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The Soviet Union reached its military, diplomatic, and economic peak during the closing years of Leonid Brezhnev (1964-1982).
But increasing slowdown in economic growth marched inexorably to a crisis that eventually led General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-91) to introduce glasnost (openness) and perestroika (economic transformation- literally: rebuilding).
Since 2000, all government institutions underwent a dramatic positive transformation, the economy has bounced back from crisis, thanks in no small part to five-fold increases in the prices of raw materials Russia has in abundance.
Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, proved to be feckless, weak, and distracted by personal tragedies and the burdens of the war.
The government proved unable to hold back the Russian Revolutions of 1917.
The first leader of the newly formed nation was Boris Yeltsin, who rose to power by standing up to an attempted putsch.
Yeltsin largely succeeded in transferring control over the country from the old Soviet elite to a newly formed cabinet of ministers.