Catherine the Great
On December 25, 1761, Peter III, a grandson of Peter the Great, was crowned Tsar. Peter was thirty-four, dissolute, and imperceptive. He was not accompanied by his wife Catherine, a year younger but far more mature, not dissolute but also no puritan. The couple had been married for eighteen years. Both had been newcomers to the Russian court as teens, and for a few years after their marriage they had been on friendly terms. By 1762, however, their relationship had long since been in name only. Peter had grown into a fool, while Catherine had become a complete success, respected as much for her intellect as for her winning personality. Although the court atmosphere in which they lived was much more cosmopolitan than that inhabited by their royal predecessors, politics was as always a deadly serious pursuit--and everyone knew that Catherine was the more capable politician.
By the following summer the conflict between Peter and Catherine had become quite serious. In only six months of rule, he had managed to offend and outrage virtually the entire court by diplomatic bumblings and large segments of the population through his hostility to the church and his evident disdain for Russia. Support for Catherine was widespread, and Peter was suspicious. Early on the morning of June 28, Catherine left her estate at Peterhof, outside of St. Petersburg, and departed for the city. Everything had been prepared in advance, and when she arrived she was greeted with cheers by both the troops of her factional supporters and the populace. By the next morning, Peter was confronted with a fait accompli--and a prepared declaration of his abdication. A week later, he was dead.
Catherine went on to become the most powerful sovereign in Europe. She continued Peter the Great's reforms of the Russian state, further increasing central control over the provinces. Her skill as a diplomat, in an era that produced many extraordinary diplomats, was remarkable. Russia's influence in European affairs, as well as its territory in Eastern and Central Europe, were increased and expanded. Catherine was also an enthusiastic patron of the arts. She built and founded the Hermitage Museum, commissioned buildings all over Russia, founded academies, journals, and libraries, and corresponded with the French Encyclopedists, including Voltaire, Diderot, and d'Alembert. Although Catherine did in fact have many lovers, some of them trusted advisors and confidants, stories alleging her to have had an excessive sexual appetite are unfounded.
With the onset of the French Revolution, Catherine became strikingly conservative and increasingly hostile to criticism of her policies. From 1789 until her death, she reversed many of the liberal reforms of her early reign. One notable effect of this reversal was that, like Peter the Great, Catherine ultimately contributed to the increasingly distressing state of the peasantry in Russia.
When Catherine the Great died in 1796, she was succeeded by her son Paul I. Catherine never really liked Paul, and her feelings were reciprocated by her son. Paul's reign lasted only five years and was by all accounts a complete disaster. His most notable legacy is the remarkable and tragic Engineer's Castle in St. Petersburg. Paul was succeeded by his son Alexander I, who is remembered mostly for having been the ruler of Russia during Napoleon Bonaparte's epic Russian Campaign.
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Gorbachev, Mikhail 1931
Soviet political leader.
Born in the agrarian
region of Stavropol in the North Caucasus, Gorbachev was the son
of an agricultural mechanic. He studied law at Moscow University,
where in 1956 he married a philosophy student, Raisa Maksimovna
Titorenko (1932? - ). Returning to Stavropol, he moved up in the
local leadership of the Communist party during the 1950s and 60s.
In 1970, he became the Stavropol party leader and was elected
to the Supreme Soviet ot the USSR.
Regarded as a skilled technocrat and an effective refommer, Gorbachev
was inducted into the Secretariat of the Communist party as the
agriculture secretary. In 1980, he pined the Politburo as the
protege of his countryman Yurl Andropov. After Andropov's ascession
to the party leadership, Gorbachev assumed full responsibility
for the economy.
