The well-known expression "put on the back burner" means to postpone the solution of any issue for an indefinite period. It is interesting that this catch phrase appeared in Russia a very long time ago - back in the seventeenth century.
In 1645, Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, the son of Mikhail Romanov, the founder of a new dynasty, ascended the Russian throne. Alexei "Quiet", as his contemporaries called him, had a gentle character, was a strict performer of all church rituals. Having received a good education, the king personally wrote and edited decrees. One of the innovations of the young ruler was the reason for the emergence of a catch phrase, which does not lose its relevance in our time.
Until the beginning of the reign of Alexei Mikhailovich, in Russia there was a tradition to put petitions in the name of the sovereign in the Archangel Cathedral in Moscow, where the former rulers of the Russian Land rested. Putting petitions on the tombs, the subjects of the Russian tsar hoped that the autocrat would read the paper and resolve the petitioner's question.
Alexei Mikhailovich hastened to abolish this ancient custom. By his decree, in the village of Kolomenskoye near Moscow, where the Tsar's residence was located, a special box was nailed into which petitions were invested. The pious king personally read the messages enclosed in this box. And since they wrote at that time on scrolls, and not on sheets that are customary in our time, and there were a lot of petitions, the box was made quite long.
As you can see, Alexey Mikhailovich was not a bureaucrat, he made decisions quickly and sent them to execution. This is where the main difficulties began. Through the hands of boyars and clerks, the papers could go endlessly, the applicant sometimes waited for the result for years.
This is where the unkind rumors about the Moscow red tape began, and the “back box”, which was supposed to establish contact between the authorities and the people, became a symbol of the sluggishness of the bureaucratic apparatus.
Visitors from distant places especially suffered from this. Having dropped their petition into the coveted box, many of them did not wait for the result. It was unprofitable to live in the capital for a long time, so they set off on their way back with nothing.
By the way, another well-known Russian expression has the same roots: “put under the cloth”. The tables of Russian officials were covered with cloth, therefore, cases that, in their opinion, did not require an urgent solution, were postponed for a long time. So the petitioners had to "lubricate" the bureaucratic machine.