Chronology

Tenth century–1598

The Eastern Slavic states of Kievan Rus' and its successors ruled by descendants of the mythical ninth-century tribal chief Riurik (Riurikid dynasty)

988

Conversion of Eastern Slavs (or at least their leaders, led by their grand prince [or grand duke] St. Vladimir)

1054

Schism of Eastern and Western Christian churches; the Eastern Slavs side with Orthodox side against the Western church and the pope.

1237–1238

Beginning of Mongol rule in Eastern Slavic territories (capital at Sarai, located within Volga estuary)

1240s

Novgorod’s military commander St. Aleksandr Nevskii halts Swedish and “Teutonic” attempts to conquer Eastern Slavic realm in northeast Rus' but refuses to challenge Mongols. Russian princes are subject to Mongols, who appoint the most loyal prince as Grand Prince of All Rus'.

Fourteenth century

Rise of Lithuania, which conquers much of today’s Belarus and Ukraine. Lithuanian-Polish (since 1385) rule separates the Eastern Slavs and leads to development of three separate languages. The head of the Eastern Slavic Orthodox Church moves his see from Kyiv, via Vladimir, to Moscow (1320s). Besides Lithuania and Moscow, the merchant city-state of Novgorod represents a third Eastern Slavic political entity.

1380

Muscovite prince Dmitrii Donskoi defeats Mongol army at the Battle of Kulikovo; while a significant victory for Muscovite self-confidence, it is another century before a Moscow prince proclaims independence from the Mongols.

Fifteenth century

Mongolian unity collapses. After a lengthy succession war, Moscow’s prince emerges as the sole contender for the title of Grand Prince of Rus'.

1462–1505

Ivan III (the Great), Grand Prince of Muscovy. Construction of Moscow Kremlin begins. In 1472, Ivan marries niece of last Byzantine emperor (Zoe or Sophia Paleologos). Novgorod is subjugated. Beginning of long-term conflict with Poland-Lithuania (lasts until 1667). In 1480, after “Standing at the Ugra,” Ivan III renounces Mongol rule.

1505–1533

Vasilii III. Growing contacts with Europe: first famous Western account of Muscovy (by Sigismund von Herberstein, Imperial ambassador). Vasilii attempts to conquer Tatar (Mongolian) khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan. Wars with Poland-Lithuania.

1533 (1547)–1584

Ivan IV the Terrible. After a promising first decade (1547–1557), reign becomes steadily more irrational. Introduces first musketeer corps in army, reforms canonical law in church as well as the state’s law code, and conquers Kazan (1553) and Astrakhan (1556). Arrival of English merchants in Moscow (Richard Chancellor, 1555). Livonian War (1558–1583). In 1564, after “resigning,” Ivan organizes a blood purge, executed by oprichnina, culminating in the firing of Novgorod (1570). Moscow’s environs pillaged by Crimean Tatars (1571). Meanwhile, economic crisis (misharvests, plague, and war combined) begins.

ca. 1550–ca. 1700

“Mini Ice Age”: cooling off of temperature across Europe and Asia.

1580s–1590s

Decrees are issued prohibiting peasants from leaving their landlords even after acquitting themselves of all labor and rent obligations owed to their lord. Period of blight, poor harvests, and starvation.

1583

Yermak Timofeevich and Cossacks cross Ural Mountains and establish Russian bridgehead in Siberia.

1584–1598

Fyodor I Ivanovich, last of the Riurikids, rules. His main advisor is his brother-in-law Boris Godunov.

1589

Establishment of Russian patriarchy (first patriarch: Iov)

1591

Death of ten-year-old Dmitrii, son of Ivan IV, at Uglich; Prince Vasilii Shuiskii’s investigative commission concludes that there was no foul play involved in the boy’s death.

1596

Union of Brest, “reuniting” Ukrainian Orthodox Church with Catholicism; pope is recognized as head of this church. This creates Uniates (Ukrainian or Greek Catholics), who are especially encountered in western Ukraine. Many Orthodox believers do not follow their priests and higher clergy in making this switch.

1598

Godunov elected tsar by Assembly of the Land (Zemskii Sobor)

1601–1603

Series of misharvests leads to massive famine.

1603–1613

Time of Troubles (Smuta)

1605

Death of Boris Godunov; the succession of his young son Fyodor II is contested; several high boyars decide to support the first false Dmitrii (likely one Grigorii Otrep'ev), who has led an invasion army into Muscovy from Poland.

1606

Dmitrii is overthrown and succeeded by Vasilii Shuiskii (r. 1606–1610).

1606–1607

Rebellion of downtrodden (slaves and serfs) led by Ivan Bolotnikov

1607

Bolotnikov’s forces surrender near Tula. First news about another false Dmitrii (“The Thief of Tushino”).

1608

The second false Dmitrii camps out at Tushino with a motley crew of supporters, including Cossacks, Polish nobles, and Russian servitors. Dmitrii is recognized as tsar in many parts of central Russia.

1609

Shuiskii concludes a pact with Sweden to aid his fight against the Tushino Thief. Polish troops invade Muscovy.

1610

Thief of Tushino flees before troops loyal to Shuiskii. Poles move up to Moscow. Boyars depose Shuiskii and invite the Polish crown prince Wladyslaw to become tsar on the condition that he convert to Orthodoxy. Poles enter Moscow on invitation of boyar regents.

1611

Beginning of “liberation movement” at Riazan (headed by Prince Prokofii Liapunov). Its inspiration are letters sent to Orthodox believers from occupied Moscow by Patriarch Germogen. Internal conflict between various factions causes its collapse. At Nizhnii Novgorod, a more successful popular militia is organized by the meat trader Kuz'ma Minin.

