Ambassador of Russian Federation in

Sri Lanka
His Excellency Vladimir P.Mikhaylov

Message from His Excellency Vladimir P.Mikhaylov,
Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Sri Lanka

Dear Sri Lankan friends!

It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of you – representatives of every community, faith, profession and age, citizens of friendly state.

Today the Russian Federation celebrates its National Day. During many centuries of its history the Russian nation passed various stages: from ancient clan community to feudal and then bourgeois state, great empire, three revolutions, civil war, totalitarian regime and Soviet style society.

By the late 1980s, people had begun to doubt the Communist Party ability to carry out meaningful socioeconomic reforms. So-called "Perestroyka" (Transformation) was started. The idea to adopt the Declaration on the State Sovereignty was born in the Democratic Russia movement, in which proponents of evolutionary market reform and strong statehood based on Russia's national interests started opposing the Communist monopoly on power.

On June 12, 1990 the Parliament of the Russian Federation voted for the Declaration on the State Sovereignty, paving the way for the development towards modern democratic and free market system based on the respect for human rights and freedoms, command of the law, constitutional federalism and national sovereignty.

Since that time the Russian Federation achieved significant success in consolidating its economy, perfecting political and governance system, strengthening defence capability, developing culture, science and sports. Thanks to that its international influence grew up and nowadays it plays active and valuable role in the world arena.

Russia is a strong advocate of a stable system of international relations based on the principles of equality, mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation as well as the norms of international law. Such a system aims at ensuring reliable and equal security for every member of the international community in the political, military, economic, information, humanitarian and other areas and employs multilateral diplomacy as its main tool.

Russia views fighting international terrorism as one of its most important tasks and calls for elaboration of further measures aimed at consolidation of the global anti-terrorism coalition under the UN aegis with the participation of regional organizations without resorting to double standards and on the basis of universal anti-terrorism conventions and decisions of the UN Security Council.

Dear friends, I am especially glad today that we celebrate the Russia Day in Sri Lanka liberated from terrorism. This victory has been achieved by Sri Lanka people under the leadership of their President and government, by sacrifices of their armed forces. But it would have been more difficult without international support. And I am proud that Russia was actively engaged in this support to the legitimate democratically elected government in its struggle against terrorism. The Russian Embassy in Colombo did its best in providing Moscow with objective information on the developments in Sri Lanka. Russia welcomed Sri Lanka government forces restoring control over the entire territory of the country and freeing civilians. It was said in the Statement of the Russian MFA that "Moscow wishes the government and people of friendly Sri Lanka success in rapidly overcoming the consequences of the conflict and in achieving economic and social progress based on consensus among and respect for the rights of all the ethnic and religious groups inhabiting it. Russia reiterates its readiness to strengthen further its cooperation with Sri Lanka both in a bilateral format and in regional and international organizations on counterterrorism and on other themes of mutual concern".

Later President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev in the telephone conversation with President Mahinda Rajapaksa expressed his hope that actions by the government of Sri Lanka would help maintain its sovereignty, guarantee its territorial integrity, put an end to extremism and contribute to the sustainable socio-economic development of the nation. The two leaders noted the close cooperation between Russia and Sri Lanka in international affairs and reiterated their readiness to cooperate more fully, discussed a plan to extend Russian-Sri Lankan contacts at various levels. President Rajapaksa thanked the Russian President for the considerable assistance given to Sri Lanka in the fight to eradicate terrorism from the country. He also expressed his gratitude to President Medvedev for the support that Russia had extended to Sri Lanka in the UN Security Council, where attempts were made to obstruct the humanitarian operation to free the Tamil civilian hostages from the LTTE, and also for the support given to Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council. It is only natural that gratitude for this support has been expressed also by political parties, public organizations and many rank-and-file people.

I have no doubt that with peace to prevail in Sri Lanka traditional friendly relations between our two nations will develop even more successfully: more Russian tourists will come to this beautiful island, more joint economic projects will be started, more young people from Sri Lanka will study in Russian universities, more cultural, sports and humanitarian contacts will take place. And be sure that the Russian Embassy in Sri Lanka will be doing its best in this regard.

Finally, I would like to convey my heartfelt thanks to all those who have sent congratulations for the Russian National Day and expressed warm feelings towards my country.


Map of Russia

Facts & Figures
 

OFFICIAL NAME: Russian Federation

Land area: 6,592,812 sq mi (17,075,400 sq km); total area: 6,592,735 sq mi (17,075,200 sq km)

Population (2007 est.): 141,377,752 (growth rate: –0.5%);

Birth rate: 10.9/1000; infant mortality rate: 11.1/1000; life
 expectancy: 65.9; density per sq mi: 21
 

Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Moscow, 10,672,000 (metro. area), 10,101,500 (city proper)

Other large cities: St. Petersburg, 4,582,300; Novosibirsk, 1,395,500; Nizhny Novgorod, 1,340,900; Yekaterinburg, 1,256,600; Samara, 1,146,800; Kazan, 1,113,600; Ufa, 1,096,600; Chelyabinsk, 1,080,000; Perm, 998,800; Volgograd, 984,200

