August 4, 2011: It's still very dangerous to be in the Russian military. On paper, violence against troops is up. Military prosecutors have filed assault charges against 75 lieutenants and nearly 200 sergeants (for attacking their subordinates) for the first six months of the year. This is a 15 percent increase over the same period last year. But there has been a growing public uproar against the bullying and violence directed at new recruits (especially conscripts) in the armed forces. As a result, more victims, or their parents, are filing assault complaints with military prosecutors. The civilian leadership is becoming more insistent that this violence cease, and senior generals have been told that their jobs are on the line with this.
Russia continues its military reform efforts, making some progress, but continuing to face obstacles (corruption, incompetence and bad leadership in general.) But the attitude in the government and the military that everyone will persevere and get the job done. That works, eventually.
The Soviet era dictatorship in Belarus is under growing pressure to hold real (not rigged) elections. Public demonstrations are more frequent and widespread. At first, police used arrests and beatings to break these up. Then the pro-reform groups used silent demonstrations, and police were ordered to arrest and beat people just standing around in groups. Russian leaders have recently called for Belarus to once more become a part of Russia. Many Belarussians see this as a viable option, but many do not, especially the small group getting rich by running the dictatorship.
July 28, 2011: In Dagestan, the media spokesman of the governor was shot dead, apparently another attempt by Islamic terrorists to intimidate the local government.
July 19, 2011: Police announced that they had arrested four Islamic terrorists near Moscow, and seized components for a bomb. The four men were planning an attack in Moscow.
July 17, 2011: In Dagestan, a pro-government village chief was killed by Islamic terrorists.
July 14, 2011: The government has ordered airlines to stop flying all their Tu-134 and An-24 aircraft by the end of the year. This would take about 200 aircraft out of service. This dramatic move was prompted by an incident a month ago, when a Soviet era Tu-134 airliner crashed in the north, killing 45. This proved to be the last straw, and the government quickly announced that it would speed up retirement of the twin engine Tu-134 and An-24, and the four engine Tu-154. All of these aircraft have higher accident records than Western counterparts, are less reliable and, for passengers, less comfortable. After the Cold War, the government tried to keep Russian airliner manufacturers going. This included subsidies and development of new, Western style, aircraft. This was an admission that the Cold War era planes were not competitive, or safe. But hundreds of Tu-134s, An-24s and Tu-154s were allowed to keep flying, for cost reasons. This will remain the case for the Tu-154s. But the flying public in Russia is fed up with risking their lives in Soviet era aircraft.
In Dagestan, three Islamic terrorists were killed when they tried to fight their way past a roadblock.
July 13, 2011: Russia and the United States agreed to dispose of 34 tons of nuclear bomb material (enough for 17,000 weapons) by converting it to fuel for nuclear power plants.
July 12, 2011: In Ingushetia, two policemen were wounded when their patrol car was fired on.