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Russia: The People Vote For Authoritarian Democracy
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May 21, 2007:  The government has created an "authoritarian democracy" that appalls those in the West, but is popular with most Russians. The government has taken over most mass media, and uses that, and the police, to silence political opponents. Not a lot of violence (labor camps, executions, torture) like in the bad-old-Soviet days, but a dictatorship of sorts nonetheless. Russians still want their elections, and it appears that new autocrats will be elected, and accepted, as long as they keep the crime and corruption rates down.

 

May 20, 2007:  Russia is trying to catch up with China in the field of Internet censorship. Since the government controls all the mass media, the Internet is the primary access of most people to what is really going on in the country. Chinese and Russian Internet control experts are apparently working together to develop new filtering and monitoring systems.

 

May 21, 2007:  In Chechnya, the few groups of terrorists still in action, are relying on an extensive system of hideouts and supply caches constructed over the last decade. Many of these, often guarded by mines and booby traps, are being stumbled upon by civilians (who get hurt by the mines.)

 

May 17, 2007:  Oil shipments to Estonia were resumed. These fuel supplies were halted two weeks ago, to protest Estonia moving a hated Soviet era statue of a Russian soldier (from the capital to a military cemetery). Meanwhile, Estonia is getting hammered with attacks via the Internet. Russia denies any involvement. But Estonia, a NATO member, has provided proof that the Russian government is the source of the Internet attacks (which have shut down operations in many businesses and government organizations.) NATO has sent Internet experts to Estonia to investigate the situation. Estonia is trying to invoke the mutual-defense provisions of the NATO treaty, to get some retaliation against the Russian attacks.  Suddenly, Russia is on the defensive, after weeks of protesting anti-missile systems being built in Eastern Europe.

 

May 13, 2007:  A bomb went off in a cafe in southern Russia, killing ten people. It's unclear if the cause was Islamic terrorists, or local gangsters trying to make a point.

 

May 12, 2007:  Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan agreed to build a pipeline through Russia, to export their natural gas. This gives Russia more control over the Eurasian natural gas market.

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