Russia: Feeling The Heat



August 7, 2010:  The growing number of wildfires, caused by months of record setting heat, are out of control. Over 50,000 people are dealing with nearly a thousand fires. Some 10,000 of those personnel are professional firefighters, a few thousand are military personnel and the rest are local volunteers. The fires have so far killed over 60 people and destroyed about 2,000 buildings (mainly rural homes). The emergency services officials want more military personnel for fire fighting. The government has ordered that priority be given to protecting power plants, military bases and nuclear research facilities. More ominous is the fact that heat and fires have already destroyed 20 percent of the wheat crop.

President Dmitry Medvedev fired two senior naval officers for not keeping the wildfires away from navy facilities at a supply base outside Moscow. This was announced as a warning to other police, fire and military commanders involved in dealing with the wildfires. The government wants key facilities protected.

After weeks of silence, the government is now praising the ten Russian spies who were caught in the United States, and quickly exchanged for American spies imprisoned in Russia. Apparently there were debriefings and an investigation into how the ten were discovered. The obvious answer was that they were not well prepared for the task (claiming to be American, Irish or Canadian while speaking with a Russian accent and displaying Russian mannerisms.) The government has not dwelled (publicly) on this aspect of the situation.

August 6, 2010: The U.S. State Department warned U.S. citizens to stay away from Russia until early September, because of the air pollution and general disruption caused by the hundreds of heat-wave related wildfires.

The Russian Navy conducted a successful test launch of two Sineva SLBMs (Sea Launched Ballistic Missile). These were fired from  Delta IV class SSBNs (ballistic missile nuclear subs, or “boomers”). The Delta IVs are getting old, and have only about a decade of useful service left. A new class is under construction, but it is having reliability problems with the new missile for it.

August 4, 2010: The government moved nuclear materials from a research center in Sarov, 350 kilometers east of Moscow, because of expanding wildfires nearby. Over two thousand firefighters (including troops) and security personnel were sent into handle the nuclear evacuation and to hold the fires back.

August 3, 2010: Rosoboronexport, the government arms export organization, denied that two S-300 anti-aircraft missile batteries had been exported to Azerbaijan. Several days ago, a Russian newspaper alleged that government sources had claimed the weapons had been delivered.

August 2, 2010: The government has declared a state of emergency in seven provinces of western Russia, because of weeks of increasing heat (now over 100 degrees Fahrenheit/39 Centigrade)

July 31, 2010: Chechen Islamic terrorist leader, 46 year old Doku Umarov, has released a video where he announces his retirement. He turned over control of his terrorist organization (the " Caucasus Emirate") to a younger Aslambek Vadalov. Umarov, one of the few Chechen rebel leaders to survive from the 1990s, took over the Islamic terror group four years ago. He has been criticized for not being active enough, and allowing the Russians to claim they have pacified Chechnya. Vadalov says this will change.

Hundreds of civil liberties advocates held demonstrations throughout Russia, to protest the police restraints on the freedom (guaranteed in the Russian constitution) of assembly. As expected, the police used violence to break up these demonstrations, arresting over a quarter of the demonstrators.

The government ordered the army to begin assisting firefighting efforts as the number of wildfires increased. Months of above average temperatures have dried out forests and peat bogs, and fires that would normally fizzle out eventually, are now spreading, becoming dangerous wildfires.

July 27, 2010: A Russian woman was arrested in the United States for trying to illegally take three high-tech rifle sights to Russia. At first, it was thought this was another Russian spy captured. But the woman appeared to have no government connections. So now it's believed she was either doing what she claimed, buying the expensive (several thousand dollars each) sights for a friend, or doing some smuggling for gangsters back in Russia (who are big fans of American weapons).


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