Russian Politics


Tsar Alexander ll

1855 - 1881

Introduced reforms: emancipation of the Serfs in 1861 (did not work very well, they had to by back their land and thus had to keep working for money the landowners would not give. Land was not given back) Introduced educational reforms, judiciary reform, local government and less censorship
Killed by the terrorist organisation "peoples will" in 1881

Tsar Alexander lll

1881 - 1894

conservative. Thought the population unappreciative and reversed some of the reforms

Tsar Nicholas ll

1894 - 1917

War with Japan

1904 - 1905

October revolutions


population fact


Russia consisted of 14.6% working class, 66,7% peasant, 2.4% professional white colour workers and 16.3 bourgeoisies/landowners

world war one

1914 - 1918

Lenin wanted out of the World war immediately and signed the Brest-Litovsk treaty in 1918 which gave one third of Russian agricultural land and Russian population to Germany. disappointing defeat

The Febuary revolution


Bread riots in 1917 escalated into a general strike and the military did not stay loyal to the Tsar. Tsar abdicated and Romanov rule ended.

dissolution of the constituent assembly


The Bolsheviks got 168 seats in the election of the constituent assembly in 1917 while the social revolutionaries got 380. they claimed the numbers to be not legitimate because the pro-Bolshevik social revolutionaries were not represented on the ballot papers. However it was clear that they lost. This was the first and only democratic election before Gorbachev came to power. Instead of honouring the election however, the Bolsheviks dissolved the assembly. That they were allowed to shows the lack of commitment to democracy the Russians had at the time.


1917 - 1924

The Bolsheviks in power, led by Lenin

War Communism

1918 - 1920

The economic and political system that existed during the civil war: nationalisation of industries and centralised planning, the state requisitioned grain from the peasantry to feed the soldiers, state control of foreign trade, private enterprise illegal.
The aim: Lenin claimed it was temporary policies to win the war, but it was also a transitional step towards socialism.
Result: Helped win the civil war, created economic problems, collapse of the currency \, drop in production, famine in many areas and workers strikes.
After the civil war Russia lay in ruines. the Bolsheviks intended to rebuild the economy by continuation of war communism, but the policy had assumed popular resistance. Peasant riots broke out in 1920. The riots were big and the red army lost estimated 170 000 in supressing it. They were ruthless in their suppression. riots were ended by 1922.

Russian Civil War

1918 - 1920

Reds against white. Western powers intervened (felt betrayed in the war, Germany did not have to fight on two borders) Bolsheviks had consolidated power by 1920. They were able to win because: the allies withdrew when Germany was defeated in 1919, Trotsky's leadership of the red army and because of the whites lack of unity and organisation.

attempted murder of Lenin


Fanny Kaplan tried to murder Lenin which triggered the summary executions. 6300 counter revolutionaries killed

Ban of party factions


The resolution was passed on the tenth party congress.
It was a resolution aimed at creating a one party state, it was a ban of organised factions within the Bolshevik party. It was passes because: In practice factionalism inevitably leads to the weakening of teamwork and to intensified and repeated attempts by the enemies of the party to widen the division and to use it for counter revolutionary purposes. By 1921 there was only one party and no discussion outside the party. There were debates only in the highest level of the party, a system later manipulated by Stalin.


1921 - 1928

"State capitalism in a proletariat state. End of War communism. Response to the kronstadt rebellion. The markets were reintroduced but the commanding heights of the economy (banks, foreign trade and big companies) to remain in state hands.
AIM: it was a compromise that had to be made in order to satisfy the peasants. only temporary, a transitional stage.
RESULT: pre-war level of output was reached by 1927, but there were inflation speculators, scissors crisis, and peasant hoarding food.

