Further down Khudayar Khan Street a small shrine-like edifice with a painting of Amir Temur himself marks the beginning of the street named after this Central Asian conqueror who has become, in effect the new patron saint of Uzbekistan. There are few political speeches or other public remarks that are made without reference to "our great ancestor Amir Temur". Further along the street, a large billboard advertises two of the vehicles built by the South Korean company Daewoo in their factory in Asaka, near Andijon at the other end of the Ferghana Valley from Kokand : the compact Tico on one side and the Damas, a mini-van, on the other.
Daewoo has been one of the major foreign investors in Uzbekistan since its independence in , although their recent financial troubles in Korea may not bode well for their long-term presence in the country. Eventually, Amir Temur Street converges with three other streets at the train station, which functions as the southern hub of the city, an attractive structure built by Germans several years ago.
Turning north again onto Istambul Street, one of the other spokes emanating from the hub, my route takes me up one of the characteristically straight streets built during the Russo-Soviet period of Uzbekistan's history. This street connects the train station with the administrative centre of Kokand, still referred to by the Russian designation gorod , meaning 'city'.
Along the way, one passes the Railway Workers' Cultural Palace, a symbol of the privileged position that railway workers have in this country. In addition to this edifice, they also have their own telephone exchange, bank and special schools for their children, not to mention salaries that are considerably better than those for other government jobs.
Since it is not a provincial capital, Kokand apparently does not warrant a university of its own the closest one is in Ferghana, the provincial capital. As such, the "Ped Inst," as locals call it, is the highest institution of learning in town. Leaving the Institute behind, my route leads me past a Business and Technical College to the T-intersection with Istiqlol Street, the location of three turn-of-the-century brick buildings now functioning as the City Hall, the Telephone Exchange 6 and the Cotton Bank.
Directly in front, where Istambul Street dead ends at the T-junction, is one of several movie theatres in town. When I first arrived in Kokand, there was a statue out in front of a young revolutionary, clenched fist in the air and rifle flung over his shoulder. Until recently, the theatre was called the Abdulla Nabiev Theatre, named after the figure on the pedestal. Nabiev was one of the first members of the Turkiston Komsomol, killed in at the age of 20 while fighting against the basmachi the Soviet term for those who fought against the Bolsheviks in Central Asia during the Civil War.
I heard later on that President Islam Karimov had visited Andijon and seen a Soviet monument that had not yet been removed. When the mayor of Kokand heard about the lecture that the mayor of Andijon received from Karimov, he decided to play it safe and haul Nabiev off his pedestal. The theatre is now known as the Hamza Umarov Theater, named after a famous Uzbek star of stage and screen who came from Kokand.
Rather than heading east on Istiqlol Street, the shortest route back home, my route takes me north on Imam Ismoil Bukhari Street named after the famous compiler of the hadith of Muhammad , which in turn leads to the ring road that circles around the western and northern parts of Kokand. Along the way, in addition to people waiting for buses, I pass numerous plastic Coke bottles filled with oil and transmission fluid by the side of the road, the local method of advertising that those products are for sale nearby.
Turning south again on Charkhi Street named after a Soviet-era writer from Kokand , I head back towards gorod. Closer to home, I pass the city jail, an imposing structure that takes up nearly one whole city block. Currently, the streets on both sides of the jail are blocked off in order to prevent any attempts to "liberate" those inside, a threat made by the group of Islamic fighters who attempted to enter Uzbekistan last summer through Kyrgyzstan.
Usually referred to in the press as "Wahabbis", "fundamentalists" or "extremists", these people who want to set up an Islamic republic in the Ferghana Valley are never far from the minds of many in Uzbekistan, especially in Kokand. In fact, there is no one group into which one can lump all those who want to see religiously-motivated political change, whether by violent or peaceful means. There are a number of different groups, both within and without Uzbekistan, who have the stated aim of establishing a form of government which is essentially religious in nature, as opposed to the current secular regime.
Although most people I have talked to have little if any sympathy with those who wish to do so by violent means, the government does not take their threats lightly. Amongst other things, the "Wahabbis" have said that they want to re-establish the Khanate of Kokand, if not elsewhere at least in the Ferghana Valley, and thus restore this sleepy little city of about , to its former glory, a threat which the current regime does not intend to ignore.
One of the few reminders of Kokand's illustrious past is visible across the street from the jail: Khudayar Khan's palace, completed in , only three years before the Russians shelled it in the process of finally abolishing the Khanate of Kokand and annexing it into the Governorate-General of Turkestan.
Known as the orda , it is the centerpiece of Muqimi Park. Up until this past summer, the park was a strange assortment of conflicting icons. The garish palace of the despised and maverick Khudayar Khan stands shoulder to shoulder in a public park with a Ferris wheel, sundry other fairground rides and a full-size Yak 40 airliner. In general, the rides only operate on national holidays and there are always long line-ups of children and young people waiting for their turn.
At these times, there are also numerous martial arts demonstrations. Along with football and tennis Karimov's favourite sport; he sponsors an annual "President's Cup" tennis competition which attracts players from around the world , martial arts are also popular, perhaps due to the regular diet of Jean Claude von Damme movies. Another staple of Uzbek culture and a standard feature at any celebration of a public holiday is the dorboz , the tightrope walker. The tightrope is usually set up near the palace to entertain those who have gathered for the festivities.
However, none of these exciting things are taking place on this cold December morning as I cycle south past the jail and then west on Istiqlol Street in order to circle Ozodlik Square. Previously called Oktyabrskaya Square, it is the former location of Lenin's statue, long since pulled down, as well as a small memorial commemorating the victims of the inter-ethnic riots in Kokand, who are referred to rather curiously as "those who were martyred for their country, for justice and for an abundant life.
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The square is surrounded by a number of venerable establishments: the local office of the Ministry of Public Education, a branch of the Asaka Bank which finances auto loans , Kokand's only television station Muloqot TV , the local newspaper The Voice of Kokand , and several restaurants, including Dilshod's Desert sic Restaurant. Two major political parties have their offices on the square, the People's Democratic Party in the Asaka Bank building and the Fidokorlar 10 National Democratic Party in the Muloqot building.
