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I’d like to go to Russia very much – although the bastards murdered half my family.
—Prince Philip[1]

Russia is where invasions go to die (unless you are…wait for it…the Mongols)[2] the largest country in the world, situated between Europe and Asia, or encompassing the majority of Europe, or taking up all of Northern Asia.[3]

As the successor to the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation includes 83 oblasts, republics, autonomous republics, territories, districts and federal cities. This is even more complicated than it sounds. Imagine if the US had 83 states that occasionally had shooting wars against each other (instead of just the one).

After experimenting with anarchy in the 1990s under Boris Yeltsin, Russia is, thanks to Vladimir Putin, an enlightened "sovereign democracy",[4] which has cut assassinations of journalists down to only two or three a year,[5][6] and doesn't cut off the gas supply every time a foreign country criticizes it. Their "democracy" is now so successful that the United Russia party scored 238 out of 450 Duma seats in the 2011 elections with only minimal widespread electoral fraud.[7]

One of their many favorite pastimes is insisting that NATO is out to get them. Every time the situation gets a bit dicey at home the solution is easy. "Take back more of Russia!" They have enough of Russia already. That whole area of Siberia? Just develop the land slowly and you could have a country which rivals China in resources. Seem like Russia is thinking, "Tired of being cold. Maybe take back land which is warm."

Apparently, the country is also adding the spectator sport of public creationist silliness, as demonstrated by a protest by Russian Orthodox Young Earth creationists outside of Moscow's Charles Darwin museum.[8] In addition, the newer competitive events of passing laws against free speech in order to combat Teh Ev1l Gay and beating up detaining human rights activists[9] and Pastafarians[10] seem to be crowd favorites as well.


[edit] European or Asian? Maybe even Eurasian

Russia is not between Europe and Asia. Europe and Asia are to the left and right of Russia. We are not a bridge between them but a separate civilizational space, where Russia unites the civilizational communities of East and West.
—Vladimir Yakunin, Russian oligarch[11]

Given Russia's territorial belongings and peculiar history (starting off as an Eastern European country, and spending about 200 years under the Tatar yoke), there's a lot of debate about whether it actually belongs to Europe or to Asia. Nowadays most evidence, including genetics, points to the former: the Russian genetic pool consists of Eastern Slavic haplogroups with some addition of Finno-Ugric ones[12][13], but in absence of typically Mongol groups like C-M130Wikipedia's W.svg[14], making Northern and Eastern Europeans the Russians' closest genetic relatives. This is also evident in the country's traditions and customs, which originate from Slavic paganism, Eastern Byzantine Orthodoxy, and European culture.

Nevertheless, it was a common propaganda tactic in the 19th century to associate Russia with the Golden Horde and portray Russians as "Asian"/"Mongolian" (which, due to the epoch's racialist trends, was just an euphemism for "barbaric"/"inferior"). This view was promoted by France after the 1812 defeat (most notably by Marquis de Custine), by Poland after the suppression of the November Uprising, and by Britain during the Great Game; about a century later, it was also exploited by Nazis during WW2 in order to justify the Russians' "racial inferiority" and the conquest of USSR. After 1945, when racialism quickly declined in popularity, the association between Russia and Mongols/nomads also went out of fashion since it lost its propaganda value; nowadays it remains popular only among hardcore Ukrainian nationalists who seek to establish their country as the true heir to the Kievan Rus.

Russian-American writer Nabokov provides an interesting take on this question in his novel "Ada or Ardor: A Family ChronicleWikipedia's W.svg". It takes place in an alternate reality called Antiterra (Demonia), in which Russia and the US are comprised into one country called Estotia, and the Russo-Anglo-American Atlantic world is fighting the Golden Horde in this world's analogue of the Cold War.[15]

[edit] Сибирь

       Siberian Federal District        Geographic Russian Siberia        Historical Siberia (and present Siberia in some usages)Oh, and the shape of the Siberian Federal District? That's this guy's doing.

