1992, 2003, 2007



Professor Vladimir Shipulin, Tomsk, Siberia

Professor Leo Bockeria, Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery, Bakoulev Scientific Center for CV Surgery,
 Moscow, Russia

The defeat of the Russian Empire in World War I led to the seizure of power by the communists and the formation of the USSR. The brutal rule of Josef STALIN (1924-53) strengthened Russian dominance of the Soviet Union at a cost of tens of millions of lives. The Soviet economy and society stagnated in the following decades until General Secretary Mikhail GORBACHEV (1985-91) introduced glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) in an attempt to modernize communism, but his initiatives inadvertently released forces that by December 1991 splintered the USSR into 15 independent republics. Since then, Russia has struggled in its efforts to build a democratic political system and market economy to replace the strict social, political, and economic controls of the communist period.
Location: Northern Asia (that part west of the Urals is sometimes included with Europe), bordering the Arctic Ocean, between Europe and the North Pacific Ocean
60 00 N, 100 00 E
Population: 145,470,197 (July 2001 est.)
Area: total:  17,075,200 sq km
land:  16,995,800 sq km
water:  79,400 sq km
slightly less than 1.8 times the size of the US
Climate: ranges from steppes in the south through humid continental in much of European Russia; subarctic in Siberia to tundra climate in the polar north; winters vary from cool along Black Sea coast to frigid in Siberia; summers vary from warm in the steppes to cool along Arctic coast
Terrain: broad plain with low hills west of Urals; vast coniferous forest and tundra in Siberia; uplands and mountains along southern border regions
Elevation: lowest point:  Caspian Sea -28 m
highest point:  Gora El'brus 5,633 m
Natural resources: wide natural resource base including major deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, and many strategic minerals, timber

note:  formidable obstacles of climate, terrain, and distance hinder exploitation of natural resources

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