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New Economic Policy (NEP)

The NEP was introduced in 1921. The economy was in ruins, industry had virtually collapsed, and there was  widespread famine throughout the country. Lenin decided to bring back some capitalist methods to save the economy from total disaster. 

The main features of the NEP

  • Small, privately owned industry and private trading were permitted
  • Heavy industry, transport and banks remained under state control
  • Grain requistioning was replaced with a small tax
  • Peasants were allowed to sell their surplus food for profit


The NEP led to a dramatic improvement in the country's economy. Food shortages were eliminated and industry began to grow again. By 1928 the USSR's economy had recovered to about where it was in 1914. Lenin thought of the NEP as only a temporary measure, but he didn't say how long it should last. 

Stalin didn't get involved in the debate on the NEP. This was a clever move by Stalin because it meant that he could win support both from those who'd backed Bukharin (right communists) and those who'd backed Trotsky (left communists)

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The NEP created big divisions in the party

Many Communist Party members didn't like the NEP because it seemed too much like capitalism, but there was no agreement on how to replace it. The Party split into two sides- one side lined up behind Bukarin and the other behind Trotsky. 

Bukharin wanted to keep the NEP

  • Bukharin and his supported felt the NEP should continue for a while because it was providing food for the cities and work for the proletariat
  • Bukharin told the peasants to enrich themselves and buy goods to promote the USSR's industry
  • He believeed that there should be a smychka (an alliance) between peasants and workers- he didn't want to create differences between them

Trotsky wanted to abolish the NEP

  • Trotsky and his supporters resented the fact that, because of the NEP, much of the USSR's industry under the direct control of the government
  • They also hated Nepmen- traders who made large profits from the NEP (rich factory owners)
  • Trotsky felt that communism hadn't truly spread to the countryside, and he wanted to end the inequality between poor peasants and the kulaks 
  • He wanted abolish private farms and introduce collective farming. Any profits made by the collective farms would be used to develop the USSR's industry.
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Trotsky and Stalin clashed over how the USSR shoul

1) Trotsky critised the growing bureaucracy in the party- he argued that party bureacrats were making decisions without any input from the ordinary party memebers and that the party was losing touch with the proletariat

2) Trotsky felt that the best way to challenege the party bureacracy was to have greater democracy within the party. This meant that he wanted more open debate within the party and for ordinary psrty memebers to ot be afraid to give their opinions

3) Trotsky's critisism of the party bureacracy was unpopular with other party members because they had benefited from this system by gaining power and prestige

4) The government Stalin was creating was to be totally dominated by the Communist party. Such a government wouldn't consult the people and its aim would be to dominate Russian society as soon as possible

5) As the General Secretary, this type of government would give Stalin great power

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Trotsky wanted to export communism

In 1924, the USSR was the only communist state in the world and t was surrounded by enemies.Trotsky and Stalin came up with different ideas about how to protect communism and the USSR.

Permanent Revolution 

  • Trotsky wanted permenant revolution, because he believed that unless communism spread beyond the USSR it wouldn't survive
  • He believed that the revolution in Russia was the first step towards a worldwide revolution of the proletariat
  • He argued that the government had a duty to export communism to other countries, espeically in western Europe

Socialism in One Country -backed by Bukharin

  • There had been failed communist uprisings in Germany and Hungary after the war. Stalin didn't think that other revolutions would be successful
  • He would concentrate on building a socialist state. This meant focusing resources on development at home and not on promoting revolutions abroad 
  • Stalin's policy was more popular with the people. Since 1905 people in Russia had experienced major political unrest, famine and war. The people wanted peace and Stalin's policy also appealed to their national pride. 
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Stalin's Victory (1924-1928)

Stage One of Stalin's Rise to Power- The Triumvirate against Trotsky

In 1923, Stalin made an alliance with Kamenev and Zinooviev to form a Triummvirate (a union of three people). They agreed to work together to defeat Trotsky. 

