Russian famine of 1921–22

The Russian famine of 1921–22, also known as the Povolzhye famine, was a severe famine in Russia which began early in the spring of 1921 and lasted through 1922. This famine killed an estimated 5 million people, primarily affecting the Volga and Ural River regions,[1][2] and peasants resorted to cannibalism.[3][4][5]

The famine resulted from combined effects of economic disturbance through the disturbances of the Russian Revolution—and Russian Civil War with its policy of War Communism, especially prodrazvyorstka, exacerbated by rail systems that could not distribute food efficiently.

One of Russia's intermittent droughts in 1921 aggravated the situation to a national catastrophe. Hunger was so severe that it was likely seed-grain would be eaten rather than sown. At one point relief agencies had to give grain to railroad staff to get their supplies moved.

The famine area in the fall of 1921


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Fridtjof Nansen's journey to the famine regions of Russia, 1921
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Children's corpses collected on a wagon in Samara, 1921

Before the famine began, Russia had suffered six and a half years of World War I and the Civil Wars of 1918–20, many of the conflicts fought inside Russia.[6]

Before the famine, all sides in the Russian Civil Wars of 1918–21—the Bolsheviks, the Whites, the Anarchists, the seceding nationalities—had provisioned themselves by seizing food from those who grew it, giving it to their armies and supporters, and denying it to their enemies. The Bolshevik government had requisitioned supplies from the peasantry for little or nothing in exchange. This led peasants to drastically reduce their crop production. The rich peasants (kulaks) withheld their surplus grain to preserve their lives[7], and to sell on the black market.[8][9][10] In 1920, Lenin ordered increased emphasis on food requisitioning from the peasantry.

Aid from outside Russia was initially rejected. The American Relief Administration (ARA), which Herbert Hoover formed to help the victims of starvation of World War I, offered assistance to Lenin in 1919, on condition that they have full say over the Russian railway network and hand out food impartially to all. Lenin refused this as interference in Russian internal affairs.[6]

Lenin was eventually convinced—by this famine, the Kronstadt rebellion, large scale peasant uprisings such as the Tambov Rebellion, and the failure of a German general strike—to reverse his policy at home and abroad. He decreed the New Economic Policy on March 15, 1921. The famine also helped produce an opening to the West: Lenin allowed relief organizations to bring aid this time. War relief was no longer required in Western Europe, and the ARA had an organization set up in Poland, relieving the Polish famine which had begun in the winter of 1919–20.[11]

International relief effort

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Victims of the famine in Buzuluk, Volga region, next to Samara
Victims of the famine, 1922
Girl affected by famine in Buguruslan, Russia - 1921
Starving Russian girl in Buguruslan, 1921
Fridtjof Nansen, Les deux étapes de la faim (1922)
Starving Russian children during the famine, c. 1922
A starving child during the Famine of 1921-22 in Ukraine
A boy from village Blahovishchenka (gubernia or province of Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine)—Ilarion Nyshchenko—from starvation killed his 3-year-old brother and ate him (1921–22)

Although no official request for aid was issued, a committee of well-known people without obvious party affiliations was allowed to set up an appeal for assistance. In July 1921, the writer Maxim Gorky published an appeal to the outside world, saying that millions of lives were menaced by crop failure. At a conference in Geneva on 15 August organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the League of Red Cross Societies, the International Committee for Russian Relief (ICRR) was set up with Dr. Fridtjof Nansen as its High Commissioner. Nansen headed to Moscow, where he signed an agreement with Soviet Foreign Minister Georgy Chicherin that left the ICRR in full control of its operations. At the same time, fundraising for the famine relief operation began in earnest in Britain, with all the elements of a modern emergency relief operation — full-page newspaper advertisements, local collections, and a fundraising film shot in the famine area. By September, a ship had been despatched from London carrying 600 tons of supplies. The first feeding centre was opened in October in Saratov.