Later on that day, having donned my telpak , the fur hat that most men wear in the winter, I head out for another bike ride, this time around the eastern half of the city. The sky is clear, the sun is shining and it almost feels like spring is on the way, although there are nearly three more months until the arrival of Navruz , the Persian New Year that falls on March Getting around Kokand is not difficult.
The transportation system is quite efficient and relatively cheap, although fares have more than trebled since we arrived in As elsewhere in Uzbekistan, there is a plethora of buses of all shapes and sizes, from the nice new Mercedes coaches used for long-distance hauls down to the exhaust-spewing, gear-grinding rust buckets that carry people from the surrounding villages and collective farms to Kokand and back again.
The most recent addition to the menu are the Otoyol buses produced by a Turkish joint venture in Samarkand. Taxis, both official and unofficial, are everywhere and a typical fare anywhere in the city is about five cents per kilometer. However, the mode of transport with the best combination of convenience and cost is the good old marshrut originally from the French 'marche route' , the passenger mini-vans that run on regular routes throughout most cities in Uzbekistan.
A trip on these costs about five cents and is much quicker than the buses. Normally I would catch a marshrut , but the weather today is nice enough for a bike ride up to Yangi Bozor New Bazaar , in the northeast corner of Kokand, the largest bazaar in the city and, some say, the best one in the whole Ferghana Valley. Cycling east along Sarboz Street, I pass the local medical college one of several specialized colleges in the city and turn south onto Turkiston Street, flanked by the canal that roughly divides the city into the newer Russian-built half in the west and the Old City in the east.
Turning east onto Hamza Street, I pass the new nine-story National Bank of Uzbekistan building, recently completed by a Turkish construction company. Further along on the right is the large Jami Mosque, closed for the past several years as a result of the mullah preaching sermons which the government did not appreciate. Right after the mosque is the large traffic circle at Chorsu, the heart of the old city and still a major crossroads. May your independence be blessed, Motherland! The fact that the two major parks in Kokand are both named after writers highlights the city's reputation as "The City of Writers.
At the entrance to Hamza park stands a large statue of Hamza himself. As a result of his reforms, he was stoned to death in by local Muslims in Shahimardon, one of two small enclaves of Uzbekistan which lie in the mountains south of the Ferghana Valley and are completely surrounded by Kyrgyzstan. These days, the current regime is not quite sure what to do with Hamza.
If the government were to lump him in with the other representatives of the Soviet era who have been deposed and blacklisted, they would be getting rid of someone who is widely recognized as one of the most important Uzbek literary figures of this century. At the same time, how can the government justify his obvious connection with the Bolsheviks? Apparently, there are a number of theories going around in the teahouses of Kokand to try and reconcile this tension, including one that states that, in fact, Hamza was killed by the Soviets in a way that made it look like religious zealots had done it.
The jury is still out and, for the time being, Hamza's statue remains in the park. One of the major shopping areas in the city, the street is lined with stores selling all manner of goods. Commerce is certainly deeply ingrained in the Uzbek psyche; throughout the centuries, many of those who have lived in this part of Central Asia, located as it is on the ancient Silk Road, have been traders. With the current economic realities of life in independent Uzbekistan, those involved in buying and selling end up doing much better financially than many in other professions.
For example, the average school teacher earns between 10, and 15, so'm in a month. In contrast, someone selling merchandise in the Yangi Bozor can easily make 50, to , so'm in a month. For those who cannot afford the price of a stall at one of the numerous bazaars in town, there is always the option of setting up a roadside table to display wares such as cigarettes, sunflower seeds, chocolate, bubble gum and qurut dried yogurt balls.
Besides the main commercial bazaars and specialized bazaars such as the jewelry bazaar, the hardware bazaar, the paint bazaar and the wood bazaar, there are also numerous illegal bazaars scattered throughout the city. One of them is located in the Massif Navoi, an apartment complex which is indeed massive, stretching for blocks and blocks along Navoi Street. This particular bazaar is the Dori Bozor, the drug bazaar. Although all the drugs are prescription drugs there is a separate, less well-publicized bazaar for narcotics , according to the law, they can only be sold in drugstores.
As a result, the police regularly raid this bazaar and confiscate the merchandise being sold there. Another bazaar that the police like to raid from time to time is the dollar bazaar, located across from the main produce bazaar on Furqat Street. The Old City, especially along Navoi Street, tends to be one of the more religious parts of town. One can still see a few younger men with beards despite the government's disapproval of young people sporting facial hair , as well as a larger percentage of women wearing the Muslim headscarves completely circling their faces.
The only exception to this seems to be during the fasting month of Ramazon, during which calls to prayer over loudspeakers are either permitted or at least tolerated by the government. Under a picture of a woman's eyes thick with mascara gazing out from behind a veil was written the slogan "Come into my commercial shop.
My route along Navoi Street takes me past the new "Disko Bar," "Bilyard Klub" and "Kafe," apparently one of the more 'hip' places to hang out in Kokand these days. The store was closed in the fall of in the wake of the Namangan events, after the owners were accused of crimes against the state.
However, it has since opened under new management and the Muslim invocation over the doorway remains. Elsewhere on Navoi Street, one sees traditional butcher shops with sides of beef hung up for customers to inspect, a public bath hammom , the ubiquitous Daewoo shops very few of them with any cars in their display rooms and more roadside vendors selling nisholda , the marshmallow cream-like substance that is commonly eaten during Ramazon, especially at iftor , when the fast is broken each day. Just before reaching Usmon Nosir Street, the next major crossroads where I will turn north to head towards Yangi Bozor, I notice a large billboard on the wall commemorating the th anniversary of the birth of Al-Farghoni, an astronomer, geographer and mathematician who was one of the founders of spherical geometry.
The anniversary in question was actually celebrated in , but the billboard is still up. Never mind that the Encyclopedia of the Republic of Uzbekistan says that he was born "around At the crossroads of Usmon Nosir and Navoi Streets, essentially the eastern gate of the city, for all to see, is one of the sayings of Karimov that appears in a couple of places around town: Qo'qon ahli o'zing nafis san'ati, hunarmandligi va adabiy muhati, ma'rifati va yuksak ma'naviyati bilan nom qozongan "The people of Kokand have gained a reputation for their fine art, their craftsmanship, their literature, their educational enlightenment and their high spiritual culture".
