Currency: Ruble (RUB)
Calling code: +7
Russia, officially the Russian Federation, is a federal state in
Eastern Europe and northern Asia, with the Kaliningrad exclave in
Central Europe. With about 17 million square kilometers, Russia is the
largest country in the world by area and covers about a ninth of the
landmass of the earth. With 144.5 million inhabitants (2019), it is the
ninth most populous country and is also one of the most sparsely
The European part of the national territory is much more densely populated and urbanized than the Asian part, which is more than three times as large: About 77% of the population (110 million inhabitants) live west of the Urals. The capital, Moscow, is one of the largest cities and metropolitan areas in the world. The second most important center is Saint Petersburg, which was the capital from 1712 to 1918 and is today primarily an important cultural center. The next largest megacities are Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod. Altogether there are 15 cities with over a million inhabitants and almost 70 agglomerations with more than 500,000 inhabitants in Russia.
The federal structure of Russia consists of eight federal districts and 85 federal subjects. Russia is a multi-racial country with over 100 ethnic groups, with ethnic Russians making up almost 80% of the population.
Today, Russia is an emerging country in the upper-middle-income segment. After recovering from the post-communist transformation crisis of the 1990s, the country became the eleventh largest economy in the world and the sixth largest in terms of purchasing power parity, right behind Germany. its raw material reserves are probably the largest in the world at around 20 to 30%, with significant deposits of primary energy sources - above all natural gas. Since the mid-1980s, when it was still part of the Soviet Union, Russia has been exposed to a steady decline in economic, demographic and military performance. Classified as a superpower in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, it only has potential as a regional power – like the nuclear powers Israel, Pakistan and North Korea.
Russia has been a permanent member of the UN Security Council since 1946 and is also a member of the WTO, OSCE, APEC and SCO and a leading member of the regional organizations CIS, CSTO and EAEU.
The Russian Federation is the "continued state" of the Soviet Union in international organizations. The Soviet federal state was preceded by the Russian Empire, the Tsardom of Russia and originally the Grand Duchy of Moscow, a sub-principality of the former East Slavic Empire of Kievan Rus'. The Cold War ended around 1990, meanwhile Russia became a little more democratic and moved slightly closer to “the West”. The constitution at the time provided for a semi-presidential democracy for Russia, but according to many democracy indices, the constitutional reality today corresponds to that of an autocracy, and in some cases also to the models of defective democracies or post-democracies. The Russian side occasionally uses the term “controlled democracy” for this. Corruption and human rights violations are also widespread to this day.
Russia's share of global gross domestic product has fallen from 4% to 2.85% (2022) since the sanctions began in 2014 as a result of the annexation of Crimea and exacerbated by the attack on Ukraine in 2022. Economic and political relations with the West have been severely strained, especially since the attack on the neighboring country.
Vladivostok is a major port city in the
Volgograd - a city on the Volga, formerly known as Tsaritsyn and Stalingrad
Yekaterinburg - the capital of the Urals, formerly known as Sverdlovsk
Kazan is a city with a thousand-year history, the capital of Tatarstan
Kaliningrad - the capital of the Kaliningrad region, the former Königsberg
Nizhny Novgorod is an important industrial and transport city, formerly Gorky, located at the confluence of the Oka River with the Volga.
Novosibirsk is a huge Siberian city. Science city, industrial, economic and transport giant
Yakutsk is the capital of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).
Northwestern Federal District (Leningrad, Novgorod, Pskov, Vologda, Arkhangelsk, Kaliningrad, Murmansk regions, Karelia, Komi and the Nenets Autonomous Okrug) - here are the "northern capital" of Russia St. Petersburg, the ancient Russian cities of Veliky Novgorod, Pskov, port Arkhangelsk and Murmansk, two largest freshwater lakes of Europe - Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega, as well as Kizhi, Valaam Monastery and other monuments of northern Russia.
Central (Vladimir, Ivanovo, Kaluga, Kostroma, Moscow, Ryazan, Smolensk, Tver, Tula and Yaroslavl regions) - here are the capital of Russia Moscow, also such cities: Vladimir, Ryazan, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Tver, Tula and others rich in historical monuments Ancient Rus'.
Chernozemye (Bryansk, Belgorod, Voronezh, Kursk, Lipetsk, Orel and Tambov regions). The only city with a population of more than a million people is Voronezh, about half a million are Lipetsk and Kursk.
South (Volgograd, Astrakhan, Rostov Region, Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories, Adygea, Kalmykia and the North Caucasus. This also includes Crimea.) Here is a very diverse ethnic composition of the population. Hot and dry summer attracts vacationers to the beaches of the Black and Azov Seas. Sufficiently developed tourist infrastructure. The most significant resort cities: Sochi, Yalta, Gelendzhik, Feodosia, Anapa, Evpatoria, Yeysk.
Volga (Kirov regions, the Republic of Mari El, Bashkortostan, Mordovia, Nizhny Novgorod, Penza, Samara, Saratov regions, the Republic of Tatarstan, Udmurtia, Ulyanovsk region and Chuvashia). Large cities (over 500 thousand people): Volgograd, Astrakhan, Kazan, Izhevsk, Kirov, Nizhny Novgorod, Penza, Samara, Saratov, Ulyanovsk.
Ural (Bashkiria, Kurgan, Orenburg regions, Perm Territory, Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk regions) is a region located on the border of Europe and Asia. Here are the major centers of heavy industry in Russia. The largest million-plus cities: Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, Ufa, Perm. With a population of about half a million - Magnitogorsk, Nizhny Tagil.
Siberia (Altai Republic, Altai Krai, Buryatia, Zabaykalsky Krai, Irkutsk Oblast, Kemerovo Oblast, Krasnoyarsk Kray, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Tomsk Oblast, Tuva Republic, Republic of Khakassia). A huge region, with an area of about about 10,000,000 km² (larger than Canada). Million-plus cities: Novosibirsk, Omsk, Krasnoyarsk. The largest cities: Tyumen, Barnaul, Irkutsk, Novokuznetsk, Tomsk, Kemerovo, Ulan-Ude. Most of Siberia has a sharply continental climate with extremely cold winters. Baikal is located in eastern Siberia - a huge, and the deepest lake on the planet, with incredibly clear water.
Far East (Amur Region, Jewish Autonomous Region, Kamchatka Territory, Magadan Region, Primorsky Territory, Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Sakhalin Region, Khabarovsk Territory, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug) is a beautiful mountainous country, the most remote region of Russia from Moscow, quite recommended for traveling from - for the extraordinary nature, although difficult to reach. The largest cities with a population of more than half a million people are Khabarovsk and Vladivostok. Cities with a population of 200-300 thousand people - Yakutsk, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Blagoveshchensk. Winters are cold here, but summers can be much hotter than you imagined.
A visa is required for Russia. This must be applied for at the
relevant diplomatic missions abroad. Stricter visa regulations have been
in force since November 1, 2010 (see also our news), so proof of
earnings is required as proof of the willingness to return. The homepage
of the Russian consulate offers up-to-date information here. Citizens of
the Schengen countries (this includes in particular Germany, Austria,
Switzerland and Liechtenstein) as well as Israel and Ireland are
required to have international health insurance with certain minimum
conditions for entry. Also, only certain insurance companies are
approved. This proof must be submitted in the form of a letter from the
insurer when applying for the visa.
Tourists (including individual travellers) always need a valid passport, a passport photo and a travel confirmation or an "invitation", which you can get online in 5 minutes. When entering the country with your own vehicle, this must be included in the visa with the registration number. The green insurance card is now also valid in Russia, so you should talk to the insurer in advance if necessary. After entering the country, registration is required within 7 working days (further registrations may be required for longer trips to several destinations - the exact regulations are difficult to find out). Hotels do this free of charge and usually routinely for all guests. Hostels require e.g. T. a fee or do not offer it at all. If you stay overnight privately, you have to register with your host at the “My Documents” office (МОИ ДОКУМЕНТЫ, address website under НАЙТИ МФЦ), in smaller towns to the post office. Alternatively, you can contact the responsible authority directly, but this is less recommended (among other things, registration is only possible there at the place of residence of the host, but you can also go to the post office in the next big city, for example).
Effective February 4, 2021, tourists, business people, congress participants or athletes who have received a single-entry e-Visa can enter the country without an invitation. Evidence of an electronic booking of accommodation (without involving a Russian travel agency) is sufficient. Initially, this regulation applies to 52 countries, including all EU and EFTA countries (excluding Britain), Turkey and Serbia. Visitors are allowed to stay in the country for 16 days. The fee is a flat rate of US$40. The online application can be made 5-40 days before the planned arrival. The permitted border crossing points are limited. They include 16 major airports, the ports of St. Petersburg, Vladivostok, Sochi and Kaliningrad and some land border crossings, but hardly any railways. (Further simplifications are planned for mid-2021.)
Visitor visas for family members require an invitation from Russia, which must be notarized by the local police. (The latter requirement is to be lifted in mid-2021. Invitees can then also receive multiple-entry visas.)
Transit visas are only valid for three days and are only issued in connection with a ticket/flight ticket and/or an existing visa for the third country. Although according to the Russian embassy, a visa from the destination country is required only when required, some visa agencies require it, so traveling to a visa-free country requires a tourist visa. However, the costs and formalities are largely the same for both types of visa anyway.
Since 2019, the Kaliningrad Oblast (formerly East Prussia) and the Leningrad region with St. Petersburg in Russia can be visited with an eVisa. This is valid for eight calendar days and is issued free of charge within four days. All EU citizens and Turks are eligible to apply. The latter are also allowed to visit areas in the “Far East”.
Important: The border between Belarus and Russia has been closed to foreigners since 2016. Individual travelers are rejected at the borders, and there are said to have been complications at the border when entering long-distance trains that run through Belarus. Entry with your own vehicle is currently only possible via the Baltic States or Ukraine. Entry by plane from Minsk Airport is possible via eight Russian airports (all Moscow airports, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Krasnodar, Sochi); A visa for Russia and a transit visa for Belarus are regularly required.
Arriving by plane from any European airport is not a problem. As of 2022, there are a total of 79 "international" airports (Russian list), most of which have been modernized or expanded since President Putin took office. However, not all are served directly from Europe. Flights from Germany to Moscow arrive at Domodedovo, Vnukovo or Sheremetevo International airports. The airports are just outside of Moscow. If you plan to travel from Moscow to another destination within the Russian Federation, you may need to change airports (Sheremetevo International to Sheremetevo National). For onward travel to the city, see the Moscow article.
Trains run daily from Berlin, Cologne and Vienna to Moscow and St. Petersburg. The journey time is quite long at 36-48 hours. The prices in 1st class are around 350 euros for one way. A transit visa is required for Belarus. If you want to avoid the transit visa, you can travel via Hungary. There the Tisza-Express runs daily from Budapest to Moscow-Kiewskaja via Kiev. A single trip in a three-bed compartment costs around 145 euros (as of July 2010). Kyiv is also e.g. B. from Berlin and Vienna by direct train. From here there is a through coach to Vladivostok on even days (2nd, 4th, 6th of the month).
Eurolines travels to Russia from many German cities. Prices around 80
euros one way. In order to find out as easily as possible the German
cities that go to Russia, here in this example Moscow, proceed as
On the Eurolines website, click on the "Our route network" button at the top right. Then you click on Moscow, for example. Two more buttons now appear. Here you select "Bus to Moscow". On the map you can now see that the following German cities currently (as of April 02, 2021) have a connection to Moscow. The cities are Lindau on Lake Constance, Memmingen, Munich, Nuremberg and Regensburg.
From Berlin it is around 1800 km to Moscow (via Warsaw and Minsk), from Vienna (via Brno and Kattowitz to Warsaw) around 1900 km. The Green Insurance Card has also been valid in Russia since January 1st, 2009. It is no longer necessary to take out additional insurance at the border. Due to the relatively low sums insured by Russian liability insurers, comprehensive insurance is recommended. Foreign driver's licenses or international driver's licenses are recognized if they contain entries in Latin or Cyrillic script. All other translations must be certified.
Cruise and ferry passengers with a return ticket are allowed to enter
the country without a visa for 72 hours as part of a tour group
organized by the shipowner, which is particularly interesting for St.
For existing ferry connections, see the respective local articles.
Until a few years ago, the only way to cross Russia from west to east
was by rail. The road network is very thin and the distances are huge!
Especially if you are traveling in the Siberian winter, you should never
drive alone but only in a convoy, simply to be able to get help quickly
in the event of a breakdown. Being stuck alone in the vastness of
Siberia at -45°C is not only not a nice experience, but
life-threatening. Roads in Russia are not gritted in winter, only the
powdery snow is pushed aside, so that you can drive on a solid snow
cover without any major problems. Studded tires are allowed in Russia,
but drivers with such tires must place a warning sign on the rear (can
easily be bought at the border). Especially in rural areas, the distance
between two gas stations can be very large. In addition, petrol is often
adulterated at free petrol stations (fill up only at branded petrol
stations). That's why you should use every tank option you see.
Exploring Russia in your own car is not advisable, not only because of the geographical conditions. On the one hand, the sums insured by Russian liability insurers are very low, so that you are quickly left with your damage. On the other hand, hit-and-run accidents are widespread or claims settlement is done directly on site according to the rule of thumb. In addition, the Russians' consumption of alcohol, which is not just a cliché, is also reflected in their driving style. There is a reason almost every vehicle in Russia is equipped with a dash cam; the corresponding videos in relevant video portals are impressive.
Russia has a very dense railway network for its size, connecting almost every city of any importance. Through coaches run from Moscow to almost every regional capital, sometimes with travel times of several days, as well as international trains to numerous capitals in the neighboring countries of Russia, with the offer to Europe in particular being noticeably thinned out in recent years. In terms of flair, the railways in Russia correspond to the Deutsche Bundesbahn of the 1950s, there are still friendly conductors, everything takes a little longer, the rolling stock is not always the newest, but the atmosphere is unique.
For longer distances, e.g. B. Moscow-St. Petersburg, one should not hesitate to take a domestic flight. Flights in Russia are quite cheap due to the strong competition and no more unsafe than in Western Europe. The Russian comparison portals like Agent.ru are often much cheaper than booking from home, but quite difficult to use without good knowledge of Russian. It should be noted, however, that Russian low-cost airlines are not obliged to rebook if a flight is cancelled. A passenger abandoned due to bad weather in winter can only request a refund of the fare, but is otherwise responsible for booking alternative trips, which may be at significantly higher prices.
Most major Russian cities have a well-developed public transport network. By German standards, it can be used for very little money. Russia is one of the last bastions of trolleybuses, which are gradually being replaced by modern means of transport such as buses, trams and subways. In addition to the official public transport, there are also the so-called Marschrutkas (маршрутка), small vehicles the size of a VW bus that travel certain routes without a fixed schedule. Vehicles usually depart from a central bus station (you can ask locals where that is), but you can flag these vehicles down in the street and they'll take you if there's space (or even if there's no space). is, depending on the driver). If you want to get off, you shout this out loud to the driver, at the latest then you also pay the fare.
Smartphone users should know that Google is almost unknown in Russia. Here one uses Yandex (Яндекс), which i.a. offers a map service Yandex.Maps (Яндекс.Карты). In addition to the map function, there is a live timetable information for all public transport in Russia. Although the site is entirely in Russian, it can be switched to English by changing the language of the smartphone to English.
Hitchhiking in Russia is possible with good knowledge of the Russian language and is by no means unusual. If a vehicle stops, only the destination and price have to be agreed. Prices here are well below the cost of an official taxi. However, it is essential to observe some safety instructions. As a woman, never get into a car alone with a man and generally avoid getting in with two or more men.
The official language is Russian, knowledge of which is very
advantageous when visiting. Due to the Soviet education policy, there
are practically no dialects in the traditional sense, despite the
immense size of the country. In some parts of the Russian Federation,
the language of the tribe concerned is spoken in addition to Russian,
but Russian will get you anywhere.
In hotels and other tourist facilities you can usually communicate in English, sometimes in German. There are also English announcements in the metro. On the street or in shops it can be difficult without knowledge of Russian, but young people in particular often speak sufficient English. Latin script lettering (street names, train stations, etc.) is common, but should not be relied on outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg. If you visit places far away from the typical tourist metropolises, at least one member of the group should speak the local language, otherwise there may be communication difficulties, especially with the local authorities (police, OVIR).
In Russia, unlike, for example, some EU countries, in all large and
not very cities numerous convenience stores often operate, where you can
easily buy almost EVERYTHING (up to locksmith tools!) - on any day of
the week and at any time. time of day is completely free. An exception
is the retail sale of alcohol, which is prohibited from selling at night
(from 23.00 to 08.00) throughout the country.
The Russian ruble (RUB; RUR) is the only official currency in the country. Although in everyday life the definition of prices in dollars, euros and "conventional units" is also used, in practice, the calculation of foreign currency is almost impossible and is prohibited by law (except for exchange transactions in a bank or bank card account conversion).
In almost any city, dollars and euros can be exchanged for rubles without any problems, and it is always worth using only official cash desks in banks for this and ignoring offers of exchange from hands. According to Russian law, a passport or other official document is required for the exchange. The approximate exchange rate is 74 rubles for 1 euro or 65 rubles for 1 US dollar (February 2019).
ATMs are widespread and are available in any more or less large settlement, in small towns, as a rule, there are several (dozens) ATMs. But few ATMs (about 10%) allow you to withdraw not only rubles, but also dollars or euros. Visa and MasterCard cards are widely used in Russia, but American Express is usually not accepted even in popular tourist places.
Payment by card is possible in many cases - in shops, cafes, hotels. There are also many places in Russia where payment by card is not popular. Often this can be in depressed regions with a poor population. In a taxi (and in most cities - and in other public transport), payment by cards is still exotic. Also popular is a taxi through aggregators such as YandexGo, Maxim, RUTaxi, Uber (not available in all cities)
A tourist in Russia always needs to have a certain amount of cash rubles with him, otherwise you can get into a very unpleasant situation when there seems to be a lot of money, but they are all virtual!
In general, the price level in Russia is different from the rest of
the world: something can be more expensive, and something cheaper.
Significantly cheaper (compared to the European Union, USA or Japan)
everyday food and fuel for the car.
In Moscow, there are the cheapest consumer goods in the country (also in the capital there is also the bulk of goods for the wealthy, the wealthy, and the simply rich). With distance from Moscow, the general dynamics of prices for goods and services of daily demand is steadily increasing, but it also strongly depends on the purchasing power of the population - in poor regions, prices are generally low, but the standard of living of the population leaves much to be desired. Where the population is richer, the price level is also noticeably higher for all goods and services. The highest prices in the country are in the northern and eastern regions, and can be significantly higher than in Moscow for the most basic things.
In Russia, three or four meals a day are accepted: breakfast, lunch,
(afternoon snack), dinner, (evening tea).
Russian cuisine is the traditional cuisine of the Russian people. Russian cuisine has absorbed elements of French, German, Eastern European and Asian cuisine in relation to Russian realities. Its dishes and taste accents vary depending on the geographical location and local traditions, but in any case, this is a very high-calorie food. It is not very spicy and is quite edible and even tasty for any European or American.
Abroad, Russian cuisine is associated primarily with such dishes and products as pancakes, caviar, and pies.
In fact, the following dishes are widespread in modern Russia:
Various hot soups served as a first course for lunch. Soup is a thick meat broth boiled with vegetable ingredients and various cereals. Less commonly, fresh fish broth may be used, and such a soup is called "ukha". There is also mushroom soup, which is based on wild mushroom broth instead of meat.
Borsch is a soup that includes red beets, tomatoes, and cabbage. Served with fried pieces of lard, sour cream, mayonnaise. Borscht is originally a dish of Ukrainian or Polish cuisine, depending on who you ask.
Cold okroshka soup. Finely chopped vegetable salad, filled to the state of soup with kvass, kefir or mineral water. Traditionally used during the hot season.
Various cereals, that is, boiled cereals, including those that are simply not considered human food in the rest of the world. Porridges are served as a second dish for lunch with butter, milk, fried meat, etc., there are a lot of options.
Potato. Many different dishes are prepared from potatoes. The simplest and most everyday are ordinary fried and stewed potatoes a little for softness (with less oil than french fries), as well as boiled potatoes.
Mashed potatoes are boiled and mashed potatoes, thoroughly mixed with butter and milk. Served instead of porridge (the so-called side dish) with meat, sausages, fish and anything. A very popular food.
Fried pancakes made from yeast dough or thicker cakes - pancakes. They also bake pancakes from mashed potatoes - draniki (a dish of Eastern European origin).
Sliced potato stew with meat, vegetables and spices. A special delicacy is the preparation of dishes in a clay pot.
Pasta, spaghetti (from Italy), noodles (from China). It is prepared quite traditionally boiled or as part of dishes.
Bread. In Russia they eat a lot of bread, just a bite with liquid dishes. Bread in Russia is inexpensive and easily available. Bread is usually not fried in toast, it is eaten without additional processing. They also spread butter on bread, put pieces of sausage, fried sausages, etc. - this is the so-called. sandwich. It is widely distributed at breakfasts and at various snacks. Dried bread is also used - crackers, and fried - croutons.
Tea. In Russia, they drink a lot of black tea with sugar. Black tea is really very popular, they drink it in the morning, afternoon, evening and night, with sandwiches, cookies, just after dinner. Rarely add milk or cream. Green tea is less popular. They also drink coffee, but to a lesser extent.
Eggs. Chicken eggs are eaten in any form, the most popular is fried eggs (for breakfast) - fried eggs, you can with pieces of sausage, sausages, lard, green onions, etc. Boiled eggs are most often included in complex dishes.
Dumplings. Chinese cuisine dish. Minced meat wrapped in small portions in unleavened dough. Dumplings are boiled in water and served with butter, sour cream, mayonnaise, various sauces, or Siberian style with diluted vinegar (although in China, dumplings are more often fried in oil rather than boiled). Very popular as an appetizer for vodka. Buryats and Mongols have a similar dish called poses (buuzy), and some Chinese peoples (for example, Dungans) called manti. Poses and manti are much larger and are cooked in a steam bath.
Vareniki. A Ukrainian dish (resembling dumplings in shape) in the form of boiled potatoes, berries, fruits, lard, etc., wrapped in unleavened dough, and boiled in water. Served with butter or sour cream.
Salo. A mandatory attribute of the Eastern Slavs and some other peoples of Europe (for the Germans it will be bacon) is salted or smoked lard. It is used with bread, in borscht, as an appetizer with vodka, etc. Very nutritious food.
Fish. Many traditional fish dishes adopted in Russia are unusual for foreigners. Fish soup, various pies are prepared from fish, fish is simply fried or stewed. But the fish is also salted, dried (dried) or smoked in a special room over smoldering sawdust - this is how a long-term storage product is obtained. Smoked and dried fish are traditionally consumed with beer. Salted herring is eaten with mashed potatoes, it also goes to the national Russian salad “herring under a fur coat”. Salted red salmon caviar is not traditional for the Russian table, as it is very expensive and most Russians simply cannot afford to buy it. Caviar is more consumed by residents of the north and east of Russia (where salmon live and where they are caught), and they do not eat caviar with pancakes, but make sandwiches from white bread, butter and caviar. It must be admitted that fish and other seafood often sold in Russian supermarkets may not be of very good quality, and sometimes it is an outright fake using modern chemistry.
Shashlik. A dish borrowed from the Tatars is pieces of specially prepared meat (as well as sausages, vegetables, etc.), strung on a skewer or skewer and fried over an open fire or coals. Grill roasting is also often used. Barbecue is a close analogue of barbecue. In many countries of the world there is a tradition of outdoor recreation with the preparation of dishes similar or close to shish kebab. In addition, in Russia there are street barbecues, which usually work in places of recreation for people or on holidays. A good barbecue is not the cheapest dish.
Sauces. The most popular sauce in Russia is mayonnaise, it is put in salads in large quantities, as well as in dumplings, borscht and other dishes. Some tourists may not understand this. Even in Russia there is a traditional sauce called sour cream. Despite the appearance similar to mayonnaise, these are completely different products in composition. Sour cream is a dairy product, it is less fat and harmful than mayonnaise. Its use is completely similar to mayonnaise. Also popular are tomato sauces - ketchup, chili and many others.
Vodka. In fact, in Russia they don’t drink vodka in buckets. To drink vodka, you need a table with good snacks and a pleasant company. Alcohol lovers now prefer beer, of which there is an incredible amount in Russia.
Russian (Soviet) champagne. It is more correct to consider it just sparkling wine. Many foreigners are pleasantly surprised by good quality for very little money.
Kvass. The national sweet and sour drink of the Slavs from rye bread, obtained in the process of fermentation. It quenches thirst well, so it is popular in summer.
Kefir. A sour-milk drinking product that came to Russia from the Caucasus Mountains. Similar to yogurt, but more runny. Under the USSR, it was produced in huge quantities, and even now it is in any grocery store.
In most major cities there is now an extensive nightlife that is in
no way inferior to that of major European cities. Casinos, nightclubs,
bars, discos provide ample opportunities for people seeking
entertainment. However, for your own safety, it is advisable to only
visit them accompanied (if possible by locals).
There are also restaurants in all possible price ranges. As a rule, the average costs are on a similar level to those in Germany, slightly higher in Moscow and slightly lower in other large cities.
In some cafés there is no service in the traditional sense. Here you usually first secure a table, then the man (men) usually goes to the sales counter to buy the desired food and then returns to the table.
The hotels in the European part of Russia correspond to the most
modern standards. The prices vary a lot, depending on whether trade
fairs or other events are taking place. In Moscow, for example, the same
room can cost EUR 150 one night and EUR 450 the next week. In the Asian
part of Russia, hotels are simpler, but comfortable in city centers. In
the country, one should accept the invitation of friends to spend the
It is also common to rent furnished apartments by the day. Prices are usually below the best local hotels.
A furnished apartment can also be rented for a month. The monthly price roughly corresponds to the weekly price in a hotel.
Those who are not afraid of shared rooms can also find cheap accommodation in hostels in cities and tourist locations. If one wants to rely exclusively on this type of accommodation, one must clarify in advance the possibility of registration (see entry requirements). Since October 2019, however, hostels and hotels in residential buildings have been banned, which means that such accommodation must have separate entrances, be properly soundproofed and equipped with sanitary facilities. This also applies to apartments rented via portals. In capital cities, this has led to a reduction in the range of cheap places to sleep, while elsewhere it is initially still true that “Russia is big, the tsar is far away.”
A note about sockets: Grounded sockets follow the same standard as in Germany or Austria (Schuko plug), but not every socket is grounded. The two-pin sockets have narrower holes so that only Euro plugs (flat) can be used without an adapter. (Adapters for Switzerland/Italy can be used if they have two poles, i.e. do not pass through the earthing contact.) In hotels / hostels and generally in new buildings you will always find sufficient Schuko sockets. If you are staying privately (this should also apply to privately rented guest rooms), you should inquire if necessary.
There have been extensive exchange and study programs in Russia since Soviet times. Many universities offer the opportunity to complete a semester abroad or to take part in a language course. Accommodation is then usually either with a host family or in a general obshcheschitiye (dormitory). They will be quartered there on a floor specially reserved for foreigners, which, however, is unlikely to meet German standards. If you are thinking about renting an apartment during your stay, you should do so through the university administration if possible, in order to get more favorable conditions and a secure place to stay.
The first years after the collapse of the Soviet Union were
accompanied by an immense increase in crime. The situation has since
improved somewhat, but caution is advised. If possible, do not wear
expensive jewelery or watches openly or keep your wallet in an easily
accessible place (e.g. back trouser pocket)
In Russia, there is still a strong belief that Western Europeans are generally very rich and have a lot of money to give away. Don't accept offers to be taken to a "great market" or attraction by strangers.
