Flag of Russia

Language: Russian
Currency: Ruble (RUB)
Calling code: +7

Interesting facts 


Russia, in the long form the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental federal state, the largest state on the planet, straddling Northern Asia (80% of its area) and Europe (20%).

From west to east, its territory extends from the Baltic Sea (Kaliningrad exclave) to the Bering Strait (Chukotka Autonomous district) over more than 6,600 kilometers, with an area of 17,234,033 km2, or 11.5% of the land surface. Due to this extent, Russia experiences a variety of climates ranging from the humid subtropical climate on the shores of the Black Sea to much colder climates in the tundra zone bordering the Arctic Circle, as well as in Siberia, passing through the arid and semi-arid areas of the Ryn desert and the Eurasian steppe to the south. The majority of the Russian territory is characterized by a continental climate with cold and snowy winters and is occupied by the taiga.

The Russian population is estimated at almost 146 million inhabitants in 2021, which makes it the ninth most populous country on the planet. 78% of its inhabitants live in European Russia. Today's Russia is a federation made up of 89 entities, the "subjects of the Federation", with variable political and economic autonomy.

After the fall of Kievan Rus' and its various principalities (originally the modern states of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine) in the thirteenth century, the grand principality of Moscow unifies several neighboring territories and becomes the tsarat of Russia in the sixteenth century, founded by Ivan the Terrible. The country expanded rapidly by conquering from the seventeenth century part of Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, the Caucasus, as well as with the conquest of Siberia to the Pacific Ocean. In 1721, Tsar Peter I the Great established the Russian Empire, the third largest empire in history, which became a major power in relations between European states. In some conquered regions, the gradual takeover of control over indigenous populations is accompanied by a settlement colonization (in particular via deportations) and a forced acculturation (russification) from the seventeenth century to the twentieth century.

The Russian revolution, following the First World War, led to the fall of the imperial dynasty in March 1917, then to the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin. In 1922, the Bolsheviks established the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) including Russia and neighboring territories previously conquered under the Empire.

After the Second World War, the USSR became one of the two superpowers of the Cold War, spearhead of communism against the capitalist world led by the United States, then challenged by Mao's China from the 1960s. The USSR developed nuclear weapons in 1949, took a lead in the conquest of space by sending the first animal into space (1957) then the first human being (1961) and became involved in numerous conflicts in order to maintain and expand its influence, especially in the Vietnam War. In 1979, it engages directly in a war in Afghanistan, but it is forced to evacuate in 1988, a failure which is one of the causes of its collapse in 1991.

With the breakup of the USSR in 1991, the Russian Federation declares itself a continuation state of the latter in international institutions, in particular the permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. It also assumes the financial liabilities of the USSR and takes over the Soviet nuclear weapons. Russia is trying to maintain its influence by creating the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) which brings together ten of the states formerly under Soviet control. Russia then adopted a market economy and a pluralist parliamentary regime. Since the resignation of the first president, Boris Yeltsin, in 1999, Russian political life has been dominated by Vladimir Putin, often called an authoritarian leader and accused of human rights violations, as well as corruption and interference.

Aspiring to integrate into globalization, Russia is part of the BRICS + (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Iran and Ethiopia) It also considers itself as a bridge between Europe and Asia. In 2019, Russia is the eleventh world economic power in terms of nominal GDP and the sixth in purchasing power parity.


Travel Destinations in Russia



Saint Petersburg

Vladivostok is a major port city in the Far East
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 Oblast, the Republic of Mari El, Bashkortostan, Mordovia, Nizhny Novgorod, Orenburg, Penza, Perm Kray, 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 (Kurgan Oblast, Tyumen Oblast, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug (Yugra), Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Sverdlovsk Oblast and Chelyabinsk Oblast) 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.



Russia is a huge country, and it has a large number of attractions for every taste.

Historical and architectural monuments suffered greatly during the years of Soviet rule, during the war, and then during the uncontrolled post-Soviet urban development. As a result, Russia has lost almost all of its urban ensembles. There is only one city left in the whole country that was not very affected by the late perestroika and demolitions — St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg and its surroundings contain dozens of compositional and palace ensembles of the 18th and 19th centuries, dozens of first—class museums, as well as a huge number of various things - from a large number of beautiful bridges to the largest collection of industrial architecture in Russia. St. Petersburg is the only major city in Russia that has managed to preserve the atmosphere, and therefore it is not at all surprising that it has become Russia's number one attraction. Most foreign tourists go there.

Moscow is not only the capital of Russia, but also the second largest city in terms of attractions. Unlike St. Petersburg, founded in 1703 and sometimes, especially in the center, giving the impression of a museum city, the history of Moscow dates back 850 years, the city developed spontaneously, something was built, something was demolished, and as a result, monuments of almost all eras have been preserved in Moscow. Everyone knows the Moscow Kremlin, Red Square or St. Basil's Cathedral. But Moscow is also, say, VDNKH, Moscow City, Shukhov Tower, Kolomenskoye, the Moscow Metro itself or 7 high-rise buildings of the Stalin era. It is the center of the cultural and sports life of the country, the main museums, theaters are located here, musical concerts and sporting events are held. Moscow is the largest transport hub in Russia, one of the largest 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 and two ring lines), the MCC and the MCD (city trains) to taxis, monorails and cable cars, relative to the rest of Russia, bicycle infrastructure and mobile modes of transport are also developed — carsharing, electric scooters.

There are very few historical and architectural monuments in Russia before the 17th century, and all of them are counted. The oldest city in Russia is Derbent, where the fortress was built gradually, starting from the fifth century. Only a 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 belonged to Germany before 1945. Many German medieval castles have been preserved there, although mostly in poor condition. Russian Russian architecture should first of all be viewed in Veliky Novgorod, Pskov, the cities of the Golden Ring, Ryazan and Smolensk, as well as in the Russian North — Vologda, Kargopol, Veliky Ustyug, Solikamsk. A typical genre of Russian defense architecture is the Kremlin. For example, they are in Novgorod, Pskov, Moscow, Smolensk, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Tula, Astrakhan and Tobolsk. Monasteries were also fortresses until the 17th century. 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 need to go to Pskov or Gorokhovets.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, rich merchant cities appeared, where urban architecture arose: manors, public buildings, churches. This environment suffered greatly in the future, but in many places it was partially preserved. For the best samples, go to Nizhny Novgorod, Samara and Yekaterinburg, as well as to county towns like Yelabuga and Yelets. A lot of 20th century architecture has been preserved, but you have to choose a first-class one from it. So, the best selection of constructivist architecture has been preserved in Moscow, and, for example, you have to go to Tomsk to get wooden Art Nouveau. Staliance is ubiquitous in Russia, but the most integral and colorful ensembles have been preserved in St. Petersburg and Volgograd, and on a smaller scale (but equally integral) 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 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 Kizhi triple churchyard — is located in Karelia. There are cities — Vologda, Tyumen, Tomsk, Irkutsk — where in the center there are still entire districts built up with wooden mansions, and every second of them is an architectural monument. The land in the center is expensive and needs to be built, and the tree burns well, so hurry up while there is still something left.

Large memorials are dedicated to major historical events: on Kulikovo field, on 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.

There is no tradition in Russia of preserving industrial heritage and even more so of turning it into museums and tourist attractions. At the first opportunity, the historic buildings of factory workshops are demolished, narrow-gauge railways are dismantled for scrap, and the canals themselves become unusable. It was only in the last few years, and only in the capitals, that the trend began to convert industrial architectural monuments into office 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 Alapaevskaya 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 huge territory, and its nature is exceptionally diverse, although for the most part the most interesting places are difficult to reach and require multi-day hikes or even special expeditions. Beach holidays are possible on the Black, Azov, Baltic and Japanese Seas, but they do not have a very good price /quality ratio — neighbors are often cheaper and better. But the possibilities for outdoor activities are absolutely limitless. Karelia with its lakes and rapids is popular for water tourism and just for a vacation in nature. 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, is still a rather exotic vacation destination, and no one has left there dissatisfied yet. If you need exotic and don't mind the money — there are volcanoes of Kamchatka, Tuva or the Kuril Islands, or even the Arctic coast. But even in central Russia, the landscapes are not as monotonous as it seems — Meschera 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 islands of Franz Josef and Sikhote-Alin in Primorsky Krai, and their number is constantly growing.




The population is 143,380,800 as of December 1, 2012. According to the 2010 census, 84% of the population consider themselves Russian, thus forming the majority.

The population density in Russia is extremely heterogeneous. Most people live in the Eastern European territory of Russia. In the North Asian territory of Russia, the population density is many times lower, despite the much larger territory. The lowest population density is in the north — there is often no developed infrastructure and very expensive living.

The maximum concentration of the population by city: Moscow is in the first place, St. Petersburg is in the second, Novosibirsk is in the third.


Getting here


Citizens of most countries need a visa to visit Russia. Visa-free entry for 72 hours is allowed for passengers of cruise liners of certain lines. In practice, this only makes sense for St. Peter Line cruises from Helsinki to St. Petersburg. Formally, visa-free tourists are allowed to stay only in the region of arrival, but in fact it is impossible to verify this.


By plane

The main international airports of the country are located in the suburbs of Moscow, these are Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo, as well as in St. Petersburg - Pulkovo-2 (International). The same airports are hubs for flights throughout the country (the so-called hub). International terminals are available at almost all major and not very regional airports.

Now there is a system for buying electronic tickets, and it is enough to present your passport to board the plane, but it would not be superfluous to make a paper printout of the ticket.

Convenient city buses to airports operate only in a few million cities, in all others, mass passengers use taxis


By train

In Russia by train, you can arrive direct from Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Finland, China, Mongolia, North Korea and neighboring countries (i.e., countries of the former Soviet Union). At the same time, it should be taken into account that in most countries of the far abroad (with the exception of Finland, some areas of Poland, formerly part of the Russian Empire and Mongolia), a railway track with a gauge of 1,435 millimeters is used, whereas in Russia and the countries of the former USSR its width is 1,520 millimeters, which slows down the crossing of the Russian state border by trains (produced by rearrangement of wheel sets of wagons, which takes extra time).

Domestic railways connect almost all more or less large cities in Russia, with the exception of the far north and the northeast.


By car

There are automobile border crossings on the border with Kazakhstan (many!), Norway (two), Poland (four), China (17), Finland (many!), Georgia (one), Azerbaijan (four), Ukraine (many!), Estonia (four), Lithuania (four), Latvia (eight).

Crossing the border by car is a separate story. In different places, this process can vary greatly, and can take from 20-30 minutes to infinity, sometimes accompanied by hostility, outright extortion or divorce for money.


By bus

Bus tours are available from Finland, Ukraine, China, CIS countries, etc. In the opposite direction, organized bus travel is more developed — bus tours are offered to many EU countries, Georgia, Turkey, China, etc.


By ship

Cruise ports
The following ports accept cruise ships in Russia:

on the Black Sea — Sochi
on the Baltic Sea — St. Petersburg, Vyborg
Barents Sea — Murmansk
Pacific Coast — Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Vladivostok

Ferry ports
Ferry border crossings:
On the border with China: Khabarovsk-Fuyuan, Ushakovo-Huma (automobile), Poyarkovo-Shunke (automobile), Pashkovo-Jiayin (automobile), Nizhneleninskoye-Tongjiang (automobile), Konstantinovka-Sunu (automobile), Jalinda-Mohe (automobile), Blagoveshchensk-Heihe (automobile), Amurzet-Lobey (automobile).

On the border with Lithuania: Sovetsk-Rusne, Sovetsk-Yurbarkas, Rybachy-Nida.

On the border with South Korea: Vladivostok-Donghae (automobile)


Transport around the country

Russia's transport system is characterized by a developed transport network, one of the most extensive in the world and including over 120 thousand km of railways, 1 million km of highways, 230 thousand km of trunk pipelines, 100 thousand km of river shipping lanes. The vast expanses and harsh climate have predetermined the paramount importance for Russia of all—weather types of land transport - rail and pipeline. The bulk of cargo work falls on them. Water transport plays a much smaller role in Russia due to the short navigation period and the systematic destruction of passenger traffic.

There are metro stations in the cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Kazan. Volgograd has a metrotram, and Moscow has the only (so far) monorail transport system in Russia. Many cities have trolleybuses and trams. Buses and minibuses are present in almost every city. For long-distance trips, rail transport is most often used.

Although everything seems to be in order formally in Russia with transport — there are many airports with regular passenger flights, railways with passenger service, highways of good quality with buses — keep in mind that all this is absolutely not designed for independent travelers. If you can easily get to big cities, usually by plane or train, then public transport is much worse and slower in smaller cities, and when you want to see a manor or a church, you can easily find that the bus from the district center goes to the village where it is located three times a week at an inconvenient time and you will have to rely on taxis or look for private transport. As a rule, it is impossible to see several such churches in a day without a car, unless, of course, they are located in the same city, or if we are not talking about the nearest neighborhoods of Moscow or St. Petersburg, where transport is better. Bus schedules may be available on the Internet (for example, on the Yandex Timetables website or on the websites of bus stations), or they may not be available; worse, sometimes there are no bus stations, buses are on schedules that can only be found from the local population. Getting into some national parks, especially east of the Urals, may require serious preliminary organization and be comparable in complexity to expeditions.


By plane

There are about 210 operating civilian airports of various classes in Russia (as of 2016), of which about a third (more than 70) have an international terminal or an international service sector. The main hubs in Russia are the airports of the Moscow air hub, and Novosibirsk. There are flights to these airports from almost any city.

The following major airlines operate in Russia: Aeroflot, S7 Airlines, Russia, Nordwind Airlines, NordStar, Nordavia, Pobeda, Ural Airlines, UTair, Yamal, Yakutia, RusLine, IrAero, Orenburg Airlines, Red Wings Airlines, Aurora, Gazprom Avia, Vostok, Khabarovsk Airlines, Polar Airlines, Komiaviatrans, Kamchatka Aviation the enterprise and other large and small companies — in total, more than 300 enterprises are registered in the territory of the Russian Federation with a license for air passenger and transport transportation, etc. aviation works.

The aircraft fleet is provided almost entirely by foreign equipment, with rare exceptions. This is due to the fact that after the collapse of the USSR, the production of passenger aircraft was practically curtailed due to their lack of competitiveness with Western models. However, on domestic flights it is quite rare, but you can find planes of old Soviet or Russian construction, and helicopters are almost all of domestic production.

There is a single electronic ticket system for all domestic flights. At any aviation agency in the country, you can purchase a ticket for any flight of any airline to any destination and the date and time you need (there are some sales restrictions on departure dates, since all airlines have winter and summer flight schedules, which is due to seasonal changes in passenger traffic). You can also purchase a ticket yourself on the Internet on the airline's website (tickets online).

Due to the large extent of the country, very often a traveler has to take tickets for connecting flights, that is, a transfer. Sales operators in aviation agencies provide free services for the selection of connecting flights, including on various types of transport (bus-train-plane).

All flights to the east of the country are operated at night — the plane departs in the evening and flies towards the sun, arriving at its destination in the morning. Return flights are usually performed in the morning — the plane departs in the morning, flies after daylight and arrives in Moscow, as a rule, at the same time.

Flights arriving in the evening also appeared in the largest cities — Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, after which you can not walk around the city tired, but immediately go to bed in a hotel.


By train

Railway transport in Russia is represented by the world's largest transport company (3rd place in the world) JSC Russian Railways (JSC Russian Railways) is the heir of the Soviet Ministry of Railways (MPS of the USSR). Russian Railways trains carry over 1 billion passengers and 1 billion tons of cargo annually. Russian Railways is the country's largest employer.

The entire railway connection is divided into suburban and long-distance.

Commuter trains run mainly near large cities, providing transportation in the suburban area for a distance of no more than 200 km. The fare on commuter trains is slightly lower than on long-distance trains. As a rule, there are only seats in the carriages.

The vast majority of commuter trains use electric trains — specially designed and built electric trains for this work. To a much lesser extent, trains with a diesel locomotive as a locomotive (the so-called diesel or motorized locomotive) are used for commuter traffic. Recently, rail buses have begun to appear in some cities.

Express trains, high—speed trains with seats are usually "Swallows" running from Moscow to other cities located in the 200-500 km zone around the capital. Commuter trains take too long to get here, and long-distance night trains need to get off too early.

Long-distance trains are designed to transport passengers and goods, including mail, over long distances. They are divided into passenger (regular) and branded (improved service). The annual schedule of long-distance trains includes about 520 passenger trains in 120 directions. The most important train in the country is the long—distance train No. 1/2 "Russia" with the Moscow — Vladivostok connection, which runs along the longest railway passenger route in the world, crossing almost the entire Eurasia by land. The length of this route is 9,288 kilometers, the travel time is 145 hours.

Passenger cars of long-distance trains are divided into four classes: a seated (or "shared" fourth-class carriage), a reserved seat (third-class carriage), a compartment (second-class carriage), a "sleeping car" (SV, or first-class carriage)). The first ones are ordinary reserved seats with shelves, but they are not designed for lying down, they have 72 seats. A standard second-class carriage consists of 9 compartments with 6 seats each, with a total of 54 beds. The compartment car has 9-10 closed compartments (isolated from the general passage), each with 4 beds. In the sleeping car, there are high—comfort compartments - 1, 2 or 3-seater. Some more trains (about 20) include luxury class wagons. These are the most expensive wagons. They differ from the SV by the presence in each compartment of an individual bathroom with a vacuum toilet, washbasin and shower. All compartments are equipped with individual air conditioning, TV, radio and DVD player.

At any railway ticket office or any travel agency, you can purchase a ticket for the train you need in the right direction anywhere in the country, but only 60 days before the departure date of the train.

A free toilet can be found in the station building at most stations.

Historically, only Moscow time was used on all Russian railways, which added to a fair amount of confusion. Since 2018, local time has been used in tickets and on information boards.

There is an unwritten rule for making up the logistics of riding trains: mostly long-distance trains leave in the evening and arrive in their main city in the morning.


By car

All major settlements of the country, all small and large cities are connected by an automobile network. The quality of roads is very different — from excellent multi-lane highways to dirt roads and winter roads (that is, temporary roads that are passable only in the winter season). The only place where you cannot drive by car is Kamchatka Peninsula and the Kuril Islands. There is no land road there, there is no ferry service either — you will have to negotiate (and pay a lot of money) for the delivery of your car by transport plane or on a merchant fleet ship.

A car trip across the country is quite interesting in itself and does not cost as much money as it might seem at first glance. There are gas stations, motels and roadside cafes on the main highways.

When traveling in Russia, a section of the R-254 highway passes through the territory of Kazakhstan (the legacy of the USSR, when there were no internal borders between the republics). If you are unwilling (or if it is impossible — this also happens all the time) to go through Kazakhstan, there is a bypass road through the territory of the Russian Federation, through the Kurgan, Tyumen and Omsk regions. Get ready, this is the worst federal highway in the country.

Most gas stations in the country (almost all of them) work around the clock and seven days a week. Payment in cash or by bank card. As a rule, payment is made first (in turn), then refueling. At large network gas stations there are specially trained tankers who will insert a filling gun into the neck of the tank, and at the end of refueling they will close the tank and the hatch. Also, refueling to a full tank is possible at many gas stations, in this case the operator will have to leave the amount a little more than expected, and at the end of refueling the change will be given to you.



The official language and the language of international communication is Russian, it is understood almost everywhere, and the vast majority of the population speaks it in everyday life. However, local national languages or dialects of Russian may be found in some territories of the country.

Despite the fact that English is taught in schools in Russia, it is not popular among the population. In large cities, especially in those where there is a large tourist flow, service workers (hotels, airports, museums, restaurants, etc.) can speak English at one level or another, and, with a certain probability, young people know the language. In the outback, it is quite difficult to find people who know English or any other foreign language.


Units of measurement

Russia has adopted the SI metric system, as well as all over the world, except for the USA and some other countries.



In Russia, unlike, for example, some EU countries, numerous convenience stores often operate in all large and small cities, where you can easily buy almost EVERYTHING (up to locksmith tools!) — on any day of the week and at any time of the day completely freely. The exception is the retail sale of alcohol, which is prohibited from trading at night (from 23.00 to 08.00) throughout the country.

The Russian ruble (RUB; RUR) is the only currency in official circulation in the country. Although the definition of prices in dollars, euros and "conventional units" is also used in everyday life, in practice, the calculation of foreign currency is practically impossible and prohibited by law (except for exchange operations in a bank or conversion of a bank card account).

In almost any city, dollars and euros can be easily exchanged for rubles, and it is always worth using only official cash desks in banks for this and ignoring hand-held exchange offers. 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 available in any more or less large locality, in small towns there are usually 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 distributed in Russia, but American Express is usually not accepted even in popular tourist places.

Card payment is possible in many cases — in shops, cafes, hotels. There are also many other places in Russia where card payment is not popular. This can often happen in depressed regions with poor populations. In taxis (and in most cities — in other public transport), card payments are still exotic. Taxis are also popular through aggregators such as Yandex.Taxi, Maxim, RUTaxi, Uber (not available in all cities)

A tourist in Russia always needs to have a certain amount of cash 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: some things may be more expensive, and some are cheaper. It is noticeably cheaper (compared to the European Union, the USA or Japan) to buy daily food and fuel for a car.

Moscow has the cheapest consumer goods in the country (the capital also has the bulk of goods for the well—off, the wealthy, and just the rich). With distance from Moscow, the general dynamics of prices for goods and services of daily demand steadily tends to increase, but 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 Moscow prices for the most basic things.



In Russia, three or four meals a day are accepted: breakfast, lunch, (afternoon tea), dinner, (evening tea).

Russian cuisine Russian cuisine is the traditional cuisine of the Russian people. Russian cuisine Russian cuisine has incorporated elements of French, German, East 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, it 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 dishes and products such as pancakes, caviar, 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 cooked with vegetable ingredients and various cereals. Less often, fresh fish broth can be used, and such a soup is called "ear". There is also mushroom soup, which is based on wild mushroom broth instead of meat.
Borscht is a soup that includes red beetroot, tomatoes, cabbage. It is served with fried pieces of lard, sour cream, mayonnaise. Borscht is originally a dish of Ukrainian or Polish cuisine, depending on whom you ask.
Cold okroshka soup. Vegetable finely chopped salad, poured into a soup with kvass, kefir or mineral water. It is traditionally consumed in the hot season.
Various cereals, that is, boiled cereals, including those that are simply not considered human food in the rest of the world. Porridge is served as a second course 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 ones are ordinary fried and slightly stewed potatoes for softness (with less oil than in French fries), as well as boiled potatoes.
Mashed potatoes are potatoes boiled and ground to a pasty state, thoroughly mixed with butter and milk. It is served instead of porridge (the so-called side dish) with meat, sausages, fish and anything else. Very popular food.
Fried pancakes made from yeast dough or thicker flatbread pancakes. Pancakes made from mashed potato pancakes (a dish of Eastern European origin) are also baked.
Stewed potatoes with meat, vegetables and spices. Cooking a dish in a clay pot is considered a special delicacy.
Pasta, spaghetti (from Italy), noodles (from China). They are cooked quite traditionally boiled or as part of dishes.
Bread. In Russia, they eat a lot of bread, just mixed with liquid dishes. Bread in Russia is inexpensive and easily available. Bread is usually not made to toast, it is eaten without additional processing. They also spread butter on bread, put pieces of sausage, fried sausages, etc. — this is a so-called sandwich. It is widely used for breakfast and various snacks. Dried breadcrumbs are also used, and fried bread croutons.
Tea. In Russia, they drink a lot of black tea with sugar. Black tea is really very popular, it is drunk in the morning, afternoon, evening and night, with sandwiches, cookies, just after lunch. Less often, milk or cream is added. Green tea is less popular. Coffee is also drunk, but to a lesser extent.
Eggs. Chicken eggs are eaten in any form, the most popular fried eggs (for breakfast) are fried eggs, it is possible with pieces of sausage, sausages, bacon, green onions, etc. Boiled eggs are most often used as part of complex dishes.
Dumplings. A dish of Chinese cuisine. Minced meat wrapped in small portions in unleavened dough. Dumplings are boiled in water and served with butter, sour cream, mayonnaise, various sauces or, in Siberian style, with diluted vinegar (although in China dumplings are more often fried in oil rather than boiled). They are very popular as a snack for vodka. The Buryats and Mongols have a similar dish called poses (buuzes), and some Chinese peoples (for example, Dungan) called manta rays. Poses and mantas are much larger in size and are prepared in a steam bath.
Vareniki. A Ukrainian dish (resembling dumplings in shape) in the form of boiled potatoes wrapped in unleavened dough, berries, fruits, lard, etc., and boiled in water. Served with butter or sour cream.
Lard. An obligatory 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 for vodka, etc. Very nutritious food.
Fish. Many traditional fish dishes accepted in Russia are unusual for foreigners. Fish soup is prepared from fish, various pies, 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 turns out. Smoked and dried fish are traditionally consumed with beer. Salted herring is eaten with mashed potatoes, and it also goes into 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 recognized 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 chemicals.
Barbecue. 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. Grilling is also often used. Shish kebab is a close analogue of barbecue. In many countries of the world there is a tradition of outdoor recreation with the preparation of similar or close to barbecue dishes. In addition, there are street kebab shops in Russia, which usually work in places where people relax 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 huge quantities, as well as in dumplings, borscht and other dishes. This may not be clear to some tourists. Russia also has its own 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 fatty and harmful than mayonnaise. Its use is completely similar to mayonnaise. Tomato sauces such as ketchup, chili and many others are also popular.
Vodka. In fact, vodka is not drunk in buckets in Russia. To drink vodka, you need a table with good snacks and 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 the good quality for very little money.
Kvass. The national sweet and sour drink of the Slavs from rye bread, obtained during fermentation. It quenches thirst well, which is why it is popular in summer.
Kefir. A fermented milk drinking product that came to Russia from the Caucasus Mountains. It is similar to yogurt, but more liquid. Under the USSR, it was produced in huge quantities, and even now it is available in any grocery store.



In most major cities, there is now an extensive nightlife that is in no way inferior to those of major European cities. Casinos, nightclubs, bars, discos provide ample opportunity for pleasure-seeking people. However, it is advisable to visit them for your own safety only when accompanied (if possible by locals).

Restaurants now also exist in all possible price ranges. As a rule, on average, the cost is at a similar level to that in Germany, slightly higher in Moscow, slightly lower in other large cities.

In some cafés there is no service in the conventional sense. Here, as a rule, you first secure a table, after which, as a rule, the man (the men) goes to the sales counter to purchase the desired food and then return to the table with it.



Hotels in the European part of Russia meet the most modern standards. The prices vary greatly depending on whether trade fairs or other events are taking place. So, in Moscow, the same room can cost 150 euros once, and 450 euros per night the next week. In the Asian part of Russia, hotels are simpler, but in city centers they are comfortable. In the countryside, one should accept the invitation of friends for an overnight stay.

It is also common to rent furnished apartments on a daily basis. The prices are usually below the best hotels on site.

Similarly, a furnished apartment can be rented for a month. The monthly price corresponds approximately to the weekly price in a hotel.

If you are not afraid of shared rooms, you can also stay cheaply in hostels in cities and tourist places. If you want to rely exclusively on this type of accommodation, you have to clarify the possibility of registration in advance (see Entry requirements). However, since October 2019, hostels and hotels in residential buildings have been banned, which specifically 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 capitals, this has led to a reduction in the supply of cheap places to sleep, elsewhere, "Russia is big, the tsar is far.“

A note about sockets: Grounded sockets follow the same standard as in Germany or Austria (Schuko plugs), 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 are bipolar, i.e. do not pass through the protective contact.) In hotels / hostels and in general in new buildings you will always find sufficient Schuko sockets. If you are staying privately (this should also apply to privately rented rooms), you should ask 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 obshcheschitije (dormitory). They will be accommodated there in a specially reserved floor for foreigners, which is nevertheless unlikely to meet German requirements. If you are thinking about renting an apartment during your stay, you should do this if possible through the university administration in order to get more favorable conditions and a safe place to stay.



The first years after the collapse of the Soviet Union were accompanied by an immense increase in crime. In the meantime, the situation has improved somewhat, but caution is still required. If possible, do not wear expensive jewelry or watches openly or carry the wallet in an easily accessible place (e.g. back pocket of trousers)

In Russia, there is still a strong opinion that Western Europeans are generally very rich and have a lot of money to give away. Do not respond to offers to be led by strangers to a "great market" or a sight.

In case of emergency, do not expect immediate help from the local militia. These often overburdened departments have proven to be poor and uncooperative help in the past. The militia ("militsiya") officially became the police ("politsiya") in 2011, but the former name is still colloquially common.

Cameras are currently being set up everywhere (streets, residential districts, entrances to houses), there are security guards and cameras in every good residential district. A lot of people have equipped their car with cameras, because in the past very often it was not the accident victim who got it right, but the one with the most money or the best contacts.


Freedom of expression

In recent years, the political system has become more repressive and the freedom of opinion and media has been gradually restricted. In particular, with the invasion of Ukraine from February 2022, the rules were tightened even more. Thus, it is forbidden to speak of a "war" or an "invasion". The official state terms are, for example, "special operation" or "peacekeeping mission". Violation can be punished with massive fines up to 15 years in prison. Foreigners are also affected by these regulations (for example, journalists). Even gentle criticism of the government, the president, or the authorities can (and will) be severely punished.

Also, in recent times, numerous independent media companies, NGOs and also foreign media have had to restrict or stop their operations in Russia, or foreign websites and social media have been blocked. So it can not be assumed that residents will have access to objective or balanced reports on current world events.

In order not to get yourself into trouble, but also interlocutors, it is recommended not to address current events in conversations and online.



In addition to the normal Criminal 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 relevant regulations, especially in the area of traffic or residence law. But you can also be prosecuted, for example, for bullying. Drinking in public, including courtyards and stairwells of apartment blocks, has also been punishable since 2013. If a bad-tempered official sees such a thing (in the case of Russian uniformed people, one should always assume that they are "on duty" out of office badly hung up), it costs 500-1500 r. If you do not go across the street at the traffic lights, you will quickly be there with 500 r. For example, if you leave one day after the visa expires, calendar days count and the end is at midnight, it costs 1500 r. (even if the train to the border was only 20 minutes late.) Penalties are payable within one month, for traffic offenses there is a 50% "discount" if you pay within 14 days. Non-timely payment leads to doubling, in case of persistent refusal, labor service is ordered.

Since 2016, the provision has been increasingly implemented that foreigners who have been subjected to two or more measures within three years in accordance with the Code of Administrative Offenses (this may include verbal warnings) can be subject to a three-year entry ban. The main target here (as of 2021) is foreign truck drivers. It does not matter whether the penalty has been paid or not. Because of the applicable holder liability, one should therefore not allow a vehicle in Russia as a foreigner working in the country.

Objection is only possible within 10 days, often futile or at least complicated. Especially traffic police officers, like to invent a "violation" on the fly in order to collect a small penalty in cash and without a receipt immediately. It is often useful to make a good face to the bad game here. Such corruption has been less common 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. Very many preparations from Europe are also sold in Russia. The prices are very reasonable.

For longer stays, it is recommended to get information from a private clinic or a trusted doctor. The private clinics are equipped with European equipment and are very inexpensive compared to Germany.

Russia has passed one of the strictest non-smoking laws in Europe. In principle, "smoking in public" is prohibited.


Safety precautions

Applies to all travelers
Any traveler /tourist (and not only a foreigner) in Russia is a potential victim who, at a minimum, needs to be bred for money. The highest prices (sometimes indecently) throughout Russia are at airports and train stations (so-called station prices). The most brazen and unscrupulous 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 — this 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 it is so dense that every nook is monitored. Do not even try to smoke in a specially designated place or relieve yourself in distant bushes — you will certainly be found out and punished, and no excuses (like a 12-hour flight) They won't help you.

It is worth being especially vigilant on public roads. Not only are there a lot of traffic violations, both on the part of drivers and pedestrians, but also traffic police officers take tribute, sometimes playing a whole performance for this. Never break the rules of the road! Remember that there are many automatic surveillance cameras installed on the roads, and you can get a pack of fines for violating the rules upon arrival home. When traveling by car around the country, BE sure to 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, money withdrawal sensors (on toll roads) or speed sensors may be embedded in the roadway.

When traveling by car, refueling with fuel, especially diesel, at a dubious type of gas station should be avoided. It is not necessary at all, but there is a risk of running into very poor fuel, which can lead to big problems with the car engine. It is best to use gas stations of well-known brands: Lukoil, Gazpromneft, Rosneft, Tatneft. Never pull another gas station to an empty tank — in Russia, the distances are huge, and you can just stand in the middle of the road. For a long haul, a good option would be to take an emergency fuel canister with you as an inviolable reserve.

If you travel by Russian Railways train for a long time (several days) in the summer, you can easily catch a cold. Air conditioners work on the move in the cars, sometimes maintaining the temperature in the compartment at plus 16-18 degrees, whereas "overboard" can be under + 30. The 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 does not exist.

When traveling by plane for a long time, take into account the time shift. A shift of two to 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 is knocked off, perception of reality is disrupted and a state of stupor simply arises, which gradually passes (for each person it is individual — who tolerates it easier, who is heavier). The methods of adaptation to "time travel" for experienced travelers are different: someone gradually, day by day, gradually shifting the sleep time, gets used to a new routine of life; others immediately begin to live "in a new way", having overworked for two-three-four days.

Also, do not forget about the change of climate, lifestyle, nutrition, and even the chemical composition of water. The further you travel across Russia, the more significantly your entire environment will change and the more time it will take to adapt.



Russia is home to many nations, each of which has its own traditions, but there are holidays common to all. The whole country is definitely celebrating:

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 your 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.



Russians have a really high respect for the family (children, grandparents).

The after-effects of the Soviet Union can still be clearly felt more than 20 years after the end of the Soviet Union. State officials and police are sometimes very assertive in their appearance. Do not be tempted to make arrogant or provocative statements/actions, otherwise they will put obstacles in your way here.

Don't mess around with your money! Even if you tell them in as much detail how badly the grandmother is doing with her small pension, many people still have a pronounced pride. Gifts of money could be misinterpreted here as alms and cause great displeasure.

An invitation to dinner is considered an absolute proof of friendship. For example, you should only reject the invitations to dinner for really valid reasons, otherwise your counterpart will be personally offended. In addition, do not forget to carry a small gift with you when visiting. In the case of casual acquaintances, this can also simply be, for example, a box of good chocolates (for the woman of the house). The will counts here.

At dinner, as a rule, there is an extensive toast with alcoholic beverages (vodka, cognac, etc.). There are numerous toasts for different occasions. Modern Russian women appreciate red wine.

Please also note that the views on gender equality in the language differ from those in Germany. A medical woman will insist that she is a doctor (doctor – vratsch), and a lady in the secretariat of an institution is a secretary (secretary – secretary). The use of the words doctor (doctor – doctor) or secretary (secretary – secretary) is perceived as derogatory, if not an insult.


Practical information


The Post Office (Russian Post) was restructured in 2013-18 and is now a private AG without a monopoly, although still state-owned. The network of post offices continues to be well developed. Often, what can be very useful for visitors, you can find counters in stations or on the forecourt. Registered mail is called "Sakasnoe" (registered). Courier shipments are sent in cooperation with EMS. Postbank cooperates with Western Union for international transfers. Provided that you have Russian language skills, you can make transfers to bank accounts, subscribe to magazines, buy railway or theater tickets and lottery tickets for a small fee through LLC "Rapid". The sometimes long opening hours until 20.00 are pleasant, or in large cities also on Saturday and Sunday. The branding of the post office in Crimea has been aligned with the Russian one, the planned unification of the administrations has not yet taken place by 2021.


Phone call

Toll-free numbers are:
from landline +7 108
from mobile phone +7 800

Western European providers must notify their customers about the applicable fees when roaming. However, different tariffs apply in different parts of the country due to regionally different Russian providers. Deutsche Telekom is charging € 2.99 per minute for outgoing calls, € 1.79 for incoming calls and 49¢ per SMS in 2021. Vodafone counts Russia to the zone "World 2" and takes € 6,09/min. and 79¢ per SMS. O₂ (Telefonica) suggests that the country of the "World Zone 3" is cheaper than the two mentioned above.

