Russian political system, history and culture
system, history and culture
- When was the Russian Federation
- The Russian Federation was set up
by the Constitution of 1993. After its destruction the Soviet Union was broken
up into independent Russia and 14 other new, sovereign nations 1991.
- Who is the head of the Russian
- Under the Constitution of 1993
Russia is a Presidential Republic. It is headed by the President who is elected
for a four-year term. The President is commander-in-chief of the armed forces,
he makes treaties, and enforces laws, appoints the prime minister, cabinet
members, and key judges. The President can override and in some cases even
dissolve the national parliament, the bicameral Federal Assembly.
- What are the branches of the
- The government consists of three
branches: legislative, executive and judicial. Each of them is checked and
balanced by the President. The legislative power is vested in the Federal
Assembly. It consists of the Federation Council (upper house) and the State
Duma (lower house). The members of the State Duma are elected by popular vote
for a four-year period. The Federation Council is not elected. It is formed of
the heads of the regions. Each Chamber is headed by the Chairman. Legislature
is initiated in the State Duma. But to become a law a bill must be approved by
the Lower and Upper Houses and signed by the President. The executive power
belongs to the Government. The judicial branch is represented by the
Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and regional courts.
- What are Russia's state symbols?
- Today the state Russian flag is
three coloured. It has three horizontal stripes: white, blue and red. The white
stripe symbolizes the earth, the blue one stands for the sky, and the red one
signifies liberty. It was the first state symbol to replace the former symbols
in 1991. The hymn of Russia is created by Alexandrov and Mikhalkov. Now the
national coat of arms is a two-headed eagle. It is the most ancient symbol of
- What is the official language of
the Russian Federation?
- Russian is the official, but not
the only language which people speak in the country. Members of more than 60
other ethnic groups who live in Russia speak their own languages. The people of
the Altaic group speak mainly Turkic, and Mongolian languages. The members of
the Uralic group speak Uralic languages. The representatives of the Caucasus
group speak various languages of the North Caucasus region of Russia. The
people of Paleosiberian groups speak variety of languages of far-eastern
- What religions do the peoples of
the Russian Federation confess?
- Religions are diverse on the
territory of Russia. The Slavs are mostly Orthodox Christian. The Turkic
speakers are mainly Muslim. The Mongolians are customarily Buddhist.
- When did the Early Russian State
come into being?
- Russia's history dates back to the
year 862. In the 9th century AD the Early Russian state came into being with
the cities of Kiev, Novgorod and Vladimir as its centres. The newly established
state started to rival with the Byzantine Empire. During the middle and late
10th century, Svyatoslav, grand prince of Kiev, began to unite the land of Rus;
his son Vladimir continued the unification. He baptized Russia in 988.
- Did Russia develop like the rest
European countries of that time?
- Yes, it did. As feudalism
advanced, just as everywhere in Western Europe the Early Russian state began to
disintegrated into separate principalities. The rulers of the Golden Horde took
advantage of it and overran the Russian land. After the Mongol conquest of most
of Russia about 1240, such principalities as Novgorod continued to prosper;
others, such as Moscow and Tver, became important centres; and others declined.
Ivan IV the Terrible was the first tsar of Russia. His military campaigns
against the Tatars added several non-Slavic states to the empire. Ivan was
succeeded by his son, Fyodor I. His brother-in-law Boris Godunov in fact ruled
as regent and, after Fyodor's death, as tsar. But 15 years of dynastic
upheaval, known as the Time of Troubles (1598-1613), ended with the election of
Michael Romanov as tsar.
- What changes took place in Russia
in the 18th century?
- The 18th century is the time of
great reforms. Peter I the Great not only carried out a number of
administrative and military reforms, but he Westernized the country's culture
and style of life His aim was to transform Tsarism into a European kind of
- How did Peter I reform education
- Peter I started to reform Russian
education. The Tsar introduced secular education and made it compulsory for all
state servants. Peter founded the Naval Academy. He organized the Academy of
Sciences as an institution for scholarship, research, and instruction at the
- What was one of the most
fundamental legacies of Peter I?
- The creation of a national standing
army on Western model was one of the most fundamental legacies of the Tsar. By
appropriating the Baltic provinces and areas along the Caspian Sea, Peter I the
Great established Russia as a legitimate European power.
- What title did Peter I the Great
assume in 1721?
- In 1721 he assumed the title of
emperor (imperator), thus announcing in name as well as fact anew Russian
Empire. From 1721 to 1917 Russia was the political centre of the Russian
- Who consolidated Peter I's
- Many of Peter I's reforms were
consolidated by the empresses Elizabeth and Catherine II the Great. Catherine
added the Crimea and Ukraine, as well as Polish territory, to the empire.
- How did Russia develop in the 19th
- Alexander I's attention was
diverted from reforms by the Napoleonic Wars. Opposition to serfdom had been
growing since the time of Catherine the Great, who had hoped to end it but was
forced to extend it. The institution was finally abolished by Alexander II. The
"Emancipation Manifesto" made bondaged peasants free. But the
"Tsar Liberator" was assassinated by the revolutionaries in 1881.
