev, Leonid Ilich), a Khrushchev protégé who eventually replaced Khrushchev as the Soviet leader. Thousands of young communists descended on Kazakhstan to grow crops where none had been grown before.

 Khrushchev's so-called “secret speech (Khrushchev's secret speech)” at the 20th Party Congress (Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union) in 1956 had far-reaching effects on both foreign and domestic policies. Through its denunciation of Stalin, it substantially destroyed the infallibility of the party. The congress also formulated ideological reformations, which softened the party's hard-line foreign policy. De-Stalinization had unexpected consequences, especially in eastern and southeastern Europe in 1956, where unrest became widespread. The Hungarian uprising in that year was brutally suppressed, with Yury V. Andropov (Andropov, Yury Vladimirovich), Moscow's chief representative in Budapest, revealing considerable talent for double-dealing. (He had given a promise of safe conduct to Imre Nagy, the Hungarian leader, but permitted, or arranged for, Nagy's arrest.) The events in Hungary and elsewhere stoked up anti-Russian fires.

      Khrushchev had similar failures and triumphs in foreign policy outside the eastern European sphere. Successes in space exploration under his regime brought great applause for Russia. Khrushchev improved relations with the West, establishing a policy of peaceful coexistence that eventually led to the signing of the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty of 1963. But he was at times eccentric and blunt, traits that sometimes negated his own diplomacy. On one occasion he appeared at the United Nations and, in his speech, emphasized his point by banging a shoe on his desk. Such conduct tended to reinforce certain Western prejudices about oafish, peasant behaviour by Soviet leaders and harmed the Russian image abroad. Khrushchev's offhanded remarks occasionally caused massive unrest in the world. He told the United States, “We will bury you,” and boasted that his rockets could hit a fly over the United States, statements that added to the alarm of Americans, who subsequently increased their defense budget. Hence, he turned out to be his own worst enemy, accelerating the arms race with the United States rather than decelerating it, which was his underlying objective. His alarmingly risky policy of installing nuclear weapons in Cuba (Cuban missile crisis) for local Soviet commanders to use should they perceive that the Americans were attacking brought the world seemingly close to the brink of nuclear war.

      Khrushchev was a patriot who genuinely wanted to improve the lot of all Soviet citizens. Under his leadership there was a cultural thaw, and Russian writers who had been suppressed began to publish again. Western ideas about democracy began to penetrate universities and academies. These were to leave their mark on a whole generation of Russians, most notably Mikhail Gorbachev (Gorbachev, Mikhail), who later became the last leader of the Soviet Union. Khrushchev had effectively led the Soviet Union away from the harsh Stalin period. Under his rule Russia continued to dominate the union but with considerably more concern for minorities. Economic problems, however, continued to plague the union. Khrushchev attempted to reform the industrial ministries and their subordinate enterprises but failed. He discovered that industrial and local political networks had developed, which made it very difficult for the central authority to impose its will. Under him there was a gradual dissipation of power from Moscow to the provinces. This strengthened the Russian regions. The agricultural policy, which was successful for a few years, eventually fell victim to lean drought years, causing widespread discontent.

The Brezhnev (Brezhnev, Leonid Ilich) era (1964–82)
      After Khrushchev came the triumvirate of Leonid I. Brezhnev, Aleksey N. Kosygin (Kosygin, Aleksey Nikolayevich), and N.V. Podgorny (Podgorny, Nikolay). The first was the party leader, the second headed the government, and the third became chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, a ceremonial position. By the late 1960s Brezhnev was clearly the dominant leader. His strengths were in manipulating party and government cadres, but he was weak on policy ideas. Brezhnev ensured that there was an unprecedented stability of cadres within the Communist Party and the bureaucracy, thereby creating conditions for the rampant spread of corruption in the Soviet political and administrative structures. However, under Brezhnev the U.S.S.R. reached its apogee in the mid-1970s: it acquired nuclear parity with the United States and was recognized as a world superpower. Détente flourished in the 1970s but was disrupted by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979.

      Under Brezhnev, Russia dominated the U.S.S.R. as never before. Three-fourths of the defense industries, the priority sector, were in Russia, and the republic accounted for about three-fourths of the Soviet gross national product. The rapid expansion of the chemical, oil, and gas industries boosted exports so that Russia earned most of the union's hard-currency income. The middle class grew in size, as did its average salary, which more than doubled in two decades. Ownership of consumer goods, such as refrigerators and cars, became a realistic expectation for a growing part of the population. The availability of medical care, higher education, and decent accommodation reached levels unprecedented in the Soviet context. But the income from the sale of Russia's natural resources also allowed the Soviet regime to evade undertaking necessary but potentially politically dangerous structural economic reforms.

      Kosygin recognized the seriousness of the problems facing the Soviet economic structure more than did Brezhnev and attempted to implement reforms in 1965 and 1968, but the Brezhnev leadership stopped them. By the mid-1970s, growth in the non-natural resource sector of the economy had slowed greatly. The Soviet economy suffered from a lack of technological advances, poor-quality products unsatisfactory to both Soviet and foreign consumers, low worker productivity, and highly inefficient factories. At the same time, the agricultural sector of the economy was in crisis. The government was spending an increasing amount of its money trying to feed the country. Soviet agriculture suffered from myriad problems, the resolution of which required radical reforms. In sum, by the 1970s, continued economic stagnation posed a serious threat to the world standing of the U.S.S.R. and to the regime's legitimacy at home.

      The state gradually lost its monopoly on information control. A counterculture influenced by Western pop music, especially rock, spread rapidly. Russian youth had become enamoured of Western pop stars, and the advent of the audiocassette made it easier to experience their music. The widespread teaching of foreign languages further facilitated access to outside ideas. By the end of the Brezhnev era, the Russian intelligentsia had rejected Communist Party values. The party's way of dealing with uncomfortable critics, such as the dissenting novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Isayevich), was to deport them. These exiles then became the voice of Russian culture abroad. The academician Andrey Sakharov (Sakharov, Andrey Dmitriyevich) could not be imprisoned, for fear of Western scientists cutting off contact with the Soviet Union, but he was exiled to the closed city of Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod). Sakharov was released in 1986 and returned to Moscow. In 1989 he was elected to the Congress of People's Deputies, and many of the causes for which he originally suffered became official policy under Mikhail Gorbachev (Gorbachev, Mikhail)'s reforms.

The Gorbachev era: perestroika and glasnost
      When Brezhnev died in 1982, most elite groups understood that the Soviet economy was in trouble. Due to senility, Brezhnev had not been in effective control of the country during his last few years, and Kosygin had died in 1980. The Politburo was dominated by old men, and they were overwhelmingly Russian. Non-Russian representation at the top of the party and the government had declined over time. Yury V. Andropov (Andropov, Yury Vladimirovich) and then Konstantin Chernenko (Chernenko, Konstantin Ustinovich) led the country from 1982 until 1985, but their administrations failed to address critical problems. Andropov believed that the economic stagnation could be remedied by greater worker discipline and by cracking down on corruption. He did not regard the structure of the Soviet economic system itself to be a cause of the country's growing economic problems.

      When Gorbachev became head of the Communist Party in 1985, he launched perestroika (“restructuring”). His team was more heavily Russian than that of his predecessors. It seems that initially even Gorbachev believed that the basic economic structure of the U.S.S.R. was sound and therefore only minor reforms were needed. He thus pursued an economic policy that aimed to increase economic growth while increasing capital investment. Capital investment was to improve the technological basis of the Soviet economy as well as promote certain structural economic changes. His goal was quite plain: to bring the Soviet Union up to par economically with the West. This had been a goal of Russian leaders since Peter the Great unleashed the first great wave of modernization and Westernization. After two years, however, Gorbachev came to the conclusion that deeper structural changes were necessary. In 1987–88 he pushed through reforms that went less than halfway to the creation of a semi-free market system. The consequences of this form of a semi-mixed economy with the contradictions of the reforms themselves brought economic chaos to the country and great unpopularity to Gorbachev. Gorbachev's radical economists, headed by Grigory A. Yavlinsky, counseled him that Western-style success required a true market economy. Gorbachev, however, never succeeded in making the jump from the command economy to even a mixed economy.

