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Russia: What Goes Around, Comes Around
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December 24, 2007: The secret police have taken over the country, or so it appears. President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, and former head of the post-Soviet Union FSB, has brought in hundreds of former KGB men and put them in key positions throughout the government. This should not be surprising, as during the Soviet era, if you wanted to make it big, you joined the KGB (secret police, a sort of combined CIA/FBI that was a law unto itself). Putin has gained control of the legislature via his political party, and backed a presidential candidate (presidents can only serve two terms) who likes the idea of appointing Putin as prime minister (the guy who does most of the day-to-day work running the country, under the orders of the president).

The KGB has shrunk considerably to become the present day FSB, and many of those without jobs in the secret police don't mind, because with a market economy, there are much better opportunities outside the government. Putin had no trouble getting a lot of these old KGB hands to come do a few years of government service. Much of the economy is being re-nationalized (returned to government control), and that provides economic opportunities (usually of the corrupt kind) for government insiders. Putin is reputed to be worth billions now, and none of his old KGB cronies seem to be hurting. All this harkens back to before the communist revolution in 1917, when the monarchy ran a similar type of operations. What goes around, comes around.

December 23, 2007: The army will begin receiving a new tank in two years, and the navy will begin production of the troubled Bulava SLBM (Sea Launched Ballistic Missile) next year, at a cost of over $20 million each. The Defense Ministry did not give details on the new tank, other than it would be a radical new design and have lots of new technology. That would appear to indicate that this is the T-95, which has been in development for seven years, but in secret. All other Russian tanks are basically upgrades of the 30 year old T-72 design, and very inferior to Western designs. The new Russian tank will probably cost over $4 million each.

December 17, 2007: In the capital of Chechnya, there was a gun battle that left four gangsters and one policeman dead. In the past, such battles were with Islamic terrorists, but those have all either fled to neighboring provinces, or gone outside the country (to Iraq or Pakistan) to continue their Holy War. Some remained and became gangsters, which has long been a popular profession in Chechnya.

December 16, 2007: In neighboring Azerbaijan, fifteen locals were convicted of spying for Iran. The convicted had been reporting on the activities of American and British activities in the country. Azerbaijan, a former part of the Soviet Union has, for over a century, been a major producer of oil.

December 13, 2007: Russian and American troops conducted joint counter-terrorism exercises in Germany.

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