This work aimed to analyze the herd immunity to influenza among a Russian population living in regions with an increased risk of emergence of viruses with pandemic potential, and to isolate and investigate virus strains from severe influenza cases, including fatal cases, during the 2016–2017 epidemic season. In November 2016 – March 2017 highly pathogenic influenza outbreaks were registered in Russia among wild birds and poultry. No cases of human infection were registered. Analysis of 760 sera from people who had contact with infected or perished birds revealed the presence of antibodies to A(H5N1) virus of clade 18.104.22.168c and A(H5N8) virus of clade 22.214.171.124. The 2016–2017 influenza epidemic season in Russia began in weeks 46–47 of 2016 with predominant circulation of influenza A(H3N2) viruses. Strains isolated from severe influenza cases mainly belonged to 3C.2a.2 and 3C.2a.3 genetic groups. Up to the 8th week of 2017 severe influenza cases were often caused by influenza B viruses which belonged to 1A genetic group with antigenic properties similar to B/Brisbane/60/2008. All influenza A and B virus strains isolated in the 2016–2017 epidemic season were sensitive to oseltamivir and zanamivir.