Russia is a democratic federal state with a republican form of government. The legislative body of the Russian Federation is the bicameral Federal Assembly (the Council of Federation and the State Duma). The Council of Federation consists of representatives of each federal entity. The deputies of the State Duma are elected for a term of 5 years from party lists by proportion of the votes that each party receives nationwide.
The Head of State is the President of the Russian Federation, who is also the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The President is elected by citizens of Russia by direct secret ballot for a term of 6 years. Vladimir V.Putin was elected President on March 4, 2012.
The executive power is exercised by the Government of the Russian Federation. The Chairman of the Government is appointed by the President with the consent of the State Duma.
The Russian Federation consists of 85 federal entities (republics, territories and regions), including the cities of Moscow, St.Petersburg and Sevastopol.
Constitution of the Russian Federation
The Constitution of the Russian Federation was adopted on December 12, 1993. The new constitution came into force on December 25, 1993, at the moment of its official publication.
The Constitution forms the country’s legal foundation, proclaims the President of the Russian Federation the head of state and lays upon him the responsibility for defending the Constitution, human rights and civil liberties, safeguarding Russia’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and ensuring the coordinated functioning and cooperation of the state bodies of power.
Territory and climate
The total area of Russia is 17,151,442 sq. km. Over 45% of the country’s area is covered by forests, 4% - by water, 13% - by arable land, 19% - deer grazing land, 19% - other.
A large part of the European territory of the country is occupied by the East European plain; in the south it is limited by the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains and has the Khibin Mountains to the Northwest. To the East of the Ural mountains lies the West Siberian plain surrounded by the mountains of South Siberia (Altay, Sayanas, Baikal mountains, etc.). Between the Yenisey and Lena rivers lies the Midsiberian plateau, between the Lena and the Pacific coast spread the mountains ridges and plateaus of North-East Asia.
Russia has about 2.5 million rivers and 2 million fresh and salt water lakes. The largest rivers are Volga, North Dvina, Don, Pechora, Ob, Yrtysh, Yenisey, Angara, Lena, Amur; the largest lakes are the Caspian (Sea), Baikal, Ladoga, Onega. Russia has 35 national parks and 84 natural reserves.
The climate changes from marine on the extreme Northwest to harsh continental on Siberia and monsoon in the Far East. Average temperatures in January are from 32 F to -58 F (0 C to – 50 C), in July – from 33,8 F to 77 F (+1 C to +25 C); precipitation is from 5.9” to 78.8” (150 to 2000 mm) per year. Russia has the following climatic zones: arctic desert, tundra, forest tundra, forest, forest steppe, steppe, semi desert.
The population of Russia as of August 1, 2014 was 146.1 million people. In terms of the population, the Russian Federation occupies the 8th place in the world. Two percent of the world's population live in Russia.
The majority of the population is concentrated in the European part of the country. Seventy four percent of the population lives in urban areas, 26.3% - in rural areas.
Russia is a multiethnic state. Over 160 nationalities live on its territory, the largest (80.9% of the population) being Russians. Russian is the official State language.
Religion in Russia Today
With nearly 5,000 religious associations the Russian Orthodox Church accounts for over a half of the total number registered in Russia. Next in numbers come Moslem associations, about 3,000, Baptists, 450, Seventh Day Adventists, 120, Evangelicals, 120, Old Believers, over 200, Roman Catholics, 200, Krishnaites, 68, Buddhists, 80, Judaists, 50, and Unified Evangelical Lutherans, 39.
Many churches and monasteries have been returned to the Church, including the St. Daniel Monastery, the current seat of the Moscow Patriarchate, the spiritual and administrative center of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Some statisticians estimate the percentage of believers at 40 per cent of the entire Russian Federation. Close to 9,000 communities belonging to over forty confessions had been officially registered in the country.
The majority of religious Russians are Christians. The country has over 5,000 Russian Orthodox churches. Many are built anew or under repair on parish and local budgets money.
Among the several more ambitious projects is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, erected in Red Square to commemorate the liberation of Moscow by Minin and Pozharsky's militia, pulled down in 1936, and recently rebuilt from scratch. The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, demolished in 1931, is restored. Patriarch Aiexis II described its rebirth as "a sublime act of piety and penitence."
Russia had 150 Roman Catholic parishes, two theological seminaries and an academy before the revolution of 1917. All were suppressed in the Soviet years, and the believers -- ethnic Lithuanians, Poles and Gennans -- were banished and seattered about Siberia and Central Asia. 83 communities have reappeared by now, and Apostolic Administrations linked to the Vatican have been established in Moscow for European Russia, and in Novosibirsk for Siberia. There are four bishops and 165 priests working among the approximately 1,300,000 Catholics in the country. The theological seminary, Mary Oueen of the Apostles, opened in Moscow in 1993 and was transferred to St. Petersburg in 1995.
The two million Protestants have 1,150 communities.
The nineteen million Muslims, the second largest religious community in Russia, have over 800 parishes and mosques, mostly in Bashkortostan, Daghestan, Kabarda-Balkaria, North Ossetia, Tatarstan, Ingushetia, and Chechnya. The Muslim Board for Central European region has been re-established. The Moscow Muftiyat, an independent ecclesiastical body, is responsible for the Moscow, Vladimir, Ivanovo, Kostroma, Tula, Tver, Nizhny Novgorod, Kaluga, Yaroslavl and Kaliningrad regions, and Sochi, the renowned seaside resort in the Krasnodar Territory.
Buddhism is widespread in Buryatia, Kalmykia, Tuva, and the Irkutsk and Chits regions. The Russian Federation currently has ten datsan monasteries, with the total monastic body approaching 200. Another ten monasteries are under construction.
The Russian Federation has 42 Jewish communities. Moscow accounts for over 10 per cent of Russian Jews, and has three synagogues, one of which is Hasidic.