August 1, 2007: A recently leaked video shows that the
military operation to rescue school children three years ago in Belsan, was
botched by the military. At the time, the government said it was the Islamic
terrorists inside the school building that set off explosives, killing many of
the 330 children who died. But the video shows army engineers examining the
terrorists explosive devices, that had not gone off. Another portion of the
video shows commandos setting off explosions outside the school, to make
breaches in the walls. Those explosions, and subsequent gunfire, killed most of
July 31, 2007: Russias commercial airlines have an accident
rate about twelve times the world average. The traditional sloppiness and
recklessness has gotten worse since the Soviet Union collapsed. During the
Soviet period, things often just didn't work. But in a market economy, if you
don't get the passengers from one place to another, you don't get paid. So the
many new airlines take chances, even when poor maintenance and training make
that very dangerous. The same attitude also made the Soviet military a lot less
formidable than it appeared to be. Accidents and screw ups were, and still are,
common in the military. In traditional Russian fashion, the military has tried
to maintain a few elite units (about ten percent of the entire force) that
could be depended on. This means that a few parachute brigades, a few warplane
squadrons, and a handful of ships and submarines, can really be depended on.
The rest, you take your chances.
July 28, 2007: A recent
opinion survey found that government propaganda efforts have made the FSB
(secret police) the second most respected organization in the country, right
after the Russian president. Six years ago, the FSB was in eighth place. But since
then, the government has taken control of most of the national mass media, and
brought news under their control. As a result, opposition political parties
have been demonized, and fallen in popularity.
July 27, 2007: A Moslem cleric was killed by a bomb in the
Caucasus (Dagestan), and Islamic terrorists were suspected. On the other side of Chechnya, Ingushetia is
increasingly the scene of Islamic radical violence. Islamic radicals attract
young men angry at the corruption and incompetence of local government.
July 26, 2007: The
government says it will increase its military and espionage abilities, in order
to counter perceived U.S. efforts to surround Russia with military bases.
Russia sees the expansion of NATO to Russian borders as a potential threat.
Many Russians never got over losing the Cold War, and see the demise of the
Soviet Union as a defeat that must be avenged. Russian politicians play into
this, even if it risks laying the groundwork for another major war. Russian politicians believe they need this,
to take peoples minds off the many problems inside Russia.
July 25, 2007: Russia has stalled construction of Irans
first nuclear power plant, partly because of disputes over money, so that the
plant will not be operational until late next year. Russia is trying to get
Iran to cut down on the aggressive diplomacy, and stirring up trouble in Iraq