In Russia, as in other parts of Europe, people began leaving their homeland for North
America during the 19th century. Some left because they wanted to build a better life for
themselves and their families. Others were forced to leave because of the harsh policies
of Russia's czarist rulers. After Russia's last czar was overthrown and a Communist
government came into power and set up the Soviet Union in the early decades of the 20th
century, large numbers of upper- and middle-class Russians fled the country.
For many years during the Cold War, the Soviet government refused to permit
immigration to the United States. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, however,
Russians again began coming to America in significant numbers. Russian immigrants
have added their unique culture, language, and experiences to the American way of life.
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