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By Thomas R. McCray

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Extra resources for Russia and the Former Soviet Republics (Modern World Cultures)

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Cultural Geography Most Russian villages are found in the European river valleys. Here, nobles of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries ruled whole communities of serfs, or peasants, whose lives revolved around hard work and bare survival. In the twentieth century, lands of the nobility (and the peasant villages) were collectivized in service to the urban Industrial Revolution. The nobility was denounced, but the peasants were not really celebrated except in terms of their service to the military-industrial complex.

This is especially alarming for Russia, which already considers itself an underpopulated country. Russia is now approaching a condition where the youth population (17 and younger) is outnumbered by the retired population (65 and older), with pension and healthcare costs falling on the shoulders of workers entering the work force. If current trends continue, Russia’s population will shrink from 143 million (2005 estimate) to less than 120 million by 2050. RUSSIA FOR RUSSIANS? Russians like to remind themselves that they, just as much as any other group, were victims of the USSR.

The Russians settled at a place deep in the woods and bogs of the Russian Plain: Moscow. There they paid tribute (taxes) to the khan and were generally left to themselves. MOTHER VOLGA There were other important Russian cities in the north, any of which might have become the new center of power. Moscow’s princes defeated them all. They did this with such cruelty that a totalitarian standard attached itself to tsarist rule and even to the Soviet governments that came later. There were more humane and constructive ways to order a society, but Russia’s survival essentially depended on strong central rule.

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