Russian History


The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR, was formed on 30th December 1922 (Natalia, 2014, p. 1). It earned the informal name The Soviet Union and had their capital in Moscow, Russia. It was a union of different soviet states among them Russia, Armenia, Estonia, Moldavia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirgiz, Latvia, Lithuania, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbek and Belarus. It was nearly 22,402,200 square kilometres being located east of the continent of Europe. In January 1989, the total population of the union was 286,717,000 where Russians dominated the population (FederalResearchDivision, 1991). Russian was the official language of the union, but there were other 200 languages and mother tongues. Education was offered in schools with standardized curriculums and it was a must for all to attend up to the eleventh grade. The medical services in public hospitals were free but poor though they had the largest number of medics. 

The union was governed by only one political party which was constitutionally allowed, Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It made decisions for the union and it promoted a communist ideology. It promoted international relations by ensuring peaceful interactions with neighbouring countries. In 1988, the constitution was amended and created the Congress of People’s Deputies. It was the body in charge of legislative and executive authorities which formally was the duty of the Supreme Soviet. In the judicial system, the Supreme Court was the final ruling body though it did not have power to interpret laws or determine the validity of laws. The economy was socialist based whereby the government was in charge of all trade, transport and communication and any other economic activity following the principles of Marxism-Leninism. Foreign trade was practiced with other communist countries that surrounded the union in the east. The Defence Council provided good strategy for the management of all war missions. All male teenagers at the age of eighteen had to start military training to add up to soldiers who fought in the world wars.

In 1991, the Soviet Union was already collapsing because of the weaknesses in Communist Party of the Soviet Union caused by the world wars. Mikhail Gorbachev, president of the union, decided to come up with reforms that would promote socialism and revive the Soviet Union because he recognized that the soviet people needed to take part in the economy of the country. However his reforms were not successful because the country could not adapt easily to new changes at the state of weakness. They were faced by challenges of poor planning, lack of food and incentives, lack of employment and wasted resources because they could not manufacture defence products after the Cold War. Soviet States began to depart from the union because they did not benefit from it. Some states like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania stopped using the communist ideology and adapted the socialist to ensure that they would uplift their economy with the help of citizens. Conflicts arose between Russian and non-Russian citizens who claimed that Russia was oppressing them. Following the arrest of Gorbachev and his re-instatement to office, he terminated the USSR after they voted for transitional governments and independence on 26th December 1991. This led to the formation of Russia as an independent state and its beginning as a transitional country.

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(Natalia, 2014, p. Para 1). The land covered by the Soviet Union is 8144228 square miles, thus it is the biggest of all unions without the consideration of the British Empire. In January 1928, the population was approximated to 149900000 people. The union was formed on 6th July 1923 and it was initially composed of republics such as the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Later it was dominated fully by countries in the East of Europe who adopted the communist ideology voluntary. This ideology means that the government of this union has complete authority over all activities involved in all the states. The Supreme Court which is the highest body in the judicial system was functioned to make legal decisions over conflicts by the states. Natural resources include coal pits, peat reserves, oil, iron, manganese, copper and gold which assist in raising the economy. Agriculture was also a common practice because of the collective farms. 

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, communist countries experienced social, economic, and political changes. These changes put them in the lime light before the western countries, because it would mean a rise in market society and individualism. There would emerge new markets and therefore to prevent the economy from collapsing they would need to come up with quick internal changes but despite this, they would need assistance from the international community who would ensure that they do not make decisions that involve the past regime because they would make the new markets slower both nationally and internally. After an international consensus, it was agreed that there had to be major changes in the market arena, human rights, rule of law and the communal democracy. Some countries are not pleased by being referred to as countries in transition because they claim it means moving towards communism but others are pleased by it because they term it as moving from communism towards socialism. There are limitations that promote the classification of countries as transition countries. First, they were all communist countries. They shared an ideology where all decisions were made by the party without opinion from the citizens and this is quite significant because it lasted for nearly a whole century. Secondly, they shared similar political and economic traditions which dates back in history. Thirdly, they belonged to the famous empires; Russian, Ottoman and Austro-Hungary empires. A number of these countries belonged to regional arrangements that were political and economic. They all gained their independence in the 1990s, some peacefully but with high tension and some violently. Their future is determined by their similar economic and political traditions and that explains the similarities the countries face in the period of transition. They should give special attention to threats brought about by the organized crime groups in their respective countries. Transitioning countries are members of legal organizations such as the Council of Europe and the United Nations because they give legal advice on how to meet international standards in labour and constitutional conventions. Transitioning countries are easily noted because of the sudden change which brings modernization (Bradanini, 1997, pp. 3-8)

