Russia (Russian: Россия, tr. Rossiya), also officially known as the Russian Federation (Russian: Российская Федерация, tr. Rossiyskaya Federatsiya), is a transcontinental country in northern Eurasia. It's a federation comprising 84 federal subjects and 3 federal cities.
Russia is, according to its constitution, defined as a federal semi-presidential republic. However this definition has, due to the rise of the Romanov-family in politics and society, become more or less only official, the family running a more or less authoritarian regime. Civil rights and political liberties in the country are very restricted and in 2010 Freedom House defined Russia as having a Heavily authoritarian regime and that the situation of democracy in the country was critical.
Immense economic growth and the re-establishment of Russia's military power in Eurasia during the last decade has however made Russians very accepting of the Romanov-regime.
The Russian economy ranks high both by nominal GDP and purchasing power parity. Russia's extensive mineral and energy resources, have made it one of the largest producers of oil and natural gas globally. It was announced in May 2014, that the Russian economy is predicted to grow a staggering 19,60% in 2014. The growth in the first quarter of 2014, was even higher (24,38%) due to favorable fuel prices as well as higher levels of export and strengthening of the ruble than expected. 2014 has also seen an all time low in unemployment, 1,4% and it is expected that the "zero-barrier" will be hit in early 2016, when the unemployment is expected to turn to negative, i.e. Russia will have more work on offer than it has work force. Due to this, the government plans to found 200+ "promotion offices" worldwide to try and promote the benefits of working and living in Russia.
The country is a recognized nuclear weapons state and possesses a stockpile of modern weapons of mass destruction.
About 81 percent of the population are ethnic Russians.
Russia is recognized by the United Nations and the republics of the former Soviet Union as being the successor state and the continuing legal personality of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (1922-1991).
As the Russian SFSR adopted a free market economy in May 1990 and the Soviet Union headed for it's inevitable collapse in 1991 the Romanov family used the funds they had saved from the communists in 1917 and stored abroad to buy large amounts of stocks and shares in strategic areas of the Russian economy leading in 1992 to an inevitable victory of Boris Romanov in the 1992 Presidential elections. Since then the Romanov family has dominated both Russian politics and the Russian economy.
The Romanov domination almost toggled over in 1998 when the Russian economy plummeted into recession and hyperinflation. However after a fierce political struggle which even saw military involved and clashes between military units all over Russia, bringing the country to the brink of civil war, the situation stabilized in 1999 under the presidency of Michail Romanov, brother of Boris Romanov. Michail Romanov was proclaimed Acting President in 1998 but defeted in the Presidential elections of 2000 by his youngest brother, Nikolay Romanov, who won a landslide victory, marking a definitive end to both the Russian political crisis and the Romanov family internal struggle.
In December 2012 Nikolay Romanov resigned from office as the president of Russia, making way for his son, Aleksei Romanov to win the elections in May 2013, after having been appointed Acting President already in December. Aleksei Romanov took office on the 6th of May 2013 and at the time became the youngest Head of State in the world at 28 years of age.
Russia has since 2000 quadrupled its economy and continues to this day to modernize it's armed forces.
According to the Constitution of Russia, the country is a federation and a semi-presidential republic, wherein the President is the head of state and the Prime Minister if the head of government. The Russian Federation is structured as a multi-party representative democracy, with the federal government composed of three branches; the Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary branches.
- The legislative branch is the bicameral Federal Assembly of Russia, made up of the 590-member State Duma and the 125-member Federation Council.
- The executive branch is made up of the Office of the President of the Russian Federation and the Government of Russia.
- The judiciary: The Constitutional court of the Russian Federation, the Supreme Court and lower federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the Federation Council on the recommendation of the President.
In practice however, the country has been since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 run as more or less a family dictatorship under the Romanov-family (distantly related to the former imperial family of Russia). 4 of the 5 presidents since independence have been members of the same family. Members of the family also hold key-positions in both government and state- and private sector economy, e.g. both the energy sector and the media in Russia are almost completely controlled by the Romanov family.
