Russia Research Paper

Research Paper

1. Different Periods in Russian Economy
In this research paper I will shortly cover general features of economy during the periods from industrialization of Stalin till present Medvedev’s government.

Stalin had great influence on the economy of the Soviet Union in 1920s. It was he, who launched industrialization process, and who knows where could be Russia now, if he did everything right and succeeded. From one hand his actions were directed on the overall well-being of the Soviet Union and its people. He was a real patriot who wanted to see USSR on the top of the world. On the other hand he was ruthless to common people and in every second person envisioned the enemy of the nation. Obviously, all public enemies had to stay in convict colonies and camps (Barbusse 42-44).

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During the period of the Stalin’s government country was facing a depression. Stalin considered fast and efficient industrialization the only way to take the country out of the crisis and to raise it to unknown previously economic heights. He started with the agricultural sector by introducing the notion of collective and state farms. He was against private property of any kind.

In 1928 he introduced the first five year plan with set standards of production that seemed quite unachievable. People should sacrifice everything, including personal interests for the common goal, for their native country, for its future and prosperity. Later on, he decided to speed up the timing of this plan, not taking into consideration that there were no factual prerequisites for it.

It is difficult to underestimate the impact of Stalin’s industrialization on the economy of the USSR. It was the period when huge plants appeared along with thousands of new enterprises. USSR was at that time absolutely self-sufficient. It became almost as powerful as the USA and of course the most powerful in Europe in terms of gross output.

During years of his government, Khrushchev tried to conduct a reform in several fields. Soviet agriculture had serious problems and it was the main Khrushchev’s concern. In the previous years of Stalin leadership, it attracted the attention of the collective households, which introduced considerable innovations in this field of the Soviet economy. The state motivated peasants to grow more on their private plots, raised payments for crops grown on the collective farms, and invested more in agriculture. In the middle of 1950s virgin land campaign took place. Khrushchev introduced to farming vast areas of land on the north of the Kazakh Republic and neighboring territories of the Russian Republic. These new farmlands appeared to be exposed to droughts, but in some years they produced amazing harvests. Later innovations by Khrushchev were however counterproductive. His USA inspired plans for growing maize and increasing meat and dairy production failed, as well as his collective farms reorganization gave rise to confusion in the countryside. Khrushchev’s reforms in administrative organization and industry were even more problematic (Keep 81-91).

In 1963 Khrushchev’s special seven-year economic plan (1959-65) was abandoned two years short of its completion due to serious economic problems in the country. By 1964 Khrushchev’s popularity and prestige teetered, as industrial growth decreased and agricultural sector showed no new progress. There was no wheat and no bread in the country. Long lines were near groceries. At this point Khrushchev decided to buy wheat from the USA, taking the easiest possible path. He was stimulating demand and economy of the other country instead of making corrections, improvements and reforms in his own agricultural sector.

When the General Secretary of the country became Leonid Brezhnev, USSR’s economy was not in its best condition. Dramatic reduction of the economic growth was observed. That doesn’t mean that the economy was truly weak, this meant that it was slowing down and not working for all it is worth. USSR still could afford itself supersonic planes, spacecrafts, rockets, space station MIR, etc.

The problem lied in the fact that consumer market was not balances and it was a period of time when goods and products just disappeared from the market shelves. There was real deficit of particular goods and net surplus of others. The same situation was at the labor market, as there was a shortage of workers in some fields, and mainly in agricultural sector. People in the villages did not get enough compensation for their work and therefore were moving to larger cities to get some money. Brezhnev continued the policy of Khrushchev of wheat import, but it was not very helpful. Product shortage problem still was very critical. When Gorbachev became the Secretary General, his main goal was to bring back to life Soviet economy after stagnation. Gorbachev is prominent for introduction of the following reforms: free speech or openness, restructuring, democratization and acceleration of economic development of the country. Gorbachev was clever enough to understand that revival of Soviet economy is almost impossible task without reorganization of bureaucratic apparatus, of political and social structure of the nation. During the time of his leadership all goods were approved by the state that significantly improved the quality of production and maintained quality of the produced goods. Gorbachev was the author of anti-alcohol campaign due to wide spread alcoholism in the country that could have been the obstacle to rapid economic revival. Therefore, prices were raised and sales of beer, vodka and wine were restricted. But I appeared to be the double edged sword, as revenues of the budget drastically decreased and USSR budget lost almost 100 billion rubles. It had a positive outcome, as people were able to buy more of other goods.