Crime is accelerated by market societies where individuals feel the need to improve their personal, social and economic lives at the expense of others. Factors that contribute to this are poor sources of livelihood, inequality in terms available resources, lack of mutual support, rise in war technology that is misused for crime, erosion of cultural principles and lack of alternatives towards crime. These factors result to high levels of crime in countries such as the United States and Russia. In China, the situation becomes worse because the police and liberation Army are involved in malicious dealings with organizations that are related to the criminals. It therefore means that factors such as poverty are not the only root causes of crime in these countries. In most cases, accounts of the increase in violence and crime in previously communist countries are put into much consideration whereas they are not made in the USA. Little has been done to comprehend the causes of differences in cross-national in serious grave crimes. USA remains to lead in not only economic activities but also in crime. The World Health Organization stated that the murder rate of young people aged between the ages of 15-24 years in the 1990s was 38 per 100000 kilometre in USA, 44 per 100000 kilometre in Canada, 45 per 100000 kilometre in Russia. The total murder rate for women in USA is very high and can be compared to thrice the death rate of men in Austria, Germany, France and Spain. Researching the connection between market forces and violent crime is necessary in this era where there could be a detour of the economic life and processes that will ensure freeing of the private market. There should be an adjustment whereby civilization is spread among the citizens. Market society raises the levels of unemployment and poverty and this leads to the rise of crime where as a matter of survival. Market society attracts violent crimes in situations where there is unequal resource distribution and this impacts negative growth in the children’s development. The market societies lead to lack of family support or withdrawal channels of care (Currie, 1997, pp. 2-14)

 Crime in Russia became rampant during the period of transition from being a part of the Soviet Union to being an independent state as a result of the economic, politic and social changes. The problems it faced during transition include poverty, disband of homes, lack of employment and corruption, and they could be the leading cause of crime. In 1963 during the era of Khrushchev, the crime rate was low and it was increasing evenly in the period of 1966-1986 in the era of Gorbachev. In 1987 it was slowly reducing until his era ended and the crime rate shot up in the cause of five years from 816.9 (rate per 100,000 citizens) in 1987 to 1887.8 in 1993. Over the years there was a great increase such that in 2005 the rate was 2499.8. Homicide cases started in 1980s and the rate went on to increase from 6.3 in 1987 to 21.8 in 1994. After the era of Gorbachev there was an increase in robbery and robbery with violence, bodily harm and theft. In the recent past approximately 25000 people per year end up missing without any trace of being found (Gilinskiy, 2006, pp. 4-14).

According to the results of a poll held in 1991, crime was resulted majorly by a decrease in the living standards, lack of punishing offenders and poor or no decisions made towards crime by the authorities. Resulting to openness in Russia caused a wide range of problems like homicides, drug abuse and crimes related to the economy. In the time where Russia was a soviet country, they were able to deal with crime, which at that time was not rampant. Criminal reports began to be collected in 1922 and they showed that in 1924 the crime rate was at 2.9% and it went down to 1.7 and 1.8 in the years 1925 and 1926 respectively. After Stalin’s death, there was a huge increase in crime which was related to political differences. In 1985, Gorbachev tried to bring a change in the economy of Russia, and this somewhat led to the improvement of the crime situation. The democratization went ahead and Gorbachev allowed the opening of the criminal data to the public, but by 1988 the crime rate increased at an alarming rate. The inability of the police to control these crimes led to their increase. In 1990, the level of economic challenges and drug abuse had grown so fast. Criminals had become so wild that in 1993, approximately 20% of the total crimes were considered as grave mistakes which could lead an individual to a sentence of 5 years or more in jail. By 1998, the crime rate for serious crimes had grown to 60%. Crime done by the youth between 18-24 years began to grow from 21%-26% between the years 1990-1998. Their level of serious crimes was at 22 to 29%. This was caused by poor payment of the youth who were paid lower wages than their seniors leading to poverty in their families. At that period it is noted that a large number of crimes committed in this period were not politically or economically related because they were resulted to effects of alcohol. 60% of those who committed homicide, 40% of those who committed robbery and 30% of drug dealers were under the influence of alcohol at that time of murder (Markowitz, 2000, p. 3). Homicide cases in Russia during this transitional period have proven to be highest in all of Europe and are nearly levelled up with USA and Brazil (Andrienko, 2001, pp. 4-7)

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(Pridemore, 2003, p. 1) This graph shows the crime rate and mortality rate in Russia between the years 1961–1991. It is observed that crime reached its peak in 1991 after Russia became a free market after the separation from the Soviet Union. The transition brought problems like poverty drug abuse and economic inequality stirred up these crime rates. It was also observed that some negative trends of corruption began to rise leading to the emergence of fear of foreigners, fighting of the Non-Slavs, victimization of citizens, racism and violation of businesses (Lysova, 2015, pp. 2, 5). In the 1990s, there was an increase in cases of unspecified nature as a result of data manipulation by the police. It therefore means that a number of crimes went unpunished because of this manipulation. Alcoholism became the cause of many murder cases. 

