Russia is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland , Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan,China, Mongolia, and North Korea. It also has maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk, and the US state of Alaska by the Bering Strait. At 17,075,400 square kilometres (6,592,800 sqmi), Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than one eighth of the Earth’s inhabited land area. Russia is also the eighth most populous nation with 143million people. Russia has the world’s largest reserves of mineral and energy resources[ and is the second largest oil producer and second largest natural gas producer globally. Russia has the world’s largest forest reserves and its lakes contain approximately one-quarter of the world’s fresh water.
Full country name: Russia
People: Russians 79.8%, Tatars 3.8%, Ukrainians 2.0%, Bashkirs 1.2% Chuvash,1.1% Chechen 0.9%, Armenians 0.8%, Other/unspecified 10.4%
Language: Russian, Tatar, Ukrainian, Russian is the only official state language,.
Religion: Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Tuva, and Kalmykia, Yakutia, Chukotka, Buddhists
Government: Federal semi-presidentialrepublic
President: Dmitry Medvedev
Prime Minister: Vladimir Putin
GDP per head: $16,687
GDP growth: 4.3%
Major Industries: complete range of mining and extractive industries producing coal, oil, gas, chemicals, and metals; all forms of machine building from rolling mills to high-performance aircraft and space vehicles; defense industries including radar, missile production, and advanced electronic components, shipbuilding; road and rail transportation equipment; communications equipment; agricultural machinery, tractors, and construction equipment; electric power generating and transmitting equipment; medical and scientific instruments; consumer durables, textiles, foodstuffs, handicrafts Major trading partners: Netherlands 10.62%, Italy 6.46%, Germany 6.24%, China 5.69%, Turkey 4.3%, Ukraine 4.01%
April: Music Spring (an international classical music festival), St Petersburg.
June: White Nights, a time for general merrymaking and staying up late. December: The Russian Winter Festival (folklore shows), Moscow.
Budget: US$ 4-10
Mid-range: US$ 10-15
Top-end: $US 15 and upwards
Budget: US$ 10-45
Mid-range: US$ 45-100
Top-end: US$ 100 and upwards
Frugal travelers can get by on US$30 a day. But always staying in comfortable hotels and eating in restaurants two or three times a day should take you back by around US$85 a day.
US dollars cash are easiest to change but carrying cash can be dangerous these days. The chances of travelers cheques being accepted is very bleak
Prior to WW II the city was a thriving and multicultural commercial centre. Vladivostok is surrounded by the Far East Maritime Reserve and the Ussuri Nature Reserve. Various fauna, including black and brown bears, Siberian boars, Ussuri tigers, the rare Amur leopard and hundreds of local and migratory birds, can be found here.
This is one of the main towns on the Helsinki-St Petersburg route and one of Europe’s oldest cities. An imposing medieval castle has been built on a rock in the bay. The city has undergone numerous owners. It went from Sweden to Finland, added to Russia in 1710, lost to Finland a century later, retaken by Stalin in 1939, lost to the Finns and Germans during WW II and regained with a flourish by deporting all the Finns.
The birth of the Russian state can be traced back to the founding of Novgorod in 862 by the Viking Rurik of Jutland. His successor Oleg helped make Kiev the dominant regional power in the 10th and 11th centuries. In the 13th century, prosperity came under threat from the marauding Mongolian Tatars, who held sway until 1480. The 16th century witnessed the ugly expansionist reign of Ivan the Terrible. His incursions into the Volga region antagonized both Poland and Sweden.
Both the countries claimed the Russian throne when the 700-year Rurikid dynasty ended with the childless Fyodor. The issue was finally settled in 1613, with 16-year-old Mikhail Romanov brining in a dynasty that was to rule until 1917. Peter the Great, the dynasty’s strongest ruler, celebrated vanquishing the Swedes by building a new capital in St Petersburg.
The 19th century ended with the country in ominous turmoil. There was growing opposition to the repressive and autocratic Tsarist rule. Peasants were angry at having to pay for land they regarded as their own. Many radicals fled, including the most famous exile Vladimir Ulyanov, better known by his later nom de guerre, Lenin.
Under the young but weak Nicholas II, ignominious defeat in the war with Japan (1904-5) led to further unrest. Social Democrat activists formed workers’ councils (soviets), and a general strike in October 1905 brought the country to its knees. The tsar finally buckled and under great pressure from all around, he abdicated on March 1, March 1917.
