U.S. Department of State  Background Notes: Russia, June 1997 
Released by the Office of Russian Affairs.

Official Name: Russian Federation 

Profile 

Geography 

Area: 17 million sq. km. (6.5 million sq. mi.); about 1.8 times the size 
of the U.S.  Cities: Capital--Moscow (pop. 9 million). Other cities--St. 
Petersburg (5 million), Novosibirsk (1.4 million), Nizhniy Novgorod (1.3 
million). Terrain: Broad plain with low hills west of Urals; vast 
coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia; uplands and mountains (Caucasus 
range) along southern borders.  Climate: Northern continental, from 
subarctic to subtropical.

People 

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Russian(s).  Population (1997 est.): 
147.5 million.  Annual growth rate: negative.  Ethnic groups: Russian 
81%, Tatar 4%, Ukrainian 3%, Other 12%.
Religion: Russian Orthodox, Islam, Judaism, Roman Catholicism, 
Protestant, Buddhist, other.  Language: Russian (official); more than 
140 other languages and dialects.  Education: Literacy--98% (total 
population). Health: Life expectancy--(1996) 58 yrs. men, 72 yrs. women.  
Workforce: 85 million (1993). 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: shifting. 
The 1995-96 elections were contested by: Our Home is Russia, Russia's 
Democratic Choice, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Agrarian Party, 
Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Unity and Accord, Yabloko 
Bloc, Women of Russia, Democratic Party of Russia, Russia Forward, Truth 
and Order, National Patriotic Bloc, Russia's Regions, Congress of 
Russian Communities. Subdivisions: 21 autonomous republics and 68 
autonomous territories and regions.  Suffrage: Universal at 18 years. 

Economy (1996 est.) 

GDP: $555 billion.  Growth rate: -6%. (1996) Per capita GDP: $3,740 
(exchange rate method).  Natural resources: Petroleum, natural gas, 
timber, furs, precious and non-ferrous metals. Agriculture: Grain, sugar 
beets, sunflower seeds, meat, dairy products.  Industry: Complete range 
of manufactures (automobiles, trucks, trains, agricultural equipment, 
advanced aircraft, aerospace, machine and equipment products); mining 
and extractive industry; medical and scientific instruments; 
construction equipment.  Trade: Total Russian exports (fob) in 1996: $87 
billion--petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas, woods and wood 
products, metals, chemicals. Major markets--EU, NIS, China, Japan. Total 
imports (cif) in 1996: $64 billion--machinery and equipment, chemicals, 
consumer goods, medicines, meat, sugar, semifinished metal products. 
Major partners--EU, United States, NIS, Japan, China. (These figures do 
not include shuttle--or informal, unrecorded trade).
Principal U.S. exports: meat, machinery, tobacco ($3.34 billion--1996).
Principal U.S. imports: aluminum, precious stones and metals, iron and 
steel ($3.6 billion--1996). 

PEOPLE

Russia's area is about 17 million sq. km. (6.5 million sq. mi.). It 
remains the largest country in the world by more than 2.5 million sq. 
mi. Its population density is about 23 persons per square mile (9 per 
sq. km.), making it one of the most sparsely populated countries in the 
world. Its population is predominantly urban.

Most of the roughly 150 million Russians derive from the Eastern Slavic 
family of peoples whose original homeland was probably present-day 
Poland. Russian is the official language of Russia, and an official 
language in the United Nations. As the language of writers such as 
Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekov, Pushkin, and Solzhenitsyn, it has great 
importance in world literature. 

Russia's educational system has produced nearly 100% literacy. About 3 
million students attend Russia's 519 institutions of higher education 
and 48 universities. As a result of great emphasis on science and 
technology in education, Russian medical, mathematical, scientific, and 
space and aviation research is 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 far below 
Western standards. 

The Russian labor force is undergoing tremendous changes. Although well-
educated and skilled, it is mismatched to the rapidly changing needs of 
the Russian economy. Millions of Russian workers are underemployed. 
Unemployment is highest among women and young people. As many as six 
million workers were temporarily furloughed in 1996. Many Russian 
workers compensate by working other part-time jobs. Following the 
collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic dislocation it engendered, 
the standard of living fell dramatically, but it has begun to recover. 

Moscow is the largest city (population 9 million) and is the capital of 
the Federation. Moscow continues to be the center of Russian Government 
and is increasingly important as an economic and business center. Its 
cultural tradition is rich, and visitors will find many museums devoted 
to art, literature, music, dance, history, and science. It has hundreds 
of churches and dozens of notable cathedrals; it has become Russia's 
principal magnet for foreign investment and business presence. 

St. Petersburg, established in 1703 by Peter the Great as the capital of 
the Russian Empire, 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 the capital was moved back to Moscow in 1918, the city's political 
significance declined but it remained a cultural, scientific, and 
military-industrial center. The Hermitage is one of the world's great 
fine arts museums. Finally, Vladivostok, located in the Russian Far 
East, is becoming an important center for trade with the Pacific Rim 
countries. HISTORY 

Human experience in Russia's territory dates back to Paleolithic times. 
Greek traders conducted extensive commerce with Scythian tribes around 
the shores of the Black Sea and the Crimean region. In the third century 
B.C., Scythians were displaced by Sarmatians, who in turn were overrun 
by waves of Germanic Goths in the third century A.D. Asiatic Huns 
replaced the Goths and were in turn conquered by Turkic Avars in the 
sixth century. By the ninth century, Eastern Slavs began to settle in 
what is now Ukraine, Belarus, and the Novgorod and Smolensk regions. 