Major mobile operators are:
Mobile TeleSystems (Russian: MTS, MTS), with the best coverage nationwide. Numbers expire after 6 months of inactivity. Incoming VoIP calls are blocked. The paid advertising functions / SMS messages, which are often switched on automatically, are annoying. To switch off the different ones individually, choose one *111*29#, *111*38#, *567*0# and *111*374# - confirmation SMS comes respectively. The package "Your country" (your country) to be booked for ₽ 150 with *111*741# is useful if you want to make calls to the former Soviet republics or China.
MegaFon, with the brand Yota (Iota). The latter has certain restrictions on the Internet (no P2P or tethering, no 4G in some regions where MegaFon cards can use it). MagaFon: SMS customer service in English, speed dial 0500. You should definitely switch off the daily advertising SMS "Kaleidoscope" (kaleidoscope) with *808*0#, which can quickly turn into subscriptions à ₽ 5. If you want to use your card for another trip, you should use the *236*00*1 # turn off all internet packages to get his credit. In Crimea, ₽ 2.2/Mb are charged extra for data. 90 Days after the last top-up, ₽ 5 will be automatically debited daily until the balance drops to zero and the card is thus deactivated.
BeeLine (Beeline), low fares, with limited 4G coverage outside big cities (map). SIM cards are blocked on the 90th day of inactivity. When buying a plan, you should explicitly request “prepaid” (prepayment), since different packages have the same names for both payment methods. 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 low-cost brand Skylink. The nationwide coverage is not perfect. SIM cards are decommissioned after 120 days of inactivity. In Crimea, ₽ 3/Mb are charged extra for data.
The resellers Tinkoff Mobile, SberMobile, VTB Mobile and only regionally active providers such as Motiv, Tattelecom, Vainakh Telecom are likely to be of no importance for short-term visitors.

For ₽ 600-750/month in 2021 you will get "unlimited" packages from all providers that offer 500-700 minutes of domestic calls in addition to Internet. Internal-Russian roaming charges were abolished in 2018, as were the charges for incoming calls. If you want to use your Russian card abroad, you will incur hefty roaming charges of ₽ 350-400/day, calculated from 0.00 Moscow time.

When buying a SIM card, it is necessary to present the passport (with visa and “Migration Card”) and specify an address. There are plenty of kiosks and shops in airports and train stations. Especially smaller kiosks at markets or at subway stations also sell already registered tickets. Whether the promised balances of a few hundred rubles are then on it is the buyer's risk, you do not lose much in comparison with the gain in anonymity by any means. The reloading of credit with foreign credit cards is possible in the fewest cases.

If you pay by individual settlement (postpaid, "post paid"), it becomes complex, since all providers have different tariffs for each of the 85 federation objects (may). In general, capital prices in Moscow and Leningrad are 10-40% more expensive than in the country, but where the G4 coverage is also significantly worse. Especially in Siberia, reception will soon be over behind city limits.



Wi-Fi is now a common standard in accommodation.

The Russian Internet has created its own universe with the social network VK and the all-round carefree provider Yandex, but this requires appropriate language skills.

Since 2017, the Russian government has been increasingly taking action against encryption and Western influences and therefore restricts access to certain pages, some of which are also known, such as Facebook. There is an official list for this (only russ.). The use of VPNs is also prohibited, as is advertising or linking to them. The pages are blocked by the ISPs. If you want to surf as usual at home, you should take appropriate protective measures before arrival. It may be enough to call up an "anonymization" website. With a little effort, it is possible for owners of a German FritzBox to set up a private VPN for free. The Tor browser can be set so that no generally known exit nodes (which could be blocked) are in use. Those who are more tech-savvy can familiarize themselves with the subtleties of L2TP or SOCKS.


Origin of the name

The first written mention of the name "Russia" in Greek (Greek: PωσίΑ) dates back to the middle of the 10th century and is found in the writings of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus "On Ceremonies" and "On the administration of the Empire" to designate Russia. In Cyrillic notation, the word "Russia" was first used on April 24, 1387 in Metropolitan Cyprian's handwritten postscript to the "Ladder" of John of Sinai, where he calls himself "Metropolitan of Kyivsky and All Russia". In the XV—XVI centuries, the Hellenized name "Russia" was fixed for that part of the Russian lands that was united into a single state under the Grand Duchy of Moscow: for example, John de Galonifontibus uses this name in the specified meaning in 1404, and Ivan III was named "Russian sovereign" in the charter of the Crimean Khan in 1474.

In 1547, after the wedding of Ivan IV Vasilyevich to the kingdom, the Moscow state also became known as the Russian Kingdom. The modern spelling of the word — with two letters "c" — appeared from the middle of the XVII century and was finally fixed under Peter I.

At the end of the Northern War, on October 22 (November 2), 1721, Peter I was proclaimed Emperor of All Russia. After that, the state was officially called the Russian Empire.

On September 1 (14), 1917, in the period between the February and October Revolutions, Russia was declared a republic, and on July 19, 1918, it began to be officially called the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (RSFSR; in 1936, the words "Socialist" and "Soviet" in the name were rearranged). From 1922 to 1991, the RSFSR was part of the USSR, which was informally (especially abroad) often referred to as Russia. During the collapse of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991, the RSFSR received a new name — the Russian Federation.



Settlement of the Slavs

In the 5th century, Slavic tribes, the ancestors of the later Krivichi, penetrated from the territory of northern Poland through the eastern Baltic States to the territory of modern Russia. From that time on, the Slavs settled north to Lake Ilmen and east to the Volga-Oka interfluve. As a result, by the VI—VIII centuries, in general terms, all the main tribes of the Eastern Slavs, known from the "Tale of Bygone Years", had formed. In the VII—X centuries, the multiple influx of numerous groups of Slavic immigrants from the Moravian Danube region into various areas of the Russian Plain already mastered by the Slavs continued, which played a significant role in consolidating the Slavic population of Eastern Europe and culminated in the formation of the Ancient Russian nationality. By the 9th century, the Slavs began to settle in the territory of modern Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The Slavic colonization of Northeastern Russia continued until the 14th century and consisted of several migration waves — from early colonization from the lands of Krivichi and Slovenes to later from Southern Russia.


The Ancient Russian state

The first East Slavic state was Kievan Rus, which was formed on the territory of modern Ukraine. Traditionally, starting from the Russian chronicle of the "Tale of Bygone Years" of the beginning of the XII century and up to the present, the emergence of the Ancient Russian state dates back to 862, when, according to the ancient Russian chronicles, Slavic and Finno-Ugric tribes called the Varangians, led by Rurik, to Ladoga or Novgorod and other cities. Some historians attribute the beginning of the Ancient Russian state to another time or link it to another event (for example, to 882, when Prince Oleg captured Kiev, uniting the two centers of Russia).

The state of Rurik included the territories of the southern Ladoga region (Staraya Ladoga, Novgorod) and the upper Volga (Beloozero, Rostov). The main population consisted of Slavs (Slovene and Krivichi), Finno-Ugric tribes (all, Merya, Chud), and the military aristocracy consisted of Varangians.

In 882, Rurik's successor, Prince Oleg of Novgorod, annexed the southern center of the Eastern Slavs to his possessions, making the main city of Polyany — Kiev — his capital; then he marched to Byzantium.

In historiography, the unification of the northern and southern centers under the rule of the Rurik dynasty is considered as the end of the process of formation of the Ancient Russian state.

The expansion of the state to the south led to a clash with the powerful Khazaria, whose center was located on the lower Volga. Prince Svyatoslav inflicted a crushing defeat on the Khazars in 965. As a result of the military campaigns and diplomatic efforts of the Kiev rulers, the new state included the lands of all East Slavic, as well as some Finno-Ugric, Baltic, Turkic and Iranian-speaking tribes.

In parallel, the process of Slavic colonization of the Volga-Oka interfluve was underway. Ancient Russia was one of the largest state formations in Europe, fought for a dominant position in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region with the Byzantine Empire.

Under Prince Vladimir Svyatoslavich, in 988, Russia adopted Christianity. Prince Yaroslav the Wise approved the first national code of laws — the Russian Truth. In 1132, after the death of Prince Mstislav Vladimirovich of Kiev, the disintegration of a single state into a number of independent ones began: Novgorod Land, Vladimir-Suzdal Principality, Volyn Principality, Chernigov Principality, Ryazan Principality, Polotsk Principality and others. Kiev remained the object of struggle between the most powerful princely branches, and the Kievan land was considered the collective possession of the Rurikovich.


Fragmentation of Russian lands. The Mongol-Tatar yoke

In Northeastern Russia, the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality has been strengthening since the middle of the XII century, its rulers fought for Kiev and Novgorod, but they always preferred to stay in Vladimir, which led to the rise of this city as a new all-Russian center. Other powerful principalities were Chernihiv, Galicia-Volhynia and Smolensk.

In 1237-1240, most of the Russian lands were subjected to the devastating invasion of Batu. Vladimir, Ryazan, Kiev, Chernihiv, Pereyaslavl, Galich and many other ancient Russian cities were destroyed, the southern and southeastern suburbs lost a significant part of the settled population. The Russian principalities became tributaries of the Golden Horde, and the princes in them began to gain power over their lands with the sanction of the khans of the Golden Horde. This period went down in history as the Mongol-Tatar yoke. In the XIII century, the Novgorod lands entered into a series of military conflicts with the Swedes and Crusader knights for the right to dominate the Eastern Baltic States. Prince Alexander Nevsky, summoned by the Novgorod evening, defeated the Swedish troops that landed on the banks of the Neva in 1240, and then in 1242 defeated the Livonian knights in an Ice battle.

Since the end of the XIII century, new centers have been gradually forming among the Russian lands — the Moscow and Tver principalities. The Moscow princes managed to win the struggle for the Vladimir Grand Duchy, which was labeled by the khans of the Golden Horde. The Grand Duke of Vladimir acted as a collector of tribute and supreme ruler within Northeastern Russia and Novgorod. Since the reign of Prince Dmitry Donskoy, who subsequently inflicted the first serious defeats on the Golden Horde, since 1363, the label for the Vladimir Grand Duchy was awarded only to the princes of the Moscow house.


Unification of Russia. The Russian State

Under Ivan III Vasilyevich, Moscow became the center of Northeastern Russia, uniting into a single state; a double-headed eagle began to be used on the Grand ducal seal. Under Ivan III, after a series of military victories, Russia stopped paying tribute to the Horde — this is how the Horde's yoke ended. As a recognition of his sovereignty, the Grand Duke of Moscow began to be called the sovereign. During this period, the Judicial Code (a set of all-Russian laws) was adopted, the Moscow Kremlin and the Assumption Cathedral were built. Military defeats and internecine strife led to the weakening of the Golden Horde and its disintegration in the middle of the XV century into the Crimean, Astrakhan, Kazan, Siberian and other khanates. Grand Duke Vasily III of Moscow continued the unification of the Russian lands, waged wars with the Slavic-Baltic state of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and with the Kazan Khanate; stone construction in Moscow and other cities intensified under him.



From the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, one of these principalities, Muscovy (of which Moscow is the capital), ruled by skillful princes, gradually annexed all the others and became Russia. Russian Prince Dmitry IV defeated the Mongols for the first time in the Battle of Kulikovo (1380). However, this unification movement faced rivalry and the tradition of dividing territories between the various sons of the prince, which led to a civil war between 1425 and 1453. Upon ascending the throne in 1462, Ivan III, whom a Venetian traveler describes as "a tall, fit and handsome man," liberated Muscovy from the yoke of the Mongols, whose empire is now divided into several khanates, and then absorbed the main Russian principalities, still independent, including Novgorod (1478) and the Principality of Tver (1485). In 1485, Ivan III assumed the title of "Sovereign of All Russia", wanting to show his willingness to restore the entire legacy of Vladimir. By the end of the reign of Ivan III, the territory of Muscovy had increased fourfold. His son Vasily III (1505-1533) continued territorial expansion, annexing the city-state of Pskov (1510) and the Ryazan Principality (1521), as well as Smolensk (1514). Ivan the Terrible, the first prince to receive the title of tsar, completed these conquests by capturing the main Mongol khanates, but he lost access to the Baltic Sea due to the coalition of the Swedish Empire with Poland and Lithuania. From now on, Russia's expansion to the east no longer has serious obstacles. The settlement of the vast Volga and Ural basin by Russian peasants is gaining momentum. Peasants and fugitives, Cossacks, settle on the outskirts and unite in an "army", acting as pioneers and border guards. Thus, Ivan the Terrible logically considers himself the sole heir of Vladimir, although he does not own the city of Kiev in the hands of the Lithuanian Jagiellonian dynasty. The latter conquered most of the territories of Western Russia.


The Romanov Dynasty

The disappearance of the dynasty of Rurik's descendants (dating back to the mythical Varangian princes) marked the beginning of the Time of Troubles, until the new Romanov dynasty ascended the throne (1613). Several brilliant rulers in the XVII and XVIII centuries are going to increase the size of the Russian Empire with the help of Cossacks.

Peter the Great (1682-1725) gained access to the Baltic Sea at the cost of a long war with Sweden; he built St. Petersburg, which became the new capital in 1712, which symbolized the opening of the country to Europe. A powerful metallurgical industry, the first in the West at that time, was built in the Urals and allowed to support the war effort.

Catherine II of Russia (1762-1796), an enlightened autocrat, completed the conquest of the steppes on the Black Sea coast after defeating the Ottoman Empire and the Crimean Khanate and pushed the borders of the Russian Empire to the West, dividing Poland.

Today's Ukraine and Belaya Rus (Belarus) are now completely located on the territory of Russia. Throughout this period, the Cossacks gradually occupied Siberia and reached the Pacific Ocean in 1640. Irkutsk on the shore of Lake Baikal was founded in 1632, the Bering Strait area and Alaska were explored in the 1740s.

The Code, issued in 1649, now binds the peasant and his descendants to the Land and its owner, extending serfdom, which contradicts the evolution of the peasant's status in Western Europe. In turn, landowners are obliged to serve their ruler. Catherine II confirms and strengthens these provisions. The discontent of the peasants and the nascent class of workers, exploited by their owners and heavily taxed by the growing state, caused numerous peasant uprisings in the XVII and XVIII centuries, the largest of which, led by Cossack Pugachev, managed to threaten the throne before it was suppressed (1773).). The Church at that time played a crucial role in the Russian the company owned more than two thirds of the land. The reform of Russian Orthodox dogma by Patriarch Nikon (1653) marked the beginning of a severely suppressed Old Believer schism.

Peter the Great and then Catherine II attracted a large number of German settlers (for example, Volga Germans), Western artisans and scientists, often Germans, to modernize the country, create industry and lay the foundations of educational institutions and spread knowledge.. The foundations of the Russian literary language were laid by Mikhail Lomonosov. The first newspapers were published at this time. The Russian nobility is Westernizing, especially under the influence of German philosophy and the French language, and some of its members will be carried away by the ideas of the Enlightenment, and sometimes even the French Revolution.


A great European power

The Russian Empire played a decisive role in the Seven Years' War and then, fifty years later, in the Napoleonic Wars; these conflicts made Russia a European power. Educated, like all European sovereigns, by a conservative ideology and hostile to the ideas of the French Revolution, Alexander I participated in two coalitions against Napoleon I and suffered costly defeats. Then Alexander I, canceling the Union, chose the side of France (the Tilsit Treaties), but the peace lasted only five years (1807-1812). He uses this break to attack Sweden and annex Finland.

In 1812, hostilities resumed. Napoleon's Great army manages to capture Moscow, but it is forced to leave it, driven out of the city by fire. Then the Russian armies pursued the enemy, exhausted by hunger and cold, and occupied Paris in 1814.

The Russian Empire plays an important role in the Congress of Vienna and the holy alliance, which wants to control the fate of post-Napoleonic Europe: it opposes the re-establishment of the Polish state and takes military part in suppressing uprisings against monarchies (Hungary 1849), like its allies. The Austrian Empire.


Expansion of the Empire to the south

During his reign and the rule of his successors, the Russian Empire continued its expansion into the Caucasus and to the mouth of the Danube at the expense of the Persian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Georgia (a vassal of the Persian Empire) was annexed in 1813 (the Treaty of Golestan). The eastern part of the Principality of Moldavia (a vassal of the Ottoman Empire) was annexed in 1812 and formed the government of Bessarabia (the Treaty of Bucharest of 1812). Armenia, Dagestan and part of Azerbaijan were annexed in 1828 as a result of a four-year conflict with the Persian Empire (the Treaty of Turkmanchay). After Alexander's death (1825), reformist officers, the Decembrists, unsuccessfully rebelled, demanding reform of the monarchy. This attempt at revolt by officers from the aristocracy would also serve as a model for many Russian intellectuals in the next century, inspired by the philosophy of Hegel or Kropotkin. In 1829, the Russian Empire ceded the mouth of the Danube to the Ottoman Empire. Nicholas I achieved good economic growth, but strengthened the repressive apparatus. He brutally suppressed an armed uprising in Poland (1831). The decline of the Ottoman Empire, which inflames the desires of European powers, lies at the heart of the conflict between Russia and other European powers, led by Great Britain: the Crimean War. Having been defeated at Sevastopol (1856), Alexander II, the successor of Nicholas, had to cede Southern Bessarabia with the mouth of the Danube and lose the rights of passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The last victorious conflict with the Ottoman Empire (1878), initiated by the Bosnian uprising of 1876, allowed him to regain access to the Danube and completed the conquest of the Caucasus. However, this conflict worries investors, as Turkey refuses to sign the protocol developed by the great powers in London.

Russia is also seeking the creation of a Bulgarian kingdom in the Balkans and recognition by the Ottomans of the independence of Serbia and Romania. This increased influence inflames the hostility of the United Kingdom (The Big Game).

During this period, there were many jacqueries directed against the landed aristocracy, mired in debt and, consequently, bound by the serfdom system. Industry developed mainly in the mining and textile industries, but still lagged far behind England and Germany (about 600,000 workers in about 1860). A new class of merchants and small industrialists is emerging – often former serfs freed by ransom – but their numbers are relatively small.

Education is distributed in the most affluent classes, and many higher schools have been founded. Russian Russian literature is experiencing an early flourishing thanks to such major writers as Turgenev, Pushkin or Gogol, who testify to the sufferings of Russian society. This cultural boom also extends to architecture and music (Glinka).


Attempts at reform

Alexander II is trying to learn the lessons of the Crimean defeat. The country, which now covers 12.5 million square kilometers and has 60 million inhabitants, is handicapped by its archaic functioning. Structural reforms are being put in train by the tsar: the most important measure is the abolition of serfdom in 1861 which includes the allocation to the former serf of a land, often too small to feed him, at the cost of a long-term debt vis-à-vis the state. Local councils elected by census suffrage – the Zemstvos - were created from 1864: endowed with powers allowing them to manage local affairs and build roads, schools and hospitals, they could raise taxes to finance them. This type of structure was later extended to cities (urban duma). Finally, the legal code introduces the prosecution and defense procedures and creates a justice theoretically independent of power up to the district level. Despite everything, the regime retains an autocratic and strongly police character. The reforms will also stir up the violence of groups of nihilist intellectuals and Alexander will eventually fall under their blows (1881). During his reign, the empire continued its colonial expansion in Central Asia: after the annexation of the Kazakhs' lands completed in 1847, the three khanates of Uzbek territory (Kokand, Bukhara and Khiva) were conquered over the next three decades and then annexed or placed under protectorate (1876). This advance places the limits of the Russian Empire at the gates of the British Empire in India. The tension (Great Game) between the two countries will remain very lively until an agreement is reached in 1907 (Anglo-Russian convention). Poland will rise unsuccessfully in 1863.

Alexander II is primarily known for his reforms, including the abolition of serfdom. Despite the major liberal reforms put in place, he was assassinated on March 13, 1881, during an attack organized by the anti-tsarist group Narodnaya Volia.



Alexander III, when he ascended the throne in 1881, led a policy of counter-reforms in response to the assassination of his father. Authoritarian dispositions are maintained or reinforced: political parties and trade unions are banned, the right of movement is limited, the press is censored. Economically, the industry developed rapidly thanks, among other things, to foreign investment and the construction of a railway network which reached 30,000 km in 1890. New regions are becoming industrialized (Ukraine) while some are strengthening their industrial character, such as the Saint Petersburg region and especially that of Moscow. But the abundant manpower generated by the abolition of serfdom and population growth does not find it entirely to be employed in industry (three million workers in 1913). Many peasants come to colonize the virgin lands of the empire located in the south and east (lower Volga Valley, Urals, Siberia) of the empire. The Trans-Siberian Railway makes it possible to open up the immense territories of Siberia and facilitates this migration, while the financing of industrialization is mainly done by Russian loans coming especially from France.

The first section of the Trans-Siberian Railway opened in 1888 and Moscow issued four loans of 500 million gold francs. In 1904, France had 1.6 million creditors from the railway network, the Russian state and municipalities28, while the Franco-Russian alliance set up in 1892 tried to make room for the Triplice.

Agriculture still has an overwhelming weight: in 1897, Russia had 97 million peasants for a total population of 127 million inhabitants. They generally do not own the land they cultivate (25% will be owners in 1914). The literacy rate is very low and infant mortality is high (about 180 ‰). The demographic surplus is absorbed by the cities whose number is growing rapidly: on the eve of the First World War, the urban population exceeds 25 million inhabitants. Russia continues to expand its area of influence: in China and Korea, it is clashing with Japanese interests. The ensuing Russo-Japanese war ended in a complete defeat (1905 in Tsushima): the modernization of Japan was underestimated and the remoteness from the battlefield created enormous logistical constraints.


Revolution of 1905

The defeat of Tsushima in 1905 triggered the first widespread uprising of the Russian population against the regime. The Russian revolution of 1905 is first of all a peasant movement that mainly affects the black earth region. The workers then joined the movement 29. The loyalty of the armed forces will save the regime. Nicholas II, who ascended the throne in 1894, is obliged to give pledges of openness. An elected assembly (duma) is endowed with legislative powers. But the elections of two successive doumas give a large majority to the opposition. The electoral law is then modified to obtain a chamber of deputies favorable to the power.

The economic and social evolution of the country had increased the liberal, democratic, socialist and revolutionary oppositions to the tsarist regime. The deadly shooting on Red Sunday in St. Petersburg set the fire on fire. The imperial regime survived this first major attack, but discontent grew and the opposition became radicalized. The general strike of October 1905 succeeded in forcing the regime to give in. A liberal constitution was granted ; but in the two years that followed, the counterattack of Nicholas II reduced to nothing the hopes raised by this revolution.

The mutiny of the battleship Potemkin, immortalized in 1925 by The Battleship Potemkin, a film by Sergei Eisenstein, remained a symbol of this.


World War I and the Russian revolution

Russia enters the war against Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1914 to come to the aid of Serbia, its ally. The Russian Empire launches an offensive in Eastern Poland but is severely beaten. Russian troops must abandon Poland. At the beginning of 1917, social movements broke out, aroused by the weight of the war on the economy, the losses on a front reduced to a defensive strategy, the instability of the leaders and the distrust vis-à-vis the tsar. The refusal of the troops to suppress the demonstrations and the weariness of the ruling classes forced Tsar Nicholas II to abdicate; thus the February Revolution of 1917 broke out and Russia became a republic. A provisional government was then formed, chaired by Alexandre Kerensky. While outlining reforms, he is nevertheless trying to respect Russia's commitments to its allies by continuing the war. The unpopularity of this last measure is exploited by the party of the Bolsheviks which, on October 25, 1917 (November 7 in the Gregorian calendar), overthrows the government in Saint-Petersburg (then capital of Russia) by arms (October revolution). Peace was signed with the Germans (in Brest-Litovsk, in present-day Belarus) at the cost of huge territorial concessions (Poland, part of Ukraine, Baltic countries, etc., about 800,000 km2). An attempt by Lenin to export the revolution to the West triggering the war against Poland ends in a crushing failure: the Russian army almost twice as numerous as the Polish one is beaten at the gates of Warsaw in August 1920. This is the "miracle of the Vistula" and the "eighteenth decisive battle in the history of the world" due to the strategic genius of Marshal Joseph Pilsudski. A civil war will oppose for three years the white Russians (republicans or monarchists), assisted by the Western powers, to the Bolsheviks. After their victory, on December 22, 1922, the Bolsheviks established the Union of Soviet socialist republics; Russia became one of the Union republics.


The Soviet period

On October 25 (November 7), 1917, the October Revolution took place. The Bolsheviks and their allies under the leadership of V. I. Ulyanov (Lenin) seized power in Russia. 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 votes (the Socialist Revolutionaries won the elections at that time, who received about 60% of the votes).

On March 3, 1918, the Brest Peace was concluded, which brought Russia out of the world War. The Bolsheviks recognized the independence of Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine, and pledged not to claim part of Belarus. On March 12, the capital of the state was moved to Moscow.

After the revolution, a Civil War broke out in Russia between the Bolsheviks and their supporters, on the one hand, and the anti-Bolshevik forces (the 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, and Armenia, and established Soviet rule over most of the territory of the former Russian Empire.

On December 30, 1922, the RSFSR, the Ukrainian SSR, the BSSR and the ZSFSR formed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

The Bolsheviks initiated ambiguous social reforms that sharply limited the rights of 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, on the other hand, allowed reducing the level of social inequality and abolishing access to high-quality education only for privileged classes education, medicine, housing and higher government positions.

After Lenin's death, the internal party struggle escalated, as a result of which the supreme power was concentrated in the hands of I. V. Stalin, whose rule had a totalitarian character and was marked by a significant increase in repression. Stalin set a course for accelerated industrialization and complete collectivization of agriculture in order to make the transition from a traditional agrarian society to an industrial one in the shortest possible time through the full mobilization of internal resources, over-centralization of economic life and the formation of an integrated administrative and 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 American, then by 1941 9 thousand factories were built, by the end of the second five-year plan, 14 years after the end of the Civil War, the USSR reached the second in terms of industrial production It occupies a place in the world, second only to the United States, having reached 10% of the total global industrial production.

In 1937-1938, a campaign of large-scale political repression took place in the USSR, conducted 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 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, ethnic repression was launched.

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 to it, 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 sudden attack by Nazi Germany and its satellites on the USSR. The German army, although inferior to the Soviet in terms of the number of military equipment, but unlike the Red Army, entered the war fully mobilized with deployed logistical support and was able to achieve a decisive advantage in the directions of its main attacks.

By the autumn of 1941, German troops had managed to advance far enough into the territory of the USSR. During the offensive in the Moscow direction, the Wehrmacht concentrated the bulk of all its forces in front of the capital of the USSR, and in the north-western direction reached the suburbs of Moscow. However, the resistance of the Soviet troops increased dramatically, while the German troops exhausted their offensive capabilities, after which the Soviet counteroffensive began. During the Battle for Moscow, the plan for the lightning 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 outbreak 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 the United Kingdom (at war with Germany since September 3, 1939) and the United States, which provided military and technical assistance to the USSR.

During the crucial battles of Stalingrad and Kursk, Soviet troops launched a strategic offensive. During the 1944-45 campaign, they defeated the German army, liberated the territory of the USSR, as well as Poland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and 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. On May 9, 1945, the leadership of Nazi Germany signed an Act of unconditional surrender.

As a result of the Second World War, the Soviet Union, along with the United States, became a superpower, one of the founding countries of the United Nations, a member of the UN Security Council with the right of veto; pro-Soviet communist regimes were established in the states of Eastern Europe. COMECON and the Warsaw Pact Organization were created, opposing the EEC and NATO.

The global confrontation between the capitalist and socialist systems in the struggle for world influence has been called the "cold War". The efforts of the United States and the USSR were primarily aimed at dominating the political sphere. Although the two states did not officially engage in a direct military clash, they waged an arms race, and their rivalry for influence led to outbreaks of local armed conflicts in various third world countries, which usually proceeded as mediated wars between the two superpowers.

The coming to power of N. S. Khrushchev is associated with a "thaw" in the socio-political life of the country and the debunking of the cult of Stalin's personality. Nevertheless, from the point of view of Western political scientists, the USSR continued to remain a totalitarian state. During the period of Khrushchev's administration, the USSR achieved world leadership in the nuclear and space spheres: the USSR launched the first artificial satellite of the Earth, the first man into space, the world's first spacecraft for exploring the Moon and Venus, and for the first time in the world a human spacewalk was realized.

In 1964, Leonid Brezhnev became the de facto head of the Soviet Union, whose period of leadership (1964-1982) is known as the "stagnation period". At the cost of considerable 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 tensions. 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 necessary economic reforms. The USSR lagged significantly behind Western countries in terms of the development of light industry, and 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.


Perestroika and glasnost

In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the USSR with a program to accelerate socio-economic development, which in 1987 turned 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 leadership 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 the transition from a socialist to a market economy model was carried out in independent Russia. In 1988, the "parade of sovereignty" of the Union republics began, which led in 1991 to the liquidation of the USSR and the independence of the former union republics. In 1989, the Warsaw Pact Organization and COMECON were dissolved. In December 1989, at the Malta Summit, Mikhail Gorbachev and George W. Bush officially announced the end of the Cold War.


The collapse of the USSR

On June 12, 1990, the First Congress of People's Deputies of the RSFSR declared the sovereignty of the RSFSR. June 12 is a national holiday of Russia — Russia Day, originally — the Independence Day of Russia.

On August 19-21, 1991, the "August Putsch" took place in Moscow, which caused 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 coup attempt was organized by party figures, the KGB and the military, who tried to prevent the collapse of the USSR. An ill-conceived and poorly executed conspiracy put an end to the CPSU and only accelerated the collapse of the state. On December 8, 1991, the Belovezhskaya Agreements on the termination of the existence of the USSR and the creation of the CIS were signed.

On December 26, 1991, the Council of Republics of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR adopted a declaration stating the transformation of the USSR into the CIS and the need for the implementation of international agreements of the USSR by newly 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.


Russian Federation

Since December 1991, Russia (the Russian Federation) has become a fully independent and sovereign State.

In January 1992, radical economic reforms began in Russia. The Yeltsin—Gaidar government liberalized retail prices and foreign trade, reorganized the tax system and other transformations 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 mixed assessments among Russian and foreign researchers, including Nobel laureates in economics. On January 2, 1992, state price regulation was abolished and freedom of trade was declared. The period of "wild" capitalism and the initial accumulation of capital associated with the abandonment of a centrally planned economy and the catastrophic devaluation of the state's social obligations, — It was characterized by the elimination of the shortage of consumer goods, but at the same time by explosive price growth (hyperinflation), depreciation of the savings of the population, mass impoverishment, a sharp increase in crime, barterization and criminalization of the economy, mass unemployment, non-payment of salaries, 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 the life expectancy of the population. The economic reforms of the 1990s also led to a sharp decline in the country's economy: industrial output decreased 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, a violent crackdown on the Congress of People's Deputies and the Supreme Council took place in Moscow, which resulted in human casualties. On October 9, 1993, the President terminated the powers of the councils of People's deputies of all levels, and in December the new Constitution of Russia came into force, which finally consolidated the change of 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 fighting in Dagestan and the second war, and the wave of terror that swept through Russia.

The 1996 presidential election was the only one in Russian history when a second round of elections was needed to determine the winner, as a result of which Boris Yeltsin, who was significantly behind his opponent at the beginning of the election race, beat the leader of the Communist Party G. A. Zyuganov, while significant violations were noted in the elections.

In the first half of the 1990s, a large number of enterprises were privatized through voucher privatization, as well as through collateral auctions. However, this was not enough to cover the huge external public debt. On August 17, 1998, the Russian government declared default.

On December 31, 1999, Boris Yeltsin announced his resignation from the post of president, appointing Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as acting president.

In March 2000, Vladimir Putin won the election and became the second president of Russia. Putin remains Russia's most significant political figure to this day. During his reign, Putin, according to the BBC, has strengthened control over the authorities and the press, with a recent focus on nationalism and aggressiveness towards the West.

In the 2000s, the Government of Mikhail Kasyanov carried out a number of socio-economic reforms in Russia: tax, land, pension, banking, monetization of benefits and others. In 2000-2008, Russia saw the growth of the Russian economy, investments, and incomes of the population, which was facilitated by the reforms carried out, political stability, and increased prices for Russian exports (especially mineral resources). The introduction of maternity capital in 2007 as a form of stimulating fertility and supporting large families played a significant role in stabilizing the demographic sphere in Russia and 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. According to the results of the 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2016 elections, this party held the majority of seats in the State Duma and supported key decisions of the president and the government.

The creation of the federal district system in 2000, 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, which remained part of Russia, was completed. In 2009, the counter-terrorism operation regime was officially abolished in 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, according to the results of which the ruling United Russia party retained its parliamentary majority, but lost its constitutional one. In the Russian presidential election on March 4, 2012, Vladimir Putin won in the first round. He took office on May 7. 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 by Russian citizens began. They also took place during the campaign for the election of the President of Russia and after the presidential elections held on March 4, 2012, in which Vladimir Putin officially won in the first round. The protesters claimed 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 led to opinions that Putin is trying to recreate the Russian quasi-empire of the Cold War in the image of the former USSR. New subjects were formed as part of Russia: the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol. The annexation of Crimea contributed to the outbreak of the war in Donbass, in which Russia supported the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR. The ambition of the Russian Federation was to regain the territories lost after the collapse of the USSR. In fact, 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 the annexation of Crimea by Russia. Western countries have imposed sanctions against Russia in connection with the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas; in response, Russia has also applied sanctions policies 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 the LPR, and on February 24, with its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, escalated the Russian-Ukrainian war to the largest war in Europe since World War II. The Russian invasion led to the imposition of new international sanctions.

In October 2022, Russia announced the annexation of the occupied parts of the Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.


Physical and geographical characteristics

Geographical location

The territory of Russia within its declared borders is 17,125,191 km2 (the first place in terms of area among the countries of the world), which is slightly smaller than the continent of South America. It is located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere, most of the territory of Russia is located in the Eastern Hemisphere, only the eastern part of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug is located in the Western Hemisphere. It is washed by the waters of the Pacific and Arctic Oceans; as well as the Baltic, Black, and Azov Seas of the Atlantic Ocean; having the longest coastline in the world (37,653 km). Russia is located in the north of the Eurasian continent, occupying almost the entire Eastern Europe and the entire north of Asia, the semi-enclave of the Kaliningrad region can be attributed to Central Europe by a number of criteria. The Ural and Caucasian Mountains (or the Kumo-Manych Depression) divide Russia into European (23%) and Asian (77%) parts; at the same time, separately taken, the European and Asian parts of Russia are the largest in terms of territory among other European and Asian states.

The extreme northern point of Russia is Cape Fligeli on Rudolf Island of the Franz Josef Land archipelago (81°51’ s.s.), which belongs to the Arkhangelsk region; the extreme northern mainland point is Cape Chelyuskin on the Taimyr Peninsula (77°43’ s.s.), in the Krasnoyarsk Territory. The easternmost point is Ratmanov Island in the Bering Strait (169°0’ s. d.), is the territory of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug; the easternmost mainland point is Cape Dezhnev in Chukotka (169°39’ s. d.). The southernmost point of Russia is located on the border of Dagestan with Azerbaijan, southwest of Bazarduzu Mountains (41°11’ C. The westernmost point lies in the Kaliningrad region, on the Baltic Spit of the Gdansk Bay of the Baltic Sea (19°38’ VD). The length of the territory of Russia from west to east is over 10 thousand kilometers, from north to south it exceeds 4 thousand kilometers.


The borders

The list of states with which Russia borders. Partially recognized States are shown in italics:

Land and partially sea borders: Norway, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, Abkhazia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, North Korea.
Exclusively land borders: Latvia, Belarus, China, Mongolia, South Ossetia.
Only maritime borders: Japan, USA.


Geological structure

The European part of Russia is located on the Eastern European Platform. It is based on igneous and metamorphic rocks of the Precambrian. The territory between the Ural Mountains and the Yenisei River is occupied by a young West Siberian platform. East of the Yenisei is the ancient Siberian platform, extending to the Lena River and corresponding mainly to the Central Siberian Plateau. There are deposits of oil, natural gas, and coal in the marginal parts of the platforms. The folded regions of Russia include the Baltic Shield, the Urals, Altai, the Ural-Mongolian Epipaleozoic folded belt, the northwestern part of the Pacific folded Belt and a small segment of the outer zone of the Mediterranean folded Belt. The highest mountains of the Caucasus are confined to younger folded regions. The main reserves of metal ores are located in the folded areas.

The Siberian platform has an epiarchean age. Russia's largest deposits of coal, rock and potash salts, oil and gas are associated with the cover of the Siberian Platform, copper—nickel deposits of Norilsk are associated with trap intrusions, and diamonds are associated with the kimberlite pipe.

In the structure of the Ural-Mongolian Epipaleozoic folded belt separating 2 ancient platforms, the areas of Riphean, Baikal, Salair, Caledonian and Hercynian folding are distinguished. The Yenisei-Sayano-Baikal region of the Riphean and Baikal folds frames the Siberian platform. Along the border with the East European Platform there is a Pre-Ural regional trough filled with Permian strata with deposits of coal in the north and potash salts in the middle part of the trough (see Urals).

The Pacific fold belt on the territory of Russia is represented by the extreme northwestern part, within which the ancient Pre-Riphean massifs, areas of Mesozoic and Cenozoic folding and modern tectonically active zones are located. Gold deposits associated with Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous granite intrusions, as well as tin, tungsten and mercury are known in the Verkhoyano-Chukchi region. Large deposits of coal are enclosed in molasses of the Preverkhoyansk trough and the Zyryansk depression.

The West Kamchatka folded system is a terrigenous geosynclinal complex of the Upper Cretaceous, which overlapped with granite-gneiss and shale-basite foundations, and after folding turned out to be overlain by Paleogene-Neogene rocks. The eastern zone is characterized by superimposed modern volcanism (28 active volcanoes).

