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Russia: Back In The USSR
   Next Article → LEADERSHIP: We Want The Future, And We Want It Now

September 29, 2009: Using intimidation and violence (17 murdered journalists), the state controlled mass media has returned after a decade of a (largely) free press. That has meant the return of the vibrant Soviet period rumor networks, seeking to find the truth that the state controlled press hides. The Internet makes it easier to find the truth, although the government is putting a lot of effort into limiting what news gets into (or around) Russia via the web. The government also wants to prevent Russians from getting the truth about Russian history. The government is rewriting the history books, an effort that plays down (or ignores) the mass murders and state sponsored terror of the Soviet period. During the seven decades of communist rule, Russia had a third of its population killed off. The Soviet government killed more Russians than German armies and Nazi death camps. The current Russian government wants to keep that knowledge buried, along with all of Stalin's victims. The new government is basically a dictatorship of the politicians and secret policemen (many of them Soviet era vets), very much like the old Soviet one, but without the communist theology. The current dictators preach democracy, and believe in it about as much as their predecessors believed in Marx and Lenin. The downside of this is a business climate that lacks the rule of law, which is keeping a lot of foreign companies out, and making it difficult for Russian firms to innovate and be competitive in an international market. This, in many respects, the Russians are back in the USSR.

September 27, 2009:  Two government officials were murdered in Dagestan, another neighbor of Chechnya that is suffering more terrorist violence. The largely Moslem population of Russian controlled Caucasus has always been the scene of disorder and violence.

September 20, 2009: In Chechnya, Islamic terrorists shot dead two policemen and a moderate Moslem cleric, in two separate attacks. Most of the violence, however, has been next door, in Ingushetia, where over 250 have died from terrorist violence so far this year, compared to 96 last year. Many of the killers are Chechen militants, driven across the border by harsh counter-terrorist operations. Ingushetia suffers from poor government (corruption, incompetence) and a divided population (of about 460,000).

September 19, 2009:  In a dramatic break from 70 years of "building your own," the government is negotiating with France to purchase a French designed and built Mistral amphibious ship. The deal would involve licensed production of two or three more in Russia. Before World War I, Russia often bought French naval technology, and much other military technology. But once the communists took over in the early 1920s, that all stopped. Russia is currently looking beyond its own failing defense industries for new equipment, and ideas. The French navy received the first (the Mistral) of these 21,500 ton ships in 2006, with the second one arriving in 2007. The two Mistrals are also equipped to serve as command vessels for amphibious operations.  The Mistrals are similar in design to the U.S. LPD 17 (San Antonio) class. Both classes are about 620 feet long, but the LPD 17s displace 25,000 tons. The French ships are more highly automated, requiring a crew of only 180, versus 396 on the LPD 17. The Russians would improve their ship building capabilities considerably by building some Mistrals, with French assistance, in Russian shipyards. This is apparently the main objective of this deal.  

September 18, 2009: The U.S., bowing to Russian pressure, agreed to scrap its plan for an anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic (to defend Europe against Iranian missiles.) This greatly demoralized East European nations, who had been looking to the U.S. for help in keeping the Russians away. Russia then said it would not install 60 Iskander ballistic missiles in Kaliningrad (weapons designed to destroy anti-missile missiles). Russia feared that the anti-missile system would interfere with Russian ballistic missiles aimed at Europe. The cancellation of the American anti-missile effort was so popular in Russia, that Iran was criticized, and Russia said that it might even back harsher sanctions against Iran (for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program). This was meaningless, as China also has a veto in the UN, which is enough to stop any sanction effort.

September 16, 2009: In Chechnya, a female suicide car bomber detonated her explosives in the middle of Grozny, the capital. Several people were injured, but only the bomber died. Suicide bombings have returned to Chechnya, after having been absent for several years. That's because Islamic radicals are again active in Chechnya. It's thought that some Chechen rebels who had fled the region for Iraq or Pakistan, have returned, determined to die in their homeland, and take some of their enemies with them.

In Belarus, fifty people gathered in the capital to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the disappearance of reform politicians. Police attacked the demonstrators, beat them, and arrested 30 of them. Belarus never stopped, even after becoming independent when the Soviet Union collapsed,  being run like a police state.

September 13, 2009: Russia has provided Venezuela with $2.2 billion in credit to purchase Russian weapons. Venezuela is looking for S-300 air defense systems, Iskander ballistic missiles and T-90 tanks. Russia has also agreed to help Venezuela find uranium, and build a nuclear power plant (which would enable Venezuela to create fuel for nuclear weapons.)

Next Article → LEADERSHIP: We Want The Future, And We Want It Now
  
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FJV    Wierd   9/29/2009 12:05:28 PM
Russia has also agreed to help Venezuela find uranium, and build a nuclear power plant (which would enable Venezuela to create fuel for nuclear weapons.)
 