In an emergency, do not expect immediate help from the local militia. In the past, these often overwhelmed departments have proven to be poor and uncooperative help. The militia ("militsiya") officially became the police ("politsiya") in 2011, but the former name is still common colloquially.
Cameras are currently being set up everywhere (streets, neighborhoods, doorways) and there are security guards and cameras in every good neighborhood. A lot of people have equipped their cars with cameras because in the past it was often not the accident victim who was right, but the one with the most money or the best contacts.
Many peoples live in Russia, each of which has its own traditions,
but there are holidays that are common to all. The whole country is sure
Victory Day is probably the main holiday. On this day, the victory in the Great Patriotic War is celebrated: veterans are congratulated, parades are held. The unofficial name is "a holiday with tears in the eyes."
New Year is the most beloved and long-awaited holiday of all Russians. These days the cities are the most beautiful, and the people are the kindest.
Applies to all travelers
Any traveler/tourist (and not only a foreigner) in Russia is a potential victim who, at least, needs to be bred for money. The highest prices (sometimes obscenely) throughout Russia are at airports and train stations (the so-called station prices). The most arrogant and shameless taxi drivers are also there. Street criminals, gypsies and beggars also prefer airports and train stations. The transport police are not distinguished by humanism and decency. NEVER drink alcohol on the road - it dramatically increases your chances of running into trouble!
In recent years, a video surveillance system has been installed in all more or less large airports and railway stations, and so dense that every nook and cranny is monitored. Do not even try to smoke not in a specially designated place or relieve a small need in distant bushes - you will certainly be calculated and punished, and no excuses (like a 12-hour flight) will help you.
You should be especially vigilant on public roads. Not only are there a lot of traffic violations, both on the part of drivers and pedestrians, but also the traffic police officers take tribute, sometimes playing a whole performance for this. Never break traffic rules! Remember that there are many automatic surveillance cameras on the roads, and you can get a bunch of fines for breaking the rules upon arrival home. When traveling by car around the country, ALWAYS install a DVR (preferably two) and a good radar detector. These measures will help to avoid many problems. In some regions, for example in Tatarstan, sensors for withdrawing money (on toll roads) or speed may be built into the roadway.
When traveling by car, you should avoid refueling, especially diesel fuel, at questionable gas stations. Not necessarily, but there is a risk of running into very bad fuel, which can lead to big problems with the car's engine. It is best to use gas stations of well-known brands: Lukoil, Gazpromneft, Rosneft, Tatneft. Never pull the next gas station to an empty tank - in Russia the distances are huge, and you can just stand in the middle of the road. For long hauls, it is a good idea to take an emergency can of fuel with you as an emergency supply.
With a long (several days) trip by Russian Railways train in the summer, you can easily catch a cold. In the carriages, air conditioners operate on the move, sometimes maintaining the temperature in the compartment at plus 16-18 degrees, while “overboard” it can be under +30. Windows don't open. As a result of constant temperature fluctuations, upon arrival at your destination, you can easily get a runny nose and cough. In winter and in the off-season, this problem is not.
Take time shift into account when taking a long plane flight. A shift of two or three hours is not serious and is easily tolerated, but when flying (for example) from Moscow to the Far East, the difference is already quite noticeable, and a person’s biological clock goes astray, the perception of reality is disturbed, and a state of stupefaction arises, which gradually passes ( It's different for each person - some are easier, some are harder. Experienced travelers have different methods of adaptation to “transfer in time”: someone gradually, day after day, gradually shifting the time of sleep, gets used to the new routine of life; others immediately begin to live "in a new way", having suffered for two or three or four days.
Also, do not forget about the change in climate, lifestyle, nutrition, and even the chemical composition of water. The further you travel across Russia, the more your entire environment will change and the more time it will take to adapt.
In addition to the normal penal code for crimes, there is also a code
of administrative offenses in Russia, whereby the term "administrative
offense" is much broader than in the German legal system. In addition to
fines (criminal), short prison sentences can also be imposed. As a
foreign visitor, you will come into conflict with the relevant
regulations, especially in the area of traffic or residence law. But you
can also z. B. be prosecuted for bullying. Drinking in public, including
courtyards and stairways in apartment blocks, has also been a criminal
offense since 2013. If a bad-tempered official sees such a thing (one
should always assume that Russian uniformed officers are in a bad mood
"on duty" ex officio), it costs 500-1500 R. If you don't cross the
street at the traffic light, you're quick with 500 R. there. If you
travel e.g. B. one day after the visa expires, calendar days count and
the end is midnight sharp, it costs 1500 R. (even if the train to the
border was only 20 minutes late). you pay 50% "discount" within 14 days.
Failure to pay in time will result in double the amount, in the case of
obstinate refusal, labor service will be ordered.
Since 2016, the provision has been implemented more intensively that foreigners who have been subject to two or more measures under the Code of Administrative Offenses within a period of three years (this may also include verbal warnings) can be subject to a three-year entry ban. The main target here (as of 2021) is foreign truck drivers. It is irrelevant whether the fine was paid or not. Because of the applicable keeper liability, foreigners working in the country should not register a vehicle in Russia.
Objection is only possible within 10 days, often pointless or at least complicated. Traffic cops in particular like to quickly invent a “violation” in order to collect a small fine in cash and without a receipt. It often makes sense to put a good face on the bad game here. Corruption of this kind has become rarer since the police reform that began in 2011, but it is still hardly punished.
In the very numerous existing pharmacies there is every imaginable
medicine. Many preparations from Europe are also sold in Russia. The
prices are very cheap.
For longer stays, it is advisable to seek information from a private clinic or a trustworthy doctor. The private clinics are equipped in a European way and are very inexpensive compared to Germany.
Russia has one of the toughest non-smoking laws in Europe. “Smoking in public” is, in principle, forbidden.
Russians have a really high respect for their families (children,
The after-effects of the Soviet Union can still be felt more than 20 years after the end of the same. State officials and the police are sometimes very bold in their demeanor. Don't let yourself be tempted to make arrogant or provocative statements/actions, otherwise obstacles will be put in your way here.
Don't throw your money around! Even if you are told in great detail how badly your grandmother is doing with her small pension, many people still have a pronounced pride. Gifts of money could be misunderstood as alms and cause great resentment.
An invitation to dinner is an absolute proof of friendship. You should send the invitations e.g. For example, only refuse dinner if you have really good reasons, because otherwise your counterpart will be personally offended. Don't forget to bring a small gift with you when you visit. In the case of fleeting acquaintances, this can also simply be done, e.g. B. a box of good chocolates (for the lady of the house). The will counts here.
At dinner, alcoholic drinks (vodka, cognac, etc.) are usually toasted. There are numerous toasts for different occasions. Modern Russian women appreciate red wine.
Also note that the perceptions of gender equality in the language differ from those in Germany. A medical woman will insist that she is a doctor (врач - Vratsch), and a lady in the secretariat of an institution is a secretary (секретарь - secretary). The use of the words doctor (врачиха - Vratschicha) or secretary (секретарша - Secretarscha) is perceived as derogatory, if not as an insult.
The Post Office (Почта России) was reorganized in 2013-18 and is now
a non-monopoly private company, albeit still state-owned. The network of
post offices is still well developed. You can often find counters in
train stations or on the forecourt, which can be very useful for
visitors. Registered mail is called “Sakasnoe” (Заказное). Courier
shipments are sent in cooperation with EMS. Postbank works with Western
Union for international transfers. Provided that you have Russian
language skills, you can transfer money to bank accounts, subscribe to
magazines, buy train or theater tickets and lottery tickets via ООО
"Rapid" for a small fee. The sometimes long opening hours until 8 p.m.
or in large cities also on Saturdays and Sundays are pleasant. The
branding of the post office in Crimea has been brought into line with
the Russian one, the planned unification of the administrations has not
yet taken place by 2021.
Make a phone call
Toll-free numbers are:
from landline +7 108
from mobile +7 800
Western European providers have to inform their customers about the applicable charges when roaming. However, due to regionally different Russian providers, different tariffs apply in different parts of the country. In 2021, Deutsche Telekom will charge €2.99 per minute for outgoing calls, €1.79 for incoming calls and 49¢ per SMS. Vodafone counts Russia in zone "World 2" and charges € 6.09/min. and 79¢ per SMS. O₂ ( Telefonica ) proposes the country of "world zone 3" but is cheaper than the two aforementioned.
Major mobile operators are:
Mobile TeleSystems (Russian: МТС, MTS), with the best coverage in the country. Numbers expire after 6 months of inactivity. Incoming VoIP calls are blocked. The fee-based advertising functions/SMS messages, which are often switched on automatically, are annoying. To switch off the different ones individually, dial *111*29#, *111*38#, *567*0# and *111*374# - a confirmation SMS will come in each case. The "Your country" (Твоя Страна) package, which can be booked for ₽ 150 with *111*741#, is useful if you want to make calls to the former Soviet republics or China.
MegaFon, branded Yota (Йота). The latter has certain internet limitations (no P2P or tethering, no 4G in some regions where MegaFon cards can use it). MagaFon: SMS customer service in English, short code 0500. You should definitely switch off the daily advertising SMS "Kaleidoscope" (Калейдоскоп) with *808*0#, which can quickly turn into subscriptions of ₽ 5. If you want to use your card for another trip, you should switch off all Internet packages before leaving the country by dialing *236*00*1# in order to retain your credit. In Crimea, ₽ 2.2/Mb is charged extra for data. 90 days after the last top-up, ₽ 5 are automatically debited daily until the balance drops to zero and the card is thus deactivated.
BeeLine (Билайн), cheap tariffs, with limited 4G coverage outside big cities (map). SIM cards are blocked on the 90th day of inactivity. When buying a plan, one should explicitly ask for “prepaid” (предоплата), since different packages for both payment methods have the same names. BeeLine is also well represented in the Central Asian former Soviet republics, which is helpful for onward travel due to roaming.
Tele2Russia (Rostelecom), with the cheap brand Skylink. Nationwide coverage is not perfect. SIM cards are retired after 120 days of inactivity. In Crimea, data is charged ₽ 3/Mb extra.
The resellers Tinkoff Mobile, SberMobile, VTB Mobile and only regionally active providers such as Motiv, Tattelecom, Vainakh Telecom should be of no importance for short-term visitors.
For ₽ 600-750/month you get “unlimited” packages from all providers in 2021, which offer 500-700 minutes of national calls in addition to Internet. Intra-Russian roaming charges were abolished in 2018, as were charges for incoming calls. If you want to use your Russian card abroad, there are hefty roaming fees of ₽ 350-400/day, calculated from midnight Moscow time.
When buying a SIM card, the passport (with visa and “migration card”) must be presented and an address given. Corresponding kiosks and shops in airports and train stations are plentiful. Smaller kiosks in markets or at subway stations in particular also sell cards that are already registered. Whether the promised credit of a few hundred rubles is then on it is the risk of the buyer, you don't lose much in terms of gaining anonymity. Topping up credit with foreign credit cards is only possible in very few cases.
If you pay by individual billing (постоплата, "post paid"), it becomes complex, since all providers (may) show different tariffs for each of the 85 federation objects. Generally speaking, metropolitan prices in Moscow and Leningrad are 10-40% more expensive than in the countryside, where G4 coverage is also significantly worse. In Siberia in particular, there will soon be no reception beyond the city limits.
WiFi is now a general standard in accommodation.
The Russian Internet has created its own universe with the social network VK and the all-round carefree provider Yandex, which, however, requires appropriate language skills.
Since 2017, the Russian government has been increasingly taking action against encryption and Western influences and is therefore restricting access to certain sites, some of which are well-known sites such as Facebook. There is an official list (only in Russian). The use of VPNs is prohibited, as is advertising or linking to them. The sites are blocked by the ISPs. If you want to surf as usual at home, you should take appropriate protective measures before you arrive. It may be enough to call up an "anonymization" website. With a little effort, owners of a German FritzBox can set up a private VPN free of charge. The Tor browser can be configured so that no well-known exit nodes (which could be blocked) are in use. Those who are technically adept can familiarize themselves with the subtleties of L2TP or SOCKS.
Russia is a huge country, and it has a large number of attractions
for every taste.
Monuments of history and architecture were badly damaged during the years of Soviet power, during the war, and then during the uncontrolled post-Soviet urban development. As a result, Russia has lost almost all of its urban ensembles. Only one city remained in the whole country, which was not very affected by the later restructuring and demolitions - St. Petersburg. Petersburg and its environs contain dozens of compositional and palace ensembles of the 18th and 19th centuries, dozens of first-class museums, as well as a huge variety of things - from a large number of beautiful bridges to the largest collection of industrial architecture in Russia. Petersburg is the only major city in Russia that has managed to retain its atmosphere, and therefore it is not at all surprising that it has become Russia's number one tourist attraction. Most foreign tourists go there.
Moscow is not only the capital of Russia, but also the second largest city in terms of the number of attractions. Unlike St. Petersburg, founded in 1703 and sometimes, especially in the center, giving the impression of a city-museum, the history of Moscow has 850 years, the city developed spontaneously, something was built, something was demolished, and as a result, monuments of almost all epochs. Everyone knows the Moscow Kremlin, Red Square or St. Basil's Cathedral. But Moscow is also, say, VDNH, Moscow City, Shukhov Tower, Kolomenskoye, the Moscow Metro itself or 7 high-rise buildings of the Stalin era. This is the center of the country's cultural and sports life, here are the main museums, theaters, music concerts and sporting events. Moscow is the largest transport hub in Russia, one of the major transport hubs in Europe, the city is served by 4 airports, 10 railway stations; almost all types of transport are represented in the capital - from buses, trams, electric buses, metro (including two ring lines), MCC and MCD (city electric trains) to taxis, monorails and cable cars, as compared to the rest of Russia, cycling is also developed infrastructure and mobile modes of transport – carsharing, electric scooters.
There are very few monuments of history and architecture before the 17th century in Russia, and all of them are countless. The oldest city in Russia is Derbent, where the fortress was built gradually, starting from the fifth century. Few monuments of the Golden Horde have been preserved, the main ones are the complex in Bolgar, the tower in Yelabuga, as well as a mosque and two mausoleums in Kasimov. The Kaliningrad region is a special region that until 1945 belonged to Germany. Many German medieval castles have been preserved there, although mostly in poor condition. Old Russian architecture should first of all be seen in Veliky Novgorod, Pskov, the cities of the Golden Ring, Ryazan and Smolensk, as well as in the Russian North - these are Vologda, Kargopol, Veliky Ustyug, Solikamsk. Kremlins are a typical genre of Russian defense architecture. They, for example, are in Novgorod, Pskov, Moscow, Smolensk, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Tula, Astrakhan and Tobolsk. Monasteries until the 17th century were also fortresses. The most famous of them are the Trinity-Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad, Kirillo-Belozersky in Kirillov and Solovetsky on Solovki. Well, to look at the monuments of ancient Russian civil architecture - the chambers - you should go to Pskov or Gorokhovets.
In the 18-19 centuries, rich merchant cities appeared, where urban architecture arose: estates, public buildings, churches. This environment suffered greatly in the future, but in many places it was partially preserved. For the best samples, you are in Nizhny Novgorod, Samara and Yekaterinburg, as well as in county towns like Yelabuga and Yelets. A lot of architecture of the 20th century has been preserved, but you need to choose first-class from it. So, the best selection of constructivist architecture has been preserved in Moscow, and, for example, for a wooden Art Nouveau one has to go to Tomsk. Stalians is ubiquitous in Russia, but the most complete and colorful ensembles are preserved in St. Petersburg and Volgograd, and on a smaller scale (but just as solid) in industrial cities such as Magnitogorsk and Nizhny Tagil. Vyborg and Sortavala have a lot of high-quality pre-war Finnish architecture, and the historical mosques of Kazan and the Buddhist temples of Buryatia and the Trans-Baikal Territory will give you the opportunity to better understand the culture of the peoples of Russia.
It is difficult to imagine Russia without monuments of wooden architecture. In many villages of the Russian North, there are no stone or brick buildings at all. Most of the monuments - churches, chapels, huts, crosses - are located in the Arkhangelsk region, but the most famous - the triple churchyard of Kizhi - is located in Karelia. There are cities - Vologda, Tyumen, Tomsk, Irkutsk - where in the center there are still entire areas built up with wooden mansions, and every second of them is an architectural monument. The land in the center is expensive and needed for development, and the tree burns well, so hurry up while there is still something left.
Large memorials are dedicated to major historical events: on the Kulikovo field, on the Borodino field near Mozhaisk - the Patriotic War of 1812, near St. Petersburg, in Volgograd and in Prokhorovka near Belgorod - the key events of the Great Patriotic War.
In Russia, there is no tradition of preserving industrial heritage, much less turning it into museums and tourist attractions. At the first opportunity, historic factory buildings are demolished, narrow-gauge railways are scrapped, and canals themselves fall into disrepair. Only in the last few years, and only in the capitals, has a trend begun to convert industrial architectural monuments into offices — LOFTs — instead of demolition. But even in this situation, Russia still has something to look at - the industrial architecture of St. Petersburg, the Moscow region and the Urals, the Alapaevsk narrow-gauge railway or the water systems of the north-west of Russia. It is this layer of Russian culture that is being destroyed the fastest - hurry up.
Russia occupies a vast territory, and its nature is exceptionally diverse, however, for the most part, the most interesting places are difficult to access and require multi-day hikes or even special expeditions. A beach holiday is possible on the Black, Azov, Baltic and Japanese Seas, but it differs by a not very good price / quality ratio - neighbors often have cheaper and better prices. But the possibilities for outdoor activities are completely endless. Karelia with its lakes and rapids is popular for water tourism and just for outdoor recreation. If you want to go to the mountains, the Western Caucasus, Altai and Sayan mountains are at your service. Lake Baikal, despite its growing popularity, still remains a rather exotic vacation spot, and no one has ever left unsatisfied. If you need exotic and don't feel sorry for the money, there are volcanoes of Kamchatka, Tuva or the Kuril Islands, or even the Arctic coast. But even in central Russia, landscapes are not at all as monotonous as they seem - Meshchera is very different from the Samara Luka or the forest-steppe in the upper reaches of the Don. There are four dozen national parks in Russia, from Moscow to the Franz Josef and Sikhote Alin Islands in Primorsky Krai, and their number is constantly growing.
With 17,075,020 km², Russia is by far the largest country in the
world. It covers 11% of the world's land area, roughly the size of
Australia and Europe combined. Except for the tropics, all climate zones
From west to east, Russia stretches over two continents over a total length of 9000 km, from 19° east to 169° west. Europe accounts for 23% of the land area, Asia for 77%. From south to north, the expansion is up to 4000 km, from 41 to 81 degrees north latitude.
On the territory of Russia are some of the longest rivers, as well as the oldest and deepest lake in the world (Lake Baikal). If one compares the relief structure and the river systems of Russia with one another, a grid of parallel watersheds or the steppe belt in the south and the meridional flow paths emerges.
Alongside the People's Republic of China, Russia has the largest
number of neighboring countries with a common land border, at 14. The
total length of the national borders is 20,027 km. Russia also borders
five seas, with a coastline of 37,653 km.
The Russian heartland borders the states of Norway (196 km) and Finland (1340 km), followed by a short stretch of coast to the Baltic Sea. In addition, Russia shares a border with the Baltic countries of Estonia (334 km) and Latvia (217 km), further south followed by Belarus (959 km) and Ukraine (1586 km, with a land border with Crimea). The Black Sea separates Russia's European borders from those of Asia. In the Caucasus, Georgia (723 km) and Azerbaijan (284 km) border. There follows a coastal strip on the Caspian Sea and a long common border with Kazakhstan (6846 km). In East Asia, Russia borders first with the People's Republic of China (about 40 km) and then with Mongolia (3485 km). After that, the Russian territory will meet with Chinese for the second time (3605 km). North Korea (19 km) is the last land connection to another country.
Then follow the coastlines to the Sea of Japan, the Sea of Okhotsk, the Pacific Ocean and finally the Bering Sea. Russia is separated from Alaska in the extreme east by the Bering Strait, which is only about 85 km narrow and 30 to 50 m deep. Located in the middle of the Bering Strait, Russia's Greater Diomedes Island is just 4 km from the US's Little Diomedes Island. The entire northern part of the country borders the Arctic Ocean. There are various islands belonging to Russia, the northernmost Franz Josef Land. Russia also considers other areas of the Arctic Ocean and the ice sheet to be part of its sovereign territory.
In addition to the heartland, Russia also has an exclave, the northern part of the former East Prussia, today's Kaliningrad Oblast. This area, over which the Soviet Union claimed territorial sovereignty in 1945, borders Lithuania (227 km) and the southern part of former East Prussia, now part of Poland (206 km). It is thus completely surrounded by EU countries.
Russia is divided into eleven time zones (from UTC+2 to UTC+12), with daylight saving time being applied everywhere all year round after the abolition of the time change in 2011 to 2014. After continued criticism from the population, Russia returned to normal time on October 26, 2014.
Russia encompasses a large number of different natural areas that
have a wide range of potential but also very different uses. From a
geographical point of view, Russia is mainly divided into eight major
regions (roughly in a west-east direction):
The East European Plain occupies most of European Russia. It consists of wide lowlands, which are interrupted by weakly structured ridges. Only a few peaks reach heights of more than 300 m. In Karelia and on the Kola Peninsula, which geologically belong to the Baltic Shield, the relief is more differentiated in the north. There, in the chibines of the central Kola Peninsula, a maximum height of 1191 m is reached. In the south, the East European lowlands merge into the Caspian depression below sea level. During the last ice age, a chain of terminal moraines was formed, running east from the border area with Belarus and north of Moscow to the Arctic coast west of the Pechora River. The region north of it consists of many lakes and swamps.
To the east of the Ural mountains, the wide-stretched plain in the West Siberian lowlands continues to the Yenisei. This extremely flat area is occupied by spacious swamp landscapes.
The North Siberian Lowland joins north of the Central Siberian Highlands, which rise north to the Taimyr Peninsula to the south of the Arctic Ocean.
To the east of the Yenisei, the wavy Central Siberian highlands stretch to the Lena with average heights between 500 and 700 m. In the north-west of this region rise the Putorana Mountains, which reach a maximum height of 1701 m. Rivers shaped the shape of the landscape, in some places deep canyons have cut in.
In the south of Central and East Siberia, other mountain ranges continue eastward to the Pacific Ocean (South Siberian Mountains). These include the Altai, Sayan Mountains, Yablonovy Mountains, Stanovoy Mountains and Dzhugjur.
The Central Yakutian Lowland includes mainly the lower Lena and Vilyui valleys, but also the lower Aldan valley. The approximately 1 million km² comprehensive lowland is bounded by the Central Siberian Highlands to the west and the East Siberian Highlands to the east.
To the east of Lena and Aldan is the East Siberian highland, which consists of branched mountain ranges. The higher mountains in this region, such as the Verkhoyansk Mountains, the Chersky Mountains and the Kolyma Mountains, reach heights between about 2300 and 3200 m. There are about 160 volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The volcanic mountain range of Kamchatka continues to the south on the Kuril Islands. There are around 100 volcanoes there.
South of the East Siberian Sea is the extensive East Siberian Lowland, which is exclusively north of the Arctic Circle. The landscape includes the lower reaches of the rivers Yana, Indigirka and Kolyma. The western part is the Jana-Indigirka lowland, the eastern - the Kolyma lowland. In the west, south and east, the East Siberian Lowlands border the East Siberian Highlands.
With 120,000 rivers and streams and almost two million lakes, Russia
is very rich in water. The forest belt, which occupies two-thirds of the
area, acts together with the excess precipitation as a huge water
reservoir that feeds a whole network of watercourses.
In the European part of Russia, the most important river is the Volga. It is the longest river in Europe and runs exclusively in Russia. Together with its two tributaries, the Kama and Oka, it drains a large part of the East European Plain after 3534 km to the Caspian Sea in the southeast. As a waterway, the Volga is of particular importance as it connects Eastern Europe with Central Asia. The northern Russian ridge forms the watershed between the Volga Basin and the White Sea or Barents Sea in the north. The Dnepr (also known as the Dnjepr) is of great importance for the Slavic states. The river originates west of Moscow and then flows through Belarus and Ukraine, where it empties into the Black Sea. It is connected to the Polish rivers Bug and Vistula via the Dnieper-Bug Canal and indirectly to the Neman via the Oginsk Canal System, which makes the Dnieper an important waterway.
The longest rivers in Russia are in Siberia and Far Eastern Russia. The Ob rises in the South Siberian Altai and flows into the Arctic Ocean. The river, with its source river Katun, is over 4300 km long and forms - together with the Irtysh - one of the longest river systems in Asia with a total length of over 5400 km. The river system of the Yenisei has a somewhat longer flow distance, the water of which flows (partly) from Mongolia northwards through western Siberia to the Arctic Ocean. Its main tributary, the Angara, is the only outflow of Lake Baikal. The Yenisei supplies about 600 km³ of water to the Arctic Ocean every year. It thus records the highest flow rate of all Russian rivers. The approximately 4300 km long Lena, the longest river that runs exclusively in Russia and whose catchment area is located exclusively in Russia, has its source just 5 km from Lake Baikal. It first flows in a north-easterly direction, turns north after the mouth of the Aldan and flows into an extensive delta in the Laptev Sea, a tributary sea of the Arctic Ocean. Other major rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean are the Pechora, the Northern Dvina, the Khatanga, and the Kolyma and Indigirka.
Another important river system is the Amur with its tributary Schilka. With its source river Onon, it has a total length of about 4400 km and runs from the north-east of Mongolia in an easterly direction along the Chinese border to the Pacific coast. Amur and Anadyr are the largest Russian rivers flowing into the Pacific Ocean.
Many other streams are important as transport routes and sources of energy, or for irrigation in arid regions. The Don occupies a prominent position. It lies in the populous East European lowlands and drains south into the Sea of Azov. Other important rivers are Moskva, Selenga, Tobol, Stony Tunguska, Lower Tunguska, Urals and Ussuri.
There are many natural lakes in Russia, especially in the formerly glaciated northwestern part of the country. The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland lake at 386,400 km². The sea level of the salt water lake is about 28 m below sea level. Since the Caspian Sea has no outlet, water only escapes through evaporation, which leads to the crystallization of salts in the dry climate that prevails here. As the oldest freshwater lake, Lake Baikal has a depth of 1642 m, making it not only the deepest lake, but also the largest reservoir of liquid freshwater in the world (approx. one fifth of all liquid freshwater reserves). Other important and large lakes are Lake Ladoga (the largest inland lake in Europe), Lake Onega and Lake Taimyr.
Around 40% of Russia's area is covered by mountains. The Urals form
the dividing line between the European and Asian parts of the country;
However, due to its low altitude of almost 2000 m (Narodnaja, 1895 m),
it does not represent a real barrier. East of the Urals extends the very
flat West Siberian lowland, which extends to the Yenisei River and is
criss-crossed by spacious swampy landscapes. To the south-east, the West
Siberian lowlands are closed off by the Central Siberian highlands,
which extend to the Lena River and drop down to the narrow North
Siberian lowlands in the north. The mountains of Sayan (Munku Sardyk,
3491 m) and the highest mountain range in Siberia, the Altai (Belukha,
4506 m), in the Russian-Kazakh-Chinese-Mongolian border area belong to
the Central Siberian highlands. To the east of the Lena rises the East
Siberian highlands, which branch out into various mountain ranges, such
as the Verkhoyansk Mountains (2389 m in Orlugan) and the Cherski
Mountains (Pobeda, 3003 m), and reach heights of a good 3000 m. The
Kamchatka peninsula is characterized by its 160 volcanoes with heights
of up to 4688 m, 29 of which are still active.
