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Yearbook 2018

Russian Federation. Opposition leader Aleksey Navalnyj in January definitely refused to stand in this year's presidential election. His appeal against the Election Commission's decision was rejected by the Supreme Court on the grounds that Navalnyj was convicted of fraud, a judgment he saw as political.

2018 RussiaAccording to Countryaah.com, President Vladimir Putin intended to run for a fourth term in the March elections. When Putin visited St. Petersburg in January, police raided Navalnyj's office in the city, and a court banned Navalnyj's foundation.

At Navalnyj's call, demonstrations were held in several cities against Putin before the elections. At least 180 people were arrested, and in February the authorities closed Navalnyj's website.

71 people were killed in February when a Russian domestic plane crashed shortly after takeoff from the Domodedovo airport in Moscow.

2018 Russia

In February, US prosecutor Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian citizens and three companies for involvement in the 2016 US presidential election through social media activities.

A former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter were poisoned in March at a restaurant in Salisbury, England. A nerve poison of a type developed in the Soviet Union had been used, and the British government accused the Kremlin of the attempted murder. London expelled 23 Russian diplomats, and Moscow responded by expelling 23 British diplomats.

Britain was later supported by the EU, the US and NATO in its response to the poison attack. The United States expelled 60 Russian diplomats who were described as spies, and most EU countries expelled Russian diplomats.

Vladimir Putin won the presidential election with 76.7% of the vote, according to official data. The Communist Party's Pavel Grudinin got 11.8% and the radical nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky just under 6%. According to the OSCE election observers, there was no real competition for Putin, since freedom of assembly, association and freedom of expression was restricted. Independent Russian election monitors reported cheating at many polling stations.

In April, the United States increased its sanctions against Russian oligarchs with ties to Putin. A number of individuals and companies had their dollar assets frozen, which led to the fall of the Russian currency and the Moscow Stock Exchange down.

Prior to Putin's installation as president, Navalnyj called for nationwide demonstrations. More than 1,600 protesters were arrested in 26 Russian cities. According to Amnesty International, protesters were abused by semi-military groups without police intervention. Navalnyj was arrested and sentenced to 30 days in prison for organizing protests without permission.

In May, Putin inaugurated a bridge between the Russian mainland and the annexed Crimea, a 19-kilometer bridge that will be Europe's longest. The president drove a truck with construction workers across the bridge followed by a caravan of construction vehicles. Ukraine accused Moscow of violating international law through the bridge construction.

In a government reshuffle in May, Deputy Prime Minister Vitalij Mutko had to leave his post. Mutko is said to have belonged to those responsible for the systematic doping of Russian athletes that led to the Russian Federation being deported from the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February.

Before the start of the World Cup football on Russian soil, opposition leader Navalnyj was released from prison. He then wrote on Twitter that the prison cells were cleaned up with painted grilles and toilets instead of holes in the floor. Navalnyj saw it as a readiness for the arrest of messy English football supporters.

Prior to the presidential election, Putin had promised that the retirement age would not be raised. But the Soviet-era quarterly retirement age of 55 for women and 60 for men pushed the Russian budget, and in the shadow of the World Cup, the government announced in June a one-step increase to 63 for women by 2034 and 65 for men by 2028 The proposal caused a great deal of dissatisfaction, demonstrations were held in many cities in July, but Parliament voted in favor of the proposal in an initial vote.

US prosecutor Mueller filed new charges in July, when against twelve Russian agents from the GRU military intelligence service for conspiracy and cyberattacks aimed at influencing the 2016 presidential election. When President Putin and US President Donald Trump met in Helsinki, Putin denied all involvement from Russian state. Trump said he believed him, which caused harsh criticism in the United States while Putin was hailed in Russian media as a winner.

Internet provider mail.ru stated in August that more and more Russian prosecutions are being brought against internet users for their activities on social media. The year before, 43 people had been sentenced to prison, and mail.ru demanded legislative changes.

In August, the Russian Federation signed an agreement with Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan on the legal status of the Caspian Sea. For the first time since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the coastal states agreed on how to regulate fishing water and the seabed.

In August, Navalnyj was arrested again and sentenced to 30 days in jail for organizing demonstrations without permission. In doing so, he was prevented from organizing the new protests against pension reform planned for September.

President Putin's popularity figures had dropped sharply, and in a TV speech, he said that raising the retirement age of women would stop at 60 instead of 63. That was not enough to stop the protests as thousands of protesters marched through cities across the country in connection with regional elections. More than 800 people were arrested by police in over 30 cities, mainly in Saint Petersburg.

The regional elections became a setback for Putin's power party United Russia in several regions, probably because of pension reform. For the first time in Russian history, a governor's election was annulled because of cheating, despite the fact that the Kremlin faithful candidate was said to have won.

In September, a military exercise was held which was reported to be the largest in Russian history. 300,000 Russian soldiers and 36,000 military vehicles participated, as did soldiers from China and Mongolia, as the maneuver was held in eastern Siberia.

In October, Putin signed the law on unpopular pension reform after its approval in both chambers of parliament.

Two men suspected of the nerve poisoning attack in England claimed in Russian television that they were innocent tourists who visited Salisbury. But British journalists could report that the men were, in fact, Russian agents and that one of them should have received an award from President Putin.

Russian Orthodox Church broke ground in October with the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul, after an East Orthodox church meeting recognized Ukraine's Orthodox Church as independent. The Church of Ukraine had been under Russian since the 17th century, and its new independence was seen as part of the political and military conflict between Kiev and Moscow.

The European Court of Human Rights in November ruled that the Russian judiciary's judgments against Aleksey Navalnyj and his imprisonment were politically motivated and violated his human rights.

Russia's most famous human rights activist, Ljudmila Alekseev, died in December 91 years old.

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