Russia's History

In the 8th Century BC the ancient Greeks called the disorganised tribes of the Russian Steppes (plains) Scythians. The earliest Slavs are thought to have originated around the Pripet Marches in Belarus while Vikings using eastern Europe’s waterways as highways traded (and robbed) their way inland becaming Kings of Novgorod, Kiev and reaching the Caspian Sea. In 988 Byzantine Orthodox Christianity was accepted in Kiev and spread. Mongols overran much of Russia and governed their Khanate of the Golden Horde from 1223-1502. Moscow (later St Petersburg) became the seat of power and the rise of the Romanov Dynasty in 1613 ushered in a time of rapid expansion and modernisation that was not halted until Russia’s defeat by Japan in 1905. Napoleon’s Army captured Moscow in 1812 but perished on the way home, however Russia was defeated in WWI and the Communists came to power in 1917 murdering the Royal Family. During WWII Stalin’s firm hand united the Soviet Union in defeating the Axis and the Iron Curtain came down on Europe, only ending in 1989 with Gorbachev’s ruinous misrule. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia has steadily recovered, again taking its place as a region superpower.

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When the USSR dissolved in 1991, Russia's first president, Boris Yeltsin became the butt of jokes and international mockery stemming from his obvious drunkenness on state occasions. More worrying for most Russians however was the economic collapse and rampant corruption stemming from the privatisation of state assets. That all changed when Vladimir Putin was first elected in 2000. He prosecuted corrupt oligarchs, restored Russia's former international glory and oversaw a booming economy. Since 2011 Russia has kept NATO from escalating the Syrian Civil War by supporting Syria's elected government. In 2014 Russia hosts the Winter Olympics in its picturesque Caucasus resort city of Sochi.

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