Other mountains in Russia are: Baikal Mountains, Chibinen, Caucasus Mountains, Kolyma Mountains, Putorana Mountains, Stanovoi Mountains, Stanovoi Highlands, Tannu-ola Mountains. The highest mountain in Russia is Elbrus (5642 m) in the Caucasus. In addition to other 5000m peaks in the Caucasus, the Kasbek with 5047 m and the Kljutschewskaja Sopka with 4750 m are well-known peaks.
Russia has a distinctive nature protection system with a long tradition. Since the 1980s, national parks established according to international criteria and other international categories of protected areas have been added to the classic Russian protected area categories such as the strictly protected Sapowedniki or the Sakasniki. In terms of area, Russia has one of the largest systems of protected areas in the world:
Zapovedniki (Strictly Protected Areas): Is the most important national protected area category in Russia, which internationally belongs to the highest possible protected area category. There must be no use of any kind and no human influence on the natural processes. As a result, visitors are prohibited from entering the core zone of a sapovednik, although there are limited exemptions for scientists. There are currently 100 of these total reserves in Russia, ranging in area from 2.31 to 4169 km² and totaling 27,000 km².
Sakasniki (wildlife sanctuaries): These are areas of up to 6000 km² with restrictions on economic use. As landscape reserves, they serve to protect and regenerate natural ecosystems, to protect rare animal and plant species, fossil sites or to protect hydrologically or geologically important sites. In total there are about 3000 Sakasniki in Russia with a total area of about 78,000 km².
National parks in Russia: Only since the early 1980s has there been a protected area category of national parks in Russia, which has long been known in other countries. These have a lower protection status than the Zapovedniki and, in addition to the protection of natural and cultural treasures, also serve research and education as well as controlled tourism. There are currently 35 national parks in Russia ranging in area from 7 km² to 18,900 km² and together covering 90,000 km² of the national territory.
Nature parks: They are a relatively new category of protection and serve not only nature conservation but also recreation.
Natural Heritage: In 1972, the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was adopted, which Russia joined in 1988. Natural heritage is defined as unique physical, biological and geological formations or areas of outstanding scientific or natural beauty conservation value, as well as habitats of endangered animal and plant species. So far, the following areas have been included as natural heritage sites by UNESCO:
1995 – Komi Primeval Forests
1996 – Lake Baikal
1996 – Kamchatka Volcanic Region with Nature Park
1998 – Altai Mountains
1999 - Western Caucasus
2001 – Central Sichote-Alin Nature Reserve
2003 – Uws-Nuur Basin
2004 – Wrangel Island Nature Reserve
2010 – Putorana Mountains
The average annual temperature for Russia is given as −5.5°C. Large
parts of the country are characterized by a continental climate with hot
summers and very cold winters. The further east you travel, the more you
feel the formative temperatures in the different seasons, which means
that the summer is extremely hot and the temperatures in the winter
months are sometimes icy cold. Hardly any other country offers such
temperature differences as Russia. The southern half of the Far East has
a monsoon climate. Average January temperatures are below freezing
everywhere except for the Black Sea coast. In East Siberia they drop to
-35 to -60°C, but are easier to bear due to the usually very low
humidity. The summer temperatures are very different. The average
temperatures in the far north are +1 to +2°C, in the semi-steppe and
steppe regions of the south they are +24 to +25°C.
The climatic, vegetation and eco-zones in Russia largely run parallel to the latitudinal circle, resulting in a north-south sequence:
The cold desert, hostile to life, reigns supreme in the Arctic Ocean. This affects, among other things, the northern part of the Taimyr peninsula and other islands located there. There is a pronounced ice climate in which there are hardly any plants. There are few permanent settlements in this zone. Average temperatures only stay just above freezing for three months, and in the coldest months of January and February, they drop to -30°C. Annual precipitation in the form of snow rarely exceeds 250 millimeters.
Starting from the northernmost Eurasian mainland, a treeless landscape belt characterized by permafrost follows, which has a north-south extent of between 200 and 800 km and extends to about the Arctic Circle, in the central Siberian mountains up to 70° north latitude. With the exception of the bay around the White Sea, the coastal landscape in the north is characterized by tundra. The summers there are too short and too cool for forest to develop. Average temperatures are above freezing for only four to five months a year, with the warmest months in the outskirts averaging above 10°C. Therefore, the ground only thaws on the surface, so that the abundant precipitation accumulates on the frozen subsoil and in summer the tundra turns into a sea of swamps and bogs with a vegetation of lichens, grasses and dwarf shrubs. Agriculture is not possible, only the indigenous reindeer nomads make a living there. Therefore, there are few human settlements. Further south of the cold steppe, spruces first begin to grow individually, and then together with downy birches and aspens form forest tundra interspersed with swamps. At its southern border, the forest tundra then merges smoothly into the forest zone.
This 1000-2000 km wide zone runs north along the St. Petersburg-Ufa-Irkutsk-Sakhalin line and forms the boreal zone or taiga. The forest zone runs through all of northern Eurasia. Because of this enormous expansion, it is divided into several parallel sub-zones: In the coniferous forest belt (actual taiga) in the north, which is by far the dominant in terms of area, further into the sub-taiga as a transition zone to the steppe and in a mixed forest belt, which, however, only extends in the to the south of European Russia. The taiga, for its part, forms three sub-zones that are parallel in width and one behind the other:
West of the Urals, the northern taiga consists of low spruce forests with scattered birches. Pine prevails only in Karelia.
The middle taiga forms dark spruce forests with inclusions of birch, towards the south increasingly also pine and the first harbingers of deciduous trees such as the small-leaved lime. Low soil fertility and a lack of species in the vegetation make this landscape unsuitable for agriculture.
The southern taiga is characterized by a high proportion of deciduous trees in the undergrowth, due to more productive soils. The taiga of Siberia is characterized by sparse forests consisting of Siberian larch, spruce and stone pine.
The forest zone is characterized by a continental climate with a strong temperature gradient between hot summers and cold winters. The mean annual temperature decreases significantly from west to east. In Pskov it is still 5.1°C, but drops to 2.3°C in the Urals and only reaches 0.1°C in Tomsk in western Siberia. In East Siberian Yakutsk it is then -10°C. The low annual mean is due to the long and very cold winter in Siberia. In contrast, the average summer temperatures correspond to the Central European average.
Summer green deciduous and mixed forest grows in the areas dominated by cool, temperate climates, which adjoin the taiga to the south. This zone runs within Europe in the St. Petersburg-Odessa-Ufa triangle, in western Siberia in a strip from Chelyabinsk to Krasnoyarsk and in the Amur region. The mixed forest zone thus runs in an eastward tapering triangle from the central Carpathians and from the Baltic coast to the southern Urals. The vegetation consists primarily of spruce, pine and oak before merging further south into pure deciduous forest. The oak is the leading timber there, as well as beech and hornbeam in western Ukraine. As in the mixed forest area, pine trees grow primarily in sandy depressions such as the Pripyat Basin. For climatic reasons, there is no mixed forest east of the Urals. Instead, in western Siberia, birch groves lead directly from the taiga to the forest-steppe. The mixed forest then occurs again in the Far East. The mixed forest zone offers generally acceptable living conditions for agriculture, while the deciduous forest zone offers good living conditions.
Further south follows a steppe belt that runs along the lower reaches of the Don and Volga, North Caucasus, Caspian Depression and Tuva. The steppe belt is divided into the forest-steppe in the north and the actual steppe in the south. The forest breaks up into islands from north to south and eventually disappears almost entirely. This has to do with the decreasing precipitation to the south-east with a simultaneous increase in evaporation intensity. Except in river valleys (as riparian forest) or in depressions with favorable groundwater conditions, the water stored in the loess soil is not sufficient to cover the water requirements of deciduous trees. Therefore, in the forest-steppe meadow formations, in the actual steppe feather-grass formations form the plant cover. The steppe belt is ideal for grain cultivation due to the fertile black soil layer.
A sclerophyllous forest zone follows on the Black Sea coast between Novorossiysk and Sochi. The average temperature on the Black Sea coast is around 20 degrees Celsius. This subtropical part of Russia is characterized by dense forests.
Russia is home to the largest remaining Nordic wilderness regions after Canada. According to Global Forest Watch, around 26% of the forests are still intact primeval forests. They are mostly in Siberia. In the European part, 9% of the forests still have this status.
The polar climate on the north coast of Russia is a habitat for polar bears, seals, walruses and seabirds. Arctic foxes, owls, arctic hares and lemmings live in the tundra to the south. In the summer, large herds of reindeer and wolves migrate to the tundra. These animals are perfectly adapted to the unfriendly conditions of this zone. In the forests of Russia, biodiversity in wildlife is increasing. Thus, in the taiga and the boreal coniferous forests of Russia live moose, reindeer, wolves, bears, sables, squirrels, foxes and wolverines. Wild boar, mink and deer have spread further south. There are also a few Siberian tigers. The steppe zone of Russia is the habitat of hamsters, ground squirrels, polecats and steppe foxes.
The population of Russia is very unevenly distributed. 85% of the population (about 123 million people) live in the European part, which includes only 23% of Russian territory. Therefore, only 15% (about 22 million people) live in the much larger Asian part, which accounts for 77% of the total area. The population density varies from 362 inhabitants/km² in the capital and its environs (Moscow region) to under 1 inhabitants/km² in the Northeast and the Russian Far East. On average, it is 8.3 inhabitants/km². Since in many cases a considerable proportion of the population lives in the respective regional capital, the population density in rural areas is rarely higher than 40 to 50 inhabitants/km², even in the relatively densely populated central Russian administrative areas.
Russia's population fell from 147.0 million at the January 1989 census to 142.2 million in 2007. The population decline then slowed, taking the population to 141.9 million in 2010. The population figure was corrected by the results of the 2010 census. The fertility rate fell from 2 to 1.16 births per woman between 1988 and 1999. At the same time, the mortality rate for men doubled from 9.4 (1970) to 18.7 per 1,000 inhabitants (2005). The average life expectancy of men fell from 63.9 years in 1986 to 57.5 years (1994). By 2004, it rose to 58.9 years; In 2011 it was 64.3 years, in 2014 it was 70.36 years. The higher male mortality rate leads to an excess of women. In 2010 there were 10.7 million more women than men in Russia. Main cause: Unhealthy lifestyle through alcohol, smoking as well as traffic accidents, suicide and murder. At 56.7%, the most common cause of death is various heart diseases, and cancer is also very common. Deaths from drug use, tuberculosis and HIV have increased markedly since the end of the Soviet Union. In 2015 there was talk of an annual increase of 10% in HIV infections, mainly through drug use. In mid-2015, the head of the Federal Center for AIDS Prevention and Control, Vadim Pokrovsky, spoke of fifteen regions of Russia with a generalized epidemic with more than 1% infected population, similar to South Africa. According to information provided at the beginning of the World AIDS Conference in 2018, new infections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia were the only regions in the world to increase between 2010 and 2016, with 80% affecting Russia, where the number of new infections in 2017 was twice as high as in 2005 according to UNAIDS In 2019, the consumer protection authority counted just over a million people infected and around 80 new infections every day, according to Wadim Pokrovsky.
The Russian government has launched several national programs designed to help increase the birth rate. Since 2007, parents have received a one-off state benefit (maternity capital) of almost EUR 10,000 (2012) from their second newborn child onwards. The number of births in Russia increased from 1.48 million (2006) to 1.9 million (2012). In 2018, families received discounted mortgages and grants, in some cases from the very first child; 9 billion dollars were budgeted for 3 years. In February 2019, President Vladimir Putin declared that he was not content with the declining birth rate and announced further relief for families with children.
The proportion of the urban population remained constant at 73%.
The higher educated tended to emigrate, partly because of the prevailing legal uncertainty. This trend slowed down at times, also as a result of the government's demographic policy efforts. After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, significantly more highly qualified people left the country during the economic slump that followed. In the spring of 2018, the head of the Russian Academy of Sciences complained that 44,000 emigrants were missing from Russian research.
Russia is the second most important immigration country in the world. In 2017, 8.1% of the population were migrants. The regions of origin here are primarily the poorer, southern former Soviet republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus, but also in increasing numbers in Africa and Southeast Asia. So far, however, the majority of immigrants have come from the descendants of Russians who were settled in other republics during the German Empire and the Soviet era and mostly returned to Russia with their families. The influx was dampened after the annexation of Crimea by the economic downturn, but also by protectionism and nationalism - in the first half of 2017 immigration no longer compensated for mortality.
Similar to other European countries, the population of Russia is expected to continue to decrease in the coming decades. The ILO expects a decline to 130 million inhabitants by 2050. Assuming net immigration of 300,000 people per year, the decline would only be slight. The situation stabilized somewhat by 2012, and the population rose slightly to around 143.5 million. For the period from 2015 onwards, a worsening of the demographic situation was expected due to the low birth rate in the 1990s. As the 2010s progressed, this slight population growth turned back to a negative demographic development. According to Rosstat, in 2020 the decline in the Russian population exceeded 500,000 people in one year for the first time since 2005. In 2021, the Russian authorities expected the population to fall by 1.2 million by 2024.
As early as 800 AD, Kievan Rus was characterized by many city-like
settlements, which is why the Scandinavian Varangians called the area
Gardarike (“kingdom of cities”). Among the oldest surviving cities in
this area are Novgorod, Smolensk, Pskov, Rostov, Murom and Beloosero,
all of which were founded in the first millennium AD. In the 11th and
12th centuries, other cities in central Russia were founded by Slavic
settlers. During this period, Moscow, Yaroslavl, Tver, Vladimir,
Vologda, Kirov, Tula, Kursk, Kostroma, Ryazan, and a little later Nizhny
Novgorod emerged. Due to the size of the country, a large number of
large cities were necessary as bases. With the conquest of Kazan and
Astrakhan in the mid-16th century, Russian colonists established other
cities in the east, south-east and south. Numerous cities were initially
founded as border fortresses. In the south, these were bases of the
defensive line against the Crimean Tatars, such as Orel (1566) and
today's Voronezh (1586). Further east, on the Volga, other cities such
as Samara (1586), Tsaritsyn (1589) and Saratov (1590) developed during
this period. After the conquest of Siberia, numerous Cossack forts,
so-called ostrogs, were built. Cities like Tobolsk, Irkutsk, Bratsk,
Tomsk and Yakutsk later grew out of them. Cities in the Ural and Altai
Mountains such as Perm (1723), Yekaterinburg (1723) or Barnaul (1730)
arose in the epoch of Peter the Great in connection with the ores and
precious minerals found there. With the decline of the Crimean Tatars
and the further advance of Russia into the Caucasus, new fortresses and
cities arose in the 18th century. Stavropol and Vladikavkaz were founded
in 1784, Krasnodar in 1793, Novocherkassk in 1805, Grozny in 1818, and
Port Petrovsk in 1844.
Despite the foundations, large sub-areas retained their rural character. The farmer belonged to a Mir (peasant community). Cities represented isolated phenomena outside of the agglomerations and only formed a wide-meshed network. Moscow functioned as the capital until 1712 and was then replaced by Saint Petersburg, which had been newly founded in 1703, according to the will of Peter I, in order to officially assume the status of the capital again in 1918. In the 19th century there was even frequent talk of the two capitals. Industrialization at the end of the 19th century brought significant impetus to subsequent urbanization in all parts of the country. It led to the emergence of numerous new cities and the rapid growth of old cities. Many Russian cities arose as a result of administrative restructuring of several neighboring village settlements into one city settlement. New city foundations and city uprisings remain a characteristic of Russian urbanization to this day.
More than half of all Russian cities were only founded in the last 90 years, especially in the 1960s. Therefore, among the 160 major Russian cities, where half of Russia's population lives, there are many new cities (about a quarter). The major Russian cities are primarily industrial and administrative centers, but they also have other high-level functions. Examples of new cities are Magnitogorsk, Novokuznetsk or Bratsk, while the grown ones include Samara and Tambov.
During the Soviet Union, urban development was centrally planned and controlled. The type of socialist city prevailed. This includes, for example, the emergence of new city types, such as the capitals of small national republics (e.g. Cheboksary, Nalchik) or the science cities (e.g. Dubna). The massive urbanization policy pursued in the Soviet era meant that today 73% of the population lives in urban settlements. The cities emerged from the political and economic upheavals in Russia in the 1990s as independent and self-responsible municipal units. To this end, they were given local and regional control bodies. With the new national borders, however, specialized production and distribution processes that were organized according to the division of labor also collapsed. Many cities were suddenly cut off from the previous networks. Formerly central cities suddenly became border cities and were geopolitically peripheral. This fundamentally changed the functional structure and the economic development basis of Russian cities and led to shifts in the Russian city system, with ups and downs. So far, the winners of the transformation have primarily been the metropolises, above all Moscow. Lacking capital to extract and transport raw materials under extreme conditions, many northern mining towns found themselves in a crisis of survival.
The ten largest cities in Russia (former Soviet-era names in brackets):
Moscow – Central Russia (12.23 million inhabitants)
Saint Petersburg (Leningrad) – Northwest Russia (5.28 million inhabitants)
Novosibirsk – Siberia (1.60 million inhabitants)
Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk) – Urals (1.46 million inhabitants)
Nizhny Novgorod (Gorki) – Volga (1.26 million inhabitants)
Kazan – Volga (1.23 million inhabitants)
Chelyabinsk – Urals (1.20 million inhabitants)
Omsk – Siberia (1.18 million inhabitants)
Samara (Kuibyshev) – Volga (1.17 million inhabitants)
Rostov-on-Don – southern Russia (1.13 million inhabitants)
Strictly speaking, Rossiyskaya Federaziya would literally translate
to "Russian Federation" (from Rossiya "Russia") and not "Russian
Federation". Russkaja Federazija (“Russian Federation”) was deliberately
not chosen as the name of the state in order to include non-Russian
nationalities as well. When talking about the Russian people or the
Russian-speaking culture, the Russian language is russkij (Russian),
while the adjective rossijskij (Russian) is used for the Russian state.
Nevertheless, the adjective "Russian" is mostly used in German in both
cases. The use of the word "Russian" is largely limited to specialized
publications. The official translation of the Russian Constitution also
uses this variant.
The Russian Federation still sees itself as a multinational state. The largest group are the Russians, who make up the majority of the population with 79.8%, but almost 100 other peoples live on the territory of the country. Despite the heterogeneity, the Russian population is dominant in all urban and industrial areas nationwide and the titular nations often form the minority even in their “own” territories. Only 23 peoples or titular nations number more than 400,000 people. The degree of ethnic identification varies.
Larger minorities are the Tatars (4.0%), the Ukrainians (2.2%), the Armenians (1.9%), the Chuvash (1.5%), the Bashkirs (1.4%), the Germans (0.8%) and others. The smaller minorities include, for example, the Meskhetians and various minorities of the Jewish faith. The non-Russian minorities mostly speak Turkic, Caucasian, Uralic (Samoyedic), Altaic or Paleo-Siberian languages. Republics with extensive autonomy were established for many non-Russian peoples. While some minorities, such as Armenians, Koreans and Germans, are spread across different regions of Russia, there are also several indigenous peoples in European Russia. The number of nationalities in the Caucasus region, which only became part of Russia in the last third of the 18th century, is large.
Russian is the only universal official language, but in parallel, the
respective vernacular is often used as a second official language in the
individual autonomous republics. In some republics there are also three
or more official languages; in Dagestan, home to more than 30 indigenous
ethnic groups, there are 14 official languages.
The use of regional languages is promoted in education, in the mass media and in cultural policy. The governments and parliaments of the republics regard this as an indispensable prerequisite for preventing ethnic groups from dying out. However, proficiency in the indigenous mother tongue is declining among many non-Russian ethnic groups.
Like almost all regional official languages in Russia, Russian is written in the Cyrillic alphabet. The guideline is that all respective languages are to be written in Cyrillic. Exceptions are Yiddish in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, which has hardly been spoken there for decades, as well as Karelian, Finnish and Vepsian in Karelia, which only have a subordinate official status there.
In Tatarstan, as the only exception, Tatar was written exclusively in the Latin script from 2001 to 2004 against the opposition of the Russian-speaking population residing in Tatarstan. The Russian constitutional court banned this practice in November 2004 on the grounds that a uniform script was necessary for the unity of Russia.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the associated
disappearance of the atheistic state ideology of Marxism-Leninism, there
was a return to religious values. The most widespread religions in
Russia are Christianity - especially the Russian Orthodox faith - and
Islam. Numerous other denominations are also represented, such as Roman
Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Buddhism and the traditional
beliefs of some ethnic groups. About a third of the population describes
themselves as atheists or non-denominational.
There are no reliable figures as to membership of individual religious groups, as members of churches and congregations in Russia are not registered and church tax is not levied. Polls often differ significantly. In 2012, the Foundation for Public Opinion (FOM) determined that only 41 percent were Orthodox, compared to 13 percent atheists and only 6.5 percent Muslims. However, another 25 percent described themselves as agnostics or stated that they believed in a higher god-like power. The All-Russian Center for Opinion Research (VCIOM), on the other hand, assumed in 2010 that 75 percent were orthodox and only 8 percent atheists. Its figures are also quoted by the Russian Embassy in Germany.
Deviating from the surveys mentioned, the proportion of the Orthodox is usually given between 51 and 72%, that of the other Christians together hardly 2%, that of the Buddhists with almost 1% and that of the Jews with about 0.35%. The Fischer World Almanac and the US State Department's Religious Freedom Report put 14% Muslims.
In 2006, the CIA World Factbook made the following rough estimates for practicing believers, i.e. those who actively practice their faith: 15 to 20% Russian Orthodox, 10 to 15% Muslim, 2% other Christian denominations.
The Russian Orthodox faith dates back to the early Middle Ages. The
close contacts with this faith resulted from the trade, which was mainly
aimed at Constantinople, and the close contacts with Byzantium that came
with it. Princess Olga of Kiev (893–924) was the first ruler from the
Rurikid dynasty to be baptized, but was unable to establish the
Christian faith in the empire. After the siege of Constantinople (860),
more and more orthodox missionaries came to the country from 911. It is
said that Varangians and Russians who had taken part in the attack in
860 had already returned baptized. Under Olga's grandson, Vladimir the
Holy, the Christianization of Rus' began in 988/989, with the Kiev
population being converted in mass baptisms. After Vladimir's death in
1015, the previously pagan peoples continued to be Christianized for
decades. At this time Byzantium pursued its church policy in conscious
contrast to Rome and conveyed anti-Roman tendencies to the East Slavs
when they converted. The Church of Kiev was initially administered by
exarchs as a particular church of the Patriarchate of Constantinople,
which had no effect on the political independence of the Kiev Grand
Dukes. The Orthodox Church and its values are still a mainstay of the
Russian Empire today.
After the annihilation of Kievan Rus' in the Mongol invasion and under the subsequent Golden Horde, the Metropolitan of Kiev first moved to Vladimir in the 14th century, then to Moscow in 1328. In the 15th century, the Russian Orthodox Church finally broke away from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Constantinople, after the latter had agreed to make concessions to the Pope as a result of the political decline of Byzantium. The conception of Moscow as the Third Rome, the only one upholding the "true Christian faith", was born. In 1589 a separate patriarchate was founded. Peter I abolished this and in 1721 instead placed the Most Holy Governing Synod at the head of the Church, which was abolished in Soviet Russia in 1918. The Soviets first restored the patriarchate before reestablishing a Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1988.
In Russia before 1917, followers of the Russian Orthodox Church were not allowed to convert to any other denomination, even if Christian, and were not allowed to marry "non-Christians". This church was the only religion allowed to proselytize; Children from "mixed" marriages with non-Orthodox were considered Orthodox. Only with the revolution of 1905 were the laws relaxed. After the communists took over, it was mainly members of this church who were oppressed because they were seen as a symbol of autocracy. Between 1918 and 1939 about 40,000 Orthodox clergymen were executed. The 77,800 congregations of 1917 were reduced to about 3,100 by 1941.
Today, the Russian Orthodox Church is experiencing a revival, particularly in rural areas. Many monasteries were founded or rebuilt. The Church currently has about 100 million members, of whom only 5 to 10% are regular worshipers. Religious education in schools was reintroduced in 2006. The Russian Orthodox Church sees itself as representing the interests of the people without opposing the government. The state itself, on the other hand, sees the church as the guarantor of social cohesion. The majority of the population trusts the church and sees it as an institution that conveys values and strengthens inner cohesion in society.
In addition, there have been splits from the orthodox faith in the course of history. The oldest split are the Old Orthodox or Old Believers. Other faiths that emerged from orthodoxy are the Molokans. From them, in turn, emerged the Duchoborse. Both denominations reject wealth, try to live a life of humility and seek a truly biblical fellowship. The community of Subbotniki was founded by some serfs. These refer primarily to the Old Testament. Many of these sects or groups were subject to arbitrary persecution in the Tsarist Empire.
In addition to the Russian Orthodox orientation, there are other
Christian denominations in Russia:
The Roman Catholic Church in Russia was unpopular due to Byzantine influences. So it was not until 1705 that Peter I allowed the construction of a Roman Catholic church for the first time. The Catholics were subject to very strict government controls. If the Bolsheviks were primarily concerned with controlling the Orthodox Church after the October Revolution, the Catholics were later observed more closely again. By 1930 all church structures had been dissolved. After 1945 there were only 20 congregations in the Russian part of the Soviet Union that were forbidden to establish connections with one another. Today there are about 200 Catholic parishes with about 400,000-800,000 members in Russia. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Moscow) has been restored and returned to its intended use. Since 2010 there has again been an apostolic nuncio in Moscow.
The evangelical church in Russia used to be spread almost exclusively among the Russian-Germans and in their colonies. Only after the 1905 revolution were other denominations legalized for Russians and Ukrainians. However, there were also successful missionary attempts among the local population by the Russian-German Adventists and Baptists before the relaxation of the religious laws. Protestantism (particularly Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and Pentecostals) flourished in the 1920s, despite the atheism of the Soviet Union government. However, the Baptists, Gospel Christians and Pentecostals were forced into centralized orders in order to better control them. The same happened with Seventh-day Adventists and Mennonites in 1963. During the Stalinist era, many evangelical Christians of all denominations were executed and persecuted.
Like most denominations, it was impossible for the New Apostolic Church (NAC) to proselytize in Russia before the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the Iron Curtain. Since then, the number of New Apostolic Christians in Russia has been growing steadily. While there were 23,500 at the turn of the millennium, the New Apostolic Church today has almost 40,000 believers. It has also been state-recognized since the early 1990s.
As of April 2017, there are approximately 170,000 active Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia. In the Soviet Union, especially from the outbreak of the Second World War until 1965, many Jehovah's Witnesses were imprisoned and deported to Siberia (see Operation Nord). For several years, the Russian state has brought a total of seven banning actions against Jehovah's Witnesses. The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly sentenced Russia to pay damages for its actions against the religious group. On April 20, 2017, Russia's Supreme Court classified the community as an extremist organization and banned it. The property of all regional associations was confiscated. The human rights organization Human Rights Watch criticized the court decision.
Islam in Russia has been widespread in the North Caucasus since the 7th century and thus predates the founding of the first Russian state and the Christianization of the country on today's Russian territory. In 922 the Volga Bulgars also converted to Islam and passed it on to the Tatars in the 13th century. The indigenous peoples of the Caucasus and the Turkic peoples are mostly Sunni believers. Already at the end of the 19th century, 11.1% of the total population of the Russian Empire were of Muslim origin. In today's Russia, the proportion of Muslims is around 14%, about the same as it was in the Soviet Union. From 1990 to 1994 the "Islamic Party of Revival" existed in Russia. There is also an "Islamic Party for the Rebirth of Tajikistan" and numerous other organizations and splinter groups. In addition to Kazan and Moscow, the centers of Islam in Russia today are also Ufa and Dagestan. According to research by Novaya Gazeta in 2018, the increasing importance of Islam in the Caucasus went hand in hand with a loss of trust in the state.
