The Russian federation is a federal semi-presidential republic with a president and parliament. Its territory includes eighty-three federal subjects, including twenty-one republics and two autonomous federal cities. These entities are equal in rights and responsibilities, and subject to federal law. Each of these federal subjects is represented by two elected representatives in parliament. While each of the federation’s oblasts have a governor appointed by the central government, they also have their own legislatures. Before the transition, the governorship was an elected position, but President Vladimir Putin changed this in 2003 in order to strengthen the central state.
The western core of Russia has the majority of its population, with the capital city of Moscow in the center. The East Frontier includes a few industrial cities, but most of the country’s population lives in the western core. The Volga River is the longest river in Europe, and has served as a transportation artery for centuries. The Caucasus Mountain region is mostly wild, with several non-Russian groups seeking independence. Because of this, Russia has engaged in many wars to keep these regions united.
In the 1990s, the Russian Federation was plagued with armed conflicts, including local ethnic battles and separatist-Islamist insurrections. In the early 1990s, Chechen separatists declared independence. The Russian military responded by waging the Chechen War. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union won the Battle of Stalingrad, a war that was the longest in warfare history. In 2000, the Russian presidential election was won by President Vladimir Putin, and the two leaders met at the Reykjavik Summit.
The Russian Empire and the Soviet Union ruled vast expanses, encompassing many different ethnic groups in far-flung places. These empires included people of different languages, ethnicities, and religions who did not consider themselves Russian. In addition to the Russian-speaking population, there are more than 150 different ethnic groups in the country. In fact, most of these people have their own languages and cultural traditions. They speak a number of languages, including Russian and Slavic, which is the official language in their respective regions.
In terms of art, music, and media, the Russian empire produced world-famous composers such as Alexander Scriabin, Igor Stravinsky, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. The country also produced some of the greatest pianists in history, such as Anton Rubinstein and Vladimir Ashkenazy. A number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites are located in Russia. Its literature is equally rich, including books by famous authors such as Leo Tolstoy.
While the former Soviet state moved toward a capitalist democracy, the political elite lost their control of wealth. Many ordinary workers faced unemployment and economic hardship. As a result, many companies were privatized and the new owners trimmed off unnecessary staff. House prices skyrocketed as the value of the ruble declined rapidly. Many older people watched their life savings evaporate as Western goods became more widely available. Fortunately, the new regime of Vladimir Putin has continued to strengthen the Russian economy.