The crisis in 1921 forced Lenin to conclude that only an agreement with the peasants could save the socialist revolution in Russia until it spread to other countries. He thought NEP a tactical manoeuvre and a temporary retreat caused by the unfavourable alignment of forces. Lenin recognised that Russia's technical and economic backwardness did not allow the immediate introduction of socialism but he believed that terror should be used to compensate for Russia's backwardness. no softening the political freedom.
Bukharin believed that NEP could be a possible route to socialism - "We can ride to socialism on a peasants nag"

Stalin abolished NEP in 1928

The kronstadt Rebellion


Kronstadt naval base on the coast of Finland is 39 km from Petrograd. The sailors behind the rebellion had played a leading role supporting the Bolsheviks in the October revolution but by 1921 they turned against the government because they understood that the party had supressed the soviets and in so doing the ideas for which they had fought had been betrayed.The sailors called for: free elections, free press the release of political prisoners, fair bread rationing and the end to all requisitioning. The resolution of the kronstadt sailors were essentially only a call to observe the rights and freedom proclaimed during the revolution. it did not call for an overthrow of the government.

The rebellion was brutally supressed. Bolshevik position simple: no negotiations, no compromises and sever punishment for the rebels. Deemed them counter revolutionary.

Lenin: "it is necessary to teach the public a lesson so that they will be unable even to conceive of opposition for several decades.

In the suppression the Bolsheviks lost the grip of their soldiers. Many were sympathetic to the sailors and thus the first storming failed. Second storming of kronstands was a full blow and finally the kronstadt sailors had to withdraw. 8000 withdrew across the ice to Finland, the rest of the town was severlly punished including woman and children. 2100 were sentenced to death and 6500 were imprisoned.

Kronstadt showed how the party would ruthlessly supress any activities against the absolute authority of the Bolshevik party.

Lenin death


The power struggle began in 1922 after Lenin's first stroke. Since 1922 Stalin used his position as general secretary to accumulate power. In his last testament Lenin recognised how much power he had gotten and expressed concerns abut Stalin's capacities as a leader.


1924 - 1953

The Bolsheviks in power, led by Stalin

Because the party feared Trotsky they did not pay much attention to Stalin and did not realise the power he had accumulated and the dangers of this until it was to late. (Lenin's last testament not published until glasnost and thus unknown his wish for a replacement of Stalin)
Stalin claimed he had built socialism in 1936, he had collectivised agriculture, nationalised industry and replaced the market with centralised planning. He also educated people (the numbers rose quickly) He oversaw rapid growth but also a gross distortion of the economy. focused on heavy industry and quantity over quality.

Stalins war on the country side

1928 - 1952

Divided the peasants into groups: Kulaks (The rich), middle and poor peasants. Stalin: "The Kulaks must be liquidated as a class! -> devastating on the agriculture.

15 million kulaks were killed, deported or imprisoned. 50% of peasants collectivised by 1931, virtually 100% by 1936. -> agricultural production collapsed, output dropped by 20% between 1928-1933 which led to famine in parts of Russia between 1928-1933.

collectivisation and industrilisation at break neck speed

1928 - 1940

Stalin: "We are 50 years behind the advanced countries we must make good this distance in 10 years" -> to do this he introduced the policies: collectivisation of agriculture and rapid industrialisation.
ACHIEVAMENTS: 6,9% average annual growth, growing working class (4.6 million in 1928 -> 12,6 million in 1940), major advances in education, but no advancements in agriculture what so ever.

The great terror

1934 - 1940

(The end date unsure)
The Great terror is the term used to describe the 1930's in Russia. It was a period of fear and terror. Stalin order the murder of millions. The murder of Sergei Kirov in 1934 acted as a catalyst for the great terror. He was found murdered shortly after he had told Stalin he had been approached with an ide of a opposition to Stalin's leadership.
The terror was divided into different areas and policies:
- Selective terror: was the attack on mainly politicians and people who had been close to Lenin and part of the October revolution. New laws were established that made investigation of counter revolutionary people easier. these laws speeded up the investigation and gave the accused no right to a defence lawyer and only one day between the verdict and the punishment. Stalin ordered three show trails. 1936- Zinoviev and Kamenev was trailed and shot. 1937- Radek and Pyatakov was trailed and later died in labour camps. 1938- Bukharin and Rykov were trailed and executed. Out of the 139 full and candidate members of the party central committee elected at the 17th party congress, 98 or 70% were arrested and shot, mostly between 1937 and 1938.

