A very, very, very short version of Russian history.
Legend has it, what we know as Russia was founded by Vikings. Depending on which Russian you talk to, this is either awesome, or a horrible lie.
Early accounts have Vikings raiding and trading into Russia via the Volga River. In 862, the people of the region drafted Rurik, a Varangian Chief, as their leader. Rurik ruled Kievan Rus’ which later became Russia.
Rurik’s successors led to what’s known as the Tsardom of Russia when Ivan IV assumed the title of Tsar in 1547. The Tsardom transitioned to the Romanov Dynasty.
The House of Romanov ruled Russia for over 300 years until the 1917 abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, also known as the last Emperor of All Russia. Nicholas II’s abdication let to a Provisional Government which was overthrown by the Bolsheviks in October of 1917. Nicholas II and his family where held captive by the Bolsheviks until they were executed on July 17, 1918.
The Bolsheviks became the ruling party of Russia until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The last head of government was Boris Yeltson, who bridged the Soviet Union and the new Russian Federation until he was succeeded by Vladimir Putin in December of 1999.
Vladimir Putin has essentially ruled Russia ever since, even though occasionally swapping roles with Dmitry Medvedev. Make no mistake though, Putin retains absolute power.