1) Zinoviev and Kamanev convinced the party to not publish Lenin's Testament and to not follow Lenin's suggestion of removing Stalin as General Secretary. This meant that Stalin could use his role to fill key posistions in the party with his supporters and to remove Trotsky's supporters.

2) The Triumvirate promoted the Cult of Lenin and claimed that Trotsky was disloyal to Lenin. They also attacked Trotsky's late conversion to Bolshevism.

3) Trotsky was angered by these criticism and he published 'Lessons of October' in 1924. It attacked Kamenev and Zinoviev for voting against an armed uprising in October 1917.

4) The Triumvirarte used the ban of party factions, which Lenin introduced in 1921, to silence the Left Opposition at the 1924 Party Congress. The ban prevented criticism of the party's leadership and the formation of opposisition groups within the party. 

5) Trotsky was forced to resign as Commissar for War, which robbed him of much support.

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Stalin's Victory (1924-1928)

Stage Two of Stalin's Rise to Power - The Duumvirate against the New Opposition

By 1925, Stalin felt that the Triumvirate had achieved its aim. it had succeeded in underminding Trotsky and Stalin decided to form a Duumvirate (union of two people) with Bukharin. Kamenev and Zinoviev realised that Stalin was now their biggest threat- they teamed up to form the New Oppostion. Their policies were close to Trotsky's.

1) Kamenev and Zinoviev argued for Permanent Revolution and an end to the NEP at the 1925 Party Congress. 

2) Stalin filled the Congress with his supporters and the New Opposition was defeated in a vote.

3) Kamanev and Zinoviev lost their positions as the heads of the Moscow and Leningrad Soviets respectively. 

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Stalin's Victory (1924-1928)

Stage One of Stalin's Rise to Power- The Duumvirate against the United Opposistion

Zinoviev and Kamenev joined forces with Trotsky to form the United Opposition. Their aims were the same as before- a policy of Permanent Revolution and an end to the NEP. But Stalin and Bukharin were ready for them. 

1) The Duumvirate accused the United Opposition of factionalism and used Lenin's ban of factions against them.

2) The United Opposistion were prevented from speaking at the 1927 Party Congress which Stalin had once again filled with him own supporters.

3) Kamenev and Zinoviev were forced to make humiliating apologies to remain in the party.

4) Trotsky refused to apologise. He was expelled from he party and sent into exile in Centra Asia.

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Stalin's Victory (1924-1928)

Stage Four of Stalin's Rise to Power- Stalin against the Right Opposition

Bukharin did well out of his partnership with Stalin, however Stalin turned on his last remaning rival.

1) In 1927-1928 there was a grain procurement crisis due to a shortage of grain. The NEP allowed peasants to sell their grain to the government, through grain procurement organisations, or to private traders (Nepmen). The government set low grain prices- so the peasants hoarded their grain in hope of forcing prices to rise.

2) The NEP was blamed for the shortage of grain because it didn't allow for state control of the peasants. Despite the unpopularity of the NEP within the party, Bukharin remained a strong supporter of it.

3) But in 1928, Stalin stunned Bukharin by proposing to end the NEP immediately and implement a policy of collectivisation of agriculture and rapid industrilisation through a Five-Year Plan.

4) Stalin's economic policies were almost identical to Trotsky's, so the leaderless Left Communists supported Stalin. Furthermore, Stalin appealed to the majority of communists who hated the NEP.

5) Bukharin was popular, but he wasn't as shrews as Stalin and he was outmanoeuvred. Bukharin was removed from the party leadership and Stalin was left to become the new vozhd (boss) of the USSR.