In 862, the political entity known as Kievan Rus was established in what 
is now Ukraine 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 and prevailed over the region 
until 1480. Muscovite tsars threw off the Mongol influence and gradually 
expanded their domain through diplomacy and war, until Ivan III (1462-
1505) was able to refer to his empire as the Third Rome and heir to the 
Byzantine tradition.

The next 200 years saw the ebb and flow of regional conflict, until the 
Romanov dynasty was established under Tsar Mikhail in 1613. This dynasty 
ended with the killing of the Romanov family by the Bolsheviks in 1917. 

During Peter the Great's reign (1689-1725), Russia burst into European 
and world consciousness, 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. His introduction of European customs generated nationalistic 
resentments in society, and a philosophical duality of Westernizers and 
nationalistic Slavophiles emerged over the next centuries. This dualism 
manifested itself in various ways over time and since the dissolution of 
the Soviet Union in 1991 has re-emerged as a key dynamic of current 
Russian social and political thought.

Peter's expansionist policies were continued by Catherine the Great, who 
established Russia as a continental 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. 

Napoleon failed in his attempt in 1812 to conquer Russia after occupying 
Moscow; his defeat and the continental order that emerged following the 
Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) set the stage for Russia and Austria-
Hungary to dominate the affairs of eastern Europe for the next century. 
In the century preceding 1917, Russian culture flourished as Russian 
artists made significant contributions to world literature, visual arts, 
dance, and music.

During the 19th century, which saw great social, economic, and political 
change in the rest of Europe, the Western Hemisphere, and Asia, the 
Russian Government sought to suppress repeated attempts at reform from 
within as well as in such neighboring states as Austria. 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 
across Siberia until 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.

Imperial expansion ended with Russia's defeat in the unpopular Russo-
Japanese war in 1905. Subsequent disaffection fueled an uprising in 1905 
which spurred Tsar Nicholas II to grant a constitution. The government 
suppressed opposition and manipulated popular anger into anti-Semitic 
pogroms and other actions against national groups. Attempts at economic 
reform, such as land reform, were incomplete.

1917 Revolution and the U.S.S.R.
The ruinous effects of World War I, combined with internal pressures, 
sparked the March 1917 revolution. A provisional government came to 
power, headed by Aleksandr Kerenskiy. On November 7, 1917, the Marxist-
Leninist Bolshevik party, led by Vladimir Lenin, seized control and 
established the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. Civil war 
broke out in 1918 between Lenin's Red army and various White forces and 
lasted until 1920, when, despite foreign interventions, the Bolsheviks 
triumphed. After the Red army conquered Ukraine, Belorussia, Azerbaijan, 
Georgia, and Armenia, a new nation was formed in 1922, the Union of 
Soviet Socialist Republics. 

The U.S.S.R. lasted 69 years. In the 1930s, tens of millions of its 
citizens were collectivized under state agricultural and industrial 
enterprises. Millions died in political purges, the vast penal and labor 
system, or in state-created famines. During World War II, as many as 20 
million Soviet citizens died. The totalitarian control of the communist 
state which survived on the absence of basic freedoms and the repression 
of those who sought change robbed the people of the Soviet Union of 
opportunities to interact with the rest of the world and to develop 
their potentials. After 1949, the U.S.S.R. ranked as a nuclear 
superpower.

First among its political figures was Lenin, leader of the Bolshevik 
party and head of the first Soviet Government, who died in 1924. In the 
late 1920's, Josif Stalin emerged as General Secretary of the Communist 
Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) amidst intraparty rivalries; he 
maintained complete control over Soviet domestic and international 
policy until his death in 1953. His successor, Nikita Khrushchev, served 
as Communist Party leader until he was ousted in 1964. Aleksey Kosygin 
became Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Leonid Brezhnev was made 
First Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee in 1964, but in 1971, 
Brezhnev rose to become first among equals in a collective leadership. 
Brezhnev died in 1982 and was succeeded by Yuriy Andropov (1982-84), 
Konstantin Chernenko (1984-85), and Mikhail Gorbachev, who resigned as 
Soviet President on December 25, 1991. On December 26, 1991, the 
U.S.S.R. was formally dissolved. 

The Russian Federation  After the December 1991 dissolution of the 
Soviet Union, the Russian Federation became its largest successor state, 
inheriting its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, as 
well as the bulk of its foreign assets and debt. 

Boris Yeltsin was elected President of Russia by popular vote in June 
1991. By the fall of 1993, politics in Russia reached a stalemate 
between President Yeltsin and the parliament. The parliament had 
succeeded in blocking, overturning, or ignoring the President's 
initiatives on drafting a new constitution, conducting new elections, 
and making further progress on democratic and economic reforms. 

