The Russian Tsars prior to the 17th century followed the absolutist model of Ivan IV, which was founded upon fear, secrets, and deception. As a result, the tyrannical rule of the Tsars kept Russia from any sort of moderization. It was a stagnate and backward country until the reign of Peter the Great.
Peter the Great was responsible for:
1. developing a civil service within Russia-creating employment
2. bringing the Orthodox Church under his control-regulating its wealth
3. decreasing the power of the Russian nobility
4. introducing new ideas, education, and manufacturing techniques into the country
Catherine the Great was responsible for:
1. establishing a code of written laws
2. opening schools and building hospitals
3. restricting the power of the church
The reforms instituted by Peter and later Catherine were an attempt to modernize Russia. However, because Peter ignored the issue of serfdom and Catherine eventually suppressed any liberty she offered to serfs, neither of them seriously addressed the issues of serfdom and the consequences of that oppression.