The term is not without controversy: some Russian historians consider the correct name to be the "Tsardom of Muscovy", or "Muscovite Tsardom"
The country variously known as Russia and as the Grand Duchy of Muscovy was still antiquated and behind Western Europe when time-displaced Grantville appeared in Germany. At that time, Russia was ruled by an aristocracy that consisted of two classes: the Boyars, who were the councilors of the Tsar, and the dvoryane, who served as military officers and civil servants.
Russia learned of Grantville in 1631, after the commander of the tercio which had threatened Badenburg, having been outlawed in American territory, decided that Russia was far enough away for safety.. He was generally thought to be either a liar or insane, but Tsar Mikhail dispatched a team of spies to investigate. On discovering that Grantville was real, the spies found the town's technological possibilities intriguing, and had hopes of obtaining future technologies so Russia could catch up with Western Europe.
However, the growing power of Grantville and its ally Sweden worried Russia's nobles. Of particular concern was the potential effect on the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Russia's long-time rival and sometimes enemy. Incidentally, one of the first effects Grantville's knowledge had on Russia was the prevention of the Smolensk War, which had been a disaster for Russia in the original timeline.
Russia was one of the first countries to enlist the help of an up-timer. Bernie Zeppi was hired by the Russian Vladimir Gorchakov in 1631. Thanks to Bernie and knowledge coming from Grantville, the nation was able to begin modernizing its economy, infrastructure, and military much earlier than in the OTL. Much of this was based on the availability of serf labor and a willingness to accept casualties among serf laborers.
However, the revelation of Russia's progressive changes in the OTL, especially those overseen by the as yet unborn (and never to be born) Peter the Great, did cause some problems, as the more conservative Russian nobility did not care for them.
Czar Mikhail, realizing that serfdom eventually had to end in order for Russia to avoid the dark future it had had in the OTL, began taking steps toward that end. This led to a coup and the death of Mikhail's father. He, along with his immediate family and a group from the Gorchakov Dacha, fled to Ufa and began industrialization of the area. As many serfs, minor functionaries, and skilled industrial workers were fleeing to and arriving in Ufa, a constitutional convention was organized. During the convention, the Kazakh Khanate attacked. Eventually the leader of the khanate Salgam Zhangir Khan and other factions agreed to the Constitution, creating the United Sovereign States of Russia (USSR).
Generally, Russian names have three parts: the given name, a patronymic, and the family name. For men, the patronymic generally ends in -vich or -ich; for women, it generally ends in -ovna or -na. The -ovna or -na are often applied to a woman's family name as well. It is common for Russian characters to be referred to by given name and patronymic, with the family name being omitted. Russian characters will sometimes apply this usage to non-Russians; for example, Bernie Zeppi is often called "Bernie Janovich" because his father's name is John.