I do remember a discussion with Alessandra a few years back about Russian history and how Russia had serfs long after everyone else had abandoned serfdom. This was swiftly followed by her observation that only in Russia would the act of ending serfdom make life even worse for the serfs - er, ex-serfs.
Oh, I can't resist quoting a bit of O'Rourke:
"After his [Ivan the Terrible's] reign, Russia, if you can believe it, got worse. 'The Time of Troubles' featured more drought, more famine, more plague, foreign invasions, massacres, the occupation and sacking of Moscow, and tsars with names like False Dmitry I and False Dmitry II."Hey, you forgot False Dmitry III!