The Russian Federation


The Urals form a natural border between Asia and Europe. South of the Urals lie the steppes, habitat for birds such as the Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca), Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis), and Demoiselle Crane (Anthropoides virgo). Main threats to the birds include habitat loss and degradation; deforestation; effects of human activity and infrastructure development; and the effects of climate change.


Russian Bird Conservation Union is the BirdLife Partner in Russia:

Music collaborators include Izumrud, from Ekaterinberg; Azat Aitkulov (kurai) from Ufa, Bashkir region; Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble, (performers of ancient Russian village music),based in Moscow

Paul Winter and members of the evolving Great Rift Valley Orchestra presented a concert in Ekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains. This collaboration linked the African members of the orchestra with Azat Aitkulov, a player of traditional flute from Ufa in the Bashkir region in western Russia, (representing a Eurasian aspect of the Great Rift flyway). Mr. Azat Aitkulov is considered to be perhaps the greatest kurai player in Russia.

It was amazing to watch the experiences and interactions of everyone. The Tanzanians had never seen snow before. (The weather was like New England in deepest February.) I had brought a suitcase of long underwear and sweaters and hats for them. And the Russians we met had never seen Africans, whom they embraced like long-lost kin. The local TV station insisted that Andrea Kalima and Mwanaima Mrutu, Wagogo musicians, cook a Tanzanian breakfast on the morning show. It was wonderful to watch the Bashkir kurai player listening for the first time to the Tanzanian zeze, a huge 14-string zither/sitar-type instrument, and to the Ugandan ennanga, or harp. Likewise, Andrea and Mwanaima were amazed to hear how the kurai player hums drones or unisons along with his flute. We went on to discover that the interplay of kurai and ennanga is absolutely magical.”  - Paul Winter

The Great Rift Valley Orchestra also gave a concert with the Russian group Izumrud, making for an 11-piece Afro-Russian-American ensemble.  Izumrod includes domra (a mandolin-type instrument), balalaika, accordion and percussion.


Our deep gratitude to all who collaborated with us and assisted us in Russia, especially to Maria Nefedova, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Valentin Rasputin.

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  • Russia

    Size: 17,000,000 km² (Largest country in the world)

    Human population: 141,750,000
    (World Bank, World Development Indicators, 2010)

    Bird species: 678
    502 breed in that country; 29 are globally threatened

    Important Bird Areas: 470