1612

Popular militia moves from Nizhnii to Iaroslavl', and then to Moscow. There it manages to beat back a Polish force sent to assist the Polish garrison in Moscow. The Poles surrender. Death of Patriarch Germogen.

1613

Assembly of the Land elects sixteen-year-old Mikhail Romanov tsar (r. 1613–1645).

1617

Peace with Sweden (Treaty of Stolbovo)

1619

Truce of Deulino with Poland; Filaret (F. N. Romanov), the tsar’s father, released from Polish captivity and elected patriarch.

1632

Andries Denijszoon Vinius (1605–ca. 1658) founds ironworks at Tula, which will produce cannon and cannonballs as well as other weapons.

1632–1634

Smolensk War with Poland

1637

Don Cossacks capture Azov.

1637 or 1639

Cossacks (led by Semyon Dezhnyov) reach Pacific.

1642

Assembly of the Land refuses Azov.

1645

Death of Mikhail; his successor is Aleksei (b.1629, r. 1645–1676).

1647

First secular book printed in Russia; it is a guide for army drill.

1648

Moscow revolt (provoked by taxation). Khmelnitskii’s Cossacks rise against Poles. Semyon Dezhnyov explores Bering Straits.

1649

Assembly of the Land, attended by more than three hundred representatives (no one represents serfs), ratifies law code (Ulozhenie). Serfdom universal. Beheading of English king Charles I causes Aleksei to banish trade with English merchants at Arkhangel'sk.

1650

Revolts in Pskov and Novgorod. Yerofei Khabarov (1603–ca. 1671) navigates the river Amur.

1652

Western Europeans forced to live in segregated suburb near Moscow (nemetskaia sloboda).

1652–1658 (–1667)

Nikon, patriarch. Reforms of Russian Orthodox rituals.

1654

Treaty of Pereiaslav, formally making Aleksei ruler of most of Ukraine (instead of the Polish king)

1654–1667

Thirteen Years’ War with Poland-Lithuania

1656–1661

War with Sweden (after armistice in 1658, ended by Peace of Kardis in 1661)

1659–1677

The Croat Juraj Krizanic (ca. 1618–1683) active in Russia; he is a sort of forerunner of the Slavophiles.

1662

Copper riot against debased coinage in Moscow

1664

Postal system established, providing fast relay of messages and mail to and from West. The government official Grigorii Kotoshikhin escapes to Sweden and writes a treatise about Russia.

1666–1667

Church synod deposes Patriarch Nikon but accepts his reforms of Russian Orthodox ritual; beginning of church schism (Avvakum and “Old Believers” [Raskolniki] separate).

1666–1671

Cossack revolts in Don area and along lower reaches of Volga; in 1670–1671, led by Stepan (Stenka) Razin.

1667

Treaty of Andrusovo with Poland. Eastern Ukraine and Kyiv officially recognized as Russian by Poles. Foreign trade statute increases fees of commodity trade conducted by Westerners with Muscovy. Trade agreement with Iranian Armenians in an attempt to capture more of the silk trade from Iran.

1667–1668

Building of Tsar Aleksei’s wooden palace at Kolomenskoe near Moscow

1667–1670

Dutch shipbuilders build ships for the tsar to convoy silk transports across Caspian Sea.

1668–1676

Old Believers of monastery on Solovetskii Island in revolt against tsar

1672

First play performed in Russia before the tsar, directed by Johann Gregory, a German-Lutheran pastor residing in the sloboda.

1672–1681

First war with Ottoman Turkey

1676–1682

Rule of Fyodor III

1682

System of genealogical precedence (mestnichestvo) abolished. Avvakum is burned at the stake as heretic. Bloody reckoning in May with Naryshkin faction (supporters of Aleksei’s second wife Natalia and her son Peter) by Miloslavskii faction in name of Tsar Ivan V.

1682–1689

Regency of Sofia Alekseevna for her brother Ivan and half brother Peter

1682–1696

Formal co-rule by Ivan V and Peter I (b. 1672)

1683

Beginnings of Slavonic-Greek-Latin Academy, first institution of higher learning in Russia. Turkish siege of Habsburg Vienna.

1686

Polish-Russian alliance

1687

First campaign led by Vasilii Golitsyn toward Crimea

1689

Treaty of Nerchinsk with Qing China. Second campaign commanded by Golitsyn toward Crimea.

1693

Completion of Church of the Intercession at Fili, prime example of architecture of “Moscow Baroque”

1696

Capture of Azov by Peter’s army and river fleet

1697–1698

Grand Embassy of Peter to Western Europe; Peter learns to build ships on wharves of Dutch East India Company in Amsterdam. Many Western Europeans are recruited to work in Russia as craftsmen, ship’s officers, and military officers.

1697–1718

Rule of Charles XII as king of Sweden

1698

Peter forces his first wife to become a nun.

1700–1721

Great Northern War (primarily, Russia versus Sweden): on Russian side are Saxony, Poland, and Denmark; some Cossacks, Polish magnates, as well as Ottoman Turks, support Charles XII.

1700

Swedes defeat Russians at Narva. Death of last Russian patriarch before 1917.

1703

St. Petersburg is founded on what still is officially Swedish territory.

1703–1709

Building of canal to link Volga with waterways draining into Baltic Sea at St. Petersburg

1706–1707

Cossack rebellion around Volga mouth (led by Fyodor Bulavin)

1709

Battle of Poltava. Peter defeats Charles and his Cossack allies.

1711

Creation of Senate to replace Boyar Duma; this is both a rubber-stamp advisory council and the highest judicial court. Battle of Pruth. Turks defeat Russians, and Peter barely escapes with his life.

1712

Peter marries Catherine (Skavronskaia), his second wedding.

