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Russia
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"Russia" (; ), officially known as both Russia and the "Russian Federation"The names Russian Federation and Russia shall be equal". (), is a state in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (both via Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the People"s Republic of China, Mongolia, and North Korea. It also has maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk, and the United States by the Bering Strait. At , Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than a ninth of the Earth"s land area. Russia is also the ninth most populous nation with 142 million people. It extends across the whole of northern Asia and 40% of Europe, spanning 9 time zones and incorporating a wide range of environments and landforms. Russia has the world"s largest reserves of mineral and energy resources. It has the world"s largest forest reserves and its lakes contain approximately one-quarter of the world"s freshwater.

The nation"s history began with that of the East Slavs, who emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by a Varangian warrior elite and their descendants, the first East Slavic state, Kievan Rus", arose in the 9th century and adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire in 988, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Kievan Rus" ultimately disintegrated into a number of smaller states; most of the Rus" lands ultimately were overrun by the Mongol invasion and became tributaries of the nomadic Golden Horde."The Mongol empire: its rise and legacy", By Michael Prawdin, Gérard Chaliand, (2005) page 512-550 The Grand Duchy of Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities, achieved independence from the Golden Horde, and came to dominate the cultural and political legacy of Kievan Rus". By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation, and exploration to become the Russian Empire, which was the third largest empire in history, stretching from Poland in Europe to Alaska in North America.Peter Turchin, Thomas D. Hall and Jonathan M. Adams, ", "Journal of World-Systems Research" Vol. 12 (no. 2), pp. 219-229 (2006).

Russia established worldwide power and influence from the times of the Russian Empire to being the largest and leading constituent of the Soviet Union, the world"s first constitutionally socialist state and a recognized superpower,
Superpower politics: change in the United States and the Soviet Union that played a decisive role in the Allied victory in World War II.Rozhnov, Konstantin, . BBC. The Soviet era saw some of the greatest technology achievements of the 20th century, such as the world"s first human spaceflight. The Russian Federation was founded following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, but is recognized as the continuing legal personality of the Soviet state. Russia has the world"s 10th largest economy by nominal GDP or the 6th largest by purchasing power parity, with the 5th largest nominal military budget. It is one of the five recognized nu weapons states and possesses the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. Russia is a great power and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a member of the G8, , the , the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Eurasian Economic Community, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and is the leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
History
Etymology
The country"s original name was Русь (Rus"), a medieval state populated mostly by the East Slavs. However, this proper name became more prominent in the later history, and the country typically was called by its inhabitants "Русская Земля" (russkaya zemlya) which could be translated as "Russian Land" or "Land of Rus". In order to distinguish this state from other states derived from it, it is denoted as Kievan Rus" by modern historiography.

An old Latin version of the name Rus" was Ruthenia, mostly applied to the western and southern regions of Rus" that were adjacent to Catholic Europe. The current name of the country, Россия (Rossiya), comes from the Greek version of Rus", spelled Ρωσία , which was the denomination of Kievan Rus in the Byzantine Empire.
Early periods
Kurgan hypothesis: South Russia as the urheimat of Indo-European peoples.
One of the first modern human bones of the age of 35 000 years was found in Russia, in Kostenki on the Don River banks. In prehistoric times the vast steppes of Southern Russia were home to tribes of nomadic pastoralists. Remnants of these steppe civilizations were discovered in such places as Ipatovo, Sintashta, Arkaim, and Pazyryk, which bear the earliest known traces of mounted warfare, a key feature in nomadic way of life.

In classical antiquity, the Pontic Steppe was known as Scythia. Since the 8th century BC, Ancient Greek traders brought their civilization to the trade emporiums in Tanais and Phanagoria. Between the 3rd and 6th centuries AD, the Bosporan Kingdom, a Hellenistic polity which succeeded the Greek colonies, was overwhelmed by nomadic invasions led by warlike tribes, such as the Huns and Eurasian Avars. A Turkic people, the Khazars, ruled the lower Volga basin steppes between the Caspian and Black Seas until the 8th century.

The ancestors of modern Russians are the Slavic tribes, whose original home is thought by some scholars to have been the wooded areas of the Pinsk Marshes. The East Slavs gradually settled Western Russia in two waves: one moving from Kiev toward present-day Suzdal and Murom and another from Polotsk toward Novgorod and Rostov. From the 7th century onwards, the East Slavs constituted the bulk of the population in Western Russia and slowly but peacefully assimilated the native Finno-Ugric peoples, including the Merya, the Muromians, and the Meshchera.
Kievan Rus"
Kievan Rus" in the 11th century
The establishment of the first East Slavic states in the 9th century coincided with the arrival of "Varangians", the Vikings who ventured along the waterways extending from the eastern Baltic to the Black and Caspian Seas. According to the Primary Chronicle, a Varangian from Rus" people, named Rurik, was elected ruler of Novgorod in 862. His successor Oleg the Prophet moved south and conquered Kiev in 882, which had been previously paying tribute to the Khazars; so the state of Kievan Rus" started. Oleg, Rurik"s son Igor and Igor"s son Svyatoslav subsequently subdued all East Slavic tribes to Kievan rule, destroyed the Khazar khaganate and launched several military expeditions to Byzantium.

In the 10th to 11th centuries Kievan Rus" became one of the largest and most prosperous states in Europe. The reigns of Vladimir the Great (980–1015) and his son Yaroslav I the Wise (1019–1054) constitute the Golden Age of Kiev, which saw the acceptance of Orthodox Christianity from Byzantium and the creation of the first East Slavic written legal code, the "Russkaya Pravda".

In the 11th and 12th centuries, constant incursions by nomadic Turkic tribes, such as the Kipchaks and the Pechenegs, caused a massive migration of Slavic populations to the safer, heavily forested regions of the north, particularly to the area known as Zalesye.

"The Baptism of Kievans", by Klavdy Lebedev.
The age of feudalism and decentralization had come, marked by constant in-fighting between members of the Rurikid Dynasty that ruled Kievan Rus" collectively. Kiev"s dominance waned, to the benefit of Vladimir-Suzdal in the north-east, Novgorod Republic in the north-west and Galicia-Volhynia in the south-west.

Ultimately Kievan Rus" disintegrated, with the final blow being the Mongol invasion of 1237–40, that resulted in the destruction of Kiev and the death of about half the population of Rus". The invaders, later known as Tatars, formed the state of the Golden Horde, which pillaged the Russian principalities and ruled the southern and central expanses of Russia for over three centuries.

Galicia-Volhynia was eventually assimilated by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, while the Mongol-dominated Vladimir-Suzdal and Novgorod Republic, two regions on the periphery of Kiev, established the basis for the modern Russian nation. The Novgorod together with Pskov retained some degree of autonomy during the time of the Mongol yoke and were largely spared the atrocities that affected the rest of the country. Led by Prince Alexander Nevsky, Novgorodians repelled the invading Swedes in the Battle of the Neva in 1240, as well as the Germanic crusaders in the Battle of the Ice in 1242, breaking their attempts to colonize the Northern Rus".
Grand Duchy of Moscow
Sergius of Radonezh blessing Dmitri Donskoi in Trinity Sergius Lavra, before the Battle of Kulikovo.
The most powerful successor state to Kievan Rus" was the Grand Duchy of Moscow ("Moscovy" in the Western chronicles), initially a part of Vladimir-Suzdal. While still under the domain of the Mongol-Tatars and with their connivance, Moscow began to assert its influence in Western Russia in the early 14th century.

Those were hard times, with frequent Mongol-Tatar raids and agriculture suffering from the beginning of the Little Ice Age. Like in the rest of Europe, plagues hit Russia somewhere once every five or six years from 1350 to 1490. However, due to the lower population density and better hygiene (widespread practicing of banya, the wet steam bath), the population loss caused by plagues was not so severe as in the Western Europe, and the pre-Plague populations were reached in Russia as early as 1500."". Joseph Patrick Byrne (2004). p.62. ISBN 0313324921

Led by Prince Dmitri Donskoy of Moscow and helped by the Russian Orthodox Church, the united army of Russian principalities inflicted a milestone defeat on the Mongol-Tatars in the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380. Moscow gradually absorbed the surrounding principalities, including the formerly strong rivals, such as Tver and Novgorod. This way Moscow became the main leading force in the process of Russia"s reunification and expansion.

Ivan III ("the Great") finally threw off the control of the Golden Horde, consolidated the whole of Central and Northern Rus" under Moscow"s dominion, and was the first to take the title "Grand Duke of all the Russias". After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Moscow claimed succession to the legacy of the Eastern Roman Empire. Ivan III married Sophia Palaiologina, the niece of the last Byzantine emperor Constantine XI, and made the Byzantine double-headed eagle his own, and eventually Russian, coat-of-arms.
Tsardom of Russia
Tsar Ivan IV by Ilya Repin
In development of the Third Rome ideas, the Grand Duke Ivan IV (the "Awesome"Frank D. McConnell. Oxford University Press, 1979. ISBN 0195025725; Quote from page 78: "But Ivan IV, Ivan the Terrible, or as the Russian has it, "Ivan Groznyi", "Ivan the Magnificent" or "Ivan the Awesome," is precisely a man who has become a legend" or "the Terrible") was officially crowned the first Tsar ("Caesar") of Russia in 1547. The Tsar promulgated a new code of laws (Sudebnik of 1550), established the first Russian feudal representative body (Zemsky Sobor) and introduced local self-management into the rural regions.

During his long reign, Ivan IV nearly doubled the already large Russian territory by annexing the three Tatar khanates (parts of disintegrated Golden Horde): Kazan and Astrakhan along the Volga River, and Sibirean Khanate in South Western Siberia. Thus by the end of the 16th century Russia was transformed into a multiethnic, multiconfessional and transcontinental state.

However, the Tsardom was weakened by the long and unsuccessful Livonian War against the coalition of Poland, Lithuania, and Sweden for access to the Baltic coast and sea trade. At the same time the Tatars of the Crimean Khanate, the only remaining successor to the Golden Horde, continued to raid Southern Russia,. Eizo Matsuki, Mediterranean Studies Group at Hitotsubashi University. and were even able to burn down Moscow in 1571.

Monument to Minin and Pozharsky in Moscow
The death of Ivan"s sons marked the end of the ancient Rurikid Dynasty in 1598, and in combination with the famine of 1601–03 led to the civil war, the rule of pretenders and foreign intervention during the Time of Troubles in the early 17th century. Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth occupied parts of Russia, including Moscow. In 1612 the Poles were forced to retreat by the Russian volunteer corps, led by two national heroes, merchant Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky. The Romanov Dynasty acceded the throne in 1613 by the decision of Zemsky Sobor, and the country started its gradual recovery from the crisis.

