General information about Russia
Russia is a democratic federal state with a republican form of government. The legislative body of the Russian Federation is the bicameral Federal Assembly (the Council of Federation and the State Duma). The Council of Federation consists of representatives of each federal entity. The deputies of the State Duma are elected for a term of 5 years from party lists by proportion of the votes that each party receives nationwide.
The Head of State is the President of the Russian Federation, who is also the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The President is elected by citizens of Russia by direct secret ballot for a term of 6 years. Vladimir V.Putin was elected President on March 4, 2012.
The executive power is exercised by the Government of the Russian Federation. The Chairman of the Government is appointed by the President with the consent of the State Duma.
The Russian Federation consists of 85 federal entities (republics, territories and regions), including the cities of Moscow, St.Petersburg and Sevastopol.
Constitution of the Russian Federation
The Constitution of the Russian Federation was adopted on December 12, 1993. The new constitution came into force on December 25, 1993, at the moment of its official publication.
The Constitution forms the country’s legal foundation, proclaims the President of the Russian Federation the head of state and lays upon him the responsibility for defending the Constitution, human rights and civil liberties, safeguarding Russia’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and ensuring the coordinated functioning and cooperation of the state bodies of power.
The total area of Russia is 17,151,442 sq. km. Over 45% of the country’s area is covered by forests, 4% - by water, 13% - by arable land, 19% - deer grazing land, 19% - other.
A large part of the European territory of the country is occupied by the East European plain; in the south it is limited by the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains and has the Khibin Mountains to the Northwest. To the East of the Ural mountains lies the West Siberian plain surrounded by the mountains of South Siberia (Altay, Sayanas, Baikal mountains, etc.). Between the Yenisey and Lena rivers lies the Midsiberian plateau, between the Lena and the Pacific coast spread the mountains ridges and plateaus of North-East Asia.
Russia has about 2.5 million rivers and 2 million fresh and salt water lakes. The largest rivers are Volga, North Dvina, Don, Pechora, Ob, Yrtysh, Yenisey, Angara, Lena, Amur; the largest lakes are the Caspian (Sea), Baikal, Ladoga, Onega. Russia has 35 national parks and 84 natural reserves.
The climate changes from marine on the extreme Northwest to harsh continental on Siberia and monsoon in the Far East. Average temperatures in January are from 32 F to -58 F (0 C to – 50 C), in July – from 33,8 F to 77 F (+1 C to +25 C); precipitation is from 5.9” to 78.8” (150 to 2000 mm) per year. Russia has the following climatic zones: arctic desert, tundra, forest tundra, forest, forest steppe, steppe, semi desert.
The population of Russia as of January 1, 2020 was 146.745 million people. In terms of the population, the Russian Federation occupies the 9th place in the world. Two percent of the world's population live in Russia.
The majority of the population is concentrated in the European part of the country. Seventy four percent of the population lives in urban areas, 26.3% - in rural areas.
Russia is a multiethnic state. Over 160 nationalities live on its territory, the largest (80.9% of the population) being Russians. Russian is the official State language.
With nearly 5,000 religious associations the Russian Orthodox Church accounts for over a half of the total number registered in Russia. Next in numbers come Moslem associations, about 3,000, Baptists, 450, Seventh Day Adventists, 120, Evangelicals, 120, Old Believers, over 200, Roman Catholics, 200, Krishnaites, 68, Buddhists, 80, Judaists, 50, and Unified Evangelical Lutherans, 39.
Many churches and monasteries have been returned to the Church, including the St. Daniel Monastery, the current seat of the Moscow Patriarchate, the spiritual and administrative center of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Some statisticians estimate the percentage of believers at 40 per cent of the entire Russian Federation. Close to 9,000 communities belonging to over forty confessions had been officially registered in the country.
The majority of religious Russians are Christians. The country has over 5,000 Russian Orthodox churches. Many are built anew or under repair on parish and local budgets money.
Among the several more ambitious projects is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, erected in Red Square to commemorate the liberation of Moscow by Minin and Pozharsky's militia, pulled down in 1936, and recently rebuilt from scratch. The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, demolished in 1931, is restored. Patriarch Aiexis II described its rebirth as "a sublime act of piety and penitence."
Russia had 150 Roman Catholic parishes, two theological seminaries and an academy before the revolution of 1917. All were suppressed in the Soviet years, and the believers -- ethnic Lithuanians, Poles and Gennans -- were banished and seattered about Siberia and Central Asia. 83 communities have reappeared by now, and Apostolic Administrations linked to the Vatican have been established in Moscow for European Russia, and in Novosibirsk for Siberia. There are four bishops and 165 priests working among the approximately 1,300,000 Catholics in the country. The theological seminary, Mary Oueen of the Apostles, opened in Moscow in 1993 and was transferred to St. Petersburg in 1995.
The two million Protestants have 1,150 communities.