Followiing Chernenkos death in 1985, Gorbachev was appointed general secretary ot the party despite being the youngest member of the Pollitburo. He forced many intransigent conservatives into retirement and installed a group of younger, reform-minded party members in the Politburo and the Secretariat. He then embarked on a comprehensive program of political, economic, and social liberalizion under the slogans ot glasnost and Perestroika
The nuclear disaster at Chernobyl (1986) forced Gorbachev into allowing even greater freedom of expression. The government freed Ipolitical prisoners, allowed increased emigration, attacked corruption, and encouraged the critical reexamination of Soviet history
ln a series of summit talks (1985 - 88), Gorbachev fostered good relations with U S President Ronald Reagan, with wom he signed an Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) arms limitation treaty in 1987. By 1989 he had brought about the end of the Saviet occupation of Afghahstan, and had sanctioned the end of the Communist monopoly in Eastern Europe. For his contributions to significantly reducing East-West tension he was awarded the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize. By 1990, however, Gorbachev's survival as a leader was in question. Hs perrestroika program had fa!led to deliver signticant improvements in the economy, and the elimination of political and social control had unleashed long latent ethnic and national tensions in the Baltic states, Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova.
A newly created (19fi9) Congress Of People's Deputies voted in March, 1990 to end the party's control over the gavernment and elected Gorbachev executive president. During 1990 and 1991, Gorbachev delivered no new reforms and appeared to be mollifying the remaining hardliners who were disgruntled over the deterioration of the Soviet empire and the increasing marginalization of fhe Communist Party. An unsuccessful anti-Gorbachev coup by hardliners in Aug, 1991 shifted greater authority to Russian President Boris Yeltsin and greatly accalerated change. Gorbachev dissolved the Communist Party, granted the Baltic states independence and proposed a much looser, mainly economic federation among the remaining repubiics. With, the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) on Dec. 8, 1991, the federal government of the Soviet Union became superfluous, and on Dec 25, Gorbachev resigned as president.
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Khrushchev, Nikita Sergrayevich
1894 -1971, Soviet Communist leader, premier of theUSSR (1958--84), and first secretary of the Communist party of the Soviet Union (1953 - 64).
Of a peasant family, he worked
on the plants anrd mines of Ukhalne, joined the Communist party
in 1934, and in 1925 was sent to Moscow to further study. He became
a member of the central committee of the Communlst Party of the
Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1934 and first secretary of the powerful
Moscow city and regional party organization in 1935.
Made first secretary of the Ukrainian Communistt party in 1938, he carried out Stalin's ruthless purge of its ranks. As a full member of the politburo, the ruling body of the central commitee of Une CPSU after 1939, Khrushchev was one of Staln's close associates In World War II he served on the military councils ol several fronts. He was recalled from Ukraine to his Moscov, post in 1949.
After the death of Stalin on March 5, 1953, a collective leadership replaced the single ruler of the USSR. From the ensuing struggle for power Khrushchev emerged victorious. He replaced Malenkov as first secretary of the party in Sept, 1953, and, in 1955, Malenkov resigned as premier and was succeeded by Bulgan, a change clearly leaving Khrushchev with the advantage. In 1954 he initiated the virgin lands program to increase grain production and headed a delegation to China.
At the 20th All-Union Party Cong\ress (1956), Krushchev delivered a "secret" report on "The Personality Cult and Its Consequences " bitterly denouncing the rule, policies, and personality of Stalin. The program of destalinization, which had already begun, was supported and continued by Khushchev. Legal procedures were restored, the secret police became less of a threat, concentration camps and many forced labor camps were closed, and some greater dagree of meaningful public controversy was permited. The new atmosphere of relative freedom constituted a great change from the days of Stalin.
Destalinization had, however, repercussions in other Communist countries, creating unrest that exploded in the Polish defiance of the USSR in 1956 and in the quickly quelled Hungarian revoution of the same year These events and the abandonment of the sixth Five-Year Plan weakened Khrushchev's position, but he gained strength in 1957 with his program for decentralization of industry. In 1957 a faction headed by Malenkov, Molotov,and Kaganovich tried in vain to remove Khrushchev from leadership; instead, they were removed from important posts as, soon after, was Zhukov, who had supported Khrushchev against them.
Khrushchev replaced Bulganin as premier in March, 1958, becoming undisputed leader of both state and party. Jovial in manner and often deliberately uncouth, he showed himself capable of alternating belligerence with camaraderie. He soon was known throughout the world as a leader of great shrewdness, fully attuned to the realities of the international scene.
ln foreign affairs Khrushchev's announced policy, the opposite of that of Stalin, was one of "peaceful coexistence" in the cold war. He toured the United States in 1959 and met with President Eisenhower at Camp David. Md thus helping to reduce the international tensions created by his threat (1958) to sign a separrate peace treaty with East Germany. In 1980, however, Khrushchev cancelled the Paris summit conferenre after a U.S reconnaissance plane was shot down over the USSR. In the fall of 1960 he headed the Soviet delegation to the UN General Assembly, where he raged against UN interference in the Republic of the Congo (now Zaire).