Russia continued its territorial growth through the 17th century, which was the age of Cossacks. Cossacks were warriors organized into military communities, resembling pirates and pioneers of the New World. In 1648, the peasants of Ukraine joined the Zaporozhian Cossacks in rebellion against Poland-Lithuania during the Khmelnytsky Uprising, because of the social and religious oppression they suffered under Polish rule. In 1654 the Ukrainian leader, Bohdan Khmelnytsky, offered to place Ukraine under the protection of the Russian Tsar, Aleksey I. Aleksey"s acceptance of this offer led to another Russo-Polish War (1654–1667). Finally, Ukraine was split along the river Dnieper, leaving the western part (or Right-bank Ukraine) under Polish rule and eastern part (Left-bank Ukraine and Kiev) under Russian. Later, in 1670–71 the Don Cossacks led by Stenka Razin initiated a major uprising in the Volga region, but the Tsar"s troops were successful in defeating the rebels.

In the east, the rapid Russian exploration and colonisation of the huge territories of Siberia was led mostly by Cossacks hunting for valuable furs and ivory. Russian explorers pushed eastward primarily along the Siberian river routes, and by the mid-17th century there were Russian settlements in the Eastern Siberia, on the Chukchi Peninsula, along the Amur River, and on the Pacific coast. In 1648 the Bering Strait between Asia and North America was passed for the first time by Fedot Popov and Semyon Dezhnyov.
Imperial Russia
Peter the Great, the first Emperor of Russia
Under Peter I ("the Great"), Russia was proclaimed an Empire in 1721 and became recognized as a world power. Ruling from 1682 to 1725, Peter defeated Sweden in the Great Northern War, forcing it to cede West Karelia and Ingria (two regions lost by Russia in the Time of Troubles), as well as Estland and Livland, securing Russia"s access to the sea and sea trade. On the Baltic Sea Peter founded a new capital called Saint Petersburg, later known as Russia"s "Window to Europe". Peter the Great"s reforms brought considerable Western European cultural influences to Russia.

The reign of Peter I"s daughter Elisabeth in 1741–62 saw Russia"s participation in the Seven Years War (1756–63). During this conflict Russia annexed Eastern Prussia for a while and even took Berlin. However, upon Elisabeth"s death, all these conquests were returned to Kingdom of Prussia by pro-Prussian Peter III of Russia.

Catherine II ("the Great"), who ruled in 1762–96, presided over the Age of Russian Enlightenment. She extended Russian political control over the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and incorporated most of its territories into Russia during the Partitions of Poland, pushing the Russian frontier westward into Central Europe. In the south, after successful Russo-Turkish Wars against the Ottoman Empire, Catherine advanced Russia"s boundary to the Black Sea, defeating the Crimean khanate. As a result of victories over the Ottomans, by the early 19th century Russia also made significant territorial gains in Transcaucasia. This continued with Alexander I"s (1801–25) wresting of Finland from the weakened kingdom of Sweden in 1809 and of Bessarabia from the Ottomans in 1812. At the same time Russians colonized Alaska and even founded settlements in California, like Fort Ross.

In 1803–06 the first Russian circumnavigation was made, later followed by other notable Russian sea exploration voyages. In 1820 a Russian expedition discovered the continent of Antarctica.

The Russian Empire in 1866 and its spheres of influence
In alliances with various European countries, Russia fought against Napoleon"s France. The French invasion of Russia at the height of Napoleon"s power in 1812 failed miserably as the obstinate resistance in combination with the bitterly cold Russian winter led to a disastrous defeat of invaders, in which more than 95% of the pan-European Grande Armée perished. Led by Mikhail Kutuzov and Barclay de Tolly, the Russian army ousted Napoleon from the country and drove through Europe in the war of the Sixth Coalition, finally entering Paris. Alexander I headed Russia"s delegation at the Congress of Vienna that defined the map of post-Napoleonic Europe.

The officers of the Napoleonic Wars brought ideas of liberalism back to Russia with them and attempted to curtail the tsar"s powers during the abortive Decembrist revolt of 1825. At the end of the conservative reign of Nicolas I (1825–55) a zenith period of Russia"s power and influence in Europe was disrupted by defeat in the Crimean War.

Nicholas"s successor Alexander II (1855–81) enacted significant changes in the country, including the emancipation reform of 1861. These "Great Reforms" spurred industrialization and modernized the Russian army, which had successfully liberated Bulgaria from Ottoman rule in 1877–78 Russo-Turkish War.

"Bolshevik" by Boris Kustodiev, a visual representation of the Russian Revolution
The late 19th century saw the rise of various socialist movements in Russia. Alexander II was killed in 1881 by revolutionary terrorists, and the reign of his son
Alexander III (1881–94) was less liberal but more peaceful. The last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II (1894–1917), was unable, however, to prevent the events of the Russian Revolution of 1905, triggered by the unsuccessful Russo-Japanese War and the demonstration incident known as Bloody Sunday. The uprising was put down, but the government was forced to concede major reforms, including granting the freedoms of speech and assembly, the legalization of political parties, and the creation of an elected legislative body, the State Duma of the Russian Empire.

In 1914 Russia entered World War I in response to Austria"s declaration of war on Russia"s ally Serbia, and fought across multiple fronts while isolated from its Triple Entente allies. In 1916 the Brusilov Offensive of the Russian Army almost completely destroyed the military of Austria-Hungary. However, the already-existing public distrust of the regime was deepened by the rising costs of war, high casualties, and rumors of corruption and treason. All this formed the climate for the Russian Revolution of 1917, carried out in two major acts.

The February Revolution forced Nicholas II to abdicate; he and his family were imprisoned and later executed during the Russian Civil War. The monarchy was replaced by a shaky coalition of political parties that declared itself the Provisional Government. An alternative socialist establishment existed alongside, the Petrograd Soviet, wielding power through the democratically elected councils of workers and peasants, called "Soviets". The rule of the new authorities only aggravated the crisis in the country, instead of resolving it. Eventually, the October Revolution, led by Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Provisional Government and created the world’s first socialist state.
Soviet Russia
The symbols of the Soviet era: Tatlin"s Tower project and the giant "Worker and Kolkhoz Woman" sculpture group.
Following the October Revolution, a civil war broke out between the anti-communist White movement and the new regime with its Red Army. Russia lost its Ukrainian, Polish, Baltic, and Finnish territories by signing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that concluded hostilities with the Central Powers in World War I. The Allied powers launched an unsuccessful military intervention in support of anti-Communist forces, while both the Bolsheviks and White movement carried out campaigns of deportations and executions against each other, known respectively as the Red Terror and White Terror. By the end of the civil war the Russian economy and infrastructure were heavily damaged. Millions became White émigrés,. James E. Hassell (1991). p.3. ISBN 087169817X and the Povolzhye famine claimed up to 5 million victims., International Committee of the Red Cross

The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (called "Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic" at the time) together with three other Soviet republics formed the Soviet Union, or USSR, on 30 December 1922. Out of the 15 republics of the USSR, the Russian SFSR was the largest in terms of size, and making up over half of the total USSR population, dominated the union for its entire 69-year history.

Following Lenin"s death in 1924, Joseph Stalin, an elected General Secretary of the Communist Party, managed to put down all opposition groups within the party and consolidate much power in his hands. Leon Trotsky, the main proponent of the world revolution, was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1929, and Stalin"s idea of socialism in one country became the primary line. The continued internal struggle in the Bolshevik party culminated in the Great Purge, a period of mass repressions in 1937–38, in which hundreds of thousands of people were executed, including military leaders convicted in coup d"état plots.Abbott Gleason (2009). ". Wiley-Blackwell. p.373. ISBN 1-4051-3560-3

The government launched a planned economy, industrialisation of the largely rural country, and collectivization of its agriculture. During this period of rapid economical and social changes, millions of people were sent to penal labor camps,Getty, Rittersporn, Zemskov. Victims of the Soviet Penal System in the Pre-War Years: A First Approach on the Basis of Archival Evidence. The American Historical Review, Vol. 98, No. 4 (Oct., 1993), pp. 1017-1049. including many political convicts, and millions were deported and exiled to remote areas of the Soviet Union. The transitional disorganisation of the country"s agriculture, combined with the harsh state policies and a drought, led to the famine of 1932–1933.R.W. Davies, S.G. Wheatcroft (2004). "The Years of Hunger: Soviet Agriculture, 1931–33". pp. 401 However, though with a heavy price, the Soviet Union was transformed from a largely agrarian economy to a major industrial powerhouse in a short span of time.

The Appeasement policy of Great Britain and France towards Adolf Hitler"s annexations of Ruhr, Austria and finally of Czechoslovakia enlarged the might of Nazi Germany and put a threat of war to the Soviet Union. Around the same time the German Reich allied with the Empire of Japan, a rival of the USSR in the Far East and an open enemy in the Soviet–Japanese Border Wars in 1938–39.

The Moscow Victory Parade of 1945 was the first major Soviet event recorded on color film.
In August 1939, after another failure of attempts to establish a counter-Nazism alliance with Britain and France, the Soviet government agreed to conclude the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Germany, pledging non-aggression between the two countries and dividing their spheres of influence in Eastern Europe. While Hitler conquered Poland, France and other countries acting on single front at the start of the World War II, the USSR was able to build up its military and regain some of the former territories of the Russian Empire during the Soviet invasion of Poland and the Winter War.

On 22 June 1941, Nazi Germany broke the non-aggression treaty and invaded the Soviet Union with the largest and most powerful invasion force in human history, opening the largest theater of the Second World War. Although the German army had considerable success early on, their onslaught was halted in the Battle of Moscow. Subsequently the Germans were dealt major defeats first at the Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942–43, and then in the Battle of Kursk in the summer of 1943. Another German failure was the Siege of Leningrad, in which the city was fully blockaded on land between 1941–44 by German and Finnish forces, suffering starvation and more than a million deaths, but never surrendering.. Cambridge University Press. Under Stalin"s administration and the leadership of such commanders as Georgy Zhukov and Konstantin Rokossovsky, Soviet forces drove through Eastern Europe in 1944–45 and captured Berlin in May 1945. In August 1945 the Soviet Army ousted Japanese from China"s Manchukuo and North Korea, contributing to the allied victory over Japan.

First human in space, Yuri Gagarin
The 1941–1945 period of World War II is known in Russia as the "Great Patriotic War". In this conflict, which included many of the most lethal battle operations in human history, Soviet military and civilian deaths were 10.6 million and 15.9 million respectively, accounting for about a third of all World War II casualties. The Soviet economy and infrastructure suffered massive devastation but the Soviet Union emerged as an acknowledged superpower.

The Red Army occupied Eastern Europe after the war, including East Germany. Dependent socialist governments were installed in the Eastern bloc satellite states. Becoming the world"s second nu weapons power, the USSR established the Warsaw Pact alliance and entered into a struggle for global dominance with the United States and NATO, which became known as the Cold War. The Soviet Union exported its Communist ideology to newly formed People"s Republic of China and North Korea, and later into Cuba and many other countries. Significant amounts of the Soviet resources were allocated in aid to the other socialist states. from "A Country Study: Soviet Union (Former)". Library of Congress Country Studies project.