      Gorbachev launched glasnost (“openness”) as the second vital plank of his reform efforts. He believed that the opening up of the political system—essentially, democratizing it—was the only way to overcome inertia in the political and bureaucratic apparatus, which had a big interest in maintaining the status quo. In addition, he believed that the path to economic and social recovery required the inclusion of people in the political process. Glasnost also allowed the media more freedom of expression, and editorials complaining of depressed conditions and of the government's inability to correct them began to appear.

      As the economic and political situation began to deteriorate, Gorbachev concentrated his energies on increasing his authority (that is to say, his ability to make decisions). He did not, however, develop the power to implement these decisions. He became a constitutional dictator—but only on paper. His policies were simply not put into practice. When he took office, Yegor Ligachev was made head of the party's Central Committee Secretariat, one of the two main centres of power (with the Politburo) in the Soviet Union. Ligachev subsequently became one of Gorbachev's opponents, making it difficult for Gorbachev to use the party apparatus to implement his views on perestroika.

      By the summer of 1988, however, Gorbachev had become strong enough to emasculate the Central Committee Secretariat and take the party out of the day-to-day running of the economy. This responsibility was to pass to the local soviets. A new parliament, the Congress of People's Deputies, was convened in the spring of 1989, with Gorbachev presiding. The new body superseded the Supreme Soviet as the highest organ of state power. The Congress elected a new Supreme Soviet, and Gorbachev, who had opted for an executive presidency modeled on the U.S. and French systems, became the Soviet president, with broad powers. This meant that all the republics, including first and foremost Russia, could have a similar type of presidency. Moreover, Gorbachev radically changed Soviet political life when he removed the constitutional article according to which the only legal political organization was the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

      Gorbachev understood that the defense burden, perhaps equivalent to 25 percent of the gross national product, was crippling the country. This had led to cuts in expenditures in education, social services, and medical care, which hurt the regime's domestic legitimacy. Moreover, the huge defense expenditures that characterized the Cold War years were one of the causes of Soviet economic decline. Gorbachev therefore transformed Soviet foreign policy. He traveled abroad extensively and was brilliantly successful in convincing foreigners that the U.S.S.R. was no longer an international threat. His changes in foreign policy led to the democratization of eastern Europe and the end of the Cold War. On the other hand, Gorbachev's policies deprived the Soviet Union of ideological enemies, which in turn weakened the hold of Soviet ideology over the people.

      As the U.S.S.R.'s economic problems became more serious (e.g., rationing was introduced for some basic food products for the first time since Stalin) and calls for faster political reforms and decentralization began to increase, the nationality problem became acute for Gorbachev. Limited force was used in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and the Baltic states to quell nationality problems, though Gorbachev was never prepared to use systematic force in order to reestablish the centre's control. The reemergence of Russian nationalism seriously weakened Gorbachev as the leader of the Soviet empire.

      In 1985 Gorbachev brought Boris Yeltsin (Yeltsin, Boris) to Moscow to run that city's party machine. Yeltsin came into conflict with the more conservative members of the Politburo and was eventually removed from the Moscow post in late 1987. He returned to public life as an elected deputy from Moscow to the Congress of People's Deputies in 1989. When the Congress of People's Deputies elected the Supreme Soviet as a standing parliament, Yeltsin was not chosen, since the Congress had an overwhelmingly Communist majority. However, a Siberian deputy stepped down in his favour. Yeltsin for the first time had a national platform. In parliament he pilloried Gorbachev, the Communist Party, corruption, and the slow pace of economic reform. Yeltsin was elected president of the Russian parliament despite the bitter opposition of Gorbachev.

      In March 1991, when Gorbachev launched an all-union referendum about the future Soviet federation, Russia and several other republics added some supplementary questions. One of the Russian questions was whether the voters were in favour of a directly elected president. They were, and they chose Yeltsin. He used his newfound legitimacy to promote Russian sovereignty, to advocate and adopt radical economic reform, to demand Gorbachev's resignation, and to negotiate treaties with the Baltic republics, in which he acknowledged their right to independence. Soviet attempts to discourage Baltic independence led to a bloody confrontation in Vilnius in January 1991, after which Yeltsin called upon Russian troops to disobey orders that would have them shoot unarmed civilians.

      Yeltsin's politics reflected the rise of Russian nationalism. Russians began to view the Soviet system as one that worked for its own political and economic interests at Russia's expense. There were increasing complaints that the “Soviets” had destroyed the Russian environment and had impoverished Russia in order to maintain their empire and subsidize the poorer republics. Consequently, Yeltsin and his supporters demanded Russian control over Russia and its resources. In June 1990 the Russian republic declared sovereignty, establishing the primacy of Russian law within the republic. This effectively undermined all attempts by Gorbachev to establish a Union of Sovereign Socialist Republics. Yeltsin appeared to be willing to go along with this vision but, in reality, wanted Russia to dominate the new union and replace the formal leading role of the Soviet Union. The Russian parliament passed radical reforms that would introduce a market economy, and Yeltsin also cut funding to a large number of Soviet agencies based on Russian soil. Clearly, Yeltsin wished to rid Russia of the encumbrance of the Soviet Union and to seek the disbandment of that body. In the later Gorbachev years, the opinion that the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and establishment of the U.S.S.R. were mistakes that had prevented Russia from continuing along the historical path traveled by the countries of western Europe and had made Russia more economically backward vis-à-vis the West gained greater acceptance.

Collapse of the Soviet Union
      An ill-conceived, ill-planned, and poorly executed coup attempt occurred Aug. 19–21, 1991, bringing an end to the Communist Party and accelerating the movement to disband the Soviet Union. The coup was carried out by hard-line Communist Party, KGB, and military officials attempting to avert a new liberalized union treaty and return to the old-line party values. The most significant anti-coup role was played by Yeltsin, who brilliantly grasped the opportunity to promote himself and Russia. He demanded the reinstatement of Gorbachev as U.S.S.R. president, but, when Gorbachev returned from house arrest in the Crimea, Yeltsin set out to demonstrate that he was the stronger leader. Yeltsin banned the Communist Party in Russia and seized all of its property. From a strictly legal point of view, this should have been done by court order, not by presidential decree. Russia systematically laid claim to most Soviet property on its territory.

Martin McCauley Dominic Lieven

Post-Soviet Russia
The Yeltsin (Yeltsin, Boris) presidency (1991–99)
 The U.S.S.R. legally ceased to exist on Dec. 31, 1991. The new state, called the Russian Federation, set off on the road to democracy and a market economy without any clear conception of how to complete such a transformation in the world's largest country. Like most of the other former Soviet republics, it entered independence in a state of serious disorder and economic chaos.

Economic reforms
      Upon independence, Russia faced economic collapse. The new Russian government not only had to deal with the consequences of the mistakes in economic policy of the Gorbachev period, but it also had to find a way to transform the entire Russian economy. In 1991 alone, gross domestic product (GDP) dropped by about one-sixth, and the budget deficit was approximately one-fourth of GDP. The Gorbachev government had resorted to printing huge amounts of money to finance both the budget and the large subsidies to factories and on food at a time when the tax system was collapsing. Moreover, the price controls on most goods led to their scarcity. By 1991 few items essential for everyday life were available in traditional retail outlets. The entire system of goods distribution was on the verge of disintegration. The transformation of the command economy to a market-based one was fraught with difficulties and had no historical precedent. Since the central command economy had existed in Russia for more than 70 years, the transition to a market economy proved more difficult for Russia than for the other countries of eastern Europe. Russian reformists had no clear plan, and circumstances did not give them the luxury of time to put together a reform package. In addition, economic reform threatened various entrenched interests, and the reformists had to balance the necessities of economic reform with powerful vested interests.

