In Russia, it was called “крепостное право” or “крепостничество”. It is universally translated into English (out of proverbial political correctness, no doubt) as “serfdom”. In reality, it was slavery – cut and dry, plain and simple, loud and clear.
Indeed, the slave owners (the nobles) ultimately obtained (by imperial law) an absolute power over life and death of their slaves (peasants). They could buy and sell them; make them perform any job the noble wants – no matter how dangerous, shameful or meaningless; rape, punish, torture and even murder them in ways that would make Ivan the Terrible look like a saint – all with complete impunity.
Essentially, the Russian rulers created a paradise for serial killers and mass murderers (of which there were many among the Russian nobles). Which is not surprising at all as the Russian “Christian” Empire was created by three sadistic serial killers and mass murderers – Vladimir the Great, Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great.
Only one such criminal – one Darya Nikolayevna Saltykova (incidentally, a woman which is rather uncommon thing among sadistic serial killers) – was ever brought to justice.
And only because (despite all efforts of Russian imperial bureaucracy) “the cat got out of the bag” which could have easily led to a nationwide uprising of peasants and deliver a devastating blow to the image of an “enlightened ruler” carefully cultivated by then-empress of Russia Catherine the Great.
Saltykova was arrested, tried, found guilty of 38 murders (the actual body count could have been as high as 147) and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole (believe it or not, but in 1768, when her trial took place, Russia did not have a death penalty for common crimes – only for political ones).
In a very, very, uncomfortable prison – the cellar of Ivanovsky Convent in Moscow. Saltykova proved to be a highly resilient woman – she survived for 33 (!) years in that horrible (literally) jail and died only in 1801 at a ripe old age of 71.
After the trial, Catherine the Great personally established a highly efficient “information blackout” system to make sure that information about such “hobbies” of Russian nobles (of which there dozens and dozens) never ever became public. A highly successful system – the magnitude of these crimes was discovered only after the Bolshevist revolution that opened the secret imperial archives.
This fundamentally criminal system allowed dozens (if not hundreds or even thousands of serial killers, rapists and tortures) to commit these horrific felonies for decades (for centuries actually as such monsters existed in every generation).
Which obviously was very pleasing to the Devil and his demons whose favorite spiritual food is human pain and suffering – another solid proof that (contrary to government and Church propaganda) Russia was, indeed, the country “of the Devil, by the Devil and for the Devil”.
Russia was obviously not the only “civilized” country that practiced slavery in modern times: the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire (in its colonies) and, of course the USA were guilty of that as well.
However, the Russian version of slavery was very different from (and far darker than) the ones practiced in other nations (as well as in the Mongol Empire). Unlike the latter, where the slaves came from other nations and (initially) religions, in Russia the Russians were owned and mistreated (exploited, raped, tortured and even murdered – often with extreme brutality and even sadism) by other Russians.
Incidentally (unlike all other Christian denominations), the Russian Christian Church wholeheartedly supported enslavement of Russian Christians by their fellow other Christians (other denominations only approved of enslavement of individuals of other nations, races, cultures and religions).
The Russian slavery system had but one fundamental objective – to facilitate control over the enormous imperial territories (impossible to keep with an economically and legally free population).
And why would the Russia Tsars need these enormous territories? To satisfy the deeply-programmed messianic desire to become (and remain) the “Third Rome” – ultimately conquer the whole world, convert it to Russian Orthodox faith and rule it until the Second Coming of Christ. Which they hoped would never happen as the result of the Judgement Day was for them plain and obvious – a one-way trip to Hell for Eternity.
Russian nobles supported slavery for a very simple reason – being the slaves of the Tsar (and for all practical purposes of Tsar’s bureaucrats – often low-level ones) they wanted to compensate for this highly uncomfortable state (to put it mildly) by enslaving somebody else – in this case their peasants. And thus becoming omnipotent Gods to their slaves just as the Tsar was the omnipotent God to them – and to all Russians.
Consequently, just about every estate in Russia was a miniature kingdom with its owner – its absolute ruler who had absolute power over his or her (some estates were owned and managed by women) subjects (i.e. slaves) and no accountability to them whatsoever. Just like the Tsar in the whole Russia.
As was the whole Russian absolute monarchy – a typical Asian despotism which made Russia Asian, not European state (and thus paved the way for “Red Tamerlane” Joseph Stalin).
This top to bottom slavery lasted for centuries and led to genuinely disastrous consequences for Russia and Russians. The master/slave relationships got so ingrained in their mentality and culture that they simply could not (and still can not) build a European-style free democratic state – only replace one kind of slavery with another.
Russians ceased to be the slaves of the Tsar (Russian Emperor, actually) – and immediately became the slaves of the Bolshevist leader. They ceased to be the slaves of their landlord – and immediately became slaves of their boss. They ceased to be the slaves of tsarist bureaucrats – and immediately became the slaves of Communist bureaucrats. They ceased to be the slaves of Russian Imperial State – and immediately became the slaves of the Soviet State.
And that’s exactly what happened in Russian history – the totalitarian (let’s call a spade a spade) absolute Russian Imperial Monarchy destroyed in March of 1917 was almost immediately replaced with even more totalitarian “Red Monarchy” (the “Soviet State”). The liberal democratic “February Republic” lasted for mere eight months.
In 1991, the Russians destroyed the “Soviet State” ending the disastrous Bolshevist experiment that cost the nation tens of millions of lives and an enormous destruction of its infrastructure.
However, the “red slavery” was quickly replaced by even worse kind of slavery – the Russians became slaves in a very genuine sense to the very mobsters who transformed the inherently weak “Russian democracy” into a genuine “Mafia state” led by a quasi-Tsar (“capo di tutti cappi”, if you will) Vladimir Putin and his KGB cronies. This time, democracy lasted for… about ten years, give or take but still died. Alas, a very much natural (for Russia) death.
However (contrary to a popular misconception), Putin’s “Mafia State” is not a serious threat to the Western Civilization (let alone an existential one). But the Bolshevist Soviet Union was.
Because Marxism (contrary to what Marx himself believed) was a perfect match to Russian “Orthodox” Imperialist Messianism. It was a genuine “marriage made in Hell”. Actually, it was much more than a marriage. It was a devastating, murderous synergy and an immensely powerful weapon of mass destruction.
Weapon of world destruction, to be completely honest.