More and more, billboards like this and other publicly displayed signs, as well as shop signs, are using the new Latin script. An earlier version of the script, based on the Turkish alphabet, was initially adopted in This was later modified slightly, so that letters which do not appear in the English version of the Latin alphabet were removed, thus making it possible to use standard English language computer keyboards to render Uzbek. The current script was officially adopted in and, since then, has been introduced into the educational system, with plans for all newspapers and magazines to switch to it in the next few years.
Straight ahead, the road leads to Ferghana and Andijon. Just past the crossroads is a part of town known as Little Kuwait, the most popular place to buy black market petrol. As elsewhere, plastic Coke bottles filled with gas signal that benzin is available for sale. Of course, Coke bottles in Uzbekistan are used for more than just gas. Usually they contain the 'real thing'. In a country where certain other things are hard to get, there is usually no shortage of Coca-Cola products, perhaps because the owner of Coca-Cola Uzbekistan, Anvar Maksudi, is President Karimov's son-in-law, a fact well-known to locals and foreigners alike.
Needless to say, one rarely finds Pepsi in Uzbekistan. Various reasons are given, including the rumour that Maksudi and his wife are now separated. At the same time, others say that it is connected to the lack of convertibility of the Uzbek so'm.
In contrast to Coke products, which are displayed on roadside stands and in local shops, some products come to your door, many of them balanced on wooden trays attached to the back of a bicycle. Thus milk sellers, fruit sellers and even some bread sellers carry their wares throughout the city, accompanied by an appropriate cry, such as Sut, qaymoq, qatiq keldi "Milk, cream and yogurt have come!
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Some, especially fruit-sellers, bring their products around in small donkey-carts. It is a very common sight to see horse-carts, donkey-carts, cows and sheep on the streets of Kokand. Camels, however, are rare; I have only once seen a group of them on the road to Tashkent. In the later part of the 8th century BCE, Greek merchants brought classical civilization to the trade emporiums in Tanais and Phanagoria. Between the 3rd and 6th centuries AD, the Bosporan Kingdom , a Hellenistic polity which succeeded the Greek colonies,  was also overwhelmed by successive waves of nomadic invasions,  led by warlike tribes which would often move on to Europe, as was the case with the Huns and Turkish Avars.
A Turkic people, the Khazars , ruled the lower Volga basin steppes between the Caspian and Black Seas through to the 8th century. Some of the ancestors of the modern Russians were the Slavic tribes , whose original home is thought by some scholars to have been the wooded areas of the Pripet Marshes. From the 7th century onwards, East Slavs constituted the bulk of the population in Western Russia  and slowly but peacefully assimilated the native Finno-Ugric tribes, such as the Merya ,  the Muromians ,  and the Meshchera.
In the mid-9th century, they began to venture along the waterways from the eastern Baltic to the Black and Caspian Seas. By the end of the 10th century, the minority Norse military aristocracy had merged with the native Slavic population,  which also absorbed Greek Christian influences in the course of the multiple campaigns to loot Tsargrad , or Constantinople.
Kievan Rus' is important for its introduction of a Slavic variant of the Eastern Orthodox religion,  dramatically deepening a synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next thousand years. The region adopted Christianity in by the official act of public baptism of Kiev inhabitants by Prince Vladimir I , who followed the private conversion of his grandmother. By the 11th century, particularly during the reign of Yaroslav the Wise , Kievan Rus' displayed an economy and achievements in architecture and literature superior to those that then existed in the western part of the continent.
A nomadic Turkic people, the Kipchaks also known as the Cumans , replaced the earlier Pechenegs as the dominant force in the south steppe regions neighbouring to Rus' at the end of the 11th century and founded a nomadic state in the steppes along the Black Sea Desht-e-Kipchak. Repelling their regular attacks, especially on Kiev, which was just one day's ride from the steppe, was a heavy burden for the southern areas of Rus'.
The nomadic incursions caused a massive influx of Slavs to the safer, heavily forested regions of the north, particularly to the area known as Zalesye. Kievan Rus' ultimately disintegrated as a state because of in-fighting between members of the princely family that ruled it collectively.
Kiev's dominance waned, to the benefit of Vladimir-Suzdal in the north-east, Novgorod in the north, and Halych-Volhynia in the south-west. Conquest by the Mongol Golden Horde in the 13th century was the final blow. Kiev was destroyed. The invading Mongols accelerated the fragmentation of the Rus'. In , the disunited southern princes faced a Mongol raiding party at the Kalka River and were soundly defeated. By then they had conquered most of the Russian principalities. The impact of the Mongol invasion on the territories of Kievan Rus' was uneven.
The advanced city culture was almost completely destroyed. As older centers such as Kiev and Vladimir never recovered from the devastation of the initial attack,  the new cities of Moscow,  Tver  and Nizhny Novgorod  began to compete for hegemony in the Mongol-dominated Russia. Although a Russian army defeated the Golden Horde at Kulikovo in ,  Mongol domination of the Russian-inhabited territories, along with demands of tribute from Russian princes, continued until about After the fall of the Khazars in the 10th century, the middle Volga came to be dominated by the mercantile state of Volga Bulgaria , the last vestige of Greater Bulgaria centered at Phanagoria.
The Mongols held Russia and Volga Bulgaria in sway from their western capital at Sarai ,  one of the largest cities of the medieval world. The princes of southern and eastern Russia had to pay tribute to the Mongols of the Golden Horde, commonly called Tatars ;  but in return they received charters authorizing them to act as deputies to the khans. In general, the princes were allowed considerable freedom to rule as they wished,  while the Russian Orthodox Church even experienced a spiritual revival under the guidance of Metropolitan Alexis and Sergius of Radonezh.
To the Orthodox Church and most princes, the fanatical Northern Crusaders seemed a greater threat to the Russian way of life than the Mongols. Alexander obtained Mongol protection and assistance in fighting invaders from the west who, hoping to profit from the Russian collapse since the Mongol invasions, tried to grab territory and convert the Russians to Roman Catholicism. The Mongols left their impact on the Russians in such areas as military tactics and transportation.
