February 17, 2012: Anti-corruption efforts in the military are uncovering more problems, causing incidents of known corruption to increase. Last year, 144 commanders were prosecuted for stealing cash and other assets under their control. The use of violence against troops by officers was also on the rise. In 2010, a third of such known cases were by officers, while last year it was half. On the plus side, 16 percent fewer crimes (of all types) by troops were reported last year. The exception was cases of violence ("hazing") by soldiers against other soldiers. That continues to increase, despite years of efforts to curb it.
The Russian Orthodox Church has openly backed Vladimir Putin in the presidential elections on March 4th. The church sees Putin as a patron of the church (which is very nationalistic) and the politician who has restored order to Russia. Meanwhile, the anti-Putin demonstrations continue to show up all over the country. Police are ordered to arrest suspected ringleaders but in fact just grab a few protestors at random. The protests are motivated by the perception that the December 4th parliament elections were rigged to favor Vladimir Putin's party and that the March presidential elections will go the same way. Current polls give Putin 53 percent of the popular vote. Putin has been making all the right moves, promising goodies to his core supporters (government employees, retirees, and blue collar workers) and promising solutions to key problems (corruption and declining population). Putin has improved the standard of living for these people and reduced a lot of the more violent corruption that hurt them the most. The opposition is mainly the better educated and the new middle class, who are outnumbered in their campaign to achieve clean and more efficient government.
The navy has decided to cancel the Lada class diesel-electric submarine. This was the 1990s successor to the Kilo class, and it was determined that there was not enough difference between the Lada and the improved Kilos being built. One Lada was built and another is under construction.
February 15, 2012: The government reported that terrorism attacks fell by more than half last year, from 779 in 2010 to 365 last year. In 2011 some 300 gang leaders in the Caucasus were killed and thousands of terrorists and gangsters arrested.
February 13, 2012: In the Caucasus, on the border of Chechnya and Dagestan, a police patrol encountered a group of Islamic terrorists. Three policemen were killed and six wounded in the gun battle. The Islamic terrorists got away, with unknown casualties. The next day, an Islamic terrorist leader was found dead in the forest, apparently because of wounds received earlier in a clash with the police.
February 10, 2012: In the Caucasus, four Islamic terrorists and one soldier were killed during a search for Islamic radicals.
February 9, 2012: The navy announced that two new Borei class SSBN (ballistic missile equipped nuclear subs) would enter service this Summer. This was made possible by the recent completion of tests for the new Bulava ballistic missile for the Boreis. Bulava was delayed several years because of technical problems.
February 4, 2012: Russia (along with China) used their UN veto to block an Arab League plan to aid rebels in Syria. This earned Russia and China a great deal of hostility in the Arab world. But Russia and China believed the veto was their best option because of the many things the two neighbors have in common. Russia and China are both hostile to popular revolutions, mainly because China is still a communist police state and Russia has, for centuries, abhorred any kind of "disorder." Both nations still hold Cold War era beliefs that the Western democracies are always plotting to overthrow the "strong" governments of Russia and China and replace them with weak, pro-Western democracies. Russia and China also feel an obligation to support other dictatorships, like Syria. Professional courtesy, so to speak. In the case of Arab states China and Russia fear that any elected government will be dominated by Islamic radicals. China and Russia both have problems with Islamic radicals.