The history of Jews in Russia can be traced back to the 4th century
when Jews from Armenia and Crimea also settled in Tmutarakan. In the
late 8th or early 9th century, most of the Khazars converted to Judaism.
After the destruction of the Khazar Empire by Svyatoslav I (969),
Judaism was essentially limited to Kiev, the Crimea and the Caucasus.
Jews were first mentioned in the Grand Duchy of Moscow in 1471. Until
the time of Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584), Jews were tolerated except
for a few laws directed against them. From 1721 they were expelled from
the Russian Empire until this became impossible with the incorporation
of eastern parts of Poland (1793 and 1795). From 1791, the Jews had to
live within the Pale of Settlement, which was on what is now the
territory of Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic States.
In the 19th century, leading officials such as Konstantin Pobedonoszew supported anti-Semitic currents in the population. In southern Russia, for example, there were many pogroms in 1881 after the Jews were falsely accused of the attack on Alexander II. The May Laws of 1882 expelled the Jews from the rural areas even in the Pale of Settlement; quotas limited the number of Jews admitted to higher education to 3–10%. Between 1880 and 1920 more than two million Jews fled Russia, mostly to America. In 1903 new pogroms broke out, which intensified again during the Russian Revolution and led to between 70,000 and 250,000 victims among the Jewish civilian population. During Stalinism, the Jewish Autonomous Oblast was founded in the Russian Far East with the main town of Birobidzhan, where only a few Jews settled. Compared to the decades before, there are only a few Jews today, since many of them emigrated to Germany or America, but most to Israel. Today there are 87 synagogues in Russia, most of them in Saint Petersburg and Moscow, including the Moscow Memorial Synagogue. The Jews in European Russia are mostly Ashkenazim, to the east there are also some mountain Jews and Bukharan Jews who are counted among the Mizrahim.
The Tibetan form of Buddhism is also widespread in Russia, although it was originally limited to the Asian peoples (Kalmyks, Tuvinians). Like clerics and followers of virtually every other religion, Buddhist monks were persecuted and oppressed in the Soviet Union during Communist rule. Since the political change in Russia and the successor states of the Soviet Union, however, the Buddhist communities have again recorded an increase in membership among members of the traditionally Buddhist peoples, but also among Russians and other nationalities.
Shamanism is again widespread among the indigenous population in Siberia; especially among the small peoples of the Russian North. Although most Siberians today are Christians, they do not see it as a contradiction to practice the rituals of their ancestors.
The Soviet Union was an imperially united nationality state, i. In
other words, nationality was a political instrument for consolidating
Soviet power, and many different mentalities also meet in today's
Russia. The merging of these peoples and denominations, as well as
influences from both the West and the East, also created distinctive
characteristics that manifest themselves in the stereotype of the
"Russian soul". This term still characterizes the image of Russia today;
in Western countries, the term served Russophiles and critics of the
Western way of life as a projection to their own civilization, which was
felt to be cold. The "Russian soul" is described as a penchant for
extreme opposites that has emerged from the historical development of
Russian folk culture. These extremes are expressed e.g. in striving for
the absolute utmost, combined with a readiness for a sudden change of
direction; In addition, there is a pronounced devotion to fate, a
penchant for patience, a tendency towards superstition, the ability to
suffer or even a very strong bond with one's homeland. The already
mentioned all-or-nothing mentality knows no compromise and no happy
medium. Also known is the openness of emotional expressions, both
positive and negative, which are often given more weight than rational
considerations, which often irritates western foreigners. A strong sense
of solidarity and community is also important.
Russian society is traditionally collectivist, and belonging to a group is very important. This value system is originally based on the way of life of the rural village community, the Mir. Since land was also common property for a long time, people in Russia have always defined themselves through the community and have taken care to ensure that their own behavior and expressions of opinion are consistent with those of the collective.
The family is an important reference group for many Russians, especially in rural areas people live closely together in every respect. Several generations often live there in one apartment or in one house. The traditional family supports each other financially and helps each other with childcare and elderly care. The collective orientation is sometimes still evident in everyday working life. The college is experienced as a community and it is very important to strengthen this group orientation. Nepotism when it comes to job or contract award is a side effect.
Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, however, the educated sections of the population in the big cities in particular, who can benefit from the newly won freedom to travel, have been orienting themselves towards the principles of individualism, which has meanwhile resulted in massive tensions within society and has become a central theme in contemporary literature and film has become. After the significant break with the western world in 2014, educated, ambitious and critical people increasingly looked for opportunities to live abroad; In 2015, the Duma even discussed a ban on foreign language teaching because it promoted emigration. In 2019, the Levada Center reported that 53% of respondents aged 18-24 would like to move abroad.
In 2014, 43% of all managerial posts in Russia were held by women; percentage more than in any other country in the world.
Article 41 of the Constitution of Russia guarantees all citizens the
right to free basic medical care. This principle, which has existed
since Soviet times, is partly the reason why Russia has a comparatively
high number of doctors and hospitals per capita in international
comparison. Nevertheless, the state of health of the Russian population
is poor. The health care system was hit particularly hard during the
economic downturn in Russia in the 1990s. As a result of extremely low
wages for doctors and nurses, medical care for the general public has
deteriorated massively. Every third clinic in the country's 7,000
hospitals is now in urgent need of renovation. Gradually, salaries for
medical staff have recently been increased and state funds have been
invested in the establishment of new clinics and the modernization of
existing ones. Between 1999 and 2003, total expenditure on the health
sector in Russia averaged 5.70% of GDP.
In Russia, the healthcare sector is organized in a decentralized manner. The Ministry of Health is responsible for the entire sector at federal level. However, concrete medical services (including the provision of hospitals) are the responsibility of the federal subjects and municipalities, which cover around two-thirds of the total budget expenditure. The Russian healthcare system is financed by a mix of budget and social security funds. The deterioration in relations with the West was followed by restrictions on the approval of medical devices from abroad from 2015.
After the collapse of the USSR, poverty rose to over 40% of the
population by 1999 and then fell noticeably. In 2002 the proportion was
19.6% and by 2011 it had fallen to 12.8% of the population or 18 million
Russians. Officially, the subsistence level was 170 euros for a person
of working age; for children the value is slightly lower, for pensioners
it is 125 euros. The standard of living improved regionally in very
different ways. While some districts, especially in Moscow and St.
Petersburg, began to shine with new splendour, poverty remained high in
some regions. In Chechnya and Dagestan more than half of the people
lived in poverty; other poor regions are Ingushetia, Tuva and
Kabardino-Balkaria, Mari El, Kalmykia, Buryatia and Altai and Mordovia.
In 2011, the average wage was €576 per month. The large income
differences were reduced from 2005, with the middle income group in
particular increasing significantly in percentage terms. In 2010,
pensions were above the subsistence level for the first time in many
years and, according to forecasts, should rise to 268 euros by 2014. In
2012, around half of the population belonged to the low-income class who
cannot finance key social needs such as housing or additional education.
In fact, in 2014, the average pension was 10,000 rubles, which was 160
euros. Pensions and salaries had to be frozen. Since 2014, funds from
the second, funded pillar of old-age provision have been used to cover
financial needs. The regions with the highest unemployment figures in
Russia around 2021 were Dagestan, Ingushetia and North Ossetia.
In spring 2019, reducing poverty was one of President Putin's five-year goals: almost 19 million Russians were considered poor, which corresponded to 12.9% of the population.
The poorer sections of the population suffered from double-digit increases in consumer prices until 2009, which fell again until 2012. From 2014 to 2019 real income decreased. To combat poverty, a new calculation basis was introduced in autumn 2021, with the number of poor suddenly falling by 2.8 million. Although social benefits were increased by inflation of 8% at the beginning of 2022, the price increases for food were much higher. In particularly poor regions, the Russian armed forces are seen as the only way for young men to escape poverty and ever be able to support a family.
The unemployment rate began to fall after the financial crisis was overcome in 2008. In growth regions such as Moscow, Kaluga and St. Petersburg, unemployment tended towards zero. According to International Labor Organization standards, unemployment was 7.1% in 2005, 7.6% in 2010 and 6.6% in 2011. By 2014, it fell to 5.2% and started rising again. The unemployment benefit was between 60 and 70 euros a month. However, unemployment is a problematic indicator of the economic situation due to a special feature of Russian labor law: redundancies for operational reasons are mostly not permitted in Russia, instead employers are allowed to unilaterally reduce wages. Therefore, Russian workers prefer to stay in their company even if there is a lack of orders and accept high wage cuts instead of claiming the symbolic unemployment benefit of 20 to 110 euros in 2019.
The United Nations Development Program ranks the Russian Federation among the very high human development countries. The Gini coefficient in 2016 was 37.7.
During the time of the Soviet Union, Russian nature was heavily
polluted: littered with industrial waste, chemically and radioactively
polluted. Even today there are serious environmental problems in Russia
- but also a growing environmental awareness among the population. The
citizen's right to a healthy environment and reliable information about
its condition is enshrined in Article 42 of the Russian Constitution.
However, environmental protection has a comparatively low priority in
Russian politics, which is repeatedly criticized by international
environmental organizations such as WWF and Greenpeace. In the past,
common environmental standards in the development of new oil or gas
deposits were not sufficiently complied with. A well-known recent
example is the development of the Sakhalin II development areas, in
which environmental regulations are said to have been violated to a
greater extent. In addition, there is widespread corruption within state
environmental authorities, which enables multiple violations of
environmental regulations when building houses or mass illegal logging.
A large number of contaminated sites from the Soviet era, including
dilapidated factories that cannot meet today's environmental standards,
are also having a significant impact on the environment in parts of the
country. Some cities with such factories, such as Norilsk or Dzerzhinsk,
are considered ecological emergency areas.
The more the quality of life improved, the more important and urgent environmental issues were discussed in Russia's public and political arena. Since 2004, isolated efforts by the Russian state to promote environmental and climate protection have become apparent. In Russia, for example, the ratification of the Kyoto agreement was completed on November 5, 2004 with the President's approval of the State Duma decision. On January 30, 2008 the President-elect Dmitry Medvedev spoke in favor of rapid development of the domestic market for innovative technologies in environmental protection. There are now government plans to increase energy efficiency in Russia in order to limit the significant loss of thermal energy for the residential sector.
Since its beginning in the 9th century, Russia's history has seen
many breaks. Thus, Russian history is a development of its own, which
differs significantly from the development of its neighbors in Europe.
The reason for this is a constant interplay of typical Russian features
from social events and geographical influences, which accompanied its
history over long stretches. The geographic location gave Russia a
bridging position between Europe and Asia, which, depending on the
strength of the situation, favored aggression by foreign powers (larger
invasions, e.g. 1240, 1242, 1609, 1709, 1812, 1917, 1941) or its own
expansion. The lack of natural borders contributed to this, which, in
combination with the experience of foreign incursions, caused Russia to
expand the borders until natural borders could form an effective
protection (cf. Russian colonization). This strong Russian need for
security, which resulted from historical incursions, continues to this
The tension between economic necessities and the ability of the ruling groups to cope or not to cope is also one of the constants in Russian history. Examples include the failure to deal with the social unrest in the course of the industrial age with its high points in the 1905 revolution, the February and October revolutions of 1917 or the post-communist system transformation of the 1990s.
The ways of thinking adopted from Byzantine orthodoxy led to tensions with modernist tendencies and established the striking tension between persistence and progress, which is evident e.g. in the church schism 1666/1667 or the Petrine reforms 1700-1720 clearly showed. Due to the lack of Roman legal tradition, there was no right of resistance against encroachments by the rulers for a long time, so that the relationship between state power and the economic and political freedom of the individual remained strained. This was particularly evident in the 19th century, when liberal ideas found increasing support in Russia and were expressed in several assassination attempts against the Russian autocrat (e.g. Decembrist uprising).
The connection between cooperative and lordly elements, which was pronounced until the end of the Soviet Union, originally has its roots in the Orthodox Church, where the community of believers played a much greater role than the individual responsible to God. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Marxists and socialists took up this idea of the collective and continued it in the Soviet Union. Balancing centralized and decentralized rule has been a constant problem throughout Russia's history. Especially in periods of transition (e.g. between 1240 and 1480, after 1917 and after 1994), separatist currents on the fringes of the country increased.
The ancient East Slavic name for the territory of the Slav-inhabited
part of European Russia, Belarus and Ukraine was Rus (see Kievan Rus),
Rossia in Greek. Today's Russian country name Rossija goes back to this
form. The earliest history of European Russia (for the history of the
Asian part see History of Siberia) is shaped in the north by Finno-Ugric
peoples and Balts, in the south by the Indo-European steppe peoples of
the Kurgan people, the Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians and Alans;
later Greeks, Goths, Huns and Avars were added. In the middle, between
the Dnieper and the Bug, came the Slavic peoples, who began to expand
north and east from the 6th century.
From the 8th century Scandinavian Vikings navigated the Eastern European rivers and later mixed with the Slavic majority population. These warrior merchants, also known as Varangians or Rus, were instrumental in founding the first East Slavic state, Kievan Rus, with centers in Kiev and Novgorod. In the southern steppe region and on the Volga, on the other hand, empires had arisen from the Turkic peoples of the Khazars and Volga Bulgars, who had flowed in from Asia, with whom the Rus traded but also waged wars. Intensive contacts with the Byzantine Empire finally led to the orthodox Christianization of Kievan Rus' in 988.
The deficient seniority principle for the regulation of succession promoted the fragmentation of Kievan Rus' in the 12th century and facilitated the submission of the quarreling Russian principalities in the Mongol invasion. The Mongol invasion of the Rus' began in 1223 with the Battle of the Kalka; the transition phase up to the middle of the 14th century is referred to as the "dark" age. Russian national historiography speaks of the "Tatar yoke" of this period. Mongolian foreign rule led to a break in relations with the West for two centuries and promoted the isolation of orthodox Russia. The Russian principalities were within the Golden Horde's sphere of influence, but were able to retain a certain internal autonomy. Meanwhile, the Russian principalities in the north and west had to fend off attacks from Swedes, Teutonic Knights and Lithuanians. Of the fragmented and hostile Russian principalities, the small and insignificant principality of Moscow proved to be the most assertive. Dmitry Donskoy, who was able to unite various Russian principalities, defeated the Golden Horde in 1380 at the Battle of Snipe Field.
Moscow's Grand Duke Ivan the Great ended Mongol rule and became the de facto founder of a centralized Russian state, gradually “collecting” (Russian собирание земель, sobiranije semel) the surrounding Russian lands, including the Novgorod Republic. His title "Ruler of All Rus' also expressed the claim to the western part of Rus' ruled by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 14th century. This led to protracted wars in the 16th and 17th centuries with Poland and Lithuania (cf. Russo-Lithuanian Wars). Under Ivan the Great, Russian legislation was reformed and most of what is now the Moscow Kremlin was built. In 1547 his grandson Ivan IV founded the Tsardom of Russia. After taking the Tatar capital Kazan, the conquest of Siberia also began under his rule, which brought Russian Cossacks to the Pacific for the first time in the 17th century.
At the turn of the 18th century, Tsar Peter the Great opened up the
tsardom of Russia, which had ossified in the old structures, to Western
European influences and promoted science and culture. In 1703 he founded
the city of Saint Petersburg, which - since 1712 as the new capital -
was to become the symbol of Russian progress. With the victory against
Sweden in the Great Northern War, which lasted more than 20 years,
Russia gained supremacy in the Baltic Sea region after more than 150
years of conflict with Sweden (cf. Northern Wars). Russia took over
Sweden's position as the Nordic great power in Europe. To underline the
new status in the diplomatic hierarchy of Europe, Tsar Peter had the
Russian tsardom renamed the "Russian Empire" and officially changed the
monarch's title from "Tsar" to "Kaiser" (Russian Император, imperator).
Catherine the Great continued Peter's policy of expansion. Under her reign, the Crimean Khanate ("New Russia") was conquered. Participation in the three partitions of Poland pushed Russia's western frontier far towards Central Europe. In 1812, Napoleon's troops invaded Russia and captured Moscow, but were ultimately defeated. This was the prelude to the wars of liberation, in which Russian troops and their allies (Prussia, Austria, United Kingdom, etc.) finally defeated Napoleon and forced him to abdicate. Alexander I moved into Paris as the “liberator of Europe”. After the Congress of Vienna in 1814/15, Russia gained a dominant role on mainland Europe that lasted until the Crimean War of 1853–1856. Due to the deadlocked social structures such as autocracy and serfdom, however, the agrarian empire was less and less able to keep up with the rapidly developing industrialized countries. The lost Crimean War against the western powers revealed the internal weaknesses of the empire and initiated a phase of internal reforms. These accelerated Russia's economic development, but the country was repeatedly destabilized by internal unrest because the political changes were not far-reaching enough and large sections of the population were excluded. The "Westerners", who propagated the adoption of Western European ways of life and political institutions, were always opposed to the national-romantic "Russophiles" or "Slavophiles", who demanded their own, specifically Russian way into modernity and the blanket adoption of Western values completely or largely rejected.
Around the turn of the century, an industrial proletariat arose in the big cities, but very quickly a bourgeois middle class as well. This demanded their share in the disposal of state revenues and joint responsibility for public affairs. However, the members of the middle class had no common political consciousness. They did not understand political freedom as a moral goal, but meant freedom of material development and fair taxation. The middle class was not guided by the utopian designs of the intelligentsia in the long run. An adjustment of the constitutional reality of the state, which would have involved the middle class more closely, did not take place. Instead, terror flared up again. Defeat in the Russo-Japanese War ultimately led to the Russian Revolution of 1905. However, the Russian Emperor Nicholas II was unwilling to initiate fundamental reforms and only a short time later left a largely functionless parliament, the Duma, which he had been forced to approve dissolve.
On October 25 (November 7), 1917, the October Revolution took place.
Power in Russia was seized by the Bolsheviks and their allies under the
leadership of V. I. Ulyanov (Lenin). Soviet Russia became the world's
first socialist state. In January 1918, the Bolsheviks dispersed the
All-Russian Constituent Assembly, in the elections of which (according
to incomplete data) the Bolsheviks received only 22.5% of the vote (then
the Socialist-Revolutionaries won the election, receiving about 60% of
On March 3, 1918, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was concluded, which brought Russia out of the world war. The Bolsheviks recognized the independence of Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine, pledged not to claim a part of Belarus. On March 12, the capital of the state was moved to Moscow.
After the revolution in Russia, the Civil War broke out between the Bolsheviks and their supporters, on the one hand, and the anti-Bolshevik forces (White movement) on the other, as well as the "third force" (anarchists, Basmachi, Social Revolutionaries, etc.). Other states also took part in the war. The civil war ended in 1921-22 with the victory of the Bolsheviks. The Red Army captured Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and established Soviet power in most of the territory of the former Russian Empire.
On December 30, 1922, the RSFSR, Ukrainian SSR, BSSR and ZSFSR formed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The foreign policy of the new state was aimed at overcoming international isolation and recognition of the USSR, which was achieved by the 1930s.
The Bolsheviks initiated ambiguous social reforms that sharply limited the rights of the representatives of social groups disloyal to the Bolsheviks who survived the Civil War: the nobility, clergy, merchants, wealthy peasants, representatives of the old political, military and scientific elite, and also, on the other hand, allowed to reduce the level of social inequality and abolish the access of the privileged classes alone to quality education, medicine, housing and the highest government posts.
After the death of Lenin, the internal party struggle intensified, as a result of which the supreme power was concentrated in the hands of I.V. Stalin, whose rule was totalitarian in nature and was marked by a significant increase in repression. Stalin set a course for accelerated industrialization and complete collectivization of agriculture in order to carry out the transition in the shortest possible time from a traditional agrarian society to an industrial one by all-round mobilization of internal resources, over-centralization of economic life and the formation of an integral administrative-command system in the USSR.
If the pre-war volume of industrial production of the Russian Empire in 1913 was 50% of German and French, 20% of English and, according to various estimates, 10-15% of the American one, then by 1941 9 thousand factories had been built, by the end of the second five-year plan, after 14 years after the end of the Civil War, the USSR came in second place in the world in terms of industrial production, second only to the United States, reaching 10% of the total world industrial production.
In 1937-1938, a campaign of large-scale political repressions took place in the USSR, carried out by extrajudicial bodies against various social strata and groups of the population (former nobles, priests, officers of the imperial army, members of the White movement, officials of the times of the Russian Empire, dispossessed peasants, etc.) and known as the "Great Terror". During this period, mass purges were also carried out in the party, in the Red Army and state security agencies, among the heads of industrial enterprises and scientific institutions. At the same time, repressions were launched along ethnic lines.
In 1939, the USSR concluded a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany with a secret additional protocol on the division of zones of influence in Eastern Europe, as a result of which, in 1939-1940, it annexed the eastern part of Poland, the Baltic States, Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina, part of Karelia, pushing the state border to the west.
On June 22, 1941, the Great Patriotic War began with a surprise attack by Nazi Germany and its satellites on the USSR. The German army, although inferior to the Soviet one in terms of the number of military equipment, but unlike the Red Army, entered the war fully mobilized with deployed logistics support and was able to achieve a decisive advantage in the directions of its main attacks.
By the autumn of 1941, the German troops managed to advance far enough deep into the territory of the USSR. During the offensive in the Moscow direction, the Wehrmacht concentrated the main part of all its forces in front of the capital of the USSR, and in the northwestern direction went to the suburbs of Moscow. However, the resistance of the Soviet troops increased sharply, while the German troops had exhausted their offensive capabilities, after which the Soviet counteroffensive began. During the battle for Moscow, the plan for a lightning-fast capture of the USSR was finally thwarted, the German army suffered a strategic defeat for the first time in World War II, and the war took on a protracted character.
Immediately after the start of the war, many countries of the world expressed support for the USSR, and an anti-Hitler coalition was created. The allies of the Soviet Union in the war against Germany were Great Britain (at war with Germany since September 3, 1939) and the United States, which provided military-technical assistance to the USSR.
During the turning point battles near Stalingrad and Kursk, Soviet troops launched a strategic offensive. During the campaign of 1944-45, they defeated the German army, liberated the territory of the USSR, as well as Poland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, part of Austria, making a decisive contribution to the victory over Nazism. The losses of German troops on the Soviet-German front amounted to about 75% of all irretrievable combat losses in Germany, the Wehrmacht and its allies lost 80% of all combat-ready units, 607 divisions were defeated. The victorious advance of the Red Army, its liberation of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe from Nazism, forced the German leadership to sign the Act of Unconditional Surrender on May 9, 1945.
As a result of World War II, the Soviet Union, along with the United States, became a superpower, one of the founding countries of the UN, a member of the UN Security Council with veto power; pro-Soviet communist regimes were established in the states of Eastern Europe. The CMEA and the Warsaw Pact Organization were created to oppose the EEC and NATO.
The global confrontation between the capitalist and socialist systems in the struggle for world influence was called the Cold War. The efforts of the USA and the USSR were directed, first of all, to dominance in the political sphere. Although the two states did not officially enter into a direct military clash, they were engaged in an arms race, and their rivalry for influence led to outbreaks of local armed conflicts in various third world countries, which usually proceeded as indirect wars between the two superpowers.
With the coming to power of N. S. Khrushchev, the “thaw” in the socio-political life of the country and the debunking of the personality cult of Stalin are connected. Nevertheless, the USSR, from the point of view of Western political scientists, continued to be a totalitarian state. During the reign of N. S. Khrushchev, the world leadership of the USSR in the nuclear and space sphere was achieved: the USSR for the first time in the world launched the first artificial satellite of the Earth, the first man in space, the world's first devices for the study of the Moon and Venus, the first in the world implemented human spacewalk.
In 1964, L. I. Brezhnev became the de facto head of the Soviet Union, whose period of leadership (1964-1982) is known as the “period of stagnation.” At the cost of significant efforts, the USSR was able to achieve military-strategic parity with the United States by the mid-1970s, which served as one of the foundations for defusing international tension. Due to the rise in world oil prices and the discovery of oil fields in Western Siberia, development in the USSR became dependent on oil revenues, which led to the cancellation of the necessary economic reforms. The USSR lagged far behind Western countries in terms of the development of light industry, the economic situation was characterized by increasing queues for scarce goods. Instead, heavy industry developed, mainly the military-industrial complex, which did not lead to an increase in the standard of living of the population.
In 1985, M. S. Gorbachev came to power in the USSR with a program to accelerate socio-economic development, which in 1987 grew into larger-scale reforms called “perestroika”, aimed at democratizing the socio-political and economic system that had developed in the USSR and weakening ideological control over society. They led to the loss of the leading role of the CPSU, large-scale changes in ideology and the collapse of the USSR. In 1989-1991, a severe economic crisis occurred in the USSR, after which a transition was made in independent Russia from a socialist model of the economy to a market one. In 1988, the "parade of sovereignties" of the union republics began, which in 1991 led to the liquidation of the USSR and the independence of the former union republics. In 1989, the Warsaw Pact and CMEA were dissolved. In December 1989, at the Malta Summit, Mikhail Gorbachev and George W. Bush officially announced the end of the Cold War.
On June 12, 1990, the First Congress of People's Deputies of the RSFSR declared the sovereignty of the RSFSR.
On August 19–21, 1991, the “August putsch” took place in Moscow, which caused a confrontation between the authorities of the USSR and the RSFSR, which led to mass demonstrations at the White House in support of the President of the RSFSR B. N. Yeltsin. The general indecision of the leadership of the GKChP of the USSR led to its defeat and self-dissolution. On December 8, 1991, the Belovezhskaya agreements were signed on the termination of the existence of the USSR and the creation of the CIS.
On December 26, 1991, the Council of the Republics of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR adopted a declaration in which it stated the transformation of the USSR into the CIS and the need for the implementation of international agreements of the USSR by the new independent states. The Russian Federation was recognized as the successor state of the USSR in international legal relations and took its place in the UN Security Council
Since December 1991, Russia (Russian Federation) has become a fully
independent and sovereign state.
In January 1992, radical economic reforms began in Russia. The Yeltsin-Gaidar government carried out the liberalization of retail prices and foreign trade, the reorganization of the tax system, and other reforms that radically changed the economic situation in the country. The result of the reforms marked Russia's transition to a market economy. The Russian model of the market economy has caused ambiguous assessments among Russian and foreign researchers, including Nobel laureates in economics. On January 2, 1992, state regulation of prices was abolished, and freedom of trade was declared. The period of "wild" capitalism and primitive accumulation of capital, associated with the rejection of the centrally planned economy and the catastrophic devaluation of the state's social obligations, was characterized by the elimination of the shortage of consumer goods, but at the same time by an explosive rise in prices (hyperinflation), devaluation of the population's savings, mass impoverishment, sharp an increase in crime, barterization and criminalization of the economy, mass unemployment, non-payment of wages, pensions and social benefits, a radical increase in social inequality, a crisis in the social sphere, a catastrophic drop in the birth rate, a sharp increase in mortality and a significant reduction in life expectancy. The economic reforms of the 1990s also led to a sharp decline in the country's economy: industrial output fell by 60%, and in the light and food industries, production fell by 70%, amounting to 30% of the pre-reform level.
On October 3-4, 1993, the Congress of People's Deputies and the Supreme Council was violently dispersed in Moscow, resulting in human casualties. On October 9, 1993, the president terminates the powers of the councils of people's deputies at all levels, and in December the new Constitution of Russia comes into effect, finally fixing the change in the socio-political system on its territory.