A number of homicide cases in Russia and the Udmurt Republic show that criminals are often under the influence of drugs and intoxication. 80% of these cases in Russia show that the murderes were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crime. In the recent past, different circumstances leading to homicide have cropped up such as killing to hide the truth of a past crime such as sexual assaults. Most cases where women are killed by men in Russia are as a result of rape. More young people who are well educated and do not have a history in crime are now being arrested for murder cases contrary to the past. A case study done shows the characteristics of individuals charged with murder. In accordance with gender it was seen that in Russia, the number of women who are charged with murder remains steady though it highly rose from 9.6% in 1990 to 10.7% in 1997. Most situations where women kill men are found to be domestically related whereas in the situations where men kill women, there is evidence of rape and drug influence. Under the context of age, those charged with murder in Russia fell between the ages of thirty to thirty nine but the situation has changed whereby those being charged are less than thirty five years old. The study shows that of those charged with murder in Udmurt in the 1990s had completed their secondary levels only. As years passed, this group was joined by those who had not completed secondary and even those who had undergone specialised education. In relation to the location, it was noted that in Russia high rates of death happened in cities because a large number of reported deaths happened there. In Udmurt, homicide cases were more rampant in rural areas compared to urban areas. The case study gives features of the place of murder, showing the items used to commit the crime and the number of people who commit it. In 1999, 45.1% crimes in Udmurt were done using sharp objects, 25.1% using unknown means, 13.5% using coarse objects, 7.4% strangling and 4.7% using weapons. Some crimes were committed in Russia were done by more than one person. In 1990, 11.9% of crimes were done with the help of a partner with none related to a gang. In 1997, 20.5% of homicide cases were done with the help of a partner and 4.9% of them were committed by organized groups. Homicide done as a result of an intensifying circumstance is considered to pose a special danger in Russia. The rate of murder as a result of an intensifying circumstance increased drastically between 1990 and 1997. In Russia, evidence of alcohol during the murder is termed as an intensifying circumstance. In Udmurt, it was noted that 62% of those charged with murder had previous cases of mal behaviour but in 1998 there was a huge change where only 35% had committed crimes before. This high rates in crimes saw a drastic change in the population of the country because of high mortality (Chervyakov, 2002, pp. 2-12).

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This graph shows the changes in population between the years 1986-2012 as a result of the high homicide rates experienced during the transition period.  (Panda, 2014)

Historical population

The table describes the population of the citizens of Russia and their density from 1897-2018. The graph and table show the population changes which could be caused by a number of factors. After the world wars, there was a huge rise in mortality rate of both soldiers and citizens resulting to a drastic decrease in population. The population then decreased between the years 1991 and 1993 because of the period of transition whereby the homicide rate was very high and resulted to a huge decrease in population. A number of people also died because of high levels of intoxication in the 1980s. This intoxication was related to contaminated alcohol done by home brewed drinks. A campaign was launched to restrict the intake of alcoholic drinks but this only led to an increase in brews being made from home. Restriction of alcohol consumption became more difficult after the separation of Russia from the Soviet Union (Anderson, 2001, p. 16).

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  1. Anderson, B. A., 2001. Russia Faces Depopulation? Dynamics of Population Decline, s.l.: Population Studies Centre.
  2. Andrienko, Y., 2001. Explaining Crime Growth in Russia during Transition: Economic and Criminometric Approach, s.l.: s.n.
  3. Bradanini, A., 1997. Results of the International Crime Victim Survey (ICVS), Rome: UNICRI .
  4. Chervyakov, V. V., 2002. The changing nature of murder in Russia. Social Science and Medicine, pp. 2-12.
  5. Currie, E., 1997. Market, Crime and Community, London: Sage Social Science Collections.
  6. FederalResearchDivision, 1991. A country study. Soviet Union, p. 48.
  7. Gilinskiy, Y., 2006. Crime in Contemporary Russia. European Journal of Criminology, Volume 3, pp. 4-14.
  8. Lysova, A., 2015. What is Russia’s real homicide rate? Statistical reconstruction and the ‘decivilizing process’. Theoretical Criminology, Volume 19, pp. 2, 5.
  9. Markowitz, S., 2000. CRIMINAL VIOLENCE AND ALCOHOL BEVERAGE CONTROL, s.l.: National Bureau of Economic Research.
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    [Accessed 22 March 2018].
    Available at:
    [Accessed 26 March 2018].
  12. Panda, A., 2014. Actually, Russia’s Population Isn’t Shrinking. The Diplomat, 1 May, p. para1.
  13. Pridemore, W., 2003. Measuring homicide in Russia: a comparison of estimates from the crime and vital statistics reporting systems. Social Science and Medicine, October, 57(8), p. 1.
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