1714

First Russian naval victory over Swedish fleet at Hangö

1717

Peter replaces traditional government departments with ministries (kollegiia).

1718

Poll tax introduced to replace household and land taxes. Death under torture of Peter’s only son Aleksei in St. Petersburg.

1719

Creation of fifty provinces as territorial administrative divisions (and earlier territorial reform had occurred in 1708)

1720–1721

Municipal reform

1721

Treaty of Nystadt yields Russia large stretch of Baltic coastline, including territory on which St. Petersburg has been built. Abolition of patriarchy; it is replaced by Holy Synod, led by lay Oberprokuror (the first is Peter’s “ideologist,” Feofan Prokopovich).

1722

Introduction of Table of Ranks for all military and civil servitors of the tsar. Peter abolishes hereditary succession.

1722–1723

Invasion by Peter of Iran (territory relinquished in 1732)

1725

Opening of Academy of Sciences. Russia has approximately thirteen million inhabitants.

1725–1727

Rule of Catherine I, Peter’s second wife. Key courtier is Aleksandr Menshikov.

1725–1730

First Kamchatka expedition, led by Vitus Bering

1727–1730

Rule of Peter II, a mere boy, grandson of Peter the Great. Menshikov’s influence is replaced by that of the Golitsyn and Dolgorukii families.

1730

Anna Ivanovna, Duchess of Courland, succeeds. She is a daughter of Peter the Great’s half brother, Ivan V. By calling on middling nobility, she outmaneuvers attempts by grandees (organized in Supreme Privy Council) to limit her power.

1730–1740

Anna Ivanovna, tsaritsa of Russia

1735–1739

War with Turkey that yields Russia Azov but otherwise preserves status quo; around same time Kazakhs recognize Russia’s suzerainty for the first time.

1740–1741

Brief “rule” by Ivan VI

1741–1761(2)

Reign of Elizabeth (Elizaveta Petrovna), daughter of Peter the Great

1755

Moscow University founded (among its founders is “Russia’s first scientist,” Mikhail Lomonosov)

1756–1763

Seven Years’ War: Russia allied with Austria, Sweden, Saxony, and France against Prussia and England

1759

Battle of Kunersdorf: Russo-Austrian victory over Frederick the Great’s army

1760

Russian occupation of Berlin

1762

Peter III succeeds and concludes peace with Prussia. Peter issues manifesto on freedom of nobility from obligatory state service. Peter is deposed after half a year in a coup staged by the Imperial Guards; his wife Catherine succeeds.

1762–1796

Catherine II the Great’s rule

1767–1768

Meetings of the Legislative Commission, convened to discuss Catherine’s Instructions (Nakaz). No laws are introduced as a result of its deliberations.

1768–1774

War with Turkey: northern shore of Black Sea and Crimea occupied by Russian armies

1769–1770

First Russian magazine published, edited by Nikolai Novikov

1772

First Polish Partition

1773–1775

Pugachev’s rebellion spreads along the Volga.

1775

Provincial (territorial administrative) reform. End of autonomy of Ukrainian Cossacks (and of most of the other Cossacks).

1783

Official annexation of Crimea; (part of) Georgia places itself under Russian protection.

1785

Charter of the Nobility issued

1787–1791

War with Turkey

1789

Outbreak of French Revolution

1790

Aleksandr Radishchev’s Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow is finished but before publication confiscated; its author, who condemns serfdom, is sent to Siberia.

1791

Polish rising

1792

Arrest of Novikov

1793

Second Polish Partition

1793–1856

N. Lobachevskii, world-renowned mathematician

1795

Third Polish Partition. Poland-Lithuania disappears altogether.

1796

On Catherine’s death, her son Paul succeeds. Russia has thirty-six million inhabitants, 3.5 times as many as in 1678, according to estimates; 53 percent are Russian speakers, 22 percent Ukrainians, 8 percent Belarusyn; most (three-fourths of the population) are Orthodox Christians. Paul succeeds Catherine.

1798–1799

Russian armies (some commanded by Aleksandr Suvorov) campaign against France in Western Europe (Italy, Switzerland, and Holland).

1799

Napoleon First Consul

1799–1837

Aleksandr Pushkin

1801

Paul murdered

1801–1825

Aleksandr I

1803

Decree on Free Cultivators, intended as first step toward serfdom’s abolition

1804

Napoleon proclaims himself emperor.

1805

Battle of Trafalgar

1807

Peace of Tilsit

1809

Finland placed under Russian rule

1809–1852

Nikolai Gogol

1812

French invasion; Moscow occupied (Kutuzov commands Russian side); Speranskii dismissed

1813

Battle of Nations at Leipzig

1814

Russians in Paris

1814–1815

Congress of Vienna; Holy Alliance formed

1814–1841

Mikhail Lermontov

1815

Battle of Waterloo

1818–1883

Ivan Turgenev

1820

Beginning of Greek uprising against Ottoman Turks; unrest elsewhere in Europe

1821–1881

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

1825

Decembrist Uprising

1825–1855

Nicholas I

1828–1829

Russo-Turkish War; Greece independent in 1829

1828–1910

Lev N. Tolstoi

1830–1831

Cholera epidemic. Polish Rebellion.

ca. 1830–1861

Caucasian resistance to Russian rule (Imam Shamil)

1832

Speranskii completes law codification.

1834–1907

Dmitrii Mendeleev, creator of periodic table in chemistry

1836

Glinka’s opera A Life for the Tsar premieres. Publication of Pyotr Chaadaev’s letter, which argues that Russia had never contributed anything positive to world civilization.

1838–1848

“Marvelous Decade”: birth of intelligentsia (Westernizers and Slavophiles)

1842–1924

Prince Pyotr Kropotkin, anarchist

1846

Founding of Cyril and Methodius Society in Kyiv (first organization of Ukrainian nationalists, who count Taras Shevchenko among their number)

1848

Revolutions across Europe; Marx and Engels publish Communist Manifesto.

