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Russia - SOCIETY




Russia - Society

Russia

THE DEMISE OF THE SOVIET UNION in 1991 brought a measure of freedom to Russia's people, but at the same time this change removed or severely weakened certain elements of the social safety net, which for many years had included a guarantee of employment, basic medical care, and government subsidies for food, clothing, shelter, and transportation. For the average citizen, social and economic conditions worsened considerably in the early postcommunist era. Although some components of state support remained close to their Soviet-era levels, the government lacked the resources to compensate Russia's citizens for the stresses of the transition period.

The end of the Soviet Union meant the disappearance of a reliable, if mediocre, set of social expectations for every Russian. Lacking such guidance, various elements of Russian society moved in very different directions. A small segment took immediate action--both legal and illegal--to make the most of its newfound range of opportunities for self-expression and economic advancement. Although few such adventurers found success, those who did coalesced into a new class of wealthy Russians independent of the government. The vast majority, however, met the prospect of reduced predictability in their lives with suspicion, confusion, or resentment. Remembering the security of Soviet life, many clung to symbolic or real remnants of that life, particularly in the workplace.

As the economic controls of centralized government were eased, prices for basic necessities rose--sometimes precipitously--and society was buffeted by marked increases in crime, infectious diseases, drug addiction, homelessness, and suicide. Growing pollution and other environmental hazards added to the malaise.

Russia

Russia - Population

Russia

The population in what is now the Russian Federation has undergone several major shocks in the twentieth century, including large-scale rural famines in the 1920s and 1930s and the loss of millions of citizens in World War II. According to demographic experts, the early 1990s may be the start of a more gradual but potentially powerful new shift. Beginning in 1992, the population has suffered a net loss that is projected to continue at least through the first decade of the next century. This phenomenon is caused by a combination of economic, political, and ethnographic factors.

In the mid-1990s, Russians constituted about 82 percent of the population of the Russian Federation, and they dominate virtually all regions of the country except for the North Caucasus and parts of the middle Volga region (see Minority Peoples and Their Territories, ch. 4). The major ethnic minorities are Tatars (3.8 percent), Ukrainians (3.0 percent), Chuvash (1.2 percent), Bashkirs (0.9 percent), Belarusians (0.8 percent), and Mordovians (0.7 percent). The total population of the twenty-one ethnic republics, all designated for one or more of the minority groups in the federation, was about 24 million. However, only in eight of the republics was the population of the titular group (or groups, in the case of Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachayevo-Cherkessia) larger than the population of Russians, and Russians constitute more than half the population in nine republics. One other ethnic jurisdiction, the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region in the West Siberian Plain, has a population of more than 1 million; however, two-thirds of the autonomous region's population are Russian settlers, and the Khanty and Mansi, the tribes for which the region is named, together constitute less than 2 percent of the population.

<> <> Demographics
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Updated population figures for Russia.

Russia

Russia - Demographics

Russia

The range of estimates for Russia's 1995 population is between 147.5 and 149.9 million. Roughly 78 percent of Russia's population lives in the European part of Russia; most of the industrial cities with over 1 million inhabitants are located in the European part. In order of size, the largest Russian cities are Moscow (8.7 million people in 1992), St. Petersburg (4.4 million), Novosibirsk (1.4 million), Nizhniy Novgorod (1.4 million), Yekaterinburg (1.4 million), Samara (1.2 million), Omsk (1.2 million), Chelyabinsk (1.1 million), and Kazan' (1.1 million). Of those cities, only Novosibirsk and Omsk are located east of the Urals. In 1995 Russia's population density was 8.7 persons per square kilometer, but distribution varies from more than 200 persons per square kilometer in parts of European Russia, to 0.03 person per square kilometer in the Evenk Autonomous Region of Siberia.

According to most sources, the population of the present Russian Federation peaked in 1991 at 148,689,000. Even with significant increases in immigration in the early 1990s, the Russian population has been shrinking since 1992; according to projections by the Center for Economic Analysis of the Russian Federation, immigration will make a very small dent in a continued negative natural increase through the year 2005. Thus, for the period 1985-2005, projected total immigration is 3.3 million, whereas the natural population will decrease by 12.9 million. The annual rate of population change, which dropped from 0.7 percent in 1985 to its first negative figure of -0.3 percent in 1992, is projected to reach -0.6 percent in 1998 and to continue at that level through 2005.

Several reasons are given for the decline in Russia's population. First, the postwar baby boom, which began echoing in a secondary population rise in many Western countries in the early 1990s, had much less demographic impact in Russia. Second, a long history of Soviet ecological abuse has planted still unquantifiable seeds of demographic decline throughout the population, especially in areas of concentrated industry, military installations, and intensive agriculture. Third, post-Soviet Russia has experienced a general decline in health conditions and health care (see Health, ch. 5).

In addition, the prolonged economic downturn of the early and mid-1990s, in which an estimated 31 percent of the population (46.5 million people) had incomes below the poverty level, has increased the incidence of malnutrition, which in turn lowers resistance to common ailments. Only individuals who have their own gardens are assured a regular supply of fruits and vegetables (see table 6, Appendix). Even under the Soviet system, the average Russian's diet was classified as deficient, so the population now shows the cumulative effects of earlier living conditions as well as current limitations. Poor economic prospects, together with low confidence in the state's family benefits programs, discourage Russians from planning families; the least positive "reproductive attitudes" have been found in the Urals and in northeastern Siberia.

Experts have identified a number of general demographic trends that are likely to prevail between 1996 and 2005. Contrary to the trend in Western countries of a shrinking working population supporting an expanding community of retired individuals, in Russia a declining life expectancy and a declining birthrate will increase marginally the proportion of active workers in the population. The actual number of such people is not likely to rise appreciably, however, and some analyses project a decline in this figure as well. In 1992, for every 1,000 people of working age, 771 people were outside working age; the Center for Economic Analysis projects that in 2005 that proportion will drop to 560 per 1,000. The declining birthrate is projected to cause the ratio of younger-than-working-age individuals in the population to decrease dramatically from the 1992 figure of 421 per 1,000 in the working-age group to only 241 per 1,000 in 2005. According to that scenario, the overall percentage of the population in the working-age group would increase from 56.5 to 64.1.

Most of the demographic disasters that have beset Russia in the twentieth century have affected primarily males. In 1992 the sex ratio was 884 males per 1,000 females; in the years between 1994 and 2005, the imbalance is projected to increase slightly to a ratio of 875 males per 1,000 females (see table 7, Appendix). Gender disparity has increased because of a sharp drop in life expectancy for Russian males, from sixty-five years in 1987 to fifty-seven in 1994. (Life expectancy for females reached a peak of 74.5 years in 1989, then dropped to 71.1 by 1994.) Projected changes in life expectancy are negative for both sexes, however. Mortality figures that the Ministry of Labor released in mid-1995 showed that if the current conditions persist, nearly 50 percent of today's Russian youth will not reach the retirement ages of fifty-five for women and sixty for men.

The process of urbanization of the Russian population, ongoing since the 1930s, began a gradual reversal in 1991, when a peak of 74 percent of the population was classified as urban. This marked a significant increase from the 1970 figure of 62 percent. In 1995 the urban share fell below 73 percent. Meanwhile, rural areas continued to lose significant portions of their population. Between 1960 and 1995, about two-thirds of Russia's small villages (those with fewer than 1,000 residents) disappeared; of the 24,000 that remained in the mid-1990s, more than half the population was older than sixty-five and only 20 percent was younger than thirty-five (see Rural Life, ch. 5). Migration has exacerbated the negative population trend of lower marriage and birthrates in many rural settlements. As the young have left rural Russia, large rural sections of the country's central region have been deserted. As their aged inhabitants die, thousands more Russian villages are disappearing. Proposals have been put forth for resettling some of the Russian immigrants from the "near abroad" in rural areas in order to revive local economies, but in the mid-1990s migration authorities had little authority and few resources with which to organize such a program.

A particular demographic concern of the Russian government, as well as governments of the other states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS--see Glossary), is the loss of highly skilled personnel. This problem had existed in the last decade of the Soviet Union; in 1989 some 2,653 employees of the Soviet Union's Academy of Sciences left the country, five times more than in 1988. A 1990 sociological forecast predicted that 1.5 million specialists would leave the country in the 1990s if conditions did not improve.

The easing of emigration restrictions in the early 1990s resulted in a significant increase in Russia's "brain drain." In the early 1990s, China, North Korea, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Iran, Iraq, and several Latin American countries offered jobs to scientists in Russia, especially those with nuclear backgrounds. (Russia also loses scientific know-how when its scientists move into the growing financial and commercial fields; in 1994 the newspaper Moskovskiye novosti reported than one in three leaders of commercial structures was a former scientist or technical specialist.) An ongoing economic crisis and political uncertainty encourage individuals with marketable skills to leave Russia. A high percentage of immigrants from other CIS republics possess the same type of skills as those being lost, but in the mid-1990s Russia lacked a program for settling and apportioning the newcomers so that their presence would compensate for emigration losses.

Fertility

With the exception of a few ethnic groups in the North Caucasus, birthrates for all nationalities in Russia have generally declined in the postwar period (see Ethnic Composition, ch. 4). Throughout the Soviet period, urbanization was rapid, and urban families generally had fewer children than rural ones. The urbanization process ended in 1992, when for the first time in the postwar period a smaller percentage of the Russian population lived in cities than the year before. By that time, however, substantial reasons existed for Russians to limit the size of their families. The population decline of the Russians has been especially pronounced in comparison with other ethnic groups. In many of the twenty-one republics, the titular nationalities have registered higher birthrates and larger average family sizes than the Russian populations.

The birthrate of Russians already was falling dramatically in the 1960s, moving from 23.2 per 1,000 population at the beginning of the decade to 14.1 in 1968. By 1983 the rate had recovered to 17.3 per 1,000, stimulated by a state program that provided incentives for larger families, including increased maternity benefits. Another decline in the birthrate began in 1987, and by 1993 the rate was only 9.4 per 1,000. According to the projections of the Center for Economic Analysis, after reaching its lowest point (8.0 per 1,000) in 1995, the birthrate will rise gradually to 9.7 per 1,000 in 2005.

In the turnaround year of 1992, the number of births in Russia dropped by 207,000 (13 percent) compared with 1991, and the number of deaths increased by 116,000 (7 percent). The fertility rate has dropped in both urban and rural areas. In the early 1990s, the lowest rates were in the northwest, especially St. Petersburg and in central European Russia. The disparity between birth and death rates was especially pronounced in the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg and in the European oblasts of Pskov, Tula, Tver', Belgorod, Leningrad, Novgorod, Yaroslavl', Moscow, Tambov, and Ivanovo. In 1992 natural population growth occurred only in the republics of Kalmykia, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachayevo-Cherkessia, North Ossetia, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Gorno-Altay, Sakha, and Tyva, and in Tyumen' and Chita oblasts of western and eastern Siberia, respectively. However, although fertility rates in the predominantly Muslim republics of the North Caucasus and the Volga region continued to exceed those of the Slavic population, by 1995 the rate was declining even in Dagestan, the republic with the highest birthrate in Russia.

For Russians the total fertility rate, which is the average number of children a woman of childbearing age will have at current birthrates, fell from 2.0 in 1989 to 1.4 in 1993. The State Committee for Statistics (Goskomstat) estimates that the rate will decline further to 1.0 by the year 2000. Roughly half as many children were born in 1993 as in 1987. In 1994 the population of Russia fell by 920,000.

The sharp decline in the fertility rate in the 1990s was linked to the social and economic troubles triggered by the rapid transition to a market economy and resulting unemployment. Families have been destabilized, and living standards for many have fallen from even the modest levels of the Soviet era (see The Family, ch. 5). Under such circumstances, decisions on marriage and childbearing often are postponed. Particularly in the cities, housing has been extremely hard to acquire, and the percentage of working wives has increased significantly in the post-Soviet era (see The Role of Women, ch. 5). The number of common-law marriages, which produce fewer children than traditional marriages, has increased since the 1960s, as has the percentage of babies born to unattached women.

History also has affected the absolute number of births. The birthrate during World War II was very low, accounting for part of the low birthrate of females in the 1960s, which in turn lowered the rate in the 1990s. Between 1989 and 1993, the number of women in the prime childbearing age-group decreased by 1.3 million, or 12 percent, making a major contribution to the 27 percent decline in births during that period. Between 1990 and 1994, the government's official estimate of the infant mortality rate rose from 17.4 per 1,000 live births to 19.9, reflecting deterioration of Russia's child care and nutrition standards. But Russia has not used international viability standards for newborns, and one Western estimate placed the 1995 rate at 26.3. Between 1992 and 1995, the official maternal mortality rate also rose from forty-seven to fifty-two deaths per 100,000 births.

Abortion

Fertility in Russia has been adversely affected by the common practice of using abortion as a primary means of birth control. In 1920 the Soviet Union was the first country to legalize abortion. Sixteen years later it was prohibited, except in certain circumstances, to compensate for the millions of lives lost in the collectivization of agriculture and the widespread famine that followed in the 1930s. The practice was fully legalized once again in 1968, and an entire industry evolved offering abortion services and encouraging women to use them. Although abortions became easily available for most women, an estimated 15 percent of the Soviet total were performed illegally in private facilities. Because of the persistent lack of contraceptive devices in both Soviet and independent Russia (and the social taboo on discussion of contraception and sex in general, which continued in the 1990s), for most women abortion remains the only reliable method of avoiding unwanted pregnancy (see Health Conditions; Sexual Attitudes, ch. 5). Russia continues to have the highest abortion rate in the world, as did the Soviet Union. In the mid-1990s, the Russian average was 225 terminated pregnancies per 100 births and ninety-eight abortions for every 1,000 women of childbearing age per year--a yearly average of 3.5 million. An estimated one-quarter of maternal fatalities result from abortion procedures.

Mortality

The social and economic crises that gripped Russia in the early 1990s are reflected in increased mortality and declining life expectancy, especially among able-bodied males. Contributing to Russia's long-term population decline is a projected mortality rate increase from 11.3 per 1,000 population in 1985 to 15.9 per 1,000 in 2005. Russia's mortality rate reached its lowest level, 10.4 per 1,000 population, in 1986 (for which a state anti-alcohol campaign received substantial credit); then the figure rose steadily in the ensuing decade. The largest jump was from 12.2 to 14.6 per 1,000 between 1992 and 1993; after having reached 15.7 per 1,000 in 1995, the rate was projected to remain virtually flat over the next decade.

According to 1994 statistics, the life expectancy for Russian males had reached 57.3 years and for females 71.1 years. These are the lowest figures and the largest disparity by sex for any country reporting to the World Health Organization, and they are a sharp decline from the 1987 levels of 64.9 years for males and 74.6 years for females. In 1990 the Russian Republic ranked only seventh in this statistic among the fifteen republics of the Soviet Union. The lag in the average life expectancy of males was attributed to alcohol and tobacco abuse; to unsafe conditions at work, on the road, and in the home; and to declining heath care.

Mortality rates are especially high for able-bodied males in rural areas. Served poorly by the health care system and lacking basic sanitary facilities and conveniences, many farming communities have been transformed into enclaves for the elderly, the indigent, and the sick. Moreover, indigenous nationalities such as the Evenks and the Nenets have suffered catastrophic declines in life expectancy and high rates of sickness and death that have prompted speculation that some of those groups may become extinct. Geographically, the lowest average life expectancy in Russia is in the Siberian Republic of Tyva, and the highest figures are in the Caucasus Republic of Dagestan and in the Volga region. In the first half of the 1990s, the imbalance between the birth and death rates was especially acute in major cities. In Moscow and St. Petersburg, the number of deaths in 1992 was almost double the number of births.

Since 1987 mortality from accidents, injuries, and poisonings has risen significantly, from 101 to 228 per 100,000 population. Contributing to that figure are an estimated 8,000 fatal workplace accidents per year, largely the result of aging equipment, the proliferation of risky jobs in the unofficial "shadow economy," and the deterioration of work discipline. For the period between 1990 and 1994, the suicide rate rose by 57 percent to a total of nearly 62,000, putting Russia in third place among eighty-four developed countries. The stress of the transition period is one explanation for this rising statistic. The homicide rate rose by more than 50 percent in the same period. In 1994 Russia's 35,000 motor vehicle deaths nearly equaled the 40,000 in the United States, although Russia has less than 1 percent as many automobiles. Deteriorating roads and declining police discipline are the main causes of that fatality statistic.

The chief natural cause of death is diseases of the circulatory system, which accounted for 769 deaths per 100,000 population in 1993. The next causes in order of frequency are cancer and respiratory diseases. Among people of working age, 41 percent of deaths are attributable to unnatural causes; the proportion of such deaths was highest in Leningrad Oblast, the Permyak Autonomous Region, the Republic of Tyva, and the Evenk Autonomous Region. The number of alcohol-related deaths also climbed in the mid-1990s; the 1994 figure was 25 percent higher than the 1993 total. In some regions, alcoholism has assumed epidemic proportions; in the Bikin Rayon of Khabarovsk Territory on the Pacific coast, nearly half the deaths between 1991 and 1995 were alcohol related.

The overall aging of the population also is an important factor in the higher mortality rate. Between 1959 and 1989, the percentage of retirees in the population and the percentage of Russians eighty or older nearly doubled, although declining life expectancy already was reducing the impact of that trend in the mid-1990s.


Russia.

Russia

Russia - Migration

Russia

For most of the postwar period, the state tightly controlled migration into and emigration from the Soviet Union and movement within the nation. Nevertheless, in each year of the 1980s, about 15 million citizens changed their place of residence within the Soviet Union, and large numbers of some ethnic groups, most notably Jews, Germans, and Armenians, were successful in emigrating. An estimated 2 million Jews left the Soviet Union between 1945 and 1991 (see Other Religions, ch. 4). Overall, external migration played a relatively minor role in the structure of the Russian Republic's population.

With the introduction of the policies of glasnost and perestroika (see Glossary) in the late 1980s, migration policy began to change. In 1985 just 2,943 persons received official permission to emigrate. By 1990 the figure had risen to more than 100,000. After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, legislative and administrative changes brought about new policies with respect to migration. First, the traditional internal passport (propiska ) that conferred permission to work and live in a specific place was nominally abolished, enhancing freedom of movement within Russia. Second, the general right to emigrate was written into law in the 1993 constitution.

Prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, major historical internal migration paths were from the western parts of Russia and the Soviet Union to the northern and eastern regions. In contrast to the American experience, Russia has had difficulty in stabilizing the population in newly settled eastern and northern areas of the federation, where the climate and living conditions are harsh. Despite pay and benefit incentives, turnover has continued to hamper the operations of the giant territorial production complexes, especially in the key energy sector.

In the Soviet period, immigration was not a problem because the Soviet Union was not a destination of preference for any class of refugee. For that reason, in the early 1990s Russia was not equipped with agencies or laws for dealing with a large-scale influx of asylum seekers and returning Russians. In light of new demographic movements in the 1990s, however, respected academician Dmitriy Likhachev has warned that in the next decade immigration may become a national concern of the same magnitude as national defense.

Issues and Procedures

In 1993 Russia signed the United Nations Convention on Refugees, which reclassified it as a "country of first resort" for foreigners fleeing countries outside the CIS. Under the 1951 United Nations convention, this status entails an international obligation to care for such individuals. At the same time, the decline in border security since the dissolution of the Soviet Union has made illegal immigration easier in many areas. In the early 1990s, the number of official refugees swelled when students from Third World nations, particularly Afghanistan, refused to leave Russia when their studies were completed. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), about 28,000 foreign refugees were living illegally in Moscow in 1994; figures for other parts of Russia are not available. The UNHCR's Moscow total was divided among 20,000 Afghans, 6,000 Iraqis, 2,000 Somalis, and smaller numbers of Angolans, Ethiopians, and Zairians. A 1995 Moscow press report, however, estimated that 100,000 illegal immigrants were living in Moscow, including 50,000 Chinese and 15,000 Afghans.

The first major influx of refugees into the Russian Republic occurred in 1988 and 1989, when Azerbaijanis and Armenians (mainly the latter) fled the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between their respective countries, and when Meskhetian Turks fled Uzbekistan following a massacre in that republic in 1989. However, only in 1992 did the Russian government establish its first agency for dealing with such conditions, the Federal Migration Service (FMS). That service monitors refugees and other migrants from both outside and within the CIS, but it is underfunded and understaffed. In 1994 UNHCR transit camps in Moscow had a capacity of 1,000, leaving a large number of Moscow's refugee population to live in primitive conditions. Given the FMS's limited resources, several international social and charitable organizations are active in aiding refugees and migrants, although their work has not been well coordinated with the FMS or among themselves. An additional complication in the early 1990s was the influx of tens of thousands of Russian military personnel withdrawn from former Warsaw Pact member nations and from other CIS nations.

In response to Russia's new status as a country of first resort, a series of laws on refugees and forced migrants were passed in 1993 and 1994. The laws define various categories of migrants, particularly refugees and forced migrants, according to the conditions and motivations that prompted their movement as well as the responsibilities of the state to care for them.

Local branches of the FMS conduct registration of refugees and forced migrants and are responsible for providing material support until they are classified. Individuals in both categories theoretically have some input in their new place of residence; the FMS provides a list of permissible urban destinations, or relatives may accept them elsewhere. Legally, the FMS is obliged to help find suitable employment, schools, and social security and to aid in compensation for lost property. FMS activities receive funding from the Russian state budget, other countries and international organizations according to bilateral agreements, and private donations. Russian citizenship is granted automatically to individuals who were permanent residents of the federation before the Law on Citizenship was passed in February 1992; migrants from elsewhere in the CIS (particularly the 25 million Russians in other former Soviet republics) also have a guarantee of Russian citizenship upon arrival, provided they are not already citizens of another state. A 1993 refinement of FMS regulations added compulsory annual reregistration and stricter requirements for proof of forced migrant status. It also modified the temporary housing guarantee.

As of mid-1996, however, little of the system for carrying out the laws' guarantees had been worked out. Transportation aid is available only in extreme cases, and financial support at the time of settlement is offered only to individuals and families below the poverty line. The FMS reported that, to comply with all aspects of the refugee law, each individual should receive about US$10,000, a sum far beyond the resources of the agency.

Most illegal immigrants enter the country on tourist visas; some take advantage of leaky borders and vague visa requirements. Most claim to be in transit to another country, usually in the West. Profitable businesses have sprung up smuggling refugees through Russia and then to the West. In 1994 Russian authorities announced plans for a central data bank to monitor all immigration and emigration and a new refugee agency, but no such system was in place in mid-1996. Meanwhile, the prospects of moving large numbers of immigrants to Western countries diminished with new immigration restrictions imposed there; at the same time, the United Nations convention substantially limits Russia's options by forbidding deportation of immigrants to "countries of persecution." The FMS has optimistically planned to deal with 400,000 refugees per year, but some estimates projected that as many as 2 million would immigrate in 1996 alone.

The proportion of non-Russian immigrants declined noticeably after 1992. In 1995 the estimated share of Russians was 63 percent of refugees and 75 percent of forced migrants, followed by overall immigration shares of 7 to 9 percent each for Armenians, Ossetians, and Tatars, 3 percent for Ukrainians, and 1 percent each for Georgians and Tajiks. Non-Slavic immigrants have encountered hostile attitudes from most Russian authorities. For example, beginning in 1993 Moscow authorities mounted "cleansing" campaigns to rid the city of individuals lacking residence permits; because immigrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia are easily distinguishable from Slavs, such campaigns have detained and deported disproportionately large numbers from those ethnic groups. International human rights organizations have criticized Moscow for such practices.

The Soviet-era internal passport system, which required documentary proof of an individual's place of residence for that person to receive housing, was simplified theoretically in October 1993 to allow an individual to take residence in any area without proof of registration in that location. However, local authorities have ignored this change, especially in cities such as Moscow that are chief targets of migration. In continuing the Soviet registration system, local authorities can restrict housing, education, and social security benefits to migrants, whatever their origin. In the mid-1990s, strict, "temporary" local restrictions on initial admittance of migrants spread rapidly to most of the oblast capitals, often with conditions in clear violation of the human rights provisions of the 1993 constitution, with the official backing of the FMS. Continued local limitations have had the effect of discouraging housing construction and employment, hence exacerbating the situation of nonresidents.

Such a discrimination policy has not stemmed the tide of migration into Russia's cities from other CIS states or from within the federation. Because the Soviet system usually allowed migrants to eventually register, find work, and settle at their destination, continuation of that system also has continued the expectations and the demographic movement that it promoted. As a result, the number of homeless people in Russia's cities has increased dramatically (see Social Welfare, ch. 5).

Migration Patterns

The increased numbers of Russians arriving from other CIS nations create both logistical and political problems. As in the case of non-Russian refugees, statistical estimates of intra-CIS migration vary widely, partly because Russia has not differentiated that category clearly from the refugee category and partly because actual numbers are assumed to be much higher than official registrations indicate. Many newly arrived Russians (like non-Russians) simply settle with friends or relatives without official registration.

During Russia's problematic economic transition period, the movement of comparatively large numbers of migrants has created substantial social friction, especially over the distribution of scarce urban housing. Nationalist extremist political groups have inflamed local resentment toward refugees of all types. Friction is exacerbated by the state's meager efforts to support migrant populations. Skilled immigrants show particular resentment against a state that fails to provide opportunities and even enough resources to survive, and these people often have drifted into progressively more serious types of criminal activity. Local populations uniformly resent resources provided to migrants in their midst, and they attribute their own economic difficulties to the "strangers" among them, especially if those people are not of the same nationality. Particular tension has been evident in North Ossetia, whose 17 percent immigration statistic is by far the highest in the Russian Federation, in Stavropol' and Krasnodar territories, and in Orenburg, Kaluga, Voronezh, and Saratov oblasts, all of which have numbers of migrants exceeding 1 percent of their populations.

By 1992 the International Red Cross had estimated that about 150,000 ethnic Russians had migrated from CIS states, and at the end of 1993 the head of the FMS estimated that 2 million Russians and non-Russians had arrived from the near abroad in the first two post-Soviet years. As many as 300,000 of the 375,000 Russians in Tajikistan left that country in the first years of the civil war that began in 1992, and in 1994 more than half the Russian arrivals came from Chechnya, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Tajikistan. However, the structure of this group changes according to security and political conditions in the CIS states; by the end of 1994, almost 60 percent of Russian arrivals came from Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, driven not by armed conflict but by local discrimination, and the share of arrivals from the conflict states had declined to one-third. The official FMS estimate for 1995 was 963,000 people arriving in Russia from other CIS states, slightly lower than the 1994 total. The number offorced migrants rose by 300,000 in 1995, however. The states of origin showing the largest increases in 1995 were Kazakstan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, and the Central Asian republics continued to account for more than half the total CIS migrants.

Refugees and migrants from outside the federation have settled in most of the territory of Russia except for parts of the Far North and ethnic republics such as Sakha, Chechnya, and Adygea. The largest numbers of settlers are in the North Caucasus, the southern part of the chernozem agricultural zone of European Russia, the Volga region, and the industrial cities of the adjacent Ural Mountains. Forced migrants show a decided preference for cities. In the north and the east, almost 100 percent of all migrants settle in urban regions, but more than half of migrants to south-central European Russia, the North Caucasus, and the Urals settle in rural areas. Because there has been no state program for distributing forced migrants, they have chosen destinations according to accessibility from their starting point and the location of relatives. Russian refugees seldom settle in an ethnic republic or a region with a high proportion of non-Russians, such as Orenburg Oblast; for that reason, their share of total refugees in the republics is less than 10 percent. Armenian refugees, mainly from the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave of Azerbaijan, are concentrated in the North Caucasus and Saratov Oblast, as well as the large cities and Kaliningrad Oblast on the Baltic Sea. Islamic refugees, mainly Tatar, Bashkir, Tajik, Uzbek, and Kyrgyz, prefer the republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan and adjacent regions with large numbers of Tatars. National groups also have varying long-term intentions. Russians and Tatars tend to remain permanently in their new locations; Chechens mostly plan to return to their homeland once conditions improve; and Armenians and Germans are predominantly transit migrants en route to another country.