      Although Soviet industry was one of the largest in the world, it was also very inefficient and expensive to support, complicating any changeover to a market-based economy. Industry was heavily geared toward defense and heavy industrial products whose conversion to light- and consumer-based industries would require much time. The industrial workforce, though highly educated, did not have the necessary skills to work in a market environment and would therefore need to be retrained, as would factory and plant managers.

      In an effort to bring goods into stores, the Yeltsin government removed price controls on most items in January 1992—the first essential step toward creating a market-based economy. Its immediate goal was achieved. However, it also spurred inflation, which became a daily concern for Russians, whose salaries and purchasing power declined as prices for even some of the most basic goods continued to rise. The government frequently found itself printing money to fill holes in the budget and to prevent failing factories from going bankrupt. By 1993 the budget deficit financed by the printing of money was one-fifth of GDP. Consequently, the economy became increasingly dollarized as people lost faith in the value of the ruble. Inflationary pressures were exacerbated by the establishment of a “ruble zone” when the Soviet Union collapsed: many of the former republics continued to issue and use rubles and receive credits from the Russian Central Bank, thereby further devaluing the ruble. This ruble zone became an onerous burden for the Russian economy as an additional source of inflation. In the summer of 1993 the government pulled out of the ruble zone, effectively reducing Russian influence over many of the former Soviet republics.

      During the Soviet era the factory had been not only a place of work but was also often the base of social services, providing benefits such as child care, vacations, and housing. Therefore, if the government allowed many industries to collapse, it would have had to make provisions not only for unemployed workers but for a whole array of social services. The government's infrastructure could not cope with such a large additional responsibility. Yet the inflation caused by keeping these factories afloat led to waning support for both Yeltsin and economic reform, as many average Russians struggled to survive. Starved for cash, factories reverted to paying workers and paying off debts to other factories in kind. Therefore, in many areas of Russia a barter economy emerged as both factories and workers tried to accommodate themselves to the economic crisis. Moreover, debts between factories were enormous; though they were diligently recorded, there was little hope of eventual collection. Thus, it was not uncommon for workers to go months without being paid and for workers to get paid in, for example, rubber gloves or crockery, either because they made such things themselves or because their factory had received payment for debt in kind.

      In 1995 the government, through loans secured from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and through income from the sale of oil and natural gas, succeeded in stabilizing the national currency by establishing a ruble corridor. This corridor fixed the exchange rate of the ruble that the Russian Central Bank would defend. Consequently, the rate of inflation dropped, and some macroeconomic stabilization ensued. However, the government continued to borrow large sums of money on domestic and foreign markets while avoiding real structural reforms of the economy. By failing to establish an effective tax code and collection mechanisms, clear property rights, and a coherent bankruptcy law and by continued support of failing industries, the government found it increasingly expensive to maintain an artificially set ruble exchange rate. The problem was that the government-set exchange rate did not reflect the country's economic reality and thereby made the ruble the target of speculators. As a result, the ruble collapsed in 1998, and the government was forced to withhold payments on its debt amid a growing number of bankruptcies. The ruble eventually stabilized and inflation diminished, but the living standards of most Russians improved little, though a small proportion of the population became very wealthy. Moreover, most economic gains occurred in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and a handful of other major urban areas, while vast tracts of Russia faced economic depression.

      Another element of economic reform was the privatization of Russian industries. Reformists in the Yeltsin government sought to speed privatization, hoping that the threat of a return to communism would be more remote once a Russian capitalist class had developed. The reformists, like many Western economists, believed that only by privatizing factories and enterprises and letting them fight for survival would the economy have any hope of recovering. Initially, the government implemented a voucher system according to which every citizen could in theory become a stakeholder in Russian industry and its privatization. Russians could invest their voucher (the sum of 10,000 rubles), sell it, or use it to bid for additional shares in specific enterprises. However, the average Russian did not benefit from this rather complicated scheme. By the end of 1992, some one-third of enterprises in the services and trade fields had been privatized.

      The second wave of privatization occurred in 1994–95. However, to the average Russian, the process seemed to benefit solely the friends of those in power, who received large chunks of Russian industry for little. In particular, Russia's companies in the natural resource sector were sold at prices well below those recommended by the IMF to figures who were close to “the Family,” meaning Yeltsin and his daughter and their allies in the government. From this process emerged the “oligarchs,” individuals who, because of their political connections, came to control huge segments of the Russian economy. Many of these oligarchs bought factories for almost nothing, stripped them, sold what they could, and then closed them, creating huge job losses. By the time Yeltsin left office in 1999, most of the Russian economy had been privatized.

      The stripping of factories played a major role in the public's disenchantment with the development of capitalism in Russia. To many Russians, it seemed that bandit capitalism had emerged. The majority of the population had seen their living standards drop, their social services collapse, and a great rise in crime and corruption. As a result, Yeltsin's popularity began to plummet.

Political and social changes
      Having played a key role in defeating the attempted coup against Gorbachev in 1991, Yeltsin saw his popularity surge. A skillful politician, he was first elected president of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic in 1991 before the collapse of the U.S.S.R, and he was reelected in 1996. Although he had come to represent for many the face of political and economic reform, his first priority was the preservation of his own power and authority. In dealing with those around him in both the government and the bureaucracy, Yeltsin effectively utilized a divide-and-rule strategy that led to the emergence of various factions that battled each other. Indeed, in some cases bureaucrats spent more time in conflict with each other than they did governing the country. Yeltsin also had the tendency to frequently remove ministers and prime ministers, which led to abrupt changes in policy. Throughout his presidency Yeltsin refused to establish his own political party or to align himself openly with any party or group of parties. Instead, he believed that the president should remain above party politics, though he was at the heart of the political process, playing the role of power broker—a position he coveted—until his resignation in 1999.

      When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Russian Federation continued to be governed according to its Soviet-era constitution. The office of president had been added to the political structure of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic in 1991. However, the constitution did not specify which branch, legislative or executive, held supreme power. Political differences over various issues (e.g., the course of economic reform and the power of both the Communist Party and industrial interests) manifested themselves as constitutional conflicts, with Yeltsin's supporters arguing that ultimate power rested with the president and his opponents charging that the legislature was sovereign. Personality clashes between Yeltsin and the parliamentary leadership led to a break between the legislative and executive branches.

      High inflation and continued economic crisis placed great pressure on Yeltsin. The government's focus on financial stabilization and economic reform to the apparent neglect of the public's social needs contributed to the growing political battle between the legislative and executive branches. Complicating Yeltsin's difficulties was the fact that many deputies in the parliament had vested interests in the old economic and political structure. The leader of the parliament, Ruslan Khasbulatov, and Yeltsin both sought support from regional elites in their political battles with each other by promising subsidies and greater local control. The political battle between Yeltsin and Khasbulatov climaxed in March 1993 when Yeltsin was stripped of the decree-making powers that he had been granted after the August 1991 attempted coup. Yeltsin was not prepared to accept total defeat. On March 20 Yeltsin announced that he was instituting an extraordinary presidential regime until April 25, when a referendum would be held over who “really ruled” Russia. He stated that during this period any acts of parliament that contradicted presidential decrees would be null and void. Many of Yeltsin's ministers, including Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin (Chernomyrdin, Viktor Stepanovich), only half-heartedly supported the president's move, and Yeltsin, after intense political haggling, was forced to back down. Nonetheless, it was agreed that a referendum would be held on April 25. Four questions were posed to the Russian people, written by the Congress of People's Deputies to embarrass Yeltsin: (1) Do you trust the President of the Russian Federation, Boris Nikolaevich Yeltsin? (2) Do you approve of the socioeconomic policies implemented by the President of the Russian Federation and the government of the Russian Federation since 1992? (3) Do you consider it essential to hold pre-term elections for the presidency of the Russian Federation? and (4) Do you consider it essential to hold pre-term elections for the People's Deputies of the Russian Federation? In addition, the Congress passed a provision that, for a question to be approved, it needed the backing of at least half of all eligible voters (and not just half of the actual ballots cast); however, the Constitutional Court ruled that only the latter two questions needed at least 50 percent and that the first two questions were nonbinding. With Yeltsin's camp using the slogan “Da, da, nyet, da” (“Yes, yes, no, yes”), the results were a victory for Yeltsin. Nearly three-fifths of voters expressed confidence in him personally, and more than half supported his economic and social policies. Half of voters favoured early presidential elections, but two-thirds supported early parliamentary elections; however, with only 43 percent of eligible voters backing early parliamentary elections, Yeltsin was forced to continue his uneasy relationship with the Congress.