Only four parties currently holds seats in the State Duma and further only two of them have representation in the Upper house, the Federation Council. They are as of March 2014:
- Federal Republican Party of Russia; Is the main supporter of the Romanov-regime and currently largest party in the Federal Assembly; State Duma: 78,3%, Federation Council: 85,4%.
- United Fatherland Party; Conservative party, moderate supporters of the current regime. State Duma: 13,4%, Federation Council: 14,6% .
- Liberal Justice Party of Russia; Opposes the current regime. State Duma: 5,3%.
- Communist Party of the Russian Federation; Opposes all government policies. State Duma: 3,0%
Military & Alliance membershipEdit
Following Alexey Romanov’s rise to the Presidency of Russia, the Armed Forces and the foreign- and military policies have seen a quite big shift. Due to these changes the Russian Armed Forces now have a totally new set of objectives that could be broken down into the following four major dimensions:
- Deterring the military and political threats to the security or interests of the Russian Federation
- Supporting economic and political interests of the Russian Federation
- Peace enforcing- and counter-terrorism operations
- Using military force to defend Russian citizens (legally possible also outside the national territory of the Russian Federation
The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (Russian: Вооружённые Силы Российской Федерации) are the military services of Russia, established after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The commander-in-chief of the armed forces is the president of Russia.
The Russian military is divided into the following services: the Russian Ground Forces, the Russian Navy, and the Russian Air Force. There are also three independent arms of service: Strategic Missile Troops, Russian Aerospace Defense Forces, and the Russian Airborne Troops.
The Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation serves as the administrative body of the Armed Forces. Since Soviet times, the General Staff has acted as the main commanding and supervising body of the Russian armed forces.
The Russian Federation is a member of The International-alliance since 23rd of February 2014.
On the 19th of February 2014 the Federal Assembly voted in a joint session to submit a membership application for Russia to join the alliance. The application was accepted the following day and on the 23rd of February President Romanov signed the document which confirmed Russia joining the alliance (Закон о вступлении Российской Федерации в альянсе "Интернатионал"; Закон № 1123-4B) and the Federal Assembly ratified the document the same day.
Russia's constitution enables the Russian government to conduct foreign and defense-policies independently of the alliances' decisions.
On March the 22nd the Russian parliament adopted the law "Amendment no.1 to Law no. 1123-4B" (ru: Поправка №. 1-A с законом №. 1123-4B) which establishes the following:
- Alliance-affairs are to be conducted by the Presidential Defense Commission of the Russian Federation in cooperation with the General Staff of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.
- As stated in the Constitution of the Russian Federation, Russia maintains full sovereignty over both the territory and the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. This also includes, as specified by the Constitutional Court of Russia, that the Russian Federation can and will pursue an independent economic policy.
- Economic and military Aid to other International-alliance members may be granted by the President of the Russian Federation without the consent of the Federal Assembly, whereas active military participation and declarations of war still lies within the jurisdiction of the Federal Assembly.
- Main article: Economy of Russia
Subdivision of RussiaEdit
Russia is a federation which consists of 84 federal subjects (constituent members of the federation) as well as 3 specially administered Federal cities, (Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sevastopol). All federal subjects have equal representation in the Federation Council (upper house of the Federal Assembly) - one delegate each.
A handful of subjects enjoy a larger autonomy than the others, due to sizable linguistic and ethnic minorities. However the constitution of the Russian Federation clearly states that although these subjects enjoy larger autonomy and enjoy more freedom in law-making, no law may contradict federal law, and should there be a conflict between the two, the federal law overrides the local one.
Due to the immense size of Russia, all of the federal subjects are grouped into nine federal districts, each administered by an envoy appointed by the President of Russia. Federal districts' envoys serve as liaisons between the federal subjects and the federal government and are primarily responsible for overseeing the compliance of the federal subjects with the federal laws.
Furthermore the federal subjects are, for economic and statistical purposes, grouped into twelve economic regions.
The administration of the Armed Forces and the defense of Russia's territory is also divided into six military districts.