In 1986 Gorbachev introduced the new policy of reconstruction that was aiming to create efficient mechanism for economic and social progress of the country (Kelley 81, 109). This policy supported democracy, improvement of discipline and order, socialist self-government, etc. In 1988 Gorbachev proposed to reduce the control of the party of the government. He introduced presidential system and new legislative element. In 1990 Gorbachev was elected the President of the Soviet Union. This event was strongly criticized and Boris Yeltsin was the main critic (Chafetz 54; 61).

After the collapse of the USSR, Boris Yeltsin, as the new President of Russian Federation, immediately started radical economic reforms. His aim was to transform the command market of the country to the free-market. Yeltsin followed the policy of microeconomic stabilization, simultaneously ordering liberalization of prices, foreign trade and currency. In order to stabilize economy, Yeltsin increased taxes; cut government subsides, as well as state welfare spending. Later, Yeltsin started the process of privatization, but due to the fact the beginning of 90s was a very fraudulent time in Russia, it was not very successful. Or it is better to say that it was successful mainly for oligarchs, as assets of state companied were just given away.

It is important to mention that Yeltsin supported private property and viewed it as the basis for the developing economy of the country (Steen 92).

In 1999 Putin became the president of Russia. During Putin’s leadership the economic situation in the country significantly improved. He increased Russia’s purchasing power, GDP and overcame the consequences of 1998 financial crisis. He also increased amount of investment for about 120%, industry grew by 76%, doubled real incomes and seven timed increased average monthly salary (Rose 98). Putin increased amount of people in the middle class (from 8 million to 55 million) and the number of people living below the poverty line from 30% to 14%. He carried out such important reforms as retirement reform in 2002, banking and tax reforms, etc. Putin was a great supporter of business and introduced the flat tax of 13%, as well as reduced corporate tax rate from 35% to 24%. Putin also significantly decreased Russia’s external debts (Steen 67).

In 2008 Dmitry Medvedev was elected as the president of the country. At the same year a great financial crisis started, but Medvedev claimed that it was provoked liquidity crisis in the USA. Technological innovation was named as the key priority of his presidency. Due to world crisis it is difficult to estimate Medvedev’s presidency, but he is very optimistic and claims that situation in Russia is stabilizing along with its currency.

2. Deforestation, Acid Rain and Desertification
2.1 Deforestation

Forest degradation and deforestation, in particular, are outcomes of changes of climate. Plants use carbon dioxide for their growth through absorption. When plants delay or are being burnt, this dangerous chemical is released again. Plants that decay also release methane, which even more dangerous and potent then carbon dioxide.

Deforestation makes double damage, because of the release of greenhouse gasses, as well as because of the reduction of the amount of carbon dioxide that is absorbed. During last 150 years more then 30% of carbon dioxide that was added to atmosphere came from deforestation. Event though this amount can seem very big, it is nothing compared to what is still stored in forests. Russian forests (along with Canadian) hold almost the half of the world’ carbon stock.

In order to understand reasons of deforestation, it is essential to analyze what can do harm to forests. At first, temperature ranges changes, as well as precipitation. Due to climate change, secondly, forest fires and drought scan increase. Though, forest fires can be good to forests, as they clear dense brush and can be included in the lifecycle. Forests also suffer a lot from activity of humans, as well as drought. Insects that are invasive can also damage health of the forest, but they play an important role in boreal ecology, as they supply food for birds, decompose litter and eliminate trees’ diseases. Of course, increasing urban areas have a very negative impact on the forests, as they are replayed with buildings and pavements (Vajpeyj 20; 193).

2.2 Acid rain
Speaking of the acid rain, there are many forms of it. There can be acid rain, acid fog or acid snow. There can be also acid gas and acid dust (in the countries with dry climate). It is needless to say that acid rains to a lot of harm to environment. They do not act immediately, but after some time period and make living organisms in the environment die.

