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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

14 - Economic and demographic change: Russia’s age of economic extremes

from Part II - Russia and the Soviet Union: Themes and Trends


The enduring fascination with Russia's twentieth-century economic history has its roots in the politics of revolution. For the Bolshevik leadership, the events of 1917-18 presaged the foundation of a more equitable one that would hold out hope to millions of oppressed and impoverished people within and beyond Russia's borders. This chapter provides a way of thinking about the economic and demographic consequences of the ambitions expressed by successive political leaders in Russia. Historians have been relatively kind in their assessment of the tsarist regime great leap forward. The New Economic Policy (NEP) has had a good press from many Western observers, who associate it with an era of relative political freedom and cultural experimentation before the onset of Stalinism. The adoption of the First Five-Year Plan in 1928 marks an attempt to engineer rapid economic growth by means of concerted state intervention. The post-Communist governments set great store by a radical privatisation of enterprise.
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