Russian Federation. Oil price falls and global financial crisis pushed the Russian economy. GDP fell by 10 percent in the first half of the year, and the decline was expected to be similar for the entire year. The number of poor people is expected to increase from 18.5 million to 24.5 million for the first three months of the year. Poverty was defined as monthly income under 5 497 rubles, about SEK 1,300. The ruble was devalued at the beginning of the year. During the winter, protests occurred among workers who lost their jobs or did not receive their wages. Protesters demanded the resignation of the government, but instead governors were dismissed in crisis-hit regions. In February, President Dmitry Medvedev presented a financial support package for, among other things, the construction sector. According to countryaah, the state also made major commitments to rescue banks in crisis. During the year, Medvedev emphasized that the country’s economy must become less dependent on commodities such as gas and oil.
Parallel to the economic crisis was a change in social and historical views, in which Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was portrayed as a unifying symbol and effective leader, while the abuses of the Soviet era were toned down. The judiciary intervened against criticism of the Stalin era’s terror, prison camps and executions. Researchers were interviewed by police and seized archival material. When journalist Aleksandr Podrabinek claimed that war veterans not only won the war against Nazism but also glorified the Soviet system’s “bloody, false and shameful” repression, he was struck by such heated reactions from the Putin-faithful Nazi movement that he must go underground. On October Memorial Day for the victims of the Stalin terror, President Medvedev came with an unexpectedly strong condemnation of the Stalin regime’s crimes. He also lamented that many Russians still paid tribute to Stalin.
A number of human rights activists were killed during the year. In January, lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova were murdered in Moscow. Markelov had been a representative of a Chechen family, whose daughter was raped and killed by a Russian army commander. In July, the human rights organization Memorial’s representative was murdered in Chechnya, an act that was strongly condemned by President Medvedev. Two right-wing extremists were arrested for the assassinations of Markelov and Baburova, but at the same time the extreme nationalist Slavic League and the Movement against Illegal Immigration were allowed to march in Moscow. On the last day of the year, symbolically enough, a large number of government-critical activists were arrested by riot police when opposition groups organized a demonstration in Moscow just for the right to freedom of assembly.
In the trial of the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006, three accused men were acquitted in February. The verdict was appealed by the prosecutor and a new trial began in August. In September, the Supreme Court ruled on a new investigation into the murder of Politkovskaya. In the fall, a police officer who dismissed the corruption in the Russian police corps in a noted video on YouTube said that the investigations’ conclusions are decided in advance by bosses. A quick investigation found no evidence of the charges and the man was charged with “fraud”. Both the police corps and the prisons were subjected to harsh criticism. At the end of the year, a well-known lawyer died after being jailed for over a year pending trial. He was said to have refused medical attention. President Medvedev explained that the outdated legal system must be reformed.
The local and regional elections in October became a disaster for the political opposition. Putin’s power party United Russia took about 80 percent of the vote in the country. In Moscow, the party won all but three seats, which went to the Communist Party. Liberal Party Jabloko fell out of the city council, despite an election poll showing over 13 percent. The opposition accused the United Russia of electoral fraud and believed that the country became a one-party state. Liberal Democrats, Communists and Justice Russia marched out of the newly elected parliament in protest, demanding the resignation of the President, the replacement of the electoral commission and the recasting of all votes.
In a poll conducted in connection with the election, a majority said that courts and parliaments would be happy to be subordinated to the president, and just over 40 percent felt that a leader with an “iron hand” may sometimes be needed in the Russian Federation. About a quarter preferred the Soviet system over today’s democracy. Only 57 percent felt that the Russian Federation needed democracy.
Foreign policy began the year with a new gas conflict since the Russian Federation at the New Year throttled gas flow to Ukraine due to price disagreement. The gas crisis developed into a dispute with the EU since Ukraine seized transit gas to several EU countries. The conflict was resolved after two weeks. At the summit between the Russian Federation and the EU in May, the Russian Federation expressed concern that the so-called Eastern Partnership, which invited Ukraine and Georgia, among others, was directed at the Russian Federation. At the Stockholm Summit in November with the EU, the EU downplayed its criticism of human rights violations in the Russian Federation.