In 1994, the first war broke out on the territory of the Chechen Republic between the federal center and Chechen separatists. The results of this conflict were the withdrawal of Russian troops, massive destruction and casualties, the de facto independence of Chechnya before the hostilities in Dagestan and the second war, and a wave of terror that swept through Russia.
The presidential elections of 1996 were the only ones in Russian history when a second round of elections was needed to determine the winner, as a result of which B.N. elections were marked by significant violations.
In the first half of the 1990s, a large number of enterprises were privatized through voucher privatization, as well as through loans-for-shares auctions. However, this was not enough to cover the huge external public debt. On August 17, 1998, the Russian government announced a default.
On December 31, 1999, Boris Yeltsin announced his resignation from the presidency, appointing V. V. Putin, Prime Minister of Russia, as acting president.
In March 2000, Vladimir Putin won the election and became the second president of the Russian Federation. In the 2000s in Russia, the Government of Mikhail Kasyanov carried out a number of socio-economic reforms: tax, land, pension, banking, monetization of benefits, and others. In 2000-2008, Russia saw the growth of the Russian economy, investment, and incomes of the population, which was facilitated by the reforms carried out, political stability, and an increase in prices for Russian export goods (especially the mineral resource group). The introduction in 2007 of maternity capital as a form of stimulating the birth rate and supporting large families played a significant role in stabilizing the demographic sphere in Russia and in the transition to expanded reproduction of the population. There was a strengthening of the vertical of executive power in the country and the formation of the ruling party - United Russia, which arose as a result of the merger of political blocs. This party, following the results of the elections of 2003, 2007, 2011, 2016, occupied the majority of seats in the State Duma and supported the key decisions of the president and government.
The creation in 2000 of the system of federal districts, as well as the reform of the Federation Council, further strengthened the power vertical, increasing the level of manageability of the Russian administrative system.
In 2000, the active phase of the war in Chechnya ended, which remained part of Russia. In 2009, the regime of the counter-terrorist operation was officially abolished on the territory of Chechnya.
In 2008, Dmitry Medvedev became president of Russia, and Vladimir Putin took over as prime minister.
On August 8, 2008, the war in Georgia began, after which Russia officially recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.
On December 4, 2011, elections to the State Duma of the VI convocation were held, as a result of which the ruling United Russia party retained its parliamentary majority, but lost its constitutional one. In the presidential elections in Russia on March 4, 2012, Vladimir Putin won in the first round. May 7, took office. On May 8, the State Duma agreed to Vladimir Putin's appointment of Dmitry Medvedev as Prime Minister.
After the elections to the State Duma, mass political demonstrations of Russian citizens began. They also took place during the presidential election campaign in Russia and after the presidential elections held on March 4, 2012, in which V.V. Putin officially won in the first round. The protesters said that the elections were accompanied by violations of the law and massive fraud. The speeches also had an anti-Putin orientation.
In 2014, Russian President Putin did not accept the Euromaidan that took place in Ukraine. In February-March 2014, Russia, under the pretext of "protecting" the Russian-speaking population, seized and annexed Crimea. This has prompted views that Putin is trying to recreate a Russian Cold War quasi-empire in the image of the former USSR. As part of Russia, new subjects were formed: the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol. The annexation of Crimea contributed to the start of the war in the Donbass, in which Russia supported the self-proclaimed DNR and LNR. The ambition of the Russian Federation was to return the territories lost after the collapse of the USSR. In reality, by supporting pro-Russian entities in eastern Ukraine, Russia was trying to destabilize Ukraine and make eastern Ukraine part of Putin's "Novorossiya." Ukraine and most UN member states have not recognized Russia's annexation of Crimea. Western countries have imposed sanctions against Russia in connection with the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbass; in response, Russia also applied the sanctions policy against these countries.
On September 30, 2015, Russia launched a military operation against terrorist groups and the opposition in Syria.
In 2020, amendments to the Constitution were adopted, which allowed Vladimir Putin to be nominated for the post of head of state two more times and, if he wins the next elections - in 2024 and 2030 - to lead the country until 2036.
On February 21, 2022, Russia recognized the independence of the DPR and LPR, and on February 24, it launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The Russian invasion has led to new international sanctions.
In September-October 2022, following the results of rigged referendums held in the parts of Kherson, Zaporozhye, Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine occupied by it, Russia announced the annexation of these regions.
In 2022, Russia was recognized as a terrorist state by part of the international community.
Russian federalism is very asymmetrical, since the federal system is
a combination of ethno-federal republics and territorial-federal areas.
The division of the country was essentially carried over from the Soviet
era, apart from the upgrading of the status of most of the Autonomous
Oblasts to republics and the division of the former Checheno-Ingush ASSR
into two republics. According to Article 65 of the Russian Constitution,
Russia is divided into 85 federal subjects. These include 22 republics,
nine regions (krai), 46 oblasts (oblasts), three federal cities (Moscow,
Saint Petersburg and Sevastopol), one autonomous oblast and four
autonomous districts. The fact that Crimea and Sevastopol, subjects of
international law, belong to Russia is not internationally recognized.
The republics were defined according to the dominant non-Russian ethnic
groups, although their borders do not always coincide with the ethnic
ones, while the areas in the remaining Russian-majority parts of the
country were formed according to purely administrative criteria.
Territories in which smaller non-Russian minorities live are given the
lower rank of Autonomous Oblast or Autonomous Okrug. In terms of
population, area and relative wealth, the subjects of the federation
sometimes differ significantly.
Although all federal subjects are formally equal, only the republics are entitled to enact their own constitution. They can also sign international treaties as long as they comply with the Russian constitution. Special features of the republics also exist in the traditional naming, the number of deputies in regional parliaments and specific legislative powers.
Unlike republics, oblasts and kraje are not states. They only have statutes instead of constitutions. Most republics are headed by a president. The other federal subjects are headed by the head of administration, the governor. The legislatures in the republics are both unicameral and bicameral. In the territories, parliamentary representation consists of only one chamber.
Since 2005, the republic presidents and governors are no longer elected by the people, but by the regional parliament. The President proposes the candidates.
In 2000, President Putin created seven federal districts by decree, each of which combines several federal subjects into a larger unit. The aim of this reform was to strengthen the vertical distribution of power and tighten control over regional rulers. The population figures in the following table refer to the census of October 9, 2002. In 2010, the North Caucasus federal district was also created as the eighth federal district by separating it from the Southern Russia federal district.
After the violent and unlawful appropriation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, Crimea formed its own (ninth) federal district from March 21, 2014, which was dissolved on July 28, 2016 and joined to the Southern Federal District.
In addition to the two hierarchical federal levels mentioned (1st federal district, 2nd federal subject), there is a third independent administrative level, that of local self-government (rajon). Their administrative heads are directly elected by the population. The regions are administratively superior to the municipal self-government bodies and are authorized to issue directives.
With the fall of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991 came the
opportunity for democratic and liberal reforms. These were blocked by
the communist-dominated Congress of People's Deputies. President Boris
Yeltsin therefore resorted to harsh and unconstitutional means and
dissolved the Congress of People's Deputies in autumn 1993 through the
use of the military. A constitution was created that largely removed the
president from the control of the people and parliament. The current
Constitution of the Russian Federation was adopted by a referendum on
December 12, 1993 and came into force on December 25, 1993. It
represents a break with the Soviet past. According to the constitution,
the focus is on people: human rights and freedoms such as freedom of
speech, freedom of the press and freedom of travel are the highest
values. In the practice that has been implemented since then, Russia is
referred to as a controlled democracy because of the restriction of
fundamental rights or else described with the technical term
authoritarianism. The gap between rhetoric and action in these spheres
The balance of the Yeltsin era was split: it was true that democratic and liberal reforms could be introduced in Russia. During liberalization and privatization, consumer prices soared and a new elite of oligarchs emerged who actively wielded political power. This democratization and liberalization phase was therefore even more strongly felt by the population as the dissolution of a secure and predictable state, social and economic order in which many services had been free. In addition, the IPO associated with the privatization was overshadowed by the international financial crisis from 2007 onwards. While nine stock corporations were able to raise new capital on the international London Stock Exchange in 2007, only one Russian company, RusHydro, managed to go public in 2009 at the height of the crisis.
In 2008 the Caucasus War broke out against Georgia.
From 2010, the political situation gradually stabilized, not least due to the progressive concentration of state power in a strong president, which, however, also came at the expense of pluralism and democratic freedoms.
Until the new President Vladimir Putin took office, Russian NGOs were
largely free from state influence. Probably their influence on the state
was greater than vice versa. That should change quickly. Putin
immediately set about systematically subordinating to the government
those areas of the Russian political public that had not previously
acted autonomously but were controlled by different power centers. He
called this "strengthening power verticals" and building a "dictatorship
of law". Behind this approach is the conviction that the Russian state
was on the verge of collapse in the 1990s and that this was caused by
the weakness of the central power.
The first attempt to involve the NGOs was the initiative for a large citizens' assembly in 2001 in the Kremlin. Selected topics were discussed at this meeting. However, NGOs that were not constructive from the government's point of view and did not simply want to submit were excluded. This was supposed to represent a kind of "truce" between NGOs and the Russian government. However, in early 2002, despite protests and negotiations, the tax equality of commercial and non-commercial companies was passed. The peace finally broke when Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested. With his Open Russia Foundation, he had begun to finance NGO projects on a large scale, and had thus been the last hope for long-term and sustainable financing of NGOs domestically. The second break was the Rose Revolution in Georgia, which was seen as a failure of Russian policy and perceived by the Russian government as the work of Western-funded NGOs. This was also suspected during the change of power in Ukraine. Putin put it this way on May 26, 2004, in his annual address to both chambers of parliament:
“There are thousands of constructively working civil society associations in our country. But by no means all of them are geared towards defending people's real interests. For some of these organizations it has become a priority to get funding from influential foreign foundations, for others to serve dubious groups and commercial interests. At the same time, they are not interested in the most urgent problems facing the country and its citizens.”
Ultimately, the relationship between the government and NGOs remained ambivalent during Putin's first term, reflecting the fact that free-market systems require a certain degree of freedom. The government's tactics with the NGOs are an expression of the fact that one wants to prevent this freedom from encroaching on the political and social sphere.
With regard to NGOs, the second term of office was primarily characterized by the NGO law, which gave the Russian government far-reaching instruments of control and sanctions. The Rosregistracija now monitors the activities of the NGOs. Complaining about this in a highly corrupt society like Russia's, in which complaints and appeals bodies, especially against state action, such as courts, only function to a very limited extent, involves a great deal of administrative effort. The registration authorities are increasingly relying on provisions of labor law, tax law, occupational safety and fire protection in order to at least partially conceal state action against the NGOs.
On May 23, 2015, President Putin signed a law that would allow Russian authorities to blacklist international NGOs without warning. Anyone who gets in touch with such "undesirable organizations" faces severe penalties. The law restricts the work of the media and civil society. As one case of the application of this law, the withdrawal of the mandate of the Yabloko politician Lev Schlosberg, who reported in 2014 on the burials of Russian soldiers who had died in Ukraine, became known.
In April 2022, German foundations, like the German Research Foundation, which had previously benefited from a kind of “special relationship” between Germany and Russia, had their registration revoked. This also affected Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as well as the Carnegie Foundation.
The restrictions on freedom of the press have been criticized since 2001 by international civil rights organizations and the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany. State interference in television is complete; all national TV stations are either directly state-owned or under state control. The situation is similar in the radio sector. Officially, there is no censorship by the government, but this actually takes place through repression and bans on stations critical of the regime, as well as the ownership structure and partial self-censorship. Three out of a total of six votes at the meeting of the President's Human Rights Council in October 2017 complained about the hatred in society fueled by the state media and their propaganda.
Between 1990 and 2017, the homicide rate in Russia fluctuated markedly between 30.5 homicides (in 1995) and 9.2 homicides (in 2017) per 100,000 inhabitants. The state does not protect the citizens, complained Novaya Gazeta and the escaped Julija Latynina in 2017. Domestic violence is also a social problem in Russia. 40% of all violent crimes in Russia are committed at home, within the family. This violence is particularly aimed at women. According to the Interior Ministry, 12,000 to 14,000 women die as a result in Russia every year.
There have been repeated attacks on members of the opposition or arson attacks on their property. The bomb attacks on residential buildings in 1999, which are suspected to be by the state perpetrators, attracted particular attention. Lists with addresses of members of the opposition also circulated on the Internet. Police and public prosecutor investigations, on the other hand, end or are not even started where they touch influential politicians. Since 2015, any individual who takes to the streets with an improvised (or even empty) protest poster faces up to five years in prison. In Russia, an estimated 600,000 people were in "strict camp detention" in 2013, including a number of political prisoners, not just according to the human rights organization Memorial. In the spring of 2019, around 140,000 prisoners were in detention on the basis of paragraph 228.2 on drugs, the possibility of abuse of which had been known for some time and which became internationally known through the scandal surrounding journalist Ivan Golunov. In August 2020, the number of detained convicts, suspects and defendants in Russian penal and pre-trial detention centers fell below 500,000 for the first time, according to the Federal Prison Service (FSIN). According to the FSIN, this is due to the use of alternative, non-incarceration punishments and the general liberalization of the prison system.
In December 2015, Putin signed a law allowing the Russian Constitutional Court, at the government's request, to overrule judgments of international courts, which could primarily affect judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). An “intangible censorship” was also described for the cultural sector.
Homosexuality in Russia is largely taboo. The legal regulations include, among other things, a ban on “homosexual propaganda” (e.g. the rainbow flag), which critics see as a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to sexual self-determination, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.
Under the pretext of fighting extremism, the freedoms of religious minorities have been severely restricted. In 2016, members of unregistered religious communities were banned from speaking to others about their religious beliefs. In March 2017, the Russian Ministry of Justice requested a ban on the Jehovah's Witnesses religious community and all its activities, which was implemented in April 2017.
The human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated significantly since the Russian occupation. According to a UNHCHR report, arbitrary arrests and torture have been reported, and one extrajudicial execution has been documented. For years, the human rights situation has been most explosive in the Caucasus, specifically in Chechnya. The review of civil rights, e.g. in violations of the European Convention on Human Rights, takes place according to the law before the Supreme Court of Russia.
In Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, Russia was ranked 135th out of 180 countries worldwide with 29 out of a possible 100 points in the 2017 ranking and last among all European countries. In 2016, President Putin personally ordered a "control break" for control authorities. The alleged security checks had hardly ever been for security, but rather for the greater scope of enrichment. Breaking the chains of corruption is also hardly possible because clean civil servants can't give money up and are therefore forced out of office or posts for honest civil servants are not even accessible because of transfer fees, writes Jens Siegert, long-time head of Heinrich's Moscow office -Böll Foundation. Proximity to state power makes money and privileges possible: Yelena Chishowa not only describes everyday corruption, but also how the scope increases with proximity to power in the Kremlin, and names the commonality: “In an authoritarian country, “friend” is one keyword.”
The Russian currency is the Russian ruble (Рубль; abbreviation RUB)
to 100 kopecks (Копейка). One euro is currently equal to 117.2 rubles.
After strong inflation in the 1990s, a currency reform was carried out
in 1998, in which 1000 old rubles (RUR) were replaced by one new ruble
(RUB). Since then, the ruble was essentially stable against the US
dollar and euro until 2008, with inflation in 2006 at 8.2%. So far, the
exchange rate policy of the Russian central bank has primarily
contributed to this. In order to prevent a rapid appreciation of the
ruble with a deterioration in the price competitiveness of Russian
producers, it intervened on the foreign exchange market. It bought up
the foreign exchange flowing into Russia with the high current account
surpluses for rubles. The amount of ruble money in circulation increased
sharply. The inflation potential grew. In the course of the
international economic crisis, the ruble lost around 20% of its value
against the euro in the second half of 2008. Since the annexation of
Crimea, the ruble has lost more than half of its value against the euro,
US dollar or renminbi.
In addition to the ruble, US dollars and euros are also used in everyday life. Up until January 2007, prices were also often given in units of account, which corresponded to one US dollar each. Since the use of third currencies is not allowed in Russia, payments were still made in rubles. However, this practice has been banned since January 2007. Because of frequent bank failures and financial crises, many Russians have switched to investing their savings in cash in euro and dollar bills or in real estate.
In 2016, the state budget included expenditures equivalent to $236.6
billion, compared to revenues equivalent to $186.5 billion. The country
thus had a budget deficit of 3.9% of GDP. From mid-2012, the conclusion
of the Duma and presidential elections will give rise to new extensive
modernization spending in favor of infrastructure, the economy and
national defence. A further increase in social spending has also been
announced. As a result, spending will tend to continue to rise, which is
not a problem given the low debt ratio. Public debt was 17.0% of GDP in
In 2006, the share of government spending in GDP was as follows:
Education: 3.8% (2005)
Military: 3.9% (2005)
After the end of the Soviet Union, Russia is trying to consolidate
its influence in the world, but especially in its immediate vicinity.
Here, Russia is pursuing the idea of a multipolar world order in which
the major powers represent their national interests on their own
responsibility. Russia is embroiled in a number of regional conflicts,
many of which are of a warlike character and have only been partially or
not at all resolved - including the Chechen wars (1994-2009), the wars
over Abkhazia and South Ossetia (Georgian war), the conflict in
Transnistria and most recently the Russian war in Ukraine and the
annexation of Crimea.
In terms of foreign policy, Russia sees itself as a great power that independently pursues national interests. The claim to be a great power derives primarily from Russia's imperial heritage and secondly from its significant arsenal of nuclear weapons. Russia also generates its influence through its military forces (currently around 1,000,000 soldiers, military bases in various former Soviet republics and in Syria (naval base Tartus)), arms exports, full membership with the right of veto in the UN Security Council and its position as a major energy supplier. In addition, however, there are enormous difficulties in meeting one's own requirements. This stems in particular from the economic weakness. In addition, unlike the Soviet Union, it no longer has an attractive system of rule and culture. The ability to convert military power into political influence is limited to Russia's immediate environs. Russia lacks reliable allies, as shown by the non-recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by the remaining CIS states.
The political leadership in Moscow is pushing for the prerogative of the UN Security Council. An example of this is the requirement that NATO should only act with the consent of the UN Security Council. However, the leadership of Russia insists on the right to act unilaterally, which is evidenced by the behavior in the Georgian war. In order to get closer to its goal, Russia is looking for an opposite pole to the USA. Asia in particular is becoming increasingly important. The BRICS are viewed as strategic partners in the foreign policy concept. While Russia and India have traditionally maintained good relations and have continued to develop them, the Russian-Chinese relationship has steadily improved as old tensions have been resolved. Apart from the common goal of countering the world dominance of the West, economic and armament projects as well as Russian raw material deliveries are the main focus of the cooperation.
In general, Russia has seen itself threatened since about 2004 by NATO's eastward expansion and increasing US influence on its own geostrategic sphere of interests. Russia is accused of using destabilizing methods to influence foreign policy. These include, for example, cyber attacks, interference with election campaigns and the undermining of assistance obligations.
In 2013, Russia granted US whistleblower Edward Snowden a residence permit.
Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, all UN subsidiary organizations, the OSCE and also a member of the EBRD as well as the IMF and the World Bank. At the G8 summit in May 1998, Russia was formally admitted to what was then the Group of Seven (G7); this became the G8. In March 2014, these seven expelled Russia from the G8 again because of the war in Ukraine. On March 15, 2022, Russia forestalled expulsion from the Council of Europe by announcing its exit.
Two security organizations gained particular prominence under Putin – the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO):
The organization of the Collective Security Treaty aims at closer cooperation in security and defense matters, as well as a common defense in case of attack (Article 4 of the Treaty). Originally a security policy institution of the CIS, the CSTO was upgraded in 2002 to an independent security policy organization with a focus on Central Asia. Member States besides Russia are: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. On a Russian initiative, a rapid reaction force was created within the framework of the CSTO in 2009, which can be used in crisis situations.
The main goal of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, to which China belongs, is to strengthen mutual trust and good neighborly relations between member states. In addition to balancing the security policy interests of Russia and China in Central Asia, it should also serve to enforce common security interests in the region. The original goal of Russia and China was to keep the United States out of the region through security policy cooperation.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union initially presented Russia with
the task of reorganizing the relationship with the successor republics,
which Russia often referred to as “near abroad” (ближнее зарубежье). The
economic relations between the individual republics inherited from the
Soviet era required a new legal form of cooperation and integration. At
the same time, there were numerous objects of strategic interest for
Russia that were now outside the Russian Federation. These included u.
the Baikonur Cosmodrome, military-strategic facilities in Azerbaijan and
Belarus, and the naval base of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol.
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) became the successor organization to the Soviet Union, initially joined by 12 of the 15 former Soviet republics. However, this rather loose confederation of states has largely lost its importance to this day. Russia has joined forces with Belarus in the Russian-Belarusian Union, which Boris Yeltsin and Alyaksandr Lukashenka (Belarusian President since 1994) agreed on. According to political scientists, however, their development was closely linked to Lukashenka's personal ambitions to become Yeltsin's successor in a future Union state. When Vladimir Putin became Russian President after Yeltsin in 1999, relations with Belarus cooled, and Putin suggested joining the Russian Federation. Up until 2011 further integration was very slow, many projects such as the common currency were not implemented. Rather, relations were overshadowed by energy conflicts. In 2011, however, Belarus joined the common customs union with Russia and Kazakhstan, which had been planned since 2000 within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Community. The other goals of this community include a common economic area and the creation of a political union that is open to other states in the post-Soviet space.
Russia has always had an ambivalent relationship with Ukraine, and
after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 it was even strained. Despite
close historical and cultural ties and continued interdependence,
especially on energy issues, historical differences of opinion (cf.
Holodomor) and Ukraine's declared westward course have put a heavy
strain on the relationship. Western-oriented governments in Ukraine in
particular were repeatedly put under pressure by Russia, for example
after the presidential elections in Ukraine in 2004, when the
Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute broke out. After the pro-Russian
politician Viktor Yanukovych was voted out of office and the Euromaidan,
where the demonstrators spoke out in favor of Ukraine's western
orientation, Crimea was annexed by Russia and the Russian-Ukrainian war
has been going on since 2022, with so-called separatists calling for
autonomy from 2014 Donbass fought. These were supported by Russia
personally and militarily. As early as 2009, the Ukrainian media openly
discussed the possibility of a military attack by Russia. In this
conflict, flight MH17 was shot down.
In February 2022, Russia launched a war of aggression across Ukraine. On September 30, 2022, Russia annexed southern and eastern Ukraine.
The European Union imposed sanctions on Russia in response to the
2014 annexation of Crimea. This mainly involves certain equipment for
the Russian oil and gas industry, and access to the financial market is
made more difficult for various Russian financial institutions. The
decision on these sanctions is limited to six months (last time until
January 2019) and requires the unanimity of the Council of the European
In the course of the war of aggression against Ukraine, the EU imposed massive sanctions on Russia, which resulted in counter-reactions from Russia.
The Syrian conflict is one of the few international conflicts in
which the Russian government plays a central role. Its refusal to accept
any attempts to exert international pressure on the Assad government
within the framework of the UN Security Council brought the Russian
government sharp criticism from western and regional actors and damaged
Russia's image in the Arab world. From the start, Russia took the clear
stance that the fighting between the government and the opposition could
only be resolved within Syria. Firstly, this can be achieved through
open-ended negotiations between the two sides and secondly, it should be
done without external interference, be it by supplying arms to the
rebels or by military intervention. For this reason, Russia not only
blocked draft resolutions in the UN Security Council that would have
provided for sanctions (October 2011, July 2012), but also those that
would only have condemned the use of force by the Syrian government,
without condemning the regime opponents at the same time and calling on
them to renounce violence (February 2012).
The leadership of Russia pretends to take a neutral stance. President Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov and Prime Minister Medvedev have repeatedly emphasized that their country - in contrast to the western states or the Gulf monarchies - does not take sides unilaterally.
However, the Russian government supports Assad's government in many ways. First, the legitimacy strategy of the Syrian leadership is supported on the international stage. By portraying the opposition primarily as a group of "fanatics", Islamists or terrorists, the blame for the outbreak of violence is implicitly assigned to them. Second, Russia continues to supply weapons to the Syrian government, including air defense systems (Buk-M2 [NATO code: SA-17 Grizzly] and Panzir-S1 [NATO code: SA-22 Greyhound]) and helicopters. Russia points out that the exports are permitted under international law. After all, the UN Security Council has so far not been able to impose an arms embargo due to Russian and Chinese refusal. As a reliable exporter - according to the Russian justification - the Russian government is therefore obliged to fulfill existing contracts. "New deliveries" have been suspended, however, declared Vyacheslav Dsirkaln from the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation in July 2012. Thirdly, the Russian government is also helping the Assad government by printing banknotes for the Syrian government.
The motives behind Russia's Syria policy go beyond material interests. They concern fundamental questions of the international order and regional balance of power, but also specific security policy risks for Russia itself. The "Arab Spring" once again raised the question for the international community of how to deal with the tension between state sovereignty and the responsibility to protect – "R2P") is to be avoided. It is about contrary views on the international order and Russia's claim to have a say in it. The Russian government does not reject the "R2P" in principle, but wants it to be bound by narrow limits, without the goal of "regime change" from outside. This is based on a traditional interpretation of state sovereignty. This also has a domestic justification. After all, a weakening of the non-interference requirement for the authoritarian leadership in Moscow represents a dangerous scenario, also for reasons of maintaining its own power.
After the Ghouta poison gas attacks and the US government's threat of a military strike, Russia managed to mediate between the US and Syrian governments. On September 14, 2013, it was agreed that the Syrian government would have to disclose the entire poison gas arsenal within a week and grant the UN inspectors unrestricted access to the storage sites. The UN inspectors are scheduled to start work in mid-November. The chemical weapons are to be destroyed outside of Syria. On September 16, Russia again opposed a UN resolution that would threaten the Syrian government in the event of non-compliance with the agreement.
After the Ghouta poison gas attacks and the US government's threat of a military strike, Russia managed to mediate between the US and Syrian governments. On September 14, 2013, it was agreed that the Syrian government would have to disclose the entire poison gas arsenal within a week and grant the UN inspectors unrestricted access to the storage sites. The UN inspectors are scheduled to start work in mid-November. The chemical weapons are to be destroyed outside of Syria. On September 16, Russia again opposed a UN resolution that would threaten the Syrian government in the event of non-compliance with the agreement.
Russia, on the other hand, is hardly providing any humanitarian aid in the conflict. In 2015, for example, the government provided an amount of 300,000 US dollars for the UN aid program to provide for the around 4 million Syrians who fled to neighboring countries to escape the war , covering 0.02% of the total estimated cost of the relief effort. It is estimated that there are between 8,000 and 12,000 Syrian refugees in Russia itself, many of them illegally. In 2015, not a single Syrian was officially recognized as a refugee in Russia, and 482 asylum seekers were tolerated.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, around 19,000 people (around 8,300 of them civilians) died as a result of the Russian military operation by the end of September 2019. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee as a result of the offensives by the Russian and Syrian armed forces, particularly in the governorate of Idlib. The offensive also left immense damage to the local infrastructure. According to a report by Amnesty International, at least 18 attacks on hospitals and schools in Syria were carried out by Russian and Syrian forces between May 2019 and February 2020. As a result, five clinics had to close. In July 2020, the Russian government blocked the continuation of most of the UN aid shipments of medical goods and food to Syria with a veto in the UN Security Council, so that the UN aid program for Syria was only continued to a limited extent.
With the presence of the Wagner Group paramilitary organization in
several African states (including Angola, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Congo,
Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Central African
Republic), the Russian state is trying to unofficially increase its
influence there . The Wagner Group is a war party in the civil war in
Libya, which has been going on since 2014, and in the conflict in Mali.
