Russian Soviet Federative
Russian SFSR (red) within the Soviet Union (red and light yellow) between 1956 and 1991.
Union Republic (with priority of republican legislation between 1990 and 1991)
one-party socialist republic
Federal semi-presidential republic
|Head of state|
o 1917 (first)
|Head of government|
o 1917-1924 (first)
o 1991 (last)
VTsIK/Congress of Soviets
Congress of People's Deputies
|Historical era||20th century|
|7 November 1917|
o Soviet Republic proclaimed
|7 November 1917|
|30 December 1922|
|12 June 1990|
|12 December 1991|
o Russian SFSR renamed into the Russian Federation
|25 December 1991|
|26 December 1991|
|1956||17,125,200 km2 (6,612,100 sq mi)|
|Currency||Soviet ruble () (SUR)|
|Time zone||(UTC +2 to +12)|
|ISO 3166 code||RU|
The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Russian SFSR or RSFSR; Russian: ? ? ?, tr. Rossiyskáya Sovetskáya Federatívnaya Socialistícheskaya Respublika, IPA: [r?'s?ijsk?j? s?'vtsk?j? fdr?'t?ivn?j? s?tsl's?t?itsk?j? r'spublk?] ), 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 flag of the now former USSR from the top of the Kremlin Senate building 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.
Under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) and Leon Trotsky (1879-1940), the Bolshevik communists established the Soviet state on 7 November [O.S. 25 October] 1917, immediately after the interim Russian Provisional Government, most recently led by opposing democratic socialist Alexander Kerensky (1881-1970), which governed the new Russian Republic after the overthrow of the Russian Empire government of the Romanov imperial dynasty of Czar Nicholas II the previous March, was now itself overthrown during the following October Revolution, the second of the two Russian Revolutions that turbulent year of 1917 during World War I. Initially, the state did not have an official name and wasn't recognized by neighboring countries for five months. Meanwhile, anti-Bolsheviks coined the mocking label Sovdepia for the nascent state of the Soviets of Workers' and Peasants' Deputies.
On 25 January 1918, the third meeting of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets renamed the unrecognised state the Russian Soviet Republic. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed on 3 March 1918, giving away much of the border lands in the west of the former Russian Empire to the German Empire (Germany) in exchange for peace during the last year of the rest of World War I. On 10 July 1918, the Russian Constitution of 1918 renamed the country the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. By 1918, during the subsequent Russian Civil War several states within the former Russian Empire seceded, reducing the size of the country even more.
Internationally, the RSFSR was recognized as an independent state in 1920 only by bordering neighbors of Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania in the Treaty of Tartu and by the short-lived Irish Republic in Ireland.
On 30 December 1922, with the treaty on the creation of the Soviet Union, Russia, alongside the Transcaucasian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and the Byelorussian SSR formed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The final Soviet name for the constituent republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, was adopted in the later Soviet Constitution of 1936. By that time, Soviet Russia had gained roughly the same borders of the old Tsardom of Russia before the Great Northern War of 1700.
For most of the Soviet Union's existence, it was commonly referred to as Russia, even though technically Russia itself was only one republic within the larger union of 15 republics--albeit by far the largest, most powerful and most highly developed.
On 25 December 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union (officially on 26 December), the republic was officially renamed the Russian Federation, which it remains to this day. This name and Russia were specified as the official state names on 21 April 1992, an amendment to the then existing Constitution of 1978 and were retained as such in the subsequent 1993 Constitution of Russia.
At a total of about 17,125,200 km (6,612,100 sq mi), the Russian SFSR was the largest of its fifteen republics, with its southerly neighbor, the Kazakh SSR, being second.
The international borders of the RSFSR touched Poland on the west; Norway and Finland of Scandinavia on the northwest; and to its southeast in eastern Asia were the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), Mongolian People's Republic (Mongolia) and the People's Republic of China (China, formerly the Republic of China; 1911-1949). Within the Soviet Union, the RSFSR bordered the Slavic states: Ukrainian SSR (Ukraine), Belarusian SSR (Belarus), the Baltic states: Estonian SSR (Estonia), Latvian SSR (Latvia) and Lithuanian SSR (Lithuania) (annexed forcibly in 1940) to its west and the Azerbaijan SSR (Azerbaijan), Georgian SSR (Georgia) and Kazakh SSR (Kazakhstan) to the south in Central Asia.
