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Modern revolutionary activity in the Russian Empire began with the Decembrist revolt of 1825.
Although serfdom was abolished in 1861, it was done on terms unfavorable to the peasants and served to encourage revolutionaries.
In 1922, the Soviet Union was formed by a treaty which legalized the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian republics that had occurred from 1918.
Following Lenin's death in 1924 and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s.
In some cases, due to the length of its name the state was referred to as the Soviet Union or the USSR, especially when used in the Western media.
It was also informally called Russia (and its citizens Russians), The European portion accounted for a quarter of the country's area, and was the cultural and economic center.
The Soviet Union had the world's longest border, like Russia, measuring over 60,000 kilometres (37,000 mi), or circumferences of Earth. The Soviet Union's highest mountain was Communism Peak (now Ismoil Somoni Peak) in Tajikistan, at 7,495 metres (24,590 ft).
The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Russian SFSR).
Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk.
It spanned over 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres (4,500 mi) north to south.
The post-war division of Europe into capitalist and communist halves would lead to increased tensions with the United States-led Western Bloc, known as the Cold War.
Stalin died in 1953 and was eventually succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced Stalin and began the de-Stalinization.As part of an attempt to prevent the country's dissolution due to rising nationalist and separatist movements, a referendum was held in March 1991, boycotted by 3 Soviet republics, that resulted in a majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the union as a renewed federation.