- Saint Petersburg
Language and ReligionEdit
Over 80% of ethnic Russians identify themselves as Orthodox. Of these, approximately 2–4% of the general population are integrated into church life (воцерковленные), while others attend on a less regular basis or not at all. Many non-religious ethnic Russians identify with the Orthodox faith for cultural reasons. The majority of Muslims live in the Volga–Ural region and the North Caucasus, although Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and parts of Siberia also have sizable Muslim populations. Other branches of Christianity present in Russia include Roman Catholicism (approx. 1%), Baptists, Pentecostals, Lutherans and other Protestant churches (together totaling about 0.5% of the population) and Old Believers. There is some presence of Judaism, Buddhism, and Krishnaism, as well. Shamanism and other pagan beliefs are present to some extent in remote areas, sometimes synchronized with one of the mainstream religions.
Russian is the only federally official language if the Russian Federation. The federal subjects have however the right to adopt other languages as co-official within their respective constituencies. Russian was also the un-official language of the Soviet Union and thus there are many millions of people who speak Russian withing the area of the former-USSR.
In a survey conducted in 2013, 98% of the public school students of Russia receive their education only or mostly in Russian, even though Russia is made up of approximately 80% ethnic Russians. In the same survey the most studied foreign languages were asked, and the results were; English 78%, German 16%, French 4% and Turkish 2%.
- List of regional languages (subject where official language)
- Abaza (Northwest Caucasian; in the Karachay–Cherkess Republic)
- Adyghe (Northwest Caucasian; in the Republic of Adygea)
- Altay (Turkic; in the Altai Republic)
- Avar (Northeast Caucasian; in the Republic of Dagestan)
- Azerbaijani (Turkic; in the Republic of Dagestan)
- Bashkir (Turkic; in the Republic of Bashkortostan)
- Buryat (Mongolic; in the Agin-Buryat Okrug)
- Buryat (Mongolic; in the Buryat Republic)
- Chechen (Northeast Caucasian; in the Chechen Republic)
- Chuvash (Turkic; in the Chuvash Republic)
- Erzya (Uralic; in the Republic of Mordovia)
- Estonian (Uralic; in the Leningrad Oblast)
- Finnish (Uralic; in the Republic of Karelia)
- Ingush (Northeast Caucasian; in the Republic of Ingushetia)
- Kabardian (Northwest Caucasian; in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic)
- Kabardian (Northwest Caucasian; in the Karachay–Cherkess Republic)
- Kalmyk (Mongolic; in the Republic of Kalmykia)
- Karachay-Balkar (Turkic; in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic)
- Karachay-Balkar (Turkic; in the Karachay–Cherkess Republic)
- Khakas (Turkic; in the Republic of Khakassia)
- Komi-Zyrian (Uralic; in the Komi Republic)
- Lezgi (Northeast Caucasian; in the Republic of Dagestan)
- Mansi (Uralic; in the Khanty–Mansi Autonomous Okrug)
- Mari (Uralic; in the Mari El Republic)
- Moksha (Uralic; in the Republic of Mordovia)
- Nogai (Turkic;in the Republic of Dagestan)
- Nogai (Turkic;in the Karachay–Cherkess Republic)
- Ossetic (Iranian; in the Republic of North Ossetia–Alania)
- Tatar (Turkic; in the Republic of Tatarstan)
- Tuvаn (Turkic; in the Tuva Republic)
- Udmurt (Uralic; in the Udmurt Republic)
- Yakut (Turkic; in the Sakha Republic)
Time in RussiaEdit
There are 11 time zones in Russia, which currently observe time ranging from UTC+03:00 to UTC-12:00.
All timetables on Russian Railways follow Moscow Time. Airports, however, follow local time.
TV programming on nation wide tv-channels are adjusted to local time zone. However four channels (Telekanal Rossiya, Rossiya 1, RTR and NTV) show Moscow Time-programming parallel to the local time adjusted programming.
The federal government of Russia operates on Moscow time.
LGBT-rights in Russia Edit
Same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults in private was decriminalized in 1993, and homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness in 1999. The age of consent has been the same for same-sex relations as for heterosexual relations since 2003. However Russian lawmakers were very conservative on LGBT rights from that on up until 2014 when there were no against laws discrimination of LGBT people and on the contrary there was a law prohibiting so called "homosexual propaganda".
