The area that is today the country of Russia has been inhabited by people for thousands of years. The first modern state in Russia was founded in 862 by King Rurik of the Rus, who was made the ruler of Novgorod. Some years later, the Rus conquered the city of Kiev and started the kingdom of the Kievan Rus.
Approx. 1200 - 1547
Mongols invade Kievan Rus, destroying cities including Kiev and Moscow. The Khan of the Golden Horde rules Russia until 14 Ivan III—known as Ivan the Great—rules, freeing Russia from the Mongols, and consolidating Muscovite rule.
Series of Rulers
1547 - 1917
A series of rulers and politic unrest in Russia
Russian Revolution Begins
Nov 6 1917 - Nov 7 1917
The violent Russian Revolution marks the end of the Romanov dynasty and Russian Imperial Rule, as the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, take power and eventually become the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Civil War breaks out later that year, with Lenin’s Red Army claiming victory and the establishment of the Soviet Union. Lenin rules until his death in 1924.
1929 - 1953
Joseph Stalin becomes dictator, taking Russia from a peasant society to a military and industrial power. His totalitarian rule includes his Great Purge, beginning in 1934, in which at least 750,000 people were killed to eliminate opposition. He dies in 1953, following a stroke.
1945 - 1980
In a speech, Winston Churchill declares “an Iron Curtain has descended across the Continent” and the Cold War grows as the Soviets promote revolution in China, Asia and the Middle and Near East. In 1949, the Soviets explode a nuclear bomb, hastening the nuclear arms race.
Gorbachev Introduces Reforms
March 11 1985
Mikhail Gorbachev is elected general secretary of the Communist Party, and, thus, effectively Russia’s leader. His reform efforts include perestroika (restructuring the Russian economy), glasnost (greater openness) and summit talks with U.S. President Ronald Reagan to end the Cold War. In 1990, he is elected president, the same year he wins the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing the Cold War to a peaceful end.