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 Russia.
As the capital of Russia, 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.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of RUS in general and in geography as Russia in particular.
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 called.
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 US influence.
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 bolt.
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 house arrest.
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 were arrested.
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 radioactive emissions.
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 sentences.
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.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Russia in 2019 was 145,872,145, ranking number 9 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.090% yearly, and the population density was 8.9072 people per km2.