Russia Basic Information

By | July 21, 2022

Basic information about the territory

Russia Basic Information

Subchapters:

  • System of governance and political tendencies in the country
  • Foreign policy of the country
  • Population

The system of governance and political tendencies in the country

The Russian president is the highest-ranking person in Russia’s political system and is therefore the head of state. He is elected to his position for five years. The current President Putin is serving his fourth term, as his two four-year terms from 2000-2008 were not counted due to the break in 2008-2012. His current mandate ends in 2024, and there is speculation in Russia and elsewhere in the world about how this post can be replaced, what Vladimir Putin’s future will be and who can become his successor.

Among the many roles of the Russian president, the most politically important are the right to propose to the State Duma the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, to appoint members of the government on his proposal, and to direct the work and meetings of the government. Some, especially the so-called power departments (defense, interior,…) report directly to him, he is the commander-in-chief of the Russian armed forces. Check computerminus to learn more about Russia political system.

The history of modern Russia since its creation in 1991 can roughly be divided into two periods: before Putin until 2000) and under Putin (from 2000 to the present). The 1990s in Russia were characterized by chaos, hyperinflation, the breakdown of old economic ties, bank failures and the loss of savers’ savings. Also through privatization, thanks to which a few so-called oligarchs have become immensely rich, and the often unpunished crimes of criminal groups. V. Putin based his policy on stability and the building of a strong centralized state, both economically and above all in political and security terms. Politically, he relies on the United Russia party, which nominated him for the highest state post and can be described as the president’s party. For most of its existence (established in 2001), it has had a parliamentary and, in some periods, a constitutional majority.

The political dominance of United Russia and the right to distribute the highest posts in the political and economic spheres led to the emergence of the so-called systemic opposition. He does not seek to change the political structure of Russia and is content with some concessions in government policy and positions for his candidates. The Communist Party, the Just Russia and the Liberal Democratic Party rank here. Other opposition parties are outside parliament, without real political power and influence.

In 2020, under the control of the government, three political parties were created to offer a choice to those who are looking for something new, but in principle agree with the leadership of the country under V. Putin and United Russia. At the same time, the country’s leadership is trying to attract non-systemic opposition voters to these parties, who are already tired of the impossibility of actually changing anything. These are the New People, Green Alternative and Za pravdu parties, which try to appeal to voters who are interested in the entry of new people, especially entrepreneurs, into politics, support green initiatives or are in favor of promoting conservative values.

Both the president and the government try to manage and control as many things as possible, because in such a large country, unexpected news usually means bad news. At present, it seems that they are quite successful, although with a great effort, the involvement of the entire state apparatus and often a lot of money, which has to be spent on solving various and often unexpected problems. Even if sometimes an unforeseen event happens at the local level (protests in Khabarovsk, an ecological disaster in Norilsk, etc.) that leads to significant discontent among the population, often expressed in public protests, it does not seem that the system of controlled democracy, as it sometimes is the system of governance in Russia referred to, soon to be changed and removed from the control of the president and the wider leadership of the country.

Foreign policy of the country

Today’s Russian Federation is the direct successor of the defunct Soviet Union, which for most of the 20th century shaped the division of the world into capitalist and socialist blocs. At the same time, it is the indirect successor of the imperial power in the form of Tsarist Russia and the even earlier Kievan Rus, which practically constantly increased and expanded territorially since the Middle Ages. This expansiveness, sometimes associated with the need for protection from perceived or real enemies who could attack Russia due to the absence of a natural wall in the form of a mountain massif or a large ocean, is present practically throughout Russian history and had a major influence on its foreign policy. Check relationshipsplus for Russia defense and foreign policy.

Membership in the UN Security Council, possession of atomic weapons, the defeat of Nazism in World War II, and strong ties to individual countries or regional blocs around the world make today’s Russia one of the real hegemons of world politics. Efforts to influence developments in the countries of the former USSR and elsewhere, either for security or other strategic reasons, lead Russian diplomacy to promote a policy that corresponds to its ambitions. Russian foreign policy is guided by pragmatism and an effort to strengthen its position in every situation and to be an important player, even if some, for example purely economic, parameters would not attribute such a role to it.

