Business News Russia - Page 14

Russia

14

attention in the USSR and the world. The continued internal struggle in the Bolshevik party culminated in the Great Purge, a period of mass repressions in 1937–38, in which hundreds of thousands of people were executed, including experienced military leadership.

Since the end of 1920s, the government launched a planned economy, rapid industrialization of the largely rural country, and collectivization of its agriculture. Millions of citizens were relocated during the dekulakization campaign that accompanied the collectivization. Millions of people passed through the Gulag from 1929 to 1953, with millions more being deported and exiled to remote areas of the Soviet Union. The temporary transitional disorganisation of the country's agriculture, combined with the harsh state policies and a drought, led to the famine of 1932–1933. However, though

with a heavy price, the Soviet Union was transformed from an agrarian economy to a major industrial powerhouse in a short span of time.

In 1933, in Germany, Hitler and his Nazi party came to power, being outspoken enemies of communism and proponents of external aggression and German expansion. Very soon the Soviet foreign policy changed dramatically, completely dropping the idea of seeking the world revolution (the very mention of it was eradicated from the new 1936 Soviet Constitution). The USSR entered the League of Nations, and Soviet diplomacy tried to establish counter-Nazism security pacts with major European countries, but these attempts mostly failed.

The Appeasement policy of Great Britain and France towards Hitler's annexions of Ruhr, Austria and finally of Czechoslovakia (following the Munich agreement of 1938) enlarged the might of Nazi Germany and put a threat of war to the Soviet Union. Around the same time the German Reich allied with the Empire of Japan, a rival of the USSR on the Far East and an open enemy in the Soviet–Japanese Border Wars in 1938–1939.

In August 1939, after another failure of talks with Britain and France, the Soviet government agreed to conclude the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Germany, pledging non-aggression between the two countries and dividing their spheres of influence in Eastern Europe. This allowed Hitler to finally start World War II and to conquer Poland, France and other countries acting on single front. At the same time the USSR was able to regain some of the former territories of the Russian Empire in Eastern Europe (see Soviet

Alexander Nevsky by Pavel Korin on the 1967 Soviet postage stamp.