|Head of State:||Vladimir Putin (President), Dmitry Medvedev (Prime Minister)|
|Religions:||Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism|
|UN Member State|
The Russian Federation has a centralized political system, with power concentrated in the presidency and the office of prime minister, a weak multiparty political system. The Federal Assembly, which is dominated by the ruling United Russia party, consists of a lower house (State Duma) and an upper house (Federation Council). International observers reported that the March 2008 election for president was neither fair nor free, and failed to meet many international standards for democratic elections. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of federal security forces, except in some areas of the North Caucasus, where there were serious problems with civilian control of security forces.
There were numerous reports of governmental and societal human rights problems and abuses during the year. Government interference in elections restricted the ability of citizens to change their government through free and fair elections. During the year there were a number of high profile killings of human rights activists, apparently for reasons related to their professional activities. There were numerous, credible reports that law enforcement personnel engaged in physical abuse of subjects. Prison conditions were harsh and could be life threatening. Corruption in law enforcement remained a serious problem, and many observers, including some judges and law enforcement personnel, asserted that the executive branch influenced judicial decisions in some high profile cases. Security services and local authorities often conducted searches without court warrants.
Government actions were reported to weaken freedom of expression and media independence, particularly of the major television networks. Eight journalists, many of whom reported critically on the government, were killed during the year; the government failed to identify, arrest, or prosecute any suspects. Beating and intimidation of journalists remained a problem. The government directed the editorial policies of government-owned media outlets, pressured major independent outlets to abstain from critical coverage, and harassed and intimidated journalists into practicing self—censorship. The government limited freedom of assembly, and police sometimes used violence to prevent groups from engaging in peaceful protest. In some regions the government limited freedom of association and restricted religious groups. There were instances of societal discrimination, harassment, and violence against religious minorities. Manifestations of anti-Semitism continued during the year, but the number of anti-Semitic attacks decreased. Corruption was widespread throughout the executive, legislative, and judicial branches at all levels, and officials often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.
The government restricted the activities of some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), making it difficult for them to continue operations. Violence against women and children, including domestic violence, remained a significant problem. Trafficking in persons also continued to be a significant problem. There was some governmental and widespread societal discrimination against ethnic minorities and dark skinned immigrants or guest workers. During the year xenophobic, racial, and ethnic attacks and hate crimes, particularly by skinheads, nationalists, and right wing extremists, continued to be a significant problem. Instances of forced labor were reported.
The North Caucasus region of Russia remained an area of particular concern. The government's poor human rights record in the North Caucasus worsened, as the government fought insurgents, Islamist militants, and criminal forces. Local government and insurgent forces reportedly engaged in killing, torture, abuse, violence, politically motivated abductions, and other brutal or humiliating treatment, often with impunity. In Chechnya, Ingushetiya, and Dagestan, the number of extrajudicial killings and disappearances increased markedly, as did the number of attacks on law enforcement personnel. Authorities in the North Caucasus appeared to act outside of federal government control. Although the Chechen government announced a formal end to counterterrorist operations, there was an increase in violence during the summer, which continued through the remainder of the year. Federal and local security forces in Chechnya, as well as the private militia of Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov, allegedly targeted families of suspected insurgents for reprisal and committed other abuses. There were also reports of rebel involvement in bombing civilian targets and politically motivated disappearances in the region. Some rebels were allegedly involved in kidnapping for ransom. According to the Internet based news agency Caucasian Knot, 342 members of law enforcement agencies lost their lives and 680 were injured during the year in actions involving insurgents. Thousands of internally displaced persons lived in temporary centers in the region that failed to meet international standards.
Is Russia in Europe or Asia?Edit
Geologically, since Europe and Asia form one single landmass there should be no distinction.
Conventionally however, it is considered to span both continents with most of it lying in northern Asia while the Western-most regions of Russia form Eastern-Europe.
Culturally, due to its massive size, it is very diverse, comprising of 160 different ethnic groups and indigenous peoples. Slavic Orthodox culture, Tatars and Bashkirs with their Turkic Muslim culture, Buddhist nomadic Buryats and Kalmyks, Shamanistic peoples of the Far North and Siberia, highlanders of the Northern Caucasus, Finno-Ugric peoples of the Russian North West and Volga Region all contribute to diverse and rich culture of Russia.
Russia is commonly considered to be in Europe due to a majority of their population is in the European side of Russia (including their capital, Moscow) although geographically, two-thirds of the landmass is in Asia.