-Attack on the Soviet institutions: in addition to the attack on the party Stalin shot or arrested half of the military and the chief of NKVD Yogoda and his successor Yezhov arrested and probably shot. (Yezhov the bloody dwarf)

Mass terror: Stalin destroyed any chance of organising against the state and created fear amongst his people. People were executed for "counter revolutionary activities" and many were sent to work in the gulags if they just took one step out of line. ¨

Why did he do it? Why did it happen?
Liberals - say it happened because of the Marxist-Leninist ideology and because the minority ruled over the majority and the only way to stay in power was force. Liberals also criticise Lenin's system that did not put any constrains on the leader.

soviet view after Stalin's death - not because of the Leninist system, Stalin distorted Leninism (Khrushchev's secret speech 1956)They say it happened because Stalin ruled ass a single dictator and not through the party. "The country needs to return to Leninism to avoid such terror in the future"

Leftist pro-Leninist views - Trotsky said that Stalin distorted the Leninist system and that he bureaucratised the party to favour him. Have to restore revolutionary heritage. Tony Cliff: Stalin did not distort Leninism he overthrew it.

cultural view: there was a tradition of dictatorship that made it easy for Stalin.

World war 2

1941 - 1945

The USSR won the war because of nationalism and military strategy. the official view: They won because of Stalin's leadership and socialist system.
Stalin argued that the Marxist Leninist system had won the war, therefor, there was no need to change it.

death of stalin


Radio: "Don't panic government continued"
Because people were scared of a new Stalin, the powers of the secret police was reduced and changed name from NKVD to the KGB and the head of it, Beria, was shot.


1953 - 1964

Nikita Khrushchev came to power after a power struggle with Malentov. As Stalin Khurshchev used his position as general secretary to win. His key policy was agriculture and started up a virgin land scheme that peaked in 1956. Virgin lands started as an experiment in central Asia in 1954 and was the cultivation of unploughed land.
peasant background, ill-educated, blunt in conversation, erratic decision maker, unpredictable and embarrassing behaviour (1960, banged a shoe on the desk to interrupt a speech in the un )
His legacy: Still repressive one-party dictatorship but he ended mass terror. Same state controlled economic system but people enjoyed higher living standards. He was the first president ever not to die in office.

Khrushchev's secret speech


Criticising Stalin and claiming that he undermined the Leninist system and thus the terror was a result of a leader driven by thirst of power and not the system. "We must make it clear, however, that the party's struggle against the Trotskyists, rightist and bourgeois nationalists, was right and necessary to defeat the enemies of Leninism. in this instance Stalin played a positive role." "We must return to the most important thesis of Marxism-Leninism, namely that people are the motor of history and they represent material and spiritual goodness, while the party has the decisive role in transforming society and leading it to communism." "We are certain that our party will lead the soviet people along the Leninist path to new successes and new victories.

opposition to Khrushchev


Khrushchev was challenged but defeated the anti-party group led by Malenkov and Molotov.


1964 - 1982

Leonid I. Brezhnev.
Khrushchev introduced new policies and reform. He broadened the scope of what was allowed to say(yet still censured) Brezhnev went back on these. He went back on Khrushchev's reforms and made the Stalin system better. He was not interested in reforms and change but wanted to stabilize the country. This led to the claims Gorbachev made that the Brezhnev period was one of stagnation(standstill)
Like Stalin and Khrushchev, Brezhnev used his position as general secretary to get to power.

Brezhnev delegated power and believed that they had to trust each other because that would lead to stability. The other main figures in the party at the time was: Kosygin(who repeatedly met with henry Kissinger the American foreign minister) Syslov and Gromykov. Because of the collective leadership and the restoration of the powers of the KGB he never got the power of either Stalin nor Khrushchev.

Growth of corruption. elites lived separate lives to the population and thus they were not living according to their ideology.
Andropov (Later to be leader for two years) chair of the KGB started to root out corruption in an attempt to get rid of Brezhnev and to aid his power struggle. He arrested Brezhnev's family for corruption.

People believe he took the Soviet Union back to the Stalin system. Political trials took place where people were charged with anti-soviet propaganda and there were allot of political prisoners. Not on the same scale as Stalin but still people were again scared.

