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Photo file Special features How life has changed Countdown to collapse Introduction Russian Version
Collapse of the USSR Countdown to collapse How life has changed Gorbachev webcast Photo file


Independence date: 24 Aug 1991

Population: 148 million

Capital: Moscow

President: Vladimir Putin (since 7 May 2000)

 Country profile


When the coup began on 19 August 1991, I was in Seattle. Someone suggested I remain in America, but I refused. Sometimes I wonder whether I should have stayed. But I donít want to return. Strangely, I found San Francisco boring. We have more fun here. On one hand, the collapse of the USSR was good. We now have avant-garde pictures in Vladivostok, which we didnít even know about before. Artists who were persecuted by the KGB now have official status. On the other hand, 10 years ago we couldnít even have imagined the scale of destruction that would happen in our country.

Aleksandr Gorodniy, 50, curator, Vladivostok

In 1992 my parents, who served in the Baltic fleet, moved from Tartu to Vorenezh. In Tartu they had everything - a three bedroom flat, a dacha, a garage, friends. They had to leave everything. My father bought a house in the country in Vorenezh with his own money. The government gave him nothing. It seems that today the authorities donít think about veterans at all.

Andrei Nelidin, Commander of anti-submarine ship

Introduction 4. Lithuania 8. Georgia 12. Uzbekistan
1. Russia 5. Belarus 9. Armenia 13. Tajikistan
2. Estonia 6. Ukraine 10. Azerbaijan 14. Kyrgyzstan
3. Latvia 7. Moldova 11. Turkmenistan 15. Kazakhstan

Russian tanks invading Chechnya/AP
The Russian army invaded Chechnya in 1994 /AP

Russia remains a vast country, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It comprises many different ethnic groups and autonomous and semi-autonomous regions.

The most difficult challenge has been the breakaway republic of Chechnya, over which Russia has fought two bloody wars, in which thousands of people have been killed.

The Yeltsin years took Russia on a roller-coaster ride of economic reform, resulting in what many described as wild-west style crony capitalism. Inflation soared and millions of workers were not paid their wages, while a small group of oligarchs wielded immense power and wealth. Corruption and organised crime became endemic.

President Putin has brought a measure of stability to Russia, and enjoys high approval ratings. However, he has been criticized for using a campaign to crack down on oligarchs in order to muzzle the independent media.

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