The Grand Russian and Soviet Chronology

Welcome to my attempt at building a thorough chronology of events leading to the Russian Revolution and beyond. I’ve created it for my own edification, so some may view it as overkill. However, the list gives you a very clear idea about how people and events weaved together over several decades to form what became the Soviet Union. I have collected the data from various websites that I tried to credit at the bottom as well as notes from my ongoing reading. I hope it helps you as much as it helps me.


  • Dec 1 – Tsar Alexander I dies.
  • Dec 1 – Nicholas I issues manifesto claiming his accession to the throne.
  • Dec 26 – The Decembrist Revolt. 3000 Russian soldiers led by army officers revolt against Imperial Russia. The soldiers refused to swear allegiance to the new tsar, Nicholas I, proclaiming instead their loyalty to Constantine and the Constitution. Some leaders were executed and hundreds of others are exiled to Irkutsk.


  • Herzen’s ideas blend Western Socialism with traditional peasant communes of Russia


  • Russia fights the Crimean War against the French, British, and Ottoman Empires.


  • Mar 2 – Tsar Nicholas I dies.
  • Sep 7 – Alexander II coronated as Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russians, King of Poland, and Grand Duke of Finland.


  • The first issue of Kolokol (The Bell)  is published by Alexander Herzen and Nikolai Ogaryov in London.


  • Mar 3 –  Alexander II frees the serfs by order of the Emancipation Manifesto. Serfs were granted the full rights of free citizens, gaining the rights to marry without having to gain consent, to own property and to own a business.


  • What is to be Done? by Nikolay Chernyshevsky is published, inspiring many radicals such as Lenin, Plekhanov, Kropotkin, Kollontai, and Luxemburg.


  • White terror after attempt on Tsar.


  • May 18 – Tsar Nicholas II born.


  • Apr 22 – Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) is born in Simbirsk, Russia to parents Maria Alexandrovna Ulyanova and Ilya Nikolayevich Ulyanov.


  • Dec 18 – Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili (Joseph Stalin) is born in Gori, Georgia to parents Ketevan Geladze and Vissarion Dzhughashvili.


  • Nov 7 – Lev Davidovich Bronstein (Leon Trotsky) is born in Yanovka, Ukraine to parents David and Aneta Bronstein.


  • Mar 13 – Tsar Alexander II is assassinated in St. Petersburg by Ignaty Grinevitsky of the Narodnaya Volya revolutionary movement.
  • Alexander III ascends to the throne.


  • Mar 14 –  Karl Marx dies in London at age 64.


  • At the age of eight, Lev Bronstein (Trotsky) is sent to school in Odessa, Ukraine.


  • Mar 9 – Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Skryabin (Molotov) is born in Kukarka, Russia.


  • Nov 1  – Tsar Alexander III dies, Nicholas II assumes the throne.


  • Dec 7 – Lenin is arrested and held for a year, then exiled to Siberia.


  • Lenin is given three-year exile in Shushenskoye, Siberia.


  • Russian Social Democratic Labor Party is founded in Minsk.
  • Jan – Trotsky arrested for revolutionary activity. Spends next four-and-a-half years in prison and in exile in Siberia, during which time he marries his co-conspirator Aleksandra Sokolovskya, with whom he has two daughters.
  • July –  Lenin marries Nadezhda Krupskaya.


  • Dec 1 – First edition of Iskra published. Newspaper founded by Julius Martov and Vladimir Lenin.


  • Lenin lives in Munich.


  • Economic downturn creates discontent.


  • Lenin’s What is to be Done? published


  • Lenin lives in London, collaborating with the likes of Vera Zasulich, Julius Martov, and eventually and briefly with Trotsky and Stalin.
  • Trotsky escapes from Siberia using a forged passport under the name Trotsky, permanently separating from Alexandra Sokolovskya. Makes his way to London to join the Russian Social Democrats and works with Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin) on the revolutionary newspaper Iskra (The Spark).
  • Apr 5 – Stalin arrested for the first time. Exiled to Siberia.


