All available data testify that ecological condition in Russia at the end of XX century is one of the most adverse on the planet. Lately, at least 200 cities of Russia have been recognized ecologically dangerous in the view of air and water pollutions. About 30 cities were selected for "Dirty Cities" program aimed to clean waste products of industrial pollution, but the effect was minimal.
Up to 50 nuclear enterprises were top-secret in the USSR, and only in 1994 it was found out that many districts are contaminated by radioactive waste products. Explosions of waste products of nuclear weapon manufacture in Chelyabinskaya Oblast (1957) and a nuclear reactor of the Chernobyl Atomic Power Station near Kiev (1986) have resulted radioactive pollution of vast territories. Oil-and-gas pipelines accidents also happen sometimes. Water pollution by wastes of industrial and agricultural enterprises is widely distributed. In 1990's a row of infective episodes of cholera was registered in Russia because of poor water treatment. Nevertheless, measures on improvement of ecological conditions and environmental protection are being undertaken.
All restrictive nature-conservative measures can be divided into two groups - functional and territorial. The first group defines the most threatened species (or, less often, natural complexes) and puts a ban on their use or cause of damage; the second group measures intends for formation of sanctuaries - specially protected natural territories where economic activity is prohibited or limited.
The essential principles of nature-conservative legislation of Russia are formulated in the RF Law "About Wild-Life Conservation", passed in December, 1991, and in the Law "About Specially Protected Natural Territories" (1996). Scientific wildlife conservation in Russia began with organization of reserves, and now they make up the basement of national system of specially protected natural territories, and conservancy as a whole. There are 99 reserves in Russia nowadays. Their total area is about 32 700 thousands hectares, or 1,91% of the whole territory of the Russian Federation.
National parks are state institutions and land users. Any economic activity is completely prohibited or limited on their territories. Their priority task is education and recreation of population. Today the number of national parks in Russia equals to 33. They occupy 6 731 thousands hectares (0,39% of the total Russian territory).
Wild-life preserves are special territories where definite ways of nature management are forbidden, for example, throwing, construction, land improvement or hunting. They are established for protection of definite species or natural complexes.
Nature sanctuaries are close to wild-life preserves in the regime of operation, but they are independent objects, usually small in territory. According to their status, they, as well as wild-life preserves, may be both regional or federal.
Rare and endangered species of animals and plants are included into the Red Book of the Russian Federation. According to asset 65, the Law of the Russian Federation "About Wild-Life Conservation", such species are subjected to withdrawal from economic use; any activity leading to reduction of their population or worsening of their natural habitat is forbidden.
Modern redistribution of property in Russia influenced wild nature resources in a less degree than all previous reforms. However its indirect results are rather considerable for conditions of natural resources. The first result of weakening of the state control over natural resources affected in increase of poaching. New ways of poaching and purposeful hunting for rare species of animals and plants became especially dangerous for wild nature.
The objects of poaching are the species registered in The International Red Book, The Red Books of the USSR and Russia. Lots of falcons were illegally exported to foreign countries, as well as bear bile, tiger-skins and even collections of rare species of butterflies. Extremely dangerous situation developed on the Far East. Through the Far East border rare species of animals, parts of which are used for medicine, are transported abroad. Tiger, musk deer, bear, sea-urchin, trepang became basic hunting objects on the Far East.