1849

Russian army suppresses Hungarian revolt on behalf of Habsburg emperor Franz Josef (r. 1848–1916). Arrest of Petrashevtsy Circle (including Dostoyevsky, who is pardoned just before he is to be executed by firing squad).

1849–1936

Ivan Pavlov, physiologist and behavioral psychologist

1851

Opening of railroad between Moscow and St. Petersburg. Russia has approximately sixty million inhabitants.

1853–1856

Crimean War

1855–1881

Aleksandr II

1857

Aleksandr Herzen and Nikolai Ogaryov begin publishing The Bell (Kolokol') in London.

1858

Ivan Goncharov (1812–1891) publishes Oblomov.

1858–1860

Further Russian expansion in the Far East at the expense of China

1860–1904

Anton Chekhov

1860s–1870s

Wanderers (Il'ia Repin, Vasilii Surikov, et al.) painting society

1861

Serfdom abolished; Russia has about eight hundred thousand industrial workers and a total population of about seventy-three million.

1862

Chernyshevsky publishes What Is to Be Done?

1863–1864

Polish Rebellion

1864

Zemstva introduced in European Russia. Reform of judicial system.

1865

Tashkent conquered

1866

Karakozov’s attempt on Aleksandr II’s life

1866–1880

Dostoyevsky publishes his four great novels (Crime and PunishmentThe IdiotThe Brothers Karamazov, and The Devils).

1867

Marx publishes first part of Capital. Sale of Russian Alaska to United States.

1869

Tolstoi’s War and Peace published. Nikolai Danilevskii publishes Pan-Slav manifesto Russia and Europe.

1870

Municipal councils introduced

1870–1924

V. I. Ul'ianov (Lenin)

1870s

The Mighty Five in music (Balakirev, Mussorgsky, Cui, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Borodin) as well as heyday of composer Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky.

1871

Paris Commune; proclamation of Imperial Germany at Versailles

1872

The anarchist Mikhail Bakunin (1814–1876) expelled from First International by the Marxists

1874

Army reform, introducing the draft and reducing time spent in active service for recruits. Going to the People movement (khozhdenie v narod).

1875

Revolts against Turkish rule erupt in Bosnia.

1876

Bulgaria and Serbia revolt against Turks. Formation of Land and Freedom (Zeml'ia i Vol'ia). Creation of Turkestan province.

1877–1878

Russo-Turkish War

1878

Treaty of San Stefano and Congress of Berlin. Vera Zasulich (1849–1919) wounds St. Petersburg governor Trepov with a gunshot.

1879

People’s Will separates from Land and Freedom.

1880s

First Russian Marxist group forms in exile (led by G. V. Plekhanov, Pavel B. Akselrod, and Vera Zasulich).

1881

Aleksandr II assassinated. Pogroms break out in Pale of Settlement to which Jewish residence in Russia is restricted.

1881–1894

Aleksandr III; he imposes from the outset martial law, which will continue until 1917 (but for a brief period in 1905 and 1906).

1887

Execution of Aleksandr Ul'ianov, Lenin’s older brother

1891

Massive famine

1891–1892

Franco-Russian military alliance concluded

1891–1903

Construction of Transsiberian Railroad

1892–1903

Sergei Vitte, minister of finance, overseeing wave of industrialization

1894–1895

Sino-Japanese War

1895

Lenin arrested and exiled to Siberia

1897

Census: 125 million inhabitants: 43 percent of population are (Great) Russians, 17 percent Ukrainians, 4 percent Belarusyn, 3 percent Tatars, 3 percent Kazakhs; 21 percent of population is literate, but this percentage is to double over next two decades.

1898

First Congress of (Marxist) Russian Social Democratic Labor (Workers’) Party (RSDLP) in Minsk; almost all delegates are arrested. Foundation of Moscow Art Theatre (led by Konstantin Stanislavsky).

1900

Boxer Rebellion in China

1900–1914

Silver Age of Russian art and literature (Blok, Esenin, Akhmatova, Mayakovsky, Mandelshtam, Pasternak, Bely, Bunin, Diaghilev, Skriabin, Nijinskii, Chaliapin, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Chagall, Kandinsky, Malevich, and Stanislavsky)

1901

Formation of Socialist Revolutionary Party (SR): “Peasant Socialists” following the model of narodniki of 1870s

1902

Lenin publishes What Is to be Done? Beginning of liberal movement in Russia, leading to Kadet (constitutional democratic) party by 1905.

1903

Second Congress of RSDLP leads to split of Marxists into Bolsheviks (following Lenin) and Mensheviks.

1904–1905

Russo-Japanese War

1905

Bloody Sunday; formation of first sovety (soviets or workers’ councils); October Manifesto; arrest of Petersburg socialists

1906

Basic Laws promulgated; introduction of Duma (parliament); abolition of compensation payments and encouragement of peasants to set up individual farms

1906–1911

Pyotr Stolypin, prime minister

1907

Anglo-Russian Treaty (whereby British, French, and Russians have become allies)

1908

Bosnian Crisis

1909

Vekhi published (articles by Nikolai Berdyayev, Pyotr Struve, et al., critical of the revolutionary movement and the intelligentsia)

1910

Premiere of Stravinsky’s Firebird

1912

Bloody suppression of strikes in gold mines near Lena River.

1912–1913

Balkan Wars

1913

Premiere of Stravinsky’s Sacre du printemps (Rites of Spring) in Paris, staged by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes; riots break out in the audience

1914–1918

Russia participates in the First World War

1916

Brusilov Offensive

1917

February: Tsar deposed

 

April: Lenin returns to Russia from Switzerland; proclaims April Theses; main points are “All Power to the Soviets!” and immediate unilateral armistice.

