II. BEFORE YOU READ
A. Practice your pronunciation:
the Ukraine [ði: ju'kren]
the Caspian Sea [ðiː 'kæspɪən siː]
the Caucasus [ðiː 'kɔːkəsəs]
the Yenisei [ðiː ˌjenɪ'seɪ]
the Lena [ðiː 'leɪnə]
the Baikal [ðiː baɪ'kɑːl]
B. Read the information on Russia and tell your friends about the most interesting facts you have learnt from the text beginning the sentences like this:
It was interesting to know that... - было интересно узнать, что...
I've just learnt that... - я только что узнал, что...
То tell the truth I didn't know... - честно говоря, я не знал, что...
The State symbol of Russia is a three-coloured banner with three horizontal stripes: white, blue and red. The white stripe symbolizes the earth, the blue one—the sky, and the red one symbolizes liberty.
A new National Emblem is a two-headed eagle which is the most ancient symbol of Russia. All these symbols have been approved by the Federal Assembly.
C. Match the words on the left with their halves on the right:
Read the text and make sure you know the translation of the highlighted words and phrases.
1. My home country is called the Russian Federation or Russia. It is one of the largest countries in the world. It occupies almost one-seventh of the earth's surface. It covers the eastern part of Europe and the northern part of Asia. Its total area is about 17 million square kilometres.
2. Russia borders on many countries such as China, Mongolia, Korea, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Azerbaijan in the South, it is bounded on the West by Norway, Finland, Belorussia, Estonia, Latvia and the Ukraine.
3. There is hardly a country in the world where such a variety of scenery and vegetation can be found. We have steppes in the south; plains and forests in the midlands; tundra and taiga in the North; highlands and deserts in the East. The Russian Federation is located on two plains, the Great Russian Plain and the West Siberian Plain.
4. There are several mountain chains on the territory of the country: the Urals, the Caucasus, the Altai and others. The mountain chain, the Urals, separates Europe from Asia.
5. On the vast territory of Russia there are various types of climate. In the central part of Russia the climate is rather mild. The climate in the south is tropical with hot summers and warm winters. Northern Asia is the coldest place and in the middle of the country the climate is moderate and continental.
6. Russia is a land of long rivers and deep lakes. The longest rivers are the Volga in Europe and the Ob, the Yenisei and the Lena in Asia. The Volga river flows into the Caspian Sea which is in reality the largest lake in the world. Perhaps, the most notable lake is Lake Baikal. Located near the Mongolian border, it is the deepest freshwater lake (1,600 metres) in the world. The water in the lake is so clear that if you look down you can count the stones on the bottom.
7. The population of Russia is about 150 million people. The European part of the country is densely populated and most people live in cities, towns and their outskirts.
8. Russia ranks first in the world for reserves of coal, iron ore, oil, natural gas, copper, gold, nickel, etc. It possesses the world's greatest hydropower resources and timber reserves.
9. Approximately 10 million people are engaged in agriculture and they produce grain, meat, milk and other dairy products.
10. The capital of the Russian Federation is Moscow with the population of about 10 million people. It stands on the bank of the Moskva river. Moscow is famous for its historical and architectural monuments, museums, art galleries and theatres. It is a political, administrative, economic, educational and cultural centre of the country.
11. Under the Constitution adopted in 1993 Russia is a Presidential Republic. The federal government consists of three branches: legislative, executive and judicial. Each of them is checked and balanced by the President.
12. The legislative power in the country belongs to the Federal Assembly. It consists of two Chambers. The Lower Chamber of the Federal Assembly is the State Duma. It is made up of 450 deputies. The Duma introduces, considers and adopts new bills. But in order to become a law, the bill must be enforced by the Council of Federation and signed by the President. The President may veto the bill. The State Duma may override the veto. The Upper Chamber is the Council of Federation. It is made up of the representatives of all the subjects of the Federation (two representatives from each subject).The Council enforces federal laws adopted by the State Duma and all the decrees issued by the President. The deputies of the State Duma are elected by popular vote for a four-year term. Each Chamber is headed by the Speaker who is elected by the members of the Chambers.
13. The executive power belongs to the Government, which is headed by the Chairman of the Government. The first action of the Chairman on appointment is to form the Cabinet.
14. The President is head of the state and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He enforces Federal laws adopted by the Federal Assembly. The President also forms the Government and appoints the Chairman of the Government whose candidacy must be approved by the State Duma.
15. The judicial branch is represented by the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the Arbitrary Court and the regional courts. The Constitutional Court may veto any federal law adopted by the Federal Assembly, or a decree issued by the President if the Court regards them contradictory to the Constitution.
16. Russia has always played an important role in the world and the younger generation must do very much to make Russia strong and powerful.