Under Mongol occupation, Russia also developed its postal road network, census, fiscal system, and military organization. Daniil Aleksandrovich , the youngest son of Alexander Nevsky, founded the principality of Moscow known as Muscovy in English ,  which first cooperated with and ultimately expelled the Tatars from Russia. Well-situated in the central river system of Russia and surrounded by protective forests and marshes, Moscow was at first only a vassal of Vladimir, but soon it absorbed its parent state. A major factor in the ascendancy of Moscow was the cooperation of its rulers with the Mongol overlords, who granted them the title of Grand Prince of Moscow and made them agents for collecting the Tatar tribute from the Russian principalities.
The principality's prestige was further enhanced when it became the center of the Russian Orthodox Church. Its head, the Metropolitan , fled from Kiev to Vladimir in and a few years later established the permanent headquarters of the Church in Moscow under the original title of Kiev Metropolitan. By the middle of the 14th century, the power of the Mongols was declining, and the Grand Princes felt able to openly oppose the Mongol yoke. In , at Kulikovo on the Don River , the Mongols were defeated,  and although this hard-fought victory did not end Tatar rule of Russia, it did bring great fame to the Grand Prince Dmitry Donskoy.
Moscow's leadership in Russia was now firmly based and by the middle of the 14th century its territory had greatly expanded through purchase, war, and marriage. In the 15th century, the grand princes of Moscow continued to consolidate Russian land to increase their population and wealth. The most successful practitioner of this process was Ivan III ,  who laid the foundations for a Russian national state.
Ivan competed with his powerful northwestern rival, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania , for control over some of the semi-independent Upper Principalities in the upper Dnieper and Oka River basins. A contemporary of the Tudors and other "new monarchs" in Western Europe, Ivan proclaimed his absolute sovereignty over all Russian princes and nobles.
Refusing further tribute to the Tatars, Ivan initiated a series of attacks that opened the way for the complete defeat of the declining Golden Horde , now divided into several Khanates and hordes. Ivan and his successors sought to protect the southern boundaries of their domain against attacks of the Crimean Tatars and other hordes. The manor system provided a basis for an emerging cavalry based army.
In this way, internal consolidation accompanied outward expansion of the state. By the 16th century, the rulers of Moscow considered the entire Russian territory their collective property. Various semi-independent princes still claimed specific territories,  but Ivan III forced the lesser princes to acknowledge the grand prince of Moscow and his descendants as unquestioned rulers with control over military, judicial, and foreign affairs.
Gradually, the Russian ruler emerged as a powerful, autocratic ruler, a tsar. Ivan III tripled the territory of his state, ended the dominance of the Golden Horde over the Rus', renovated the Moscow Kremlin , and laid the foundations of the Russian state. Biographer Fennell concludes that his reign was "militarily glorious and economically sound," and especially points to his territorial annexations and his centralized control over local rulers.
However, Fennell, the leading British specialist on Ivan III, argues that his reign was also "a period of cultural depression and spiritual barrenness. Freedom was stamped out within the Russian lands. By his bigoted anti-Catholicism Ivan brought down the curtain between Russia and the west. For the sake of territorial aggrandizement he deprived his country of the fruits of Western learning and civilization.
The development of the Tsar's autocratic powers reached a peak during the reign of Ivan IV — , known as "Ivan the Terrible". Although his long Livonian War for control of the Baltic coast and access to the sea trade ultimately proved a costly failure,  Ivan managed to annex the Khanates of Kazan , Astrakhan , and Siberia. Through these conquests, Russia acquired a significant Muslim Tatar population and emerged as a multiethnic and multiconfessional state. Also around this period, the mercantile Stroganov family established a firm foothold in the Urals and recruited Russian Cossacks to colonise Siberia.
In the later part of his reign, Ivan divided his realm in two. In the zone known as the oprichnina , Ivan's followers carried out a series of bloody purges of the feudal aristocracy whom he suspected of treachery after the betrayal of prince Kurbsky , culminating in the Massacre of Novgorod in This combined with the military losses, epidemics, and poor harvests so weakened Russia that the Crimean Tatars were able to sack central Russian regions and burn down Moscow in At the end of Ivan IV's reign the Polish—Lithuanian and Swedish armies carried out a powerful intervention in Russia, devastating its northern and northwest regions.
The death of Ivan's childless son Feodor was followed by a period of civil wars and foreign intervention known as the " Time of Troubles " — The country rocked by internal chaos also attracted several waves of interventions by the Polish—Lithuanian Commonwealth. Moscow revolted but riots there were brutally suppressed and the city was set on fire. The crisis provoked a patriotic national uprising against the invasion , both in and The Russian statehood survived the "Time of Troubles" and the rule of weak or corrupt Tsars because of the strength of the government's central bureaucracy.
Government functionaries continued to serve, regardless of the ruler's legitimacy or the faction controlling the throne. In February , with the chaos ended and the Poles expelled from Moscow, a national assembly , composed of representatives from fifty cities and even some peasants, elected Michael Romanov , the young son of Patriarch Filaret , to the throne. The Romanov dynasty ruled Russia until The immediate task of the new dynasty was to restore peace. Fortunately for Moscow, its major enemies, the Polish—Lithuanian Commonwealth and Sweden , were engaged in a bitter conflict with each other, which provided Russia the opportunity to make peace with Sweden in and to sign a truce with the Polish—Lithuanian Commonwealth in Recovery of lost territories began in the midth century, when the Khmelnitsky Uprising —57 in Ukraine against Polish rule brought about the Treaty of Pereyaslav , concluded between Russia and the Ukrainian Cossacks.
According to the treaty, Russia granted protection to the Cossacks state in Left-bank Ukraine , formerly under Polish control. Rather than risk their estates in more civil war, the boyars cooperated with the first Romanovs, enabling them to finish the work of bureaucratic centralization. Thus, the state required service from both the old and the new nobility, primarily in the military. In return, the tsars allowed the boyars to complete the process of enserfing the peasants. In the preceding century, the state had gradually curtailed peasants' rights to move from one landlord to another.
