Russia's list of holidays is divided into federally and regionally established, ethnic, historical, professional and religious. The first two types are all-country day-off and should be taken into account while planning a trip.These are official holidays in Russian Federation:
New Year Holidays 1-5 January are often merged with Christmas and make up more than a week off.
Orthodox Christmas 7 January.
Fatherland Defender Day 23 February.
International Women's Day 8 March.
The Day of Spring and Labour 1 May.
Victory Day 9 May.
Day of Russia 12 June.
People's Unity Day 4 November.
Russia can't be understood by mind,Nor measured by common yardstick.She has of herself a unique build:Russia can only be believed.«Умом Россию не понять,Аршином общим не измерить:У ней особенная стать —В Россию можно только верить.»,Fyodor Tyutchev, 1866
Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, by administering the Kaliningrad Oblast exclave on the Baltic coast, Belarus, and Ukraine to the west including the disputed region of Crimea, Georgia including the disputed regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and Azerbaijan to the southwest, and Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, North Korea to the east and much of the south. Crimea is a disputed region between Russia and Ukraine.
Russia is a cold country, but there are always shades in the grey. The contrast of tundra's permafrost, which occupies 65% of Russian land and exotic Black sea coast has in between the continental climate, which is the most inhabited zone of European Russia, southern regions of Siberia and the Russian Far East. Its summers are always warm with a good portion of hot days enabling outdoor swimming in many of rivers, lakes and the seas.
Russian identity can be traced to the Middle Ages, with its first state known as Kievan Rus and its religion rooted in Byzantine Christianity adopted from Constantinople. However, it was not considered part of mainstream Europe until the reign of Tsar Peter the Great, who ruled until 1725. He was a dedicated Europhile and the first Tsar to visit 'Europe proper'.
Peter established the Russian Empire in 1721, although the Romanov dynasty had been in power since 1613. One of Russia's most charismatic and forceful leaders, Peter built the foundations of empire on a centralized and authoritarian political culture and forced "westernization" of the nation. As part of this effort he moved the capital from the medieval and insular city of Moscow to Saint Petersburg, a city built by the force of his will and strength of his treasury. Modelled largely on French and Italianate styles, Saint Petersburg became known as Russia's "Window on the West" and adopted the manners and style of the royal courts of western Europe, even to the point of adopting French as its preferred language.
The Russian Empire reached its peak during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, producing many colourful and enlightened figures such as Catherine the Great, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy. Nevertheless, the gulf between the authoritarian dynasty and its subjects became more apparent with each generation. By the late 19th century political crises followed in rapid succession, with rebellion and repression locked in a a vicious cycle of death and despair. The occasional attempts by the Romanovs and the privileged classes to reform society and ameliorate the condition of the underclasses invariably ended in failure. Russia entered World War 1 in the union of the Triple Entente; like other European Empires with catastrophic results for itself. Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, proved to be feckless, weak, and distracted by personal tragedies and the burdens of the war. The government proved unable to hold back the Russian Revolution of 1917. Deposed and held under house arrest, Nicholas, Alexandra, and their children -- and with them the Romanov dynasty -- were exterminated by gunfire in the basement of a Yekaterinburg manor house and buried in unmarked graves which were found after Communism and reburied in the Saint Paul and Peter Cathedral in Saint Petersburg.
World War I strained Imperial Russia's governmental and social institutions to the breaking point of Revolution in 1917. Following a brief interim government headed by social democrat Alexander Kerensky, the Bolshevik faction of the Communist Party under Marxist Vladimir Lenin seized power, withdrew Russia from the war, and launched a purge of clerics, political dissidents, aristocrats, the bourgeoise, and the kulak class of wealthy independent farming classes. A brutal civil war between the "Red Army" of the communist leadership and the "White Army" of the nobility and middle classes lasted until late 1920. In his years in power, Lenin used the Red Army, the internal security apparatus, and the Communist Party leadership to arrest and execute many opponents of the nascent regime, and redistribute land that have long been owned by the nobility to peasants who work in it Collectivisation of agriculture would not take place until 1928. After the Civil War, Lenin adopted a New Economic Policy, which allowed certain sectors to be denationalized, as well as cancelling the practice of grain requisitioning that was widely used in wartime, as well as a loosening of political and cultural controls.
The revolutionary state was not directly ruled by the officials in titular control of the government, which was established in the name of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics USSR. The government in the commonly understood sense was largely irrelevant both in fact and in Communist theory throughout the years of Communist control. In a manner akin to the Tsarist regime, the real power lay in the leadership of the Communist Party, the Red Army, and the internal security apparatus secret police.
Following Lenin's death in 1924, a power struggle among the Bolshevik leadership ensued, with Josef Stalin emerging as the new leader of the Communist Party and dictator of the USSR. Stalin's brutal rule 1928-53 was marked by waves of "purges" in which suspected dissidents in the government, the Party, the Red Army, and even the security forces were executed or exiled to gulags prison camps on little or no evidence. In addition to forced collectivization of agriculture and renationalisation of industries, Stalin introduced a ruthlessly centralized economic system "socialism in one country" that rapidly industrialized the USSR. Stalin's rivals to succeed Lenin, as well as critics arising thereafter, typically ended up as victims of the purges. Although seen as less of an idealist than Lenin or Trotsky, Stalin did relentlessly pursue international revolution through the Russia-based "Comintern" control over the communist parties of foreign countries, and foreign espionage.