Brezhnev aimed to improve economy by better planning and to reduce shortages by increased trade. the agricultural problem he would fix by increased investment but there was no end to collectivisation.

1977 he claimed to have reached developed socialism. good things had happened, better living standards.

Foreign policy:
He oversaw Detante (the arms control scheme) but he invaded Afghanistan in 1979 which complicated things. He had poor relations with china, and America and there were also troubles in Eastern Europe. In addition to this they lost international support, people thought they were just as imperialistic as the US.

He was not like Stalin in person and ruled from the party, delegating etc. But his policies and impact on the people seems similar to that of Stalin.

Khrushchev forced to resign


Khrushchev ousted by a vote of the presidium and central committee on 14 October. He upset key institutions like the party apparatus who disliked his turnover rules of 1961 and the division of the party (Bifurcation). The military disliked him because he criticised the metal eaters and cut defence spending between 1955-1961.

Because he did not want to use terror to prove himself he had to prove himself through his policies. However these failed. the bureaucratic reform failed, the foreign policies failed (the peak of the Cold War), Economic growth too slow, agriculture still a problem. His personality also had to do with his forced reassignment.

Kosygins economic reform

1965 - 1968

Workers and managers paid according to goods sold and not just produced. Wanted to fix the problem of only focusing on quantity and not quality.
This reform did not change much In a country where goods were scares and people would not care too much about the quality. No luxury market so just buying bread etc and happy to get any.

Brezhnev ill


He got ill in 1969 and suffered a hart attack in 1976. According to Roy Medvedev he was dead but yet he came back. New stroke in 1978. This shows the real problem of the leadership. How can you get rid of people? The average age of the members of the politburo were above 50 in 1966 and above 60 in 1982.

Yuri Andropov

1982 - 1984

Andropov, old head of KGB fighting corruption and arrested Brezhnev's family. Took over power for a little while after Brezhnev died.

Brezhnev died


He left the soviet union looking well on the outside but very many problems to be dealt with

Konstantin Chernenko

1984 - 1985

In power before Gorbachev took over


1985 - 1991

Michael s Gorbachev recognised the growing discontent, the decline in economy and the stagnation and wanted reform. His economic policies: No centralised planning, more discipline work for profit, focus on markets, increase investment in social welfare and focus on consumer goods.

Gorbachev was intelligent, personable, younger, charismatic, recognised as a reformer and there was no alternative.

1985-1987: within system reform
1987- 1990: more radical reform from above
1990-1991: revolution from below

Within system reform: tighter discipline at work, increased investment in social welfare and housing, co-operatives.

More radical reform from above: 1988 law on state enterprises: Here Gorbachev introduced the third way. He gave thee powers of the central planning agencies to the individual enterprises throughout the USSR. They were now to make profit and not to fulfil output target. The reform was watered down because of fear of bankruptcies, unemployment and inflation. This is when the economy entered into a steep decline. Gorbachev did not reform the soviet economy it simply collapsed.

1989: the first competitive election where Yeltsin and Sakharov were elected. The ban of party factions was abolished along with the party's monopoly right to rule.

Gorbachev wanted to shift power from the party to the state but he had never been elected and thus he remained general secretary of the communist party which created confusion. Was he the leader of the country or not?

The communist party was no longer well disciplined or well organised they even stood against each other in the elections!

Gorbachev dismantled the soviet economy and the political system, but was unable to replace it with a working alternative.

In Perestroika he talks about his reforms and why they were necessary. He claims that the country is and have been great and that without the collectivisation of agriculture and the industrialisation the country would have never been where they are at the moment. Yes the road has been hard, but we have fought well and have so much to be proud of.
In his resignation speech he states that he does not regret his policies and only feels sad that events took the turn they did. He stands firm to the radical and quick reforms he took and still thinks the country needed them and that they could not have been carried out without problems, shock and pain.

Wants democracy and stated that the country had been burdened by the ideology that led to poor economy and a totalitarian system. People freed themselves from socialism.



Gorbachev wrote a book called perestroika explaining his policies and the urgency of them.

Michael Waller comments on the difficulties of embarking upon political and economic reform at the same time and thus he argues that the economic and political situation in Russia under Yeltsin was chaotic and unstable. He argues that the change Putin has brought in might be a positive development if considered a temporary one. China good example of similar reforms but much better results. sad comparison for Russia.