The country’s relationship with the United States seemed to improve after Barack Obama’s resignation as US president in January. Medvedev and Obama met several times during the year, including at the July summit in Moscow. They said they wanted to give relations between the countries a fresh start and agreed on a framework agreement to reduce the number of strategic warheads, and negotiations continued during the autumn. They also promised to work together to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the world. During the autumn, the Russian Federation welcomed Obama’s decision not to build the controversial robot shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. President Medvedev declared in December that he had asked the House of Parliament to decide for himself when Russian military should intervene abroad, as in Georgia in 2008.
At the end of the year, the Russian Federation suffered severe disasters. Twenty-six people were killed in what was likely a bombing raid on the express train between Saint Petersburg and Moscow, and a fire at a nightclub in Perm took over 150 lives. Prime Minister Putin criticized fire safety as insufficient and said corruption was a cause. Fires in the country kill more than 15,000 people annually.
Russian Federation – Moscow
Moscow, capital of the Russian Federation; 12. 2 million residents (2017). Moscow is located in the country’s European part of the Moscow River. Until 1991, Moscow was the capital of the Soviet Union.
Moscow is by far the most important industrial city of the Russian Federation. When the city was industrialized in the late 19th century, the textile industry dominated, and Moscow is still the country’s textile center. The industry is versatile, and the main focus is on technologically advanced products, e. g. the aerospace and automotive industries as well as the electrical, electronic, chemical and graphic industries as well as the steel and food industries. In order to improve the city’s environment, relocation of the industries from the center is recommended. Moscow’s industrial focus today is in the southern and southeastern districts. In connection with industry there are many research institutes in Moscow.
Moscow is the centerpiece of the Russian railway network built during the 1850s-70s. Nine main stations are connected around the center by an outer ring line. The peripheral motorway ring, which is at the same time a city boundary, is supplemented by a number of radial motor traffic routes. The city’s concentric structure is accentuated by two wide circular paths around the center. Moscow also has a canal connection north with Volga, and in the green belt are three major airports: Sjeremetievo (main airport), Vnukovo and Domodedovo.
The body of the capital’s public transport consists of a subway system (the oldest line was inaugurated in 1935) with radial lines and a ring line. The older metro stations are characterized by unusual splendor. The subway is complemented by extensive tram, wire bus and bus line networks.
Architecture and cityscape
Moscow is concentrated around the original fortified city center of the Kremlin. Outside its walls is the Red Square with the Cathedral of Vasily (1555–60), the Lenin Mausoleum (Aleksey Shchusev, 1930) and along the east side the GUM department store with its glazed galleries (Aleksandr Pomerantsev, 1889–93). Behind GUM lies Kitajgorod, an early trading center. To the north there is a series of monumental urban spaces, built after the fire in 1812 and further expanded during the Stalin era. Here are the neoclassical Manegen (1817) and the Bolshoi Theater (Osip Bove, 1821-25).
At the site of older walls and ramparts, two ring roads were built from the end of the 18th century. Moscow was the center of constructivism and has many buildings from this time. Major urban building interventions were made during the Stalin era, in the form of radial “prospectuses” and “chaussées” and strategically placed high-rise buildings. Prospect Kalinina (now Novyj Arbat) with a series of high-rise buildings from the 1960s is one of the last cuts through central Moscow from a time when the city otherwise mainly grew outward through large element-built residential areas.