Russia.

Russia

Russia - Ethnic, Religious, and Cultural Setting

Russia

THE RUSSIAN STATE HAS EMERGED from the Soviet era dominated by an ethnic group, the Russians, whose language prevails in most educational and government institutions, and a religion, Russian Orthodoxy, that is professed by the vast majority of those citizens who admit to a religious preference. In some respects, Russia's relative homogeneity in language and religion is the result of the uniformity imposed by Soviet rule. As they had in the centuries of tsarist rule, Russians continued in the twentieth century to occupy a percentage of governing positions disproportionate even to their lopsided ethnic majority. Enforced use of the Russian language was a chief means of preserving Moscow's authority in the far-flung regions of the Russian Republic, as it was in the other fourteen Soviet republics. Although it was not spared the persecution meted out to all faiths practiced in the Soviet Union, Russian Orthodoxy retained its preeminence among religiously observant Russians throughout the seven decades of officially prescribed atheism.

In the 1990s, Russians continue to constitute the largest ethnic group in all but a handful of the Russian Federation's nominally ethnic republics, but leaders in many of the republics and smaller ethnic jurisdictions have pressed the central government to grant measures of autonomy and other concessions in the name of indigenous groups. The breakaway Republic of Chechnya has taken the process to its furthest extreme, but in the mid-1990s other republics--in the North Caucasus, Siberia, and the Volga and Ural regions--were pushing hard to achieve the local autonomy to which Soviet governments had only paid lip service.

Meanwhile, the Russian Orthodox Church, long forced to rubber-stamp the cultural decisions of Soviet governments, has moved rapidly in the 1990s toward a more balanced partnership in the governance of Russia's spiritual and secular life. Post-Soviet Western influences have brought new variety to the spectrum of religious practice, but the loyalty to Orthodoxy of average Russians and of the Russian government has become clear as the church has added millions of professed believers in the 1990s and the government has sought church advice on many critical decisions. This renewed alliance has posed a challenge to the freedom of religion nominally guaranteed in the 1993 constitution.

The issue of language diversity has risen in parallel with issues of local sovereignty. The Russian language retains its traditional dominance in official communications and in the education system; however, the increasing unofficial use of the federation's many minority languages shows that they survived Soviet repression with the capacity to flourish anew as the central government's power has diminished.

<> Ethnic Composition
<> The Russians
<> Minority Peoples and Their Territories
<> Other Ethnic Groups
<> Movements Toward Sovereignty, Chechnya

Russia

Russia - Ethnic Composition

Russia

Russia is a multinational state that has inherited many of the nationality problems that plagued the Soviet Union. The last official Soviet census, conducted in 1989, listed more than 100 nationalities. Several of those groups now predominantly inhabit the independent nations that formerly were Soviet republics. However, the Russian Federation--the most direct successor to the Soviet Union--still is home to more than 100 national minorities, whose members coexist uneasily with the numerically and politically predominant Russians (see table 8, Appendix).

Besides the Slavs (Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians), who account for about 85 percent of Russia's population, three main ethnic groups and a handful of isolated smaller groups reside within the federation. The Altaic group includes mainly speakers of Turkic languages widely distributed in the middle Volga, the southern Ural Mountains, the North Caucasus, and above the Arctic Circle. The main Altaic peoples in Russia are the Balkars, Bashkirs, Buryats, Chuvash, Dolgans, Evenks, Kalmyks, Karachay, Kumyks, Nogay, and Yakuts. The Uralic group, consisting of Finnic peoples living in the upper Volga, the far northwest, and the Urals, includes the Karelians, Komi, Mari, Mordovians, and Udmurts. The Caucasus group is concentrated along the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains; its main subgroups are the Adyghs, Chechens, Cherkess, Ingush, and Kabardins, as well as about thirty Caucasus peoples collectively classified as Dagestani (see Minority Peoples and Their Territories, this ch.).

In the Soviet Union, the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR) contained thirty-one autonomous, ethnically based administrative units. When the Russian Federation proclaimed its sovereignty in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse in late 1991, many of those entities also declared their sovereignty. Of the thirty-one, sixteen were autonomous republics, five were autonomous oblasts (provinces), and ten were autonomous regions (okruga ; sing., okrug ), which were part of larger subnational jurisdictions. During the Soviet era, the autonomy referred to in these jurisdictions' official titles was more fictitious than real--the executive committees that administered the jurisdictions had no decision-making authority. All major administrative tasks were performed by the central government or, in the case of some social services, by industrial enterprises in the area. In postcommunist Russia, however, many of the autonomous areas have staked claims to more meaningful sovereignty as the numerically superior Russians continue to dominate the center of power in Moscow (see The Federation Treaty and Regional Power, ch. 7). Even in the many regions where Russians are in the majority, such claims have been made in the name of the indigenous ethnic group or groups.

According to the 1989 Soviet census, Russians constituted 81.5 percent of the population of what is now the Russian Federation. The next-largest groups were Tatars (3.8 percent), Ukrainians (3.0 percent), Chuvash (1.2 percent), Bashkirs (0.9 percent), Belorussians (0.8 percent), and Mordovians (0.7 percent). Other groups totaling more than 0.5 percent of the population each were Armenians, Avars, Chechens, Germans, Jews, Kazaks, Mari, and Udmurts. In 1992 an estimated 7.8 million people native to the other fourteen former Soviet republics were living in Russia.

Russia

Russia - The Russians

Russia

The ethnic group that came to be known as the Russians sprang from the East Slavs, one of the three groups into which the original Slavic people divided sometime before the seventh century A.D. The West Slavs eventually became differentiated as the Poles, Czechs, and Slovaks; the South Slavs divided into the Bulgarians, Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes. The East Slavic tribes settled along the Dnepr River in present-day Ukraine in the first centuries A.D. From that region, they then spread northward and eastward. In the ninth century, these tribes constituted the largest part of the population of Kievan Rus', the medieval state ruled by a Varangian dynasty from Scandinavia (see The East Slavs and the Varangians, ch. 1).

The East Slavs became more politically united in the tenth century when they adopted Christianity as the state religion of Kievan Rus'. Nevertheless, tribal and regional differences were exacerbated in subsequent centuries as the state expanded, bringing the East Slavs into contact with other ethnic groups on their borders. Thus, Baltic and Finno-Ugric tribes mixed with the East Slavs to the northwest and the northeast, respectively. By the time the state of Kievan Rus' began disintegrating into independent principalities in the twelfth century, the East Slavs had begun to evolve into three peoples with distinct linguistic and cultural characteristics: the Russians to the north and northeast of Kiev, the Belorussians to the northwest of Kiev, and the Ukrainians in the Kiev region and to its south and southwest. In the thirteenth century, the invasion of the Mongols brought the final collapse of Kievan Rus' as a political entity, accelerating differentiation and consolidation of the three ethnic groups (see The Golden Age of Kiev, ch. 1). Although the three groups remained related culturally, linguistically, and religiously, each of them also was influenced by different political, economic, religious, and social developments that further separated them.

Building a state of increasing vitality as the Mongol occupation weakened in the fourteenth century, the principality of Muscovy became the base from which the Russian cultural and political systems expanded under a series of strong rulers. By the end of the nineteenth century, Russians had settled the remote stretches of Siberia to the Pacific Ocean and colonized Central Asia and the Caucasus, becoming in the process the most numerous and ubiquitous of the Slavic peoples (see Ruling the Empire, ch. 1).

Russia

Russia - Minority Peoples and Their Territories

Russia

With a few changes in status in the post-World War II period, the autonomous republics, autonomous oblasts, and autonomous regions of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic retained the classifications assigned to them in the 1920s or 1930s. In all cases, the postcommunist Russian government officially changed the term "autonomous republic" to "republic" in 1992. According to the 1989 Soviet census, in only fifteen of the thirty-one ethnically designated republics and autonomous regions were the "indigenous" people the largest group. Of the twenty-one republics existing in Russia in the mid-1990s, nine fell into this category, with the smallest percentages of Russians in Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, and North Ossetia. Each region designated by ethnic group is home to the majority of Russia's population of that group (see table 9, Appendix).

The border-drawing process that occurred in tsarist times and in the first decades of Soviet rule sometimes divided rather than united ethnic populations. The Buryats of southern Siberia, for example, were divided among the Buryat Autonomous Republic and Chita and Irkutsk oblasts, which were created to the east and west of the republic, respectively; that population division remains in the post-Soviet era. By contrast, the Chechens and Ingush were united in a single republic until 1992, and smaller groups such as the Khanty and the Mansi were grouped together in single autonomous regions.

Of the sixteen autonomous republics that existed in Russia at the time of the Soviet Union's breakup, one (the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic) split into two in 1992, with Chechnya subsequently declaring full independence as the Republic of Chechnya and with Ingushetia gaining recognition as a separate republic of the Russian Federation. Three Soviet-era autonomous oblasts (Gorno-Altay, Adygea, and Karachayevo-Cherkessia) were granted republic status under the Federation Treaty of 1992, which established the respective powers of the central and republic governments. Two republics, Chechnya and Tatarstan, did not sign the treaty at that time. Most provisions of the Federation Treaty were overtaken by provisions of the 1993 constitution or by subsequent bilateral agreements between the central government and the republics.

After the changes of the immediate post-Soviet years, twenty-one nationality-based republics existed in the Russian Federation and were recognized in the constitution of 1993 (see table 10, Appendix). They are Adygea, Bashkortostan, Buryatia, Chechnya, Chuvashia, Dagestan, Gorno-Altay, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Kalmykia, Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Karelia, Khakassia, Komi, Mari El, Mordovia, North Ossetia, Sakha (Yakutia), Tatarstan, Tyva (Tuva), and Udmurtia.

Besides the republics, the constitution recognizes ten autonomous regions, whose status, like that of the republics, is based on the presence of one or two ethnic groups. These jurisdictions typically are sparsely populated, rich in natural resources, and inclined to seek independence from the larger units to which they belong. The existence and configuration of Russia's other jurisdictions are determined by geographical or political factors rather than ethnicity. The ten autonomous regions are the Aga Buryat, Chukchi, Evenk, Khanty-Mansi, Koryak, Nenets, Permyak, Taymyr, Ust'-Orda Buryat, and Yamalo-Nenets autonomous regions. A Jewish Autonomous Oblast (Yevreyskaya avtonomnaya oblast', now known as Birobidzhan) was established in 1934. Russians are the majority of the population in all but the Aga Buryat Autonomous Region (whose population is 55 percent Buryats) and the Permyak Autonomous Region (whose population is 60 percent Komi-Permyak, one of the three subgroups of the Komi people). More typical is the Evenk Autonomous Region in Siberia west of the Republic of Sakha, where the Evenks are outnumbered by Russians 17,000 to 3,000. In fact, the Evenks, originally a nomadic and clan-based group whose society was nearly destroyed by Soviet collectivization in the 1930s, are among the indigenous peoples of Russia whose survival experts fear is endangered.

The North Caucasus

The region of Russia adjoining the north slope of the Caucasus range includes eight republics--Adygea, Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Kalmykia, Karachayevo-Cherkessia, and North Ossetia. The North Caucasus retains its historical reputation as a trouble spot, although the majority of the region's republics are relatively peaceful and undeveloped.

The Adygh (or Adygey) Autonomous Oblast was established in 1922 as part of Krasnoyarsk Territory; between 1922 and 1928, it was known as the Cherkess (Adygh) Autonomous Oblast. It was redesignated as the Republic of Adygea in 1992. A landlocked sliver of land, Adygea occupies 7,600 square kilometers just inland from the northeast coast of the Black Sea, reaching southward to the northern foothills of the Caucasus Mountains. The oblast was formed by the early Soviet government for the Adygh people, who are one of three branches of the Cherkess, or Circassian, tribes--the other two being the Cherkess and the Kabardins. The general group from which these three peoples descend has occupied the northern border of the Caucasus Mountains at least since the Greeks began exploring beyond the Black Sea in the eighth century B.C. The Adyghs, most of whom accepted Islam early in the nineteenth century, speak a Caucasian language.

In 1995 the Adyghs constituted 22 percent of the population of Adygea, which was estimated at 450,400. The rest consisted of 68 percent Russians, 3 percent Ukrainians, and 2 percent Armenians. Adygea is the only Muslim republic of the Russian Federation where the Muslim share of the population has decreased in the last two decades. The official languages are Russian and Adygh. Rich soil is the basis for an agricultural economy specializing in grains, tobacco, sugar beets, vegetables, fruits, cattle, poultry, and beekeeping. Processing of meats, tobacco, dairy products, and canned goods is an important industry. The republic's only substantial mineral resource under exploitation is an extensive natural gas and oil deposit. The capital city, Maykop, is the main industrial center, with metallurgical, machine-building, and timber-processing plants.

Chechnya has been the scene of the most violent of the separatist movements against the Russian Federation (see Movements Toward Sovereignty, this ch.; Chechnya, ch. 9; Security Operations in Chechnya, ch. 10). The Chechens and Ingush belong to ancient Caucasian peoples, mainly Muslim, who have lived in the same region in the northern Caucasus Mountains since prehistoric times. The two groups speak similar languages but have different historical backgrounds. The Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Oblast was established in 1934 by combining two separate oblasts that had existed since the early 1920s. In 1936 the oblast was redesignated an autonomous republic, but both ethnic groups were exiled to Central Asia in 1944 for alleged collaboration with the invading Germans.

The republic was reinstated in 1957, and what was left of the original population was allowed to return. In the three decades following their return, the Chechen and Ingush populations recovered rapidly, accounting in 1989 for 66 percent of the population of their shared republic. At that time, the Chechen population was about 760,000, the Ingush about 170,000. This proportion reflects approximately the relative size of the two regions after they split into separate republics in 1992. (Ingushetia occupies a sliver of land between Chechnya and North Ossetia; in 1995 its population was estimated at 254,100.) In 1989 Russians constituted about 23 percent of the combined population of Chechnya and Ingushetia, their numbers having declined steadily for decades.

The most important product of what now is known as the Republic of Chechnya (and officially called the Republic of Chechnya-Ichkeria within the republic) is refined petroleum. The capital, Groznyy, was one of the most important refining centers in southern Russia prior to its virtual annihilation in the conflict of 1995-96. Several major pipelines connect Groznyy refineries with the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, and Russian industrial centers to the north. The republic's other important industries are petrochemical and machinery manufacturing and food processing. When the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic split in June 1992, Chechnya retained most of the industrial base.

Both the Chechens and the Ingush remain strongly attached to clan and tribal relations as the structure of their societies. Primary use of their respective North Caucasian languages has remained above 95 percent, despite the long period that the two groups spent in exile. Chechnya was fully converted to Islam by the seventeenth century, Ingushetia only in the nineteenth century. But the region has a two-century history of holy war against Russian authority. When the indigenous populations were exiled in 1944, Soviet authorities attempted to expunge Islam entirely from the region by closing all mosques. Although the mosques remained closed when the Chechens and Ingush returned, clandestine religious organizations spread rapidly.

Despite the close ethnic relationship of the Ingush and Chechen peoples, the Ingush opted to remain within the Russian Federation after Chechnya initially declared its sovereignty in 1991. In June 1992, Ingushetia declared itself a sovereign republic within the Russian Federation. At that time, Ingushetia claimed part of neighboring North Ossetia as well. When hostilities arose between the Chechens and the Ingush following their split, Russian troops were deployed between the two ethnic territories. Ingushetia opposed Russia's occupation of Chechnya, but it supported the regime of President Boris N. Yeltsin on other issues in the mid-1990s. The capital of Ingushetia is Nazran.

The Republic of Dagestan, formerly the Dagestan (or Daghestan) Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Dagestan ASSR), occupies 50,300 square kilometers along the western shore of the Caspian Sea, from the border with Azerbaijan in the south to a point about 150 kilometers south of the Volga River delta in the north. Arriving along the Volga, Russians first settled the area in the fifteenth century, but Dagestan was not annexed by the Russian Empire until 1813. During 1920-22 most of the Dagestani people joined the Chechens in a widespread revolt against Soviet power; some of the secret Islamic orders that led the revolt continued to practice terrorism through the Soviet period. Designated an autonomous republic in 1921, Dagestan lost some of its territory in 1941 and 1957; most of the original republic was restored in 1957. In the Soviet period, the Muslim majority suffered severe religious repression.

Unlike the other autonomous republics, Dagestan does not derive its existence from the presence of one particular group. Besides its Russian population (9.2 percent of the total in 1989), Dagestan is home to an estimated thirty ethnic groups and eighty nationalities, who speak Caucasian, Iranian, and Turkic languages and account for more than 80 percent of the population. The ten non-Slavic groups identified by Soviet censuses within the population of about 2 million are, in order of size, Avars, Dargins, Kumyks, Lezgins, Laks, Tabasarans, Nogay, Rutuls, Tsakhurs, and Aguls. Colonies of Azerbaijanis (4.2 percent in 1989) and Chechens (3.2 percent) also exist. Knowledge of Arabic and the teachings of Islam are more widespread in Dagestan than in any other Russian republic. In the 1990s, tension has existed among the many ethnic groups, accompanied by a debate over whether the republic should be organized on a unitary or federative basis.

The Avars, known for their warrior heritage, live mostly in the isolated western part of the republic, retaining much of their traditional village lifestyle. Numbering nearly 600,000, the Avars are by far the largest ethnic group in Dagestan. The Lezgins (also seen as Lezghins and Lezgians) are the dominant group in southern Dagestan; because of the Lezgins' location, their society has been more affected by foreign cultural influence than the other groups. Like the Avars, the Dargins, divided into several distinct groups, maintain their village communities in relative isolation. The Kumyks, the largest Turkic group in the republic, are descendants of the Central Asian Kipchak tribes; they inhabit northern Dagestan.

The Laks, a small, homogeneous group, occupy central Dagestan; their region was the original center of Islam on the upper Caspian coast. The Tabasarans, who live in southern Dagestan, are strongly influenced by the more numerous Lezgins, although folk practices such as vendettas persist. The steppe-dwelling Nogay of Dagestan, the second Turkic group in the republic, are descendents of one of two Nogay hordes of the Middle Ages; the second and larger group settled to the west, in Stavropol' Territory, and speaks a different language. The Tsakhurs, Rutuls, and Aguls are small, isolated groups of mountain people who lack a written language and largely have preserved their traditional social structures. The capital city, Makhachkala, is located in southern Dagestan, on the Caspian Sea, in a region dominated by the Lezgins.

Most of the rural population raises livestock in the republic's hilly terrain. Dagestan is rich in oil, natural gas, coal, and other minerals; swift rivers offer abundant hydroelectric-power potential. The polyglot nature of Dagestan has made linguistic unity impossible; among the major groups, only the Nogay language is said to be declining in usage. Besides Azerbaijani and Russian, six languages were recognized as official languages in the late Soviet period.

Kabardino-Balkaria, the territory of the Kabardin and Balkar peoples, is located along the north-central border of Georgia and the northern slope of the Caucasus Mountains. Occupying about 12,500 square kilometers, the autonomous republic was established in 1936 after fourteen years as an autonomous oblast. In 1944 the Balkars, like certain other North Caucasus groups, were deported to Central Asia because of their alleged collaboration with the Nazis, and the region was renamed the Kabardin Autonomous Oblast. Republic status was restored in 1957 when the Balkars were allowed to return. In 1992 both the Kabardins and the Balkars opted to establish separate republics within the Russian Federation, using an ethnic boundary established in 1863, but the incumbent parliament of the republic declared the separation unlawful. Since that time, the issue of the republic's configuration has awaited a referendum. In 1994 Kabardino-Balkaria signed a bilateral treaty with Russia defining respective areas of jurisdiction within the federation.

In the fifteenth century, Crimean Tatars and Ottoman Turks brought Sunni Islam of the Hanafi school to the territory that is now Kabardino-Balkaria, but Muslim precepts have been observed rather superficially since that time. A small group of Christian Kabardins remains. Despite Russian immigration into the republic, the Muslim Kabardins and Balkars now constitute nearly 60 percent of the republic's population, which was estimated at 800,000 in 1995. Of that number, 48 percent were Kabardin, 9 percent Balkar, and 32 percent Russian, according to the 1989 census.

Although the tribal system of the Kabardins disappeared with the first contact with Russians, some aspects of the traditional clan system persist in society, and family customs are carefully preserved. Unlike other ethnic groups in the region, the Kabardins were strongly pro-Russian in tsarist times; they did not participate in the numerous uprisings of Caucasus peoples between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries. This affinity survived into the Soviet period despite the dominant position of the aristocracy in Kabardin society.

The economy of Kabardino-Balkaria is based on substantial deposits of gold, chromium, nickel, platinum, iron ore, molybdenum, tungsten, and tin. The main industries are metallurgy, timber and food processing, the manufacture of oil-drilling equipment, and hydroelectric power generation. The republic's capital is Nalchik.

The former Kalmyk Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Kalmyk ASSR) is located in the Caspian Lowland, on the northwestern shore of the Caspian Sea. It has an area of 75,900 square kilometers and a population of about 350,000 (in 1995).

The Kalmyks, also known as the Oirots, were seminomadic Mongol people who migrated from Central Asia in the sixteenth century. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, much of the Kalmyk population was dispersed or extinguished by Russian authorities, and the nomadic lifestyle largely disappeared during this period.

The republic was established in 1920 as an autonomous oblast. The Kalmyk ASSR was established in 1935, dissolved in 1943, then reconstituted in 1958, when its indigenous people were allowed to return from the exile imposed in 1944 for alleged collaboration with the Nazis. The republic officially changed its name to Kalmykia in February 1992. In 1989 the republic's population was 45 percent Kalmyk, 38 percent Russian, 6 percent Dagestani peoples, 3 percent Chechen, 2 percent Kazak, and 2 percent German. The Kalmyk economy is based on the raising of livestock, particularly sheep, and the population is mainly rural; the capital and largest city, Elista, had about 85,000 people in 1989.

Until 1992 an autonomous oblast, the Republic of Karachayevo-Cherkessia occupies 14,100 square kilometers along the northern border of Georgia's Abkhazian Autonomous Republic. A single autonomous region was formed in 1922 for the Cherkess (Circassian) and Karachay peoples; then separate regions existed between 1928 and 1943. The regions were recombined in 1943 as an autonomous oblast. The Cherkess converted to Islam after contacts with Crimean Tatars and Turks; the Karachay are an Islamic Turkic group. The Cherkess are the remnants of a once-dominant Circassian group of tribes that were dispersed, mostly to the Ottoman Empire, by the Russian conquest of the Caucasus region in the early nineteenth century. The original Cherkess now inhabit three republics, divided among five tribal groups: the Adyghs, Kabardins, Balkars, Karachay, and Cherkess (who inherited the original generic name).

The Balkars and the Karachay belong to the same overall Turkic group, although the latter live in the Republic of Karachayevo-Cherkessia immediately west of Kabardino-Balkaria on the north slope of the Caucasus Mountains. Like the Chechens and the Ingush, the Karachay were exiled to Central Asia during World War II. The Cherkess and the Karachay were reunited when the latter were returned from exile in 1957. Established in 1992, the republic is mainly rural, with an economy based on livestock breeding and grain cultivation. Some mining, chemical, and wood-processing facilities also exist. The population, which was estimated at 422,000 in 1990, was 42 percent Russian, 31 percent Karachay, and 10 percent Cherkess. The capital city is Cherkessk.

North Ossetia, called Alania in the republic's 1994 constitution, is located along the northern border of Georgia, between the republics of Kabardino-Balkaria and Ingushetia. The Ossetians are of Iranian and Caucasian origin, and they speak an Iranian language. In the first centuries A.D., Ossetia was occupied by the Alani tribe, ancestors of the modern Ossetians. In the thirteenth century, the Tatars drove the Alani into the mountains; Russian settlers began arriving in the eighteenth century. Russia annexed Ossetia in 1861. In 1924 North Ossetia became an autonomous region of the Soviet Union; in 1936 it was declared an autonomous republic. In 1992 the campaign for separation waged by Georgia's South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast directly to the south drew significant support from compatriots to the north. North Ossetia is the only Caucasus republic of the Russian Federation to give official support to Russia's occupation of nearby Chechnya.

In 1995 the republic's population was estimated at 660,000, of which 53 percent were Ossetian, 29 percent Russian, 5 percent Ingush, 2 percent Armenian, and 2 percent Ukrainian. The area of North Ossetia totals about 8,000 square kilometers. The outputs of industry and agriculture were of approximately equal value in 1993. The main industries, concentrated in the capital city of Vladikavkaz, are metalworking, wood processing, textiles, food processing, and distilling of alcoholic beverages. The main crops are corn, wheat, potatoes, hemp, and fruit. Lead, zinc, and boron are mined.

The Northern Republics

Karelia and Komi, the two northernmost republics of European Russia, occupy a sizable portion of the latitudes north of Moscow. Both are rich in natural resources, exploitation of which has caused considerable environmental damage.

At 172,400 square kilometers, Karelia is the fourth largest of the autonomous republics of the Russian Federation. The republic shares a border with Finland from the Kola Peninsula in the north to Lake Ladoga in the south. The Karelians are of the same ethnic stock as the Finns. The status of Karelia has changed several times in the twentieth century. When Karelia first became an autonomous republic of the Soviet Union in 1923, it included only the territory known as Eastern Karelia, which had been Russian territory since 1323. When Western Karelia was gained from the Finns in 1940, the enlarged Karelia became a full republic of the Soviet Union, called the Karelo-Finnish Republic. After World War II, the southwestern corner of the republic, including its only stretch of open-water seacoast on the Gulf of Finland, became part of the Russian Republic. In 1956 the regime of Nikita S. Khrushchev (in office 1953-64) redesignated the artificial entity, which never came close to having a Karelian majority, as the Karelian ASSR. In 1994 the republic's population of about 800,200 was 74 percent Russian, only 10 percent Karelian, 7 percent Belarusian, and 4 percent Ukrainian. The dominant religion is Russian Orthodoxy.

In a region dominated by forests, lakes, and marshes, the Karelian economy is supported mainly by logging, mining, and fishing. The plentiful mineral resources include construction stone, zinc, lead, silver, copper, molybdenum, aluminum, nickel, platinum, tin, barite, and iron ore. Industries include timber and mineral processing, and the manufacturing of furniture, chemicals, and paper. The capital of Karelia is Petrozavodsk.

The Republic of Komi extends westward from the northern end of the Ural Mountains across the Pechora River basin; the republic's westernmost extension is about 250 kilometers east of Arkhangel'sk and the White Sea. The region, which as a republic occupies 415,900 square kilometers, was annexed by the principality of Muscovy in the fourteenth century, principally because of its rich fur-trading potential. In the eighteenth century, Russians began exploiting mineral and timber resources. The Komi people, a Finno-Ugric group, traditionally have herded reindeer, hunted, and fished. They nominally accepted Russian Orthodoxy in the fourteenth century. In 1921 the Soviet government designated an autonomous oblast for the Komi, and in 1936 the oblast became an autonomous republic. The Komi include three ethnic subgroups: the Permyaks, who inhabit the Permyak Autonomous Region south of the republic; the Yazua, who live in both the Republic of Komi and the Permyak region; and the Zyryan, who account for the majority of the republic's Komi population. Altogether, in 1994 the Komi constituted 23 percent of the 1.2 million people of their republic, which had a 58 percent Russian majority. Long isolated by the forbidding climate of their region, the Komi of the north have intermixed with other ethnic groups only in recent decades.