With the state now fully sanctioning serfdom , runaway peasants became state fugitives, and the power of the landlords over the peasants "attached" to their land had become almost complete. Together the state and the nobles placed an overwhelming burden of taxation on the peasants, whose rate was times greater in the midth century than it had been a century earlier.
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In addition, middle-class urban tradesmen and craftsmen were assessed taxes, and, like the serfs, they were forbidden to change residence. All segments of the population were subject to military levy and to special taxes. Riots amongst peasants and citizens of Moscow at this time were endemic, and included the Salt Riot ,  Copper Riot ,  and the Moscow Uprising As the free settlers of South Russia, the Cossacks , reacted against the growing centralization of the state, serfs escaped from their landlords and joined the rebels.
The Cossack leader Stenka Razin led his followers up the Volga River, inciting peasant uprisings and replacing local governments with Cossack rule. Yet, less than half a century later, the strains of military expeditions produced another revolt in Astrakhan , ultimately subdued. Much of Russia's expansion occurred in the 17th century, culminating in the first Russian colonisation of the Pacific in the midth century, the Russo-Polish War —67 that incorporated left-bank Ukraine, and the Russian conquest of Siberia.
Poland was divided in the — era, with much of the land and population going to Russia. Most of the 19th century growth came from adding territory in Asia, south of Siberia. Peter the Great — brought autocracy into Russia and played a major role in bringing his country into the European state system. The vast majority of the land was unoccupied, and travel was slow.
Much of its expansion had taken place in the 17th century, culminating in the first Russian settlement of the Pacific in the midth century, the reconquest of Kiev, and the pacification of the Siberian tribes. However, a population of only 14 million was stretched across this vast landscape. With a short growing season grain yields trailed behind those in the West and potato farming was not yet widespread. As a result, the great majority of the population workforce was occupied with agriculture. Russia remained isolated from the sea trade and its internal trade, communication and manufacturing were seasonally dependent.
Peter's first military efforts were directed against the Ottoman Turks. His aim was to establish a Russian foothold on the Black Sea by taking the town of Azov. Peter still lacked a secure northern seaport except at Archangel on the White Sea , whose harbor was frozen nine months a year. Access to the Baltic was blocked by Sweden, whose territory enclosed it on three sides. Peter's ambitions for a "window to the sea" led him in to make a secret alliance with the Polish—Lithuanian Commonwealth and Denmark against Sweden resulting in the Great Northern War.
The war ended in when an exhausted Sweden sued for peace with Russia. Peter acquired four provinces situated south and east of the Gulf of Finland, thus securing his coveted access to the sea. There, in , he had already founded the city that was to become Russia's new capital, Saint Petersburg , as a "window opened upon Europe" to replace Moscow, long Russia's cultural center. Russian intervention in the Commonwealth marked, with the Silent Sejm , the beginning of a year domination of that region by the Russian Empire.
In celebration of his conquests, Peter assumed the title of emperor, and the Russian Tsardom officially became the Russian Empire in Peter reorganized his government based on the latest Western models, molding Russia into an absolutist state. He replaced the old boyar Duma council of nobles with a nine-member senate, in effect a supreme council of state. The countryside was also divided into new provinces and districts. Peter told the senate that its mission was to collect tax revenues. In turn tax revenues tripled over the course of his reign.
Administrative Collegia ministries were established in St. Petersburg, to replace the old governmental departments. In Peter promulgated his famous Table of ranks. As part of the government reform, the Orthodox Church was partially incorporated into the country's administrative structure, in effect making it a tool of the state. Peter abolished the patriarchate and replaced it with a collective body, the Holy Synod , led by a lay government official.
Peter continued and intensified his predecessors' requirement of state service for all nobles. By this same time, the once powerful Persian Safavid Empire to the south was heavily declining. Taking advantage of the profitable situation, Peter launched the Russo-Persian War , known as "The Persian Expedition of Peter the Great" by Russian histographers, in order to be the first Russian emperor to establish Russian influence in the Caucasus and Caspian Sea region. After considerable success and the capture of many provinces and cities in the Caucasus and northern mainland Persia, the Safavids were forced to hand over the territories to Russia.
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However, by twelve years later, all the territories were ceded back to Persia, which was now led by the charismatic military genius Nader Shah , as part of the Treaty of Resht and Treaty of Ganja and the Russo-Persian alliance against the Ottoman Empire,  the common neighbouring rivalling enemy. Peter the Great died in , leaving an unsettled succession, but Russia had become a great power by the end of his reign. Innovative tsars such as Peter the Great and Catherine the Great brought in Western experts, scientists, philosophers, and engineers. Powerful Russians resented their privileged positions and alien ideas.
The backlash was especially severe after the Napoleonic wars.
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It produced a powerful anti-western campaign that "led to a wholesale purge of Western specialists and their Russian followers in universities, schools, and government service. Russia was in a continuous state of financial crisis. While revenue rose from 9 million rubles in to 40 million in , expenses grew more rapidly, reaching 49 million in The budget was allocated 46 percent to the military, 20 percent to government economic activities, 12 percent to administration, and nine percent for the Imperial Court in St.
The deficit required borrowing, primarily from Amsterdam; five percent of the budget was allocated to debt payments. Paper money was issued to pay for expensive wars, thus causing inflation. For its spending, Russia obtained a large and glorious army, a very large and complex bureaucracy, and a splendid court that rivaled Paris and London.
However, the government was living far beyond its means, and 18th-century Russia remained "a poor, backward, overwhelmingly agricultural, and illiterate country. Peter I was succeeded by his second wife, Catherine I — , who was merely a figurehead for a powerful group of high officials, then by his minor grandson, Peter II — , then by his niece, Anna — , daughter of Tsar Ivan V.
Nearly forty years were to pass before a comparably ambitious ruler appeared on the Russian throne. Catherine II , "the Great" r. Finding him incompetent, Catherine tacitly consented to his murder and in she became ruler. She contributed to the resurgence of the Russian nobility that began after the death of Peter the Great. Catherine promulgated the Charter to the Gentry reaffirming rights and freedoms of the Russian nobility and abolishing mandatory state service.
