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Coat of Arms of the Russian Federation.svg

Russia (Russian: Росси́я, tr. Rossiya, IPA: [rɐˈsʲijə]), or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country located in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. Covering an area of 17,125,200 square kilometres (6,612,100 sq mi), it is the largest country in the world by area, spanning more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, stretching eleven time zones, and bordering 16 sovereign nations. The territory of Russia extends from the Baltic Sea in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east, and from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea and the Caucasus in the south. With 146.7 million inhabitants living in the country's 85 federal subjects, Russia is the most populous nation in Europe and the ninth-most populous nation in the world. Russia's capital and largest city is Moscow; other major urban areas include Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan and Chelyabinsk.

The East Slavs emerged as a recognisable 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, until it was finally reunified by the Grand Duchy of Moscow in the 15th century. 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. Following the Russian Revolution, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Russian SFSR) became the largest and leading constituent of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR/Soviet Union), the world's first constitutionally socialist state. The Soviet Union played a decisive role in the Allied victory in World War II, and emerged as a recognized superpower and rival to the United States during the Cold War. The Soviet era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite and the launching of the first humans in space. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian SFSR reconstituted itself as the Russian Federation and is recognised as the continuing legal personality and a successor of the USSR.

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Guests from Overseasby Nicholas Roerich (1899)
The Rus' Khaganate was a polity that flourished during a poorly documented period in the history of Eastern Europe (roughly the late 8th and early to mid-9th centuries CE). A predecessor to the Rurik Dynasty and the Kievan Rus', the Rus' Khaganate was a state (or a cluster of city-states) set up by Varangians (Scandinavians) in what is today northern Russia. The region's population at that time was composed of Slavic, Finnic, and Norse peoples. The varangians were called Rhos or Rus. The region was also a center of operations for eastern Scandinavian adventurers, merchants and pirates. According to contemporaneous sources, the population centers of the region, which may have included the proto-towns of Holmgard (Novgorod), Aldeigja (Ladoga), Lyubsha, Alaborg, Sarskoe Gorodishche, and Timerevo, were under the rule of a monarch or monarchs using the Old Turkic title Khagan. The Rus' Khaganate period marked the genesis of a distinct Rus' ethnos, and its successor states would include Kievan Rus' and later states from which modern Russia evolved.

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Ivan the Terrible Showing His Treasury to Jerome Horsey
Credit: Alexander Litovchenko

Alexander Litovchenko's 1875 painting depicting Ivan the Terrible seated in the Kremlin Armoury, his half-witted heir Feodor standing behind, a group of distrustful boyars whispering at a distance, and the Tsar's jester in a skomorokh cap addressing the English diplomat Jerome Horsey. Horsey was a resident of the Muscovy Company in Moscow from 1572 to 1585.

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Yevgeny Samoylov

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Nativity Cathedral built by Dmitrievich (ca. 1405)

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Tula pryanik (pl. Tula pryaniki) is a famous type of imprinted Russian pryanik from the city of Tula. Usually, Tula pryanik looks like a rectangular tile or a flat figure. Making stamped pryanik is considered an art form. The imprints could include different patterns, symbols, images of the Tula Kremlin, names, congratulations.

The cooking of the Tula pryanik starts with preparation of the dough. The dough is made from rye flour, honey, eggs, water and spices. Next the dough is cut into pieces and rolled out. Each piece is placed on a special board with a carved pattern to give the dough its intended form. The first layer of the dough is covered with a second one with a filling in between. To make the two layers stay in place the edges are pressed together. Then the cake is turned over so that the stamped image is on top and the surface is glazed with sugar syrup. The syrup covers the picture to make it more visible after baking. Historically, each carved board is used to create just one design for pryanik. A new board is made specifically for each design. In the past, pryanik boards were made by craftsmen, and nowadays, new designs are created mostly by professional artists. Read more...

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Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna
Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia (Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova) was the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, the last sovereign of Imperial Russia, and his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna. Anastasia was a younger sister of Grand Duchess Olga, Grand Duchess Tatiana and Grand Duchess Maria, and was an elder sister of Alexei Nikolaievitch, Tsarevitch of Russia. She was murdered with her family on July 17, 1918, by forces of the Bolshevik secret police. Rumors persisted of her possible escape since 1918, fueled by reports that two sets of remains, identified as Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia, and either Anastasia or her elder sister Maria, were missing from a mass grave found near Ekaterinburg and later identified through DNA testing as the Romanovs. This has since been totally disproven. In January 2008 Russian scientists announced that the charred remains of a young boy and a young woman found near Ekaterinburg in August 2007 are most likely those of the thirteen-year-old Tsarevich and one of the four Romanov grand duchesses. Russian forensic scientists confirmed on April 30, 2008 that the remains were those of the Tsarevich Alexei and one of his four sisters. DNA information, made public in July 2008, that has been obtained from Ekaterinburg and repeatedly tested independently by laboratories such as the University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA, reveals that the final two missing Romanov remains are indeed authentic and that the entire Romanov family housed in the Ipatiev House, Ekaterinburg were executed in the early hours of 17 July 1918.

In the news

6 April 2020 – Right-wing terrorism in Russia, Russia–United States relations
In an unprecedented move, the Trump administration designates a white supremacist group, based in Russia, as a terrorist organization, along with placing individual sanctions on its leaders. The organization, Russian Imperial Movement, is believed to have trained the perpetrators of a series of terror attacks in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2016. (Associated Press)
5 April 2020 –
Five people are killed in a mass shooting in Yelatma, Ryazan Oblast, Russia. The suspect has been arrested and said he shot dead four men and one woman for "talking too loudly". (BBC)
3 April 2020 –
Prague removes the controversial monument of Soviet General Ivan Konev, prompting anger from the Russian Embassy and Czech President Milos Zeman. Prague 6's local assembly voted to remove the Soviet-era monument in 2019. (RFERL)
1 April 2020 – Russia–United States relations, 2020 coronavirus pandemic in the United States
Russia is expected to send a plane with masks and medical supplies to the United States to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. (Politico)
28 March 2020 – 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic
2020 coronavirus pandemic in Russia
Russia announces that all borders will be closed effective March 30 to counter the spread of COVID-19. The new measure will not apply to Russian diplomats or drivers of freight trucks, among others. (Reuters)



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Leonid Brezhnev
We bow our heads in respect for those Soviet women who displayed exceptional courage in the severe time of war. Never before but during the days of the war the grandeur of spirit and the invincible will of our Soviet women, their selfless dedication, loyalty and affection to their Homeland, their boundless persistence in work and their heroism on the front manifested themselves with such strength.

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