The Russian Federation is the largest country on Earth. As such, its environmental problems and policies have global consequences. Yet assessing Russia’s environmental quality and environmental policies is challenging. Russia’s biomes range from polar desert to temperate rain forest. The size and diversity of biome types, as well as the uneven distribution of human settlement and natural resource use,make it difﬁcult to generalize about overall environmental quality. In addition, Russia has experienced immense political, economic, and social changes since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.In the post-Soviet period, Russia is developing new patterns of resource use and new strategies of environmental management with changing implications for environmental quality. Public activism on environmental issues has varied with changing political and economic conditions as well. This article contextualizes scientiﬁc ﬁndings on Russian environmental quality in ﬁve issue areas water quality, the state of forests ,air quality, within a review of the social scientiﬁc literature on the political, economic, and social factors that underpin environmental protection and activism, from the Soviet period to the present.
As is the case with many natural resources in Russia, the state of water quality largely depends upon local conditions. In zones of heavy human impact, particular causes of poor water quality vary but are generally the result of overuse of water resources, inadequate water distribution and water treatment in frastructure, and proximity of polluting industry. Secondly, Owing to a combination of reduced industrial production and some improvements in cleaning methods at the point of origin, emissions of SO2 and heavy metals appear to be on the decline regionally. However, it is difﬁcult to make conﬁdent generalizations about air quality in Russia as a whole because coverage by monitoring stations is poor, independently generated data and peer-reviewed studies are limited, and scientists must rely heavily on government reports with the inherent limitations.