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Monday, March 3, 2008

Medvedev Elected Russian President.

HISTORY IN THE NEWS:



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

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"Molasky: Good folk! Maria Godunov and her son Feodor have poisoned themselves. We have seen their dead bodies. (The people are silent with horror) Why are you silent? Cry, Long live Czar Dimitry Ivanovitch! (The people are speechless)- Alexander Pushkin, Boris Godunov.







DEDICATED TO THE ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD.


TAG: In choosing his successor, Vladimir Putin has made himself a worthy heir of the Romanov principle of primogeniture and the Soviet system of grooming a personal favorite whose position is to be secured by his predecessor's steady accretion and exercise of personal power and prestige.

IN THE NEWS: FORMER PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN'S 'NUMBER TWO' IS ELECTED PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA IN A 70% LANDSLIDE, IN ELECTIONS SEEN AS DEEPLY FLAWED BY WESTERN OBSERVERS. DEMONSTRATING OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS ARE ONCE AGAIN ROUNDED UP BY POLICE. THE RUNNER UP, GENNADY ZYGANOV OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY LAGS FAR BEHIND AT 18%. EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN RESPONSES ARE GUARDED OR NONCOMMITTAL. PUTIN WILL PROBABLY MAKE HIMSELF PRIME MINISTER ON THE STRENGTH OF HIS UNITED RUSSIA PARTY IN THE DECEMBER PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS.

REAR-VIEW MIRROR:
*
879- the Slavs invite the Varangian chieftain Rurik to rule the region of Muscovy and Kiev.
*1613- Michael Romanov is selected from the Romanov family, the only Boyars to keep their reputation intact during the anarchy of the Time of Troubles.
*1917-1918-
Lenin becomes Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars- effectively absolute ruler.
*1982-84- KGB head Yuri Andropov, due to his popularity with conservatives is chosen, over Brezhnev's own protege Chernenko, to succeed Brezhnev as General Secretary. Andropov's protege, in turn, would be Mikhail Gorbachev.
*1999- Yeltsin, in failing health and mired in corruption, designates his security chief, Vladimir Putin as his successor, in return for immunity from prosecution. Later that year, Yeltsin resigns and Putin becomes President.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: In the 9th century, Rurik, the first Muscovite king was a Varangian chieftain invited to rule the Muscovy region by local Slavs. Under Mongol rule in the 13th century, the Grand Dukes of Muscovy consolidated power and took the throne as the Mongols withdrew. Muscovy grew to an empire. In 1598, after the issue of royal succession fell into anarchy and violence with the Time of Troubles, the Romanovs emerged in 1613 as the only noble house with its integrity intact. Primogeniture became the principle of succession. In 1722, Peter the Great banned primogeniture but it was reinstated by Paul 1 in 1797, insuring Romanov rule until their fall in 1917. Alexander Kerensky was Prime Minister of the Provisional government that summer. With the October Revolution Kerensky was forced out and the Bolshevik revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin, created the leadership post of Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars which he also held. Joseph Stalin, Lenin's Commissar for National affairs steadily gathered power ; Lenin, incapacitated by strokes was able to do little about Stalin's Machiavellian rise to the top. Head of the secretariat, Stalin co-opted the Politburo's role in forging policy. After Lenin's death in 1923, Stalin pushed out his political rivals. Upon his own death in 1953, Stalin's 'personality cult' and tyranny were condemned and he was succeeded by a system of 'Collective Leadership'. It was actually a power struggle in which Nikita Krushchev gained headway by denouncing Stalin at the 20th party Congress in 1956. Krushchev beat out his rivals and became premier in 1958. By 1964, the conservative Leonid Brezhnev had risen to head of state. That year, Krushchev's agricutlural policies, got him pushed out and Brezhnev became premier after replacing Krushchev as head of the Party. After Brezhnev's death in 1982, KGB chief Yuri Andropov's popularity with conservatives got him made premier over Brezhnev's own mediocre protege, Constantin Chernenko. When Andropov died in 1984, fear of Andropov's own favorite, the fast-rising reformer, Mikhail Gorbachev, got Chernenko the premiership. Chernenko died in 1985. Foreign policy veteran Andrei Gromyko, a power behind the throne since 1982, got Gorbachev made premier. By 1991, Gorbachev had created the democratic institutions that would lead to his own downfall. That year, Boris Yeltsin became Russia's first democractically elected president, while Gorbachev still ruled a crumbling Soviet Union. In August, an attempted hardline Communist coup further weakened Gorbachev and he resigned in December, leaving Yeltsin as President of Russia. In 1999, Yeltsin, in failing health and mired in corruption, designated his security chief, Vladimir Putin, as his successor, in return for immunity from prosecution. Later that year, Yeltsin resigned and Putin became President.