On 25 October a splinter group of Social Democrats (known as Bolsheviks and led by the exiled Lenin) seized control and empowered the soviets as the ruling councils. Headed by Lenin and supported by Trotsky and the Georgian Stalin, the soviet government redistributed land to those who worked it. In March 1918 the Bolshevik Party was renamed the Communist Party and the nation’s capital was moved from Petrograd to Moscow. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was established in 1922 and Lenin dies two years later. His successor Stalin introduced farm collectivization, destroying the peasantry both as a class and as a way of life. Millions were executed or exiled to Siberian concentration camps.
Russia’s non-agression pact with Germany set the scene for WW II, with Hitler and Stalin passing states between them like hot potatoes. The tables turned in 1941 when Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa issued in a bloody period of warfare that would eventually kill a sixth of the population. The battles for Leningrad and Stalingrad were particularly protracted and obscene. One million Soviet troops died defending Stalingrad.
After the war Russia’s extended control over much of Eastern Europe was the key to its emergence as one of the world’s superpowers. Stalin established Western ideology as the country’s new enemy. Following his death in 1953, Nikita Krushchev emerged as leader and cautiously attempted to de-Stalinize the Party and brazenly arm Cuba. Despite increased repression, dissident movements sprang up. But change was on the way and Russian communism’s poor image was soon thoroughly overhauled by soviet iconoclast Mikhail Gorbachov. He introduced political and economic reforms (perestroika) and called for greater openness (glasnost). In 1988 he shocked the world by holding elections to transfer power from the Party to a new parliament. Reduced repression led to the eventual independence of the 15 Soviet republics, with the Baltic republics leading the way. This reduced sphere of influence and severe economic crisis caused domestic strife.
A reactionary coup in August 1991 opened the way for his even more radical successor, Boris Yeltsin. Today Russia’s domestic problems have become more entrenched. The misdealings of corrupt officials, financiers and out-and-out gangsters have spread into every corner of society. With soaring drug abuse, a murder rate twice as high as the USA and commerce held ransom by racketeers, things don’t look very rosy for Russia in the immediate future.
In the 19th century Russia had achieved many outstanding achievements in the fields of literature, architecture, ballet, musical composition and performance. The St Petersburg Imperial Ballet school produced dancers like Anna Pavlova. Moscow’s Bolshoi company created a big impact. Tchaikovsky became a world-renowned composer.
Russia’s most characteristic architectural feature is its onion-domed churches, which evolved when the wooden churches of the north were transformed into brick and colorful tile-works. In cinema the revolutionary period is best represented by Sergey Eisenstein’s iconic Battleship Potyomkin. Regional embroidery and woodcarving, Russian dolls and the carved wooden houses of the east also became famous.
Russia is huge – it stretches from the borders with Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine and Turkey in the west, passing Kazakstan, Mongolia and China, to reach the Pacific Ocean after about 6000 km. The landscape is predominantly flat. The three major rivers – the Dnepr, Don and Volga – flow south into the Black and Caspian Seas.
ranges, exile and mind-blowing nothingness.
As a result of the country’s large size, there are different kinds of forests that are home to various types of animal life. There are over 140 state nature reserves. In several of them breeding programs have ensured the continued livelihood of animal species, including the European bison.
Moscow and St Petersburg share similar summer temperatures, both averaging around 24
The warmest months are July and August but they are also the dampest – it might rain one in three days. Try going there in May-June or September-October if you want to avoid the crowds and the rain.
While Moscow is Europe’s most Asiatic capital, then St Petersburg is Russia’s most European city. It was created by Peter the Great as his ‘Window on the West’ with 18th and 19th-century European pomp and orderliness. It is one of Europe’s most chanting cities. Area: 600 sq km (235 sq mi)
Population: 4.2 million
Time: GMT/UTC plus 3 hours from October-March; plus 4 hours April-September
Telephone area code: 812
February: Goodbye Russian Winter
April: The St Petersburg Music Spring
June: White Nights, when night never falls.
December: Russian Winter Festival, Christmas Musical Meetings
This city has been built on a grand scale, with large palaces and boulevards. It sprawls across and around the mouth of the Neva River, which splits the city into three sectors. The north side of the city has three main areas. The westernmost is Vasilevsky Island. The middle area is Petrograd Side. And the third area is Vyborg Side.