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Stalin Won because he was the Best Politician

  • Stalin's enemies seriously underestimated him- they called him 'Comrade Card Index' because they thought he was just an administrator. However Stalin used his administrative role to gain a huge amount of power. 
  • Trotskty became isolated after Lenin's death and he had many enemies. The Triumvirate formed to defeat Trotsky, and when he tried to fight back they used their combined power and influence to undermine him.
  • Trotsky  took decisions that made it seem he was strangely reluctant to become the next leader. In 1992 Lenin offered him the role of Deputy Chairman of Sovnarkom- a position that would have strengthened his chance of becoming Lenin's successor. But he refused.
  • Stalin had a vey strong base in the party. Trotsky had the support of the Red Army, but this was taken away from him when he lost his position as Commissar for War. Kamenev and Zinoviev were only strong in Moscow and Leningrad and Bukharin had no major supprt in the party.
  • Stalin outmanoeuvred his opponents with his making and breaking of alliances. He teamed up with a rival for as long as he needed them to attack someone else, and he dropped them when their opponent was deafeated, 
  • Stalin was also flexible with his policies, and he appealed to both the Right and Left wings of the party. 
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Stalin's Revolution (1928-1941)

Quick Summary:

  • The collectivisation of agriculture was introduced from 1928. It gave the Communist Party greater control over the countryside. However, collectivisation caused the deaths of millions of people through famine.
  • Between 1928 and 1941, three fFive Year Plans were introuced which tranformed the USSR's industry and strengthend  its economy. Heavy industry made rapid advances, but consumer goods were always scarce.
  • Stalin;s social policies ended the experimentation the the 1920s. The party stressed the importance of the family within society and strict discipline was imposed in schools. There were vigorous campaigns mounted against religious groups in the USSR.

Key Dates of Stalin's Revolution:

  • 1928- First-Five Year Plans began.
  • 1929-1930- Massive drive to collectivise farms in the USSR.
  • 1930- Stalin called temporary halt to collectivisation.
  • 1933- Second Five-Year Plans began.
  • 1936- Collectivisation of farms almost completed.
  • 1938- Third Five-Year Plan began.
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Stalin wanted to the USSR to Industrialise Very Qu

Plans for Agriculuture:

  • Collectivisation would increase the output of foodstuffs, especially grain.
  • This would provide stable food supplies for the towns.
  • Surplus grain would then be exported so that the USSR could afford to buy the essential machinery needed for Stalin's ambitious industrial plans.
  • Collectivisation would give the party greater control over the country-side and eliminate the kulaks.

Plans for Industry:

  • Five-Year Plans would be introduced to industrilise the country at great speed.
  • These would increase the numbers of the proletariat, the traditional supporters of the Communist Party.
  • The USSR's industry would provide improved technology that would make farming more efficient.
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Farming in the USSR was inefficient

As Stalin wanted to rapidly increase development in the USSR, he needed to address the long-standing problems with agriculure in the country.

1) Farming techniques in the USSR hadn't changed much for hundred of years.

2)  Most farmers tended small plots of land, and grew little more than enough to feed their families, with only a small surplus being sold on to feed the towns and cities.

3) Many farmers couldn't afford machines such as tractors or combine harvesters. They used old-fashioned farming implements such as wooden ploughs.

4) The large and efficient estates owned by the nobles, the church and he monarchy were divided up after the October Revolution. This created millions of smaller, inefficient farms.

5) The government found it hard to collect food taxes from the huge memeber of farms in the country.

6) Peasants were growing less surplus food for the people in the towns. This created food shortages, and rationing had to be introduced.

Stalin believed the Five-Year plans would only work if the farms produced enough food to feed the proletariat. Collectivisation gave him greater control of agriculutural production. It also gave him control over the peasants. 

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The Collectivisation of Agriculture

The Grain Procurement Crisis led to Collectivisation

The grain procurement crisis of 1927028 gave Stalin the opportunity to introduce collectivisation.

1) In 1927 there was a significant shortage of food availabile for the towns. The government was paying very low prices for grain, so the peasants started to hoard their harvests in hope that the prices would rise. Grain hoarding was also caused by rumours of a foreign invasion- peasants stockpiled their grain in case of war. 