She seized control of all the church lands, drastically reduced the size of the monasteries, and put the surviving clergy on a tight budget. Catherine spent heavily to promote an expansive foreign policy. She extended Russian political control over the Polish—Lithuanian Commonwealth with actions, including the support of the Targowica Confederation. The cost of her campaigns, on top of the oppressive social system that required serfs to spend almost all of their time laboring on the land of their lords, provoked a major peasant uprising in Inspired by a Cossack named Pugachev , with the emphatic cry of "Hang all the landlords!
Like the other enlightened despots of Europe, Catherine made certain of her own power and formed an alliance with the nobility. Catherine successfully waged war against the decaying Ottoman Empire  and advanced Russia's southern boundary to the Black Sea. Then, by allying with the rulers of Austria and Prussia , she incorporated the territories of the Polish—Lithuanian Commonwealth, where after a century of Russian rule non-Catholic, mainly Orthodox population prevailed  during the Partitions of Poland , pushing the Russian frontier westward into Central Europe.
In accordance to the treaty Russia had signed with the Georgians to protect them against any new invasion of their Persian suzerains and further political aspirations, Catherine waged a new war against Persia in after they had again invaded Georgia and established rule over it about a year prior , and had expelled the newly established Russian garrisons in the Caucasus. By the time of her death in , Catherine's expansionist policy had made Russia into a major European power. Alexander I continued this policy, wresting Finland from the weakened kingdom of Sweden in and Bessarabia from the Ottomans in After Russian armies liberated allied Georgia from Persian occupation in , they clashed with Persia over control and consolidation over Georgia, as well as the Iranian territories that comprise modern-day Azerbaijan and Dagestan.
They also became involved in the Caucasian War against the Caucasian Imamate. In , the war with Persia concluded with a Russian victory, forcing Qajar Iran to cede swaths of its territories in the Caucasus to Russia,  which drastically increased its territory in the region. To the south-west, Russia attempted to expand at the expense of the Ottoman Empire , using Georgia at its base for the Caucasus and Anatolian front.
In European policy, Alexander I switched Russia back and forth four times in — from neutral peacemaker to anti-Napoleon to an ally of Napoleon, winding up in as Napoleon's enemy. In , he joined Britain in the War of the Third Coalition against Napoleon, but after the massive defeat at the Battle of Austerlitz he switched and formed an alliance with Napoleon by the Treaty of Tilsit and joined Napoleon's Continental System. He fought a small-scale naval war against Britain, — He and Napoleon could never agree, especially about Poland, and the alliance collapsed by Furthermore, Russia's economy had been hurt by Napoleon's Continental System, which cut off trade with Britain.
The invasion of Russia was a catastrophe for Napoleon and his , invasion troops. One major battle was fought at Borodino ; casualties were very high but it was indecisive and Napoleon was unable to engage and defeat the Russian armies. He attempted to force the Tsar to terms by capturing Moscow at the onset of winter, even though the French Army had already lost most of its men. The expectation proved futile. The Russians retreated, burning crops and food supplies in a scorched earth policy that multiplied Napoleon's logistic problems.
As Napoleon's forces retreated, Russian troops pursued them into Central and Western Europe and finally captured Paris. After the final defeat of Napoleon in , Alexander became known as the 'savior of Europe. He formed the Holy Alliance with Austria and Prussia, to suppress revolutionary movements in Europe that he saw as immoral threats to legitimate Christian monarchs. He helped Austria's Klemens von Metternich in suppressing all national and liberal movements. Although the Russian Empire would play a leading political role as late as , its retention of serfdom precluded economic progress of any significant degree.
As West European economic growth accelerated during the Industrial Revolution, sea trade and colonialism which had begun in the second half of the 18th century, Russia began to lag ever farther behind, undermining its ability to field strong armies. Russia's great power status obscured the inefficiency of its government, the isolation of its people, and its economic backwardness.
The tsar was succeeded by his younger brother, Nicholas I — , who at the onset of his reign was confronted with an uprising. The background of this revolt lay in the Napoleonic Wars, when a number of well-educated Russian officers traveled in Europe in the course of the military campaigns, where their exposure to the liberalism of Western Europe encouraged them to seek change on their return to autocratic Russia. The result was the Decembrist Revolt December , the work of a small circle of liberal nobles and army officers who wanted to install Nicholas' brother as a constitutional monarch.
But the revolt was easily crushed, leading Nicholas to turn away from liberal reforms and champion the reactionary doctrine " Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality ". In — Russia fought another war against Persia. Russia lost almost all of its recently consolidated territories during the first year but gained them back and won the war on highly favourable terms. Following a brief occupation, the Russian imperial army withdrew back into Georgia. By the s, Russia had conquered all Persian territories and major Ottoman territories in the Caucasus.
In Nicholas crushed the November Uprising in Poland. The Russian autocracy gave Polish artisans and gentry reason to rebel in by assailing the national core values of language, religion, and culture. France, Britain and Austria tried to intervene in the crisis but were unable to do so. The Russian patriotic press used the Polish uprising to unify the Russian nation, claiming it was Russia's God-given mission to save Poland and the world.
Tsar Nicholas I reigned — lavished attention on his very large army; with a population of 60—70 million people, the army included a million men. They had outdated equipment and tactics, but the tsar, who dressed like a soldier and surrounded himself with officers, gloried in the victory over Napoleon in and took enormous pride in its smartness on parade. The cavalry horses, for example, were only trained in parade formations, and did poorly in battle. The glitter and braid masked profound weaknesses that he did not see. He put generals in charge of most of his civilian agencies regardless of their qualifications.
An agnostic who won fame in cavalry charges was made supervisor of Church affairs. The Army became the vehicle of upward social mobility for noble youths from non-Russian areas, such as Poland, the Baltic, Finland and Georgia. On the other hand, many miscreants, petty criminals and undesirables were punished by local officials by enlisting them for life in the Army. The conscription system was highly unpopular with people, as was the practice of forcing peasants to house the soldiers for six months of the year.
