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Monday, August 27, 2007

Ten Arrests in Murder of Russian journalist Politskovskaya

HISTORY IN THE NEWS:



History never dies. It is reborn every minute of every day.

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DEDICATED TO THE ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD.



"If all our progress takes place only through the government, we will give the world an unprecedented example of an autocracy armed with all the achievement of freedom; of slavery and oppression supported by all the discoveries of technology and science. This would be Gengis Khan having at his disposal telegraphs, steamships, railways..."
-Herzen, WORKS, XIV.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: In Russia, Czarist, Soviet or Post-Soviet, there has almost never been free speech in the sense that it is known in the west. The damage done by lagging development and periods of forced progress and its violent consequences under Czars, Communist rulers and their recent successors alike, has led to the widespread use of censorship to conceal failure or to suppress dissent.
TAG: Though the suspects in Politskovkaya's slaying are said to have received their orders from opposition figures abroad, critics of the state suspect the Putin government. After a chaotic period of relative freedom under Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin has reverted to Soviet and Czarist policies of authoritarian control and censorshiip.
IN THE NEWS: THE KREMLIN ANNOUNCES TEN ARRESTS IN THE MURDER OF JOURNALIST AND REGIME CRITIC ANNA POLITSKOVAYA. AMONG THE SUSPECTS ARE A CHECHEN CRIME BOSS AND POLICE AND INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS. MOSCOW IS POINTING TO THE OLIGARCHS AND OPPOSITION IN EXILE AS THEIR PAYMASTERS. CRITICS OF THE REGIME POINT TO THE KREMLIN.
IN A NUTSHELL: After the end of the Mongol empire, which ruled Russia as one of its tributaries, the Czars retained some Mongol methods of authoritarian control. The suppression of the powerful nobles (Boyars) under Ivan IV inaugurated a tradition of strong, centralist, authoritarian rule which has endured in different forms to the present day.
THEN AND NOW: In the 1930s, Nikolai Bukharin critcised Stalin's collectivization of agriculture and at his trial defended Lenin's New Economic policy in which communism was to be saved by a measure of economic freedom. Framed on a charge of planning to assassinate Lenin he was accused of serving capitalist interests abroad. Journalist Politskovaya was similarly throught to be working for anti-Russian interests in her criticism of Russian conduct in the war on Chechnya.
DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS: Russia's modern history of the repression of dissidents is extensive. After the execution of the royal family in 1918, Lenin imposed censorship and cracked down on dissident ideas among the workers. Stalin used censorship to conceal the great famine of 1929-34 caused by his own policies of collectivization. Dissidents who stood up for the rights of minorities under Stalin were sent to Siberia. Indeed most of those who criticized him in print, including novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn were sent to Siberian labour camps. In 1977, under the Brezhnev regime, a crackdown on literary dissidents was provoked by the Helsinki human rights movement which continually embarrassed the Kremlin. Names like Sharansky, Gamsakhurdia, Bonner, Sakharov and Kostava, all dissident elements of the Soviet intelligentsia, some of them scientists, others journalists, were all victims of this period. During the regime of the last Soviet Premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, the policy of ‘Glasnost” or openness was thought to herald an era of democracy and freedom of speech. Many independent magazines, newspaper and radio and TV stations sprang up but Grobachev failed to secure the transition to a freer form of government with a legal framework, allowing both the state and new private financial interests unchecked power.
RELEVANT DATES:
1462-1505- Ivan III (the Great) begins the first expansion of Muscovy. Russia absorbs aspects of the Tartars’ more advanced civilization, in particular, an efficient, centralized state bureaucracy. Intermarriage between Russians and Tartars. Tartars converted to Christianity are absorbed into the Russian nobility.
-Russia turns more and more toward Europe. Ivan III hires an Italian architect for the Kremlin; Italian artists and weapons-makers arrive.
-circa 1550- Ivan IV forms the Oprichina, or secret police with which he represses the Boyars and to whom he gives the Boyars’ estates, making his police in to a ‘service gentry’. However, their lands revert to the State upon their death.
-1672-1725- Peter the Great- westernizer and modernizer of Russia. Builder of Petersburg.
1725-27- Catherine I -as Russia Europeanizes, it moves backward politically.
1787- in response to American Revolution and unrest in France, Catherine the Great imposes heavy censorship, undoing much of her own Russian enlightenment.
1789- the French Revolution is followed closely by liberal aristocrats, intellectuals and merchants.
1796-1801- Paul I- restricts travel and imposes censorship.
1801-1824- Alexander I- relaxes censorship.
1825- the liberal aristocractic Decembrist plot. In reaction, Nicholas I brings in heavy censorship and expands an extensive network of police spies.
1849- Fyodor Dostoesvsky arrested for taking part in the Petrachevsky plot. After being sentenced to death and spared by a mock firing squad- he is sent to four years in Siberia.
-many Russian political journals and thinkers like Herzen, as well as poets and novelists, are published in London to avoid censorship.
1854- Dostoevsky is released from Siberian exile to serve 5 years as an army officer in Kazakstan.
1855-81- Alexander II- lifts some forms of censorship.
1866- attempted assassination of Alexander II. Some censorship is reinstated.
1881- assassination of Alexander II.
1881-94- Alexander III- in response to the assassination of his father, tightens censorship.

Czar revives religious censorship.
-1894-1917- Nicholas II.
-late 1890s- due to relaxation of censorship, Marxist periodicals start to appear.
1898- the formation of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic party.
-economic hardship and lack of social and political liberties cause unrest.
-Nicholas II disregards laws easing censorship.