 

June: Failed offensive against Central Powers. Lenin: “Soldiers voted with their feet”; massive desertion.

 

August: Kornilov “putsch” fails

 

October: Bolshevik coup staged in St. Petersburg; its program is for land to the peasants, peace, self-determination for non-Russians, and workers’ control over factories.

 

October–December: Most Russian soviets declare themselves for the Bolsheviks. Ukraine, meanwhile, separates.

 

November: Elections for Constituent Assembly, which is fated to meet for only one day in January 1918; more than half of deputies elected by universal adult franchise are SR; Bolsheviks get 25 percent of votes and seats.

November–February 1918

Negotiations at Brest-Litovsk for a peace with Central Powers.

 

December: Formation of Extraordinary Commission for Combat of Counterrevolution, Speculation, and Sabotage (Cheka), under Feliks E. Dzerzhinskii

1918

February: Unwilling at first to submit to onerous terms imposed by Central Powers, the Council of People’s Commissars (PC or Sovnarkom) withdraws from negotiations at Brest-Litovsk. But the Central Powers meet no resistance advancing farther into Russian territory. Capital moved to Moscow.

 

March: Peace of Brest-Litovsk; crucial vote to ratify peace treaty in Central Committee of Bolshevik Party: 7 for, 4 against, and 4 abstain. Lenin’s point (to preserve the Communist triumph at the cost of huge slices of territory) prevails. Left SR leaves government out of protest to peace treaty. Ukraine and Finland officially independent; Baltic and Poland in German hands; concessions to Turkey in Caucasus region.

 

June: Assassination of German ambassador Mirbach; Left SR and Bolsheviks fight each other in Moscow. This is usually seen as beginning of Civil War, although already Cossacks in south (Don), led by generals Pyotr Krasnov and Lavr Kornilov, are in revolt against Bolsheviks.

 

June–1920 Spring: Various anti-Bolshevik movements emerge across Russia. At first, a moderate SR-led government leads them, but gradually former tsarist generals lead the anti-“Red” forces in the Civil War. Red Army ultimately manages to defeat the various White armies in the Baltic (commanded by Iudenich), Siberia (Kol'chak), and on the southern front (Denikin and Vrangel). Massive bloodshed, famine, and epidemics; millions perish.

1919

Formation of Central Committee’s Politburo (PB), Orgburo, and Secretariat. Foundation of Comintern.

1920–1921

Polish-Russian war. Polish attempt to annex Ukraine fails, even though a large slice of Belarus and Ukraine became part of Poland by Treaty of Riga in 1921. Red offensive in Caucasus leads to Communist control over Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia. But Baltic countries, Poland, and Finland preserve independence, while Bessarabia (Moldavia) is annexed by Romania.

1920–1924

Communists establish their rule in Turkestan.

1921

Green (peasant) rebellions (in Tambov and elsewhere) at their height (Red Army brutally suppresses them, using poison gas); Kronstadt Revolt. Tenth Party Congress forbids factions within Communist Party (CP); meanwhile, most non-Communist parties are outlawed (SR and Mensheviks survive until 1924). New Economic Policy (NEP) introduced (measure of free market).

1922

Treaty of Rapallo with Germany (secret clause about military cooperation). Lenin falls sick. Stalin elected CP’s general secretary.

1922–1924

Formation of Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR), of which main architect is Stalin. Its constituent republics will be “national in form, socialist in content.”

1923–1924

Trotsky is sidetracked by Senioren Konvent (rest of PB) in Lenin’s absence.

1924

January: Death of Lenin

1924–1925

Stalin outmaneuvers Zinov'ev (boss of Leningrad and Comintern) and Kamenev (Moscow party boss).

1926–1927

Futile attempts by “United Opposition” to oust the adherents of Stalin and the “General Line”

1927–1928

Development of concept for a planned economy by economic organizations, including State Planning Bureau Gosplan. Late 1928 is the official date of the beginning of the First Five Year Plan of economic development, but at first hesitation exists about its precise direction and the pace of the transformation envisioned.

1928

Shakhty trial of “wreckers” of industry

1928–1929

Stalin defeats “Right Deviationists,” led by Bukharin (head of Comintern after Zinov'ev), Rykov (chairman of Council of PC), Tomskii (chief of trade unions), and Uglanov (Moscow boss after Kamenev). The alleged “Rightists” caution against quick-fire industrialization and collectivization of agriculture.

1929

Trotsky exiled abroad

 

Summer: Within a brief period, the Five Year Plan’s targets for economic growth suddenly are maximized by a quantum leap, both in terms of industrial and agricultural production.

Fall–March 1930

Stalin’s “Great Turn” implemented: In agriculture, collectivization causes utter chaos at first. The Bolshevik antireligious offensive takes on renewed momentum. Kulaks and priests are exiled to remote areas, while their numbers swell quickly in the mushrooming labor camp system in the remote and inhospitable regions of the USSR, creating the Gulag Archipelago. In industry, an enormous wave of building of new factories overtakes the country, but the plans often outstrip industrial capacity.

1930

March: Stalin calls for temporary halt to collectivization in Pravda, the national newspaper; nevertheless, as a result of the imposition of enormous taxes on individual homesteads, most Soviet peasants join a collective farm by 1935.

 

April: Vladimir Mayakovsky, the foremost Soviet poet, commits suicide.

 

November–December: Trial of Industrial Party. Problems in industry because of impossibly ambitious construction, and production targets are blamed on sabotage.

1931

March: Trial of Mensheviks

1932

April: Beginning of move toward the creation of Writers’ Union and socialist realism (Central Committee issues resolution to this effect).