  • Peasant unrest as continuing response to injustices of emancipation.


  • Jul 30 – 2nd Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. Starts in Brussels, ends in London.
  • Split in party causes creation of the Menshevik and Bolshevik factions. (Martov vs. Lenin respectively) Trotsky sides with the Menshevik faction, rejecting Lenin’s methods.


  • Lenin lives in Geneva, collaborating with Plekhanov, Axelrod, Martov, Potresov, and Zasulich. Frequent feuds about the direction of Iskra occurs.


  • Feb 8 – Russo-Japanese war begins.


  • Jan 22 – Bloody Sunday – Tsarist troops open fire on a peaceful demonstration of workers in St Petersburg. 200 were killed and over 800 injured.
  • Oct – General Strike sweeps Russia which ends when the Tsar promises a constitution.
  • Oct 17 – October Manifesto issued by Sergei Witte. The Manifesto pledged to grant civil liberties to the people: including personal immunity, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association; a broad participation in the Duma; introduction of universal male suffrage, uncensored newspapers and a decree that no law should come into force without the consent of the state Duma.
  • Trotsky returns to Russia to become a leading spokesman of the St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers’ Deputies.
  • Dec – In response to the suppression of the St Petersburg Soviet the Moscow Soviet organizes a disastrous insurrection that the government suppresses after five days.


  • Trotsky publishes Results and Prospects while in prison. Maintains that the Russian Revolution will lead to a permanent state of revolution internationally, inspiring proletarian revolution in the West, thus ensuring the establishment of socialist governments which will consequently support the revolution in Russia.
  • Molotov joins the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party.
  • May 10 – The First Duma meets for the first time.
  • Jul 21 – The promised parliament, the Duma, is dissolved when it produces an anti-government majority even though elected on a narrow franchise.


  • Peter Stolypin’s land reforms carried out to mixed results.


  • Trotsky exiled for a second time to Siberia, but again escapes, settling in Vienna as a journalist.
  • Mar 5 – Second Duma assembles.
  • Jun 16 – Second Duma dissolved by Peter Stolypin.
  • Jun 26 – Tiflis bank robbery conducted by Bolshevik revolutionaries led by Kamo. Likely supported and/or approved by Lenin, Stalin, Litvinov, and others. Robbery damages Bolsheviks’ reputation and little money was actually useable due to Russia’s ability to report the markings of the stolen bills to governments throughout Europe.
  • Nov 14 – Third Duma assembles.


  • Oct 3 – Trotsky contributes to his first issue of Pravda in Vienna and transforms it into a Russian social-democrat publication aimed at Russian workers.


  • May – Materialism and Empirio-criticism published.


  • Sep 18 – Peter Stolypin assassinated by Dmitry Bogrov in Kiev.


  • A new wave of workers unrest ends with the outbreak of the First World War.


  • Jun 22 – Third Duma dissolved.
  • Nov 28 – Fourth Duma assembles.


  • Jul 28 – World War I begins.
  • St. Petersburg changes name to Petrograd in order for it to sound less German and more Russian.
  • Trotsky lives in France.


  • Marxism and the National Question published. Co-written by Stalin and Lenin.


  • Sep 5 – Zimmerwald Conference held in Switzerland. It was an international socialist conference which saw the beginning of the end of the coalition between revolutionary socialists (communists) and reformist socialists (social democrats) in the Second International. Attended by Trotsky, Lenin, Radek, Chernov, Martov and other members of socialist parties from across Europe.


  • Sep – Trotsky expelled from France due to his anti-war agitation. Deported to Spain before making his way to New York.
  • Nov 1 – Pavel Miliukov delivers in the State Duma the famous “stupidity or treason” speech, precipitating the downfall of the Boris Stürmer government.
  • Dec 29 – Grigory Rasputin murdered by Felix Yusupov and others.