Located just southwest of the oil-rich Yamal Peninsula, Komi has become an important producer of oil and natural gas; in 1994 a pipeline leak caused extensive damage to the tundra and rivers in the Pechora Basin. Vorkuta, in the far northeastern corner of the republic near the Kara Sea, is an important Arctic coal-mining center. The capital of Komi is Syktyvkar.

The Volga and Ural Republics

Forming a crescent from the middle Volga to the southern extent of Russia's Ural Mountains, six republics represent a variety of ethnic and religious groups. Included in this group are the republics of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan, two of Russia's richest and most independent republics.

Bashkortostan is the name assumed in 1992 by the former Bashkir ASSR, which also had been called Bashkiria. The republic occupies an area of 143,600 square kilometers in the far southeastern corner of European Russia, bounded on the east by the Ural Mountains and within seventy kilometers of the Kazakstan border at its southernmost point. The region was settled by nomads of the steppe, the Turkic Bashkirs, during the thirteenth-century domination by the Golden Horde (see Glossary; The Mongol Invasion, ch. 1). Russians arrived in the mid-sixteenth century, founding the city of Ufa, now the republic's capital. Numerous local uprisings broke out in opposition to the settlement of larger Russian populations in the centuries that followed. The Bashkirs finally give up nomadic life in the nineteenth century, adopting the agricultural lifestyle that remains their primary means of support. The traditional clan-based social structure has largely disappeared. The predominant religions of the Bashkir population are Islam--observed by the majority--and Russian Orthodoxy. A major battleground of the Russian Civil War (1918-21), in 1919 Bashkiria was the first ethnic region to be designated an autonomous republic of Russia under the new communist regime. The republic declared its sovereignty within the Soviet Union in 1990, and in 1992 it declared full independence. Two years later, Bashkortostan agreed to remain within the legislative framework of the Russian Federation, provided that mutual areas of competence were agreed upon.

The republic has rich mineral resources, especially oil, natural gas, iron ore, manganese, copper, salt, and construction stone. The Soviet government built a variety of heavy industries on that resource base, and the republic's economy is relatively prosperous. The traditional Bashkir occupations of livestock raising and beekeeping remain important economic activities. Bashkortostan's population was about 4 million in 1995. In 1989 the major ethnic groups were Russians (39 percent), Tatars (28 percent), Bashkirs (22 percent), Chuvash (3 percent), and Mari (3 percent).

The Republic of Chuvashia, the former Chuvash ASSR, occupies about 18,000 square kilometers along the east bank of the Volga River, about sixty kilometers west of the river's confluence with the Kama River and some 700 kilometers east of Moscow. The Chuvash are a Turkic people whose territory first was settled and annexed by Ivan IV (the Terrible; r. 1533-84) in the sixteenth century (see Ivan IV, ch. 1). At that time, the Chuvash already were a settled agricultural people. In 1920 Chuvashia became an autonomous oblast, and in 1925 it was redesignated an autonomous republic. The republic declared its sovereignty within the Soviet Union in 1990. The primary economic activities are agricultural; grain and fruit production and logging are emphasized. Except for phosphates and gypsum, Chuvashia lacks significant amounts of minerals and fuels.

The Chuvash speak a unique Turkic language and are believed to have descended from the same stock as the modern Bulgarians, whose ancestors migrated from the area. The Chuvash also are the only Turkic ethnic group in Russia to have converted en masse to Russian Orthodoxy. In 1995 the Chuvash constituted 68 percent of the population of their republic, which totaled about 1.4 million. Other groups are Russians (27 percent), Tatars (3 percent), and Mordovians (1 percent). The capital city is Cheboksary.

The Republic of Mari El, formerly the Mari ASSR, is located in the middle Volga Basin on the north shore of the river, directly east of the city of Nizhniy Novgorod (formerly Gor'kiy). The Finno-Ugric Mari people, also known as Cheremiss, first came into contact with the Russians in the sixteenth century, when the major Tatar outpost of Kazan', just downstream from the current republic, fell to Ivan IV. The autonomous oblast of Mari was established in 1920; an autonomous republic was designated in 1936. The economy is based mainly on timber products, agriculture, and machine building; the region is not rich in mineral resources. In 1989 the largest ethnic group was the Russians, who make up 48 percent of the population, with Mari constituting 45 percent and Tatars 6 percent. The predominant religion is Russian Orthodoxy, although some traces of animism remain in the Mari population. The total population in 1995 was 754,000, about 60 percent of whom dwell in cities. The republic's area is 23,300 square kilometers. The capital city is Yoshkar Ola.

Formerly the Mordovian (or Mordvinian) ASSR, Mordovia (or Mordvinia) is located at the southwestern extreme of the middle Volga cluster of autonomous republics that also includes Tatarstan, Mari El, Udmurtia, and Chuvashia. Belonging to the Finno-Ugric ethnic group, the Mordovians were traditionally agriculturalists, known especially as beekeepers. The first Russians reached the area in the twelfth century, and Muscovy had taken full control of Mordovia by the seventeenth century. After receiving the status of autonomous oblast in 1930, Mordovia was declared an autonomous republic in 1934. Although the Mordovians nominally accepted Russian Orthodoxy in the seventeenth century, they retain significant remnants of their pre-Christian beliefs, as well as national costumes and social practices.

In 1995 Russians constituted about 61 percent of the republic's population of approximately 964,000. Another 33 percent were Mordovians, and 5 percent were Tatars. The total area of Mordovia is 26,200 square kilometers. The republic's economy is based mainly on agriculture, especially the cultivation of grains, tobacco, hemp, and vegetables. Industry includes some machine building and chemical manufacturing, as well as enterprises based on timber and metals. The capital of Mordovia is Saransk.

Located in the middle Volga east of Mari El and Chuvashia and west of Bashkortostan, Tatarstan was established as an autonomous republic in 1920 for one segment of the large and widespread Tatar population of the Russian Republic. In the 1980s, less than one-third of Russia's Tatars lived in the republic designated for them. Extensive populations of Tatars, who are predominantly Muslim, are scattered throughout Russia as well as most of the other former Soviet republics. In the late Soviet period, numerous Tatars migrated to the Central Asian republics, in particular Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The population of Tatarstan, about 3.8 million in 1995, is second only to that of Bashkortostan among Russia's republics. According to the 1989 census, the population was 49 percent Tatar, 43 percent Russian, 4 percent Chuvash, 1 percent Ukrainian, and 1 percent Mordovian.

The Tatars are a Turkic people whose language belongs to the Kipchak group and has several regional dialects. The region of present-day Tatarstan was occupied by the Mongols when the Golden Horde swept across the middle Volga region in the early thirteenth century. When the Mongol Empire fragmented two centuries later, one of its constituent parts, the Tatar Kazan' Khanate, inherited the middle Volga and held the region until its defeat by Ivan IV. Shortly thereafter, Russian colonization began.

Tatarstan has a diversified, well-developed economy that has been the basis of bold claims of independence from the Russian Federation beginning in 1992 (see Movements Toward Sovereignty, this ch.). The first World Congress of Tatars was held in the republic's capital, Kazan', in June 1992. About 1,200 delegates attended from Tatarstan and the Tatar diaspora to discuss the republic's status. In 1994 a bilateral agreement with the Yeltsin administration satisfied some of the republic's claims to sovereignty.

In 1995 the discovery of a large oil field in northern Tatarstan promised to boost the sagging local economy; oil extraction already was Tatarstan's most important industry. Other major industries include chemical manufacturing, machine building, and the manufacture of vehicles and paper products. The agricultural sector produces grains, potatoes, sugar beets, hemp, tobacco, apples, dairy products, and livestock.

Udmurtia, formerly the Udmurt ASSR, occupies 42,100 square kilometers north of Tatarstan on the lower reaches of the Kama River, northeast of the confluence of the Kama and the Volga. The Udmurts are a Finno-Ugric people whose territory was occupied by the Kazan' Khanate in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, then passed to Russian control when Ivan IV captured Kazan' in 1552. Originally established as the Votyak Autonomous Oblast in 1920, the territory was renamed for the Udmurts in 1932, then redesignated an autonomous republic in 1934. In 1995 the republic's population was about 1.5 million, of which 59 percent was Russian, 31 percent Udmurt, 7 percent Tatar, 1 percent Ukrainian, and 1 percent Mari.

Located in the industrial zone of the south Ural Mountains, Udmurtia has a substantial and diversified industrial economy that emphasizes locomotives and rolling stock, metallurgy, machine tools, construction materials, clothing, leather, and food processing. The capital city, Izhevsk, is also the largest industrial center. The most important agricultural products are grains, vegetables, and livestock.

The Republics of Siberia

Of the five republics located east of the Urals in Asian Russia, four--Buryatia, Gorno-Altay, Khakassia, and Tyva--extend along Russia's southern border with Mongolia. The fifth, Sakha (formerly Yakutia), is Russia's largest subnational jurisdiction and the possessor of a large and varied supply of valuable natural resources.

The Republic of Buryatia, formerly the Buryat ASSR, occupies 351,300 square kilometers along the eastern shore of Lake Baikal and along the north-central border of Mongolia. The Buryats, a nomadic herding people of Mongolian stock, first faced colonization by Russian settlers in the seventeenth century. After initially resisting this intrusion, most of the Buryats eventually adapted to life in farming settlements, which continues to be the predominant mode of existence. In 1989 the Buryats constituted only about 24 percent of the republic's population; Russians made up about 70 percent. The total Buryat population of the Soviet Union in the 1980s was about 390,000, with about 150,000 living in the adjacent oblasts of Chita and Irkutsk. In 1994 the population of the republic was 1.1 million, of which more than one-third lived in the capital city, Ulan-Ude.

Buryatia possesses rich mineral resources, notably bauxite, coal, gold, iron, rare earth minerals, uranium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, and tungsten. Livestock raising, fur farming, hunting, and fishing are important economic pursuits of the indigenous population. The main industries derive from coal extraction, timber harvesting, and engineering.

Gorno-Altay was established in 1922 as the Oirot Autonomous Oblast, for the Mongol people of that name. In 1948 the region was renamed the Gorno-Altay Autonomous Oblast. Redesignated a republic in 1992, the region took its present name--the Republic of Gorno-Altay, or simply Altay (the vernacular term omits gorno , which means mountainous in Russian)--in that year. Occupying 92,600 square kilometers on the north slope of the Altay Range on the northeast border of Kazakstan, Gorno-Altay had a population in 1995 of 200,000, of whom 60 percent were Russian and 31 percent Altay. About 83 percent of Russia's total Altay population lives in the Republic of Gorno-Altay. The Altay people comprise several Turkic-speaking tribes living in the Altay and Kuznetsk Alatau mountains. Several collective terms have been applied to the overall group, including "Oirot," which was used in tsarist times. The Altays first came into contact with Russians in the eighteenth century, when colonization of the region began. Some conversion to Christianity occurred in the nineteenth century, but substantial numbers of Altays returned to their previous Mongolian Lamaism in the early twentieth century, as part of a general movement against Russian domination. In the post-Soviet era, most of the republic's population is Orthodox Christian.

The economy of Gorno-Altay is primarily agricultural, supported mainly by livestock raising in the hillsides and valleys that dominate the republic's landscape. Gold and other precious and nonprecious minerals--especially the rare earth minerals tantalum and cesium--support a small mining industry, and Gorno-Altay possesses rich coniferous forests. The main industries, mostly based on local resources, are the manufacture of clothing, footwear, and foods, and the processing of chemicals and minerals. The capital of the republic is Gorno-Altaysk.

Khakassia, an autonomous oblast that was redesignated an autonomous republic in 1992, is located about 1,000 kilometers west of Lake Baikal on the upper Yenisey River. Before the arrival of the first Russians in the seventeenth century, Khakassia was a regional power in Siberia, based on commercial links with the khanates of Central Asia and with the Chinese Empire. The sparsely populated republic (total population in 1995 was about 600,000) occupies 61,900 square kilometers of hilly terrain at the far northwestern end of the Altay Range. The Khakass people are a formerly nomadic Turkic Siberian group whose modern-day sedentary existence depends on sheep and goat husbandry. Russians now constitute nearly 80 percent of the population of Khakassia, although in 1989 more than three-quarters of oblast residents spoke Khakass. The Khakass population is 11 percent of the total. The republic produces timber, copper, iron ore, gold, molybdenum, and tungsten. The capital of Khakassia is Abakan.

Sakha, whose name was changed from Yakutia in 1994, is by far the largest of the republics in size. It occupies about 3.1 million square kilometers that stretch from Russia's Arctic shores in the north to within 500 kilometers of the Chinese border in the south, and from the longitude of the Taymyr Peninsula in the west to within 400 kilometers of the Pacific Ocean in the east. Sakha was annexed by the Russian Empire in the first half of the seventeenth century. Russians slowly populated the valley of the Lena River, which flows northward through the heart of Sakha. In the nineteenth century, most of the nomadic Yakuts adopted an agricultural lifestyle.

Formed as the Yakut Autonomous Republic in 1922, Sakha had a population of 1.1 million in 1994, of which 50 percent were Russian, 33 percent Yakut, 7 percent Ukrainian, and 2 percent Tatar. The Yakuts are a Mongoloid people who originated through the combination of local tribes with Turkic tribes that migrated northward before the tenth century.

Climatic conditions preclude agriculture in most of Sakha. Where agriculture is possible, the main crops are potatoes, oats, rye, and vegetables. The republic's economy is supported mainly by its extensive mineral deposits, which include gold, diamonds, silver, tin, coal, and natural gas. Sakha produces most of Russia's diamonds, and natural gas deposits are thought to be large. The capital of Sakha is Yakutsk.

Tyva was called the Tuva ASSR until the new Russian constitution recognized Tyva, the regional form of the name, in 1993. The republic occupies 170,500 square kilometers on the border of Mongolia, directly east of Gorno-Altay. After being part of the Chinese Empire for 150 years and existing as the independent state of Tannu Tuva between 1921 and 1944, Tyva voluntarily joined the Soviet Union in 1944 and became an autonomous oblast. It became an autonomous republic in 1961. The Tuvinians are a Turkic people with a heritage of rule by tribal chiefs. The republic's predominant religion is Tibetan Buddhism. In 1995 the population of about 314,000 was 64 percent Tuvinian and 32 percent Russian.

Tyva is mainly an agricultural region with only five cities and a predominantly rural population. The main agricultural activity is cattle raising, and fur is an important product. Gold, cobalt, and asbestos are mined, and the republic has extensive hydroelectric resources. The capital is Kyzyl.

Russia

Russia - Other Ethnic Groups

Russia

Besides the ethnic groups granted official jurisdictions in the Russian Republic and later in the Russian Federation, several minority groups have played an important role at some stage of the country's development. Among those that exist in significant numbers in parts of post-Soviet Russia are Germans, Koreans, and Roma.

Germans

According to the Soviet census of 1989, a total of 842,000 Germans lived in Russia. The remains of a large enclave that was settled along the Volga River beginning in the time of Peter the Great (r. 1682-1725), the "Volga Germans" were the ethnic basis of an autonomous republic before World War II. When Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, Joseph V. Stalin (in office 1927-53) dissolved the republic and dispersed the German population into Central Asia and Siberia. Although some German prisoners of war remained in the Soviet Union after the war, many others returned to Germany in the decades that followed. By 1991 less than half of the German Russians claimed German as their first language.

Because of the discrimination suffered by the Volga Germans, the postwar constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) granted ethnic Germans in Russia the right to citizenship if they moved to Germany. Russia's German population began lobbying for reestablishment of the prewar Volga German Autonomous Republic in 1990. In 1991 President Yeltsin began discussions with the German government on creation of a German autonomous republic on the lower Volga near Volgograd. A protocol of cooperation signed in 1992 arranged for such a republic in exchange for significant financial aid from Germany. However, the proposed German enclave encountered strong local resistance from populations that would have been displaced by the Germans on the lower Volga; official discussion of the issue ended in 1993. In 1995 about 75,000 Russian Germans settled in Germany.

Koreans

An increasing percentage of the approximately 321,000 Koreans living in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, in particular Uzbekistan, began migrating to the Russian Federation in l992 when various forms of discrimination against nonindigenous peoples increased in those republics. Most of these migrants to Russia have settled in Maritime (Primorskiy) Territory, where their commercial activities have competed with local merchants and stirred numerous anti-Korean incidents. In 1996 about 36,000 Koreans also were living on Sakhalin Island.

When economic conditions deteriorated in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) in the mid-1990s, the North Korean government allowed thousands of carefully chosen guest workers to find manual jobs in Vladivostok and other parts of the Russian Far East. As North Korean guest workers have sought asylum in Russia, the question of their repatriation has caused Russia a difficult diplomatic problem in its relations with North Korea and the Republic of Korea (South Korea), in view of Russia's intensified efforts to expand commercial ties with South Korea without alienating putative ally North Korea. Korean arrivals in Russia from Central Asia and from North Korea receive support from the Association of Ethnic Koreans and from South Korea. Another Korean émigré organization, the United Confederation of Koreans in Russia, lends vocal support to North Korea in its disputes with South Korea. Tensions between the two Korean populations were very strong by 1996. Russian migration officials feared a much larger influx of North Koreans if the North Korean government collapsed.

Roma

The 1989 Soviet census indicated that Russia was home to about 153,000 Roma, commonly known as Gypsies. However, the actual size of the population is unknown because many Roma do not register their nationality; experts assume that the true number is much higher than the official estimate. Most of the Roma currently in Russia are descended from people who migrated from Europe in the eighteenth century; they now call themselves Russka Roma. Another group, called the Vlach Roma, arrived after 1850 from the Balkans. Other Roma travel seasonally to Moscow from Moldova and Romania and back. Members of this group are often seen begging on Moscow streets; this activity has figured largely in the negative stereotype of the Roma among ethnic Russians.

Most Roma have been unable or unwilling to gain employment in any but a few occupations. In the Soviet era, metalworking was a designated Roma trade, but street commerce--selling whatever goods become available--remains the most common occupation. Roma were much involved in the black-market trade of the last Soviet decades. Roma musical ensembles have prospered in Soviet and post-Soviet times, but few individuals have access to such a profession.

In general, post-Soviet Russian society has included the Roma with other easily identified non-Slavic groups, particularly those from the Caucasus, who are accused of exploiting or worsening the economic condition of the majority population. In the 1990s, violence has erupted between Russians and Roma on several occasions. The wide dispersion of the Russian Roma population--there are at least six distinct groups, with little contact among them--has limited their ability to organize. In the 1990s, some Russian Roma have participated in international movements to gain support abroad. The various groups have widely varying political views. The elite musical performers and intelligentsia, for example, supported the socialism of the Soviet Union, but the wealthy Lovari group, which the government persecuted in Soviet times, is strongly antisocialist.

Russia

Russia - Movements Toward Sovereignty, Chechnya

Russia

Beginning in 1990, many of the constituent autonomous republics and regions, delineated at various stages of tsarist or Soviet control, used the chaos and centrifugal force created by the breakup of the Soviet Union to move toward local sovereignty. The legislatures of most republics made official declarations of sovereignty over their land and natural resources between August and October 1990. Although the declaration of full independence by the Chechen Autonomous Republic was the most extreme result of such moves, some observers felt that the political and economic stability of the Russian Federation was threatened by the separatism of regions that were valuable because of their strategic location or natural resources (see The Separatism Question, ch. 7). Furthermore, Russia, acutely conscious of having lost its "near abroad"--the fourteen republics that constituted the Soviet Union together with the RSFSR--could ill afford the second blow to national self-image that the loss of ethnically based jurisdictions would inflict.

Occupying about three-quarters of the territory of the former Soviet Union, Russia is the largest country in the world. It never has existed as a country within its present borders, however. Intent upon preserving the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, the government in Moscow maintains an uneasy relationship with the non-Russian (and particularly the non-Slavic) nationalities. This relationship stems from Russian racial, religious, and cultural stereotypes (for example, perceptions of the dark-skinned Muslims in the midst of white-skinned, Orthodox Slavs), a historical tendency toward xenophobia among Russian commoners and parts of the Russian intelligentsia, and a legacy of forcible incorporation of various ethnic and nationality groups into the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. Further complicating the relationship is the fact that many of Russia's abundant natural resources lie in the territories of various regions now proclaiming exclusive sovereignty over those resources.

Although some tensions in ethnic and nationality relations stem from a desire for union between peoples on both sides of an internal or international border arbitrarily drawn by the tsars or by Soviet authorities, other motivations also underlie the assertiveness of national minorities in the federation. In the more liberal post-Soviet atmosphere, people no longer must suppress their anger over Soviet political and economic subjugation and Russification campaigns. Accordingly, non-Russian nationalities seek recompense for long periods of colonial-style exploitation of their indigenous resources for the benefit of the regime in Moscow. Another cause of dissatisfaction is the perceived failure of the Russian government to provide adequate support and protection for native schools and cultures. Finally, the end of the Russian government's monopolization and censorship of the news media acquainted minority groups with political trends, such as the spread of nationalism, with which the rest of the world has been familiar for some time.

Other tensions result from Russian policies that non-Russian groups perceive as discriminatory or confiscatory. Examples include unfair tax practices and the refusal of the Russian government to let various ethnic groups reap the income from sale of their indigenous products and natural resources.

Separatist agitation in many areas of Russia already had begun in the Soviet Union's twilight years. A full year before the Soviet Union's demise, more than half the autonomous republics in the RSFSR had adopted declarations of sovereignty. Every region of the vast RSFSR was affected by this trend, which was more an indication of the central government's waning authority--even in regions relatively close to Moscow--than it was an indication of intent by those declaring sovereignty.

In May 1990, the Tuva ASSR witnessed civil strife between the Russian and Tuvinian populations. Charging that Russia had failed to provide them with employment opportunities or suitable housing and had sought to eradicate their indigenous culture, the Tuvinians attacked Russian neighborhoods, setting fire to homes and forcing about 3,000 Russians to flee.

In October 1990, the Chuvash ASSR declared itself a full republic of the Soviet Union, a status that would have given it equal status with Russia, Ukraine, and the other thirteen Soviet republics. Although the announcement stated that Chuvashia would remain part of the Russian Federation, the republic would exercise complete control over all its natural resources and would make Chuvash equal with Russian as an official language. Also in 1990, the Mari ASSR, about 500 kilometers east of Moscow, proclaimed itself a full Soviet republic whose natural resources would become the exclusive property of its people and whose state languages would be Mari and Russian. The republic adopted the new vernacular name "Mari El," meaning "Mari Territory," and that name won official approval from the government in Moscow.

Also in 1990, the Gorno-Altay Autonomous Oblast and the Adygh Autonomous Oblast unilaterally upgraded themselves to autonomous-republic status. While declaring their intention to remain part of the RSFSR, these jurisdictions asserted the right to local control of their land and natural resources. Still another declaration of sovereignty came from the Buryat ASSR. The Buryats declared that their republic's laws henceforth would take precedence over those of the RSFSR.

In northwestern Russia, secessionist sentiment manifested itself among the ethnic minorities of the Karelian and Komi ASSRs. In the autumn of 1990, local Karelian authorities protested insufficient food shipments by refusing to deliver timber and paper products to Russia. Many Karelians, ethnically close to the Finns, want their republic to become part of Finland.

During the period leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union, local officials in the oil-rich Bashkir ASSR (renamed Bashkortostan in 1992) declared sovereignty, and the Chukchi Autonomous Region, which faces Alaska across the Bering Strait, declared itself autonomous and demanded control over its reindeer and fish resources. Commenting on the rash of separatist activity, an adviser to President Mikhail S. Gorbachev remarked, "It's getting to the point where sooner or later someone is going to declare his apartment an independent state."

In October 1991, the legislature of the Tatar ASSR, some 600 kilometers east of Moscow, adopted a declaration of independence from Moscow, and in 1992 Tatarstan approved a constitution that described the republic as being on an equal footing with the Russian Federation. And, in what was to become the most troublesome of the ethnic autonomy movements of the 1990s, Chechnya proclaimed its sovereignty in October 1991.

Among these nominally separatist political units, the transition from words to deeds has been uneven. In some cases, ethnic and nationality groups appear content with the mere form of sovereignty; in others, efforts are under way to give substance to the words of separatism. In republics such as Mordovia, Ingushetia, and Kabardino-Balkaria, relations with Russia are the defining issue among opposing political groups. Other republics, such as pro-Russian Kalmykia and independence-minded Bashkortostan, are firmly under the control of a single leader.

The enormous Republic of Sakha in north-central Siberia, rich in diamonds and other minerals, exemplifies the threat that secession poses to the Russian Federation. Sakha has declared that its local laws supersede those imposed from Moscow and that it will retain all revenues generated by the sale and use of its resources. The republic also has accepted substantial direct development investment from Japan and China. Many members of Sakha's Russian majority have sided with the indigenous population in supporting self-government or full independence. Experts believe that such regions as Sakha, Tatarstan, and Bashkortostan theoretically have sufficient natural wealth to become viable independent entities. According to estimates, these regions' secession from the Russian Federation would deprive Russia of half of its oil, most of its diamonds, and much of its coal, as well as a substantial portion of such industries as automobile manufacturing.

Against the backdrop of ethnic and nationality tensions, a tug-of-war developed in the early 1990s over the respective powers of the federal and local governments in Russia (see Local and Regional Government, ch. 7). In March 1992, representatives of all but two of the republics (Chechnya and Tatarstan) and most of the smaller ethnic jurisdictions signed the Federation Treaty, which was an attempt to forestall further separatism and define the respective jurisdictions of central and regional government. The treaty failed to resolve differences in the key areas of taxation and control of natural resources, however. In some cases, self-proclaimed independent entities in Siberia and elsewhere in the Russian Federation have forged links with foreign countries. Commercial and cultural accords between Turkey and Turkic republics such as Bashkortostan and Chuvashia especially worry the central government.

The Chechnya Dilemma

The only autonomous jurisdictions that refused to sign the 1992 Federation Treaty were Chechnya and Tatarstan, both of which are rich in oil. In the spring of 1994, President Yeltsin signed a special political accord with the president of Tatarstan granting many of the Tatar demands for greater autonomy. Yeltsin declined to carry out serious negotiations with Chechnya, however, allowing the situation to deteriorate into full-scale war at the end of 1994 (see Chechnya, ch. 9). In the first half of 1996, Chechnya continued to pose the biggest obstacle to the quelling of separatism among the components of the Russian Federation.

Chechnya long has had a reputation in Russia as a center of organized crime and corrupt business practices; the Chechen mafiya has a particularly fierce reputation. The proportion of Chechens and other Caucasians in Russia's emerging market economy is much higher than the representation of these nationalities in the population as a whole. In its propaganda campaign to justify military action against Chechnya, the Russian government played upon the stereotypes of the criminal and the dishonest businessman. It also illustrated the brutal practices of the Chechen rebels by broadcasting photos of the severed heads of victims along the roads in the breakaway republic. Meanwhile, Russians adopted the habit of including all individuals of non-Slavic appearance under the heading "Chechen," widening the existing strain of racism in Russia's society.

The first Russian invasion of Chechnya occurred during the time of Peter the Great, in the early eighteenth century. After a long series of fierce battles and bloody massacres, Chechnya was incorporated into Russia in the 1870s. In 1936 Stalin created the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic. In 1943, when Nazi forces reached the gates of the Chechen capital, Groznyy, Chechen separatists staged a rebellion against Russian rule. In response, the next year Stalin deported more than 1 million Chechens, Ingush, and other North Caucasian peoples to Siberia and Central Asia on the pretext that they had collaborated with the Nazis. The remaining Muslim people of the Chechnya region were resettled among neighboring Christian communities. Stalin's genocidal policy virtually erased Chechnya from the map, but Soviet first secretary Nikita S. Khrushchev permitted the Chechen and Ingush peoples to return to their homeland and restored their republic in 1957.