Among the forty repertory theaters in Moscow, the Art Theater (MChAT) and the Lilla theater (Malyj) have the oldest traditions. Among the most popular today are Lenkom (former Youth Communist Theater), Sovremennik, Satirical Theater, Majakovsky Theater and Mossovjet Theater. The Taganka Theater, which, under the leadership of Yuriy Ljubimov, reached world renown, was closed in the fall of 1993 due to internal strife. The number of small professional experimental scenes as well as amateur and student theater groups is also very large. Moscow has three permanent children’s theaters, including a children’s opera, in addition to Sergei Obraztsov’s world-famous puppet theater, a Roman theater and a deaf theater and two permanent circuses.
The most important art museums are the Tretiakov Gallery in two different facilities, with Russian art, not least icons, and the Pushkin Museum, for foreign art, especially famous for its collection of French Impressionists, the Museum of Oriental Art as well as the Rubljov Museum of Icons and Old Russian Art and Crafts. Old ex Manegen just outside the Kremlin is the largest exhibition venue. During the 1990s several private galleries arose.
Moscow is one of music’s world capitals, with several symphony orchestras, the Grand Opera (Bolshoi Theater) with two stages, one of which is in the Kremlin congress palace, and a few other lyrical theaters. Tchaikovsky Conservatory has three concert halls. In the large Tchaikovsky Hall at the Triumphalnaja Square, concerts and dance nights are given. The number of chamber orchestras, professional choirs and ensembles for folk music and folk dance is harsh when unclear. The flow to the west of musicians who have received their education in Moscow has increased sharply in recent years. An important feature of music life is intimate music and poetry evenings in museum floors.
Moscow is the main university and university center of the Russian Federation. The oldest and most important is the university, founded in 1755. Among the universities are several for theater, dance, film, art and music education, as well as a number of research centers for the free arts and an Academy of Art.
In Moscow every four years the International Tchaikovsky Contest for Young Musicians is held, annually a festival of contemporary music, “Moscow Autumn”, every two years an international film festival and (since 1977) an international book fair.
Moscow is mentioned for the first time in the Chronicle literature in 1147 as a subordinate prince in Vladimir – Suzdal. Strategically located between the rivers Oka and Volga, Moscow grew around the Kremlin wooden fortress. During the 13th century, the city was under fire by Mongol conquerors, which the prince of Moscow was forced to submit to. However, through skilful diplomacy he was soon able to exploit the Mongols to subvert the competing principality. In the 1320s, Moscow became the political center of northeastern Russia, which was symbolically confirmed by the Orthodox metropolitan move to Moscow from Vladimir (1326). Ivan I adopted the Grand Prince title (1328) and the Kremlin was expanded. The authority of the growing city increased since, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the epithet “third Rome” and the great prince Ivan III were givenfinally defeated the Mongols in 1480. During the reign of Ivan IV (1533–84, from 1547 as Russian tsar), a Russian empire began to be built from Moscow.
In 1712, Peter I (the big) capital moved to the newly created Saint Petersburg, but Moscow remained an important city and gained Russia’s first university in 1755. In 1812, the city was burned in connection with Napoleon’s capture. In the reconstruction, Moscow gained a more industrial feel, which in the 19th century led to a large influx of poor farmers as a labor force.
Following the Bolshevik coup in 1917, the new Soviet government moved to Moscow in 1918, which thus regained its status as capital. A violent industrial expansion period followed. Between 1926 and 1939, the city’s population increased from two to just over four million, but without sufficiently changing infrastructure.
During the Second World War, the Germans suffered a decisive defeat outside Moscow from October 2 to December 8, 1941, as their major offensive, the Barbarossa Operation, was finally halted. Soviet resistance had gradually hardened, despite enormous losses in personnel and equipment. Most German senior executives called for the offensive to be interrupted for regrouping and the supply of winter equipment, but Hitler refused categorically. Soviet counter-attacks – thanks to the addition of rested Siberian divisions – and rapidly increasing cold forced the Germans to stop. The main covenants had then reached all the way to Moscow’s suburbs. On December 8, the operations were canceled, which meant that the German army suffered its first defeat, which would have decisive consequences.