  • Jan – Trotsky arrives in New York City. Helps edit Novy Mir with Nikolai Bukharin and makes several speeches.
  • Feb – After several days of demonstrations in Petrograd (formally St Petersburg) the government orders troops to open fire. The next day these troops mutiny. The Tsar abdicates when he hears that Moscow too has joined the Revolution. An agreement is reached between the Petrograd Soviet and the Provisional Government headed by Lvov.
  • Mar 25 – Stalin and Kamenev return from exile in Siberia.
  • Mar 11 – Fourth Duma dissolved.
  • Mar 12 – Abolition of the death penalty.
  • Mar 15 – Tsar Nicholas II abdicates.
  • Mar 27 – Trotsky and his family leave the USA by ship, but are detained by the authorities at Halifax, Nova Scotia. They are released a month later at the behest of the Russian government.
  • Apr 16 – Lenin’s train arrives in Finland Station.
  • Apr 7 -Lenin’s April Theses.
  • Apr 18 – Milyukov’s Note:  Milyukov tells allies that war aims unchanged.
  • Apr 20 – 21 – The April Days. Opposition to the Foreign Minister Milyukov boils over due to his refusal to renounce annexations.
  • May 2 – Milyukov resigns. Members of the Mensheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries join the government.
  • May 17 – Trotsky arrives in St. Petersburg from New York City and assumes leadership of the left-wing Menshevik faction.
  • Jun 3 – First All-Russia Congress of Workers and Soldiers Soviets opens.
  • Jul 1 – Kerensky Offensive launched by Russia against Austria Hungary.
  • Jul 3 – 4 – The July Days. Workers and soldiers in Petrograd demand the Soviet takes power. Sporadic fighting results and the Soviet restores order with troops brought back from the front. Trotsky arrested. Lenin goes into hiding.
  • Jul 8 – A new provisional government is set up with Kerensky at it’s head.
  • Jul 12 – Death Penalty reintroduced for the front.
  • Aug -While in prison after a crackdown on the revolutionaries by Kerensky’s liberal government, Trotsky is formally admitted to the Bolshevik Central Committee.
  • Aug 27 – The Kornilov putsch. An attempt by General Kornilov to establish a right wing dictatorship fails. Chernov the leader of the Socialist Revolutionaries resigns from the government denouncing Kerensky for complicity in the plot.Sep – On his release from prison, he is elected chairman of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. From this point up to the arrival of Lenin, Trotsky is the principal protagonist in the Bolshevik preparations to seize power.
  • Sep 25 – The Bolsheviks win control of the Petrograd Soviet. In the countryside peasant seizure of land from the gentry continues and reaches the level of near insurrection in Tambov.
  • Oct 25 –  The Bolsheviks overthrow the Provisional government on the eve of the meeting of 2nd All-Russia Congress of Soviets.
  • Oct 26-27 – Soviet proclamations on land and peace. Death Penalty abolished.
  • Oct 30 – Kerensky repulsed outside Petrograd.
  • Nov 2 – Bolsheviks gain Moscow.
  • Nov 7 – Ukraine proclaimed independent by the Central Rada.
  • Nov 12-14 – Elections to the Constituent Assembly. Socialist Revolutionaries the largest party.
  • Dec 12 – Left-SRs join Sovnarkom.
  • Dec – Congress of Socialist Revolutionaries results in victory for the left under Chernov. Likewise Menshevik Congress gives victory to Martov’s Menshevik internationalists.
  • Dec 20 – Cheka created by a decree issued by Vladimir Lenin and subsequently led by Felix Dzerzhinsky.