Khrushchev's policies at home and abroad involved him in an increasingly bitter struggla with China, whose Communist government continued to adhere to an fdeology of international revolution International tension was created by Khrushchaevs adamant stand over Berlin, but was lessened somewhat by his withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba in 1962.and by small campromises in the Soviet proposals for disarmament
In Oct, 1964, Khrushchev was removed from power. Reported shortfalls in agricultural production, as well as Khrushchev's retreat in the Cuban missile crisis and the rift with China, had intensified the opposition him.
Thereafter he lived in obscurity outside Moscow until his death in 1971.
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Lenin, Vladimir Illych
1870--1924, Russian revolutionary, the founder of Bolshevism and the major force behind the Revolution of Oct., 1917
Born Vladirnir Illych Ulyanov, at Simbirsk (later called Ulyanovsk in his honor) he was the son of a school and civil service official and was drawn early to the revolutionary cause, especially when his brother, Aleksandr I. Ulyanov, was executed (1887) for his participation in a plot on the life of Alexander lIl. Lenin's law studies at the University of Kazan were interrupted when he was banished for revolutionary activities. He completed his studies independently and practiced law briefly, but soon renounced his legal practice, turning entirely to the study of the teachings ot Karl Marx and to propagandizing among the workers, particularly in St Petersburg. He wasexiled to Siberia in 1895 and when his exile ended (1900), he left Russia to continue his revolutionary activities abroad
Theoretician and Revolutionary
In a pamphlet titled What Is to Be Done? (1902) Lenin argued that only a disciplined party of professional revolutionaries could bring socialism to Russia. In 1903, at a meeting of the Russian Social Democratic Labor party held in London, the party split into two factions, the Bolsheviks, headed by Lenin, and the Mensheviks . Lenin continued to be the chief exponent of Bolshevik thought in the long struggles for supremacy against Plenhanov, Kautsky, and other less radical Marxists. With the outbreak of revolution in 1905, Lenin returned to Russia. His view that the Bolsheviks should take part in the second duma prevailed in 1907, but he left Russia later that year and subsequently mostly engaged in complex theoretical disputes.
Lenin was in Switzerland during the early years of World War I. In his view the war was an imperialist struggle, since imperialism was the final stage of capitalism, it was a historical necessity that the war would offer opportunities for a revolution of the proletariat. Consequently, Lenin urged the proletariat to oppose the war by in an international civil war against the capitalist class. After the outbreak of the Russian Revolution Feb. 1917, the German government allowed Lenin to cross Germany en route from Switzerland to Sweden in a sealed railway car. By aiding his return to Russia, the Germans hoped (correctly) to disrupt the Russian war effort.
Lenin concluded that Russia was now ripe for a socialist revolution, arguing that the moderate provisional government represented the bourgeoisie whereas the soviets represented, in his words, a revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry. In July, 1917, after an abortive mass uprising in Petrograd, Lenin was forced to flee to Finland. Although the Bolsheviks were represented only by a minority in the first all-Russian Soviet congress (.June, 1917), they soon gained decisive power. In Nov, 1917 (October according to the Old Style), the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, who had returned to Petrograd, overthrew Kerensky's weak and disorganized regime and estabbshed a Soviet government
Lenin became chairman of the Council of People's Commissars and virtual dictator. Trotsky, Stalin, and Ryhov were the other chief members. The Bolsheviks, who became the Communist party, asserted that the October Revolution had established a proletarian dictatorship. The new government's first acts were to propose an armistice with Germany and to abolish private ownership of land and distribute it among the peasants. Banks were nationalized a supreme council was established to revive the dislocated economy, and workers' control over factory production was introduced. Atheism officially replaced doctrinal religion. All opposition was ruthlessly suppressed by the Cheka, the political police, under Dzerzhinsky.
