October 30, 2010:
The current government has made progress in fixing the economy and reducing the atmosphere of lawlessness. But corruption is still rampant, and the newly centralized government is seen as a return to autocratic rule of the past. The problem with autocratic strongmen is that they tend to stay in power long past the point where they are effective. The czars and communists both suffered from this, and it is feared that new "democratic dictatorship" will do the same.
Despite quality control and delivery problems, Russia continues to provide 60 percent of Indian arms imports over the last seven years. But because of those problems, Russia is only providing 45 percent of Indian arms exports over the next three years. Western suppliers are moving in, and Russia is having a hard time competing.
A new mayor in Moscow (the old one had been in power for over a decade, but had gone against the national leadership and was dismissed) has said he will clean up police corruption and inefficiency. As part of that effort, 12 percent of Moscow police (11,900) will be fired. Cops taking bribes is only part of the problem here. A larger issue was police jobs becoming political patronage, with a proliferation of different police forces (like one for ecological crime), many full of friends of some politician, and not doing much of anything on the job.
October 29, 2010: For the second time in a row, the new Bulava SLBM (submarine launched ballistic missile) had a successful test launch. There will be one more test before the end of the year, and if that one is good, the missile will enter service next year. The Bulava has failed half its test launches so far, and recently failed three in a row. The government was not happy with this, and management of the Bulava program was replaced last year. On the same day, two older Sineva liquid fuel SLBMs were successfully tested. Sinevas are Russia's current SLBM, serving on Delta IV class subs. In addition to new SLBMs, and subs to carry them, the navy also announced that it would also receive five of the new 4,500 ton 22350 class frigates over the next five years.
Police revealed that they had foiled a terrorist plot to launch a major attack in the southern city of Pyatigorsk on the 26th.
October 28, 2010: Making good on its promise to provide excellent intelligence on the location of drug operations in Afghanistan, four Russian agents accompanied over 80 U.S. troops and nine helicopters as they raided a major drug operation near the Pakistani border. Nearly a ton of heroin was seized, along with equipment and chemicals used to convert opium into heroin. Afghanistan produces about a ton of heroin a day. Russia has been pressuring the U.S. to be more aggressive against the Afghan drug gangs, whose heroin and opium exports to Russia has created over two million addicts, and huge social and economic problems.
Russia wants to negotiate a treaty with NATO limiting the number of foreign (as in American) troops who could be stationed in new NATO member countries that border Russia, or countries that do border Russia. Fear of foreign invasion is an ancient attitude in Russia, and the United States is seen as a potential offender. It makes no sense, but does make for great political theater inside Russia.
October 25, 2010: Russia just finished its first census since 2002, and there are already charges of fraud and malfeasance. Russians population is estimated at 142 million and in decline. Births have been way below normal since the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, and population is shrinking. If this population reduction is not halted, it will mean economic and political catastrophe for Russia. The Chinese stand ready to pick up the pieces, at least in the east.
October 23, 2010: In Dagestan, a suicide car bomber, attempting to attack a police compound, failed. But one person was killed and three wounded.
October 20, 2010: The two Russian-born scientists who won this years Nobel Prize in Physics (while working in Britain) said they had no desire to return to Russia. While they praised the quality of the education they received in Russia, they believe the corruption and bureaucracy there makes it difficult to do world-class research. The Russian government is funding new research centers that hope to attract many expatriate Russian scientists back to the motherland.
October 19, 2010: In Chechnya, suicide bombers attacked the provincial parliament, killing three people. The Chechen government is dominated by clans that are loyal to Russia. Other clans want an independent Chechnya, or one run by a religious dictatorship. For most of the last decade, the pro-Russian clans have been winning. But Chechens are stubborn, and the losers won't quit. This has been a problem for centuries, even before the Russians moved in.
October 16, 2010: The government agreed to build the first nuclear power plant in Venezuela. Russia has become the major arms supplier to Venezuela.
October 14, 2010: Overnight, three policemen were shot dead in Dagestan during a long gun battle with Islamic terrorists.
October 13, 2010: Two policemen were shot dead in Chechnya, while two others were wounded by a bomb in neighboring Dagestan. It's unclear if these attacks were by common criminals or terrorists. Both groups use the same tactics to try and intimidate the police.