2) Stalin decided to solve the problem by introducing grain requisitioning. Soldiers and the secret poilce visited villages and confiscated grain wherever they could.

3) This policy improved supplies, but in 1928, there was widespread resistance to the confisications.

4) The government realised it couldn't continue grain requistioning indefinitely. Stalin put forward his plan for collectivisation.

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The Collectivisation of Agriculture

Collectivisation meant Big Changes to farming in the USSR :

1) Collectivisation meant that peasants had to giver up their land, home, anima;s and farming equipment to the state. Sall farms were grouped together into a larger collective farm called a kolkhoz.

2) Each year the government would take a quota of food- usually 40% of the farm's total output. The rest was shared out among the peasants and their families.

3) In some cases a sovkhoz (state farm) was set up. Sovkhoz farmers were paid a wage to work on the farm.

4) Private ownership in the countryside and private trading of food were abolished. 

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The Collectivisation of Agriculture

Collectivisation had Disastrous Consequences

Stalin rapidly increased the number of collective famrs between the summer of 1929 and the spring of 1930. However, speedy collectivisation caused many problems.


1) The peasants didn't want to hand over everything to the state, so they killed and ate their animals, burned down their homes and destroyed their farming equipment.

2) The drastic actions of the peasants made food shortages even worse.

3) At the end of 1929, 25,000 workers were sent from the towns to force the peasants to join collective farms. Those peasants who refused were thrown off their land.

4) By March 1930, Stalin realised that rapid collectivisation threatend the country's economy. He wrote an article in Pravda, called 'Dizzy with Success', which blamed local officials for the chaos in the country side.

5) Collectivisation ceased and many peasants left the collective farms.

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The Collectivisation of Agriculture

The pause in Collectivisation didn't last long

Stalin was determined to collectivise the farms in the USSR- so he resrarted the process in 1931. By 1934, 70% of all farms had become collective farms and the process was virtuallty complete by 1936.

Agricultural output dropped massively, which caused the terrible famine

1) Grain production fell from 73.3 million tonnes in 1928 to 67.6 million tonnes in 1934.

2) Livestock supplies collapsed- the number of cattle nearly halved between 1928 - 1932. Peasants slaughtered their animals rather than hand them over to the state. Many animals that were handed over died through neglect.

3) The Kulaks suffered the most under collectivisation. In 1929, Stalin announced his intention to "liquidate the kulaks as a class". Thousands were executed, sent to labour camps or exiled to Siberia. However eliminating the kulaks removed some of the USSR's best farmers and made it harder for the collectivised farms to be successful.

4) Collectivisation led to a major famine in the USSR. The farmers in Ukraine had been resistent to collectivisation, so Stain cut off food supplies to the region and confiscated all the grain. It's estimated that the famine killed 10 million people across the USSR.

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The Collectivisation of Agriculture

Collectivisation helped the Five-Year Plans:

1) The collective farms provided a steady supply of food for the towns without the use of grain requisitioning. This meant the proletariat could be fed.

2) Food exports increased, despite the fall in agricultural output. This meant the USSR could afford to import more machinery to help the Five-Year Plans.

3) The collective farms required fewer peasants to farm them, so millions of peasants moved to the towns and worked in the factories. This increase in labour boosted industrial output.

Collectivisation increased the party's control over the countryside:

1) Collectivisation saw churches converted into barns or clubs for the peasants, and preiests weren't welcome on collective farms. This helped the Communist Party because the Orthodox church was opposed to the communists.

2) Collectivisations enabled the government to have direct control over the countryside. This advanced the policy of Socialism in One Country, which called for the Communist Party to tighten its grip over the USSR so that reforms could be made.

3) During collectivisation, Stalin's hold on the party was strengthened. Those who opposed Stalin, like Bukharin, lost their positions in the party and were replaced by men who were totally loyal to Stalin.