The series of events since the Soviet Union's collapse flowed naturally from the Chechens' long-standing hatred of the Russians. In September 1991, the government of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic resigned under pressure from the proindependence Congress of the Chechen People, whose leader was former Soviet air force general Dzhokar Dudayev. The following month, Dudayev won overwhelming popular support to oust the interim, central government-supported administration and make himself president. Dudayev then issued a unilateral declaration of independence. In November 1991, President Yeltsin dispatched troops to Groznyy, but they were withdrawn when Dudayev's forces prevented them from leaving the airport.

The Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic split in two in June 1992. After Chechnya had announced its initial declaration of sovereignty in 1991, Ingushetia joined the Russian Federation; Chechnya declared full independence in 1993. In August 1994, when an opposition faction launched an armed campaign to topple Dudayev's government, Moscow supplied the rebel forces with military equipment, and Russian aircraft began to bomb Groznyy. In December, five days after Dudayev and Minister of Defense Pavel Grachev of Russia had agreed to avoid the further use of force, Russian troops invaded Chechnya.

The Russian government's expectations of a quick surgical strike followed by Chechen capitulation were misguided. The protracted war in Chechnya, which generated many reports of violence against civilians, ignited fear and contempt toward Russia among many other ethnic groups in the federation. Experts believe that the inability of Russian forces to subdue the Chechen "bandits" also might encourage other ethnic groups to defy the central government by proclaiming and defending their independence. As the war was reported to the Russian public on television and in newspaper accounts, the rising protests from Russia's independent news media and various political and other interest groups soon came to threaten Russia's democratic experiment. Chechnya was one of the heaviest burdens Yeltsin carried during the 1996 presidential election campaign.

In January 1996, the destruction of the Dagestani border village of Pervomayskoye by Russian forces in reaction to Chechen hostage taking brought strong criticism from the hitherto loyal Republic of Dagestan and escalated domestic dissatisfaction. Chechnya's declaration that it was waging a jihad (holy war) against Russia also raised the specter that Muslim "volunteers" from other regions and even outside Russia would enter the fray. However, Russia feared that a move to end the war short of victory would create a cascade of secession attempts by other ethnic minorities and present a new target to extreme nationalist Russian factions.

Some fighting occurred in Ingushetia in 1995, mostly when Russian commanders sent troops over the border in pursuit of Chechen rebels. Although all sides generally observed the distinction between the two peoples that formerly shared the autonomous republic, as many as 200,000 refugees from Chechnya and neighboring North Ossetia strained Ingushetia's already weak economy. On several occasions, Ingush president Ruslan Aushev protested incursions by Russian soldiers, even threatening to sue the Russian Ministry of Defense for damages inflicted.

Meanwhile, the war in Chechnya spawned a new form of separatist activity in the Russian Federation. Resistance to the conscription of men from minority ethnic groups to fight in Chechnya was widespread among other republics, many of which passed laws and decrees on the subject. For example, the government of Chuvashia passed a decree providing legal protection to soldiers from the republic who refused to participate in the Chechnya war and imposing limits on the use of the Russian army in ethnic or regional conflicts within Russia. Some regional and local legislative bodies called for a prohibition on the use of draftees in quelling internal uprisings; others demanded a total ban on the use of the armed forces in domestic conflicts.

The Caucasus Region in the Federation

The oil-rich region around Chechnya, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, forms a southwestern corridor of Russian territory bounded on the west by Ukraine and the Black Sea, on the south by Georgia and Azerbaijan, and on the east by the Caspian Sea and Kazakstan. The region north of the Caucasus includes seven ethnic republics and four "Russian" jurisdictions: the territories of Krasnodar and Stavropol' and the oblasts of Rostov and Astrakhan'. With the thirty ethnically and linguistically distinct communities of Dagestan the most extreme example of the region's ethnic diversity, much of the region surrounding Chechnya is a cauldron of nationality and ethnic conflicts among warlike mountain clans. On the opposite slope of the Caucasus, the former Soviet republic of Georgia likewise includes a number of ethnic groups, two of which--the Abkhaz and the South Ossetians--declared outright independence in the early 1990s.

Tsarist Russia conducted a centuries-long process of expansion into the Caucasus region, subduing the nationalities of the area gradually and often at great expense. The region has assumed particular importance in the contemporary era because of its oil, its location astride Russia's transportation and communications arteries leading to the Middle East, and the central government's fear of resurgent Islam along the southern border of the former Soviet Union.

Not far from Chechnya, a self-styled Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the North Caucasus emerged in 1992 in southwestern Russia, where the borders of the Russian Federation abut the Transcaucasian republics of the former Soviet Union. That confederation, including representatives from Russia's seven republics bordering the Caucasus, aspires to establish a chain of independent, predominantly Muslim states along the federation's southern periphery. It also has provided a forum for Chechen leaders to enlist support against Russia and for separatist leaders from Abkhazia and South Ossetia to enlist support against Georgia. Terrorist acts in Chechnya and elsewhere have been attributed to confederation members.

Russia

Russia - Religion

Russia

The chief religion of Russia is Russian Orthodox Christianity, which is professed by about 75 percent of citizens who describe themselves as religious believers. Because the concept of separation of church and state never took root in Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church, a branch of Eastern Orthodoxy, was a pillar of tsarist autocracy. During the communist era, the church, like every other institution in the Soviet Union, was completely subordinate to the state, achieving a modus vivendi by ceding most of its autonomous identity. Under the officially atheist regimes of the Soviet Union, no official figures on the number of religious believers in the country were available to Western scholars. According to various Soviet and Western sources, however, more than one-third of the citizens of the Soviet Union regarded themselves as believers in the 1980s, when the number of adherents to Russian Orthodoxy was estimated at more than 50 million--although a high percentage of that number feared to express their religious beliefs openly.

Islam, professed by about 19 percent of believers in the mid-1990s, is numerically the second most important religion in Russia. Various non-Orthodox Christian denominations and a dwindling but still important Jewish population complete the list of major religious groups in the Russian Federation. In general, Russians of all religions have enjoyed freedom of worship since the collapse of the communist regime in 1991, and large numbers of abandoned or converted religious buildings have been returned to active religious use in the 1990s.

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Russia

Russia - The Russian Orthodox Church

Russia

The Russian Orthodox Church has a thousand-year history of strong political as well as spiritual influence over the inhabitants of the Russian state. After enduring the Soviet era as a state-controlled religious facade, the church quickly regained both membership and political influence in the early 1990s.

Beliefs and Ritual

Orthodox belief holds that the Orthodox Church is Christianity's true, holy, and apostolic church, tracing its origin directly to the institution established by Jesus Christ. Orthodox beliefs are based on the Bible and on tradition as defined by seven ecumenical councils held by church authorities between A.D. 325 and 787. Orthodox teachings include the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and the inseparable but distinguishable union of the two natures of Jesus Christ--one divine, the other human. Among saints, Mary has a special place as the Mother of God. Russian Orthodox services, noted for their pageantry, involve the congregation directly by using only the vernacular form of the liturgy. The liturgy itself includes multiple elaborate systems of symbols meant to convey the content of the faith to believers. Many liturgical forms remain from the earliest days of Orthodoxy. Icons, sacred images often illuminated by candles, adorn the churches as well as the homes of most Orthodox faithful. The church also places a heavy emphasis on monasticism. Many of the numerous monasteries that dotted the forests and remote regions of tsarist Russia are in the process of restoration. The Russian Orthodox Church, like the other churches that make up Eastern Orthodoxy, is autonomous, or self-governing. The highest church official is the patriarch. Matters relating to faith are decided by ecumenical councils in which all member churches of Eastern Orthodoxy participate. Followers of the church regard the councils' decisions as infallible.

Church History

The Russian Orthodox Church traces its origins to the time of Kievan Rus', the first forerunner of the modern Russian state. In A.D. 988 Prince Vladimir made the Byzantine variant of Christianity the state religion of Russia (see The Golden Age of Kiev, ch. 1). The Russian church was subordinate to the patriarch (see Glossary) of Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), seat of the Byzantine Empire. The original seat of the metropolitan, as the head of the church was known, was Kiev. As power moved from Kiev to Moscow in the fourteenth century, the seat moved as well, establishing the tradition that the metropolitan of Moscow is the head of the church. In the Middle Ages, the church placed strong emphasis on asceticism, which evolved into a widespread monastic tradition. Large numbers of monasteries were founded in obscure locations across all of the medieval state of Muscovy. Such small settlements expanded into larger population centers, making the monastic movement one of the bases of social and economic as well as spiritual life.

After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, the Russian Orthodox Church evolved into a semi-independent (autocephalous) branch of Eastern Christianity. In 1589 the metropolitan of Moscow received the title of patriarch. Nevertheless, the Russian church retained the Byzantine tradition of authorizing the head of state and the government bureaucracy to participate actively in the church's administrative affairs. Separation of church and state thus would be almost unknown in Russia.

As Western Europe was emerging from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance and the Reformation, Russia remained isolated from the West, and Russian Orthodoxy was virtually untouched by the changes in intellectual and spiritual life being felt elsewhere. In the seventeenth century, the introduction by Ukrainian clergy of Western doctrinal and liturgical reforms prompted a strong reaction among traditionalist Orthodox believers, resulting in a schism in the church.

In the early eighteenth century, Peter the Great modernized, expanded, and consolidated Muscovy into what then became known as the Russian Empire. In the process of redefining his power as tsar, Peter curtailed the minimal secular influence of the Russian Orthodox Church, which was functioning principally as a pillar of the tsarist regime. In 1721 Peter the Great went so far as to abolish the patriarchate and establish a governmental organ called the Holy Synod, staffed by secular officials, to administer and control the church. As a result, the church's moral authority declined in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, the monastic tradition produced a number of church elders who gained the respect of all classes in Russia as wise counselors on both secular and spiritual matters. Similarly, by 1900 a strong revival movement was calling for the restoration of church autonomy and organizational reform. However, few practical reforms had been implemented when the October Revolution of 1917 brought to power the Bolsheviks (see Glossary), who set about eliminating the worldly and spiritual powers of the church. Ironically, earlier in 1917 the moderate Provisional Government had provided the church a few months of restoration to its pre-Petrine stature by reestablishing the patriarchate and independent governance of the church. In the decades that followed, the communist leadership frequently used the restored patriarch as a propaganda agent, allowing him to meet with foreign religious representatives in an effort to create the impression of freedom of religion in the Soviet Union.

Karl Marx, the political philosopher whose ideas were nominally followed by the Bolsheviks, called religion "the opiate of the people." Although many of Russia's revolutionary factions did not take Marx literally, the Bolshevik faction, led by Vladimir I. Lenin, was deeply suspicious of the church as an institution and as a purveyor of spiritual values. Therefore, atheism became mandatory for members of the ruling Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik). To eliminate as soon as possible what was deemed the perverse influence of religion in society, the communists launched a propaganda campaign against all forms of religion.

By 1918 the government had nationalized all church property, including buildings. In the first five years of the Soviet Union (1922-26), twenty-eight Russian Orthodox bishops and more than 1,200 priests were executed, and many others were persecuted. Most seminaries were closed, and publication of most religious material was prohibited. The next quarter-century saw surges and declines in arrests, enforcement of laws against religious assembly and activities, and harassment of clergy. Antireligious campaigns were directed at all faiths; beginning in the 1920s, Buddhist and Shamanist places of worship in Buryatia, in the Baikal region, were destroyed, and their lamas and priests were arrested (a practice that continued until the 1970s). The League of the Militant Godless, established in 1925, directed a nationwide campaign against the Orthodox Church and all other organized religions. The extreme position of that organization eventually led even the Soviet government to disavow direct connection with its practices. In 1940 an estimated 30,000 religious communities of all denominations survived in all the Soviet Union, but only about 500 Russian Orthodox parishes were open at that time, compared with the estimated 54,000 that had existed before World War I.

In 1939 the government significantly relaxed some restrictions on religious practice, a change that the Orthodox Church met with an attitude of cooperation. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the government reluctantly solicited church support as it called upon every traditional patriotic value that might resonate with the Soviet people. According to witnesses, active church support of the national war effort drew many otherwise alienated individuals to the Soviet cause. Beginning in 1942, to promote this alliance, the government ended its prohibition of official contact between clergy and foreign representatives. It also permitted the traditional celebration of Easter and temporarily ended the stigmatization of religiosity as an impediment to social advancement.

The government concessions for the sake of national defense reinvigorated the Russian Orthodox Church. Thousands of churches reopened during the war. But the Khrushchev regime (1953-64) reversed the policy that had made such a revival possible, pursuing a violent six-year campaign against all forms of religious practice. Although the church retained its official sanction throughout that period, Khrushchev's campaign was continued less stringently by his successor, Leonid I. Brezhnev (in office 1964-82). By 1975 the number of operating Russian Orthodox churches had been reduced to about 7,000. Some of the most prominent members of the Russian Orthodox hierarchy and religious activists were jailed or forced to leave the church. Their place was taken by a docile clergy whose ranks were sometimes infiltrated by agents of the Committee for State Security (Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti--KGB; see Glossary). Under these circumstances, the church espoused and propagated Soviet foreign policy and furthered the Russification of non-Russian believers, such as Orthodox Ukrainians and Belorussians.

Despite official repression in the Khrushchev and Brezhnev years, religious activity persisted. Although regular church attendance was common mainly among women and the elderly, special occasions such as baptisms and Easter brought many more Russians into the churches. An increase in church weddings in the 1950s and 1960s stimulated the establishment of secular "marriage palaces" offering the ceremonial trappings of marriage devoid of religious rites. When applications for seminary study increased significantly in the 1950s, the Communist Youth League (Komsomol) forced aspiring seminarians to endure interrogations that discouraged many and that succeeded, by 1960, in sharply reducing the number of candidates.

The general cultural liberalization that followed Stalin's death in 1953 brought a natural curiosity about the Russian past that especially caught the interest of younger generations; the ceremonies and art forms of the Russian Orthodox Church, an inseparable part of that past, attracted particular attention, to the dismay of the Khrushchev and Brezhnev regimes. Historian James Billington has pointed out that in that period religious belief was a form of generational rebellion by children against doctrinaire communist parents.

Although the Russian Orthodox Church did not play the activist role in undermining communism that the Roman Catholic Church played in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, it gained appreciably from the gradual discrediting of Marxist-Leninist ideology in the late Soviet period. In the mid-1980s, only about 3,000 Orthodox churches and two monasteries were active. As the grip of communism weakened in that decade, however, a religious awakening occurred throughout the Soviet Union. Symbolic gestures by President Gorbachev and his government, under the rubric of glasnost (see Glossary), indicated unmistakably that Soviet policy was changing. In 1988 Gorbachev met with Orthodox leaders and explicitly discussed the role of religion in the lives of their followers. Shortly thereafter, official commemoration of the millennium of Russian Orthodoxy sent a signal throughout Russia that religious expression again was accepted. Beginning in 1989, new laws specified the church's right to hold private property and to distribute publications. In 1990 the Soviet legislature passed a new law on religious freedom, proposed by Gorbachev; at the same time, some of the constituent republics began enacting their own laws on the same subject. In the fall of 1990, a new deputy to the parliament of the Russian Republic, the Orthodox priest Gleb Yakunin, guided the passage of an extraordinarily liberal law on religious freedom. That law remained in force when Russia became a separate nation the following year. (Yakunin was defrocked in 1994, however, for criticizing the church hierarchy.)

According to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Aleksiy II, between 1990 and 1995 more than 8,000 Russian Orthodox churches were opened, doubling the number of active parishes and adding thirty-two eparchies (dioceses). In the first half of the 1990s, the Russian government returned numerous religious facilities that had been confiscated by its communist predecessors, providing some assistance in the repair and reconstruction of damaged structures. The most visible such project was the building of the completely new Christ the Savior Cathedral, erected in Moscow at an expense of about US$300 million to replace the showplace cathedral demolished in 1931 as part of the Stalinist campaign against religion. Financed mainly by private donations, the new church is considered a visible acknowledgment of the mistakes of the Soviet past.

In the first half of the 1990s, the church's social services also expanded considerably with the creation of departments of charity and social services and of catechism and religious education within the patriarchy. Because there is a shortage of priests, Sunday schools have been introduced in thousands of parishes. An agreement between the patriarchy and the national ministries of defense and internal affairs provides for pastoral care of military service personnel of the Orthodox faith. The patriarch also has stressed that personnel of other faiths must have access to appropriate spiritual guidance. In November 1995, Minister of Defense Grachev announced the creation of a post in the armed forces for cooperation with religious institutions.

Among the religious organizations that have appeared in the 1990s are more than 100 Russian Orthodox brotherhoods. Reviving a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, these priest-led lay organizations do social and philanthropic work. In 1990 they formed the Alliance of Orthodox Brotherhoods, which organizes educational, social, and cultural programs and institutions such as child care facilities, hostels, hospitals, and agricultural communities. Although its nominal task is to foster religious and moral education, the alliance has taken actively nationalist positions on religious tolerance and political issues.

Public opinion surveys have revealed that the church emerged relatively unscathed from its association with the communist regime--although dissidents such as Yakunin accused Aleksiy II of having been a KGB operative. According to polls, in the first half of the 1990s the church inspired greater trust among the Russian population than most other social and political institutions. Similarly, Aleksiy II, elected to head the church upon the death of Patriarch Pimen in 1990, was found to elicit greater grassroots confidence than most other public figures in Russia. The political leadership regularly seeks the approval of the church as moral authority for virtually all types of government policy. Boris Yeltsin's appearance at a Moscow Easter service in 1991 was considered a major factor in his success in the presidential election held two months later. Patriarch Aleksiy officiated at Yeltsin's inauguration that year.

Although the status of Russian Orthodoxy has risen considerably, experts do not predict that it will become Russia's official state religion. About 25 percent of Russia's believers profess other faiths, and experts stated that in the mid-1990s the church lacked the clerics, the organizational dynamism, and the infrastructure to assume such a position.

Russia

Russia - Other Religions

Russia

Article 14 of the 1993 constitution stipulates that "the Russian Federation is a secular state. No religion may be established as the state religion or a compulsory religion. Religious associations are separated from the state and are equal before the law." However, such a constitutional guarantee existed even during the Stalinist era, when religious oppression was at its worst. In the 1990s, the Russian citizenry has shown that the traditional, deeply felt linkage between Russian Orthodoxy and the Russian state remains intact. That linkage has a palpable effect on Russian secular attitudes toward religious minorities, and hence on the degree to which the new constitutional guarantee of religious liberty is honored.

Even before the demise of the Soviet Union, the new openness of Russian society had attracted religious activists of many persuasions from all over the world. In Moscow evangelists and missionaries filled the airwaves and the streets. Notable among them were German Lutherans, a Roman Catholic missionary society, Swiss Protestant church groups, the Quakers, the Salvation Army, and the Sisters of Charity, a Roman Catholic order of nuns headed by Mother Teresa. Also present were members of such groups as the Hare Krishnas, the Unification Church, and the Church of Scientology.

The activity of such groups, which paralleled Russia's new enthusiasm for all things Western in the late 1980s and early 1990s, had begun to wane by 1994. However, it stimulated a strong reaction among conservative political and religious groups. In November 1992, the influential conservative wing of the Russian parliament reacted to the influx of non-Russian religious activists by proposing the creation of a so-called Experts' Consultative Council of church representatives and government officials. That body would have had the power to tighten the requirements for registration of a religious group or missionary activity.

After a flurry of criticism from international human rights and religious groups, President Yeltsin failed to sign the consultative council bill, which died in the fall of 1993. After a new parliament convened, additional versions of the bill appeared. In mid-1996 a somewhat milder bill requiring registration of foreign missionary groups was passed by parliament. Meanwhile, some eighteen jurisdictions in the federation passed a variety of bills restricting missionary activity or requiring registration. Non-Orthodox religious groups also found that the purchase of land and the rental of building space were blocked increasingly by local authorities.

In the 1990s, the Russian Orthodox hierarchy's position on the issue of religious freedom has been muted but negative in many respects, as church officials have seen themselves defending Russian cultural values from Western ideas. Patriarch Aleksiy lent his support to the restrictive legislation as it was being debated in 1993, and Western observers saw an emerging alliance between the Orthodox Church and the nationalist factions in Russian politics. In another indication of its attitude toward the proliferation of "foreign" religious activity in Russia, the hierarchy has made little active effort to establish contacts with new foreign religious groups or with existing groups, and experts see scant hope that an ecumenical council of churches will be established in the near future. In October 1995, the Orthodox Church's governing Holy Synod refused to participate in a congress of Orthodox hierarchs because the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople had recognized the Orthodox community in Estonia and an autocephalous Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

In 1995 the Yeltsin administration formed a consultative body called the Council for Cooperation with Religious Associations, which included representatives from most of the major denominations. On the council, the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches and Islamic organizations have two members each, with one representative each for Buddhist, Jewish, Baptist, Pentecostal, and Seventh-Day Adventist representatives. Council decisions have only the status of recommendations to the government.

Non-Orthodox Christian Religions

The Soviet Union was home to large numbers of Christians who were not followers of the Russian Orthodox Church. Several other churches had numerous adherents, including the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church (also called the Armenian Orthodox Church), and the Ukrainian and Belorussian autocephalous Orthodox churches, which, like the Russian Orthodox Church, were rooted in Byzantine rather than Roman Christianity. All of these faiths likewise endured persecution by the Soviet state. A large number of Roman Catholics and Protestants of various denominations also resided in the Soviet Union. But, because the majority of non-Orthodox Christians were concentrated in the Soviet republics of Ukraine, Belorussia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, the representation of non-Russian Orthodox groups in post-Soviet Russia is much less than it was in the Soviet Union.

The first West European Protestants in Russia were German Mennonites who arrived in the second half of the seventeenth century. Throughout the twentieth century, the Baptists have been by far the most active and numerous Protestant group. During the repressive 1960s, enthusiastic Baptist groups attracted numerous young Russians away from the official Komsomol, and the fervor of the Baptists in a nominally atheist society earned them admiration even among communist officials. The number of Protestants in the Soviet Union was estimated at 5 million in 1980; in 1993 an estimated 3,000 Baptist communities were active under the administration of the Eurasian Federation of Unions of Evangelical Baptist Christians. Within that structure, the Union of Evangelical Baptist Churches includes about 1,000 communities and supports two missionary groups and one publication. Headquarters is in Moscow. The Council of Churches of Evangelical Baptist Christians was founded in 1961 as a splinter group from what was then the Union of Evangelical Baptist Christian Churches; it existed illegally in Russia until 1988 and is not registered officially as a religious group. In the mid-1990s, the council included 230 communities.

Other Protestant groups in Russia have far fewer members than the Baptists. The Union of Evangelical Christian Churches was founded in 1992 to continue the tradition of the Union of Evangelical Christians, which had been founded in Russia in 1909 and then banned under communist rule. Pentecostals first became active in Russia in the early twentieth century. In 1945 one faction reunited with the main Baptist church; then in 1991 the remaining group formed the Union of Christians of the Evangelical Faith Pentecostal, which issues several publications and supports missions.

The Seventh-Day Adventists formed a Russian union in 1909, despite active government opposition. The church structure was largely destroyed during the Soviet period. Then, after World War II, the All-Union League of Seventh-Day Adventists was established. The union was inactive from 1960 until 1990, when it was included in the international General Assembly of Adventists. About 600 communities were active in the mid-1990s, with publications, one seminary, one religious school, and a radio broadcast center.

The Jehovah's Witnesses appeared in Russia in 1939; their center in St. Petersburg and their missionary work in Russia are supported by the Jehovah's Witnesses Center in Brooklyn, New York. Lutheranism appeared in Russia in the seventeenth century; in the mid-1990s, only a few churches were active. A few groups of Methodists, Presbyterians, Mormons, and Evangelical Reformed believers also are active in Russia.

The size of the Roman Catholic population of Russia has varied greatly according to the territorial extent of the country. For example, after the partitions of Poland at the end of the eighteenth century, large numbers of Polish Catholics became subjects of the Russian Empire. Accordingly, from the eighteenth century until 1917 a papal legate, or nuncio, represented the Vatican in St. Petersburg. A Roman Catholic academy operated in St. Petersburg, and a mission was established in Astrakhan'. After World War II, the absorption of the Baltic states added many Catholics to the Soviet Union's population, but relatively few of those individuals entered the Russian Republic. In 1993 twenty-nine Roman Catholic dioceses were active in the Russian Federation, with those in the European sector administered from Moscow and those in the Asian sector from Novosibirsk.

The 1990 establishment of new Roman Catholic dioceses in Russia has caused tension with the Russian Orthodox hierarchy. The two churches have an understanding that neither will proselytize in the "territory" of the other, so representatives of the patriarch have condemned expanding Catholic influence as an unwelcome Western intrusion.

Russia

Russia - Islam

Russia

In the 1980s, Islam was the second most widespread religion in the Soviet Union; in that period, the number of Soviet citizens identifying themselves as Muslims generally totaled between 45 and 50 million. The majority of the Muslims resided in the Central Asian republics of the Soviet Union, which now are independent countries. In 1996 the Muslim population of Russia was estimated at 19 percent of all citizens professing belief in a religion. Major Islamic communities are concentrated among the minority nationalities residing between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea: the Adyghs, Balkars, Bashkirs, Chechens, Cherkess, Ingush, Kabardins, Karachay, and numerous Dagestani nationalities. In the middle Volga Basin are large populations of Tatars, Udmurts, and Chuvash, most of whom are Muslims. Many Muslims also reside in Ul'yanovsk, Samara, Nizhniy Novgorod, Moscow, Perm', and Leningrad oblasts (see Ethnic Composition, this ch.).

Virtually all the Muslims in Russia adhere to the Sunni branch of Islam. In a few areas, notably Chechnya, there is a tradition of Sufism, a mystical variety of Islam that stresses the individual's search for union with God. Sufi rituals, practiced to give the Chechens spiritual strength to resist foreign oppression, became legendary among Russian troops fighting the Chechens during tsarist times.

Relations between the Russian government and Muslim elements of the population have been marked by mistrust and suspicion. In 1992, for example, Sheikh Ravil Gainurtdin, the imam of the Moscow mosque, complained that "our country [Russia] still retains the ideology of the tsarist empire, which believed that the Orthodox faith alone should be a privileged religion, that is, the state religion." The Russian government, for its part, fears the rise of political Islam of the violent sort that Russians witnessed in the 1980s firsthand in Afghanistan and secondhand in Iran. Government fears were fueled by a 1992 conference held in Saratov by the Tajikistan-based Islamic Renaissance Party. Representatives attended from several newly independent Central Asian republics, from Azerbaijan, and from several autonomous jurisdictions of Russia, including the secessionist-minded autonomous republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. The meeting's pan-Islamic complexion created concern in Moscow about the possible spread of radical Islam into Russia from the new Muslim states along the periphery of the former Soviet Union. For that reason, the Russian government has provided extensive military and political support to secular leaders of the five Central Asian republics, all of whom are publicly opposed to political Islam. By the mid-1990s, the putative Islamic threat was a standard justification for radical nationalist insistence that Russia regain control of its "near abroad" (see The Near Abroad, ch. 8).

The struggle to delineate the respective powers of the federal and local governments in Russia also has influenced Russian relations with the Islamic community. The Russian Federation inherited two of the four spiritual boards, or muftiates, created during the Stalinist era to supervise the religious activities of Islamic groups in various parts of the Soviet Union; the other two are located in Tashkent and Baku. One of the two Russian boards has jurisdiction in European Russia and Siberia, and the other is responsible for the Muslim enclaves of the North Caucasus and Transcaspian regions. In 1992 several Muslim associations withdrew from the latter muftiate and attempted to establish their own spiritual boards. Later that year, Tatarstan and Bashkortostan withdrew recognition from the muftiate for European Russia and Siberia and created their own muftiate.