  • Jan 5 – The Constituent Assembly in which the Bolsheviks are a minority meets for one day before being suppressed. Earlier that day a demonstration is fired on by Bolshevik units and several demonstrators are killed.
  • Jan 10-18 – Third Soviet Congress.
  • Jan 28 – Trotsky denounces the German Peace Terms as unacceptable and walks out of the peace negotiations at Brest- Litovsk.
  • Feb 1-14 – Russia adopts Western (Gregorian) calendar.
  • Feb 18 – The Germans invade Russia which is all but defenseless as virtually the entire army has deserted.
  • Mar 3 – The Bolsheviks accept the dictated peace of Brest-Litovsk. The Left SRs denounce the peace and leave the government.
  • Mar 10 – Soviet government transfers capitol from Petrograd to Moscow.
  • Mar 13 – Trotsky appointed as Commissar of War and takes on the reconstruction of the Red Army.
  • Apr 12 – Moscow headquarters of the anarchists surrounded and attacked by Bolshevik troops.
  • May 9 – Bolshevik troops open fire on workers protesting at food shortages in the town of Kolpino.
  • May – The Czechoslovak legion mutinies against the Bolshevik government. Using the railways they are able to sweep away Bolshevik control from vast areas of Russia. The Socialist Revolutionaries support the rising.
  • Jul 4 – Fifth Soviet Congress. The left SRs assassinate the German ambassador and are in turn crushed by the Bolsheviks.
  • Jul 16 – Gorky’s Novaya Zhizn, the last opposition paper, banned.
  • Aug 23 – Three ministers of the Siberian Government are arrested by supporter of Mikhailov, the finance Minister, when they arrive in Omsk. They are told to resign their posts. Two agree. The third, Novoselov, refuses and is hacked to death.
  • Sep 22 – Siberian Oblast Duma dismisses Mikhailov and is itself dispersed by Mikhailov.
  • Nov 11 – World War I ends.
  • Nov 18 – Kolchak, stages a coup against the Directory, the multi-party government in Siberia, and establishes a counterrevolutionary despotism.
  • Dec – Perm falls to Kolchak’s Whites.


  • Jan – Mensheviks legalized and allowed to publish Vsegda Vpered in Moscow. Era of relative freedom begins in Bolshevik controlled Russia.
  • Feb 25 – The Cheka closes down Vsegda Vpered. This marks a return to despotic rule by Bolsheviks.
  • Mar 4 – Communist International (Comintern or Third International) is formed. Zinoviev serves as Chairman of the Executive. Trotsky plays a leading role in the founding, writing its first manifesto calling for the overthrow of capitalism throughout the world.
  • Mar 18 – 8th Congress of the Russian Communist Party. The Politburo is formed with its initial five members, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Joseph Stalin, Lev Kamenev and Nikolai Krestinsky.
  • White Armies attack the Bolsheviks from all directions but the Red Army is finally victorious.
  • Mar 24 – Stalin marries Nadezhda Allilueva.


  • Apr 25 – Poland invades Russia.
  • Jul-Aug – 2nd Congress of the Comintern. Adopted the “21 Conditions” as prerequisites for any group wanting to become affiliated to the International. The 21 Conditions called for the demarcation between Communist parties and other socialist groups, and instructed the Comintern sections not to trust the legality of the bourgeois states. They also called for the build-up of party organizations along democratic centralist lines, in which the party press and parliamentary factions would be under the direct control of the party leadership.
  • Aug 17 – Red Army retreats from Warsaw.
  • Aug 19 – Start of peasant insurrection in Tambov.
  • Nov 14 – Last White army under Wrangel evacuates the Crimea.


  • Peasant unrest sweeps Russia. These risings are suppressed but the New Economic Policy is proclaimed that gives the peasants the right to sell their grain surpluses.
  • Mar 1-17 – The old Bolshevik stronghold of Kronstadt rises demanding free election to the Soviets but is suppressed.
  • Mar 21 – New Economic Policy (NEP) created by decree in the 10th Congress, ending War Communism, and allowing for the controlled opening of small-market capitalism.
  • May – Tambov insurrection suppressed.


  • May 26 – Lenin suffers his first stroke.
  • Jun – General Directorate for the Protection of State Secrets in the Press under the Council of Ministers of the USSR is created which establishes Glavlit, the agency for censorship.
  • Dec 16 – Lenin suffers his second stroke. Stalin, Kamenev, and Zinoviev form triumvirate.
  • Dec 25 – Lenin dictates his testament.
  • Dec 30 – Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics is founded with the merger of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.


