Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Russia | Introduction

EuropeRussian FederationRussia | Introduction

The Russian Federation, also known as Russia, is a federal state in Eurasia. With an area of 17,075,200 km2, Russia is the biggest country in the world, with over 1/8 of the world’s land area, and the 9th most populated, with more than 146.6 million. The western portion of the country is far more densely populated and more urbanised compared to the eastern part, with approximately 77% of the people living in European Russia. The capital of Russia, Moscow, is one of the largest cities in the world, the other major urban centres being St Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Samara.

Russia encompasses all of northern Asia and a large part of eastern Europe, contains 11 time zones, and has a vast range of environments and landforms. Russian land borders extend from north-west to south-east and include countries such as Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, Latvia, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, China, Mongolia, North Korea. Its maritime borders are shared with Japan over the Sea of Okhotsk as well as with the American state of Alaska along the Bering Strait.

The history of the country began with the history of the East Slavs, who arrived between the 3rd and 8th centuries. Founded and ruled by a Varangian warrior elite and their descendants, the medieval state of Rusarose came into being in the 9th century. In 988, it adopted the Orthodox Christianity of the Byzantine Empire, initiating the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that shaped Russian culture for the next millennium. The “Rus” eventually split into a series of small states; most of the lands of the Rus were invaded by the Mongol invasion and became tributaries of the nomadic Golden Horde in the 13th century. Gradually the Grand Duchy of Moscow united the surrounding Russian principalities, obtained their independence from the Golden Horde as well as becoming an important cultural and political legacy for the ” Kievan Rus “. During the 18th century, with many conquests, annexations and discoveries, the nation expanded greatly and became the Russian Empire, the third largest empire in history, extending from Poland at the west side to Alaska at the east side.

After the Russian Revolution, the Russian Federative Soviet Socialist Republic became the largest and most important component of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the world’s first constitutional socialist state. The Soviet Union played a crucial role in the Allied victory in World War II and became a recognised superpower and rival to the United States during the Cold War. The Soviet era saw some of the most important technological achievements of the 20th century, including the first man-made satellite and the launch of the first humans into space. By the end of 1990, the Soviet Union had the world’s second largest economy, the world’s largest standing army and the largest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. After the division of the Soviet Union in 1991, fourteen independent republics emerged from the USSR; as the largest, most populous and economically developed republic, the Russian SFSR reconstituted itself as the Russian Federation and is recognised as the permanent legal entity and the only successor state to the Soviet Union. It is governed as a semi-presidential federal republic.

The Russian economy is the 12th largest in terms of nominal GDP and the 6th largest in terms of purchasing power parity in 2015. Russia’s vast mineral and energy resources are the largest of its kind in the world, making it one of the world’s leading producers of oil and natural gas. The country is one of the five recognised nuclear-weapon states and has the largest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. As a major world power Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the G20, the Council of Europe, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), as well as a major member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), and one of the five members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), together with Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Time zones in Russia

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Since 2016, Russia has eleven time zones and daylight saving time is not used. Previously, the country experimented with a reduced number of time zones and daylight saving time.

  • Kaliningrad Time (UTC+2): Kaliningrad Oblast
  • Moscow Time (UTC+3): Central Russia, Southern Russia, Chernozemye, Northwestern Russia ,Volga Region. In addition, Moscow time is used by all Russian railways.
  • Samara Time (UTC+4): Astrakhan Oblast, Samara Oblast, Udmurtia and Ulyanovsk Oblast
  • Yekaterinburg Time (UTC+5): The Urals
  • Omsk Time (UTC+6): Omsk Oblast, Novosibirsk Oblast and Tomsk Oblast
  • Krasnoyarsk Time (UTC+7): Altai Krai, Altai Republic, Kemerovo Oblast, Khakassia, Krasnoyarsk Krai and Tuva
  • Irkutsk Time (UTC+8): Eastern Siberia
  • Yakutsk Time (UTC+9): Western Yakutia, Amur Oblast
  • Vladivostok Time (UTC+10): Khabarovsk Krai, Magadan Oblast , Sakhalin, central Yakutia , Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Primorsky Krai
  • Srednekolyomsk Time (UTC+11): Kuril Islands, Sakhalin and eastern Yakutia
  • Kamchatka Time (UTC+12): Chukotka, Kamchatka

Tourism in Russia

Since the end of the Soviet era, tourism in Russia has experienced rapid growth, at first domestic and then international tourism, driven by the country’s rich historical heritage and natural diversity. The main tourist itineraries in Russia include a trip around the Golden Ring of ancient cities, cruises on major rivers such as the Volga, and long trips on the famous Trans-Siberian Railway. The Russian Federation attracted 33 million tourists to the country in 2013, which makes it 9th most-visited tourist destination in the world and 7th in Europe. The number of Western visitors decreased in 2014.