IN A NUTSHELL: In Russia, the leadership succession was determined by primogeniture until the time of Peter the Great, in 1722. In 1797, it was restored by Peter I and endured until the fall of Nicholas Romanov in 1917. Under Communist rule, each leader groomed a successor who would or would not be chosen according to the internal dynamics of the Politburo and the Kremlin. The grooming of a personal successor secured by internal power struggle continues under Vladimir Putin but with ratification by rigged elections. Internal, bureaucratic power, the building of personal prestige, the use of the political party as an organ of permanent political power and the extension of personal influence over organs of state such as the judiciary, remain the traditional means not just of rule but of securing the succession.

THEN AND NOW: The election of Boris Yeltsin in 1991 recedes into the past as the only occasion in which a successor has been chosen by the Russian people. Putin, though he remains popular and was ratified as president in the elections of 1999, was never chosen from a pool of candidates in free and fair elections.

CONTENTS: SCROLL DOWN FOR:
DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
RELEVANT DATES
RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
.PREVIOUS ENTRIES
REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
LOCATION OF NOTE:
PROFILE:
CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY
EYEWTNESS
PRESENT SITUATION
PLUS CA CHANGE
CURIOSITY
TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF

DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS:
In the late 19th century, the iron-fisted rule of Alexander III led in turn to attempts at liberalization under Nicholas II. But Nicholas' policies were contradictory and his rule wavering and weak: he liberalized censorship, then ignored his own decisions. By then Bolshevism had already got its start and the revolution was on its way.
The Russian autocracy rarely allowed the freedom necessary for the growth of the educated middle class that could 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 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, would be seen as necessary to protect Orthodoxy, Monarchy, Communism, Republican Authoritariansim (Putin) or whatever new system developed or was imported-- from internal dissent. Unnerved by the attempted revolution of 1905, Czar Nicholas II brought back the Russian parliament, known as the 'Duma'. Elected by indirect and unequal suffrage, the body was divided into class-based electoral groups of landowners, townspeople, peasants and workers declining in representation in the same order. A higher body, the 'State Council', was made up of officials either appointed by the Czar or elected by the nobility, the Zemstvos (village councils) clergy and other constituencies based on wealth or land. Faced with opposing majorities , however, Nicholas dissolved the first two Dumas in 1906 and 1907. By limiting qualifications for election, he produced a third, more conservative Duma which lasted from 1907 to 1912 and produced some reform. The fourth Duma of 1912-1917, though conservative, was weak. Its crucial reform proposals were quashed by a higher reactionary body, the State Council. With the onset of revolution in March, 1917, the Duma disintegrated. Meanwhile, the liberal revolutionaries of February, 1917, sought to make the Zemstvo the basis of a democratic revolution. When the Bolsheviks took power in 1917, the Zemstvos lost what democratic independence they had had when they were converted into Soviets. The Duma, meanwhile became a liberal provisional government under Alexander Kerensky but when his reforms failed to halt the growing anarchy, the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin, seized power in October. Lenin then became Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars- effectively premier. He created the small elite of the Politburo. Lenin's Poltiburo, the policy-making body of the Bolshevik Party elite steered the revolution while executive powers were held by the Secretariat. The Party Central Committee administered the Party itself. In 1918, after the Bolsheviks failed to win a majority in the Constituent Assembly, they seized power by force and outlawed the opposition. To consolidate the power of the new government, the Bolsheviks used political commissars and roving gangs of the 'Cheka' or secret police to insure the loyalty of the army and other bodies like the Soviets, to the Bolshevik Party. In 1922, Joseph Stalin who had been Lenin's People's Commissar for Nationality Affairs rose to head the Party Central Committee, Leon Trotsky headed the army and Zinoviev ran the Comintern, the body responsible for spreading the revolution internationally. Lenin, paralysed by successive strokes, was unable to prevent Stalin from amassing power inside the executive body, the Secretariat. He did this by having the Decretariat assume the policy-making powers of the Politburo. On 30 December of that year, the Soviet Union was founded. Under the Soviet system the Supreme Soviet formed a legislative body of delegates from the Soviets of all the Soviet Republics. By the death of Lenin in 1923, the system was pyramidal with each Soviet subordinate to the ones above it. Democratic in theory, the system was really a massive, hierarchal bureaucracy answerable to the Secretariat. (Opposition members in Russia have complained that Putin does not run a democracy but only an administraion) By 1924, Stalin was First General Secretary of the Communist Party and embarked upon the elimination of his political rivals. Henceforward, the First General Secretary of the Communist Party would be the virtual leader of the country. In 1927, he expelled Zinoviev, Trotsky and Kamenev from the party. During his great purges of the1930s, Stalin ruled from the Secretariat, strengthening his grip on the Politburo and used his secret police, the NKVD, to snuff out all opposition, including mere difference of opinion. When Stalin died in 1953, the surviving group in power consisted of Khrushchev, Molotov, Beria, Malenkov and Kaganovich. Krushchev, as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU was second behind Molotov. The period of 1953-1958 was dominated by a system of 'Collective Leadership' in which Stalin's tyranny was ended and a period of relative liberalism begun. But it was in fact a period of struggle, once again for individual leadership. Krushchev secured the dismissal of Beria and Malenkov. On 25th February, 1956 at the 20th Party Congress. Khrushchev denounced Stalin for crimes against the party and building a personality cult. He began a process of de-Stalinization. The following year, he foiled an attempt by the 'anti-party' group of Malenkov, Kaganovich, Molotov and Shepilov to topple him from power. Backed by Zhukov and the KGB, Krushchev invoked the Politburo's traditional responsibility to the Party Central Committee by insisting on ratification by the Committee. The Committee overturned the Politburo's decision, securing Krushchev's position as premier. Eight years later, in 1964, the Politburo, irritated with Krushchev's agricultural policies, dismissed him while he was on holiday. Leonid Brezhnev, who was already well placed as head of state, succeeded Krushchev as head of the Communist Party and premier. Leonid Brezhnev, brought back some Stalinist policies for strengthening the leadership. Upon the death of Brezhnev in 1982, KGB head Yuri Andropov, due to his popularity with conservatives, was promoted to General Secretary over the head of Brezhnev's rather mediocre protege, Constantin Chernenko. Andropov's own protege was the young reformer, Mikhail Gorbachev. The power behind the throne in those years was foreign affairs veteran Andrei Gromyko who also favoured the young Gorbachev.

