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Russia (Russian: , Rossiya, Russian pronunciation: [r?'s?ij?]), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the largest country in the world, covering over 17 million square kilometres (6.6×10^6 sq mi), and encompassing more than one-eighth of Earth's inhabited land area. Russia extends across eleven time zones, and has the most borders of any country in the world, with sixteen sovereign nations. It has a population of 146.2 million; and is the most populous country in Europe, and the ninth-most populous country in the world. Moscow, the capital, is the second largest city in Europe, while Saint Petersburg is the nation's second-largest city and cultural centre. Russians are the largest Slavic and European nation; they speak Russian, the most spoken Slavic language, and the most spoken native language in Europe.

The East Slavs emerged as a recognisable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. The medieval state of Rus' arose in the 9th century. In 988, it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Rus' ultimately disintegrated until it was finally reunified by the Grand Duchy of Moscow in the 15th century. By the 18th century, the nation had greatly expanded through conquest, annexation, and exploration to become the Russian Empire, the third-largest empire in history. Following the Russian Revolution, the Russian SFSR became the largest and leading constituent of the Soviet Union, the world's first constitutionally socialist state, which was a one-party state throughout most of its existence. The Soviet Union played a decisive role in the Allied victory in World War II, and emerged as a superpower and rival to the United States during the Cold War. The Soviet era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite and the launching of the first human in space. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian SFSR reconstituted itself as the Russian Federation. In the aftermath of the constitutional crisis of 1993, a new constitution was adopted, and Russia has since been governed as a federal semi-presidential republic. Vladimir Putin has dominated Russia's political system since 2000, and his government has been accused of authoritarianism, numerous human rights abuses, and corruption. (Full article...)

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Pastila from Kolomna

Pastila (Russian: ) is a traditional Russian fruit confectionery (pâte de fruits). It has been described as "small squares of pressed fruit paste" and "light, airy puffs with a delicate apple flavor". In Imperial Russia, the "small jellied sweetmeats" were served for tea "with a white foamy top, a bit like marshmallow, but tasting of pure fruit".

The first mentions of pastila in Russian written sources date back to the 16th century. The name is probably a loanword from Italian: pastello or pastiglia, or from the cognate French: pastille which in turn comes from Latin: pastillus (a loaf or pie, cf. pastilla). (Full article...)

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Nikita Zotov, rotogravure by Alexandr Osipov, 1882-1883

Count Nikita Moiseevich Zotov (Russian: , tr. Nikita Moiseevich Zotov, IPA: [n?'k?ta mo?'svt 'zotv] ) (1644 - December 1717) was a childhood tutor and lifelong friend of Russian Tsar Peter the Great. Historians disagree on the quality of Zotov's tutoring. Robert K. Massie, for example, praises his efforts, but Lindsey Hughes criticizes the education that he gave to the future tsar.

Not much is known about Zotov's life aside from his connection to Peter. Zotov left Moscow for a diplomatic mission to Crimea in 1680 and returned to Moscow before 1683. He became part of the "Jolly Company", a group of several dozen of Peter's friends that eventually became The All-Joking, All-Drunken Synod of Fools and Jesters. Zotov was mockingly appointed "Prince-Pope" of the Synod, and regularly led them in games and celebrations. He accompanied Peter on many important occasions, such as the Azov campaigns and the torture of the Streltsy after their uprising. Zotov held a number of state posts, including from 1701 a leading position in the Tsar's personal secretariat. Three years before his death, Zotov married a woman 50 years his junior. He died in December 1717 of unknown causes. (Full article...)

In the news

26 July 2021 - COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in Russia
Russia approves the clinical trial of the combined AstraZeneca and Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine. (Yahoo! News)
24 July 2021 - Climate change in Australia
The World Heritage Committee rejects calls from UNESCO to list the Great Barrier Reef as a World Heritage Site "in danger" due to the effects of anthropogenic climate change and ocean acidification, in line with scientific consensus on the Reef's health. Australia lobbied a number of oil-rich countries, including Russia and Saudi Arabia, to reject the proposal. (The Guardian)
22 July 2021 - COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in Russia
Russia reports its first case of the Lineage P.1 Gamma variant, which was originally detected in Brazil. (Euronews)
20 July 2021 - COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 pandemic in Russia


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Sergei Prokofiev
In my view, the composer, just as the poet, the sculptor or the painter, is in duty bound to serve Man, the people. He must beautify human life and defend it. He must be a citizen first and foremost, so that his art might consciously extol human life and lead man to a radiant future. Such is the immutable code of art as I see it.

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