There is much evidence of official conciliation toward Islam in Russia in the 1990s. The number of Muslims allowed to make pilgrimages to Mecca increased sharply after the virtual embargo of the Soviet era ended in 1990. Copies of the Quran (Koran) are readily available, and many mosques are being built in regions with large Muslim populations. In 1995 the newly established Union of Muslims of Russia, led by Imam Khatyb Mukaddas of Tatarstan, began organizing a movement aimed at improving interethnic understanding and ending Russians' lingering conception of Islam as an extremist religion. The Union of Muslims of Russia is the direct successor to the pre-World War I Union of Muslims, which had its own faction in the Russian Duma (see Glossary). The postcommunist union has formed a political party, the Nur All-Russia Muslim Public Movement, which acts in close coordination with Muslim clergy to defend the political, economic, and cultural rights of Muslims and other minorities. The Islamic Cultural Center of Russia, which includes a medrese (religious school), opened in Moscow in 1991. The Ash-Shafii Islamic Institute in Dagestan is the only such research institution in Russia. In the 1990s, the number of Islamic publications has increased. Among them are two magazines in Russian, Ekho Kavkaza and Islamskiy vestnik , and the Russian-language newspaper Islamskiye novosti , which is published in Makhachkala, Dagestan.

Russia

Russia - Judaism

Russia

Judaism began to have an influence on Russian culture and social attitudes in the sixteenth century, shortly after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain by Queen Isabella in 1492. In the centuries that followed, large numbers of Jews migrated to Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Belorussia. Much of the anti-Semitism that developed subsequently among Russian peasants came from the identification of Jews with activities such as tax collection and the administration of the large estates on which the peasants worked, two of the few occupations Jews were allowed to pursue in tsarist Russia. Anti-Semitism followed the Jews from Western Europe, and already in the sixteenth century the culture of Muscovy contained a strong element of that attitude. When Poland was partitioned at the end of the eighteenth century, large numbers of Jews came into the Russian Empire, giving Russia the largest Jewish population (about 1.5 million) in the world. For the next 120 years, tsarist governments restricted Jewish settlements to what was called the Pale of Settlement, established by Catherine II in 1792 to include portions of the Baltic states, Ukraine, Belorussia, and the northern shore of the Black Sea.

During the nineteenth century, restrictions on the Jewish population were alternately eased and tightened. Alexander II (r. 1855-81), for example, relaxed restrictions on settlement, education, and employment. Alexander's assassination in 1881 brought reimposition of all previous restrictions, which then remained in force until 1917. During that period, Jews were beaten and killed and their property destroyed in government-sanctioned pogroms led by a group called the Black Hundreds. Despite repressive conditions in Russia and high levels of emigration to the United States, the Jewish population grew rapidly in the nineteenth century; by the beginning of World War I, an estimated 5.2 million Jews lived in Russia.

Within their areas of settlement, the Russian Jews developed a flourishing culture, and many of them became active in the revolutionary movements that sprang up in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But much of the long period of violence that began with World War I in 1914 and continued until the Civil War ended in 1921 took place in the regions inhabited by the Jews, many of whom were killed indiscriminately by the various armies struggling for power. After World War I, parts of the western territory of the former Russian Empire became the independent nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland, a development that left many Russian Jews outside the borders of what now was the Soviet Union. By 1922 Russia's Jewish population had been reduced by more than half.

In the early years of the Soviet Union, Jews gained much more freedom to enter the mainstream of Russian society. Although relatively few supported the explicit program of the Bolsheviks, the majority expected that the new state would offer much greater ethnic and religious tolerance than had the tsarist system. In the 1920s, hundreds of thousands of Jews were integrated into Soviet economic and cultural life, and many acquired prominent positions. Among them were communist leaders Leon Trotsky, Lazar Kaganovich, Maksim Litvinov, Lev Kamenev, and Grigoriy Zinov'yev; writers Isaak Babel', Veniamin Kaverin, Boris Pasternak, Osip Mandel'shtam, and Ilya Ehrenburg; and cinematographer Sergey Eisenstein. Special Jewish sections were established in the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik). Then, in the 1930s the purges initiated by Stalin targeted groups for their ethnic and social identities. As non-Russians stereotyped as intellectuals, the Jews were targets in two categories. As part of Soviet ethnic policy, the Jewish Autonomous Oblast (Yevreyskaya avtonomnaya oblast', later called Birobidzhan) was established in 1934. But the oblast never was the center of the Soviet Union's Jewish population. Only about 50,000 Jews settled in this jurisdiction, which is located along the Amur River in the farthest reaches of the Soviet Far East.

When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, about 2.5 million Jews were killed by the Germans or by their Slavic collaborators. Jews who escaped to areas untouched by the Nazis often suffered from the resentment of local populations who envied their education or supposed wealth.

Between World War II and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia's Jewish population declined steadily, thanks to emigration, a low birth rate, intermarriage, and concealment of identity. In 1989 the official total was 537,000. Of the number remaining at that point, only about 9,000 were living in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, and, by 1995, only an estimated 1,500 Jews remained in the oblast. The Jews of Russia always have been concentrated overwhelmingly in the larger cities, especially Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Odessa--partly because of the traditional ban, continued from tsarist times, on Jews owning land. Although 83 percent of Jews claimed Russian as their native language in the 1979 census, the Soviet government recognized Yiddish as the national language of the Jewish population in Russia and the other republics.

In the early 1980s, the Kremlin's refusal to allow Jewish emigration was a major issue of contention in Soviet-American relations. In 1974 the United States Congress had passed the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which offered the Soviet Union most-favored-nation trade status in return for permission for Soviet Jews to emigrate. The Soviet Union responded by relaxing its restrictions, and in the years that followed there was a steady flow of Jewish emigrants from the Soviet Union to Israel. But the intensification of the Cold War in the years after the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan brought new restrictions that were not lifted fully until 1989, when a new surge of emigration began. Between 1992 and 1995, the emigration of Jews from Russia averaged about 65,000 per year, after reaching a peak of 188,000 in 1990. In 1996 the Russian government began curtailing the activity of the Jewish Agency, an internationally funded organization that has sponsored Jewish emigration since the 1940s.

The Soviet and Russian governments have always regarded the Jews not only as a distinct religious group but also as a nationality. This attitude persists in the post-Soviet era despite a provision in Article 26 of the 1993 constitution prohibiting the state from arbitrarily determining a person's nationality or forcing a person to declare a nationality.

Although official anti-Semitism has ceased and open acts of anti-Semitism have been rare in Russian society since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Jews have remained mindful of their history in Russia and skeptical of the durability of liberalized conditions. Traditional anti-Semitism in the Russian Orthodox Church and the increasing power of ultranationalist and neofascist political forces are the principal causes of concern; Jews also fear that they might become scapegoats for economic difficulties. Nevertheless, in the early 1990s Judaism has shown a slow but sure revival, and Russia's Jews have experienced a growing interest in learning about their religious heritage. In January 1996, a major event was publication in Russia of a Russian translation of a volume of the Talmud. The first such publication since before the Bolshevik Revolution, the volume marks the start of a series of Talmudic translations intended to provide Russian Jews with information about their religion's teachings, which until 1996 had been virtually unavailable in Russia.

With Jews becoming more willing to identify themselves, official estimates of the Jewish population increased between 1992 and 1995, from 500,000 to around 700,000. The Jewish population of Moscow has been estimated in the mid-1990s at between 200,000 and 300,000. Of that number, about 15 percent are Sephardic (non-European).

The number of Jews participating in religious observances remains relatively small, even though organizations such as the Hasidic (Orthodox) Chabad Lubavitch actively encourage full observance of religious traditions. In Moscow the Lubavitchers, whose activism has met with hostility from many Russians, run two synagogues and several schools, including a yeshiva (academy of Talmudic learning), kindergartens, and a seminary for young women. The organization also is active in charity work.

In the 1990s, a number of organizations devoted to the fostering of Jewish culture and religion have been established in Moscow. These include a rabbinical school, a Jewish youth center, a union of Hebrew teachers, and a Jewish cultural and educational society. The orthodox Jewish community also campaigned successfully for the return of the Shneerson books, a collection of manuscripts that had been stored in the Lenin State Library in Moscow since Soviet authorities confiscated them in the 1920s.

Russia

Russia - The Russian Language

Russia

The Russian language has dominated cultural and official life throughout the history of the nation, regardless of the presence of other ethnic groups. Linguistic groups in Russia run the gamut from Slavic (spoken by more than three-quarters of the population) to Turkic, Caucasian, Finno-Ugric, Eskimo, Yiddish, and Iranian. Russification campaigns during both the tsarist and communist eras suppressed the languages and cultures of all minority nationalities. Although the Soviet-era constitutions affirmed the equality of all languages with Russian for all purposes, in fact language was a powerful tool of Soviet nationality policy. The governments of both the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation have used the Russian language as a means of promoting unity among the country's nationalities, as well as to provide access to literary and scientific materials not available in minority languages. According to the Brezhnev regime, all Soviet peoples "voluntarily" adopted Russian for use in international communication and to promote the unity of the Soviet Union.

Beginning in 1938, the Russian language was a compulsory subject in the primary and secondary schools of all regions. In schools where an indigenous language was used alongside Russian, courses in science and mathematics were taught in Russian. Many university courses were available only in Russian, and Russian was the language of public administration in all jurisdictions in all fifteen Soviet republics. Nevertheless, the minority peoples of the Russian Republic, as well as the peoples of the other fourteen Soviet republics, continued to consider their own language as primary, and the general level of Russian fluency was low (see The Post-Soviet Education Structure, ch. 5). In the mid-1990s, in every area of the federation, Russian remains the sole language of public administration, of the armed forces, and of the scientific and technical communities. Russian schools grant diplomas in only two minority languages, Bashkir and Tatar, and higher education is conducted almost entirely in Russian.

Although Russian is the lingua franca of the Russian Federation, Article 26 of the 1993 constitution stipulates that "each person has the right to use his native language and to the free choice of language of communication, education, instruction, and creativity." Article 68 affirms the right of all peoples in the Russian Federation "to retain their mother tongue and to create conditions for its study and development." Although such constitutional provisions often prove meaningless, the non-Slavic tongues of Russia have retained their vitality, and they even have grown more prevalent in some regions. This trend is especially visible as autonomy of language becomes an important symbol of the struggle to preserve distinct ethnic identities. In the 1990s, many non-Russian ethnic groups have issued laws or decrees giving their native languages equal status with Russian in their respective regions of the Russian Federation. In the mid-1990s, some 80 percent of the non-Slavic nationalities--or 12 percent of the population of the Russian Federation--did not speak Russian as their first language.

Russia

Russia - Literature

Russia

In the course of Russia's thousand-year history, Russian literature has come to occupy a unique place in the culture, politics, and linguistic evolution of the Russian people. In the modern era, literature has been the arena for heated discussion of virtually all aspects of Russian life, including the place that literature itself should occupy in that life. In the process, it has produced a rich and varied fund of artistic achievement.

The Beginnings

Literature first appeared among the East Slavs after the Christianization of Kievan Rus' in the tenth century (see The Golden Age of Kiev, ch. 1). Seminal events in that process were the development of the Cyrillic (see Glossary) alphabet around A.D. 863 and the development of Old Church Slavonic as a liturgical language for use by the Slavs. The availability of liturgical works in the vernacular language--an advantage not enjoyed in Western Europe--caused Russian literature to develop rapidly. Through the sixteenth century, most literary works had religious themes or were created by religious figures. Among the noteworthy works of the eleventh through fourteenth centuries are the Primary Chronicle , a compilation of historical and legendary events, the Lay of Igor's Campaign , a secular epic poem about battles against the Turkic Pechenegs, and Zadonshchina , an epic poem about the defeat of the Mongols in 1380. Works in secular genres such as the satirical tale began to appear in the sixteenth century, and Byzantine literary traditions began to fade as the Russian vernacular came into greater use and Western influences were felt.

Written in 1670, the Life of the Archpriest Avvakum is a pioneering realistic autobiography that avoids the flowery church style in favor of vernacular Russian. Several novellas and satires of the seventeenth century also used vernacular Russian freely. The first Russian poetic verse was written early in the seventeenth century.

Peter and Catherine

The eighteenth century, particularly the reigns of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great (r. 1762-96), was a period of strong Western cultural influence. Russian literature was dominated briefly by European classicism before shifting to an equally imitative sentimentalism by 1780. Secular prose tales--many picaresque or satirical--grew in popularity with the middle and lower classes, as the nobility read mainly literature from Western Europe. Peter's secularization of the Russian Orthodox Church decisively broke the influence of religious themes on literature. The middle period of the eighteenth century (1725-62) was dominated by the stylistic and genre innovations of four writers: Antiokh Kantemir, Vasiliy Trediakovskiy, Mikhail Lomonosov, and Aleksandr Sumarokov. Their work was a further step in bringing Western literary concepts to Russia.

Under Catherine, the satirical journal was adopted from Britain, and Gavriil Derzhavin advanced the evolution of Russian poetry. Denis Fonvizin, Yakov Knyazhnin, Aleksandr Radishchev, and Nikolay Karamzin wrote controversial and innovative drama and prose works that brought Russian literature closer to its nineteenth-century role as an art form liberally furnished with social and political commentary (see Imperial Expansion and Maturation: Catherine II, ch. 1). The lush, sentimental language of Karamzin's tale Poor Lisa set off a forty-year polemic pitting advocates of innovation against those of "purity" in literary language.

The Nineteenth Century

By 1800 Russian literature had an established tradition of representing real-life problems, and its eighteenth-century practitioners had enriched its language with new elements. On this basis, a brilliant century of literary endeavor followed.

Russian literature of the nineteenth century provided a congenial medium for the discussion of political and social issues whose direct presentation was censored. The prose writers of this period shared important qualities: attention to realistic, detailed descriptions of everyday Russian life; the lifting of the taboo on describing the vulgar, unsightly side of life; and a satirical attitude toward mediocrity and routine. All of those elements were articulated primarily in the novel and short story forms borrowed from Western Europe, but the poets of the nineteenth century also produced works of lasting value.

The Age of Realism, generally considered the culmination of the literary synthesis of earlier generations, began around 1850. The writers of that period owed a great debt to four men of the previous generation: the writers Aleksandr Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov, and Nikolay Gogol', and the critic Vissarion Belinskiy, each of whom contributed to new standards for language, subject matter, form, and narrative techniques. Pushkin is recognized as the greatest Russian poet, and the critic Belinskiy was the "patron saint" of the influential "social message" writers and critics who followed. Lermontov contributed innovations in both poetic and prose genres. Gogol' is accepted as the originator of modern realistic Russian prose, although much of his work contains strong elements of fantasy. The rich language of Gogol' was much different from the direct, sparse lexicon of Pushkin; each of the two approaches to the language of literary prose was adopted by significant writers of later generations.

By mid-century a heated debate was under way on the appropriateness of social questions in literature. The debate filled the pages of the "thick journals" of the time, which remained the most fertile site for literary discussion and innovation into the 1990s; traces of the debate appeared in the pages of much of Russia's best literature as well. The foremost advocates of social commentary were Nikolay Chernyshevskiy and Nikolay Dobrolyubov, critics who wrote for the thick journal Sovremennik (The Contemporary) in the late 1850s and early 1860s.

The best prose writers of the Age of Realism were Ivan Turgenev, Fedor Dostoyevskiy, and Lev Tolstoy. Because of the enduring quality of their combination of pure literature with eternal philosophical questions, the last two are accepted as Russia's premier prose artists; Dostoyevskiy's novels Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov , like Tolstoy's novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina , are classics of world literature.

Other outstanding writers of the Age of Realism were the playwright Aleksandr Ostrovskiy, the novelist Ivan Goncharov, and the prose innovator Nikolay Leskov, all of whom were closely involved in some way with the debate over social commentary. The most notable poets of mid-century were Afanasiy Fet and Fedor Tyutchev.

An important tool for writers of social commentary under strict tsarist censorship was a device called Aesopic language--a variety of linguistic tricks, allusions, and distortions comprehensible to an attuned reader but baffling to censors. The best practitioner of this style was Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, a prose satirist who, along with the poet Nikolay Nekrasov, was considered a leader of the literary left wing in the second half of the century.

The major literary figure in the last decade of the nineteenth century was Anton Chekhov, who wrote in two genres: the short story and drama. Chekhov was a realist who examined the foibles of individuals rather than society as a whole. His plays The Cherry Orchard , The Seagull , and The Three Sisters continue to be performed worldwide.

In the 1890s, Russian poetry was revived and thoroughly reshaped by a new group, the symbolists, whose most prominent representative was Aleksandr Blok. Two more groups, the futurists and the acmeists, added new poetic principles at the start of the twentieth century. The leading figure of the former was Vladimir Mayakovskiy, and of the latter, Anna Akhmatova. The premier prose writers of the period were the realist writers Leonid Andreyev, Ivan Bunin, Maksim Gor'kiy, Vladimir Korolenko, and Aleksandr Kuprin. Gor'kiy became the literary figurehead of the Bolsheviks and of the Soviet regimes of the 1920s and 1930s; shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution, Bunin and Kuprin emigrated to Paris. In 1933 Bunin became the first Russian to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The Soviet Period and After

The period immediately following the Bolshevik Revolution was one of literary experimentation and the emergence of numerous literary groups. Much of the fiction of the 1920s described the Civil War or the struggle between the old and new Russia. The best prose writers of the 1920s were Isaak Babel', Mikhail Bulgakov, Veniamin Kaverin, Leonid Leonov, Yuriy Olesha, Boris Pil'nyak, Yevgeniy Zamyatin, and Mikhail Zoshchenko. The dominant poets were Akhmatova, Osip Mandel'shtam, Mayakovskiy, Pasternak, Marina Tsvetayeva, and Sergey Yesenin. But under Stalin, literature felt the same restrictions as the rest of Russia's society. After a group of "proletarian writers" had gained ascendancy in the early 1930s, the communist party Central Committee forced all fiction writers into the Union of Soviet Writers in 1934. The union then established the standard of "socialist realism" for Soviet literature, and many of the writers in Russia fell silent or emigrated (see Mobilization of Society, ch. 2). A few prose writers adapted by describing moral problems in the new Soviet state, but the stage was dominated by formulaic works of minimal literary value such as Nikolay Ostrovskiy's How the Steel Was Tempered and Yuriy Krymov's Tanker Derbent . A unique work of the 1930s was the Civil War novel The Quiet Don , which won its author, Mikhail Sholokhov, the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1965, although Sholokhov's authorship is disputed by some experts. The strict controls of the 1930s continued until the "thaw" following Stalin's death in 1953, although some innovation was allowed in prose works of the World War II period.

Between 1953 and 1991, Russian literature produced a number of first-rate artists, all still working under the pressure of state censorship and often distributing their work through a sophisticated underground system called samizdat (literally, self-publishing). The poet Pasternak's Civil War novel, Doctor Zhivago , created a sensation when published in the West in 1957. The book won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958, but the Soviet government forced Pasternak to decline the award. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, whose One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962) also was a watershed work, was the greatest Russian philosophical novelist of the era; he was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1974 and eventually settled in the United States. In the 1960s and 1970s, a new generation of satirical and prose writers, such as Fazil' Iskander, Vladimir Voinovich, Yuriy Kazakov, and Vladimir Aksyonov, battled against state restrictions on artistic expression, as did the noted poets Yevgeniy Yevtushenko, Andrey Voznesenskiy, and Joseph Brodsky. Aksyonov and Brodsky emigrated to the United States, where they remained productive. Brodsky won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1987. The most celebrated case of literary repression in the 1960s was that of Andrey Sinyavskiy and Yuliy Daniel, iconoclastic writers of the Soviet "underground" whose 1966 sentence to hard labor for having written anti-Soviet propaganda brought international protest.

Another generation of writers responded to the liberalized atmosphere of Gorbachev's glasnost in the second half of the 1980s, openly discussing previously taboo themes: the excesses of the Stalin era, a wide range of previously unrecognized social ills such as corruption, random violence, anti-Semitism, and prostitution, and even the unassailably positive image of Vladimir I. Lenin himself. Among the best of this generation were Andrey Bykov, Mikhail Kurayev, Valeriy Popov, Tat'yana Tolstaya, and Viktor Yerofeyev--writers not necessarily as talented as their predecessors but expressing a new kind of "alternative fiction." The glasnost period also saw the publication of formerly prohibited works by writers such as Bulgakov, Solzhenitsyn, and Zamyatin.

Beginning in 1992, Russian writers experienced complete creative freedom for the first time in many decades. The change was not entirely for the better, however. The urgent mission of the Russian writers, to provide the public with a kind of truth they could not find elsewhere in a censored society, had already begun to disappear in the 1980s, when glasnost opened Russia to a deluge of information and entertainment flowing from the West and elsewhere. Samizdat was tacitly accepted by the Gorbachev regime, then it disappeared entirely as private publishers appeared in the early 1990s. Writers' traditional special place in society no longer is recognized by most Russians, who now read literature much less avidly than they did in Soviet times. For the first time since their appearance in the early 1800s, the "thick journals" are disregarded by large portions of the intelligentsia, and in the mid-1990s several major journals went bankrupt. Under these circumstances, many Russian writers have expressed a sense of deep loss and frustration.

Russia

Russia - Music

Russia

Until the eighteenth century, Russian music consisted mainly of church music and folk songs and dances. In the 1700s, Italian, French, and German operas were introduced to Russia, making opera a popular art form among the aristocracy.

In the nineteenth century, Russia began making an original contribution to world music nearly as significant as its contribution in literature. In the first half of the nineteenth century, Mikhail Glinka (1804-57) initiated the application of purely Russian folk and religious music to classical compositions. His best operas, Ruslan and Lyudmila and A Life for the Tsar , are considered pioneering works in the establishment of Russian national music, although they are based on Italian models.

In 1859 the Russian Music Society was founded to foster the performance and appreciation of classical music, especially German, from Western Europe; the most influential figures in the society were the composer Anton Rubinstein and his brother Nikolay, who founded influential conservatories in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Anton Rubinstein also was one of the best pianists of the nineteenth century.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, a group of composers that came to be known as the "Mighty Five"--Miliy Balakirev, Aleksandr Borodin, César Cui, Modest Musorgskiy, and Nikolay Rimskiy-Korsakov--continued Glinka's movement away from imitation of European classical music. The Mighty Five challenged the Russian Music Society's conservatism with a large body of work thematically based on Russia's history and legends and musically based on its folk and religious music. Among the group's most notable works are Rimskiy-Korsakov's symphonic suite Scheherezade and the operas The Snow Maiden and Sadko , Musorgskiy's operas Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina , and Borodin's opera Prince Igor' . Balakirev, a protégé of Glinka, was the founder and guiding spirit of the group.

Outside that group stood Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky (Chaykovskiy), who produced a number of enduring symphonies, operas, and ballets more imitative of Western music. During his lifetime, Tchaikovsky already was acknowledged as one of the world's premier composers. Among his most-performed works are the ballets Swan Lake , Sleeping Beauty , and The Nutcracker , and his Sixth Symphony, known as the Pathétique. At the end of the 1800s, the generation that followed the Mighty Five and Tchaikovsky included talented and innovative figures such as Sergey Rachmaninov, a master pianist and composer who emigrated to Germany in 1906; Rimskiy-Korsakov's student Aleksandr Glazunov, who emigrated in 1928; and the innovator Aleksandr Skryabin, who injected elements of mysticism and literary symbolism in his works for piano and orchestra.

In the twentieth century, Russia continued to produce some of the world's foremost composers and musicians, despite the suppression by Soviet authorities of both music and performances. Restrictions on what musicians played and where they performed caused many artists to leave the Soviet Union either voluntarily or through forced exile, but the works of the émigrés continued to draw large audiences whenever they were performed. The Gorbachev era loosened the restrictions on émigrés returning. The pianist Vladimir Horowitz, who left the Soviet Union in 1925, made a triumphal return performance in Moscow in 1986, and émigré cellist Mstislav Rostropovich made his first tour of the Soviet Union in 1990 as conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.

Igor' Stravinskiy, who has been called the greatest of the twentieth-century Russian composers, emigrated permanently in 1920 after having composed his three best-known works, the scores for the ballets The Firebird , Petrushka , and The Rite of Spring . Stravinskiy enjoyed a productive career of several decades in exile, making return visits to Russia in his last years. The composers Aram Khachaturyan, Sergey Prokof'yev, and Dmitriy Shostakovich spent their entire careers in the Soviet Union; all three were condemned in 1948 in the postwar Stalinist crackdown known as the Zhdanovshchina (see Reconstruction and Cold War, ch. 2). Prokof'yev, best known for his ballet music, had achieved enough international stature by 1948 to avoid official disgrace. Shostakovich, who enjoyed triumph and suffered censure during the Stalin era, wrote eleven symphonies and two well-known operas based on nineteenth-century Russian stories, The Nose by Gogol' and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District by Leskov. He enjoyed substantial recognition after the "thaw" that liberated artistic activities after 1953. Khachaturyan based much of his work on Armenian and Georgian folk music.

Composers of modern music received much criticism in the Soviet period for digressing from realistic or traditional styles. Both official Soviet artistic standards and the traditional expectations of the Russian public restricted the creation and performance of innovative pieces. The most notable avant-garde symphonic composer was Alfred Schnittke, who remained in the Soviet Union, where his work won approval. Aleksey Volkonskiy was a notable member of Schnittke's generation who left the Soviet Union to compose in the West. The restraints of the 1970s and 1980s stimulated a musical underground, called magnitizdat , which recorded and distributed forbidden folk, rock, and jazz works in small batches. Two notable figures in that movement were Bulat Okudzhava and Vladimir Vysotskiy, who set their poetry to music and became popular entertainers with a satirical message. Vysotskiy, who died in 1980, was rehabilitated in 1990; Okudzhava continued his career into the mid-1990s.

Jazz performances were permitted by all Soviet regimes, and jazz became one of Russia's most popular music forms. In the 1980s, the Ganelin Trio was the best-known Russian jazz combo, performing in Europe and the United States. Jazz musicians from the West began playing regularly in the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

Rock music was controlled strictly by Soviet authorities, with only limited recording outside magnitizdat , although Russia's youth were fascinated with the rock groups of the West. In the more liberal atmosphere of the late 1980s, several notable Soviet rock groups emerged with official approval as more innovative, unsanctioned groups proliferated. The Leningrad Rock Club, which became a national network of performance clubs in 1986, was the most important outlet for sanctioned rock music. In the 1990s, much of Russia's rock music lost the innovative and satirical edge of the magnitizdat period, and experts noted a tendency to simply imitate Western groups.

Russia

Russia - Ballet

Russia

Russia has made a unique contribution to the development of ballet. Ballet was introduced in Russia together with other aristocratic dance forms as part of Peter the Great's Westernization program in the early 1700s. The first ballet school was established in 1734, and the first full ballet company was founded at the Imperial School of Ballet in St. Petersburg in the 1740s. Italian and French dancers and choreographers predominated in that period, but by 1800 Russian ballet was assimilating native elements from folk dancing as nobles sponsored dance companies of serfs. European ballet critics agreed that the Russian dance had a positive influence on West European ballet. Marius Petipa, a French choreographer who spent fifty years staging ballets in Russia, was the dominant figure during that period; his greatest triumphs were the staging of Tchaikovsky's ballets. Other noted European dancers, such as Marie Taglioni, Christian Johansson, and Enrico Cecchetti, performed in Russia throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, bringing new influences from the West.

The most influential figure of the early twentieth century was the impresario Sergey Diaghilev, who founded an innovative touring ballet company in 1909 with choreographer Michel Fokine, dancer Vaslav Nijinksy, and designer Alexandre Benois. After the staging of Stravinskiy's controversial The Rite of Spring , World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution kept Diaghilev from returning to Russia. Until Diaghilev died in 1929, his Russian dance company, the Ballet Russe, was headquartered in Paris. In the same period, the émigré dancer Anna Pavlova toured the world with her troupe and exerted a huge influence on the art form.