      In the summer of 1993 Yeltsin established a Constitutional Convention to draw up a new post-Soviet constitution. The parliament also set up its own Constitutional Committee. Inevitably, presidential and parliamentary constitutional drafts were contradictory, and the increasing number of regional leaders who supported the parliamentary version worried Yeltsin. Thus, the referendum results did not end the political conflict between Yeltsin and the parliament, and that conflict grew more intense on Sept. 21, 1993, when Yeltsin issued a series of presidential decrees that dissolved the parliament and imposed presidential rule that would exist until after elections to a new parliament and a referendum on a new draft constitution were held in December. The parliament declared Yeltsin's decree illegal, impeached him, and swore in his vice president, Aleksandr Rutskoy, as president. Weapons were then handed out to civilians to defend the parliamentary building, known as the “Russian White House.” On September 25, troops and militia loyal to Yeltsin surrounded the building. On October 2, there were armed clashes between troops and supporters of the Congress. The most serious battle took place around the television station at Ostankino. By this time, crowds of parliamentary supporters had begun to fill the streets of Moscow, and it seemed a civil war was going to erupt in the middle of the capital, prompting Yeltsin to declare a state of emergency in Moscow on October 4. Shortly thereafter, tanks begin firing on the parliamentary building and on the deputies inside, leading to the surrender and arrest of everyone inside the building, including the speaker of the parliament and Rutskoi. With the defeat of parliamentary forces, the way was clear for elections to a new parliament and a referendum on a new constitution in December 1993.

      Yeltsin's new constitution gave the president vast powers. The president appointed the prime minister, who had to be approved by the Duma, the lower house of the legislature, and the president could issue decrees that had the force of law as long as they did not contradict federal or constitutional law. The president also was given the power to dismiss the Duma and call for new parliamentary elections. Under the new constitution the prime minister was the vital link connecting the executive with the legislative branch. Although the prime minister was accountable to the parliament, he first had to maintain the president's confidence to remain in office. The premiership of Viktor Chernomyrdin, Yeltsin's longest-serving prime minister (1992–98), reflected the extent to which a Russian prime minister was dependent on the president—and not the parliament—for his mandate to rule. Yeltsin dismissed Chernomyrdin in 1998, ostensibly for failing to implement reforms energetically enough, though there was the suspicion that the prime minister had offended the president's ego by acting a bit too independently and grooming himself to succeed Yeltsin as president.

      In the first two Dumas (elected in 1993 and 1995), the Communist Party of the Russian Federation was the single largest party, though it was never close to becoming a majority party. The Communist Party, which inherited the infrastructure of the dissolved Communist Party of the Soviet Union, had the most effective nationwide organization. Other parties found it difficult to project their message outside the major urban areas. Party loyalties were weak; deputies jumped from one party to another in the hope of improving their electoral chances. Worrying to many was the success of the ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, which captured 22.8 percent of the vote in 1993 (though its share of the vote declined thereafter). Nevertheless, despite hostile and even at times inflammatory rhetoric directed toward both Yeltsin and Russian foreign policy, Zhirinovsky's party generally backed the executive branch. Throughout the 1990s, hundreds of parties were founded, but most were short-lived, as the appeal of many was based solely on the personality of the founder. For example, the liberal party of acting prime minister Yegor Gaidar (1992), Russia's Choice, floundered once Gaidar was forced out of government at the end of 1992. Chernomyrdin's party, Our Home Is Russia, suffered a similar fate soon after Yeltsin dismissed him as prime minister.

      The relationship between the Duma and President Yeltsin was characterized by public shows of anger and opposition; behind the scenes, however, compromises were more often than not hammered out by political foes. Moreover, Yeltsin had no qualms about threatening the Duma with dissolution if and when it seemed to be proving recalcitrant to presidential bills. Deputies, fearful of losing their extensive perks of office, such as a flat in Moscow, and of an electorate angry with all politicians, regularly backed down when faced with the implicit threat of dissolution. During Yeltsin's second term, some deputies tried to initiate impeachment proceedings against him, but, because of the many legal obstacles to such a move, Yeltsin easily avoided impeachment.

      During Yeltsin's presidential terms, the weakened Russian state failed to fulfill its basic responsibilities. The legal system, suffering from a lack of resources and trained personnel and a legal code geared to the new market economy, was near collapse. Low salaries led to a drain of experienced jurists to the private sector; there was also widespread corruption within law enforcement and the legal system, as judges and police officials resorted to taking bribes to supplement their meagre incomes. The country's health, education, and social services were also under incredible strain. Due to a lack of resources, law-enforcement agencies proved unable to combat the rising crime. The collapse of medical services also led to a decline in life expectancy and to concerns over the negative rate of population growth; doctors and nurses were underpaid, and many hospitals did not have enough resources to provide even basic care.

      One consequence of the political and economic changes of the 1990s was the emergence of Russian organized crime. For most of the Yeltsin administration, shoot-outs between rival groups and the assassinations of organized-crime or business figures filled the headlines of Russian newspapers and created greater disgust among Russians over the course of economic reform and democracy. The explosive rise in crime came as a shock to most Russians, who under the Soviet period had very rarely come into contact with such incidents. The assassinations of well-known and well-liked figures, such as human rights advocate Galina Starovoitova, served to underscore the Yeltsin regime's inability to combat crime. By the end of the Yeltsin era, the open warfare between organized-crime groups had diminished not because of effective state action but because of the consolidation of the remaining criminal groups that had emerged victorious from the bloody struggles.

Ethnic relations and Russia's “near-abroad”
      Post-Soviet Russia emerged with formidable ethnic problems. Many of the autonomous ethnic regions that were part of the empire—formed before 1917—no longer wished to be under Russian hegemony, and ethnic Russians comprised less than four-fifths of the population of the Russian Federation. Inevitably, the question of ethnic identity emerged. The term rossiyanin was used to designate a citizen of the Russian Federation and was not given any ethnic Russian connotation. Yeltsin established a committee to construct a Russian identity and national idea that could be used to rally people around the new Russian Federation. The committee failed after several years of attempts, finding that a national idea and identity needed to come from below and not from above, since history had shown that the creation of an identity from above leads to the establishment or strengthening of an authoritarian or totalitarian state. The Russian Orthodox Church reestablished itself as a force in the moral guidance of reborn Russia, but there were many other religions among the minority groups, particularly Islam. Russia continued to face problems associated with governing a multiethnic state within a democratic framework.

      During the Yeltsin years, Russia's numerous administrative regions sought greater autonomy. For example, Tatarstan negotiated additional rights and privileges, and the republic of Chechnya declared independence in 1991, before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Chechen nationalism was based on the struggle against Russian imperialism since the early 19th century and the living memory of Stalin's massive deportations of the Chechen population in 1944 that had resulted in the deaths of a large segment of the population. In late 1994 Yeltsin sent the army into Chechnya in the aftermath of a botched Russian-orchestrated coup against the secessionist president, Dzhokhar Dudayev. There were fears that if Chechnya succeeded in breaking away from the Russian Federation, other republics might follow suit. Moreover, Dudayev's Chechnya had become a source of drug dealing and arms peddling. In 1995 Russia gained control of the capital, Grozny. However, in 1996 Russian forces were pushed out of the capital city. Yeltsin, faced with an upcoming presidential election and great unpopularity because of both the war and economic problems, had Gen. Aleksandr Lebed sign a cease-fire agreement with the Chechens. The Russians subsequently withdrew from the republic, postponing the question of Chechen independence.

