In 2002, the Russian Economy saw its fourth-consecutive year of solid economic growth; sound budget management that produced another surplus; a stable currency; reasonable inflation; a world-leading stock market; recognition as a market economy; and, of course, a booming oil sector, which is cranking out 8 million barrels per day for the first time in a decade, meaning Russia's most important industry is back where it started.
The armed conflict in Chechnya continued to cause problems beyond that region, with terrorist acts being carried out in neighbouring regions and as far away as Moscow. These culminated in the tragic events of last October where the armed siege of a Dubrovka theater ended with a tremendous loss of life; although, had the terrorists succeeded in blowing up the building, the number of casualties would have been far higher. The theater recently reopened after an extensive refurbishment and performances of the musical "Nord-Ost" were staged once again.
March 5 this year is the 50th anniversary of the deaths of Stalin and Prokoviev. Prokoviev died on the same day as Stalin, but because of the outpouring of grief and period of official mourning over Stalin's death, it was some time before the country noticed that Prokoviev had also died.
This summer St Petersburg celebrates 300 years since its founding, having had a lick of (gold) paint in preparation of the tercentenary celebrations. Visas for St Petersburg are said to be of limited availability because of the anniversary since officials wish to reserve them for foreign dignitaries.