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.
The 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.
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
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.