      When the Soviet Union collapsed, a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was established to serve as a forum for the former Soviet republics. All the former republics eventually joined, except the Baltic republics. Moscow coined the term “the near-abroad” when discussing its foreign policy toward the newly independent states. Russia still hoped to maintain influence over most of these former republics, and it considered both the Caucasus and Central Asia its special area of interest, raising fears that Moscow would use the CIS as a mechanism for achieving this aim. Aid from the Russian government to Russian separatists in the Dniester region of Moldova and intervention in the Tajik civil war were illustrative of Moscow's attempt to maintain influence in these areas. In addition, the Russian government was prepared to use other means of exerting influence, such as economic pressure on Ukraine and the threat of separatism in Georgia, to attain its ends.

      However, Moscow did more to undermine the CIS through its inconsistent policies, lack of organizational leadership, and tendency to work bilaterally with the governments of the newly independent republics. At CIS meetings many announcements were made about closer integration among the member states, and a plethora of documents were signed, but very little was done. In 1996 Russia and Belarus began a process that, it was proclaimed, would eventually result in the unification of the two countries. However, by the early 21st century there was still no sign that unification would occur. Given Russia's severe economic difficulties, which limited its ability to provide financial and military assistance to its neighbours (at least until the surge in oil prices in the early 21st century), it found it difficult to retain influence over its near-abroad. Even regarding access to Russia's markets by its neighbours, Russian officials were wary of allowing too many goods to flow into the country for fear that it would further weaken Russian industry.

      The collapse of the Soviet Union left some 30 million Russians outside the borders of the Russian Federation. The largest Russian populations were in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and the Baltic countries. Governments in these countries feared that Moscow could, if it wanted, use the Russian populations there to pressure the governments to adopt policies friendly to Moscow. However, during the 1990s Moscow refrained from following such an approach—sometimes to the great criticism of the Russians living in these areas.

      For several years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Yeltsin placed a high priority on relations with the West, particularly with the United States. The initial honeymoon period in U.S.-Russian relations ended abruptly, as it became increasingly clear that some geopolitical goals of each country were incompatible. Russia opposed the eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Although Russia eventually accepted the inevitability of NATO expansion to some countries, the government tried to thwart the entry of former Soviet republics and to construct a viable bilateral relationship with NATO so that it would have some influence over the organization's decisions. While Moscow was still wary of NATO, it attempted to strengthen its economic and political relations with the European Union. Policy disagreements over the Balkans—in particular, U.S. support for armed intervention against the Yugoslav government of Slobodan Milošević (Milošević, Slobodan)—also contributed to the cooling of relations between Washington and Moscow.

      The collapse of the Soviet Union left the United States as the sole superpower. As a result, the Russian government tried to not only come to terms with the loss of empire and superpower status but also create a foreign policy doctrine reflecting the new global geopolitical reality. Russia's increasing concern with U.S. hegemony in the world system became a constant theme in Russian foreign policy, especially after Yevgeny Primakov became foreign minister in 1995. Primakov stressed the need for a multipolar system of international relations to replace the unipolar world dominated by the United States. In an attempt to counter U.S. power, Moscow strengthened its political and military relations with China and India, although friction between New Delhi and Beijing made it unlikely that a strong trilateral alliance would emerge to challenge the United States. Russia's relations with Iran and differences in approaches to Iraq further increased tensions in Russian-U.S. relations.

      During the Yeltsin years the normal foreign-policy-making mechanisms did not perform well, as various bureaucratic bodies fought for control over the direction of Russia's external relations. Moreover, Yeltsin himself exhibited inconsistency in his foreign policy; his divide-and-rule strategy was an effective barrier to the establishment of greater order in Russia's foreign relations, though Primakov attempted to give some direction to Russia's foreign policy. Consequently, Russian foreign policy during this period was characterized by aimlessness, contradictions, and confusion.

Rewriting history
      The Yeltsin period witnessed changes in Russian historiography. During the Soviet period, history was written on the basis of Marxism-Leninism, which placed class struggle and the inevitable emergence of communism at the centre of history. With the collapse of the Soviet Union—and with it Marxist-Leninist dogma—Russian historians began to reevaluate the historiography of the Soviet and tsarist periods. They were aided by the opening of archives in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Historians engaged in serious debate as to whether the events of 1917 were inevitable or not. The belief that the Bolshevik Revolution had thrown Russia off the evolutionary course traveled by other European countries gained wide acceptance. Popular histories began to glorify the tsarist period, and Peter I, Catherine II, Alexander II, and others became positive figures in Russian history. Nicholas II was viewed more sympathetically, with emphasis placed on his great love for his family and Russia. The reburial of his remains and those of the immediate imperial family, all of whom were executed together in 1918, in the Peter-Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg in 1999 brought to a head the partial transformation of Nicholas II's position in Russian history. The opening of the archives also gave historians an unprecedented opportunity to rewrite the history of the Soviet period. The Stalin period and the role of Lenin in the emergence of a totalitarian state after the revolution were the first targets of this new history. Documentary evidence reflecting thinking at the highest levels during and after World War II also gave historians an opportunity to reevaluate the origins of the Cold War, which in many instances led to debunking conventional wisdom among Western historians of Soviet intentions at the time.

Martin McCauley Dominic Lieven

The Putin presidency
 Toward the end of Yeltsin's tenure as president, Vladimir Putin (Putin, Vladimir) began playing a more important role. During the Soviet period, he joined the KGB and worked in East Germany for many years. Fluent in German and proficient in English, Putin worked for the liberal mayor of St. Petersburg, Anatoly Sobchak, in the initial post-Soviet period and ended up in Moscow when Sobchak failed to be reelected mayor in 1996. In July 1998 Putin became director of the Federal Security Service, one of the successor organizations of the KGB, and in August 1999 Yeltsin plucked Putin out of relative obscurity for the post of prime minister.

      As prime minister, Putin blamed Chechen secessionists for the bombing of several apartment buildings that killed scores of Russian civilians, prompting the Moscow government to send Russian forces into the republic once again. (Evidence never proved Chechen involvement in these bombings, leading some to believe that the Russian intelligence services played a role in them.) The campaign enjoyed some initial success, with Grozny falling quickly to the Russians. Putin's popularity soared, and Yeltsin, having chosen Putin as his successor, resigned on Dec. 31, 1999. Putin became acting president, and his first official act as president was to grant Yeltsin a pardon for any illegal activities he might have committed during his administration.

      In the presidential election held in March 2000, Putin easily defeated Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov in the first round of balloting, winning 52.9 percent of the vote to secure a full term as president. Although the Russian military was able to win control of Chechnya, Chechen fighters fled to the mountains and hills, threatening Russian forces with a prolonged guerilla war. Fighting continued during the next two years, but by 2002 it had abated, and Putin, confident in Russia's military position, sought talks with what remained of the Chechen leadership. Nevertheless, in October 2002, Chechen separatists seized a Moscow theatre and threatened to kill all those inside; Putin responded by ordering special forces to raid the theatre, and during the operation some 130 hostages died—mostly as the result of inhaling gas released by the security forces in order to subdue the terrorists.

      Despite worries arising from his years working for the intelligence services, many Russians came to believe that Putin's coolness and decisiveness would enable him to establish economic and political order in the country and deal with the Chechen problem. After years of Yeltsin's unpredictable behaviour, the upsurge in violent crime, and the decline in both living standards and Russia's prestige abroad, Russians were ready for a leader with an agenda and the mental capacity to implement it. Putin soon moved to reassert central control over the country's 89 regions by dividing the country into seven administrative districts, each of which would be overseen by a presidential appointee. The new districts were created to root out corruption, keep an eye on the local governors, and ensure that Moscow's will and laws were enforced. During the Yeltsin years, contradictions between Russian federal law and that of the regions had created great chaos in the Russian legal system, and Putin worked to establish the supremacy of Russian Federation law throughout the country. Putin even enjoyed success in taming the independent-minded regions, as the republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan reluctantly brought their constitutions into accord with that of the Russian Federation in 2002.