After Stalin"s death and a short period of collective rule, new leader Nikita Khrushchev denounced the cult of personality of Stalin and launched the policy of de-Stalinization. Penal labor system was reformed and many prisoners were released and rehabilitated. The general easement of repressive policies became known later as the Khruschev thaw. At the same time, tensions with the United States heightened when the two rivals clashed over the deployment of the U.S. Jupiter missiles in Turkey and Soviet missiles in Cuba.

Soviet and Russian space station Mir
In 1957 the Soviet Union launched the world"s first artificial satellite, "Sputnik 1", thus starting the Space Age. Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth aboard "Vostok 1" manned spacecraft on 12 April 1961.

Following the ousting of voluntarist and erratic Khrushchev in 1964, another period of collective rule ensued, until Leonid Brezhnev became the leader. The era of 1970s and the early 1980s was designated later as Brezhnev stagnation, a period when the economic growth slowed and social policies became static. The Kosygin reform, aimed into partial decentralization of the Soviet economy and shifting the emphasis from heavy industry and weapons to light industry and consumer goods, was stifled by the conservative Communist leadership.

In 1979 the Soviet forces entered Afghanistan at the request of its communist government. The occupation drained economic resources and dragged on without achieving meaningful political results. Ultimately the Soviet Army was withdrawn from Afghanistan in 1989 because of international opposition, persistent anti-Soviet guerilla warfare (enhanced by the U.S.), and a lack of support from Soviet citizens.

From 1985 onwards, the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the policies of "glasnost" (openness) and "perestroika" (restructuring) in an attempt to modernize the country and make it more democratic. However, this led to the rise of strong nationalist and separatist movements. Prior to 1991, the Soviet economy was the second largest in the world, but during its last years it was afflicted by shortages of goods in grocery stores, huge budget deficits, and explosive growth in money supply leading to inflation.

In August 1991, an unsuccessful military coup, directed against Gorbachev and aimed at preserving the Soviet Union, instead led to its collapse and the end of socialist rule. The USSR was dissolved into 15 post-Soviet states in December 1991.
Russian Federation
Moscow International Business Center under construction
Boris Yeltsin was elected the President of Russia in June 1991, in the first direct presidential election in Russian history. During and after the Soviet disintegration, wide-ranging reforms including privatisation and
market and trade liberalization were being undertaken, including the radical changes along the lines of "shock therapy" as recommended by the United States and International Monetary Fund. All this resulted in a major economy crisis, characterized by 50% decline of both GDP and industrial output between 1990-95.

The privatization largely shifted control of enterprises from state agencies to individuals with inside connections in the government system. Many of the newly rich businesspeople took billions in cash and assets outside of the country in an enormous capital flight. The depression of state and economy led to the collapse of social services; the birth rate plummeted while the death rate skyrocketed. Millions plunged into poverty, from 1.5% level of poverty in the late Soviet era, to 39–49% by mid-1993. The 1990s saw extreme corruption and lawlessness, rise of criminal gangs and violent crime.

The 1990s were plagued by armed conflicts in the Northern Caucasus, both local ethnic skirmishes and separatist Islamist insurrections. Since the Chechen separatists had declared independence in the early 1990s, an intermittent guerrilla war was fought between the rebel groups and the Russian military. Terrorist attacks against civilians carried out by separatists, most notably the Moscow theater hostage crisis and Beslan school siege, caused hundreds of deaths and drew worldwide attention.

Russia took up the responsibility for settling the USSR"s external debts, even though its population made up just half of the population of the USSR at the time of its dissolution. High budget deficits caused the 1998 Russian financial crisis and resulted in further GDP decline.

On 31 December 1999 President Yeltsin resigned, handing the post to the recently appointed Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, who then won the 2000 presidential election. Putin suppressed the Chechen insurgency, although sporadic violence still occurs throughout the Northern Caucasus. High oil prices and initially weak currency followed by increasing domestic demand, consumption and investments has helped the economy grow for nine straight years, improving the standard of living and increasing Russia"s influence on the world stage. While many reforms made during the Putin presidency have been generally criticized by Western nations as un-democratic, Putin"s leadership over the return of order, stability, and progress has won him widespread popularity in Russia.

On 2 March 2008, Dmitry Medvedev was elected President of Russia, whilst Putin became Prime Minister.
Politics
Entrance to the Kremlin Senate, part of the Moscow Kremlin and the working residence of the Russian president
According to the Constitution of Russia, the country is a federation and semi-presidential republic, wherein the President is the head of state and the Prime Minister is the head of government. The Russian Federation is fundamentally structured as a multi-party representative democracy, with the federal government composed of three branches:
* Legislative: The bicameral Federal Assembly, made up of the 450-member State Duma and the 176-member Federation Council, adopts federal law, declares war, approves treaties, has the power of the purse and the power of impeachment of the President.
* Executive: The President is the commander-in-chief of the military, can veto legislative bills before they become law, and appoints the Cabinet and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies.
* Judiciary: The Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, Supreme Court of Arbitration and lower federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the Federation Council on the recommendation of the President, interpret laws and can overturn laws they deem unconstitutional.

The president is elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term, but not for a third consecutive term). Ministries of the government are composed of the Premier and his deputies, ministers, and selected other individuals; all are appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Prime Minister (whereas the appointment of the latter requires the consent of the State Duma). Leading political parties in Russia include United Russia, the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, and Fair Russia.

Western observers have raised questions as to how much of Russia"s political system corresponds to Western liberal democratic ideals. Academics have often complained about the difficulty of classifying Russia"s political system. According Steve White, during the Putin presidency Russia made that it had no intention of establishing a "second edition" of the American or British political system, but rather a system that was closer to Russia"s own traditions and circumstances. Richard Sakwa wrote that the Russian government is undoubtedly considered legitimate by the great majority of the Russian people and seeks to deliver a set of public goods without appealing to extra-democratic logic to achieve them, but whether the system was becoming an illiberal or delegative democracy was more contentious.
Foreign relations
Leaders of the nations in 2008: (l-r) Manmohan Singh of India, Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, Hu Jintao of China and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil.
The Russian Federation is recognized in international law as successor state of the former Soviet Union. Russia continues to implement the international commitments of the USSR, and has assumed the USSR"s permanent seat in the , membership in other international organizations, the rights and obligations under international treaties, and property and debts. Russia has a multifaceted foreign policy. As of 2009, it maintains diplomatic relations with 191 countries and has 144 embassies. The foreign policy is determined by the President and implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia.

As the successor to a former superpower, Russia"s geopolitical status has been often debated, particularly in relation to unipolar and multipolar views on the global political system. While Russia is commonly accepted to be a great power, in recent years it has been characterized by a number of world leaders, by Megan K. Stack. Sept 9, 2009 Russia Today News Feb 15, 2010 scholars, by Ronald Steel. New York Times, 24 August 2008 commentators and politicians CNN News August 30, 2008 as a currently reinstating or potential superpower. by Steven Rosefielde, Cambridge University Press, 2004 However, such a characterization has been disputed by others. Atlantic Review, August 25, 2008. Der Spiegel, October 16, 2008. Quote: "Nikonov: Russia is not a superpower and won"t be one for the foreseeable future. But Russia is a great power. It was one, it is one and it will continue to be one."

An important aspect of Russia"s relations with the West is the criticism of Russia"s political system and human rights management by the Western governments, the mass media and the leading democracy and human rights watchdogs. In particular, such organisations as the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch consider Russia to have not enough democratic attributes and to allow few political rights and civil liberties to its citizens.Human Rights Watch on Russia and Chechnya US-funded international organization Freedom House ranks Russia as "not free", citing "carefully engineered elections" and "absence" of debate. Russian authorities dismiss these claims and especially criticise Freedom House. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia has called the 2006 Freedom in the World Report "prefabricated", stating that the human rights issues have been turned into a political weapon in particular by the U. S. The ministry also claims that such organizations as Freedom House and Human Rights Watch use the same scheme of voluntary extrapolation of "isolated facts that of course can be found in any country" into "dominant tendencies".

As one of five permanent members of the , Russia plays a major role in maintaining international peace and security. The country participates in the and the Six-party talks with North Korea. Russia is a member of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations, the , OSCE and . Russia usually takes a leading role in regional organizations such as the CIS, EurAsEC, CSTO, and the SCO. at Globalsecurity.org April 27, 2005 Former President Vladimir Putin had advocated a strategic partnership with close integration in various dimensions including establishment of EU-Russia Common Spaces. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has developed a friendlier, albeit volatile relationship with NATO. The NATO-Russia Council was established in 2002 to allow the 26 Allies and Russia to work together as equal partners to pursue opportunities for joint collaboration.

Russia maintains strong and positive relations with other countries. In recent years, the country has sought to strengthen ties especially with the People"s Republic of China by signing the Treaty of Friendship as well as building the Trans-Siberian oil pipeline geared toward growing Chinese energy needs.
Military
Russian Knights and Swifts military aerobatic teams flying in a rhombus
The Russian military is divided into the Ground Forces, Navy, and Air Force. There are also three independent arms of service: Strategic Rocket Forces, Military Space Forces, and the Airborne Troops. In 2006, the military had 1.037 million personnel on active duty. It is mandatory for all male citizens aged 18–27 to be drafted for a year of service in Armed Forces.

Russia has the largest stockpile of nu weapons in the world. It has the second largest fleet of ballistic missile submarines and is the only country apart from the U.S. with a modern strategic bomber force. by David Nowak. The Associated Press, Sep 15, 2008 Russia"s tank force is the largest in the world, its surface navy and air force are among the strongest.

The country has a large and fully indigenous arms industry, producing most of its own military equipment with only few types of weapons imported. Russia is the world"s top supplier of arms, a spot it has held since 2001, accounting for around 30% of worldwide weapons sales and exporting weapons to about 80 countries.

Official government military spending for 2008 was $58 billion, the fifth largest in the world, though various sources have estimated Russia’s military expenditures to be considerably higher. Currently, a major equipment upgrade worth about $200 billion is on its way between 2006 and 2015.
Administrative divisions
federal subjects of the Russian Federation.
;Federal subjects
The Russian Federation comprises 83 federal subjects. These subjects have equal representation—two delegates each—in the Federation Council. However, they differ in the degree of autonomy they enjoy.
* 46 oblasts (provinces): most common type of federal subjects, with federally appointed governor and locally elected legislature.
* 21 republics: nominally autonomous; each has its own constitution, president, and parliament. Republics are allowed to establish their own official language alongside Russian but are represented by the federal government in international affairs. Republics are meant to be home to specific ethnic minorities.
* 9 krais (territories): essentially the same as oblasts. The "territory" designation is historic, originally given to frontier regions and later also to administrative divisions that comprised autonomous okrugs or autonomous oblasts.
* 4 autonomous okrugs (autonomous districts): originally autonomous entities within oblasts and krais created for ethnic minorities, their status was elevated to that of federal subjects in the 1990s. With the exception of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, all autonomous okrugs are still administratively subordinated to a krai or an oblast of which they are a part.
* 1 autonomous oblast (the Jewish Autonomous Oblast): originally autonomous oblasts were administrative units subordinated to krais. In 1990, all of them except the Jewish AO were elevated in status to that of a republic.
* 2 federal cities (Moscow and St. Petersburg): major cities that function as separate regions.

