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The Russian Federation
is the largest country on earth, spanning over seventeen million square
kilometres. It is situated in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. The Ural
mountain range forms a natural border between Europe and Asia. Its vast
expanses stretch from the Arctic Ocean, to Eastern Europe and to the North
Pacific Ocean. Bordering countries are Azerbaijan, Belarus, China,
Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, North
Korea, Norway, Poland and Ukraine. Moscow is the capital city of the
Russian Federation. Other major cities are St Petersburg, Novosibirsk and
Nizhniy Novgorod. Russia’s terrain consists of plains, low hills west
of the Ural Mountains, uplands and mountains (Caucasus) along the southern
borders and coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia. The Volga is the country’s
Russia’s climate is very diverse. The summers can be warm and humid, whilst
the winters can be harsh and bitterly cold. Population
Russia’s population was estimated at 142,893,540 in 2006. Languages: Russian is the official language. Religion: The Russian Orthodox Church is the main religious body.
It survived the atheist Stalin era, and today a greater number of people
are becoming involved in the Church. Many of the minorities living in Russia
are of the Islamic faith. Sport
Russia is a keen sporting country, successful at a number of sports and
consistently finishing in the top rankings at the Olympic games.
Russians play a lot of football, but their chances of becoming a footballing
superpower were reduced by the break-up of the USSR.
Ice hockey is one of Russia’s most played sports. It has gained success
in this sport at world and Olympic level.
Russia has also produced a number of famous tennis players such as Yevgeny
Kafelnikov, Anna Kournikova, and Maria Sharapova, the winner of the 2004
Wimbledon women’s title.
If St. Petersburg is Russia's imperial crown, Moscow is its familial heart.
It is a city in which one comes face to face with all that is finest and
all that is most frustrating in Russia. The gregarious geniality of its
people is as evident as the extreme tensions of a city coming to terms with
the confusions of rapid social change. More than anywhere else in the country,
it is in Moscow where the Soviet past collides with the capitalist future.
Lenin's Mausoleum remains intact, but today it faces the newly chic GUM
(pronounced goom), which is becoming ever more akin to Macy's or Harrod's.
Yet, as the new Moscow emerges, it is becoming increasingly clear that any
move into the future will be marked by a strong appreciation of the city's
rich and varied heritage--a heritage that vastly predates the era of Soviet
rule. Indeed, the most striking aspect of the city today is not Moscow's
much-publicized embrace of Western culture but its self-assured revival
of its own traditions. Ancient cathedrals are being restored and opened
for religious services, innovative theaters are reclaiming leadership in
the arts, and traditional markets are coming back to life. Moscow is once
more assuming its position as the capital and mother city of the ancient
state of Russia.
The Israeli defense establishment is greatly concerned about Russia's plans
to go ahead with a sale of advanced arms to Syria, a defense source said
"Israel views [arms sale] with great concern," the senior defense official
said. "The weapons will eventually be turned against Israel."
The P-800 Yakhont supersonic cruise missile.
The P-800 Yakhont supersonic cruise missile.
According to the official, Defense Minister Ehud Barak raised the issue
in meetings earlier this month with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
and Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov.
On Friday, Serdyukov announced that Russia would go ahead with its sale
of advanced anti-ship rockets to Syria, despite recent attempts by U.S.
and Israeli officials to thwart the planned deal.
The arms deal, signed in 2007, involves the sale of advanced P-800 Yakhont
supersonic cruise missiles to the Syrian military, weaponry which Israel
considers as capable of posing significant danger to its navy vessels in
the Mediterranean Sea.
Last month, Haaretz reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had
tried to sway his Russian counterpart, Putin, from completing the deal,
reportedly saying the missiles could be transferred to Hezbollah and used
against IDF troops, as was the case in the Second Lebanon War.