The Kuril Island Arc, consisting of Large and Small Ridges, has 39 active volcanoes, and is composed of Cretaceous and Quaternary volcanogenic sedimentary and volcanic formations. The arc is fragmented by a system of young transverse grabens, and in front of its front, as well as in front of the eastern part of Kamchatka, there is a deep-water trough.

The Sakhalin Cenozoic folded region is divided into Eastern and Western zones, separated by the Central Sakhalin graben. Oil and gas deposits are associated with the North Sakhalin Depression, and coal deposits are associated with rocks of the Middle Miocene on the island.



Russia comprises a large number of different natural areas, which have a wide range of potentials, but also very diverse uses. From a geographical point of view, Russia is mainly divided into the eight major landscapes (approximately in the west-east direction):

The Eastern European plain occupies most of European Russia. It consists of wide lowlands, which are interrupted by weakly structured ridges. Only a few elevations reach heights of more than 300 m. In Karelia and on the Kola Peninsula, which geologically belong to the Baltic Shield, the relief in the north is more differentiated. There, in the chibins of the central Kola Peninsula, a maximum height of 1191 m is reached. In the south, the East European Lowland passes into the Caspian Depression, located below sea level. During the last Ice Age, a chain of terminal moraines was formed, which runs from the border area with Belarus to the east and north of Moscow to the Arctic coast west of the Pechora River. The region to the north of it consists of many lakes and swamps.
To the east of the Ural Mountains, the wide-stretched plain in the West Siberian Lowland continues to the Yenisei. This extremely flat area is occupied by extensive swampy landscapes.
The North Siberian Lowland joins north of the Central Siberian Upland, which rises north to the Taimyr Peninsula to the south of the Arctic Ocean.
East of the Yenisei, the undulating Central Siberian Upland stretches to the Lena River with average altitudes between 500 and 700 m. In the north-west of this region, the Putorana Mountain range rises, which reaches 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 Eastern Siberia, further mountain ranges continue eastwards to the Pacific Ocean (South Siberian Mountains). These include Altai, Sayan Mountains, Yablonovy Mountains, Stanovoi Mountains and Dzhugdzhur.
The Middle-Yakutian Lowland mainly includes the lower reaches of the Lena and Wiljui valleys, but also the lower Aldan Valley. The lowland, which covers about 1 million km2, is bordered by the Central Siberian Upland in the west and the East Siberian Upland in the east.
East of Lena and Aldan is joined by the East Siberian Upland, 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 altitudes between about 2300 and 3200 m. There are about 160 volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The volcanic mountain range of Kamchatka continues in the south on the Kuril Islands. There are about 100 volcanoes there.
To the south of the East Siberian Sea, the extensive East Siberian Lowland opens up, which is located exclusively north of the Arctic Circle. The landscape includes the lower reaches of the Jana, Indigirka and Kolyma rivers. The western part is the Jana-Indigirka lowland, the eastern is the Kolyma lowland. In the west, south and east, the East Siberian Lowland borders on the East Siberian Upland.


Internal waters

Russia is one of the most water—rich countries in the world. The country has one of the largest freshwater reserves in the world. Surface waters occupy 12.4% of the territory of Russia, while 84% of surface waters are concentrated east of the Urals. The structure of water use is dominated by production needs.

The largest freshwater lake Baikal is located in the eastern part of the country (about 31,700 km2), it is the deepest lake on the planet (1,642 m).



The country is rich in various minerals. Oil reserves have been explored in one volume or another in many regions of the country, in particular, in the Tyumen Region, Sakhalin, Bashkiria, as well as on the shelf, natural gas reserves — mainly on the territory of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug.



The soils of Russia on the plains are located zonally. Low-power and primitive Arctic soils are formed on the islands of the Arctic Ocean and the coast of Taimyr. To the south is the tundra zone, dominated by acidic tundra, usually heavily peeled soils. Tundra gley, slightly podzolic or gley-taiga-permafrost soils are characteristic of the transitional forest-tundra zone.

Approximately 65% of Russia's territory is located within the forest zone. In its northern part, the soils are podzolic, and taiga-permafrost soils are formed east of the Yenisei. There are many swamps in the taiga subzone (especially in Western Siberia), mainly upland (oligotrophic); forests are often swampy. South of the taiga on the East European Plain, the soils are sod-podzolic.

The forest-steppe zone lying to the south has gray forest soils. And the steppe zone is characterized by particularly fertile chernozems (with a powerful humus horizon containing from 4 to 10% humus) and dark chestnut soils. Further south, on the territory of the Caspian lowland, there are areas of a semi—desert zone with light chestnut and brown soils, salt marshes are also found.

More than 70% of the Russian territory is a zone of risky farming. At the same time, 9% of all productive arable lands in the world and more than 50% of the world's chernozems are located in Russia.



The average annual temperature for Russia is given as -5.5 °C. Large parts of the country are characterized by the continental climate with hot summers and very cold winters. The further you travel towards the east of the country, the more clearly you can feel the characteristic temperatures at the different seasons, that is, 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-influenced climate. The average January temperatures are below freezing everywhere except for the Black Sea coast. In Eastern Siberia, they drop to -35 to -60 ° C, but are easier to tolerate due to the usually very low humidity. Summer temperatures are very different. The average temperatures in the far North range from +1 to +2 °C, while in the semi-steppe and steppe regions of the south they range from +24 to +25 °C.

The climate, vegetation and ecozones in Russia are largely parallel to the latitudinal circle, so that a north-south sequence is created:

In the Northern Arctic Ocean, the hostile cold desert prevails. This concerns, 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. The average temperatures rise just above the freezing point for only three months, and in the coldest months of January and February they reach -30 °C. The annual amounts of precipitation in the form of snow rarely rise above 250 millimeters.

Starting from the northernmost Eurasian mainland, it is followed by a treeless landscape belt characterized by permafrost, which has a north-south extent of between 200 and 800 km and extends approximately to the Arctic Circle, in the Central Siberian Highlands to 70 ° north latitude. The coastal landscape in the north, with the exception of the bay around the White Sea, is characterized by the tundra. The summers there are too short and too cool for forests to form. The average temperatures are above freezing point only four to five months a year, with the warmest months in the peripheral areas having an average above 10 °C. Therefore, the soil also thaws only 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 find their livelihood there. Therefore, there are few human settlements. Further south of the cold steppe, spruce trees first begin to grow singly, and then, together with bog birch and aspen, form forest-tundra interspersed with swamps. At its southern border, the forest-tundra then smoothly passes into the forest zone.

This zone, 1000-2000 km wide, runs north along the St. Petersburg–Ufa–Irkutsk–Sakhalin line and forms the boreal zone, or rather the taiga. The forest zone runs through the whole of northern Eurasia. Because of this enormous extent, it is divided into several latitudinal subzones: in the coniferous forest belt (taiga proper), which is by far the dominant in terms of area, in the north, in Central Siberia, further into the sub-taiga as a transition zone to the steppe, as well as into a mixed forest belt, which, however, joins only in European Russia to the south. The taiga, for its part, forms three subzones connected in series parallel to each other in width:

To the west of the Urals, the northern taiga consists of low spruce forests with scattered birches. Only in Karelia the pine prevails.
The middle taiga forms dark spruce forests with inclusions of birches, to the south increasingly also pines, as well as the first harbingers of hardwoods such as the winter linden. Low fertility of the soil and species poverty of the vegetation makes this landscape unsuitable for agriculture.
The southern taiga is characterized by a high proportion of hardwoods in the undergrowth, due to more fertile soils. The taiga of Siberia is characterized by light forests, consisting of Siberian larch, spruce and pine.

The forest zone is characterized by a continental climate with a sharp temperature difference between hot summers and cold winters. The average annual temperature decreases significantly from west to east. In Pskov, it is still 5.1 °C, but drops to 2.3 °C up to the Urals and reaches only 0.1 °C in Tomsk in Western Siberia. In Yakutsk in eastern Siberia, it is then at -10 °C. The low annual averages are due to the long and very cold winter in Siberia. On the other hand, the average summer temperatures correspond to the Central European average.

In the areas dominated by cool temperate climates, which join the taiga to the south, summer green deciduous and mixed forest grows. This zone runs within Europe in the St. Petersburg–Odessa–Ufa triangle, in Western Siberia in a strip from Chelyabinsk to Krasnoyarsk, as well as in the Amur Region. The mixed forest zone thus runs in a triangle tapering to the east from the Middle Carpathians and from the Baltic coast to the Southern Urals. The vegetation consists primarily of spruce, pine and oak trees, before it turns further south into pure deciduous forest. The leading woods are oak, as well as beech and hornbeam in Western Ukraine. Pines grow, as well as in the mixed forest area, especially in sandy depressions, such as in the Pripjet basin. There is no mixed forest east of the Urals for climatic reasons. 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, the deciduous forest zone offers good living conditions.

Further south follows a steppe belt, which runs along the lower reaches of the Don and Volga, the North Caucasus, the Caspian Depression and the Tuva. The steppe belt is divided into the forest-steppe in the north and the steppe proper in the south. The forest dissolves into islands from north to south and finally disappears almost completely. This is related to the decrease in precipitation to the southeast with a simultaneous increase in the intensity of evaporation. 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 meet the liquid requirements of hardwoods. Therefore, in the forest-steppe, meadow-grass formations, in the steppe proper, feather-grass formations form the plant cover. The steppe belt is ideal for growing cereals due to the fertile layer of chernozem.

On the Black Sea coast between Novorossiysk and Sochi follows a hard deciduous forest zone. On the Black Sea coast, the average temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius. This subtropical part of Russia is characterized by dense forests.

After Canada, Russia is home to the largest remaining Nordic wilderness regions. According to Global Forest Watch, around 26% of the forests are still intact virgin forests. For the most part, they are located in Siberia. In the European part, 9% of the forests still have this status.


Rivers and lakes

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, together with the excess of precipitation acts as a huge water reservoir, feeding 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 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 River has special significance, as it connects Eastern Europe with Central Asia. The North Russian ridge forms the watershed between the Volga Basin and the White Sea or the Barents Sea in the north. Of great importance for the Slavic states is the Dnieper (also called the Dnieper). The stream originates west of Moscow and then flows through Belarus and Ukraine, where it flows into the Black Sea. It is connected to the Polish rivers Bug and Vistula via the Dnieper-Bug Canal and indirectly to the River Memel via the Oginsk canal system, which makes the Dnieper an important waterway.

The longest rivers of Russia are located in Siberia and Far Eastern Russia. The Ob River originates in the South Siberian Altai and flows into the Arctic Ocean. The Katun River, with its headwaters over 4300 km long, forms – together with the Irtysh – one of the longest river systems in Asia with a total length of over 5400 km. The Yenisei River system has an even longer flow path, the water of which flows (partially) from Mongolia to the north through Western Siberia to the Arctic Ocean. Its main tributary, the Angara, represents the only outflow of Lake Baikal. The Yenisei annually supplies about 600 km3 of water to the Arctic Ocean. Thus, he records the highest flow rate of all Russian rivers. The approximately 4300 km long Lena, the longest stream that runs exclusively in Russia and whose catchment area is located exclusively in Russia, originates only 5 km from Lake Baikal. It flows initially in a northeasterly direction, turns north after the confluence of the Aldan and flows into the Laptev Sea, a tributary of the Arctic Ocean, in an extensive delta. Other important rivers flowing into the Arctic Ocean are the Pechora, the Northern Dvina, the Chatanga, as well as the Kolyma and the 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 leads from the northeast 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 as energy sources, or they are used for irrigation in arid regions. The Don occupies a prominent position in this. It is located in the populous Eastern European Lowlands and drains south into the Sea of Azov. Other important rivers are Moskva, Selenga, Tobol, Stony Tunguska, Lower Tunguska, Ural and Ussuri.

In Russia, especially in the formerly glaciated northwestern part of the country, there are many natural lakes. The Caspian Sea is the world's largest inland lake with an area of 386,400 km2. The lake level of the saltwater lake is about 28 m below the sea level. Since the Caspian Sea has no runoff, water escapes only by evaporation, which leads to the crystallization of salts in the dry climate prevailing here. Lake Baikal is the oldest freshwater lake with a depth of 1642 m, which makes it not only the deepest lake, but also the largest reservoir of liquid freshwater in the world (about a 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.


Mountains and nature reserves

About 40% of the area of Russia is covered by mountains. The Ural River forms the dividing line between the European and Asian parts of the country; however, it is not a real barrier because of its low altitude of almost 2000 m (Narodnaya, 1895 m). To the east of the Urals stretches the very flat West Siberian Lowland, which stretches to the Yenisei River and is crossed by vast swampy landscapes. To the southeast, the West Siberian Lowland is closed by the Central Siberian Upland, which stretches to the Lena River and descends to the narrow North Siberian Lowland in the north. The Central Siberian highlands include the Sayan Mountains (Munku Sardyk, 3491 m) and the highest mountain range in Siberia, the Altai (Belukha, 4506 m), in the Russian-Kazakh-Chinese-Mongolian border area. To the east of the Lena rises the East Siberian Upland, which branches into various mountain ranges, such as the Verkhoyansk Mountains (2389 m in Orlugan) and the Chersky Mountains (Pobeda, 3003 m), and reaches altitudes up to a good 3000 m. The Kamchatka Peninsula is characterized by its 160 volcanoes with altitudes up to 4688 m, of which 29 are still active.

Other mountains in Russia are: Baikal Mountains, Chibinen, Caucasus, Kolyma Mountains, Putorana Mountains, Stanovoi Mountains, Stanovoi Highlands, Tannu-ola Mountains. The highest mountain in Russia is Mount Elbrus (5642 m) in the Caucasus. In addition to other 5000s in the Caucasus, the Kazbek with 5047 m and the Klyuchevskaya Sopka with 4750 m are well-known peaks.

Russia has a well-developed nature conservation system with a long tradition. Since the 1980s, national parks built according to international criteria and other international protected area classes have been added to the classic Russian protected area categories such as the strictly protected Zapovedniki or the Sakasniki. Russia has one of the largest protected area systems in the world in terms of area:

Zapovedniki (strictly protected areas): Is the most important national protected area category in Russia, which belongs to the highest possible protected area category internationally. In them, no use and no human influence on the natural processes may take place. Therefore, visitors are prohibited from entering the core zone of a zapovednik, although there are exceptions for scientists to a limited extent. Currently, there are 100 of these total reserves in Russia, ranging in area from 2.31 to 4169 km2 and covering a total of 27,000 km2.
Sakasniki (wildlife sanctuaries): These are areas that cover up to 6000 km2 of area, where restrictions on economic use apply. As landscape reserves, they serve the protection and regeneration of natural ecosystems, the protection of rare animal and plant species, of fossil sites or the protection of 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: It is only since the beginning of the 1980s that the protected area category of national parks, which has long been known in other countries, has also existed in Russia. These have a lower protection status than the Zapovedniki and, in addition to protecting natural and cultural treasures, they also serve research and education, as well as controlled tourism. Currently, there are 35 national parks in Russia, ranging in area from 7 km2 to 18,900 km2 and covering a total of 90,000 km2 of the national territory.
Nature parks: they are a relatively new category of protection and, in addition to nature conservation, they also serve for recreation.
Natural heritage: in 1972, the Convention for the Protection of the Cultural and Natural Heritage of the World was adopted, to which Russia joined in 1988. Natural heritage is considered to be unique physical, biological and geological formations or areas, the preservation of which is of exceptional value for science or because of their natural beauty, as well as habitats of endangered species of animals and plants. So far, the following areas have been included by UNESCO as a natural heritage:
1995 - Virgin forests of Komi
1996 - Lake Baikal
1996 - Volcanic region of Kamchatka with natural park
1998 - Altai Mountains
1999 - Western Caucasus
2001 - Central Sichote-Alin Nature Reserve
2003 - Uws Nuur Cymbals
2004 - Wrangel Island Nature Reserve
2010 - Putorana Mountains


Flora and fauna


There are several zones in Russia, distinguished by the heat supply of the climate, within which natural (landscape) zones are distinguished. They consist of zonal types of landscapes. For example, in the subtaiga zone, subtaiga types of landscapes predominate, but broad-leaved and other landscapes can occur in isolation.

The Arctic belt. Zones and subzones: Arctic (glacial, polar desert).
The Subarctic belt. Zones and subzones: tundra (arctic tundra, typical tundra, southern tundra), forest tundra, forest meadow.
Temperate zone (boreal types of landscapes). Zones and subzones: taiga (northern, middle, southern), subtaiga.
Temperate zone (subboreal types of landscapes). Zones and subzones: broad-leaved forests, forest-steppe, steppe (typical, dry), semi-desert, desert, sub-Mediterranean (pre-subtropical landscapes).

In addition to the division into landscape zones, there is a division into physical and geographical sectors, which differ in atmospheric circulation, continental climate and other characteristics. Examples of sectors are Eastern Europe, Western Siberia, etc.

The Arctic zone is found only on the Arctic islands. Tundra and forest tundra occupy the Arctic coast of Russia, as well as part of Kamchatka and the Pacific coast of Chukotka.

The southern border of the taiga passes through Pskov, Yaroslavl, Yekaterinburg, Tomsk, Chita and Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The subtype includes mixed forests of European Russia and the Kaliningrad region, coniferous-small-leaved and birch-aspen forests of the south of Western Siberia, mixed forests of Northern Primorye (Samarga and Anyui) and coniferous-broadleaf forests of the south of the Sakhalin region.

The zone of broad-leaved forests includes the south of the Bryansk region. The broad-leaved landscapes from the Kaluga region to Bashkiria are classified as the northern subzone of the forest-steppe. The zone of broad-leaved forests also occupies the south of the Amur Region and most of the Primorsky Territory. Steppes and forest-steppes cover the main part of the Chernozem region and the Middle Volga, the Pre-Caucasus, Northern Crimea, the Southern Urals and Trans-Urals, Southern Siberia (Omsk and Novosibirsk regions, Altai, Tuva, Southern Transbaikalia). Semi-deserts and deserts are found on the Lower Volga and in Kalmykia. The sub-Mediterranean zone is available only on the coast of Crimea and Krasnodar Territory. Fragments of pre-subtropical landscapes, but not the sub-Mediterranean zone itself, are present in Dagestan.

The natural zonality is most clearly expressed to the west of the Yenisei, to the east of the Yenisei the zonality is less noticeable due to the complex nature of the relief and the sharply continental climate. Since a significant part of the country's territory is occupied by mountains, many areas are characterized by high-altitude zones.



There are about 24,700 species of plants in the flora of Russia, of which about 11,400 species are vascular, 1,137 species are mossy, 9,000 species are algae, 3,000 species are lichens and 159 species are ferns. The Caucasus (6,000 species) and the Far East (4,300 species) are the most abundant in plant species, the Arctic islands of Siberia are the poorest (100-150 species).

According to the floristic zoning, the vegetation of Russia is divided into several regions.

Circumboreal area. Provinces: Arctic, Central European (St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad), Euxine (Sochi — Tuapse), Caucasian, Eastern European, Northern European, Western Siberian, Altai-Sayan, Central Siberian, Trans-Baikal, North-East Siberian, Okhotsk-Kamchatka.
The East Asian region. Provinces: Manchuria (Amur basin and Primorye), Sakhalin-Hokkaido.
The Mediterranean region. Province: Crimean-Novorossiysk.
Iran-Turan region. Provinces: Turan (Lower Volga, Kalmykia), Dzungaro-Tianshan (south of Altai).

The forest cover of the territory of Russia is 45.4%, 796.2 million hectares are covered with forest. The vastness of the territories and the diversity of natural areas determine the rich flora and fauna. Mosses, polar poppies, and buttercups grow in the Arctic deserts of the Far North. In the tundra, dwarf birch, willow, and alder are added to these species. Spruce, fir, cedar, pine, and larch are typical for the taiga. In the undergrowth there are blueberries, vermilion, honeysuckle, rosehip, currant, etc. To the south, coniferous-deciduous and broad-leaved forests of spruce, pine, oak, linden, ash, elm, maple, hornbeam, pear, cherry begin, with an undergrowth of hazel, honeysuckle, birch bark, rosehip, currant, viburnum, elder, spirea. In the south of the Far East, yew, walnut, velvet, zelkva, kalopanax, aralia, mulberry, lilac, maakia, rhododendron, magnolia, hydrangea, eleutherococcus, weigela, grapes, lemongrass, actinidia, pliers, pueraria, schizophragma, etc. are added. In the forest-steppe and steppe parts, bayrach forests and various grasses from the families of cereals, legumes, asters, cloves, buckwheat, etc. are common. In the Caucasus and Crimea, in addition to the mentioned European breeds, yew, juniper, beech, chestnut, walnut, lapina, fig, persimmon, sea buckthorn, pistachio, sumac, mulberry, strawberry tree are found, boxwood, holly, vitex, rhododendron, chubushnik, almonds, laurel, klekachka, frankincense, grapes, ivy, sassaparilla, obboynik, clematis, hops.

There are 41 national parks and 103 nature reserves in Russia.


The animal world

There are about 320 species of mammals, more than 700 species of birds, more than 50 species of reptiles, about 670 species of freshwater and marine fish, 100 thousand species of insects and 10 thousand species of arachnids in Russia. Most of the biodiversity is concentrated in the south of European Russia (especially in the Caucasus), the south of the Far East and in the mountains of southern Siberia.

In the Arctic and tundra zone there are polar bears, wolves, arctic foxes, reindeer, musk oxen, snow sheep, white hare, northern pika, lemmings, seals, walruses, polar owl.

The taiga is inhabited by brown bear, wolf, lynx, wolverine, ermine, sable, column, otter, elk, musk deer, beavers, white hare, chipmunk, squirrel, flying squirrel, forest lemming, forest vole, gray vole, brown tooth, viper, grouse hawk, grouse, grouse, woodpecker, cedar, taiga flycatcher.

Fox, badger, hedgehog, mole, bison, wild boar, red deer, roe deer, mink, numerous species of birds, lizards, grass snakes, and copperhead are also found in mixed and deciduous forests. The Caucasian region is home to leopard, hyena, striped raccoon, bandaging, tour, chamois and a large number of reptiles. In the forests of the Far East, there are Himalayan bear, tiger, forest cat, harza, spotted deer, goral.

Among the animals of the steppes, the hamster, tsokora, ground squirrel, marmot, and vole predominate. There are many saigas, badgers, foxes, large steppe birds (bustard, cranes, flutter). In the desert, there are gazelles, jackals, sandcats, and numerous rodents.


Government structure

Russia is a federal presidential and parliamentary republic.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, in 2018 Russia was classified as an authoritarian regime by the Democracy Index, ranking 24th out of 29 Eastern European countries.


State symbols

The flag of Russia is a rectangular panel of three equal horizontal stripes: the upper one is white, the middle one is blue and the lower one is red. The ratio of the width of the flag to its length is 2:3.

The coat of arms of Russia is a red heraldic shield with a golden double-headed eagle, with its wings spread upwards, with rounded lower corners, pointed at the tip. The eagle is crowned with two small crowns and — above them — one large crown connected by a ribbon. In the eagle's right paw is a scepter, in the left is a power. On the chest of the eagle, in a red shield, there is a silver horseman in a blue cloak on a silver horse, striking with a silver spear a black dragon, overturned and trampled by a horse.


The foundations of the state system

According to the Constitution, which is the basic law of the state, Russia is a democratic federal state governed by the rule of law with a republican form of government.

The modern Constitution of Russia, adopted in 1993, operates with a number of amendments, the main of which were adopted in 2008 and 2020. These amendments have received significant international attention.


Federal structure

Russia is a state with a federal structure. According to its constitution, Russia consists of 89 subjects, 48 of which are regions, 24 are republics, 9 are territories, 3 are cities of federal significance, 4 are autonomous districts and 1 is an autonomous region.

The system of public authorities of the subjects of the Federation is determined by the general principles established by the federation. Each region has a legislative (representative) body (legislative assembly, Duma) and an executive body (government). In all subjects, there is a position of the highest official (head, governor), who are elected for a term of no more than 5 years and cannot fill this position for more than two consecutive terms.

Russia is also divided into 8 federal districts, each of which has an authorized representative of the President of Russia.

The subjects of the federation have their own administrative and territorial structure. As a rule, the main administrative-territorial units within the subject of the federation are districts and cities of regional (republican, regional, district) significance.



The head of state is the President of the Russian Federation, currently Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. In the performance of the duties of the head of state, the President is assisted by the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, currently Mikhail Vladimirovich Mishustin. The Chairman of the Russian Government holds the post of president in the event of the latter's death or resignation.

The President is elected for a term of six years by secret ballot in direct general elections, and the same person cannot hold the presidency for more than two terms. Constitutional norms providing for a six-year term of office of the president were introduced in 2008, previously the head of state was elected every four years.

The President has a number of important powers: he directs the country's foreign policy, is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, appoints the Prime Minister with the consent of the State Duma, decides on the resignation of the government. On the proposal of the Prime Minister, appoints deputy Prime Ministers and federal ministers to the posts, as well as dismisses them from office. The President heads the Security Council, appoints and dismisses the command of the Armed Forces. Has the right to propose candidates for the post of Chairman of the Central Bank (which is not part of the government) to the State Duma for consideration. In the event of aggression or an immediate threat of aggression, the President has the right to declare martial law throughout the country or in certain territories, but is obliged to immediately notify the Federal Assembly of his decision. It has the right to issue decrees that are binding on the entire territory of Russia (decrees must not contradict federal laws). He also has a number of other powers.

The President may be dismissed from office by the Federation Council, provided that the State Duma charges high treason or commits another serious crime and there are positive conclusions of the Supreme and Constitutional Courts.


Legislative power

The legislative power is exercised by the Federation Assembly, which consists of two chambers - the Duma and the Federation Council. The State Duma is the lower house and consists of 450 deputies elected for five-year terms according to party lists. The government is not bound to the legislative period of the parliament, but to the term of office of the president, because in the case of a newly elected president, the government abdicates its powers. The State Duma may, by a majority of all deputies, express distrust of the government or reject the government's question of trust modestly. The government has budgetary sovereignty and determines a uniform financial, credit and monetary policy. The other policy areas are cultural, scientific, educational, health, social security and environmental policy. All in all, this means that the distribution of power and the composition of the government does not have to reflect the political power relations of the State Duma. Both the candidacy of the head of government (Prime Minister) of the Federation and the appointment require the approval of the State Duma after a constitutional amendment of 2020, the same applies to the Deputy prime ministers and ministers proposed by the Prime Minister. The Russian president is obliged to appoint the appointees, a refusal is not possible; however, he will still have the right to dismiss the Prime minister, his deputies and ministers, as well as to dissolve the Duma in the event of a loss of confidence or improper performance of duties. In order to enter parliament, a party must receive at least 7% of the votes in the election. The main task of the State Duma is the adoption of laws. In practice (as of 2022), according to the Bertelsmann Stiftung, Parliament has no control over the executive branch.

The Federation Council is the upper house and the representative of the subjects of the Federation. Each subject sends two representatives, one of the regional executive, one of the regional parliamentary representation. Their term of office is linked to the legislative period of their region. The Federation Council can forward or reject laws coming from the Duma for signature to the president, this rejection in turn can be overruled by the Duma with a two-thirds majority. All laws adopted by the State Duma must be submitted to the Federation Council, which is free to treat them or not within two weeks, which is considered consent. A presidential veto may be overridden by a two-thirds majority in any chamber of parliament. In the constitutional reality, due to the Kremlin's influence on the elections in the regions and the corresponding selection of regional personnel, the Federation Council acts more as a representative of the headquarters in the regions than vice versa[.


The Executive Branch

According to the Constitution of December 12, 1993, Russia is a "democratic federal constitutional state with a republican form of government" and a semi-presidential system of government. Thus, the head of state is the President of Russia, who is directly elected by the people for six years at a time. According to official self-presentation, he does not belong to any of the three state powers, rather, he ensures their functioning and interaction. In fact, the president is the central figure of the Russian state, his position is (as of 2023) effectively autocratic, and he can dispose of all the means of power of the state. By decree, he can regulate any state of affairs with direct legal effect. The president determines the main directions of foreign policy and can sign international treaties. He is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Russia, appoints and dismisses the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces. He signs the laws adopted by the Duma and the Federation Council, against which he can veto, which, in theory, can be overruled by a majority of two-thirds of the votes in both houses of parliament.

Executive power is vested in the Government of the Russian Federation, but its key ministries and authorities are directly subordinate to the president, and not to the Prime Minister or parliament. The National Guard, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, among others, report directly to the President; the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Justice, the Foreign Intelligence Service SWR, the Domestic Intelligence Service (FSB), the Federal Security Service (FSO), the Federal Service for Financial Supervision (Rosfinmonitoring), as well as the Russian Presidential Administration. Furthermore, the "most important federal investigative authority", the so-called investigative Committee (Sledstvennyj komitet), which reviews federal authorities and investigates cases of abuse of power and corruption, reports directly to the president. The government is not a political parliamentary government with its own backing, but a cabinet of Technocrats, which is mainly responsible for economic and financial issues and for administrative tasks. The Cabinet meets in public on a weekly basis. The president has the right to chair the cabinet, but he does not always exercise this right. The Prime Minister of Russia, also called the Prime Minister, is proposed by the president and must be confirmed by the Duma.


Judicial power

Judicial power is exercised exclusively by the courts: the Constitutional Court, courts of general jurisdiction headed by the Supreme Court and arbitration courts, also headed by the Supreme Court. Constitutional (statutory) courts operate in some regions of the Russian Federation. The judicial system of the constituent entities of the Federation also includes justices of the peace.

The Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation (Ombudsman) is called upon to monitor the observance of human rights and freedoms in the activities of State bodies and officials. This institution was introduced for the first time in Russian practice by the Constitution of the Russian Federation of 1993 (paragraph "e" of Part 1 of Article 103), which establishes that the Commissioner for Human Rights is appointed by the State Duma and acts in accordance with the federal constitutional law. The Commissioner for Human Rights is independent in carrying out his activities and is not accountable to any State bodies and officials.


Security Council of the Russian Federation

The Security Council of the Russian Federation (Russian: Sovet Besopasnosti Rossiyskoi Federazii; English: Security Council of the Russian Federation, SCRF) is a body of high-ranking politicians for joint decision-making on foreign, security and defense policy.

Organized as part of the presidential Kremlin administration, it actually has a certain autonomy. It consists of 13 permanent members close to the office (e.g. Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs) and 18 members appointed by the President without voting rights and meets about 35 times a year. However, the permanent members meet weekly under the chairmanship of the President. The Council has its own and highly staffed secretariat, which coordinates coordination processes between the actors and has insight into their planning processes and operations. Employees of the secretariat are often promoted to high posts in the administration. A special and influential role is played by the long-time secretary of the Council, Nikolai Patrushev. Important people remain members of the Council for years, even if their positions in administration and politics change in the meantime. founded in 1992, the Council was at times compared to the former Politburo and described as an inner circle, but today it is assumed that the important decisions are not prepared in the Council itself, but on an even smaller scale. Membership in the Council is ultimately always decided by the president, the Council is a place where elite actors – especially the Siloviki - coordinate policies and resolve any conflicts. Security-relevant laws are pre-formulated in the Council and introduced into the legislative process as proposals, which are observed in the administration and the Duma (after they have been introduced by selected deputies in parliament), the Council and the Secretariat have an effective role as an agenda-setter and coordinating body. In this way, the National Security Strategy is developed as a consensus in the Council. However, the Council not only discusses security-related issues, but ultimately everything that seems important to the state, even on issues that leave the field of internal and external security, it at least influences the ideological orientation.

The decision to invade Ukraine in 2022 was not made in the Council, but by a small group of Putin's confidants, including prominent members of the Security Council such as Secretary Patrushev, Defense Minister Shoigu, Chief of the General Staff Gerasimov, FSB Director Bortnikov and the commander of the Russian National Guard Zolotov. At a public meeting before the start of the invasion, which was officially about the recognition of the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk people's republics, but in reality about the war, not all members of the council had been informed about the plans in advance. Although "one faction argued for the continuation of negotiations with the US and NATO," Putin did not allow any contradiction. According to Fabian Burkhardt, the purpose of the meeting was to involve the uninitiated in the preparation for war and to "make them complicit" in order to bind them. The incident proved that the Council could not limit Putin, but that the rule in Russia was radicalizing and emanated not from institutions, but from Putin as a person. It had been made clear "how highly personalized the authoritarian regime in Russia is".


Political parties

Since the CPSU renounced its constitutional leadership role in 1990, a change has taken place from a dictatorial one-party state to a multi-party system. Hundreds of political groups, splinter groups, movements and parties were formed, covering a wide political spectrum from monarchists to communists. The Russian parties are rather weak and rarely had a stable identity. It seems questionable whether a real democratization ever took place, because there was no change of elites: the former members and functionaries of the CPSU, the Nomenklatura, continued to occupy the key positions, competition between the parties was accepted by the Kremlin at best at times.

Since the parliamentary elections in Russia in 1995, the government has supported a new, separate domestic power in each case. These administrative "parties of power" (parties of power, partii vlasti), founded from above, are loose ad hoc alliances based on bureaucrats loyal to the president.

Since the turn of the millennium, a few parties have functioned as social networks that were able to mobilize specific groups of voters. From 2008 to 2011, there were only seven parties in Russia, a result of legal regulations that set a high minimum number of members for parties and branches in two-thirds of the regions, in fact nationwide. In the course of the demonstrations for the parliamentary elections in December 2011, a new party law was passed, which allows the admission of new parties from a membership of 500 people (previously 40,000). After a decision of the ECHR in favor of the anti-government party of People's Freedom, the number of Russian parties increased to 48 by the end of 2012.

At present, the policy of Russia is dominated by a single party, United Russia (United Russia, Yedinaya Rossiya). United Russia was formed in 2001 from the Unity (Unity, Yedinstvo) and Fatherland – All Russia (Fatherland – All Russia, Otechestvo – vsya Rossiya) parties, which in turn were partly recruited from the defunct Our House Russia party (Our House – Russia, Nasch dom – Rossiya), the party of Putin's predecessor Boris Yeltsin. United Russia was built up purposefully and with effort by the government side as the dominant party of Russia, with over two million members it provides a solid mass base. The popularity of Putin and the nationwide clientelist networks of local leaders with high organizational power made repeated election victories possible. The party serves to integrate the elites supporting the system and to introduce politicians to new offices. Putin himself did not join United Russia, which, according to Stefan Meister, shows his dislike for parties. These "serve primarily to mobilize support and to legitimize the existing system. Parties in Russia are either constructed, manipulated or pacified.“ The party's youth organization is the so-called Molodaya Gvardiya, the Naschi, conceived as a mass organization and informally affiliated with the party, were disbanded in 2013.

In addition to this large party, there are other and splinter parties. The Kremlin's party cartel ("a four-party cartel") includes, in addition to United Russia, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and the Social Democratic Party of Just Russia. In addition, outside the Duma there is the Yabloko party, the Patriots of Russia and Right Cause. Parties such as Just Russia and Right Cause were deliberately set up by the Kremlin as spoiler parties in order to address the electorate of competing opposition parties with related issues and thus to weaken them. The cartel of parties loyal to the system allows the Kremlin to control the Duma, – in the "cartel of systemic opposition", according to political scientist Petra Stykov, there are only minor programmatic differences and no real ideological competition for content, but only the competition "of groups who want to have power", which should "not be confused with a democracy". In addition, the parliament serves elite groups as a decision-making place for issues and conflicts that the Kremlin considers not so significant that it would have to make the decision itself, as well as the inclusion of possible oppositionists by deputy privileges and the possibility that Putin can still stop initiated projects that are recognized as too unpopular among the population by his veto and stage them in public accordingly.

Elections are not free, but are characterized by manipulation, falsification of elections and the exclusion or prosecution of disliked candidates, while pro-government candidates and parties are strongly supported by the state and the media. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to assume that Putin has no popular support, electoral fraud was not decisive for his election victories. Manipulated elections are also not primarily used to ensure (safe) election victories, but to demonstrate the loyalty of the regime's clientele, to discourage opposition voters and dissatisfied sections of the elite, and thus to consolidate the system as a whole. In order to be translated into legitimacy, support from the population must be demonstrably preserved.

Since promising opposition candidates were not listed on the electoral lists at all, but were sorted out, the opposition around Alexei Navalny in 2018 – after he had not been approved as a presidential candidate – resorted to the concept of "smart voting": to give votes in a concerted and tactical manner to the most promising party or such candidates, insofar as this party is not United Russia and the candidates are not supported by it. The aim of the concept was, among other things, a mobilization of apathetic parts of the population. This led to the fact that in some regional elections United Russia received noticeably fewer votes than expected, in Tomsk, where Navalny had exposed the corruption of the local elites, the party even lost the majority. Tactical voting especially helped the Communists, regional deputies of this party, which is actually loyal to the Kremlin, liked it and positioned themselves – as hoped by Navalny – more strongly against the Kremlin. in 2021, the state reacted to the concept with more repression; Search engines were banned from leading to "smart voting" sites, Navalny's organization was assessed as "extremist", and the Russian leadership increasingly relied on election fraud.