The main participants in the international relief effort were Hoover's American Relief Administration,[12] along with other bodies such as the American Friends Service Committee and the International Save the Children Union, which had the British Save the Children Fund as the major contributor.[13] Around ten million people were fed, with the bulk coming from the ARA, funded by the United States Congress; the European agencies co-ordinated by the ICRR fed two million people a day: the International Save the Children Union were feeding 375,000 in its centres at Saratov at the height of the operation.[14] [15]The operation was hazardous — several workers died of cholera — and was not without its critics, including the London Daily Express, which first denied the severity of the famine, and then argued that the money would better be spent in the United Kingdom.[16]

Throughout 1922 and 1923, as famine was still widespread and the ARA was still providing relief supplies, grain was exported by the Soviet government to raise funds for the revival of industry; this seriously endangered Western support for relief. The new Soviet government insisted that if the AYA suspended relief the ARA arrange a foreign loan for them of about $10,000,000 1923 dollars; the ARA was unable to do this, and continued to ship in food past the grain being sold abroad.[17][18]

Death toll

Victims of the 1921 famine in Russia
Victims of the 1921 famine in during the Russian Civil War.

As with other large-scale famines, the range of estimates is considerable. An official Soviet publication of the early 1920s concluded that about five million deaths occurred in 1921 from famine and related disease: this number is usually quoted in textbooks.[19] More conservative figures counted not more than a million, while another assessment, based on the ARA's medical division, spoke of two million.[20] On the other side of the scale, some sources spoke of ten million dead.[21] According to Bertrand M. Patenaude, "such a number hardly seems extravagant after the many tens of millions of victims of war, famine, and terror in the twentieth century".[22]

Political uses

The famine came at the end of six and a half years of unrest and violence (first World War I, then the two Russian revolutions of 1917, then the Russian Civil War). Many different political and military factions were involved in those events, and most of them have been accused by their enemies of having contributed to, or even bearing sole responsibility for, the famine.[23]

The Bolsheviks started a campaign of seizing church property in 1922. In that year over 4.5 million golden roubles of property were seized. Out of these, one million gold roubles were spent for famine relief.[24] In a secret March 19, 1922 letter to the Politburo, Lenin expressed an intention to seize several hundred million golden roubles for famine relief.[25]

In Lenin's secret letter to the Politburo, Lenin explains that the famine provides an opportunity against the church.[25] Richard Pipes argued that the famine was used politically as an excuse for the Bolshevik leadership to persecute the Orthodox Church, which held significant sway over much of the peasant populace.[26]

Russian anti-Bolshevik exiles in London, Paris, and elsewhere also used the famine as a media opportunity to highlight the alleged iniquities of the Soviet regime in an effort to prevent trade with and official recognition of the Bolshevik Government.[27]

See also


  1. ^ "Famine of 1921-22". Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. 2015-06-17. Retrieved 2018-07-20.
  2. ^ Courtois, Stéphane; Werth, Nicolas; Panné, Jean-Louis; Paczkowski, Andrzej; Bartošek, Karel; Margolin, Jean-Louis (1999). The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression. Harvard University Press. p. 123. ISBN 9780674076082.
  3. ^ "The communist cannibals: Shocking images reveal the depravation suffered by peasants forced to eat HUMANS during the 1920s Russian famine; from google (Russian famine of the 1920 cannibal) result 1; from".
  4. ^ Francis Haller (12 August 2003), "Famine in Russia: the hidden horrors of 1921 - ICRC (translation)", Le Temps, published by ICRC, retrieved 14 March 2019
  5. ^ Francis Haller (12 August 2003), "Secours en temps de paix - la famine en Russie - CICR", Le Temps (in French), published by ICRC, retrieved 14 March 2019
  6. ^ a b Kennan 1961.
  7. ^ "An exchange of letters", Lenin's Secret Files (documentary), BBC, archived from the original on 2007-02-13.
  8. ^ Carr, EH, 1966, The Bolshevik Revolution 1917–1923, Part 2, p. 233.
  9. ^ Chase, WJ, 1987, Workers, Society and the Soviet State: Labour and Life in Moscow 1918–1929 pp. 26–27.
  10. ^ Nove, A, 1982, An Economic History of the USSR, p. 62, cited in Flewers, Paul. "War Communism in Retrospect".
  11. ^ "WILSON RENEWS HUNGER LOAN PLEA". The New York Times. 28 January 1920. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  12. ^ International news, 442, Newsreel, 1921
  13. ^ Famine in Russia: the hidden horrors of 1921, ICRC, 2013-10-03.
  14. ^ Kurusawa, Fuyuki (3 January 2012). The Making of Humanitarian Visual Icons: On the 1921-1923 Russian Famine as Foundational Event. Iconic Power: Materiality and Meaning in Social Life. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 68. ISBN 9781137012869. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  15. ^ "FAMINE AND RELIEF 1921", The Routledge Atlas of Russian History, Routledge, 2013-04-03, pp. 102–102A, doi:10.4324/9780203074473-102, ISBN 9780203074473
  16. ^ Breen 1994.
  17. ^ Ellman, Michael (June 2007), "Stalin and the Soviet Famine of 1932–33 Revisited" (PDF), Europe-Asia Studies, 59 (4): 663–93, doi:10.1080/09668130701291899.
  18. ^ Serbyn, Roman (1986), "The Famine of 1921–22", Famine in the Ukraine, 1932–33, Edmonton, pp. 174–78.
  19. ^ Norman Lowe. Mastering Twentieth-Century Russian History. Palgrave, 2002. P. 155.
  20. ^ Bertrand M. Patenaude. The Big Show in Bololand. The American Relief Expedition to Soviet Russia in the Famine of 1921. Stanford University Press, 2002. P. 197.
  21. ^ How the U.S. saved a starving Soviet Russia: PBS film highlights Stanford scholar's research on the 1921-23 famine Stanford News
  22. ^ Patenaude, op. cit. p. 197-8.
  23. ^
  24. ^ А. Г. Латышев. Рассекреченный Ленин. — 1-е изд. — М.: Март, 1996. — Pages 145—172. — 336 с. — 15 000 экз. — ISBN 5-88505-011-2.
  25. ^ a b Н.А. Кривова, "Власть и церковь в 1922-1925гг"
  26. ^ Pipes & 1995, pg. 415.
  27. ^ Jansen, Dinah (2015). After October: Russian Liberalism as a Work-in-Progress, 1917-1945. Kingston: Queen's University.