 

Summer: Illegal circulation in party circles of “Riutin Platform,” criticizing Stalin and Great Turn.

 

August: Law of 7 August 1932 (draconian penalties for gleaning of grain and other “theft of socialist property”)

 

November: Suicide of Nadezhda Allilueva, Stalin’s wife

 

December: Introduction of internal passports

1932–1933

Ukrainian, southern Russian, and Kazakh famine

1933

January: Adolf Hitler appointed Chancellor of Germany

 

May: Opening of White Sea Canal, built by zeks (zakliuchennye, or labor camp inmates)

1933–1937

Second Five Year Plan

1934

January: Seventeenth Party Congress

 

August: First Congress of Soviet writers (They are called “engineers of the human soul.”)

 

December: Murder of Sergei M. Kirov

1935

“Cleansing” of Moscow and Leningrad of antisocial elements, including sundry counterrevolutionaries, former White Guardists, Trotskyites, Mensheviks, and so forth. Completion of first line of Moscow Metro.

 

February: Standard kolkhoz charter introduced

1936

August: Show trial against Zinov'ev and Kamenev

 

December: Introduction of new constitution, Stalin Constitution, allegedly “most democratic in the world”

1936–1939

Spanish Civil War

1937

January: Trial of Piatakov and Radek

 

February–March: Central Committee Plenary Session: Bukharin and Rykov arrested; Stalin calls for selection of substitutes for party cadres at all levels.

 

June: Alleged plot uncovered in Red Army; ringleaders arrested (Tukhachevskii and Gamarnik; Iakir commits suicide)

 

July–August: Arrest quotas of enemies of the people dispatched by People’s Commissar Yezhov to local People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD) departments in provinces and republics.

(From August)

Deportations of Soviet Koreans from Far East to Inner Asia begin.

1937–1938

Stalin and his closest lieutenants, such as Molotov, Kliment Voroshilov, Andrei Zhdanov, Andrei Andreev, and Lazar Kaganovich, personally sign lists of thousands of names of people to be executed; in 1937–1938, almost 1,700,000 people are arrested, and more than 690,000 are executed, usually by firing squad. Almost all others end up in labor camps.

1938–June 1941

Third Five Year Plan

1938

March: Trial of Bukharin and Rykov; Anschluss of Austria with Germany

 

September: Czechoslovakia dismantled by Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Neville Chamberlain, and Edouard Daladier at Munich.

 

Fall: Publication of Short Course: this Soviet history according to Stalin becomes bible of the Soviet Communist Party and international Communist movement.

 

November: Stalin and Molotov order end to mass arrests; fall of NKVD commissar Yezhov.

1938–1939

Armed clashes between Japanese and Soviet forces in Far East

1939

Spring: Eighteenth Party Congress

 

August: Soviet-Nazi Non-Aggression Pact (secret clause dividing up East-Central Europe)

 

1 September: German invasion of Poland begins.

 

17 September: Soviet forces occupy eastern Poland.

1939–1940

Winter War with Finland

1940

April: Massacre by NKVD of interned Polish officers in Katyn forest and elsewhere

 

May: Hitler begins campaign against Low Countries and France.

 

June: Beginning of Soviet annexation of Baltic states; after that, Lithuanian Socialist Soviet Republic (SSR), Latvian SSR, and Estonian SSR are officially established.

 

August: Annexation of Romanian Bessarabia: Moldavian SSR founded

 

August–September: Battle of Britain

 

November: PC of foreign affairs Molotov visits Berlin.

1941

April: Nazis invade Yugoslavia and Greece; Japanese foreign minister Matsuoka meets Stalin in Moscow.

 

22 June: Operation Barbarossa: invasion of USSR by German-led coalition

 

Early July: Stalin makes first public speech on radio, addressing Soviet peoples as “brothers and sisters.” Meanwhile, so-called Volga Germans (Soviet citizens living in eastern Ukraine and along Volga) are beginning to be deported; operation is not completed before arrival of Germans in area.

 

August: Collapse of Soviet Western Front (facing German Center); suicide of its commander Dmitrii Pavlov

 

September: Kyiv in Nazi hands; murder of Kyiv Jewish community (more than thirty thousand people) at Babi Yar; Leningrad encircled. German SS Einsatzgruppen behind front round up Jews elsewhere, organizing mass executions.

 

October: In middle of month, panic in Moscow as rumors spread that Germans are poised to take city; much of government and party administration moved to Kuibyshev (Samara) on Volga. Stalin stays in the capital.

 

November: Beginning of Leningrad famine, perhaps costing one million people their lives

 

7 November: Stalin commemorates October Revolution by speech in subway station, broadcasted by radio.

 

December: First successful Soviet counteroffensive, aided by support from Siberian divisions; Germans are forced back from approaches before Moscow; Kalinin (Tver') and Rostov-on-Don recaptured. Pearl Harbor. Hitler declares war on United States.

1942

January: Wannsee Conference: in Berlin, Nazi Sicherheitsdienst boss Reinhard Heydrich and others decide on the contours of Final Solution, the execution of all European Jews; key manager of project is Adolf Eichmann.

 

February: Soviet offensive grinds to halt; gradually Second Shock Army (commanded by Andrei Vlasov) is encircled by German-Finnish forces near Moscow–Leningrad railroad (Volkhov River); Vlasov surrenders and becomes most notorious Russian Nazi collaborator.

 

Spring: Renewed German offensive, in southeastern direction: Rostov again in German hands; Germans by summer capture northern Caucasus (all the way to Makhachkala in Dagestan).

 

September: Germans begin maneuver to capture Stalingrad, key city on the Volga.

 

November: Beginning of Soviet counteroffensive at Stalingrad: Paulus’s Sixth Army encircled.