In a dramatic speech in September 1993, President Yeltsin dissolved the 
Russian parliament and called for new national elections and a new 
constitution. The standoff between the executive branch and opponents in 
the legislature turned violent after supporters of the parliament tried 
to instigate an armed insurrection. Yeltsin ordered the army to respond 
with force to capture the parliament building (known as the White 
House).

In December 1993, voters elected a new parliament and approved a new 
constitution that had been drafted by the Yeltsin government. Yeltsin 
has remained the dominant political figure, although a broad array of 
parties, including ultra-nationalists, liberals, agrarians, and 
communists, have substantial representation in the parliament and 
compete actively in elections at all levels of government.

In late 1994, the Russian security forces launched a brutal operation in 
the Republic of Chechnya against rebels who were intent on separation 
from Russia. Along with their opponents, Russian forces committed 
numerous violations of human rights; the Russian army used heavy weapons 
against civilians. Tens of thousands of them were killed and over 
500,000 displaced during the course of the war. The protracted conflict, 
which received close scrutiny in the Russian media, raised serious 
concerns abroad as well as within Russia.

After numerous unsuccessful attempts to institute a cease-fire, in 
August 1996 the Russian and Chechen authorities negotiated a settlement 
that resulted in a complete withdrawal of Russian troops and the holding 
of elections in January 1997. The Organization for Security and 
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) played a major role in facilitating the 
negotiation. A peace treaty was concluded in May 1997 and the two sides 
agreed to conclude a final settlement by 2001.  

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS 

In the political system established by the 1993 constitution, the 
president wields considerable executive power. There is no vice 
president, and the legislative is subordinate to the executive. The 
president nominates the highest state officials--including the prime 
minister, who must be approved by the Duma; he may dissolve the Duma if 
it repeatedly turns down his choice of prime minister. The president can 
pass decrees without consent from the Duma. He also is head of the armed 
forces and of the national security council. 

Duma elections were in December 1995 and presidential elections June 
1996. The Communist Party won a plurality of seats in the Duma; the pro-
government party (Our Home is Russia), the liberal Yabloko bloc and the 
nationalists also won substantial numbers of seats in the legislature. 
In the presidential election, Boris Yeltsin was reelected in the second 
round following a spirited campaign. Both the presidential and 
parliamentary elections were judged generally free and fair by 
international observers.

Russia is a federation, but the precise distribution of powers between 
the central government and the regional and local authorities is still 
evolving. The Russian Federation consists of 89 components, including 
two federal cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg. The constitution 
explicitly defines the federal government's exclusive powers, but it 
also describes most key regional issues as the joint responsibility of 
the federal government and the Federation components.

Judicial System
Russia's judiciary and justice system are weak. Numerous matters which 
are dealt with by administrative authority in European countries remain 
subject to political influence in Russia. The Constitutional Court was 
reconvened in March 1995 following its suspension by President Yeltsin 
in October 1993. The 1993 constitution empowers the court to arbitrate 
disputes between the executive and legislative branches and between 
Moscow and the regional and local governments. The court is also 
authorized to rule on violations of constitutional rights, to examine 
appeals from various bodies, and to participate in impeachment 
proceedings against the president. The July 1994 Law on the 
Constitutional Court prohibits the court from examining cases on its own 
initiative and limits the scope of issues the court can hear. 

In the past three years, the Russian Government has begun to reform the 
criminal justice system and judicial institutions, including the 
reintroduction of jury trials in certain criminal cases. Despite these 
efforts, judges are only beginning to assert their constitutionally 
mandated independence from other branches of government. 

Human Rights
Russia's human rights record remains uneven. Despite significant 
improvements in conditions following the end of the Soviet Union, some 
problem areas remain. Although the government has made progress in 
recognizing the legitimacy of international human rights standards, the 
institutionalization of procedures to safeguard these rights has lagged. 
Implementation of the constitutional provisions for due process and 
timely trials, for example, has made little progress. In addition, the 
judiciary is often subject to manipulation by political authorities and 
is plagued by large case backlogs and trial delays. Lengthy pretrial 
detention remains a serious problem. There are credible reports of 
beating and torturing of inmates and detainees by law enforcement and 
correctional officials. Prison conditions fall well below international 
standards and, according to human rights groups, in 1996 between 10,000 
and 20,000 prisoners and detainees died, most because of overcrowding, 
disease, and lack of medical care.

Efforts to institutionalize official human rights bodies have been 
mixed. In 1996, human rights activist Sergey Kovalev resigned as 
chairman of the Presidential Human Rights Commission to protest the 
government's record, particularly the war in Chechnya. Parliament in 
1997 passed a law establishing a human rights ombudsman, a position that 
is provided for in Russia's constitution and is required of members of 
the Council of Europe, to which Russia was admitted in February 1996. 
The Duma, however, has been unable to agree on a candidate to fill this 
position. International human rights groups operate freely in Russia, 
although the government did hinder the movements and access to 
information of some individuals investigating the war in Chechnya.

The government respects freedom of religion and the separation of church 
and state. In some regions, however, local officials adopt policies that 
tend to favor the Russian Orthodox Church over the interests of minority 
faiths. In some cases, local authorities have hindered the activities of 
foreign missionaries. Although Jews and Muslims continue to encounter 
prejudice and societal discrimination, they have not been inhibited by 
the government in the free practice of their religion. High-ranking 
federal officials have condemned anti-semitic hate crimes, but law 
enforcement bodies have not effectively prosecuted those responsible.

