Russian Leaders Timeline
Timeline Description: The timeline below highlights key Russian leaders. Russia is a monarchial government until 1912, a republic for a brief period between 1912 and 1917, and was under communist rule as the Soviet Union for much of the 20th century. Today, Russia operates as a democratic republic; however, the government is rather authoritarian.

Date Event
January 1, 1462 Ivan the Great

Ivan the Great ended the rule of the Mongol Golden Horde in Russia and united Russia into a single large country. He is sometimes called the gatherer of the Russian lands.
January 1, 1533 Ivan the Terrible

Ivan the Terrible was the first Russian ruler to be crowned tsar. He increased the total land of the Russian empire; however, was prone to rages and paranoia, leading to his title, Ivan the Terrible.
January 1, 1613 Michael Romanov

Michael Romanov was chosen to be tsar, rather than inheriting the title. His descendants held control of Russia from 1613 until 1912.
May 7, 1682 Peter the Great

Peter the Great initiated a number of Western-style reforms in Russia, established schools, and increased the Russian navy and trade. He also built the city of St. Petersburg.
July 9, 1762 Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great was a German princess who became Empress of the Russians. She ran an educated court, initiating additional reforms in her court, and participating fully in the intellectual life of Europe.
March 3, 1855 Alexander II

Alexander II implemented broad reforms, including a modern judicial system and mandatory military service. During this period, he held control of both Finland and Poland, and sold Alaska to the United States.
January 1, 1894 Nicholas II

Nicholas II was the last tsar of Russia. He lost control of the country, but was, along with his family, still killed to eliminate the Romanov dynasty.
July 1917 Alexander Kerensky(July-November 1917)

Kerensky, a moderate socialist led the interim Russian government, the Russian Provisional Government, for a brief period following the renunciation of the tsar and prior to the October Revolution.
November 9, 1917 Vladimir Lenin

Following the November Revolution, Lenin, as the leader of the Communist Party, took power in Russia. Russia was now called the Russian Soviet Federalist Socialist Republic.
1922 Josef Stalin

Stalin informally held power as early as 1922, following Lenin's stroke. He formally took power over the Soviet Union in 1924, holding power until his death. He consolidated power over the Soviet Union through violent means during the early years of his regime.
January 1, 1953 Nikita Khrushchev

Nikita Khrushchev led the Soviet Union following Stalin's death and through much of the Cold War. Khrushchev denounced the violence of Stalin, but reform measures were largely ineffective and did not help the Russian people.
January 1, 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev was the last leader of the Soviet Union. Under his rule, the Soviet Union dissolved, bringing a final end to the Cold War.
June 12, 1991 Boris Yeltsin

Boris Yeltsin was the first elected president of Russia. He oversaw significant reforms, including financial, social and political.
December 31, 1999 Vladimir Putin

Putin, a conservative, was elected in December 1999. He held office for several years as President, serving as Prime Minister thereafter.
March 2, 2008 Dmitri Medvedev

In March 2008, Medvedev was elected and served a term as president of Russia. Medvedev favored policies of liberal reform.
May 7, 2012 Vladimir Putin

Re-elected in 2012, Putin favors conservative policies and has caused political strife with a number of other nations during his term. Medvedev serves as his Prime Minister.