RELEVANT DATES:

879- the Slavs invite the Varangian chieftain Rurik to rule the region of Muscovy and Kiev.

1300 (circa) The Muscovite princes, though effectively ruled by the Mongols, rise to prominence.

1328- Ivan I. By the 14th century Moscow has succeeded the Mongols as the power in the region

1598- with the death of Czar Theodore Ivanovich, there followed violent crises of succession known as 'The Time of Troubles'.

1613- Michael Romanov is selected from the Romanov family, the only Boyars to keep their reputation intact during the Time of Troubles.

-from 1613 on (except for 1722-1797), succession is decided on the basis of primogeniture.

1722- Peter bans primogeniture and declares that the choice of successor lies solely with the ruling sovereign.

1797- Paul I restores Romanov succession by primogeniture.

1917- the Duma forms a provisional government under Kerensky but the Petrograd Soviet turns against the interim government when it prolongs the war against Germany.

October-November--Lenin becomes Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars- effectively premier. He creates the mall elite of the Politburo.

1922- Lenin suffers two stokes. He is unable to stop the rise of Stalin

1922- April 3- Lenin appoints Stalin General Secretary of the Party Central Committee- the body that steered the most important party business

1923- death of Lenin.

1924- Stalin embarks on the elimination of his political rivals. Henceforward, the First General Secretary of the Communist Party would always be the virtual leader of the country.

1953- death of Stalin.

-collective leadership: the surviving ruling group consists of Khrushchev, Molotov, Beria, Malenkov and Kaganovich. Krushchev, as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU is second behind Molotov.

1956- 25th February- the 20th Party Congress. Khrushchev denounces Stalin for crimes against the party and building a personality cult. He begins a process of de-Stalinization.

1957- Krushchev resists an attempt by the 'anti-party' group of Malenkov, Kaganovich, Molotov and Shepilov to topple him from power. Backed by Zhukov and the KGB, he invokes the Politburo's traditional responsibility to the Party Central Committee by insisting on ratification by the Committee. The Committee overturns the Politburo's decision and secures Krushchev's position as premier.

-Krushchev's intense promotion of personal, targeted agricultural plans puts strains on the politburo.

1964- politburo dismisses Krushchev while he is on holiday. He is succeeded by Brezhnev who is already head of state.

-1982 - death of Brezhnev.

1982-84- KGB head Yuri Andropov, due to his popularity with conservatives is chosen, over Brezhnev's protege Chernenko, to succeed Brezhnev as General Secretary. Androp've own protege would be Mikhail Gorbachev.

