Russia: As Screwed Up As Ever


August 1, 2007: A recently leaked video shows that the military operation to rescue school children three years ago in Belsan, was botched by the military. At the time, the government said it was the Islamic terrorists inside the school building that set off explosives, killing many of the 330 children who died. But the video shows army engineers examining the terrorists explosive devices, that had not gone off. Another portion of the video shows commandos setting off explosions outside the school, to make breaches in the walls. Those explosions, and subsequent gunfire, killed most of the kids.

July 31, 2007: Russias commercial airlines have an accident rate about twelve times the world average. The traditional sloppiness and recklessness has gotten worse since the Soviet Union collapsed. During the Soviet period, things often just didn't work. But in a market economy, if you don't get the passengers from one place to another, you don't get paid. So the many new airlines take chances, even when poor maintenance and training make that very dangerous. The same attitude also made the Soviet military a lot less formidable than it appeared to be. Accidents and screw ups were, and still are, common in the military. In traditional Russian fashion, the military has tried to maintain a few elite units (about ten percent of the entire force) that could be depended on. This means that a few parachute brigades, a few warplane squadrons, and a handful of ships and submarines, can really be depended on. The rest, you take your chances.

July 28, 2007: A recent opinion survey found that government propaganda efforts have made the FSB (secret police) the second most respected organization in the country, right after the Russian president. Six years ago, the FSB was in eighth place. But since then, the government has taken control of most of the national mass media, and brought news under their control. As a result, opposition political parties have been demonized, and fallen in popularity.

July 27, 2007: A Moslem cleric was killed by a bomb in the Caucasus (Dagestan), and Islamic terrorists were suspected. On the other side of Chechnya, Ingushetia is increasingly the scene of Islamic radical violence. Islamic radicals attract young men angry at the corruption and incompetence of local government.

July 26, 2007: The government says it will increase its military and espionage abilities, in order to counter perceived U.S. efforts to surround Russia with military bases. Russia sees the expansion of NATO to Russian borders as a potential threat. Many Russians never got over losing the Cold War, and see the demise of the Soviet Union as a defeat that must be avenged. Russian politicians play into this, even if it risks laying the groundwork for another major war. Russian politicians believe they need this, to take peoples minds off the many problems inside Russia.

July 25, 2007: Russia has stalled construction of Irans first nuclear power plant, partly because of disputes over money, so that the plant will not be operational until late next year. Russia is trying to get Iran to cut down on the aggressive diplomacy, and stirring up trouble in Iraq and Afghanistan.




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