      Although Putin hoped to maintain a strategic partnership with the United States, he focused on strengthening Russia's relations (both security and economic) with Europe, particularly Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, after the September 11 attacks in 2001 on the United States by al-Qaeda (Qaeda, al-), Putin was the first foreign leader to telephone U.S. President George W. Bush (Bush, George W.) to offer sympathy and help in combating terrorism. Moreover, Russia established a council with NATO on which it sat as an equal alongside NATO's 19 members. Russia also reacted calmly when the United States officially abandoned the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, established temporary military bases in several of the former Soviet states in Central Asia, and dispatched special forces on a training mission to Georgia, where there were suspected al-Qaeda training bases.

      However, Putin was wary of U.S. unilateralism and worked to strengthen Russian ties with China and India and maintain ties with Iran. In 2002–03 he opposed military intervention against Iraq (Iraq War) by the United States and the United Kingdom and developed a joint position with France and Germany that favoured a more stringent inspections regime of Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction (weapon of mass destruction) program rather than the use of military force (see also Iraq War).

      Putin brought new life to the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) by providing relatively active Russian leadership, in sharp contrast to the Yeltsin years, and he strengthened Russia's ties with the Central Asian republics in order to maintain Russian influence in this vital area. Under Yeltsin the Russian army, starved of funds, had lost much of its effectiveness and technological edge. Russian defeats in the first Chechen war only underlined the appalling state in which the armed forces found itself. Through greater arms sales, Putin hoped to increase funding for the armed forces, particularly for personnel and for the research and development sector of the Russian military industrial complex.

The oligarchs (oligarchy)
      Putin also took steps to limit the political and economic power of the infamous oligarchs, whom many Russians considered to be thieves and one of the main causes of the myriad problems facing Russia. Although Putin did not and could not destroy the business elite, he made it clear that certain limits on their behaviour would be expected. Those oligarchs who were either openly against Putin during the presidential campaign or critical of his policies faced the Kremlin's wrath. For example, in 2001 Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris Berezovsky, two of Russia's richest men, were stripped of their electronic media holdings, and Berezovsky was removed from his position of influence at Russian Public Television, Russia's most widely watched television channel. And in 2003 Russia's richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of the oil giant Yukos, was arrested and eventually convicted of fraud and tax evasion. The campaign against certain oligarchs caused fear among many about Putin's commitment to freedom of speech and the press. During the Yeltsin era the media had become a tool in the hands of the oligarchs, who used their individual media outlets in their battles with each other and with political figures. On the other hand, certain television stations consistently contradicted the reports of government-controlled stations on issues such as corruption and the wars in Chechnya, thereby providing an alternative source to government news sources. While under Yeltsin the government did not try to reassert control over the mass media, television networks (or their owners) seen as unfriendly to Putin and his policies faced closure by the government—usually on charges of nonpayment of taxes and financial mismanagement.

Political and economic reforms
      Putin proved adept at constructing a stable relationship with the Duma. Yeltsin's automatic hostility to the Communist Party had resulted in a shaky relationship with the Duma and an inability to obtain passage of a number of reform measures. Putin was better able to work with the parties in the Duma and secured the passage of bills that reformed the tax, judicial, labour, and bankruptcy systems, provided property rights, adopted national symbols and the flag, and approved arms treaties. In addition, unlike Yeltsin, Putin was not inclined to frequent changes in the cabinet or premiership, thereby creating conditions for policy consistency and political stability that ordinary Russians appreciated. Putin also attempted to reduce the number of political parties—in particular, regional parties—in Russia by requiring that parties have registered offices and at least 10,000 members in at least half of Russia's regions to compete in national elections.

      Despite some domestic opposition, Putin pursued economic reforms, believing that the Russian economy's long-term health was tied to deep structural reforms that the Yeltsin administration had ignored, though implementing such reforms proved difficult. Putin secured passage of legislation creating a new tax code that simplified and streamlined the tax system in order to encourage individuals and businesses to pay taxes and to improve the efficiency of paying and collecting taxes. As a result of these measures, the state's rate of tax collection dramatically increased. Coupled with a surge in income from the increase in world oil prices, the Russian government enjoyed a budget surplus and was able pay off some of its external debt. Putin was also keen to attract foreign investment into Russia in order to reduce Russia's dependence on Western loans (which he believed threatened the country's national interests and long-term economic prospects) and to help finance the refurbishment and expansion of Russian industry. Russia also sought to increase its exports by promoting the sale of oil, natural gas, and arms. The reforms implemented by Putin—as well as his demeanour—produced political stability and economic vitality not seen in the country during the 1990s and gave Russia a sense of confidence as it entered the 21st century.

      Putin's presidency also witnessed a change in the way Russians viewed the Soviet past. Whereas under Yeltsin popular histories and general opinion were critical of the Soviet period and nostalgic for the prerevolutionary period, during Putin's tenure aspects of the Soviet period—for example, the victory in World War II, Russia's superpower status, and even the Stalinist period—were again glorified (Stalin was described in one teaching manual as “the most successful leader of the U.S.S.R.”), and this dualism was reflected in the country's symbols. Despite nostalgia among some communists for the Soviet period and uncertainty among many about the future, by the early 21st century Russia seemed poised to set upon the long path of economic and political development. However, deep structural problems in the economy remained, and the number of people living in poverty remained high.

Dominic Lieven
      Despite criticism that he had centralized too much power in the presidency and was curtailing freedoms won with the dismantling of the Soviet Union, Putin remained popular and was reelected in 2004 in a landslide, garnering more than 70 percent of the vote. During his second term, Putin's popularity continued to be high, and speculation loomed that he, constitutionally ineligible to run for another term in office because of term limits, might engineer a change to the constitution to allow him to be reelected. Instead, Putin surprised many observers in October 2007 by announcing that he would head the list of the pro-Putin United Russia party in parliamentary elections. In December 2007 United Russia won more than three-fifths of the vote and 315 of the Duma's 450 seats. Less than two weeks later, Putin anointed First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (Medvedev, Dmitry) as his successor as president for the 2008 elections. In turn, Medvedev subsequently announced that he would appoint Putin prime minister if his campaign succeeded, thus giving Putin a platform by which to continue his dominance of Russian politics. In March 2008, in a contest that some Western election observers (such as the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) considered not fully fair or democratic, Medvedev was easily elected president, winning 70 percent of the vote. Medvedev took office on May 7, 2008; Putin was confirmed as prime minister the next day.

The Medvedev presidency
      Just three months into his presidency, Medvedev was confronted with a growing military conflict between Russia's neighbour Georgia and South Ossetia, a separatist region of Georgia that borders the Russian republic of North Ossetia–Alania. As fighting between Georgian and Ossetian forces escalated in August 2008, Russia sent thousands of troops across the border with the goal of supporting rebels in not only South Ossetia but also Abkhazia, another separatist region within Georgia. Despite a French-brokered cease-fire, hostilities continued, and Russian troops remained in Georgia. Russia's actions heightened tensions between it and the West. In response to condemnation from NATO, which Georgia hopes to join, Russia suspended its cooperation with the Atlantic alliance. In September the Russian government agreed to withdraw its troops from Georgia; however, it planned to maintain a military presence in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, whose independence it had recognized.


Leaders of Russia from 1276
       Leaders of Muscovy, Russia, the Russian Empire, and the Soviet Union Leaders of Muscovy, Russia, the Russian Empire, and the Soviet UnionThe table provides a chronological list of the leaders of Russia from 1276 onward.

Additional Reading
A general overview of Russia is Glenn E. Curtis, Russia: A Country Study (1998). Denis J.B. Shaw, Russia in the Modern World: A New Geography (1999), examines the spatial structures of Russia, including those of polity, culture, economy, and rural and urban life, with a descriptive discussion of the country's traditional 11 economic regions.

