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Best architects from France and Italy were involved designing the city.

Having served his constitutionally limited terms (2000-2008), Putin stepped down as President, endorsing another candidate, Dmitry Medvedev, who won the 2008 election.Following a brief interim government headed by social democrat Alexander Kerensky, the Bolshevik faction of the Communist Party under Marxist Vladimir Lenin seized power, with the money provided by the German establishement, withdrew Russia from the war, and launched a purge of clerics, political dissidents, aristocrats, the bourgeoise, and the wealthy independent farmers.A brutal civil war between the "Red Army" of the communist leadership and the "White Army" largely consisting of foreign interventionists back by Britain, Germany and France lasted until late 1920.Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, proved to be feckless, weak, and distracted by personal tragedies and the burdens of the war.The government proved unable to hold back the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Hitler's war on USSR had cost of over 27 million Soviet deaths, most of them civilian victims, and soldiers in ghastly land battles.

After Stalin's death in 1953, Soviet heavy industry and military might continued to grow.

The Soviet Union reached its military, diplomatic, and economic peak during the closing years of Leonid Brezhnev (1964-1982).

But increasing slowdown in economic growth marched inexorably to a crisis that eventually led General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-91) to introduce glasnost (openness) and perestroika (economic transformation- literally: rebuilding).

Deposed and held under house arrest, Nicholas, Alexandra, and their children -- and with them the Romanov dynasty -- were exterminated by gunfire in the basement of a Yekaterinburg manor house and buried in unmarked graves which were found later and reburied in the Saint Paul and Peter Cathedral in Saint Petersburg.

World War I strained Imperial Russia's governmental and social institutions to the breaking point of Revolution in 1917.

The first leader of the newly formed nation was Boris Yeltsin, who rose to power by standing up to an attempted putsch.