Russia is also conducting clever disinformation campaigns in Africa
through the foreign broadcaster RT.
Research by the European Investigative Collaboration revealed that Russia profits from the trade in conflict diamonds from Africa and has the Wagner group monitor diamond digging from areas from which diamonds are officially not allowed to be exported. As a member of the Kimberley Process, Russia is using its veto power to undermine efforts to disrupt the trade in conflict diamonds.
With the signature of President Putin, Ukas 683 came into force on December 31, 2015 and with it a new military doctrine, which for the first time named the USA and its allies, NATO and the EU as a threat to Russia and its neighbors. In March 2018, President Putin devoted a third of his address to the nation to present allegedly invincible nuclear weapons.
In Russia, there is general conscription for able-bodied men from 18
to a maximum of 27 years. In 2007 it was shortened from 24 to 18 months,
and then to 12 months in 2008. Since conscript soldiers used to be
deployed in crisis areas such as Chechnya, and because superiors often
mistreated young recruits in the context of Dedovshchina, the
population, especially the mothers of conscripts, repeatedly criticized
In 2018, Russia spent $61.4 billion on its military. In an international comparison, it is behind the United States with 649 billion dollars, the People's Republic of China with 250 billion dollars, Saudi Arabia with 67.6 billion dollars, India with 66.5 billion dollars and France with 63.8 billion dollars billion dollars in sixth place, followed by the United Kingdom and Germany. Russia's armaments expenditure, which had already increased massively since 2000, doubled between 2004 and 2014 and is expected to account for around a fifth of total state expenditure from 2014 onwards.
The information situation about the numbers of military personnel is
largely unclear. Until the Ukraine war in February 2022, the armed
forces had about 850,000 men. Of these, 300,000 were in the army, 40,000
in the airborne troops, 150,000 in the navy, 160,000 in the air force,
70,000 in the strategic missile troops, 20,000 in the special forces and
100,000 other soldiers for staff tasks, cyber operations, support and
In addition, the National Guard has an estimated 200,000 to 250,000 men.
The Russian state has the status of a recognized nuclear power, which
it achieved as the Soviet Union in 1949, and has the world's largest
arsenal of nuclear warheads with 5,977 pieces, ahead of the United
States with 5,428 (as of January 2022).
According to Western information, Russia had 6,255 nuclear warheads in 2021, of which (as of 2009) 4,830 were operational. In 2015, new missiles for the nuclear forces were announced. Nuclear warheads “deployed” increased from 1,400 in 2013 to 1,796 in 2016. The number of warheads deployed was higher than when New START came into force in 2011, due to the addition of submarines to the fleet.
There are a number of special forces (SpezNas) in Russia that report to the Ministry of the Interior (MWD). In 2007, the armed forces of the MWD comprised a total of 170,000 men. Its commander-in-chief, an army general, is also the deputy interior minister. In 2007, the Internal Troops were divided into five divisions (ODON), ten brigades (OBRON) and a number of independent units. They are equipped with armored personnel carriers and their own artillery. The MWD is also subordinate to the Polizija (полиция), the regular police forces, which were referred to as militia until March 2011. These are e.g. B. responsible for the supervision of the state roads. There are also around 20,000 men from the special police unit OMON (ОМОН), who are responsible for emergencies, large-scale situations and the protection of the nuclear arsenal. Finally, the Russian domestic secret service, FSB, is also subordinate to the MVD. Under President Putin, the independent security services created by Yeltsin - Russia's border troops - were subordinated to the Federal Security Service FSB, which numbers around 160,000 men.
In 2019, the fire brigade in Russia had 271,000 professional and 956,600 voluntary firefighters nationwide, working in 18,322 fire stations and fire stations, in which 22,735 fire engines and 1,326 turntable ladders and telescopic masts were available. The proportion of women is 14%. 262,354 children and young people are organized in the youth fire brigades. In the same year, the Russian fire brigades were called out 1,161,581 times, and 471,426 fires had to be extinguished. 8,559 dead were recovered by the fire brigades in fires and 9,461 injured were rescued. The State Fire Inspectorate Федеральный государственный пожарный надзор, represented by the State Fire Inspector (also Chief State Inspector of the Russian Federation for Fire Monitoring, Russian Российская Федерация по пожарно му надзору), which is subordinate to the Ministry for Emergency Situations МЧС роии, represents the Russian fire brigades in the world fire brigade association CTIF.
Russia is a developed industrial and agricultural country. The
country is also a founding member of the Eurasian Economic Union, which
has existed since January 1, 2015. The leading branches of industry are
mechanical engineering and ferrous and non-ferrous metal processing. The
chemical and petrochemical industries, as well as the wood, light and
food industries are also well developed.
In 2015, the Russian gross domestic product was approximately EUR 1192 billion. The gross domestic product per capita was 8137 euros in the same year. The service sector contributes 62.6% to the gross domestic product. The industrial secondary sector accounts for around 32.7%, the agricultural sector (construction and agriculture) for 4.7%. The World Bank estimated that around a quarter of total economic production is made up of raw material production.
According to a study by Bank Credit Suisse, the average wealth per adult in Russia is USD 16,773. However, the median is only US$3,919 (world average: US$3,582), indicating high wealth inequality. More than 70% of the Russian population own less than $10,000 in wealth. Russia ranked 19th in the ranking of countries by total private wealth, one place ahead of Indonesia and one behind Sweden. In 2017, Russia was the country with the fifth highest number of billionaires (96 in total). Some of the so-called oligarchs in the country have become a symbol of corrupt structures and inequality.
The total number of employees is 73.5 million (2006). 30% of the employed worked in industry in 2005. 10% were employed in agriculture, 22% in the service sector and another 22% in the public sector. In 2013, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodez said only 48 million (instead of 86 million) able-bodied were visible to the government, and depending on estimates, the informal economy accounts for half of economic output. Small and medium-sized enterprises contributed one-fifth, while state-owned corporations contributed 70%. Due to the minimal pensions, pensioners who continued to work belonged to the army of self-employed small earners who hardly ever declared their income: tax morale was devastated in view of the well-known corrupt excesses of politicians.
After years of boom, the Russian economy was in recession around 2015/16. After the Russian gross domestic product had grown by 0.6% in 2014, the Russian economy shrank by 3.7% in 2015. A decline in economic output of 0.2% was officially reported for 2016. The main reasons given for the recession were the very low oil price, the collapse of the ruble and the western sanctions in the wake of the war in Ukraine. However, the Russian economy is also said to have fundamental structural problems. Furthermore, Russia had to contend with increased inflation rates of up to 15% in 2015. Inflation fell back to around 3% in 2018. In the Global Competitiveness Index, which measures a country's competitiveness, Russia ranks 38th out of 137 countries (as of 2017/18). The country ranked 114th out of 180 countries in the 2017 Economic Freedom Index.
The overall economic development in Russia after the dissolution of
the Soviet Union was initially characterized by a drastic slump in
production. The loss of well-established trade relations in the Union of
the Soviet Union contributed to this. The transition from a planned
economy to a market economy was difficult and only partially successful.
Overall, the gross domestic product fell by a good 40%. Shortly after
the beginning of the Asian crisis, the Russian crisis began in autumn
1997. On August 17, 1998, Russia declared national bankruptcy and had to
abandon the dollar peg of the ruble. The "minimal state policy" under
Yeltsin meant that the federal government was unable to collect taxes
and ensure legal certainty. This changed under the presidency of
Vladimir Putin from the year 2000. In order to regain political control
in the state, he strengthened the state apparatus at the expense of the
influence of the oligarchs.
Putin ran a state-run corporatist economy in Russia until 2008. In 2007, he legislated for six institutions to pool state activities in strategically important areas, under the sole leadership of the President. These include nuclear technology at Rosatom, the bank for foreign trade VEB, the reform fund for real estate, Rusnano or the armaments conglomerate Rostec, plus Olimpstroi, the state company for buildings for the Olympic Games in Sochi 2014, which was dissolved in 2014. The VEB was from the USSR's foreign trade bank emerged. Prime Minister Medvedev, among others, criticized the use of state property or state funds to found these state conglomerates created by law, which led to hidden privatization. A 2009 review of the corporations by Medvedev found abuse and inefficiency. In his speech to the nation in November 2009, President Medvedev called the organizational form of the corporations "without prospects". A few days later, Prime Minister Putin replied that state corporations were simply a necessity and emphasized that there was consensus among the state leadership.
In the first four years of Putin's presidency, this was followed by the introduction of a flat income tax rate (see Tax law (Russia)), full ruble convertibility and a three-year budget (until the financial problems of 2015). In order to benefit from the revenues of the energy sector, private companies have been squeezed out of this area. The state also expanded its influence outside of the energy sector. The government encouraged the formation of large state corporations to dominate strategic industries. For example, private mechanical engineering and automotive companies were taken over by state-owned companies and supported by subsidies so that they could be modernized.
Large production capacities from the time of the USSR were not fully utilized, so that the Russian government orientated itself towards fully utilizing these capacities again through a demand-oriented economic policy using an expansive, growth-oriented monetary policy. This brought double-digit inflation with it. The goal set by President Putin of doubling gross domestic product within ten years was to be achieved through a government spending program. To this end, public sector salaries, pensions, other social benefits and spending on housing have been increased. The social program was made possible by the oil boom, which, in addition to high additional income for the state, enabled a reduction in foreign debt, which amounted to 166 billion dollars in 2000. Part of the oil revenues flowed into the stabilization fund set up in 2004, which was intended to cushion falling government revenues and weaken possible inflation. In 2008, this stabilization fund was divided into a reserve fund and a prosperity fund (to secure pensions). The prosperity fund was 68.4 billion euros in 2011, the reserve fund 19.9 billion euros.
The Russian economy had recovered quickly from the slump in output that followed the 1998 financial crisis, as the sharp devaluation of the ruble in 1998 boosted the Russian economy and made foreign goods more expensive, making Russian products more competitive there. In terms of foreign trade, however, the dependency of the Russian economy on the energy sector continued to increase. Despite a strong increase in investments, too little was invested in Russia in an international comparison. Investors criticized the lack of legal certainty, widespread corruption, excessive bureaucracy and the poor efficiency of the Russian banking system.
In the wake of the international economic crisis, the Russian economy
has shown significant negative developments since mid-2008, which was
largely due to its heavy dependence on the commodities sector. Due to
the drastic drop in the price of oil and natural gas, government
revenues fell. The global financial crisis hit Russia hard in 2009.
Thanks to its anti-crisis policy, Russia was able to prevent major bank
collapses, so that the Russian financial system is considered stable
again. Mandatory deposits at the central bank were increased and banks
received state aid. The Central Bank of Russia used nearly $300 billion
in reserves to prop up the ruble, which has come under devaluation
pressure as a result of foreign capital outflows. In 2010 and 2011, an
economic recovery began in Russia.
This crisis made it clear that the fixation on the abundance of raw materials is leading the country into a dead end and that the dependence on the world market prices for oil, natural gas or metals is too high. An intensive discussion about special economic zones had already started in Russia at the beginning of the 21st century. A corresponding law on special economic zones in the Russian Federation was passed under Vladimir Putin in 2005. By the end of 2009, 15 of these zones had been designed and approved, including two industrial special economic zones (Elabuga, Lipetsk), four technology special economic zones (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Dubna, Tomsk), and seven zones for tourism and recreation. Interest rates were lowered to allow investment in production. In 2011, the inflation rate reached its lowest level in 20 years. The government tried to keep price-driving factors such as fuel and electricity prices under control by means of quarterly agreements with suppliers.
While the country was the 22nd largest economy in 1999, in 2012 it was ranked 9th in the world by nominal GDP. While the value of the Russian GDP in relation to the German GDP was 21.7% in 2004, in 2011 it was already 51.7%. Accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) took place in 2012 after 18 years of negotiations, which reduced import duties and increased the pressure to modernize the domestic economy. In 2015, Russia's economic performance was again behind Italy's in 10th or 11th place. Until 2018, the government had never dared to raise the retirement age that Stalin had set in 1932 - the pensions, which women from 55 years, men from 60 years, however, are so low that many earn money in the informal economy. At the same time, the labor market lacked workers.
Due to the sanctions imposed by the West due to the Russian
annexation of Crimea and the Russian-sponsored war in Ukraine since
2014, economic development has stagnated in conjunction with a collapse
in oil prices. The structural problems of the Russian economy, which had
been geared towards the export of raw materials for years, became more
pronounced. In August 2015, the NZZ wrote in a comparison with the ruble
crisis of 1997: "Today the situation is less threatening, but the
chances of improvement are smaller"; the weakness of the ruble could not
be used to modernize and diversify the economy because of the financial
restrictions. Russian household income in 2015 fell by an average of
8.5%, while food prices rose by 25%. Annual inflation in 2015 was 12.9%.
A capital amnesty was supposed to bring money back to Russia from
December 2014. While Presidential spokesman Peskov spoke of an
absolutely one-time offer valid for one year, the amnesty was extended
in December 2015 to June 2016 and renewed in early 2018 after new
All government spending had to be cut, except for armaments. Russian Prime Minister Medvedev has repeatedly stated that the country will have to live with Western sanctions “indefinitely”. Economic development remained paralyzed because the techniques used by the Putin regime to retain power prevented not only political but also economic reforms. The share of the state economy increased, the informal economy flourished, real incomes fell several times between 2014 and 2018. A 0% tax rate for 2017/2018 should have encouraged self-employed people to register their activity; Of the presumably around nine million such workers, just 936 had registered. According to a new legislative proposal from 2018, these small earners should be stripped of their entire earnings if the activity is exposed, i.e. a harsher punishment than high earners would have to fear. Opening a business was not desirable for the majority of Russians surveyed in February 2019, as it was not possible to do business without cheating. According to Le Monde, foreign direct investment, which amounted to $69 billion in 2013, had fallen to well below $5 billion by 2018.
In July 2018, it was decided to increase VAT by 2%, bringing it to 20% from January 1, 2019.
For several weeks in the summer of 2018, people across Russia demonstrated against the increase in the retirement age. Putin's approval ratings plummeted like they did in 2012, so the usual "bad boyars, good tsar" system didn't work. Although Putin's popularity could hardly fall below 60% thanks to the extensive propaganda, the vast majority of those polled were nevertheless convinced that Putin was responsible for the abuse of power that the opposition accused the government of; the surveys of the Levada Center differentiated between "approval" of the policy and "trust".
After prices had risen noticeably again in the pre-war year 2021 due to the cartelization of the economy, unprecedented sanctions were imposed on Russia by the free world after the Russian attack on Ukraine in 2022. As a result, the service sector could shrink again; the state already controlled 60 to 75% of the economy directly or indirectly at the beginning of 2022.
The timber industry is mainly present in the north-west of Europe, in
the central Ural mountains, in southern Siberia and in the south of
Far-Eastern Russia. Russia has about a fifth of the world's forest cover
and about a third of the world's coniferous forest cover; most of
Russia's timber production consists of softwood, mainly from pine, fir
and larch. The most important hardwood for trade is birch.
Agriculture remains an important branch of the Russian economy. Once the granary of Europe, Russian agriculture suffered a drastic slump in agricultural production in the 1990s - but by the 1980s Russia was already the world's largest exporter of wheat. In 2009, the production value of Russian agriculture was again the equivalent of 38 billion euros. In 2016, President Putin underscored the will to be an agricultural export nation. Of the record harvest of 75 million tons of wheat in 2016, almost 7 million tons (similar to 2015) could be exported. The state agricultural transport authority Rusagrotrans is responsible for the transport. The value of exported agricultural goods was 17 billion dollars in 2016. The conditions for agriculture are good, especially in the European part of Russia and in southern Russia, the Russian black earth area is the largest in the world. The agricultural area is 219 million hectares, which is 13% of the land area of Russia. Of this, 122 million hectares are arable land, which is 9% of the world's arable land. More than 80% of the sown areas are on the Volga, in the North Caucasus, in the Urals and in West Siberia within the so-called Agrarian Triangle. Crops account for 36% of Russia's gross agricultural production, livestock for over 60%. The main agricultural products in Russia are cereals, sugar beets, sunflowers, potatoes and flax. Inland fishing supplies the coveted Russian caviar with the sturgeon. In the transition phase between 1990 and 1997, pig and poultry numbers almost halved. Since then, Russia has imported some of its food. Even before that, but especially since its counter-sanctions against the West after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Russian government's goal was to increase self-sufficiency and reduce import dependency. The stock of cattle is 12.1 million animals, 7 million pigs and 4.6 million sheep and goats. Cattle breeding is mainly practiced in the Volga region, in western Siberia and the European center, pig breeding is also found in the Volga region, but also in North Caucasus and in the central Black Earth region. Sheep farming focuses on the regions of East Siberia, North Caucasus and the Volga region.
The natural riches of Russia are an important basis for the country's
economy. 16% of all natural mineral resources in the world are located
in Russia, including 32% of all natural gas reserves (first place in the
world), 12% of all oil reserves, which are mainly located in Western
Siberia, Sakhalin Island, North Caucasus, Komi Republic and can be found
in the oil fields in the Volga-Ural region (Caspian depression). With
the sharp increase in oil exports and rising oil prices from 2002 to
2011, the importance of oil and gas production in Russia had grown and
also played an important role in the economy outside of Russia. Russian
companies such as Gazprom, Rosneft and Lukoil are involved in oil and
gas production, which mainly takes place in the northern and eastern
parts of the country.
With its gold reserves, Russia ranks third in the world. The diamond deposits in north-east Siberian Yakutia are world-famous. Diamonds have been mined here since 1996 in one of the world's largest kimberlite deposits, in Mirny.
Russia's share in world reserves of iron and tin is over 27%, nickel 36%, copper 11%, cobalt 20%, lead 12%, zinc 16% and platinum group metals 40%. 50% of the world's known coal deposits are found in Russia. According to the mineral deposits, hard coal and iron ore mining plays a very important role in Russia's economy. Larger ore deposits are mainly found in the old folded mountains (Khibinen on the Kola Peninsula, Urals, Altai, Sayan Mountains and other Siberian mountain ranges). Hard coal deposits can be found in some of the lower reaches of these mountains, especially in the Urals (including the Vorkuta coal deposits) and in the Donets Basin on the border with Ukraine. Coal mining suffered from a lack of investment and has lost importance compared to the Soviet era.
Thermal power plants operated with oil, natural gas or coal generated
around 63% of the total electricity production of around 851 billion
kilowatt hours in 2003. Hydroelectric power plants accounted for 21%,
nuclear power plants for 16%. The Russian government plans to double the
share of nuclear power in electricity generation to about a third by
2020 in order to be able to export even more oil and natural gas. The
power grid and most large power plants are still under government
control. In order to benefit from the revenues of the energy sector,
Russian policy was aimed at reinvigorating state control over the energy
industry and pushing back private companies in this area. This was
achieved by breaking up the oil company Yukos and taking over the oil
company Sibneft by the semi-state gas company Gazprom. Among the largest
oil and gas companies today is Surgutneftegaz, where President Vladimir
Putin controls 37% of the shares. All Russian nuclear power plants are
owned by the state-owned company Rosatom and operated by the state-owned
company Rosenergoatom. Until 2008, Unified Energy System, which belonged
to the Russian state for more than 50% and has since been divided into
smaller companies, had the largest share of electricity production.
The program of supplying gas to Russian regions has been running since 2005. It was planned to supply gas to every village in ten years, that is, by 2015. In 2019, the program was extended to 2030. The new goal is no longer to supply all but 85% of the country's settlements. In Russia, schools and hospitals will still be heated with firewood in 2022, which Novaya Gazeta says is more expensive than in Germany.
In addition to the old industrial areas of Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod,
Saint Petersburg, Saratov, Rostov and Volgograd, other industrial
locations have emerged since the Second World War, primarily in the
Asian part of the country. Heavy industry is concentrated in the Urals
around Yekaterinburg. Russia occupies a leading role in the global
production of steel and aluminum. In recent years, world-famous steel
concerns with great financial strength have been formed in Russia. These
are, for example, Evraz, Severstal, Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works
and Novolipetsk Steel, which are among the world's 30 largest steel
concerns. Important centers of heavy industry are Magnitogorsk,
Chelyabinsk, Nizhny Tagil, Novokuznetsk, Cherepovets and Lipetsk.
Numerous machine and vehicle industries produce in the old main industrial locations of Moscow, the Volga region, the north-west and the Urals, but equipment and plant construction is also located here. Several branches of the manufacturing industry, such as mechanical engineering, the automobile industry and the armaments industry, including the aviation industry, fell into a deep crisis after the end of the Soviet Union. Production fell sharply. In the 2000s, however, the manufacturing industry also picked up again. Market share was regained, especially in the CIS markets, and new markets were found in Asia, because some Russian products were able to distinguish themselves as simpler and cheaper than Western competing products. In 2006, the domestic production of machinery and equipment reached a volume of around 63 billion euros. In order to force the necessary modernization in mechanical engineering, the state controls the further development of mechanical engineering from above. This included the establishment of the state holding Rostechnologii, into which the state shares of almost 500 companies (armament companies, airlines, truck and wagon manufacturers and machine builders) were brought.
Aircraft construction was one of the most important and technically most developed branches of Russian industry. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the production chains between the former union republics were interrupted. This had profound negative effects on Russian aircraft construction. In 2006, the most important developers and producers of aircraft in Russia were brought together in the OAK. In 2010, OAK delivered 75 aircraft with revenues of $4 billion. The best-known Russian car manufacturers are AvtoVAZ, KAMAZ, Ischmasch or the GAZ Group. Very often you can still see Russian-made Zhiguli, Moskvich, Lada Niva and Oka car brands, as well as KAMAZ, Ural and other trucks. In the meantime, Russian car manufacturers are cooperating with foreign corporations. Currently, Volkswagen Group Rus cooperates with GAZ, Ford with Sollers, Renault-Nissan and AvtoVAZ, and General Motors (GM) with Avtotor. As a result, new assembly plants in Kaluga, Nizhny Novgorod, Togliatti, St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad were created and are currently being created. Russia's arms industry is coordinated by the state arms exporter Rosoboronexport. Rosoboronexport coordinates the work of the various armaments companies and combines them into a group through shareholdings.
The chemical industry of Russia is one of the main branches of the national economy of Russia, its share in the volume of commodity production reaches 6%. The chemical complex of Russia includes 15 large industrial groups specializing in the output of diverse production. The leaders in this area are the highly profitable petroleum refining companies and chemical fertilizer producers. In addition, the production of chemical fibers, plastics and car tires are well developed in Russia. The economy of Russia is also characterized by the manufacture of building materials, light industry (mainly textile industry) and the food industry.
The leading local retail chains include by far the X5 Retail Group (which includes the Pyatyorochka and Perekrestok chains), Magnit, while the international chains are led by the Metro Group and Auchan. The banking market is dominated by state institutions such as Sberbank, WTB, Rosselkhosbank and Vneshekonombank. Sberbank alone, the former workers' savings bank of the Soviet Union, holds about half of all savings. Only Sberbank has a nationwide branch network. The share of state-controlled banks in the overall market is around 50% on average. The largest Russian private banks (Gazprombank, Alfa Group, MDM Bank, Rosbank) are part of industrial holdings and perform mainly holding-related tasks.
In terms of supply structure, Russia's most important trading partner
is Germany, which mainly supplies finished industrial products such as
machines, systems and cutting-edge technology to Russia. In return,
Russia is Germany's largest supplier of crude oil and covers around a
third of Germany's natural gas requirements. German-Russian trade
increased by 8.4% to EUR 61.9 billion in 2018. German imports from
Russia increased by 14.7% compared to the previous year and amounted to
around 36 billion euros. Exports to Russia also increased by 0.6% to EUR
25.9 billion. The People's Republic of China replaced Germany as the
most important foreign trade partner in 2010. The Netherlands, Ukraine,
Italy, Belarus and Turkey are also important for Russia. Russia is
already the world's second largest exporter of crude oil and the world's
largest exporter of natural gas. The export of energy sources and
electricity accounts for 62.8% of total exports (metals, metal products:
9.9%, chemicals: 4.1%). Despite its important position as a supplier of
raw materials, Russia's share of global trade in goods is comparatively
small. It is 2%, almost a third of Germany's share.
Russia's trade in goods with other countries declined in 2019. On a US dollar basis, trading turnover fell by 3.1% compared to the previous year, amounting to the equivalent of around 595 billion euros. Imports of goods and services increased by 2.2%, while exports fell by 6%. For the first time in ten years, exports slowed down GDP growth.
The country has natural landscapes worth seeing, including UNESCO
World Heritage Sites, as well as sights of great cultural value. In
2010, 2.4 million foreign tourists visited Russia, while 13.1 million
Russians traveled abroad for recreation. Domestic tourism accounted for
29.1 million travellers. Although the flow of tourists from Asia and
South America is increasing, guests from Europe - with Germany at the
forefront - make up the majority of visitors to Russia. The number of
holiday and business travelers entering the country had also risen
continuously; while in 2002 around 360,000 Germans traveled the country,
in 2008 there were 558,000 German visitors. However, only 66,000 of
these were holiday trips by Germans and the rest were business trips and
family and friends visits. In 2017, 580,000 Germans visited the Russian
Federation. Individual tourists have often been deterred by visa
procurement and language barriers, while the country is more popular
with tour groups.
Tourists have long been put off by an unappealing brand image that says “Russia is an uneasy country” and “not ready to welcome tourists. That the people there are unfriendly and that danger is lurking everywhere," said Alexander Radkov, head of the state tourism agency Rostourism, in 2012. Despite increased activities by the federal tourism agency, there is still no effective PR and marketing strategy that could counteract the bad image of the city country in the west, causing e.g. through media reporting, which mainly contains news about attacks, corruption and lack of freedom.
Tourism in Russia is primarily concentrated in the two metropolises of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Saint Petersburg is considered the Venice of the North and has a rich cultural offer and a historic city center that is fully UNESCO World Heritage. Typical for St. Petersburg are the White Nights with the raised Neva bridges from late May to mid-July. In addition, boat trips on the Volga and visits to old Russian cities northeast of Moscow, the so-called Golden Ring with more than 20 cities, are offered. Nature vacation is mainly possible in Karelia and the Altai Mountains (World Natural Heritage). The Trans-Siberian Railway (Trans-Siberian) runs about 9300 km from Moscow via Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, the capital of Siberia, Irkutsk, which is also called "Paris" of Siberia, and the region around Lake Baikal, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to Vladivostok. The Transsib is traveled by both individual tourists on the regular trains of the Russian railways and group travelers who book trips on special trains.
Kaliningrad, formerly Königsberg, is also attracting more and more German visitors. The Curonian Spit, a narrow spit of land declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, lies partly in Kaliningrad Oblast and partly in Lithuania.
The seaside resorts on the Black Sea coast and a number of North Caucasian thermal spring spa towns such as Kislovodsk or Pyatigorsk are important in domestic tourism. 400 km lie between the northernmost and southernmost point of the Russian Black Sea coast. During the May to October season, most of Russia's seaside resorts are concentrated on this relatively small stretch of coast, which is on the same latitude as the seaside resorts of the Adriatic Sea and the Italian and French Mediterranean coasts.
Ski tourism is enjoying increasing popularity in the North Caucasus. The relevant infrastructure was expanded in particular for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
With a size of 17,075,400 km², the country's special focus is on the
most diverse and functioning infrastructure possible. After the
political turnaround in Russia, the volume of traffic initially fell
mainly due to the downturn in the economy, but then experienced strong
growth. Most of the current infrastructure dates from Soviet times and
is now in need of modernization, and the existing transport systems
hardly produce any network effects. The expansion and modernization of
the transport infrastructure is therefore a high priority for the
Russian government. In 2005, the government adopted a transport
infrastructure renewal strategy, focusing on continued modernization and
improvements in rail, road and air transport, as well as the
rehabilitation of the country's ports. In addition, concessions and
other public-private partnership models in the transport sector are to
be promoted in order to mobilize financing from private investors in
this sector as well.
