Modern History of Russia Modern History of Russia The reigns of Peter I and Catherine the Great in the late 1600s and the 1700s marked the beginning of Russia’s establishment as a major European power. These rulers attempted to westernize the traditional society of Moscow, and they ambitiously expanded Russian territories. In the early 1800s, Alexander I began to carry out further plans to westernize the government by attempting to create a Duma, or representative body. However, Russia became involved in the Napoleonic Wars and played a key role in the alliance that overthrew French emperor Napolean I. This firmly established Russia as a major power in Europe. The influence of Western Europe resulted in highly liberal political attitudes among some Russian students, nobles, and members of the upper middle class.
Dissatisfied with the tyranny of Russian government, they began to create secret political groups. A group of officers led a revolt in 1825 and tried to form a new government. Emperor Nicholas I put down the revolt very quickly and took measures to drive the people into submission and to protect Russia from corrupting western ideas. In opposition to Russia’s involvement in the Crimean War (1853-1856). The Russian people were tired of war and this encouraged a revolutionary movement among workers, peasants, and minorities. The serfs rose up against the landowners and pillaged their estates.
Alexander II became czar in 1855 and became one of the greatest reformers in Russian history.He freed the serfs in 1861 giving freedom to almost 40 million people. However, it was not enough after many years of oppression and in 1881 he was assassinated. He was replaced by his son, Alexander III, who suppressed all revolutionary organizations. Nicholas II began his reign in 1894.
Oppression increased under Nicholas II, creating significant unrest.At the same time, Japan challenged Russian interests in Manchuria and attacked the empire in 1904. The revolution mounted in 1905, and the empire was overwhelmed by a general strike, nationalist uprisings, unrest, and complete defeat in the war with Japan. In August of 1914 Russia went to war with Germany and Austria to claim the Balkans. Severe losses over the next two years made the war unpopular throughout Russia, while repression and corruption continued in the government.
Shortages of food created mass rioting in the capital of Petrogod in 1917.Soldiers deserted the government and joined the people in demanding changes in the government. The Duma demanded that the Csar resign and Nicholas II abdicated his throne. He and his family were exiled and later executed, ending the Russian Empire. Russia was in turmoil in the early part of the 20th century until the Bolsheviks established the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) under Lenin in 1922. The Russia Soviet Federated Union, the largest and most prominent republic of the USSR, dominated the USSR for its entire 74 year history.
Moscow, the capital of Russia was also the capital of the USSR.Boris Yeltsin was elected president of Russia in 1991 when the USSR broke up and Russia became an independent country. Russia coordinated the formation of a political alliance with former republics of the USSR, called the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The conservative forces in Russia made it difficult for Yeltsin to achieve his goals of reform. He dissolved the Communist-controlled parliament in 1993 and later that year held new parliament elections. The dissolution of the parliament was not without cost.
Yeltsin used the army against the conservatives who armed themselves and occupied the parliament building. More than 140 people died in the rebellion. Russia’s domestic and political situation remained very unstable in the mid-1990s, a result of a host of internal and external conflicts. On the last day of 1994, Russian troops launched a full-scale invasion of the republic of Chechnya in southern European Russia, which had declared its independence from the Russian Federation in 1991. A devastating war ensued, and Yeltsin was heavily criticized for his handling of the conflict.By early 1996 more than 30,000 people had been killed.
In May 1996 Yeltsin and the acting Chechen president, Zelimkhan Yanderbiyev, agreed to a cease-fire, although fighting continued on both sides. In July, Yeltsin defeated Communist opponent Gennady Zyuganov in a run-off election, making Yeltsin the first democratically elected head of state in Russia’s 1,000-year history. In August, Chechen and Russian leaders signed a broad agreement, bringing the war in Chechnya to an end.
The agreement called for the immediate withdrawal of Russian forces and for any decision on Chechnya’s political status to be postponed until December 2001.On New Years Eve in December of 1999, Yeltsin announced his resignation and was succeeded by Vladimir Putin as president. Vladimir Putin is an ex-KGB officer and is aligned with many ex-KGB officers and Communist conservatives.