Russia: Learning From China


May 11, 2007: The government continues to protest U.S. anti-missile facilities in Eastern Europe (to protect Europe from Iranian missiles). The government is making the most of Russian nostalgia for the "good old days" when the Soviet Union was a superpower. But many Russians see the police state policies of the Soviet Union returning as well, with Russia trying to copy China (a market economy presided over by a police state.)

May 10, 2007: Two men were arrested in Moscow, for trying to use a car bomb in Moscow. The car bomb was discovered and disabled, and evidence found in the car led to the arrests. The bombing attempt appears to be the work of Moslems from the Caucasus.

May 8, 2007: Stories of conscripts killed by abuse in the military, continue to make it into the news. The government controls most of the electronic mass media, and plays down this kind of violence, but the many independent paper and Internet based outlets still cover this sort of thing. The military has made a great effort to reduce violence against recruits. Non-combat deaths in the military fell to 554 last year, about half the number in 2005. But there were still 27 deaths from the recruit abuse, and 210 suicides, many of them abused recruits.

May 3, 2007: For the first time since the end of the Cold War, British interceptors were sent up to turn away Russian Tu-95 reconnaissance aircraft, that were headed west to monitor British naval exercises.

May 2, 2007: In Estonia, the removal of a Soviet World War II memorial statute set off nearly a week of rioting by members of the Russian (22 percent) minority. The rest of the population is Finnish, not Slavic (and called Estonians). Most of the Slavic Russians were imported to help keep the ethnic Estonians under control. The Russians were long seen as oppressors and occupiers, not liberators. Locals called the statue, "The Unknown Rapist" in memory of the behavior of Russian soldiers when they took control of the country in 1940 and 1944. In between, Estonia was occupied by (and cooperated with) Nazi Germany. Russia has cut off fuel supplies in protest, and Estonia, a member of NATO, is calling on its allies to pressure Russia into backing off. Russia is a major supplier of natural gas to Western Europe, and cutting off those supplies to former parts of the Soviet Union, as a way to pressure them into following Russian orders, makes Western European nations nervous. There are efforts underway, which Russia opposes, to build a gas pipeline across the Caspian Sea and Turkey, to move natural gas from Central Asia to Europe.

April 27, 2007: In Chechnya, a military helicopter crashed, killing 17 passengers and crew. It's not yet known if rebel ground fire caused the crash, as has happened in the past. Rebel activity has been steadily declining over the past year.




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