After Diaghilev, several new companies calling themselves the Ballet Russe toured the world, and new generations of Russian dancers filled their ranks. George Balanchine, a Georgian émigré and protégé of Diaghilev, formed the New York City Ballet in 1948. Meanwhile, the Soviet government sponsored new ballet companies throughout the union. After a period of innovation and experimentation in the 1920s, Russia's ballet reverted under Stalin to the traditional forms of Petipa, even changing the plots of some ballets to emphasize the positive themes of socialist realism. The most influential Russian dancer of the mid-twentieth century was Rudolf Nureyev, who defected to the West in 1961 and is credited with establishing the dominant role of the male dancer in classical ballet. A second notable émigré, Mikhail Baryshnikov, burnished an already brilliant career in the United States after defecting from Leningrad's Kirov Ballet in 1974. The large cities of Russia traditionally have their own symphony orchestras and ballet and opera houses. Although funding for such facilities has diminished in the 1990s, attendance at performances remains high. The ballet companies of the Bol'shoy Theater in Moscow and the Kirov Theater in St. Petersburg are world renowned and have toured regularly since the early 1960s.

Russia

Russia - Architecture and Painting

Russia

Early Slavic tribes created handsome jewelry, wall hangings, and decorated leather items that have been recovered from burial mounds. The folk-art motifs made liberal use of animal forms and representations of natural forces. Subsequently, the strongest single influence on Russian art was the acceptance of Christianity in A.D. 988. Transmitting the idea that the beauty of the church's physical attributes reflects the glory of God, Byzantine religious art and architecture penetrated Kiev, which was the capital of the early Russian state until about 1100 (see The Golden Age of Kiev, ch. 1). The northern cities of Novgorod and Vladimir developed distinctive architectural styles, and the tradition of painting icons, religious images usually painted on wooden panels, spread as more churches were built. The Mongol occupation (1240-1480) cut Muscovy's ties with the Byzantine Empire, fostering the development of original artistic styles. Among the innovations of this period was the iconostasis, a carved choir screen on which icons are hung. In the early fifteenth century, the master icon painter Andrey Rublev created some of Russia's most treasured religious art.

As the Mongols were driven out and Moscow became the center of Russian civilization in the late fifteenth century, a new wave of building began in Russia's cities. Italian architects brought a West European influence, especially in the reconstruction of Moscow's Kremlin, the city's twelfth-century wooden fortress. St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square, however, combined earlier church architecture with styles from the Tatar east. In the 1500s and 1600s, the tsars supported icon painting, metalwork, and manuscript illumination; as contact with Western Europe increased, those forms began to reflect techniques of the West. Meanwhile, folk art preserved the forms of the earlier Slavic tribes in house decorations, clothing, and tools.

Under Peter the Great, Russia experienced a much stronger dose of Western influence. Many of the buildings in Peter's new capital, St. Petersburg, were designed by the Italian architects Domenico Trezzini and Bartolomeo Rastrelli under the direction of Peter and his daughter, Elizabeth. The most productive Russian architects of the eighteenth century, Vasiliy Bazhenov, Matvey Kazakov, and Ivan Starov, created lasting monuments in Moscow and St. Petersburg and established a base for the more Russian forms that followed.

The Academy of Fine Arts, founded by Elizabeth in 1757 to train Russia's artists, brought Western techniques of secular painting to Russia, which until that time had been dominated by icon painting. Catherine the Great (r. 1762-96), another energetic patron of the arts, began collecting European art objects that formed the basis of the collections for which Russia now is famous. Aleksey Venetsianov, the first graduate of the academy to fully embrace realistic subject matter such as peasant life, is acknowledged as the founder of Russia's realistic school of painting, which blossomed in the second half of the 1800s.

In the 1860s, a group of critical realists, led by Ivan Kramskoy, Il'ya Repin, and Vasiliy Perov, portrayed aspects of Russian life with the aim of making social commentary. Repin's Barge Haulers on the Volga is one of the most famous products of this school. In the late 1800s, a new generation of painters emphasized technique over subject, producing a more impressionistic body of work. The leaders of that school were Valentin Serov, Isaak Levitan, and Mikhail Vrubel'. In 1898 the theatrical designer Alexandre Benois and the dance impresario Sergey Diaghilev founded the World of Art group, which extended the innovation of the previous generation, played a central role in introducing the contemporary modern art of Western Europe to Russia, and acquainted West Europeans with Russia's art through exhibitions and publications.

In the nineteenth century, Russia's architecture and decorative arts combined European techniques and influences with the forms of early Russia, producing the so-called Russian Revival seen in churches, public buildings, and homes of that period. The European-trained goldsmith, jeweler, and designer Karl Fabergé, the most notable member of a brilliant artistic family, established workshops in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and London. His work, including jeweled enamel Easter eggs produced for the Russian royal family, is an important example of the decorative art of the period.

The Russian artists of the early twentieth century were exposed to a wide variety of Russian and European movements. Among the most innovative and influential of that generation were the painters Marc Chagall, Natal'ya Goncharova, Vasiliy Kandinskiy, Mikhail Larionov, and Kazimir Malevich. The constructivists of the 1920s found parallels between their architectural and sculptural work and the precepts of the Bolshevik Revolution. By the 1930s, the government was limiting all forms of artistic expression to the themes of socialist realism, forbidding abstract forms and the exhibition of foreign art for more than thirty years. An "unofficial" art movement appeared in the 1960s under the leadership of sculptor Ernest Neizvestnyy and painters Mikhail Chemyakhin, Oskar Rabin, and Yevgeniy Rukhin. In the 1970s and the early 1980s, informal art exhibits were held in parks and social clubs. Like the other arts, painting and sculpture benefited from the policy of glasnost of the late 1980s, which encouraged artistic innovation and the exhibition of works abroad.

Russia

Russia - Social Structure

Russia

In the mid-1990s, Russian society was in the midst of a wrenching transition from a totalitarian structure to a protodemocracy of unknown character. During most of the Soviet era, society was atomized, so that the communist regime and its "transmission belts" (officially sanctioned organizations and institutions of every kind, from trade unions to youth groups) could fully monitor and control each individual. Civil society was nonexistent. The lines of control ran from the top down, through a rigid hierarchy constructed and staffed by the ruling Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU--see Glossary).

Post-Soviet Russia is slowly striving to create a civil society and restore the family and other basic institutions as functional units within the society. In the mid-1990s, habits of trust, personal responsibility, community service, and citizen cooperation remained unformed in much of Russia's society, as the social attitudes of previous decades remained intact. Those holding such attitudes envisioned little between the extremes of totalitarianism and social anarchy; having moved away from the simplistic guidance of the former, much of society was strongly tempted to embrace the latter.

Social Stratification

Perhaps the most significant fact about Russia's social structure is that ideology no longer determines social status. During the Soviet era, membership in the CPSU was the surest path to career advancement and wealth. Political decisions rather than market forces determined social status. Despite Marxist-Leninist (see Glossary) notions of a classless society, the Soviet Union had a powerful ruling class, the nomenklatura , which consisted of party officials and key personnel in the government and other important sectors such as heavy industry. This class enjoyed privileges such as roomy apartments, country dachas, and access to special stores, schools, medical facilities, and recreational sites. The social status and income of members of the nomenklatura increased as they were promoted to higher positions in the party.

The social structure of the Soviet Union was characterized by self-perpetuation and limited mobility. Access to higher education, a prerequisite to political and social advancement, was steadily constrained in the postwar decades. The so-called period of stagnation that coincided with the long tenure of CPSU chief Leonid I. Brezhnev (in office 1964-82) had social as well as political connotations. Moreover, the sluggish economy of that period reduced opportunities for social mobility, thus accentuating differences among social groups and further widening the gap between the nomenklatura and the rest of society.

Members of the urban working class (proletariat), in whose name the party purported to rule, generally lived in cramped apartment complexes, spent hours each day standing in line to buy food and other necessities, and attended frequent obligatory sessions of political indoctrination. Similarly, the peasantry eked out a meager existence, with little opportunity for relief. Agricultural workers constituted the bottom layer of Soviet society, receiving the least pay, the least opportunity for social advancement, and the least representation in the nominally all-inclusive CPSU leadership.

Postcommunist society also is characterized by a wide disparity in wealth and privilege. Although there is no rigid class structure, social stratification based on wealth is evident and growing. The nomenklatura as it existed in Soviet times disappeared with the demise of the CPSU, but many of its members used their continuing connections with industry and finance to enrich themselves in the emerging capitalist system. According to a 1995 study conducted by the Russian Academy of Sciences, more than 60 percent of Russia's wealthiest millionaires, and 75 percent of the new political elite, are former members of the communist nomenklatura , and 38 percent of Russia's businesspeople held economic positions in the CPSU. The wealth of the new capitalists, who constitute 1 to 2 percent of the population, derives from the ownership of private property, which was prohibited under the communist regime; from former black-market transactions that now are pursued legally; and from repatriation of funds that were secretly transferred abroad during the Soviet era. Entrepreneurs have purchased former state-owned enterprises privatized by the government (often using connections with government authorities to gain favorable treatment) and have opened banks, stock exchanges, and other ventures typical of a market economy (see Banking and Finance; Privatization, ch. 6). By the mid-1990s, Russia had by no means established a full-fledged market economy, but the era of capitalism, which the Bolshevik Revolution had cut short, was ascendant.

The most successful of the new capitalists practice conspicuous consumption on an extravagant scale, driving flashy Western cars, sporting expensive clothing and jewelry, and frequenting stylish restaurants and clubs that are far beyond the reach of ordinary Russians. Russian biznesmeny with cash-filled briefcases purchase expensive real estate in exclusive areas of Western Europe and the United States. Other areas of the world, such as the city of Limassol, Cyprus, have been transformed into virtual Russian enclaves where illicit commercial transactions help fuel the economy. Russian capitalists attempting to achieve at a high level using legitimate means must nonetheless pay protection money to criminal groups, especially in the larger cities.

In the first half of the 1990s, the gap between the richest and poorest citizens of Russia grew steadily, and it became a source of social alienation because newly successful Russians are resented and often are assumed to have criminal connections. In 1995 the World Bank (see Glossary) ranked Russia's dichotomy between the highest and lowest economic echelons on a par with the wide gaps between rich and poor in Argentina and Turkey. However, by 1996 the gap had decreased slightly. According to the State Committee for Statistics (Goskomstat), in 1995 the wealthiest 10 percent of Russians earned 13.5 times as much as the poorest 10 percent. In 1996 the ratio had shrunk to 12.8 percent, suggesting that more people were sharing in the wealth. According to reports in 1996, the flaunting of luxurious automobiles, clothing, and other forms of material wealth became less prevalent in Russia's largest cities, especially Moscow, which is the center of the nouveau riche population.

Nonreporting of incomes by the highest socioeconomic level likely makes the real gap wider than the official statistics indicate. The overall decline in living standards in 1995 is revealed by an 8 percent decrease in retail trade and by opinion surveys. For instance, in early 1995 some 56 percent of respondents said that their material situation had declined, and 17 percent said that it had improved. Another survey identified 68 percent of respondents claiming to live below the poverty line in 1995, compared with 56 percent the previous year. Such self-perceptions of victimization promote the platforms of antireform political parties that promise a return to the guaranteed well-being of the Soviet era (see The Elections of 1995, ch. 7).

A subclass of young businesspeople, mainly bankers and stockbrokers, runs the new trading and investment markets in Moscow and St. Petersburg, remaining aloof from the tangled, state-dominated manufacturing sector. This group, a very visible part of life in the larger cities in the mid-1990s, has profited from the youthful flexibility that enabled it to embrace an entirely new set of rules for economic success, while Russia's older generations--with the exception of the astute nomenklatura members who became part of the nouveau riche--were much less able to adapt to the post-Soviet world.

Conditions for the working class and the peasants are sharply at variance with those of the new capitalist class. Political repression has eased, but economic privations have increased. Although more goods are available, they are often beyond the means of the average worker. Full employment, the virtually guaranteed basis of survival under communism, no longer is the norm (see Unemployment, ch. 6). At the lower end of the social scale, the "working poor" toil predominantly in agriculture, education, culture, science, and health, most of which are considered middle-class fields of employment in the West. State employees, who suffer especially from inflation because of infrequent wage adjustments, often fall below the official poverty line.

Young parents with little work experience and more than one child are especially likely to be members of the working poor. In 1993 some 57 percent of families classified as poor by the World Bank had one or more children, and 86 percent of families with three or more children were classified in the lowest income group. Most single-parent families also belonged to this group. In the lower- income groups, people with relatives generally fare better than those with none (especially single pensioners), as the informal subsistence networks formed during the Soviet era continue to provide support to a substantial segment of society.

The glasnost (see Glossary) policy of the late 1980s brought a new youth culture that took up the nonconformist dress, drug use, music, and antiestablishment stance of young people in the West, while earnestly seeking answers to questions about Russia's past and its potential future. The social and economic stresses and disappointments of the 1990s have pushed the majority of young Russians completely out of the youth culture, while the few who have won some sort of success have moved to further extremes, such as hedonism and wild economic speculation. In the cities, clubs and bars, all making heavy protection payments to the mafiya --as Russia's growing organized crime groups are termed--are gathering places that feature a variety of narcotics (including mushrooms gathered in the woods near St. Petersburg), alcohol, and a form of Russian rock music that was full of protest in the late 1980s but has since been diluted to widen its market appeal. This small but highly visible class of youth is divided into hundreds of tusovki (sing., tusovka ), mutually exclusive social circles that provide a sense of identity but isolate their members from the rest of society. What the tusovki have in common are decadence, an appetite for risk, and a readiness to indulge in faddish forms of mass behavior.

Russia

Russia - Wages and Work

Russia

In the post-Soviet era, social mobility is unlimited in theory, but in the mid-1990s economic factors play an important role in restricting upward movement for most Russians. Those without an established source of wealth generally are unable to purchase land, real estate, or enterprises, or to take advantage of other financial opportunities to increase their income and status. Because individuals under such limitations also lack opportunities to pursue higher education, they tend to remain at or below the socioeconomic level of their parents. In many cases, the younger generation has less earning power than the one that preceded it.

In 1995 official government estimates placed 39 million people, or 26 percent of the population, below the poverty line. Living standards, which dropped drastically in 1992, recovered somewhat in 1993 and 1994 before falling again in 1995 as the government tightened its social support spending policy (see Social Welfare, this ch.; table 11, Appendix). Other factors, such as inflation, changes in the minimum wage and minimum pension, and income from nonwage sources such as business activity and property, also influence annual income in a given period. Raised in mid-1994, then not again until April 1995, the minimum wage has provided little protection against intermittent periods of high inflation. Official income statistics are skewed because many Russians underreport their incomes to avoid taxes and because such statistics ignore important nonincome sources of well-being such as property.

The real incomes of state-sector employees fell as much as 30 percent in the first three quarters of 1995. Wages in the private sector have kept pace with inflation more consistently, unless an enterprise has financial difficulties such as debts owed to other enterprises. In both sectors, long-term failure to pay wages has become a chronic problem; it affected an estimated 13 million people in mid-1995. Enterprises also have responded to financial difficulties by laying off employees and by shortening work weeks, pushing more workers below the poverty line. Although many of the working poor retain the housing, health, and free holidays associated with employment, enterprises are rapidly withdrawing those Soviet-era privileges.

The economic condition of many Russians is ameliorated by earnings from additional jobs or by access to private plots of land. In a 1994 survey, 47 percent of respondents reported some form of additional material support, and 23 percent reported having supplementary employment. In some cases, unofficial employment is quite profitable. Of the "working unemployed," Russians who consider themselves out of work but nevertheless hold some sort of job, 11 percent had incomes at least three times higher than the average wage in 1994. The large number of pensioners with unofficial jobs (approximately one in four) generally fare much better than those on fixed incomes, generating a disparity of status within the oldest segment of society. The easing of travel restrictions in post-Soviet Russia and the overall diversification of the private sector increased opportunities to earn supplementary income, through such activities as buying goods abroad and selling them inside Russia and offering a variety of private services such as repair work, sewing, and translation. In general, these opportunities are most accessible to young, well-educated Russians in large cities. But in many cases, well-educated individuals must sacrifice their social status by accepting unskilled jobs to make ends meet.

Some professional positions that are accorded high prestige carry a salary below that for certain categories of skilled labor. The upper echelons of the political, artistic, and scientific elites form the top of the occupation pyramid in terms of status and income. That category is followed by the professional, intellectual, and artistic intelligentsia; the most highly skilled industrial workers; white-collar workers; relatively prosperous farmers; and average workers. The bottom of the status and pay scales includes people employed as semiskilled or unskilled workers in light industry, agriculture, food processing, education, health care, retail trade, and the services sector.

Among the low-paying jobs are some that require higher or specialized education and that carry some level of prestige. Women predominate in these job categories, which include engineers, veterinarians, agronomists, accountants, legal advisers, translators, schoolteachers, librarians, organizers of clubs and cultural events, musicians, and even doctors. A 1994 World Bank report identified an increasing likelihood that positions offering lower wages would be filled by women, in most sectors and occupations of the Russian economy. Many women, however, reportedly accept jobs at lower levels of skill and remuneration in exchange for nonmonetary benefits, such as short commuting distances, minimum overtime hours, and access to child care or shopping facilities in the workplace (see The Role of Women, this ch.).

Russia

Russia - Rural Life

Russia

For rural society in both Soviet and post-Soviet times, agriculture has been the primary source of employment. Before 1992, however, the CPSU and its predecessors constituted the sole form of political organization, and all village communities were organized around the economic institution of the collective farm (kolkhoz --see Glossary) or state farm (sovkhoz --see Glossary) and the village soviet (council) administration--organizations that employed the elite of rural society, nearly all of whose members were men.

As in the past, the post-Soviet nonpolitical elite includes schoolteachers, agronomists, veterinary surgeons, and engineers. Teachers are held in high esteem, partly because of their role in determining who in the next generation will have upward social mobility. Despite this status, teachers receive low pay and often must maintain private garden plots to support themselves. Agricultural machinery specialists, including operators and mechanics, emerged as increasingly important and well-paid members of rural society in the 1970s and 1980s. In general, however, workers who remain in the countryside have less possibility of upward mobility than do urban dwellers. Managers and white-collar workers in rural agricultural and other organizations generally are brought in from outside.

Rural dwellers tend to spend more time in their homes than residents of urban areas. Rural homes generally are larger than those in the city and have private garden plots. The tastes of country people are simpler and less Western-oriented than those of their urban counterparts, and they have less money to spend on leisure pursuits. The routine of life in many rural villages has scarcely changed over many generations; the central concerns continue to be the weather and the condition of crops and livestock.

The end of Soviet rule cast a shadow over the villages' guarantee of medical care, job training, and entertainment, and rural areas benefited much less from the increased pace of information exchange characteristic of urban centers. Rural young people continue to leave their families to seek a better life elsewhere because village life has improved little since their grandparents were young. In this process, the family, the foundation of peasant society, has become fragmented. Villages with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants are disappearing at a rapid rate: between 1960 and 1995, the entire population of an estimated two-thirds of such villages either died or moved away. In the remaining rural villages, health care and education are increasingly inadequate, and essential commodities such as propane gas have become extremely expensive.

Many young people return to their rural homes after acquiring the type of education or technical training that is available only in cities and that is increasingly necessary to run mechanized farming operations and agroindustrial enterprises. They are joined by Russian émigrés from former Soviet republics, especially Central Asia, for whom it is easier to start life in Russia in a rural rather than an urban setting. However, most of those additions to the rural population are only stopping temporarily until they find more satisfying situations elsewhere. According to most experts, the long-term prospects of the traditional Russian village became grim in the immediate post-Soviet period.

Russia

Russia - Social Organizations

Russia

In the mid-1990s, the structure of Russia's civil society was still in flux, but by that time the country had developed a large and growing network of social organizations, including trade unions, professional societies, veterans' groups, youth organizations, sports clubs, women's associations, and a variety of support groups. Whereas all types of organization during the Soviet era functioned as "transmission belts" for the communist party, in the years that followed the emergence of a large number of diverse, autonomous nongovernmental groups was an important aspect of the growth of civil society.

The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (Federatsiya nezavisimykh profsoyuzov Rossii--FNPR) is one of the largest trade union organizations. Created as the official trade union movement was reconstituted following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the federation includes thirty-six unions--many of them quite small in the mid-1990s--grouped by type of occupation. Among the FNPR's activities is the collection of contributions to the Social Insurance Fund by Russia's enterprises, each of which is required to earmark 4.5 percent of its total payroll for the fund.

Breaking the legal stranglehold of the Soviet-era trade union structure on the provision of social security benefits was a complicated but essential stage in enabling new unions to gain legitimacy in the eyes of workers. In the early 1990s, most workers saw the FNPR as representing the interests of management and the government, so they relied more heavily on unofficial, independent unions and a variety of worker-oriented organizations. However, in 1995 and early 1996 the FNPR, now a partner with top businesspeople in an umbrella party called Trade Unions and Industrialists of Russia, played a central role in organizing large-scale rallies and picketing actions to protest chronic late wage payments by enterprises all over the Russian Federation.

In the 1990s, substantial independent union activity has also occurred in the coal industry. There, the Independent Miners' Union (Nezavisimyy profsoyuz gornyakov--NPG) and the Independent Trade Union of Workers in the Coal-Mining Industry (Nezavisimyy profsoyuz rabochikh ugol'noy promyshlennosti--NPRUP), a reformed version of the official Soviet-era trade union, share power and have organized large-scale strikes.

In the 1990s, independent individuals and groups have begun establishing professional, research, educational, and cultural organizations. This activity has included a substantial upswing in the number of voluntary charitable and philanthropic organizations. In 1995 about 5,000 nonprofit organizations and 550 formal charities were operating in Russia. In Moscow more than 10,000 volunteers worked for these organizations in 1996. These numbers are low by Western standards, and a legal framework for the existence of charities and nonprofit organizations still did not exist as of mid-1996. However, the starting point in 1992 was nearly zero in both categories.

A significant token of citizen awareness is the proliferation of local and regional ecological and environmental cleanup groups throughout the Russian Federation (see The Response to Environmental Problems, ch. 3). For example, Epitsentr, an umbrella organization in St. Petersburg, has spawned numerous smaller groups that focus on controlling pollution in the city's water supply, stopping the construction of a controversial dam in the Gulf of Finland, and preserving St. Petersburg's historic buildings and cultural monuments. Students at Moscow State University and other educational institutions have played an important role in directing public attention to the massive environmental degradation that plagues Russia. The Socio-Ecological Union, which was founded at Moscow State University in 1988, has become one of the Russian Federation's most influential umbrella organizations committed to environmental protection.

Russia

Russia - The Family

Russia

As the Soviet Union became urbanized, families grew more numerous and smaller in average size. Between the censuses of 1959 and 1989, the number of family units increased 41 percent, from 28.5 million to more than 40 million. Average family size in the Russian Republic declined from 3.4 persons in 1970 to 3.1 in 1989. Already in the late 1970s, more than 80 percent of urban families had two children or fewer. In 1989 some 87 percent of the population lived in families, of which about 80 percent were based on a married couple.

In the 1980s, the divorce rate in the Soviet Union was second in the world only to that of the United States, although "unofficial divorces" and separations also were common. Crowded housing and lack of privacy contributed heavily to the divorce rate, especially for couples forced to live with the parents of one spouse. Drunkenness and infidelity were other major causes. Divorce procedures were relatively simple, although courts generally attempted to reconcile couples. Custody of children normally was awarded to the mother. In the first half of the 1990s, the conditions contributing to the majority of Russia's divorces did not change, and the divorce rate increased.

In post-Soviet attitudes, the family continues to be viewed as the most important institution in society. In a 1994 poll funded by the Commission on Women's, Family, and Demographic Problems, less than 3 percent of respondents named "living alone without a family" as the best choice for a young person. Although the size of the average Russian family has decreased steadily over the past quarter-century, nearly 80 percent of respondents named children as the essential element of a good marriage. At the same time, about three-quarters of respondents said that a bad marriage should be terminated rather than prolonged; the poll also showed that, generally, the Russian attitude toward divorce is more positive than it was in the Soviet era.

According to the 1994 survey, the dynamics of the average Russian family have changed somewhat. Compared with 1989, about 3 percent fewer individuals characterized their marriages as in conflict, and 9 percent fewer called their marriages "egalitarian" in the distribution of authority between the partners. The average distribution of common household tasks was shown to be far from equal, with women performing an average of about 75 percent of cooking, cleaning, and shopping chores. Between 1989 and 1994, women's expression of dissatisfaction with their family situation increased 13 percent, while that of men rose only 2 percent. Women reporting family satisfaction were predominantly young or elderly, with adequate-to-high incomes and at least a secondary education. According to experts, social and economic crises have caused Russians to rely more heavily than ever on the family as a source of personal satisfaction. But these same crises have caused the standard of living to fall, and they have required that more time be spent at work to keep it from falling further, thus making it harder for families to sustain their most cherished attributes.

Russia

Russia - The Role of Women

Russia

In the post-Soviet era, the position of women in Russian society remains at least as problematic as it was in previous decades. In both cases, a number of nominal legal protections for women either have failed to address the existing conditions or have failed to supply adequate support. In the 1990s, increasing economic pressures and shrinking government programs left women with little choice but to seek employment, although most available positions were as substandard as in the Soviet period, and generally jobs of any sort were more difficult to obtain. Such conditions contribute heavily to Russia's declining birthrate and the general deterioration of the family. At the same time, feminist groups and social organizations have begun advancing the cause of women's rights in what remains a strongly traditional society.

The Soviet constitution of 1977 stipulated that men and women have equal rights, and that women have equal access to education and training, employment, promotions, remuneration, and participation in social, cultural, and political activity. The Soviet government also provided women special medical and workplace protection, including incentives for mothers to work outside the home and legal and material support of their maternal role. In the 1980s, that support included 112 days of maternity leave at full pay. When that allowance ended, a woman could take as much as one year of additional leave without pay without losing her position. Employer discrimination against pregnant and nursing women was prohibited, and mothers with small children had the right to work part-time. Because of such provisions, as many as 92 percent of women were employed at least part-time, Soviet statistics showed.

Despite official ideology, Soviet women did not enjoy the same position as men in society or within the family. Average pay for women in all fields was below the overall national average, and the vaunted high percentage of women in various fields, especially health care, medicine, education, and economics, did not hold true in the most prestigious and high-paying areas such as the upper management of organizations in any of those fields. Women were conspicuously underrepresented in the leadership of the CPSU; in the 1980s, they constituted less than 30 percent of party membership and less than 5 percent of the party Central Committee, and no woman ever achieved full membership in the Politburo.

Most of the nominal state benefit programs for women continued into the post-Soviet era (see Social Welfare, this ch.). However, as in the Soviet era, Russian women in the 1990s predominate in economic sectors where pay is low, and they continue to receive less pay than men for comparable positions. In 1995 men in health care earned an average of 50 percent more than women in that field, and male engineers received an average of 40 percent more than their female colleagues. Despite the fact that, on average, women are better educated than men, women remain in the minority in senior management positions. In the Soviet era, women's wages averaged 70 percent of men's; by 1995 the figure was 40 percent, according to the Moscow-based Center for Gender Studies. According to a 1996 report, 87 percent of employed urban Russians earning less than 100,000 rubles a month (for value of the ruble--see Glossary) were women, and the percentage of women decreased consistently in the higher wage categories.

According to reports, women generally are the first to be fired, and they face other forms of on-the-job discrimination as well. Struggling companies often fire women to avoid paying child care benefits or granting maternity leave, as the law still requires. In 1995 women constituted an estimated 70 percent of Russia's unemployed, and as much as 90 percent in some areas.

