The revolutionary state was not directly ruled by the officials in titular control of the government, which was established in the name of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
Russian identity can be traced to the Middle Ages, with first eastern Slavic state known as Kievan Rus and its religion rooted in Byzantine Christianity adopted from Constantinople. Peter The Great established the Russian Empire in 1721, although the Romanov dynasty had been in power since 1613.
The Russian Empire reached its peak during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, producing many colourful and enlightened figures such as Catherine the Great, Dostoevsky, Pushkin and Tolstoy.
By the late 19th century political crises followed in rapid succession, with rebellion and its repression.
Best architects from France and Italy were involved designing the city.
Saint Petersburg became known as Russia's "Window on the West" and adopted the manners and style of the royal courts of western Europe, even to the point of adopting French as its preferred language.
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