Roughly 70% of the area in the RSFSR consisted of broad plains, with mountainous tundra regions mainly concentrated in the east of Siberia with Central Asia and East Asia. The area is rich in mineral resources, including petroleum, natural gas, and iron ore.
The Soviet government first came to power on 7 November 1917, immediately after the interim Russian Provisional Government later headed by democratic socialist Alexander Kerensky, which governed the Russian Republic, was overthrown in the October Revolution, the second of the two Russian Revolutions. The state it governed, which did not have an official name, would be unrecognized by neighboring countries for another five months.
On 25 January 1918, at the third meeting of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, the unrecognized state was renamed the Russian Soviet Republic. On 3 March 1918, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, giving away much of the land of the former Russian Empire to the German Empire (Germany), in exchange for peace on the Eastern Front of World War I. On 10 July 1918, the Russian Constitution of 1918 renamed the country the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. By 1918, during the Russian Civil War, several states within the former Russian Empire had seceded, reducing the size of the country even more.
On 30 December 1922, the First Congress of the Soviets of the USSR approved the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR, by which Russia was united with the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic and Transcaucasian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic into a single federal state, the Soviet Union. The treaty was included in the 1924 Soviet Constitution,[clarification needed] adopted on 31 January 1924 by the Second Congress of Soviets of the USSR.
Paragraph 3 of Chapter 1 of the 1925 Constitution of the RSFSR stated the following:
By the will of the peoples of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, who decided on the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics during the Tenth All-Russian Congress of Soviets, the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, being a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, devolves to the Union the powers which according to Article 1 of the Constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics are included within the scope of responsibilities of the government bodies of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Many regions in Russia were affected by the Soviet famine of 1932-1933: Volga; Central Black Soil Region; North Caucasus; the Urals; the Crimea; part of Western Siberia; and the Kazak ASSR. With the adoption of the 1936 Soviet Constitution on 5 December 1936, the size of the RSFSR was significantly reduced. The Kazakh ASSR and Kirghiz ASSR were transformed into the Kazakh SSR (Kazakhstan) and Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic (Kyrgyzstan). The former Karakalpak Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic was transferred to the Uzbek SSR (Uzbekistan).
The final name for the republic during the Soviet era was adopted by the Russian Constitution of 1937, which renamed it the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR).
In 1943, Karachay Autonomous Oblast was dissolved by Joseph Stalin (1878-1953), General Secretary of the Communist Party and Marshall, later Premier and dictator, when the Karachays were exiled to Central Asia for their alleged collaboration with the invading Nazi Germans in the Great Patriotic War (World War II, 1941-1945), and territory was incorporated into the Georgian SSR.
On 3 March 1944, on the orders of Stalin, the Chechen-Ingush ASSR was disbanded and its population forcibly deported upon the accusations of collaboration with the invaders and separatism. The territory of the ASSR was divided between other administrative units of Russian SFSR and the Georgian SSR.
At the end of World War II Soviet troops of the Red Army occupied southern Sakhalin Island and the Kuril Islands off the coast of East Asia, north of Japan, making them part of the RSFSR. The status of the southernmost Kurils, north of Hokkaido of the Japanese home islands remains in dispute with Japan and the United States following the peace treaty of 1951 ending the state of war.
On 17 April 1946, the Kaliningrad Oblast--the northern portion of the former Kingdom of Prussia, the founding state of the German Empire (1871-1918) and later the German province of East Prussia including the Baltic German seaport city of Königsberg--was occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union and made part of the Russian SFSR, following the campaigns on the Eastern Front of World War II.
After the death of Joseph Stalin, 5 March 1953, Georgy Malenkov became the new leader of the USSR.
On 8 February 1955, Malenkov was officially demoted to deputy Prime Minister. As First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Nikita Khrushchev's authority was significantly enhanced by Malenkov's demotion.
On 9 January 1957, Karachay Autonomous Oblast and Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic were restored by Khrushchev and they were transferred from the Georgian SSR back to the Russian SFSR.