Moscow and St. Petersburg, the present and former capital of Russia, have been the most visited travel destinations in Russia. They have been recognised as world cities and have world-famous museums such as the Tretyakov Gallery and Hermitage, famous theatres such as the Bolshoi and Mariinsky, and magnificent churches such as St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the Church of the Saviour on Blood, stunning strongholds including the Kremlin, Peter and Paul Fortress, charming squares and streets which include Red Square, Palace Square, Tverskaya Street and Nevsky Prospekt. There are also numerous palaces and parks situated in the former imperial residences on the outskirts of Moscow (Kolomenskoye, Tsaritsyno) as well as St. Petersburg (Oranienbaum, Gatchina, Pavlovsk, Peterhof, Strelna, and Tsarskoye Selo). Moscow shows Soviet architecture at its best, with modern skyscrapers, while St. Petersburg, nicknamed the “Venice of the North”, boasts classical architecture, with numerous rivers, canals and bridges.

Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, has a mixture of Christian and Muslim Tatar culture. It was recorded as the ” 3rd capital of Russia “, despite the fact that a number of other prominent cities compete for this status, most notably Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod.

Russia’s warm subtropical Black Sea coast is home to a number of popular seaside resorts, such as Sochi, which will host the 2014 Winter Olympics, while the North Caucasus mountains are home to popular ski resorts such as Dombay. Russia’s best-known natural destination is Lake Baikal, the blue eye of Siberia. Being the oldest and deepest lake in the world, it has crystal-clear waters that are surrounded by taiga-covered hills. Other popular natural destinations are Kamchatka with its volcanoes and geysers, Karelia with its lakes and granite rocks, the snow-capped mountains of the Altai and the wild steppes of Tyeva.

Geography of Russia

Russia is the world’s largest country, with a total area of 17,075,200 km2. There are 41 national parks ,23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as 40 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, and 101 nature reserves.

Russia’s territorial expansion was largely achieved at the end of the 16th century during the reign of the Cossack Jermak Timofeyevich, under Ivan the Terrible, at a time when rival city-states in the western regions of Russia had merged into one country. Jermak gathered an army and advanced eastward, conquering almost all the territories that had belonged to the Mongols and defeating their ruler, Khan Kuchum.

Russia has a broad base of natural resources, including large deposits of timber, oil, natural gas, coal, minerals and other mineral resources.

Topography

The two furthest points in Russia are about 8,000 km apart along a geodesic line. These points are: a 60 km long Vistula spit, the border with Poland which separates the Bay of Gdansk from the Vistula Lagoon, and the most south-eastern point of the Kuril Islands. The furthest points in longitude are 6,600 km apart along a geodesic line. These points are: to the west, the same promontory on the border with Poland, and to the east, the island of the Great Diomede. There are 9 different time-zones throughout the Russian Federation.

The largest part of Russia is composed of wide plains, mostly with steppes in the south as well as densely forested in the north, and with tundra along the northern coast. Russia has 10% of the world’s arable land. Along the southern border are mountain ranges such as the Caucasus Mountains (Mount Elbrusz, the highest point in Russia and Europe at 5,642 meters) and the Altai Mountains (Mount Belukha, the highest point in Siberia outside the Russian Far East at 4,506 meters), while in the east are the Verkhoyansk Mountains and the volcanoes of the Kamchatka Peninsula. The Ural Mountains, rich in mineral resources, form a north-south chain separating Europe and Asia.