Monetary unit: Russian ruble (RUR)
 


History


Although human experience on the territory of present-day Russia dates back to Paleolithic times, the first lineal predecessor of the modern Russian state was founded in 862. The political entity known as Kievan Rus was established in Kiev in 962 and lasted until the 12th century. In the 10th century, Christianity became the state religion under Vladimir, who adopted Greek Orthodox rites. Consequently, Byzantine culture predominated, as is evident in much of Russia's architectural, musical, and artistic heritage. Over the next centuries, various invaders assaulted the Kievan state and, finally, Mongols under Batu Khan destroyed the main population centers except for Novgorod and Pskov in the 13th century and prevailed over the region until 1480. Some historians believe that the Mongol period had a lasting impact on Russian political culture.

In the post-Mongol period, Muscovy gradually became the dominant principality and was able, through diplomacy and conquest, to establish suzerainty over European Russia. Ivan III (1462-1505) referred to his empire as "the Third Rome" and considered it heir to the Byzantine tradition. Ivan IV (the Terrible) (1530-1584) was the first Russian ruler to call himself tsar. He pushed Russian eastward with his conquests but his later reign was marked by the cruelty that earned him his familiar epithet. He was succeeded by Boris Godunov, whose reign commenced the so-called Time of Troubles. Relative stability was achieved when Michael Romanov established the dynasty that bore his name in 1613.

During the reign of Peter the Great (1689-1725), modernization and European influences spread in Russia. Peter created Western-style military forces, subordinated the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy to the tsar, reformed the entire governmental structure, and established the beginnings of a Western-style education system. He moved the capital westward from Moscow to St. Petersburg, his newly-established city on the Baltic. His introduction of European customs generated nationalistic resentments in society and spawned the philosophical rivalry between "Westernizers" and nationalistic "Slavophiles" that remains a key dynamic of current Russian social and political thought.

Catherine the Great continued Peter's expansionist policies and established Russia as a European power. During her reign (1762-96), power was centralized in the monarchy, and administrative reforms concentrated great wealth and privilege in the hands of the Russian nobility. Catherine was also known as an enthusiastic patron of art, literature and education and for her correspondence with Voltaire and other Enlightenment figures. Catherine also engaged in a territorial resettlement of Jews into what became known as "The Pale of Settlement," where great numbers of Jews were concentrated and later subject to vicious attacks known as pogroms.

Alexander I (1801-1825) began his reign as a reformer, but after defeating Napoleon's 1812 attempt to conquer Russia, he became much more conservative and rolled back many of his early reforms. During this era, Russia gained control of Georgia and much of the Caucasus. Throughout the 19th century, the Russian Government sought to suppress repeated attempts at reform and attempts at liberation by various national movements, particularly under the reign of Nicholas I (1825-1855). Its economy failed to compete with those of Western countries. Russian cities were growing without an industrial base to generate employment, although emancipation of the serfs in 1861 foreshadowed urbanization and rapid industrialization late in the century. At the same time, Russia expanded into the rest of the Caucasus, Central Asia and across Siberia. The port of Vladivostok was opened on the Pacific coast in 1860. The Trans-Siberian Railroad opened vast frontiers to development late in the century. In the 19th century, Russian culture flourished as Russian artists made significant contributions to world literature, visual arts, dance, and music. The names of Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol, Repin, and Tchaikovsky became known to the world.

Alexander II (1855-1881), a relatively liberal tsar, emancipated the serfs. His 1881 assassination, however, prompted the reactionary rule of Alexander III (1881-1894). At the turn of the century, imperial decline became evident. Russia was defeated in the unpopular Russo-Japanese war in 1905. The Russian Revolution of 1905 forced Tsar Nicholas II (1894-1917) to grant a constitution and introduce limited democratic reforms. The government suppressed opposition and manipulated popular anger into anti-Semitic pogroms. Attempts at economic change, such as land reform, were incomplete.


PEOPLE

Russia’s 141.9 million citizens descend from more than 100 ethnic groups. Russian is the official language of Russia and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Russian is also the language of such giants of world literature as Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Pasternak and Solzhenitsyn.

Russia's educational system has produced nearly 100% literacy. About 7 million students attended Russia's 1,090 institutions of higher education in 2006, but continued reform is critical to producing students with skills to adapt to a market economy. Because great emphasis is placed on science and technology in education, Russian medical, mathematical, scientific, and space and aviation research is still generally of a high order. The number of doctors in relation to the population is high by American standards, although medical care in Russia, even in major cities, is generally far below Western standards. The unraveling of the Soviet state in its last decades and the physical and psychological traumas of transition during the 1990s resulted in a steady decline in the health of the Russian people. Currently Russia faces a demographic crisis as births lag far behind deaths. While its population is aging, skyrocketing deaths of working-age males due to cardiovascular disease is a major cause of Russia's demographic woes. A rapid increase in HIV/AIDS infections and tuberculosis compounds the problem. In 2007, life expectancy at birth was 61.4 for men and 73.9 for women. The large annual excess of deaths over births is expected to cut Russia's population by 30% over the next 50 years.