  • Jan 4 – Lenin, in a postscript to his Testament, warns the Party to remove Stalin from his position of power.
  • Mar 5 – Lenin threatens to break off relations with Stalin.
  • Mar 9 – Lenin suffers third stroke.
  • Apr 17 – 12th Party Congress enables Stalin to gain most power in Party politics. Stalin elected General Secretary of the Communist Party.


  • January 16-18 –  Trotskyist opposition condemned at the 13th Communist Party Conference.
  • Jan 21 – Lenin dies. Trotsky is defeated by a triumvirate of Stalin, Kamenev and Zinoviev. Though Stalin stays in the background it is he who is the real power as the other two will shortly discover.
  • Feb 21 – Great Britain recognizes the Soviet Union.
  • Dec – Stalin publicly articulates his theory of “Socialism in One Country.”


  • Apr 27 – 14th Party Congress. Stalin breaks with Kamenev and Zinoviev and forms alliance with Bukharin and Rykov.
  • Apr – Trotsky removed as Commissar of War.
  • Dec – ·Allied with Bukharin and the “Rightists,” Stalin begins attacks on Zinoviev.


  • Feb – Zinoviev removed from the Politburo.
  • Jul 20 – Felix Dzerzhinsky, head of the Cheka, dies.
  • Oct – Kamenev and Trotsky expelled from the Politburo and Zinoviev removed from the Third International.


  • Feb 27 – Article 58 of the Russian SFSR Penal Code put in force to arrest those suspected of counter-revolutionary activities.
  • Oct – Left Opposition expelled from the Communist Party Central Committee.
  • Nov 15 – Trotsky and Zinoviev are expelled from the Communist Party.
  • Dec 2-19 – 15th Congress of the Russian Communist Party begins collectivization policy.


  • Jan 26 – Trotsky banished to Alma-Ata in Kazakhstan, Central Asia.
  • First Five Year Plan. Stalin pursues policy of “collectivization” in agriculture to facilitate the process of rapid industrialization.


  • Feb 22 – Trotsky arrives in Istanbul, Turkey after expulsion from the USSR.
  • Apr 1929 – Stalin begins assault on Bukharin
  • Nov 17 – Bukharin expelled from the Politburo.
  • Dec – Stalin announces “liquidation of the kulaks as a class”; NEP ends and collectivization begins in earnest.


  • Mar 2 – Stalin makes his “Dizzy with Success” speech and article of same appears in Pravda.
  • Apr 14 – Famed poet and playwright, Vladimir Mayakovsky, commits suicide.
  • Apr 25 – GULAG formally created.
  • Trotsky publishes his autobiography, My Life and The Permanent Revolution.
  • Jun 26 – 16th Congress of the Russian Communist Party.


  • Ukrainian famine begins.
  • Jan 21 – Finland and the Soviet Union sign non-aggression pact.
  • Nov 8 – Nadezhda Allilueva dies.
  • Trotsky publishes History of the Russian Revolution.


  • Nov 16 – The United States establishes diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.
  • Second Five Year Plan begins.


  • Jan 26 – 17th Congress of the Russian Communist Party.
  • Jul 10 – OGPU transformed into the NKVD headed by Genrikh Yagoda.
  • Sep 18 – The Soviet Union joins the League of Nations.
  • Dec 1 – Sergei Kirov assassinated by Leonid Nikolaev. Age 48. Beginning of “Great Terror,” which continues until 1938.


  • Jan – Zinoviev, Kamenev, and others are arrested, accused of complicity in Kirov’s assassination.


  • Jun – Trotsky deported from France and takes refuge in Norway.
  • Jun 18 – Maxim Gorky dies at age 68.
  • Aug 19 – First Show Trial begins for Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev. Prosecuted by Andrey Vishinksy. Both executed shortly afterward.
  • Sep 26 – Nikolai Yezhov becomes a member of the Central Committee and is appointed People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs.
  • Dec 5 – Constitution of the Soviet Union adopted. Also known as the “Stalin” constitution.
  • Dec 6 – Trotsky offered asylum in Mexico.