The coastline of Russia is over 37,000 km long and stretches along the Arctic and Pacific Oceans, and also along the Black, Azov, Baltic, Caspian Seas. The Barents Sea, the White Sea, the Kara Sea, the Laptev Sea, the East Siberian Sea, the Chukchi Sea, the Bering Sea, the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan are connected to Russia by the Arctic and Pacific Oceans. Russian main islands and archipelagos includes Franz Josef Land, Severnaya Zemlya ,Novaya Zemlya, the islands of New Siberia, the Kuril Islands, Wrangel Island and Sakhalin. The Diomedes Islands (one controlled by Russia, the other by the United States) are only 3 km away, and the island of Kunashir is about 20 km from Hokkaido, Japan.

Russia has thousands of rivers and inland waters, giving it one of the largest surface water resources in the world. Its lakes contain about a quarter of the world’s liquid freshwater. Russia’s largest and most famous body of fresh water is Lake Baikal, the deepest, purest, oldest and largest freshwater lake in the world. Lake Baikal alone contains more than one fifth of the world’s fresh water. Other large lakes include Ladoga and Onega, two of the largest lakes in Europe. Russia is the second largest country, after Brazil, in terms of total volume of renewable water resources. Among the more than 100,000 rivers of the country, Volga is the best-known, and not only for being the longest river in Europe, but also for its great role in Russian history. The Siberian rivers Ob, Yenisei, Lena and Amur are among the longest in the world.

Biodiversity

From north to south, the Eastern European plain, also known as the Russian Plain, is successively covered with arctic tundra, coniferous forest (taiga), mixed and deciduous forests, grasslands (steppe) and semi-desert (on the Caspian Sea coast), as changes in vegetation reflect changes in climate. Siberia has a similar sequence, but it is mostly taiga. Russia has the largest forest reserves in the world, known as the “lungs of Europe”, which absorb the second largest amount of carbon dioxide after the Amazon rainforest.

Russia has 266 species of mammals and 780 species of birds. A total of 415 animal species were listed in the Red Book of the Russian Federation in 1997 and are now protected.

Demographics of Russia

Ethnic Russians make up 81% of the country’s population. The Russian Federation is also home to several large minorities. In total, 160 different other ethnic groups and indigenous peoples live within the country’s borders. Although Russia’s population is comparatively large, its density is low due to the enormous size of the country. The population is densest in European Russia, near the Ural Mountains and in southwestern Siberia. 73% of the population lives in urban areas, 27% in rural areas. The 2010 census results show a total population of 142,856,536.

The population of Russia had reached its peak of 148,689,000 in 1991, which was shortly before the break-up of the Soviet Union. From the mid-1990s onwards, a rapid decline began. In recent years, the decline slowed to near stagnation as the death rate fell, the birth rate rose and immigration increased.

In 2009, Russia recorded its first annual population growth in fifteen years, with an overall increase of 10,500. In the same year, 279,906 migrants arrived in the Russian Federation, 93% of whom were from CIS countries. The number of Russian emigrants declined steadily from 359,000 in 2000 to 32,000 in 2009. There are also an estimated 10 million illegal immigrants from former Soviet states in Russia. There are about 116 million ethnic Russians living in Russia and about 20 million ethnic Russians living outside Russia in the former republics of the Soviet Union, mainly in Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

According to the population census of 2010, 81% of the population has been recorded as ethnic Russian and 19% as other ethnic groups: 3.7% Tatars; 1.4% Ukrainians; 1.1% Bashkirs; 1% Chuvash; 11.8% other and unspecified.

Russia’s birth rate is higher than most European countries (13.3 births per 1000 people in 2014 compared to the EU average of 10.1 per 1000), but its death rate is also much higher (in 2014, Russia’s death rate was 13.1 per 1000 people compared to the EU average of 9.7 per 1000).  The Russian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare predicted that by 2011 the mortality rate would equal the birth rate as fertility increases and mortality decreases. The government is implementing a number of programmes to increase the birth rate and attract more migrants. The government’s monthly child allowance has been doubled to US$55, and women who have had a second child since 2007 have been offered a one-time payment of US$9,200.