Until the new President Vladimir Putin took office, Russian NGOs had been able to develop largely free of state influences. Probably, their influence on the state was greater than vice versa. That should change quickly. Putin immediately set about systematically subjecting the areas of the Russian political public that had not been acting autonomously until then, but were controlled by different power centers, to the government. He called this "strengthening the vertical of power" and building a "dictatorship of the right". Behind this approach lies the conviction that the Russian state was on the verge of disintegration in the 1990s and that this was due to the weakness of the central power.

The first attempt to involve the NGOs was the initiative for a large citizens' assembly in the Kremlin in 2001. Selected topics were discussed at this meeting. However, from the government's point of view, non-constructive NGOs that did not simply want to subordinate themselves were excluded. This was supposed to be a kind of "castle peace" between NGOs and the Russian government. However, at the beginning of 2002, despite protests and negotiations, the tax equalization of commercial and non-commercial enterprises was adopted. 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 in Germany. The second break was the Rose Revolution in Georgia, which was considered a failure of Russian policy and, in the perception of the Russian government, was a work of Western-funded NGOs. This was also suspected during the change of power in Ukraine. Putin expressed this on 26. May 2004 in his annual address to both Chambers of Parliament:

"There are thousands of civil society associations working constructively in our country. But by no means all of them are oriented to defending the real interests of people. For some of these organizations, it has become a priority task to obtain funding from influential foreign foundations, to serve dubious groups and commercial interests for others. At the same time, they are not interested in the most pressing problems of the country and its citizens.“

Ultimately, the relationship between the government and NGOs remained ambivalent during Putin's first term, resulting from the fact that market-based systems require a certain degree of freedom. The government's tactics with the NGOs are an expression of the desire to prevent this freedom from spreading into the political and social sphere.

With regard to NGOs, the second term was primarily marked by the NGO Law, which provided the Russian government with far-reaching instruments of control and sanctions. The Rosregistracija is now monitoring the activities of the NGOs. To complain against this is associated with a high administrative burden in a highly corrupt society such as the Russian one, in which appeal and appellate instances function only to a very limited extent, especially against state actions, such as courts. The registration authorities are increasingly relying on provisions of labor law, tax law, labor protection or fire protection in order to at least partially conceal state action against the NGOs.

On May 23, 2015, President Putin signed a law allowing Russian authorities to blacklist international NGOs without warning. High penalties threaten anyone who comes into contact with such "undesirable organizations". The law restricts the work of the media and civil society. As a case of application of this law, the deprivation of the deputy mandate of Yabloko politician Lev Schlosberg, who had reported in 2014 about the funerals of probably fallen Russian soldiers in Ukraine, became known as a case of application of this law.

In April 2022, German foundations as well as the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, which had previously benefited from a kind of "special relationship" between Germany and Russia, were deprived of registration. This also affected Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as well as the Carnegie Foundation.


Foreign policy

Foreign policy situation

After the end of the Soviet Union, Russia is striving to consolidate its influence in the world, but especially in its immediate neighborhood. Russia is pursuing the idea of a multipolar world order in which great powers independently represent their national interests. Russia is involved in a number of regional conflicts, many of which are of a warlike nature and have only been partially or not yet resolved – including the Chechen wars (1994 to 2009), the war in Georgia over Abkhazia and South Ossetia (the Caucasus War in 2008), the conflict in Transnistria in Moldova (since 1990) and most recently the war in Ukraine, which began with the annexation of Crimea.

In the foreign policy concept, Russia sees itself as a great power that independently pursues national interests. The claim to 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 about 1,000,000 soldiers, military bases in various former Soviet republics and in Syria (naval base Tartus)), arms exports, full membership with veto power in the UN Security Council and its position as an important energy supplier. In addition, however, there are enormous difficulties in meeting one's own demands. This is mainly due to economic weakness. In addition, unlike the Soviet Union, it no longer has an attractive system of rule and culture. The possibility of transforming military power into political influence is limited to Russia's immediate environment. Russia lacks reliable allies, as evidenced by the non-recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by the rest of the CIS countries.

The political leadership in Moscow is pushing for the prerogative of the UN Security Council. An example of this is the demand that NATO should only act with the approval of the UN Security Council. However, even 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 opposite poles to the USA. Asia in particular is becoming increasingly important in this context. The BRICS are considered strategic partners in the foreign policy concept. While Russia and India have traditionally maintained good relations and have continued to expand them, the Russian-Chinese relationship has steadily improved due to the resolution of old tensions. Apart from the common goal of countering the West's global political dominance, economic and military projects as well as Russian raw material supplies are the main focus of the cooperation.

In general, since about 2004, Russia has been threatened by NATO's eastward expansion and an increasing influence of the United States on its own geostrategic sphere of interests. Russia is accused of using destabilizing methods to influence foreign policy. These include, for example, cyber attacks, influencing election campaigns and undermining support obligations.

Russia granted US whistleblower Edward Snowden a residence permit in 2013.

Putin was the only Russian president to visit Israel. According to Matthias Vetter, his party and he repeatedly positioned themselves against every form of anti-Semitism. According to Jason Stanley, Putin uses "key anti-Semitic elements of a globally networked right that sees its leader in Putin"; he is "himself a fascist autocrat who jails democratic opposition leaders and critics". Putin specifically addresses Christian and other nationalists in the West in order to hit the democracies as a whole.


Threats of the first use of nuclear weapons

In connection with the invasion of Ukraine, launched in 2022, the Russian leadership and circles close to it have repeatedly threatened with the first use of nuclear weapons. This was assessed in such a way that Russia uses such threats to achieve foreign policy goals. The extent to which Russia is actually prepared to use nuclear weapons – in Ukraine or against Western countries – is being debated. However, it is feared that the threat is already destabilizing the global order.


With relationships


Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, all UN subsidiary organizations, the OSCE and is 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 the then Group of Seven (G7); this became the G8 as a result. In March 2014, these Seven excluded Russia from the G8 again because of the war in Ukraine. On March 15, 2022, Russia avoided exclusion from the Council of Europe by announcing its withdrawal.

Under Putin, two security organizations gained special weight – the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO):

The organization of the Collective Security Treaty is aimed at closer cooperation on security and defense issues, as well as on joint defense in the event of an 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 the Russian initiative, a rapid reaction force was created in 2009 within the framework of the CSTO, which can be used in crisis situations.
The main goal of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which also includes China, 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 is also intended to serve the enforcement of 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 cooperation.


Relations with the "Near Abroad"

The dissolution of the Soviet Union initially presented Russia with the task of reshaping its relations with the successor republics, which from Russia's point of view were often referred to as the "Near Abroad" (Near abroad). 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, numerous objects of strategic interest to Russia were now located outside the Russian Federation. These included, among others. the Baikonur cosmodrome, military-strategic facilities in Azerbaijan and Belarus, as well as the Black Sea Fleet base in Sevastopol.

The successor organization of the Soviet Union was the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which was initially joined by 12 of the 15 former Soviet republics. However, this rather loose confederation of states has largely lost its significance to this day. Russia has joined forces with Belarus in the Russian-Belarusian Union, which Boris Yeltsin agreed on with Alyaksandr Lukashenka (Belarusian president since 1994). However, according to political scientists, their development was strongly connected with Lukashenka's personal ambitions to become Yeltsin's successor in a future Union state. When, after Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin became Russian president in 1999, relations with Belarus cooled down, to which Putin proposed joining the Russian Federation. Until 2011, further integration was very slow, many projects such as the common currency were not implemented. Rather, the relations were overshadowed by energy conflicts. However, in 2011, Belarus joined the Common Customs Union with Russia and Kazakhstan, which had already been in the planning since 2000 within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Community. Among the other goals of this community is a common economic space and the creation of a political union that is open to other states of the post-Soviet space.


Relations with Ukraine

Russia has always had an ambivalent relationship with Ukraine, which has been independent since 1991, and has been very tense since 2014 at the latest. Despite close historical and cultural ties and a continuing interdependence, especially on energy issues, historical disagreements (see Holodomor) and the declared western course of Ukraine have put a heavy burden on the relationship. Especially Western-oriented governments of Ukraine have been repeatedly put under pressure by Russia, for example after the presidential election in Ukraine in 2004, when the Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute occurred.

Already in 2009, the possibility of a military attack by Russia had been openly discussed in Ukrainian media. After the flight and the subsequent removal of the Russian-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych and the revolution of the Euromaidan (November 2013 to February 2014), during which the demonstrators advocated a Western orientation of Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea led to the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war. In addition, from 2014, so-called "separatists" fought for autonomy in eastern Ukraine (see war in the Donbas). These were supported by Russia in personnel and military terms. As part of the conflict, flight MH17 was also shot down in Donetsk Oblast in July 2014. In February 2022, Russia launched a war of aggression on the entire Ukraine, on September 30, 2022, large parts of southern and eastern Ukraine were annexed.


Relations with the European Union

In response to the annexation of Crimea in 2014, sanctions were taken against Russia by the European Union. This mainly concerns certain equipment for the Russian oil and gas industry, in addition, access to the financial market is made more difficult for various Russian financial institutions. The decision on these sanctions is made in each case for a limited period of six months (the last time until January 2019) and requires the unanimity of the Council of the European Union.

In the course of the war of aggression against Ukraine, the EU imposed massive sanctions against Russia, as a result of which there were also counter-reactions on the part of Russia.


German-Russian relations

Germans were the first "Western" Europeans with whom Russia came into more intensive contact. Since the middle of the 13th century, the Peterhof in Novgorod existed as a trading branch of the Hanseatic League. There have been military clashes with the Order of the Brothers of the Sword in Livonia since the 12th century. Cultural relations between Germans and Russians were especially close under Peter the Great. Russian Germans have made a great contribution to the development of Russian culture, for example, Empress Catherine II, Admiral Adam Johann von Krusenstern, military engineer Count Eduard Ivanovich Totleben, musician Svyatoslav Teofilovich Richter and many others. The historical contribution of Germany is therefore recognized and appreciated in Russia to this day. Even politically, Germany and Russia looked back on long alliance traditions until the end of the 19th century. In particular, the Kingdom of Prussia closely aligned itself with the Russian Tsarist Empire from the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763 until the German Empire was founded in 1871, as it had been saved from almost complete annihilation by Russia twice in its history – in 1762 by Tsar Peter III's change of sides in the Seven Years' War and in 1807 by Tsar Alexander I's intercession with Napoleon in the Peace of Tilsit. During the liberation Wars, Russians and Germans fought together against French foreign rule. Thus, Russian soldiers were significantly involved in the liberation of Germany. The "Alliance of the Three Black Eagles" – Russia, Austria and Prussia – which had already existed in the first half of the 18th century, continued as a Holy Alliance after the Congress of Vienna. The serious military conflicts in the 20th century still have repercussions today. The legal basis of the relations of the reunited Germany and the Russian Federation is the Treaty on the Final Settlement in relation to Germany of 12. September 1990, the Treaty on Good Neighborliness, Partnership and Cooperation of November 9, 1990, as well as the joint statement of the Russian President and the German Chancellor of November 21, 1991. In the spirit of peaceful German reunification, the German side, on the one hand, was grateful for the trouble-free handling of the consequences, on the other hand, Germany felt that it was a source of impetus and an engine for greater integration of Russia into European structures and promoted loans and investments in Russia. From the time of Gerhard Schröder's chancellorship and the economic upswing in Russia under Vladimir Putin, German-Russian relations intensified, especially in the field of business, but also in political dialogue. Since 1998, bilateral intergovernmental consultations have been held annually at the highest level with the participation of both governments.

In the meantime, there have been more than 6,000 companies with German participation in Russia, including more than 1,350 Russian-German joint ventures.

A close cultural and educational exchange developed between Germany and Russia. In 2003, an intergovernmental agreement was concluded to promote mutual learning of the partner language. About 12,000 young Russian citizens studied at German universities. A joint declaration on a strategic partnership in the field of education, research and innovation was signed in April 2005. From 2006 there were coordination offices in Hamburg and Moscow for bilateral student and youth exchange. The Goethe-Institut is present in many places in Russia, in Moscow, St. Petersburg and since spring 2009 in Novosibirsk. In addition, numerous other German cultural mediators are represented in Russia.

During his time as Federal Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier was the architect of a close cooperation with Moscow, to which he offered a "modernization partnership" in 2008, from which he promised himself a liberalization of Russia in the direction of an "open society". He adhered to this, even if doubts arose early on as to whether such liberalization was even desired in Moscow. The planning staff of the Ministry under Markus Ederer invented the formulation "Rapprochement through intertwining" – based on Egon Bahr's famous formula "change through rapprochement". The working papers set out the goal of achieving an "irreversible" economic "interdependence" of the two countries. Steinmeier repelled doubts from his own house about Putin. He believed that the change to President Medvedev had actually made him the future strongman in Russia, although employees at the Foreign Office considered this assumption to be "absurd". With the German EU Council Presidency in 2007, he tried to make his idea of a modernization partnership the policy of the EU. In 2014, Steinmeier then found out that the modernization partnership proposed in 2008 had been rejected by the Russian side due to the formulated requirements (such as an open civil society).

Although the trend was increasing, in 2011, despite strong economic relations and a significant exchange between civil societies, only a third of Germans trusted Russia as a partner country. This can be attributed to the role of the media, which have a decisive influence on the perception of Russia (see Russia reporting in Germany). Until Vladimir Putin took office, the image of a "poor" and "unpredictable" Russia prevailed in the German media. Due to the economic stabilization after the turn of the millennium and high incomes from oil deposits, this picture gradually disappeared. In his place came the fear of Putin's energy empire and dependence on him. The coverage of the political situation in Russia was sometimes perceived as too little differentiated due to the stagnation of the media and their staff reduction; President Medvedev was considered by some as a "liberal", by others as the president of a country that was about to be overthrown.

In his speech at the Munich Security Conference in 2007, Putin generally described NATO's eastward expansion as a breach of Western commitments, and in 2008 Russia separated territories from Georgia in the wake of the Caucasus War. Relations with Western countries deteriorated noticeably. The Russian news agency RIA Novosti lamented a cooling of Russian-German relations that began in the fall of 2012, when the Bundestag adopted a resolution criticizing Russia's domestic policy. The Putin government has been pursuing a "national-patriotic policy directed against Western influences" since May 2012.

In February 2014, Russia criticized the German role in the Euromaidan in Ukraine. In the course of the annexation of Crimea and the Russian-Ukrainian war, it became apparent that Russian intelligence services are increasingly trying to manipulate public opinion abroad in Russia's favor by means of targeted infiltration of social networks such as Facebook and the comment sections of Western and German online media (Deutsche Welle and the Süddeutsche Zeitung, for example, are affected). As the Süddeutsche reports, hundreds of paid manipulators are in use for this purpose.

Immediately after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, economic sanctions were imposed on Russia in the European Union. As a result, German-Russian trade slumped by about a third within months. In the summer of 2017, the sanctions were again tightened.

in 2019, a Chechen of Georgian citizenship was murdered in Berlin, immediately after which the perpetrator, who was revealed as a Russian agent in investigations, could be arrested. The German government then declared two employees of the Russian embassy to be undesirable persons, whereupon Russia also expelled two German diplomats. After the sentencing of the perpetrator to life imprisonment - the court had assessed Russia's involvement as proven and spoke of "state terrorism" - the Federal Foreign Office again expelled two Russian diplomats, which was also answered by Moscow with the expulsion of two German diplomats.

In February 2020, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas accused the Russian government of violating international humanitarian law and committing war crimes in the Idlib governorate in light of the Russian military operation in the context of the Syrian civil War.

At the beginning of 2022, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz tried to influence Vladimir Putin in Moscow to refrain from the prepared invasion of Ukraine and warned that otherwise Germany would be ready for far-reaching measures. The raid on Ukraine, which nevertheless took place, finally destroyed the German-Russian relationship. The Federal Republic of Germany joined the unprecedented Western sanctions and, after initial hesitation, began to support Ukraine with arms supplies, but continued to purchase (and pay for) gas through the Nordstream pipeline until Putin interrupted the supplies.

Both states expelled diplomats from the other side, first in protest, then in order to shut down diplomatic relations altogether. Russia limited the number of German civil servants and local employees to a total of 350, which forced Germany to close three general consulates in Russia. In return, Berlin ordered the closure of four of the five Russian consulates General.


Role in the Syrian Civil War

The Syrian conflict is one of the few international conflicts in which the Russian government plays a central role. At the same time, her attitude of refusal to any attempts to exert international pressure on the Assad government within the framework of the UN Security Council earned the Russian government sharp criticism from Western and regional actors and damaged Russia's reputation in the Arab world. From the very beginning, Russia took the clear position that the fighting between the government and the opposition could only be resolved internally. Firstly, this should be achieved through open-ended negotiations between the two sides, and secondly, it should be done without external interference, be it by supplying weapons to the rebels or by military intervention. That is why Russia blocked not only draft resolutions in the UN Security Council that would have provided for sanctions (October 2011, July 2012), but also those that would have merely condemned the use of force by the Syrian government, without at the same time condemning the opponents of the regime and calling for the renunciation of violence (February 2012).

The leadership of Russia pretends to take a neutral position with this. Several times, President Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov and Prime Minister Medvedev stressed that their country – unlike the Western states or the Gulf monarchies – does not take sides unilaterally.

However, the Russian government supports the Assad government in many ways. Firstly, the legitimacy strategy of the Syrian leadership is being 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 it. Secondly, 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 – due to Russian and Chinese refusal – has so far not been able to impose an arms embargo. As a reliable exporter – according to the Russian justification – the Russian government is therefore obliged to fulfill existing contracts. However, "new deliveries" have been suspended, said Vyacheslav Dzirkaln of 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 of Russia's Syria policy go beyond material interests. They concern fundamental issues of the international order and regional balance of power, but also concrete security policy risks for Russia itself. For the international community, the "Arab Spring" once again raised the question of how to deal with the tension between state sovereignty and responsibility to protect ("responsibility to protect" – "R2P"). It is about contrary views on the design of 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 a "regime change" from the outside. Behind this is a traditional interpretation of state sovereignty. This also has a domestic political justification. Finally, a softening of the non-interference requirement for the authoritarian leadership in Moscow also represents a danger scenario for the sake of its own preservation of 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 must first disclose the entire toxic gas arsenal within one week and grant UN inspectors unrestricted access to the deposits. The UN inspectors should start work in mid-November. The chemical weapons were destroyed outside of Syria. On 16. In September, Russia again opposed a UN resolution that provided for a threat against the Syrian government in case of non-fulfillment of the agreement.

On the other hand, Russia hardly provides humanitarian aid in the conflict, so far the government provided an amount of 300,000 US dollars for the UN aid program to provide for the approximately 4 million Syrians who have fled the war to neighboring countries in 2015, which covers 0.02% of the total costs estimated for the relief measures. It is estimated that between 8,000 and 12,000 Syrian refugees are staying in Russia itself, many of them illegally. In 2015, not a single Syrian was officially recognized as a refugee in Russia, 482 asylum seekers were tolerated.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, about 19,000 people (including about 8,300 civilians) have died as a result of the Russian military operation by the end of September 2019. In the Idlib Governorate in particular, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee by the offensives of the Russian and Syrian armed forces. The offensive also left an 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 the Russian and Syrian armed forces between May 2019 and February 2020. As a result, five clinics have had to close for this reason. In July 2020, the Russian government blocked the continuation of a large part of the UN aid deliveries 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.


Federal division

Levels and classification

Russian federalism is characterized by a combination of ethno-federal republics and territorial-federal territories. Already under President Boris Yeltsin there were attempts to limit asymmetric "treaty federalism" (which at times gave member states the opportunity to negotiate their power with the central office in Moscow), under Vladimir Putin there was a return to centralization and control. The division of the country was essentially adopted from the Soviet era, except for the raising of the status of most Autonomous Regions to republics and the division of the former Chechen-Ingush ASSR into two republics. According to Article 65 of the Russian Constitution, Russia is divided into 83 subjects of the Federation. These include 21 republics, nine regions (Krai), 46 regions (Oblast), two cities of federal rank (Moscow, Saint Petersburg), one Autonomous Region and four Autonomous Districts. The fact that Ukrainian territories have been annexed and are claimed as belonging to the territory of Russia is rejected internationally. The republics were defined according to the dominant non-Russian ethnic groups in each case, although their borders do not always coincide with ethnic ones, while the territories in the remaining parts of the country, inhabited mostly by Russians, were formed according to purely administrative points of view. Territories in which smaller non-Russian minorities live are given the lower rank of an Autonomous Oblast, or Autonomous okrug, respectively. Although all subjects of the federation are formally equal, only the republics are entitled to adopt their own constitution. They can also sign international treaties as long as they comply with the Russian Constitution. Special features of the republics also consist in the traditional naming, the number of deputies in regional parliaments and specific legislative powers.

In terms of population, area and relative wealth, the subjects of the federation sometimes differ significantly. What they have in common is that their tax jurisdiction exists only "minimally" and their competencies are severely curtailed in favor of the head office. Shared responsibilities of the federation and the lower level are in fact exercised by Moscow.

In 2000, by decree, President Putin created seven federation circles, each of which unites several subjects of the federation into one larger entity. The goal of this reform was to strengthen the vertical distribution of power and tighten control over the regional rulers. In 2010, the North Caucasus Federal District was also created as the eighth Federal District after being separated from the Southern Russian Federal District. After the annexation of Crimea by Russia in violation of international law, Crimea formed a part of the Republic of Crimea from the 21st century. March 2014 a separate (ninth) Federal District, which was dissolved on July 28, 2016 and joined the Federal District of Southern Russia.

In addition to the two hierarchical federal levels mentioned above (1st federal district, 2nd federal subject), there is also a third independent administrative level, that of local self-government (raion). Their administrative heads are directly elected by the population. The regions are administratively superior to the municipal self-governing bodies and have the right to issue instructions.

Unlike the republics, the oblasts and Kraye are not member states. They only have statutes instead of constitutions. At the head of the subjects of the federation there is a head, subjects of the federation are led by the head of the administration, who in common parlance is represented as the governor. The legislative bodies in the republics are both unicameral and bicameral systems. In the territories, parliamentary representation consists of only one chamber.


The special case of Chechnya

Chechnya plays a special role within the federal system of Russia, de facto it is a "state within a state", which is largely deprived of the Russian judiciary and federal police forces. Religious freedom is no longer granted within the framework of a Sunni Islamist ideology of domination. Only "the silk thread of personal loyalty between Kadyrov and Putin" still binds the republic to Russia, Kadyrov has his own troops, whose loyalty to Putin he publicly demonstrates, but whose existence itself is also a warning.


Selection and control of governors

While in the first years of the Russian Federation, a federalism with regional centers developed under Boris Yeltsin, a centralizing "process of successive disempowerment of the federal institutions in favor of presidential administration and the personalization of political power" took place under Putin.

Between 2005 and 2012, the governors and republican leaders were no longer elected by the population, but appointed by the president. Since 2012, the candidates have been nominated by the regional parliament, after which a consultation of the candidates with the president follows. A regional election will then take place, in which the candidates must receive at least 50% of the votes in order to be elected. The President may dismiss the governors on the grounds of a loss of confidence. According to Julian Waller, however, the possibility of electing a governor, which had been introduced again, was "undermined again by even greater electoral manipulation in the regions". No further justifications have to be given for the dismissal since 2020, the Kremlin's control over the governors and regions has thus been further expanded, so that the question has been raised as to whether Russia still appears as a federal state at all or not already as a unitary state. The use of the title "president" for a head of a federal subject was explicitly prohibited, referring to the Republic of Tatarstan, which had previously negotiated out special rights. When selecting governors, the Kremlin makes sure that they have as few ties as possible with their regions.

Between 2012 and 2021, 121 elections of governors took place, in which only four candidates who were not in Putin's favor were able to win their elections. Only one of them ultimately remained governor, another transferred to the Duma, another resigned under pressure; he was banned from running again, while Sergei Furgal, head of the Khabarovsk Region, was arrested on charges of two murders that he allegedly commissioned during his time as a businessman. His arrest, dismissal and trial in Moscow led to mass protests of supporters in his region, who saw the reason for the arrest in the fact that Furgal had maintained his candidacy against the will and against the Kremlin's candidate and had actually been elected in a protest election.


Human rights, Crime, Corruption and Justice


According to a report presented to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2023, human rights are "systematically and blatantly violated" in Russia. As an example, a UN human rights commissioner cited the arrest and prosecution of 20,000 anti-war protesters who had protested against the Russian military operation in Ukraine. She explained that civil society was silenced by Russian authorities. There are "no more independent media", "civil society organizations" have been "closed". The restrictions on the freedom of the press have been criticized by international civil rights organizations and the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany since 2001. The state influence in the field of television is complete; all TV stations broadcasting throughout the country are either directly owned by the state or under state control. The situation is similar in the radio sector. Officially, there is no censorship by the government, but it actually takes place through repressions and bans of regime-critical channels as well as the ownership structure and sometimes self-censorship. Three out of a total of six votes at the meeting of the President's Human Rights Council in October 2017 had complained about the hatred in society fueled by the state media and their propaganda.

There are repeated attacks on opposition members or arson attacks on their property. Particular attention was attracted by the explosive attacks on residential buildings in 1999, behind which state perpetrators are suspected. Also, lists with address details of oppositionists circulated on the Internet. Police and public prosecutor investigations, on the other hand, end or are not even started where they affect influential politicians. Since 2015, every single person who takes to the streets with an improvised (or even empty) protest poster has also been threatened with up to five years in prison. In Russia, an estimated 600,000 people were in "strict camp detention" in 2013, including not only a number of political prisoners, according to the human rights organization Memorial. In the spring of 2019, about 140,000 prisoners were in custody for substance abuse under paragraph 228.2, the possibilities of abuse of which had been known for some time and which became internationally known due to the scandal surrounding the journalist Ivan Golunov. In August 2020, the number of detained convicts, suspects and defendants in Russian criminal and Pre-trial detention centers had decreased to less than 500,000, according to the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN). According to the FSIN, this was attributed to the use of alternative, non-incarcerating sentences, as well as a liberalization of the penitentiary system.

In December 2015, Putin signed a law according to which the Russian Constitutional Court, at the request of the government, can overrule judgments of international courts, which should primarily concern judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). An "intangible censorship" has also been described for the cultural sector.

Homosexuality in Russia is largely taboo. The legal regulations include, among other things, a ban on "homosexual propaganda" (such as the rainbow flag), which is considered by critics as a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to sexual self-determination, the freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.

Under the pretext of combating extremism, the freedoms of religious minorities were severely restricted. In 2016, members of unregistered religious communities were banned from talking to others about their religious beliefs. In March 2017, the Russian Ministry of Justice applied for a ban on the religious community of Jehovah's Witnesses and all their activities, which was implemented in April 2017.

The human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated significantly since the occupation by Russia. According to a UNHCHR report, arbitrary arrests and torture occur again and again, and an extrajudicial execution is also documented. The human rights situation has been at its most explosive for years in the Caucasus, especially in Chechnya. The verification of civil rights, for example, in case of violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, according to the law, takes place before the Supreme Court of Russia.



In Transparency International's corruption perception index, Russia was ranked 137th out of 180 countries worldwide with 28 out of a possible 100 points in the 2022 ranking, and in last place of all European countries.

In 2016, President Putin personally ordered a "control break" for control authorities. The alleged security checks had hardly ever served security, but for the greater extent of enrichment. Breaking through the chains of corruption is also hardly possible because clean officials cannot hand over money to the top and are therefore forced out of office or posts for honest officials are not accessible at all because of transfer fees, writes Jens Siegert, long-time head of the Moscow office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. The proximity to state power makes money and privileges possible: Yelena Chishova describes not only the everyday corruption, but also how the scope increases with the proximity to power in the Kremlin, and calls the commonality: "In an authoritarian country, "friend" is a key term." Alexei Navalny and his anti-corruption organization uncovered numerous cases of personal enrichment and nepotism at the highest level, including the existence of the so-called Putin's Palace.

Estimates of corruption are based on an enormous scale, for example, bribes should account for 22.5% of the costs for public contracts, the total cost of corruption for government contracts should be equal to 93 billion US dollars, which would correspond to one third of the annual budget of the Russian Federation.



The homicide rate in Russia between 1990 and 2017 was subject to pronounced fluctuations between 30.5 killings (in 1995) and 9.2 killings (in 2017) per 100,000 inhabitants. The state does not protect citizens, the Novaya gazeta and the fugitive Yulia Latynina filed a complaint in 2017. Every year, 70,000 to 100,000 people go missing in Russia. Of these, 25% (17,500 to 25,000 people) are permanently classified as missing persons because they remain missing. 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 especially directed against women. Thus, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, 12,000 to 14,000 women die annually as a result of this in Russia. Apparently, the murder rate has been rising significantly since 2022. According to Novaya Gazeta, an increase of four percent was recorded for the full year 2022, but then it increased by 15% from January to April 2023, before falling very sharply- possibly due to official cover-up of the true figures.

Organized crime plays a huge role and includes various groups on the territory of the former Soviet Union. The thieves in the law are well known, whose strict internal ethics, separate from society, with its own sublanguage, is closely connected with the former Soviet prison system and the Gulag. Their close unity with a common fund, which originated in Soviet times, is no longer given, in fact, today different regional groups invoke their name and heritage, while organized crime has simultaneously "provincialized and internationalized". In particular, the taboo of cooperation with the state and its relatives has fallen, corruption allows joint profit extraction in a considerable amount. According to Mark Galeotti, the war in Ukraine partially destroyed the previously close cooperation of criminal groups in Russia and Ukraine, which had jointly formed the "the most powerful criminal ecosystem in Europe". The state and organized crime help each other: the Russian state uses criminal structures to import sanctioned goods, leaders of the underworld joined the mercenary company Wagner. Abroad, these structures are mobilized by the Kremlin for political interests, so the use of criminal income or skills can obscure the underlying interest and actions of the Russian state. For example, the arms dealer Viktor But - himself a former intelligence officer - is suspected of having acted at least partially on instructions, the electronic competence of Russian hacker groups is skimmed off by the Russian services, conversely, relations with the security services also benefit members of criminal groups, since they can exchange their services for protection or information.


Justice and correctional services

Although the independence of the judges is guaranteed by constitutional law, in fact the courts and the public prosecutor's office are under the influence of the executive branch. Judgments are acted upon directly or indirectly. The judges all have to prove a university degree in law and five years of professional activity when hired, but they are not recruited from the legal profession or from the legal science, but from the judiciary and security authorities. The court presidents play a major role in the courts, they assign the individual cases to the judges and can also withdraw them from them during the proceedings, they also decide on the award of annual bonus payments and on the award of official housing. Judges in Russia are mostly federal judges, their appointment is decided by a commission in a complex procedure and subject to the approval of the President of the State. The commission consists "of four representatives of the judiciary, seven heads of various departments of the presidential administration, the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, the 1st Deputy Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Prosecutor General. The meetings of this commission are not public, the decisions do not have to be justified, they are also final and not subject to appeal. The judges of the supreme courts are selected entirely behind closed doors, without the participation of the judiciary." The executive branch has an impact on the courts, cases of interest to them are influenced by "telephone justice". The public prosecutor's office can intervene in civil cases and propose a verdict, the executive branch can also instruct the public prosecutor's office to cancel and re-roll judgments at its own discretion.

If the cases are not politically relevant, the Russian judiciary has more room to make its decisions independently. In particular, the commercial courts or arbitration courts that are responsible for disputes between companies are considered competent, but the Supreme Commercial Court was joined to the Supreme Court in 2014 and thus effectively dissolved.

The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation has the rank of a constitutional body. It was originally supposed to monitor the strict observance of the Constitution by state bodies. Under its long-time president Valery Sorkin, it has become known that national security interests should be weighted higher than constitutional principles. In several judgments, the court supported the increasing shift of power to the office of the President of the State. While in 1993 it had still opposed the then President Yeltsin's hunger for power, it helped Vladimir Putin in the authoritarian transformation of the country by enabling the president to serve further terms beyond constitutional admissibility.

At the lower level, there are jury courts, which were established in 1993 and before which acquittals (15% of cases) are more likely than before purely professional courts. They were gradually deprived of their powers, political trials, as well as crimes with high possible prison sentences, were transferred from the regional courts with juries to the district courts without juries. Criminal convictions are usually made after confessions, in fact, 75% of the accused agree to a shortened trial without taking evidence in the hope of a mild verdict, no appeal against such a verdict is then possible. Only the 4% of the accused who completely deny their guilt have a chance of one of the – rare – acquittals. Defendants agree to the shortened procedure, among other things, in order to end the long pre-trial detention, considerable pressure is exerted by the investigating authorities to obtain confessions.

Officially, eight different institutions of execution are distinguished: pre-trial detention centers, correctional labor colonies with a general penitentiary system, correctional labor colonies with strict conditions of detention, settlement penal colonies, educational colonies, medical correctional institutions, special colonies and prisons. 80% of the prisoners are correctional labor colonies with a general prison system and correctional labor colonies with strict conditions of detention, the differences between the two types of detention centers being only small and related to the number of visits allowed and the packages and money shipments to be received. In 2020, 523,928 people were in detention centers, as of March 1, 2021, 332 people out of 100,000 residents were detained (for comparison: in Germany, as a rule, about 80 out of 100,000 residents are in detention centers, in the USA - 650). The number of detainees has fallen sharply since the year 2000, when more than a million people were in prisons, this is attributed, among other things, to the imposition of sentences without deprivation of liberty such as house arrest or regular reporting to police stations. A third of the perpetrators will be convicted again. Penal colonies for settlement are considered to be the mildest institutions, where prisoners have the greatest possible freedom of movement and are allowed to work outside with permission and possibly even catch up with their family. Prisons and special colonies, on the other hand, are considered the toughest institutions. The penal system for young people and adolescents takes place in the educational colonies, women may only be detained in educational colonies, medical correctional institutions and correctional labor colonies with a general penal system or in a settlement penal colony. It is not the court that decides on the design and thus the severity of the conditions of detention in the respective institution, but the institution's management. Male recidivists and first-time offenders of particularly serious offenses are imprisoned in correctional labor colonies with strict conditions of detention, while offenders who are accused of special offenses such as terrorism or hostage-taking are imprisoned in prisons and special colonies.

Alexei Navalny died in the colony IK-3, called the Polar Wolf, which is considered one of the harshest institutions in the country.

Torture - even severe torture - is widespread in the Russian prison system.

Prisons are unofficially divided into red and black institutions, blacks have a certain degree of self-government, which means that professional criminals such as the where w sakone play a greater role in them and illegal objects or drugs are available. Red institutions, on the other hand, are dominated by the institution's management and are considered more strict. The thieves in the law form a "self-administration from below" in the institutions dominated by them and implement their values bindingly for all prisoners, usually without the prison administration intervening. Prisoners are mostly housed in community cells. The prison system has its own economic enterprises in which prisoners work and earn profits, the costs for the individual prisoner are kept so low. While in Europe an average of about 68 euros are spent on a prisoner every day, in Russia it is only 2.4 euros. There are economic links of prison officials to organized crime. Within Russian prisons there is a rigid caste system, in which the abandoned form the lowest and completely excluded stratum. Even the accidental contact with a person who has been dropped can lead to descending into this layer yourself. Disliked prisoners can be subjected to deliberately sexualized violence by the prison authorities in order to permanently shift them into the caste of untouchables in this way.

During the ongoing invasion of Ukraine from the beginning of 2022, numerous prisoners – including violent felons – were offered the opportunity to perform military service for a limited time in exchange for a pardon and the remission of the remaining sentence. Their exact number is unknown, but the Ministry of Justice stated at the end of 2023 that there were still 266,000 prisoners in the detention centers. At the beginning of the same year, the FSIN prison authority had given their number as 433,006. It can be assumed that there were high numbers of casualties, but after their term of service expired, criminals returned to Russia and sometimes committed other acts there, including murders. The pardons are granted by order of the President and apart from the other pardon procedure, which provides for a hearing of the victims and reconciliation, a legal basis has not been created by the Duma. The conditions for a release before the end of the war have apparently been significantly tightened in the meantime, the prerequisite is now the achievement of an age limit, a high award or a wound, otherwise the contract is automatically extended.


