Russia Theme 1

Russia Theme 1: Government and Politics

Lenin: 

  • 1917 = Feb and Oct revolutions lead to the downfall of the Tsar and the implementing of the Bolsheviks under Lenin.
  • He created a one-party state: promised a radical democratic government to be governed by the Soviets
  • Sovnarkom to replace the provisional government in 1917, which made Lenin its leader.

 1. Decree on land - gave the peasants the right to seize land from nobility and the church. 
 2. Decree of Peace - a commitment to peace and withdrawing from WW1. 
3. Worker's Decree - 8-hour maximum working day and minimum wage.

  • Civil War 1918-21: Sovnarkom power to outside Petrograd and Moscow - emergency, centralized bureaucratic regime 
  • Political centralization = power of the Sovnarkom passed to the Politburo (most powerful committee of the communist party, not the government)
  • Bureaucracy = educated, middle-class administrators - like Stalin was
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Lenin: 

  • Authoritarianism = terror and repression of opponents - the creation of the Cheka.
  • 1921 Party Congress: address crisis created by the civil war; famine by war communism and rebellion from the Red Terror
  • Rebellion = peasants in Tambov rebelled - rebel force of 50,000 by 1921; strikes across the main cities - red army fired on workers in Petrograd - NEP introduced
  • Banned Faction =  being in a faction meant expulsion from the party - particularly the democratic centralists 
  • Legacy = success in creating a dictatorship of the proletariat but removed Soviet democracy; decreased power of the Sovnarkom with a shift to the Politburo; one-party state; bureaucratic domination.
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Stalin:

  • 1924-28: There was a battle for leadership between Stalin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev as Lenin left no clear heir
  • Stalin had 4 key ways to ensure he was made the president

1. He argued he was a true Leninist - new ideological orthodoxy
2.Established dominance over the Politburo and packed it full of his supporters
3. Used patronage to win support - he became secretary-general = kept his members loyal
4. Established that he had the right to use terror against those who were not loyal
5. = these formed the basis of his rule in power over the years

  • Stalin wanted to create a personal dictatorship, unlike Lenin through the use of a full-blown personality cult to maintain power and presence.
  • The Great Purges of the 30s = consolidation of power and elimination of enemies
  • Causes = the party and government was full of people who supported his rivals and his economic policies had caused chaos and also Kirov was becoming popular in the Party
  • Extent = a campaign of mass arrests, torture, imprisonment and executions - 10 million dead
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Stalin: 

  • Consequences = the three show trials of 1936,37 and 38 - humiliation and public execution of  Zinoviev, Bukharin and Trotsky's main supporters - new generation of party leaders 
  • Personal Dictatorship = terrorized the party, no ideological debate by 1935 neither party or state could oppose him
  • Totalitarianism = complete control of the economy, widespread political terror, complete control of the media, extensive propaganda - he wanted full commitment, not just obedience
  • Party VS state = he put rivals in paired positions within the party and state to create competition also he continually shifted power between the two
  • Renewed Terror = terror to maintain power - religious persecution under collectivism

1. Leningrad Affair of 1949 = purge of the Leningrad party - the death of Andrei Zhdanov resulted in 100 supporters being shot and 2000 being arrested 
2. 1949 imprisonment of Molotov's wife - he then demonstrated loyalty by doing nothing to secure his wife's imprisonment

  • Legacy = both party and state subordinated to him - lacked independent authority
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Khrushchev: 

  • Emerged as a clear leader by 1956 after a power struggle as Stalin left no clear successor.
  • De-Stalinisation = wanted to preserve the key features of a communist goverment but also to destalinisation: ending personal rule, ending terror - took place in stages.

1.  Ending Terror = began immediately after Stalin's death - 4620 prisoners rehabilitated
2. Personnel Changes = removal of Stalin's loyalists from senior  positions - replaced half regional party secretaries and 44% of the central committee
3. Secret Speech = 1956 - criticised Stalin (abandonned the people in pursuit of his cult of personality) but it was kept silent because it would have undermined the Communist government 
4. Impact = demonstrations in favour of multi party democracy in Moscow state university - He then back tracked and said people were not ready for the truth

  • Democratisation =allows workers and peasants to join the party - 11 million membership in 1964 = representative party
  • Decentralisation = abolition of some central ministries - devolution of economic powers to 105 newly created economic councils 
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Khrushchev: 

  • Backlash = many officers were demoted or lost jobs and so the Anti-Party Group TRIED to oust him but failed because of the central committee's support for him
  • Final Reforms = 1962 the party was divided into agriculture and indstry sections; fixed terms for all government jobs - to stop the party stagnating but promoted instability
  • Extent of Destalinisation = the government never rejected his legacy or admitted the extent of his crimes - stop the use of terror and end personal rule but forced to negotiate with with senior officials which led to his downfall. 
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Brezhnev: 

  • He believed the revolution had taken place so that the government should focus on stability and not reform
  • Restoration = abolished many of Khrushchev's reforms including fixed terms but not the renewal of terror - discouraged the changing of staff 
  • Political Stagnation: 1970-85 = 
  • 1. Gerentocracy = government officals remained in the same job for years - avergage began to increase and only 2 people were promoted in the space of 5 years 
  • 2. Inefficiency = extremly limited opportuntied meant that there was no incentives to work
  • 3. Corruption = officials used positions to grow rich as they could not loose jobs - sell and buy luxury goods on the black market - his daughter bought diamonds 
  • 4. Moral Decline = the soviet people became inceasingly cynical as he argued socialism had been achieved and so people became disillusioned with the government over stagnation and corruption. 
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Andropov and Chernenko: 

  • Andropov policies were to end corruption and increase efficency 
  • abandoned stability of cadres
  • implemented the anti-corruption campaign = attacked senior officals, red army generals and ministers 
  • Chernenko achieved very little due to ill health, brevity and unwillingness to consider reforms
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