The nineteen million Muslims, the second largest religious community in Russia, have over 800 parishes and mosques, mostly in Bashkortostan, Daghestan, Kabarda-Balkaria, North Ossetia, Tatarstan, Ingushetia, and Chechnya. The Muslim Board for Central European region has been re-established. The Moscow Muftiyat, an independent ecclesiastical body, is responsible for the Moscow, Vladimir, Ivanovo, Kostroma, Tula, Tver, Nizhny Novgorod, Kaluga, Yaroslavl and Kaliningrad regions, and Sochi, the renowned seaside resort in the Krasnodar Territory.
Buddhism is widespread in Buryatia, Kalmykia, Tuva, and the Irkutsk and Chits regions. The Russian Federation currently has ten datsan monasteries, with the total monastic body approaching 200. Another ten monasteries are under construction.
The Russian Federation has 42 Jewish communities. Moscow accounts for over 10 per cent of Russian Jews, and has three synagogues, one of which is Hasidic.
Russian State Flag
The existing three-color Russian national flag was adopted by the Order of President Boris Yeltsin of December 11, 1993, replacing it's Soviet-time red predecessor. According to the Constitution, "The national flag of the Russian Federation consists of three equal horizontal stripes - white, blue and red."
This is the third time this three-color flag becomes the national symbol. The first to use it was Peter the Great, who on January 20, 1705 ordered to hoist this flag as a trade one on all Russian ships on Moscow, Volga and Dvina rivers. In those times the lower red stripe symbolized the Earth, the blue stripe - the sky, and the upper white stripe meant the world of God. At the same time, according to the Russian tradition, white color meant nobility, blue - honesty, red - courage and love.
But it still had to come through a tough competition with a black-yellow-white Emperor's banner, which was proclaimed the Russian national flag by the order of Alexander II, issued on June 11, 1858. For 25 years the red-blue-white flag was used, as in the XVIII-th century, only as a trade streamer. But after Alexander II was killed, the new Emperor, Alexander III, reconsidered the matter. Before the Coronation ceremony the Interior Minister, Count Tolstoy, produced to the Emperor both flags, and Alexander chose the red-blue-white one. So, this banner regained the status of the national flag and preserved it till the October Revolution of 1917.
After the Revolution it was replaced by the Soviet Red Banner. Russian Federation, as the part of the USSR, got it's own flag, which was, however, very much alike - red with a thin blue vertical stripe, and gold star, hammer and sickle in the upper left corner. Only 76 years later the old three color flag became again the national flag of the Russian Federation.
Later, in the XIX-th century, the three stripes on the flag were thought to embody the commonwealth of three Slavonic nations - Russian, Ukranian and Belorussian. Beginning from the middle of the century the three-color flag gradually acquire functions of the national symbol. In 1856 during the Paris Congress, while the peace treaty about the end of the Crimea war was being negotiated, the red-blue-white banner was used as the national flag of the Russian Empire.
Russian State Seal
As a state symbol two-headed eagle first appeared in Russia, those times Moscovia, in the XV-th century. It came from Visantium with Sophia Paleolog, member of the last Visantium Emperor dynasty, who became the wife of Ivan III, the Great Duke of Moscow.
Two-headed eagle remained the symbol of Russian Monarchy and Russian State for more than four hundred years, till the October Revolution of 1917, and regained it's status in 1993 according to the order of President Boris Yeltsin of November 30, 1993.
There are different interpretations of this symbol. The most common version says that two heads of the eagle symbolize that Russia consists of two part - European and Asian, and they are of equal importance for the country.
The State insignia survived some changes during the pre-revolutionary history of Russia, though these changes were not too much significant. When the old Rurick dynasty ended in the XVII-th century and Romanovs came to power, the two-headed eagle remained as the symbol of Russia, though three crowns were added above the eagle. They were to embody the unity of three nations - Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian.
National Anthem of Russia
The National Anthem is one of the official state symbols of the Russian Federation.
The lyrics and music of the national anthem create a ceremonial composition intended as a symbol of state unity. The Anthem’s words reflect feelings of patriotism and respect for the country’s history and its system of government.
The National Anthem can be performed by an orchestra or choir, separately or jointly, or using other vocal and instrumental media. Audio and video recordings can also be made and used in performing the Anthem, as can television and radio broadcasts.
The National Anthem must be performed in strict accordance with the approved music and text.
When the National Anthem is performed at official occasions, the audience is expected to stand and men must remove their hats.
If the National Anthem is played while the State Flag is being raised, the audience faces the flag.
The new National Anthem of the Russian Federation was first officially performed on December 30, 2000, at a state reception in the Great Kremlin Palace.
Russia – our sacred homeland,
Russia – our beloved country.
A mighty will, great glory –
These are your heritage for all time!
Be glorious, our free Motherland,
Age-old union of fraternal peoples,
Ancestor-given wisdom of the people!
Be glorious, our country! We are proud of you!
From the southern seas to the polar lands
Spread are our forests and fields.
You are unique in the world, one of a kind –
This native land protected by God!
Wide spaces for dreams and for living
Are opened for us by the coming years
Our loyalty to the Motherland gives us strength.
Thus it was, thus it is and thus it always will be!