1984-85- upon Andropov's death, Brezhnev's old protege, Constantin Chernenko (on the politburo since 1978) is chosen to stall the rise of Gorbachev. He has little influence due to the end of the Brezhnev generation and the increase of Gorbachev's influence.

1985- March 11 Mikhail Gorbachev becomes premier. Key support comes from Gromyko.

1991- Gorbachev has created the democratic institutions that would lead to his own downfall. That year, Boris Yeltsin becomes Russia's first democratically elected president, while Gorbachev still rules a crumbling Soviet Union. In August, an attempted hardline Communist coup further weakened Gorbachev's power and he resigned in December, leaving Yeltsin as President of Russia.

1999- Yeltsin, in failing health and mired in corruption, designates his security chief, Vladimir Putin as his successor, in return for immunity from prosecution. Later that year, Yeltsin resigns and Putin becomes President.

RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. Upon the death of Premier Yuri Andropov in 1984, conservatives attempted to stall the speedy rise of his liberal protege Gorbachev, by appointing Brezhnev's old protege, Constantin Chernenko (on the politburo since 1978) . Chernenko had little influence due to the end of the Brezhnev generation, the abiding influence of Gromyko and his support of Gorbachev's own climb up the ladder of power. After Chernenko died in 1985, Gorbachev rose to the top with support from his old patron Andrei Gromyko. In 1986, Gorbachev introduced 'Glasnost', a campaign of democratic reform, free speech and openness to historical and political truth. He abolished the Politburo. But the spirit of criticism unleashed by Glasnost led to Gorbachev's own downfall and the break-up of the Soviet Union. After Gorbachev himself brought in a presidential democracy in June, 1991, Boris Yeltsin became the first Russian leader to be elected, winning 57% of the vote. On 19 August, 1991, Gorbachev, still Soviet Premier, was surprised by an attempted coup by hard-core Communists, Yeltsin mounted a tank, asked for the allegiance of the Soviet army and declared that the Russian parliament should be cleared of reactionaries. The army refused to participate in the Communist coup which then collapsed. Gorbachev suspended the Communist Party on August 29 and closed the Party Central Committee. In December, the leaders of the former Soviet republics began to secede from the old union and Gorbechev resigned, leaving Yeltsin as sole head of state. Yeltsin persuaded the parliament (the former Supreme Soviet) to give him emergency powers to reform and liberalize the economy. The new regime brought in a period of lawlessness which allowed both the new capitalist class of 'Oligarchs" and (potentially) the state to garner unchecked power. In 1993, Yeltsin brought in a new constitution by which presidential powers were greatly strengthened. Russia became a federation and a presidential republic with the president head of state (eligible for election for two, four year terms) and the prime minister head of the government, which also served as the executive. There were two houses of parliament, the Federation Council and the State Duma. The latter had last been seen as the pre-revolutionary parliament, the name 'Duma' being revived. But the Duma contained so many splinter parties that it was difficult to find a sustainable majority. An attempt to impeach Yeltsin by the far right and the far left provoked him to launch a military attack on the Duma Nevertheless, Yeltsin's prestige was severely weakened. In 1999, Yeltsin designated his state security chief, Vladimir Putin, as his successor in return for immunity from prosecution for corruption. Putin took power after Yeltsin retired later in the year. In the wake of the elections of 1999, the Duma ratified Putin's victory with a majority and the Duma regained some of its authority. There followed Putin's campaign of law and order as he cracked down on crime and on the oligarchs. Many Russians came to regard him as a savior, earning him a good deal of leeway in gathering of autocratic power with increasing indifference to human rights. In 2002-2003 Putin closed almost all independent TV and radio stations. The arrest and trial of Mikahil Khordokovsky, owner of the energy giant, Yukos, for tax evasion, seemed almost part of a personal vendetta launched by Putin against the Oligarchs. In 2004, Putin was re-elected in a landslide. Russia's use of force in dealing with separatism, Chechen terrorism inside Russia, gang wars among the Oligarchs were seen to justify his increasing presidential power and crackdowns on the media. In 2004-2005- Russia's own Gazprom won contol over Yukos. Putin, meanwhile seemed to have surrounded himself with his own, approved millionaires, apparatchiks in his government. The state, if not a private enterprise itself, appeared to be moving toward a monopoly on private enterprise. In 2005, Putin replaced the election of regional governors with direct appointment by the president. In turn, the power of the Duma has come to be limited by Federation Council (as it was by Czar Nicholas' State Council) which is filled with deputies from the republics who apparently take their voting instructions from Putin and the executive rather than cooperating with the Duma as intended in the constitution. January of 2006 saw Putin award himself increased powers to combat what has been seen to be the menace of Non-Governmental Organizations. In November of that year, Aleaxander Litvinenko, a former KGB man and then a prominent Putin critic was murdered in London by means of polonium nitrate poisoning. Another former KGB officer, Aandrei Lugovoy, is wanted by Britain in connection with the slaying, but Moscow is refusing to extradite him. (He remains close to the Kremlin and won a seat in the Duma or his Liberal Democratic party in the rcent elections) In the run-up to the December, 2007 elections, Putin's United Russia party retains powerful support from Putin's own clean-living cheer-leading youth group, 'Young Russia'. The opposition parties, including that of Liberals and the party of former chess champion Gary Kasparov, have endured harassment and arrests as well as police crackdowns on free speech, public gathering and street protests. 'United Russia', the government party has insured it has the monopoly on media and capaign advertising.

