Alistair Cooke's America

Alistair Cooke's America

High Tension

High Tension

When Russia Did Democracy

Publication Date15th January 2023

Book FormatHardback





A comprehensive history of over a thousand years of democracy in Russia. This book dispels the myth that democracy is alien to Russians and covers everything from the medieval republic of Novgorod – once the world’s largest democracy – to the ground-breaking freedoms introduced after the revolutions of 1917 and 1991.
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When Russia Did Democracy challenges the notion that the Russian people have only ever been ruled by tsars, communists or Vladimir Putin. The author traces the long and surprisingly rich traditions of genuine ‘people’s power’ in the Russian lands, beginning with the popular assemblies of the Early Slavs and the medieval republic of Novgorod – once the world’s largest democracy.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the national parliament established by Ivan the Terrible in 1549 elected tsars and represented a larger proportion of the population than England’s House of Commons. In more modern times, the Russian Empire was the first place in Europe where women were awarded political equality and the right to vote in local and national elections. In 1917, all men and women aged twenty and over were enfranchised under the freest electoral law ever written.

This book covers everything from the popular democratic struggles of 1612 and 1991 to the private initiatives of many citizens to set up their own independent republics in times of war, revolution and foreign invasion. Read about Lenin’s unsuccessful attempt to run for parliament in 1907, Stalin’s use of a handwriting expert to discover who was voting against him at Party congresses, the early history of Western interference in Russian polls – and why Vladimir Putin has such a deep aversion to free elections.

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