the death rate skyrocketed. The early and mid-1990s saw extreme lawlessness, rise of criminal gangs and violent crime.
The 1990s were plagued by armed conflicts in the Northern Caucasus, both ethnic conflicts between local groups and separatist Islamist insurrections against federal power. Since the Chechen separatists had declared independence in the early 1990s, an intermittent guerrilla war was fought between the rebel groups and the Russian military. Terrorist attacks against civilians carried out by separatists, most notably the Moscow theater hostage crisis and Beslan school siege, caused hundreds of deaths and drew worldwide attention.
High budget deficits and the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis caused the financial crisis of 1998 and resulted in further GDP decline. On 31 December 1999 President Yeltsin resigned, handing the post to
the recently appointed Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, who then won the 2000 presidential election.
Putin suppressed the Chechen insurgency, although sporadic violence still occurs throughout the Northern Caucasus. High oil prices and initially weak currency followed by increasing domestic demand, consumption and investments has helped the economy grow for nine straight years, improving the standard of living and increasing Russia's influence on the world stage. While many reforms made during the Putin presidency have been generally criticized by Western nations as un-democratic, Putin's leadership over the return of order, stability, and progress has won him widespread popularity in Russia. On 2 March 2008, Dmitry Medvedev was elected President of Russia, whilst Putin became Prime Minister.
Government and politics
According to the Constitution, which was adopted by national referendum on 12 December 1993 following the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis, Russia is a federation and formally a semi-presidential republic, wherein the President is the head of state and the Prime Minister is the head of government. The Russian Federation is fundamentally structured as a representative democracy. Executive power is exercised by the government.
Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the Federal Assembly. The government is regulated by a system of
Portrait of Ivan IV by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1897