The Russian labor force is undergoing tremendous changes. Although well educated and skilled, it is largely mismatched to the rapidly changing needs of the Russian economy. Official unemployment dropped to its lowest rate of 5.4% in May 2008, and labor shortages appeared in some high-skilled job markets. The economic crisis which began in late 2008, however, quickly reversed this trend and the ranks of unemployed swelled to an International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated 9.5% in the first quarter of 2009; 1.8 million Russian lost their jobs in the first quarter of 2009 alone. Unemployment is highest among women and young people. Following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic dislocation it engendered, the standard of living fell dramatically. However, real disposable incomes have doubled since 1999, and experts estimate that the middle class constitutes approximately one-fourth of the population. The economic crisis, however, caused real disposable incomes to drop by 6.7% year-on-year in January 2009, and wages fell by 9.1% year-on-year in January 2009. Unpaid wages as a share of total enterprise turnover tripled to 0.12% in December 2008 compared to August 2008. The stock of wage arrears reached 8.7 billion rubles in April 2009, but still was not at levels seen in the 1990s. A World Bank study notes that poverty fell by 8.5% or 12.5 million people between 2002 and 2006, based on a poverty line of 1,056 rubles per capita per day in 2003. However, data collected between January and September 2008 indicates 13.5% of the population, approximately 19 million people, continue to live below the subsistence minimum of 4,630 rubles per month. About 25% of the population is highly vulnerable to poverty, as vulnerability to low levels of income remains high and a large number of people are concentrated around the poverty line, according to the World Bank.

Moscow is Russia's capital and largest city. Moscow is also increasingly important as an economic and business center; it has become Russia's principal magnet for foreign investment and business presence. Its cultural tradition is rich, and there are many museums devoted to art, literature, music, dance, history, and science, as well as hundreds of churches and dozens of notable cathedrals.

The second-largest city in Russia is St. Petersburg, which was established by Peter the Great in 1703 to be the capital of the Russian Empire as part of his Western-looking reforms. The city was called Petrograd during World War I and Leningrad after 1924. In 1991, as the result of a city referendum, it was renamed St. Petersburg. Under the tsars, the city was Russia's cultural, intellectual, commercial, financial, and industrial center. After Lenin moved the capital back to Moscow in 1918, the city's political significance declined, but it remained a cultural, scientific, and military-industrial center. The Hermitage, formerly the Winter Palace of the tsars, is one of the world's great fine arts museums.

Russia has an area of about 17 million square kilometers (6.5 million sq. mi.); in geographic terms, this makes Russia the largest country in the world by more than 2.5 million square miles. But with a population density of about 22 persons per square mile (9 per sq. km.), it is sparsely populated, and most of its residents live in urban areas.

(Sources: Russian Federation in Sri Lanka  / Internet)


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Russia - The Land of Ballet, Literary Greats, and Palaces


Russia, or the Russian Federation, is the largest country in the world and is so vast that it has eleven time zones and a coastline of more than 23,000 miles. Known mostly for its natural resources, Russia has more than 100,000 rivers, and the world’s largest forest, and largest lake (Lake Baikal). Russian is the predominant language, but more than 100 languages are spoken throughout the country.

 

Russia is famous for the Bolshoi Ballet, dancers such Rudolf Nureyev and Anna Pavlova, classical music composers Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, and literary masers such as Tolstoy, Pushkin, and Dostoevsky. Russia is also known for its fine vodka and caviar. Moscow is the capital and largest city in Russia, followed by St. Petersburg and Novosibirsk.


People

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Russian(s).

 
Population (January 2009): 141.9 million.
Annual growth rate (2009 est.): -0.467% (population declining).
Ethnic groups: Russian 79.8%, Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 2%, other 14.4%.


Religion: Russian Orthodox, Islam, Judaism, Roman Catholicism, Protestant, Buddhist, other.


Language: Russian (official); more than 140 other languages and dialects.


Education (total pop.): Literacy--99.4%.
Health: Life expectancy (2007 est.)--67.5 average; 61.4 yrs. men, 73.9 yrs. women.
Work force (90.152 million, 2007 est.): Production and economic services--84%; government--16%.


Government

 

Type: Federation.


Independence: August 24, 1991.


Constitution: December 12, 1993.


Branches: Executive--president, prime minister (chairman of the government). Legislative--Federal Assembly (Federation Council, State Duma). Judicial--Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, Supreme Court of Arbitration, Office of Procurator General.
Political parties: After a shakeup in late 2008 dissolved and combined several parties, seven registered parties remain: United Russia, the Communist Party (KPRF), the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), Just Russia, Yabloko, Patriots of Russia, and the new Right Cause party. Yabloko, which favors liberal reforms, and Patriots of Russia failed to clear the 7% threshold in 2007 to enter the Duma.


Subdivisions: 21 autonomous republics, 47 oblasts, 2 federal cities (Moscow and St. Petersburg) and 14 autonomous territories and regions.


Suffrage: Universal at 18 years.


 

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