1943

February: German surrender at Stalingrad.

1943

June–Fall 1944: Deportations of alleged traitor nations: Kalmyks, Chechens, Balkars, Ingush, and Crimean Tatars

1943

July–August: German attempt to retake initiative at tank battle at Kursk; Soviet victory

 

November: Teheran Conference of “Big Three”

1944

January: Leningrad’s encirclement definitively broken

 

6 June: D-Day

 

August: Red Army completes the liberation of Ukraine. Romania switches sides. Finland also leaves war. In Ukraine, partisans continue to fight for independence of Ukraine (Banderaites).

 

September–October: Warsaw Rising of Polish resistance (Armija Krajowa); Soviets await events on other side of Vistula River.

 

October: Churchill in Moscow: “percentage agreement”

1945

January: Auschwitz liberated by Red Army

 

February: Yalta Conference of Big Three

 

April: Hitler commits suicide. Founding of United Nations in San Francisco.

 

May: Victory in Europe (9 May for Soviets). Prague liberated with help of Russian Liberation Army under Vlasov; Vlasov captured by Soviet troops. Americans end Lend-Lease.

 

July: Potsdam Conference of Big Three; successful test of A-bomb in United States. Soviet Union begins in earnest development of its own nuclear bomb.

 

6 August: Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima

 

9 August: Nagasaki bomb; Soviet Union declares war on Japan.

 

2 September: Surrender of Japan

1945–1946

Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals

1946–1950

Fourth Five Year Plan

1946

March: Churchill’s speech at Fulton, Missouri (“Iron Curtain has descended on Europe”). People’s Commissariats renamed ministries.

 

Summer: Beginning of cultural campaigns against writers, composers, philosophers, and scientists (sometimes called Zhdanovshchina)

1946 Fall–Winter 1947

Famine in the USSR

1947

Winter: Announcement of “Truman Doctrine” (“Containment” of Soviet expansion is U.S. goal.)

 

June: Marshall Plan announced

 

September: Formation of Cominform

1948

February: Communist takeover in Czechoslovakia; murder of Jewish actor Solomon Mikhoels in Minsk

 

May: Israel founded; Soviet-Yugoslav rift public

 

August: Death of Andrei Zhdanov

 

Fall: Beginning of anti-Semitic campaigns in press (against “rootless cosmopolitans”)

1948 June–May 1949

Berlin Blockade

1949–1950

Leningrad Affair

1949

August: Successful test of Soviet A-bomb

 

October: Chinese Communists under Mao in control of Chinese mainland

1950

Beginning of Korean War

1952

Fall: Nineteenth Party Congress, first in thirteen years

1953

Announcement of Doctor’s Plot, which supposedly has succeeded in eliminating Moscow boss Aleksandr Shcherbakov (d. 1945) and Zhdanov

 

March: Death of Stalin. First amnesty begins to empty out the Gulag Archipelago.

 

June: Arrest of Beria

 

Summer: Increase in prices state pays for collective farm goods

1954

Beginning of Virgin Lands project. Formation of KGB (Committee for State Security) to replace MGB (Ministry of State Security).

1955

Malenkov resigns as prime minister (Bulganin succeeds). Withdrawal of Allies from Austria.

1956

February: Twentieth Party Congress; Khrushchev’s Secret Speech. Beginning in earnest of “Thaw.”

 

Fall: Unrest in Poland. Hungarian Uprising. Suez Crisis.

1957

Fall of Anti-Party Group (Malenkov, Molotov, Kaganovich, Pervukhin, Saburov, and Shepilov). Independence of Ghana. Publication abroad of Doctor Zhivago; its author, Boris Pasternak, is victim of merciless campaign in press and by the Writers’ Union. Launch of Sputnik satellite.

1958

Dismissal of Bulganin and Zhukov

1959

Twenty-First Party Congress: it announces that communism will be reached in twenty years. Khrushchev visits United States. Vice president Nixon visits USSR. Castro takes power in Cuba.

1960

Congo Crisis

1961

Twenty-Second Party Congress. Definitive Sino-Soviet split. New round of denunciations of Stalin. Stalin’s body removed from mausoleum on Red Square. Yuri Gagarin first man in space. Building of Berlin Wall.

1962

October: Cuba Crisis. Novyi Mir publishes One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a former political convict.

1964

October: Khrushchev ousted, accused of “voluntarism and subjectivism.” Brezhnev becomes the leading figure by 1966.

1965

September: Arrest of writers Aleksandr Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel

 

December: Demonstration on Moscow’s Pushkin Square against persecution of writers and others critical of Soviet regime

1966

February: Trial of Sinyavsky and Daniel

1967

May: Yuri Andropov becomes KGB chair, succeeding Aleksandr Shelepin.

1968

April: First appearance of Chronicle of Current Events, an underground (samizdat) magazine

 

June: Appearance in samizdat of Andrei D. Sakharov’s Reflections on Progress, Peaceful Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom

 

August: Invasion by Warsaw Pact armies of Czechoslovakia

1969

Solzhenitsyn removed from Writers’ Union; General Grigorenko, an advocate for the Crimean Tatars, arrested and placed in a psychiatric clinic

 

March: Border clashes between Soviet and Chinese armies at Ussuri River in Eastern Siberia

1970

June: First Soviet-Jewish emigrants leave for Israel.

 

August: Official treaty with Western Germany (recognizing territorial changes in Europe at end of Second World War)

 

Fall: Solzhenitsyn receives Nobel Prize in Literature

1971

September: Death of Khrushchev

1972

February: President Nixon in China

 

May: Signing of SALT-1 (arms limitations treaty) with United States (President Nixon in Moscow). Vladimir Bukovskii sentenced for exposing abuse of political prisoners in psychiatric clinics.