The constitution guarantees citizens the right to choose their place of 
residence and to travel abroad. Some big-city governments, however, have 
restricted this right through residential registration rules that 
closely resemble the Soviet-era propiska regulations. Although the rules 
were touted as a notification device rather than a control system, their 
implementation has produced many of the same results as the propiska 
system. The freedom to travel abroad and emigrate is respected although 
restrictions may apply to those who have had access to state secrets. 
Recognizing this progress, since 1994, President Clinton has found 
Russia to be in full compliance with the provisions of the Jackson-Vanik 
amendment.

Principal Government Officials  
President--Boris Yeltsin 
Prime Minister--Viktor Chernomyrdin

First Deputy Prime Ministers: 
Anatoliy Chubays 
Boris Nemtsov

Deputy Prime Ministers: 
Alfred Kokh 
Yakov Urinson 
Vladimir Bulgak 
Anatoliy Kulikov 
Valeriy Serov 
Oleg Sysurev

Key Ministers: 
Agriculture-Viktor Khlystun 
Civil Defense-Sergey Shoygu 
CIS Cooperation-Amangeldy Tuleyev 
Culture--Yevgeniy Sidorov  
Defense-Igor Sergeyev  
Economic Affairs-Yakov Urinson 
Education-Vladimir Kinelev 
Environment and Natural Resources-Viktor Orlov 
Finance & Deputy Prime Minister-Anatoliy Chubays  
Foreign Affairs--Yevgeniy Primakov 
Foreign Economic Relations - Mikhail Fradkov  
Fuel/Energy-Boris Nemtsov 
Health-Tat'yana Dmitriyeva 
Internal Affairs-Deputy Prime Minister Anatoliy Kulikov  
Justice--Valentin Kovalev  
Labor-Oleg Sysuyev 
Nationalities--Vyacheslav Mikhailov  
Atomic Energy--Viktor Mikhailov  
Science and Technology--Vladimir Fortov  
Transport-Nikolay Tsakh

Ambassador to Washington--Yuliy Vorontsov  
Ambassador to the United Nations--Sergey Lavrov 

The Russian Federation maintains an embassy at 2650 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 
Washington, DC 20007 (tel. 202-298-5700) and a consulate at 1825 Phelps 
Place NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-939-8907). Russian consulates 
are also located in New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. 

ECONOMY 

As it has moved from a centrally planned economy toward a free market 
system, the Russian economy has undergone considerable stress. The 
country has established new ties in the world economy while links to its 
traditional trade partners have diminished. Russia accounts for more 
than one-half of the population of the New Independent States (NIS) of 
the former Soviet Union and 60% of their total gross domestic product. 

GDP. GDP fell approximately 38.5% between 1992 and 1997, according to 
official statistics. While these numbers may not reflect significant 
economic activity in the unofficial economy, the trend has certainly 
been negative and did not reverse by the end of 1996. Unemployment (by 
ILO definition) was 9.3% of the work force in 1996, but this figure 
omits many who work reduced hours or are on involuntary or voluntary 
leave. 

Monetary Policy. Inflation rose to a peak of 30% per month by January 
1993. Since then, monthly inflation has declined and by the end of 1996 
ranged between 0 and 2% per month -- marking the essential stabilization 
of the macroeconomy. Russia abolished the ruble zone in mid-1993, which 
forced other NIS republics to issue their own currencies. A currency 
corridor, and subsequently a crawling band mechanism, have been employed 
by the government since July 1995 to increase ruble stability and to 
help dampen inflationary expectations. The average exchange rate in 1996 
was 5,120 rubles per U.S.$1.

Government Spending/Taxation. The 1996 federal budget provided a strong 
underpinning for the government's stabilization program. However, severe 
revenue shortfalls resulted in a higher than expected deficit of 6.1% of 
GDP. The revenue shortfall situation is widely seen as due to a 
combination of factors: the fall in output; weak tax administration 
practices; an increase in the size of the gray economy; and a cumbersome 
tax system, including high rates which provoke evasion.

The domestic government securities (GKO) market has grown in line with 
government needs for non-inflationary financing, with total GKO's 
outstanding reaching just under 9% of GDP by December 1996. The draft 
1997 federal budget called for a deficit of 3.5% of GDP (Ministry of 
Finance Definition, which is slightly lower than the IMF definition).

Law. Lack of legislation in many areas of economic activity is a 
pressing issue. Taxation and business regulation are unpredictable, and 
legal enforcement of private business agreements is almost nonexistent. 
Many government decisions affecting business have been inconsistent. 
Crime in Russia has increased costs for local and foreign businesses. 

Natural Resources. With the mineral-packed Ural mountains and the vast 
oil, gas, coal, and timber reserves of Siberia and the Russian Far East, 
Russia is rich in natural resources. Most are located in remote and 
climatically unfavorable areas that are difficult to develop and are far 
from Russian ports. Oil and gas continue to be the main sources of hard 
currency. Russia is a leading producer and exporter of minerals, gold, 
and all major fuels. The Russian fishing industry is the world's fourth-
largest--behind Japan, the U.S., and China. Russia accounts for one-
quarter of the world's production of fresh and frozen fish and about 
one-third of world output of canned fish. 