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Stalin's Five-Year Plans (1928-1941)

The  Five-Year Plans were crucial to the success of the USSR:

1) The Communist Party was traditionally the party of the proletariat. Stalin hoped that the expansion of industry would increase the size of the proletariat and therefore create more loyal party members.

2) The USSR was the only communist country state in the world. Stalin was convinced that its enemies would try to destroy it. He felt that only an economically and military strong USSR could defend itself. 

3) The NEP was becoming increasingly unpopular. Many new party members, who were recruited during the Lenin Enrollment, believed that it wasn't helping to create an equal society because it had encouraged the growth of the Nepmen in the towns and the kulaks in the countryside.

4) The NEP had been successful in helping the economy to recover after the Civil War , but by 1928 economic progress was slowing and the NEP wasn't delivering the industrilisation the USSR neeeded.

When Stalin demanded the rapid industrilisation of the USSR, he received a wide-spread and entheusiastic support. Many party members felt that an advanced and equal society could be achieved with the Five-Year Plans.

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Stalin's Five-Year Plans (1928-1941)

The Five-Year Plans called for a Command Economy.

Stalin had to introduce a command economy (where production levels and prices are set by the government to make the Five-Year Plans work. To do this he turned to Gosplan- the state planning committee.

  • Gosplan set targets for each industry.
  • These targets were sent to each region of the country.
  • The targets were then sent to each factory, mine etc.
  • Factory managers set tarhets for every worker.
  • But Gosplan didn't say how the targets should be achieved. This was left to individual managers to decide.

During the first Five-Year Plan, various targets were suddenly increased to often unrealistic levels. Managers had to try to adapt to the new production targets very quickly.

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The First Five-Year Plan - (1928-1932)

1) The first plan was aimed at developing heavy industries, such as coal, iron, steel, oil and heavy machinery believed these were the building blocks of an advanced industrial economy.

2) New industrial plants were built to the east of the Ural Mountains where they would be safe if the USSR was invaded from the west. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan were developed economically for the firm time.

3) New cities were built from scratch. The most important was Magnitogorsk. People here lived and worked in terrible working conditions.

4) Electricity was vital to the first plan- the massive hydroelectric Dnieprostroi Dam was built.

5) Tractor factories were built in Stalingrad and car factories in Moscow. Canals, built by prisioners, connected Moscow with the River Volga, amd Leningrad with the White Sea.

In 1929, Stalin announced that the first plan would be completed in four years. Posters were put up with the slogan '2+2+ the entheusiasm of the workers = 5'. The First Five-Year Plan didn't meet its targets - but it was impressive. 

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The Second Five-Year Plan (1933-1937)

The second Five-Year Plan maintained a focus on heavy industry, but also strengthened other areas of the economy. 

1) To improve the argicultural output from collectivisation, more mechanical agricultural equipment such as tractors and combine harvesters were built.

2) Railways and canals were built between the new centres of industry to ease the transport of goods and raw materials.

3) There were some attempts to increase the supply of consumer goods, but nearly impossible to obtain. 

4) Stalin was interested in building 'showpiece' developments for propaganda purposes. The Moscow Metro, with its chandeliers and marble statues of heroic workers, was built during the second plan.

5) The new factories built during the first plan became fully functioning during the second plan. These contributed to the second plan's success as they greatly increased output in these years.

6) A system of wages was introduced which rewarded those who made greater efforts than others.

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The Second Five-Year Plan (1933-1937)

A propaganda campaign was used to try to increase output.

The Stakhanovite Movement:

  • In 1935, it was reported that a miner from the Donbass region, Alexei Stakhanov, had mined 102 tonnesof coal in a six hour shift.
  • Soon after, it was reported he'd broken his record - mining 227 tonnes. 
  • He received many awards, and the Stakhanovite movement was created to reward workers who exceeded their quotas.
  • In 1988, a Soviet newspaper revealed his achievements were exaggerated.