1991 referendum


Question: Do you consider it necessary to preserve the Union of Soviet Socialist republics as a renewed federation of equal, sovereign republics in which human rights and freedom of all nationalities will be fully guaranteed? Answer: 76.4% of the people in the Soviet federation said YES.(80% turnout)(6 of the republics boycotted the referendum: Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Armenia and Georgia.


1991 - 1999

Boris Yeltsin was party chief in Moscow from 1985. He criticised Gorbachev and his wife of corruption and he was sacked as party chief and removed from the politburo in 1988. From then on he was an opponent to Gorbachev.

1989: elected to congress of peoples deputy by 90%. (He used glasnost for a political comeback)
1991: elected executive president of Russia after a referendum. -> led to a rivalry with Gorbachev who had not been elected.

Yeltsin was liked by the people because he had spoken up about corruption and gone against the communist party.

Yeltsin got all power in Russia when Gorbachev resigned and the Soviet Union was abolished. He abandoned Gorbachev's third way and committed to capitalism. he said: Stop experimenting on the Russian people, we know that capitalism works.

1992- he introduced the shock therapy and denounced that communism was dead in Russia.

Yeltsin was working with the constitution from 1978 which had been amended by Gorbachev and he ruled a decree from 1991-1992 in order to get his economic policies through. He received growing resistance in the parliament and the question "where does the power lie" came up. The 1978 constitution gave parliament more power than Yeltsin cared for. To end confusion he closed down the parliament and suspended the constitution in 1993. - a coup.

Yeltsin was not so powerful as the constitution seemed to allow. He lost public support because of his embarrassing behaviour and drunken state. His policies were failing, the economy in social crisis (the shock therapy) The was in Chechnya also lost him support.

Yeltsin always faced an anti-Yeltsin majority in the state Duma.

Despite these facts he won the re-elections in 1996 - because people feared communism and he was supported by the oligarchs who also feared communism (could take away their wealth) and controlled the media.

In his second term Yeltsin was sick. He oversaw the economic crisis of 1998, there were still problems in Chechnya and he was accused of corruption.

Yeltsin resigned in 1999 New Years eve and Putin who was the prime minister took over until the next election in line with the constitution. Yeltsin resigned unloved in Russia but was viewed as a defender of democracy mainly in the west.

He died in 2007

abolition of the Soviet Union


Gorbachev resigned and the empire dissolved into 15 independent sovereign states. Russia being the biggest and most powerful of these got all of the international obligations of the Soviet Union.

The commonwealth of independent states was set up(CIS) - the Baltic states never joined, Georgia only member between 1993-2008

Yeltsin got all power in Russia and abandoned Gorbachev's third way.

1991 moscow coup


The highpoint in Yeltsin's career was his resistance to the attempted coup against Gorbachev in 1991.
The head of the KGB, Vladimir Kryuchkov put together the "state committee of the state emergency" with amongst other members of the politburo, Gennady Yanayev. They wanted to get rid of Gorbachev and impression Yeltsin who was also pro perestroika and democracy. They wanted to save communism.
They kidnapped Gorbachev and announced that he was sick. Yeltsin climbed one of the tanks in the red square and addressed the people and he was broadcast on the evening news unexpectedly.

The attempted coup filed but had led to uprisings and Gorbachev decided to resign. Speeded up the abolition of the Soviet Union.

Yeltsins coup in 1993


Most deputies reluctantly excepted Yeltsin's initiative but a small group declared Yeltsin's actions unconstitutional an illegal. They occupied the white house.

OCTOBRE VIOLENCE: 4 of October Yeltsin responded to the resistance using violence. 187 killed and 437 injured, all anti-Yeltsin parties temporarily banned and the leaders of the coup were arrested. Yeltsin called the resistance a group of reds and browns, communists and fascists.

Only 25% approved of the use of power and Yeltsin got in trouble for unnecessary use of power.