- What happened at the beginning of
the 20th century in Russia?
- Russian autocracy was defeated in
the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. Months of students' disorders, scattered
peasants' uprisings, mounting strikes and riots forced Nicholas II to agree to
form a national Duma (parliament) with advisory powers. In the October
Manifesto the emperor promised to create a legislative assembly and guarantee
civil liberties. The October Manifesto inaugurated a period of constitutional
- What do you know about the Dumas?
- The First Duma was elected on a
broad franchise, though it fell short of the franchise demanded by the parties
of the Left. The old State Council became a party elective upper house.
Nicholas II promised that no bill could become law without the Duma's approval.
But the Duma's budgetary powers were limited, and though Duma deputies could
question ministers, the latter were responsible only to the Tsar. The First
Duma, which was dominated by the Cadets, met only from April to July. The bill
for expropriation with compensation, of the lands of the gentry and others led
the government to dissolve Duma. Between 1906 and 1917 several Dumas, often
with left-wing majorities, were elected and dissolved, but there was little
progress in reform owing to the stiffness of the monarchy and the resistance of
- How did the Bolsheviks come to
- Russia's entry into World War I
was a disaster for the nation. By the autumn of 1915 the country had lost more
than a million men. In February 1917 the Romanov dynasty was overthrown, and a
democratic Provisional Government was established. In October (November, New
Style), the Bolsheviks seized the power. Russia withdrew from World War I, and
the Bolsheviks defeated their opponents in a civil war, forming the Union of
Soviet Socialist Republics. The Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic
became the largest and central component of the Soviet Union.
- How did the country develop after
the October Revolution?
- In the 1930s the Soviet Union
underwent rapid industrialization and collectivization. The USSR developed into
a world power and played a major role in the defeat of Germany in World War II
During the 1960s and '70s the Soviet Union tried to spread its influence
world-wide. Mikhail Gorbachev's coming to power in 1985 marked the beginning of
new changes in Soviet society - chiefly a restructuring (perestroika) of the
nation's political and economic systems and a new openness (glasnost) in public
discussion, debate, and cultural expression. By the 1990s, reformism had eroded
the Communists' grasp on power, both at home and in eastern Europe. An attempted
coup d'etat by Communist hard-liners on August 19-21, 1991, failed, permitting
the further advance of political pluralism and democratic institutions -
spearheaded by Russian President Boris Yeltsin popularly elected in June 1991.
- Is Russia's population literate?
- Yes, certainly. Russia's
population is literate. Education is free at all levels and compulsory between
the ages of 6 and 17. The educational system includes four-year primary schools
and general, technical, or vocational secondary schools. University admittance
is determined by competitive examination.
- Can Russia be proud of its
- Literature, music, and dance have
always occupied the most important places in Russian cultural life. The
country's best-known writers are - Aleksandr Pushkin, Nikolay Gogol, Ivan
Turgenev, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Anton Chekhov, Boris Pasternak. They
are popular throughout the world. The greatest Russian composers are Aleksandr
Borodin, Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, and Peter Ilich
Tchaikovsky. Their legacy is evident in more contemporary music, notably that
of Sergey Rachmaninoff, Igor Stravinsky, Sergey Prokofiev, and Dmitry
- What are Russia's most important
- Russia's most important cities are
Moscow and St. Petersburg, formerly Leningrad.
- What can you tell us about Moscow?
- Moscow is the capital of Russia.
The date of its foundation is the year 1147. Moscow began to rise in the 14th
century. Under Ivan III the Great, in the mid- fifteenth century, Moscow became
the principal city of the state of Muscovy. Nowadays Moscow is the largest city
of Russia. It is a political, administrative, economic, industrial, educational
and cultural centre of the country.
- Are there many educational
institutions in Moscow?
- Moscow has a large concentration
of educational institutions. Its centres of higher education draw students from
throughout Russia. Moscow State University is the leading educational
institution. The city's many specialized educational institutions include the
Moscow Timiryazev Academy of Agriculture and the Moscow Tchaikovsky State
- Where is the growth of Moscow
- It is possible to trace successive
epochs of its development by the Boulevard Ring and the Garden Ring - both following
the line of former fortifications - the Moscow Little Ring Railway, and the
Moscow Ring Road. They facilitate suburban commuter traffic.
- What is located beyond the Garden
- Beyond the Garden Ring is a middle
zone dominated by 18th and 19th-century developments; many factories, railway
stations and freight yards are located there. Since 1960 extensive urban
renewal has occurred, producing neighbourhoods of high-rise apartment
- Is public transportation well
developed in Moscow?
- Yes, it is. Muscovites heavily
rely on public transportation provided by the Metropolitan (Metro) subway,
buses, street cars, and trolleybuses.
- What is the centre of the city?