In order to compensate for the declining population, the Russian government began simplifying its immigration laws in 2006 and launched a national program to “support the voluntary emigration of ethnic Russians from former Soviet republics. In 2009, Russia experienced the highest birth rate since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In 2012, the birth rate increased again. Russia recorded 1,896,263 births, the highest number since 1990, and even surpassed the annual births during the 1967-1969 period, with a TFR of about 1.7, the highest since 1991. (Source: Vital Statistics table below).

In August 2012, Russia experienced its first population growth since the 1990s, and President Vladimir Putin declared that the population could reach 146 million by 2025, predominantly due to immigration.

Ethnic groups in Russia(2010)
Russian77.7%
Other10.2%
Unspecified3.9%
Tatar3.7%
Ukrainian1.4%
Bashkir1.1%
Chuvash1%
Chechen1%

Religion in Russia

The ancestors of many present-day Russians had been practising Orthodox Christianity since the 10th century. According to the tradition of the Orthodox Church, Christianity was introduced on the territory of present-day Belarus, Russia and Ukraine by St. Andrew, the first apostle of Jesus Christ. According to the Primary Chronicle, the final Christianisation of the “Kievan Rus” is dated 988 (the year is disputed), when Vladimir the Great was baptised in Chersonesus and then baptised his family and people in Kiev.

At the time of the revolution of 1917, the Russian Orthodox Church was deeply integrated into the autocratic state and enjoyed official status. It was a significant factor which contributed greatly to the Bolsheviks’ attitude to religion and to the steps which they took to establish control over it. Bolsheviks was made up of numerous individuals from non-Russian backgrounds, from Communist Russian, as well as many influential Jews, among them Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, Grigory Sokolnikov, all of whom were indifferent to Christianity and who founded the Communist Party which was based on the writings of the Jewish philosopher Karl Marx using Marxism-Leninism as their ideology. Thus, the USSR became the first state with the ideological goal of abolishing religion and replacing it with universal atheism. Under the communist rule, Religious property has been confiscated, the religion was ridiculed, the believers were persecuted and was propagated in the schools. Confiscation of religious property was often based on accusations of illegal accumulation of wealth.

The vast majority of the inhabitants of the Russian Empire were believers at the time of the Revolution, while the communists aimed to break the power of all religious institutions and eventually replace religious faith with atheism. In the media and in academic writings, “science” was juxtaposed with “religious superstition”. During the Soviet period, the main religions of pre-revolutionary Russia persisted, although they were tolerated only to some level. Generally, this means that religious believers were free to practise their religion in private and within their respective religious buildings (churches, mosques, etc.), although public display of religion beyond these specified areas was prohibited. Additionally, all religious institutions were not permitted to express their beliefs in any type of media, and numerous religious buildings were demolished or used to other purposes.

Atheism of the state in the Soviet Union became known as Gosateizm which was based on the ideology of Marxism-Leninism. Marxist-Leninist atheism has always advocated the control, suppression and elimination of religion. Within a year or so following the revolution, the state has expropriated all the possessions of the church, even the churches themselves. In the period Many others were persecuted.

At present there is no official census of religions in Russia, and estimates are based solely on surveys. In August 2012, ARENA estimated that about 46.8% of Russians are Christians (including Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants and nonconfessionals), while 25% believe in God but have no religion. The Levada Center estimated later in the year, that 76% of Russians are Christians, and in June 2013, the Public Opinion Foundation estimated that 65% of Russians are Christians. These results are in line with the 2011 Pew Research Center poll, which estimates that 73.6% of Russians are Christian, the 2010 Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) poll (~77% Christian), and the 2011 Ipsos MORI poll (69%). Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism are Russia’s traditional religions and are all legally part of Russia’s “historical heritage”.

Dating back to the Christianisation of the “Kievan Rus” in the 10th century, Russian Orthodoxy is the dominant religion in the country; there are also smaller Christian denominations such as Catholics, Armenian Gregorians and various Protestant churches. The Russian Orthodox Church was the state religion of the country before the revolution and remains the largest religious body in the country. Approximately 95% of the registered Orthodox parishes belong to the Russian Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, a large majority of Orthodox believers do not regularly go to church. Easter is the most popular religious holiday in Russia, celebrated by a large part of the Russian population, including a large number of non-religious people. More than three quarters of the Russian population celebrate Easter by making traditional cakes, dyed eggs and pasta.