Graham Smith, The Post-Soviet States: Mapping the Politics of Transition (1999), explores Russia's transition into democracy, particularly with respect to the states that now border the country. Blair A. Ruble, Jodi Koehn, and Nancy E. Popson (eds.), Fragmented Space in the Russian Federation (2001), combines the efforts of Western and Russian geographers in a collective monograph. Of similar origin and character is George J. Demko, Gregory Ioffe, and Zhanna Zayonchkovskaya (eds.), Population Under Duress: The Geodemography of Post-Soviet Russia (1999).Information about Russia's forests and deforestation is presented in Friends of the Siberian Forests, Bureau for Regional Outreach Campaigns, and Anatoly Lebedev, The Wild East: Trees in Transit: The Timber Trade Between Siberia, the Russian Far East, and China (2001); Alexey Yu. Yaroshenko, Peter V. Potapov, and Svetlana A. Turubanova, The Last Intact Forest Landscapes of Northern European Russia: Mapping of Intact Forest Landscapes in Northern European Russia Using High-Resolution Satellite Images: Methods and Results (2001); and Alexey Morozov, Survey of Illegal Forest Felling Activities in Russia (2000).Ecological damage suffered during the Soviet period is discussed in Ze'ev Wolfson (Boris Komarov), The Geography of Survival: Ecology in the Post-Soviet Era (1994); and Murray Feshbach, Ecological Disaster: Cleaning Up the Hidden Legacy of the Soviet Regime (1995).

Ethnicity is the focus of Robert J. Kaiser, The Geography of Nationalism in Russia and the USSR (1994); Jeff Chinn and Robert J. Kaiser, Russians as the New Minority: Ethnicity and Nationalism in the Soviet Successor States (1996); and Michael Rywkin, Moscow's Lost Empire (1994).The ethnic and religious composition of the population and its implications are discussed in David C. Lewis, After Atheism: Religion and Ethnicity in Russia and Central Asia (2000); Christopher Williams and Thanasis D. Sfikas, Ethnicity and Nationalism in Russia, the CIS, and the Baltic States (1999); Gail Fondahl, Gaining Ground?: Evenkis, Land, and Reform in Southeastern Siberia (1998); Viktor Kozlov, The Peoples of the Soviet Union, trans. by Pauline M. Tiffen (1988; originally published in Russian, 1975); Ludmilla Alexeyeva, Soviet Dissent: Contemporary Movements for National, Religious, and Human Rights, trans. by Carol Pearce and John Glad (1987); Ronald Wixman, The Peoples of the USSR: An Ethnographic Handbook (1984, reissued 1988); Hedrick Smith, The Russians (1976, reissued 1985); Farley Mowat, The Siberians (1970, reissued 1982; also published as Sibir: My Discovery of Siberia, 1970); and M.G. Levin and L.P. Potapov (eds.), The Peoples of Siberia (1964; originally published in Russian, 1956). Valuable additional material on many aspects of the Russian republic and its peoples is found in Archie Brown, Michael Kaser, and Gerald S. Smith (eds.), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Russia and the Former Soviet Union, 2nd ed. (1994); and Stephen White (ed.), Political and Economic Encyclopaedia of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (1990).Studies of urbanization in Russia include F.E. Ian Hamilton, The Moscow City Region (1976); James H. Bater, The Soviet City: Ideal and Reality (1980); Olga Medvedkov, The Soviet Urbanization (1990); Blair A. Ruble, Leningrad: Shaping a Soviet City (1990), and Money Sings: The Changing Politics of Urban Space in Post-Soviet Yaroslavl (1995); and Grigory Ioffe and Tatyana Nefedova, The Environs of Russian Cities (2000).

The economy and economic issues are the subject of Anders Åslund, How Russia Became a Market Economy (1995); and David E. Hoffman, The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia (2002). Regional issues are examined in Philip Hanson and Michael Bradshaw (eds.), Regional Economic Change in Russia (2000).Current developments are discussed in the journal Eurasian Geography and Economics.

Government and society
Works on Russia's government in the post-Soviet period include Thomas F. Remington, Politics in Russia, 4th ed. (2006); Vicki L. Hesli, Governments and Politics in Russia and the Post-Soviet Region (2007); Arthur H. Miller, William M. Reisinger, and Vicki L. Hesli (eds.), Public Opinion and Regime Change: The New Politics of Post-Soviet Societies (1993); Valerie Sperling (ed.), Building the Russian State: Institutional Crisis and the Quest for Democratic Governance (2000); and Richard Pipes, Russian Conservatism and Its Critics: A Study in Political Culture (2005).Murray Feshbach et al. (eds.), Environmental and Health Atlas of Russia (1995), explores the connection between public health and the quality of the environment, providing maps and explanatory essays.

Cultural life
An excellent general history of Russian literature is Victor Terras, A History of Russian Literature (1991). Outstanding books on the interaction of literature and society include, for the 19th century, Isaiah Berlin, Russian Thinkers, ed. by Henry Hardy and Aileen Kelly (1978, reissued 1994); and, for the Soviet period, Ronald Hingley, Russian Writers and Soviet Society, 1917–1978 (1979, reissued 1981). An excellent survey of Soviet culture as a whole is Andrei Sinyavsky (Andrei Siniavskii), Soviet Civilization: A Cultural History, trans. from Russian by Joanne Turnbull (1990). Important books on Russian art include Camilla Gray, The Great Experiment: Russian Art, 1863–1922 (1962, reissued as The Russian Experiment in Art, 1863–1922, 1971); and Angelica Zander Rudenstine (ed.), Russian Avant-Garde Art: The George Costakis Collection (1981). Konstantin Rudnitsky (Konstantin Rudnitskii), Russian and Soviet Theater, 1905–1932, trans. from Russian by Roxane Permar, ed. by Lesley Milne (1988), a copiously illustrated work, provides a good introduction to the golden age of Russian theatre. Jay Leyda, Kino: A History of the Russian and Soviet Film, 3rd ed. (1983), is an authoritative study of developments since tsarist times.Olga L. Medvedkov Yuri V. Medvedkov

General works
Historical studies of geopolitical aspects include Stephen Kotkin, Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970–2000 (2001); and James H. Bater and R.A. French (eds.), Studies in Russian Historical Geography (1983). Also helpful is Martin Gilbert, The Routledge Atlas of Russian History, 3rd ed. (2002).

From the beginnings to c. 1700
Judicious broad surveys of early Russian history include Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, A History of Russia, 6th ed. (2000); and Simon Franklin and Jonathan Shepard, The Emergence of Rus, 750–1200 (1996). The history of Muscovy is chronicled in Robert O. Crummey, The Formation of Muscovy, 1304–1613 (1987).

The 18th century
An interpretative survey with significant treatment of the 18th century is Richard Pipes, Russia Under the Old Regime, 2nd ed. (1995). The Petrine period is examined in Paul Bushkovitch, Peter the Great: The Struggle for Power, 1671–1725 (2001, reissued 2003); and Lindsay Hughes, Russia in the Age of Peter the Great (1998, reissued 2000).A critical analysis of the relationship between administration and society in the 18th century is given in John P. LeDonne, Absolutism and Ruling Class: The Formation of the Russian Political Order, 1700–1825 (1991).The reign and person of Catherine II (Catherine the Great) are analyzed in Isabel De Madariaga, Russia in the Age of Catherine the Great (1981, reissued 2002), and Catherine the Great: A Short History, 2nd ed. (2002). Philosophical and political thought is presented in Andrzeji Walicki, A History of Russian Thought: From the Enlightenment to Marxism, trans. by Hilda Andrews-Rusiecka (1979, reissued 1988; originally published in Polish, 1973).Marc Raeff Dominic Lieven