- The Kremlin is the centre of the
city. It is the historical heart of Moscow. Its redbrick walls and towers were
erected at the end of the 15th century. The former Senate building, the Kremlin
Great Palace, and the modern Palace of Congresses are located within the walls
of the Kremlin. The white bell tower of Ivan III the Great, the Armoury Museum,
and the Arsenal are grouped around Cathedral Square. The Kremlin contains
several cathedrals designed by Italian architects in a style combining
Renaissance details with Russian architectural tradition.
- What is the ceremonial centre of
- Red Square is the ceremonial
centre of the capital.
- What is located at the ends of Red
- The State Historical Museum closes
off the northern end of the square. The Church of the Intercession, or Cathedral
of St. Basil the Blessed, is situated at the southern end of the square. It was
built for Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible from 1554 to 1560 by the architects Barma
and Postnik. The Cathedral is the final expression of pure Russian
architectural fantasy in which Byzantine elements detached from their original
meaning, were multiplied in unbelievable extravagance.
- What Moscow theatres and art
galleries are world-known?
- The State Academic Bolshoi
Theatre, Mali Theatre, and Moscow Art Theatre are world-known. Of the many
museums and galleries, the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts and the State
Tretyakov Gallery are especially notable.
- What do you know about St.
- St. Petersburg is one of the most
beautiful cities of Europe. It has played an important role in Russian history.
Founded by Peter I in 1703 it was the capital of the Russian Empire for two
centuries. St. Petersburg was the scene of two revolutions. During World War II
the city was besieged. The modern city is important as a cultural and
industrial centre and as the nation's largest seaport.
- Is St. Petersburg the city of rich
- St. Petersburg developed as a city
of culture. There are a lot of theatres there. The Mariinsky Theatre has long
enjoyed an international reputation, and its resident company is frequently on
tour abroad. Other important theatres are the Mali, Gorky, Pushkin, and Musical
Comedy theatres. Famous museums include the Hermitage and the State Russian
- What is your favourite St.
- The Hermitage is my favourite
museum. It was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great as a court museum. Under
Nicholas I the Hermitage was reconstructed. It was opened to the public in
1852. After the October Revolution of 1917, the imperial collections became
public property. The Hermitage has a rich collection of western European
painting since the Middle Ages, including many masterpieces by Renaissance
Italian and Baroque Dutch, Flemish, and French painters. Russian art is well
represented. The Hermitage also has extensive holdings of Oriental art.
- Are there any other Russian cities
of historic importance?
- Yes, there are. Vladimir, Suzdal,
Yaroslavl played a very important role in the making of our state.
- What can you say about Vladimir?
- The city of Vladimir was founded
in 1108 by Vladimir II Monomakh, grand prince of Kiev. In 1157 Prince Andrew
Bogolyubsky moved his capital there from Kiev. The city suffered several
Mongols attacks. In the 15th century it became a minor local centre. Today the
city is proud of some superb examples of early Russian architecture. Especially
noteworthy among these are the Kremlin; the Cathedral of the Assumption, built
in 1158; the triumphal Golden Gate of 1158, restored under Catherine II. The
Great; and the Cathedral of St. Dmitry.
- How did Suzdal develop?
- During the 12th to 14th centuries
Suzdal principality achieved great political and economic importance. It became
prominent during the reign of Andrew Bogolyubsky, who transferred the title of
"grand prince" from Kiev to Suzdal, then to Vladimir. He and his
brother and successor, Vsevolod III, organized a strong monarchical political
system and, as rulers of the Grand Principality of Vladimir, became the most
powerful of the Russian princes. They encouraged their subordinate princes to
develop the principality and build churches, palaces, and new cities.
Suzdal-Vladimir disintegrated into small principalities in the 13th and 14th
centuries. In 1237 Suzdal became subject to the Golden Horde. In 1392 Prince
Vasily I Dmitriyevich of Moscow annexed the Suzdal-Nizhny Novgorod region. The
ancient cathedrals and monasteries still stand in their glory in Suzdal.
- What is Yaroslavl notable for?
- Yaroslavl is famous for its
history and cathedral architecture. Established in 1010 by Prince Yaroslav the
Wise, it served as the capital of an independent principality from 1218 until
1471. Then it came under the rule of Moscow. The opening of trade with the West
during the 16th century brought prosperity to the town. By the late 18th
century Yaroslavl had become an important industrial centre. Now Yaroslavl's
industries produce heavy machinery, refined petroleum products, textiles, and
synthetic rubber and tires.
- What churches survived in
- Many churches survived in
Yaroslavl. Among them is the Transfiguration Cathedral (1505-16) of the Saviour
Monastery. The churches of Elijah the Prophet, Nikola Nadein, and St. John the
Baptist date from the 17th century.
- Are there any other places of
interest in Yaroslavl?
- Yaroslavl has a university, four
theatres - including Russia's first public theatre, founded in 1750 - an art
gallery, several museums, and a symphony orchestra. Russia is a vast country.
In every part of it there are places that contributed to its well being.
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