24, 2006: In the Caucasus, a bomb damaged a natural gas pipeline carrying fuel
for Georgia and Armenia. Chechen terrorists are suspected, although Georgia
claims that Russia is behind the "terrorist attack," in order to cut
off gas supplies to Georgia. The Georgians believe Russia wants to punish them
for not complying with the Russian desire to have military bases in
23, 2006: Former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko died in London, and the
British are still trying to figure out what killed him. Russia says it had
nothing to do with it, but Russian involvement is suspected, and being
investigated by British security organizations. If a Russian connection is
found, and proven, it will signal a revival of Cold War espionage tactics. The
former Soviet Union was not adverse to killing defectors like this. And a
former KGB officer is now the president of Russia. Meanwhile, in Canada, Russia
is under attack after a man identified as a member of the Russian SVR (a
successor to the KGB for dealing with spying overseas) was arrested in Canada,
along with incriminating documents. Russia insists it's all a
22, 2006: The Russian defense budget for 2007 will be about $31 billion
(compared to about $460 billion in the United States.) About 40 percent of the
Russian budget will go to buying weapons and equipment to replace decaying Cold
War era stuff.
21, 2006: Ill former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko has been put under the
protection of British counter-terror forces, and the British government has
launched an investigation of who, and what, poisoned Litvinenko
19, 2006: In Britain, it was revealed that Alexander Litvinenko, a former FSB
(the successor to the KGB) lieutenant colonel who received political asylum in
Britain in 2001, is in a hospital, dying from a mysterious poisoning.
Litvinenko fell ill after a November 1st dinner meeting with an Italian journalist
(who said he had information on dirty dealing in Russia.) Mysterious poisons
were a common KGB weapon against enemy agents, or defectors, during the Cold
War. Litvinenko became a British citizen this year, and was investigating
the murders of Russian journalists inside Russia.
18, 2006: Chechen warlord Movladi Baisarov, he former head of security in
Chechnya, was killed by police in Moscow, while resisting arrest. The guy he
was supposed to be protecting in Chechnya, the pro-Russian governor of the
province, was killed in 2004, and Baisarov was not getting along
with the deceased governors son. Meanwhile, two small bombs went off in Chechen
oil wells, and a third was found and disabled.
has become a major customer for Russian weapons, agreeing to buy a billion
dollars worth over the next four years. The deal was facilitated by generous
credit terms, and the refusal of the U.S. to sell Indonesia weapons (because of
human rights issues.) Russian arms sales last year were over six billion
dollars, and that is expected to increase to over seven billion for 2006.
17, 2006: Russia's population of 140 million should be shrinking several
hundred thousand a year because of a low birthrate. But the booming economy has
attracted immigrants from neighboring countries. In the last fifteen years,
some 14 million people have moved to Russia, largely from countries that used
to be part of the Soviet Union. About half these migrants are illegal. The
government used to be hostile to the illegals, but is changing its mind, given
the need to prevent the national population from shrinking.