;Federal districts
Federal subjects are grouped into 8 federal districts, each administered by an envoy appointed by the President of Russia."Russian Classificaton of Economic Regions" (OK 024–95) of 1 January 1997 as amended by the Amendments #1/1998 through #5/2001. Section I. Federal Districts) Unlike the federal subjects, the federal districts are not a subnational level of government, but are a level of administration of the federal government. Federal districts" envoys serve as liaisons between the federal subjects and the federal government and are primarily responsible for overseeing the compliance of the federal subjects with the federal laws.
Geography
The topography of Russia
Russia is the largest country in the world; its total area is . There are 23 UNESCO , 40 UNESCO biosphere reserves, 40 national parks and 101 nature reserve. Russia has a wide natural resource base, including major deposits of timber, petroleum, natural gas, coal, ores and other mineral resources.
Topography ===The two widest separated points in Russia are about apart along a geodesic line. These points are: the boundary with Poland on a long Vistula Spit separating the Gdańsk Bay from the Vistula Lagoon; and the farthest southeast of the Kuril Islands. The points which are furthest separated in longitude are apart along a geodesic line. These points are: in the west, the same spit; in the east, the Big Diomede Island. The Russian Federation spans 9 time zo

Mount Elbrus, the highest point of the Caucasus, Russia and Europe
Most of Russia consists of vast stretches of plains that are predominantly steppe to the south and heavily forested to the north, with tundra along the northern coast. Russia possesses 10% of the world"s arable land. Mountain ranges are found along the southern borders, such as the Caucasus (containing Mount Elbrus, which at is the highest point in both Russia and Europe) and the Altai (containing Mount Belukha, which at the is the highest point of Siberia outside of the Russian Far East); and in the eastern parts, such as the Verkhoyansk Range or the volcanoes of Kamchatka Peninsula (containing Klyuchevskaya Sopka, which at the is the highest active volcano in Eurasia as well as the highest point of Asian Russia). The Ural Mountains, rich in mineral resources, form a north-south range that divides Europe and Asia.

Russia has an extensive coastline of over along the Arctic and Pacific Oceans, as well as along the Baltic Sea, Sea of Azov, Black Sea and Caspian Sea. The Barents Sea, White Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, East Siberian Sea, Chukchi Sea, Bering Sea, Sea of Okhotsk, and the Sea of Japan are linked to Russia via the Arctic and Pacific. Russia"s major islands and archipelagos include Novaya Zemlya, the Franz Josef Land, the Severnaya Zemlya, the New Siberian Islands, Wrangel Island, the Kuril Islands, and Sakhalin. The Diomede Islands (one controlled by Russia, the other by the U.S.) are just apart, and Kunashir Island is about from Hokkaidō, Japan.

Central Russian Upland near Zaraysk, Moscow Oblast
Russia has thousands of rivers and inland bodies of water providing it with one of the world"s largest surface water resources. The largest and most prominent of Russia"s bodies of fresh water is Lake Baikal, the world"s deepest, purest, oldest and most capacious freshwater lake. Baikal alone contains over one fifth of the world"s fresh surface water. Other major lakes include Ladoga and Onega, two of the largest lakes in Europe. Russia is second only to Brazil in volume of the total renewable water resources. Of the country"s 100,000 rivers, the Volga is the most famous, not only because it is the longest river in Europe, but also because of its major role in Russian history. The Siberian rivers Ob, Yenisey, Lena and Amur are among the very longest rivers in the world.
Climate
Taiga forest in winter, Arkhangelsk Oblast
The enormous size of Russia and the remoteness of many areas from the sea result in the dominance of the humid continental climate, which is prevalent in all parts of the country except for the tundra and the extreme southeast. Mountains in the south obstruct the flow of warm air masses from the Indian Ocean, while the plain of the west and north makes the country open to Arctic and Atlantic influences.

Most of Northern European Russia and Siberia has a subarctic climate, with extremely severe winters in the inner regions of Northeast Siberia (mostly the Sakha Republic, where the Northern Pole of Cold is located with the record low temperature of ), and more moderate elsewhere. The strip of land along the shore of the Arctic Ocean, as well as the Russian Arctic islands, have a polar climate.

The coastal part of Krasnodar Krai on the Black Sea, most notably in Sochi, possesses a humid subtropical climate with mild and wet winters. Winter is dry compared to summer in many regions of East Siberia and the Far East, while other parts of the country experience more even precipitation across seasons. Winter precipitation in most parts of the country usually falls as snow. The region along the Lower Volga and Caspian Sea coast, as well as some areas of southernmost Siberia, possesses a semi-arid climate.

A birch forest in Novosibirsk. Birch is a national tree of Russia.
Throughout much of the territory there are only two distinct seasons—winter and summer; spring and autumn are usually brief periods of change between extremely low temperatures and extremely high. The coldest month is January (February on the coastline), the warmest usually is July. Great ranges of temperature are typical. In winter, temperatures get colder both from south to north and from west to east. Summers can be quite hot, even in Siberia. The continental interiors are the driest areas.
Biodiversity
The Brown bear is a symbol of Russia
From north to south the East European Plain, also known as Russian Plain, is clad sequentially in Arctic tundra, coniferous forest (taiga), mixed and broad-leaf forests, grassland (steppe), and semi-desert (fringing the Caspian Sea), as the changes in vegetation reflect the changes in climate. Siberia supports a similar sequence but is largely taiga. Russia has the world"s largest forest reserves, known as "the lungs of Europe", second only to the Amazon Rainforest in the amount of carbon dioxide it absorbs.

There are 266 mammal species and 780 bird species in Russia. A total of 415 animal species have been included in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation as of 1997 and are now protected.
Economy
Russia has a market economy with enormous natural resources, particularly oil and natural gas. It has the 10th largest economy in the world by nominal GDP and the 6th largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). Since the turn of the 21st century, higher domestic consumption and greater political stability have bolstered economic growth in Russia. The country ended 2008 with its ninth straight year of growth, averaging 7% annually. Growth was primarily driven by non-traded services and goods for the domestic market, as opposed to oil or mineral extraction and exports. The average salary in Russia was $640 per month in early 2008, up from $80 in 2000. Approximately 13.7% of Russians lived below the national poverty line in 2010, significantly down from 40% in 1998 at the worst of the post-Soviet collapse. Unemployment in Russia was at 6% in 2007, down from about 12.4% in 1999. The middle class has grown from just 8 million persons in 2000 to 55 million persons in 2006.

Russian economy since the end of the Soviet Union
Oil, natural gas, metals, and timber account for more than 80% of Russian exports abroad. Since 2003, however, exports of natural resources started decreasing in economic importance as the internal market strengthened considerably. Despite higher energy prices, oil and gas only contribute to 5.7% of Russia"s GDP and the government predicts this will drop to 3.7% by 2011. Oil export earnings allowed Russia to its foreign reserves from $12 billion in 1999 to $597.3 billion on 1 August 2008, the third largest foreign exchange reserves in the world. The macroeconomic policy under Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin was prudent and sound, with excess income being stored in the Stabilization Fund of Russia. In 2006, Russia repaid most of its formerly massive debts, leaving it with one of the lowest foreign debts among major economies., CIA World Factbook. Accessed on May 22, 2010. The Stabilization Fund helped Russia to come out out of the global financial crisis in a much better state than many experts had expected.

A simpler, more streamlined tax code adopted in 2001 reduced the tax burden on people and dramatically d state revenue. Russia has a flat tax rate of 13 percent. This ranks it as the country with the second most attractive personal tax system for single managers in the world after the United Arab Emirates. According to Bloomberg, Russia is considered well ahead of most other resource-rich countries in its economic development, with a long tradition of education, science, and industry. The country has more higher education graduates than any other country in Europe.

The economic development of the country has been uneven geographically with the Moscow region contributing a very large share of the country"s GDP. Another problem is modernisation of infrastructure, ageing and inadequate after years of being neglected in 1990s; the government has said $1 trillion will be invested in development of infrastructure by 2020.
Agriculture
"Rye Fields", by Ivan Shishkin. Russia is the world"s top producer of rye, barley, buckwheat, oats and sunflower seed, and one of the largest producers and exporters of wheat.
The total area of cultivated land in Russia was estimated as 1,237,294 km2 in 2005, the fourth largest in the world. CIA World Factbook In 1999–2009, Russia"s agriculture demonstrated steady growth, by Rosstat and the country turned from a grain importer to the third largest grain exporter after EU and USA., rosbankjournal.ru The production of meat has grown from 6,813,000 tonnes in 1999 to 9,331,000 tonnes in 2008, and continues to grow. by Rosstat

This restoration of agriculture was supported by credit policy of the government, helping both individual farmers and large privatized corporate farms, that once were Soviet kolkhozes and still own the significant share of agricultural land. Rosstat, 2009 While large farms concentrate mainly on the production of grain and husbandry products, small private household plots produce most of the country"s yield of potatoes, vegetables and fruits. Rosstat, 2009

With access to three of the world"s oceans—the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific—Russian fishing fleets are a major contributor to the world"s fish supply. The total capture of fish was at 3,191,068 tons in 2005. guardian.co.uk Both exports and imports of fish and sea products grew significantly in the recent years, reaching correspondingly $2,415 and $2,036 millions in 2008. Rosstat, 2009
Energy
oil and gas supplier to much of Europe.
In recent years, Russia has frequently been described in the media as an energy superpower. by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen. Wall Street Journal, Sept 22, 2010 by Graham Winfrey. Business Insider, 6 Jan 2010 The country has the world"s largest natural gas reserves,. Retrieved 5 October 2010. the 8th largest oil reserves,. Retrieved 5 October 2010. and the second largest coal reserves. Russia is the world"s leading natural gas exporter. Retrieved 5 October 2010. and second leading natural gas producer,. Retrieved 5 October 2010. while also the second largest oil exporter. Retrieved 5 October 2010. and largest oil producer,. Retrieved 5 October 2010. though Russia interchanges the latter status with Saudi Arabia from time to time.

Russia is the 3rd largest electricity producer in the world. Retrieved 5 October 2010. and the 5th largest renewable energy producer, the latter due to the well-developed hydroelectricity production in the country. Large cascades of hydropower plants are built in European Russia along big rivers like Volga. The Asian part of Russia also features a number of major hydropower stations, however the gigantic hydroelectric potential of Siberia and the Russian Far East largely remains unexploited.