Lenin fulfilled his promise of peace by accepting the humiliating treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March, 1918). However, civil war in Russia and a war with Poland prevented peace from coming to Russia until late 1920. In 1919 Lenin established the Third International, or Comintern, to further world revolution. The policy of war Communism prevailed until 1921 It brought extensive nationalization, food requisitioning, and control over industry. In 1921, in an attempt to boost the economy, Lenin launched the New Economic Policy (NEP), which allowed some private enterprise.
By 1922, Lenin had eliminated all organized opposition and had silenced hostile factions within the party. In fact, Lenin had set up a dictatorship of the Communist party, which controlled the hierarchy of local, regional, and central soviets. He retained the post of chairman of the Council of People's Comissars and was a member of the ruling Politburo of the Communist party until his death
The strain of Lenin's labors destroyed his health. He suffered a stroke in 1922, a later stroke (1923), deprived him of speech. In a testament criticizing Stalin, written near the end of his life, he recommended Stalin's removal from the post of general secretary of the party. After his death (Jan 21, 1924) this testament was suppressed, and Stalin emerged victorious in the contest for succession. Lenin's remains are in a mausoleunn on Red Square
Lenin's speeches and writings were highly regarded by his successors and followers. His major contributions to Marxism were his analysis of imperialism (stressing, among other things, the importance of colonial areas as the breeding ground for revolution), and his concept of a revolutionary party as a highly disciplined unit. One of the greatest and most practical revolutionists of all times, Lenin combined mastery of theory with shrewd political instinct. Although he attacked any theoretical revisionism or gradualism, he supported opportunistic compromises further the establishment of socialism.
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MARX, KARL ( 1818 - 1883)
"From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs. "
"Let the ruling classes tremble at the prospect ot a communist revolution~ Proletarians have nothing to lose but their chain. They, have a world to win. Proletarian of, all land, unite.
Karl Marx was born in Germany
in 1818. AS a young man, he studied law and philosophy. After
his graduation from university, he became a radical journalist.
In 1843, Marx and his wife were forced to flee from Germany to
Paris. Here, they became friends with Friedrich Engels. In meetings
with other radical thinkers of their day, Marx and Engels spent
a lot of time discussing and formulating new ideas about socialism.
Marx's political beliefs alarmed the authorities who forced him to leave Paris for Brussels. He later returned to Paris and eventually moved to England where he remained until his death in 1883. Always close to being penniless, he lived on money given to him by Engels and other 5: socialist friends. With some help from Engels, Marx wrote a pamphlet which would eventually influence the lives of millions ol' people. This pamphlet was The Communist Manifesto. It is also known as The Manifesto of the Communist Party. 'I'he pamphlet outlines the way to create a new society.
Engels was the son of a rich German family. As a young man, Engels was sent to England to learn the family textile business. While living there he viewed the poverty and misery of the English ' working class. As he watched the workers suffering the effects of the industrial Revolution and the economic crisis of the 1840s, he became very concerned. He noticed that the number of factories had increased and that more and more machines were being used. He believed that as more goods were produced by the machines, more people would become unemployed.
In 1843, Engels met Marx and pledged his support to the cause of socialism. He is the co - author of the Communist Manifesto.
THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO
Three basic ideas are contained
in the pamphlet. First, history has always followed a pattern.
This pattern is a struggle between the rich and powerful classes
and the poor and weak classes. Secondly, an industrial working
class has been created by the Industrial Revolution throughout
England and the rest of Europe. Thirdly, the solution to the misery
of the poor classes has to rest in the creation of a new society
which will be based on soclailsm.
According to Marx, there had always been a struggle between the rich and poor classes throughout history. In feudal times, the lords exploited the serfs. During the Industrial Revolution a small number of people, the rich factory owners, (called CAPITALISTS or BOURGEOISIE by Marx), exploited the working class (called the PROLETARIAT). This rich class had all the money and controlled the government. As their businesses continued to expand, the power of the bourgeoisie grew. In turn the workers, who owned very little and who worked for the factory owners, continued to remain poor.
In addition to the rich factory owners, Marx believed that organized religion kept the workers in their poverty, The churches taught the poor that they would receive their rewards in the next life if they did not rebel and if they led good lives here on earth. Marx disliked this doctrine because he thought that the worker should not accept his fate on earth but should rise up and rebel against his oppressors.