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 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 kind was seen to put the leadership's authority beyond criticism in an effort to accelerate the pace of change. It also 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 advanced than that of Europe, force would be seen to be necessary in dealing with threats or competition from outside powers. In 879, a Varangian chieftain, Rurik and his brothers seized the Slavic city of Novgorod. Benighted as they were, 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 kingdom of Rurik had imported Byzantine Christianity. Settlers from Kiev formed 'Rus' around Moscow and endured the Mongol invasions. The Muscovite princes, though effectively ruled by the Mongols, rose to prominence under Ivan I. By the 14th century Moscow had succeeded the Mongols as the power in the region and a Council of Boyars became Russia's first Duma. In the 15th century, Ivan III, 'the Great' used Tartar (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, Oprichina, into a service nobility to suppress and expropriate the powerful Boyars, or nobles; the Oprichnina were given Boyar lands in return. However the lands were to revert to the state upon death to deprive them of any hereditary power base. His autocratic methods were derived from the theories of his political advisor, Ivan Peresvetov. Determined to secure land for the state, Ivan extracted as much as possible in rents and in territory from serfs and noblility alike and eroded the traditional liberties of the serfs. Driven to revolt, peasant rebellions erupted, the most famous of which was that of Stenka Razin. Like all the others, Razin and his followers faced mass execution. In 1598, with the death of Czar Theodore Ivanovich, there followed violent crises of succession known as 'The Time of Troubles'. At the end of a 15 year period of anarchy, a 'Zemsky Sobor' was convened to choose a new Czar. In 1613, Michael Romanov was selected from the Romanov family, the only Boyar clan to keep their reputation intact during the Time of Troubles. Thenceforward primogeniture would be the principle for choosing each new sovereign. In the early 18th century, Peter I, "the Great" used autocratic force and repression to westernize the country under the guidance of European experts. Under the 'Entitlement Act' of 1714, he restored the nobility that had been crushed by Ivan the Terrible as well as giving the descendants of Ivan's service gentry the right to bequeath land to their heirs. In1722, Peter banned primogeniture, declaring that the choice of successor lay at the discretion of the ruling sovereign. Inevitably, as Russia Europeanized itself by force, it moved backward politically. At the end of the century, Catherine the Great further strengthened the nobility while repressing the serfs. At the same time, she imported the European enlightenment but began to suppress it as soon as she became aware of the French Revolution. In 1797, Paul I, a Romanov, restored the imperial succession by primogeniture, thus insuring the reign of the Romanovs until 1917. While liberal nobles and intellectuals followed it closely, fear of the French Revolution and all European revolutions to follow was one of the chief causes of most Russian reaction and repression to come
Alexander I, who vanquished Napoleon's invasion of Russia, was relatively liberal and relaxed censorship. In 1809, he attempted to give some legality to his rule by instituting separated executive, legislative and judicial powers which were nevertheless individually responsible to the Czar. Their power was partially limited by a Duma whose election was based on landownership and hence without representation of the serfs. In time, however, those bodies were reduced to a single State Council armed with little but advisory powers. The younger generation of Alexander's successor, Nicholas I, had begun to feel inspiration from the French Revolution but plots like the Petrachevsky conspiracy, for which Dostoesky was sent to Siberia, caused Nicholas to turn to repression and tighten censorship.
1861 saw the institution by Alexander II of 'Zemstvos" or rural village councils of elected officials. But representation was in direct proportion to ownership of land and divided among landowners, townspeople and the peasantry. The Zemstvos elected executive committees to the povincial assemblies. Their Zemstvos' pushed through important local reforms which were, however, seriously impeded by the federal bureaucracy. In 1870, municipal 'Dumas' became the counterpart to the rural representative bodies known as 'Zemstvos'.

