September 30, 2011: The Islamic terrorism in the Caucasus has resisted two decades of vigorous efforts to stamp it out. Half of Russia's 20 million Moslems (14 percent of the Russian population) live in this area. These religious and ethnic differences have long made the region unruly. In fact, it was the criminal behavior that spilled over into non-Moslem Russia that sent Russian troops into the Caucasus initially, over two centuries ago. But that was then, and this is now, and the problems remain the same. It's worse, as Islamic conservatives worldwide have adopted plight of the "oppressed Moslems of the Caucasus" and sent lots of cash, and a small number of volunteers, to keep the fight going. Yet the Moslem problems in the Caucasus are largely self-inflicted. Ethnic (there are dozens of different groups) and clan animosity has generated endless violence in the region for thousands of years. Corrupt forms of rule make it difficult to build a modern economy or efficient government. The violence against rulers is considered an honored tradition in the region. If the Russians left, the violence would continue, against less distant neighbors. Meanwhile, increasingly energetic Russian efforts to half the violence are being stalled by external support from the larger Moslem world.
Current prime minister Vladimir Putin has succeeded in returning Russia to one man rule. Although elected president in 2008, he changed the rules since then to make effective political opposition impossible. Putin follows some of the rules, and had his crony (current president Dmitry Medvedev) elected in 2008, because the constitution limits presidents to two consecutive terms at a time. But now Putin says he will run for president again next year. Medvedev is currently the heir apparent. Putin and his cronies are taking advantage of the fact that Russians have never had a functioning democracy (except for a short period in the 1990s) and are more interested in order and prosperity. Putin has provided more of that, and as long as he continues to do so, there won't be any massive opposition. To ensure this, Putin has rebuilt many aspects of the Soviet police state. Yet, there are still a lot of democrats among senior government officials. If Putin cannot work out deals with these democrats, he freezes them out of government service.
Desperate to improve morale in the army, the government has ordered that the troops be served better food. For over a century, the army diet was heavy, literally, with soups and carbohydrates. This stuff has become even less popular since 1991, when fast foods, and many new dishes, were introduced to the Russian diet. New recruits are appalled at the primitive, and unfamiliar, army cuisine, and this contributes to the poor performance of the troops.
The government admitted that rumors of a recent ICBM test failure were true. The new missile is a secret design effort, and includes new technology for defeating anti-missile systems.
September 29, 2011: Russia announced that it would cease ordering new AK-74 assault rifles. Russia has been ordering AK type assault rifles for over half a century, but the army has shrunk to less than a million troops, and stocks of existing AKs number ten million. Moreover, the military is investigating new rifle designs.
September 28, 2011: In Dagestan, Islamic terrorist car bomb attack killed a policeman and seven civilians.
September 27, 2011: Neighboring Moldava dismissed the commander of its army, for getting involved in an illegal shipment of weapons to Libyan rebels.
September 22, 2011: In Dagestan, two Islamic terror attacks left three dead and over 60 wounded.
September 21, 2011: Off the Russian Pacific coast (Avachin Bay on the Kamchatka Peninsula), a large fishing boat collided with a Russian nuclear submarine in the dark. Both vessels were lightly damaged. Port authorities ran down the fishing boat, which had fled the scene, and found that the captain was drunk, and at the wheel, when the accident occurred.
September 19, 2011: The investigation of a June 20 crash of a commercial airliner (that killed 47) revealed that one reason for the accident was that the navigator was drunk, and there was a lot of fog.
September 18, 2011: In Dagestan, an FSB (state intelligence service) commander was killed by a gunman, who escaped.
September 17, 2011: Police in Ingushetia killed one Islamic terrorist and arrested another.
September 16, 2011: Three Chechen Islamic terrorists were killed in Turkey, and two of them were later identified as suspects in a terror bombing in Moscow last February. The three were killed by another Russian, who was believed to be a Russian agent and assassin. This man escaped Turkish police and apparently fled the country.
September 13, 2011: Iran and Russia have agreed to jointly build a $1.2 billion zinc mining complex. Russia is also negotiating to build a second nuclear power plant for Iran. There are also talks on selling Iran military equipment that is not banned by current arms embargos.