Internal and external security

Intelligence and security agencies

In general, the so-called "power structures" (silovye struktury), by which federal state "ministries or institutions with uniformed, militarized and armed units" are understood, and their interaction between competition, power struggles and cooperation in Russia play a major and almost impossible to overestimate role. Their influence on the Kremlin is disproportionately great, in the services there is a common worldview of a Russia threatened by the West. Their relatives were once called the "new nobility" of Russia by the influential secretary of the National Security Council Nikolai Patrushev. The services compete with each other, their relatives use their position of power and means of power for kleptocratic enrichment. Mark Galeotti describes the services as "strategically united and tactically" separate. The power of siloviki extends beyond the services, important posts of the administration and in enterprises are often occupied by them; Putin acts as an arbiter between the services and competing groups, approaching their illiberal views in the process. The important access to the president takes place to a large extent informally and often according to political rather than professional criteria: Presidential administration and Secretary Patrushev can control which reports are given special space and which are not, and also the head of the FSO has – or had – an unregulated good access based on personal proximity. There seems to be a lack of a specialist body that looks at the information of the various services in a summary and weights it before it is presented. The FSB's reports also have an influence, even on foreign policy issues that would rather fall within the expertise of the SWR and GRU, but which apparently have a harder time penetrating with their assessments of the president.


Domestic Intelligence Service FSB

The FSB is the domestic intelligence service of the Russian Federation. The Russian name Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation Federalnaya slushba besopasnosti Rossiyskoi Federazii (FSB) means "Federal Service for Security of the Russian Federation".

With the exception of foreign espionage and the Federal Security Service, the FSB is responsible for the entire infrastructure of the former KGB (Committee for State Security). His tasks mainly extend to state protection, domestic espionage, the fight against organized crime and the border service, where the paramilitary border troops of the FSB are subordinate to him. He is the largest of the Russian intelligence services, is in charge of the national anti-terrorist center, has the powers of an investigative agency and his own prisons.

However, the FSB is not a purely domestic intelligence service, but after the collapse of the USSR it remained in charge of the territories of former Soviet republics, including Ukraine. His Fifth Directorate, which is responsible for Ukraine, was partly responsible for the serious miscalculations at the beginning of the invasion in 2022, which led to (temporary) punitive measures against FSB officers.

The service has good connections with the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The weakening of the latter by the establishment of the National Guard (which has been given powers in the fight against terrorism, for which the FSB is primarily responsible) also disadvantages the FSB in this respect.

The FSB has special forces ALFA and Wympel, it is headed by Alexander Bortnikov.


Federal Protection Service FSO

The Federalnaya Slushba Ochrany Rossiyskoi Federazii (FSO, Russian Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation 'Federal Service for Guarding the Russian Federation') is an intelligence service whose primary primary task is the security of the Russian President and the Russian government. The Kremlin regiment is subordinate to him.

The FSO has 20,000 members. In contrast to the physical protection task, according to Mark Galeotti, the FSO has also gained a difficult to understand significance as the guardian of the other intelligence services, he even conducts his own opinion polls to gain information about the opinion formation of the population. He "also makes forecasts and analyzes on national security for the president," his powers, which go beyond security tasks, put him in a competitive situation against the FSB.


Foreign Intelligence Service SWR

The Slushba vneschnei raswedki (SWR, also SVR; Russian Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation, SVR; German Service of Foreign Intelligence of the Russian Federation) is the civilian Russian foreign intelligence service.

It has more than 15,000 employees and a special unit Saslon, which is responsible for the protection of Russian missions abroad. He attaches great importance to HUMINT and also leads elaborately installed long-term agents for this. Traditionally, he is led not by long-time intelligence officers, but by career officials with external experience, at the moment by Sergei Naryshkin.


Military Intelligence GRU

The Glavnoye Razvedyvatelnoye Upravleniye (GRU; Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), 'Headquarters for Reconnaissance', ) is the military intelligence service (military intelligence) of the Russian military. The service is a department of the Russian General Staff, to which it is therefore subordinate and has its own Spetznas units. Similar to the FSB, he is responsible for counterintelligence, similar to the SWR, he conducts foreign espionage.


Police and Ministry of the Interior

The Russian police (Russian police polizija) is federally organized and is subordinate to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Russian police was founded in 2011 and replaced the militia as a police organization. In 2016, the Ministry of the Interior experienced a serious loss of power and lost the Internal Troops to the newly founded National Guard, but in return it was transferred to the Drug Investigation (Federal Service for the Control of the Circulation of Drugs, up to 40,000 employees) and the Foreign Police (Federal Migration Service, 42,000 employees).

At the beginning of 2023, the Russian police had over 900,000 police officers, making it one of the largest police agencies in the world, with 630 officers for every 100,000 inhabitants, which is more than twice as many as in the USA. Nevertheless, due to poor pay and increased workload as a result of tightened laws in connection with the Ukrainian war, staff shortages are occurring.

Traditionally, the population has little trust in the police, corruption and mixing with economic interests and private security services have been complained about. In 2011, only about 40% of crimes were reported at all.


Paramilitary units

National Guard Rosgvardiya
The National Guard (Russian: Rosgvardiya, transliteration: Rosgvardiya, officially the Federal Service of the Troops of the National Guard of the Russian Federation (Rosgvardiya), Federal Service of the Units of the National Guard of the Russian Federation) of Russia is a gendarmerie established in 2016 as a successor to the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. It is an important instrument of domestic political power and is directly subordinate to the President of the Russian Federation. She took over the OMON and SOBR units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Since its foundation, the National Guard has been commanded by Viktor Zolotov, who is considered a confidant of Vladimir Putin.

The tasks of the National Guard range from the protection of public order, the fight against crime, the fight against extremism and terrorism to participation in territorial defense and border protection. It also guards critical state infrastructures.

She has been involved in operations in Crimea, Syria and Belarus, and National Guard units have been deployed in Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion in 2022.

According to the CIA World Factbook, the National Guard has an estimated 350,000 men upwards, but the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) estimated in 2022 that the National Guard only has units of about 60,000-70,000 soldiers, which it could theoretically also send to Ukraine. It has armored personnel carriers, armored transport vehicles, transport aircraft and helicopters, as well as artillery guns, after the failed uprising of Yevgeny Prigozhin and his group Wagner, the National Guard is to receive additional heavy main battle tanks.

The Chechen units of the so-called Kadyrovtsy were integrated into the National Guard, but they are still commanded by Ramzan Kadyrov.


Border troops of the FSB

The Border Troops of Russia (Russian Border Guard Service of the FSB of Russia) are the armed forces responsible for border protection of the Russian Federation. They do not belong to the Armed Forces of Russia, but they are used to perform special tasks in the field of national defense. They are subordinate to the Domestic Intelligence Service FSB. The Russian Coast Guard is part of the border troops.

In 2017, the American military intelligence service DIA estimated the personnel strength of the FSB border troops at 170,000.


Wagner Group and similar formations

The Wagner Group is a paramilitary unit founded externally in 2014 as a mercenary company or PMC, which is in contradiction to a legal ban on mercenary companies in special proximity to the Russian state and is associated with its structures and has been able to act clandestinely for a long time without the Russian government having to publicly assume responsibility. Members of the Wagner group were or are active in Syria, Africa and Ukraine in order to protect the interests of the Russian state. The Wagner group has a special proximity to the Russian military intelligence, its military commander Dmitry Utkin was originally a lieutenant colonel in the GRU military intelligence service, from the very beginning it shared its training ground with Russian military units, including a unit of the GRU. She can be characterized as a "semi-state actor" ("semi-state actor") with a deliberately unclear legal status, her acting in the legal dark field has advantages for the client, for example, that if necessary, she can either act as a private company with her own interest or, on the contrary, be used alongside regular units, while the staff actually continues to identify with the Russian state. The mixture of political and economic interests of businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin allowed Russia to project relatively favorable influence in Africa and Syria, where the Wagner group exploited raw materials and offered services to local elites in exchange for granting economic benefits. In this respect, Wagner stands for an interaction of oligarchic with state interests of Russia, as well as for a privatization of state functions, which makes Wagner appear as a competitor of established structures and appears in contradiction to centralized control.

At the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, according to press reports, several commandos consisting of Wagner soldiers were looking for high-ranking Ukrainian leaders such as Vitaly Klitschko and Volodymyr Zelenskyi, and three attacks on Zelenskyi were said to have been prevented. The owner of the group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was allowed by the state to recruit volunteers in Russian prisons, who were promised generous pay, benefits for relatives in case of death and pardon for military service in and against Ukraine, where the group fought relatively independently. At times, the Wagner group was estimated to consist of 50,000 fighters, of whom 40,000 were prisoners of war. Russia allowed this to generate additional fighters without having to resort to the ordinary population for this. Their participation in inhumane practices led to the conquest of Bachmut, but also to extraordinarily high numbers of victims on their own side.

The role of Wagner as a combat unit in Ukraine made its proximity to the state clear, in 2023 Defense Minister Shoigu tried to bind the group more closely to his ministry by means of a contract, but the group staged a coup to prevent greater integration into the chain of command of the Ministry of Defense. Their future after the failed uprising and the death of their most important leaders is uncertain, but the Russian state under Putin is at least trying to maintain their fighting power, or to continue it under new superiors. Wagner's foreign policy role is also worth preserving for the Russian state. After years of denying any connection to the state, Putin admitted that he had financed the Wagner group since its foundation. From May 2022 to May 2023, according to Putin, the Russian state paid Wagner 86 billion rubles (equivalent to about 940 million US dollars).

In addition to Wagner, there are other military companies of various sizes that operate with the connivance or support of the Russian state, the Ukrainian Osint organization molfar counts 37 different PMCs, including, however, some already hired. Owners can be companies such as Gazprom, which is supposed to have two such units at once, but also politicians, such as the governor of the Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, to whom the Convoy group operating in Kherson is assigned. Defense Minister Shoigu himself is assigned to such militias as the Patriot group. The Redut group of the oligarch Gennady Timchenko was credited with the opportunity or the task of inheriting Wagner.

According to the assessments of the British Ministry of Defense and according to the new commander of Wagner, Anton Yelizarov, Wagner is to be integrated into the Russian National Guard. On 25.12.2023, Putin had given the National Guard permission, as before, to set up Wagner volunteer associations with deployment contracts limited in time to several months, Wagner's African activities were subordinated to the Russian military intelligence GRU. Furthermore, military companies work for Russian institutions and companies. A so-called PMC Espanola is said to be working for and financed by the Kremlin party United Russia and to have been involved in the capture of Avdiivka.


Military and Defense Policy

Military doctrine

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 United States, as well as its allies, NATO and the EU, as a threat to Russia and its neighbors. In March 2018, President Putin devoted a third of his speech to the nation to the presentation of supposedly invincible nuclear weapons.

According to the assumption of the US Department of Defense and various Western scientists and analysts, the Russian nuclear strategy provides for limited nuclear strikes in Europe in the event of a military conflict in Eastern Europe, based on the assumption that the US is not ready for a comprehensive similar response. In this respect, the strategy envisages escalating to a limited extent in atomic terms, in order to then be able to de-escalate. The development and deployment of new tactical nuclear weapons (for example in Kaliningrad) point to this strategy as well as the integration of simulated nuclear strikes into conventional large-scale maneuvers of the Russian Armed Forces.

As a result of the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Russia used the threat of nuclear weapons to secure its aggressive approach to the West. Thus, nuclear weapons no longer appear solely as a means of deterring attackers, but as a shield for imperial reach. In particular, the announced transfer of nuclear weapons to Belarus within the framework of nuclear participation is interpreted as a signal to the West, especially to Poland. This not only defensive type of deterrence does not coincide with what Russia had previously published about its nuclear doctrines.



The Armed Forces of Russia consist of the three sub-Armed Forces
Land Forces (Army)
Air and Space forces

as well as the independent groups of troops
Strategic missile forces
Airborne troops

The armed Forces are led by the General Staff. Russia is divided into five military districts. These districts are subordinated to the United Strategic Command (russ. Objedinjonnoye strategicheskoye komandovanije, OSK), which, in addition to the land forces, are also subordinate to the naval and air forces deployed on the respective territories. With the exception of the Northern Military District, the army is the dominant element in the military districts:

North: North-Western Russia, Arctic beyond the Arctic Circle, Chukhotka; the core of the Military District is the Northern Fleet; headquarters Severomorsk
West: Western and Central Russia, Kaliningrad, Baltic States, also the Baltic Fleet; headquarters Moscow
South: Southern Russia and the North Caucasus, as well as the Crimea, the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla; headquarters Rostov-on-Don
Center: Volga-Ural and Western Siberia (western part to Lake Baikal); headquarters Yekaterinburg
East: Far East and Siberia (eastern part), as well as the Pacific Fleet; Khabarovsk headquarters

In Russia, a general conscription applies, so far for able-bodied men from 18 to a maximum of 27 years. In 2023, the State Duma raised the conscription age by law to 30 years in order to cover the need for soldiers in the war against Ukraine. In 2007 it had been shortened from 24 to 18, then in 2008 to 12 months. Since conscripted soldiers were also used in crisis areas such as Chechnya in the past and mistreatment of young recruits by superiors is not uncommon in the context of Dedovshchina, there is always criticism of conscription in the population, especially by the mothers of conscripted soldiers.

Within the military, ethnic and religious differences play a major and increasing role. Thus, after all, 15% of the soldiers as a whole are Muslims (their share in the population is sharply increasing), but this is not reflected in higher positions, where the share of ethnic Russians (and Ukrainians) is 90%. Ethnically Russian units are given material preference over those from minorities, there is a strong emphasis within the military on the Orthodox confession and its connection with the Russian nation.

With the Sapad maneuvers, Russia practiced the scenario of a conflict towards the west, the maneuver of 2021 served to prepare for the Ukrainian war.

For several years, military spending has been growing sharply. In 2018, Russia spent $ 61.4 billion on its military. It was thus in the international comparison 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 in 6th place, followed by the United Kingdom and Germany. Russia's arms spending, which had already increased massively from 2000, had doubled from 2004 to 2014 and was oriented towards the goal of a fifth of total government spending from 2014. From 2021 to 2022, spending then increased by leaps and bounds from 65.9 billion to 86.4 billion US dollars. In 2022, it thus moved to the place of the country with the third highest military spending, behind the USA and China. Russia spent 4% of its GDP on the military in 2022. Expenditures in the wake of the war in Ukraine continue to increase, to at least 5% of GDP so far, although actual expenditures may also be higher than officially stated. Compared to 2021 as a comparative year, the defense budget increased by 40% by 2023; compared to the budget of 2022, when military and security services accounted for 24% of all government spending, their share increases to 33% of government spending. For 2024, the Russian leadership plans to spend 6% of GDP on military purposes.

Militarily, the strength of Russia in 2023 is seen by Global Firepower in second place behind the USA.

Current situation (from February 2022)
The information situation about the numbers of military personnel is largely unclear. Until the Ukrainian war in February 2022, the armed Forces had about 850,000 men. Of these, 300,000 men were accounted for by the army, 40,000 by the Airborne troops, 150,000 men by the Navy, 160,000 men by the Air Force, 70,000 men by the Strategic Missile Forces, 20,000 men by the special Forces and 100,000 more soldiers for staff duties, cyber operations, support and logistics.

In addition, according to the CIA World Factbook, the National Guard has an estimated 350,000 men, some of them in militarily usable units. Likewise, members of the Wagner group and similar semi-state militias can be counted among the military personnel of Russia.

After the start of the invasion, the state leadership responded to the increased need for personnel with the creation of volunteer battalions, which were to be set up by the governors in the regions. No previous military experience was required, but the payment, as well as the permitted age of recruitment (up to 50 years, in special cases also up to 60), was significantly higher than for regular soldiers and conscripts. Whether, as reported, ethnic minorities are deliberately "burned out" in particularly dangerous operations in Ukraine in order to spare ethnic Russians is unclear, the sometimes significantly higher number of cases can also be explained by the higher motivation in rather poor republics.

In August 2022, President Putin ordered by decree to increase the size of the army by 137,000 to 1.15 million soldiers from 2023.

In September 2022, the government ordered the conscription of hundreds of thousands of reservists and thus the first mobilization since the Second World War.

in 2023, it became known that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, on Putin's instructions, should once again increase the personnel strength of the Russian military from 1.15 million to 1.5 million soldiers. Among other things, a new army corps is to be set up on the border with Finland and another twelve divisions, Dmitry Peskov justified the renewed expansion of the armed forces with the "proxy war" that the West is waging against Russia. At the end of 2023, the Estonian Ministry of Defense estimated that Russia can currently train about 130,000 soldiers to combat readiness in suitable units every six months, insofar as the course of the war allows it. If Russia were disturbed by unfavorable conditions such as high losses and sufficient Western aid for Ukraine, this number would be reduced to 40,000 soldiers every six months and thus – according to the assessment of the Estonian Ministry of Defense – would fall below a critical mark for the success of the war.

According to the assessment of the Estonian intelligence service Välisluureamet, Russia expects a war with NATO in the next ten years.


Nuclear forces

The Russian state has the status of a recognized nuclear power, which was acquired in 1949 as the Soviet Union, and has the world's largest arsenal of nuclear warheads with 5977 pieces, ahead of the United States with 5428 (as of January 2022).

According to Western information, Russia had 6,255 nuclear warheads in 2021. In 2015, new missiles were announced for the nuclear forces. The number of "deployed" nuclear warheads increased from 1,400 in 2013 to 1,796 in 2016. The number of deployed warheads thus increased due to newly refloated submarines compared to the entry into force of the New START Agreement in 2011.

According to the SIPRI Institute, Russia has the largest number of nuclear warheads of all states in 2023 at 4,489, but only 1,674 of them are ready for use, while the rest are being stored.


Civil Protection and Civil Defense

The militarily organized Ministry of Emergency Situations is responsible for assistance in natural disasters and major accidents, as well as for civil defense. It manages the fire brigade, which is organized into professional and voluntary fire brigades throughout the country.



In 2019, 271,000 professional and 956,600 volunteer firefighters were organized in the fire department in Russia nationwide, who work in 18,322 fire stations and fire houses, in which 22,735 fire trucks and 1,326 turntable ladders or telescopic masts are available. The percentage of women is 14%. 262,354 children and young people are organized in the youth fire brigades. The Russian fire brigades were alerted to 1,161,581 operations in the same year, while 471,426 fires were extinguished. Here, 8,559 dead were recovered by the fire brigades during fires and 9,461 injured were rescued. The State Fire Supervision Federal State Fire Supervision, represented by the State Fire Inspector (also Chief State Inspector of the Russian Federation for Fire Supervision, Russian Russian Federation for Fire Supervision), which is subordinate to the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, represents the Russian fire brigades in the World Fire Brigade Association CTIF.




The Russian currency is the Russian ruble (ruble; abbreviation RUB) at 100 kopecks (kopeck). 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) each. Since then, until 2008, the ruble was essentially stable against the US dollar and the euro, inflation in 2006 was 8.2%. So far, the exchange rate policy of the Central Bank of Russia has mainly contributed to this. In order to prevent a rapid appreciation of the ruble with a deterioration in the price competitiveness of Russian producers, she intervened in the foreign exchange market. It bought up the foreign exchange flowing into Russia with the high current account surpluses against 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 about 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. Until January 2007, prices were also often given in settlement units, each corresponding to one US dollar. Since the use of third-party currency is not allowed in Russia, payment was nevertheless made in rubles. However, this practice has been banned since January 2007. Due to frequent bank insolvencies and financial crises, many Russians have switched to investing their savings as cash in euro and dollar bills or in real estate.


State budget

In 2016, the state budget included expenditures of the equivalent of 236.6 billion dollars, which were offset by revenues of the equivalent of 186.5 billion dollars. As a result, the country had a budget deficit of 3.9% of GDP. As of mid-2012, the completion of the Duma and presidential elections will give rise to new extensive modernization expenditures in favor of infrastructure, economy and national defense. A further increase in social spending has also been announced. Thus, spending will tend to continue to increase, which is not a problem due to a low debt-to-gdp ratio. The national debt amounted to 17.0% of GDP in 2016.

in 2006, the share of government spending from GDP was as follows:
Health: 5.3 %
Education: 3.8% (2005)
Military: 3.9% (2005)




After the collapse of the USSR, as a result of the privatization of state-owned enterprises, an economy characterized by so-called oligarchs was formed. However, after Vladimir Putin came to power, the latter reestablished state control over the former state-owned enterprises by removing these oligarchs from power and installing trusted people from the ranks of the Siloviki in key enterprises (primarily the oil and gas production industry). These leaders are sometimes called silowarchs. The current economic form can be characterized as oligarchically led "state capitalism", in which an "exclusive elite with the help of extractive political and economic institutions decisively determines the priorities in economic and foreign economic policy" and generates large incomes through the sale of raw materials on world markets, so that a market-based modernization, which would lead to the gain of power of other actors, is not desired by it, but is prevented. The Russian economy is strongly characterized by clientelism, loyalty to the system is rewarded by the possibility of being able to siphon off excessive profits. Margareta Mommsen assumes that there are "about 13 to 15 clans involved in the permanent poker for power and property", they ruled the country informally as a "secret oligarchy", and Vladimir Putin appears as a link between them and the externally visible power institutions of the state, he is the "patron of clique economic structures", who ensures a balance of interests.


Economic structure and economic history

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 industrial sectors are mechanical engineering, as well as ferrous and non-ferrous metal processing. The chemical and petrochemical industry, as well as the wood, light and food industries are also well developed.

The Russian gross domestic product in 2015 amounted to approximately EUR 1192 billion. The gross domestic product per capita in the same year was 8137 euros. The service sector contributes 62.6% to the gross domestic product. The secondary industrial sector accounts for about 32.7%, while the agricultural sector (construction and agriculture) accounts for 4.7%. The World Bank estimated that about a quarter of the total economic output is accounted for by raw material production.

According to a study by Bank Credit Suisse, the average asset ownership per adult person in Russia is $ 16,773. However, the median income is only $ 3,919 (world average: $ 3,582), which indicates a high level of wealth inequality. More than 70% of the Russian population owns less than $ 10,000 in assets. Russia ranked 19th in the ranking of countries by total private wealth, one place ahead of Indonesia and one behind Sweden. Russia was the country with the fifth highest number of billionaires in 2017 (a total of 96). The so-called oligarchs in the country have partly become a symbol of corrupt structures and inequality.

The total number of employees is 73.5 million (2006). 30% of the working population worked in industry in 2005. 10% of all employed people 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 that only 48 million (instead of 86 million) able-bodied people were visible to the government, according to estimates, the shadow economy accounts for half of economic output. Small and medium-sized enterprises contributed a fifth, while state-owned corporations contributed 70%. Also due to the minimal pensions, working pensioners were part of the army of self-employed low-income earners, who hardly ever declared their income: the tax morale was low in view of the well-known corrupt debauchery of politicians.

After years of recovery, the Russian economy was in recession around the years 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 the year 2016. The main reasons for the recession were mostly cited as the very low oil price, the decline of the ruble, as well as Western sanctions in the course of the war in Ukraine. However, fundamental structural problems are also attested to the Russian economy. Furthermore, Russia had to contend with increased inflation rates of up to 15% in the case of 2015. Inflation fell back to 3% in 2018. In the Global Competitiveness Index, which measures the competitiveness of a country, Russia ranks 38th out of 137 countries (as of 2017/18). In the index for Economic Freedom, the country ranks 114th out of 180 countries in 2017.


After the transformation crisis

The overall economic development of Russia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union was initially characterized by a drastic slump in production. The elimination 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 succeeded in some areas. Overall, the gross domestic product decreased by a good 40%. Shortly after the beginning of the Asian crisis, the Russia crisis began in the fall of 1997. On 17. August 1998, Russia declared state bankruptcy and had to abandon the dollar peg of the ruble. The "policy of the minimum state" under Yeltsin led to the fact that the federal government was unable to collect taxes and provide 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 led a state-run corporatist economy in Russia until 2008. In 2007, by law, he introduced six institutions for bundling state activities in strategically important areas, under the sole leadership of the president. These include the nuclear technology at Rosatom, the Bank for Foreign Trade VEB, the Reform Fund for Real Estate, Rusnano or the armaments conglomerate Rostec, as well as Olimpstroi, the state Company for buildings of the Olympic Games in Sochi 2014, which was dissolved in 2014. VEB emerged from the Foreign Trade Bank of the USSR. Among other things, Prime Minister Medvedev criticized the use of state property or state funds to establish these state conglomerates created by law, which led to a hidden privatization. An audit of the corporations in 2009 by Medvedev found abuse and inefficiency. In his speech to the nation in November 2009, President Medvedev called the organizational form of corporations "without perspective". A few days later, Prime Minister Putin replied that state corporations were simply a necessity, and stressed that there was agreement on this in the leadership of the state.

The first four years of Putin's presidency were followed by the introduction of a flat rate in personal income tax (see Tax law (Russia)), the full convertibility of the ruble and a three-year budget (this was until the financial problems in 2015). In order to benefit from the revenues of the energy sector, private companies have been pushed back from this area. The state also expanded its influence outside the energy sector. The government promoted the formation of large state-owned corporations, which are supposed to dominate strategic industries. For example, private companies for mechanical and automotive engineering were taken over by state-owned enterprises and supported by subsidies in order to be able to be modernized.

Large production capacities from the time of the USSR were not fully utilized, so the Russian government oriented itself to fully utilize these capacities again through a demand-oriented economic policy through an expansive, growth-oriented monetary policy. This brought with it a double-digit inflation rate. The goal set by President Putin to double the gross domestic product within ten years should be achieved by means of a government spending program. For this, salaries in the civil service, as well as pensions, other social benefits and expenses for housing construction were increased. The social program was made possible by the oil boom, which, in addition to high additional revenues for the state, made it possible to reduce the external debt, which in 2000 was still $ 166 billion. Part of the oil revenues went to the Stabilization Fund established in 2004, which was supposed to cushion falling government revenues and mitigate possible inflation. In 2008, this stabilisation fund was divided into a reserve fund and a prosperity fund (to secure pensions). The Prosperity Fund amounted to 68.4 billion euros in 2011, the reserve fund to 19.9 billion euros.

The Russian economy had recovered quickly from the slump in production in the wake of the financial crisis of 1998, as the significant devaluation of the ruble in 1998 boosted the Russian economy and made foreign goods more expensive, so that products from Russia became more competitive there. From a foreign economic point of view, however, the Russian economy's dependence on the energy sector continued to increase. Despite a strong increase in investments, too little investment was made in Russia compared to other countries. Investors criticized the lack of legal certainty, widespread corruption, excessive bureaucracy and the low efficiency of the Russian banking system.


In the international economic crisis

In the wake of the international Economic Crisis, the Russian economy has experienced significantly negative developments since mid-2008, which was largely due to its great dependence on the raw materials sector. Due to the drastic fall 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 has been able to prevent major bank collapses, so that the Russian financial system is once again considered stable. The mandatory deposits at the Central Bank were increased, banks received state aid. The Central Bank of Russia used almost $ 300 billion in reserves to support the ruble, which came under devaluation pressure as a result of the withdrawal of foreign capital. In 2010 and 2011, an economic recovery began in Russia.

This crisis made it clear that the fixation on the wealth of raw materials is leading the country into a dead end and the dependence on world market prices for oil, natural gas or metals is too high. Already at the beginning of the 21st century, an intensive discussion about special economic zones had begun in Russia. Under Vladimir Putin, a corresponding law on special economic zones in the Russian Federation was adopted in 2005. By the end of 2009, 15 of these zones had been designed and approved, including, among others, two industrial special economic zones (Yelabuga, Lipetsk), four technology-oriented special economic zones (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Dubna, Tomsk), as well as seven zones for tourism and recreation. Interest rates were lowered to allow investment in production. The inflation rate reached its lowest level in 20 years in 2011. The government has tried to keep price-driving factors such as the increase in the price of fuels and electricity under control through quarterly agreements with suppliers.

While in 1999 the country was still ranked 22nd among the largest economic nations, in 2012 it occupied the 9th place in the world by nominal GDP. While the value of Russian GDP in relation to German 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, as a result of which import duties decreased and the pressure to modernize the domestic economy increased. In 2015, Russia's economic performance again lagged behind Italy's in 10th or 11th place. Until 2018, the government had never dared to increase the retirement age, which Stalin had set in 1932 – however, the pensions that women receive from the age of 55, men from the age of 60, are so low that many earn money in the shadow economy. At the same time, the labor market lacked manpower.


Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014

Due to the Western sanctions due to the Russian annexation of Crimea and the Russian-sponsored war in Ukraine since 2014, economic development has stagnated in connection with a slump in the oil price. The structural problems of the Russian economy, which had been focused on the export of raw materials for years, were accentuated. The NZZ wrote in August 2015 in a comparison with the ruble crisis of 1997: "Today the situation is less threatening, but the chances of improvement are lower"; thus, the ruble weakness could not be used to modernize and diversify the economy due to financial restrictions. Russian household income in 2015 decreased by an average of 8.5%, while food prices increased by up to 25%. The annual inflation in 2015 was 12.9%. A capital amnesty was supposed to return money to Russia from December 2014. While Presidential spokesman Peskov was talking about an absolutely one-time offer valid for one year at the time of the introduction, the amnesty was extended in December 2015 until June 2016 and renewed at the beginning of 2018 after new American sanctions.

All government spending had to be cut, only the defense sector (defense industry and Armed Forces) was not affected by this. Russian Prime Minister Medvedev had repeatedly stated that Russia would have to live with Western sanctions "indefinitely". Economic development remained paralyzed, because the techniques of maintaining the power of the Putin regime prevented not only political, but also economic reforms. The share of the state economy increased, the shadow economy flourished, real incomes decreased several times between 2014 and 2018. A tax rate of 0% for the years 2017/2018 should have encouraged self-employed people to register their activities; of the probably around nine million people working in this way, just 936 had registered. According to a new legislative proposal from 2018, the entire income should be taken from these low-income earners when the activity is discovered, i.e. a harsher penalty than they would have to fear for high-income earners. Opening a business was not desirable for the majority of Russians surveyed in February 2019, as it is not possible to do business without cheating. Foreign direct investment, which had totaled $ 69 billion in 2013, had fallen to well below $ 5 billion by 2018, according to Le Monde.

In July 2018, it was decided to increase VAT by 2%, which brought it to 20% from January 1, 2019.

People all over Russia in the summer of 2018 demonstrated for several weeks against the increase in the retirement age. Putin's approval ratings crashed, as in 2012, so the usual system of "bad boyars, good tsar" did not work. Although Putin's popularity could hardly fall below 60% thanks to the comprehensive propaganda, the vast majority of respondents were convinced that Putin was responsible for the abuse of power that the opposition accuses the rulers of; the Levada Center's surveys differed in "agreement" with politics and in "trust".

After prices had already risen noticeably again in the pre-war year of 2021 due to the cartelization of the economy, many Western countries imposed unprecedented sanctions against Russia after the start of the Russian attack on Ukraine. 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 represented in the north-west of the European part, in the Central Ural Mountains, in Southern Siberia and in the south of Far Eastern Russia. Russia has about one-fifth of the world's forest stock and about one-third of the world's coniferous forest stock; most of Russia's timber production consists of softwood, mainly pine, fir and larch. The most important hardwood for trade is birch.

Agriculture is still an important branch of the Russian economy. Once the breadbasket of Europe, Russian agriculture suffered a drastic slump in agricultural production in the 1990s – but already in the 1980s Russia was the world's most important wheat exporter. In 2009, the production value of Russian agriculture again amounted to the equivalent of 38 billion euros. In 2016, President Putin underlined the desire 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 in 2016 was $ 17 billion. The conditions for agriculture are good, especially in the European part of Russia, as well as in southern Russia, the Russian Black Earth region 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 corresponds to 9% of the world's arable land. More than 80% of the sown areas are located on the Volga, in the North Caucasus, the Urals and in Western Siberia, within the so-called agrarian triangle. Agriculture accounts for 36% of Russia's gross agricultural production, animal husbandry accounts for over 60%. The main agricultural products in Russia are cereals, sugar beet, sunflower, potatoes and flax. The inland fishery supplies the coveted Russian caviar with the sturgeon. In the transformation phase between 1990 and 1997, the pig and poultry stocks decreased by almost half. Russia has been importing some of its food since then. It has been the goal of the Russian government before, but especially since its counter-sanctions against the West after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, to increase the ability to self-sufficiency and reduce import dependence. The stock of cattle is 12.1 million animals, of pigs - 7 million. as well as sheep and goats, 4.6 million cattle breeding is carried out mainly 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 Chernozem region. Sheep breeding focuses on the regions of Eastern Siberia, the North Caucasus and the Volga region.


Raw materials management

The natural resources of Russia are an important basis for the country's economy. Russia has 16% of all mineral natural resources in the world, including 32% of all natural gas reserves (first place in the world), 12% of all oil reserves, which are located, in particular, in Western Siberia, Sakhalin Island, the North Caucasus, the Komi Republic and the oil fields in the Volga-Ural Region (Caspian Depression). With the sharp increase in oil exports with rising oil prices from 2002 to 2011, the importance of oil and gas production in Russia in particular had grown and played an important role for the economy outside Russia as well. Russian companies such as Gazprom, Rosneft or Lukoil are involved in oil and gas production, which takes place mainly in the northern and eastern parts of the country.

With its gold reserves, Russia occupies the third place in the world. The diamond deposits in the North-East Siberian Yakutia are world-famous. Since 1996, diamonds have been mined here in one of the world's largest kimberlite deposits, in Mirny.

Russia's share in the world's reserves of iron and tin is over 27%, nickel is 36%, copper is 11%, cobalt is 20%, lead is 12%, zinc is 16%, and platinum group metals are 40%. 50% of the world's known coal deposits are found in Russia. According to the mineral deposits, hard coal and iron ore extraction plays a very important role in the economy of Russia. Larger ore deposits are found mainly in the folded-up mountains (chibins on the Kola Peninsula, the Urals, Altai, the Sayan Mountains, as well as other Siberian mountain ranges). Deposits of hard coal are found in some of the foothills of these mountains, especially in the Urals (including Vorkuta coal deposits) and in the Donets basin on the border with Ukraine. Coal mining suffered from a lack of investment and has lost its importance compared to the Soviet era.


Energy industry

Thermal power plants powered by 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 - 16%. The Russian government plans to double the share of nuclear energy in electricity production 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-scale power plants are still under state control. In order to benefit from the revenues of the energy sector, Russian policy was aimed at re-strengthening state control over the energy industry and pushing private companies out of this area. This was achieved by the breakup of the Yukos oil company and the takeover of the Sibneft oil company by the semi-state natural gas company Gazprom. Today, one of the largest gas and oil production concerns 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 are operated by the also state-owned company Rosenergoatom. Until 2008, Unified Energy System had the largest share in electricity production, more than 50% of which belonged to the Russian state and has since been divided into smaller companies.

The program of gas supply to the Russian regions has been running since 2005. It was planned to carry gas to every village in ten years, that is, until 2015. In 2019, the program was extended until 2030. The new goal is no longer to supply all, but 85% of the country's settlements. In Russia, schools and hospitals were still heated with firewood in 2022, which, according to Novaya Gazeta, 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 sites have been established since the Second World War, mainly in the Asian part of the country. Heavy industry is concentrated in the Urals around Yekaterinburg. Russia takes a leading role in the world production of steel and aluminum. In recent years, world-famous steel corporations with high 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 30 largest steel groups in the world. Important centers of heavy industry are Magnitogorsk, Chelyabinsk, Nizhny Tagil, Novokuznetsk, Cherepovets and Lipetsk.

Numerous machine and vehicle industries produce at the old main industrial sites of Moscow, the Volga region, the North-West and the Urals, but also equipment and plant manufacturing is located here. Several branches of the manufacturing industry, such as mechanical engineering, the auto industry and the defense 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 went uphill again. It was possible to regain market shares and find new markets in Asia, especially on markets in the CIS, because some Russian products were able to distinguish themselves as simpler and cheaper than Western competing products. The domestic production of machinery and equipment reached a volume of around 63 billion euros in 2006. In order to accelerate 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, in which state shares of almost 500 enterprises (defense enterprises, airlines, truck and wagon manufacturers and machine builders) were contributed.

Aircraft construction was one of the most important and technically highly developed branches of Russian industry. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the production chains between the former Union republics were interrupted. This had a profound negative impact on Russian aircraft construction. The main developers and producers of aircraft in Russia were united in the OAK in 2006. In 2010, OAK delivered 75 aircraft at a revenue of four billion US dollars. The most famous Russian automakers are AvtoVAZ, KAMAZ, Ishmash or the GAZ Group. Very often you can still see the Russian-made car brands Zhiguli, Moskvich, Lada Niva and Oka, as well as trucks KAMAZ, Ural and others. Meanwhile, Russian automakers are cooperating with foreign concerns. Volkswagen Group Rus is currently working with GAZ, Ford with Sollers, Renault-Nissan and AwtoWAZ, as well as General Motors (GM) with Avtotor. As a result, new assembly plants have been created and are currently being built in Kaluga, Nizhny Novgorod, Togliatti, St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad. Russia's arms industry is coordinated by the state arms exporter Rosoboronexport. Rosoboronexport coordinates the work of the various defense companies and merges them into a group through investments.