1917- February, October. Russian revolutions.

-1918- after the execution of the royal family, Lenin imposes censorship and had literature of dissident workers confiscated.

1929-1932- Stalin uses widespread censorship to prevent the emergence of the collective-induced Great Famine in the outside world.
1934-38- Stalin launches mass agricultural collectivization causing the deaths of 11 million of peasants.
-Stalin consolidates his power through the Great Purge.
1937- Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov- a Chechen historian who wrote on Russia is arrested for opposition to collectives being set up in non-Russian areas. He is sent to Siberia for 5 years hard labour.
1945- Stalin occupies the Baltic states and parts of east Prussia, Eastern Europe and East Berlin and the Balkans. Beginning of the Cold War.
-novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn, while on military duty in East Prussia, is arrested for criticizing Stalin in private correspondence and sentenced to eight years hard labour.

1966-86- Mustafa Abdulcemil Cemilev- activist for the rights of Crimean Tartars is jailed 6 times at various camps in Siberia for anti-Soviet activities.

1968- poet Vadim Delaunay is sentenced to Siberia for taking part in a demonstration in red Square in support of the 'Prague Spring' movement in Czechoslovakia.

1974- biophysicist, journalist and activist Sergei Kovalev is exiled to 7 years labour in Siberia for participating in a Lithuanian dissident movement..
1977- the Soviet Union, embarrassed by the Helsinki human rights movement, cracks down on dissidents throughout the country.
-Zviad Gamsakhurdia, a Georgian historian, intellectual and dissident is sentenced to 6 years in Dagestan for 'anti-soviet activities'.
1977- Natan Sharansky, a Jewish human rights activist, is arrested and sent to 14 years hard labour in Siberia.
1977- Georgian human rights activist Merab Kostava is sentenced to hard labour in Siberia.
1984- Russian physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov is sentenced to 5 years' exile in Gorky for "Anti-Soviet slander."
1984- Elena Bonner, journalist, human rights activist and wife of Andrei Sakharov is also sentenced to 5 years exile in Gorki for "anti-Soviet slander."

1986- Gorbachev introduces Glasnost, or democratic reforms. He attempts the impossible, modernizing and democratizing the Soviet Union without dismantling it.

1986- in Berlin, the USSR releases dissident Natan Sharansky in exchange for a pair of Russian spies.
1991- Dec. 31- Gorbachev resigns-- the fall of the Soviet Union..
-Boris Yeltsin becomes president of the new Russian Republic.
2000- Vladimir Putin, Yeltsin’s protégé, is elected president.

2001-Sept. 18- Eduard Markevitch editor of Novy Reft, critical of government, is murdered.
2002- March 8- Natalya Skryl, journalist critical of Russian corporations is murdered.
April 29- Valery Ivanov, editor of the Togliatti Review which reported on the Russian mafia, is murdered.

2003--Russian TV station TV-6 is forced off the air by the government and reinstated with Kremlin managers at TVS- allegedly for financial reasons.
-July 23- Yuri Shchekochikhin about to report jounralistic investigation of FSB to FBI- for Novaya Gazeta when he was murdered.
2003- the Putin government has taken over all Russian TV and radio stations.

2004- -Oct 9- Alexei Sidorov, successor at Togliatti review, reporting on Russian Mafia, is killed.

-Oct 22- former FSB agent Mikhail Trepashkin is framed and arrested for invesigating the Moscow apartment bombings.

2006-July 26-Yevgeny Yerasimenko- investigated corruption in the business world for a Saratove paper- murdered.

Oct 7- Anna Politskovskaya, editor of Novaya Gazeta, investigating abuses by the Russian military in Chechnya- is shot to death.

November- former Russian security service officer and Putin critic, Alexander Litvinienko murdered in London by poisoning with polonium nitrate. He accuses Putin before dying.

2007- Kamzan Kadyrov, a suspect in the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, is elected president of Chechnya.

-under a new law "extremism" is defined as "public slander toward figures fuflilling state duties."

-April 8- Marina Pisareva- head of German media group Bertelsmann, murdered.

Aug. 27- 10 suspects are arrested in the murder of journalist Anna Politskovskaya.

RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS: After the fall of Gorbachev and the Soviet Union, the regime of President Boris Yeltsin brought in a period of lawlessness which allowed both the new capitalist class of 'Oligarchs" and (potentially) the state to garner unchecked power. There has arisen some suspicion that the 1999 bombing of a Moscow apartment building that killed 300 and was attributed to Chechem terrorists, may have been engineered by Moscow to justify a renewed war against Chechnya. Vladimr Putin, at the time Yeltsin's security chief, ordered an invasion the following September. Soon after, Yeltsin retired and Putin, his designate, took power. Islamist Chechen separatists were seen to be part of a larger threat and indeed, a 2001 census reported that Russia had twenty million Muslims or 15 per cent. Putin brought in a campaign of law on order and cracked down on the oligarchs. This seems to have caused many Russians to regard him as a savior, earning him a good deal of leeway with his gathering of autocratic power and indifference to human rights. The war in Chechnya was faltering and he imposed a news blackout on the region. Throughout that time, however,Anna Politskovskaya did investigative reports on atrocities committed by the Russian military in Chechnya. In 2002, two journalists reporting on government corprorations and on the government links to the Russian Mafia were murdered. In 2002-2003 Putin closed almost all independent TV and radio stations. In 2004, nevertheless, Putin was re-elected in a landslide. In 2004, acts of Chechen terrorism increased, with a hostage taking in a school at Beslan resulting in the deaths of 331, most of them children and state security was accused of incompetence.

REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. The causes of Russia's chronic authoritarianism are often debated but it is clear that it has been cumulative and self-perpetuating. Russian civilization began at a much later date than that of its European neighbours. In a sense it has been playing a thousand year game of rushing to catch-up which can been seen in the ruthless social policies of Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great and Stalin. In every case an emergency of some sort was seen to put the leadership's authority beyond criticism in an effort to accelerate the pace of change. Paradoxically, that entailed refusing education to the masses.
By 600 AD, eastward migrating Slavs had occupied a marshy wilderness between the civilizations of Europe and East Asia. A new civilization, they developed a tendency to borrow thier governing institutions from abroad. Time and again, burdened with a population far less educated than that of Europe, force would be seen to be necessary in dealing with threats or competition from outside powers.
The early Slavic inhabitants invited the Varangians from the north west, first as mercenaries, then as rulers. By 1000 AD the Varangians had founded Kiev and Vladimir I of the Varangian kingdgom of Rurik had imported Byzantine Christianity. Settlers from Kiev formed 'Rus' around Moscow and endured the Mongol invasions. By the 14th century Moscow had succeeded the Mongols as the power in the region. In the 5th century, Ivan III, 'the Great' used Mongol concepts of bureaucracy and centralized rule as well as European ideas to make Russia into a regional power. He borrowed the word 'Caesar' (Czar) as the title for the monarch. Ivan III was succeeded by Ivan IV, "The Terrible", who formed a vast secret police into a service nobility to suppress and expropriate the powerful Boyars, or nobles. He expanded Russian territory as far as the Caspian Sea. Determined to secure land for the state, he extracted as much as possible in rents and in territory from serfs and noblility alike. Driven to revolt, peasant rebellions erupted, the most famous of which was that of Stenka Razin. Like all the others, Razin and his followers were punished with ferocity.
In the early 18th century, Peter I, "the Great" used autocratic force and repression to westernize the country under the guidance of European experts. But he restored the nobility that had been crushed by Ivan the terrible. Inevitably, as Russia Europeanized itself by force, it moved backward politically. At the end of the century, Catherine the Great further strengthened the nobility and imported the European enlightenment but began to suppress it as soon as she became aware of the French Revolution. Alexander I, who vanquished Napoleon's invasion of Russia, was relatively liberal and relaxed censorship. The younger generation of his successor. Nicholas I, had begun to feel inspiration from the French Revolution and plots like the Petrachevsky conspiracy, for which Dostoesky was sent to Siberia, caused Nicholas to turn to repression and tighten censorship.
As always, it seemed, Europe unleashed forces that Russia seemed unable to control or adapt and no sooner had Alexander II loosened censorship than his assassination caused his successor, Alexander III to tighten it again. The iron-fisted rule of Alexander III led in turn to attempts at liberalization under Nicholas II whose policies were contradictory and his rule wavering and weak: he liberalized censorship then ignored his own decision. By then Marxism had already got its start and the revolution was on its way.
One consequence of such highly developed autocracy was the lack of freedom needed for the development of a middle class to push for democracy and economic development as it did in other countries. State-assisted capitalism made a belated appearance at the end of the reign of Nicholas II. With a lack of modernizing institutions developing at home, almost every idea except democracy, continued to be imported from abroad. Marxism was imported from Germany, soon to become Soviet Communism. In every case however, authoritarian rule, the only system that ever went unquestioned, was seen to be necessary to protect Orthodoxy, Monarchy, Communism, Republican Authoritariansim (Putin) or whatever new system developed or was imported-- from internal dissent.
LOCATION OF NOTE: Chechnya, the region whose separatist war was covered by Anna Politskovskaya, was absorbed by Russia in the mid-19th century. But neither the Czars nor the Communists could stop Chehcens' continual resistance to Russian or Soviet rule. Stalin made it autonomous in 1936 and when that didn't work he reimposed direct rule in and deported thousands of Chechens in 1944. Krushchev allowed them to return in 1957. In 1991, Chechnya refused to recognize the fall of the Soviet Union and the new Russian republic. Pro- and anti-Russian groups dragged the country into civil war and President Boris Yeltsin ordered Russia to invade. The army never gained control over Chechnya and withdrew in 1996. Chechnya was given autonomy. Chechnya declared itself a Muslim state and soon introduced Islamic law. Banditry and terrorism began to spread from Chehcnya into Russia. In 1999 a Moscow apartment building was bombed, killing 300. Officials blamed Chechen terrorists but many suspected that Russian Security forces commanded by Vladimir Putin had planned it to provoke a pretext for resuming the war, In 1999, indeed, Putin ordered a second invasion which gained some measure of control but at enormous cost. The same year, Putin succeeded to the presidency and the following year he was elected with an overwhelming majority. But the continuation of the conflict in Chehcnya has led Putin to impose a media blackout on the region. The press ban on Chechnya seems gradually to have spread to the rest of the country.
PROFILE: Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov. Chechen nationalist and former Communist who wrote "Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party," still a definitive work on the rule of Stalin. Born in 1908, he rose quickly in the Communist Party until he protested the use of collective farms in non-communist regions. He admired Bukharin and Trotsky but not Stalin. In1937 he was sent to Siberia for 5 years hard labour. In 1943 he joined the Chechen uprising which resulted in mass deportations by Stalin in 1944. He was said to have become Stalin's "Number 2" enemy, By 1950 he had gone to work for US intelligence. During the first Chechen war, he corresponded with Chehcen President Dudayev and recommended peace negotiations with Russia. Nevertheless he described the war as a "revolt of the children in revenge for the deaths of their fathers and mothers during deportation and exile, [and] a protest of the whole people against the continuing domination of the old structures...." In 1991 he was named an honourary Chechen and he is still admired and read in Chechnya. He died in 1997.
CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY: Forced, rapid change and "revolution from above" bolstered by a sense of emergency, had its causes and justifications in Russia's early history. Ivan IV and Peter the Great increased Russia's power at whatever cost. By the 19th century, however, Russia was a strong European power and had less excuse for the reactionary policies which continued to keep its population in a state of backwardness. The response to liberal ideas from Europe was panic and repression with further revolutionized the left-wing intelligentsia. The absence of an effective middle class did not help things. It could be argued that Russia's 19th century rulers failed her. Their enduring legacy is to be found, among other things, in the heavy state censorship wielded by the Soviet Union and the post-communist Kremlin.
PLUS CA CHANGE: Every loosening of censorship seems to be followed by the return of severe controls on freedom of speech. After censorship was relaxed under Alexander I, the Decembrist plot during the reign of Nicholas I, caused the latter to impose widespread and severe censorship. A century and a half later, the proliferation of media with little censorship under Boris Yeltsin, was followed by by heavy censorship, under Vladimir Putin, provoked at first by bad publicity from the Chehcen war.
CURIOSITY: In 1966-86, Mustafa Abdulcemil Cemilev, activist for the rights of Crimean Tartars, is jailed 6 times at various camps in Siberia for "anti-Soviet activities".
TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF RUSSIA:

The Slavs
200-600 AD -the Slavs are part of the last great Indo-European migration. Starting from their homeland in the Pripet marshes in the Ukraine, they move westward into all of eastern Europe. This is the last phase of the development of civilization in the ancient world.
-Slaves are settled in the Dnieper Basin, mixing with Finns, Goths, Alanas, Khazars.
-the Eastern Slavs settle in the region of Kiev. They are influenced by Byzantium and the Turko-Mongolians.
-they control trade in the area between Novgorod and Kiev and the Baltic and the Black Sea.
460-1236- the Turko-Mongolian tribe of Volga Bulgars migrates through region..
568-965- the Turko-Mongolian Khazars migrate through region.

The Varangians and the Conversion to Christianity.

-after frequent attacks from the south, Russians in the region hire mercenaries from Scandinavia- the Varangians.
858- Kiev is founded by the Varangians.
827-869- St. Cyril, Christian missionary to the southern and eastern Slavs, invents the Cyrillic alphabet to translate the Bible from Greek into the Slavic languages.
861-79- St. Basil converts the Khazars, Mravians, Bulgars and Serbs.
865- the Slavs begin to be converted to Christianity.
-since the Muslims had closed the eastern Mediterranean to trade, the Novgorod-Kiev route became the European trade link to the south.
-Varangians found the Rurik dynasty.
-950- Kiev dominated by Rurik dynasty.
988- the Russian, Vladimir I of Kiev and Kievan Russia is converted to Christianity and proceeds to convert Russia.
Muscovy

-the principality of Moscow is able to push eastward as the successor to the Mongols, the Golden Horde, begins to weaken.
11th century- settlers from Kiev move to the forests of the northwest, founding ‘Great Russia’ or Muscovy.
1259- after the death of Mongke Khan, the Mongol empire begins to disnintegrate.
1340- the Golden Horde loses its grip on the south after the closure of the Mongol trade route to the east
1380- Muscovy expands after defeating the Golden Horde or ‘Tartars’ at the battle of Kulikokovo.
-Kiev is in decline. But feudalism has already been established there just as it begins to decline in the West.
1388-1391 –the Tartars of the Golden Horde suffer defeats by Tamerlane.

Ivan the Great: the Consolidation of Muscovy.
1462-1505- Ivan III (the Great) begins the first expansion of Muscovy. Russia absorbs aspects of the Tartars’ more advanced civilization, in particular, a en efficient, centralized state bureoaucracy. Intermarriage between Russians and Tartars. Tartars converted to Christianity are absorbed into the Russian nobility.
1453- the fall off Constaninople to the Turks.
1469- Ivan III marries Sophia, heiress of Byzantium. As a rexult Moscos was often called ‘The Third Rome’. The title ‘Tsar’ is a corruption of ‘Casesar’.
1475-1480- Ivan III subjugates Novgorod.
-Russia turns more and more toward Europe. Ivan III hires an Italian architect for the Kremlin; Italian artists and weapons-makers arrive.
1480- the Golden Horde has fragmented into several states. Muscovy is free of Mongol rule.
1502- the end of the Mongol Golden Horde.