Journal of British Studies 55 (July 2016): 519–537. doi:10.1017/jbr.2016.57 © The North American Conference on British Studies, 2016

External links


1921 (MCMXXI)

was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar, the 1921st year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 921st year of the 2nd millennium, the 21st year of the 20th century, and the 2nd year of the 1920s decade. As of the start of 1921, the Gregorian calendar was

13 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1921–22 famine in Tatarstan

The 1921–1922 famine in Tatarstan was a period of mass starvation and drought that took place in the Tatar ASSR as a result of war communism policy, in which 500,000 to 2,000,000 peasants died. The event was part of the greater Russian famine of 1921–22 that affected other parts of the USSR, in which up 5,000,000 people died in total. According to Roman Serbyn, a professor of Russian and East European history, the Tatarstan famine was the first man-made famine in the Soviet Union and systematically targeted ethnic minorities such as Volga Tatars and Volga Germans.

1922 confiscation of Russian Orthodox Church property

The 1922 confiscation of Russian Orthodox Church property was held by the Bolshevik government under the pretext of fighting the Russian famine of 1921–22. During 1922, precious metals and gems were removed by state authorities from churches of all denominations. In fact, it was a provocative campaign against the Russian Orthodox Church, since more than 90% of subjects were concentrated in its churches and monasteries. Subject to confiscation or articles intended exclusively for liturgical purposes (holy vessels), which is set in a very vulnerable position of the clergy, and caused the resistance of the congregation. The campaign was accompanied by repression against the clergy. Eight priests, two laymen and one woman were sentenced to death in Moscow on May 8, 1922, for having opposed the requisitioning of Church treasures.