LOCATION OF NOTE:
The Kremlin: The government quarter of Moscow, containing the Russian administration and parliament. "Kremlin" refers to the original fortress or citadel at the centre of any Russian walled city. A 'city within a city', it had religious as well as military functions. The present Kremlin of Moscow occupies 35 hectares at the centre of the city. The original Kremlin was built of wood in the 13th century. The 'Italian Renaissance' Kremlin, completed in the 15th century , is present today in the crennellated walls and twenty towers that enclose the Kremlin area on three sides. The 'Spaskiya Gate' was built in 1491 by a Milanese architect and its tower was added in 1626 by Holloway, an English architect. The other four gates were built by Ivan III. The last building stage was completed by Catherine the Great in the late 18th century. It was the residence of the Czars until 1712 when Peter the Great transferred the capital to St. Petersburg. The Kremlin has survived the fires that have repeatedly destroyed Moscow throughout its history. At the centre of the Kremlin is the Uspenski Cathedral (late 15th century) where the Czars were crowned; the tombs of the Czars and many other Czarist buildings and artifacts, some contained in museums, have remained there, down through the Soviet period. Even the 19th 'Grand Palace' (1838-1849) was rebuilt by the Soviets after they moved the capital from Petersburg back to Moscow on March 12, 1918. It thent housed the Soviet leadership and administration. Stalin lived there after removing Czarist artifacts. He supplanted the eagles and crosses that topped the towers with Soviet stars. He also remodelled the Grand Palace. The palace is now the site of the Russian parliament and is being restored to its pre-revolutionary grandeur. Official television footage shows President Putin passing ceremonially through the entrance hall like an austere modern Czar.

PROFILE: Constantine Chernenko (1911-1985) Soviet Premier, 1984-1985, born in Novoselevo, Krasnoyarsk. Communist party member and Cheka border guard from 1930, Chernenko came to work on Party organization and propaganda. He rose in 1958 to head the propaganda department in Moldova. There he met the local party chief, Leonid Brezhnev and the two formed a close bond. A man of little talent, Chernenko had ridden on Brezhnev's coat tails, throughout the 1950s and joined the Central Committee with Brezhnev in 1971 and the Politburo in 1974. Despite Brezhnev's attempts to groom Chernenko for the succession, it went to the much more able KGB chief Yuri Andropov upon Brezhnev's death in 1982. The rising star at that time was the controversial reformer Mikhail Gorbachev and only with Andropov's untimely death in 1985 did the conservatives pass the succession to the talentless Chernenko -and then only to block Gorbachev. During his year as Premier, Chernenko, in poor health, remained the tool of his conservative colleagues on the Politburo, again to stop the increasing influence of Gorbachev. Chernenko's death is said to mark the end of the Brezhnev era. The way was finally clear for Gorbachev to take control.

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, ho
wever, 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 which 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.

EYE-WITNESS: Stalin in a speech to industrial executives in February, 1931: "It is sometimes asked whether it is not possible to slow down the tempo a bit, to put a check on the movement. No, comrades, it is not possible! The tempo must not be reduced...To slacken the pace would mean to lag behind; and those who lag behind are beaten. We do not want to be beaten. No, we don;t want to...(Russia) was ceaselessly beaten for her backwardness. She was beaten by the Monol Khans, she was beaten by the Turkish Byes, she was beaten by the Polish-ithuanian Pans, she was beaten by the Anglo-French capitalists, eh was beaten by the Japanese barons she was beaten by all- for her backwardness. For military ackwardness, for cultural backwardness, for political bakwardness, for agricultural backwardness...You remember the words of the pre-revolutionary poet: "Thou art poor and thou art plentiful, thou art mighty and thou art helpless, Mother Russia...! "We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this lag in ten years. Either we do it or they crush us."

PRESENT SITUATION
: With Putin's protege Medvedev occupying the presidency, Putin will probably take the lower post of Prime Minister, a position which he is bound to redefine in order to continue his exercise of control over the government, not to mention President Medvedev himself.

PLUS CA CHANGE:
Peter the Great ended the succession policy of primogeniture in 1722, determining the right of the reigning sovereign to appoint his or her own successor. Under Vladimir Putin, it's free elections rather than primogenture that are curtailed to make way for the leader's right to determine his own successor.

CURIOSITY: In 1797, Czar Paul I restored succession by primogeniture after it had been banned by Peter the Great in 1722. Paul's decree ensured Romanov rule down to 1917.

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.

-Slavs 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.

879- the Slavs invite the Varangian chieftain Rurik to rule the region of Muscovy and Kiev.

