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Russia

Yearbook 2016

Russian Federation. According to countryaah, the Russian economy was squeezed by low oil prices and sanctions from the west. GDP fell and, according to the government, the budget must be cut by one tenth in 2016. At the same time, loans were promised to affected regions and investments to save industries and agriculture. The sanctions due to Russian intervention in Ukraine were extended during the year by both the US and the EU.

In March, President Vladimir Putin visited Crimea on the two-year anniversary of the Russian annexation, and in April the Crimean Tatars' governing body was banned. A Russian court sentenced a female Ukrainian fighter pilot to 22 years in prison accused of killing two Russian journalists. She claimed innocence and in the West demanded her release. In May, she was released and exchanged for two Russian soldiers arrested in Ukraine.

2016 RussiaThe oppression of human rights was hardened, among other things, the human rights organization Memorial was stamped as a foreign agent. The Kremlin dismissed a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that opposition politician Aleksey Navalnyj would receive damages for unfair trial in 2013, when he was convicted of embezzlement.

In April, Putin announced a new security force, the National Guard, which would be under his direct command and used in the fight against terrorism and organized crime. It was to be based on riot police units, and critics feared it would be used to knock down demonstrations.

2016 Russia

Human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina was awarded in Stockholm the so-called alternative Nobel Prize, the Right Livelihood Award. She leads the Citizens Support Committee, which provides legal assistance to migrants and refugees.

In May, Russian military armament was announced on the archipelago of Kurils, which is disputed between Japan and the Russian Federation. During the summer, large Russian military maneuvers were held in Crimea, as well as near the borders with Ukraine and the Baltics.

Relations with Turkey thawed during the year, the two presidents met and agreed on cooperation against terrorism. The military chiefs of the countries also met. In the West, this was seen with concern, as both countries cracked down increasingly on regime critics and emerged as a Western hostile coalition. The relationship between the two regimes did not appear to be damaged despite the murder of the Russian ambassador to Turkey at the end of the year.

At home, Putin replaced a longtime close associate, Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov. His successor was Anton Vaino, grandson of the Soviet Communist leader in Estonia.

Before the September parliamentary elections, independent election observer Golos was forced to close after court decisions. Golos was stamped as a foreign agent and sentenced to high fines. The country's last major independent opinion institute, Levada, received the same stamp two weeks before the election.

As expected, the election turned out to be a superior victory for Putin's power party United Russia, which, according to official figures, performed strongly, taking 54.2% of the vote and 343 of the dum's 450 seats. The Communist Party received 42 seats, Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democrats 39 and A Fair Russia 23 seats. No real opposition candidate entered the duma.

Turnout was the lowest in modern times, 47.8%. According to the OSCE, the election campaign was governed by the power's grip on the media and society in general. Electoral cheating was reported from many directions.

After the election, Putin appointed his Vice-Chancellor and former KGB employee Vjatjeslav Volodin as the new President in the Duma.

Foreign policy intensified the confrontation in Syria, where the Russian air force bombed the regime. Russian-American talks were conducted on a ceasefire plan between the warring parties in Syria, but they mainly led to temporary bomb stops in Aleppo. In September, the United States accused Russian war plan of bombing an aid shipment in Syria, when many aid workers were killed and trucks destroyed. The Kremlin rejected the charges.

International investigators found in September that it was a Russian-made missile used against the Malaysian passenger plane that was shot down over Ukraine in 2014. The missile must have been fired from a site controlled by Prorian separatists. Moscow rejected the charges.

The tense relationship with the US deteriorated when the Kremlin withdrew from an old agreement in October on how to handle plutonium left over for nuclear weapons manufacturing. In order to return to the agreement, Moscow stipulated that the United States should lift its sanctions and withdraw its forces from the Baltic countries, among others. At the same time, the United States withdrew from the talks on ceasefire in Syria and referred to Russian bombings against Aleppo. Instead, at the end of the year, Moscow and Ankara established a ceasefire between the Syrian regime and some of the country's rebels, but not the Islamic State (IS).

The tension in the Baltic Sea area increased when Moscow in October stationed additional Iskander robots in Kaliningrad. They had the opportunity to carry nuclear weapons. The decision was said to be a response to the US missile defense in Europe and the stationing of soldiers in the Baltics and Poland. Subsequently, two Russian warships entered the Baltic Sea with long-range robots that can be loaded with nuclear weapons.

Moscow rejected US allegations of influence in the US presidential election through cyberattacks. At the same time, state-run Russian media campaigned against Hillary Clinton, painting her as a warrior and an enemy of the Russian people. When Donald Trump won the presidential election, he received warm congratulations from President Putin. In December, the US expelled a large number of Russian diplomats in revenge for the suspected cyberattacks. Moscow waited with response measures.

During the year, the Russian Federation voted away from the UN Human Rights Council. Human rights organizations had called for this because of the Russian bombings in Syria.

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