Carl Krebs

Carl Immanuel Krebs (11 February 1889, Aarhus – 15 May 1971, Slagelse) was a Danish doctor, humanitarian aid worker and explorer. He was the third child of First Lieutenant (later Major General) Frederik Christian Krebs (1855–1930) and Johanne Margrethe Busch (1858–1911), the brother of ceramicist Nathalie Krebs and the grandson of Dr. Frederik Christian Krebs (1814–1881) a physician, writer on political and social reforms, and editor of the Berlingske Tidende. Carl Krebs graduated from the Metropolitanskole in 1907, and completed his medical studies in 1913. He was then resident in the surgical department of St. Joseph’s Hospital. As a student he competed in the 1912 Summer Olympics as part of the Danish team that won the bronze medal in the men's free system team gymnastics event. In 1914 he joined the Danish Army, not as a medical officer but as a recruit, and was promoted to Second Lieutenant in The Royal Life Guards a year later.Carl Krebs worked for the Danish Red Cross and the Danish Foreign Ministry in Russia from 1916 to 1920 monitoring conditions in Russian POW camps. While there, he participated in an expedition to Central Asia (Mongolia and Tannu Uriankhai), and in February 1918 was sent on a secret aid mission to Maria Feodorovna (Dagmar of Denmark) in Crimea, mother of the last Russian monarch, Emperor Nicholas II. In 1921 he was with the Danish Ambulance service in Poland during the Polish–Soviet War. In 1922 he returned to Russia as leader of the Danish Red Cross delegation in Fridtjof Nansen's efforts to alleviate the Russian Famine of 1921-22.In 1922 Carl Krebs organized and led an expedition to establish a farming, mining and fur trading settlement near Erdenebulgan in the Khövsgöl province of northern Mongolia, however the enterprise never prospered. The other members of the expedition, which included Henning Haslund-Christensen, left by 1928 and Carl Krebs remained to raise horses as well as practice medicine. Subject to increasing harassment by the communist authorities in the 1930s, he was eventually forced to leave in 1937. After his return to Denmark he published his memoir En Dansker i Mongoliet.Carl Krebs worked as a war surgeon in World War, from 1939 to 1940 with the Danish Ambulance service in Finland and later from 1941 to 1943 with the Finnish Army. In 1940 he was employed by the (then neutral) United States at their Berlin Embassy to monitor conditions of Allied Prisoners held in German camps. In 1945 he served as Denmark's representative for the Red Cross, in the evacuation of Danish and Norwegian prisoners in Germany with "de hvide busser", or "the White Buses", a transport organization that brought Danish and Norwegian concentration camp prisoners from Germany to Sweden during the last months of World War II.From 1950 to 1951 he led the second part of the 3rd Danish Central Asian Expedition, which included travelling through the Rupshu region of the Indian Himalayas. From 1952-1959 he served as a medical officer at the Danish naval base at Kangilinnguit (formerly Grønnedal) Greenland. During his stay on the island of New Britain from 1960–61, he gathered material for New Britain: A Geomorphological Study in the Continental Drift (1961), which supported Alfred Wegener's then-controversial theory of continental drift. His final expedition to the Sula Islands of Indonesia was cut short for financial reasons. He died in 1971.


A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including war, inflation, crop failure, population imbalance, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every inhabited continent in the world has experienced a period of famine throughout history. In the 19th and 20th century, it was generally Southeast and South Asia, as well as Eastern and Central Europe that suffered the most deaths from famine. The numbers dying from famine began to fall sharply from the 2000s.

Some countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, continue to have extreme cases of famine. Since 2010, Africa has been the most affected continent in the world. As of 2017, the United Nations has warned some 20 million are at risk in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen. The distribution of food has been affected by conflict. Most programmes now direct their aid towards Africa.

Islam in Tatarstan

Established in 922, the first Muslim state within the current Russian borders was Volga Bulgaria from whom the Tatars inherited Islam. Islam in Russia has had a long presence, extending at least as far back as the conquest of the Khanate of Kazan in 1552, which brought the Tatars and Bashkirs on the Middle Volga into Russia. Today, Islam is a major faith in Tatarstan, as 38.80% of the estimated 3.8 million population is Muslim.Marat Gatin is the minister for Interaction with Religious Organizations, a Presidential department.

Juozas Purickis

Juozas Purickis (sometimes Juozas Puryckis; often used pen name Vygandas; 1883–1934) was a prominent diplomat and journalist in interwar Lithuania and served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs from June 1920 to December 1921.

Purickis studied at the Kaunas Priest Seminary and Saint Petersburg Roman Catholic Theological Academy. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest, but never practiced or performed pastoral work. He married in 1926 and was officially defrocked in 1929. He continued his studies at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland and in 1916 earned his doctorate of theology with a thesis on the Reformation in Lithuania. During World War I, he joined the efforts to establish independent Lithuania – he worked at the Lithuanian Information Bureau established by Juozas Gabrys, raised money for the Lithuanian prisoners of war and war refugees, attended the Lithuanian conferences in Switzerland. Together with Konstantinas Olšauskas, Purickis attended Vilnius Conference and presented on the German proposal to establish Kingdom of Lithuania. In 1918–1920, Purickis worked as Lithuanian diplomatic representative in Berlin, first as a deputy of Jurgis Šaulys, and played a key role in the election of Wilhelm Karl, Duke of Urach, as King Mindaugas II of Lithuania, and was co-opted by the Council of Lithuania. Purickis as a delegate of the Lithuanian Christian Democratic Party was elected to the Constituent Assembly of Lithuania which convened in May 1920. Next month, he became Minister of Foreign Affairs in the government of Prime Minister Kazys Grinius. He had to deal with the issue that shaped the entire interwar foreign policy of Lithuania – the loss of Vilnius Region to the Second Polish Republic in the Żeligowski's Mutiny in October 1920 and the subsequent ineffectual mediation efforts of the League of Nations. During his tenure, Lithuania gained international recognition and became a full member of the League of Nations.