Depends on the type of powerplant.
Ghana operates a MNSR nuclear reactor and nobody is worried that Ghana is gonna build a nuke.
People should learn why this is so, instead of all the hysterics everytime someone mentions nuclear.
 
Venezuela is looking for S-300 air defense systems, Iskander ballistic missiles and T-90 tanks.
 
That does not mean that Russia is gonna sell these. For instance Japan is looking for F22 fighters, which doesn't mean the US is gonna sell these.
 

 
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leviathan       9/29/2009 1:20:46 PM
"The Soviet government killed more Russians than German armies and Nazi death camps." This should read "The Soviet government killed more Soviets than German armies and Nazi death camps." Since most of the murdered Soviets were not Russian but rather Ukrainian. It is called the Holodomor and by some estimates it exceeded the Holocaust in its death toll.
 
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Photon       9/29/2009 3:13:28 PM
Encourage Russia to become more dictatorial and induce it to go back to its farcical Soviet ways.  On the down side, this sort of Russia has a much greater potential to start something stupid and start something nasty.  On the plus side, by encouraging them to maintain their sense of delusion, they become weaker in the long run.  Placing anti-missile facilities in Eastern Europe should be a good way to start this spiral, although not much in this direction is likely to proceed under the current US administration.  To top it off, actually have a substantial US military presence in places like Georgia.  The main objective is to piss off Russia as much as possible:  An agitated enemy is more likely to commit blunder.
 
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WarNerd       9/29/2009 8:15:42 PM

September 13, 2009: Russia has provided Venezuela with $2.2 billion in credit to purchase Russian weapons. Venezuela is looking for S-300 air defense systems, Iskander ballistic missiles and T-90 tanks. Russia has also agreed to help Venezuela find uranium, and build a nuclear power plant (which would enable Venezuela to create fuel for nuclear weapons.)

Nice shopping list.  The S-300 will be used to guard the Presidential Palace, the T-90 will go to his Presidential Guard, and the Iskanders will be used to threaten whoever Hugo dislikes at the time while he hides behind the other two.  I expect this will become the standard Russian sales package to the world's dictators, oligarchs, and other unsavory regimes.
 
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trenchsol       9/30/2009 6:08:07 AM
I wonder how one can control Internet traffic to prevent particular information to be seen from inside the country. Certain sites might be blocked, but they could quickly change their address (multiple DNS entries for the same contents, for example) or even migrate contents to other sites. Filtering by keywords can not detect everything, and it takes a lot of processing power.
 
Is it possible that those governments employ countless clerks that non-stop search the web for potentially "offending" contents ?

DG
 
 
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Jeff_F_F       10/1/2009 7:24:06 AM
Wow, try googling "great firewall of china" sometime, or "carnivore". Read up on how Iran shut down the protests against their rigged election. In your pastel-colored fantasy information is free, but in the real world government control of information happens. Right now, in America we are in the middle of a fight over whether to allow the Government to take another step forward in the control of information.
Power corrupts. Incremental power corrupts incrementally.
 
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trenchsol       10/1/2009 11:58:07 PM
Thanks Jeff_F_F. I couldn't believe it. Those lunatics in Chine have employed 30000 people to look for "offending" content. What a waste.....
 
Carnivore is something else, it performed no censorship. It just watched the traffic and alerted on certain keywords. I think it is obsolete today.
 
Stupid thing about censorship is that one gives credibility to all kinds of rumors and underground "sources of information". I happen to live in ex-communist country. People would have believed anything if it was anti government those days. There is really no need for that today, because everyone can publish whatever they see fit, no matter how stupid that is. There is so much unreliable information around that everything can be easily denied, questioned, credibility undermined, and labeled as propaganda, no matter is it true or not.
 
DG
 
 
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Lance Blade       10/3/2009 11:29:44 AM
"The U.S., bowing to Russian pressure, agreed to scrap its plan for an anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic (to defend Europe against Iranian missiles.)"
 
Not true. The US administration said it would modify the system in light of new realities about Iran's missile program, not scrap it. The new plans call for ships equipped with Aegis SAM systems to be stationed in the Baltic. From a layman's point of view that sounds like more, not less, capability, since Aegis equipped ships are mobile.
 
"This greatly demoralized East European nations, who had been looking to the U.S. for help in keeping the Russians away."
 
Why would a system designed to defend against Iran keep the Russians away? 
 
"The cancellation of the American anti-missile effort was so popular in Russia, that Iran was criticized, and Russia said that it might even back harsher sanctions against Iran (for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program). This was meaningless, as China also has a veto in the UN, which is enough to stop any sanction effort."
 
Iran is now engaging in new disarmament talks, and has agreed to move enriched uranium to Russia and France to be converted into fuel. It has also allowed access to the Qom fascility. All of this within days of Medvedev's words on Iran. I wouldn't call that "meaningless". China won't veto on principle, or if it will, not forever. 
 
Sources: ;
 
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