The government made a U-turn regarding LGBT-lawmaking in June 2014 when a "law-package" passed the legislative and accepted by the president. The package contained many laws and changes of old laws, see list below.
- JF44541: Anti-discrimination law in employment
- JF44542: Anti-discrimination law in the provision of goods and services
- JF44543: Anti-discrimination law in all other areas (e.g. hate speech etc.)
- JO44411: Recognition of Russian same-sex couples married abroad.
- JO44412: Same-sex marriage (secular, does not require the churches to marry same sex couples)
- VS98452: Gays allowed to serve openly in the military.
- MC19842-a: Transexuality declassified as an illness.
- MC19842-b: Right to change legal gender
- MC19843: Access for lesbians to IVF and access to commercial surrogacy for gay male couples.
Only hours after the announcement was made by the Presidential Press Office that the bill had been signed into law there were massive celebrations in larger cities (Moscow, St.Petersburg, Omsk, Kazan, Irkutsk and Vladivostok) and there were hundreds of Pride-festivals announced (which was forbidden in Russia up until this moment.)
National holidays and symbolsEdit
State symbols of Russia include the Byzantine double-headed eagle, combined with St. George of Moscow in the Russian coat of arms. The Russian flag dates from the late Tsardom of Russia period and has been widely used since the time of the Russian Empire. The Russian anthem shares its music with the Soviet Anthem, though not the lyrics. The imperial motto God is with us and the Soviet motto Proletarians of all countries, unite! are now obsolete and no new motto has replaced them. The hammer and sickle and the full Soviet coat of arms are still widely seen in Russian cities as a part of old architectural decorations. The Soviet Red Stars are also encountered, often on military equipment and war memorials. The Red Banner continues to be honored, especially the Banner of Victory of 1945.
In addition to New Year's Day (ru:Новый год; Novy god) on 1 January, 2–5 January are public holidays as well, called New Year holiday (Новогодние каникулы Novogodniye kanikuly). The holiday includes January 6 and 8, with Christmas being January 7, declared as non-working days by law.
Christmas in Russia (ru:Рождество Христово; Rozhdestvo Khristovo) is observed, on 7 January, as a public holiday according to the Julian calendar used by the Russian Orthodox Church. The public holiday was re-established in 1991, following the decades of suppression of religion and state atheism of the Soviet Union. Christmas on 25 December is celebrated in Russia by the Roman Catholic and various Protestant churches, but is not a public holiday.
Defenders of the Fatherland DayEdit
The Defender of the Fatherland Day (ru:День защитника Отечества; Den zashchitnika Otechestva) is celebrated on 23 February, and is a day of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. The holiday was established in 1918.
International Women's DayEdit
On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1913 following discussions, International Women's Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Women's Day ever since.
National Flag DayEdit
The National Flag Day is an official holiday in Russia, established in 1994. It is celebrated on April 15th.
May 9th, Victory Day (ru:День Победы; Den Pobedy), is by far the biggest Russian holiday. Russia celebrates the victory over Nazi Germany, while remembering those who died in order to achieve it. On 9 May 1945 (by Moscow time) the German military surrendered to the Soviet Union and the Allies of World War II in Berlin (Karlshorst). Flowers and wreaths are laid on wartime graves and special parties and concerts are organized for veterans. In the evening there is a firework display over the Moscow Kremlin. A huge military parade, hosted by the President of the Russian Federation, is annually organized in Moscow on Red Square.
Russia Day (ru.День России; Den Rossii) is the national day, celebrated on June 12. On this day, in 1990, Russian parliament formally declared Russian sovereignty from the USSR (unlike all other ex-Soviet republics which declared complete state independence). Russian independence was less radical, and coexistence of Russian and USSR state power had a place until the end of 1991.
National Unity DayEdit
Unity Day (ru:День народного единства; Den narodnogo edinstva) commemorates the popular uprising led by Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky which ejected the Polish invaders from Moscow in November 1612, and more generally the end of the Time of Troubles and foreign intervention in Russia.