Ivan the Terrible: the Expansion and Centralization of Muscovy through State Terror

1530-1584- Ivan IV (the Terrible) rules Russia.
-western adventurers, architects, artisans, merchants etc. flood to Muscovy for business.
-Ivan Peresvetov forms the political theory by which Ivan IV crushes opposition and centralizes Russia.
-Ivan IV forms the Oprichina, or secret police with which he represses the Boyars and to whom he gives the Boyars’ estates, making his police in to a ‘service gentry’. However, their lands revert to the State upon their death.
1551- Ivan the Terrible takes Kazan, using cannon and the arquebus.
1553- England’s ‘Muscovy Company’ trades through Russia as far as Persia.
1556- Ivan the Terrible takes Astrakhan, controlling the Volga down to the Caspian Sea.
-Kiev succumbs to feudal fragmentation.
-the gradual erosion of the traditional liberties of the serfs.
1581- Ivan IV ends the serfs’ liberty to move and to change masters. They endure increases in rent and forced labour.
-many serfs flee southward to join the Cossacks.
1584- Russia extends from Kiev to the north shore of the Caspian Sea to Siberia past the Urals, to the Arctic.
1600- all of Southern Russia is Slavic. Muscovy is the main power in eastern Europe.
-the Russian aristocracy turns to the production and export of wheat to Europe, beginning a “second age of serfdom”.
1669- 200,000 Cossacks, peasants and Asians led by Stenka Razin revolt against landowners and merchants, and seize the lower Volga, Astrakhan, Saratov and Samara.
1671- the leader of the revolt, Stenka Razin is captured and executed on Red Square.

Peter The Great westernizes Russia by force; Strengthens the Nobility.
1672-1725- Peter the Great- westernizer and modernizer of Russia. Builder of Petersburg.
-Peter extends Russia to south to Orenberg an from the Urals to all of Siberia and the eastern Sea of Okhotsk.
1703- Peter the Great starts the building of St. Petersburg. Trade with Holland and England intensifies.
1714- Peter issues the Entitlement Act strengthens the power of the nobility: the service gentry inherited from Ivan the Terrible, can pass their lands on to their heirs in perpetuity.
1720 (circa) Russian control extended to the central south and to Kamchatka.
1725-27- Catherine I.
-as Russia Europeanizes, it moves backward politically.
-1727-30- Peter II
-1760- Peter III

Catherine the Great.
1762-1796- Catherine II (the Great) consolidates the power of the nobility and worsens the condition of the serfs.
-Russia continues to import European culture, science and technology.
1773-74- the Pugachev Cossack rebellion unites Cossaks of the lower Volga with serfs from the foundires in the Urals.
1775- Pugachev captured and executed.
1787- in response to American Revolution and unrest in France, Catherine the Great imposes heavy censorship, undoing much of her own Russian enlightenment.
1789- the French Revolution is followed closely by liberal aristocrats, intellectuals and merchants.
1792- colonization of the Crimea, Ukraine, eastern Poland and Lithuania.
1796-1801- Paul I- restricts travel and imposes censorship.
Russia Defeats Napoleon, Extends her bounderies into South Aisa.
1801-1824- Alexander I
Alexander I- relaxes censorship.
1801-1864- Russia subdues the Caucasus.
1803- the first wheat exports from the Ukraine reach western Europe via the Mediterranean.
1804- Russia expands into Georgia.
1812- Russia defeats Napoleon's attempted invasion.
1813- Russia expands into Baku.
1825-1855- Nicholas I.
1825- the liberal aristocractic Decembrist plot. In reaction, Nicholas I brings in heavy censorship and expands an extensive network of police spies.
-the Russian empire extends south to Kazakstan and the Aral Sea.
1849- Fyodor Dostoesvsky arrested for taking part in the Decembrist or Petrachevsky plot, a conspiracy or liberal nobles. After being sentenced to death and spared by a mock firing squad- he is sent to four years in Siberia.
-many Russian political journals and thinkers like Herzen, as well as poets and novelists, are published in London to avoid censorship
The Emancipation of the Serfs
1854- Dostoevsky is released from Siberian exile to serve 5 years as an army officer in Kazakstan.
1855-81- Alexander II
1858- first emancipation of the serfs.
1861- second emancipation of the serfs.

Nihilist Precursors to the Revoution
1860s- the conspiracies of the Nihilhsts.
1864- third emancipation of the serfs.
1866- attempted assassination of Alexander II. Some censorship is reinstated.
1881- assassination of Alexander II.
Russia Expands into Central Asia. Continued suffering of peasants.
1881-94- Alexander III- in response to the assassination of his father, he tightens censorship, revives religious censorship.
-Russia has annexed the Central Asian regions of Turkestan: Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent as far as the Persian frontier.
1883- death of Karl Marx.
-emancipations make little difference since the essential constraints placed upon the village unit of the Mir, remain in place.

Nicholas II; the Last Czar.
-1894-1917- Nicholas II.
-late 1890s- due to relaxation of censorship, Marxist periodicals start to appear.
1898- the formation of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic party.
-economic hardship and lack of social and political liberties cause unrest.
-Nicholas II disregards laws easing censorship.
Bolsheviks and Mensheviks.
-1903- meeting of the Social Democrats. The party splits into the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.
-Russia defeated in Russo-Japanese war, after attempts to take Manchuria.

The Revolution of 1905.
1905- foiled revolution. Nicholas II’s brutal suppression of the march on the Winter Palace.
1914- Russia enters World War I against Germany.

The February Revolution.
1917- February Revolution- revolutionaries overthrow the old, Czarist order.
-Treaty of Brest-Litovsk- Lenin makes peace with Germany.

