Czarist Russia was an empire in the classic sense, meaning it exploited certain subjects, but that is the nature of empire. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was pretty much the same thing. Eventually, the ruling class starts to get favored too much by laws and this causes tensions amongst the population that does more work yet doesn't receive benefits. The Russian Empire was heading in a good direction with the establishment of Constitutional Monarchy and such, however there were still large portions of the population, mainly on the fringes, that could never be satisfied with being Russian subjects, these being Poles and Ukrainians mainly. Many Russians were unhappy with the Czar and it was this that was brutally exploited by the Bolsheviks. This actually shows the potential danger of revolution, for I do not think that the "Russian Revolution" was very Russian at all. All subjects of the former Russian Empire suffered tremendously as a result of it. One elite was replaced with another and the new one was more vicious than the previous had ever been. It should have been called the "Subversion of Russia." There is no way that Czarist Russia was the "same shit" as USSR. The Bolsheviks destroyed immense amounts of classic culture, so much so that they should be considered a foreign element which plundered and pillaged and destroyed as it saw fit. And no surprise: all leading Bolsheviks were Jews.
A romantic look back at empire, particularly its better parts, is good for a healthy nationalism, but in this day and age, any calls for a "return to empire" are fundamentally flawed. It is something that should be learned from so that we can move on. Take note that all empires have fallen, and thus if your worldview is just the greatness of empire, you will be hounded by your own inevitable pessimism. It was for reasons akin to this that Polish statesman Roman Dmowski urged Poles not to yearn back to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, aka "Great Poland," but rather that they embrace the modern world.
I suppose that we all look back at the greatness and former might of our respective nations (just look at my avatar) but a worldview mustn't end there. Russian, Polish, or otherwise.