Russia was the first country to develop civilian nu power and to construct the world"s first nu power plant. Currently the country is the 4th largest nu energy producer., International Atomic Energy Agency. Retrieved 12 June 2006. Nu power in Russia is managed by Rosatom State Corporation. The sector is rapidly developing, with an aim of increasing the total share of nu energy from current 16.9% to 23% by 2020. The Russian government plans to allocate 127 billion rubles ($5.42 billion) to a federal program dedicated to the next generation of nu energy technology. About 1 trillion rubles ($42.7 billion) is to be allocated from the federal budget to nu power and industry development before 2015. at amur.kp.ru
Transport
The marker for kilometre 9288, at the end of the Trans-Siberian Railway in Vladivostok.
Railway transport in Russia is mostly under the control of the state-run Russian Railways monopoly. The company accounts for over 3.6% of Russia’s GDP and handles 39% of the total freight traffic (including pipelines) and more than 42% of passenger traffic. The total length of common-used railway tracks exceeeds 85,500 km, second only to the U.S. Over 44,000 km of tracks are electrified, which is the largest number in the world, and additionally there are more than 30,000 km of industrial non-common carrier lines. Railways in Russia, unlike in the most of the world, use broad gauge of , with the exception of 957 km on Sakhalin Island using narrow gauge of . The most renown railway in Russia is Trans-Siberian ("Transsib"), spanning a record 7 time zones and serving the longest single continuous services in the world, Moscow-Vladivostok (9,259 km, 5,753 mi), Moscow–Pyongyang (10,267 km, 6,380 mi), route No. 002, Moscow-Pyongyang, August 2009. Note: several different routes have the same number. and Kiev–Vladivostok (11,085 km, 6,888 mi)., route No. 350, Kiev-Vladivostok, August 2009.

As of 2006 Russia had 933,000 km of roads, of which 755,000 were paved. Retrieved on 10 June 2009 Some of these make up the Russian federal motorway system. With a large land area the road density is the lowest of all the G8 and countries.

102,000 km of inland waterways in Russia mostly go by natural rivers or lakes. In the European part of the country the network of channels connects the basins of major rivers. Russia"s capital, Moscow, is sometimes called "the port of the five seas", due to its waterway connections to the Baltic, White, Caspian, Azov and Black Seas.

Major sea ports of Russia include Rostov-on-Don on the Azov Sea, Novorossiysk on the Black Sea, Astrakhan and Makhachkala on the Caspian, Kaliningrad and St Petersburg on the Baltic, Arkhangelsk on the White Sea, Murmansk on the Barents Sea, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean. In 2008 the country owned 1448 merchant marine ships. The world"s only fleet of nu icebreakers advances the economic exploitation of the Arctic continental shelf of Russia and the development of sea trade through the Northern Sea Route between Europe and East Asia.

Yamal", one of Russia"s nu icebreakers ().
By total length of pipelines Russia is second only to the U.S. Currently many new pipeline projects are being realized, including Nord Stream and South Stream natural gas pipelines to Europe, and ESPO oil pipeline to the Russian Far East and China.

Russia has 1216 airports, the busiest being Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo, and Vnukovo in Moscow, and Pulkovo in St Petersburg. The total length of airlines in Russia exceeds 600,000 km.

Typically, major Russian cities have well-developed and diverse systems of public transport, with the most common varieties of exploited vehicles being bus, trolleybus and tram. Seven Russian cities, namely Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Samara, Yekaterinburg and Kazan, have undeground metros, while Volgograd features a metrotram. Total length of metros in Russia is 465.4 km. Moscow Metro and Saint Petersburg Metro are the oldest in Russia, opened in 1935 and 1955 respectively. These two are among the fastest and busiest metro systems in the world, and are famous for rich decorations and unique designs of their stations, which is a common tradition on Russian metros and railways.
Science and technology
Science and technology in Russia blossomed since the Age of Enlightenment, when Peter the Great founded the Russian Academy of Sciences and Saint Petersburg State University, and polymath Mikhail Lomonosov established the Moscow State University, paving the way for a strong native tradition in learning and innovation. In the 19th and 20th centuries the country produced a large number of notable scientists and inventors.

Mikhail Lomonosov, polymath scientist, inventor, poet and artist
The Russian physics school began with Lomonosov who proposed the law of conservation of matter preceding the energy conservation law. Russian discoveries and inventions in physics include the electric arc, electrodynamical Lenz"s law, space groups of crystals, photoelectric cell, Cherenkov radiation, electron paramagnetic resonance, heterotransistors and 3D holography. Lasers and masers were co-invented by Nikolai Basov and Alexander Prokhorov, while the idea of tokamak for controlled nu fusion was introduced by Igor Tamm, Andrei Sakharov and Lev Artsimovich, leading eventually the modern international ITER project, where Russia is a party.

Since the time of Nikolay Lobachevsky (a "Copernicus of Geometry" who pioneered the non-Euclidean geometry) and a prominent tutor Pafnuty Chebyshev, the Russian mathematical school became one of the most influential in the world. Chebyshev"s students included Aleksandr Lyapunov, who founded the modern stability theory, and Andrey Markov who invented the Markov chains. In the 20th century Soviet mathematicians, such as Andrey Kolmogorov, Israel Gelfand and Sergey Sobolev, made major contributions to various areas of mathematics. Nine Soviet/Russian mathematicians were awarded with Fields Medal, a most prestigious award in mathematics. Recently Grigori Perelman was offered the first ever Clay Millennium Prize Problems Award for his final proof of the Poincaré conjecture in 2002.

Russian chemist Dmitry Mendeleev invented the Periodic table, the main framework of modern chemistry. Aleksandr Butlerov was one of the creators of the theory of chemical structure, playing a central role in organic chemistry. Russian biologists include Dmitry Ivanovsky who discovered viruses, Ivan Pavlov who was the first to experiment with the classical conditioning, and Ilya Mechnikov who was a pioneer researcher of the immune system and probiotics.

Many Russian scientists and inventors were émigrés, like Igor Sikorsky, who built the first airliners and modern-type helicopters; Vladimir Zworykin, often called the father of TV; chemist Ilya Prigogine, noted for his work on dissipative structures and complex systems; Nobel Prize-winning economists Simon Kuznets and Wassily Leontief; physicist Georgiy Gamov (an author of the Big Bang theory) and social scientist Pitirim Sorokin. Many foreigners worked in Russia for a long time, like Leonard Euler and Alfred Nobel.

Soyuz TMA-2 is launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan carrying one of the first resident crews to the International Space Station.
Russian inventions include the arc welding by Nikolay Benardos, further developed by Nikolay Slavyanov, Konstantin Khrenov and other Russian engineers. Gleb Kotelnikov invented the knapsack parachute, while Evgeniy Chertovsky introduced the pressure suit. Alexander Lodygin and Pavel Yablochkov were pioneers of electric lighting, and Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky introduced the first three-phase electric power systems, widely used today. Sergei Lebedev invented the first commercially viable and mass-produced type of synthetic rubber. The first ternary computer, "Setun", was developed by Nikolay Brusentsov,

Russian achievements in the field of space technology and space exploration are traced back to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the father of theoretical austronautics. His works had inspired leading Soviet rocket engineers, such as Sergey Korolyov, Valentin Glushko and many others who contributed to the success of the Soviet space program on early stages of the Space Race and beyond. In 1957 the first Earth-orbiting artificial satellite, "Sputnik 1", was launched; in 1961 the first human trip into space was successfully made by Yury Gagarin; and many other Soviet and Russian space exploration records ensued, including the first spacewalk performed by Alexey Leonov, the first space exploration rover "Lunokhod-1" and the first space station "Salyut 1". Nowadays Russia is the largest satellite launcher and the only provider of transport for space tourism services.

In the 20th century a number of prominent Soviet aerospace engineers, inspired by the fundamental works of Nikolai Zhukovsky, Sergei Chaplygin and others, designed many hundreds of models of military and civilian aircraft and founded a number of "KBs" ("Construction Bureaus") that now constitute the bulk of Russian United Aircraft Corporation. Famous Russian aircrafts include the civilian Tu-series, Su and MiG fighter aircrafts, Ka and Mi-series helicopters; many Russian aircraft models are on the list of most produced aircraft in history.

Famous Russian battle tanks include T-34, the best tank design of World War II, by George Parada (n.d.) "Achtung Panzer!" website, retrieved on 17 November 2008 and further tanks of T-series, including the most produced tank in history, T-54/55.Halberstadt, Hans Inside the Great Tanks The Crowood Press Ltd. Wiltshire, England 1997 94–96 ISBN 1-86126-270-1: "The T-54/T-55 series is the hands down, all time most popular tank in history." The AK-47 and AK-74 by Mikhail Kalashnikov constitute the most widely used type of assault rifle throughout the world—so much so that more AK-type rifles have been manufactured than all other assault rifles combined.

With all these achievements, however, since the late Soviet era Russia was lagging behind the West in a number of technologies, mostly those related to energy conservation and consumer goods production. The crisis of 1990-s led to the drastic reduction of the state support for science and a brain drain migration from Russia.

In 2000-s, on the wave of a new economic boom, the situation in the Russian science and technology has improved, and the government launched a campaign aimed into modernisation and innovation. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev formulated top 5 priorities for the country"s technological development: efficient energy use, IT (including both common products and the products combined with space technology), nu energy and pharmaceuticals. RIA Novosti Currently Russia is completing GLONASS (the only global satellite navigation system apart from American GPS), as well as developing its own fifth-generation jet fighter and constructing the first serial mobile nu plant.
Demographics



Population (in millions) 1950–1991 of Russian SFSR in USSR, 1991 – 1 January 2010 of Russian Federation.
Ethnic Russians comprise 79.8% of the country"s population; however the Russian Federation is also home to several sizeable minorities. In total, 160 different other ethnic groups and indigenous peoples live within its borders., 2002 census, Demoscope Weekly. Retrieved 5 February 2009. Though Russia"s population is comparatively large, its density is low because of the country"s enormous size. Population is densest in European Russia, near the Ural Mountains, and in southwest Siberia. 73% of the population lives in urban areas while 27% in rural ones. The total population is 141,927,297 people as of 1 January 2010.

Russian population peaked at 148,689,000 in 1991, just before the breakup of the Soviet Union. It began to experience a rapid decline starting in the mid-90s. The decline has slowed to near stagnation in recent years due to reduced death rates, d birth rates and d immigration.