Siberia is the Asian portion of Russia (a "portion" comprising two thirds of the country's landmass, though home to only one quarter of the population). It became notorious as the destination of prisoners of conscience exiled during the times of the Russian Empire and of the Soviet Union. So notorious is the association of the words Siberia and prison that the place is routinely described as the destination of all Russian prisoners, even when they are sent to MordoviaWikipedia's W.svg, as far west of Siberia itself as London is from Warsaw.[16] Apart from its penological functions, Siberia is a major source of oil and gas. Siberia has almost every known natural resource to offer, from timber to diamonds to abandoned barrels of nuclear waste.

Today, Siberia is a mostly-settled region with several large cities connected by a network of highways and railroads; indeed, Novosibirsk, the unofficial "capital of Siberia", is the third-largest city in Russia, with a population of 1.47 million people. Settlement far away from established urban centers can still be impractical due to the harsh climate and long travel-distances,[17] but at least the era of the phrase "send them to Siberia" in the sense of imprisonment or exile is almost over. However, the imprisonment of Mikhail KhodorkovskyWikipedia's W.svg in a Siberian penal colony[18] shows that this assumption is a bit premature.

[edit] Водка

Vodka is — not surprisingly — the national beverage. Thirty percent of all deaths in 2012 were attributable to alcohol according to the OECD.[19] Researchers found that Russian men who drink large amounts of vodka have a 35% risk of death before age 55.[20]

[edit] Чечня́

The Chechen Republic is a constituent republic of the Russian Federation, known for separatism, terrorism, and being an enormous pain for Moscow. There has been no fewer than 2 civil wars between the Chechen separatists, and the Federal Russian Government after the dissolution of the USSR. Currently, the score stands as 1 win for the separatists, and a more recent win for the Russian Federal Government.

[edit] См. также

[edit] Ссылки

[edit] Сноски

  1. Prince Philip quotes: Relive his classic gaffes on his 94th birthday By Paul Cockerton (07:30, 10 Jun 2015 Updated 07:37, 10 Jun 2015) Daily Mirror.
  2. Though Batu Khan finds this hilarious.
  3. Take your pick; it's a subcontinent in its own right thanks to Siberia.
  4. Similarly, the Russian economy has developed from Yeltsin's crony capitalism to a stable and diversified economy under Putin.
  5. See Russian Journalist Assassination Comes After U.S. Congressional Resolutions Urging Protection for Media and Wikipedia's list of journalists killed in RussiaWikipedia's W.svg
  6. Because that is how many it takes to intimidate the surviving journalists.
  7. Russians protest against election fraud, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  8. Russian Creationists Denounce Evolution, Dispatches From the Culture Wars
  9. Russia: Investigate Violent Raid on Rights Group, Human Rights Watch
  10. Humor failure in Russia: Crackdown on 'Pastafarians' shows Kremlin-church ties, NBC
  11. Vladimir Putin: The rebuilding of ‘Soviet’ Russia, BBC
  12. Mitochondrial DNA sequence diversity in Russians
  13. HLA gene and haplotype frequencies in Russians, Bashkirs and Tatars, living in the Chelyabinsk Region (Russian South Urals)
  14. Neatly explained by the fact that Mongols rarely had direct contact with Russians.
  15. The geography of Antiterra
  16. "Mordovia, while Maria Alyokhina was shipped to a similar institution in Perm. The two cities, located in the freezing central region of Siberia..." So the Republic of Mordovia is a city now? And Perm, although a city, lies on the other side of the Urals from Siberia...
  17. Yakutsk, the saddest city in the world.
  18. Welcome to penal colony YaG 14/10. Now the home of one of Russia's richest men, The Guardian (He's since been freed and giving Rosneft a run for its money.)
  19. Russian official urges action on workplace alcohol abuse (Wednesday, September 16, 2015) Irish Examiner.
  20. Russian men losing years to vodka: Spirit linked to 35% of cases where a man dies before age 55, with study citing national sport of spectacular drunkenness (Friday 31 January 2014 11.55 EST) The Guardian.
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