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Introduction

Coat of Arms of the Russian Federation.svg

Russia (Russian: Росси́я, tr. Rossiya, IPA: [rɐˈsʲijə]), or the Russian Federation (Russian: Росси́йская Федера́ция, tr. Rossiyskaya Federatsiya, IPA: [rɐˈsʲijskəjə fʲɪdʲɪˈratsɨjə]), is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and North Asia. At 17,125,200 square kilometres (6,612,100 sq mi), Russia is by a considerable margin the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, and the ninth most populous, with about 146.80 million people , including Crimea. About 77% of the population live in the western, European part of the country. Russia's capital, Moscow, is one of the largest cities in the world and the second largest city in Europe; other major cities include Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (both with Kaliningrad Oblast), Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. However, Russia recognises two more countries that border it, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are internationally recognized as parts of Georgia.

The East Slavs emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by a Varangian warrior elite and their descendants, the medieval state of Rus arose in the 9th century. In 988 it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Rus ultimately disintegrated into a number of smaller states; most of the Rus' lands were overrun by the Mongol invasion and became tributaries of the nomadic Golden Horde in the 13th century. The Grand Duchy of Moscow gradually reunified the surrounding Russian principalities and achieved independence from the Golden Horde. By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation, and exploration to become the Russian Empire, which was the third largest empire in history, stretching from Poland on the west to Alaska on the east.

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The Katyn massacre was a mass execution of Polish citizens by the order of Soviet authorities in 1940. About 8,000 of those killed were reserve officers taken prisoner during the 1939 Invasion of Poland, but the dead also included many civilians who had been arrested for being "intelligence agents and gendarmes, spies and saboteurs, former landowners, factory owners and officials". Since Poland's conscription system required every unexempted university graduate to become a reserve officer, the Soviets were thus able to round up much of the Polish, Jewish, Ukrainian, Georgian and Belarusian intelligentsias of Polish citizenship. The 1943 discovery of mass graves at Katyn Forest by Germany, after its armed forces had occupied the site in 1941, precipitated a rupture of diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the Polish government-in-exile in London. The Soviet Union continued to deny responsibility for the massacres until 1990, when it acknowledged that the NKVD had in fact committed the massacres and the subsequent cover-up. The Russian government has admitted Soviet responsibility for the massacres, although it does not classify them a war crime or an act of genocide, as this would have necessitated the prosecution of surviving perpetrators, which is what the Polish government has requested.

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Lugano by Prokudin-Gorsky
Credit: Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky

Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky was a Russian pioneer of color photographer. This view of Lugano was most likely taken in 1909.

Although James Clerk Maxwell made the first color photograph in 1861, the results were far from realistic until Prokudin-Gorsky perfected the technique with a series of improvements around 1905. His process used a camera that took a series of monochrome pictures in rapid sequence, each through a different colored filter. Prokudin-Gorskii then went on to document much of the country of Russia, travelling by train in a specially equipped darkroom railroad car.

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Kirill Eskov

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Sviatoslav depicted in artwork by Ivan Akimov

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Russian Coulibiac with Cabbage.jpg

A coulibiac (from Russian: кулебя́ка, kulebyáka) is a type of Russian pirog usually filled with salmon or sturgeon, rice or buckwheat, hard-boiled eggs, mushrooms, onions, and dill. The pie is baked in a pastry shell, usually of brioche or puff pastry.

The dish was so popular in Russia in the early part of the 20th century that Auguste Escoffier, the famed French chef, brought it to France and included recipes for it in his masterwork, The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery. Read more...

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Aleksandr Vasilevsky
Aleksandr Vasilevsky was a Soviet military commander, promoted to Marshal of the Soviet Union in 1943. He was the Soviet Chief of the General Staff and Deputy defence minister during World War II, as well as defence minister from 1949 to 1953. As the Chief of the General Staff, Vasilevsky was responsible for the planning and coordination of almost all decisive Soviet offensives, from the Stalingrad counteroffensive to the assault on East Prussia and Königsberg. In July 1945, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Soviet forces in the Far East, executing Soviet invasion of Manchuria and subsequently accepting Japan's surrender. After the war, he became the Soviet Defence Minister, a position he held until Stalin's death in 1953. With Nikita Khrushchev's rise, Vasilevsky started to lose power and was eventually pensioned off. After his death, he was buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis in recognition of his past service and contributions to his nation.

In the news

17 July 2019 – Turkey–United States relations
The United States removes NATO ally Turkey from the Joint Strike Fighter program, following the country's acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile system. Turkey had planned to buy 100 F-35 Lightning II jets. (BBC)
12 July 2019 – Russia–Turkey relations
Turkey receives its first shipment of the S-400 missile system from Russia, defying U.S. and NATO calls to cancel the deal. (BBC)
6 July 2019 – Syrian Civil War
The SNHR says at least 544 civilians (including 130 children) have been killed, and another 2,117 people injured since a Russian-led Syrian government assault on the last rebel bastion in northwestern Syria began two months prior. (Al Jazeera) (Reuters)
2 July 2019 –
A fire on the Russian Navy's Losharik submarine kills 14 crew members while the vessel conducts tests in Russian territorial waters. (Sky News) (RFERL)
At least 18 people have died and more than a dozen are still missing in devastating floods that swept southeastern Siberia, Russia. (The Japan Times)
27 June 2019 –
Angara Airlines Flight 200 crashes on landing at Nizhneangarsk Airport, Far East Russia, killing two of the 47 people on board. (Aviation Safety Network)

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Vladimir Putin
Russia has made its choice in favor of democracy. Fourteen years ago, independently, without any pressure from outside, it made that decision in the interests of itself and interests of its people -- of its citizens. This is our final choice, and we have no way back. There can be no return to what we used to have before. And the guarantee for this is the choice of the Russian people, themselves. No, guarantees from outside cannot be provided. This is impossible. It would be impossible for Russia today. Any kind of turn towards totalitarianism for Russia would be impossible, due to the condition of the Russian society.
Vladimir Putin, 2005

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