The October Revolution.
-October Revolution- Bolsheviks overthrow the provisional, social-democratic government of Kerensky.
1918- due to lack of support for the Bolsheviks in the Constitutent Assembly, Lenin outlaws the opposition. The Bolsheviks take over.
-1918- after the execution of the royal family, Lenin imposes censorship and had literature of dissident workers confiscated.
Lenin's New Economic Plan.
1921- industrial production collapses. Lenin institutes the New Economic Plan- in order to assist socialism with a dose of capitalism.
1922- Stalin becomes General; Secretary of the Party Central Committee. Trotsky heads the Red Army and Zinviev leads the Comintern.
30 Dec.- founding of the USSR.
1924- death of Lenin. Stalin begins “socialism in one country” and gradually embarks on the elmination of his political rivals.
1928-9- Stalin inaugurates his 5-year plan of massive industrialization.
1929-1932- Stalin uses widespread censorship to prevent the emergence of the collective-induced Great Famine in the outside world.
Stalin's mass Collectivization and Great Purge.
1934-38- Stalin launches mass agricultural collectivization causing the deaths of 11 million of peasants.
-Stalin consolidates his power through the Great Purge.
1937- Abdurakhman Avtorkhan- a Chechen historian who wrote on Russia is arrested for opposition to collectives being set up in non-Russian areas. He is sent to Siberia for 5 years hard labour.
1939- Stalin signs a non-aggression pact with Hitler, thereby gaining control over Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and half of Poland.
1941- Germany attacks Russia and Stalin breaks with Germany to join the Grand Alliance as commander in chief of the Red Army.
-the Red Army, under General Zukhov is turned back at Stalingrad.
-Stalin consolidates his power further by exiling the Chechens and the Volga Germans to Siberia.
1943- the Tehran Conference. Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill meet to discuss allied war plans.
-the Yalta Conference.

Stalin's USSR expands after Wold War II
1945- Stalin occupies the Baltic states and parts of east Prussia, Eastern Europe and East Berlin and the Balkans. Beginning of the Cold War.
-novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn, while on military duty in East Prussia, is arrested for criticizing Stalin in private correspondence and sentenced to eight years hard labour.
-Stalin resumes purges of imagined enemies and persecutes Jews.
-the Potsdam Conference
-Stalin has Trotsky assassinated.
1949- the USSR detonates an atomic bomb.

The Cold War.
-1953- death of Stalin.
-June 17- uprising in East Germany.
1953-64- Nikita Krushchev.

The Hungarian Revolution.
1954- Soviet troops occupy Hungary and put an end to the Hungarian revolution.

Krushchev Denounces Stalin.
1956- the 20th Party Congress. Khrushchev denounces Stalin for crimes against the party and building a personality cult. He begins a process of de-Stalonization.
-Krushchev brings in a policy of modernization through light industry with less of the traditional heavy industry.
1958- the US deploys its first intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The Cuban Missile Crisis
1962- Krushchev places missiles on Cuba setting off the Cuban Missile Crisis. US President Kennedy stares him down, forcing Krushchev to withdraw the missiles.
1964- dismissal of Krushchev.
1964-82- Leonid Brezhnev brings back some of Stalin’s policies of strengthening the leadership.

Stagnation of the Brezhnev Era
1966-86- Mustafa Abdulcemil Cemilev- activist for the rights of Crimean Tartars is jailed 6 times at various camps in Siberia for anti-Soviet activities.
-the ‘Brezhnev Era’ which extends to Gorbachev witnesses the stagnation of the Soviet Union. Technological tardiness results in heavy subsization of manufacturing and agriculture. In addition, heavy military spending eviscerates the economy.
1968- the ‘Prague Spring’ ends with the Soviet invasion and occupation of Czechoslovakia.
1968- poet Vadim Delaunay is sentenced to Siberia for taking part in a demonstration in red Square in support of the 'Prague Spring' movement in Czechoslovakia.
The Salt Talks.
July 1- treaty for the non-proliferation of Nuclear weapons signed by the US and the Soviet Union.
1968- poet Vadim Delaunay is sentenced to Siberia for taking part in a demostration in red Square in support of the 'Prague Spring' movement in Czechoslovakia.
1969- Nov. 17- first Stratigic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) between the US and the Soviet Union .
1972- May 26- SALT I ends in the signing of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty between Nixon and Brezhnev.
1974- biophyscist, journalist and activist Sergei Kovalev is exiled to 7 years labour in Siberia for participating in a Lithuanian dissdent movement.
1977- the Soviet Union, embarrassed by the Helsinki human rights movement, cracks down on dissidents throughout the country.
-Zviad Gamsakhurdia, a Georgian historian, intellectual and dissident is sentenced to 6 years in Sagestan for 'anti-soviet activities'.
1977- Natan Sharansky, a Jewish human rights activist, is arrested and sent to 14 years hard labour in Siberia.
1977- Georgian human rights activist Merab Kostava is sentenced to hard labour in Siberia.
Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan.
1979- Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan.

First Tremours of the Fall of the Soviet Union.
-in Poland, Lech Walensa, a Gdansk shipyard electrician, leads the solidarity free trade union movement against the Soviet government of General Jeruzelski.
-in Poland, the Solidarty movement in Poland is given strong inspirational support from Pope John Paul II
1982-84- Yuri Andropov-
-in the US, President Ronald Reagan begins a massive nuclear arms build-up.
1984- Russian physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov is sentenced to 5 years' exile in Gorky for "Anti-Soviet slander."
1984- Elena Bonner, journalist, human rights activist and wife of Andrei Sakharov is also sentenced to 5 years exile in Gorki for "anti-Soviet slander."
1984-85- Constantin Chernenko.