After the coup had been supressed he set up a NEW CONSTITUTION that on paper looked democratic. It gave power to the president who was to elect the prime-minister. there was separation of power and checks and balances in the constitutions and it included guaranteed right to freedom. It was on paper modelled on the French and American system.

executive: president -> prime-minister -> government.
Legislature: Federal assembly -> state Duma -> federal council
Judiciary: Supreme court (independent legal system) -> constitutional court (to ensure that the government is acting according to the constitution)

Powers: of the President: extensive decision making powers, extensive power over personnel selection, elected by the people, only serve two terms, can be thrown out of office by impeachment.
Powers of the Prime minister: head of government, nominated by president and approved by duma, extensive law-making power which were extended when Putin was prime-minister from 2008-2012, chairs cabinet of ministers.

State Duma more powerful than the federal council containing the representatives from the 83 regions.

Impeachment: The Duma tried to get rid of Yeltsin several times but he always survived. To get rid of him the case had to go through an election in the duma a hearing in the supreme court then an agreement in the constitutional court, and then be heard in the federal council.

war in Chechnya

1994 - 1996

The fear that Russia would follow the faith of the Soviet Union. When the empire fell some of the regions wanted independence. Georgia was one of these. The population in Georgia are mostly Muslims and Chechnya is a part of Caucasus. The Caucasus region was split in two when the new borders were drawn and Chechnya thought they should also get their independence when Georgia and azerbajan did.
But because of the fear of this mentality spreading and because Chechnya was strategically important (Economically important trade rout, bordered the black sea and the Caspian sea, and they had oil and potentially wealth)

Chechnya HISTORY:
- forcefully integrated into the Tsar empire
- declared independence after the Bolshevik revolution but forcefully integrated by the USSR in 1922.
- in 1944 Stalin deported virtually all Chechens from the republic for collaborating with the Nazis.
- 1957 Khrushchev allowed them to return.

Chechens no trust in Russian authorities. Nationalist.

DZHOKHAR DUDAYEV: leader of Chechen nationalist movement, lived in Estonia with his wife and returned with ideas of independence. He was elected by the people with 85% (55% turnout)in 1991 and he declared Chechen independence but others refused to recognise it. Dudayev was unwilling to compromise he kept ruling as if he was independent and no treaty was signed (refused to sign the federal treaty in 1992 and boycotted the constitution.
Dudayevs support quickly faded and he had to close down government in 1993 because of demonstrations. He tried to impose dictatorial government to stay in power. Russia decided that he had to go and they backed a coup attempt in 1994 that failed. The failure made Yeltsin look bad and he decided to invade.

Long and drawn out Guerrilla war, very difficult for Russia because Dudayev had more support than initially anticipated especially from the military. Because the Russian campaign was poorly planned and implemented. Another reason why the war proved difficult for Russia was the lack of support for it at home. The media was freed and covered the war. (Like Vietnam)

Yeltsin declared victory in 1995 but it was premature, new terrorist attacks followed and renewed fighting in Grozni.
Dudayev killed in 1996 and negotiations led to peace agreement.

1997: Alan Maskhadov voted president, rather more moderate than other nationalists.

War in Chechnya 2

1999 - 2002

Maskhadov had won the elections but he was unable to gain authority to govern. Radicals like SHAMIL BASAYEV undermined the government -> Chechnya in chaos.
This was the rise of militant Islam and they (Led by Basayev)took over part of the rebel movements. they wanted to drive out Russians from the whole region.

Terrorist attack in Moscow. (instigated by Russia to have a reason for a second war? Litvenido book) whatever the truth of the department bombs Moscow used them to gain popular support. So the second war had more support than the first, media was also more restricted in this war and Russian military was better prepared)

Putin emphasised that this was the start of the war on terror. It was not about Chechnya anymore. War on Islam.
Putin stated that the war was over in 2002 but there were attacks also after this. He imposed direct rule on them and chose a leader for them - Kadyrov. in 2003 Chechnya agreed to be part of Russia and money went into rebuilding. Voted 80% to stay in (turnout 96%).

Kadyrov ruled harshly, terror, dictator authoritarian. but needed because: less crime etc. He portrayed that he was a muslim and built moscs to gain support. He was killer in 2004 and his son Ramzan took over and started rebuilding.
The recovery of the economy and the security indicated that Chechnya is a normal republic now.

