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Folklorists today consider the 1920s the Soviet Union's golden age of folklore.

The struggling new government, which had to focus its efforts on establishing a new administrative system and building up the nation's backwards economy, could not be bothered with attempting to control literature, so studies of folklore thrived.

This largely defined the Russian culture of the next millennium as the synthesis of Slavic and Byzantine cultures.

After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Russia remained the largest Orthodox nation in the world and claimed succession to the Byzantine legacy in the form of the Third Rome idea.

The situation changed in the 20th century, when the Communist ideology became a major factor in the culture of the Soviet Union, where Russia, in the form of the Russian SFSR, was the largest and leading part.

Nowadays, Russian cultural heritage is ranked seventh in the Nation Brands Index, based on interviews of some 20,000 people mainly from Western countries and the Far East.

Since the reforms of Peter the Great, for two centuries Russian culture largely developed in the general context of European culture rather than pursuing its own unique ways.

Once Joseph Stalin came to power and put his first five-year plan into motion in 1928, the Soviet government began to criticize and censor folklore studies.

Stalin and the Soviet regime repressed folklore, believing that it supported the old tsarist system and a capitalist economy.

Russian culture grew from that of the East Slavs, with their pagan beliefs and specific way of life in the wooded areas of far Eastern Europe.

Early Russian culture was much influenced by neighbouring Finno-Ugric tribes and by the nomadic peoples of the Pontic steppe (mainly of Kipchak and Iranic origin).

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