In 2009 Russia recorded annual population growth for the first time in 15 years, with total growth of 10.5 thousand. by Rosstat. Retrieved on October 5, 2010 279,906 migrants arrived to the Russian Federation the same year, of which 93% came from CIS countries. The number of Russian emigrants steadily declined from 359,000 in 2000 to 32,000 in 2009. There are also an estimated 10 million illegal immigrants from the ex-Soviet states in Russia. Roughly 116 million ethnic Russians live in Russia and about 20 million more live in other former republics of the Soviet Union, Times Online. 9 February 2006. mostly in Ukraine and Kazakhstan. by Moya Flynn (1994). p.15. ISBN 1843311178

Russia"s birth-rate is higher than that of most European countries (12.4 births per 1000 people in 2008 compared to the European Union average of 9.90 per 1000), while the death rate is substantially higher (in 2009, Russia"s death rate was 14.2 per 1000 people compared to the EU average of 10.28 per 1000). However, the Russian Ministry of Health and Social Affairs predicts that by 2011 the death rate will equal the birth rate due to in fertility and decline in mortality. The government is implementing a number of programs designed to the birth rate and attract more migrants. Monthly child support payments were doubled to US$55, and a one-time payment of US$9,200 was offered to women who had a second child since 2007. In 2009 Russia saw the highest birth rate since the collapse of the USSR. Demoscope Weekly. Retrieved October, 2010.
Largest cities

Language
Countries where the Russian language is spoken.
Russia"s 160 ethnic groups speak some 100 languages. According to the 2002 census, 142.6 million people speak Russian, followed by Tatar with 5.3 million and Ukrainian with 1.8 million speakers. Russian is the only official state language, but the Constitution gives the individual republics the right to make their native language co-official next to Russian.

Despite its wide dispersal, the Russian language is homogeneous throughout Russia. Russian is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia and the most widely spoken Slavic language. It belongs to the Indo-European language family and is one of the living members of the East Slavic languages; the others being Belarusian and Ukrainian (and possibly Rusyn). Written examples of Old East Slavic ("Old Russian") are attested from the 10th century onwards. foreigntranslations.com

The Russian Language Center says a quarter of the world"s scientific literature is published in Russian. It is also applied as a means of coding and storage of universal knowledge—60–70% of all world information is published in the English and Russian languages. Russian is one of the six official languages of the UN.
Religion
"All Religions Temple" in a multicultural city of Kazan
Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism are Russia’s traditional religions, legally a part of Russia"s "historical heritage". Estimates of believers widely fluctuate among sources, and some reports put the number of non-believers in Russia at 16–48% of the population.

Traced back to the Christianization of Kievan Rus" in the 10th century, Russian Orthodoxy is the dominant religion in the country; approximately 100 million citizens consider themselves Russian Orthodox Christians. 95% of the registered Orthodox parishes belong to the Russian Orthodox Church while there are a number of smaller Orthodox Churches. However, the vast majority of Orthodox believers do not attend church on a regular basis. Smaller Christian denominations such as Catholics, Armenian Gregorians, and various Protestants exist.

Estimates of the number of Muslims in Russia range from 7–9 to 15–20 million. Also there are 3 to 4 million Muslim migrants from the post-Soviet states. Most Muslims live in the Volga-Ural region, as well as in the Caucasus, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Western Siberia.

Buddhism is traditional for three regions of the Russian Federation: Buryatia, Tuva, and Kalmykia. Some residents of the Siberian and Far Eastern regions, such as Yakutia and Chukotka, practice shamanist, pantheistic, and pagan rites, along with the major religions. Induction into religion takes place primarily along ethnic lines. Slavs are overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian, Turkic speakers are predominantly Muslim, and Mongolic peoples are Buddhists.
Health
A mobile clinic used to provide health care at remote railway stations
The Russian Constitution guarantees free, universal health care for all citizens. In practice, however, free health care is partially restricted due to propiska regime. While Russia has more physicians, hospitals, and health care workers than almost any other country in the world on a per capita basis, since the collapse of the Soviet Union the health of the Russian population has declined considerably as a result of social, economic, and lifestyle changes; the trend has been reversed only in the recent years, with average life expectancy having d 2.4 years for males and 1.4 years for females between 2006-09.

As of 2009, the average life expectancy in Russia was 62.77 years for males and 74.67 years for females. Rosstat. Retrieved on August 21, 2010 The biggest factor contributing to the relatively low male life expectancy for males is a high mortality rate among working-age males from preventable causes (e.g., alcohol poisoning, smoking, traffic accidents, violent crime). As a result of the large gender difference in life expectancy and because of the lasting effect of high casualties in World War II, the gender imbalance remains to this day and there are 0.859 males to every female.
Education
A school in Moscow. The tower of the Moscow State University is seen at the distance.
Russia has a free education system guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution, however an entry to higher education is highly competitive. As a result of great emphasis on science and technology in education, Russian medical, mathematical, scientific, and aerospace research is generally of a high order.

Since 1990 the 11-year school training has been introduced. Education in state-owned secondary schools is free; "first" tertiary (university level) education is free with reservations: a substantial share of students is enrolled for full pay (many state institutions started to open commercial positions in the last years).

In 2004 state spending for education amounted to 3.6% of GDP, or 13% of consolidated state budget. The Government allocates funding to pay the tuition fees within an established quota or number of students for each state institution. In the higher education institutions, students are paid a small stipend and provided with free housing.

The oldest and largest Russian universities are Moscow State University and Saint Petersburg State University. In 2000s, in order to create higher education and research institutions of comparable scale in the Russian regions, the government launched the program of establishing the "federal universities", mostly by merging the existing large regional universities and research institutes and providing them with a special funding. These new institutions include Southern Federal University, Siberian Federal University, Kazan Volga Federal University, North-Eastern Federal University and Far Eastern Federal University.
Culture
Folk culture and cuisine
"The Merchant"s Wife" by Boris Kustodiev, showcasing the Russian tea culture.
There are over 160 different ethnic groups and indigenous peoples in Russia. Ethnic Russians with their Slavic Orthodox traditions, Tatars and Bashkirs with their Turkic Muslim culture, Buddhist nomadic Buryats and Kalmyks, Shamanistic peoples of the Extreme North and Siberia, highlanders of the Northern Caucasus, Finno-Ugric peoples of the Russian North West and Volga Region all contribute to the cultural diversity of the country.

Handicraft, like Dymkovo toy, khokhloma, gzhel and palekh miniature represent an important aspect of Russian folk culture. Ethnic Russian clothes include kaftan, kosovorotka and ushanka for men, sarafan and kokoshnik for women, with lapti and valenki as common shoes. The clothes of Cossacks from Southern Russia include burka and papaha, which they share with the peoples of the Northern Caucasus.

Russian cuisine widely uses fish, poultry, mushrooms, berries, and honey. Crops of rye, wheat, barley, and millet provide the ingredients for various breads, pancakes and cereals, as well as for kvass, beer and vodka drinks. Black bread is rather popular in Russia, compared to the rest of the world. Flavourful soups and stews include shchi, borsch, ukha, solyanka and okroshka. Smetana (a heavy sour cream) is often added to soups and salads. Pirozhki, blini and syrniki are native types of pancakes. Chicken Kiev, pelmeni and shashlyk are popular meat dishes, the last two being of Tatar and Caucasus origin respectively. Salads include Russian salad, vinaigrette and Dressed Herring.

Russia"s large number of ethnic groups have distinctive traditions of folk music. Typical ethnic Russian musical instruments are gusli, balalaika, zhaleika and garmoshka. Folk music had great influence on Russian classical composers, and in modern times it is a source of inspiration for a number of popular folk bands, including Melnitsa. Russian folk songs, as well as patriotic Soviet songs, constitute the bulk of repertoire of the world-renown Red Army choir and other popular ensembles.

Russians have many traditions, including the washing in banya, a hot steam bath somewhat similar to sauna. Old Russian folklore takes its roots in the pagan Slavic religion. Many Russian fairy tales and epic bylinas were adaptated for animation films, or for feature movies by the prominent directors like Aleksandr Ptushko ("Ilya Muromets (film)|Ilya Muromets", "Sadko (film)|Sadko") and Aleksandr Rou ("Morozko", "Vasilisa the Beautiful"). Russian poets, including Pyotr Pavlovich Yershov|Pyotr Yershov and Leonid Filatov, made a number of well-known poetical interpretations of the classical fairy tales, and in some cases, like that of Alexander Pushkin, also created fully original fairy tale poems of great popularity.
Architecture
File:RedSquare SaintBasile (pixinn.net).jpg|thumb|left|upright|200px|Saint Basil"s Cathedral in Moscow, the masterpiece of Russian architecture
Since Christianization of Kievan Rus" for several ages Russian architecture was influenced predominantly by the Byzantine architecture. Apart from fortifications (kremlins), the main stone buildings of ancient Rus" were Orthodox church (building)|Orthodox churches with their many domes, often gilded or brightly painted.

Aristotle Fioravanti and other Italian architects brought Renaissance trends into Russia since the late 15th century, while the 16th century saw the development of unique tent-like churches by Sergey Zagraevsky at RusArch.ru culminating in Saint Basil"s Cathedral. By that time the onion dome design was also fully developed. by Sergey Zagraevsky at the site of RusArch.ru In the 17th century, the "fiery style" of ornamentation flourished in Moscow and Yaroslavl, gradually paving the way for the Naryshkin baroque of the 1690s. After the reforms of Peter the Great the change of architectural styles in Russia generally followed that in the Western Europe.

The 18th-century taste for rococo architecture led to the ornate works of Bartolomeo Rastrelli and his followers. The reigns of Catherine the Great and her grandson Alexander I of Russia|Alexander I saw the flourishing of Neoclassical architecture, most notably in the capital city of Saint Petersburg. The second half of the 19th century was dominated by the Neo-Byzantine architecture in the Russian Empire|Neo-Byzantine and Russian Revival styles. Prevalent styles of the 20th century were the Art Nouveau, Constructivist architecture|Constructivism, and the Stalin Empire style.

In 1955 a new Soviet leader, Nikita Khruschev, condemned the "excesses" of the former academic architecture,Russian: Постановление ЦК КПСС и СМ СССР "Об устранении излишеств в проектировании и строительстве", 04.11.1955 (Khruschev"s decree "On liquidation of excesses ...") and the late Soviet era was dominated by plain functionalism in architecture. This helped somewhat to resolve the housing problem, but created a large quantity of buildings of low architectural quality, much in contrast with the previous bright styles. The situation improved in the recent two decades. Many temples demolished in Soviet times were rebuilt, and this process continues along with the restoration of various historical buildings destroyed in World War II. A total of 23,000 Orthodox churches have been rebuilt between 1991-2010, which effectively quadrapled the number of operating churches in Russia. RIA Novosti
Visual arts
File:Andrej Rublëv 001.jpg|thumb|200px|upright|The "Trinity (Rublev)|Trinity" icon by Andrei Rublev.
Early Russian painting is represented in Russian icons|icons and vibrant frescos, the two genres inherited from Byzantium. As Moscow rose to power, Theophanes the Greek, Dionisius and Andrei Rublev became vital names associated with a distinctly Russian art.

