Russia: Cold War Rules Remain


June 24, 2011:  Government officials took note of a recent opinion survey that showed 34 percent of people always feel like killing corrupt officials, and 38 percent sometimes feel that way. This has led to increasing efforts to find and prosecute corrupt officials. But this has led to finding that many prosecutors were being bribed to go easy on these prosecutions.  

Most Russians are also very hostile to Moslems in general and Islamic terrorists in particular. Thus this year the security forces are all over the Caucasus this year, to interfere with any attacks the Islamic groups might be planning. So far, that has worked, but with lots of gun battles as Islamic terrorists try to get by checkpoints or sweeps of urban and rural areas.

June 23, 2011: In the southeast, a MiG-29 fighter crashed during a test flight. Two test pilots were killed. All MiG-29s were grounded so that all could be examined for common safety issues.

In Dagestan, two days of fighting Islamic terrorists in a rural area has left five police dead, and an unknown number of surrounded terrorists.

June 22, 2011: In Belarus, police broke up another pro-reform demonstration. Belarus is still run by Soviet era officials and police commanders. Russia has been trying to convince the Belarussian leadership to allow reforms, so far without much success.

June 20, 2011:  A Soviet era Tu-134 airliner crashed in the north, killing 45. This proved to be the last straw, and by the end of the week the government announced that it would speed up retirement of the twin engine Tu-134 and four engine Tu-154. Both of these aircraft have higher accident records than Western counterparts, are less reliable and, for passengers, less comfortable. After the Cold War, the government tried to keep Russian airliner manufacturers going. This included subsidies and development of new, Western style,  aircraft. This was an admission that the Cold War era planes were not competitive, or safe. But hundreds of Tu-134s and Tu-154s were allowed to keep flying, for cost reasons.

June 17, 2011: In Dagestan, a policeman was shot dead in a remote village, apparently by Islamic terrorists.

France and Russia finally signed the deal that sold two French Mistral class amphibious ships, for $1.7 billion. This is the largest Russian purchase of Western weapons since World War II. The deal was delayed for a long time because the Russians demanded the transfer of shipbuilding and electronics technology (which is now agreed to).

June 15, 2011: The government continued its attempt to clean up the police by replacing the commanders of the Traffic Police and the Russian office of Interpol. The government controlled mass media has been allowed to do corruption stories that embarrass senior officials, which has increased the pressure for clean government. Despite the anti-corruption effort, the government still makes it difficult for opposition political parties to form, or for demonstrations to be held legally. Most Russians are less concerned about this than with corruption.

In Dagestan, two clashes with Islamic terrorists left three policemen dead and three wounded. In another operation, a senior Islamic terrorist leader was killed.

June 11, 2011:  Russia is loudly protesting the presence of an American destroyer in the Black Sea (for exercises with Ukrainian warships and a visit to Georgia). Many Russians still believe in Cold War rules and spheres of influence. Thus the Black Sea was a "Russian lake" that no one else was allowed to use. The Caucasus was "Russian" and no Western states were allowed to interfere. This is particularly the case with Georgia, which used to be part of the Soviet Union, and was always anti-Russian.

June 10, 2011: Russia continues to oppose American efforts to build an anti-missile system in East Europe, to protect Europe from Iranian ballistic missiles. The problem here is that senior Russian diplomatic and military officials simply don't believe that Iran would ever do this, and that the American plans are actually intended to weaken the Russian ability to attack Europe with ballistic missiles. This plays in Russia, and even among many leftists in West Europe. But most Westerners don't understand.

In Dagestan, three Islamic terrorists were killed.

June 9, 2011: Ukraine has sold 200 Cold War surplus T-72 tanks to Ethiopia, for the bargain price of $500,000 each. Many similar, but smaller, deals get no press releases. Ukraine has a huge quantity of Cold War military surplus, which it keeps in shape and ready to ship to customers. Its' a big business in Ukraine and, to a lesser extent, Belarus.

June 8, 2011:  In the Caucasus (Kabardino Balkaria) six Islamic terrorists and one policeman died in a gun battle.

In Moscow, a retired army colonel was shot dead in public. The dead man had been convicted (and later pardoned) for killing a teenage girl in Chechnya. Many Chechens swore vengeance, and this was apparently it.

June 7, 2011: In Moscow, an anarchist group set off a bomb in a parking lot, destroying ten cars.  In Dagestan, a moderate Islamic cleric, teacher and religious scholar was shot dead, apparently by Islamic terrorists the victim had criticized.

Russia cut electricity exports to Belarus, for failure to pay for earlier supplies.

June 5, 2011: In Ingushetia, a clash with Islamic terrorists left a policeman dead.



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