1660s, Cremelena, from Old Russian kremlinu, later kremlin (1796), from kreml' "citadel, fortress," a word perhaps of Tartar origin. Originally the citadel of any Russian town or city, now especially the one in Moscow (which enclosed the imperial palace, churches, etc.). Used metonymically for "government of the U.S.S.R." from 1933. The modern form of the word in English might be via French.
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