When to go:
St Petersburg is a year-round destination. The city’s northern latitude means long days in summer and long nights in winter. In winter, hotels and tourist attractions are less crowded and, there’s a twinkling magic about the winter sky. Climate-wise, St Petersburg is much milder than its extreme northern latitude would suggest.
The Leningrad Radio-Tele Broadcasting Center’s antenna is open to visitors. The 50,000-watt, 310m transmitter tower offers excellent views of the city and its environs. There is an observation deck 200m (660ft) up the structure.
Peter the Great built a series of palaces on a beautiful site 30 km west of St Petersburg. The combined ensemble is known as Petrodvorets. The occupying Germans trashed this legacy of tsarist overindulgence in WW II. What you see today is largely a reconstruction from photographs, drawings and anecdotes. Fountains add a great deal to Petrodvorets’ impressive charm. Petrodvorets’ other components include the Grand Palace and Peter’s original villa, Monplaisir.
The summer palaces at Tsarskoe Selo (renamed Pushkin in 1937 to commemorate the centenary of his death) were created for Empress Elizabeth and Catherine the Great. They lie 25km (15mi) south of St Petersburg. The baroque Catherine Palace was left in ruins by the Germans at the end of WW II. Today it is a masterpiece of restoration. The facade features golden domes and blue and white detailing. The interior glitters with mirrors, chandeliers and cherubs.
If you are visiting the city in summer, paddle away through the canals and lakes on Yelagin Island. There are also rowing boat rentals at the northern end of the moat around the Peter & Paul Fortress. If you fancy going further afield, take a yacht up to the Gulf of Finland and plant your parasol on the beach. Winter can be just as active. If you, like the Russians, enjoy cross-country skiing, Toksovo, a popular resort just north of St Petersburg, is the place to head to.
St Petersburg’s origins lie in Peter the Great trouncing the Swedes at Poltava in 1709 – he renamed the city, Dutch style, Sankt Pieter Burkh, In 1712 it became his capital. By the time of Peter’s death in 1725, the city had a huge population. Ninety per cent of Russia’s foreign trade passed through it.
Peter’s immediate successors moved the capital back to Moscow. But Empress Anna Ivanovna (1730-40) returned to St Petersburg. Between 1741 and 1825 under Empress Elizabeth, Catherine the Great and Alexander I it became a cosmopolitan city with a royal court of famed splendor.
Industrialization which peaked in the 1890s. This brought a flood of poor workers into the city. The result was overcrowding, poor sanitation, epidemics and discontent. St Petersburg became a hotbed of strikes and political violence. By 1914, with a wave of patriotism at the start of WW I the city’s name was changed to the Russian-style Petrograd.
It was here that workers’ protests turned into a general strike. The troops mutinied and this led to an end of the monarchy in March. It was to Petrograd that Lenin traveled in April to organize the Bolshevik Party. The city was renamed Leningrad after his death in 1924. It was a hub of Stalin’s 1930s industrialization programme and by 1939 had 3 million people and 11 per cent of Soviet industrial output. When the Germans attacked the USSR in June 1941 it took them only two-and-a-half months to reach Leningrad. Hitler hated the place since it was the birthplace of Bolshevism – he swore to wipe it from the face of the earth. His troops besieged it from September 1941 until late January 1944. Between 500,000 and a million died from shelling, starvation and disease.
After the war, Leningrad was reconstructed and reborn. In 1991 the Soviet Union was officially proclaimed ‘dead’ and residents of Leningrad voted to rename the city St Petersburg. Foreign investment gave the city a boost. St Petersburg did re-establish itself as Russia’s window on the West. The people were freer and the shops were stocked. But many didn’t have the money to enjoy the new prosperity. The crime rate soared.
St Petersburg has direct air links with most major European capitals and airlines. Many of them offer several connections each week. Domestically, you can fly just about anywhere you want. St Petersburg has one bus station serving important Russian cities. The main international rail gateways to St Petersburg are Helsinki, Tallinn, Warsaw and Berlin. The city has four railway stations.
Pulkova-1 and -2, respectively the domestic and international airports that serve St Petersburg, are 17 km south of the city center. The St Petersburg metro is one of the world’s best undergrounds. You’ll rarely wait more than three minutes for a train. A clock at the end of the platform shows time elapsed since the last train departed. The best way of getting around the city by road is by bus, trolleybus (an electric bus) or tram.