Despite the difficult conditions, Russia wants to programmatically establish itself as an important hub in Asia-Europe traffic and partly also on the north-south axis from northern Europe towards India. To this end, the logistics infrastructure is to be expanded, particularly at the Moscow and Saint Petersburg hubs.
While Russia's transport infrastructure west of the Urals is generally well developed, the road and rail infrastructure in the Trans-Urals and Siberia is technically outdated and uncompetitive at best. The greatest traffic obstacle to the economic connection of the huge territories of Siberia to the booming South and Southeast Asian states are the lack of traffic routes in the north-south direction. As a result, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping agreed in 2015 to integrate the Eurasian Economic Union initiated by Russia and China and the Silk Road Belt Initiative into one project, the Central Eurasia Initiative. In it, a logistical strategy for a new transport framework for Siberia and the Far East of Russia is to be worked out.
In the Logistics Performance Index, which is compiled by the World Bank and measures the quality of infrastructure, Russia ranked 75th out of 160 countries in 2018.
Since 2000, the trend towards the street has been clearly
recognizable in Russia. The road density is very low at 40 m of road per
km². This is partly due to the very low population density in large
parts of the country. The quality of the road network in Russia varies
greatly, and its development cannot keep pace with the ever-increasing
traffic. The density of the network decreases sharply from west to east:
the further east you go from Moscow, the more the road conditions
deteriorate. Despite this, the majority of freight transport between
Western Europe and Russia is carried out by road – in transit via Poland
and Belarus or via the northern route via Poland and the Baltic
republics and via Finland. The track gauge difference of the railways
also contributes to this.
The Russian motorway and trunk road network together covers about 540,000 km (2001), two thirds of which are paved. Only since 2003 has there been a spatially and seasonally continuous road connection from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific. Outside of metropolitan areas, trunk roads are usually not developed as motorways or expressways, and even on larger, wide roads, the directional lanes are not separated from each other by crash barriers. The most important trunk road in Russia is the European route 30, which ends in Siberia.
The share of transport costs in production costs is up to 20% due to the bad roads. The poor infrastructure is costing the country up to 9% of its economic output; Traffic experts estimate that the equivalent of at least 32 billion euros would have to be invested in road expansion every year.
A relatively large number of fatal accidents occur on the road. In 2013, there were a total of 18.9 traffic deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in Russia. For comparison: In Germany there were 4.3 deaths in the same year. A total of 27,000 people lost their lives on the roads. The country's motorization rate is in the upper midfield worldwide. In 2017 there were 324 motor vehicles per 1000 inhabitants in the country. With approximately 46.9 million vehicles, Russia has the fifth largest vehicle fleet of any country.
Almost half of passenger transport takes place in local transport,
mainly via the bus network, which exists in 120 cities. In addition, 90
Russian cities have a trolleybus network, 66 cities have trams and
suburban trains, and seven cities also have a metro and four other
suburban railway lines.
In the 1990s, many of the good local transport networks fell into disrepair and were increasingly supplemented or replaced by private bus or scheduled taxi companies. Also recently, tram or trolleybus systems have been shut down in several large cities in favor of buses (such as the trolleybus in Arkhangelsk and the tram in Ivanovo in 2008, or the tram in Voronezh in 2009).
As a means of mass transport over long distances, the railway
occupies an important part of the transport market in Russia. Due to the
large distances, connecting the Far East was a major challenge in the
early 20th century, which the country was able to establish with the
famous Trans-Siberian Railway. At the same time, the Baikal-Amur Main
Line from Lake Baikal to the Amur River was built at the end of the 20th
century to open up the Far East of Siberia. Through these two and the
branching routes, the country is developed in a west-east direction.
They can, for example, reduce the transport of goods between Pusan and
Helsinki from around 47 days by sea to around 16 days.
In May 2001, the Russian government decided to implement the rail reform. The main goals were the liberalization of the railway market and the release of railway tariffs. As part of the railway reform, the former Ministry of Railways (MPS) was dissolved in October 2003 and Russia's second largest state-owned company, Rossijskije schelesnyje dorogi (RZhD), was founded. In recent years, 85 private railway companies have also emerged in Russia, which today transport more than 25% of the goods and own around 30% (about 200,000 freight cars) of the entire freight car stock in Russia. The route network in Russia is operated by RZhD. In total, the well-developed railway network (broad gauge with 1520 mm gauge) covers around 87,000 km, of which almost half (40,000 km) is electrified. On the island of Sakhalin there are almost 1000 km with a width of 1067 mm. In addition, there are an additional 30,000 km of non-public industrial railways (all figures from 2004). While road transport has been the dominant mode of transport in Western Europe for decades and rail is of secondary importance, trucks in Russia have only been able to catch up since 2000. Therefore, the railways in Russia have an above-average market share of 83% in freight transport.
Russia has a significant number of ports and navigable waterways. In
the European part of Russia, 72,000 km of inland waterways connect the
Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the inland lakes and the White Sea. Important
waterways are the Volga, the Kama, the Nizhny Novgorod Oka, the Vyatka,
the Don and the canals connecting these rivers.
In Siberia, 24,000 km are navigable. Due to the drainage of the great rivers Ob, Yenisei and Lena into the polar sea, there is no east-west waterway development; Due to ice formation, the polar route is only possible for a few months in summer, but this period is being extended due to climate change. The navigability of the rivers and canals is severely impaired by meteorological influences (water level) and poor construction. Since 1990 there has been a reduction in the number of inland waterway vessels in Russia. In 2002, the number of inland vessels was still around 8,800, of which 8,000 were cargo ships and 800 were passenger ships. The main Russian inland ports are Arkhangelsk, Perm, Yaroslav, Saratov and Cheboksary.
Maritime shipping is one of the rapidly growing transport sectors in Russia. The main reason for this is the increasing volume of exports of crude oil and mineral oil products. The main seaports are in St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, Novorossiysk and Sochi on the Black Sea, and Vladivostok, Nakhodka, Magadan and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the Pacific Ocean; Murmansk is the only (North) Atlantic port that is kept ice-free all year round. In 2003, cargo handling in Russian ports amounted to 285.7 million tons. Ferry traffic is important for freight traffic between the Russian heartland and the Kaliningrad exclave.
In Russia and the Soviet Union, aviation was of great importance early on due to the size of the country. National air traffic connects remote areas that were never worth exploring by land. At the time of the Soviet Union, the state-owned Aeroflot was the largest airline in the world and its prices were sometimes cheaper than those of the railways. Air tickets to the Far East of Russia are still subsidized by the state today. In addition to Aeroflot, which continues to be semi-public, larger companies such as Rossija, S7 Airlines and UTair, which are also connected to the state, fly. The number of airports in Russia decreased from 1302 to 496 between 1992 and 2011, while the number of international airports increased from 19 to 70 and 55 airfields had a paved runway longer than 3000 m. Several international airlines fly to other Russian cities besides Moscow. The largest and most important airports are Sheremetyevo-2 and Domodedovo near Moscow. In 2011, Russia's aircraft fleet comprised around 6,000 aircraft, almost 2,000 of which were cargo aircraft. State subsidies and regulations serve to stimulate the Russian aviation industry. In autumn 2018, the government commissioned the banks Sberbank and VTB to set up a large regional airline, with the help of which the regional airports were to be upgraded to relieve the Moscow hub. In January 2020, President Putin ordered the government to set up a company to develop the remote eastern regions with an all-Russian aircraft fleet. This society was created on the basis of the Red Wings. Following Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine and Western sanctions, Russian authorities gave 21 airlines permission to operate foreign aircraft without a valid certificate of airworthiness, resulting in a ban on flying over the EU. Russia itself closed the airspace and eleven airports (Anapa, Belgorod, Bryansk, Voronezh, Gelendzhik, Krasnodar, Kursk, Lipetsk, Rostov-on-Don, Simferopol and Elista) along the war zone for seven days, after which the measures were extended dozens of times. China also denied the dual-registered planes use of its airspace.
In the 1990s, Russian aerospace suffered from major financing
problems, causing many programs to come to a standstill. Thanks to the
improvement in the economic situation, Russian space travel was able to
recover. As the national space agency, the state-owned company Roskosmos
is responsible for the country's civil space program; its seat is in
Star City near Moscow. It was founded as an authority in 1992 and took
over the essential resources of Soviet space travel. Roscosmos currently
uses three spaceports: the Plesetsk cosmodrome near Arkhangelsk, the
Vostochny cosmodrome in the Amur region and the Baikonur cosmodrome in
Kazakhstan, the main base of Soviet and Russian space travel. Russia has
been one of the most successful providers of commercial rocket launches
In July 2005, a new space program for the years 2005 to 2015 was approved by the Russian government. The aim was to ensure the world level of Russian space travel and to consolidate Russia's position among the world's leading space powers. The priority was the development and use of space technology and services, as well as the construction of spacecraft for manned flight, transport and interplanetary missions, including a reusable space system. Russia plays a major role in the ISS, for whose supply, since the space shuttle program was discontinued, the Soyuz rocket with the Soyuz spacecraft and the Progress space transporter are increasingly being used.
Furthermore, the scientific and technical foundations for a manned flight to Mars and a space station of the new generation are to be created. As a first step, Russia wanted to bring its satellite fleet up to world standards by 2015, primarily with the help of Western elements. In addition, the first unmanned launches with modernized versions of the previous carrier rockets should take place at this time from the new Vostochny cosmodrome in the Amur region. In fact, the older Soyuz-2.1 model has been taking off there since 2016. Vostotschny planned the first manned launches of spacecraft with the new Angara A5 launch vehicle for 2020; this is shifting to the mid-2020s. At the same time, missions for in-depth exploration of the moon and the planet Venus are planned for the 2020s.
The Russian space industry has been intertwined with that of Ukraine since Soviet times; several missiles such as the Dnepr and the Zenit were jointly developed and produced. This cooperation broke up due to the war with Ukraine, so that Russia lost about half of its selection of launch vehicles. New in-house developments such as the Soyuz-5 and -6 should compensate for this in the course of the 2020s.
The majority of the Russian postal system is handled by the
state-owned company Potschta Rossii. This was spun off in 2002 from the
Federal Post and Telecommunications Ministry, which was also dissolved
at the same time and was also responsible for postal traffic in Soviet
times. Today, Potschta Rossii offers its services in a total of over
42,000 post offices spread across the whole of Russia. The number of
employees in the company is around 415,000 across Russia. Since the
beginning of the 21st century, post offices in many cities have been
offering basic postal services – such as sending and receiving letters,
parcels and telegrams as well as postal giro – as well as additional
services, including public computer workstations with Internet access.
Potschta Rossii is a monopolist in Russia for mail delivery. International courier companies such as DHL and TNT Express have also been active in the field of parcel post in Russia since the 1990s.
The all-Russian telecommunications company Rostelekom is the largest
company in this branch in Russia. Since April 1, 2011, the regional
branches Dalny Vostok (Far East), Sibir, Urals, Volga, Jug (South),
Severo-Sapad (North-West) and Zentr (Center) belong to it. The three
largest providers in the country, Mobile TeleSystems, Beeline and
MegaFon, as well as a number of smaller regional providers, essentially
share the mobile communications market across the country. This industry
experienced rapid growth in Russia from the year 2000 onwards: while in
2000 less than 1% of the Russian population owned a mobile phone, in
2006 the nationwide number of mobile phones already exceeded the
population and as of March 31, 2007 was a good 155 Millions.
In 2019, the law stipulated that Internet data traffic must run on its own server, so that independence from other countries is guaranteed from now on.
The history of the Internet in Russia begins in September 1990, when
the top-level domain “.su” was registered for what was then the Soviet
Union. This domain is still partly used by Russian websites today. In
March 1994, the official top-level domain ".ru" for Russian Internet
addresses was registered. Websites under this domain make up a
significant part of the Russian Internet - often called Runet for short.
The country now also has a Cyrillic top-level domain (.рф). The Russian
Internet segment ranked fourth in the world around 2012 with a total of
more than 3.6 million domain names.
In the 2000s, the number of Internet users throughout Russia increased steadily: while in 2000 there were only 3.1 million users (2.1% of the population) nationwide, in 2007 their number was already 28 million (19.5% ). With more than 50 million Internet users, Russia became the European leader in 2011. In 2016, 102 million Russians, or 71.3% of the population, used the internet. The most significant Internet projects of Runet include the search engines Rambler and Yandex, the online network Wkontakte, and the information and news portals RBC Informations Systems, Lenta.ru and Gazeta.ru. The best-known providers include larger telecommunications companies such as CenterTelekom, MGTS, North-West Telecom and VolgaTelekom. In the course of state support for the expansion of the Internet, social media activities in Russia experienced an exceptionally strong boost, and corresponding platforms play an important role in Russia. The platforms Vkontakte.ru and Odnoklassniki.ru, which were created in Russia, are particularly popular and have shown higher growth rates than international ones, such as Facebook. LiveJournal was also used above average in Russia in an international comparison and finally in Russian. The gross reach of social networks in 2010 was around 49.2 million people living in Russia. Since then, many regulations with vague wording have been passed, which allow the authorities to take action against services and users. From 2018, all communication content would have to be stored (and made available to the state), a postponement of this obligation by 5 years had to be considered because of the effort in 2017.
Since the collapse of the Soviet system, there have been many periods of restructuring in the Russian media sector. State reforms privatized the media market in the early 1990s. Since then, many newspapers, publishers and television stations have formed alliances with oligarchs to ensure their survival. In doing so, however, they fell under their control, which exercised political influence over the media through manipulation. The media empires of Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky (Media Most), which opposed President Putin, were smashed by court order. The largest Russian media holdings are Gazprom-Media and VGTRK, the All-Russian State Television and Radio Company. Although media censorship is practiced by Roskomnadzor (Inspectorate of Mass Media, Communications and Protection of Cultural Heritage), according to the Russian Constitution, Chapter 2, Article 29, freedom of expression and speech is guaranteed. Propaganda and agitation inciting social, racial, national and religious hostility is prohibited, as is relativizing the role of the armed forces in World War II. Most Russians prefer television as their number one source of information, followed by newspapers. According to Roskomnadzor, 66,032 media are listed in Russia (as of 2012). Among them are 5254 TV stations, 3769 radio stations, 28,449 newspapers and 21,572 magazines. State television channels are not mass media in the Western sense.
For decades, the daily press of the USSR was supplied with information primarily by the semi-official press agency TASS. After the collapse of the USSR, a free press developed in Russia, but today it is again subject to increasing government repression. Freedom House rates press freedom as “not free” and with a general downward trend (in 2002 the country was listed as “partly free”). Reporters Without Borders' Press Freedom Index ranks Russia 149th in 2019; in Europe, only neighboring Belarus (rank 153), Turkey (rank 157) and Kazakhstan (rank 158) performed worse. In the spring of 2017, journalist Nikolai Andrushchenko was killed. According to the Reporters Without Borders report, the victim's death is directly related to his journalistic work.
Among the print media, the tabloid Moskovsky Komsomolets is considered the most popular in the country. According to its own statements, the tabloid reaches about 1.3 million readers. It's also the cheapest. The most important daily newspaper is the Komsomolskaya Pravda, with a current circulation of 830,000 copies. The daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta (circulation: 430,000 copies) is a bulletin of the Russian government based in Moscow. Russian laws and decrees only come into force when they are published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta. RIA Novosti has been a state information and analysis agency since 1993 with its own correspondents in more than 40 countries.
In addition to the state Radio Rossii, there are numerous private radio stations - mostly local stations. Some Moscow stations also have licenses in the regions. Until its forced interruption in 2022, the Echo Moskwy broadcaster was the only remaining representative of the media critical of the government. Today, Russian radio stations use the UKW frequencies (87.5 MHz to 108.0 MHz), which are also common in Germany, under the English designation "FM". In Soviet times, the so-called OIRT band (65.9 to 73.1 MHz) was used, where individual transmitters still operate today under the name VHF. Many Russian homes have a radio plug with which one can receive one to three stations in the manner of wired radio. The simple devices do not require any additional power supply and often have a volume control as the only control element. The extensive international radio service is operated under the name Voice of Russia.
For 85% of the Russian population, television is the main and often only source of information and is therefore particularly suitable as a propaganda tool for the government, which carefully controls the content of the programmes. Three national and one or two regional television channels can be received in most parts of Russia. Depending on the location, more than a dozen television providers can be received terrestrially in Moscow. The Perwy kanal, dt. First Channel, is the channel with the widest reach nationwide and can be received by 99.8% of the Russian population, the weekly viewership of the channel reaches over 80% of the population. Some of the Russian television channels are operated by the state media group WGTRK. Its offer includes the Rossija 1 channel, which according to its own statements is received by around 98.8% of the Russian population. A sports channel called Sport (Russian: Спорт) and a cultural channel called Rossiya K are also operated by WGTRK. In addition, since 2005 there has been the internationally oriented, English-language broadcaster Russia Today, based in Moscow, whose stated goals are to break down old prejudices and clichés about Russia and to present the audience with the Russian perspective on international events. Developments within Russia will also be examined here from a Russian perspective. Vesti is one of the main news channels in Russia. It is part of Telekanal Rossiya and RTR. The TV channel Russian TV international is produced specifically for Russians living abroad.
In the 1990s, several partly nationwide private television stations developed in Russia, which also had independent and government-critical information programs in their program. However, in the early 2000s, the nationwide broadcast stations came under the indirect control of the state or were closed and replaced by state broadcasters. Sport broadcasts today on the TW-6 frequency. Russia broadcasts with the SECAM television standard (Eastern Europe variant). Russia plans to introduce DVB-T in the long term (in the 2010s). Supposedly, such devices are to be subsidized so that the population can purchase the relatively expensive device.
The education system in Russia is divided into four sections: general education, vocational education, higher education and postgraduate education. General education does not mean that the child has to go to school. At the request of the parents, a child can receive home education if his level of knowledge corresponds to the school program, which is checked twice a year. This right in Russia is guaranteed by the State Constitution (Article 43) and by the Federal Law №273-ФЗ (Federal Law on Education in the Russian Federation).
The state spent around 4% of the central budget on education in 2017. In the 2015 PISA ranking, Russian students ranked 23rd out of 72 countries in mathematics, 32nd in science and 26th in reading.
General school education
The general school education is in turn subdivided into the sections elementary level, secondary level and upper level.
Elementary: Children start school at the age of seven. Both the academic year and the school year uniformly begin throughout Russia on September 1 of each year. An early school entry age of six years is recommended on average for about 35% of children according to a psychological report. Children who started school at the age of seven complete the four-year primary level of elementary school within three years. In this way, you go straight from the third to the fifth school year.
Secondary level: This is followed by an obligatory six-year secondary school level. It leads to the acquisition of "basic general education" - usually at the end of the ninth grade and after reaching the compulsory school age of 15 years. This qualification entitles the holder to attend upper secondary education (two years). After nine years of compulsory schooling, vocational training can also be completed at the middle technical school (vocational school) or the technical center instead of the high school level. These institutions are still available in the vertically permeable entire vocational training system for the acquisition of the complete middle education (dual training course). Because in addition to the job-specific subjects, the general education subjects are also taught, although the content is based on the professional orientation.
Upper level: The upper level is completed with the "certificate of complete middle education" (the traditionally so-called "maturity certificate") - in German Abitur, which does not yet guarantee entry to the university. This requires a demanding entrance exam. Anyone who has passed the Abitur with very good results only has to pass one or two entrance exams. In the case of poorer Abitur grades, several subjects are examined.
A diverse higher education system is available to students in Russia
for higher education. In addition to the classic university with a wide
range of subjects, there are various universities and academies with a
special technical, educational or economic orientation. Although the
Abitur is a prerequisite for admission to the university, an entrance
examination must also be passed. Student financing is free for
high-performing students, but only fee-financed for an ever-increasing
proportion of the population. After 1992, the universities were given
greater rights to self-government. Universities are being reorganized;
time-honoured establishments are given new names and modern structures.
The duration of most study programs is five years, whereby the first two years, as in Germany, serve as a general basic course, which is then followed by technical specialization in the main course. Until 1991, the only qualification was the diploma. With the gradual introduction of new courses of study, bachelor's and master's degrees are also possible in addition to the diploma, which most students also strive for.
A total of four categories of higher education institutions can be set up in the following hierarchy:
Institutes (= universities)
The most famous Russian universities include Lomonosov Moscow State University, Saint Petersburg State University, Kazan State University and Novosibirsk State Technical University. The founding of private schools and universities is now permitted in Russia. Your visit is not free and usually only affordable for a small shift. In Russia in 2005 there were 1061 universities and colleges, of which 413 were private colleges.
The first beginnings of scientific activities in Russia were already
in the times of Kievan Rus. The first surviving chronicles, the Nestor
Chronicles, date back to 1070. Historical events and meteorological
observations in particular were recorded there.
However, science as a social institution only emerged in Russia at the beginning of the 18th century under the rule of Peter the Great. It was at this time that the first scientific institutions of the Russian Empire were established, most notably the Academy of Sciences in 1724. In 1755, the first university in Russia was founded in Moscow with today's Lomonosov University. In 1916 there were around 100 higher education establishments in Russia, including 10 universities, and several dozen research institutions. With this, the science of the Russian Empire was at a low level of development compared to many other European countries. Even then, certain areas of Russian science enjoyed international prestige. Among the first Nobel Prize winners were two Russian academics, Ivan Pavlov (1904) and Ilya Mechnikov (1908).
Russian science received a significant boost in development during the Soviet era. Overall, the Soviet Union had a well-developed research and development system. The high degree of centralization of research was characteristic of this period. Thus, most scientists were employed by the Academy of Sciences or in their regional departments. Central features were the separation of research and production, the dominance of the USSR Academy of Sciences in basic and applied research and the low importance of the university sector in research. All companies in the economic sector were state-owned and did little research themselves. Much of the research was done by specialized research institutes, which were generally organizationally separate from state-owned companies. Since the Soviet state accorded very high priority to industrialization and military superiority, it particularly generously supported research and development in these areas. After the end of the Second World War, the state intensively promoted the development of Soviet space travel. All of this led to the Soviet Union becoming an industrialized country in the second half of the 20th century. Research and development was considered world-leading in certain areas, such as the armaments industry and aerospace.
Science experienced a severe crisis in the Russian Federation in the 1990s, as there was a permanent lack of funds to support the existing research facilities. This led to development freezes in many areas and to the migration of qualified research and teaching staff to other European countries or the USA. The institutions and working methods in Russian research and development have retained many features of the former Soviet system, with the majority of research organizations being separate from the business sector. Research facilities in companies are generally poorly trained. The Russian Academy of Sciences holds a dominant position. Almost two thirds of all research institutions were state-owned (as of April 2012) and employ 78% of the research staff. In contrast, 14% of the institutions are privately organized. Due to this superior state power, Russian research is primarily led by large research institutes, while small organizations are only of minor importance. Accordingly, in 2008 the largest of all Russian research institutions employed a total of 53% of the research staff and were responsible for 44% of the total research expenditure. Funding from the state budget predominates in the financing of research and development. In the early 2010s, the government tried to increase the universities' research contribution. The higher education sector accounts for just 6-7% of the total volume of research funding. 12% of teaching staff are classified as researchers. Almost half of all universities and other higher education institutions are not involved in research activities at all.
Despite the crises in the 1990s, some areas of Russian science still hold top positions in international comparison. Five Russian physicists were awarded the Nobel Prize: Zhores Alfyorov in 2000, Alexei Abrikosov and Vitaly Ginsburg in 2003, and Andrei Geim and Konstantin Novosyolov in 2010.
To promote domestic research and development from 2000 onwards, special national target programs were designed, which provided for, among other things, an increase in salaries for scientific employees, the promotion of young academics and the establishment of technology parks nationwide. Particular emphasis was placed on further development in those areas in which Russia had previously achieved top results, i.e. above all in natural sciences and the defense industry. President Medvedev launched a modernization offensive by funding key projects, such as the City of Innovations (Innograd) in Skolkovo. In the future, new technologies will be researched there and developed until they are ready for the market. The new research and development complex should work primarily in five areas: energy, information technology, telecommunications, biomedicine and nuclear technology. The Russian government also planned to start producing microelectronics. In the case of satellite navigation, too, Russia intends to trim its market more towards the use of the domestic GLONASS system.
The prospects for science darkened after the Russian war of aggression in 2022, all the top figures in the scientific community were sworn to follow the government course, while 8,000 scientists signed a letter of protest. MIT as well as CERN stopped working together, the Russians at CERN hoped to remain as “stateless” employees, similar to Russian Olympians. A cut in funds was feared, as were problems with the laboratory equipment for basic research. For a long time scientists with contacts abroad could be arbitrarily prosecuted and registered as "foreign agents".
The Russian culture consists of a European high culture and a grown
Russian folk culture. At times, Russia saw itself as the radical Other
of the West, also because Russian culture developed differently from
that of Western Europe for a long time, due to its location on the
periphery of Western cultural development. Furthermore, the schism of
1054 led to a radically different unfolding of orthodox Christianity,
with a growing rejection of Catholicism. The Russian conception of the
state and of law, which originates from Byzantine Caesaropapism, in
contrast to the Roman legal tradition in the West, also contributed to
the demarcation of Russian culture from that of Western Europe (cf.
Legal history of Russia). In contrast to the development of nation
states in the rest of Europe, from 1550 Russia changed to a multi-ethnic
empire, which helped shape cultural development.
Russian culture is also shaped by different development phases compared to Western European culture. This can be explained by the geocultural peripheral location and simultaneous expansion of Russia to the east, which causes different rates of evolution in the interplay of slower and faster catch-up and development phases, which repeatedly led to social upheavals and political radicalization in Russian history. Accordingly, Russia can be seen as a culture of translation, but not in passive imitation, but out of the need to catch up and surpass. This creates productive interactions, in that the own is modeled after the imitated foreign and thus produces something new.
Russia's cultural history largely begins with its Christianization (988/989) at the end of the 10th century, when, at the request of the Kiev prince Vladimir I, Byzantine culture in its Slavic forms became dominant among the Russians for the next seven centuries. There followed a rapid flourishing of their writing, art and architecture after the introduction of Christianity.
Orthodoxy in particular required a different understanding of culture based on perseverance and tradition. The religious ideology and ecclesiastical interpretation of texts determined and slowed down cultural development in the Moscow Empire. Russian-Orthodox culture began to ossify after 1500, after Byzantium, the driving force, had come under Ottoman rule with the fall of Constantinople. Under Peter I, a forced secularization and Europeanization of social life began in the 17th century. The first emperor of the Russian Empire brought Western European architects and artists into the country and wanted to use external Europeanization - e.g. getting rid of beards and adopting the European dress code – achieve a change in attitude. However, the Europeanization of Russia only reached a small upper class. Russia caught up with European culture in the 19th century and belonged to its avant-garde around 1900. In addition to a westernized high culture of the upper class, the traditional Russian folk culture continued to exist among the people, so that two cultures still existed side by side until 1914. In the Soviet Union, under Stalin, socialist realism was then declared the only binding cultural norm. Written or sung forms of expression of culture that did not conform to the system could only appear underground as samizdat. In the new Russian state, Russian culture experienced another crisis in the 1990s. In the 1990s, Russian artists first had to overcome the resulting standstill with the loss of state funding and competition in capitalist mass culture.
For a long time, residential houses in Russia were built in block construction (isba). These log houses can still be found in the villages today. They are usually painted in shades of blue or green and have imaginatively carved, mostly white window frames. As the colors of orthodoxy, blue and green are believed to drive away evil spirits.