In December 1921, Purickis resigned due to a corruption scandal, the so-called saccharin case. Lithuanian counterintelligence seized three train cars worth of items heading to the Soviet Union under a diplomatic exemption. Two cars contained donated food (sugar and flour) for the victims of the Russian famine of 1921–22, but the third contained various black market items, including almost 10 tonnes (22,000 lb) of saccharin, to be sold for profit. Purickis and three other men were investigated, put on trial, and acquitted in February 1925. While the case was ongoing, Purickis lived mostly in Germany helping the Lithuanian government with the Klaipėda Revolt and trade negotiations with Germany and Sweden. He also started contributing articles, mostly on economic developments and current political affairs, to the Lithuanian press. After the acquittal, he returned to Lithuania and rejoined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as director of the Economic Department and later Law–Administrative Department, but resigned when his party withdrew from the government in May 1927. Purickis then devoted his life to journalism and other public work. He was editor of the official daily Lietuva (1925–1930) and magazine on economy Tautos ūkis (since 1930) and author of numerous articles in Lietuvos aidas, Trimitas, Vairas, Mūsų Vilnius. He was chairman of the Lithuanian Journalists' Union from its establishment in 1929 to his death. He was an active member of the Lithuanian Riflemen's Union and a board member of the League for the Liberation of Vilnius as well as of many different societies, often working on international integration and collaboration.

Kazakh famine of 1919–1922

The Kazakh famine of 1919–1922, also referred to as the Turkestan famine of 1919–1922, was a period of mass starvation and drought that took place in the Kirghiz ASSR (present-day Kazakhstan) and Turkestan ASSR as a result of war communism policy, in which 400,000 to 750,000 peasants died. The event was part of the greater Russian famine of 1921–22 that affected other parts of the USSR, in which up to 5,000,000 people died in total.

Mari Autonomous Oblast

The Mari Autonomous Oblast was created on November 4, 1920, as a region of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. In 1936 it was re-established as the Mari Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, which dissolved in 1990, then developing into the modern Mari El Republic within Russian Federation.

The Oblast is largely populated by the Mari people. Events in its early history include the Russian famine of 1921–22 and the 1921 Mari wildfires.

Maxim Gorky

Alexei Maximovich Peshkov (Russian: Алексе́й Макси́мович Пешко́в or Пе́шков; 28 March [O.S. 16 March] 1868 – 18 June 1936), primarily known as Maxim Gorky (Russian: Макси́м Го́рький), was a Russian and Soviet writer, a founder of the socialist realism literary method, and a political activist. He was also a five-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Around fifteen years before success as a writer, he frequently changed jobs and roamed across the Russian Empire; these experiences would later influence his writing. Gorky's most famous works were The Lower Depths (1902), Twenty-six Men and a Girl (1899), The Song of the Stormy Petrel (1901), My Childhood (1913–1914), Mother (1906), Summerfolk (1904) and Children of the Sun (1905). He had an association with fellow Russian writers Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov; Gorky would later mention them in his memoirs.

Gorky was active with the emerging Marxist social-democratic movement. He publicly opposed the Tsarist regime, and for a time closely associated himself with Vladimir Lenin and Alexander Bogdanov's Bolshevik wing of the party, but later became a bitter critic of Lenin as an overly ambitious, cruel and power-hungry potentate who tolerated no challenge to his authority. For a significant part of his life, he was exiled from Russia and later the Soviet Union. In 1932, he returned to the USSR on Joseph Stalin's personal invitation and lived there until his death in June 1936.