Moscow’s origins go back to more than 850 years. It is full of vitality as well as chaos – result of the collapse of communism and the efforts of its citizens to reinvent their lives. The city is full of contrasts with ancient monasteries and ultra-modern monoliths standing alongside. The city is home to New Russian millionaires as well as poverty-stricken pensioners.
Area: 1035 sq km (405 sq mi)
Population: 8.3 million
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +3 (October-March); +4 (April-September)
Telephone area code: 095
January: December Nights Festival
March: Orthodox Easter
November: Great October Socialist Revolution Anniversary
December: Russian Winter Festival
Moscow lies in the center of European Russia. The border between Europe and Asia runs down the west side of the Ural Mountains. To the east of Moscow is the Volga River. The Kremlin is in the heart of Moscow. Red Square lies along its east side and the Moscow River flows past its southern one. Moscow is flat and has few useful landmarks for getting your bearings from a distance. Its five airports are all beyond the outer ring road, 30 to 40 km from the city centre.
When to go:
July and August are the warmest months in Moscow and the main holiday season for foreigners and Russians. Summer days are long and can be wet. By the end of November Moscow is frozen most of the time. It starts snowing heavily in December and stays until April.
In the narrow winding streets of the city’s north is located Moscow’s most famous bathhouse. These fading but grand 19th-century baths are a mixture of sauna and social club. The sexes are strictly segregated.
Known universally as VDNKh (USSR Economic Achievements Exhibition), in the northeast of the city, this vast propaganda park was an early casualty when those in power finally admitted that the Soviet economy was a disaster. Funds were cut off in 1990 and it remains a frightening and decaying monument to Soviet dogma.
Since Moscow is a snowy place, its sports are snow-centered. There are a number of parks in the city where you can do a little cross-country skiing, or if you’re keen for speed there are a couple of downhill runs just outside the city. IN the public swimming pools you need to have a doctor’s certificate saying you’re healthy enough to take the plunge.
It is believed that the Kremlin and its surrounding areas were probably settled in by the 11th century. In 1237-38 Moscow was sacked Tatars led by Batu, Genghis Khan’s grandson. In the late 15th century, Prince Ivan III, called the Great, brought Italian architects to build cathedrals in the Kremlin and styled himself ruler ‘of all Russia’.
Ivan IV (the Terrible) expanded Muscovite territory by launching the conquest of Siberia. By 1571 the city had over 200,000 people. Tsar Boris Godunov faced famine and a Polish-backed invasion. The Poles were driven out and 16-year-old Mikhail Romanov was elected tsar by a council of nobles, launching the 300-year Romanov dynasty and a period of consolidation during which Moscow’s territory spread southwards.
Peter the Great toured Europe in 1697-98. He built a new capital, St Petersburg, on the Baltic to open Russia up to Western trade and ideas and to consolidate military victories over Sweden. However, Moscow remained important enough to be Napoleon’s main goal when his troops marched on Russia in 1812. But with winter coming, the French had to pull out little more than a month after they had arrived. The city’s population grew from 350,000 in the 1840s to 1.4 million in 1914. October 1917 saw savage street fighting in Moscow. The Bolsheviks occupied, lost and retook the Kremlin over an eight-day period. In 1918 the government moved back to Moscow after two centuries’ absence, fearing that St Petersburg (then Petrograd) might come under German attack. Moscow became the epicenter of the country’s total reorganization. Under Stalin, one of the world’s first comprehensive urban plans was devised for Moscow. The first line of the metro was completed in 1935.
Boris Yeltsin, made the city’s new Communist Party chief in 1985, became hugely popular as he sacked hundreds of corrupt commercial managers, set up new food markets and permitted demonstrations. It was the rallying of Muscovites behind Yeltsin at Moscow’s ‘White House’, seat of the parliament of the Russian Republic, that foiled the old-guard coup in 1991 and precipitated the ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union.
By the mid-1990s Moscow was very much the vanguard of the ‘new Russia’, filling up with all the things Russians had expected capitalism to bring but which had barely begun to percolate down to the provinces: banks, stock exchanges, casinos, advertising, BMWs, new shops, hotels, restaurants and nightlife. Now at the forefront of Moscow life is the influence of Vladimir Putin, who replaced Yeltsin as Russian president at the end of the millennium and is now the country’s Prime Minister.
Sheremetevo-2 airport, 30km (20mi) northwest of the city center, handles flights to and from places outside the former Soviet Union. There are daily flights by numerous airlines to and from nearly all European and many other world capitals, and many provincial cities, too.