In the next paragraph I am going to discuss the substances that cause acid rain. These substances are being released into the air. Carbon dioxide is the main substance. It is released to the air by burning oil, coal and natural gas. If a person inhales carbon dioxide, which is toxic, it can be the reason for serious health problems. Carbon monoxide is the other dangerous substance that is released with burning oil, wood and gasoline. When carbon monoxide gets to humans body, it goes directly to the bloodstream and subsequently slows down oxygen delivery to the body with possible fatigue, headaches and dizziness (Vajpeyj 48).

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are widely utilized in air conditioning systems, refrigeration, and industry and consumer products. When they are released into the air, the reduce ozone layer of the stratosphere that protects surface of the Earth from harmful sun rays.

Hazardous air pollutants (HAPS) are released into the air with motor vehicles, printing plants, chemical plants and dry cleaners. They can cause cancer, problems with nervous system, birth defects and even deaths. Lead is released with car and house paint, as well as with fishing lures, lead batteries, particular ceramic ware, fixtures and water pipes. It is very dangerous especially to children, as it can cause damage of the nervous system and some learning problems. Nitrogen Oxides are released into the air by coal and gasoline. Ozone is released by industries, motor vehicles, gasoline, burning coal, hairspray and paints.

Particulate matter (PM) is another substance that is released by trucks, buses, cars fertilizers, road construction, pesticides, mining, steel making, wood stoves, etc. When mixed with air and inhaled, PM particles stuck in the lung tissue. Sulfur dioxides can be released by paper production, melting metal and burning coal. It significantly harms vegetation, metals and can cause problems with lungs. And finally volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released by burning coal, wood, natural gas, gasoline, paints, glues and solvents.

There are definitely much more harmful substances that release into the air and cause acid rains. Automobiles are the main source for those pollutants.

2.3 Desertification
Desertification is the degradation of formerly productive land and is a very complex process (Vajpeyj 118). It has many causes and it can occur differently in different climates. It can influence general climatic trends towards greater aridity or just change the local climate. It is not that easy to follow and describe the common pattern of desertification.

On the main causes of desertification can be increased population, as well as increased pressure of livestock. In other words, when the land is being devastated an all her resources are being taken- the process launches. So causes of desertification are overpopulation, over-cultivation, overgrazing, deforestation, increasing water salinity, changes of global climate, etc.

3. Major Landforms and Hydrography of North Eastern Eurasia
North Eastern Eurasia can be fairly called one of the largest and least-populated regions in the world. This region is very rich on natural resources with diamonds, lead, gold and manganese as an example. There can be found steppe, taiga and tundra in North Eastern Eurasia. There are mountain ranges, which are very high. Eastern Siberia is defined geographically by most contemporary Russian sources as including the Yenisei River system in the west and ending at the Pacific watershed in the east. It is differentiating from the Siberian Federal District, a political unit created in 2000 that does not contain the Sakha Republic and does incorporate few provinces attributed to geographic West Siberia – a transaction that may have been made to improve vast mineral wealth of the region. However, if the topography and hydrography of the region are be viewed, which two of the most essential factors in determination the flow of economy, migration, warfare, and history, it is possible to see that Eastern Siberia should extend significantly to the east from the federal district, even though where it exactly it should end- can be a real question for long discussion (Mote 44).

The landscape of the region is much diversified – there are spanning arctic desert in the north, steppe in the south and humid taiga in the central region. Nomadic groups such as the Tatars, Huns, Mongols and Manchu inhabited the region about 300,000 years ago. While Siberia was under the Tatars’ control, western Siberia saw some development with the founding of cities and forts. Eastern Siberia, however, was mainly left to nomadic lifestyles. Russia’s conquest of Siberia was amazingly fast, sweeping from the Urals to the Pacific in just over a half century, by creating the Russian Empire. Settlement was then supported with a series of forts for protection and soon settlers, hunters, and even fugitives became those crossers of lands, who started and founded new settlements, as well as trading communities. They would also found lead, silver, and copper mines about three centuries ago, and later practiced intense gold mining (Kotkin 75).


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