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Bilateral relations between Switzerland and the Russian Federation
Relations between Switzerland and Russia have an eventful history. Close contacts were established as long ago as the 18th century: Russian writers, artists and scholars visited Switzerland, while emigrants from Switzerland made their mark in Russia. In the 19th century Russia was one of the guarantee powers for permanent Swiss neutrality, making a significant contribution to the structure of Switzerland's political system. In the early 20th century numerous Russian artists, students and political dissidents – one of whom was Lenin – lived in Switzerland.
Switzerland opened a consulate in St. Petersburg in 1816, upgrading it to a legation 90 years later. The two countries broke off diplomatic relations in 1923, when Russia was going through a period of revolutionary turmoil – and they were not resumed until 1946. Since the end of the Cold War contacts have rapidly intensified in the political, economic, scientific and cultural fields. Among other things this development prompted Switzerland to open a Consulate General in St. Petersburg in June 2006.
The Russian Federation is an important partner for Switzerland. It is the only Permanent Member of the UN Security Council with which Switzerland conducts an annual, ministerial level exchange of visits. In 2009, President Dmitry Medvedev was the first Russian head of state to make a state visit to Switzerland. Regular contacts and consultations also take place at specialist level (for example human rights, security, disarmament) and in multilateral forums. Economic relations have developed well, and there is still scope for further expansion. Switzerland is among the largest investors in Russia. Cultural and scientific exchanges are also continually being strengthened.