In 1964, Nikita Khrushchev was removed from his position of power and replaced with Leonid Brezhnev. Under his rule, the Russian SFSR and the rest of the Soviet Union went through an era of stagnation. Even after he died in 1982, the era did not end until Mikhail Gorbachev took power in March 1985 and introduced liberal reforms in Soviet society.
On 29 May 1990, at his third attempt, Boris Yeltsin was elected the chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR. The Congress of People's Deputies of the Republic adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Russian SFSR on 12 June 1990, which was the beginning of the "War of Laws", pitting the Soviet Union against the Russian Federation and other constituent republics.
On 17 March 1991, an all-Russian referendum created the post of President of the RSFSR. On 12 June, Boris Yeltsin was elected President of Russia by popular vote. During an unsuccessful coup attempt on 19-21 August 1991 in Moscow, the capital of the Soviet Union and Russia, President of Russia Yeltsin strongly supported the President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev.
After the failure of GKChP, in the presence of Gorbachev, on 23 August 1991, Yeltsin signed a decree suspending all activity by the Communist Party of the Russian SFSR in the territory of Russia. On 6 November, he went further, banning the Communist Parties of the USSR and the RSFSR from the territory of the RSFSR.
On 8 December 1991, at Viskuli near Brest (Belarus), Yeltsin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and Belarusian leader Stanislau Shushkevich and the heads of Byelorussian SSR and Ukrainian SSR signed the "Agreement on the Establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States," known in media as the Belavezha Accords. The document, consisting of a preamble and fourteen articles, stated that the Soviet Union no longer existed "as a subject of international law and geopolitical reality." However, based on the historical community of peoples and relations between the three states, as well as bilateral treaties, the desire for a democratic rule of law, the intention to develop their relations based on mutual recognition and respect for state sovereignty, the parties agreed to the formation of the Commonwealth of Independent States. On 12 December, the agreement was ratified by the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR by an overwhelming majority: 188 votes for, 6 against and 7 abstentions. On the same day, the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR denounced the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR and recalled all Russian deputies from the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. The legality of this act is the subject of discussions because, according to the 1978 Constitution (Basic Law) of the Russian SFSR, the Russian Supreme Soviet had no right to do so. However, by this time the Soviet government had been rendered more or less impotent, and was in no position to object. Although the 12 December vote is sometimes reckoned as the moment that the RSFSR seceded from the collapsing Soviet Union, this is not the case. It appears that the RSFSR took the line that it was not possible to secede from an entity that no longer existed.
On 24 December, Yeltsin informed the Secretary-General of the United Nations that by agreement of the member states of the CIS the Russian Federation would assume the membership of the Soviet Union in all UN organs (including the Soviet Union's permanent seat on the UN Security Council). Thus, Russia is considered to be an original member of the UN (since 24 October 1945) along with Ukraine (Ukrainian SSR) and Belarus (Byelorussian SSR). On 25 December--just hours after Gorbachev resigned as president of the Soviet Union--the Russian SFSR was renamed the Russian Federation (Russia), reflecting that it was now a sovereign state with Yeltsin assuming the Presidency. That same night, the Soviet flag was lowered and replaced with the tricolor. The Soviet Union officially ceased to exist the next day. The change was originally published on 6 January 1992 (Rossiyskaya Gazeta). According to law, during 1992, it was allowed to use the old name of the RSFSR for official business (forms, seals, and stamps).
Russia made a significant turn toward developing a market economy by implanting basic tenets such as market-determined prices. Two fundamental and interdependent goals--macroeconomic stabilization and economic restructuring--the transition from central planning to a market-based economy. The former entailed implementing fiscal and monetary policies that promote economic growth in an environment of stable prices and exchange rates. The latter required establishing the commercial, and institutional entities--banks, private property, and commercial legal codes--that permit the economy to operate efficiently. Opening domestic markets to foreign trade and investment, thus linking the economy with the rest of the world, was an important aid in reaching these goals. The Gorbachev regime failed to address these fundamental goals. At the time of the Soviet Union's demise, the Yeltsin government of the Russian Republic had begun to attack the problems of macroeconomic stabilization and economic restructuring. By mid-1996, the results were disastrous, with a 50% decline in GDP and rampant homelessness, unemployment, crime, and poverty.
