Amur River. Called Heilongjiang in Mandarin Chinese, this river forms part of the eastern boundary between the Soviet Union and the PRC. There have been several border conflicts between the USSR and PRC over the Amur River.
Bering Strait The Bering Strait divides Alaska and the (Soviet) Chukotskiy peninsula; it also connects the Bering Sea and the Chukchi Sea.
Kurile Islands: An are of islands stretching from Hokkaido to Kamchatka. The Kuriles mark the boundary between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean. Also spelled Kuril. Legitimate possession of the southernmost Kuriles is disputed by Japan and the Soviet Union.
Northern Territories: Translation of the Japanese term for the formerly Japanese islands seized by the Soviet Union at the end of WWII. Although Japan once controlled the entire Kurile chain and the southern half of Sakhalin, the Japanese government presently claims only Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan, and the Habomai group. As the Soviets have not returned the islands, the Japanese refuse to sign a treaty formally ending WW II.
Sakhalin: An island in the Sea of Okhotsk. Japan won the southern half of Sakhalin as spoils of the Russo-Japanese War (see Chapter 3). The Soviets recaptured southern Sakhalin in the final days of WWII.
Ural Mountains: A mountain range in the Soviet Union, the Urals mark the traditional boundary between Asia and Europe.
Ussuri River. A river which runs from Khabarovsk to Lake Khanka, it forms part of the easternmost boundary between the PRC and the USSR. Apparatchik: Russian for "bureaucrat." Apparatchiki serve in the Soviet and communist bureaucracy.
Lake Baikal: A vast lake north of Mongolia in the southeastern part of the Soviet Union. It is the deepest non-oceanic body of water on Earth, and contains about one-fifth of the fresh water on the surface of the Earth
Bolshevik: From Russian for "majority." A term created by Lenin for his (minority) faction of Social Democrats. This faction was tightly organized along military lines, and led by a vanguard of elite intellectuals favoring violent social revolution.
Cossack: Slavic peasant warriors known for their horsemanship. Cossacks fought against the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War.
Glasnost: Russian for "openness." Refers to greater freedom in the USSR as a result of the reforms instituted by Mikhail Gorbachev.
October Revolution: The Russian communist revolution of October 1917. This revolution superseded the moderate, republican revolution of February 1917. The ensuing Russian Civil War lasted from 1918 to 1922.
Perestroika: Russian for "restructuring." Refers to economic and political reforms instituted by Mikhail Gorbachev.
Red Russian: A term for the Bolshevik military forces; so named for the red star they wore. The Soviet Army developed from these troops.
St. Petersberg: Located on the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea, St. Petersberg was the capital of Imperial Russia. It was renamed "Leningrad" after Lenin's death in 1924; in 1991 the citizenry rejected Leningrad in favor of St. Petersberg, a decision symbolizing the demise of communism in the Soviet Union.
White Russian: Originally Czarist loyalists. White Russian came to refer to all Russians who fought against the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War.