The state which today we call Russia is a relatively recent creation, forged from bleakly unpromising material, sparsely populated, protected by few natural borders, and ethnically linguistically and religiously diverse.
To create from it a single political unit required superhuman energy, ambition and imagination. It may also have required a brutal and callous indifference to opponents, domestic or foreign, who stood in the way.
The citizens of few countries have suffered as much at the hands of their own rulers as the Russians. It has always been a place where the state thrived while the people withered. The superpower of today is the product of ruthless tyrants whom, fascinatingly, many Russians still remember not with loathing but with adulation and even love. This course looks at the six who did most to create the superpower of today.