World War 2, from a Soviet perspective, began with Stalin abruptly entering into a Non-Aggression Pact with Nazi Germany. The Treaty, which shook Western governments to their core and stunned the Left in Europe and America, guaranteed Hitler a free hand to launch war against Poland, France, and England. The Pact also granted the USSR itself leave to invade and conquer neutral Finland and take over the Baltic States, part of Romania and all of Eastern Poland after the German invasion in 1939. Finally in June 1941, having conquered France and most of the rest of Western Europe, Hitler turned on his erstwhile ally and invaded the USSR. A change to an alliance of necessity with the Western nations was instrumental in the defeat of Nazism in 1945. The Red Army's bloody campaigns on the Eastern Front, culminating in its capture of Berlin, resulted in over 20 million Soviet deaths, most of them civilian victims, or soldiers thrown into ghastly land battles.
At the conclusion of the Second World War, the USSR rapidly moved to establish influence over all of the eastern half of Europe, encouraging the creation of Communist regimes in East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Romania and effectively crushed political dissent. In Asia, it also helped to install communist governments in China, North Vietnam and North Korea. Western critics came to describe the USSR and its European and Asian "satellites" as trapped behind an "Iron Curtain" of ruthless totalitarianism and command economies. Yugoslavia's Communist Party rifted from Moscow in 1948, but similar attempts in Hungary 1956 and Czechoslovakia 1968 were ruthlessly crushed.
After Stalin's death in 1953, Soviet heavy industry and military might continued to grow under Georgy Malenkov 1953-1955 and Nikita Khrushchev 1955-1964, Stalin's successors as General Secretary of the Party. Attempts were made to produce consumer goods, as well as a progressive decentralization, despite resistance from the armed forces. In 1956, Khrushchev renounced the excesses of Stalin's regime and commenced his own purge to "de-Stalinize" the economy and society of the USSR. Results were mixed, and Khrushchev himself was deposed. In October 1957 the USSR became the first country to launch an artificial satellite into space. This was followed by sending the first human Yuri Gagarin into space in 1961. The Soviet Union reached its military, diplomatic, and economic peak during the closing years of Leonid Brezhnev 1964-1982. But increasing corruption and a slowdown in economic growth marched inexorably to a crisis that eventually led General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev 1985-91 to introduce glasnost openness and perestroika limited economic freedom - literally: rebuilding. His initiatives inadvertently released forces that went beyond his control, triggering political movements that eventually consumed the Soviet Union itself in December 1991.
The Russian Federation emerged from the Soviet Union, accompanied by a storm of problems followed. The first leader of the newly formed nation was Boris Yeltsin, who rose to power by standing up to an attempted putsch by the KGB. Yeltsin largely succeeded in transferring control over the country from the old Soviet elite to his own oligarchical apparatus. Yeltsin was a charismatic leader widely supported by the West, but his government proved to be unstable. A wave of economic hardship put Russia's economy in ruins and left the military underfunded and undisciplined. During this time, Russian organized crime and its relationship with the government, now universally recognized as corrupt and incompetent, assumed greater control over the nation, even as political reforms were taking place. Ironically, before he came to power Yeltsin had labelled Russia as the "biggest mafia state in the world".
Russia was also at war with Chechen separatists, which had devastating consequences for the already weak Russian economy. Widespread corruption, poverty, and large-scale political and social problems, eventually forced to Yeltsin resign, and Vladimir Putin filled his remaining term January - April 2000 as President. An ex-KGB officer under the Communist regime, and head of the revived Russian spy service under Yeltsin, Putin imposed his own personality and will on the unruly and criminal quarters of the country, but has been much condemned for his authoritarian behavior. Having served his constitutionally limited terms 2000-2008, Putin titularly stepped down as President but continued to control the government through his anointed successor, Dmitry Medvedev. To no one's surprise, Putin resumed the presidency when eligible again in 2012.
Since 2000, under Putin's direct and indirect rule, the economy has bounced back from crisis, thanks in no small part to five-fold increases in the prices of raw materials Russia has in abundance. Inflation has dropped down from the triple digits into single units, poverty has been reduced, and Russia has re-emerged as a dominant regional economic, political and military power. This performance has often been called the "Russian Miracle."
Today, the modern Russia still has to fully recover from the doldrums that have hit the country in recent years, with inflation driving up prices, an increasingly unstoppable burden to combat pervasive corruption, an under-competitive political system, insurgency in the North Caucasus, a demographic crisis, and decreasing economic competition. Russians also appear to be facing up to the problem of reconciling Putin's successes with his authoritarian and self-aggrandizing impulses. Nonetheless, Russians have achieved a much higher standard of living since the fall of the USSR.