Industry. Russia is one of the most industrialized of the former Soviet 
republics. Besides its resource-based industries, it has developed large 
manufacturing capacities, notably in machinery. Russia inherited most of 
the defense industrial base of the Soviet Union; converting it to 
civilian use is a major goal of the present government. 

Agriculture. Russia comprises roughly three-quarters of the territory of 
the NIS, but has relatively little area suited for agriculture, because 
of the arid climate and inconsistent rainfall. Northern areas 
concentrate mainly on livestock farming, and the southern parts and 
western Siberia produce grain. Agricultural production, chiefly grain 
and potatoes, accounts for more than one-half of that for the entire 
NIS. The transition from centrally planned to market economies requires 
a radical reform of agriculture, which has yet to take place. 

Investment. Cumulative foreign direct investment in Russia was estimated 
at $11 billion in 1995, according to Russian government statistics--a 
figure far below its potential. The U.S. was the largest foreign 
investor, providing $2 billion of the total. 1996 figures are not yet 
available but there are no signs of significant new investment. Domestic 
investment also lags and is presently the greatest obstacle to renewed 
economic growth. Major areas of interest for U.S. investors have been in 
energy, food processing, telecommunications, and automobiles. Joint 
ventures between Russian and foreign firms account for an increasing 
share of Russian output and trade and are concentrated in the services 
sector. 

Trade. Russia has liberalized domestic trade and dismantled most non-
tariff restrictions on foreign trade. State-subsidized imports were 
phased out in 1994, as was the system of quotas and licensing for 
exports. To bolster future foreign trade, Russia applied in June 1993 to 
the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)--predecessor to the 
World Trade Organization (WTO). Russia's average weighted tariff is 13-
14%. 

Russia has been running a trade surplus since 1993. Russia's trade is 
dominated by Europe; Germany and the countries of Central and Eastern 
Europe hold the lead. The U.S. is Russia's second largest trading 
partner, while China and Japan are Russia's largest Asian trading 
partners. Trade with the other NIS states is overwhelmingly in 
industrial products; Ukraine and Kazakstan are by far the most important 
trade partners. Russia continues to supply large amounts of energy to 
the NIS states at a discount, although it has tied government credits to 
debt repayment. 

Highlights From Russian Infrastructure Projects  International Space 
Station. Russia and the U.S. are engaged in a joint flight program to 
lead to the development of the international space station. Key elements 
include: U.S. astronauts on board the Mir space station for 
approximately two years; up to 10 U.S. shuttle docking missions; and 
$400 million in contracts for the provision of hardware, joint 
technology, and on-board research support by U.S. firms. 

Sakhalin Island Development. The Marathon, McDermott, Mitsui, 
Mitsubishi, and Shell Sakhalin II consortium plan to develop large oil 
and gas fields offshore at Sakhalin Island in a $10 billion project. 

Timan Pechora Exploration. Texaco is involved in a $2.5 billion 
greenfield oil exploration project in the Timan Pechora region of the 
Komi republic. 

Civil Aviation. Russian manufacturers are using Western engines and 
avionics to bring the Russian civil fleet up to world standards.

Civil Shipbuilding and Harbor Modernization. Russia seeks to modernize 
the St. Petersburg, Vladivostok, and other ports. Russian shipyards have 
built oil tankers, fishing trawlers, cargo ships, and pleasure craft.  

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Russia has taken important steps to become a full partner in the world's 
principal political groupings. On December 27, 1991, Russia assumed the 
seat formerly held by the Soviet Union in the UN Security Council. 
Russia also is a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation 
in Europe (OSCE) and the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC). It 
signed the NATO Partnership for Peace initiative on June 22, 1994. On 
May 27, 1997 NATO and Russia signed the NATO-Russia Founding Act which 
provides the basis for an enduring and robust partnership between the 
Alliance and Russia, one that can make an important contribution to 
European security architecture in the 21st century. On June 24, 1994, 
Russia and the European Union (EU) signed a partnership and cooperation 
agreement.

Russia has played an important role in helping mediate international 
conflicts through its co-sponsorship of the Middle East peace process 
and its support of UN and multilateral initiatives in the Persian Gulf, 
Cambodia, Angola, the former Yugoslavia, and Haiti. Russia is a member 
of the Contact Group; it has contributed troops to the NATO-led 
stabilization force in Bosnia. Russia has affirmed its respect for 
international law and OSCE principles. It has accepted UN and/or OSCE 
involvement in instances of regional conflict on its periphery, 
including the dispatch of observers to Georgia, Moldova, Tajikistan, and 
Nagorno-Karabakh.  

Defense 
Since the breakup of the U.S.S.R., the Russians have discussed 
rebuilding a viable, cohesive fighting force out of the remaining parts 
of the former Soviet armed forces. A new Russian military doctrine, 
promulgated in November 1993, implicitly acknowledges the contraction of 
the old Soviet military into a regional military power without global 
imperial ambitions. In keeping with its emphasis on the threat of 
regional conflicts, the doctrine calls for a Russian military that is 
smaller, lighter, and more mobile, with a higher degree of 
professionalism and with greater rapid deployment capability. Such a 
transformation has proven difficult.

