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Russia: Preface
Country Study > Preface


At the end of 1991, the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union was the surprisingly swift result of decrepitude within that empire. The Russian Federation was one of the fifteen "new" nations that emerged from that process; in this form, Russians retained much of the domination over nearby minority groups that they had exercised in the days of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. But the major changes that have occurred since 1991 fully justify the new subseries of Country Studies describing all fifteen of the former Soviet republics in their past and present circumstances. The present volume is the fifth in the six-volume series, which is the successor to the one-volume Soviet Union: A Country Study, published in 1991.

The marked relaxation of Soviet-era information restrictions, which began in Russia in the late 1980s and accelerated after 1991, allows the presentation of reliable, complete information on most aspects of life in the Russian Federation -- including many of the negative aspects such as corruption, environmental degradation, and deterioration of the military that were reported only incompletely in earlier volumes. Scholarly articles and periodical reports have been especially helpful in accounting for the years of independence in the 1990s and in evaluating the earlier times that form the backdrop for the most recent period. The authors have described the historical, political, economic, and social background of Russia as the context for their current portraits. In each case, the author's goal was to provide a compact, accessible, and objective treatment of five main topics: historical background, the society and its environment, the economy, government and politics, and national security. Military insignia, a standard feature of the Country Studies series, have not been included in this volume because, at the time of preparation, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation was in the process of changing insigina, and budget shortages delayed its publication of a comprehensive chart. Brief comments on some of the more useful, readily accessible sources used in preparing this volume appear at the end of each chapter. Full references to these and other sources used by the authors are listed in the Bibliography.

In most cases, personal names have been transliterated from Russian according to the system approved by the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN). In the case of widely known individuals whose names appear frequently in Latin alphabets, such as Joseph V. Stalin and Boris N. Yeltsin, the widely used conventional form of the name has been chosen. Geographical names are treated in the same way: places such as Moscow and St. Petersburg and geographical names such as Siberia and Lake Baikal are rendered in conventional form, but all other geographical names appear in the transliteration of the BGN system. Some Soviet-era place-names such as the cities of Gor'kiy and Sverdlovsk have been changed in the 1990s (to Nizhniy Novgorod and Yekaterinburg, respectively, in the case of these two examples), and the newest forms are used in this book.

Organizations commonly known by their acronyms (such as IMF -- the International Monetary Fund, and KGB -- the Committee for State Security) are introduced in full form, supplemented with the vernacular form where appropriate. Autonomous republics such as the Republic of Chechnya are introduced in full form in the detailed description of those regions in Chapter 4, but short forms (in the case of this example, Chechnya) are used elsewhere.

Measurements are given in the metric system; a conversion table is provided in the Appendix. The Chronology at the beginning of the book lists major historical events in Russia from the founding of Kievan Rus' to the significant events of the first nine months of 1997. To amplify points in the chapters, tables in the Appendix provide statistics on the environment, the population, economic conditions, political events, and the military establishment.

The body of the text reflects information available as of July 31, 1996. Certain other portions of the text, however, have been updated. The Introduction and Chronology include events and trends that have occurred since the completion of research, the Country Profile includes updated information as available, the Bibliography lists recently published sources thought to be particularly helpful to the reader, and Table 23 includes newly available statistics.

Data as of July 1996

Last Updated: July 1996

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Russia was first published in 1996. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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