Sociological surveys show that sexual harassment and violence against women have increased at all levels of society in the 1990s. More than 13,000 rapes were reported in 1994, meaning that several times that number of that often-unreported crime probably were committed. In 1993 an estimated 14,000 women were murdered by their husbands or lovers, about twenty times the figure in the United States and several times the figure in Russia five years earlier. More than 300,000 other types of crimes, including spousal abuse, were committed against women in 1994; in 1996 the State Duma (the lower house of the Federal Assembly, Russia's parliament) drafted a law against domestic violence.

Working women continue to bear the "double burden" of a job and family-raising responsibilities, in which Russian husbands generally participate little. In a 1994 survey, about two-thirds of women said that the state should help families by paying one spouse enough to permit the other to stay at home. Most women also consider their role in the family more difficult than that of their husband. Such dissatisfaction is a factor in Russia's accelerating divorce rate and declining marriage rate. In 1993 the divorce rate was 4.5 per 1,000 population, compared with 4.1 ten years earlier, and the marriage rate declined from 10.5 per 1,000 population in 1983 to 7.5 in 1993. In 1992 some 17.2 percent of births were to unmarried women. According to 1994 government statistics, about 20 percent of families were run by a single parent--the mother in 94 percent of cases.

Often women with families are forced to work because of insufficient state child allowances and unemployment benefits. Economic hardship has driven some women into prostitution. In the Soviet period, prostitution was viewed officially as a form of social deviancy that was dying out as the Soviet Union advanced toward communism. In the 1990s, organized crime has become heavily involved in prostitution, both in Russia and in the cities of Central and Western Europe, to which Russian women often are lured by bogus advertisements for match-making services or modeling agencies. According to one estimate, 10,000 women from Central Europe, including a high proportion of Russians, have been lured or forced into prostitution in Germany alone.

Independent women's organizations--a form of activity that was suppressed in the Soviet era--have been formed in large numbers in the 1990s at the local, regional, and national levels. One such group is the Center for Gender Studies, a private research institute. The center analyzes demographic and social problems of women and acts as a link between Russian and Western feminist groups. A traveling group called Feminist Alternative offers women assertiveness training. Many local groups have emerged to engage in court actions on behalf of women, to set up rape and domestic violence awareness programs (about a dozen of which were active in 1995), and to aid women in establishing businesses. Another prominent organization is the Women's Union of Russia, which focuses on job-training programs, career counseling, and the development of entrepreneurial skills that will enable women to compete more successfully in Russia's emerging market economy. Despite the proliferation of such groups and programs, in the mid-1990s most Russians (including many women) remain contemptuous of their efforts, which many regard as a kind of Western subversion of traditional social values.

The rapidly expanding private sector offers women new employment opportunities, but many of the Soviet stereotypes remain; the most frequently offered job in new businesses is that of secretary, and advertisements often specify physical attractiveness as a primary requirement. Russian law provides for as much as three years' imprisonment for sexual harassment, but the law rarely is enforced. Although the Fund for Protection from Sexual Harassment has blacklisted 300 Moscow firms where sexual harassment is known to have taken place, demands for sex and even rape still are common on-the-job occurrences.

Women's higher profile in post-Soviet Russia also has extended to politics. At the national level, the most notable manifestation of women's newfound political success has been the Women of Russia party, which won 11 percent of the vote and twenty-five seats in the 1993 national parliamentary elections. Subsequently, the party became active in a number of issues, including the opposition to the military campaign in Chechnya that began in 1994. In the 1995 national parliamentary elections, the Women of Russia chose to maintain its platform unchanged, emphasizing social issues such as the protection of children and women rather than entering into a coalition with other liberal parties. As a result, the party failed to reach the 5 percent threshold of votes required for proportional representation in the new State Duma, gaining only three seats in the single-seat portion of the elections (see The Elections of 1995, ch. 7). The party considered running a candidate in the 1996 presidential election but remained outside the crowded field.

A smaller organization, the Russian Women's Party, ran as part of an unsuccessful coalition with several other splinter parties in the 1995 elections. A few women, such as Ella Pamfilova of the Republican Party, Socialist Workers' Party chief Lyudmila Vartazarova, and Valeriya Novodvorskaya, leader of the Democratic Union, have established themselves as influential political figures. Pamfilova has gained particular stature as an advocate on behalf of women and elderly people.

The Soldiers' Mothers Movement was formed in 1989 to expose human rights violations in the armed forces and to help youths resist the draft. The movement has gained national prominence through its opposition to the war in Chechnya. Numerous protests have been organized, and representatives have gone to the Chechen capital, Groznyy, to demand the release of Russian prisoners and locate missing soldiers. The group, which claimed 10,000 members in 1995, also has lobbied against extending the term of mandatory military service.

Women have occupied few positions of influence in the executive branch of Russia's national government. One post in the Government (cabinet), that of minister of social protection, has become a "traditional" women's position; in 1994 Ella Pamfilova was followed in that position by Lyudmila Bezlepkina, who headed the ministry until the end of President Boris N. Yeltsin's first term in mid-1996. Tat'yana Paramanova was acting chairman of the Russian Central Bank for one year before Yeltsin replaced her in November 1995, and Tat'yana Regent has been head of the Federal Migration Service since its inception in 1992. Prior to the 1995 elections, women held about 10 percent of the seats in parliament: fifty-seven of 450 seats in the State Duma and nine of 178 seats in the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council. The Soviet system of mandating legislative seats generally allocated about one-third of the seats in republic-level legislatures and one-half of the seats in local soviets to women, but those proportions shrank drastically with the first multiparty elections of 1990.

Russia

Russia - Education

Russia

In the Soviet period, education was highly centralized, and indoctrination in Marxist-Leninist theory was a major element of every school's curriculum. The schools' additional ideological function left a legacy in the post-Soviet system that has proved difficult for educators to overcome. In the 1990s, reform programs are aimed at overhauling the Soviet-era pedagogical philosophy and substantially revising curricula. Inadequate funding has frustrated attainment of these goals, however, and the teaching profession has lost talented individuals because of low pay.

The Soviet Heritage

The Soviet government operated virtually all the schools in Russia. The underlying philosophy of Soviet schools was that the teacher's job was to transmit standardized materials to the students, and the student's job was to memorize those materials, all of which were put in the context of socialist ethics. That set of ethics stressed the primacy of the collective over the interests of the individual. Therefore, for both teachers and students, creativity and individualism were discouraged. The Soviet system also maintained some traditions from tsarist times, such as the five-point grading scale, formal and regimented classroom environments, and standard school uniforms--dark dresses with white collars for girls, white shirts and black pants for boys.

As in other areas of Soviet life, the need for reform in education was felt in the 1980s. Reform programs in that period called for new curricula, textbooks, and teaching methods. The chief aim of those programs was to create a "new school" that would better equip Soviet citizens to deal with the modern, technologically advanced nation that Soviet leaders foresaw in the future. Nevertheless, in the 1980s facilities generally were inadequate, overcrowding was common, and equipment and materials were in short supply. The schools and universities failed to supply adequately skilled labor to almost every sector of the economy, and overgrown bureaucracy further compromised education's contribution to society. At the same time, young Russians became increasingly cynical about the Marxist-Leninist philosophy they were forced to absorb, as well as the stifling of self-expression and individual responsibility. In the last years of the Soviet Union, funding was inadequate for the large-scale establishment of "new schools," and requirements of ideological purity continued to smother the new pedagogical creativity that was heralded in official pronouncements.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the transition toward democracy had a profound effect on national education policy. In 1992 a reform philosophy was set forth in the Law on Education. The fundamental principle of that law was the removal of state control from education policy. In regions with non-Russian populations, that meant that educational institutions could base their curricula and teaching methods on national and historical traditions. In all regions, enactment of the law meant significant autonomy for local authorities to choose education strategies most appropriate to the time and place. Post-Soviet education reform also stressed teaching objectively, thus discarding all forms of the narrow, institutional views that had dominated the previous era and preparing young people to deal with all aspects of the society they would encounter by presenting a broader interpretation of the world.

Post-Soviet educational philosophy also has sought to integrate education with the production and economic processes into which graduates will pass in adult life. Envisioning a program of continuous education lasting throughout the lifetime of an individual, this concept has as its goal converting the education process from an economic burden on the state to an engine of economic progress. Especially important in this program is the reorientation of vocational training to complement the economic reforms of the 1990s. New systems of education for farmers and various types of on-the-job training for adults have been introduced, and new curricula in economics stress understanding of market economies.

The Post-Soviet Education Structure

Article 43 of the 1993 constitution affirms each citizen's right to education. It stipulates that "basic general education is compulsory" and that parents or guardians are responsible for ensuring that children obtain schooling. "General access to free preschool, basic general, and secondary vocational education in state or municipal educational establishments and in enterprises is guaranteed," according to the constitution. Although such access continued to exist in principle in the mid-1990s, various components of the system were increasingly inadequate. In 1993 some 35.2 million students were enrolled in Russian schools at all levels, including 20.5 million in general primary and secondary schools, 1.8 million in professional and technical schools, 2.1 million in special secondary schools, and 2.6 million in institutions of higher learning (see table 12, Appendix). A total of 70,200 general primary and secondary schools and 82,100 preschools were in operation at that time. Of the former category, 48,800 were in rural areas and 21,000 in urban areas.

In 1995 the projected budgetary expenditure for education was about 3.6 percent of the total state budget, a level Russian experts agreed could not maintain the system as it was, to say nothing of implementing the changes called for by post-Soviet legislation. The financing system made educational institutions fully dependent on state funds; outside sources of funding did not exist because no tax advantages accrued from investing in education.

Infrastructure

Because the Soviet Union had not built enough schools to accommodate increasing enrollment, Russia inherited a system of very large, overcrowded schools with a decaying infrastructure. By the late 1980s, 21 percent of students were attending schools with no central heating, and 30 percent were learning in buildings with no running water. In 1992 Russia had nearly 67,000 primary and secondary schools, which provided an average per-pupil space of 2.6 square meters, one-third the official standard. About one-quarter of schools housed 900 or more students. In 1993 Russia was forced to close about 20,000 of its schools because of physical inadequacy, and an estimated one-third of the national school capacity was in need of large-scale repair. In 1994 one of every two students attended a school operating on two or three shifts. Rural schools, which make up about 75 percent of the national total, were in especially bad condition.

Teachers

The Soviet Union suffered a shortage of teachers for decades before the 1990s. Although society held the profession in high regard, teacher salaries were among the lowest of all professions, at least partly because women dominated the field at the primary and secondary levels. The emerging market economy of the 1990s improved the pay and career opportunities outside teaching for many who would have remained in education under the more rigid Soviet system; thus, the shortage was exacerbated. In the 1992-93 school year, Russian schools had about 29,000 teacher vacancies, and in the following year 25 percent of all foreign-language teaching positions were unfilled. Although low pay has damaged morale among Russian teachers, they are more disillusioned by the end of the idealistic first post-Soviet years of innovation and freedom of speech and the continued decline of their material environment. In the mid-1990s, rural schools experienced particular difficulty retaining teachers, as qualified young adults sought opportunities in larger communities.

Curriculum

The end of the communist system has led to extensive curriculum revision. A new paradigm has been developed to guide education, and more attention has gone to the arts, humanities, and social sciences. The 1992 Law on Education stressed the humanistic nature of education, common values, freedom of human development, and citizenship. Curriculum changes were laid out in another document, the Basic Curriculum of the General Secondary School; the overall curriculum reform program is to be put in place over a five-year period ending in 1998. In the mid-1990s, many public schools have designed special curricula, some returning to the classical studies prevalent in the early 1900s. Local development of curricula and materials became legal in 1992, although financial constraints have limited experimentation and the Soviet era left educators with a strong bias toward standardized instruction and rote memorization. In contrast to the Soviet era, the quality and content of curricula vary greatly among public schools. A major factor encouraging local initiative is the disarray of federal education agencies, which often leave oblast, regional, and municipal authorities to their own devices. Nevertheless, only about one-third of primary and secondary schools have taken advantage of the opportunity to develop their own curricula; many administrations have been unwilling to make such large-scale decisions independently.

Grade Structure

Russian parents have the option of sending their children to preschool until age seven, when enrollment in elementary school becomes mandatory. Because the overwhelming majority of mothers still have full-time employment, many preschool facilities are colocated with enterprises. As businesses become increasingly profit oriented, however, many have ceased or reduced their support of such facilities. The number of child-care facilities for working parents declined significantly after 1991, mainly because many such facilities lacked the funding to continue operation without state support. Of about 82,100 preschools in operation in 1993, more than one-third were housed in inadequate facilities.

Although the 1992 Law on Education lowered the upper age of the compulsory education range from seventeen to fifteen, in the mid-1990s more than 60 percent of students remained in school for the previously required ten years. Among Russia's educational reforms is a regulation authorizing school officials to expel students fourteen years of age or older who are failing their courses. By the end of 1992, about 200,000 students had been expelled, and two to three times that number had dropped out. In the mid-1990s, Russia had five types of secondary school: regular schools featuring a core curriculum; schools offering elective subjects; schools offering intensive study in elective subjects; schools designed to prepare students for entrance examinations to an institution of higher education (vyssheye uchebnoye zavedeniye --VUZ; pl., VUZy); and alternative schools with experimental programs.

Private Schools

State education is free, but by 1992 several state higher-education institutions had begun charging tuition. At that point, almost half of the students above the secondary level were paying fees of some sort. The 1992 Law on Education provides explicitly for private educational institutions; in the ensuing years, several organizations for private education have appeared, and a variety of private schools and colleges have opened. By 1992 about 300 nonstate schools were being attended by more than 20,000 students.

As public schools debated what to do with their new academic freedom, private schools and preschools became centers of innovation, with programs rediscovering prerevolutionary pedagogy and freely borrowing teaching methods from Western Europe and the United States. Serving largely Western-oriented families intent on making progress up the newly reconstructed social ladder, private schools emphasize learning English and other critical skills. Student-to-teacher ratios are very low, and teacher salaries average about US$170 per month (about three times the average for a public school teacher). Tuition may be as much as US$3,000 per year, but some private schools charge parents according to their means, surviving instead on donations of money and time from wealthy parents. Unlike public schools, all private schools must pay for rent, utilities, and textbooks, and many have struggled to retain adequate building space.

Educational Achievement

The literacy rate in Russia is nearly 100 percent except in some areas dominated by ethnic minorities, where the rate may be considerably lower. According to the 1989 census, three-fifths of Russia's people aged fifteen and older had completed secondary school, and 8 percent had completed higher education. Wide variations in educational attainment exist between urban and rural areas. The 1989 census indicated that two-thirds of the country's urban population aged fifteen and older had finished secondary school, as compared with just under one-half of the rural population. Schools can award diplomas only in three languages--Russian, Tatar, and Bashkir--a requirement that puts many of the country's more than 100 ethnic groups at a disadvantage.

Higher Education

The VUZ category includes all of Russia's postsecondary educational institutions; in 1995 these totaled about 500, including forty-two universities. The other two types of VUZ are the institute and the polytechnic institute. Institutes, the largest of the three groups, train students in a specific field such as law, economics, art, agriculture, medicine, or technology. The polytechnic institutes teach the same range of subjects but without specialization in a single area. Most universities teach the arts and pure sciences.

The institute program consists of two phases. After completing two years of general studies, a student receives a certificate; he or she then may take an entrance examination to continue for two more years or terminate the program and seek a job. Completion of the next two years results in conferral of a baccalaureate degree. The next level of higher education is specialized study based on a research program in the area of future professional activity. This phase lasts at least two years, at the end of which the individual is designated a specialist in the chosen field. The top level of higher education is graduate work, which entails a three-year program of study and research leading to a degree of candidate (kandidat ), then finally to a degree of doctor of sciences (doktor nauk ).

In the post-Soviet era, the system of higher education has undergone a more drastic transformation than the primary and secondary systems. Authority has moved from the center to agencies in local and subnational jurisdictions. About 14 percent of institutions of higher learning are located in the twenty-one republics of the federation (see table 13, Appendix). Under the new system, each VUZ can determine its own admissions policy and the content of its academic programs. These institutions also have their own financial resources and statutes of operation.

Most of Russia's universities are located in large cities. Moscow State University, which was founded in 1755 and has about 28,000 students and 8,000 teachers, enjoys the highest reputation. The Russian People's Friendship University in Moscow has about 6,500 students and 1,500 teachers, and St. Petersburg State University has about 21,000 students and 2,100 teachers.

The Soviet Union concentrated its vocational training resources in areas such as space and military technology. It lagged behind the West in technical and vocational training in other sectors because of the practice of ending students' preparation in these areas at the secondary level. In Russia vocational schools traditionally have had a poor image; only in the early 1990s was comprehensive vocational education introduced for postsecondary students. In 1993 some 400 VUZ offered specialized training in specific vocational areas ranging from engineering and electricity to agricultural specialties. Some vocational schools have combined general and vocational curricula, with the goal of giving specialists a broader educational background. Another trend is the integration of higher technical education with on-the-job training by linking educational institutions with enterprises and factories.

In the post-Soviet era, business education has expanded dramatically because the demand for competent managers far outstrips the supply. Experts believe that Russia's business education programs will play an important role in transforming social attitudes toward the market economy and capitalism and establishing a new economic infrastructure. The primary goal of the new programs is to create familiarity with the principles of the market economy while casting aside Marxist economic ideology. In the first two years after the Soviet Union dissolved, more than 1,000 business schools and training centers were established.

Three types of institution offer business management education: state and private business schools and private consulting firms. Many in the last category simply offer high-priced lectures, but some business schools have developed sophisticated programs. Examples are the International Business School of Moscow State University, the Graduate School of International Business of the Academy of the National Economy in Moscow, and the International Management Institute in St. Petersburg. Several schools offer full master of business administration (MBA) degree programs based on Western models. Business schools are funded by the state and by private enterprise. Competent faculty are at a premium in this field; many have been trained by Western firms such as IBM.

Education and Society

Education plays a crucial role in determining social status in Russia. People who leave school after eight years generally can find only unskilled jobs. Even those who complete secondary education may rise no higher than skilled labor or low-level white-collar work. A college or university education is necessary for most professional and bureaucratic positions and appears to be highly desirable for a position of political power. For example, a very high percentage of the members of Russia's parliament are university graduates.

Access to higher education is roughly proportionate to the social and financial situation of an individual's family. Children whose parents have money and status usually have an advantage in gaining admission to an institution of higher education. The reasons lie not only with the parents' possible influence and connections but increasingly with the better quality of primary and secondary education that has become available to such children, enhancing their ability to pass difficult university entrance examinations. Moreover, such families can afford to hire tutors for their children in preparation for the examinations and can more readily afford to pay university tuition in case the children do not receive stipends.

By the mid-1990s, the new phenomenon of individual commercial success began influencing the attitude of Russian society toward education and its goals. At the same time, the last generation of Soviet-educated Russians was finding itself ill prepared to deal with a new set of conditions for social and economic survival. In the new order, acquisition of money is much more important for both self-respect and practical survival, and career prestige by itself is of relatively less worth than it was in the Soviet system, where every career label ensured a known level of comfort. Significantly, in post-Soviet years, the phrase delat' den'gi (to make money) has passed into common usage in colloquial Russian. Together with the employment insecurity felt in the 1990s by well-educated Russians, the new values have dampened the educational ambitions of many, particularly with regard to higher education. Although most older Russians resent those who achieve commercial success in the new "system," the generation now in school shows increasing interest in advancement in the private sector of the economy. At the same time, polls show that education ranks ninth among the most pressing concerns of Russians.

Russia

Russia - Health

Russia

Russia has an entrenched, albeit underfunded, system of socialized medicine. Basic medical care is available to most of the population free of cost, but its quality is extremely low by Western standards, and in the mid-1990s the efficiency of the system continued the decline that had begun before the collapse of the Soviet system. In the first four post-Soviet years, that decline was typified by significant increases in infant and maternal mortality and contagious diseases and by decreases in fertility and life expectancy.

Health Conditions

The decline in health is attributable in part to such environmental and social factors as air and water pollution, contamination (largely from nuclear accidents or improper disposal of radioactive materials), overcrowded living conditions, inadequate nutrition, alcoholism, and smoking, and in part to a lack of modern medical equipment and technology. In 1991 life expectancy in Russia was 74.3 years for females and 63.5 years for males. By 1994 the figure for males was 57.3 years. The male-to-female ratio in the population reflects the higher male mortality rate and the enduring impact of losing millions more males than females in World War II. (In all age-groups below thirty-five, there are more males than females.) In 1993 the overall ratio was 884 males per 1,000 females, and experts predicted that the figure for males would decline to around 875 by the year 2005 (see Demographic Conditions, ch. 3).

By the mid-1990s, Russia's death rate had reached its highest peacetime level in the twentieth century. Curable infectious diseases such as diphtheria and measles have reached epidemic levels unseen since the Bolshevik Revolution, and the rates of tuberculosis, cancer, and heart disease are the highest of any industrialized country.

In 1993 the incidence of a number of infectious diseases increased significantly over the previous year: tuberculosis by 1.25 times, brucellosis by 1.9 times, diphtheria by 3.9 times, and syphilis by 2.6 times (see table 14, Appendix). In 1995 the Russian health system was overwhelmed by the return of epidemic diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever, even as it faced chronic staff and equipment shortages. In the winter of 1995-96, Russia suffered its most severe epidemic of influenza in decades. An estimated 1 million people were infected in Moscow alone, and numerous schools and public institutions were closed to prevent the spread of the disease. Experts attributed the virulence of the epidemic to the generally low level of resistance of much of the Russian population, the result of poor overall health care and stressful economic conditions. Other causes were the uneven availability of influenza shots and the population's general belief that injections enhance rather than decrease an individual's chances of becoming ill.

Between 1980 and 1989, cancer and its complications increased from 15 percent to 18 percent among causes of death. In 1990 the most common types of cancer were breast cancer, cancer of the stomach and liver, and skin cancer. In the last years of the Soviet Union, about 680,000 new cases were diagnosed annually. The causes of cancer are varied and complex, but contributing factors in Russia are heavy smoking, radiation exposure, and contact with pervasive toxic emissions and chemicals in soil, food, and water. According to the deputy minister of environmental protection and natural resources, about 50 percent of all cancer-related illnesses can be attributed to environmental factors. Heavy-manufacturing regions show especially high rates; in Noril'sk, the metallurgical center located above the Arctic Circle, the incidence of lung cancer among males is the highest in the world (see Environmental Conditions, ch. 3).

Russia's birthrate has shown an increasingly steep decline in the 1990s, amounting to what one commentator calls "the quiet suicide of a nation." For example, the annual birthrate for the first six months of 1992 was 11.2 per 1,000 population--a 12 percent decline from the same period in the previous year. In some areas, the rate was even lower, for instance, 9.2 in St. Petersburg and 8.2 in the Moscow region.

Russia's Ministry of Health reported in June 1991 that the country had a negative rate of population change for the first time since records have been kept. The declining number of births is attributed in part to a drop in fertility, which presumably stems from a combination of physiological and environmental factors, and in part to women's reluctance to bear children in a time of economic uncertainty.

Maternity, Infant Care, and Birth Control

Some of the same factors shortening the lives of adults cause needless premature deaths of newborns in Russia. Poor overall health care and lack of medicines, especially in rural areas, reduce infants' survival chances. In Russia an estimated 40 to 50 percent of infant deaths are caused by respiratory failure, infectious and parasitic diseases, accidents, injuries, and trauma. For developed countries, this share ranges between 4 and 17 percent.

Infant mortality rates vary considerably by region. Central and northern European Russia's rates have been more in line with West European rates. In the intermediate category are the Urals, western Siberia, and the Volga Basin. The highest rates are found in the North Caucasus, eastern Siberia, and the Far East. Several autonomous republics, including Kalmykia, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, and Tyva, consistently record the highest rates in the Russian Federation. In these areas, social and economic underdevelopment, poor health care, and environmental degradation have had an impact on the health of mothers and newborns.

Unwanted pregnancies are common because of the limited availability and substandard quality of contraceptives and a reluctance to discuss sexual issues openly at home or to provide sex education at school. No social stigma is attached to children born out of wedlock, and unmarried mothers receive maternity benefits. Medical care for expectant mothers is among the least adequate aspects of the country's generally substandard system of health care. A high percentage of pregnant women suffer from anemia and poor diets--factors that have a negative effect on their babies' birth weight and general health.

In the mid-1990s, modern forms of contraception are unavailable or unknown to most Russian women. The Soviet Union legalized abortion for medical reasons in 1955 and overall in 1968. But information about Western advances in birth control--and all modern means of birth control--was systematically kept from the public throughout the remaining Soviet decades. As a result of that policy, today's Russian gynecologists lack the training to advise women on contraception, and public knowledge of the subject remains incomplete or simply mistaken. Even in Moscow in the mid-1990s, most contraceptives were paid for by voluntary funds and international charities. In the early 1990s, an estimated 22 percent of women of childbearing age were using contraceptives; the percentage was much lower in rural areas.

Abortion remains the most widely practiced form of birth control in Russia. In 1995 some 225 abortions were performed for every 100 live births, up from a rate of 196 per 100 in 1991. According to one study, 14 percent of the women in Russia with sixteen or more years of school had undergone eight to ten abortions. The conditions under which abortions are performed often are primitive. Moreover, it is estimated that nearly three-quarters of abortions take place after the first trimester of pregnancy, involving substantially greater maternal risk than those performed earlier. The number of abortions is much higher among Russian women than among Muslims and other minority groups, however. Statistically, the higher her social status and the extent of her Russification, the more likely a Muslim woman is to seek an abortion.

Infant and child health in Russia is significantly worse than in other industrialized countries. According to official statistics, only one child in five is born healthy. The inability of more than half of all new mothers to breast-feed, mainly because of poor diet, further undermines infants' health in a country where diets generally are unbalanced. Another problem is that most women of childbearing age are employed and thus must place their young children in day care centers, where they often contract contagious diseases. Illnesses such as cholera, typhoid fever, diphtheria, pertussis, and poliomyelitis, which have been virtually eradicated in other advanced industrial societies, are widespread among Russia's children. Vaccines are scarce. Even when immunizations are available, parents often refuse them for their children because they fear infection from dirty needles.

Alcohol, Narcotics, and Tobacco

Russia's rate of alcohol consumption, traditionally among the highest in the world and rising significantly in the 1990s, is a major contributor to the country's health crisis, as well as to low job productivity. Rated as Russia's third most critical health problem after cardiovascular diseases and cancer, alcoholism has reached epidemic proportions, particularly among males. In the twentieth century, periodic government campaigns against alcohol consumption have resulted in thousands of deaths from the consumption of alcohol surrogates. The latest such campaign was undertaken from 1985 to 1988, during the regime of Mikhail S. Gorbachev (in office 1985-91). Although some authorities credited reduced alcohol consumption with a concurrent drop in Russia's mortality rate, by 1987 the production of samogon (home-brewed liquor) had become a large-scale industry that provided alcohol to Russians while depriving the state of tax revenue. When restrictions were eased in 1988, alcohol consumption exceeded the pre-1985 level. According to one study, between 1987 and 1992 annual per capita consumption rose from about eleven liters of pure alcohol to fourteen liters in 1992; current consumption is estimated at about fifteen liters. (According to World Health Organization standards, consumption of eight liters per year is likely to cause major medical problems.)

A 1995 Russian study found that regular drunkenness affected between 25 and 60 percent of blue-collar workers and 21 percent of white-collar workers, with the highest incidence found in rural areas. Because alcohol remains cheap relative to food and other items, and because it is available in most places day and night, unemployed people are especially prone to drunkenness and alcohol poisoning. In 1994 some 53,000 people died of alcohol poisoning, an increase of about 36,000 since 1991. If vodka is unavailable or unaffordable, Russians sometimes imbibe various combinations of dangerous substances. The Russian media often report poisonings that result from consumption of homemade alcohol substitutes. Production of often-substandard alcohol has become a widespread criminal activity in the 1990s, further endangering consumers. Alcohol consumption among pregnant women is partly responsible for Russia's rise in infant mortality, birth defects, and childhood disease and abnormalities.

