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The changes that came with the Russian Revolution in 1917 - 1919 were enormous and almost too large to be discussed in depth here. Before 1917, Russia was ruled by an absolute monarch, called the Czar. The last Czar of Russia was Nicholas II. Russia was a backward agricultural society with sharp divisions between the nobility and the peasantry. The beginnings of industrialization in Russia emphasized the lack of power held by the lower classes of Russia. The Revolution in 1917 was actually sparked by the devastating losses that Russia suffered in World War I. The initial revolution was led by moderates who wanted to establish a constitutional government led by the Duma, Russia's formerly powerless legislative body. However, the Revolution soon took a more radical turn as Marxist organizations began to vie for power. One group, the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, eventually gained control, creating the first Communist state in history. With its new name of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, the country withdrew from the war and Lenin began to establish himself as a dictator so he could transform the country into a communist state in which all business and industry were controlled by the state. Peasants were removed from their traditional lands and put onto state controlled farms. Industrialization continued apace as factories were built with the labor of millions. Lenin, and later Stalin instituted a reign of terror to make sure that there was no opposition to the government and religion was suppressed. Russia originally and Orthodox Christian nation became the atheistic Soviet Union. The world changed along with Russia as nations began to align themselves either with or against the Soviets and Communism became a major political force throughout Europe. The Russian Revolution helped to set the stage for the major conflicts of the 20th century.
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