In the territory of the former Soviet Union, Russia most often defines itself against the Baltic countries (members of the EU and NATO) and Ukraine, where developments in recent years lead to a reduction in political and economic dependence and connectedness with Russia. In these and other countries, often referred to as the so-called near abroad, Russia plays an important role, both from a security and economic point of view. In the immediate vicinity of the Russian Federation, there are several security or national conflicts actively taking place or latently existing in which Russia is involved in some way (Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, etc.).

With the European Union or among its member countries, Russia often diverges in their opinions on the solution of many problems or even their existence or definition. The strongest and more or less functional relationship is in the trade area – both the European Union and Russia have goods and materials that the other party is interested in. Relations with the United States are so complex and complicated that they change very often and cannot be described in this space. But mutual rivalry persists.

From the times of the socialist past, Russia has many ties to Asian, African and Latin American countries, which it tries to use in the new conditions of the 21st century, characterized by the key role of the USA and the growing importance of China. Above all, in Africa, Russia has the ambition to return to its former positions, arguing that it has never acted as a colonizer on the continent, unlike European (historically) or other countries (in modern history, USA, China). In Asia or Latin America, Russian influence is much weaker. For economic reasons or because of the distance, which makes it impossible for Russia to offer countries something attractive for them. A limited and isolated example is Venezuela, where this does not apply.

In Central Europe and thus also with the Czech Republic, the Russian Federation has relations that reflect the common historical experience from the times of socialism during the twentieth century and the different political and economic realities that have prevailed in them since the 1990s. Mutual relations are therefore complex with almost all Central European countries, and the Czech Republic is no exception. Czech companies that do business or invest in Russia are advised to closely monitor the development of Czech-Russian relations, so that they cannot be surprised and find themselves unable to respond adequately to the comments or positions held by their Russian partners.

Population

The number of inhabitants as of January 1, 2020 was 146.74 million people, and in 2019 it decreased by 3thousand. The population has increased only due to the increase in migration.

The population density is 8.57 per 1 km 2 (as of 1/1/2020), 68.49% of the population lives in the European part of Russia, which represents approximately 21% of the territory. 74% of the population live in cities.

The share of the economically active population is 7million, i.e. 51.6% of the total population. The age of the economically active population is 15 to 72 years. The average life expectancy in 2018 was 7years (67.5 for men and 77.6 for women). The situation in Russia has long been referred to by experts as a demographic crisis. With the exception of 2013-15, since the beginning of the 21st century, the population of Russia has been steadily decreasing, the birth rate is 1.6-per woman. The share of men in the RF was 46%, the share of women 54%. A significant imbalance in the number of men and women is characteristic especially for the middle and older age categories.

National composition (as of the last population census in 2010):
· Russians: 77.71% (111,017 thousand),
· Tatars: 3.72% (5,311 thousand),
· Ukrainians: 1.35% (1,928 thousand),
· Bashkirs: 1.11% (1,585 thousand),
· Chuvash: 1.01% (1,436 thousand),
· Chechens: 1.00% (1,431 thousand),
· Armenians: 0.83% (1,182 thousand).

About 180 other nationalities and ethnic groups live in Russia. In 2010, 22 nationalities were registered, the number of which exceeds 400,000. people.

The Russian population census does not take religious beliefs into account, the following overview is based on the Levada-center survey from 2013:
Orthodox – 73.6% of baptized (20% at least partially practicing)
Old Believers – 1.4% (around 2 million, which mainly includes Russians, but also Ukrainians, Belarusians, Karelians, Komi, Udmurts, Chuvash and others)
Muslims – 7%
Catholics – 1% (Poles, Lithuanians, Germans and others)
Protestants – 1%,
Buddhists – 1%
Judaism 1%
Atheists (in Russian terminology often “agnostics”) around 14% of the population.