Here's some background information about Russia. The Russian Federation is the largest country in the world, covering more than one ninth of the earth's land area.
(from the CIA World Factbook)
Area: 17 million sq km (1.8 times the size of the United States.)
Population: 142,470,272 (July 2014 est.)
Median age: 38.9 years old
Ethnic groups: Russian 77.7%, Tatar 3.7%, Ukrainian 1.4%, Bashkir 1.1%, Chuvash 1%, other or unspecified 14.1% (2010 census)
Religion: Russian Orthodox 15-20%, Muslim 10-15%, other Christian 2% (2006 est.)
GDP: $2.553 trillion (2013 est.)
GDP per capita: $18,100 (2013 est.)
Unemployment: 5.8% (2013 est.)
One of the top producers of natural gas and oil in the world.
The legislative body, the Federal Assembly, is made up of the lower house, the State Duma, and the upper house, the Federation Council.
Russia spans nine time zones.
Contains one fourth of the world's fresh water.
1613 - Mikhail Romanov's coronation establishes the Romanov dynasty, which lasts for over 300 years.
1917 - The Bolshevik Revolution begins. The new government formed eventually becomes the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a communist country.
July 1918 - Tsar Nicolas II and the royal family are executed by the Bolsheviks, in Yekatrinburg, Russia.
January 21, 1924 - Vladimir Lenin, founder and first leader of the USSR, dies.
June 1991 - Boris Yeltsin is elected president of Russia.
December 19, 1991 - Russian President Boris Yeltsin issues a decree ordering the Russian government to seize the Kremlin from the USSR.
December 21, 1991 - Eleven of the 12 Soviet republics sign an agreement to form the Commonwealth of Independent States.
December 25, 1991 - President Mikhail Gorbachev resigns, and the Soviet Union dissolves.
September 21, 1993 - President Boris Yeltsin disbands parliament. Lawmakers vote to impeach Yeltsin and elect Alexander Rutskoi as acting president.
October 4, 1993 - Troops loyal to President Boris Yeltsin surround and attack the parliament.
December 11, 1993 - The first parliamentary elections are held under the new constitution with the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia receiving 24% of the vote.
December 11, 1994 - Invasion of Chechnya.
July 30, 1995 - Russia calls a truce with Chechen separatists.
July 3, 1996 - President Boris Yeltsin defeats challenger Gennady Zyuganov in the presidential election by 14%.
August 9, 1996 - Chechen separatists capture the capital of Grozny.
May 12, 1997 - Russia signs a peace treaty with Chechen separatists.
September 23, 1999 - Russia initiates a bombing campaign against Chechen separatists.
December 31, 1999 - Yeltsin resigns as president, naming Vladimir Putin as interim president.
March 26, 2000 - Putin is formally elected president of the Russian Federation, winning 53% of the vote over Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov.
May 7, 2000 - Putin is sworn in as president.
August 12, 2000 - The Russian nuclear submarine Kursk sinks in Barents Sea, killing all 118 onboard.
October 23-26, 2002 - Chechen separatists seize a Moscow theater and take 850 people hostage. Russian special forces pumps fentanyl into the theater and then storm the building, killing 50 terrorists and 129 hostages.
March 2003 - Russia opposes the U.S. led invasion of Iraq.
December 7, 2003 - Putin's party, United Russia, wins majority in the State Duma.
March 14, 2004 - Putin is re-elected for second term as president with 71% of the vote.
September 1, 2004 - Chechen separatists take more than 1,000 people hostage at a school in Beslan.
July 14, 2007 - The International Olympic Committee selects Sochi, Russia, as the host for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
December 2, 2007 - United Russia wins the majority in the parliamentary election with 64.1% of the vote.
December 10, 2007 - Putin names Dmitry Medvedev his successor as president.
March 2, 2008 - Medvedev wins the presidential election with 70.28% of the vote.
May 7, 2008 - Medvedev is inaugurated as president; Putin is named prime minister.
October 6, 2008 - The Russian stock market plunges 19.1 percent.
October 13, 2008 - Medvedev signs into law a $37 billion aid package for banks to shore up the Russian economy, affected by the world economic downturn.
November 21, 2008 - The State Duma increases the presidential term to six years by a vote of 392-57.
June-August 2010 - Russia experiences the worst heat wave on its record, causing 15,000 deaths and destroying 25% of the grain crop.
December 2, 2010 - FIFA selects Russia to host the 2018 World Cup soccer games.
December 4, 2011 - Parliamentary elections take place. United Russia, Vladimir Putin's ruling party, suffers big losses in the election, but retains its parliamentary majority. The official election results are 238 seats for United Russia, 92 seats for the Communists, 64 seats for Fair Russia and 56 seats for the Liberal Democrats.
December 10, 2011 - Tens of thousands of Russians gather in Moscow to protest what they believe were parliamentary elections rigged in favor of United Russia, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's party. The protesters are demanding an annulment of the December 4 election results and a new vote.
December 11, 2011 - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev calls for a formal probe into disputed parliamentary elections results but rejects demands for a new vote.
March 4, 2012 - Russia's presidential elections are held amid complaints of fraud. Former president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin faces off against Gennady Zyuganov, Mikhail Prokhorov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Sergei Mironov.
May 6-7, 2012 - Demonstrators protest Vladimir Putin's return to power.
October 21, 2013 - A suicide bomb destroys a bus in Volgograd, killing six and injuring 33. The bomber is believed to be a woman.
December 29, 2013 - A female suicide bomber detonates a device in Volgograd. Eighteen people die and 34 are injured in the blast inside a train station.
December 30, 2013 - Less than 24 hours after a suicide bomb explodes in a Volgograd train station another one disrupts rush hour traffic in the same city. Sixteen people die and more than 30 are injured when a blast rips through a bus near a busy market.
March 1, 2014 - The upper house of the Russian parliament votes to send troops into Crimea.
March 15, 2014 - Russia wields its veto power as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council against a U.S. draft resolution declaring the upcoming Crimea referendum invalid. Thirteen of the 15 Security Council members back the resolution, while China abstains.
March 16, 2014 - In the Crimean referendum, 96.7% vote in favor of leaving Ukraine and being annexed by Russia.
March 17, 2014 - United States and European Union officials announce sanctions on more than two dozen Russian officials and their allies in Crimea. In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a decree that recognizes the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Crimea.
March 18, 2014 - President Vladimir Putin signs an annexation pact with the Prime Minister of Crimea and the mayor of the city of Sevastopol. In an address before a joint session of Russia's Parliament, Putin calls Crimea "an inalienable part of Russia."
July 29, 2014 - The United States and the European Union enact major sanctions against significant areas of the Russian economy including financial institutions, oil and arms manufacturers.
July-December 2014 - A combination of rapidly falling oil prices, economic sanctions and a decline in the value of the ruble leads to a Russian financial crisis.