Russian traditional handicrafts form an important aspect of Russian folk culture. In the forest zone of north-eastern Rus, the craft of turning and carving developed. Ceramic crafts developed in places where clay was present. In the northern regions of Russia, with its extensive flax fields, lace was made. The Urals, with their rich deposits of iron ore and semi-precious and semi-precious stones, are famous for their art of casting, weaponry and ornaments. Dymkovo ceramic toys are famous (see Anna Afanasyevna Mesrina), Khokhloma, ceramics from Gzhel and lacquer miniatures from Palekh. Matryoshka is the most popular Russian souvenir. Just a few years after its advent, the Matryoshka doll was demonstrated at the 1900 Paris World Fair, where it earned a medal and gained worldwide fame.
Traditional Russian clothing included the kaftan, kosovorotka and ushanka for men, the sarafan and kokoshnik for women, with raffia lapti and valenki (felt boots) as common footwear. The traditional clothing of the Cossacks from southern Russia includes the burqa and papacha.
Russian cuisine, originally a typical peasant cuisine, uses many ingredients from fish, poultry, mushrooms, berries and honey. Bread and pancakes are eaten and kvass, beer and vodka are drunk. Vodka is part of Russian culture. According to Russian chronicles, the first distilleries were established in Russia in the 12th century. Initially, vodka was used for medicinal purposes. Russian vodka is made from grain. Traditionally, pure, unflavored vodka is preferred in Russia, which is mostly drunk in company at room temperature. Something salty (e.g. pickled cucumbers, salted mushrooms or salted herring) is often served with vodka. Russian cuisine is characterized by tasty soups and stews such as shchi, borscht, rassolnik, ucha, solyanka and okroshka. Russian dough dishes such as piroschki, blini and syrniki are also famous. Kiev cutlet, beef stroganoff, pelmeni and shish kebab are popular meat dishes, the last two of which are of Tatar and Caucasian origin. Other common meat dishes are cabbage rolls (Russian Голубцы), usually filled with meat. Typical Russian salads are vinaigrette (Russian: винегрет), Olivier salad and herring in a fur coat (Russian: Сельдь под шубой). Tea has been drunk in every household in Russia since the 17th century, so that a real tea culture developed in Russia. A samovar is traditionally used to prepare tea in Russia and is considered a kind of national symbol in Russia. In addition to the traditional Russian desserts such as baranki, prjaniki, varenje and pastila (or sefir), oriental sweets such as halva, gosinaki and lokum, as well as various chocolates and cakes are also served with tea.
Russia's large number of ethnic groups has strong folk music traditions. Typical Russian musical instruments are gusli, balalaika, shaalika and garmon. The Russian people have a rich dance folklore. Reports of Russian dances have been found since the 11th century. Dances play a huge role for the Russian people. In many dances the national traits of the Russian character are expressed very clearly. The oldest form of Russian dance is the so-called chorovod, a round dance performed by a group of participants holding hands. The second type of dances characteristic of Russian dance art are improvisational dances. They are performed as solo dances (male or female), in couples, or by multiple dancers. In these dances, the individuality of the dancer is expressed particularly strongly. The Perepljas is a kind of competitive dance in which each dancer, taking turns, strives to outdo the other through their dancing mastery, imagination and better execution of the movements.
Russia has a distinctive steam bath culture, the banya. Visiting the banya is a ritual. Important talks, business negotiations and political meetings still take place there today. There is also a banya in the Kremlin. According to an old Russian tradition, you gently pat yourself down with weniks – bundles of dried birch twigs dipped in warm water.
For rest and relaxation, Russian city dwellers like to spend weekends or vacations in a dacha, country house or cottage with a garden. Dachas have been part of Russian history and culture for three centuries. The dacha is also often mentioned in many Russian ballads and in Russian literature. The dacha season begins in mid-May. Around St. Petersburg and Moscow there are many dacha suburbs that have become increasingly remote from the city over the course of their history.
Also known are the Russian fairy tales, which have their origins in the pagan times of Rus. They formed the basis for the famous Soviet fairy tale films. They also brought fairy tale characters such as "Father Frost", "Snow Maiden" or the "Baba Yaga Witch" to Central Europe.
Russian hospitality, even in the most difficult economic times, is proverbial. With an invitation, the host consciously tries to prepare as many different dishes as possible. This shows that nothing is saved for the guests. The custom of handing a round piece of bread with a salt bowl in the middle to the most important guest on official occasions lives on to this day. Bread has long been the staple food in Russia. Salt was rare and therefore very expensive.
A very common street scene in winter in the 19th century was the troika, the typical Russian trio. Three horses are harnessed next to each other in front of a carriage or sleigh. A little bell hangs on the bow, which constantly tinkles during the ride and keeps the horses going. The troika comes from the Valdai Heights, a hilly region between Moscow and St. Petersburg, and is now cultivated as folklore.
National holidays in Russia are the so-called Day of Unity of the
People on November 4th, which commemorates the liberation of Moscow in
1612 from Polish-Lithuanian foreign rulers, and Russia Day on June 12th
on the occasion of the declaration of state sovereignty of the Russian
SFSR on this day day in 1990. In addition, there are several public
holidays each year, of which the New Year's festival (continuously from
January 1st to 5th) is celebrated in particular. The New Year
celebrations were extended in 2005, but the most important national
holiday for the communists, the day of the October Revolution on
November 7th, was abolished. Russian Orthodox Christians do not
celebrate Christmas on December 24, as do Christians of other
denominations. They celebrate the feast of the Epiphany on January 7th
according to the Julian calendar. During the Soviet era, religious
festivals were not allowed. But since January 7 was declared an official
holiday in 1991, Christmas has been properly celebrated in Russia again.
Christmas Eve on January 6th is called Sotschelnik in Russia.
Every year the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the Feast of Epiphany. It is one of the oldest Orthodox holidays and dates back to the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. Despite the frost, millions of Russians are drawn to the ice hole every year on the night of January 18th to 19th. On this one day of the year, the waters of all rivers and lakes in Russia are sacred, especially if they have previously been blessed by an Orthodox priest. Participants have to completely submerge three times. Before each dipping of the head they cross themselves. The procedure is intended to cleanse the believers of sins and give them new strength.
The "Day of Victory" over National Socialist Germany (May 9) still has a high priority among the population. At the beginning of May, festively dressed war veterans come together all over Russia to commemorate their fallen comrades. Such a meeting often begins at a tomb or tomb of the Unknown Soldier or at an Eternal Fire. The commemoration then continues either at an official reception or privately at a banquet table. Carnations are given to veterans on Victory Day. Every year on Victory Day, military parades are held in many cities of Russia (2011: 23).
If a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, it is common to set up a non-working bridging day on Monday or Friday, in which case the preceding Saturday or the following Sunday are declared working days.
Moscow and St. Petersburg are the cultural centers of Russia with a large number of cultural institutions. Moscow alone has more than 120 theatres, five opera houses, six professional symphony orchestras and numerous museums and galleries. Moscow's Bolshoi Theater enjoys a worldwide reputation, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow are home to world-renowned art collections. Cultural scenes have also developed in other regional centers, such as Novosibirsk (theatre, opera), Yekaterinburg (theatre, contemporary dance) and Nizhny Novgorod (contemporary art).
In Russia, literature is held in very high esteem. The order patterns
of poetics and genre theory that are customary and valid in Western
Europe, as well as literary epoch designations, are used differently in
Russia because they are used at different times and in a different
function. In Kievan Rus, the Romanesque corresponded to the "period of
stylistic simplicity" (11th century), the Gothic to the "age of the
ornamental style" (12th and 13th centuries), for the following centuries
from the 14th to the 16th There are common ideological and geopolitical
epoch names (“Period of Intellectual Disputes” and “Moscow Literature”).
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the imitation of baroque stylistic
processes led to a late harmony with the Western European style of the
The basic stock of sacred texts and genres taken from Byzantine historiography laid the foundations of the Church Slavonic tradition, which in the Slavic Middle Ages was considered literature and literary text. The dominance of a spiritual-ecclesiastical concept of literature (i.e. reading and writing – similar to icon painting – for the benefit of the soul) prevailed. On the other hand, the aesthetic function, individual style, fictionality (separation of truth and fiction), literary genres in the modern sense and a modern concept of author were missing. Literature with a non-dominant spiritual function in ancient Russia (before 1700) is comparatively poorly represented. The literary transition to modern times took place under Peter the Great in the name of as tight and direct a connection as possible between Russia and Western Europe. At the beginning of the 18th century, literature primarily fulfilled educational and representative functions for the state. Around 1800, literary communication emancipated itself from the demands of the court, educational institutes and patronage. Russian authors were able to publish their works on their own book market for the first time. For decades, the genre of the realistic social novel dominated, which made a lasting impression on readers in Europe. The Russian realist novel developed its own methods of depicting reality and formed metaviewpoints regarding the destabilizing effect of Western modernization on traditional ways of life and social structures.
Pushkin is considered the founder of modern Russian literature. Other world-class Russian writers include: Mikhail Bulgakov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Nikolai Gogol, Maxim Gorky, Boris Pasternak, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Lev Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Ivan Turgenev, the exile Vladimir Nabokov and Ivan Bunin, the first Russian writer to be associated with the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded.
In 1990 books in Russia recorded a total circulation of 1.6 billion books. In 2004 it was only 562 million. The author with the highest circulation was Darja Dontsova with 99 volumes and a circulation of 18.1 million books.
In 2016, the Russian Booksellers Association complained about the increased prices for both production and sales by small booksellers with trading fees. In Moscow, for example, there is only one bookshop for every 58,000 inhabitants; the 12 million residents of Moscow shared 199 bookstores compared to the 3 million residents of Paris with their 700 bookstores.
Russia also made a major contribution in the field of painting.
Portraiture was very popular in the 18th century. But other styles, such
as history painting and religious painting, were also frequently used.
Towards the end of the 19th century, European modernism, such as
Impressionism and Art Nouveau, came to Russia in derivative forms.
In connection with Impressionism and the Russian avant-garde, names such as Wassily Kandinsky, Kasimir Malevich, Alexej von Jawlensky, Vladimir Tatlin, Mikhail Larionov and Natalia Goncharova should be mentioned. The great Russian painters also include Andrei Rublev, Ilya Repin, Marc Chagall, Mikhail Vrubel, Valentin Serov, Vasily Surikov, Ivan Aivazovsky, Isaak Levitan, the important landscape painters include Nikolai von Astudin and many more. Recently, provocative artists and artist groups such as “The Blue Noses” have caused a sensation, which received international awards but were repeatedly put in their place by the Russian Orthodox Church and the authorities.
There are 25 World Heritage Sites in Russia, 14 of which are UNESCO
World Heritage Sites (as of 2013); among them are the old towns and
historical centers of Derbent, Yaroslavl, Saint Petersburg, Veliky
Novgorod, Vladimir or the Kremlins of Kazan and Moscow, and the wooden
churches of Kizhi Pogost.
The early architecture of Russia is based on that of the Byzantine Empire: early sacred buildings, like the Byzantine ones, are based on the Greek cross, which is crowned by five domes. Examples of this are the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod, or the Church of Saint Demetrios in Vladimir. Western European influences spread with the Baroque. Baroque (Russian Baroque) influences began to appear in Russia at the end of the 17th century (Church of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God in Kurkino in Moscow).
An independent Russian style had probably originally only developed in the area of wooden buildings, of which no buildings older than the 17th century have survived due to the building material. The churches that arose from this are characterized by a simpler central structure and a large octagonal central tower. These have become more and more decorative over time. A famous example is St. Basil's Cathedral on Moscow's Red Square from 1555. However, it achieved its breakthrough in Saint Petersburg, founded by Tsar Peter I. European architects like Andreas Schlueter or Domenico Trezzini came to Russia, they built buildings like the Menshikov Palace or the Peter and Paul Fortress.
The master builders under Catherine II (Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli) achieved world-class architecture. The palaces such as the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, the Peterhof Palace or the Catherine Palace show a large and powerful Rococo style on the facades and are extremely luxurious on the inside.
With classicism, which began in Russia at about the same time as in the rest of Europe, original Russian master builders such as Ivan Yegorovich Starov began to assume a prominent position for the first time. Most of the buildings in downtown St. Petersburg are still neoclassical today. A prime example of this is Rossi Street in Saint Petersburg, named after the architect Carlo Rossi, whose entire complex, including the houses, follows a strictly geometric overall pattern. In the sacred buildings such as St. Isaac's Cathedral, however, classical and historicist stylistic elements are mixed.
In the early 20th century, avant-garde currents were strong throughout Russian culture. After the October Revolution, their advocates were able to implement them for a few years. An example here is El Lissitzky or new types of prototypes for residential construction, industrial construction and for public administration. International architects such as Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Peter Behrens and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe were able to build in Moscow. However, under Stalin's rule, there was a quick reversion to monumentally exaggerated classical designs. The confectionery style began to dominate, with representativeness clearly taking precedence over artistic designs. In the late Soviet phase of the 1970s until the collapse of the Soviet empire, unique, partly futuristic buildings were built in all the constituent republics, whose radical aesthetics and idiosyncratic design language contrasted with the conformist state architecture. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a historicizing architectural style has become increasingly modern, looking for points of contact in traditional Russian architecture. Examples of this are, among many other buildings, the rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, or the cathedral of the same name in Kaliningrad.
Russian music goes back a long way. Its origins lie in the pagan
customs of the East Slavs. After the acceptance of Christianity, church
music developed first. Originally from Byzantium, she quickly acquired
national Russian characteristics. In the 11th century a special type of
orthodox church singing, the so-called Znamenny raspev, developed. The
lyrical folk song did not spread until the 16th to 17th centuries. Some
songs are world famous, such as B. Song of the Volga Tugboats, Kalinka,
Katyusha, Cossack Lullaby, Dubinushka, Korobeiniki, Black Eyes.
The beginnings of Russian art music began to develop in the 18th century and have been influenced by Western European music since Peter the Great. The most important composer of this period was Dmytro Bortnjanskyj, in whose works both art music and the typically Russian a cappella songs of orthodox church music are represented. Yevstignei Ipatovich Fomin, Russia's most important opera composer of the late 18th century, was still influenced by the West. Phrases from Russian folk music appear for the first time in the operas and orchestral pieces of Mikhail Glinka and Alexander Dargomyshsky, paving the way for a national Russian school of composers. Subsequently, five young composers formed the so-called Group of Five (Alexander Borodin, César Cui, Mili Balakirev, Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov), who made it their task to specifically use the peculiarities of Russian folk music for symphonies, operas, To make tone poems and chamber music usable.
In contrast to this, a counter-current oriented more towards Western music (especially German Romanticism) developed, which was founded by Anton Rubinstein. It also included the most important Russian composer of the 19th century, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, whose works (symphonies, operas, ballets, chamber music works) helped Russian music gain a greater reputation abroad for the first time. Subsequent composers such as Anatoly Lyadov, Sergei Taneyev, Anton Arensky, Alexander Gretschaninov, Alexander Glazunov and Wassili Kalinnikov focused in their compositions on a reconciling combination of the western-international and the Russian-national style. While Sergei Rachmaninoff developed Tchaikovsky's style independently in his piano concertos and symphonies, modern music found its way into Russia for the first time with Alexander Scriabin, the creator of an idiosyncratic harmonic system.
Expressionism is represented in Russian music by the early works of Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Prokofiev. In the 1920s, many composers experimented with new forms of musical composition, including the young Dmitri Shostakovich, whose early works are particularly notable for their satirical tone. Most of the older composers, on the other hand, stuck to the Romantic style, such as Glazunov, Reinhold Glière and Nikolai Myaskovsky, and later Prokofiev as well. From the mid-1930s, Stalin ordered Russian musicians to follow the doctrine of socialist realism, which banned avant-garde experiments and called for art that was “close to the people”. This compulsion only gradually relaxed after Stalin's death in 1953. Next to Shostakovich, the main representatives of a Soviet musical culture were above all Dmitri Kabalevsky and the Armenian Aram Khachaturian. Since around 1980, the once frowned upon avant-garde elements in Russian compositions have made themselves felt again, as in the case of Edisson Denissow, Sofia Gubaidulina and Alfred Schnittke. On the other hand, composers such as Mieczysław Weinberg, who was born in Poland, and Boris Tchaikovsky upheld the tradition of succeeding Shostakovich.
In addition to the traditional popular music from the time of the Soviet Union, the so-called Estrada, there are a number of different genres of Russian pop music. The poet, singer and actor Vladimir Vysotsky is regarded as an important Russian songwriter/chansonnier of the 20th century, most of whose songs were written in the 1960s and 1970s. At the beginning of the 1980s and during the period of perestroika, a lively, Russian-language rock music scene developed in Russia, which complemented established bands such as Maschina Vremeni. The frontman of Kino, Wiktor Zoi, who died in 1990, is generally regarded as the figurehead of these years. His songs and lyrics were formative for many bands in the years that followed. In addition to original Russian bands such as Kino, Ljube, Aquarium, DDT and Nautilus Pompilius, or the punk bands Grashdanskaja Oborona and Sector Gasa, pop culture in the field of music was strongly influenced by the international mainstream.
In the 1990s, an extensive underground established itself in the cultural centers of the country, but especially in St. Petersburg, which to this day covers the entire spectrum of music. Towards the end of the century, the Russian MTV also started. During this time, a large number of rock bands were founded and disbanded, but above all the formations founded in the 1980s celebrated great success. The first bands of underground culture were also able to attract many listeners, e.g. Leningrad. Semfira also became very well known during this period. At least since the beginning of this decade, Russian Popsa has also held significant market shares. This is danceable music with a high proportion of electronic music, which is aimed particularly at teenagers and is musically completely based on internationally successful projects (Valeria, VIA Gra). The duo t.A.T.u. is the only internationally successful Russian pop band to date. Another genre that was largely marginalized during the Soviet Union era has also experienced a renaissance in recent years – the Russian chanson. A popular star of this direction is the singer Mikhail Shufutinsky.
Ballet has a long tradition in Russia and is a very popular form of
entertainment. Peter I became acquainted with ballet on one of his trips
to Western Europe and was fascinated. There was also dancing at his
residence, but it was different, more folkloric, closer to the people.
So ballet specialists from Europe were hired to Russia. This was the
beginning of the impressive development of Russian ballet, whose dancers
and choreographers soon rose to become the leading dancers in Europe
thanks to the patronage of the Russian monarchy for the Bolshoi and
Mariinsky ballet. In the choreographic work of Marius Petipa, for which
Pjotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in particular provided the music, the classic
masterpieces of romantic ballet in Russia were created with The
Nutcracker, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty.
The pioneering Ballets Russes were founded in 1909 on the initiative of the impresario Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev. On tours in the cultural capitals of Europe in Paris and London, the company became a fixture of the European art avant-garde. European audiences went into raptures at what was partly a contemporary penchant for folklore and orientalism, partly revolutionary innovations in music, choreography and interpretation, as exemplified in the staging of Petrushka by Igor Stravinsky, Michel Fokine and Vaslav Nijinsky. In its general development, Russian ballet had thus dethroned France as the leading ballet nation. Russian technique and Russian repertoire were now general synonyms of classical ballet. The influence went so far that well-known western dancers (like Alicia Markova) also Russified their names to improve their chances of engagement.
The worldwide development of ballet in the 20th century was decisively shaped by the emigration of numerous dancers and choreographers trained in Russia. George Balanchine had a fundamental influence on the choreographic style in contemporary ballet and Rudolf Nureyev initiated the enduring popularity of the romantic ballets, which have remained standard works to this day, with the resumption of the classical repertoire. They continue to set standards here with their interpretive demands and technical bravura.
Although further political developments in the Soviet Union also led to artistic stagnation in ballet compared to the developments in modern dance, the high level was maintained thanks to state training such as that at the Vaganova Ballet Academy and the financial support for new productions. As in Sergei Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" and "Cinderella", the Soviet repertoire was partially adapted immediately in the West. The development of a dramaturgical staging of a socialist ballet was effectively implemented in Yuri Grigorovich's choreography of "Spartacus", which has remained the pinnacle of ballet creation.
Russia produced such great dancer personalities as Anna Pavlova, Tamara Platonovna Karsavina, Léonide Massine, Galina Ulanova, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Natalia Romanovna Makarova and Maya Plisetskaya. The most well-known ballet group today is the Russian State Ballet with 20 million visitors to date. It was founded in 1981 by Irina Tichimizova and since 1984 has been under the direction of Vyacheslav Gordeyev, ex-Bolshoi star.
In this area, too, the state is influencing and cultural workers who are critical of the regime are being harassed: in June 2017, the director Kirill Serebrennikov even called on the audience to confirm that they had seen the play A Midsummer Night's Dream; this to put an end to the insanity after a state committee accused him of having embezzled the grant approved for this production.
The fact that censorship was reintroduced after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 meant that works and authors such as Ivan Wyrypayev were no longer performed, some on direct instructions, but productions such as Bulgakov's Adam and Eve were also canceled.
Russian film history began in the epoch of the Russian Empire with
silent film pioneers such as Alexander Khanshonkov, Ivan Moschuchin and
Vera Holodnaya. Sergei Eisenstein and Andrei Tarkovsky, both active in
the Soviet era, are among the most important European film directors.
However, numerous notable Russian films and directors remained largely
unknown in the West due to the East-West conflict. In the Soviet Union,
cinema was subject to strict ideological censorship, but within the
permitted ideological framework there was considerable encouragement of
talent and government support for the cinema industry. Even today, many
Russians consider the Soviet era, which produced many popular actors and
films, to be the pinnacle of Russian cinematography and drama school.
Despite the post-Soviet crisis in the Russian film industry, Russian films have occasionally achieved international success since the 1990s: Examples include the Oscar-winning film The Sun That Deceived Us (1994) by director Nikita Mikhalkov, the youth drama The Return (2003) by Andrei Swjaginzew, who was awarded the Golden Lion for this at the Venice International Film Festival, and the fantasy film adaptation Night Watch - Nochnoi Dozor (2004), which became the most commercially successful Russian film production to date. The most important film award in Russia is the Nika, which is awarded by the Russian Academy of Cinematography. The largest Russian film studios include Goskino, Sovkino, Mosfilm, Lenfilm, Gorki Filmstudio (formerly Mezhrabpom), and the animation studio Soyuzmultfilm.
Overall, in Russia (in contrast to Europe) there was an enormous increase in cinema attendance in the years up to 2012. It was remarkable that Russian film production was able to maintain its market share, which was above average compared to Europe, despite the almost doubling of cinema admissions, which since 2005 has always been more than a quarter of all cinema admissions in Russia.
The state supervisory authority repeatedly checked films and the propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov even called for restrictions on freedom of expression due to critical films as early as 2018. In addition, individual foreign productions were not shown at all, and the start dates of others were set in such a way that they did not compete with patriotic Russian films.
Video art is very popular in modern Russia. Russia is one of the most important markets for YouTube. The most popular episode from the Russian animated series Masha and the Bear has over 3 billion views. Particularly popular is the show +100500, which hosts video reviews for funny videos and BadComedian, which reviews popular movies. Many Russian movie trailers have been nominated for Golden Trailer Awards. Many videos by Nikolai Kurbatov, the founder of trailer poetics and trailer dialogue construction, have been uploaded to the major YouTube channels, used as the main trailer and entered in the Book of Records.
Sport has a relatively high status in Russia, which can be traced
back to the extensive support for sport in the USSR (cf. Sport in the
Soviet Union). In 2008, Russia had 2,687 stadiums with 1,500 or more
seats and more than 3,762 swimming pools and 123,200 sports facilities.
Popular sport is important, with 22.6 million members in sports clubs,
including 8.1 million women. The most popular team sport among the
Russians is football (cf. football in Russia), which is experiencing a
boom – favored by strong financial sponsorship from business. Ice hockey
(cf. ice hockey in Russia) is the second most popular team sport.
Basketball is the third most popular team sport, but chess and tennis
are also popular. Russia has already produced numerous world-class
athletes. Russian athletes dominate in athletics, winter sports, figure
skating, gymnastics and weightlifting in particular. No other nation has
more current and former chess world champions and grandmasters than
Including participation as part of the Soviet Union, Russia has so far taken part in 19 Summer Olympics and 17 Winter Olympics. So far, athletes from Russia and the Soviet Union have been able to win Olympic medals in sports competitions in 1911, taking second place in the all-time medal table. In 1980, the then Soviet capital of Moscow hosted the Summer Olympics for the first time. The Black Sea resort of Sochi hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia for the first time. In addition, Russia is often the venue for international competitions such as world and European championships. In 2018, for example, Russia hosted the soccer World Cup for the first time, which took place in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, but also in the Kaliningrad exclave. In motorsport, Russia has a former Formula 1 driver in Vitaly Petrov and an active Formula 1 driver in Daniil Kwjat. The DTM and the Superbike World Championship have also been guests in Moscow.
Russia is also a domain in ice speedway sport and the Russian ice speedway pilots have been ice speedway world champions in a row. The cities of Togliatti and Balakovo are the centers of Russian speedway motorcycle racing.
In boxing, the country is also among the best in the world. Since the end of the Soviet Union, Russian amateur boxers have won 10 gold, 6 silver and 15 bronze medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. Together with 14× gold, 19× silver and 18× bronze at the Olympic Games from Soviet times, Russia currently ranks second in the all-time medal table with a total of 84 Olympic medals, behind the USA with 114 medals and ahead of Cuba with 73 medals (post-Olympic figures). 2016). From 1993 to 2017, Russian boxers also won 45 gold medals at world championships.
Rugby union is also growing in popularity. The Russian national team has qualified for two Rugby World Cups (2011 and 2019) but has yet to reach the knockout stages. Russia is one of the contenders at the European Rugby Union Championship, where it meets other up-and-coming national teams. Above all, games against political rival Georgia are of great interest and are considered a kind of "David vs. Goliath", also due to Russia's negative record against the southern neighbor. Russia and Romania have been playing the Kiseleff Cup since 2021; this trophy is named after Duke Pavel Kiselyov, a Russian who played a key role in drafting the first constitutions for the two principalities of Wallachia and Moldova (modern-day Romania and Moldova). The home stadium is the Central Stadium in Sochi.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accuses Russia of operating systematic, state-controlled doping for years; the manipulations are "directed, controlled and monitored" by the Ministry of Sports, supported by the domestic secret service FSB and affect almost all sports, especially in the Russian Athletics Federation there is a "deep-rooted culture of fraud". Numerous positive doping samples from Russian athletes were exchanged at the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow, but also at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and at the 2015 World Swimming Championships in Kazan. In November 2015, WADA revoked the accreditation of the Russian National Anti-Doping Agency RUSADA; A few days later, the World Athletics Federation (IAAF) banned Russian track and field athletes from all international competitions – including the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro – until further notice. According to a decision by the world association IWF, the Russian weightlifters were also not allowed to compete in Rio.
Russian sports science research is also affected. While training science has long relied on the successes of athletes through systematic planning and development, e.g. benefited from the periodization of sports training, the innovative lead has shrunk in recent years, since the methods have proven to be less successful while reducing doping at the same time. A long-term analysis of the leading Soviet/Russian training scientific journal Theory and Practice of Physical Culture (Moscow) showed that the literature used in the journal was aging and the journal today, with an average age of the literature of 15 years, is more than ten years old compared to the 1980s -years has deteriorated. In the meantime, the inclusion of covert doping methods has also been published, since nanotechnology is still largely evading WADA controls.
In December 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned the Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA for four years after various doping scandals - including the manipulation of athlete data - and imposed an Olympic ban on the Russian team. The procedure for Russian state doping is scheduled to be heard before the International Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in autumn 2020. The CAS set the hearing date for November 2-5. RUSADA has lodged an objection with the CAS.