For Russia, the year 2019 was dominated by historic moments — and even more historic images. From anti-government protests attended by tens of thousands to historic geopolitical summits to natural phenomena linked to climate change, these pictures tell the story of a country finding itself increasingly at a crossroads.
Here's a look at the images that defined the year in Russia:
- Moscow is hit with the city's heaviest snowfall in nearly 70 years, prompting many Muscovites to come out and play in the snow.
- Michael Calvey, the American founder of Baring Vostok, the largest private independent equity fund in Russia, is detained by authorities in Moscow on suspicion of embezzling $37.5 million. His case sends a chill through Russia's foreign investment sector.
- Thousands of people took to the streets in the republic of Ingushetia over a land swap deal signed last fall with the neighboring republic of Chechnya. The resulting protests would occasionally turn violent.
- North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un visits Russia for the first time ever to hold potential nuclear disarmament talks with President Vladimir Putin.
- Forty-one people are killed as a Russian Aeroflot plane crash-lands and bursts into flame during an emergency landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.
- Thousands of people take to the streets after Moscow election authorities bar opposition candidates from running in the Sept. 8 City Duma election. The protests will continue to grow throughout the entire summer as thousands of protesters and opposition politicians are detained and arrested.
- Wildfires engulf large parts of Siberia, with smog reaching major cities including Novosibirsk and Tomsk. Residents criticize the authorities' slow response, with one Siberian governor saying the fires are as inevitable as winter blizzards.
- An airplane bound for Simferopol makes a ‘miraculous’ crash landing in a corn field outside Moscow with no casualties.
- A record turnout of nearly 50,000 people protest for fair City Duma elections in Moscow on Aug. 10 as demonstrations continue for a fifth consecutive weekend.
On Sept. 8, Russians vote in regional elections after the biggest protests in years over the summer. Russia's ruling United Russia party, which backs President Vladimir Putin, loses one-third of its seats in the Moscow city council.
- More than 25,000 people rally in Moscow against the police crackdown on protesters over the summer and to demand the release of more than a dozen protesters who were arrested and criminally charged.
- African leaders attend the first-ever Russia-Africa Summit in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi to discuss everything from nuclear energy to natural resources extraction. The summit, a sign of Russia's growing interest in the African continent, results in billions of dollars of agreements signed.
- Russia opens its first highway bridge to China across the Amur River as Moscow, shunned by the West, turns its eye eastward in search of new opportunities.
- President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy have their first face-to-face meeting at a four-way peace summit in Paris. The two leaders agree on a new all-for-all prisoner exchange and made a renewed commitment to implementing a 2015 ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine.