When the Soviet Union ceased to exist, many believed that Russia's history of autocratic rule might finally end. Today Russia under Putin appears to be retreating from democracy. Putin's rule is routinely compared to a dictatorship. The Soviet most notorious dictator, Stalin is being rehabilitated by the Russian establishment. This course traces the history of modern Russian politics from Stalin to Putin and examines how such completely ordinary individuals managed to amass the kind of power that is best described dictatorial. It examines the complex evolution of communist and post-Soviet leadership. The course is comparative and draws on Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy as case studies.