Before Peter the Great, who ruled from 1682 to 1725, Russia was lagging years behind the rest of the world. While the Enlightenment was bringing the European world into a new age, Russia was stagnant, until Tsar Peter I dragged it kicking and screaming into the modern world.
Peter the Great did some incredible things for Russia, but he was mainly working off the idea that if the Europeans were doing something, Russia should be doing it, too. And that led to some absolutely insane decisions.
For better or for worse, Peter the Great brought Russia into the modern world—but he did it in some of the strangest ways possible.