Russia: Deliver Us From The Godfather, Amen


December 18, 2010: The number of terrorist attacks (14) in the Caucasus (Chechnya and its neighbors) this year was twice what it was last year. But this year, police say they killed or arrested all those responsible for those attacks. There were 30 counter-terror operations down there, leading to the death or arrest of over 300 Islamic militants. Corruption and ancient ethnic animosities keep the violence going.

In the last few months, it has become clear that senior officials have decided to switch from criticizing the West, to cooperation. This includes participating in building an anti-missile system (to protect from Iranian, or other Middle Eastern, attacks) and discussing joining NATO. This switch had long been debated within Russia, with many politicians and officials arguing that it was more in Russia's interest to align with the West, against long time foes like Iran and China. Wikileaks revelations also pointed out how attempts to battle the West, diplomatically and economically, have not gone too well.

While the government continues to increase its control over mass media, it's been impossible to impose the kind of tight controls the communists used. The Internet, cell phones and more people carrying gadgets has been too much for state security to handle. So now, particularly alarming news items are getting out. Thus the government goes along, in most cases, and has state controlled media pursue what is really hot. One of the more common hot stories involves organized crime. The gangsters have been forced to show more restraint in the past decade, but they are still there. Especially in rural areas, the gangs work with government officials to exploit the local economy for their own benefit. Intimidation and murder are used to maintain control. This sort of thing is widely unpopular and the national government is being called on to launch a major effort against the gangs.

December 15, 2010: A senior Islamic cleric in the Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkaria) was shot dead by an unknown assailant. The dead cleric supported the government, so the killers are believed to be Islamic terrorists.  Meanwhile, the government made it clear that traitors, including those who betrayed overseas agents, would no longer be hunted down and killed. This was the custom during Soviet times, but no more. Now, traitors will be hunted down, arrested and locked away in a Russian prison.

In Moscow, three thousand police were sent to arrest about a thousand young football (soccer) fans and nationalists. This was done to halt planned large scale street battles between Moslem and Christian young men. The religion based animosities have long existed, and have been exacerbated the recent shooting of a Christian man by a Moslem from the Caucasus.  Over a hundred people have been injured in street brawls, and this has increased anti-Moslem animosities.

December 14, 2010:  The government announced plans to spend $860 billion on rebuilding the military over the next decade. Such announcements have become more frequent in the past few years. This is more for morale purposes, than to describe exactly how much money would be spent. But it does oblige the government to make an effort to deal with the decrepit armed forces. More money will be allocated for the military, but ultimately, it depends on how well the national economy performs, to determine exactly what future expenditures will be.

December 13, 2010:  Russia troops stationed near North Korea were put on higher alert (vehicles fueled, leaves cancelled, and other preparations to move and act) because of fears that something big might happen in North Korea. Nothing did, but Russian intelligence officials in the area apparently heard something alarming. The forces near North Korea will now receive additional equipment and supplies, which will allow for more training and a higher degree of combat readiness.

December 12, 2010: In Dagestan, police killed two Islamic terrorists.

December 10, 2010: The Russian Navy has admitted that it will not be able to build aircraft carriers for at least another decade. This is because the government has forced the admirals to concentrate on replacing coastal patrol and other surface ships, and especially nuclear submarines. Existing ships are rapidly wearing out. The government is particularly anxious to have a new class of SSBNs (nuclear ballistic missile subs) built as quickly as possible. All this need to replace decrepit Cold War era ships leaves little cash for aircraft carriers.

December 6, 2010: In Dagestan, six Islamic terrorists and a policeman were killed when the terrorists were surrounded in a building and fought to the death.




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