Timeline: Russian Federation

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Marked by the dissolution of the USSR and conflict in Chechnya

by David Johnson
1991 1994 1998 2000 2004 2008 2012 2014


Soviet Union disintegrates; 14 former republics become independent nations. Russian Federation formed; Boris Yeltsin appointed, later elected president


Yeltsin ends supremacy of Communist Party, privatizes state-run enterprises, guarantees free press; businessmen, mobsters begin to take over economy, massive corruption sets in


Russia invades breakaway province of Chechnya; humiliated, withdraws with heavy casualties


Russian stock market crashes, economy collapses


Second Chechen war, Russia crushes rebels; Vladimir Putin elected president


Russian Orthodox Church bestows sainthood on Czar Nicholas and 1,000 others killed by Communists


Chechen rebels seize a crowded Moscow theater and detain 763 people. Armed and wired with explosives, the rebels demand that the Russian government end the war in Chechnya. Government forces storm the theater after releasing a gas into the theater that kills not only all the rebels but more than 100 hostages.


Chechens vote in a referendum that approves a new regional constitution making Chechnya a separatist republic within Russia. Agreeing to the constitution means abandoning claims for complete independence, and the new powers accorded the republic are little more than cosmetic.


President Vladimir Putin is reelected with 70% of the vote. In September, dozens of heavily armed guerrillas seize a school in Beslan, near Chechnya, and hold about 1,100 young schoolchildren, teachers, and parents hostage. Hundreds of hostages are killed, including about 156 children.


Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, who was responsible for the horrific Beslan terrorist attack, is killed.


Former president Boris Yeltsin dies in April.


Dmitri Medvedev is elected president, succeeding Vladimir Putin. Parliament elects Putin, head of the United Russia party, as prime minister.

Russia enters the conflict between Georgia and a breakaway region, South Ossetia, with troops and tanks pouring into South Ossetia to support the region in August.

Russia intensifies its involvement, moving troops into Abkhazia, another breakaway region, and launching airstrikes at Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Dozens are killed, hundreds are wounded, and thousands of people in South Ossetia flee their homes.

President Medvedev orders an end to military action in Georgia, although sporadic fighting continues.

Russian tanks occupy Gori, a strategic town 40 miles from Tbilisi, and hundreds of Russian soldiers cross the border into South Ossetia. Leaders of EU nations, the United States, and NATO have warn Russia to end the conflict in Georgia.

Medvedev signs a revised cease-fire, but Russian troops remain in Georgia. Georgia demands that a provision in the original agreement be amended to allow only those Russian peacekeepers who were in Georgia before the hostilities began to remain. The deal is tentative at best.

Parliament approves a bill extending the president's term from four to six years. The bill goes into effect for the next president's term.


Russia dissolves its counterterrorism operation against separatist rebels in Chechnya.

President Barack Obama makes his first official visit to Moscow and meets with President Medvedev. The two begin outlining a replacement for the 1991 Start 1 treaty with an agreement to cut down on the nuclear weapon stockpiles in both countries.


Two suicide bomb attacks on the Metro in Moscow kill 39 people. More than 60 others are injured. Russian officials blame North Caucasus militants.

Russia and the United States sign a new arms deal in which both countries agree to cut back on their nuclear weapon stockpiles by 30%.

Ten low-level Russian spies are arrested in the United States after a multi-year investigation. According to the FBI, the ten arrested are part of a network using cold war tactics such as Morse code messages and invisible writing to communicate with the Russian government.


A suicide bomb attack at Domodedovo airport in Moscow kills at least 35 people and injures 100 more. Chechen military rebels claim responsibility for the attack.

Russia is allowed to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) after the country completes a trade deal with Georgia. Georgia has blocked Russia from being a WTO member since their 2008 war.


Vladimir Putin wins a third term as president. Thousands of protestors hold demonstrations over the election results in several cities. Hundreds are arrested. Putin appoints Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister.

Three members of the punk band Pussy Riot are arrested while participating in an anti-Putin demonstration at a Moscow cathedral. Their arrest and two year hard labor sentencing gets international attention and is condemned by human rights groups, the European Union, and the United States.


Russia grants a temporary one year asylum to Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who leaked information about the NSA surveillance program to the media. Snowden's asylum further erodes the relationship between Washington and Moscow and ratchets up tension between Obama and Putin. President Obama cancels a September summit meeting with Putin.

Russia's State Duma passes an anti-gay bill. Those caught breaking the new law can be arrested. Foreigners can be deported. The new bill sparks international protest and outrage. Athletes throughout the world threaten to boycott the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games in protest.


Russia hosts the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Despite security concerns, increased by terrorist attacks and threats as the Olympics approached, the Sochi Games are a success.

After Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych flees his country, Russian forces invade Crimea. Days later, Crimea holds a referendum and nearly 97% of voters choose to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. The United States and some European countries impose economic sanctions on Russia.

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