1973

April: Andropov and Foreign Minister Gromyko enter Politburo

1974

Solzhenitsyn forcibly exiled (flown to West Germany)

1975

April: Fall of Saigon to North Vietnam and Vietcong (Soviet allies)

 

August: Helsinki Accords signed

 

December: Sakharov receives Nobel Peace Prize

1975–1977

Pol Pot’s murderous communist regime in Cambodia

1976

May: First Helsinki Committees organized by Soviet dissidents to monitor compliance with terms of Helsinki Accords on human rights.

1977

Podgornyi succeeded as president of Soviet Union by Leonid Brezhnev (who remains general secretary, his most important post)

 

October: New Soviet Constitution comes into force (replacing 1936 Constitution).

1978

April: Communists take power in Afghanistan.

1979

Signing of SALT-2 (never ratified by United States). Gorbachev (Central Committee secretary for agriculture since 1978) candidate member of party’s Politburo.

 

December: Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

1980

Sakharov banished to city of Gor'kii (Nizhnii Novgorod)

 

Summer: Olympic Games in Moscow: Western boycott

 

August: Formation of free trade union Solidarity in Poland

1981

December: State of emergency declared in Poland (Solidarity prohibited)

1982

November: Death of Brezhnev; Yuri Andropov becomes general secretary of Communist Party

1984

February: Death of Andropov; Konstantin Chernenko succeeds as general secretary

1985

March: Death of Chernenko; Mikhail Gorbachev succeeds as general secretary

1986

April: Chernobyl disaster

 

October: Gorbachev meets President Ronald Reagan at Reykjavík; Reagan fails to take Gorbachev’s far-reaching proposals for arms limitations seriously.

 

November: Limited private economic enterprise permitted

 

December: Riots in Kazakh capital of Almaty, first stirrings of growing nationalism across USSR.

1987

October: Boris Yeltsin, Moscow’s party boss, resigns from Politburo.

1988

Early in year, Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago and Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate published

 

February: Armenian-Azeri clashes (at Sumgait and in Nagornyi Karabakh)

 

April: Formation of first “popular front” in Estonia

1989

February: Soviet troops complete withdrawal from Afghanistan.

 

March: Elections staged for new Congress of People’s Deputies; a number of non-Communist candidates (including Sakharov) elected; debates in next few months broadcast on television

 

April: Suppression of nationalist demonstration in Georgia

 

July: Coal miners’ strike begins in Siberian Kuzbass.

 

August: Novyi Mir begins serialized publication of Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn.

 

September: Formation of non-Communist government in Poland

 

November: Fall of Berlin Wall

 

December: Communist Party chief Nicolae Ceausescu ousted and murdered in Romania. Death of Andrei Sakharov.

1990

March: Constitutional clause assigning leading role to Communist Party removed from Soviet Constitution. Lithuania officially announces secession from USSR. Islam Karimov (b. 1938) becomes president of the Uzbek Socialist Soviet Republic and remains in office after Uzbekistan becomes independent in late 1991.

 

June: Abolition of all media censorship

 

October: Reunification of Germany

1991

Winter: Attempt to suppress independence movements in Baltic countries; some bloodshed, but ultimately Moscow retreats.

 

April: In Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev (b. 1940), a Soviet Politburo member, becomes president.

 

June: In Russian Republic, general elections return Boris Yeltsin as president.

 

June–July: Warsaw Pact dissolved

 

July: START (arms reduction treaty) signed by Gorbachev

 

August: Failed coup by Emergency Committee. Communist Party of the Soviet Union prohibited by Soviet parliament.

 

November: Dzhokhar Dudaev (1944–1996) declares Chechnya sovereign.

 

December: Dissolution of Soviet Union

1992

January: Radical introduction of free-market economy in Russia: enormous rise in prices. Privatization law dismantles state ownership of large parts of economy.

 

March: Chechnya declares independence.

 

March–June: Clashes in Moldova between Moldovan government and Russo-Ukrainian government residing in Tiraspol, which proclaims independence from Moldova

1993

September–October: Standoff between Russian parliament and Yeltsin; Yeltsin suppresses rising and rules by decree.

 

December: New constitution introduced in Russia and new parliament (Duma) elected

1994

Aliaksandr Lukashenka (b. 1954) elected president of Belarus. His rule becomes a dictatorship in the course of the following years.

 

December: Russian army invades Chechnya.

1996

Yeltsin reelected as Russian president

 

August: Cease-fire in Chechnya; Russian armed forces withdraw.

1998

Russian government defaults on debts.

1999

October: New Russian invasion of Chechnya

 

December: Yeltsin resigns as president; Vladimir Putin, caretaker president.

2000

March: Putin elected president of Russia

 

August: The submarine Kursk sinks.

2002

October: Nord Ost hostage crisis in Moscow

2003

Ilham Aliyev (b. 1961) succeeds his deceased father as president of Azerbaijan.

2004

Putin reelected as Russian president. Mikheil Saakashvili (b. 1967) elected Georgian president.

 

September: Beslan school hostage crisis; hundreds of children murdered by Chechen rebels

2005

Viktor Yushchenko (b. 1954) elected Ukrainian president. Height of “Orange Revolution” promising greater democratization.

2006

Murder of the journalist Anna Politkovskaia (1958–2006) in Moscow

2008

Dmitrii Medvedev (b. 1965) elected Russian president; Putin becomes prime minister.

2010

Viktor Yanukovych (b. 1950) elected Ukrainian president

 

March: Bombs explode in Moscow Metro.

2011

Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Timoshenko (b. 1960) sentenced to jail for corruption

2012

Vladimir Putin elected Russian president; Medvedev becomes prime minister again.

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