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As the president of the Russian Federation, I am faced with the challenge of building a strong, vibrant nation from the ashes of our Communist past. Our nation today struggles economically, politically, and socially. We must rebuild the stability and power of the Russian Federation through creating a strong economy, social climate, and political structure. I seek a path for Russia that is truly Russian, and based on the example of Russia's past glory under the rule of Lenin and the mighty Czars.
Today, the Russian Federation is almost 144 million people strong, and stretches from the Arctic Ocean, Europe to the North Pacific Ocean. We are the largest country in the world, with a literacy rate of over 99%, and rich in Oil, natural gas, metals, and timber (The World Factbook). Our past is one of great history of powerful Czars and great empires. We would do well to remember our great history as we move forward toward the challenge of rebuilding out great nation.
At the same time, the history of the mighty Soviet Union and the collapse of communism have left Russia and Russians adrift in uncertainty. We struggle with economic and political uncertianty, and live among institutions and a government that are often corrupt and hungry for power. What is worse is that we seem to have forgotten our great and powerful history. We have forgotten how to seek a path for Russia that is truly Russian and not a path pushed on Russia by outside influences.
Our country to day is tainted by the sting of totalitarianism and Stalinism. Often, our remembrances of Russia's past seem to center only on the past century, and the economic and political ruin brought on by years of Communist rule. Clearly, we cannot look to leaders like Stalin, whose rule cost us tens of millions of lives, for inspiration in these difficult times. Communist rule is equally unappealing as a source of inspiration, as the inefficiencieys of Communist rule lead to the entropy and collapse that now characterize our society.
Instead, it is in remembering and honoring our great past that Russia will again be able to find inspiration to rebuild our great nation. We must remember the rule of Lenin and the great leaders of our tsarist past to help us find our way in these difficult times. Under these leaders, Russia was a powerful and mighty figure.
From the 15th century on, the Muscovy Principality, the predecessor to the Russian Empire, grew steadily toward Asia. In time, the Muscovy Principality became the rule of the tsars, with the emergence of the powerful ruler, Ivan III of Russia (Ivan the Great) who expanded Muscovy. Tsar, derived from the Latin title Caesar, refers to rulers of Imperial Russia from 1546 to 1917 (Wikipedia, Tsars).
The great Russian tsars (often spelled czar or tzar in English) exerted enormous power and influence. In the early years up into the 18th century, the tsars governed over a largely insular, but large, region. The first Russian ruler to be titled tsar was Ivan IV, also known as Ivan the Terrible (1530-1584). His rule saw the creation of a standing army, modernization, peaceful reforms, and the opening of trading connections (Wikipedia, Tsars). Russia's history shows a number of influential and powerful rulers, including Catherine the Great (1762-96), whose long reign saw "the Europeanization of Russian elite culture and the confirmation of Russia's status as a major imperial power" (The New York Public Library; St. Petersburg Times).
During the 18th and early 19th century, the tsars came to rule over a global, modern empire. They interacted directly with the countries of Western Europe, absorbing European culture and technology for their own gain. By the 18th century, Russia under the tsars had expanded into Asia, and emerged as a power in non-European parts of the world. St. Petersburg, founded by Peter the Great in 1703, was designed to be a symbol of the newly powerful Russia (The New York Public Library).
The first tsar of this new era was Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov (Peter the Great) (1672-1725). His rule saw profound westernization and expansion that made Russia a major European power. He instituted widespread reforms that included forcibly sending sons of nobles to study in Western Europe, and the creation of the Table of Ranks that regularly, formally created nobility to non-nobles, thus allowing advancement based on merit.
Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All Russia, abdicated in 1917, and was executed in 1918 by the Bolsheviks. His downfall was spurred by unsuccessful wars with Germany and staggering Russian losses, and the public distrust of Rasputin and Nicholas' wife, Alexandra. Although Nicholas abdicated in favor of his brother, Michael II, Michael himself abdicated within hours. This marked the end of three hundred years of Romanov rule (Wikipedia, Tsars).
In the rule of the Bolsheviks themselves, under the rule of Vladimir Lenin, we again see Russia's legacy of powerful leaders. Lenin's Bolsheviks came to be known as the Communist Party, and quickly instituted reforms, including the eviction of the landlord classes, and the division of land among peasants. It was only when Lenin died in 1924 that Joseph Stalin emerged as the leader of the Soviet Union. Under Stalin, the Soviet Union became a great industrial power, but was also associated with the suppression of political opposition, and a history of brutality and the growth of the Cold War (Wikipedia, History of Russia). In time, the Soviet Union collapsed under its own inability to function successfully in a modern, global world, leaving a legacy of corruption, a weakened economy, and political instability. Although leaders like Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin have tried to modernize Russia, much remains to be done to make Russia the strong, vibrant nation that it once was during the rule of the tsars.
It is with these lessons of our great history in mind that we must rebuild the great Russian Federation. The Federation must retain its peoples and territory in order to remain strong. This great challenge includes resolving the guerrilla conflict that continues to this day in Chechnya. Our Federation is threatened by events such as the October 2002, Moscow Theatre Siege by Chechen terrorists. There is no place for terrorism in a strong, vibrant and united Russian Federation. Despite public statements by Alexander Putin and officials, the war in Chechnya is not over (Wikipedia; History of Russia). We will continue to see bloodshed on both sides until this situation is resolved, and until Chechnya is firmly within the embrace of the Federation.
The first step in bringing Chechnya into the Federation will be an immediate crackdown on terrorism in Chechnya. Terrorism will not be tolerated, in any form. We seek to build a peaceful and unilateral relationship with the people of Chechnya, and a constant fear of violence and retribution makes this impossible. The second step is for the Russian government to take responsibility for its role in this conflict. In the Chechen Wars, both sides have committed horrible attrocities, with substantiated claims of torture, looting, and embezzlement, among other crimes (Wikipedia; History of Russia). There is blood on the hands of both sides, and it is time to wash this blood clean. The third step is to seek peaceful and diplomatic discourse with the people of Chechnya, in order to bring the republic into the greater Russian Federation, according to its own design. We are willing to make compromises in this area, including allowing the Chechen Republic greater freedom in ruling its own territory, and complete freedom of religion. Fourth, work will begin immediately to reform the Chechen economy from one of corruption based on smuggling and bartering to a vibrant, modern, market economy. Job training programs will begin for Chechen citizens, schools will be built, and industries will be lured to the country based on low taxes, skilled workers, and a new, peaceful, climate.
The greater Russian Federation, outside of Chechnya, also faces many challenges. Today, we are crippled by the legacy of Communism, rife with corruption both in private and the public sphere, economic challenges, outdated institutions and military, and an economy struggling to keep pace with the burgioning world marketplace. In order to acheive change, we must rebuild the stability and power of this great nation.
Crucially, Russia's economy must be reformed. Recent recentralization of power under Vladimir Putin has damaged our ability to respond quickly and adeptly to changes in the global marketplace. We must move toward an economy that can compete in the global marketplace. Today, growth averages 6.5% annually, an encouraging sign for our economic future. However, close to 80% of our exports are in timber, metals, oil, and natural gas, making us highly sensitive to variations in world prices. Further, much of our manufacturing infrastructure is outdated, and the banking system is weak. As such, steps will be taken to modernize manufacturing, improve banking, and widen exports. Perhaps the most serious problem, though, is a poor business climate that acts to…[continue]
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