Mikhail Gorbachev Takes Power: Glasnost and Perestroika.
1985- Mikhail Gorbachev.
1986- At Rekjavik, Iceland, talks on the abolition of nuclear weapons between Gorbachev and Reagan break down over Reagan’s insistence on retaining his Star-Wars missile shield program.
1986- Gorbachev introduces Glasnost, or democratic reforms. He attempts the impossible modernizing and democratizing the Societ Union without dismantling it.
-Gorbachev introduces Perestroika or economic reform, beginning the liberalization of the Soviet economy. He also rehabilitates many of Stalin’s victims.
-Soviet republics begin to demand political and cultural recognition.
-Gorbachev’s free market reforms result in an even worse economy.
1986- in Berlin, the USSR releases dissident Natan Sharansky in exchange for a pair of Russian spies.
Collapse of the Soviet Union.
1990- July- Boris Yeltsin resigns from the Communist Party.
-1991- 19 August- hard-core Communists stage a coup against Gorbachev. Boris Yeltsin, president of the Russian republic, mounts a tank, asks for the allegiance of the Soviet army and declares that the Russian parliament should be cleared of reactionaries.
-the army refuses to participate in the coup and the coup collapses. The leaders, Boris Pugo and others, commit suicide or are jailed..
29 Aug. the Communist party is suspended.

The Break-Up of the Soviet Union.
8 Dec. The leaders of the former Soviet republics of Byelorussia, Russia and Ukraine meet at Mminsk to declare an end to the Soviet Union and the establishment of the “Commonwealth of Idependent States.”
21 Dec. Eleven leaders of former republics gather in Asia at Alma Alta to confirm the CIS and the end of the Soviet Union.
1991- Dec. 31- Gorbachev resigns-- the fall of the Soviet Union..
-Yeltsin becomes president of the new Russian Republic.
-the privatization of state-run industries. Due to lack of a legal framework, former Societ managers steal much of the wealth and form a new class of robber barons who manage gradually to seize control of the country.
-the use of Harvard-trained, radical, free-market economists only worsens the situation.
-corruption and incompetence under Yeltsin polarizes the country between right-wing nationalist parties and reconstituted Communists.
-economic collapse increases
1992- Russia intervenes to prevent the overthrow of the government of Tajikstan by Muslim extremists helped by Afghanistan.
1990s- Kazakstan, Ukraine and Belarus all agree to give up their nuclear weapons programs.
1993- Yeltsin alters the constitution to give him greatly strengthened presidential powers. The new constitution also provides for a complex of autonomous regions and republics.
.In an attempt to depose Yeltsin, extreme left and right wing forces, in an attempted uprising, barricade themselves in parliament.

Boris Yeltsin
Oct. 4- Yeltsin has the parliamentary uprising crushed by force.

First Chechen War.
1994- 1996. The first Chechen War: insurrection in the Russian republic of Chechnya. The Chechens, recalling their conquest by Catherine the Great, stage an open rebellion.
1995- An anti-Yeltsin, Communist and ultra-nationalist parliament is elected in the Duma.
1996- Yeltsin is re-elected.
1996- stalemated, Russia withdraws from Checnya.

Economic Collapse Under Yeltsin.
1998- national economic crisis. The ruble collapses due to financial problems in Asia. Yeltsin’s plans to further liberalize the economy are derailed as a more cautious finance minister is forced on him by the Duma.
-under Yeltsin, the state loses its economic authority to a new financial elite, known as the oligarchs.


-the economy begins a recovery due to rising oil revenues.
-the Russian Mir Space Station and the US Space Shuttle program cooperate in an International Space Station.
1997- General Aslan Maskhadov elected president of Chechnya.


1999- Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic join NATO.
-300 die in terror attack on apartment building in Moscow. Chechen separatists blamed.

Second Chechen War
-Sept-Oct--Putin orders invasion of Chechnya.
-Chechen separatists led by Shamil Basayev invade neighbouring Dagestan.
-Yeltsin retires from office, appoints Vladiir Putin his successor.

Vladimir Putin becomes President.
-Putin is confirmed in office.
1999-2000- the Second Chechen War.
2000- Putin, Yeltsin’s protégé, is elected president.
-Chechen separatists begin to use suicide bombings.
-nuclear submarine the Kursk, sinks in the Barents Sea, losing all its crew.
-friendship treaty with China
-US president Bush tables his National Missile Defense (NMD) system.
2000- Russian Orthodox Church bestows sainthood on Czar Nicholas II.
2001- according to census data there are 20 million Muslims in Russia- or 15 per cent of the population.
Sept. 18- Eduard Markevitch editor of Novy Reft, critical of government, is murdered.
2002- both sides commit atrocities in the war between Russia and Cechnya.
March 8- Natalya Skryl ,journalist critical of Russian corporations is murdered.
April 29- Valery Ivanov, editor of the Togliatti Review which reported on the Russian mafia, is murdered.
2002- Russia forms an alliance with NATO.
2002- Aug. 115 Russians killed when their helicopter crashes, allegedly shot down in Chechnya.
Oct.- Chechen terrorists take hostages in a Moscow theatre. State police bungle the rescue, killing many hostages with poison gas,