The challenge of this task has been magnified by difficult economic 
conditions in Russia, which have resulted in reduced defense spending. 
This has led to training cutbacks, wage arrears, and severe shortages of 
housing and other social amenities for military personnel, with a 
consequent lowering of morale, cohesion, and fighting effectiveness. The 
evidently poor combat performance of the Russian armed forces in the 
Chechen conflict in part reflects these breakdowns. 

The actual strength of the Russian armed forces probably falls between 
1.4 and 1.6 million, with authorized strength several hundred thousand 
higher. Weapons production in Russia has fallen dramatically over the 
past few years; between 1988 and 1993, it fell by at least 50% for 
virtually every major weapons system. Weapons spending in 1992 was 
approximately 75% less than in 1988. Much of Russia's weaponry 
production is for sales to foreign governments.

About 70% of the former Soviet Union's defense industries is located in 
the Russian Federation. A large number of state-owned defense 
enterprises are on the brink of collapse as a result of cuts in weapons 
orders and insufficient funding to shift to production of civilian 
goods, while at the same time trying to meet payrolls. Many defense 
firms have been privatized; some have developed significant partnerships 
with U.S. firms.

The Russian military, for the foreseeable future, will play a role in 
determining Russia's internal stability and in formulating national 
policies. This role will be crucial to Russia in proceeding with 
political and economic reform and establishing a durable pattern of 
cooperation with the West.  

U.S.-RUSSIA RELATIONS 

The United States remains committed to maintaining a constructive 
relationship with Russia in which we seek to expand areas of cooperation 
and frankly air our differences without confrontation. The United States 
continues to support Russia's political and economic transformation as 
well as its integration into major international organizations. These 
steps, in conjunction with the massive reductions in nuclear weapons we 
have already achieved, have enhanced greatly the security of the United 
States.

The intensity and frequency of contacts between President Yeltsin and 
President Clinton in 1997--in Helsinki, in Paris and in Denver--are 
indicative of the strong commitment to, and the necessity of, the U.S. 
and Russia working together on a broad range of issues--from European 
security to cooperation in reducing the treats that nuclear and chemical 
weapons pose to our nations to strengthening Russian/American economic 
interaction and especially the levels of American investment in Russia. 

Economic Relations 
Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission. Under the leadership of Vice President 
Gore and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, the U.S. and Russia are working to 
advance bilateral cooperation through eight working committees and 
several working groups known collectively as the U.S.-Russian Joint 
Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation or the Gore-
Chernomyrdin Commission. The committees address issues in the fields of 
science and technology, business development, space, energy policy, 
environmental protection, health, defense conversion, and agriculture. 
In addition, the Commission provides a forum for high-level discussions 
of priority security and economic issues. The Commission last met in 
Washington in February 1997 and will meet again later in the year.

Trade and Investment. At the March 1997 summit in Helsinki, Finland, 
Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin reemphasized the need to expand trade and 
investment. They signed a joint Economic Initiative aimed at stimulating 
Russian economic growth, deepening bilateral economic ties and 
accelerating Russian integration into the global economy and its primary 
multilateral organizations. President Clinton also announced substantial 
direct support for trade and investment through the Overseas Private 
Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Export-Import Bank. 

In 1996, Russia ran a bilateral trade surplus with the U.S. of $221 
million (based on U.S. exports of about $3.3 billion and imports of $3.5 
billion). The 1992 U.S.-Russia trade agreement provides mutual most-
favored-nation status and offers some intellectual property rights 
protection. In 1992, the two countries also signed treaties on the 
avoidance of double taxation and on bilateral investment. As of mid-
1997, the Russian parliament, however, has not ratified the bilateral 
investment treaty, although it has been approved by the U.S. Senate. 

The U.S. actively supports Russia's efforts to join the World Trade 
Organization and Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin agreed at Helsinki to 
set 1998 as a target date for Russian accession to that institution. 

Military Issues  
NATO/Russia Founding Act. Russia signed the NATO Partnership for Peace 
initiative in June 1994. U.S. and Russian troops are serving together in 
the Implementation Force in Bosnia and its successor, the Stabilization 
Force. Building on these steps, NATO and Russia signed the NATO-Russia 
Founding Act on May 27, 1997, in Paris. The Act defines the terms of a 
fundamentally new and sustained relationship in which NATO and Russia 
will consult and coordinate regularly, and where appropriate, act 
jointly. Cooperation between NATO and Russia exists in scientific and 
technical fields.

Agreements/Cooperation/Nuclear Arms. The U.S. and Russia signed a 
memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation in September 1993 
that institutionalized and expanded relations between defense 
ministries, including establishing a broad range of military-to-military 
contacts. The U.S. and Russia carried out a joint peacekeeping training 
exercise in Totskoye, Russia, in September 1994. Based on the January 
14, 1994, agreement between Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin, the two 
nations stopped targeting their strategic nuclear missiles at each other 
as of May 30, 1994. U.S. and Russian security cooperation emphasizes 
strategic stability, nuclear safety, dismantling nuclear weapons, 
preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their 
delivery systems, and enhancing military-to-military contacts. At the 
Lisbon summit in 1992, the United States signed a protocol to the START 
I Treaty with Russia, Belarus, Kazakstan, and Ukraine--where the 
strategic nuclear weapons of the former Soviet Union were located--
making the four countries party to the treaty and committing all 
signatories to reductions in strategic nuclear weapons within the seven-
year period provided by the treaty. The treaty entered into force 
December 5, 1994.