-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

-the Muscovite princes, though effectively ruled by the Mongols, rose to prominence under Ivan I. By the 14th century Moscow had succeeded the Mongols as the power in the region

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 bureaucracy. Intermarriage between Russians and Tartars. Tartars converted to Christianity are absorbed into the Russian nobility.

1453- the fall of Constantinople to the Turks.

1469- Ivan III marries Sophia, heiress of Byzantium. As a result Moscow 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.

1598- death of Czar Theodore Ivanovich. Boris Gudunov takes power.

1598-1613- the Time of Troubles.

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”.

1605- death of Boris Gudonov.

1606- the Boyars' revolt led by Vassily Shuisky who becomes Czar.

1609- Czar Shuisky is deposed. The Poles take charge of Moscow.

-Czar Feodor I, son of Ananstasia Romanov. His regent is Nikita, Anastasia's brother.

-Philaret, son of Nikita is, forced by Boris Gudonov to take monastic vows.

-the Orthodox Church and the cossacks expel the Poles from Moscow.

1613- a Zesky Sobor is convened to choose a new Czar. He is chosen from the only Boyaral family to keep its reputation intact during the time of troubles.

Philaret's son Michael, the first Romanov to become Czar. The Romanovs are descended from the Boyar family of Anastasia Romanov whom Ivan Iv had taken as his first wife.

-from 1613 on (except for 1722-1797), succession is decided on the basis of primogeniture.

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.

1721- Peter takes the title Emperor of Russia in addition to 'Czar'.

1722- Peter bans primogeniture and declares that the choice of successor lies solely with the ruling sovereign.

1722-1797- primogeniture not used in the imperial succession.

1723- Peter makes his consort, Catherine, his joint sovereign allowing her to succeed him.

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.

1797- Paul I restores Romanov succession by primogeniture.

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.

1809- Alexander I- attempts to give some legality to his rule by instituting separated executive, legislative and judicial powers which are nevertheless individually responsible to the Czar.
Their power is partially limited by a Duma whose election is based on landownership, with no respresentation of the serfs.

-Alexander's new governemnt bodies are in the end reduced to a single State Council, an advisory body answerable soley to the Czar.

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.

-the institution by Alexander II of, 'Zemstvos" or rural village councils made up of elected officials. But representation is in direct proportion to landownership and divided among landowners, townspeople and the peasantry. The Zemstvos elect executive committees to the provincial assemblies. Their Zemstvos' push through important local reforms; however, they are seriously impeded by the federal bureaucracy.


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.

1870- municipal 'Dumas' become the counterpart to the rural representative bodies known as 'Zemstvos'.

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- failed revolution. Nicholas II’s brutal suppression of the march on the Winter Palace.

-unnerved by the attempted revolution of 1905, Czar Nicholas II inaugurates a Russian parliament, known as the 'Duma', elected by indirect and unequal suffrage. A higher body, the 'State Council', is made up of officials either appointed by the Czar or elected by the nobility, the Zemstvos (village councils) clergy and other constituencies.

-August -Count Witte demands a constitution providing that no law would be passed without the approval o f the Duma.

1906-1907- Faced opposition majorities , however, Nicholas dissolves the first two Dumas.

1907-1912- Bb limiting qualifications for election, Nicholas produces a third, more conservative Duma which lasts from 1907 to 1912 and produces some reform. The fourth Duma of 1912-1917, though conservative, is weak, its ability to pass crucial reforms curtailed by a higher reactionary body, the State Council.

1914- Russia enters World War I against Germany.


The February Revolution.

1917- February Revolution- revolutionaries overthrow the old, Czarist order.

March- the Duma disintegrates with the onset of revolution. Meanwhile, the liberal revolutionaries of February, 1917, seek to make the Zemstvo the basis of a democratic revolution.

-radical workers' councils or 'Soviets' spring up, first in Petrograd, then across the country.

-the Duma forms a provisional government under Kerensky but the Petrograd Soviet turns against the interim governmetn when it prolongs the war against Germany.

-Kerensky fails to introduce reforms sufficinely radical to stop the disintegration of the state. Lenin returns from Finland and takes charge at the head of the Bolsheviks.

-Lenin founds the Politburo. The elite governing and policy-making body intended to guide the revolution became the state executive.

-Treaty of Brest-Litovsk- Lenin makes peace with Germany.


The October Revolution.

-October Revolution- Bolsheviks overthrow the provisional, social-democratic government of Kerensky.

-the Zemstvos lost what democratic independence they had had when they are converted into Soviets by the Bolsheviks.