  • Jan – Second Show Trial
  • Feb 18 -Sergo Ordzhonikidze commits suicide though suspected of being murdered.
  • Jun – Purge of the army begins, top generals are tried and executed. Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky executed on June 12.
  • Dewey Commission releases its conclusions about the Moscow Show Trials. Conclusion: “That the conduct of the Moscow trials was such as to convince any unprejudiced person that no effort was made to ascertain the truth.”


  • Jan 16 – Trotsky’s son Lyova dies in a Paris clinic.
  • Mar – Third Show Trial, conviction and execution of Bukharin, Rykov, others.
  • Sep 3 – Founding conference of the Fourth International at Périgny, near Paris.
  • Nov – Lavrenty Beria appointed as head of the NKVD.


  • May – Vyacheslav Molotov becomes People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs. Replaces Maxim Litvinov.
  • Aug 23 – Soviet Union and Germany sign the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact.  Each pledged to remain neutral in the event that either nation were attacked by a third party. It remained in effect until 22 June 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union. In addition to stipulations of non-aggression, the treaty included a secret protocol dividing Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence.
  • Sep 1 – Outbreak of World War II.
  • Sep – Germany and the Soviet Union partition Poland.


  • Feb 4 – Nikolai Yezhov executed.
  • Mar 13 – Finland sues for peace with the Soviet Union to end the Winter War.
  • Apri 3 – Katyn massacre of 22,000 Polish officers begins.
  • May 24 – Trotsky’s house is attacked by an armed band, led by the communist painter, David Alfaro Siqueiros. Trotsky is unharmed.
  • Jun – Soviet forces enter Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Bessarabia.
  • Aug – Soviet Union annexes Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
  • Aug 2 -The Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed as a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, encompassing most of Soviet-controlled Bessarabia, as well as the former Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic on the left bank of the Dniester. The regions inhabited by Slavic majorities were included in the Ukrainian SSR.
  • Aug 20 – Ramon Mercader, alias Jacson , who had gained the confidence of the Trotsky household, strikes Trotsky with an ice-axe; he dies the following day at 7.25am.
  • Nov 30 – Soviet forces enter Finland, beginning the Winter War.
  • Dec 14 – Soviet Union expelled from the League of Nations.


  • April 13 – Japanese-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact signed.
  • May 6 – Stalin becomes Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars.
  • Jun 21 – Hitler invades Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa.
  • Oct 30 – FDR approves Lend-Lease aid to the Soviet Union.
  • Dec 6 – Soviet Union launches major counteroffensive against Germany near Moscow.


  • Aug 23 – Battle of Stalingrad begins.


  • Feb 2 – Battle of Stalingrad ends. Germans are defeated, marking the turning point in the war. 91,000 German soldiers taken prisoner.
  • May 15 – Comintern dissolved.
  • Aug 23 – Battle of Kursk ends, giving the Red Army a decisive victory and the strategic initiative against Germany for the rest of the war.
  • Nov 28 – Tehran Conference – Churchill, Stalin, and Roosevelt meet to make strategy for the rest of the war.


  • Jan 27 – Seige of Leningrad ends after 870 days and at least 641,000 deaths.
  • May 12 – Crimea liberated from German army.


  • Feb 4 -Yalta Conference – Stalin meets with Roosevelt and Churchill for the purpose of discussing Europe’s post-war reorganization.
  • May 9 – Victory Day in the Soviet Union celebrating the end of the Great Patriotic War.
  • Jul 16 – Potsdam Conference – Stalin meets with Harry Truman, Churchill, and Atlee to decide how to administer punishment to the defeated Nazi Germany and to establish the post-war peace.
  • Aug 8 – Soviet Union renounces neutrality with Japan.
  • Oct 24 – Soviet Union joins the United Nations.


  • Mar – Council of People’s Commissars becomes Council of Ministers.


  • Sept – Cominform established to replace Comintern.