The Mongols (Mongolian: Монголчууд, ᠮᠣᠩᠭᠣᠯᠴᠤᠳ, Mongolchuud, [ˈmɔŋ.ɢɔɮ.t͡ʃʊːt]) are an East-Central Asian ethnic group native to Mongolia and to China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. They also live as minorities in other regions of China (e.g. Xinjiang), as well as in Russia. Mongolian people belonging to the Buryat and Kalmyk subgroups live predominantly in the Russian federal subjects of Buryatia and Kalmykia.

The Mongols are bound together by a common heritage and ethnic identity. Their indigenous dialects are collectively known as the Mongolian language. The ancestors of the modern-day Mongols are referred to as Proto-Mongols.

Red Terror

The Red Terror was a period of political repression and mass killings carried out by Bolsheviks after the beginning of the Russian Civil War in 1918. The term is usually applied to Bolshevik political repression during the whole period of the Civil War (1917–1922), as distinguished from the White Terror carried out by the White Army (Russian and non-Russian groups opposed to Bolshevik rule) against their political enemies (including the Bolsheviks). It was modeled on the Terror of the French Revolution. The Cheka (the Bolshevik secret police) carried out the repressions of the Red Terror. Estimates for the total number of people killed during the Red Terror for the initial period of repression are at least 10,000. Estimates for the total number of victims of Bolshevik repression vary widely. One source asserts that the total number of victims of repression and pacification campaigns could be 1.3 million, whereas another gives estimates of 28,000 executions per year from December 1917 to February 1922. The most reliable estimations for the total number of killings put the number at about 100,000, whereas others suggest a figure of 200,000.

Russian Famine Relief Act

The Russian Famine Relief Act of 1921 authorized the expenditure of $20,000,000 for the purchase of American foodstuffs to send to post revolutionary Russia, for relief of the Russian famine of 1921–22.

The Act was overseen by Herbert Hoover, serving simultaneously as the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the head of the American Relief Administration, and signed into law in late December. With the Russian Civil War winding down, and Lenin having implemented the pseudo-Capitalist New Economic Policy (NEP) in order to get the Russian economy back on its feet, some like Hoover and Sen. William E. Borah of Idaho that hoped that the aid would serve as political leverage against the Bolshevik regime.

Others, President Warren G. Harding, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, and the business Conservatives within the Administration refused to countenance the idea, unless the Soviets were willing to pay back the money loaned to the Tsar’s regime during the war. Lenin refused, and so while the act was a genuine humanitarian gesture, it accomplished little in changing the tense relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic

The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Russian SFSR or RSFSR; Russian: Росси́йская Сове́тская Федерати́вная Социалисти́ческая Республика, tr. Rossiyskáya Sovetskáya Federatívnaya Socialistícheskaya Respublika, IPA: [rɐˈsʲijskəjə sɐˈvʲɛtskəjə fʲɪdʲɪrɐˈtʲivnəjə sətsɨəlʲɪˈsʲtʲitɕɪskəjə rʲɪˈspublʲɪkə] (listen)), previously known as the Russian Soviet Republic and the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, as well as being unofficially known as the Russian Federation, Soviet Russia, or simply Russia, was an independent state from 1917 to 1922, and afterwards the largest, most populous and most economically developed of the 15 Soviet socialist republics of the Soviet Union (USSR) from 1922 to 1990, then a sovereign part of the Soviet Union with priority of Russian laws over Union-level legislation in 1990 and 1991, during the last two years of the existence of the USSR. The Russian Republic comprised sixteen smaller constituent units of autonomous republics, five autonomous oblasts, ten autonomous okrugs, six krais and forty oblasts. Russians formed the largest ethnic group. The capital of the Russian SFSR was Moscow and the other major urban centers included Leningrad, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Samara.

The economy of Russia became heavily industrialized, accounting for about two-thirds of the electricity produced in the USSR. By 1961, it was the third largest producer of petroleum due to new discoveries in the Volga-Urals region and Siberia, trailing in production to only the United States and Saudi Arabia. In 1974, there were 475 institutes of higher education in the republic providing education in 47 languages to some 23,941,000 students. A network of territorially organized public-health services provided health care. After 1985, the "perestroika" restructuring policies of the Gorbachev administration relatively liberalised the economy, which had become stagnant since the late 1970s under General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, with the introduction of non-state owned enterprises such as cooperatives.

