Russia: It's All About Control

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January 23, 2006: The FSB (the Russian FBI/CIA) has accused Britain of working with pro-democracy Russian NGOs to spy on Russia. Britain denies it, although video and other evidence was presented. The government has been campaigning against NGOs, and foreign influences in general. Recent economic growth has made the government popular, and Russians don't seem to mind the return of centralized government and more government control in general. So far this works partly because corruption has been attacked, and the crime rate reduced.

Russia has routed natural gas shipments to Georgia via Azerbaijan. Russia, and neighboring countries, are enduring a record cold snap, the worst in 26 years.

January 22, 2006: Near the Georgian border, natural gas pipelines and an electricity tower, were blown up. This cut all of the gas shipments, and a quarter of the electricity, going to Georgia. It will take about a week to repair the damage. Russia is blaming Islamic terrorists for the destruction, but no one has taken credit for the attacks. Georgia blamed the Russians for the damage, because of the diplomatic differences between the two countries. Russia does not like Georgia's attempts to build better relationships with the West.

January 21, 2006: In Chechnya, a dozen rebel attacks in 24 hours left five Russian soldiers dead. The rebels like to make a lot of attacks in a short period of time, then stay quiet for weeks or months.

January 20, 2006: Iran is seen as another major customer for Russian military equipment, and this is putting Russia and the rest of the world at odds about how to deal with Iran's nuclear weapons program. Arms exports have kept the Russian defense industry alive for the past fifteen years.

January 19, 2006: The government is preparing a new law to limit the ability of foreign NGOs to distribute information (especially on democracy and economic reforms) that are at odds with government policies.

January 16, 2006: Most casualties in Chechnya are coming from mines planted in the many dirt roads Russian troops and Chechen police patrol along.

 

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