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Slavic & Balkan Titles:
Soviet Union: Political Reports 1917–1970

ISBN: (13) 978-1-84097-060-9
Extent: 12 volumes, 9,000 pages

Editor: R.L Jarman
ISBN: (10) 1-84097-060-X
Published: 2004
Paper: Printed on acid free paper
Binding: Library bindings with gilt finish
See sample pages: not available

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These volumes cover the period from the beginning of 1917 to the end of 1970 during which the political landscape of Russia changed beyond recognition. Beginning with the dying days of Imperial Russia under Nicholas II, the last of the Romanov Tsars, Russia then saw revolution, civil war, the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the rule of Lenin followed by the dictatorship and purges of Stalin, the invasion of Russia by Nazi Germany, the period of the Cold War when the Soviet Union ruled much of Eastern Europe and threatened the rest, the era of de-Stalinisation under the rule of Khrushchev and ending with the collective leadership of Brezhnev and Kosygin.
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Historical Overview

From 1917 to 1921

This period saw the Revolution in all its stages. There was the initial abdication of the last Tsar, Nicholas II, and the formation of a provisional government under Prince Lvov and then Kerensky followed by the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks under Lenin, resulting in the execution of Nicholas II and most of the former Imperial Family. There was then civil war and foreign (mainly British and French) intervention and the brief existence of non-Bolshevik governments (in North Russia, the Urals and Siberia, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and South Russia) before Russia was re-united under the Bolsheviks.

From 1921 to 1929

These years saw the consolidation of Bolshevik rule in the whole of Russia with the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the formal adoption of a new constitution. They also saw renewed contacts between the new Bolshevik government in Russia and the British government. A British Commercial Mission under Mr R.M. Hodgson arrived in Moscow on 17 July 1921 to discuss the resumption of trade and the possibility of renewing full diplomatic relations. Diplomatic relations were not officially restored and Hodgson and his Mission returned to London in 1924. There were no British representatives in Moscow for the next five years. The British Foreign Office relied for information on the Norwegians who looked after British interests in the Soviet Union and that dearth of information is reflected in these volumes – no Annual Reports or regular summaries of events were produced – all that is available in these years is a short summary of events from February 1924 to December 1927.

From 1930 to 1945

Sir Esmond Ovey was appointed as the first British ambassador to the USSR at the end of 1929, and from 1930 onwards there was always a British embassy in the USSR.

From 1946 to 1955

The years after the end of the Second World War saw Soviet forces in military occupation of part of Germany and Austria as well as Soviet forces based in other countries of Eastern Europe. The formation of communist governments in these countries of eastern Europe and in much of the Balkans led to increased tension with the western democracies and the formation, by the countries of western Europe with Canada and the USA, of NATO to counteract this perceived threat. It was the period of the Iron Curtain (a phrase that was used by Churchill in 1946 to describe the division of Europe into Communist and non-Communist states) and of the Cold War. Such conditions led the Foreign Office in London to demand more information about the Soviet leadership and their policies and about the internal situation of the Soviet Union; and this need continued even after Stalin’s death in 1953.

From 1955 to 1970

These years saw the rise and fall of Khrushchev and then the rule of Kosygin and Brezhnev. The beginning of the period saw the process of de-Stalinisation begin in Russia with a consequent softening of Communist rule internally. With regard to relations with the West, the period started with the suppression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956, then the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, and ended with the suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968 – but overall, there was a lessening of tension compared with the darkest days in the decade after the ending of the Second World War.

From the Editor’s Introduction to the Collection
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Documentary Importance

The documents reproduced in these volumes consist of reports and despatches sent from the British diplomatic representatives based in Moscow and St Petersburg (known during this period as Petrograd and then Leningrad), and for a brief period during the Second World War from diplomats based in Kuibyshev where most of the Russian government and all the foreign embassies were evacuated as a result of the Nazi advance on Moscow in the early stages of the German invasion of Russia in 1941. The documents also consist of reports and memoranda emanating in the Foreign Office in London, either in the Northern Department or in the Research Department (F.O.R.D.). And during the confused period of the Civil War when there were no British diplomatic representatives in (Bolshevik) Russia, there were reports from the War Office in London, military officers and diplomats attached to the various missions with the anti-Bolshevik forces, as well as from British Army General Headquarters in Constantinople. This is the first time these documents have been published in their entirety, with the exception of two collections of reports about the confusing situation in Russia immediately after the Revolution and during the Civil War which were published as British Parliamentary Command Papers in 1919 and 1921.
The collection is arranged in strictly chronological order so that events can be covered from the different angles according to the emphasis in each type of report. Therefore, the long-running series, such as the Annual reports, will be split over a number of volumes. The following is an alternative list of the contents of the collection arranged by type of report to show the dates covered by the respective reports series.

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Arrangement of volumes

Volume 1: 1917–1918
Volume 2: 1918–1920
Volume 3: 1921–1930
Volume 4: 1931–1933
Volume 5: 1934–1945
Volume 6: 1946–1948
Volume 7: 1949–1951
Volume 8: 1952–1954
Volume 9: 1955–1957
Volume 10: 1958–1960
Volume 11: 1961–1963
volume 12: 1964–1970
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Contents Outline

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Key documents

Extracts from the series of Revolution Reviews
Extract from Civil War Reviews (August 1918-March 1919)
Extracts from the Personality Reports
The first of the series of personality reports, ‘Who’s Who in Soviet Russia’ was compiled by the Head of the British Commercial Mission to Moscow for 1923. For each of its subjects the report lists their political history in detail and ends with a comment on the personality of the subject. The following two extracts illustrate the level of comment the Foreign Service allowed themselves:
Extracts from the Occasional Reports
Extracts from the Quarterly Reports

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Editor's Introduction

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Related Titles:
Afghanistan Strategic Intelligence Records 1919–1970
Armenia: Political And Ethnic Boundaries 1878–1948
Caucasian Boundaries: Documents And Maps 1802–1946
China: Political Reports 1911–1960
China: Political Reports 1961–1970
Iran: Political Diaries 1881–1965
Japan: Political And Economic Reports 1906–1970