-Lenin becomes Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars- effectively premier. He creates the mall elite of the Politburo.

1918- due to lack of support for the Bolsheviks in the Constitutent Assembly, Lenin outlaws the opposition. The Bolsheviks take over.

-the Bolsheviks use political commissars as well as the Cheka, or secret police gangs to insure the loyalty of the red Army along well as the fusion of the party and state in a single authority.

-Lenin makes Stalin People's Commissar for Nationality Affairs.

-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- Lenin suffers two stokes. He is unable to stop the rise of Stalin

1922- April 3- Lenin appoints Stalin General Secretary of the Party Central Committee- the body that steered the most important party business. Trotsky heads the Red Army and Zinoviev leads the Comintern.

-even under Lenin Stalin uses his position as General Secretary to gather power as prominence begins to pass from the policy-making Politburo to the top executive body, the Secretariat.

30 Dec.- founding of the USSR as a federal union of national republics. The Supreme Soviet is the legislative body of delegates from the Soviets of all the Soviet Republics. The system of Soviets is pyramidal with each Soviet subordinate to the ones above it.

1923- death of Lenin.

1924- Stalin begins “socialism in one country” and gradually embarks on the elmination of his political rivals. Henceforward, the First General Secretary of the Communist Party would always be the virtual leader of the country.

1927- December- Stalin's rivals, Zinoviev, Trotsky and Kamenev expelled from the Party.

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- Stalin has his rival, Kirov, murdered.

1934-38- Stalin launches mass agricultural collectivization causing the deaths of 11 million of peasants.

-Stalin strengthens his grip on the Politburo even though it is theoretically responsible to the Party Central Committee.

-Stalin consolidates his power through the Great Purge with the assistance of his new security force, the NKVD.

-1936- Zinoviev is purged in a show trial.

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.

-the surviving ruling group consists of Khrushchev, Molotov, Beria, Malenkov and Kaganovich. Krushchev, as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU is second behind Molotov.

-Krushchev secures dismissal of Beria and Malenkov.

-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- 25th February- 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.

1957- Krushchev resists an attempt by the 'anti-party' group of Malenkov, Kaganovich, Molotov and Shepilov to topple him from power. Backed by Zhukov and the KGB, he invokes the Politburo's traditional responsibility to the Party Central Committee by insisting on ratification by the Committee. The Committee overturns the Politburo's decision and secures Krushchev's position as premier.

1958- the US deploys its first intercontinental ballistic missiles.

1960- Leonid Brezhnev becomes head of State.

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.

-Krushchev's intense promotion of personal, targeted agricultural plans puts strains on the politburo.

1964- politburo dismisses Krushchev while he is on holiday. He is succeeded by Brezhnev who gains control over the CP as well as State.

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.

1967-82- KGB is headed by Yuri Andropov. His hard-line, ruthless conduct of the KGB makes him a protege of party conservatives

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

-Brezhnev dies.

1982-84- KGB head Yuri Andropov, due to his popularity with conservatives is chosen, over Brezhnev's protege Chernenko, to succeed Brezhnev as General Secretary. Androp've own protege would be Mikhail Gorbachev.

-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- upon Andopov's death, Brezhnev's old protege, Constantin Chernenko (on the politburo since 1978) is chosen to stall the rise of Gorbachev. He has little influence due to the end of the Brezhnev generation and the increase of Gorbachev's influence.

Mikhail Gorbachev Takes Power: Glasnost and Perestroika.

1985- March 11 Mikhail Gorbachev becomes premier, despite resistance due to his youth. Key suppport comes from Gromyko.

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 Soviet Union without dismantling it.

-Gorbachev abolishes the Politburo.

-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- 25 May- exploiting Gorbachev's democratic reforms, Yeltsin becomes chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet.

-July- Boris Yeltsin resigns from the Communist Party.

-1991- 12 June- Yeltsin calls a general election- and becomes the first popularly elected president of Russia.

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 Minsk to declare an end to the Soviet Union and the establishment by Yeltsin 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.

-Yeltsin appoints Vladimir Putin his premier in a deal that will see Putin succeeding him provided no corruption charges are brought against Yeltsin.

Second Chechen War

-Sept-Oct--Putin orders invasion of Chechnya.

-Chechen separatists led by Shamil Basayev invade neighbouring Dagestan.

-Dec 21- Yeltsin retires from office, appoints Vladimir 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.

December 3- Putin and his United Russia Party are re-elected in a landslide, although Putin himself is due to retire from the presidency according to the constitution. He may continue to exert almost complete control from behind the scenes as Prime Minister.
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