This chapter provides the context for this book by giving an overview of research, development, and innovation (RDI) in the Soviet period and the post-Soviet era. It describes the organisation of science and innovation in the Soviet Union, the effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union on RDI, and the main trends in funding and implementation of RDI in the 1990s and 2000s. Since the early 1990s, the government of Russia has made considerable efforts to reform the Soviet system of R&D and innovation. The Russian government has experimented with an impressive range of policy instruments and infrastructure to support R&D and innovation. Soviet legacies on the operation and performance of science and innovation persist in contemporary Russia so understanding how the Soviet Union structured RDI and how Russia tried to restructure its economy and society after 1991 is important.