The Russian Soviet Republic was proclaimed on 7 November 1917 (October Revolution) as a sovereign state and the world's first constitutionally socialist state with the ideology of Communism. The first Constitution was adopted in 1918. In 1922, the Russian SFSR signed the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR officially setting up of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The 1977 Soviet Constitution stated that "[a] Union Republic is a sovereign [...] state that has united [...] in the Union" and "each Union Republic shall retain the right freely to secede from the USSR". On 12 June 1990, the Congress of People's Deputies adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty, established separation of powers (instead of Soviet form of government), established citizenship of Russia and stated that the RSFSR shall retain the right of free secession from the USSR. On 12 June 1991, Boris Yeltsin (1931–2007), supported by the Democratic Russia pro-reform movement, was elected the first and only President of the RSFSR, a post that would later become the presidency of the Russian Federation.

The August 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt with the temporary brief internment of President Mikhail Gorbachev destabilised the Soviet Union. On 8 December 1991, the heads of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus signed the Belavezha Accords. The agreement declared dissolution of the USSR by its original founding states (i.e., renunciation of the 1922 Treaty on the Creation of the USSR) and established the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) as a loose confederation. On 12 December, the agreement was ratified by the Supreme Soviet (the Russian SFSR parliament); therefore the Russian SFSR had renounced the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR and de facto declared Russia's independence from the USSR itself and the ties with the other Soviet Socialist Republics.

On 25 December 1991, following the resignation of Gorbachev as President of the Soviet Union (and former General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union), the Russian SFSR was renamed the Russian Federation, with President Yeltsin re-establishing the sovereign and independent state (see history of Russia from 1991 onwards). With the lowering at 12 midnight of the red flag with hammer and sickle design of the now former USSR from the towers of the Kremlin in Moscow on 26 December 1991, the USSR was self-dissolved by the Soviet of the Republics, which by that time was the only functioning chamber of the parliamentary Supreme Soviet (the other house, Soviet of the Union, had already lost the quorum after recall of its members by the several union republics). After dissolution of the USSR, Russia declared that it assumed the rights and obligations of the dissolved central Soviet government, including UN membership and permanent membership on the Security Council, but originally excluding foreign debt and foreign assets of the USSR (also parts of the former Soviet Red Army and nuclear weapons remained under overall CIS command as CIS United Armed Forces).

The 1978 RSFSR Constitution was amended several times to reflect the transition to democracy, private property and market economy. The new Russian Constitution, coming into effect on 25 December 1993 after a constitutional crisis, completely abolished the Soviet form of government and replaced it with a semi-presidential system.

Russian famine

Russian famine may refer to:

Russian famine of 1601–03

Russian famine of 1891–92

Russian famine of 1921–22

Vasily Zhilin

Vasily Ivanovich Zhilin (Russian: Василий Иванович Жилин)(1915–1947) was a Russian soldier of World War II (called, in the Soviet Union, the Great Patriotic War) and a Hero of the Soviet Union.

Volga Tatars

The Volga Tatars are a Turkic ethnic group native to the Volga-Ural region of Russia. They are in turn subdivided into various subgroups. Volga Tatars are Russia's second-largest ethnicity, composing 53% of the population of Tatarstan and 25% of the population of Bashkortostan.

War communism

War communism or military communism (Russian: Военный коммунизм, Voyennyy kommunizm) was the economic and political system that existed in Soviet Russia during the Russian Civil War from 1918 to 1921. According to Soviet historiography, the ruling Bolshevik administration adopted this policy with the goal of keeping towns (the proletarian power-base) and the Red Army stocked with food and weapons. Circumstances dictated extreme measures as the ongoing Civil War disrupted normal economic mechanisms and relations. War communism began in June 1918, enforced by the Supreme Economic Council (Russian: Высший Совет Народного Хозяйства), known as the Vesenkha. It ended on 21 March 1921 with the beginning of the New Economic Policy, which lasted until 1928.

White Terror (Russia)

The White Terror in Russia refers to the organized violence and mass killings carried out by the White Army during the Russian Civil War (1917–23). It began after the Bolsheviks seized power in November 1917, and continued until the defeat of the White Army at the hands of the Red Army. The White Army fought the Red Army for power, which engaged in its own Red Terror. According to some Russian historians, the White Terror was a series of premeditated actions directed by their leaders, although this view is contested by others. Estimates for those killed in the White Terror vary, from between 20,000 and 100,000 people as well as much higher estimates of 300,000 deaths.

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