Putin Cracks down on the Media.
-Russian TV station TV-6 is forced off the air by the government and reinstated with Kremlin managers at TVS.
-Russia and US agree to strategic nuclear arms reduction.
1999-2003- the Russian economy grown 33%
2003- -March- according to referendum, Chechens want to remain part of Russia. Russians endorse rweferendum even though it was taken during contionuing instability.
April 18- Dmitiri Shvets of TV-21, Murmansk, shot after investigative reporting on local politicians.
-Russia closes the TVS television station, allegedly for financial reasons.
-July Chechen suicide bomb kills 15 at a Moscow rock concert.
-July 23- Yuri Shchekochikhin about to report jounralisic investigation of FSB to FBI- for Novaya Gazeta when he was murdered.
-repeated suicide bombings in Chechnya.
-Oct- Kyrgyzstan allows Russia to open a military base for anti-terrorist operations.
-Oct 9- Alexei Sidorov, successor at Togliatti review, reporting on Russian Mafia, is killed.
-Oct 22- former FSB agent Mikhail Trepashkin is framed and arrested for investigating the Moscow apartment bombings.
Arrest of the oligarch Kodorkovsky.
2003- Oct.- Russia arrests Boris Khordokovsky, CEO of Yukos, the gas giant—on tax evasion. The liberal opposition to Putin defends him.
2003- the Putin government has taken over all Russian TV stations.
Dec- Putin’s United Russia Party wins landslide in the Duma.
2004- Feb. Putin fires the government of Mikhail Kasyanov.

Putin Re-elected in a Landslide.
March- Putin confirmed for a second term by a landslide.
-dozens killed in Chechen attacks in Ingushetia.
-July 9- Paul Khlebnikov, editor of the Russian Forbes critical of relations between the Oligarchs and the Kremlin-- is murdered.
-Aug. Russian authorities seize assets of Yukos to offset tax debts.
- Chechens bomb the Moscow subway, killing 39.
2004- Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia join the European Union.
2004- Chechens blow up 2 Russian planes, killing 89.
2004- Chechen terrorists take 1000 hostage in a school in Beslan and kill 331, most of them young children.
-Putin stops election of provicial governors and determines they will be appointed by the Kremlin.

Ukraine's Orange Revolution.
2004- rigged elections in Ukraine favour Russian-backed contender, Viktor Yanukovich but the pro-western candidate, Viktor Yanukovich wins.
-December- a state oil firm buys up most of Yukos.
2005- January- fighting in Ingushetia and Dagestan as Russians pursue Chechen separatists.
-Feb- Russia signs deal with Iran to sell nuclear fuel for Iran’s Bicheher nuclear reactor and in return Iram wil send Russia its spent fuel rods.
- Russia sells missiles to Iran.
-May- Khodorkovsky is sentenced to 9 years in jail for tax fraud.
-June- Russia winds control of Gazprom by increasing its shares to over 50%.
-Sept.- Russia and Germany sing deal to build gas pipeline connecting the two countries under the Baltic Sea.
2005- Dec-Jan 2007 Russia uses its gas supplies to Ukraine and to Europe for political advantage, though it claims it only has to do with prices.
Putin Consolidates Power.
2006 -Jan- Putin signs a law giving him powers to crack down on perceived threats or criticism from NGOs.
March- Putin signs gas deal with China.
June- 4 Russian diplomats kidnapped and murdered in Iraq, after kidanppers demand Russian withdrawal from Cehcnya.
Shamil Basayev, leader of most of the large Chechen terror operations, is killed.
2 students convicted of racially motivated murder of 11 Central Asians in a bombing of a Moscow market.
July 26-Yevgeny Yerasimenko- investigated corruption in the business world for a Saratove paper- murdered.
Sept-Oct- 4 Russians held as spies in Georgia during wrangle with Russia over seceding regions of Gerorgia and its membership in NATO.
Oct 7- Anna Politskovskaya, editor of Novaya Gazeta, investigating abuses by the Russian military in Chechnya- is shot to death.
Murder of Alexander Litvinenko in London.
Nov. former Russian security service officer and Putin critic, Alexander Litvinienko murdered in London by poisoning with polonium nitrate. He accuses Putin before dying.
Dec. Moscow blackmails Belarus into accepting doubled gas prices.

Politkovskaya Murder Ssuspect elected in Chechnya.
2007- Kamzan Kadyrov, a suspect in the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, is elected president of Chechnya.
-under a new law "extremism" is defined as "public slander toward figures fulilling state dities."
-March- pro-democracy rally broken up and dozens detained in St. Petersburg.
-April 8- Marina Pisareva- head of German media group Bertelsmann, murdered.
-April- banned anti-Putin rally broken up by police.
-April - Yeltsin dies. The Russian Orthodox Church gives him a state funeral.
-May- Russia test-fires a long-range Missile and talks of a new arms race amid US plans to place itw missile defence system in Eastern Europe.
2007- in Estonia, the removal of a Soviet statue causes riots by ethnic Russians.
Putin Protests US Missile Defence System in Eastern Europe.
2007- June- Putin delivers a strong protest over US plans to install an anti-missile defense system in Eastern Europe, ellegedly intended to cover Iran. To George Bush, he proposes Azerbaijan as an alternative.
-despite a friendly meeting in Maine between Bush and Putin, Bush refuses to cancel his plans for a missile defence system in eastern Europe.
July- the Russian defence minister threatens to set up a defensive missile system in Kaliningrad, north east of Polans, on the Baltic, if the US doesn’e withdraw its plans for a missile defence system in Eastern Europe.
Aug. 27- 10 suspects are arrested in the murder of jounralist Anna Politskovskaya.
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