RUSSIA WAS A MULTINATIONAL empire. That seems obvious to us now, but it was not always so apparent either to the imperial government or to its subjects. Not until Peter the Great introduced it was the official adjective rossiiskii used by the government in referring to the "Russian" Empire. Rossiiskii, as distinguished from the traditional russkii, was derived from the Latin and was supposed to point to the fact that the state fashioned by Peter I was not exclusively Great Russian in composition.