Russia: June 13, 2001
Civilians in Chechnya accuse the Russian army of seizing military age men and either killing them or demanding a bribe of $350-$4500 to free them. The Russians won't admit to this practice, it's consistent with the Russian tendency to meet brutality with brutality. The bribe's are considered a "morale raiser" for the troops. Money problems are also having an effect on the Russian space satellite fleet. Three quarters of Russia's 90 satellites are at or near the end of their operational lives. About half of Russia's birds are military. Since the end of the Cold War, Russian spending on satellites has declined over 90 percent. Some of the Russian satellites are over 20 years old. Some 40 percent of the launches in the last ten years were for foreign firms. These launches provide cash for Russian operations.