The Russian Academy of Arts was created in 1757 official site. and gave Russian artists an international role and status. Ivan Argunov, Dmitry Levitzky, Vladimir Borovikovsky and other 18th century academicians mostly focused on portrait painting. In the early 19th century, when neoclassicism and romantism flourished, mythological and Biblical themes inspired many prominent painings, notably by Karl Briullov and Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov|Alexander Ivanov.

In the mid-19th century the "Peredvizhniki" ("Wanderers") group of artists broke with the Academy and initiated a school of art liberated from academic restrictions. These were mostly Realism (visual arts)|realist painters who captured Russian identity in landscapes of wide rivers, forests, and birch ings, as well as vigorous genre scenes and robust portraits of their contemporaries. Some artists focused on depicting dramatic moments in Russian history, while others turned to social criticism, showing the conditions of the poor and caricaturing authority; critical realism flourished under the reign of Alexander II. Leading realists include Ivan Shishkin, Arkhip Kuindzhi, Ivan Kramskoi, Vasily Polenov, Isaac Levitan, Vasily Surikov, Viktor Vasnetsov, Ilya Repin and Boris Kustodiev.

The turn of the 20th century saw the rise of symbolism (art)|symbolist painting, represented by Mikhail Vrubel, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin and Nicholas Roerich.

The Russian avant-garde was a large, influential wave of modernist art that flourished in Russia from approximately 1890 to 1930. The term covers many separate, but inextricably related, art movements that occurred at the time; namely neo-primitivism, suprematism, constructivism (art)|constructivism, rayonism, and Russian Futurism. Notable artists from this era include El Lissitzky, Kazimir Malevich, Wassily Kandinsky, and Marc Chagall. Since 1930s the revolutionary ideas of the avant-garde clashed with the newly emerged conservative direction of socialist realism.

Soviet art produced works that were furiously patriotic and anti-fascist during and after the Great Patriotic War. Multiple war memorials, marked by a great restrained solemnity, were built throughout the country. Soviet artists often combined innovation with socialist realism, notably the sculptors Vera Mukhina, Yevgeny Vuchetich and Ernst Neizvestny.
Music and dance
File:Snowdance.jpg|thumb|left|upright|180px|The "Snowdance" scene from "The Nutcracker" ballet, composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Music in 19th century Russia was defined by the tension between classical composer Mikhail Glinka along with The Five|his followers, who embraced Russian national identity and added religious and folk elements to their compositions, and the Russian Musical Society led by composers Anton Rubinstein|Anton and Nikolay Rubinsteins, which was musically conservative. The later tradition of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, one of the greatest composers of the Romantic music|Romantic era, was continued into the 20th century by Sergei Rachmaninoff. World-renown composers of the 20th century included also Alexander Scriabin, Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich and Alfred Schnittke.

Russian conservatories have turned out generations of famous soloists. Among the best known are violinists David Oistrakh and Gidon Kremer; cellist Mstislav Rostropovich; pianists Vladimir Horowitz, Sviatoslav Richter, and Emil Gilels; and vocalists Fyodor Shalyapin, Galina Vishnevskaya, Anna Netrebko and Dmitry Hvorostovsky.

During the early 20th century, Russian ballet dancers Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky rose to fame, and impresario Sergei Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes" travels abroad profoundly influenced the development of dance worldwide. Soviet ballet preserved the perfected 19th century traditions, and the Soviet Union"s choreography schools produced many internationally famous stars, including Maya Plisetskaya, Rudolf Nureyev, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. The Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and the Mariinsky Ballet in St Petersburg remain famous throughout the world.

Modern Russian rock music takes its roots both in the Western rock and roll and heavy metal music|heavy metal, and in traditions of the Russian bards of the Soviet era, like Vladimir Vysotsky and Bulat Okudzhava. at Russia-InfoCentre Popular Russian rock groups include Mashina Vremeni, DDT (band)|DDT, Aquarium (group)|Aquarium, Alisa, Kino (band)|Kino, Kipelov, Nautilus Pompilius (band)|Nautilus Pompilius, Aria (band)|Aria, Grazhdanskaya Oborona, Splean and Korol i Shut. Russian pop music developed from what was known in the Soviet times as "estrada" into full-fledged industry, with some performers gaining wide international recognition, like t.A.T.u. and Vitas.
Literature and philosophy
File:L.N.Tolstoy Prokudin-Gorsky.jpg|upright|thumb|180px|Leo Tolstoy, novelist and philosopher.
Russian literature is considered to be among the most influential and developed in the world, contributing many of the world"s most famous literary works. In the 18th century its development was boosted by the works of Mikhail Lomonosov and Denis Fonvizin, and by the early 19th century a modern native tradition had emerged, producing some of the greatest writers of all time. This period, known also as the Golden Age of Russian Poetry, began with Alexander Pushkin, who is considered the founder of modern Russian literature and often described as the "Russian Shakespeare". It continued into the 19th century with the poetry of Mikhail Lermontov and Nikolay Nekrasov, dramas of Aleksandr Ostrovsky and Anton Chekhov, and the prose of Nikolai Gogol and Ivan Turgenev. Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky in particular were titanic figures to the point that many literary critics have described one or the other as the greatest novelist of all time.

By the 1880s the age of the great novelists was over, while short fiction and poetry became the dominant genres. The next several decades became known as the Silver Age of Russian Poetry, when the previously dominant literary realism was replaced by Symbolism (arts)|symbolism. Leading authors of this era include poets Valery Bryusov, Vyacheslav Ivanov (poet)|Vyacheslav Ivanov, Alexander Blok, Nikolay Gumilev and Anna Akhmatova, and novelists Leonid Andreyev, Ivan Bunin, and Maxim Gorky.

Russian philosophy blossomed since the 19th century, when it was defined initially by the opposition of Westernizers, advocating the Western political and economical models, and Slavophiles, insisting on developing Russia as unique civilization. The latter group includes Nikolai Danilevsky and Konstantin Leontiev, the founders of eurasianism. In its further development Russian philosophy was always marked by deep connection to literature and interest in creativity, society, politics and nationalism; Russian cosmism and religious philosophy were other major areas. Notable philosophers of the late 19th and the early 20th centuries include Vladimir Solovyov (philosopher)|Vladimir Solovyev, Sergei Bulgakov, and Vladimir Vernadsky.

Following the Russian Revolution of 1917 many prominent writers and philosophers left the country, including Ivan Bunin, Vladimir Nabokov and Nikolay Berdyayev, while a new generation of talented authors joined together in an effort to create a distinctive working-class culture appropriate for the new Soviet state. In the 1930s censorship over literature was tightened in line with the policy of socialist realism. Since late 1950s the restrictions on literature were eased, and by the 1970s and 1980s, writers were increasingly ignoring the official guidelines. The leading authors of the Soviet era include novelists Yevgeny Zamyatin, Ilf and Petrov, Mikhail Bulgakov and Mikhail Sholokhov, and poets Vladimir Mayakovsky, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, and Andrey Voznesensky.
Cinema, animation and media
File:Medvedev - Russia Today 3.jpg|thumb|left|250px|Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the Washington, D.C.|Washington studio of Russia Today TV
Russian and later Soviet cinema was a hotbed of invention in the period immediately following the 1917, resulting in world-renown films such as "The Battleship Potemkin" by Sergei Eisenstein. Eisenstein was a student of filmmaker and theorist Lev Kuleshov, who developed the Soviet montage theory of film editing at the world"s first film school, the All-Union Institute of Cinematography. Dziga Vertov, whose "kino-glaz" (“film-eye”) theory—that the camera, like the human eye, is best used to explore real life—had a huge impact on the development of documentary film making and cinema realism. The subsequent state policy of socialist realism somewhat limited creativity, however many Soviet films in this style were artistically successful, like "Chapaev (film)|Chapaev", "The Cranes Are Flying", and "Ballad of a Soldier".

1960s and 1970s saw a greater variety of artistic styles in the Soviet cinema. Eldar Ryazanov"s and Leonid Gaidai"s comedies of that time were immensely popular, with many of the catch phrases still in use today. In 1961–68 Sergey Bondarchuk directed an Academy Award|Oscar-winning War and Peace (1968 film)|film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy"s epic "War and Peace", which was the most expensive film ever made., at filmforum.org In 1969, Vladimir Motyl"s "White Sun of the Desert" was released, a very popular film in a genre of ostern; the film is traditionally watched by cosmonauts before any trip into space.

File:Shukhov tower shabolovka moscow 02.jpg|thumb|upright|180px|Shukhov Tower in Moscow served for the early radio and TV broadcasting
Russian animation dates back to the late Russian Empire times. During Soviet era, Soyuzmultfilm studio was the largest animation producer. Soviet animators developed a great variety of pioneering techniques and aesthetic styles, with prominent directors including Ivan Ivanov-Vano, Fyodor Khitruk and Aleksandr Tatarsky. Many Soviet cartoon heroes, such as the Russian-style Winnie-the-Pooh, cute little Cheburashka, Wolf and Hare from "Nu, Pogodi!" are iconic images in Russia and many surrounding countries.

The late 1980s and 1990s were a period of crisis in Russian cinema and animation. Although Russian filmmakers became free to express themselves, state subsidies were drastically reduced, resulting in fewer films produced. The early years of the 21st century have brought d viewership and subsequent prosperity to the industry on the back of the economic revival. Production levels are already higher than in Britain and Germany. Russia"s total box-office revenue in 2007 was $565 million, up 37% from the previous year In 2002 the "Russian Ark" became the first feature film ever to be shot in a single take. The traditions of Soviet animation were developed recently by such directors as Aleksandr Petrov (animator)|Aleksandr Petrov and studios like Melnitsa Animation.

Russia was among the first countries to Radio Day|introduce radio Timeline of the introduction of television|and television. While there were few channels in the Soviet time, in the past two decades many new state and private-owned Russian language radio stations|radio stations and TV in Russia|TV channels appeared. In 2005 a state-run English language Russia Today TV started broadcasting, and its Arabic version Rusiya Al-Yaum was launched in 2007.
Sports
File:RussianBear.JPG|thumb|left|Russian football fans with a gigantic "Go Russia!" banner, featuring Russian Bear on the background of Russian flag
Combining the All-time Olympic Games medal count|total medals of Soviet Union and Russia, the country is second among all nations by number of gold medals both at the Summer Olympics and at the Winter Olympics. Soviet and later Russia at the Olympics|Russian athletes have always been in the top three for the number of gold medals collected at the Summer Olympics. Soviet gymnasts, track-and-field athletes, weight lifters, wrestlers, boxers, fencing|fencers, shooting|shooters, cross country skiers, biathletes, speed skaters and figure skaters were consistently among the best in the world, along with Soviet basketball, handball, volleyball and ice hockey players. The 1980 Summer Olympics were held in Moscow while the 2014 Winter Olympics will be hosted by Sochi.

