The new Russian Helicopters Company (a merger of all major Russian helicopter manufacturers) is now profitable. Sales so far this year are up more than 40 percent over last year and the backlog of orders is over 900 aircraft. With such success comes growing problems with Russian and foreign (mainly Chinese) firms making inferior counterfeit spare parts. Russian Helicopters is establishing a computerized database of all legitimate components on the market, so parts buyers can check to see if they are buying the real thing. This is part of a program to upgrade maintenance services for the thousands of Russian helicopters still in service. Russian Helicopters makes a lot of money producing spare parts for those older choppers and providing upgrade services.
Senior government officials are openly feuding with leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church over a church campaign to shut down a Russian production of the Western musical "Jesus Christ Superstar." Russian officials called the show blasphemous but Russian officials who had seen the show in the West are saying that the charges are false. The Russian Orthodox Church got a lot of its power, property, and influence back after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. But now church leaders are seen as becoming too disruptive in their efforts to control media and public activities they consider inappropriate.
Russia has banned YouTube videos showing 14 minutes of an American film critical of Islam. This is being done to placate the Arab world, which is angry with the film as well as continued Russian support of the pro-Iran dictatorship in Syria (which is dealing with an armed rebellion). Russian media describe the situation in Syria (a rebellion against decades of dictatorship) as Western countries supporting Islamic terrorists to overthrow a legitimate Arab government.
The FSB (the successor to the Soviet era KGB) is implementing a computerized database of everyone travelling on long distance trains and buses. Everyone buying a ticket will have to present a passport and ticket data will be transmitted to the FSB database. This was the sort of thing the KGB always wanted but did not have the computer systems that could handle it.
October 4, 2012: The air force received its first new Yak-130 jet trainers. Earlier this year the air force decided not to adopt a combat version of this aircraft as the new ground attack aircraft (as the Yak-131) to replace existing Su-25s. The Yak-131 was found to be too vulnerable to ground fire for the job. Instead, a new design, based on the successful Su-25, will be developed and built over the next decade. Meanwhile, existing Su-25s (equivalent to the American A-10) will be refurbished and upgraded. The Su-25 has performed well in over a decade of action in the Caucasus.
October 3, 2012: In the Caucasus (Ingushetia) four policemen were killed and two wounded when they were ambushed while looking for Islamic terrorists. They encountered about a dozen of the armed rebels, who opened fire first and fled.
In the United States a Russian man, who became a U.S. citizen, was accused of using his export company to illegally ship military electronics to Russia. Six others were also accused of participating. The illegal exports have been going on since 2008.
October 2, 2012: The government announced another effort to reduce the corruption in the state-owned Gazprom, which controls all natural gas production and exports in the country. The mismanagement and corruption in Gazprom has become widely known and there is much popular sentiment for dealing with the problem.
September 29, 2012: The Russian military will move more troops and major weapons to Tajikistan next year. Three months ago Tajikistan agreed to extend the lease on Russian bases in the country for 49 years. That includes an unspecified increase in troop strength there. There are already 7,000 Russian troops of the 201st Motor Rifle Division in Tajikistan. That unit is at half strength and had sent most of its heavy weapons back to Russia in the last decade. Current gear includes 96 tanks, 300 Infantry Fighting Vehicles, 54 self-propelled artillery vehicles, 1,100 other vehicles, eight helicopters, and 5 ground attack aircraft. The 201st was there during the Soviet period and the post-Soviet Union Tajik government asked Russia to leave the 201st in place to help with internal security. This was a problem because Tajikistan shares a long border with Afghanistan, which Russian troops had only left a few years earlier.
September 28, 2012: In the Caucasus (Dagestan) police killed an Islamic terrorist who opened fire on them.
September 27, 2012: Despite Russian insistence that two Russians (a married couple) arrested in Germany last year were not active Russian agents but retired Cold War era spies, Germany proceeded to investigate. Now the two have been charged with several instances of espionage since 1991. The two 51 year olds are Russians who were sent to Germany in 1988 to serve as "sleeper" agents (agents that spend most of their time doing nothing, until activated from time-to-time for some simple, but essential, mission). While Germany let a lot of its own Soviet era spies off easy, there is still a lot of animosity towards Russian spies. That's because Russia is still very much involved with espionage. In Germany that means stealing economic secrets, which hurts the German economy. The Germans are not in a forgiving mood because of this Russian aggression.
September 23, 2012: In the Caucasus (Dagestan) police killed four Islamic terrorists at a roadblock.
September 21, 2012: The first Su-30SM two-seat fighter flew and will soon begin joining the Russian Air Force. The Su-30SM is a Russian Air Force version of the Su-30MKI that has long been exported (to India, Algeria, and Malaysia). For the last two decades Russian defense manufacturers have survived on exports. The Russian military halted most procurement spending after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 (largely from financial mismanagement). In the last decade the Russian military has gradually resumed buying. Initially the Russian military could not afford the best stuff (like the SU-30MKI that was only sold to foreigners). But that has changed, and now the Russian military is catching up.
September 20, 2012: In several clashes in the Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkaria and Chechnya) at least twenty Islamic terrorists were killed. Two policemen were also killed.