Russia: November 26, 2002


Attempts to recruit professional soldiers for the army are running into problems with poor housing and other base facilities. The government says it will build the new housing, hospitals, and schools for the children of NCOs and officers. But until these facilities are up and running, the kind of people the army wants as volunteers are not showing up.

Meanwhile, the government is trying to improve morale, and keep the senior officers happy, by reinstituting the red star as the symbol for the army (on flags, uniforms and vehicles.) Although first used by the Communists during the 1917 revolution, the red star became a national icon as the symbol of the troops who defended the motherland against the nazis in World War II (called the "Great Patriotic War" in Russia.) The red star is a powerful symbol of national pride, as are Tsarist symbols used during the defeat of Napoleon's invading French army in 1812. While some fear that the red star will encourage the return of communist dictatorship, it will take more than a symbol to resurrect that corrupt and inept tyranny. 


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