Curtiss finds that "The pedantry of Nicholas' military system, which stressed unthinking obedience and parade ground evolutions rather than combat training, produced ineffective commanders in time of war. Finally the Crimean War at the end of his reign demonstrated to the world what no one had previously realized: Russia was militarily weak, technologically backward, and administratively incompetent. Despite his grand ambitions toward the south and Ottoman Empire, Russia had not built its railroad network in that direction, and communications were bad.
The bureaucracy was riddled with graft, corruption and inefficiency and was unprepared for war. The Navy was weak and technologically backward; the Army, although very large, was good only for parades, suffered from colonels who pocketed their men's pay, poor morale, and was even more out of touch with the latest technology as developed by Britain and France. As Fuller notes, "Russia had been beaten on the Crimean peninsula, and the military feared that it would inevitably be beaten again unless steps were taken to surmount its military weakness.
As Western Europe modernized, after the issue for Russia became one of direction. Some favored imitating Europe while others renounced the West and called for a return of the traditions of the past. The latter path was championed by Slavophiles , who heaped scorn on the "decadent" West.
The Slavophiles were opponents of bureaucracy and preferred the collectivism of the medieval Russian mir , or village community , to the individualism of the West. Since the war against Napoleon, Russia had become deeply involved in the affairs of Europe, as part of the "Holy Alliance. Prussia, Austria, Britain and France the other members of the alliance lacked large armies and needed Russia to supply the required numbers, which fit the philosophy of Nicholas I. When the Revolutions of swept Europe, however, Russia was quiet. The Tsar sent his army into Hungary in at the request of the Austrian Empire and broke the revolt there, while preventing its spread to Russian Poland.
The Tsar cracked down on any signs of internal unrest. Russia expected that in exchange for supplying the troops to be the policeman of Europe, it should have a free hand in dealing with the decaying Ottoman Empire—the "sick man of Europe. In this setting Michael Bakunin would emerge as the father of anarchism. He left Russia in to Western Europe, where he became active in the socialist movement. After participating in the May Uprising in Dresden of , he was handed over to Russia and sent to Siberia. He escaped in , then began to organize.
He argued with Karl Marx over socialism. Marx won and had Bakunin and the anarchists expelled from the First International in He died in obscurity but other anarchists took up the torch, especially Russian radicals such as Alexander Herzen and Peter Kropotkin. Tsar Nicholas died with his philosophy in dispute. One year earlier, Russia had become involved in the Crimean War , a conflict fought primarily in the Crimean peninsula.
When Alexander II came to the throne in , desire for reform was widespread. The most pressing problem confronting the Government was serfdom. In , there were 23 million serfs out of a total population of The freed peasants had to buy land, allotted to them, from the landowners with the state assistance. All the land turned over to the peasants was owned collectively by the mir , the village community, which divided the land among the peasants and supervised the various holdings.
Alexander was the most successful Russian reformer since Peter the Great , and was responsible for numerous reforms besides abolishing serfdom. He reorganized the judicial system , setting up elected local judges, abolishing capital punishment, promoting local self-government through the zemstvo system, imposing universal military service, ending some of the privileges of the nobility, and promoting the universities. In foreign policy, he sold Alaska to the United States in , fearing the remote colony would fall into British hands if there was another war.
He modernized the military command system. Faced with an uprising in Poland in , he stripped that land of its separate Constitution and incorporated it directly into Russia. To counter the rise of a revolutionary and anarchistic movements, he sent thousands of dissidents into exile in Siberia and was proposing additional parliamentary reforms when he was assassinated in In the late s Russia and the Ottoman Empire again clashed in the Balkans. The Russo-Turkish War was popular among the Russian people, who supported the independence of their fellow Orthodox Slavs, the Serbs and the Bulgarians.
However, the war increased tension with Austria-Hungary, which also had ambitions in the region. The tsar was disappointed by the results of the Congress of Berlin in , but abided by the agreement. In the s a movement known as Nihilism developed in Russia. A term originally coined by Ivan Turgenev in his novel Fathers and Sons , Nihilists favoured the destruction of human institutions and laws, based on the assumption that such institutions and laws are artificial and corrupt.
At its core, Russian nihilism was characterized by the belief that the world lacks comprehensible meaning, objective truth, or value. For some time many Russian liberals had been dissatisfied by what they regarded as the empty discussions of the intelligentsia. The Nihilists questioned all old values and shocked the Russian establishment. Their path was facilitated by the previous actions of the Decembrists, who revolted in , and the financial and political hardship caused by the Crimean War, which caused large numbers of Russian people to lose faith in political institutions. The Nihilists first attempted to convert the aristocracy to the cause of reform.
Their campaign, which targeted the people instead of the aristocracy or the landed gentry, became known as the Populist movement. It was based upon the belief that the common people possessed the wisdom and peaceful ability to lead the nation. While the Narodnik movement was gaining momentum, the government quickly moved to extirpate it. In response to the growing reaction of the government, a radical branch of the Narodniks advocated and practiced terrorism.
This represented the ascendancy of anarchism in Russia as a powerful revolutionary force. Finally, after several attempts, Alexander II was assassinated by anarchists in , on the very day he had approved a proposal to call a representative assembly to consider new reforms in addition to the abolition of serfdom designed to ameliorate revolutionary demands. Unlike his father, the new tsar Alexander III — was throughout his reign a staunch reactionary who revived the maxim of " Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and National Character ".
In his reign Russia concluded the union with republican France to contain the growing power of Germany, completed the conquest of Central Asia, and exacted important territorial and commercial concessions from China. He taught his royal pupils to fear freedom of speech and press and to hate democracy, constitutions, and the parliamentary system.
Alexander was succeeded by his son Nicholas II — The Industrial Revolution, which began to exert a significant influence in Russia, was meanwhile creating forces that would finally overthrow the tsar. Politically, these opposition forces organized into three competing parties: The liberal elements among the industrial capitalists and nobility, who believed in peaceful social reform and a constitutional monarchy, founded the Constitutional Democratic party or Kadets in Followers of the Narodnik tradition established the Socialist-Revolutionary Party or Esers in , advocating the distribution of land among those who actually worked it—the peasants.