START II. On January 3, 1993, the U.S. and Russia signed the Treaty 
between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on 
Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START II). 
This treaty reduces overall deployments of strategic nuclear weapons on 
each side by more than two-thirds from current levels and will eliminate 
the most destabilizing strategic weapons--heavy intercontinental 
ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and all other deployed multiple-warhead 
ICBMs. At the September 1994 summit, the two nations agreed to begin 
removing nuclear warheads due to be scrapped under START II immediately, 
once START I takes effect and the START II Treaty is ratified by both 
countries, instead of taking the nine years allowed. At their May 1995 
summit, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin agreed on a set of principles 
that would guide further discussion in the field of demarcation between 
anti-ballistic missile systems and theater missile defenses. They also 
agreed on steps to increase the transparency and irreversibility of 
nuclear arms reduction and committed not to use newly produced fissile 
materials or to reuse the fissile materials removed from nuclear weapons 
being eliminated and excess to national security requirements in nuclear 
weapons. The Russian Duma has not yet ratified START II.

CFE. Following ratification by Russia and the other NIS, the 
Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty entered into force on 
November 9, 1992. This treaty establishes comprehensive limits on key 
categories of military equipment--tanks, artillery, armored combat 
vehicles, combat aircraft, and combat helicopters--and provides for the 
destruction of weaponry in excess of these limits.

Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR). Often called Nunn-Lugar assistance, 
this type of assistance is provided to Russia (as well as Belarus, 
Kazakstan, and Ukraine) to aid in the dismantling of weapons of mass 
destruction and to prevent the proliferation of such weapons. Over $600 
million has been allocated for assistance to Russia during fiscal years 
1996 and 1997 under this program and thirteen implementing agreements 
have been signed. Key projects have included assistance in the 
elimination of strategic offensive arms ($162 million), design and 
construction of a fissile material storage facility ($90 million), 
provision of fissile material containers ($50 million), material control 
and accounting and physical protection of nuclear materials ($45 
million), and development of a chemical weapons destruction plan and 
provision of equipment for a pilot laboratory for the safe and secure 
destruction of chemical weapons ($55 million). Under the CTR program, 
the U.S. is also assisting Russia in the development of export controls; 
providing emergency response equipment and training to enhance Russia's 
ability to respond to accidents involving nuclear weapons; providing 
increased military-to-military contacts; and encouraging the conversion 
of Russian defense firms through the formation of joint ventures to 
produce products, including housing, for the civilian market. As part of 
the CTR program, the U.S. has awarded $20 million to a joint venture 
project involving an American housing firm and three Russian aerospace 
firms to construct housing for demobilized military officers. Portions 
of the Russian defense firms will be converted to the production of 
prefabricated housing systems and related products. In a multilateral 
effort (the European Union, Japan, and Canada are also involved), the 
U.S. has also provided $50 million to establish the International 
Science and Technology Center (ISTC), which provides alternative 
peaceful civilian employment opportunities to scientists and engineers 
of the former Soviet Union involved with weapons of mass destruction and 
their delivery systems.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials 
Ambassador - vacant 
Charge d'Affaires - John F. Tefft 
Counselor for Political Affairs - John M. Ordway 
Counselor for Economic Affairs - Clifford Bond 
Counselor for Commercial Affairs - John Peters 
Counselor for Consular Affairs - Michael W. Marine (Susan Wood arrives 
summer 1997) 
Counselor for Administrative Affairs - John O'Keefe 
Counselor for Public Affairs - Robert R. Gosende 
Counselor for Science and Technology - John C. Zimmerman 
Director, U.S. Agency for International Development - Janet Valentine
Senior Representative, Federal Aviation Administration - Dennis B. 
Cooper 
Immigration and Naturalization Service - Anne Corsano 
Department of Energy - Robin J. Copeland 
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - Douglas Englund

The U.S. embassy in Russia is located at Novinskiy Bulvar 19/23, Moscow 
(tel. [7] (095) 252-2451 through 59; fax: [7] (095) 956-4261).

Consuls General  
Consulate General, St. Petersburg (Furshtatskaya Ulitsa 15, tel. [7] 
(812) 275-1701)--John Evans 
Consulate General, Vladivostok (Mordovtseva Ulitsa 12, tel. [7] (4232) 
268-458/554)--Jane Miller Floyd  Consulate General, Yekaterinburg (tel. 
[7] (3432) 60-11-43)--Howard Steers 

In Moscow, the U.S. Commercial Office is located at Novinskiy Bulvar 15 
(tel. [7] (095) 255-4848/4660 or 956-4255, fax: [7] (095) 230-2101). In 
St. Petersburg, the U.S. Commercial Office is located at Bolshaya 
Morskaya Ulitsa 57 (tel. [7] (812) 110-6042, fax: [7] (812) 110-6479). 

