From Absolutism to Totalitarianism
Slightly more than half the people who inhabit what the West calls "Russia" -- that is, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics -- are Russians, or Great Russians. The Russian language which they speak is closely related to Belorussian and Ukrainian, and the three languages together make up the Eastern Slavic subdivision of the Slavic branch of the IndoEuropean family.1 The three peoples who speak them number about 150 million, or three-quarters of the 200 million inhabitants of the USSR.
The first Slavic state on what later became Russian soil was organized in the ninth century in the region of Kiev. The Kievan state of "Rus" had disintegrated into small independent principalities by about 1240, when the territory was attacked and conquered by the Mongols. An important effect of the Mongol conquest was the devastation of the vicinity of Kiev and the consequent separation of the Eastern Slavs into two sections, to the west and northeast of the ruined city. The western section fell under the control of the large Lithuanian state (which was later____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Twentieth Century Russia. Contributors: Donald W. Treadgold - Author. Publisher: Rand McNally. Place of publication: Chicago. Publication year: 1959. Page number: 3.
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