You can get to the five airports and the city centre cheaply by a combination of bus and metro or suburban train. But if you’re going early in the morning or late at night, or have a lot of baggage, you’ll probably need a taxi. Buses run to a number of towns and cities within about 700 km of Moscow. Moscow also has rail links to most parts of Russia.
The central area around the Kremlin, the Kitai Gorod and the Bolshoi Theatre are best seen on foot. To almost anywhere else the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to get around is on the metro and on foot. There are more than 150 metro stations. Many of them are elegant, marble-faced, frescoed, gilded works of art. They’re coin-operated and easy to use, with plenty of signage and maps, and you’ll rarely wait more than two minutes for a train. Buses, trolley buses and trams run almost everywhere the metro doesn’t go, and are good for radial travel or for getting outside the center.
Just 190km south of St Petersburg, Novgorod was annexed by Ivan III, razed by Ivan the Terrible and methodically trashed by the Nazis. Its Kremlin includes the Byzantine Cathedral of St Sophia, the Millennium of Russia Monument, the icon-filled Chamber of Facets and the research-based Museum of History & Art.
The best way of seeing massive Russia is by taking a ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway. The six-day, 9446 km journey from Moscow to Vladivostok passes through through endless forests of birch and pine, log-cabin settlements and vast steppes. The route crosses Siberia’s Lake Baikal and multicultural Irkutsk.
The 3700 km long River Volga is Europe’s longest. It flows from Yaroslavl to Volgograd. From here a tributary runs off to the Caspian Sea. Cruisers and steamships ply the Volga’s waters. Towns en-route include Kazan, one of the oldest Tatar cities in Russia and Lenin’s birthplace, Ulyanovsk.
This Black Sea resort has the Caucasus mountains as its backdrop. It is blessed with subtropical climate, warm seas and a trendy resort called Dagomys. Gardens are all over the town. There are also many therapeutic establishments and dachas (country houses) of the powerful and famous.
Adventure travel is set to take off in Russia. There are many adventure travel groups in many Russian cities and towns. Activities undertaken include trekking or mountaineering; hiking or kayaking in the forests, rivers and lakes; bicycling between Moscow and St Petersburg and cross-country and downhill skiing.
Russia Tourist Visa Requirements
Valid passport for 6 months from date of return from Russia with minimum two blank pages.
One duly filled visa application form.
2 passport size photo.
Covering letter addressed to Visa Officer, Russian Consulate, Mumbai
Pax covering letter with addressed to Visa Officer, Russian Consulate, Mumbai
If employed – Proof of employment (Original Leave letter)
If Businessman – Proof of business (Business IT papers for last 3 years and Current account statements for last 6 months). Last 3 years IT papers (Original + Copy)
Last 6 months updated bank statements. (Original + Copy)
Original tourist voucher / Hotel Confirmation and confirmation from a tourist company with serial number and reference number of MFA of Russia
Conformed return air ticket..
PAX NEEDS TO COME PERSONALLY FOR INTERVIEW WITHOUT WHICH IT WOULD NOT BE PROCESSED.
APPLICATIONS ARE ACCEPTED ONLY ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY AND FRIDAY
Russia visa is processed at Consulate of Russian Federation, Mumbai. (For passports issued in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, MP, Chhattisgarh)
Type of visa
Processing time and charges
3 – 5 days
within 2 days
Single entry visas (tourist, business, student, transit and private)
Rs. 2250 + Rs. 250 CVT Fees = INR 2500
Rs 4500 + Rs. 250 CVT Fees = INR 4750
Rs 11500 + Rs. 250 CVT Fees = INR 11750
Double entry visas (tourist, business, transit)
Rs 4500 + Rs. 250 CVT Fees = INR 4750
Rs 6750 + Rs. 250 CVT Fees = INR 7000
Rs 13750 + Rs. 250 CVT Fees = INR 14000
More documents can be requested if necessary.
Consulate General of Russian Federation, Mumbai
L. Jagmohandas Marg (Old Neapean Sea Road),
Mumbai – 400 036
Tel: – + 91 022 2363 36 27 / 2363 36 28 Fax: – + 91 022 2363 04 03
Time: There are 11 time zones; Moscow is GMT/UTC +3
Electricity: 220V (some 127V still found) 50Hz
Tourism: 7 million visitors per year