The struggle for the center of power in post-Soviet Russia and for the nature of the economic reforms culminated in a political crisis and bloodshed in the fall of 1993. Yeltsin, who represented a course of radical privatization, was opposed by the parliament. Confronted with opposition to the presidential power of decree and threatened with impeachment, he "dissolved" the parliament on 21 September, in contravention of the existing constitution, and ordered new elections and a referendum on a new constitution. The parliament then declared Yeltsin deposed and appointed Aleksandr Rutskoy acting president on 22 September. Tensions built quickly, and matters came to a head after street riots on 2-3 October. On 4 October, Yeltsin ordered Special Forces and elite army units to storm the parliament building, the "White House" as it is called. With tanks thrown against the small-arms fire of the parliamentary defenders, the outcome was not in doubt. Rutskoy, Ruslan Khasbulatov, and the other parliamentary supporters surrendered and were immediately arrested and jailed. The official count was 187 dead, 437 wounded (with several men killed and wounded on the presidential side).
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The Government was known officially as the Council of People's Commissars (1917-1946), Council of Ministers (1946-1978) and Council of Ministers-Government (1978-1991). The first government was headed by Vladimir Lenin as Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Russian SFSR and the last by Boris Yeltsin as both head of government and head of state under the title of President.
The Russian SFSR was controlled by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, until the abortive 1991 August coup, which prompted President Yeltsin to suspend the recently created Communist Party of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.
The public holidays for the Russian SFSR included Defender of the Fatherland Day (23 February), which honors Russian men, especially those serving in the army; International Women's Day (8 March), which combines the traditions of Mother's Day and Valentine's Day; Spring and Labor Day (1 May); Victory Day; and like all other Soviet republics, the Great October Socialist Revolution (7 November).
Victory Day is the second most popular holiday in Russia as it commemorates the victory over Nazism in the Great Patriotic War. A huge military parade, hosted by the President of Russia, is annually organised in Moscow on Red Square. Similar parades take place in all major Russian cities and cities with the status Hero City or City of Military Glory.
During its 76-year existence, the Russian SFSR anthem was Patrioticheskaya Pesnya, but before 1990 the previous anthem shared its music with the Soviet Anthem, though not the lyrics and The Internationale was its anthem before 1944. The motto "Workers of the world, unite!" was commonly used and shared with other Soviet republics. The hammer and sickle and the full Soviet coat of arms were still widely seen in Russian cities as a part of old architectural decorations until its slow gradual removal in 1991. The Soviet red stars are also encountered, often on military equipment and war memorials. The Red Banner continues to be honored, especially the Banner of Victory of 1945.
The Matryoshka doll is a recognizable symbol of the Russian SFSR (and the Soviet Union as a whole) and the towers of Moscow Kremlin and Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow are Russian SFSR's main architectural icons. The Chamomile is the national flower while birch is the national tree. The Russian bear is an animal symbol and a national personification of Russia. Though this image has a Western origin, Russians themselves have accepted it. The native Soviet Russian national personification is Mother Russia.
The flag of the Russian SFSR changed numerous times, with the original being a field of red with the Russian name of the republic written on the flag's centre in white. This flag had always been intended to be temporary, as it was changed less than a year after its adoption. The second flag had the letters (RSFSR) written in yellow within the canton and encased within two yellow lines forming a right angle. The next flag was used from 1937, notably during World War II. Interesting because it was used until Joseph Stalin's death when a major vexillological reform was undertaken within the Soviet Union. This change incorporated an update for all the flags of the Soviet Republics as well as for the flag of the Soviet Union itself. The flag of the Russian SFSR was now a defaced version of the flag of the Soviet Union, with the main difference being a minor repositioning of the hammer and sickle and most notably adding a blue vertical stripe to the hoist. This version of the flag was used from 1954 all the way to 1991, where it was changed due to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The flag was then changed to a design that resembled the original imperial civil ensign of the Tsardom of Russia, with a notable difference of the flag ratio being 1:2 instead of the original 2:3 ratio. After 1993, when the Soviet form of government was officially dissolved in the Russian Federation, the final flag of the Russian Federation was changed to the original civil ensign with its original 2:3 proportions.
The Bolsheviks' enemies gave the name 'Sovdepia' to the area under the authority of the Soviets of Workers' and Peasants' Deputies. The comic-opera term was intended to mock [...].