Russia (Russian: Россия) is the largest country in the world (in terms of land size), covering much of the vast expanse of Northern Asia and Europe (its European part occupies 40% of all Europe). It is known for being very cold and for its Communist past. At one point, it was even larger, taking about 1/6 of all the Earth's landmass and being called the USSR (and they were communists then) and earlier Russian Empire. Since USSR is the only modern country to become a superpower by means of massive violence (and one of few to see severe economic and moral decrease after liberalization), more then half of Russians still miss Communism and dislike liberalism and western integration, though there are political parties, such as Yabloko, which want Russia to re-integrate with the rest of the West.
Today, Russia covers the great expanse of North Asia and a bit of Europe. The capital is Moscow, located in the southwest region of the country. Other large cities include Saint-Petersburg (which used to be Leningrad and before that Petrograd), Vladivostok, and Nizhny Novgorod. Russia is home to twelve time zones, the most of any country in the world. It also has the largest coastline of any country on Earth and lays claim to the Arctic Ocean.
World War II
America should be thankful Communist Russia and Nazi Germany fought because if it weren't for that, all Jews would be dead and we'd be speaking German right now. This obviously is a reference to the way the Soviets helped defeat the Nazis in the Great Patriotic War (which is how they called their part of WW2), which saved the world from fascist extremism, but doomed half of it to Communist extremism. Of course, Germany would never have been able to mount a serious invasion of America we hope; still, it would have been bad.
To most uneducated conservative all-American guys, the U.S. was the nation that kicked Nazi Germany's ass single-handedly (grudgingly with some Brit, Rusky and French help). The U.S. lost 500,000 people in WWII. The Russians lost about 27 million. Oops. WWII deaths amounted up to 55 million people. You may start doing Maths now.
Russia, housing, and eyesight
Russia is unique among nations in that it can provide exceptional foreign policy training to even the most second-place of pageant contestants. In fact, the U.S. State Department will often train potential diplomats and embassy workers by having them serve a few months near the borders of Lithuania, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, or even as far away as Alaska so that they may wake up each morning and see Russia as they make breakfast.
Recently, the Secretary of State has also ordered those on such assignments to look at Russia again before going to bed, which has effectively reduced training time in half for many diplomats. Those seeking embassy employment who lack good eyesight are sometimes instead taken to the Near-North Side of Chicago to be able to smell and touch actual Russians without risking stepping into the country itself.
If you are a conservative visiting this site for fun, don't look now, but there's a Commie behind you!!!
Current Political State
The Russian Federation is a semi-presidential republic with Vladimir Putin being the head of the state as the President (or Prime Minister, while Dmitry Medvedev was one) and the mostly Conservative party, United Russia (Russian: Единая Россия) taking
around 140% a majority of seats in the State Duma (the federal parliament). The legitimacy of the president's and the leading party's rule is questioned among the opposition as a result of widespread election fraud allegations. This, in turn, has lead to a continuing series of protests in Moscow and other cities.
Liberals are hardly represented in the official party list at all; the only active liberal party in Russia, Yabloko (Яблоко, "Apple"), didn't even get enough votes to get a single seat in the legislative elections, while the party's leader, Grigory Yavlinsky, wasn't even allowed to be a candidate in the presidential elections.
The opposition, though, is perceived by most to be "liberal." However, it should be noted that the definition of the word "liberal" used in Russia (as well as most Europe) is, in fact, closer to what Americans would call neo-liberal or libertarian (while American liberals would be called "social liberals") -- a right-wing economic position coupled with a left-wing social position. While there are leftist and nationalist groups in the opposition, this doesn't change the political stance of the opposition as a whole. It isn't widely supported by the populace, with different protest rallies in Moscow amassing (as based on different accounts) from 2-8 thousand people (the police reports) to around 20-50 thousand (the opposition's own data) -- that's for a city with a population of 11,5 million people.
Some also criticize the Russian opposition for receiving support from organizations located in the U.S. and, in some cases (which are disputed by most) even contacting separatist and extremist groups in the higher-pressure regions.