Islam is the second religion in Russia after Russian Orthodoxy. It is the traditional or predominant religion among some Caucasian ethnic groups (especially Chechens, Ingush and Circassians) and among some Turkish peoples (especially Tatars and Bashkirs). In total, there are 9,400,000 Muslims in Russia, or 6.5 per cent of the total population (in 2012) (the proportion of Muslims is probably much higher, as the survey does not include detailed data for the traditionally Islamic states of Chechnya and Ingushetia). In any case, various differences divide the Muslim population into different groups. According to the survey, most Muslims (about 6,700,000 or 4.6 per cent of the total population) are not ‘affiliated’ to any Islamic school, branch or organisation, largely because it is not necessary for Muslims to belong to a particular sect or organisation. Those who do belong to an organisation are mostly Sunni Muslims, with Shia and Ahmadis being a minority. Non-confessional Muslims are represented to a large extent (over 10%) in Kabardino-Balkaria (49%), Bashkortostan (38%), Karachay-Cherkessia (34%), Tatarstan (31%), Yamalia (13%), Orenburg region (11%), Adyghe (11%) and Astrakhan region (11%). In most parts of Siberia the percentage of non-confessional Muslims is 1-2%.

There are 3 regions in the Russian Federation with strong traditions of Buddhism: Buryatia, Tuva and Kalmykia. Some inhabitants of Siberian and Far Eastern regions, such as Yakutia and Chukotka, practice shamanic, pantheistic and pagan rites in addition to the major religions. Religious incorporation is mainly on an ethnic basis. Slavs are predominantly Orthodox Christians, Turkish peoples are predominantly Muslim, and Mongolian peoples are generally Buddhist.

The number of non-religious persons in Russia varies from 16% to 48% of the population, according to various Western data. The number of atheists has decreased considerably; according to the most recent statistics, only seven percent have declared themselves atheists, a decrease of five percent in three years. In a 2012 Gallup International poll, 6% of the Russian population declared themselves to be “convinced atheists, which is the lowest among European countries”.

On cultural and social issues, Putin has worked closely with the Russian Orthodox Church. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, head of the church, supported his election in 2012.

As a staunch opponent of homosexuality and of any attempt to place the rights of the individual above those of the family, community or nation, the Russian Orthodox Church helps to portray Russia as the natural ally of all those who aspire to a safer, illiberal world, free from the destructive assaults of traditions such as globalisation, multiculturalism and the rights of women and homosexuals.

Economy of Russia

Russia has a developed, high-income market economy with vast natural resources, especially oil and natural gas. It is the world’s 15th largest economy in terms of nominal GDP and 6th in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). Since the beginning of the 21st century, higher domestic consumption and greater political stability have supported economic growth in Russia. The country ended 2008 with its ninth consecutive year of growth, but growth slowed down due to falling oil and gas prices. The average nominal wage in Russia was $967 per month at the beginning of 2013, up from $80 in 2000. In March 2014, the average monthly nominal wage was 30,000 roubles (US$980), while an income tax of 13% is due on most income. Approximately 12.8% of the population in Russia was living below the national poverty line in 2011, which is significantly lower than the 40% in 1998, which was the worst moment of the post-Soviet collapse. Unemployment in Russia was 5.4 per cent in 2014, down from about 12.4 per cent in 1999, and the middle class grew from just 8 million people in 2000 to 104 million in 2013. However, as a result of the sanctions imposed by the United States since 2014 and the collapse of oil prices, the share of the middle class could halve to 20 per cent. Sugar imports are estimated to have fallen by 82% between 2012 and 2013 as a result of increased domestic production.

Oil, natural gas, metals and wood represent more than 80% of Russian exports abroad. Since 2003, the economic importance of raw material exports has declined as the domestic market has strengthened. Despite rising energy prices, oil and gas now contribute only 5.7% to Russia’s GDP, and the government forecasts that by 2011 this share will fall to 3.7%. Oil export revenues boosted Russia’s foreign exchange reserves from $12 billion in 1999 to $597.3 billion on 1 August 2008, making it the 3rd largest foreign exchange reserve in the world. Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin’s macroeconomic policies have been prudent and sound, with surplus revenues being saved in Russia’s Stabilisation Fund. In 2006, Russia repaid most of its once massive debt and now has one of the lowest levels of external debt among the major economies. The Stabilization Fund has helped Russia weather the global financial crisis in a much better position than many experts had anticipated.