The Communist Manifesto predicted that as machines became more and more important in the factory system, many jobs would be taken away from the workers. Mass unemployment would result. When this happened, the individual person would become less and less important-losing his dignity and individuality.
Marx and Engels further outlined their theories of economic organization in the three volume Das Kapital. These works, plus Marx's other writings, were perhaps more influential in outlining Communist theory than the Communist Manifesto
Marx believed that the established
system of capitalism was about to be overthrown by the workers.
A spontaneous uprising of the workers (a revolution) would overthrow
the government. A new government of the workers would gain power.
No other system of change but a revolution by the workers was
seen as possible by Marx.
The revolution would establish a government, called the DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT by Marx. Marx believed that the ntew government of the workers would seize the proper' ty of the rich classes-the lancl, banks, factories and transportation facilities. The people would own, operate and control them for the benefit of everyone. Private property would cease to exist. Profits from the factories would not go to the rich classes but to the new owners-society-to be shared by all.
In the period of socialism after the revolution, the revolutionaries would fight the remaining capitalists to establish a classless society. Only when the new society was established, Marx believed, would the dignity of each individual be achieved. In this new society, liberty and equality would be available for all. All would be equal - "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." Eventually, in the Communist stage, the government would disappear because in a classless society there would be no need for one.
The stage after socialism would be called COMMUNISM. In the Communist stage the working classes would rule until the state withered away. Marx and Engels dreamed of a worldwide revolution where Communists would destroy capitalism. Marx and Engels believed the revolution would first start in industrial Western Europe.
Some people agreed with Marx's socialist ideas. Many did not. Many of Marx's ideas were not really put into effect until the Russian Revolution of 1917. Most were not implemented even then.
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Peter the Great
For the first few
generations, the Romanovs were happy to maintain the status quo
in Russia. They continued to centralize power, but they did very
little to bring Russia up to speed with the rapid changes in economic
and political life that were taking place elsewhere in Europe.
Peter the Great decided to change all of that.
Peter was his father's youngest son and the child of his second wife, neither of which promised great things. Tsar Alexis also had three children by his first wife: Feodor, an invalid; Sophia; and Ivan, a semi-imbecile. When Alexis died in 1676 Feodor became Tsar, but his poor constitution brought an early death in 1682. The family of Peter's mother succeeded in having him chosen over Ivan to be Tsar, and the ten year-old boy was brought from his childhood home at the country estate of Kolomenskoe to the Kremlin. No sooner was he established, however, than the Ivan's family struck back. Gaining the support of the Kremlin Guard, they launched a coup d'etat, and Peter was forced to endure the horrible sight of his supporters and family members being thrown from the top of the grand Red Stair of the Faceted Palace onto the raised pikes of the Guard. The outcome of the coup was a joint Tsar-ship, with both Peter and Ivan placed under the regency of Ivan's elder and not exactly impartial sister Sophia. Peter had not enjoyed his stay in Moscow, a city he would dislike for the rest of his life.
With Sophia in control, Peter was sent back to Kolomenskoe. It was soon noticed that he possessed a penchant for war games, including especially military drill and siegecraft. He became acquainted with a small community of European soldiers, from whom he learned Western European tactics and strategy. Remarkably, neither Sophia nor the Kremlin Guard found this suggestive. In 1689, just as Peter was to come of age, Sophia attempted another coup--this time, however, she was defeated and confined to Novodevichiy Convent. Six years later Ivan died, leaving Peter in sole possession of the throne. Rather than taking up residence and rule in Moscow, his response was to embark on a Grand Tour of Europe. He spent about two years there, not only meeting monarchs and conducting diplomacy but also travelling incognito and even working as a ship's carpenter in Holland. He amassed a considerable body of knowledge on western European industrial techniques and state administration, and became determined to modernize the Russian state and to westernize its society.
In 1698, still on tour, Peter received news of yet another rebellion by the Kremlin Guard, instigated by Sophia despite her confinement to Novodevichiy. He returned without any sense of humor, decisively defeating the guard with his own European-drilled units, ordering a mass execution of the surviving rebels, and then hanging the bodies outside Sophia's convent window. She apparently went mad. The following day Peter began his program to recreate Russia in the image of Western Europe by personally clipping off the beards of his nobles.