  • Feb 25 – Communists seize power in Czechoslovakia, cementing Soviet control of Eastern Europe.
  • April – Marshall Plan begins. The goals of the United States were to rebuild a war-devastated region, remove trade barriers, modernize industry, and make Europe prosperous again.
  • Jun 24 – Soviets blockade East Berlin.
  • Aug 7 – V.I. Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences announces that Lysenkoism would be taught as “the only correct theory”.


  • May 12 – Berlin blockade lifted.
  • Aug 29 – Soviets explode their first atomic bomb at Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan.


  • Oct 5 – 19th Party Congress. All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik) becomes Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). Name of Polituro is changed to Presidium.


  • Jan 13 – Jewish Doctors’ Plot unveiled by Stalin.
  • Mar 5 – Stalin dies.
  • Mar – Georgy Malenkov, Beria, and Molotov form triumvirate. Title of party chief changes from general secretary to first secretary.
  • Jun 26 – Beria arrested and eventually tried for crimes against the state.
  • Aug 12 – Soviets test their first hydrogen bomb.
  • Sep – Khrushchev chosen CPSU first secretary. Rehabilitation of Stalin’s victims begins. Rehabilitation of political prisoners begins.
  • Dec 23 – Beria executed.


  • Mar 13 – KGB formed, headed by Ivan Serov.


  • Feb 8 – Nikolai Bulganin elected Prime Minister/Premier. Replaces Malenkov.
  • May 14 – Warsaw Pact established.


  • Feb 25 – Krushchev delivers “Secret Speech On the Personality Cult and its Consequences” which denounces Stalinism.
  • Nov 4 – Soviet forces crush Hungarian Revolution.


  • May – The Anti-Party Group attempts unsuccessfully to depose Nikita Khrushchev as First Secretary of the Party. Georgy Malenkov, Vyacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, and Dmitry Shepilov rejected both Khrushchev’s liberalization of Soviet society and his uneven denunciation of Stalin.
  • Aug 26 – First Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile tested successfully.
  • Oct 4 – First launch of Sputnik successful.


  • Mar 27 -Khrushchev named chairman of Council of Ministers.
  • Oct 23 – Boris Pasternak wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. Campaign mounted against Pasternak, who refuses to accept award.


  • Sep 15 – Krushchev visits the United States for 12 days.


  • Jan 13 – GULAG formally dissolved.
  • May 1 – American U-2 reconnaissance aircraft shot down over the Soviet Union. Pilot Gary Powers is captured near Sverdlovsk (Ekaterinburg).


  • Apr 12 – Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into space, and the first to orbit the earth.
  • Jun 4 – Khrushchev meets with President John F. Kennedy in Vienna.
  • Aug 13 – Construction of the Berlin Wall begins.
  • Oct 17 -22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union convenes. Decisions: Remove Stalin’s body from the Lenin Mausoleum, expel Molotov and Kaganovich from the Communist Party. Sino-Soviet split begins, ending China’s attendance in all future Congresses.
  • Oct 31 – Stalin’s body removed from Lenin’s tomb.


  • Oct 14 – Cuban missile crisis begins, bringing United States and Soviet Union close to war.
  • Nov – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich published in literary magazine Novy Mir.


  • Aug 5 – Limited Test Ban Treaty signed with United States and Britain.


  • Oct 14 – Khrushchev removed from power. Leonid Brezhnev becomes CPSU first secretary.


  • Apr 8 – Brezhnev’s title changes from first secretary to general secretary; name of Presidium is changed back to Politburo.


  • Mar 9 – Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Allilueva, defects to West.


  • Jun – Andrei Sakharov writes essay “Reflections on Progress, Peaceful Coexistence, and Intellectual Freedom” and is distributed via samizdat throughout Soviet Union. Published outside USSR on July 6.
  • Jul 1 – Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons signed by Soviet Union.
  • Aug 20 – Soviet-led Warsaw Pact armies invade Czechoslovakia, crushing the Prague Spring.


