Russia: New Commissars, Same As The Old Commissars

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May 19, 2012: Many Russian military leaders are still stuck with a Cold War mentality. There is still the paranoid attitude towards the West, the efforts to dominate neighboring countries and a military alliance with China against the West. Many Russians find these retro attitudes comforting. Russian politicians find it easier to control public opinion if they can create a credible foreign enemy. A growing number of Russians do not accept this paranoid world view and are protesting that, along with corruption and government incompetence. There is talk of another revolution. But the government has rebuilt much of the Soviet era police state apparatus. But Russia has not become the neo-Soviet Union. There is a lot more economic and personal freedom. There is not as much political freedom and there is still more crime. There's also a growing desire to shed these old Russian ways and try to become like the West. Many Russians believe this is not possible, including a lot of the people running the country today. There may not be another revolution but there is going to be more change.

Meanwhile, government propaganda continues to complain about Western anti-missile systems as a ploy to disarm Russia, not stop missile attacks from Iran or North Korea. While absurd to most Westerners, this paranoia, constantly delivered by state controlled media, finds many receptive minds in Russia. Here paranoia about the outside world, especially the West, has been a cultural staple for centuries. Recently a senior Russian commander discussed how Russia might be forced to attack Western anti-missile systems, in self-defense. This was mainly for internal consumption but alarmed foreigners.

May 18, 2012: In Ingushetia police found and disabled a terrorist bomb.

May 17, 2012:  For the first time U.S. and Russian soldiers have trained together in the United States. Twenty-two Russian paratroopers are in Colorado to train with American Army Special Forces troops. Despite the depiction of the United States as "the enemy" in Russian media (especially state-controlled outlets) many Russian commanders want to cooperate with and learn from the Americans.

In Moscow police arrested 30 protestors as several hundred people gathered to show their anger at government corruption. The government admits it does have some problems but insists that things are worse in the West. This is a step up from the communist days, when it was never admitted that there were problems in the Soviet Union.

May 16, 2012:  In Dagestan police cornered and killed the man responsible for a May 3rd terror bombing in the area. The dead man, Hussein Mamayev, was the leader of the Makhachkala group. When cornered he refused to surrender and attempted to shoot his way out.

May 14, 2012: In Dagestan police ended a five day search for Islamic terrorists, killing five of them, while losing two policemen.

May 7, 2012:  Vladimir Putin, former prime minister and two-term president, was sworn in for this third term as president. He promised to make democracy stronger in Russia. No mention was made of the growing police state atmosphere. Over 20,000 people protested Putin elsewhere in the city. Several hundred protestors were arrested and many more injured. Putin sees the protestors as misled by dubious foreign ideas. Putin believes that a traditional Russia "strong ruler" can fix whatever needs fixing.

May 4, 2012: As former president Medvedev left office he fired the heads of the air force and navy. It was unclear why. The air force guy was close to retirement and the navy chief had been in office for five years. Medvedev had encountered some resistance from senior military commanders as his military reforms (cuts in manpower and units, increased procurement of new equipment) were forcefully introduced. Medvedev was, to many senior officers, attempting to turn the military from a "Russian" to a "Western" force. Still upset at losing the Cold War, the generals and admirals did not want to confirm their defeat by remaking the armed forces to look and operate like those of their Western adversaries. But Medvedev and Putin believe there is much to be learned from Western military success and want Russia to adapt. Officers who resist are being pushed out.

May 3, 2012:  In Dagestan two car bombs killed twenty people and wounded over a hundred.

 

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