The chemical industry of Russia is one of the main branches of the national economy of Russia, the share of which in the volume of commodity production reaches 6%. The chemical complex of Russia includes 15 large industrial groups specializing in the output of a diverse production. The leading companies in this field are the highly profitable, oil-processing enterprises and producers of chemical fertilizers. In addition, the production of chemical fibers, plastics and automobile tires is highly developed in Russia. The economy of Russia is also characterized by the production of building materials, light industry (mainly textile industry) and the food industry.




The leading local retail chains by a large margin include the X5 Retail Group (which includes the Pyatyorochka and Perekryostok chains, among others), Magnit, and the Metro Group and Auchan are leading among the international chains. The banking market is dominated by such state institutions as Sberbank, WTB, Rosselkhosbank and Vneshekonombank. Sberbank alone, the former working People's Savings Bank of the Soviet Union, holds about half of all savings deposits. Only Sberbank has a nationwide branch network. On average, the share of state-controlled banks in the total market is about 50%. The largest Russian private banks (Gazprombank, Alfa Group, MDM Bank, Rosbank) are part of industrial holdings and mainly perform tasks within the framework of the holding.


Foreign trade

The most important trading partner of Russia in terms of supply structure is Germany, which supplies mainly finished industrial products such as machinery, equipment and high-end technology to Russia. In return, Russia was Germany's largest crude oil supplier and covered around a third of Germany's natural gas needs. German-Russian trade increased by 8.4% to EUR 61.9 billion in 2018. German imports from Russia increased by 14.7% year-on-year and amounted to around EUR 36 billion. Exports to Russia also increased by 0.6% to EUR 25.9 billion. The all-time high was reached in 2012. 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 of importance for Russia, which from 2022 took the second place. In 2012, Russia was 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%). However, despite its significant 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 the share of Germany.

Russia's exchange of goods with foreign countries decreased in 2019. On a US dollar basis, trade turnover decreased 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 decreased by 6%. For the first time in ten years, exports thus slowed GDP growth. Asia accounted for 69 percent of Russia's foreign trade at the end of 2023.



The country has natural landscapes worth seeing, including UNESCO World Natural Heritage, as well as sights of high cultural value. In 2010, 2.4 million foreign tourists visited Russia, while 13.1 million Russians traveled abroad for recreation. Domestic tourism brought it to 29.1 million travelers. Although the flow of tourists from Asia and South America is increasing, guests from Europe – with Germany at the top – make up the majority of visitors to Russia. Thus, the number of arrivals of holiday and business travelers had also continuously increased; while there were around 360,000 Germans who visited the country in 2002, 558,000 German visitors came in 2008. However, only 66,000 of these were German holiday trips and the rest were business trips as well as family and friendship visits. In 2017, 580,000 Germans visited the Russian Federation. Individual tourists were often deterred by visa procurement and language barriers, while the country is more popular with tour groups.

Tourists have long been deterred by an unattractive brand image, according to which "Russia is an uncomfortable country" and "not ready to accept tourists. That the people there are unfriendly and that the danger lurks everywhere around, “ said Alexander Radkov, head of the State Tourism Agency Rostourismus, in 2012. Despite increased activities by the Federal Tourism Agency, an effective PR and marketing strategy has so far been lacking, which causes the country's bad image in the West, among other things. could be influenced by media coverage, which mainly contains news about attacks, corruption and lack of freedom.

Tourism in Russia is mainly concentrated in the two metropolises of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. St. Petersburg is considered the Venice of the North and has a rich cultural offer and a historic city center, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Typical for St. Petersburg are the White Nights with the Neva bridges folded up from the end of May to the middle of July. In addition, boat trips on the Volga River are offered, as well as sightseeing tours of Old Russian cities northeast of Moscow, the so-called Golden Ring with more than 20 cities. Nature holidays are possible mainly in Karelia and the Altai Mountains (World Natural Heritage). The Trans-Siberian Railway (Transsib) runs on about 9300 km from Moscow via Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, the capital of Siberia, Irkutsk, which is also called the "Paris" of Siberia, as well as the region around Lake Baikal, also a UNESCO World Natural Heritage, to Vladivostok. The Transsib is used by individual tourists on the regular trains of the Russian Railways as well as by group travelers who book trips on special trains.

Kaliningrad, the former Königsberg, is also attracting more and more German visitors. The Curonian Spit, a narrow headland, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, is located partly in the Kaliningrad Oblast, partly in Lithuania.

In domestic tourism, the seaside resorts of the Black Sea coast, as well as a number of North Caucasian thermal spring resorts, such as Kislovodsk or Pyatigorsk, are of importance. 400 km are located between the northernmost and the southernmost point of the Russian Black Sea coast. It is on this relatively small stretch of coast, which is located at the same latitude as the seaside resorts of the Adriatic Sea and the Italian and French Mediterranean coasts, that the majority of Russia's seaside resort business is concentrated during the season from May to October.

Ski tourism in the North Caucasus is becoming increasingly popular. The corresponding infrastructure was expanded, especially for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.


Transport and communications

With a size of 17,075,400 km2, the country's special attention is paid to the widest possible and functioning infrastructure. After Russia's political turnaround, the volume of traffic had initially mostly reduced due to the economic downturn, but then experienced strong growth. The current infrastructure still largely dates back to the times of the Soviet Union and is now in need of modernization, and the existing transport systems generate hardly 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 strategy for the renewal of transport routes, 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 are to be pushed forward in the transport sector in order to mobilize private investors' financing resources in this sector as well.

Despite difficult conditions, Russia wants to establish itself programmatically 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, especially at the Moscow and Saint Petersburg hubs.

While the transport infrastructure of Russia is well developed west of the Urals as a whole, the infrastructure of roads and railways in the Trans-Urals and Siberia is technically outdated at best and not competitive. The biggest traffic obstacle to the economic connection of the vast territories of Siberia to the booming South and Southeast Asian states is the lack of transport routes in the north-south direction. As a result, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping agreed in 2015 to integrate the Eurasian Economic Union and the Silk Road Belt Initiative, respectively initiated by Russia and China, into one project, the Central Eurasia Initiative. The aim is to develop a logistical strategy for a new transport framework for Siberia and the Far East of Russia.

In the Logistics Performance Index, which is compiled by the World Bank and measures the quality of infrastructure, Russia ranked 75th among 160 countries in 2018.


Road transport

Since 2000, the trend towards the street has been clearly visible in Russia. The road density is very low with 40 m of road per km2. This is due, among other things, to the very low population density in large parts of the country. The road network in Russia is of very different quality, its expansion cannot keep up with the ever-increasing traffic on the roads. The density of the network decreases sharply from west to east: the further you move from Moscow to the east, the more the road conditions deteriorate. Nevertheless, the majority of freight traffic 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, as well as via Finland. The difference in the gauge of the railways also contributes to this.

The Russian highway and trunk road network together covers about 540,000 km (2001), two thirds of which are fixed. Only since 2003 there has been a spatially and seasonally continuous road connection from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean. The trunk roads are usually not developed as motorways or expressways outside the conurbations and even with larger wide roads, the directional carriageways are not separated from each other by guardrails. The main long-distance highway in Russia is European Route 30, which ends in Siberia.

The share of transportation costs in production costs is up to 20% due to poor roads. The poor infrastructure costs the country up to 9% of its economic output; transport experts estimate that at least 32 billion euros would have to be invested annually in the expansion of roads.

There are relatively many fatal accidents in road traffic. In 2013, there were a total of 18.9 traffic fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants in Russia. By comparison, there were 4.3 deaths in Germany in the same year. A total of 27,000 people were killed in road traffic as a result. 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 about 46.9 million vehicles, Russia has the fifth largest fleet of all countries. 14 of the previous 60 car brands were officially distributed in Russia at the beginning of 2024. These were the three Russian Lada, GAZ and UAZ, as well as eleven Chinese ones.


Public transport

Almost half of the 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, in 66 cities there are trams and suburban trains, and in seven cities there is also a metro, as well as in 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 decommissioned in favor of buses in several large cities (for example, the trolleybus in Arkhangelsk and the tram in Ivanovo in 2008, or the tram in Voronezh in 2009).



As a means of mass transportation over long distances, the railway occupies an important part of the transport market in Russia. Due to the great distances, the connection of the Far East was a great challenge in the early 20th century, which the country was able to create with the famous Trans-Siberian Railway. At the same time, the Baikal-Amur highway 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. For example, it can reduce the transport of goods between Pusan and Helsinki from about 47 days by sea to about 16 days.

In May 2001, the Russian government decided to implement the railway reform. The main goals were the liberalization of the railway market and the release of tariffs in railway transport. As part of the railway reform, the former Ministry of Railways (MPS) was dissolved in October 2003 and Russia's second largest state-owned enterprise, the Rossiyskiye zheleznye dorogi (RZhD), was founded. In recent years, 85 private railway companies have also been established in Russia, which now transport more than 25% of the goods and own about 30% (about 200,000 freight wagons) of the total freight wagon inventory in Russia. The route network in Russia is operated by the RZhD. In total, the well-developed railway network (broad gauge with 1520 mm gauge) covers about 87,000 km, of which almost half (40,000 km) is electrified. On the island of Sakhalin there are almost 1000 km in 1067 mm width. In addition, there are an additional 30,000 km of non-public industrial railways (all data 2004). While road freight transport has been the dominant mode of transport in Western Europe for decades and rail has a subordinate importance, the truck has only been able to catch up in Russia since 2000. Therefore, rail has an above-average market share of freight transport in Russia at 83%.


Water transport

Russia has a significant number of ports and navigable waterways. 72,000 km of inland waterways connect the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the inland lakes and the White Sea in the European part of Russia. Important waterways here 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 large rivers Ob, Yenisei and Lena into the Polar Sea, there is no east-west access by water; due to ice formation, the Polar route is only possible for a few months in summer, but this period is extended by climate change. The navigability of the rivers and canals is severely impaired by meteorological influences (water level) and poor construction. Since 1990, a reduction in the stock of the inland waterway fleet has been observed in Russia. The number of inland waterway vessels in 2002 was still about 8800, of which 8000 were cargo ships and 800 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 export volume of crude oil and petroleum products. The most important seaports are located in St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, Novorossiysk and Sochi on the Black Sea, as well as Vladivostok, Nakhodka, Magadan and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the Pacific Ocean; Murmansk is the only year-round ice-free (North) Atlantic port. In 2003, the cargo turnover in Russian ports amounted to 285.7 million tons. Ferry traffic is important for freight traffic between the Russian heartland and the exclave of Kaliningrad.



In Russia and the Soviet Union, aviation was of great importance from an early age due to the area of the country. National air traffic connects remote areas, the development of which by land was never worthwhile. 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 railway. Tickets for flights to the Far East of Russia are still subsidized by the state. In addition to Aeroflot, which continues to be semi-state, the Rossiya, S7 Airlines and UTair, which are also affiliated with the state, fly as larger companies. The number of airports in Russia decreased from 1302 to 496 between 1992 and 2011, the number of international airports increased from 19 to 70, and 55 airfields had a paved runway of more than 3000 m in length. Several international airlines also fly to other Russian cities besides Moscow. The largest and most important airports are Sheremetyevo-2 and Domodedovo near Moscow. The aircraft fleet of Russia in 2011 included about 6000 aircraft, of which almost 2000 were cargo aircraft. Government subsidies and regulations are used to revitalize the Russian aviation industry. In the fall of 2018, the government issued an order to Sberbank and VTB banks to establish a large regional airline, with the help of which an upgrade of regional airports was to be achieved to relieve the burden on the Moscow hub. In January 2020, President Putin instructed the government to form a company for the development of remote eastern regions with a fleet consisting entirely of Russian aircraft. This society was created on the basis of the Red Wings. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and the Western sanctions, the Russian authorities granted permission to 21 airlines to operate foreign aircraft without a valid airworthiness certificate, which led to 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 initially for seven days, after which the measures were extended dozens of times. China also refused to allow the double-registered aircraft to use its airspace. In 2023, Russian air carriers transported 105 million passengers. Four-fifths were domestic passengers. Flights to 40 countries were planned for 2024 (2022: 32).


Space travel

In the 1990s, the Russian space industry suffered from major financing problems, so that many programs came to a standstill. Due to the improvement of the economic situation, Russian space travel was able to recover. The state-owned company Roskosmos, as the national space agency, is responsible for the country's civil space program; its headquarters are located in the Star City near Moscow. It was established in 1992 as an authority and took over the essential resources of Soviet space flight. Roskosmos currently uses three space stations: the Plessetsk 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 suppliers of commercial missile launches for decades.

In July 2005, a new space program for the years 2005 to 2015 was approved by the Russian government. The goal was to ensure the world level of Russian space flight and consolidate Russia's position among the world's leading space powers. Priority was given to the development and use of space technology and services, as well as the construction of spacecraft for manned flights, transport and interplanetary missions, including a reusable space system. Russia is a major participant in the ISS, for the supply of which, since the termination of the space shuttle program, 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 new generation space station are to be created. As a first step, Russia wanted to bring its satellite fleet up to the world standard by 2015, primarily with the help of Western elements. In addition, at this time from the new Vostochny cosmodrome in the Amur region, the first unmanned launches with modernized versions of the previous launchers were supposed to take place. In fact, the older Soyuz-2.1 model has been launching there since 2016. The first manned launches of spaceships with the new Angara A5 launch vehicle were planned by Vostochny for 2020; this is postponed 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 had been interwoven with that of Ukraine since Soviet times; several rockets such as the Dnepr and the Zenit were jointly developed and produced. Due to the war with Ukraine, this cooperation broke up, so Russia lost about half of its selection of launchers. New in-house developments such as the Soyuz-5 and -6 are expected to compensate for this in the course of the 2020s.



Freedom of the press and media control

The freedom of the press is severely restricted and continues to decline, according to Reporters without Borders, Russia was ranked 149th out of 180 countries in 2019, only 164th in 2023. The Russian presidential administration, regardless of the freedom of the press guaranteed by the Constitution, has a direct influence on reporting, its deputy head Alexei Gromov gives the heads of major state and private TV channels the framework of the desired coverage on a weekly basis at an appointment in the Kremlin administration's offices. Furthermore, guidelines with language regulations and lines of reasoning are written and sent to the broadcasters. Below the Kremlin administration, the Federal Service for Supervision in the Field of Information Technology and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) provides supervision such as control and censorship of both the media landscape and private communication in electronic media, i.e. the Internet. This plays an important role, Russians are increasingly switching to Telegram channels in 2022 to get information after the spell of remaining domestic media such as Western social networks, the Kremlin is also using this opportunity through channels close to it to influence public opinion. Facebook Instagram has been blocking almost all independent media since February 2022, and these can only be reached via VPN, just like Facebook or Instagram. Independent media left the country, the Duma adopted a censorship law in March 2022, according to which, with the threat of high prison sentences, it is now allowed to report only according to official state sources.


Media structure

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 at the beginning of the 1990s. Since then, many newspapers, publishers and television stations have formed alliances with oligarchs to ensure their survival. However, they came under their control, who exert political influence over the media through manipulations. The media empires of Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky (Media Most), which contradict President Putin, were smashed by court order. The largest Russian media holdings are Gazprom-Media and WGTRK, the All-Russian State Television and Radio Corporation. Although media censorship is practiced by Roskomnadzor (the regulatory body for Mass Media, Communication and Protection of Cultural Heritage), according to the Russian Constitution, Chapter 2, Article 29, freedom of opinion and speech is guaranteed. Propaganda and agitation that incites social, racial, national and religious enmity is prohibited, as is the relativization of the role of the Armed Forces in the Second World War. Most Russians prefer television as the number one source of information, followed by newspapers. According to Roskomnadzor, there are 66,032 media listed in Russia (as of 2012). These include 5,254 TV channels, 3,769 radio stations, 28,449 newspapers and 21,572 magazines.

As early as 2016, Andreas Umland pointed out that the channels of state television are not mass media in the Western sense, their propagandistic instrumentalization, their aggressiveness and hostility to the truth – which in the domestic channels goes far beyond what is being disseminated abroad at Russia Today – is unimaginable for those who are not familiar with the language. The nationalism spread in them serves only to preserve the power of the regime and its kleptocratic elites, the approach is pragmatic in this respect. Hannes Adomeit draws a connection between the given structure of the media and the strategic interests of the country defined from above: "In order to organize the work of the Russian state media "more effectively", the RIA Novosti news agency - the largest and most modern agency in Russia – merged with the foreign channel Golos Rossii (Voice of Russia) to form the international information agency Rossiya Segodnya (Russia today) and included the new media group in the "List of Strategic companies of Russia", which have a special significance for the country's defense capability and security.“



Television is the main and often the only source of information for 85% of the Russian population and is therefore particularly suitable as a propaganda tool of the government, which carefully controls the content orientation of the programs. In most parts of Russia, three nationwide and one to two regional TV channels can be received. In Moscow, depending on the location, more than a dozen television providers are available for terrestrial reception. The Pervy canal, dt. First Channel, is the channel with the largest coverage in the country and can be received by 99.8% of the Russian population, the weekly audience at the channel reaches over 80% of the population. Part of the Russian television channels is operated by the state media concern WGTRK. Its offer includes the Rossiya 1 channel, which, according to its own data, is received by about 98.8% of the Russian population. Also, a sports channel called Sport (Russian Sport) and a cultural channel called Rossiya K are operated by WGTRK. In addition, since 2005 there has been the internationally oriented, including English-language channel Russia Today, based in Moscow, whose stated goals are to present the Russian view of international events to the audience. Developments within Russia are also to be examined here from a Russian perspective. Russia Today is considered a propaganda tool initiated directly from the Kremlin, the idea for its creation is attributed to Mikhail Lessin. The channel has a strong staff (in 2011 it had more employees worldwide than Fox News) and spreads conspiracy theories, it has managed to gain a large number of viewers in the West. Its importance increased from the 2009 Georgian War and the reporting was increasingly used offensively. Vesti is one of the main news channels of Russia. He is a part of Telekanal Rossija and RTR. The TV channel Russian TV international is produced specifically for Russians living abroad.

In the 1990s, several private TV channels developed in Russia, some of them nationwide, which also had independent and also government-critical information broadcasts in the program. At the beginning of the 2000s, however, the nationally receivable channels came under the indirect control of the state or were closed and replaced by state channels. Thus, sport broadcasts today on the frequency of TW-6. Russia broadcasts with the television standard SECAM (variant Eastern Europe). Russia plans to introduce DVB-T in the long term (in the 2010s). Allegedly, such devices are to be subsidized so that the population can purchase the relatively expensive device.


Print material

For decades, the daily press of the USSR was provided with information mainly through the semi-official press agency TASS. After the collapse of the USSR, a free press developed in Russia, but today it is again facing increasing repression by the government. Freedom House rates the freedom of the press as "not free" and with a general downward trend (in 2002 the country was still listed as "partially free"). In the Reporters Without Borders press freedom ranking, Russia ranks 164th in 2023; in Europe, only Turkey (ranked 165th) performed worse.

In the spring of 2017, journalist Nikolai Andrushchenko was killed. According to the report of Reporters Without Borders, the death of the victim is directly related to his journalistic activity.

Among the print media, the tabloid Moskovsky Komsomolets is considered the most popular in the country. According to its own data, the tabloid reaches about 1.3 million readers. She is also the most affordable. The most important daily newspaper is Komsomolskaya Pravda, with a circulation of 830,000 copies today. The daily newspaper Rossiyskaya gazeta (circulation: 430,000 copies) is a bulletin of the Russian government based in Moscow. Russian laws and decrees come into force only with the publication in the Rossiyskaya Gazeta. Since 1993, RIA Novosti has been a state information and analysis agency with its own correspondents in more than 40 countries.



In addition to the state–owned 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 Moskvy channel was considered the only remaining representative of media critical of the government. Nowadays, Russian radio stations use the FM 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 stations still run today under the name VHF. Many Russian apartments have a radio plug, with which one can receive from one to three transmitters in the manner of wire radio. The simple devices do not require any further power supply and often have a volume control as the only control element. The extensive foreign broadcasting service is operated under the name Voice of Russia.



The history of the Internet in Russia begins in September 1990, when the top-level domain ".su" was registered for the then Soviet Union. This domain is partially used by Russian websites to this day. In March 1994, the official top-level domain ".ru" was registered for Russian Internet addresses. Sites under this domain make up a considerable part of the Russian Internet – often called runet for short. Meanwhile, the country also has a Cyrillic top-level domain (.rf). The Russian Internet segment ranked fourth worldwide with a total of more than 3.6 million domain names in 2012.

In the 2000s, the number of Internet users throughout Russia increased continuously: 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 the Runet include the search engines Rambler and Yandex, the online network W Kontakte, as well as the information and news portals RBC Information Systems, and . The most famous providers include major telecommunications companies such as CenterTelekom, MGTS, North-West Telecom or VolgaTelekom. In the course of state support for the expansion of the Internet, social media activities in Russia recorded an exceptionally strong boost, and corresponding platforms play an important role in Russia. Especially popular are the platforms created in Russia and , which showed higher growth rates than international ones, such as Facebook. LiveJournal was also used more than average in Russia in an international comparison, and finally Russian. The gross reach of social networks in 2010 was about 49.2 million of people living in Russia. Since then, many regulations have been issued with vague formulations that allow the authorities to crack down on 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 due to the effort in 2017.



The All-Russian telecommunications company Rostelecom is the largest enterprise of this industry in Russia. Since April 1, 2011, it has included the regional branches Dalny Vostok (Far East), Sibir, Ural, Volga, Jug (south), Severo-Zapad (North-West) and Zentr (center). The mobile market is mainly shared by the three largest Mobile TeleSystems providers in the country, Beeline and MegaFon, as well as some smaller regional providers. This industry experienced rapid growth in Russia from the year 2000 onwards: 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 amounted to a good 155 million as of March 31, 2007.

In 2019, it was decreed by law that Internet data traffic must run on its own servers, so that independence from abroad is guaranteed from now on.



The vast majority of the Russian postal system is handled by the state-owned company Pochta Rossii. In 2002, it was spun off from the simultaneously dissolved Federal Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, which was also responsible for postal traffic in Soviet times. Today, the Pochta Rossii offers its services in a total of over 42,000 post offices, which are distributed nationwide throughout Russia. The number of employees in the company amounts to about 415,000 throughout Russia. Since the beginning of the 21st century, post offices in many cities have been offering a wide range of services. At the beginning of the twentieth century, in addition to basic postal services – such as sending and receiving letters, parcels and telegrams, as well as the post giro – there were also complementary services, including public computer workstations with Internet access.

In the field of letter delivery, Pochta Rossii is a monopolist in Russia. Since the 1990s, internationally active courier companies such as DHL or TNT Express have also been active in the parcel post sector in Russia.


Demographics and social sphere


The population is very unevenly distributed within Russia. 85% of the population (about 123 million people) live in the European part (23% of the total area) and 15% (about 22 million people) in the far larger Asian part (77% of the total area). The population density varies from 362 inhabitants/km2 in the capital and its environs (Moscow region) and below 1 inhabitant/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 regions.


Demographic development

Russia's population fell from 147.0 million at the census in January 1989 to 142.2 million by 2007. After that, the population decline slowed down, so that the population in 2010 was 141.9 million. Due to the results of the 2010 census, the population figure was corrected. The fertility rate fell from two to 1.16 births per woman between 1988 and 1999. At the same time, the mortality rate among men doubled from 9.4 (in 1970) to 18.7 per 1,000 population (in 2005). The average life expectancy of men fell from 63.9 years in 1986 to 57.5 years (1994). By 2004, it had increased to 58.9 years; in 2011 it was 64.3 years, in 2014 it was 70.36 years. The higher male death rate leads to an excess of women. In 2010, there were 10.7 million more women than men in Russia. The main cause: unhealthy lifestyle due to alcohol, smoking, as well as road accidents, suicide and murder. At 56.7%, various heart diseases are considered the most common cause of death, and cancers are also very common. The number of deaths due to drug use, tuberculosis and HIV has increased noticeably since the end of the Soviet Union. In 2015, there was talk of an annual increase of 10% in HIV infections, mainly due to drug use. The head of the Federal Center for the Prevention and Control of AIDS, Vadim Pokrovsky, spoke in mid-2015 about fifteen regions of Russia with a generalized epidemic with more than 1% infected population, similar to South Africa. According to data at the beginning of the World Aids Conference in 2018, new infections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia were the only region in the world to increase between 2010 and 2016, 80% of which affected Russia, where the number of new infections in 2017 was twice as high as in 2005, according to UNAIDS. In 2019, the Consumer Protection Agency counted just over one million infected and about 80 new infections every day, according to Vadim Pokrovsky.

The Russian government has launched several national programs aimed at helping to increase the birth rate. Since 2007, parents have received a one-time state allowance (maternity capital) of almost 10,000 euros from their second newborn child (in 2012). Thus, the number of births in Russia had increased from 1.48 million (2006) to 1.9 million (2012). In 2018, families received discounted mortgages and grants, in some cases from the first child; $ 9 billion was budgeted for 3 years. In February 2019, President Vladimir Putin declared that he would not put up with the falling birth rate and announced further relief for families with children.

Russia has one of the highest abortion rates in Europe, Pyotr Tolstoy, the deputy chairman of the Duma called a figure of almost 1.5 million abortions per year, with according to statistics only 1.3 million births in 2022. The Ministry of Health, on the other hand, calls the number of 400,000 abortions, with a decreasing trend. The liberal abortion law is to be drastically tightened according to ideas from the church and politics.

The share of the urban population remained constant at 73%.

Particularly highly educated people tended to emigrate, partly because of the prevailing legal uncertainty. This trend also slowed down at times as a result of the government's demographic policy efforts. After the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014, significantly more highly qualified people left the country again during the following economic downturn. In the spring of 2018, the head of the Russian Academy of Sciences complained about a number of 44,000 emigrants who were missing from Russian research.

From 2003 to 2006, Russia was the second largest immigration country in the world. in 2017, 8.1% of the population were migrants. The regions of origin are mainly the poorer, southern former Soviet republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus, but increasingly also Africa and Southeast Asia. However, the majority of immigrants so far are the descendants of Russians who were settled in other republics during the empire and the Soviet era and mostly returned to Russia together with their families. After the annexation of Crimea, the influx was dampened by the economic downturn, but also by protectionism and nationalism – in the first half of 2017, immigration no longer equalized mortality.

Within the Russian total population, especially Muslim peoples such as Chechens and Ingush have high birth rates, but other Muslim groups such as Circassians, Tatars or Bashkirs do not.

The population of Russia is expected to continue to decline in the coming decades, similar to other European countries, the ILO expects a decrease to 130 million inhabitants by 2050. Assuming a net migration of 300,000 people per year, the decline would be only slightly pronounced. By 2012, the situation stabilized somewhat, the number of inhabitants increased slightly and amounted to about 143.5 million. For the period from 2015 onwards, a deterioration in the demographic situation was expected due to the low birth rates of the 1990s. This slight population growth turned into a negative demographic development again in the further course of the 2010s. In 2020, according to Rosstat, the decline in the Russian population again included more than 500,000 people in one year for the first time since 2005. In 2021, the Russian authorities expected a population decline of 1.2 million people by 2024. The invasion of Ukraine further worsened the situation: after the start of the war, the population shrank by at least 524,000 people, between "January and April 2023, 3.1% fewer children were born than in the same period last year, which is a negative record".



"St. Petersburg is the head, Moscow is the heart, Novgorod is the father, Kiev is the mother of Russia.“
- Russian characterization of Russia's historical centers
Already from 800, Kievan Rus was characterized by many city-like settlements, which is why the Scandinavian Varangians called the area Gardarike ("Empire of Cities"). Among the oldest surviving cities in this area are Novgorod, Smolensk, Pskov, Rostov, Murom and Beloosero, all of which were founded back in the first millennium AD. In the 11th and 12th centuries, other cities in the center of Russia were founded by Slavic settlers. It was during this period that Moscow, Yaroslavl, Tver, Vladimir, Vologda, Kirov, Tula, Kursk, Kostroma, Ryazan and, a little later, Nizhny Novgorod were formed. 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 middle of the 16th century, Russian colonists founded further cities in the east, southeast and south. Numerous cities were initially founded as border fortresses. In the south, these were bases of the Verhauline line against the Crimean Tatars, such as Oryol (1566) and present-day Voronezh (1586). Further east, on the Volga, other cities such as Samara (1586), Tsaritsyn (1589) and Saratov (1590) were built during this time. In Siberia, after its conquest, numerous Cossack forts, so-called ostrogs, were created. Later, such cities as Tobolsk, Irkutsk, Bratsk, Tomsk and Yakutsk grew out of them. Cities in the Ural and Altai Mountains, such as Perm (1723), Yekaterinburg (1723) or Barnaul (1730), arose in the era of Peter the Great in connection with the ores and precious minerals present 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. in 1784 Stavropol and Vladikavkaz were founded, in 1793 Krasnodar, in 1805 Novocherkassk, in 1818 Grozny, in 1844 Port Petrovsk.

Despite the foundations, large parts of the premises retained their rural character. The farmer belonged to one of My (farming community). Outside the agglomerations, cities represented isolated phenomena and formed only a wide-meshed network. Until 1712, Moscow functioned as the capital, and then, according to the will of Peter I, it was replaced by Saint Petersburg, newly founded in 1703, in order to officially resume the status of the capital in 1918. In the 19th century, there was even frequent mention of the two capitals. Industrialization at the end of the 19th century. The beginning of the twentieth century brought a significant impetus to the subsequent urbanization in all parts of the country. It led to the emergence of numerous new cities and the rapid growth of old ones. Many Russian cities appeared as a result of an administrative restructuring of several neighboring village settlements into one urban-type settlement. To this day, the founding of new cities and urban surveys are a characteristic of Russian urbanization.

More than half of all Russian cities have been founded only in the last 90 years, especially in the 1960s. That is why among the 160 major Russian cities, where half of the Russian population lives, there are many new cities (about a quarter). Major Russian cities are primarily industrial and administrative centers, but they also have other high-level functions. Examples of new big cities are Magnitogorsk, Novokuznetsk or Bratsk, the grown ones include Samara and Tambov, among others.

At the time of the Soviet Union, urban development was planned and controlled centrally. The type of the Socialist City prevailed. These include, for example, the formation of new types of cities, for example, the capitals of small national republics (including Cheboksary, Nalchik) or science cities (for example, Dubna). The massive urbanization policy pursued in the Soviet era led to the fact that today 73% of the population lives in urban settlements. As a result of the political and economic upheavals in Russia in the 1990s, the cities emerged as independent and self-responsible municipal units. For this purpose, they received local and regional control instances. However, with the new state borders, highly organized, specialized production and distribution processes also collapsed. Many cities were suddenly cut off from the previous networks. Formerly centrally located cities suddenly represented border cities and were geopolitically peripheral. As a result, the functional structure and the economic development base of Russian cities changed fundamentally and led to shifts in the city system of Russia, with ups and downs. So far, the main winners of the transformation have been the metropolises, above all Moscow. Due to the lack of capital for the extraction and transportation of raw materials under extreme conditions, many mining towns in the North faced a survival crisis.

The ten largest cities of Russia (former names from Soviet times in parentheses):

Moscow - Central Russia (12.23 million inhabitants)
Saint Petersburg (Leningrad) - North-Western Russia (5.28 million inhabitants)
Novosibirsk - Siberia (1.60 million inhabitants)
Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk) - Ural (1.46 million inhabitants)
Nizhny Novgorod (Gorky) - Volga (1.26 million inhabitants)
Kazan - Volga (1.23 million inhabitants)
Chelyabinsk - Ural (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)


Between peoples

Strictly speaking, Rossiyskaya Federatsiya would literally be translated as "Russian Federation" (from Rossiya "Russia"), and not "Russian Federation". They deliberately did not choose Russkaya Federatsiya ("Russian Federation") as the state designation in order to include non-Russian nationalities as well. If we are talking about the Russian people or the Russian-speaking culture, we therefore speak of russkiy (Russian) in Russian, but for the Russian state, on the other hand, we use the adjective rossiyskiy (Russian). Nevertheless, the adjective "Russian" is usually used in German in both cases. The use of the word "Russian" is largely limited to specialized publications. The official translation of the Constitution of Russia also uses this variant.

Even today, the Russian Federation sees itself as a multi-ethnic state. The largest group is the Russians, who make up the majority of the population at 79.8%, but there are almost 100 other peoples living on the territory of the country. Despite the heterogeneity, the Russian population is dominant throughout the country in all urban and industrial areas, and the titular nations often form the minority even in their "own" territories. Thus, only 23 peoples or titular nations number more than 400,000 people. The degree of ethnic identification varies.

The largest minorities are Tatars (4.0%), Ukrainians (2.2%), Armenians (1.9%), Chuvash (1.5%), Bashkirs (1.4%), Germans (0.8%) and others. The smaller minorities include, for example, the Meschetes and various minorities of the Jewish faith. The non-Russian minorities speak predominantly languages from the circle of Turkic languages, Caucasian languages, Uralic languages (Samoyedic languages), Altaic or Paleosiberian languages. For many non-Russian peoples, republics with extensive autonomy were established. While some minorities, such as Armenians, Koreans and Germans, are spread over the most diverse regions of Russia, there are also several indigenous peoples in European Russia. The number of nationalities is large in the Caucasus region, which came to Russia only in the last third of the 18th century.


Languages spoken

Russian is the only official language in force everywhere, but at the same time, in the individual autonomous republics, the respective national language is often used as the second official language. In some republics there are also three or more official languages; in Dagestan, where more than 30 indigenous ethnic groups live, there are 14 official languages.

The use of regional languages is promoted in the classroom, in the mass media and in cultural policy. The governments and parliaments of the republics consider this an indispensable condition in order to prevent the extinction of ethnic groups. However, the mastery of the indigenous mother tongue among many non-Russian ethnic groups is decreasing.

Russian, as well as almost all regional official languages in Russia, is written in the Cyrillic alphabet. There is a guideline that all respective languages must be written in Cyrillic. The exceptions are Yiddish in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, which has hardly been spoken there for decades, as well as Karelian, Finnish and Wepsian in Karelia, which, however, have only a subordinate official status there.

In Tatarstan, as the only exception, from 2001 to 2004, against the resistance of the Russian-speaking population resident in Tatarstan, Tatar was written exclusively in Latin script. This practice was banned by the Russian Constitutional Court in November 2004 on the grounds that a uniform script was necessary for the unity of Russia.


Religious traditions

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the associated disappearance of the atheistic state ideology of Marxism-Leninism, a return to religious values took place. The most widespread religions in Russia are Christianity – primarily the Russian Orthodox faith - as well as Islam. In addition, numerous other denominations are represented, such as the Roman Catholic faith, Protestantism, Judaism, Buddhism, as well as traditional beliefs of some ethnic groups. About a third of the population describes themselves as atheists or non-denominational.

While, immediately after the end of the Soviet Union, there was widespread religious liberality and facilitated successful missionary activities for foreign and financially powerful religious communities, the 1997 Religious Law privileges the so-called "traditional religions" of the Orthodox Church, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism. Since 2016, there have been restrictions on missionary activities, which were initially aimed at Islam, but also affect free churches and new religious movements. in 2012, regulations for the protection of religious feelings had already been created, which are applied in practice in the spirit of the Russian Orthodox Church. As for belonging to individual religious groups, there are no reliable figures, since the members of churches and parishes in Russia are not registered, and there is no church tax. Surveys often deviate significantly from each other. In 2012, for example, the Foundation for Public Opinion (FOM) found that only 41 percent were Orthodox, compared to 13 percent atheists and only 6.5 percent Muslims. Another 25 percent, however, described themselves as agnostics or said they believed in a higher God-like power. The All-Russian Center for Opinion Research (VCIOM), on the other hand, assumed 75 percent Orthodox and only 8 percent atheists in 2010, its figures are also quoted by the Russian Embassy in Germany.

Deviating from the surveys mentioned, the proportion of Orthodox people is usually given as between 51 and 72%, that of other Christians with a combined barely 2%, that of Buddhists with just under 1% and that of Jews with about 0.35%. The Fischer Weltalmanach and the Religious Freedom Report of the US State Department state that 14% are Muslims.

In 2006, the CIA World Factbook assumed the following rough estimates for practicing believers, i.e. those who actively practice their faith: 15 to 20% Russian Orthodox, 10 to 15% Muslims, 2% other Christian denominations.

The Interreligious Council of Russia (russ. Meschreligiosny sowet Rossii / Interreligious Council of Russia (MSR)) unites leading representatives of the four most important denominations of the country: the Russian Orthodox Church, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. He is under the leadership of the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Kirill and has an advisory influence on legislative processes and decisions of interest. The Council for Cooperation with Religious Associations under the President of the Russian Federation is located in the Russian Presidential Chancellery and serves to coordinate the President with religions.

in 2020, a religious reference was incorporated into Article 67 of the Russian Constitution: the Russian state preserves its thousand-year history and unity and the memory of the ancestors who "transmitted ideals and faith in God to us, as well as continuity in the development of the Russian state".


