James W. Meng

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Units: Foreword 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

18.1 18.2 18.3


Key Foundations of Russian Society
18.1. The Russian Federation - A Multinational Nation

Worldwide, our country is well known under the name of Russia. But officially and legally, the country is known as the Russian Federation. Let's give a quick look to the dictionary: what is a federation? A federation is a nation-state that brings together multiple nationalities and peoples under one unitary government. And indeed over the course of the last thousand years and more, many peoples have joined in the Russian nation either via migration or territorial expansion, living in the wide expanses from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean.

Today, people of over 180 different nations and peoples live on the territory of the Russian Federation. The majority of these are indigenous to this territory and constitute 93% of the population of today's Russia. Of these people, 81% are ethnically Russian. Outside these indigenous people, there are more than 60 nationalities that have historically called Russia their home, despite having origins outside of Russia. Germans, Jews, and Koreans, for example, have lived on Russian territory for many centuries now. Others, many of whom came to live on Russian territory during the periods of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, such as Armenians, Georgians, Ukrainians, Kazhaks, Tadjiks and Uzbeks, likewise have been well known in Russia for centuries and, during the massive upheavals of both World Wars, stood alongside their Russian brothers against fascism. During the years of the second World War, many millions of Soviet people - Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, and others who evacuated Nazi-occupied territories - also found shelter on the territory of other Soviet republics outside present-day Russia, which after the fall of the USSR became independent nations.

The federal nature of the present-day Russian state offers these many peoples the opportunity to secure their identity, culture, national languages, and other unique aspects of their character.

18.2. Religion and Culture

As discussed previously, ethnic Russians constitute the single biggest ethnic group on the territory of present-day Russia. The legal designation of one's own nationality is up to the free choice of each individual citizen of the Russian Federation to make. In the words of Vladimir Ivanovich Dal, who compiled perhaps the most famous early dictionary of the Russian language, "A Russian is someone who speaks and thinks in Russian, and loves Russia." Dal was not was not Russian by ancestry, but became one of the most famous and important figures of Russian culture, to the great pride of the Russian people.

Academics typically organize the peoples of Russia into a number of major groups. First among them, by population size, are Russians, spread throughout the territory of the present-day Russian Federation.

Next are the people of the Volga and Ural regions, close not only geographically but also historically and culturally: Tartars, Bashkirs, Kalmyks, Komi, Chuvash, Mordovians, and others; together, they make up 8% of the population of the Russian Federation. Tartars constitute half of this percentage, and are thus the second-largest distinct population group in Russia. Historically, a large Tartar population has also existed in the Moscow region and its surroundings.

Further are a number of small groups. The peoples of the North Caucasus constitute a full 3% of the total population of Russia; those of Siberia and the North - the Altaians, Buryats, Tuvinians, Yakuts, Khakas, and roughly 30 additional remote nationalities constitute an additional 1%.

On the subject of religion, the predominant religions of today are Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism. By ethnicity, Russians (and other Slavic nationalities) generally partake in Orthodox Christianity, as do the majority of Volga and Ural region peoples. Tartars and Bashkirs traditionally practice Islam, while Kalmyks generally practice Buddhism, and Jews - Judaism. Of the peoples of the North Caucasus, the vast majority practice Islam, save for the Ossetians, who historically have affiliated with the Orthodox Church. Finally, in addressing the religions of the peoples of Siberia and the North, the picture is slightly more complex. Of the major ethnic groups in the region, the Buryats and Tuvinians traditionally practice Buddhism; the remainder, primarily Orthodox Christianity. Nevertheless, due to the remote geographic nature of the region, many traditional, pre-Christian religious customs exist to varying degrees, with paganism in the form of shamanistic and/or idol-worshipping practices found often among the smaller ethnic groups.

Of the four official religions of Russia - Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism - all but three (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) are united by a common belief in a unitary, singular deity. Naturally, the existence of official religions in the Russian Federation does not preclude the existence or practice of other religious beliefs and customs. In contemporary Russia, the only religions and religious studies and practices that are expressly forbidden are those which sow racial, religious, and/or national discord, risking harm to individuals, society, and the state.

18.3. Constitution of the Russian Federation

The Constitution of the Russian Federation stands as the fundamental law of the land, for the security of all the peoples and citizens of the Russian Federation.

According to the Constitution of the Russian Federation: "The Russian Federation - Russia - has a democratic, federalized, law-driven state with a republican form of government. Recognition, observance, and protection of human and citizens' rights and rights and freedoms is a responsibility of the state. The Russian Federation consists of republics, territories, federal cities, and autonomous regions; these autonomous regions are also equal subjects of the Russian Federation. Every citizen of the Russian Federation has, while located on its territories, all rights and freedoms as well as equal responsibilities under the Constitution of the Russian Federation."

It should be noted that observance of the laws of the Constitution of the Russian Federation are compulsory not only for all Russian citizens, but also for any and all visitors from other nations while on its territories.