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The Novgorod Republic is a nation-state in what was once Novgorod Oblast of the USSR, which claims itself a resurrected version of the medieval state it is named for.
Novgorod is among the oldest cities of Russia, founded in the 9th or 10th century. A Varangian chieftain, Rurik, supposedly made it his capital arpund 860. In 882, Rurik's successor, Oleg of Novgorod, captured Kiev and founded the state of Kievan Rus'. Novgorod's size as well as its political, economic, and cultural influence made it the second city in Kievan Rus'. In 1136, the Novgorodians dismissed their prince Vsevolod Mstislavich. This date is seen as the traditional beginning of the Novgorod Republic. The city state controlled most of Europe's North-East, from Estonia to the Ural Mountains, making it one of the largest states in medieval Europe. In the 13th century, Novgorod, while not a member of the Hanseatic League, was also the easternmost kontor, or entrepot, of the league, being the source of enormous quantities of luxury and non-luxury furs.
Novgorod was never conquered by the Mongols during the Mongol invasion of Rus. However, the grand princes of Moscow, who acted as the tax-collectors for the khans of the Golden Horde, did collect tribute in Novgorod. Eventually, already dominating the state politically, Ivan III annexed the city to Grand Duchy of Moscow in 1478. During the Time of Troubles, Novgorodians eagerly submitted to Swedish troops led by Jacob De la Gardie in summer of 1611. The city was returned to Russia only six short years later.
In 1727, Novgorod was made an administrative centre of the Novgorod Governorate of the Russian Empire, which was detached from Saint Petersburg Governorate. This administrative division existed until 1927. Between 1927 and 1944 the city was a part of Leningrad Oblast, and then became an administrative center of the newly formed Novgorod Oblast. During World War II, on August 15, 1941, the city was occupied by the German Army. Its historic monuments were systematically annihilated. When the Red Army liberated the city on January 19, 1944, out of 2,536 stone buildings, fewer than forty were still standing.
Novgorod Oblast was lightly hit on Doomsday, with the only strikes inside it being on air bases at Soltsy and Staraya Russa. Other strikes in the region, especially to the west inside Pskov Oblast, would leave leave some fallout and many refugees in the area, however. Known strikes in the area included the cities of Dno, Gdov, Ostrov, and Pskov in Pskov Oblast, Andreapol and Tver in Tver Oblast, Cherepovets in Vologda Oblast, and, of course, what is believed to be upwards of a dozen of them around Leningrad.
With only two minor strikes in the Oblast, most of the inhabitants survived the initial attack. Indeed, even with fallout added, very few people overall in the Oblast perished on Doomsday, and with refugees added, the population of the Oblast actually increased. However, the winter would not be as kind as the Americans.
Having been hit by an atmospheric EMP blast, most electronics in the region were rendered inoperable. Massive amounts of interference with radio waves, caused by all of the blasts going off in the USSR, did not help the situation. As a result of this, the local authorities were unable to make contact with anyone from the government, beyond hearing an occasional word appear in the static on their heavily-damaged radio equipment.
The local communists attempted to keep order, and for a time, they managed to do so. Between hunting, grain stores, and fishing - and later ice-fishing - in the nearby lake, most people did not go hungry that winter. However, they also decided to ration the small amount of heating fuel that was in the region, and to have the people cut down wood from the extensive forests and use that for heating instead. Yet, this was not always practical to to, given where forests in the area under their control existed.
In theory, this was a good idea. However, in practice it was not the case. While the communists said that they were reserving the fuel for hospitals and emergencies, that was not what they actually did. The fuel, in fact, went to their own homes and offices. Of course, they couldn't hide this fact, though they certainly tried, even going as far as to claim that they were doing it for the "security" of the USSR.
Obviously, when the officials were found out, the population was not happy and began to riot. Within days, the party officials, lacking support from the police or the few soldiers, had been arrested by the locals, and thrown into prison. Several of the higher-ups would be executed over the coming months as well.
Yet, it came too late. By the time May arrived and all could agree that winter had ended, the cold, along with hunger, to a point, had caused a full third of the population in the Oblast to perish or try to leave, where they likely perished as well. It was so bad that they continued to find bodies for months afterwards inside of urban areas, to say nothing of the time it took in rural areas - where reports of bodies were made for at least another two years.
Seasons of Change
With the jailing, execution, or shunning of most of the government, it was painfully obvious to all that a new one would need to be formed. The remnants of the old government, along with the leaders of the rioters, after a few months of discussion, formed a new government, the "Novgorod Republic," on April 5th, 1984, the anniversary of the fabled "Battle of the Ice" in 1242. The government, with other political and economic views allowed, was to consist of a modified version of the old Oblast government, though largely elected now.
The agreement also meant that restrictions on the economy were greatly reduced, with the command economy removed altogether. However, in the compromises, limits were still put into place onto how much and what kinds of private business could occur, in what was at the time referred to as "unions for businesses." With a month, however, these groups would be referred to by the citizens as "the guilds."
With that first winter passed, the new government, with its grain stores greatly reduced and only so much room to plant more effectively, had to come up with a new source of food. Before too long, they decided to have the small shipyards in the city build improvised fishing vessels, which they would send both out onto the lake to fish, but also down the Volkhov River, running through Novgorod itself, to Lake Ladoga, where they would fish and from there bring it back to the city. With heavy rationing, this would prevent excess starvation, especially after the builders at the yards had constructed better vessels, which was achieved by 1988. While many got tired of eating fish over the next few years, all were grateful to know that they were alive. Yet, hunger remained a constant, as while the rations of fish, game, and what grains could be grown kept people alive, and no one starved outright, people were hungrier than they had been before 1983.
Throughout 1984 and 1985, scouts scattered throughout the Oblast, re-establishing contact with towns and villages that had been partially lost in the chaos after Doomsday. By 1987, much of the Oblast was under the fairly secure control of the government. However, Raiders, especially from the direction of destroyed Leningrad, were to be a thorn in their sides for a few more years, constantly raiding areas of the Oblast in that direction until the Novgorodian military, with Nordic assistance, eradicated them in 1993.
Outsiders, Raiders, and Grains
Slowly, as stocks grew and land was cleared, the government established more and more farming areas in the area under its control. By 1990, this expansion, even though the farms were not of the best quality production, combined with the fish and game was enough to largely ease the rationing, and satisfy the hunger of all much better. However, even fertilizing the soils, the farms would only be productive for a few years each, only temporarily solving the problem. The leadership resigned itself to repeating the action until they could expand the farms into an area with better lands.
In 1991, the military had a good year fighting against the raiders. Apparently, some kind of fighting inside the raider groups had broken out, allowing the soldiers a good campaigning season, and to force them further away without overextending themselves. The raiders, temporarily of course, were forced north of the ruins of Leningrad. This allowed the government an opportunity that they had not yet had at the point - the ability to scavenge the ruins of the city for equipment. An expedition was quickly organized, and they spent the winter in the area, fending off the occasional raider and scavenging.
The next spring, with raider attacks increasing and the raiders appearing to have settled their disputes, the soldiers rapidly began to pack up what they had recovered - mostly industrial equipment, but some military items as well - in preparation to "bug out." Before they finished, however, a small flotilla of vessels was seen arriving in Neva Bay, flying a flag that the soldiers had never seen before. Lighting a beacon, the soldiers aimed to get the flotilla to move closer to them, which they managed to do.
Making contact with the vessels, the soldiers discovered them to be from a recently established "Nordic Union," consisting of the still largely-intact Scandinavian countries, who were moving in the area to do more or less the same task as they were doing. Staying longer than they had intended, the Novgorodian officers on the scene talked via radio with Nordic officials, and after informing them of the raiders, were offered some aid in the endeavor - any raiders in the region, quite obviously, could become a threat to Finland, and had to be dealt with. An agreement was reached over the matter, and the officers were given several radios, which the governments could communicate until better means could be established. They agreed that while the details still needed to be worked out, the operation would take place in the fall. Shortly thereafter, the Novgorodian forces pulled back towards Novgorod, to ensure their safety. The Nordic vessels continued on their mission in the area.
That September, Nordic forces landed on both sides of the danger zone around Leningrad, while Novgorodian troops attacked from the south. While the Russians had been expected, the Nordic forces were a surprise, and caught the raider clans in their rear areas. By spring, the raiders had been surrounded, and forced to surrender. As Novgorod could not deal with them effectively, the Nordic expedition took the majority of the prisoners with them. However, this opened up a reliable line of communication between the two governments, which would be made stronger yearly.
Expansion and Stability
With outside contact restored to some degree, and the raiders destroyed, some measure of safety and stability could finally be restored outside of territory already held by the Republic. To a certain extent, this meant into nearby oblasts all around Novgorod, but largely this meant expanding towards the Baltic and the holes where the city, now usually referred to by the locals as St. Petersburg rather than Leningrad, used to be.
Trade with the Nordic membership, while not usually in favor of Novgorod, meant that an outside source of grain, while small, existed. Farmers on land wholly unsuitable for farming were thus encouraged off the land, and back into the woods and the military. In this, they were generally given two tasks: The construction and staffing of wooden forts out in the wild forests regrowing through the countryside, and expanding occupied territory towards the Baltic.
Slowly, the woodsmen and army expanded the territory of the republic in the direction of the ruined city over the next few years. In 1995, they took possession of a trio of what were once imperial palaces, at the semi-ruined towns of Gatchina, Pavlovsk, and Pushkin, at the edge of what had been Leningrad Oblast at one time. These, along with the one at Shlisselburg that they occupied in 1997, were turned into the headquarters of the various teams operating in the area, as they all stood fairly close to the edge of the radiated zone.
In 1999, Novgorodian soldiers finally were able to establish a small garrison on the coastline. While they only patrolled the area, and did not outright control it - and still today do not - the establishment of these base meant that communications and trade with the Nordics would be easier.
In the same time-frame, the Republic was growing closer and closer to the Nordic Union, even signing some trade agreements in 2001 with them. Careful exploration of the areas of ruins that they could enter yielded little, as the targeted locations had been picked well. Today, the exploration is still ongoing, with the most valuable pieces recovered as of yet being distillation equipment, some minor equipment from marinas, and other minor items. The two small strike-zones inside Novgorod Oblast itself were also looked through, finding only some aviation materials surviving.
2006 brought another such mission westward, to Pskov. Here, with the smaller strike, there was more to recover, including some vehicles, and other useful items. In more recent years other teams, often paid by the guilds, have begun to undertake similar activities in other directions.
Recently, with Siberia expanding, the republic has begun to worry a great deal. In part, it is his that has led to the republic aligning itself with the Nordic Union. The Republic first applied to the Union in June of 2002, and was named an official candidate for membership in 2006. Candidate country status was granted in 2008, and negotiations, previously supposed to start the fall of 2010, were slightly rushed, instead starting in February of that same year, following the Siberian invasion of Aralia. With recent news of Siberia prepping to annex the communist areas of Karelia and expand in the area a bit, this was rushed even further along, alongside negotiators from the Sampi Republic, with the two republics making more concessions than they likely should have done to speed up the process. An announcement was expected soon about their admission, with the only known condition put through on the part of the Republic being that they would not need to adopt the Nordic currency right away. It was announced soon after this information came to light that the Republic would officially join the Union on June 10th, 2011. The republic joining the Union went through, as it turned out, without a hitch.
The exploration parties continue to operate, though the activity, given Siberian aggression since the start of 2010, has been toned down in scale somewhat. Instead, more resources have been committed to the wooden forts in the forests, which are continually being refined and hidden better in the trees. Their effectiveness has also been shown in several attempts by bandits at raiding the region, when the forts ripped into them as they unexpectedly approached.
District elections in December of 2012 brought a more centrist group of representatives than in years previous to the council. Between this and the focus on rebuilding the chemical plants, it also meant that both the Posadnik and the Chief Minister changed.
Government and Politics
Novgorod is governed by a council, composed of representatives from the major political factions, the merchants, and the urban centers, which is headed up by the Posadnik, the member of the Council chosen by their peers to act as its leader. The Posadnik holds this role for as long as their peers feel they are capable. Currently, the position is held by Dmitry Ignatov, a moderate from the capital, who replaced Yuri Bobryshev in 2012.
The government is run by a group of ministers, usually chosen from the merchant guilds and the bureaucracy itself. Run by a Chief Minister, who holds the position from appointment to retirement, this group is subordinate to the Council, and institutes the new laws and decrees that they pass. Currently, the position is held by Yuri Nikolayevich, in charge of industry, who replaced Alexey Andreyev of the Cultural ministry in 2012.
Generally, the Council has more of a conservative membership. This reflects in the foreign policy of the republic, in which more socialist-leaning governments are generally distrusted to some degree. More conservative-leaning members tend to be from the countryside, and the merchants, while more left-leaning politicians are generally from parts of Novgorod itself. Those between the two views are pretty much uniform everywhere, generally supporting the conservative faction, and outnumbering the leftists.
The Republic is organized into a combination of districts, and military zones. The districts, numbering 16, are largely inside the former Novgorod Oblast, with one inside what used to be Pskov Oblast as well. The rest of the territory under the control of the republic are the military zones, a total of 5, which mostly exist inside of the former Leningrad Oblast.
Elections inside of these districts occur about every three and a half years. The next ones should be held sometime in June of 2016.
As would be expected, the Novgorod military is dominated by the Army. A small air force, largely consisting of repaired transport aircraft that the Soviet Air Force had kept in the city and a few obsolete Saab 35 Draken aircraft that have been purchased from the Swedish government after their new aircraft were introduced.
A few naval vessels, really no more than modified pleasure vessels for the most part but also including several specially constructed sailing ships, also operate on Lake Ilmen and Lake Ladoga when they are not frozen over, mostly on Ilmen.
The Novgorodian Army is primarily outfitted with former Soviet equipment. However, increasingly they are replacing this very obsolete equipment with materials manufactured in the Nordic Union. Howitzers and IFV's have also begun to be purchased, which is allowing the military to begin to fortify their borders on a much larger scale.
Currently, the government is attempting to purchase tanks, though without much success at this time. It is rumored, however, that they are in negotiations with the Celtic government over possibly purchasing some of the older Celtic tanks after their replacement with newer ones.
The military is also currently taking the lead in recovery operations in the St. Petersburg region, with the goal of recovering usable technology.
Most of the army is garrisoned either inside the major cities, inside the recovery zones near St. Petersburg, or in specially constructed forts out in the forests. These forts, built of wood and camouflaged to look like thick forested areas, have been the bane of many the would-be bandit.
Despite the original intentions of the founders of the republic, in which a gradual reduction of state ownership would result in a market economy, that has not quite been the case in most regards, number of types of industries notwithstanding. The original setup, referred to officially as "unions for businesses," has remained intact. In this, the government was to regulate the number of companies, all operating under state approval, in each industry, in order to "protect the proletariat," with the restrictions going away over time, if deemed possible.
While long considered to be possible, it has not happened. The "unions for businesses" are still largely in place, and are usually referred to as "guilds" by the citizens, and even the government. While this would normally be a bad thing, the regulation system in place is a very powerful check on them, with the penalty being losing the company if violating them on purpose. And this has been enforced on several occasions.
As should be expected for Novgorod, the strongest and most influential of the guilds are involved in the timber industry. Yet, the ones currently increasing in wealth, size, and the like, the quickest, are the ones involved in recovery operations in destroyed areas in and around the republic. It is generally felt that a single large find would catapult the companies in this guild to the top. Mostly, they are excavating in the areas of the ruined cities of Cherepovets and Pskov, as well as the environs of what is believed to have once been Andreapol Air Base,
The main export of Novgorod, unsurprisingly, is timber and related products, such as charcoal and paper. Fish is often exported as well.
Currently, the main priority of the republic with regards to the economy is re-starting the chemical industry of the city and its environs. Shuttered and left unused shortly after Doomsday, these plants, with Nordic assistance, are slowly being brought back into production.
The Republic first came into contact with the outside world in the fall of 1992, when scouts encountered an exploration team from the Nordic Union between the ruins of St. Petersburg and the old Estonian border. After the government managed to prove to Nordic diplomats in 1993 that it was not communist, and in fact held a stance very much the opposite, they were recognized by the Nordic governments, and an joint embassy began to be built. In the time that has since passed, the partnership established between the two back then has grown, eventually leading to the Republic filing an application to join the Union in June of 2002. In light of recent moves by Siberia, it was thought very likely that both this application and one by the Sampi would be soon be approved, and they were, leading to the Republic gaining membership in the Union in June of 2011.
Several other countries in the area have established embassies or consulates in the Republic, including the North Germans, Prussians, Courlanders, Lithuanians, and the Russian Confederacy. Novgorod has several embassies in the region as well. No nations, other than the Siberians and their allies, really have issue with them, either.
They try to maintain good relations with the other independent remnant states inside the former Soviet Union, though this is not always possible, as with the case of the Confederacy, in which they consider them not far above the Siberians.
As with all Successor states on their claimed territory, the Novgorodians have been blocked from membership in international bodies by the Siberians.