Russia from 1801 to 1904
General surveys of Russian history in the 19th century include David Saunders, Russia in the Age of Reaction and Reform, 1801–1881 (1992); and Hugh Seton-Watson, The Russian Empire, 1801–1917 (1967, reprinted 1990). An excellent English-language work on the reign of Alexander I is Janet M. Hartley, Alexander I (1994). Politics during the reign of Alexander I is discussed in Alexander M. Martin, Romantics, Reformers, and Reactionaries: Russian Conservative Thought and Politics in the Reign of Alexander I (1997). The reign of Nicholas I is explored in W. Bruce Lincoln, Nicholas I, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias (1978, reprinted 1989). The general economic development of Russia in the 19th century is analyzed in W. Bruce Lincoln, The Great Reforms: Autocracy, Bureaucracy, and the Politics of Change in Imperial Russia (1990); Ben Eklof, John Bushnell, and Larissa Zakharova (eds.), Russia's Great Reforms, 1855–1881 (1994); and Arcadius Kahan, Russian Economic History: The Nineteenth Century, ed. by Roger Weiss (1989). An analysis of reform and counterreform dynamics is given in Thomas S. Pearson, Russian Officialdom in Crisis: Autocracy and Local Self-Government, 1861–1900 (1989, reissued 2002). Dominic Lieven, Nicholas II (1993, reissued 1996), examines the personality of Nicholas II and his reign.Studies of important issues in Russian foreign policy and the emergence of the Russian Empire include William C. Fuller, Jr., Strategy and Power in Russia, 1600–1914 (1992); Dietrich Geyer, Russian Imperialism: The Interaction of Domestic and Foreign Policy, 1860–1914, trans. by Bruce Little (1987; originally published in German, 1977); Andreas Kappeler, The Russian Empire: A Multiethnic History, trans. by Alfred Clayton (2001; originally published in German, 1992); Dominic Lieven, Empire: The Russian Empire and Its Rivals (2000, reissued 2003); and Geoffrey Hosking, Russia: People and Empire, 1552–1917 (1997).Nicholas V. Riasanovsky Dominic Lieven

Russia from 1905 to 1917
An excellent general introduction to the period is Hans Rogger, Russia in the Age of Modernisation and Revolution, 1881–1917 (1983). Foreign policy is the subject of Barbara Jelavich, Russia's Balkan Entanglements, 1806–1914 (1991, reissued 2002); David MacLaren McDonald, United Government and Foreign Policy in Russia, 1900–1914 (1992); and Dominic Lieven, Russia and the Origins of the First World War (1983). Dominic Lieven, Russia's Rulers Under the Old Regime (1989), offers a collective portrait of the policy makers. The economy of the period is examined in Peter Gatrell, The Tsarist Economy, 1850–1917 (1986).The Revolution of 1905 is addressed in Abraham Ascher, The Revolution of 1905, 2 vol. (1988–92); and Andrew M. Verner, The Crisis of Russian Autocracy: Nicholas II and the 1905 Revolution (1990). A more comparative socioeconomic approach to the revolution is demonstrated in Teodor Shanin, The Roots of Otherness: Russia's Turn of Century, 2 vol. (1986), which concentrates especially on the peasantry. The reaction of the elites to the revolution is analyzed in Roberta Thompson Manning, The Crisis of the Old Order in Russia: Gentry and Government (1982). The politics of the new parliament, the Duma, is outlined in Geoffrey A. Hosking, The Russian Constitutional Experiment: Government and Duma, 1907–1914 (1973); and the social dimension of the new politics is examined in Leopold H. Haimson (ed.), The Politics of Rural Russia, 1905–1914 (1979); and Victoria E. Bonnell, Roots of Rebellion: Workers' Politics and Organizations in St. Petersburg and Moscow, 1900–1914 (1983). Russia's problems during World War I are described in Michael T. Florinsky, The End of the Russian Empire (1931, reprinted 1973). The revolutionary period is the subject of Orlando Figes, A People's Tragedy (1996, reissued 1998).Geoffrey Alan Hosking Dominic Lieven

For the Soviet period there are hardly any specific histories of Russia, which is always treated in the wider context of the Soviet Union. An overview of the Revolution of 1917 and its consequences is offered in Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 2nd ed. (1994, reissued 2001). Robert Service, A History of Twentieth-Century Russia (1998), is an excellent one-volume history of the Soviet state. Christopher Read, The Making and Breaking of the Soviet System (2001), provides a stimulating analysis of the causes of the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. Relevant historical biographies include Robert Service, Lenin: A Biography (2000); Robert C. Tucker, Stalin as Revolutionary, 1879–1929 (1973), and Stalin in Power, 1928–1941 (1990); and William J. Tompson, Khrushchev: A Political Life (1995, reissued 1997). Chris Ward (ed.), The Stalinist Dictatorship (1998), is a readable examination of the Stalinist period. The Gorbachev era is analyzed in Archie Brown, The Gorbachev Factor (1996); Stephen White, After Gorbachev, 4th ed. (1994), a solid narrative of the years of perestroika; Richard Sakwa, Gorbachev and His Reforms, 1985–1990 (1990); Jeffrey F. Hough, Democratization and Revolution in the USSR, 1985–1991 (1997); and Mikhail Gorbachev, Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World, new, updated ed. (1988), and Memoirs (1996), which reveals insights into Gorbachev's thinking. Good introductions to the Soviet political structure and situation are Richard Sakwa, Soviet Politics in Perspective, 2nd ed. rev. (1998); Gordon B. Smith, Soviet Politics: Struggling with Change, 2nd ed. (1992); Geoffrey Ponton, The Soviet Era: Soviet Politics from Lenin to Yeltsin (1994); and Evan Mawdsley and Stephen White, The Soviet Elite from Lenin to Gorbachev: The Central Committee and Its Members, 1917–1991 (2000), a wide-ranging survey. Alec Nove, An Economic History of the USSR, 1917–1991, 3rd ed. (1992), is an informed, accessible account. The breakup of the Soviet Union is the subject of Ronald Grigor Suny, The Revenge of the Past: Nationalism, Revolution, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union (1993); and Roman Szporluk, Russia, Ukraine, and the Break-up of the Soviet Union (2000). Foreign policy is discussed in Gabriel Gorodetsky (ed.), Soviet Foreign Policy, 1917–1991: A Retrospective (1994). Vladislav Zubok and Constantine Pleshakov, Inside the Kremlin's Cold War: From Stalin to Khrushchev (1996), uses archival material released in the 1990s to examine the Cold War and its origins from the Soviet point of view. The secret police's role during the Soviet period is the subject of Amy W. Knight, The KGB: Police and Politics in the Soviet Union, rev. ed. (1990).Martin McCauley Dominic Lieven

Post-Soviet Russia
Interpretative surveys include Lilia Shevtsova, Yeltsin's Russia: Myth and Reality (2000); Stephen White, Alex Pravda, and Zvi Gitelman (eds.), Developments in Russian Politics 5, 5th ed. (2001); and Archie Brown (ed.), Contemporary Russian Politics: A Reader (2001). Studies of the economic transition include Andrei Shleifer and Daniel Treisman, Without a Map: Political Tactics and Economic Reform in Russia (2000); Alena V. Ledeneva, Russia's Economy of Favours: Blat, Networking, and Informal Exchange (1998); Jefferey F. Hough, The Logic of Economic Reform in Russia (2001); Thane Gustafson, Capitalism Russian-Style (1999); Peter Reddaway and Dmitri Glinski, The Tragedy of Russia's Reforms: Market Bolshevism Against Democracy (2001); and Tim McDaniel, The Agony of the Russian Idea (1996). Geoffrey Hosking and Robert Service (eds.), Russian Nationalism, Past and Present (1997), examines the reemergence of Russian identity since the collapse of the U.S.S.R. The conflict in Chechnya is explored in John B. Dunlop, Russia Confronts Chechnya: Roots of a Separatist Conflict (1998); and Anatol Lieven, Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power (1998). A solid account of Russian foreign policy in the Yeltsin years is Ted Hopf (ed.), Understandings of Russian Foreign Policy (1999).Leon Aron, Yeltsin: A Revolutionary Life (2000), is an excellent biography. The institutional and political context in which Russian democracy emerged in the 1990s is the subject of Graeme Gill and Roger D. Markwick, Russia's Stillborn Democracy?: From Gorbachev to Yeltsin (2000); Gordon B. Smith (ed.), State-Building in Russia: The Yeltsin Legacy and the Challenge of the Future (1999); and Valerie Sperling (ed.), Building the Russian State: Institutional Crisis and the Quest for Democratic Governance (2000).Dominic Lieven

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