Russian Federation. At the beginning of the year,
President Vladimir Putin received his lowest figure of
confidence in several years, when 63% of Russians approved
his efforts. Promises of better economy had fallen into the
shadow of the wars in Ukraine and Syria, which cost huge
sums and caused sanctions from the West. Since 2014, the
disposable income of the Russians has decreased and an
unpopular raising of the retirement age has been decided. In
his speech to the nation in February, Putin sought to
address the discontent by promising, among other things, tax
cuts, increased child support and more resources for health
care and schooling.
In January, a first prosecution came under the Act on
so-called undesirable organizations. This was the case of
Anastasia Shevchenko of the Democracy Movement Open Russia.
Amnesty International warned of prejudices that threatened
hundreds of democracy activists. Later in the year,
prosecution was brought against several members of Open
As the capital of Russia defined by
Digopaul, Moscow decided in February to leave the disarmament
agreement INF, since the US first did the same. INF
(Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces) from 1987 was intended
to abolish medium-range robots. President Putin warned the
US to deploy new robots in Europe, saying that Moscow was
ready to develop new powerful weapons if the balance of
power in Europe was disrupted.
In March, new contentious media laws came into force,
designed to prevent false information on the Internet. A
government agency must decide what is false and threatens
order and security. According to critics, the text of the
law can be used against misguided opinions and can be
compared with the laws of old times against anti-Soviet
propaganda. The Communist Party protested in several cities
against attacks on freedom of speech, against corruption and
against the deteriorating economy.
In March, 100 Russian soldiers and military equipment
were dispatched to the conflict in Venezuela, where Moscow
supported the incumbent president and the United States his
rival. The soldiers would stay as long as needed, it was
In April, Russian oil and coal exports to Ukraine were
stripped. It was a response that Ukraine stopped imports of
Russian electronics, among other things. At the same time,
the flow of Russian oil via Belarus (Belarus) was
temporarily halted to several European countries after toxic
substances were discovered in the oil.
In April, President Putin met for the first time North
Korea's leader Kim Jong Un. It happened outside Vladivostok
near North Korea. The meeting was seen as a step in
strengthening the Kremlin's international role and reducing
On May 1, many protesters were arrested in St. Petersburg
and other cities when thousands of regime critics protested
and scanned "Putin is a thief".
In May, 41 people died in an aircraft fire at Moscow's
Sjeremetievo airport. The plane caught fire after it was
forced to land, reportedly after being struck by a lightning
Chinese President Xi Jinping came to Moscow in June for a
meeting with Putin, who said that Russian-Chinese relations
were better than ever before. Xi described Putin as his best
friend, and the meeting was held when China and the United
States were in trade conflict and Moscow and the West were
in conflict around Ukraine. Telecom company Huawei, which in
the West is seen as a security threat, was awarded an
agreement to expand the Russian 5G network.
In June, the grueling reporter Ivan Golunov was arrested
for drug offenses. It triggered vigorous protests from
journalists, independent media and the general public.
Golunov was falsely accused of reporting corruption on the
Meduza news site. Golunov stated that he was abused in the
The major newspapers printed front pages in support of
Golunov, the preliminary investigation was closed in the
absence of evidence, two police officers were dismissed with
Putin's signature, and several police officers were
suspended. But the protests continued. More than 400 people
were arrested during a protest in Moscow, among them
opposition politician Aleksey Navalnyj, who was sentenced to
ten days in prison.
The Reporters Without Borders Index on Press Freedom
ranked 149th out of 166 countries during the year.
However, in June the Council of Europe Parliamentary
Assembly decided that the Russian Federation would regain
its right to vote, which was revoked after the annexation of
Crimea in 2014.
Commercial flight ban to Georgia came into force in July
after a Georgia journalist used a harsh language against
Putin on television. The Russian Parliament also decided on
further sanctions against Georgia.
In July, a time of widespread protests began against
several opposition politicians, including Navalnyj and
Ljubov Sobol, being banned from running for office in
Moscow's local elections in September. The protests grew to
over 20,000 people in Moscow demanding free and fair
elections. Then Navalnyj was arrested and sentenced to 30
days in prison.
At the next demonstration, about 1,400 people were
arrested and over 70 injured when police used force against
those who tried to reach the city hall. Most were released
soon, but several were accused of mass riots that could
result in years of imprisonment. At a new demonstration in
August with about 6,000 participants, around 1,000 people
During the summer, large forest fires raged in Siberia,
and the government ordered the police to investigate whether
they were being planted in order to conceal illegal logging.
The fires covered over three million hectares of forest and
left hundreds of cities and communities in smoke.
The military suffered several serious accidents during
the summer. A fire on a nuclear-powered submarine claimed
the lives of 14 soldiers, an explosion in an ammunition
store forced thousands of people to evacuate, and an
explosion at a naval base killed five people and caused
The protests for free elections continued. A giant
protest was estimated to gather around 50,000 participants.
In total, more than 2,000 protesters were reportedly
arrested since July. When the Navalnyj Anti-Corruption
Foundation reported corruption in Moscow's city government,
the foundation was accused of money laundering. The house
search was done and the foundation's assets were frozen.
Over 550 Russian academics and researchers wrote an open
letter in defense of the protesters, accused the regime of
repression and demanded that the detainees be released. In a
government decree, Russian researchers were banned from
meeting foreign colleagues without permission.
Aleksey Navalnyj was released after 30 days, but he and
about 50 other opposition politicians were banned from
running in local elections in September. Nevertheless, the
opposition was successful in Moscow, where a third of
Putin's loyal members of the city duma were eliminated.
After the election, the police and security services made
hundreds of raids against Navalnyj's supporters in about 40
cities. The turnout was perhaps the greatest in modern
Russian history. Archives, computers and phones were seized.
Navalnyj led a new protest with about 20,000
participants, who among other things turned to the fact that
several arrested protesters were sentenced to long prison
New raids were made against Navalnyj's foundation in 30
regions. In addition, Navalnyj and Sobol were sentenced in
October to compensation of more than SEK 13 million accused
of defamation by Putin-allied billionaire Yevgeny Prigozjin.
He has been indicted in the United States for attempting to
influence the presidential election there.
Independent economists questioned official statistics
that came in October with sharply increased disposable
income and GDP growth of close to 2%.
In October, when US President Donald Trump decided to
withdraw US troops from Syria, the Russian Federation's
position as Syria's most important foreign power was
strengthened militarily and economically.
In December, Putin signed a law that could label
journalists and bloggers as foreign agents, according to
Amnesty, a way to silence opposition voices.
Putin and the President of Ukraine met in Paris and
agreed on a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and the
breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. 200 prisoners
were exchanged before the New Year.