At the end of World War I, the vast empires of the Ottomans, the Habsburgs, and the Romanovs collapsed, leaving Eastern Europe and Eurasia in turmoil. Only the Russian empire was reconfigured, under Bolshevik leadership. Stalin led it through industrialization and the Nazi onslaught to become a superpower rivaling the United States. Yet the Soviet Union remained essentially an empire, held together by a party rather than tsar. The command economy proved progressively less able to cope with postindustrial technologies and with the demands of the new industrial middle class and well-educated bureaucracy forged under its tutelage. Gorbachev's ''[[Perestroika]]'' spelled deconstruction of the economy; and ''glasnost'' allowed ethnic and nationalist disaffection to reach the surface. When Gorbachev tried to reform the party, he weakened the bonds that held the state and union together.
Because of the dominant position of Russians in the Soviet Union, most gave little thought to any distinction between Russia and the USSR before the late [[1980s]]. However, the fact that the Soviet regime was dominated by Russians did not mean that the Russian SFSR necessarily benefited from this arrangement. In the Soviet Union, Russia lacked even the paltry instruments of statehood that the other republics possessed, such as its own republic-level Communist Party branch, [[KGB]], trade union council, Academy of Sciences, and the like. The reason of course is that if these organizations had had branches at the level of the Russian SFSR, they would have threatened the power of Union-level structures.