U.S. Assistance to Russia 
U.S. assistance to Russia funded a variety of programs in the following 
key areas: private-sector development, privatization and enterprise 
restructuring, trade and investment, democracy initiatives, energy, 
health care, housing, and environment. Humanitarian assistance 
represented a major portion of U.S. aid during the initial transition 
phase in Russia, when there was a pressing need for food, medicine, and 
other essential commodities. U.S. efforts now concentrate on limited 
technical assistance, citizen exchanges and partnerships and direct 
support for trade and investment.

To date, the U.S. government has provided a total of $4.7 billion in 
grant assistance to Russia ($2 billion in economic and technical 
assistance, $1.7 billion in humanitarian and food assistance, and $1 
billion in security and weapons dismantlement assistance) and is 
supporting over $6 billion worth of financing and insurance. The annual 
level of economic and technical assistance for Russia has declined from 
a peak of $1.6 billion in 1994 to $95 million in 1997.

U.S. Support for Russian Democracy and Development  
The U.S. Government has been in the forefront of delivering 
privatization assistance to Russia since October 1992.  U.S. Agency for 
International Development (USAID). USAID has the principal 
responsibility for implementing technical assistance to Russia and the 
other New Independent States. In FY 1994, USAID devoted over $1.6 
billion in assistance to help Russia develop democratic institutions and 
transform its state-controlled economy to one based on market 
principles. Programs are active in the areas of privatization and 
private sector development, agriculture, energy, housing reform, health, 
environmental protection, economic restructuring, independent media, 
elections, and the rule of law. The U.S. recently pledged $30 million to 
help Russia in its fight against crime and to support a new legal 
infrastructure.  U.S. Export-Import Bank (Eximbank). Eximbank approved 
about $2 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and insurance for 
transactions in Russia from 1991 to March 1995. Of this total, more than 
$1 billion was approved under its Oil and Gas Framework Agreement.

U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). 
OPIC provides loans, loan guarantees, and commercial and political 
investment insurance to American companies investing in Russia. As of FY 
1996, OPIC approved more than $3 billion in investment financing and 
insurance for 125 ventures.  Trade and Development Agency (TDA) and 
Department of Commerce. TDA has approved approximately $46 million in 
funding for feasibility studies on over 120 investment projects.  

Commerce Department. 
American Business Centers have been opened in St. Petersburg, 
Nizhnevartovsk, Novosibirsk, Volgograd, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, 
Khaborovsk, Vladivostok, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and Chelyabinsk to help U.S. 
and Russian companies do business in Russia. The Commerce Department has 
also established a Special American Business Internship Program (SABIT) 
in Russia, and an NIS business information system.  

Agricultural Credit.
For 1997, the U.S. has authorized $120 million in export credit 
guarantees in connection with sales of U.S. agricultural commodities 
under a private banking sector program in Russia as part of the 
Commodity Credit Corporation's Export Credit Guarantee Program (GSM-
102).  

U.S. Information Agency (USIA). 
USIA public diplomacy is active in the areas of promoting the growth of 
democracy and civil society, encouraging economic reform and growth of a 
market economy, explaining and building support for U.S. foreign policy 
objectives, and building understanding of U.S. society and culture. 
Professional and educational exchanges cover such diverse fields as 
journalism, public administration, local government, business 
management, education, political science and civics education. Over 
20,000 Russians have participated in USIA-funded exchanges over the past 
five years.  

U.S. Department of Agriculture. 
A variety of technical assistance activities are coordinated by USDA 
under the Emerging Democracies Program. In March 1994, a U.S.-Russia 
Joint Commission for Agribusiness and Rural Development was established 
to channel funds generated by the sale of donated U.S. commodities to 
support private and social initiatives in rural communities throughout 
Russia.  Eurasia Foundation. The Foundation--a private, non-profit, 
grant-making organization supported by U.S. funds--has disbursed more 
than $24 million in small grants to U.S. and indigenous organizations 
promoting reform in Russia and the other NIS.

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION 

The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides 
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are 
issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel 
to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all 
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency 
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and 
security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in 
the country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate 
information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-
term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of 
American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by 
calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-
on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information 
Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page: 
http://travel.state.gov and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). 
To access CABB, dial the modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will 
accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-
8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100. 
The login is travel and the password is info (Note: Lower case is 
required). The CABB also carries international security information from 
the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau of 
Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication 
series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a 
safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, 
U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-
7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250. 

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be 
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-
4000. 

Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m. 
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate 
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648) 

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers 
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization 
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water 
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information 
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is 
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and 
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to 
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's 
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see Principal 
Government Officials listing in this publication). 

U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous 
areas, are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a 
country (see Principal U.S. Embassy Officials listing in this 
publication). This may help family members contact you in case of an 
emergency. 

Further Electronic Information: 

Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet, 
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy 
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch, 
the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings; 
directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc. DOSFAN's 
World Wide Web site is at http://www.state.gov; this site has a link to 
the DOSFAN Gopher Research Collection, which also is accessible at 
gopher://gopher.state.gov.

U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a semi-annual basis 
by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the 
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of 
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact 
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. 
Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or 
fax (202) 512-2250.

National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of 
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information, 
including Country Commercial Guides. It is available on the Internet 
(www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-
1986 for more information. 

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