A brief history of Russia

It is generally considered that Russian history truly began in the first century AD when a Varangian Chieftain created the state of Garoariki in 862.

Twenty years later the fist united East Slavic state Kievan Rus’ was formed. By 988 the state had adopted Christianity and begun forming close links with Byzantine culture.

During the Mongol invasion – which lasted from 1237 to 1240 – Kievan Rus’ collapsed and regional powers clashed in their desire to fill the void it left behind.

No definitive victor emerged until after the 13th century when Moscow became the area’s political and cultural centre.

It took several hundred years for the mighty Russian Empire to form but by the 1700’s it controlled a vast area extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Throughout its expansion the Russian Empire maintained a distinct separation from the rest of Europe.

During the 1800’s widespread poverty and hunger fanned the flames of public unrest. The peasant population’s anger intensified as the Tsars (rulers of the Russian empire) refused to divide their power or give up autocratic rule.

By 1917 centuries of building pressure overflowed in the most decisive period of modern Russian history – the Russian Revolution.

An impoverished nation wearied by a war in which over 3 million Russian citizens had died instigated a series of revolutions over the course of 1917. Over the course of the year the structure of Imperial Russia was systematically destroyed and the way was paved for the creation of the Soviet Union.

The Tsarist autocracy was swiftly overthrown and Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia, abdicated following the February Revolution. After a period of imprisonment Nicholas was executed by the Bolsheviks, along with his wife Alexandra, their five children and their principle servants.

After the leadership failure of a coalition between liberals and moderate socialists the communist Bolsheviks claimed control of the nation in October 1917.

Although the Soviet Union, which existed from 1922 to 1991, was in essence an ideologically based state its attempts at socialism went through several diverse forms, including the tyrannous leadership of Joseph Stalin.

During this period Russia was also a notable participant in the ‘Space Race’.

The fall of the Soviet Union was triggered by extensive Communist reforms, desperate attempts to combat the political and economic weakness of the 1980’s.

By 1992 the Soviet Union was over and the Russian Federation was born. Since abandoning the socialist ideals of the Soviet era the nation has experienced mixed success in building an economy founded in market capitalism.

The superpower status Russia once enjoyed has yet to be regained and the country continues to face many difficulties twenty years in to its post-Soviet era.