  • May 7 – Major General Petr Grigorenko, a dissident, arrested and incarcerated in psychiatric hospital.


  • Oct 9 – Solzhenitsyn awarded Nobel Prize for Literature.


  • May 22 – President Richard Nixon visits Moscow.
  • May 26 – Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) result in signing of Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) and Interim Agreement on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms.


  • Jun 16 – Brezhnev visits Washington.


  • Feb 12 – Solzhenitsyn arrested and sent into foreign exile.


  • July – Apollo/Soyuz space mission held jointly with United States.
  • Aug – Helsinki Accords signed, confirming East European borders and calling for enforcement of human rights.
  • Dec 10 – Sakharov awarded Nobel Prize for Peace.


  • Helsinki watch groups formed to monitor human rights safeguards.


  • Jun 16 – Brezhnev named chairman of Presidium of Supreme Soviet.
  • Oct 7 – New constitution promulgated for Soviet Union. Called the Brezhnev Constitution, it stated that “the aims of the dictatorship of the proletariat having been fulfilled, the Soviet state has become the state of the whole people.”


  • Jun 18 – Second SALT agreement signed but not ratified by United States Senate due to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
  • Dec 24 -Soviet armed forces invade Afghanistan.


  • Jan 22 – Sakharov exiled to Gorky (Nizhny Novgorod) for dissident activity. Sakharov’s wife, Yelena Bonner, follows him there.
  • Jul 19 – Summer Olympics held in Moscow and boycotted by United States.


  • Feb – CPSU holds its Twenty-Sixth Party Congress.


  • Nov 10 – Brezhnev dies. Yuri Andropov named General Secretary.


  • Sep 1 – Soviet fighter aircraft downs South Korean civilian airliner KAL 007 near Sakhalin. 269 passengers and crew killed.


  • Feb 9 – Yuri Andropov dies. Konstantin Chernenko becomes General Secretary.


  • Mar 10 – Chernenko dies. Mikhail Gorbachev becomes General Secretary.
  • Nov 19 – Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev meet at summit in Geneva. Its purpose was to open the way for negotiations on curbing nuclear proliferation, and by the end of the meeting both sides had agreed to accelerate efforts towards a 50 per cent cut in their nuclear arsenals.


  • Feb 25 – CPSU holds its Twenty-Seventh Party Congress.
  • Apr 26 – Chernobyl disaster. An explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive contamination into the atmosphere, which spread over much of Western USSR and Europe.
  • Oct 11 – Gorbachev and Reagan hold summit at Reykjavik. Despite difficulties, the summit created progress that eventually resulted in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
  • Nov 8 – Molotov dies at age 96.


  • May 23 – Jamming of the Voice of America radio station was discontinued, followed by a general jamming lift in November of 1988.
  • Dec 8 – Soviet Union and United States sign Intermediate- Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty). Eliminated nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with intermediate ranges.


  • May 29 – Reagan visits Moscow.
  • Jun – CPSU’s Nineteenth Party Conference tests limits of glasnost’ and perestroika in unprecedented discussions.
  • Sep 30 – Gorbachev replaces Andrei Gromyko as chairman of Presidium of Supreme Soviet; Gromyko and others removed from Politburo.
  • Dec 7 Earthquake registering 6.9 on Richter scale strikes Armenian Republic, destroying much of cities of Leninakan and Spitak and resulting in 25,000 deaths.


  • Feb 15 – Soviet combat forces complete withdrawal from Afghanistan.
  • Mar 26 – Initial and runoff elections held for the 2,250 April seats in Congress of People’s Deputies; some seats have more than one candidate running; about 87 percent of elected deputies CPSU members or candidate members.
  • May – Congress of People’s Deputies meets, openly criticizes past and present regimes before television audiences, and elects 542 members to serve in Supreme Soviet; Gorbachev elected by Congress of People’s Deputies to new position of chairman of Supreme Soviet.


  • Jul 25 – Lazar Kaganovich dies at age 97.
  • Dec 25 – The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) formally dissolves.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s