Peter's return to Russia and assumption of personal rule hit the country like a hurricane. He banned traditional Muscovite dress for all men, introduced military conscription, established technical schools, replaced the church patriarchy with a holy synod answerable to himself, simplified the alphabet, tried to improve the manners of the court, changed the calendar, changed his title from Tsar to Emperor, and introduced a hundred other reforms, restrictions, and novelties (all of which convinced the conservative clergy that he was the antichrist). In 1703 he embarked on the most dramatic of his reforms--the decision to transfer the capital from Moscow to a new city to be built from scratch on the Gulf of Finland. Over the next nine years, at tremendous human and material cost, St. Petersburg was created.
Peter generated considerable opposition during his reign, not only from the conservative clergy but also from the nobility, who were understandably rather attached to the status quo. One of the most notable critics of his policies was his own son Alexis, who naturally enough became the focus of oppositional intrigue. In fact, Alexis seemed to desire no such position, and in 1716 he fled to Vienna after renouncing his right to the succession. Having never had much occasion to trust in others, Peter suspected that Alexis had in fact fled in order to rally foreign backing. After persuading him to return, Peter had his son arrested and tried for treason. In 1718 he was sentenced to death, but died before the execution from wounds sustained during torture.
Peter himself died in 1725, and he remains one of the most controversial figures in Russian history. Although he was deeply committed to making Russia a powerful new member of modern Europe, it is questionable whether his reforms resulted in significant improvements to the lives of his subjects. Certainly he modernized Russia's military and its administrative structure, but both of these reforms were financed at the expense of the peasantry, who were increasingly forced into serfdom. After Peter's death Russia went through a great number of rulers in a distressingly short time, none of whom had much of an opportunity to leave a lasting impression. Many of Peter's reforms failed to take root in Russia, and it was not until the reign of Catherine the Great that his desire to make Russia into a great European power was in fact achieved.
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Stalin, Joseph 1927- 1953.
1. EARLY CAREER
A shoemaker in a small Georgian town in the Soviet Union had a son in 1879. He was a small boy, known to be "quiet, patient, and seemingly level-headed." He attended a church school until 1894, then a theological seminary until 1899, when he was expelled. The priesthood was not for him. He was interested in politics. No one could argue that it was wrong to be interested in the workings of one's country. And, as all were later to discover, no one could argue with this man and win. His name was Joseph Stalin.
A lot has been written about Stalin. Born Josif Dzhugashvilli, he changed his name early in his career. Stalin, in Russian, means the man of steel. It proved to be a good choice. Popular opinion is wide and varied. To some, he was a monster, a paranoid, a possessed soul on the brink of madness. Propaganda released in 1935 hailed him as "a savior, a genius and a living saint. " He was a relatively small man, only 1.67 metres in height. His left hand was slightly crippled from an accident in childhood. However, he was possessed with an ambitious nature, a shrewd mind and an inflexible will. He was absolutely ruthless and would put up with no opposition.
Stalin joined the Social Democratic Party and sided with the Bolsheviks when it split in 1903. From 1902 - 1913, he was arrested seven times for evolutionary activities but always escaped. In 1913, he was exiled to Siberia until 1917. But he remained involved, developing close ties with Lenin which resulted in his appointment as General Secretary to the Communist Party in 1922. It was the beginning of his bid for power. During his illness, Lenin suggested that Stalin be removed from the government but died before he could take the necessary steps to do so. Stalin had Lenin's unfavorable reports repressed. He was prepared for a new era which began in 1927 with a sweeping victory at the Union Congress of the Communist Party. From there he would rise to become one of the most totalitarian, most powerful and most feared dictators of all time.
He was wily, this new ruler, a good organizer who earned a reputation for "ruthlessness, rudeness, intimidation, intolerance cunning and deceit." Stalin would employ all of these traits in asserting his control over the Soviet people.