Russian Orthodox Church

The Russian Orthodox faith dates back to the early Middle Ages. The close contacts to this religious trend resulted from the trade mainly focused on Constantinople and the close contacts with Byzantium. Princess Olga of Kiev (893-924) was the first ruler of the Rurikid dynasty to be baptized, but she could not enforce the Christian faith in the empire. After the siege of Constantinople (860), more and more Orthodox missionaries came to the country from 911, allegedly Varangians and Russians who had participated in the attack of 860 are said to have already returned baptized. Under Olga's grandson, Vladimir the Saint, the Christianization of Rus began in 988/989, during which the Kievan population was converted in mass baptisms. After Vladimir's death in 1015, the previously pagan peoples continued to be Christianized for decades. Byzantium at that time conducted its church policy in conscious opposition to Rome, imparting anti-Roman tendencies to the Eastern Slavs in their conversion. The Church of Kiev, as a particular church of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, was initially administered by exarchs, which had no effect on the political independence of the Kiev Grand Dukes. The Orthodox Church and its values still form a supporting social pillar of the Russian Empire to this day.

After the destruction of Kievan Rus in the Mongol Storm and under the subsequent Golden Horde, the Kiev metropolitan moved first 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 that upholds the "true Christian faith", was born. in 1589, a separate patriarchate was established. Peter I abolished this and in 1721 instead put at the head of the church the Most Holy Governing Synod, which was abolished in Soviet Russia in 1918. The Soviets first restored the patriarchate, before a Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church was re-established in 1988.

In Russia before 1917, adherents of the Russian Orthodox Church were not allowed to convert to another denomination, even if it was 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. It was not until the revolution of 1905 that the laws were relaxed. After the Communists came to power, mainly members of this church were suppressed, since it was considered a symbol of autocracy. Between 1918 and 1939, ca. 40,000 Orthodox clergy executed. The 77,800 municipalities from 1917 were reduced to about 3100 by 1941.

The Russian Orthodox Church is experiencing a state-sponsored revival, especially in rural areas. Many monasteries were founded or re-established. The church currently has about 100 million members, but only 5 to 10% of them are regular worshippers. Religious education in schools was reintroduced in 2006. The Russian Orthodox Church sees itself as a representative of the interests of the people, without being in opposition to the government. The state itself, on the other hand, sees the church as a guarantor of the cohesion of society. According to the theologian Thomas Bremer, the majority of the population trusted the Church in 2008 and sees it as an institution that conveys values and strengthens internal cohesion in society. In 2022, he saw a great closeness of the Church to the state, which fits into historical patterns: traditionally, there is no real separation between the state and the church, the community is always preferred over individuals and particular identities. The West is perceived as dangerously individualistic and "decadent", while traditional values such as nation or family or marriage between a man and a woman are – in the opinion of the Church – affirmed and protected again in Russia after the end of the Soviet Union. The Russian Orthodox Church thus provided Putin with a justification for rule, a "religious basis for the political demarcation that Russia has made against the West.“

According to Andreas Heinemann-Grüder, the Russian Orthodox Church is part of the Putinist ruling structure today (2023), Patriarch Kirill has a formative past in common with Vladimir Putin in the Soviet KGB. The concept of the Russki Mir is militantly represented by the Church, the war against Ukraine is not justified on its own, but transfigured into a "divine service": "The symbiotic closeness between the Russian Orthodox Church and the regime under Putin has parallels to clerical-fascist currents of the 1920s and 1930s". The faith is "declared rather than actually lived".

In the course of history, there have been separations from the Orthodox faith. The oldest spin-off is the Old Orthodox or Old Believers. Other faiths that emerged from Orthodoxy are the Molokans. From them, in turn, the Duchoborzes emerged. Both religious communities reject wealth, try to lead a life of modesty and are looking for a truly biblical community. The community of subbotniki was founded by some serfs. These refer primarily to the Old Testament. Many of these sects or groups were subjected to arbitrary persecution in the tsarist empire.


Other Christian denominations

In Russia, in addition to the Russian Orthodox orientation, there are other Christian denominations:

The Roman Catholic Church in Russia was unpopular due to the Byzantine influences. Thus, it took until 1705 for Peter I to allow the construction of a Roman Catholic church for the first time. The Catholics were subject to very strict state controls. If the Bolsheviks were primarily concerned with the control of the Orthodox Church after the October Revolution, the Catholics were later observed more closely again. By 1930, all the structures of the church had been dissolved. After 1945, there were only 20 communes in the Russian part of the Soviet Union, which were forbidden to establish connections with each other. Today there are about 200 Catholic parishes with about 400,000–800,000 members in Russia. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Moscow) was restored and returned to its purpose. Since 2010 there has been an Apostolic Nuncio in Moscow again. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was banned in the Russian-occupied Zaporizhia Oblast together with the Knights of Columbus and Caritas. Members of the church had kept weapons in church buildings and participated in anti-Russian protests, the Catholic French newspaper La Croix reports that the priests were deported in Melitopol.
The Protestant Church in Russia used to be widespread almost only among the Russian Germans and in their colonies. Only after the revolution of 1905, other denominations were also 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 experienced a heyday in the 1920s, despite the atheism of the government of the Soviet Union (especially the Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists and Pentecostals). However, the Baptists, Gospel Christians and Pentecostals were forced into centralist orders in order to be able to control them better. The same thing happened with the Seventh-day Adventists and the Mennonites in 1963. During the period of Stalinism, many Evangelical Christians of all stripes were executed and persecuted. The missionary activity of free churches is now being deliberately hindered. In Russian-occupied Luhansk and Donetsk, according to reports in the evangelical newspaper Christianity Today, Evangelical communities are now being hindered, oppressed, assessed as extremist and their buildings partially confiscated, a Christian library has been deliberately destroyed.
Like most denominations, it was also 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 recognized by the state since the beginning of the 1990s.
As of April 2017, there are about 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 North). For several years now, the Russian state has brought a total of seven lawsuits 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 20. In April 2017, the community was classified as an extremist organization by Russia's Supreme Court and banned. The property of all regional associations was confiscated. The witnesses were accused of distributing writings "in which other religions would be devalued and which called for the refusal of civic duties such as military service and participation in elections". The human rights organization Human Rights Watch criticized the court decision. The domestic secret Service FSB carried out raids and arrests to prevent further activity, temporarily arrested Jehovah's Witnesses reported mistreatment such as beatings and electric shocks.



The number of Muslims is estimated at about 17-20 million people, of which 90% are Sunnis. They come from different peoples, including 20 smaller ones in Dagestan alone, but also Tartars, Chechens and labor migrants (of various nationalities) from Central Asia. Islam in Russia has been widespread in the North Caucasus since the 7th century and is therefore older on today's Russian territory than the first Russian foundation of the state and the Christianization of the country. In 922, the Volga Bulgars also converted to Islam, and in the 13th century they gave it to the Turks. It was passed on to the Tatars in the XVIII 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 was of Muslim origin. In today's Russia, the proportion of Muslims, at around 14%, is about as large as it was once in the Soviet Union. From 1990 to 1994, the "Islamic Party of Rebirth" existed in Russia. In addition, there is also an "Islamic Party of the Rebirth of Tajikistan" as well as numerous other organizations and spin-offs. Centers of Islam in Russia today, in addition to Kazan and Moscow, are also Ufa and Dagestan. According to research by Novaya gazeta, the increasing importance of Islam in the Caucasus in 2018 is accompanied by a loss of trust in the state.

Through the Russian Mufti Council and the Central Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Russia, the state is trying to institutionalize and control Islam. Persecution and repression, which were chosen by the authorities as a means in the wake of the struggle of terrorist Salafist and Wahabi groups against the state, have not proven themselves in regions with a larger Islamic share of the population, but rather led to Islamist radicalization. That is why the state increasingly chose the means of regional power–sharing, religious organizations (see Muftiate) are organized and privileged regionally in and from their republics and – for example for construction activities - financially supported, but are legally obliged to report the names of their members. They must register in their republics of origin, they are forbidden to expand beyond the geographical restriction assigned to them, by law they are preferred over small communities. Foreign assistance is administratively prohibited or complicated, the state takes a very close look at the finances of organizations. In order to control influences from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, missionary activity requires a permit and is limited to registered personnel. Individual Muslim texts such as those of the Turkish Sufi master Şefik Can are prohibited. Mosques that resist inclusion and self-finance through donations are gradually being closed or taken over by the umbrella organizations to which the educational institutions such as the Russian Islamic University in Ufa are subordinate. Friday sermons are prescribed. On the whole, these strategies work better in the Volga republics than in the North Caucasus, where the Russian state was subjected to Islamist and violent challenges in the 1990s and 2000s. In order to preserve Chechnya as part of Russia, Moscow has waged two wars there since 1994, reached an agreement with a resistance group and used it as a loyal leadership. The current head of the Caucasus Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, rules Chechnya with an iron hand, for which he receives considerable payments from Moscow, with which he finances Islamic structures in (and outside) the republic. Under him, Sharia regulations were enforced, in deviation from Russian laws, for example, there are plural marriages and morality police-like control. On the one hand, his Islam intervenes strongly in the lives of the inhabitants of Chechnya, on the other hand, he is oriented towards the Sufi, i.e. traditional Islam of the region and combats Salafism and Wahabism. However, Salafist influences and connections to the Gulf region have been incorporated into the ideology and politics developed by Kadyrov, so that there has already been talk of a kind of "state Salafism". Kadyrov took up traditional ideas of clan and family ties, as well as Chechen nationalism, which he linked with Russian, and combined this with a Puritan idea of Islam, which came from the Gulf region.

In the wake of the strong political emphasis on "traditional values" by the Russian state, the Orthodox Church and organized Islam are deliberately brought closer to each other, the security authorities are working closely with the muftiates.



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, a large part 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. In the Grand Duchy of Moscow, Jews were first mentioned in 1471. Until the time of Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584), Jews were tolerated except for some laws directed against them. From 1721 they were expelled from the Russian Empire, until this became impossible due to the incorporation of the eastern parts of Poland (in 1793 and 1795). From 1791 the Jews had to live within the settlement area, which was located on the present territory of Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic States.

In the 19th century, leading officials such as Konstantin Pobedonostsev supported anti-Semitic currents in the population. Thus, many pogroms occurred in southern Russia in 1881, after the Jews were falsely accused of plotting against Alexander II. The May laws of 1882 expelled the Jews from the rural areas even in the settlement area; quotas limited the number of Jews admitted to higher education to 3-10%. Between 1880 and 1920, more than two million Jews fled from Russia, especially to America. in 1903, new pogroms broke out, which intensified again in the Russian Revolution and led to between 70,000 and 250,000 victims among the Jewish civilian population. During Stalinism, the Jewish Autonomous Oblast with the main town of Birobidzhan was founded in the Russian Far East, where only a few Jews settled. Compared to the decades before, there are only a few Jews left today, as many of them have emigrated to Germany or America, but most have emigrated to Israel. Today there are 87 synagogues in Russia, most of them in St. Petersburg and in Moscow, including the Moscow Memorial Synagogue. The Jews in European Russia are mostly Ashkenazim, to the east of which there are also some mountain Jews and Bukharian Jews, who are counted among the Mizrachim.

Two rabbis are recognized as chief rabbis of Russia. The Chief Rabbi of Moscow, Pinchas Goldschmidt, left Russia in protest in 2022 after the start of the invasion of Ukraine, according to him, pressure is being exerted on the community leaders to support the war. Many Jews have since left the country.



In Russia, the Tibetan form of Buddhism is also widespread, although it was originally limited to the Asian peoples (Kalmyks, Tuvinians). Just like clergymen and followers of practically all other religions, Buddhist monks were persecuted and oppressed in the Soviet Union during the Communist rule. Kalmykia is the only republic with a Buddhist majority. Since the political turnaround in Russia and the successor states of the Soviet Union, on the other hand, the Buddhist communities have again recorded an increase in membership among members of the traditionally Buddhist peoples, but also on the part of Russians and other nationalities.



Shamanism is again widespread among the indigenous population in Siberia; especially among the small peoples of the Russian North. Although today most of the inhabitants of Siberia are Christians, nevertheless they do not see it as a contradiction to practice the rituals of their ancestors.


Society and mentality

The Soviet Union was an imperial united nation-state, i.e. nationality was a political instrument for the consolidation of Soviet power, and many different mentalities also meet in today's Russia. However, the fusion of these peoples and denominations, as well as influences of Western and Eastern imprints, also created striking peculiarities that manifest themselves in the stereotype of the "Russian soul". This term still shapes the image of Russia to this day; in Western countries, the term served Russophiles and critics of the Western way of life as a projection to their own civilization, which was perceived as cold to the feelings. The "Russian soul" is described as a tendency to extreme opposites, which arose as a result of the historical development of Russian folk culture. These extremes are expressed, for example, in the pursuit of the absolute extreme, combined with the readiness for a sudden change of direction; in addition, there is a pronounced devotion to fate, a penchant for patience, a tendency to superstition, the ability to suffer or even a very strong attachment to one's homeland. The all-or-nothing mentality already mentioned knows no compromise and no golden mean. Also known is the openness of expressions of feelings, positive and negative, which are often given more weight in comparison with rational considerations, which often irritates Western foreigners. It is also important to maintain a strong sense of solidarity and community.

Russian society is traditionally characterized by collectivism, 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 has also been a common property for a long time, people in Russia have always defined themselves by the community and paid attention to the coherence of their own behavior and their own expression of opinion with those of the collective.

The family is an important reference group for many Russians, especially in the countryside people live closely together in every respect. Often several generations live there in one apartment or in one house. The family supports each other financially and helps each other with childcare and elderly care, domestic violence is widespread. On the part of the state, in view of the demographic crisis, the ideal of "traditional family values" is emphasized, every woman should have three children, in fact, families with only one child are common. The collective orientation is sometimes still evident today in everyday professional life. The college is experienced as a community and it seems very important to strengthen this group orientation. Nepotism (nepotism) in the procurement of jobs or contracts is a side effect.

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, however, educated sections of the population in the major cities in particular, who were able to benefit from the newly gained freedom of travel, have been guided by the principles of individualism, which has resulted in a massive tension within society and has become a central theme in contemporary literature and film making. People close to education, ambitious and critical were increasingly looking for opportunities to live abroad after the striking break with the Western world in 2014; in 2015, the Duma even discussed a ban on foreign language teaching, because it promotes emigration. In 2019, the Lewada Center conducted a representative survey in which 53% of respondents in the age group between 18 and 24 years stated that they wanted to move abroad. Only about 20% of the Russian population has a passport and has been abroad at least once.

In 2014, 43% of all managerial posts in Russia were held by women; in percentage terms, more than in any other country in the world.



Health protection of citizens in Russia is a set of measures of a political, economic, legal, social, cultural, scientific, medical, sanitary—hygienic and anti-epidemic nature aimed at preserving and strengthening the physical and mental health of each person, maintaining his long-term active life, providing him with medical care in case of loss of health.

At the end of 2007, there were about 6.8 thousand hospital facilities, 1522 thousand hospital beds (107.2 per 10 thousand people). In 2017, the number of hospital beds decreased to 1.2 million. From 2000 to 2015, the number of hospitals in Russia decreased by half — from 10.7 to 5.4 thousand. According to the National League for Patient Protection, about 50,000 people die in Russia every year as a result of poor-quality medical care; According to the Compulsory Medical Insurance Fund (FOMS), medical errors account for about 10% of all medical services rendered, or 800 thousand per year.

The number of private clinics in Russia does not exceed 5-10% of their total number. There are 707 thousand doctors of various specialties in Russia (at the end of 2007); according to the Russian Ministry of Health (2016), there are 543.6 thousand doctors of various specialties in Russia.

In 2016, healthcare spending in Russia amounted to about 3.6% of GDP, which is below the average for the EU (7.2%) and the OECD (6.5%), and for the BRICS it exceeds spending in China (3.1% of GDP) and India (1.4% of GDP). Despite the reduction in the bed stock, the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people in Russia is 1.6 times higher than the EU average. In 2011-2017, infant mortality decreased by 36%. In 2011-2017, within the framework of the national Health project, about 300 polyclinics, 1800 paramedic stations, and about 600 specialized points for providing care for heart attacks and strokes were built.

According to a 2014 report from the Bloomberg consulting company, Russia ranked last 51st in terms of quality and efficiency of healthcare, while in 2013 it did not meet the rating criteria; in the 2015 report, the national health system rose 1-2 positions in the ranking, taking 49-50 place.

In the period 2010-2014, there was a significant decrease in the infant mortality rate; infant mortality in Russia became lower than in many European countries, which indicates the progress of the Russian health care system in this area.

According to experts (prof. N. Korchazhkina), the number of sanatorium-resort institutions and the number of people who received sanatorium treatment in Russia is decreasing from year to year, which indicates the low availability of sanatorium treatment for the population. Due to the ban on substitution therapy for drug addicts and the lack of sexual education, the HIV epidemic continues in Russia. Russia is the leader in the rate of HIV spread in Europe. In terms of life expectancy, Russia ranks 110th (2015) - 105th (2017), which correlates with low overall health care costs in Russia. However, over the past 12 years, the average life expectancy in Russia has increased by about six years, reaching the figures of the Soviet Union in 1989, and amounting to 71.87 years in 2016.

According to the 2016 data from The Lancet medical journal, Russia is ranked 119th among the world's countries in the population health ranking. According to the head of the Center for Strategic Research A. L. Kudrin, Russia is among the outsiders in terms of the health of the male population. According to a study by the international analytical company The Economist Intelligence Unit (2016), the Russian healthcare model is at the end of the rating in terms of effectiveness and focus on results — at the level of Nigeria, Brazil and South Africa, which is due to a reduction in real financing of Russian healthcare and affects the level of quality of life, according to which Russia ranks 72 in this rating- the 8th place out of 80. According to a UN report assessing the "level of happiness" in the country based on the sum of complex indicators of the level of safety, health, education, and life satisfaction, Russia in 2017 was in 49th place in the world, bypassing all the republics of the former USSR, with the exception of the Baltic states; in 2018, Russia moved to 59th the place.


Social problems


After the collapse of the USSR, poverty rose to more than 40% of the population by 1999 and then fell noticeably. In 2002, the share was 19.6%, and by 2011 it had decreased to 12.8% of the population, or 18 million Russians. Officially, the subsistence minimum was 170 euros for a person of working age; for children, the value is insignificantly lower, for pensioners it is 125 euros. The standard of living improved very differently regionally. While especially in Moscow and St. When some neighborhoods began to shine in new splendor, poverty was still great 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 could be reduced from 2005, especially the middle income class increased significantly in percentage terms. In 2010, pensions exceeded the subsistence level for the first time in many years and, according to forecasts, should increase to 268 euros by 2014. In 2012, about half of the population belonged to the low-income class, which cannot finance central social needs such as housing or additional education. In fact, in 2014, the average pension was 10, 000 rubles, which was equal to 160 euros. Pensions and salaries had to be frozen. Since 2014, funds from the second, funded pillar of pension provision have been used to cover financial needs. The areas with the highest unemployment figures in Russia by 2021 were Dagestan, Ingushetia and North Ossetia.

Reducing poverty was one of President Putin's five-year goals in spring 2019: almost 19 million Russians were considered poor, which corresponded to 12.9% of the population.

The poorer segments of the population suffered from double-digit increases in consumer prices until 2009, which decreased again by 2012. From 2014 to 2019, real income decreased. In order to combat poverty, a new calculation basis was introduced in the autumn of 2021, with which the number of the poor suddenly fell 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 considered the only way for young men to escape poverty and ever be able to provide for a family.

The unemployment rate had begun to decline with the overcoming of the financial crisis in 2008. In growth regions such as Moscow, Kaluga and St. Petersburg, unemployment tended to zero. According to the International Labour Organization standards, unemployment was 7.1% in 2005, 7.6% in 2010 and 6.6% in 2011. By 2014, it dropped to 5.2% and began to rise again. The unemployment benefit was between 60 and 70 euros per month. However, due to a special feature of Russian labor law, unemployment is a problematic indicator of the economic situation: company-related dismissals are mostly inadmissible in Russia, instead employers are allowed to unilaterally reduce labor remuneration. Therefore, Russian employees prefer to stay in their company even in the event of a shortage of orders and accept high wage losses, instead of taking advantage of the rather symbolic unemployment benefits of 20 to 110 euros in 2019.

The United Nations Development Programme ranks the Russian Federation among the states with a very high level of human development. The Gini coefficient was 37.7 in 2016.



According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, 1,540.2 thousand crimes were registered in January-September 2020, which is 1.2% more than in the same period of 2019. As a result of criminal attacks, 17.5 thousand people died, 27.1 thousand people suffered serious harm to their health. Rural areas account for 39.3% of the dead (6.9 thousand people); urban—type cities and towns account for 67.6% of people whose health has been seriously harmed (18.3 thousand people).

For comparison, in 2011, the internal affairs bodies reviewed 24.6 million applications, reports and other information about incidents. For almost every twelfth report (8.1%), a decision was made to initiate a criminal case. As a result of criminal attacks, 40.1 thousand people died (4.5%), 49.4 thousand people suffered serious harm to their health (2.8%). Rural areas account for 41.0% of deaths (16.4 thousand people); cities and towns that are not the centers of federal subjects — 35.8%; persons whose health has been seriously harmed — 17.7 thousand people.

According to Rosstat, in 2010, 1,800 crimes per 100,000 people were registered in Russia, in terms of the entire population of 2.63 million crimes. In 2011, 16.4 thousand murders were registered, which is 12% less than in 2010.



The employment rate of the Russian population has been quite high since Soviet times, when the birth rate decreased and the number of women involved in the economy increased dramatically.

After the labor market crisis during the "shock therapy" of the 1990s, the renewed economic growth allowed to reduce unemployment and increase employment. As of March 2013, the economically active population in Russia amounted to 75.2 million people (about 53% of the total population of the country). Of these, 71.0 million people were employed in the economy and 4.3 million people (5.7%) were not employed, but were actively looking for work. At the same time, different regions of Russia vary greatly in terms of employment, unemployment and the level of attracting foreign labor. In 2013, according to the ILO, there were 4,137 million unemployed people in Russia.

Despite the fact that women in Russia are actively engaged in the economy, many employers in Russia still practice explicit discrimination based on gender and age. Another problem of employment in Russia, despite the low unemployment rate, is the fairly widespread employment in the informal sector of the economy, which has increased significantly since perestroika. This phenomenon has its pros and cons.

According to a VTsIOM survey, unemployment is one of the social problems of concern to the population of Russia.



In terms of corruption, Transparency International gave Russia less than 3 points (2011-1996), which, according to this organization, is a very poor indicator. However, according to a study by the British auditing company Ernst & Young conducted in the spring of 2012, corruption risks in Russia decreased significantly in 2011 and in many respects became lower than the global average. More than 1,500 top managers of the largest companies from 43 countries of the world took part in the Ernst & Young study. So, if in 2011 39% of managers surveyed in Russia stated the need to pay bribes in cash to protect business or achieve corporate benefits, then in 2012 there were 16% of such people.

At the end of 2011, the international consulting company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and Transparency International published reports according to which the scale of corruption in Russia is decreasing. The PWC report noted that "the wide public response that this topic causes, and the measures taken by the Russian government in the legal field, as well as work within companies to strengthen compliance systems and create a culture of ethical behavior among employees, are all bearing fruit."

In recent years, Russia's position in the corruption perception index has remained stable. From 2015 to 2017, she scored 29 points each, in 2018 she lost one point, and in 2019 the indicator remained unchanged. More significant changes were observed in Russia's position in the ranking: in 2015 — 119th, in 2016 - 131st, in 2017 — 135th, in 2018 - 138th. These fluctuations are associated not only with changes in the ranking of other countries and with the inclusion or exclusion of some countries from the index, but also with the fact that systemic anti-corruption was replaced by targeted criminal cases, existing anti-corruption tools did not develop, and the Convention on Civil Liability for Corruption is still not ratified by Russia.

Mikhail Zadornov, head of VTB 24 Bank, said that, in his opinion, the level of corruption in Russia is currently higher than in the 1990s. According to the international Organization of Certified Accountants ACCA, Russia is among the five countries with the highest level of shadow economy. Regarding the fight against corruption, the Russian Prosecutor General's Office reported on the dismissal of 1,303 officials in 2018 in connection with corruption investigations.

"In the absence of political will for real change, anti-corruption is doomed to remain a cargo cult. Targeted measures taken by the authorities responsible for combating corruption, as well as local amendments to legislation, are not able to radically change the situation in our country — for this it is necessary to build an inclusive system of coordinating the interests of public actors, which will not allow the authorities to make rash decisions in the interests of a narrow group of people," says Anton Pominov, director of the Center Transparency International — R.



At the time of the Soviet Union, Russian nature was heavily polluted: littered by factory waste, chemically and radioactively contaminated. 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 or Greenpeace. For example, in the past, common environmental standards were often insufficiently complied with when developing new oil or natural gas deposits. A well-known example of recent times is the development of the Sakhalin II assisted areas, in which environmental requirements are said to have been violated to a greater extent. In addition, there is widespread corruption within state environmental authorities, which allows multiple violations of environmental regulations during the construction of houses or mass illegal logging. Also, a large number of contaminated sites from the Soviet times, including dilapidated factories that cannot comply with today's environmental standards, significantly pollute the environment in parts of the country. Some cities with such factories, such as Norilsk or Dzerzhinsk, are considered an ecological emergency zone.

The more the quality of life increased, the more important and urgent environmental issues were discussed in Russia's public and politics. Since 2004, isolated efforts of the Russian state power to promote environmental and climate protection have become visible. Thus, in Russia, the ratification of the Kyoto Agreement was completed on November 5, 2004 with the president's approval of the decision of the State Duma. On January 30, 2008, President-Elect Dmitry Medvedev expressed his support for the rapid development of the domestic market for innovative technology in environmental protection. Meanwhile, the government has plans to increase energy efficiency in Russia in order to limit the significant loss of thermal energy for the housing sector.



According to the Constitution of Russia, obtaining basic general education is mandatory. Parents or persons replacing them are obliged to ensure that their children receive basic general education.

A total of 31.5 million people study in Russia (2016). The adult literacy rate (2015) is 99.8%.

The education system in modern Russia includes pre-school, general and vocational education. General education has the following levels: primary general, basic general and secondary (full) general education, and also includes special (correctional) and additional education for children. Vocational education is also divided into levels: secondary vocational and higher vocational education, in addition, it includes postgraduate and additional vocational education.

The main types of educational institutions in Russia are:
pre-school education (up to 6-7 years old): nursery, kindergarten;
Primary general education (years 6-11, grades 1-4): school, lyceum, gymnasium, boarding school;
basic general education (12-16 years old, grades 5-9): school, lyceum, gymnasium, college, boarding school;
secondary general education (16-18 years old, grades 10-11): school, lyceum, gymnasium, college, boarding school;
secondary vocational education (after 9th grade): vocational school, vocational lyceum, technical school, college;
higher and postgraduate professional education: institute, academy, university.

In Russia in the 2005/06 academic year, there were 60.5 thousand general education institutions: primary, basic and full secondary schools, boarding schools, gymnasiums, lyceums, etc. (46,794, according to 2015 data). They have over 15.6 million students (2018). At the same time, about 2 thousand educational institutions, which educate 0.3 million people, are special, that is, designed for children with disabilities and development. About 3.5 thousand educational institutions are institutions of primary vocational education, in which over 1.5 million people study. About 300 such educational institutions have been established at correctional labor institutions of the Ministry of Justice. Due to the demographic decline, the number of students has been decreasing in recent years.

There are about 7 million students in the country (including 3.5 million full-time students) and 1,068 universities, including 413 non-governmental ones (2005). In addition, there are 2.9 thousand institutions of secondary vocational education (including 217 non-governmental ones), in which about 2.5 million people study. In accordance with the legislation, vocational education institutions must undergo periodic certification, licensing and state accreditation. Educational institutions that do not have state accreditation do not have the right to issue state—issued educational documents (diplomas, certificates), and those that do not have a license do not have the right to conduct educational activities at all. The concept of "attestation" does not apply to institutions, but to educational programs, as well as to graduates of universities and secondary educational institutions.

In 2008, there was a massive transfer of higher education to a two—tier bachelor's and master's degree system (see the Bologna Process). Single-level system (with the qualification of "specialist") It has been preserved primarily for education in the field of medicine, for the needs of defense and security, and in some other cases.

According to the UN, Russia ranks 1st in the world in terms of the number of citizens receiving engineering education.

From 2010 to 2017, the number of free (budget) places in higher education institutions increased in Russia (2010 — 43.43%; 2017 — 49.91%), but at the same time the cost of paid education increased significantly, which runs counter to the global trend of reducing fees in higher education institutions and, according to some It reduces the overall accessibility of higher education in Russia. In the ranking of national higher education systems (2017), according to the international network of universities Universitas 21, Russia took the 33rd place. According to the World Education Index (2018), a combined indicator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) calculated as an adult literacy index and an index of the total proportion of students receiving education, Russia ranked 32nd in the world. According to the rating of the effectiveness of national education systems (Global Index of Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment; 2016), a rating measuring the achievements of countries in the field of education according to the British company Pearson Education, Russia took 34th place.


The science

Science as a social institution originated in Russia under Peter I, when he sent several expeditions to Siberia and North America, including Vitus Bering and Vasily Tatishchev, the first Russian historiographer. In 1725, the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (now the Russian Academy of Sciences, the main organizational center of fundamental science in the Russian Federation) was opened. A university was opened under her, on the basis of which St. Petersburg University was later opened. Academician Mikhail Lomonosov made a great contribution to the development of Russian science. In 1755, based on the project of M. V. Lomonosov and under the patronage of I. I. Shuvalov, Moscow University was founded.

In the XVII—XIX centuries, universities were founded in Dorpat, Vilna, Kazan and Kharkov. By the end of the XIX century, the composition of universities was replenished with Warsaw, Kiev, Odessa and Tomsk.

In 1869, scientist D. I. Mendeleev discovered one of the fundamental laws of nature — the periodic law of chemical elements. In 1904, I. P. Pavlov was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work in the field of digestive physiology, and in 1908 — I. I. Mechnikov — for his research on the mechanisms of immunity. In 1909, the University was founded in Saratov.

Scientists from Russia became the founders of the following new scientific fields: physical chemistry (M. V. Lomonosov, D. I. Mendeleev), organic chemistry (one of the founders — A.M. Butlerov), non-Euclidean geometry (N. I. Lobachevsky, B. Riemann), metallography (D. K. Chernov, P. P. Anosov, G. Sorbi), cryobiology (P. I. Bakhmetyev), biogeochemistry (V. I. Vernadsky), geochemistry (V. I. Vernadsky together with F. Clark, A. E. Fersman, V. Goldschmidt, A. P. Vinogradov), gerontology (I. I. Mechnikov), heliobiology (A. L. Chizhevsky), petrochemistry (one of the founders — N. D. Zelinsky), theoretical cosmonautics (K. E. Tsiolkovsky, A. A. Sternfeld), aerodynamics (N. E. Zhukovsky), military field surgery (N. I. Pirogov), psychophysiology (I. M. Sechenov), reflexology (I. M. Sechenov, I. P. Pavlov, V. M. Bekhterev), peasant studies (one of the founders — A.V. Chayanov), tectology (A. A. Bogdanov), intensive care (V. A. Negovsky, S. S. Bryukhonenko), one of the founders of sociology is P. A. Sorokin, soil science (V. V. Dokuchaev), one of the founders of transplantology is V. P. Demikhov.

During the Soviet period, science achieved its greatest success in the field of natural sciences, where ideological control by the country's leadership was minimal. According to some experts (prof. N. Ya. Azarov), there was a "cult of science" in the USSR. Physicists I. E. Tamm, I. M. Frank, P. A. Cherenkov, L. D. Landau, N. G. Basov, A.M. Prokhorov, P. L. Kapitsa, as well as chemist N. N. Semenov and mathematician L. V. Kantorovich (received in 1975 the Economics Prize). Mathematicians S. P. Novikov (1970) and G. A. Margulies (1978) were awarded the Fields Prize, the most prestigious award for mathematicians. Thanks to the established scientific schools under the leadership of I. V. Kurchatov, S. P. Korolev and other scientists, nuclear weapons and cosmonautics were created in the USSR. At the same time, the development of biology was hindered by the campaign against genetics launched by T. D. Lysenko in the mid-1930s, and a number of other scientific disciplines suffered significantly.

During the Soviet period, the number of scientific institutions increased significantly. In addition to academic and university education, industry and factory sectors have also emerged in science. The latter were largely transferred to self-financing during the post-Soviet reforms.

At the end of the 20th century, Russian science went through a severe crisis. The starting point for the beginning of the transformation of scientific institutions and the growing crisis in science is considered to be 1987, when the resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR "On the transfer of scientific organizations to full economic accounting and self-financing" was adopted, applied research and development were recognized as goods, the transition to payment for scientific and technical products at negotiated prices was carried out, for the first time A reduction in the number of researchers has begun. There is not enough renewal of research, equipment and human resources for the development of industry. The process of "conservation of backwardness" of the technological basis of economic sectors is deepening. Tens of thousands of scientists who now work abroad have left the country due to a sharp reduction in science funding.

Despite the crisis of the 1990s, Russian scientists held high positions at the international level in some fields of science, in particular, four Russian physicists were awarded the Nobel Prize: Zhores Alferov in 2000, Alexey Abrikosov and Vitaly Ginzburg in 2003, and Konstantin Novoselov in 2010. Mathematicians V. G. Drinfeld (1990), E. I. Zelmanov (1994), M. L. Kontsevich (1998), V. A. Voevodsky (2002), G. Ya. Perelman (2006), A. Yu. Okunkov (2006), S. K. Smirnov (2010) were awarded the Fields Prize. Mathematicians M. S. Pinsker (1978), A. S. Holevo (2016) was awarded the Shannon Prize, the most prestigious award in the field of information theory. Mathematicians M. L. Gromov (2002), Y. G. Sinai (2014), G. A. Margulis (2020) were awarded the Abel Prize in Mathematics, an analogue of the Nobel Prize. The Poincare Prize, the highest award in the field of mathematical physics, was awarded to M. L. Kontsevich (1997), Y. G. Sinai (2009), A.M. Borodin (2015). At the beginning of the XXI century, several hundred thousand scientists worked in Russia, most of them (about half a million) were candidates and doctors of sciences.

There are about 4 thousand organizations engaged in scientific research and development in Russia. About 70% of these organizations are owned by the state.

The reform of the Russian Academy of Sciences carried out by the government of D. A. Medvedev caused considerable criticism of scientists, since by 2019 the Ministry of Education and Science planned to dismiss about 8 thousand scientists, which is due to a reduction in the share of the state program "Development of Science and Technology" in total budget expenditures from 0.98% in 2015 to 0.87% in 2019.

There are thousands of scientists working in Russia with a large volume of international citations (dozens and hundreds of references to their work).

In the field of mathematics and programming, Russia has retained its scientific potential and occupies a leading position in the world; at the Olympiads in mathematics and programming, Russian participants take the first places. In 1994-2011, the number of annual patent applications for inventions in Russia increased from 25,745 to 41,414. In 2011, about 4 times more patent applications were filed in Russia than in the rest of the CIS countries combined.


Space exploration

Russian achievements in the field of space research go back to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the father of theoretical cosmonautics. His work inspired leading Soviet rocket scientists such as S. P. Korolev, V. P. Glushko and others, who contributed to the success of the Soviet space program in the early stages of the space race.

In 1957, the world's first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik—1, was launched; in 1961, the world's first human space flight was successfully carried out by Yuri Gagarin. The achievements of Soviet and Russian cosmonautics also include the flight of the world's first female cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova (1963) and the world's first spacewalk by cosmonaut Alexei Leonov (1965). Luna-9 was the first spacecraft to land on the moon, Venus-7 was the first to land on another planet (on Venus), Mars-3 was the first to make a soft landing on Mars. In addition, the first in the world were the Lunokhod-1 planetoid, the Salyut series orbital stations and the Mir multi-module orbital station.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, some government-funded space exploration programs, including the Buran space shuttle program, were closed, while the participation of the Russian rocket and space industry in commercial activities and international cooperation intensified. After the American Space Shuttle space flight program ended in 2011, the Soyuz rocket became the only means of delivering astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station.

As part of the Russian lunar program for 2022, it is planned to launch a spacecraft to the Moon. Roscosmos is developing the Eagle spacecraft, which is planned to be launched into lunar orbit with a crew on board in 2029. In February 2019, it was announced that Russia was planning its first crewed mission to land on the moon in 2031.


Culture and art

Cultural development

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 took a different development over a long time compared to Western European culture, due to its location on the periphery of Western cultural development. Furthermore, the schism of 1054 led to a completely different unfolding of Orthodox Christianity with a growing rejection of Catholicism. The Russian conception of the state and 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 Western European (cf. Legal History of Russia). In contrast to the development of nation-states in the rest of Europe, the transformation into a multi-ethnic empire took place in Russia from 1550 onwards, which helped to shape cultural development.

