This month in Russia

October 20, 1812: Napoleon retreats from Russia



The end of one of the two biggest Western invasions of Russia

Napoleon's "great army" starts its retreat from Russia after leaving a burnt-out Moscow. The French follow the same route they used for invading Russia, and as most of the villages and towns on this road had been devastated by the occupiers, there is no food. Of the 600,000-strong army, only a few thousand return home.

October 23, 1917: First Politburo formed



Bolshevist coup led by just six people

The first Bolshevist Politburo is formed underground in a bid to organize a coup against the democratic provisional government, which it successfully does on November 7, 1917. The members of this first Politburo are Vladimir Lenin, Lev Trotsky, Grigory Zinovyev, Lev Kamenev, Grigory Sokolnikov and Andrei Bubnov. Three of the six will later be killed on Stalin's orders.

October 12, 1987: Yeltsin starts a climb to power



His conflict with Gorby intrigues the public

Boris Yeltsin, at the plenary meeting of the Communist Party's top body, reads out a report criticising the slow pace of reform and an acting Politburo member. This causes such a scandal that the full text is only published years later. This secrecy makes Yeltsin a hero, proving that the best bestseller is the prohibited one.

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