2. Stalin was born Josef
Djugashvili. Unlike most of the other Bolshevik leaders, his parents
were not bourgeoisie and they were not Russian. Stalin was a peasant
from Georgia, a republic in the east of the Soviet Union. He was
the star pupil at his local school and he won a scholarship to
train as a priest. At the college he joined the Social Democrats
and supported Lenin when the Bolsheviks broke away. At first he
took the name of Koba but later changed this to Stalin, which
meant 'Man of Steel'.
During 1917 Stalin was editor of Pravda, the party newspaper, and then Lenin appointed him Commissar of Nationalities in the Bolshevik government. As a Georgian, he perhaps seemed the obvious choice to stop the non-Russian people in the empire
from declaring independence from Russia. Remember that the tsar's empire had been made up of 22 different nationalities. They had resented Russian rule, and feared the same domination under the communists.
Stalin ordered the Red Army to invade Georgia when it wanted to become independent from Russia, and it was this that led Lenin to write the postscript to his Testament.
· Long-standing member of the Bolshevik Party, though not a senior member until after 1912.
· A member of Sovnarcom.
· General Secretary of the Communist Party from 1922 onwards. This gave him the power to promote and dismiss people from important jobs within the party, and to set the agenda for Politburo meetings.
· A peasant, and not a member of the bourgeoisie like the other leading Bolsheviks. Therefore popular with many rank-and-file members.
· Lost Lenin's support at the end of Lenin's life.
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Trotsky was born Leon Bronstein, but like most revolutionaries he adopted another name to try and escape detection by the tsar s secret police. Trotsky joined the RSDLP in l896, and in 1 903 he opposed Lenin and joined the Mensheviks. After the 18 90s Revolution he escaped to Western Europe and tried to bring the two halves of the party back together. He failed, and in 1917 joined Lenin and the Bolsheviks.
· Key figure in organising the October Revolution.
· Creator of the Red Army and hero of the victory in the civil war.
· Regarded by Lenin as the 'ablest man in the Central Committee'.
A former Menshevik. Trotsky
only joined the Bolsheviks in late summer 1917. Therefore distrusted
by those who had been in the Bolshevik Party for many years. Trotsky
was a Jew. When Lenin had suggested to Trotsky that he was the
best man to take over from Lenin, Trotsky had replied that there
were too many Bolsheviks who hated Jews.
When Stalin eventually assumed the leadership of the Communist party Trotsky fled to Mexico where he was eventually assasinated by Russian agents.
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Yeltsin, Boris Nikolayevich
1931 - . Soviet and Russian politician, president of Russia (1991--). Born in 'Yekaterinburg (then Sverdlovsk) and educated at the Urals Polytechnic Institute, Yeltsin began his career as.a construction worker (1953--58). He joined the Communist party in 1961, becoming first secretary of the Sverdlovsk region in 1976 and a member of the central committee in 1981. In 1985, he was chosen by Mikhall Gorbachev as Moscow party boss and in 1986 he was inducted Into the party's ruling Politburo. In Oct., 1987, however, he was ousted from his Moscow post after clashing with conservatives and criticizing Gorbachev's reforms as inadequate. Attracting a large following as a populist advocate of radical reform, he won (1989) election to the USSR's Supreme Soviet as an opposition member. In 1990 he was elected to the Russian Republic's Supreme Soviet, was elected Russian president by the Supreme Soviet, and resigned from the Communist party. He retained (1991) the presidency in a popular election and became Gorbachev's chief liberal opponent. His successful opposition to the August Coup (l991) against Gorbachev shifted power to the reformers and republics, and he helped to found (Dec 8, 1991) the Commonwealth of Independent States, ending attempts to preserve the USSR. As president of an independent Russia, he moved to end state control of the economy and privatize most enterprises. Economic; difficulties and political opposition, particularly from the Supreme Soviet (parliament), slowed his program and forced compromises. In Sept. 1993 Yeltsin suspended parliament and called for new elections. When parliament's supporters resorted to arms, they were crushed by the army. Although he won approval of his proposed constitution in the Dec. 1993 voting, many of his opponents won seats in the new legislature. In foreign affairs, Yeltsin greatly improved relations with the West and signed the START II (strategic arms reduction treaty) nuclear disarmament treaty with the U.S. He failed, however, to secure more than a limited amount of economic aid.
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