Smoking, a widespread habit, especially among women and teenagers, compounds Russia's health crisis. Chain-smoking is endemic in Russia; in 1996 an estimated 55 percent of Russians were regular smokers, and health authorities believed that the figure was rising. However, rather than urge patients to quit, doctors often recommend the purchase of American cigarettes, which are more expensive but have less tar and nicotine than Russian brands. When import restrictions ended in the early 1990s, the American cigarette industry found a large new market in Russia. A modest government antismoking campaign paralleling Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign in the late 1980s had little effect. In January 1996, cigarette advertising in the print media was prohibited, and smoking in theaters and workplaces generally was restricted to designated locations.

The increasing incidence of drug abuse was belatedly acknowledged by the Russian government as a public health problem. In 1995 an estimated 2 million Russians used narcotics, more than twenty times the total recorded ten years earlier in the entire Soviet Union, with the number of users increasing 50 percent every year in the mid-1990s. In the Soviet era, drugs were viewed officially as a capitalist vice, but that attitude disappeared soon after the Soviet Union dissolved. Russia legalized drug use (but not possession or sale) in 1991. According to experts, laws against possession are not dissuasive. Narcotics use has spread to new elements of society in recent years, including alcoholics seeking a new means of escape. Russian experts rate the new class of Russian businesspeople as the group with the highest percentage of drug users; for them, success often includes the ability to purchase the most expensive narcotic. The drug scene, once dominated by students and intellectuals, now includes large numbers of housewives and workers. Synthetic drugs now are manufactured in small laboratories by professional chemists; some are easily fabricated by amateurs as well. Legally produced drugs often are stolen and move into the black market (see The Crime Wave of the 1990s, ch. 10).

Medical treatment and educational programs now include hot lines in major cities and walk-in clinics that provide advice and treatment on an anonymous basis. Some schoolteachers have begun class discussions of drug-related issues and have distributed antidrug literature to students. Nevertheless, Russia's drug problem remains largely intractable. Many addicts overdose, and some who cannot afford heroin inject themselves with other substances that cause illness or death.

Aids

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) likely was brought to the Soviet Union by students from countries with high levels of incidence of the disease. In 1987, after the first case of AIDS was confirmed in Russia, the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union passed the strictest anti-AIDS law in the world, making the knowing transmittal of the infection a criminal offense punishable by up to eight years in jail. A 1995 law, which has been criticized vehemently for its human rights implications and the cost of its administration, stipulates that all visitors remaining more than three months must prove that they are not infected with the AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

The government has established a diagnostic and screening infrastructure for AIDS prevention and control at the central and subnational levels. This system has been criticized heavily, however, because it tests only populations with little chance of infection, and because it fails to allocate scarce funds to root causes of AIDS transmittal such as infection from hospital procedures and reuse of hypodermic needles. The release of statistics on the incidence of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases has been extremely slow. In late 1995, the Ministry of Health reported that 1,023 Russians, including 278 children, had been registered as having HIV, and that to that point 160 Russians, of whom seventy-three were children, had died of AIDS. Before 1992 several mass infections of children occurred in medical facilities.

Official diagnoses of HIV increased 50 percent from 1993 to 1994. However, according to an official of the Imena AIDS support group, which is devoted to rehabilitation of HIV victims, the official statistics are understated at least tenfold because Russians in the groups most at risk--prostitutes, homosexuals, and drug users--have reason to fear that results will not remain confidential and so refuse AIDS testing. Although the 1990 Law on Prevention of AIDS mandates confidentiality of medical records, in practice jobs often are lost and social services denied after a positive diagnosis. The highest incidence of HIV is in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rostov-na-Donu, Volgograd, and the Republic of Kalmykia, the last three of which have medical facilities where unsanitary procedures have resulted in mass transmission of the virus. The majority of reported HIV-positive individuals are drug users.

As in the Soviet period, the public receives little information about precautions against AIDS or the identity of the high-risk categories in society, and AIDS sufferers meet much intolerance in Russian society. Because the disease has been associated with foreigners, government officials and the public have ignored the need for preventive measures among Russians. AIDS transmittal is increased by a chronic shortage of condoms (which Soviet medical officials euphemistically called "Article Number 2") and by the lack of disposable hypodermic syringes in hospitals and clinics, which results in the repeated use of unsterilized needles.

The Health System

The glasnost period of the late 1980s first revealed the decay of the Soviet system of socialized medicine, which nominally guaranteed full health protection to all citizens without charge. That system had been installed under Joseph V. Stalin (in office 1927-53) with an emphasis on preserving a healthy work force as a matter of national economic policy. In the 1980s, Russia had a huge network of neighborhood and work-site clinics and first-aid facilities to provide readily accessible primary care, together with large hospitals and polyclinics to diagnose and treat more complex illnesses and to perform surgery. In 1986 the Soviet Union had 23,500 hospitals with more than 3.6 million beds. Such facilities included about 28,000 women's consultation centers and pediatric clinics, together with emergency ambulance services and sanatoriums.

In the 1980s, the Soviet Union was first in the world in the ratio of hospital beds to population. Behind this system was a huge, multilevel bureaucracy directed from Moscow in consultation with organs of the CPSU. All aspects of health service had nationwide annual programs with complex statistical accounting and goals. Physicians devoted an estimated 50 percent of their time to filling out forms, and every year a large part of the national health care budget went to construction of new facilities.

The structure of the Soviet system, which specified the length of treatment for every disease, often caused people suffering from relatively minor ailments such as influenza to be hospitalized. The result was a serious overcrowding problem in hospitals despite the large number of beds available. Patients preferred hospital treatment because hospitals were better equipped than clinics and because crowded living conditions made recuperation at home difficult. Many large enterprises operated clinics that provided workers health care without requiring them to leave the work site. Such clinics aimed at reducing the incidence of sick leave, which averaged 3 percent of the workforce per day in the 1980s.

The most outdated and abuse-ridden aspect of Soviet health care was psychiatric treatment. That system never advanced from the methodology of the 1950s, which included Pavlovian conditioned-response treatment, heavy reliance on drug therapy, and little practice of individual or group counseling. Therefore, most citizens preferred to suffer rather than submit themselves to treatment. In addition, Soviet psychiatry was at the service of the government to declare dissenters "insane," commit them to psychiatric hospital-prisons, and administer powerful psychotropic drugs. In the mid-1980s, estimates of the number of political prisoners in such institutions ranged from 1,000 to several thousand, and in 1983 the Soviet Union withdrew from the World Psychiatric Association to avoid censure for its abuses of the profession. In 1988 the special psychiatric hospitals to which political dissidents had been committed were transferred from the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to that of the Ministry of Health.

In 1986 the Soviet Union had about 1.2 million doctors and about 3.2 million paramedical and nursing personnel. Medical training emphasized practical work over basic research and pure science; only nine medical institutes were attached to universities. In the late 1980s, the average doctor's salary was roughly comparable to that of the average industrial worker. In 1996 the average Moscow specialist made about US$75 per month, and senior doctors made about US$150 per month. Paramedics and nurses needed only two years of training and no scientific background; however, in rural areas, which suffered a shortage of doctors, such individuals often were the only medical personnel available.

Despite the nominally equitable nature of Soviet socialized medicine, the actual system was highly stratified according to location, with far inferior care and facilities available in rural areas, and especially according to political status. The Ministry of Health maintained a completely separate, vastly superior system of clinics, hospitals, and sanatoriums for top party and government officials and other elite groups such as writers, actors, musicians, and artists.

The outline of the Soviet system did not change appreciably in the first half of the 1990s, but quality declined in nearly every aspect except the facilities designated for the elite. In 1992 Russia had 662,700 doctors, a drop of about 32,000 since 1990, and 131 hospital beds per 10,000 population, a drop of 97,000 beds (about 5 percent) since 1990. Among the doctors, 78,600 were surgeons, 77,600 pediatricians, 39,600 gynecologists, 20,300 psychiatrists, and 18,500 neurologists.

In the early 1990s, the public health delivery system in Russia was in crisis. Although the number of doctors and paramedics has remained sufficiently high to ensure the provision of adequate treatment, most such personnel are poorly trained, lack modern equipment, and are badly paid. In 1995 Russia had one doctor for every 275 citizens (compared with one for every 450 in the United States), but about half of medical school graduates cannot diagnose simple ailments or read an electrocardiogram when they enter practice. In 1993 about forty institutions offered medical training, but the quality of training varied considerably. Many medical schools suffer from shortages of instructors, textbooks, current medical journals, contacts with Western experts, and equipment.

Low salaries have made corruption common among medical personnel, who often extract bribes for both materials and services. Thus, although health care is free in principle, the chances of receiving adequate treatment may depend on the patient's wealth. The combination of bribes and authorized charges puts many types of medical treatment beyond the reach of all but the wealthy. Elderly people are hit especially hard by this situation. Meanwhile, a sharp decline in state funding has affected all aspects of medical care, from prevention to emergency treatment. Between 1990 and 1994, state funding declined from 3.4 percent of the national budget to 1.8 percent.

Although Russia pioneered in some specialized fields of medicine such as laser eye surgery and heart surgery, the country's medical establishment is generally deficient in hospital equipment, technology, and pharmaceuticals. For example, preventable infant deaths result from an absence of fetal heart monitors, ultrasound units, and various other equipment for monitoring labor and delivery; needless deaths from heart disease occur because hospitals lack the equipment needed to perform bypass surgery and angioplasty.

Facilities for the disabled, of whom about 6 million reside in Russia, also fall far below Western standards. Wheelchairs and artificial limbs are in very short supply, rehabilitation centers are few, and wheelchair ramps are virtually nonexistent. A 1995 law, On the Social Protection of Disabled Persons in the Russian Federation, provides for a wide range of benefits and services, including equal access to education, employment, transportation, and services. The law requires businesses to set aside at least 3 percent of their jobs for the disabled. However, no funding was available for any of the law's programs in 1996.

The shortage of medicines in Russia is chronic and catastrophic. Soviet-era supplies of materials and drugs have been depleted and are not being adequately replenished. Domestic production has plummeted because of the obsolescence of pharmaceutical factories and shortages of requisite raw materials and supplies. Many of the items produced are ineffective. Russia relies increasingly on imports from former Soviet-bloc nations in Central Europe, which formerly accepted barter transactions and payment in rubles but now demand hard currency (see Glossary), a scarce item in Russia, for their products. The nonconvertibility of the ruble also has hindered Russia's ability to purchase medicines abroad. Even when pharmaceuticals are available in Russia, they often are priced beyond the reach of doctors and patients.

Russia's hospitals and polyclinics are generally old (about 15 percent were built before 1940), and they lack basic amenities. Roughly 42 percent of the country's hospitals and 30 percent of its clinics lack hot water, and 12 percent and 7 percent, respectively, have no running water at all. About 18 percent of hospitals and 15 percent of clinics are not connected to a sewerage system, and only 12 percent in both categories have central heating. Even in the best hospitals, medical personnel do not regularly wash their hands, surgical instruments are not always properly sterilized, and rates of infection are abnormally high.

Aside from shortfalls in Russia's health facilities and the quality of medical personnel, much of the country's public health crisis stems from poor personal hygiene and diet and lack of exercise. Preventive medicine and wellness programs are virtually nonexistent, as are programs to educate the public about personal sanitation, proper diet, and vitamins. The average Russian does not consume a balanced diet. Vegetables often are scarce in Russia, except in rural areas where they are homegrown, and fruits never have constituted an important element of the Russian diet. Per capita meat consumption also has fallen in the 1990s (see table 6, Appendix).

Russia's government is attempting to equalize the distribution of health care by fragmenting the Soviet-era network of top-level medical facilities for exclusive use of the elite. In the spring of 1993, President Yeltsin signed a decree entitled On Immediate Measures to Provide Health Care for the People of the Russian Federation. The proclaimed goal, which already had been established in the 1980s, was the creation by 2000 of a "unified system of health care" for the entire population. However, economic constraints are likely to stymie achievement of that goal in the near future. In 1995 less than 1 percent of Russia's budget was earmarked for public health, compared with 6 percent in Britain and more than 12 percent in the United States. Experts forecast that such a meager outlay will not address the major shortfalls in Russia's health care system, not to mention the air, water, and soil pollution that continue to contribute insidiously to worsening public health.

The impersonality and inaccessibility of national health system facilities, with patients often standing in line at clinics for an entire day before receiving brief diagnoses and prescriptions for drugs they cannot afford, has encouraged many Russians to turn to unorthodox alternatives such as faith healing, herbal medicine, and mysticism. By the mid-1990s, private medical clinics were serving a growing number of Russians able to afford their care.

In the Soviet era, the state discouraged alternative medicine by arresting practitioners. By 1995, however, the number of such individuals was estimated at 300,000, and as many as 80 percent of Russians needing medical assistance have turned to them, according to a Yeltsin adviser on social policy. Traditional folk healers constitute the largest group of nontraditional practitioners. They offer personalized attention and affordable cures such as birch bark and cranberries to cure a variety of complaints. Russians with access to a plot of land often grow their own herbs, and books describing home cures have become popular. Long-practiced cures such as wrapping oneself in a vinegar-soaked blanket and drinking one's own urine have become more widespread in the 1990s.

Russia

Russia - Social Welfare

Russia

As Russia makes the transition from a command economy to a partial free-market system, the provision of an effective social safety net for its citizens assumes increasing urgency. A 1994 World Bank report described the current social-protection system as inappropriate for the market-oriented economy toward which Russia supposedly was striving. Among the major shortcomings noted in the report were the continued major role played by enterprises as suppliers of welfare services, as they had been in the Soviet period; the absence of any coverage for large groups of people and the inadequate level of benefits in some regions; a growing disparity between a shrinking wage base and the demands placed on the system; and the failure to target the neediest recipients. As the economic transition of the 1990s forces more of Russia's citizens into poverty, the state has tried to maintain the comprehensive Soviet system with severely constrained resources.

The system's inefficiency is exacerbated by its fragmentation. As in the Soviet period, allowances and benefits are administered and financed by diverse agencies, including four extrabudgetary funds, several ministries, and the lower levels of government. The Ministry of Social Protection is the primary federal agency handling welfare programs. However, that ministry focuses almost exclusively on the needs of people who are retired or disabled; other vulnerable groups receive much less attention. The four extrabudgetary funds that provide cash and in-kind social welfare benefits at the federal level are the Social Insurance Fund, the Pension Fund, the Employment Fund, and the Fund for Social Support.

Social security and welfare programs provide modest support for the most vulnerable segments of Russia's population: elderly pensioners, veterans, infants and children, expectant mothers, families with more than one child, invalids, and people with disabilities. These programs are inadequate, however, and a growing proportion of Russia's population lives on the threshold of poverty. Inflation has a particularly deleterious effect on households that rely on social subsidies. Women traditionally have outnumbered men in such households.

The Fund for Social Support supplements a variety of in-kind social assistance programs in Russia. It is financed through the Ministry of Social Protection and supplements social welfare programs at the subnational level. The federal government has transferred most responsibility for social welfare, health, and education programs to subnational organs but has failed to ensure their access to adequate revenue. The total allocation of transfers from the federal budget to localities amounted to less than 2 percent of Russia's gross domestic product (GDP--see Glossary) in 1992. Thus, the quantity and quality of social services at the local level--including the provision of food vouchers and cash payments to cover specific items such as heating bills--are far from certain as time passes. Under these conditions, local jurisdictions have come to rely increasingly on extrabudgetary sources, the instability of which makes long-term planning difficult.

Pensions

Pensions are the largest expenditure of the social safety program. The Pension Fund accounts for 83 percent of Russia's extrabudgetary allocations. At the end of 1994, about 36 million citizens, or 24 percent of the country's population, were receiving pensions, an increase of about 5 percent in the first three post-Soviet years. Two broad categories of pensions are paid in Russia: labor pensions, which are disbursed on the basis of a worker's payroll contributions, and social pensions, which are paid to individuals who have worked for less than the five years needed to qualify for a labor pension. All Russian citizens who have worked for twenty years are entitled to at least a minimum pension. In 1994 about 75 percent of all pensioners received labor pensions. The Pension Fund also finances some child allowances and other entitlements.

The Pension Fund is administered by the Ministry of Social Protection and financed by a 29 percent payroll tax and by transfers from the state budget. Between 1991 and 1993, the real income of pensioners was cut in half as prices rose rapidly and pension indexation failed to keep pace. Inflation also severely eroded the value of the life savings of retirees, and a disproportionate number of pensioners were victimized by financial scams. A 1994 law requires quarterly indexation of pensions, but the law was not observed consistently in its first year, and in mid-1995 the average pension fell below the subsistence minimum for pensioners. Beginning in 1994, the government's failure to pay pensions on time led to large rallies in several cities. In August 1994, an estimated 10 million pensioners did not receive their checks on time, and pension arrears mounted in the two years that followed. By mid-1996 the payment backlog was estimated at US$3 billion. The present system includes an important provision that has kept many pensioners above the poverty line: it allows workers to draw pensions while continuing to work. In 1995 as many as 27 percent of Russian pensioners continued to work after retiring from their primary job.

Russian and Western experts agree that the pension system requires comprehensive reform--although its rate of payment compliance by enterprises is substantially better than that of the State Taxation Service. The most pressing needs are an effective system of indexation of pensions to purchasing power, an insurance mechanism, individualized contributions, higher retirement ages, and the closing of loopholes that allow early retirement. In 1995 the Ministry of Social Protection began work on a reform that would establish a three-tier pension system including a basic pension, a work-related pension in proportion to years of service, and an optional private pension program. In 1995 Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin admitted that the state budget lacked the money to continue indexing pensions according to living costs. In November 1995, a decree by President Yeltsin, On Additional Measures to Strengthen Payments Discipline for Settling Accounts with the Pension Fund, set stricter reporting standards for payments to the fund by organizations and citizens, in an effort to preclude nonpayment. In the midst of his campaign to be reelected president, Yeltsin then approved two laws increasing minimum pension levels in three stages, by 5, 10, and 15 percent, between November 1995 and January 1996.

Women are entitled to retire when they reach age fifty-five, and men when they reach age sixty. Nevertheless, financial hardship leads many women to remain in the labor force past retirement age, even while continuing to receive pensions, in order to prevent a drop in their families' standard of living. In 1991 women constituted an estimated 72 percent of pensioners. The disproportion between the genders stems from women's earlier permissible retirement age and their greater longevity. Aside from pensions, women receive other retirement privileges. Mothers of five or more children are entitled to a pension at age fifty. "Mother Heroines"--women with ten or more children--receive an allowance equal in sum to the pension, and the time they spent on child care leave counts toward the minimum twenty years of work required for labor pensions. For these reasons, many women retire before age fifty-five, while most men wait until they reach sixty-two. (Many job categories routinely allow retirement for both sexes before the standard ages.)

Worker Protection and Benefits

Legislation has established numerous protective devices at the enterprise level to provide a social safety net that is particularly attuned to the needs of women of childbearing age. Thus, family policy and employment policy are inextricably linked. In addition to basic allowances for all workers, special allowances exist for children of military personnel, children with unmarried, divorced, or widowed mothers, and children who are disabled. Women who have an employment contract are entitled to paid maternity leave from seventy days prior to giving birth until seventy days afterward. Maternity leave benefits are based on the minimum wage rather than on a woman's current wage, however.

Russia also provides a maternity grant, which is a onetime payment totaling three times the minimum wage or 45 percent of the minimum wage in the case of mothers who have worked less than one year. In order to receive a maternity allowance (or sickness benefits), a woman must have an employment contract. The maternity allowance amounts to 100 percent of the mother's salary, regardless of her length of employment.

Maternity allowances in Russia are followed by a monthly child allowance of 80 percent of the minimum wage in the case of children up to eighteen months old. This allowance may be supplemented by a child-care allowance, set at 35 percent of the minimum wage, to compensate for earnings lost in the course of caring for children in this age bracket. The latter allowance is paid to mothers over the age of eighteen who have been in the labor force at least one year. An additional compensatory child-care allowance, equivalent to 35 percent of the minimum wage, is available to mothers or other caretakers of children under the age of three.

Russia also has an extended child allowance of 45 percent of the minimum wage (60 percent for children of military personnel, children living with a guardian or in an orphanage, and children with AIDS) to assist families with the care of children between the ages of eighteen months and six years. Single mothers and those who receive no child support from the father of their child may obtain an additional 45 percent of the minimum wage up to their child's sixth birthday; this figure is then increased to 50 percent and remains effective until the child is sixteen. In May 1992, special cost-of-living compensations were introduced to cover the increased expense of meeting children's basic needs. These compensations ranged from 30 percent of the minimum wage in the case of children less than six years old to 40 percent in the case of those ages thirteen to sixteen.

Among other benefits provided by enterprises to their workers are access to special shops that sell subsidized milk for families with low incomes and small children and an allowance to children for the purchase of a school uniform when they start school and again at the age of thirteen. Other regulations focus more specifically on families with small children. These include protective legislation prohibiting the dismissal of pregnant women or women with children under the age of three, banning night work and overtime for mothers of small children, stipulating workload concessions to pregnant women and mothers of young children, and providing flextime, part-time work, home-based employment, nursing intervals, and additional paid and unpaid leave to mothers to care for sick children. Many workplaces also permit informal leave arrange-ments for the purpose of food shopping.

A significant portion of Russian workers have entitlements to housing, child care, and paid vacations, regardless of their rank within an enterprise. Housing entitlements involve either outright provision of a low-rent apartment (most apartment rents are very low) or various forms of cash or in-kind assistance. Moreover, occupants obtain an implicit ownership right extending beyond their term of employment. They may also have the legal title of the apartment transferred to their own names without paying any purchase price (see Housing, this ch.).

Besides housing allowances, most large and medium-sized enterprises provide on-site medical facilities or they contract for outside health care facilities for their employees. The medical care provided through the auspices of enterprises is free and often is of much higher quality than the care available in government-run facilities (see The Health System, this ch.). Finally, enterprises provide their employees with goods ranging from foodstuffs to consumer durables. The enterprises procure these items through direct purchase, barter, or from their own farms, and make them available at below-market prices.

The Social Insurance Fund is the administrative mechanism for payments to workers of birth, maternity, and sickness allowances, and child allowances for children between the ages of six and sixteen. The fund is managed by the largest union organization in Russia, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (Federatsiya nezavisimykh profsoyuzov Rossii--FNPR) and serves as the repository of enterprise contributions consisting of 5.4 percent of the total payroll (see Social Organizations, this ch.). Nominally an independent institution since its establishment in 1991, the Social Insurance Fund is in fact responsible to the FNPR.

In 1993 an overhaul of the fund's administrative structure began as a result of enterprises' low levels of compliance with contribution requirements, charges of serious abuse by trade union officials, and the government's desire to promote democratic accountability. Since 1993 the management system has been in flux, and the quality of administration varies considerably throughout the country. Most worker contributions to the fund are retained by the enterprise for distribution. About one-half of the money goes to sick pay and one-fifth to subsidize treatment at sanatoriums. Family support includes birth and maternal allowances intended to replace lost wages, but child allowances do not address poverty directly because payments are not in proportion to household income.

Russia also has an overall system of family benefits. These can be grouped into three broad categories: those payable to all families with children, regardless of income or other qualifying conditions; those payable to working mothers; and those payable to disadvantaged families.

The communist system, for all its economic and moral deformities, provided virtually universal employment, so that every able-bodied citizen had an opportunity to earn income and thus social security. In postcommunist Russia, the phenomenon of unemployment is openly acknowledged and growing (see Unemployment, ch. 6). At the end of 1995, some 8.2 million people were registered as unemployed, indicating a far higher actual number. Three years earlier, about 5 million were registered. The "new poor," in the parlance of the World Bank, put a considerable strain on the resources available in Russia for social welfare.

Administered by the Ministry of Labor, the Employment Fund, which is financed by a 2 percent payroll tax from all enterprises, disburses compensation to jobless people. The level of compensation, already low in 1995, was expected to drop further if unemployment rose. As part of its assistance package to Russia, the World Bank is providing a computerized system that will help the country register claimants for unemployment and pay adequate benefits.

The Ministry of Labor's subsistence minimum is based on the cost of nineteen staple items considered sufficient to ensure survival, plus an estimated minimum cost for utilities, transportation, and other necessities. The calculation varies according to age-group and region; trade unions use other formulas that usually expand the number of people identified as living below the poverty line. In early 1996, the State Duma considered a law that would make the Ministry of Labor's figure the legal basis for establishing minimum wages, pensions, and other levels of social support. Barring such legislation, the subsistence minimum has no legal status.

The Homeless

The urban homeless are a category of the socially disadvantaged that received no official recognition in the Soviet era. Because Soviet law banned beggars and vagrants, the homeless (meaning anyone who lost his or her place of residence for any reason) were imprisoned or expelled from the cities. When the ban ended in the early 1990s, thousands of homeless people, mostly men, appeared in Russia's cities; the majority had migrated to urban areas seeking work or were refugees from the armed conflicts that erupted in the Caucasus and Central Asia when the Soviet Union dissolved.

In 1995 Moscow authorities estimated that city's homeless population at 30,000, but Western experts put the figure as high as 300,000. An estimated 300 homeless people died in Moscow in the first half of the winter of 1995-96, and on-site medical personnel reported widespread disease. At that point, Moscow had one shelter, with a capacity of twenty-four, and other Russian cities offered no sanitation or temporary residence centers of any sort. In the mid-1990s, the government of mayor Yuriy Luzhkov followed the Soviet pattern of forcibly removing vagrants from the city, especially at times when large numbers of Western visitors were expected. Police routinely harass and beat vagrants found on the streets. The Soviet propiska system of residency permits, which granted housing and employment to individuals only in the place where they were officially registered, has been found unconstitutional several times by Russia's Constitutional Court. However, many local authorities, including those in Russia's largest European cities, continue to require Soviet-era documentation; in 1995 Moscow assessed a fee of 35 million rubles (about US$7,000) for registration as a permanent resident of the city, and several other cities adopted similar measures. In the face of such restrictions, many homeless individuals are unable to change their status.

Through the first half of the 1990s, no specific agency of the Russian government has borne responsibility for aiding the homeless; the Federal Migration Service, a badly underfunded and understaffed agency created in 1992, has not been able to carry out its legal responsibility to locate housing and employment for internal and external migrants (see Migration, ch. 3). A number of Western humanitarian organizations, such as the Salvation Army and Doctors Without Borders, are the main source of assistance. In late 1995, the many deaths of homeless people prompted the Moscow government to announce plans to build ten new shelters and to ease the procedure for obtaining residency permits.

Private charities in Russia have suffered from an absence of government support and a general lack of social acceptance. In 1995, for example, the soup kitchen of the Christian Mercy Society in Moscow, which fed 400 poor people daily, had to pay city officials to stay open, and the organization was unable to obtain a designated space in which to operate. In fact, Russian law gives no status whatever to private charities, so such organizations must fend for themselves in helping the increasingly large number of urban poor. Russian society generally distrusts charities, partly because no such institutions existed either in tsarist times (royalty and the nobility provided whatever assistance went to the needy) or in the Soviet era, and partly because society has become fragmented by the difficult economic conditions of the 1990s.

According to Western experts, a comprehensive system of social protection is an urgent need of the Russian government, both for humanitarian reasons and as a prerequisite to financial stabilization and economic restructuring. The quality of future Russian society also will depend on reversing a steep downward trend in the quality of education and health care that has eroded the ability of Russians to improve their economic standing and to feel the sense of basic security that the Soviet system provided to some degree. Under Russia's conditions of drastic social and economic change, such forms of support are especially missed in the mid-1990s.

Russia





CITATION: Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

Please note: This text comes from the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.


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