Problems finding long term solution: nationalists want independence, Islamists want Islam state, Moscow demands that Chechnya remains in Russia and Ramzan Kadyrov accepts that Chechnya is Russian but rules as if independent.

Did Russia win the war?
Anna Politkovska: it is absurd to talk about Russian victory. Russian policies were counter productive and radicalised opinion in Chechnya through waging the war. - Russia created the radical opinions and got a terrorist war on their hands instead.
- but Chechnya is still Russian and the war might have deterred other republics to follow Chechen example.

Putin announced the end of counter terrorist operations in 2009 but the Moscow metro bombing in 2010 and the Moscow airport bombing followed.
(2004- siege of Beslan school in north Ossetia, 335 killed.)


2000 - 2008

Vladimir Putin was born in 52 in Leningrad (st.Petersburgh) Studied international law, joined the KGB in 1985, was in East Germany when the wall fell in 1989. 1990 he returned and worked for his law professor (Medvedev had same professor) 1997 he went to Moscow and quickly rose on political ladder and in 1999 he became the prime minister. Picked by Yeltsin who wanted a successor that would follow his policies and was not in his family.

Putin inherited Yeltsin's support apparatus and was recognised as Yeltsin's successors. A new party was set up that was "Putin's party" united Russia and Putin portrayed himself as a tough guy. mysterious guy in the media. He seemed different, his though stand on the war in Chechnya helped. in 2000 after having served as president a little while which gave him a benefit, he was elected president by 53 % vote without running a campaign at all. no one knew his policies or stand.

Putin signed an edict granting Yeltsin and his family immunity of prosecution. Yeltsin picked someone who he thought fit to take his policies further.

Putin's powerbase was oligarchs, Yeltsin old support system, KGB, Military.

PUTIN'S POLICIES: strengthen the Russian state and the executive power and restore the Russian pride and he wanted to get rid of corruption.
- he centralised power to Moscow and in 2007 he introduced 7 federal districts to oversee the 89 regions(now 83) in Russia and the regional leaders were no longer directly appointed by the people but purposed by the president and ratified by the regional parliament. Putin felt that Yeltsin had given the regions to much power and that had create the fear that the Russian federation had the same fate as the Soviet Union.
Putin wanted to decrease the number of political parties (there were too many, confusing) and introduced the change from 5-7% of votes needed to get any seats in the duma and from 2007 on deputies elected by party list system. It has been argued that this also gives Putin the power to manipulate the system and choose his opposition.

Putin quickly established his control over the Media. The media had been free under Yeltsin but under Putin increased censorship again.

Took dictatorship over the law. critics argue that the state manipulate the law for political purposes. example: Mikhail Khodorkovsky (head of Yukos and opponent to Putin)arrested in 2003 for tax fraud and jailed. the time was also extended from 9 to 12 years.

Yet Putin is popular: because the 1990's had been really hard and Putin managed to increase living standards and stabilise the country. He attacked unpopular oligarchs and he fronted nationalism, strong state, strong leadership and the market. Russia had little experience with democracy and what they had was negative and thus Putinism (the above) was enticing. They also had lost the faith in the power of elections and believe that power will not change by elections but protests in other ways are needed. coloured revolution, arab spring, bloggers, pussy riots etc.

In the presidential election in 2012 Putin breaks with the constitutional law and runs for another term. constitution says only two consecutive terms and so the line is blurred. not direct break but indirect. He also increased the presidential term from 4-6 years.

War in Georgia


Georgia is a small country of 4-5 million people in a strategically important part of the world. They have not always been anti-Russian, both Georgia and Russia are Christian orthodox and on occasions Georgia has considered Russia to be their defender against neighbouring Muslim countries.

Georgia gained independence in 1918-1921 but then got absorbed into the USSR in 1922 as part of the Transcaucasus republic. Georgia became a union republic inside the Societ Union in 1936. They were not speared the terror of the Stalin Years but Stalin was a Georgian and thus had a hero status in Georgia. Under the USSR Georgia was one of the more prosperous places to live.