The Second Five-Year Plan had good results. Some industries fell well short of their target output level. But dispite this, the figures still show that in the major industries output significantly increased in this period. 

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The Third Five-Year Plan (1838-1941)

Priorities changed during the course of the third plan, as war with Nazi Germany seemed increasingly likely.

1) The third plan began with a focus on producing consumer goods, such as radios and cars.

2) However, Stalin feared that war would break out between the USSR and Nazi Germany. Consequently, the third plan became increasingly devoted to the production of aircraft, tanks and weapons. By 1940, a third of the government's budget was spent on the USSR's military.

3) The Nazi invasion in June 1941 meant that the third plan only lasted three and a half years.

4) During the third plan, output grew very little in many industries. This was partly due to Stalin's purges, which led to the imprisionment or execution of many skilled workers.

5) Internal passports were created to control the movement of people in the USSR. This stopped workers from regularly changing their jobs and ensured that factories had a stable workforce.

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Stalin's Five-Year Plans (1928-1941)

The Five-Year Plans were a great success for Stalin, economically, socially and politically:

Economy and Industry

1) Between 1928 and 1940, the USSR was transformed from a largely agricultural country into one of the leading industrial powers in Europe. However, production was still very inefficient.

2) The 1930s was the decade of the Great Depression, and most countries suffered falling production and high unemployment. The USSR experienced the opposite to this. The success of the Five-Year Plans was a great propaganda triumph for the Communist Party.

3) Major projects such as Magnitogork and the Moscow Metro impressed Soviets and foreigners alike.

4) Stalin worried that without rapid industrilisation the USSR would be "crushed". However, in the Second World War the USSR had industrial pwoer to defeat the Nazis. This seemed to prove that Stalin was right. 

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Stalin's Five-Year Plans (1928-1941)

The Five-Year Plans were a great success for Stalin, economically, socially and politically:

USSR's Society

1) In the period 1928-1941 life was still tough for most people in the USSR. Wages weren't high and there were a few consumer goods available for the shops.

2) The population of towns and cities more than doubled between 1928 - 1941 as peasants flocked to towns to find work in industry. Furthermore, by 1940, women accounted for 40% of the labour force.

3) Many Soviets, espeically younger people, were prepared to work very hard to make the plans succeed. They were convinced by Stalin's propaganda that they could achieve the seemingly impossible.

4) This period saw more investment in health care and education. The number of doctors in the USSR nearly trebled and everyone was entitled to free medical assistance. Illiteracy was greatly reduced and more people went to University. Paid holidays were also introduced.

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Stalin's Five-Year Plans (1928-1941)

The Five-Year Plans were a great success for Stalin, economically, socially and politically:

USSR's Society

1) In the period 1928-1941 life was still tough for most people in the USSR. Wages weren't high and there were a few consumer goods available for the shops.

2) The population of towns and cities more than doubled between 1928 - 1941 as peasants flocked to towns to find work in industry. Furthermore, by 1940, women accounted for 40% of the labour force.

3) Many Soviets, espeically younger people, were prepared to work very hard to make the plans succeed. They were convinced by Stalin's propaganda that they could achieve the seemingly impossible.

4) This period saw more investment in health care and education. The number of doctors in the USSR nearly trebled and everyone was entitled to free medical assistance. Illiteracy was greatly reduced and more people went to University. Paid holidays were also introduced.

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Stalin's Five-Year Plans (1928-1941)

The Five-Year Plans were a great success for Stalin, economically, socially and politically:

Communist Party Control

1) In 1928 the Communist Party was well established in the cities, but had little power in the countryside.

2) By 1940 the combined effort of collectivisation and the Five-Year Plans had destroyed the old way of life in the towns and countryside. The USSR was transformed into an industrialised nation and the party had dramaticially increased its control over the entire country. 

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