Although ice hockey was only introduced during the Soviet era, the national team managed to win gold at almost all the Ice hockey at the Olympic Games|Olympics and IIHF|World Championships they contested. Russian players Valery Kharlamov, Sergey Makarov, Vyacheslav Fetisov and Vladislav Tretiak hold four of six positions in the IIHF "Team of the Century". Recently Russia won the 2008 IIHF World Championships|2008 and 2009 IIHF World Championships, overtaking Canada as the world"s 2009 IIHF World Ranking|top ranked ice hockey team. The Kontinental Hockey League was founded in 2008 as a successor to the Russian Superleague. It is seen as a rival to the NHL and is ranked the top hockey league in Europe as of 2009. Bandy, known also as the Russian hockey, is another traditionally popular ice sport. The Soviet Union won all the Bandy World Championships between 1957-79. at hickoksports.com

File:Dmitry Medvedev 20 May 2008-2.jpg|thumb|250px|Dmitry Medvedev with Russia men"s national ice hockey team
Along with ice hockey and basketball, association football is one of the most popular sports in modern Russia. The Soviet national team became the first ever European Champions by winning Euro 1960. In recent years, Russian football, which downgraded in 1990-s, has experienced a revival. Russian clubs PFC CSKA Moscow|CSKA Moscow and Zenit St Petersburg won the UEFA Cup in 2005 and 2008 respectively. The Russian national football team reached the semi-finals of Euro 2008, losing only to the eventual champions Spain. Russia will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with 14 host cities located in the European part of the country and on the Urals.

Larisa Latynina, who currently holds a record for most Olympic medals won per person and most gold Olympic medals won by a woman, established the USSR as the dominant force in gymnastics for many years to come. Today, Russia is leading in rhythmic gymnastics with such stars as Alina Kabayeva, Irina Tschaschina and Yevgeniya Kanayeva. Russian synchronized swimming is the best in the world, with almost all gold medals at Olympics and World Championships having been swept by Russians in recent decades. Figure skating is another popular sport in Russia, especially pair skating and ice dancing. At every Winter Olympics from 1964 until 2006 a Soviet or Russian pair has won gold. Since the end of the Soviet era, tennis has grown in popularity and Russia has produced a number of famous players, including Maria Sharapova, the world"s highest paid female athlete. Chess is a widely popular pastime in Russia; from 1927, Russian grandmasters have held the world chess championship almost continuously.
National holidays and symbols
File:Victory Day Parade 2005-18.jpg|220px|thumb|left|2005 Victory Day (9 May) parade on Moscow"s Red Square.
There are seven public holidays in Russia, except those always celebrated on Sunday. The New Year is the first in calendar and in popularity. Russian New Year traditions resemble those of the Western Christmas, with New Year Trees and gifts, and Ded Moroz (Father Frost) playing the same role as Santa. Orthodox Christmas falls on 7 January, because Russian Orthodox Church still follows the Julian calendar and all Orthodox holidays are 13 days after Catholic ones. Another two major Christian holidays are Easter and Trinity Sunday. Kurban Bayram and Uraza Bayram are celebrated by Russian Muslims.

Further Russian public holidays include Defender of the Fatherland Day (23 February), which honors Russian men, especially those serving in the army; International Women"s Day (8 March), which combines the traditions of Mother"s Day and Valentine"s Day; Spring and Labor Day (1 May); Victory Day (9 May); Russia Day (12 June); and Unity Day (Russia)|Unity Day (4 November), commemorating the popular uprising which expelled the Polish occupation force from Moscow in 1612.

Victory Day (9 May)|Victory Day is the second popular holiday in Russia, it commemorates the victory over Nazism in the Great Patriotic War. A huge military parade, hosted by the President of Russia, is annually organized in Moscow on Red Square. Similar parades took place in all major Russian cities and cities with the status "Hero city" or "City of Military Glory".

Popular non-public holidays include Old New Year (New Year according to Julian Calendar on 14 January), Tatiana Day (students holiday on 25 January), Maslenitsa (an old pagan spring holidaya week before the Great Lent), Cosmonautics Day (a day of Yury Gagarin"s first ever human trip into space on 12 April), Ivan Kupala Day (another pagan Slavic holiday on 7 July) and Peter and Fevronia Day (taking place on 8 July and being the Russian analogue of Valentine"s Day, which focuses, however, on the family love and fidelity).

File:Alyye parusa.jpg|thumb|240px|Scarlet Sails (tradition)|Scarlet Sails celebration on the Neva river in Saint Petersburg.
State symbols of Russia include the Byzantine double-headed eagle, combined with St. George of Moscow in the Russian coat of arms. Russian flag dates from the late Tsardom of Russia period and became widely used since Russian Empire times. Russian anthem shares its music with the Soviet Anthem, though not the lyrics. The imperial motto "God is with us" and the Soviet motto "Proletarians of all countries, unite!" are now obsolete and no new motto has replaced them. The hammer and sickle and the full Soviet coat of arms are still widely seen in Russian cities as a part of old architectural decorations. The Soviet Red Stars are also encountered, often on military equipment and war memorials. The Red Banner continues to be honored, especially the Banner of Victory of 1945.

Matryoshka doll is a recognizable symbol of Russia, while the towers of Moscow Kremlin and Saint Basil"s Cathedral in Moscow are main Russia"s architectural icons. Cheburashka is a mascot of Russian national Olympic team. St. Mary, St. Nicholas, St. Andrew, St. George, St. Alexander Nevsky, St. Sergius of Radonezh and St. Seraphim of Sarov are Russia"s patron saints. Chamomile is a national flower, while birch is a national tree. Russian bear is an animal symbol and national personification of Russia, though this image has Western origin and Russians themselves have accepted it fairly recently. The native Russian national personification is Mother Russia, sometimes called Mother Motherland.
Tourism
File:PeterhofGrandCascade.JPG|thumb|left|220px|Grand Cascade in Peterhof Palace|Peterhof, a popular tourist destination in Saint Petersburg
Tourism in Russia has seen rapid growth since the late Soviet times, first inner tourism and then international tourism as well. Rich cultural heritage and great natural variety place Russia among the most visited countries in the world. Major tourist routes in Russia include a travel around the Golden Ring of ancient cities, cruises on the big rivers like Volga, and long journeys on the famous Trans-Siberian Railway.

Most visited destinations in Russia are Moscow and Saint Petersburg, the current and the former capitals of the country. Recognized as World Cities, they feature such world-renown museums as Tretyakov Gallery and Hermitage Museum|Hermitage, famous theaters like Bolshoi Theater|Bolshoi and Mariinsky Theater|Mariinsky, ornate churches like Saint Basil"s Cathedral, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Saint Isaac"s Cathedral and Church of the Savior on Blood, impressive fortifications like Moscow Kremlin and Peter and Paul Fortress, beautiful squares and streets like Red Square, Palace Square, Tverskaya Street and Nevsky Prospect. Rich palaces and parks are found in the former imperial residences in suburbs of Moscow (Kolomenskoye, Tsaritsyno Park|Tsaritsyno) and St Petersburg (Peterhof Palace|Peterhof, Strelna, Oranienbaum, Russia|Oranienbaum, Gatchina Palace|Gatchina, Pavlovsk Palace|Pavlovsk and Tsarskoye Selo). Moscow displays the Soviet architecture at its best, along with MIBC|modern scyscrapers, while St Petersburg, nicknamed "Venice of the North", boasts of its classical architecture, many rivers, channels Bridges in Saint Petersburg|and bridges.

File:Russian-Matroshka2.jpg|thumb|200px|Matryoshka doll taken apart
Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, shows a mix of Christian Russian and Muslim Tatar cultures. The city has registered a brand "The Third Capital of Russia", though a number of other major cities compete for this status, like Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod.

Typical include matryoshka doll and other handicraft, samovars for water heating, ushanka and papaha warm hats, and fur clothes. Russian vodka and caviar are among the food that attracts foreigners.

The warm subtropical Black Sea coast of Russia is the site for a number of popular sea resorts, like Sochi, the follow-up host of the 2014 Winter Olympics. The mountains of the Northern Caucasus contain popular ski resorts, including Dombay, Russia|Dombay. The most famous natural destination in Russia is Lake Baikal, "the Blue Eye of Siberia". This unique lake, oldest and deepest in the world, has crystal-clean waters and is surrounded by taiga-covered mountains. Other popular natural destinations include Kamchatka with its volcanoes and geysers, Karelia with its lakes and granite rocks, the snowy Altai Mountains, and the wild steppes of Tyva.
See also

*Index of Soviet Union-related articles
*International rankings of Russia
*Timeline of Russian history
*Timeline of Russian inventions and technology records
References
External links
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* at "UCB Libraries GovPubs"
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* International news project about Russia




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mg:Rosia
ml:റഷ്യ
mt:Russja
mi:Rūhia
mr:रशिया
arz:روسيا
ms:Rusia
mwl:Rússia
mdf:Рузмастор
mn:Оросын Холбооны Улс
my:ရုရှားနိုင်ငံ
nah:Rusia
na:Russia
nl:Rusland
nds-nl:Ruslaand
ne:रसिया
new:रुस
ja:ロシア
ce:Оьрсий
frr:Ruslönj
pih:Rusha
no:Russland
nn:Russland
nrm:Russie
nov:Rusia
oc:Russia
mhr:Россий
uz:Rossiya Federatsiyasi
pa:ਰੂਸ
pnb:روس
pap:Rusia
ps:روسيه
km:រុស្ស៊ី
pcd:Russie
pms:Federassion Russa
tpi:Rasia
nds:Russland
pl:Rosja
pnt:Ρουσία
pt:Rússia
kaa:Rossiya
crh:Rusiye
ty:Rūtia
ro:Rusia
rmy:Rusiya
rm:Russia
qu:Rusiya
ru:Россия
sah:Арассыыйа
se:Ruošša
sm:Lusia
sc:Russia
sco:Roushie
stq:Ruslound
sq:Rusia
scn:Russia
si:රුසියාව
simple:Russia
ss:IRashiya
sk:Rusko
cu:Рѡсі́ꙗ
sl:Rusija
szl:Rusyjo
so:Ruushka
ckb:ڕووسیا
sr:Русија
sh:Rusija
su:Rusia
fi:Venäjä
sv:Ryssland
tl:Rusya
ta:உருசியா
tt:Русия
te:రష్యా
th:ประเทศรัสเซีย
tg:Русия
to:Lūsia
chr:ᏲᏂᎢ
tr:Rusya
tk:Russiýa
udm:Россия
uk:Росія
ur:روس
ug:روسىيە
za:Ezlozswh
vec:Rusia
vi:Nga
vo:Rusän
fiu-vro:Vinnemaa
wa:Rûsseye
zh-classical:俄羅斯
war:Rusya
wo:Riisi
wuu:俄罗斯
yi:רוסלאנד
yo:Rọ́síà
zh-yue:俄羅斯
diq:Rusya
zea:Rusland
bat-smg:Rosėjė
zh:俄罗斯
Overview
 

 

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