There were three regions: Ajaria, Abkhazia and south Ossetia. Some unrest in these areas that escalated after Gorbachev came to power.

Zviad Gamsakhurdia led Georgia to independence, he was elected in 1990 after demonstrations violently supressed by the soviet authorities in 1989.
1991: 99% voted for independence.
The Georgian economy collapsed after the fall of the soviet union and the country remains one of the poorest soviet successor states today.

1990's: Gamsakhordia wanted the autonomous republics integrated into Georgia but Abkhazia and south Ossetia declared their independence and conflict broke out.
- Russian groups helped the minority regions.
- 1992 an agreement of peace in south Ossetia between the Russians and Georgia was made.

Former Georgian leader and Gorbachevs foreign minister was elected president in 1995 and then in 2000. He concluded peace in the regions and tried to improve the economy by improving relations with the west. Forced to leave in 2003 because of failure and thus lack of support.

Mikhail Saakavili elected president in 2004 and with him Georgia turned West. Allied with the US and wanted membership in NATO. This was very bad news for Moscow.

Saakhavili succeeded in integrating Ajaria where most were Georgian and tried to force south Ossetia into Georgia in 2004 but they resisted with Russian help.

2008: Georgia attacks south Ossetia -> 5 day war, Russians drove Georgians out and furthered moved to destroy the military the US had helped them build up.

EU negotiated a peace agreement in 2008 and Putin and Medvedev recognised independence to south Ossetia and Abkharia.

Georgia acted to pre-empt the Russian military take over. And Russia was scared of Georgian advances and membership in NATO because they did not want to loose influence.

accepted Georgian view that Russia was aggressive. Their ultimate aim was to overthrow Saakashivili and prevent Georgia integrating with the west. Russia sought to rebuild the soviet Union and threatened peace in Europe. New Cold war.

Russia had the right to intervene to protect the civilian and their own peacekeepers. but Russia had acted in a provocative way before the war and their response to the Georgian attack was disproportionate. They also criticised outside powers most notable the US for building up Georgian military (provocative!)

Goergia is not a part of NATO or the EU and the two regions are independent. They had remained influence in the region.
However they lost the propaganda war and were perceived as aggressive.

Saakashvili voted out in 2013.
29% of south Ossetia are Georgian and 20% of Abkhazia is.


2008 - 2012

Dmitry Medvedev helped Putin "cheat" the constitution. Putin only allowed two consecutive terms in office so Medvedev who has always been Putins Prime minister swapped place with Putin for one term and then to swap back. It was well known that the vote for Medvedev was a vote for Putin and they got 70% of the vote. They had peoples support to cheat the constitution.

Medvedev's foreign policy principles:
- the superior and fundamental international law
- A unipolar world is unacceptable
- Russia will not seek confrontation and not isolate itself.
- Russia will protect the lives of Russian citizens wherever they are
- Russia should seek to improve relations in regions where it has traditionally had friendly relations. Like any other country Russia have regions with privileged interests and will defend these.
This was said in 2008 right after the war in Georgia, was it just a justification of the war? The principles to not go together but collide. How can they protect their people wherever they are but not invoke in conflict and respect international law? Good example of these principles colliding is Ukrain at the moment.

Medvedev is one of the people in the parliament with links to big businesses.


2012 - 2014

Vladimir Putin serves his third term in office. will he break the Soviet tradition of leaders overstaying their welcome or will he give away power? Yet to see if there will be a political reform along with the economic.
(political reform because in practise at the moment the country can hardly be called a democracy.




Trotsky criticized the lack of democracy in the party and he favoured international revolution. But in 1925 the party accepted Stalin's ide of socialism in one country.
Trotsky wanted to end NEP and favoured collectivisation of agriculture, state ownership of means of production, centralised planning and rapid industrialisation. (- like Stalin, admittedly only after 1928)

leading the red army

1918 - 1920

He led the red army to victory.
he was powerful in the position of commissar for war.

Remover from the post of commisar of war


Because the party feared him and thought he was too powerful in this position they removed him from it.

formed the united opposition


Trotsky formed an opposition with Zinoviev and Kamenev in 1926 - they were removed from the politburo in 1926 and expelled from the party in 1927