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Once upon a time, Russia was an undeveloped agrarian society where serfdom was still the peasants' main social arrangement.
Your baby will work for me!
They had recently lost the Crimean War, which killed 450,000 of their men. The peasants weren't happy, and the government realized they needed to move towards modernization.
I can't believe we lost the war!
So Tsar Alexander II carried out many important reforms. One example was a system of local government called the zemstvo, which handled community issues but still answered to the bureaucracy.
Also, free those serfs!
Unfortunately, Alex II was assassinated by a member of a revolutionary group, and his son Alexander III had to take over the throne. As revenge for killing his father, Alex III reversed a lot of these reforms.
Whoever did this is going to pay for it!
This decree hereby authorizes the production of 35,000 miles in railroads, rids Russia of tariffs, and encourages foreign investment. Signed, Sergei Witte
Even though Alexander III ignored and repressed the people, Russia actually grew economically and industrially, thanks to the financial minister Sergei Witte.
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