Gathering their support from the radical intellectuals and the urban working class, they advocated complete social, economic and political revolution. The Mensheviks believed that Russian socialism would grow gradually and peacefully and that the tsar's regime should be succeeded by a democratic republic in which the socialists would cooperate with the liberal bourgeois parties. The Bolsheviks advocated the formation of a small elite of professional revolutionists, subject to strong party discipline, to act as the vanguard of the proletariat in order to seize power by force.
The disastrous performance of the Russian armed forces in the Russo-Japanese War was a major blow to the Russian State and increased the potential for unrest. In January , an incident known as " Bloody Sunday " occurred when Father Gapon led an enormous crowd to the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg to present a petition to the tsar. When the procession reached the palace, Cossacks opened fire on the crowd, killing hundreds. This marked the beginning of the Russian Revolution of Soviets councils of workers appeared in most cities to direct revolutionary activity.
In October , Nicholas reluctantly issued the October Manifesto , which conceded the creation of a national Duma legislature to be called without delay. The moderate groups were satisfied;  but the socialists rejected the concessions as insufficient and tried to organize new strikes.
By the end of , there was disunity among the reformers, and the tsar's position was strengthened for the time being. An ultimatum followed to Serbia, which was considered a Russian client-state, by Austro-Hungary on 23 July. Russia had no treaty obligation to Serbia, and in long-term perspective, Russia was militarily gaining on Germany and Austro-Hungary, and thus had an incentive to wait.
Most Russian leaders wanted to avoid a war. However, in the present crisis they had the support of France, and they feared that the failure to support Serbia would lead to a loss of Russian credibility and a major political defeat to Russia's goals for a leadership role in the Balkans. Christopher Clark states: "The Russian general mobilisation [of 30 July] was one of the most momentous decisions of the July crisis. This was the first of the general mobilisations. It came at the moment when the German government had not yet even declared the State of Impending War". At the opening of hostilities, the Russians took the offensive against both Germany and Austria-Hungary.
The very large but poorly equipped Russian army fought tenaciously and desperately at times despite its lack of organization and very weak logistics. Casualties were enormous. By , many soldiers were sent to the front unarmed, and told to pick up whatever weapons they could from the battlefield. Nevertheless, the Russian army fought on, and tied down large numbers of Germans and Austrians. When civilians showed a surge of patriotism, the tsar and his entourage failed to exploit it for military benefit. Instead, they relied on slow-moving bureaucracies. In areas where they did advance against the Austrians, they failed to rally the ethnic and religious minorities that were hostile to Austria, such as Poles.
The tsar refused to cooperate with the national legislature, the Duma, and listened less to experts than to his wife, who was in thrall to her chief advisor, the so-called holy man Grigori Rasputin. Repeated military failures and bureaucratic ineptitude soon turned large segments of the population against the government. By the middle of the impact of the war was demoralizing. Food and fuel were in short supply, casualties kept occurring, and inflation was mounting. Strikes increased among low-paid factory workers, and the peasants, who wanted land reforms, were restless. The February revolution In late February 3 March , a strike occurred in a factory in the capital Petrograd the new name for Saint Petersburg.
On 23 February 8 March , thousands of female textile workers walked out of their factories protesting the lack of food and calling on other workers to join them. Within days, nearly all the workers in the city were idle, and street fighting broke out. The tsar ordered the Duma to disband, ordered strikers to return to work, and ordered troops to shoot at demonstrators in the streets.
His orders triggered the February Revolution , especially when soldiers openly sided with the strikers. The tsar and the aristocracy fell on 2 March, as Nicholas II abdicated. To fill the vacuum of authority, the Duma declared a Provisional Government , headed by Prince Lvov , which was collectively known as the Russian Republic.
In July, following a series of crises that undermined their authority with the public, the head of the Provisional Government resigned and was succeeded by Alexander Kerensky , who was more progressive than his predecessor but not radical enough for the Bolsheviks or many Russians discontented with the deepening economic crisis and the continuation of the war. While Kerensky's government marked time, the socialist-led soviet in Petrograd joined with soviets that formed throughout the country to create a national movement.
The German government provided over 40 million gold marks to subsidize Bolshevik publications and activities subversive of the tsarist government, especially focusing on disgruntled soldiers and workers. After many behind-the-scenes maneuvers, the soviets seized control of the government in November and drove Kerensky and his moderate provisional government into exile, in the events that would become known as the October Revolution. When the national Constituent Assembly elected in December refused to become a rubber stamp of the Bolsheviks, it was dissolved by Lenin's troops and all vestiges of democracy were removed.
With the handicap of the moderate opposition removed, Lenin was able to free his regime from the war problem by the harsh Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany. Russia lost much of her western borderlands. However, when Germany was defeated the Soviet government repudiated the Treaty. The Bolshevik grip on power was by no means secure, and a lengthy struggle broke out between the new regime and its opponents, which included the Socialist Revolutionaries, right-wing "Whites", and large numbers of peasants.
At the same time the Allied powers sent several expeditionary armies to support the anti-Communist forces in an attempt to force Russia to rejoin the world war. The Bolsheviks fought against both these forces and national independence movements in the former Russian Empire. By , they had defeated their internal enemies and brought most of the newly independent states under their control, with the exception of Finland, the Baltic States, the Moldavian Democratic Republic which joined Romania , and Poland with whom they had fought the Polish—Soviet War.
Both sides regularly committed brutal atrocities against civilians. During the civil war era White Terror Russia for example, Petlyura and Denikin's forces massacred , to , Jews in Ukraine and southern Russia. Estimates for the total number of people killed during the Red Terror carried out by the Bolsheviks vary widely.
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One source asserts that the total number of victims of repression and pacification campaigns could be 1. The Russian economy was devastated by the war, with factories and bridges destroyed, cattle and raw materials pillaged, mines flooded and machines damaged. The droughts of and , as well as the famine , worsened the disaster still further. Disease had reached pandemic proportions, with 3,, dying of typhus alone in Millions more also died of widespread starvation.
By there were at least 7,, street children in Russia as a result of nearly ten years of devastation from the Great War and the civil war. Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel —some through the Far East, others west into the newly independent Baltic countries.
Related The Third Millennium of the Last Days (in Russian)
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