A simpler and more streamlined tax code adopted in 2001 has reduced the tax burden on citizens and significantly increased public revenues. Russia has a unified tax rate of 13%. This makes it the second country in the world, after the United Arab Emirates, in terms of personal income tax for single managers. Russia, is considered to be far ahead in its economic development compared to most other resource-rich countries, with a long tradition in education, science and industry. The country has a higher percentage of higher education graduates than any other country in Eurasia.

Economic development in the country was geographically unequal, since the Moscow region made a very large part of the country’s GDP. Inequality of household income and wealth was also noted, with Credit Suisse noting that the distribution of wealth in Russia is so much more extreme than in the other countries studied that it “deserves its own category”. Another problem is the modernisation of infrastructure, which is outdated and inadequate after years of neglect in the 1990s; the government has stated that it will invest a trillion dollars in infrastructure development by 2020. Russia finally joined the World Trade Organisation in December 2011, giving it better access to foreign markets. Some analysts estimate that WTO membership could give the Russian economy a boost of up to 3% per year. According to the Corruption Perception Index, Russia is the second most corrupt country in Europe (after Ukraine). According to the Norwegian-Russian Chamber of Commerce, “corruption is one of the biggest problems facing Russian and international companies”. The high rate of corruption acts as a hidden tax, as companies and individuals often have to pay money that is not included in the official tax rate. In 2014, a study by Professor Karen Dawisha was published on corruption in Russia under Putin’s government.

In 2013, the Russian Central Bank announced its intention to free the Russian rouble in 2015. According to a stress test carried out by the Central Bank, the Russian financial system would be able to handle a 25-30% decline in the currency without major intervention by the Central Bank. However, the Russian economy began to stagnate at the end of 2013 and, combined with the Donbass War, it risks falling into stagflation, slow growth and high inflation. The Russian rouble plunged by 24% from October 2013 to October 2014, reaching a level where the central bank may have to intervene to strengthen the currency. After bringing inflation down to 3.6% in 2012, the lowest rate since independence from the Soviet Union, inflation in Russia rose to nearly 7.5% in 2014, prompting the central bank to raise its lending rate from 5.5% to 8% in 2013. An article in the October 2014 Bloomberg Business Week reports that Russia has begun a major shift in its economy towards China in response to growing financial tensions following the annexation of the Crimea and the ensuing Western economic sanctions.

Energy

In recent years, Russia has often been described in the media as an energy superpower. The country has the largest natural gas reserves in the world, the eighth largest oil reserves and the second largest coal reserves. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of natural gas and the second largest producer of natural gas, while also being the world’s largest exporter of oil and the largest producer of oil.

Russia is the third largest producer of electricity in the world and the fifth largest producer of renewable energy, the latter thanks to the country’s well-developed hydroelectric production. Large cascades of hydroelectric power plants are being built in European Russia along major rivers such as the Volga. There are also a number of large hydropower plants in the Asian part of Russia, but the huge hydropower potential in Siberia and the Russian Far East remains largely untapped.

Russia was the first country to develop civil nuclear power and built the world’s first nuclear power plant. Currently, the country is the fourth largest producer of nuclear power, with all nuclear power in Russia being managed by the Rosatom State Corporation. The sector is developing rapidly, with the aim of increasing the total share of nuclear power from the current 16.9% to 23% by 2020. The Russian government plans to allocate 127 billion roubles ($5.42 billion) to a federal programme devoted to the next generation of nuclear energy technology. By 2015, about 1,000 billion rubles ($42.7 billion) are to be allocated from the federal budget to the development and industry of nuclear power.

In May 2014, during a two-day trip to Shanghai, President Putin signed an agreement on behalf of Gazprom which will enable the Russian energy giant to supply 38 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year to China. It was agreed to build a pipeline to facilitate the deal, with Russia contributing $55 billion and China contributing $22 billion, in what Putin called “the world’s largest construction project for the next four years”. Natural gas would start flowing between 2018 and 2020 and continue for 30 years, eventually costing China $400 billion.