Russian culture continues to be characterized by temporally different phases of development in relation to Western European culture. This can be explained by the geocultural peripheral location and simultaneous expansion of Russia to the east, which cause a different pace of evolution in the interplay of slowed and accelerated catch-up and development phases, as a result of which social upheavals and political radicalization have repeatedly occurred in Russian history. According to this, Russia can be regarded as a translation culture, but not in passive imitation, but out of the need to catch up and outbid. This creates productive interactions by modeling one's own according to the imitated stranger and thus produces something new.

Russia's cultural history begins largely with its Christianization (988/989) at the end of the 10th century, whereby, at the request of the Kiev prince Vladimir I, Byzantine culture in its Slavicized forms gained supremacy among the Russians for the next seven centuries. This was followed by a rapid flourishing of her writing, art and architecture after the introduction of Christianity.

Orthodoxy in particular necessitated a different understanding of culture based on perseverance and traditions. The religious worldview and the church's conception of the text determined and slowed down the cultural development in the Moscow Empire. A solidification of the Russian Orthodox culture began in 1500, after the impetus of Byzantium had come under Ottoman rule through the fall of Constantinople. Under Peter I, a forced secularization and Europeanization of social life began from the 17th century onwards. The first emperor of the Russian Empire brought Western European architects and artists to the country and wanted to achieve a change in the internal attitude through external Europeanization – for example, the removal of beards and the adoption of the European dress code. However, the Europeanization of Russia reached only a small upper class. Russia found its connection to 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, traditional Russian folk culture persisted among the people, so that until 1914 two cultures still existed side by side. In the Soviet Union, then, under Stalin, Socialist realism was declared the only binding cultural norm. Non-system-compliant written or sung forms of expression of culture could only appear as samizdat in the underground. In the new Russian state, Russian culture experienced a new crisis in the 1990s. Thus, in the 1990s, the Russian artists first had to overcome the resulting standstill with the elimination of state subsidies and competition in capitalist mass culture.


Folk culture

The residential buildings in Russia have long been built in block construction (Isba). These log houses can still be found in the villages today. They are usually painted in blue or green shades and have fanciful carved, mostly white window frames. Blue and green, as the colors of Orthodoxy, are designed to drive away evil spirits.



Russian traditional crafts form an important aspect of Russian folk culture. In the forest zone of North-Eastern Russia, the craft of woodturning and woodcarving developed. In places where clay was present, the ceramic craft developed. Lace was made in the northern regions of Russia with its extensive flax fields. The Urals, with its rich deposits of iron ore, as well as semi-precious and ornamental stones, is famous for its casting art, weapons jewelry and jewelry items. Famous are the Dymkovo ceramic toys (see Anna Afanasyevna Mesrina), Khokhloma, ceramics from Gzhel and lacquer miniatures from Palekh. Matryoshka is the most popular Russian souvenir. Already a few years after its appearance, the Matryoshka was demonstrated at the Paris World Exhibition of 1900, where she earned a medal and gained worldwide fame.



Traditional Russian clothing included a caftan, a kossovorotka and ushanka for men, a sarafan and a kokoshnik for women, with a lapti made of raffia and valenki (felt boots) as the usual footwear. The traditional clothes of the Cossacks from southern Russia include burka and papacha.



Russian cuisine, originally a typical peasant cuisine, uses many ingredients from fish, poultry, mushrooms, berries and honey. Bread, pancakes are eaten, kvass, beer and vodka are drunk. Vodka is a part of Russian culture. According to Russian chronicles, the first distilleries appeared in Russia in the 12th century. Initially, vodka was used for medicinal purposes. Russian vodka is made from cereals. Traditionally, in Russia, preference is given to a pure, unflavored vodka, which is usually drunk at room temperature in company. Something salty (for example, salted cucumbers, salted mushrooms or salted herring) is often served with vodka. Tasty soups and stews such as shchi, borsch, rassolnik, ucha, solyanka and okroshka characterize Russian cuisine. Russian dough dishes such as piroshki, blini and syrniki are also famous. Kiev cutlet, bœuf stroganoff, pelmeni and shish kebab are popular meat dishes, the last two are of Tatar and Caucasian origin. Other common meat dishes are cabbage rolls (russ. Cabbage rolls) are usually filled with meat. Typical Russian salads are vinaigrette (russ. vinaigrette), Olivier salad and herring in a fur coat (russ. Сельдь под шубой). Tea has been drunk in every household in Russia since the 17th century, so that a proper tea culture developed in Russia. For the preparation of tea, a samovar is traditionally used in Russia, it is considered a kind of national symbol in Russia. In addition to the traditional Russian desserts, such as baranki, prjaniki, varenje and pastila (resp. Sefir), oriental sweets, such as halva, gosinaki and lokum, as well as various chocolates and cakes are also served for tea.


Ethnic groups

Russia's large number of ethnic groups has distinct traditions of folk music. Typical Russian musical instruments are gusli, balalaika, shaleika and garmon. The Russian people have a rich dance folklore. Reports on Russian dances can be found since the 11th century. Dances play a huge role for the Russian people. In many dances, the national features of the Russian character are very clearly expressed. The oldest type of Russian dance is the so-called khorovod, a round dance of a group of participants holding hands. The second type of dances characteristic of Russian dance art is the improvisational dances. They are performed as solo dances (male or female), in pairs or by several dancers. The individuality of the dancer is particularly strongly expressed in these dances. The pereplyas is a kind of competitive dance, where each dancer, performing in turn, strives to outdo the other by his dance mastery, imagination and better execution of movements.


Bathing culture

Russia has a distinct steam bath culture, the banya. Visiting the banja is a ritual. Important discussions, business negotiations and political meetings are still taking place there to this day. There is also a banya in the Kremlin. According to the old Russian tradition, one carefully knocks oneself off with weniks – dried bundles of birch branches dipped in warm water.


Dacha culture

For recreation and relaxation, Russian city dwellers like to spend weekends or their holidays at a dacha, a country house or a cottage with a garden. For three centuries, the dachas have been part of Russian history and culture. The dacha is also often mentioned in many Russian ballads and in Russian literature. From the middle of May, the dacha season begins. Around St. Petersburg and Moscow there are a lot of dachas-suburbs, which throughout their history have moved further and further away from the city.


Narrative culture

Also known are the Russian fairy tales, which have their origins in the pagan period of Rus. They formed the basis for the famous Soviet fairy tale films. They have also brought fairy-tale characters such as "Father Frost", the "Snow Maiden" or the "Witch Baba Jaga" to Central Europe.



Russian hospitality even in the most difficult economic times is proverbial. When receiving an invitation, the host deliberately tries to prepare as many different dishes as possible. This shows that nothing is saved for the guests. To this day, the custom of handing out a round loaf with a salt vessel in the middle to the most important guest lives on official occasions. Bread has long been the main 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 team of three. For this purpose, three horses are harnessed side by side in front of a carriage or a sled. A bell hangs on the arch, which is constantly tinkling during the ride and keeps the horses at a trot. The troika originates from the Valdai Heights, a hilly landscape between Moscow and St. Petersburg, and is now cultivated as folklore.


Festive season

National holidays in Russia are the so-called Day of the Unity of the People on November 4, which commemorates the liberation of Moscow from Polish-Lithuanian foreign rulers in 1612, as well as the Day of Russia on June 12 on the occasion of the declaration of state sovereignty of the Russian SFSR on this day in 1990. In addition, there are several public holidays every year, of which the New Year Festival is celebrated (continuously from January 1 to January 5). The New Year celebration was extended in 2005, but the most important national holiday for the Communists, the Day of the October Revolution on November 7, was abolished. Russian Orthodox Christians do not celebrate Christmas on December 24, as is the case with Christians of other denominations. According to the Julian calendar, they celebrate the feast of the Epiphany on January 7. During the Soviet era, religious festivals were not allowed. However, since January 7 was declared an official holiday in 1991, Christmas has been celebrated properly in Russia again. Holy Evening on the 6th. January in Russia is called Sochelnik.

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 River. Despite the frost, millions of Russians are drawn to the ice hole every year on the night of January 18-19. On this one day of the year, the water of all the rivers and lakes of Russia is sacred, especially if it was previously blessed by an Orthodox priest. Participants must completely submerge three times. Before each immersion of the head, they cross themselves. The procedure is designed to cleanse believers from sins and give them new strength.

The "Victory Day" over National Socialist Germany (on May 9) still has a high priority among the population. At the beginning of May, festively dressed war veterans come together all over Russia and commemorate the fallen comrades. Often such a meeting begins at a tomb or tomb of the Unknown soldier or at an Eternal Fire. After that, the memorial service will be continued either at an official reception or privately at a festive table. On Victory Day, carnations are given to war veterans. 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 a Thursday, it is customary to set up a non-working bridge day on Monday or Friday by declaring the previous Saturday or the following Sunday as working days in return.


Cultural centers

Moscow and St. Petersburg are the cultural centers of Russia with a huge number of cultural institutions. Moscow alone has more than 120 theaters, five opera houses, six professional symphony orchestras, as well as numerous museums and galleries. The Moscow Bolshoi Theatre 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, for example in Novosibirsk (theater, opera), Yekaterinburg (theater, contemporary dance) and Nizhny Novgorod (contemporary art).



In Russia, literature enjoys a very high esteem. However, the usual and valid patterns of poetics and genre theory in Western Europe, as well as literary epoch names, are used differently in Russia, because they are time-shifted and in a different function. The Romanesque period in Kievan Rus corresponded to the "period of stylistic simplicity" (11th century).), the "Age of Ornamental style" (12th and 13th c.), for the following centuries from the 14th to the 16th century. 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 style methods led to a late harmony with the Western European style of the time.

The basic stock of spiritual texts and genres adopted from Byzantine historiography laid the foundation of the Church Slavonic tradition, which in the Slavic Middle Ages was considered literature and a literary text. There was the dominance of a spiritual-ecclesiastical concept of literature (i.e. reading and writing – similar to icon painting – for the benefit of the soul). On the other hand, the aesthetic function, individual style, fictionality (separation of truth and poetry), literary genres in the modern sense and a modern concept of authorship were missing. Literature with a non-predominant spiritual function in ancient Russia (before 1700) is comparatively little represented. The literary transition to modern times took place in the name of the most solid and direct possible connection of Russia with Western Europe under Peter the Great. At the beginning of the 18th century, literature fulfilled primarily educational and representative functions for the state. Around 1800, literary communication emancipated itself from the demands of the court, educational institutes and patronage. For the first time, Russian authors were able to publish their works on their own book market. 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 for depicting reality and developed metastandpoints 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 are: Mikhail Bulgakov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, 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 awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

In 1990, books in Russia had a total circulation of 1.6 billion books. In 2004, there were only 562 million. The author with the highest circulation was Darya 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. For example, there is only one bookstore per 58,000 inhabitants in Moscow; the 12 million inhabitants of Moscow shared 199 bookstores compared to the 3 million inhabitants of Paris with their 700 bookstores.

In the XVIII century, a galaxy of secular writers and poets appeared in Russia. Among them are poets and writers V. K. Trediakovsky, A. D. Kantemir, M. V. Lomonosov, G. R. Derzhavin, N. M. Karamzin; playwrights A. P. Sumarokov and D. I. Fonvizin. The dominant artistic style of literature at that time was classicism. It is replaced by sentimentalism (M. M. Kheraskov, M. N. Muravyov, N. M. Karamzin, I. I. Dmitriev, etc.).

The most famous Russian writers and playwrights of the XIX and XX centuries in the world: A. S. Griboyedov, N. V. Gogol, A. I. Herzen, I. A. Goncharov, A. N. Ostrovsky, D. V. Grigorovich, M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin, F. M. Dostoevsky, I. S. Turgenev, L. N. Tolstoy, A. P. Chekhov, M. Gorky, I. A. Bunin, A. I. Kuprin, I. E. Babel, M. A. Bulgakov, V. V. Nabokov, V. G. Korolenko, A. P. Platonov, K. G. Paustovsky, V. F. Tendryakov, A. I. Solzhenitsyn, V. P. Astafyev, V. G. Rasputin, V. N. Voinovich, F. A. Iskander, the Strugatsky brothers, S. D. Dovlatov and many others. Their works have been translated into all major modern languages of the world, they have become an integral part of world culture.

The most famous Russian poets in the world are: V. A. Zhukovsky, K. N. Batyushkov, A. S. Pushkin, M. Y. Lermontov, A.V. Koltsov, E. A. Baratynsky, A. A. Fet, I. F. Annensky, F. I. Tyutchev, N. A. Nekrasov, A. A. Blok, S. A. Yesenin, K. D. Balmont, A. Bely, V. Ya. Bryusov, D. S. Merezhkovsky, N. S. Gumilev, I. Severyanin, O. E. Mandelstam, V. V. Mayakovsky, E. G. Bagritsky, M. I. Tsvetaeva, M. A. Voloshin, S. Cherny, B. L. Pasternak, A. A. Akhmatova, V. Khlebnikov, N. A. Zabolotsky, I. A. Brodsky, N. M. Rubtsov, A. T. Tvardovsky, K. M. Simonov, A. A. Tarkovsky, V. S. Vysotsky, E. A. Yevtushenko, R. I. Rozhdestvensky, A. A. Voznesensky, B. A. Akhmadulina, Ya. V. Smelyakov, E. A. Asadov, Yu. V. Drunina, L. A. Rubalskaya, Yu. I. Vizbor, B. Sh. Okudzhava, R. G. Gamzatov and many others.

Four Russian writers were awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature: Ivan Bunin (1933, in exile), Boris Pasternak (1958), Mikhail Sholokhov (1965) and Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1970). And in 1987, the poet Joseph Brodsky received the Nobel Prize in Literature.



According to Nikolai Lossky, the characteristic features of Russian philosophy are: cosmism, sophiology, conciliarity, metaphysicality, religiosity, intuitionism, positivism, realism (ontologism). Some researchers note eschatological motives in the philosophy of Russia.

Among the most famous Russian philosophers who belonged to various philosophical trends and made a significant contribution to the treasury of Russian and world culture: A. N. Radishchev, P. Ya. Chaadaev, A. S. Khomyakov, P. V. Kireevsky, N. G. Chernyshevsky, F. M. Dostoevsky, L. N. Tolstoy, N. F. Fedorov, G. V. Plekhanov, M. A. Bakunin, P. A. Kropotkin, V. S. Solovyov, V. V. Rozanov, K. E. Tsiolkovsky, D. L. Andreev, V. I. Vernadsky, N. O. Lossky, V. I. Lenin, S. N. Bulgakov, N. K. Roerich, N. A. Berdyaev, A. A. Bogdanov, N. Y. Danilevsky, P. A. Florensky, F. A. Stepun, I. A. Ilyin, S. L. Frank, P. A. Sorokin, E. P. Blavatsky, A. F. Losev, S. A. Yanovskaya, V. V. Zenkovsky, A. A. Zinoviev, E. V. Ilyenkov, A. L. Chizhevsky, G. I. Gurdjieff, S. N. Trubetskoy, L. I. Shestov, G. G. Shpet, M. M. Bakhtin, S. S. Averintsev, A. M. Pyatigorsky.


Visual art

One of the oldest forms of Russian painting is icon painting. She inherited the traditions of the Byzantine masters, but at the same time Russian icons have their own style. Russian Russian icon painting is characterized not so much by realism as by symbolism; the symbolism of Russian icon painting has influenced many artists, in particular, the influence of the Russian icon on his work was emphasized by Henri Matisse. The central theme in Russian iconography has become the theme of forgiveness. Not only God and saints are present on Russian icons, but also ordinary mortals. In Russian iconography, the writing comes from the center, the central figure, around which the figures of the second plan are symmetrically arranged, in addition, a special color scheme is used and, unlike the Byzantine tradition, purple is not used — the color of the emperor. Alipiy Pechersky, Grigory the Iconographer, Andrey Rublev, Daniil Cherny, Dionysius, Gury Nikitin, Simon Ushakov, Fyodor Zubov and others raised the level of Russian icon painting to the world level.

The first realistic portraits appeared in Russia in the XVII century. The middle — end of the XVIII century in Russia was marked by the work of such major painters as D. G. Levitsky and V. L. Borovikovsky. Since that time, Russian painting has followed global trends. Outstanding Russian artists of the XIX century: F. A. Bruni, S. F. Shchedrin, O. A. Kiprensky, K. P. Bryullov, A. A. Ivanov, I. K. Aivazovsky, A. I. Kuindzhi, V. A. Tropinin, A. G. Venetsianov, P. A. Fedotov. The academic trend prevails in the painting of this time. The second half of the XIX century — the heyday of realistic painting (A. K. Savrasov, V. D. Polenov). The Wanderers develop the direction of critical realism in painting, their works are often filled with social themes. The most famous artist of critical realism is Ilya Repin. By the end of the 19th century, trends akin to French impressionism were developing in Russia. Without breaking with the realistic direction, artists become more free and virtuosic in their techniques, which is most vividly embodied in the works of Valentin Serov. Russian Russian artist Vasily Vereshchagin is one of the most famous Russian battle artists, who personally participated in the Central Asian campaigns of the Russian army.

At the beginning of the XX century, Russian artists actively searched for new expressive forms, many new artistic trends appeared, for example, symbolism (M. A. Vrubel, M. V. Dobuzhinsky), decorative trends corresponding to modernity, avant-garde art (V. V. Kandinsky, K. S. Malevich). In the middle and late XX century, the artists I. E. Grabar, A. A. Rylov, M. Chagall, N. P. Krymov, I. I. Brodsky, B. V. Johanson, S. V. Gerasimov, M. A. Feigin, Z. E. Serebryakova, V. F. Stozharov, Yu. A. Vasnetsov, E. E. Moiseenko, P. P. became widely known. Konchalovsky, D. D. Zhilinsky, V. M. Oreshnikov, G. G. Ryazhsky, T. N. Yablonskaya, K. F. Yuon, V. V. Meshkov, A. A. Plastov, N. M. Romadin, P. P. Ossovsky, S. A. Chuikov, A. A. Deineka, M. S. Saryan, F. P. Reshetnikov, A. A. Mylnikov, N. I. Nesterova, B. Ya. Ryauzov, O. P. Filatchev, O. G. Vereisky, E. G. Bragovsky, K. A. Vasiliev, M. M. Shemyakin, E. K. Okas, Ya. D. Romas, V. S. Alfeyevsky.



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 Kremlin of Kazan and Moscow, as well as the wooden churches of Kizhi Pogost.

The early architecture of Russia is based on that of the Byzantine Empire: early religious buildings, like the Byzantine ones, are based on the Greek Cross, which is crowned by five domes. Examples of this are the St. Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod, or the Church of St. Demetrius in Vladimir. Western European influences spread with the Baroque. Baroque influences (Russian Baroque) began to appear in Russia at the end of the 17th century (Church of the Mother of God-Icon from Vladimir to Kurkino in Moscow).

An independent Russian style had probably originally developed only in the field of wooden buildings, of which, due to the building material, no buildings older than the 17th century have been preserved. The churches that emerged from it are distinguished by a simpler central layout 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 such as Andreas Schlüter or Domenico Trezzini came to Russia, they built buildings such as the Menshikov Palace or the Peter and Paul Fortress.

World-class architecture was achieved by the master builders under Catherine II (Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli). The palaces such as the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Peterhof Palace or the Catherine Palace show a large and huge Rococo style on the facades and are exorbitantly luxuriously furnished inside.

With classicism, which began in Russia at about the same time as in the rest of Europe, for the first time original Russian builders such as Ivan Yegorovich Starov began to occupy a prominent position. Most of the buildings of St. Petersburg's city center are still classicist in style. A prime example of this is Rossistraße in Saint Petersburg, named after the architect Carlo Rossi, whose entire layout, including the houses, follows a strictly geometric overall pattern. However, in the religious buildings such as St. Isaac's Cathedral, classicist and historicist style elements mix.

At the beginning of the 20th century, avant-garde currents were strong throughout Russian culture. After the October Revolution, its advocates were able to implement it for several years. An example here is El Lissitzky or novel prototypes for housing 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, a setback to monumentally increased classical patterns quickly occurred. The confectionery style began to become predominant, representativeness was clearly in the foreground 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 formal language stood in contrast to the conformist state architecture. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a historicizing architectural style has become increasingly modern, which is looking for points of reference in traditional Russian architecture. Examples of this, among many other buildings, are 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 Eastern Slavs. After the adoption of Christianity, church music first developed. Originally from Byzantium, she quickly acquired national Russian features. In the 11th century, a special type of Orthodox church singing, the so-called Znamenny raspev, emerged. Only in the 16th-17th centuries did the lyrical folk song spread. Some songs are world famous, such as. Song of the Volga Tugs, 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 Bortnyanskyj, whose works include both art music and the a cappella chants of Orthodox church music, which can be seen in typical Russian. Yevstignei Ipatovich Fomin, the most important opera composer in Russia of the late 18th century, was still influenced by the West. For the first time, phrases from Russian folk music are increasingly appearing in the operas and orchestral pieces of Mikhail Glinka and Alexander Dargomyzhsky, paving the way for a national Russian composer school. Following this, the so-called group of Five was formed from five young composers (Alexander Borodin, César Cui, Mili Balakirev, Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov), which set itself the task of specifically making the peculiarities of Russian folk music usable for symphonies, operas, tone poems and chamber music.

In contrast to this, a countercurrent 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 to gain greater recognition abroad for the first time. The following composers, such as Anatoly Lyadov, Sergei Taneyev, Anton Arensky, Alexander Grechaninov, Alexander Glazunov and Vasily Kalinnikov, primarily focused on a reconciling union of the Western-international and Russian-national styles in their compositions. While Sergei Rachmaninov independently developed Tchaikovsky's style in his piano concertos and symphonies, it was with Alexander Scriabin, creator of an idiosyncratic harmonic system, that musical modernity first made its appearance in Russia.

Expressionism is represented in Russian music by the early works of Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Prokofiev. In the 1920s, many composers experimented with new musical means of design, including the young Dmitri Shostakovich, whose early works are particularly characterized by a satirical tone. Most of the older composers, on the other hand, adhered to Romanticism, such as Glazunov, Reinhold Glière and Nikolai Myaskovsky, and later also Prokofiev. From the mid-1930s, on Stalin's orders, the doctrine of Socialist Realism became binding for Russian musicians, which forbade avant-garde experiments and called for "popular" art. This compulsion gradually eased only after Stalin's death in 1953. The main representatives of a Soviet musical culture subsequently became, in addition to Shostakovich, above all Dmitri Kabalevsky and the Armenian Aram Khachaturian. Since about 1980, the once frowned-upon avant-garde elements have again become noticeable in Russian compositions, for example with Edisson Denisov, Sofia Gubaidulina and Alfred Schnittke. By contrast, composers such as Polish-born Mieczysław Weinberg or Boris Tchaikovsky maintained the tradition of following 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, whose songs were mostly written in the 1960s and 1970s, is regarded as an important Russian songwriter/chansonnier of the 20th century. At the beginning of the 1980s and during the period of perestroika, a vital, Russian-speaking rock music scene developed in Russia, which complemented the established bands such as Maschina Vremeni. The figurehead of these years is generally considered to be the frontman of Kino, Wiktor Zoi, who died in 1990, whose songs and lyrics were influential for many bands of the following years. In addition to original Russian bands such as Kino, Ljube, Aquarium, DDT and Nautilus Pompilius, or the punk bands Grashdanskaya Oborona and Sector Gasa, pop culture in the field of music was strongly influenced by the international mainstream.

In the 1990s, an extensive underground was established in the cultural centers of the country, but especially in St. Petersburg, which still covers the entire spectrum of music to this day. Towards the end of the century, Russian MTV also launched. During this time, a large number of rock bands were founded and disbanded, but above all, the formations founded in the 1980s already celebrated great success. The first bands of the underground culture were also able to gain many listeners, such as Leningrad. Semfira also became very famous during this time. At the latest since the beginning of this decade, Russian popsa has also held significant market shares. This is danceable music with a high proportion of electronica, which has a particularly teenage target group and is musically completely oriented towards internationally successful projects (Valerija, VIA Gra). The duo T.A.T.U. is the only internationally successful Russian pop band so far. Another genre, which was largely marginalized in the times of the Soviet Union, has also been experiencing a renaissance in recent years – the Russian chanson. A popular star of this direction is the singer Mikhail Schufutinsky.


Theatre and cinema

Russian medieval actors buffoons have been known since the XI century. Among them were musicians, singers, dancers, pranksters, and wild animal trainers.

The theater in the modern sense appeared in Russia thanks to foreigners. Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich and Emperor Peter I were engaged in the development of theatrical business. After the death of Peter the Great, theatrical art in Russia began to decline. But during the reign of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna, the musical and theatrical business was revived: on August 30, 1756, a theater was established in St. Petersburg (now the Alexandrinsky Theater). Empress Catherine II attached high educational importance to the theater, but for the most part the Russian theater of that time remained a high-society entertainment.

Already in April 1896, 4 months after the first Paris cinematographic sessions, the first cinematographic devices appeared in Russia. In May of the same year, Camille Cerf carried out the first documentary cinematographic filming in Russia of the celebrations in honor of the coronation of Emperor Nicholas II. Film screenings quickly became fashionable entertainment, the first permanent cinema opened in St. Petersburg in May 1896 on Nevsky Prospekt.

The first Russian art films were adaptations of fragments of classic works of Russian literature ("The Song about the Merchant Kalashnikov", "The Idiot", "The Fountain of Bakhchisarai"), folk songs ("The Hoot Merchant") or illustrated episodes from Russian history ("The Death of John the Terrible", "Peter the Great"). In 1911, the first full-length film in Russia, The Defense of Sevastopol, was released.

In 1925, director Sergei Eisenstein created the film "Battleship Potemkin", recognized by art critics as one of the best films of all time.

Three Soviet and one Russian films won the Oscar in the category "Best Foreign Language Film" (in parentheses — the year of the Oscar):

"War and Peace" by Sergei Bondarchuk (1969);
Akira Kurosawa's Dersu Uzala (co-produced by the USSR and Japan) (1976);
"Moscow does not believe in Tears" by Vladimir Menshov (1981);
"Tired of the Sun" by Nikita Mikhalkov (1995).

Animation was successfully developed in the Soviet years. The cartoon "Hedgehog in the Fog" by Yuri Norstein in 2003 in Tokyo was recognized as the best cartoon of all time by a survey of 140 film critics and animators from different countries.



Representatives of Russian ballet who achieved world fame were such outstanding dancers as Matilda Kshesinskaya, Olga Spesivtseva, Vaclav Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova, Tamara Karsavina, George Balanchine (who laid the foundation for American ballet and modern neoclassical ballet art in general), Maris Liepa, Rudolf Nureyev, Galina Ulanova, Konstantin Sergeev, Maya Plisetskaya and many others others.



Russia has one of the world's largest museum collections of cultural heritage. Russian museums are among the top ten most visited museums in the world.

The basis of the modern museum world of Russia is 2027 museums of the Ministry of Culture of Russia, which contain about 60 million items and are visited by about 70 million people annually. Russian Russian Federation is a world leader in the number of museums included in the list of the largest museums in the world: the Kunstkammer in St. Petersburg, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, the Tretyakov Gallery, the Armory, the Russian Museum (the largest museum of Russian art in the world). The State Hermitage Museum is included in the list of the 10 best museums in the world, according to National Geographic magazine, the State Historical Museum is the largest national historical museum in Russia.


Libraries and archives

Russia is one of the world leaders in terms of the size of the library fund: there are about 39 thousand libraries in the country, which are visited by about 30% of the country's population. There are several world-class libraries in the country, the Russian National Library, according to the analytical company World atlas, ranks fifth in the world in terms of its library collection.

Russian archives are among the largest archives in the world.


Decorative and applied arts

Folk epics and fairy tales typical of the peoples inhabiting Russia have brought us folk wisdom from the depths of centuries.

Artistic crafts in Russia were formed on the basis of folk art, which, thanks to professional artists and merchants at the beginning of the XX century, was transformed into professional decorative art: Dymkovsky toy, Filimonovskaya toy, Orenburg down shawl, Palekh miniature, Abashevskaya toy, Khokhloma, Gzhel, Khludnevskaya toy, Gorodetsky painting, Bogorodskaya carving.


Mass media


The first periodicals appeared in Russia at the beginning of the XVIII century, but the print media received wide development only at the end of the XIX century.

As of the end of the 2000s, there are more than 170 daily newspapers in Russia, both central and local, with a total circulation of about 4.8 million copies, as well as more than 425 non-daily newspapers and magazines with a total circulation of about 7.8 million copies. Leading national newspapers (one-time circulations, thousand copies): Izvestia (150 thousand copies), founded in 1917, the former body of the governing institutions of the Soviet government; Kommersant (125 thousand copies), founded in 1989; Komsomolskaya Pravda (955 thousand copies), founded in 1925, former organ of the Central Committee of the Komsomol; Moskovsky Komsomolets (700 thousand copies), founded in 1919, the former organ of the Moscow City Komsomol Committee; Nezavisimaya Gazeta (40 thousand copies), founded in 1990; Novaya Gazeta (284 thousand copies), founded in 1993; Novy Vzglyad (307 thousand copies), founded in 1992; "Parliamentary Newspaper" (56.5 thousand copies), founded in 1996, organ of the Federal Assembly of Russia; "Pravda" (100 thousand copies), founded in 1912, organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party; "Rossiyskaya Gazeta" (166 thousand copies), founded in 1990, organ of the Government of the Russian Federation; "Soviet sport" (180 thousand copies), founded in 1924.

Leading Russian news agencies: TASS (founded in 1904); Rossiya Segodnya (founded in 2013); Interfax (founded in 1989).

The center of the State bibliography and statistics of the Russian press is the Russian Book Chamber. As a branch of TASS, the Chamber systematically publishes bibliographic indexes. The final data on the output of printed materials are published in the statistical yearbook "Annual Bibliographic Index of books of Russia" (since 1954). There are republican book chambers in Bashkiria, Chuvashia and Tatarstan.


Television and radio broadcasting

Russian scientist A. S. Popov is one of the inventors of radio, who for the first time in Russia carried out the transmission of electromagnetic waves at a distance. Radio broadcasting has been conducted in Russia since 1924, and television broadcasting since 1931.

Until 1991, the management of television and radio broadcasting was carried out by Gosteleradio, broadcasts were carried out on three All-Union radio and two all-Union television programs. Local television broadcasts were conducted by local television studios on the 2nd program, except for the Leningrad Television Studio and the Main Editorial Office of broadcasts for Moscow and the Moscow Region of Central Television, which transmitted their own "third" programs, local radio broadcasts - by local television and radio broadcasting committees on the 1st program. There was a wired radio broadcasting network: The 1st program was mixed and consisted of local broadcasts and broadcasts of the First All-Union program, the 2nd program broadcast the Second All-Union program, the 3rd - the Third All—Union program.

In 1992-1995, the management of broadcasting on the 1st federal TV channel, the 1st (headline "Radio 1") and the 2nd (headline "Mayak") federal radio channels was carried out by the Russian State Television and Radio Company Ostankino (RGTRK Ostankino), broadcasting on the 2nd federal TV channel (headlines "Russian Television", "RTR", "Russia") and the 3rd federal radio channel (headline "Radio of Russia") - the All—Russian State Television and Radio Company (VGTRK). Local radio and television broadcasts were carried on the 2nd TV and 3rd radio channels by local state television and radio companies (since 2004 - branches of VGTRK), except for Moscow and St. Petersburg, which transmitted their own "third" television channels. Wired radio broadcasting continued to exist: the first channel remained mixed and consisted of local broadcasts and broadcasts of the third federal radio channel, the second channel transmitted the second federal radio channel, the third — the first federal radio channel.

In 1995, RGTRK Ostankino was abolished, instead a joint—stock company with state participation Public Russian Television was created, the All-Russian State Radio Company Mayak (in 1998 it was transferred under the management of VGTRK, since 2004 - its branch) and the All-Russian radio station Radio 1 (in 1997 it was abolished, and the broadcasting of the first radio channel and the third channel of wired broadcasting was transferred to various commercial radio stations). The Russian state radio company "Voice of Russia" broadcasts abroad, and since 2014 — the International News Agency "Russia Today". At the same time, commercial television was widely distributed, represented by such companies as NTV Television Company (in 2001 it came under the control of Gazprom Joint Stock Company, controlled in turn by the state), Moscow Independent Broadcasting Corporation (in 2002 it stopped broadcasting), REN TV, etc., as well as commercial radio broadcasting. There are several wired (cable) television networks.


Public holidays

Non-working holidays in the Russian Federation are:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and January 8 — New Year holidays;
January 7 — Christmas;
February 23 — Defender of the Fatherland Day;
March 8 — International Women's Day;
May 1 — Spring and Labor Day;
May 9 is Victory Day;
June 12 — Russia Day;
November 4 is National Unity Day.

During non-working holidays, work is allowed that cannot be suspended due to production and technical conditions (continuously operating organizations), work caused by the need to serve the public, as well as urgent repair and loading and unloading operations.



In Russia, sport has a relatively high priority, which can be attributed to the comprehensive sports promotion in the USSR (cf. Sport in the Soviet Union). In 2008, Russia had 2687 stadiums with 1500 seats and more than 3762 swimming pools and 123,200 sports facilities. Popular sports are important, the number of members in sports clubs is 22.6 million people, including 8.1 million women. The most popular team sport among Russians is football (cf. Football in Russia), which is experiencing a boom – favored by strong financial sponsorship from the economy. Ice hockey (see 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 very popular. Russia has already produced numerous world-class athletes. Russian athletes dominate especially in the sports of athletics, winter sports, figure skating, gymnastics and weightlifting. No other nation has more current and former world chess champions and grandmasters than Russia.

Including the participation as part of the Soviet Union, Russia has participated in the Summer Olympic Games 19 times and the Winter Olympic Games 17 times so far. So far, athletes from Russia and the Soviet Union have been able to win Olympic medals at sports competitions in 1911, taking second place in the eternal medal table. In 1980, the then Soviet capital Moscow hosted the Summer Olympics for the first time. The Black Sea resort of Sochi hosted the Winter Olympics in Russia for the first time in 2014. In addition, Russia is often the venue of international competitions, such as World and European Championships. For example, in 2018, Russia hosted the Football World Cup for the first time, which took place in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, but also in the exclave of Kaliningrad, among other places. In motorsport, Russia has a former Formula 1 driver in Vitaly Petrov and an active one in Daniil Kvyat. The DTM and the Superbike World Championship have also been guests in Moscow.

Russia is also a domain in ice speedway sports and the Russian ice speedway pilots have been world ice speedway champions in series. The cities of Togliatti and Balakovo are the centers of Russian speedway motorcycle racing.

In boxing, the country is also one of the top in the world. Since the end of the Soviet Union, Russian amateur boxers have won 10× gold, 6× silver and 15× bronze at the Olympic Games since 1996. Together with 14× gold, 19× silver and 18× bronze at the Olympic Games from Soviet times, Russia is currently in 2nd place in the eternal medal table with a total of 84 Olympic medals, behind the USA with 114 medals and ahead of Cuba with 73 medals (as of the 2016 Olympics). From 1993 to 2017, Russian boxers also won 45 gold medals at world championships.

Rugby union is also becoming increasingly popular. The Russian national team has so far qualified for two Rugby Union World Championships (2011 and 2019), but has not yet reached the knockout stage. Russia is one of the participants in the European Rugby Union Championship, where it meets other emerging national teams. Especially matches against political rival Georgia are attracting a lot of interest and are considered a kind of "David vs Goliath", also due to Russia's negative winning record against its southern neighbor. Since 2021, Russia and Romania have been playing the Kiseleff Cup; this trophy is named after Duke Pavel Kiselyov, a Russian who played a decisive role in drafting the first constitution for the two principalities of Wallachia and Moldova (today's Romania and Moldova). The home stadium is the Central Stadium in Sochi.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accuses Russia of carrying out systematic, state-controlled doping for years; the manipulations were "directed, controlled and monitored" by the Ministry of Sports, supported by the FSB domestic intelligence Service and concerned 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 Championships in Athletics 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) excluded the Russian track and field athletes from all international competitions - including the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro – until further notice. Also, the Russian weightlifters were not allowed to compete in Rio after a corresponding decision of the World federation IWF.

Russian sports science research is also affected by this. While training science has long benefited from the successes of athletes through systematic planning and development, such as the periodization of athletic training, the innovation lead has shrunk in recent years, as the methods have proven to be less successful with a simultaneous reduction in doping. 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 getting older and older, and today, with an average age of literature of 15 years, the journal has deteriorated by more than ten years compared to the 1980s. Meanwhile, the inclusion of covert doping methods is also being published, as nanotechnology still largely eludes the controls of WADA.

In December 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) banned the Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA for four years and imposed an Olympic ban on the Russian team after various doping scandals - including the manipulation of athletes' data. The proceedings on Russian state doping are scheduled to be heard at the International Court of Sport (CAS) in autumn 2020. The CAS set the date for the hearing as 2 to 5 November. RUSADA has filed an objection to the CAS against this.