December 28, 2012: The government announced that another $80 billion would be spent on its space program over the rest of the decade. The government had been spending about $4 billion a year on space programs, but that will now more than double. This will mean more research on cheaper, more modern, and cost effective satellite launchers.
The government gives a lot of publicity to major corruption investigations but not to the local misbehavior by police and officials that directly impact so many Russians. Taking on the local corruption would be a huge task, made more difficult by the fact that local police and officials are how the government monitors and controls the largest country in the world. As long as the corrupt cops and officials keep it small scale and local, and do not do anything that would attract international media attention, they are left alone.
December 27, 2012: President Putin signed into law a ban on Americans from adopting Russian orphans. This is in retaliation for American criticism of Russian treatment (including murder) of Russian critics of their government. While the adoptions have been great for the 60,000 orphans adopted by Americans in the last two decades, it angered Russian nationalists who were offended by the “exporting of Russian children.” The problem is that there are ten orphans available for adoption for every Russian couple willing to adopt. The ban was enacted specifically in retaliation for a recent American law that calls for sanctions on any Russian official who violates human rights. This is directed at Russian officials involved with injuring or killing pro-reform Russians. President Putin has, over the last decade, been turning Russia into a police state again, and those who object are treated as enemies of the state and sometimes end up dead.
December 26, 2012: In the Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkaria) three Islamic terrorists, including a much-sought-after leader, were cornered and killed. In nearby North Ossetia a senior Moslem cleric was shot dead.
December 25, 2012: In the Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkaria) gunmen murdered a senior politician. It’s unclear if this was done by Islamic terrorists or gangsters.
December 24, 2012: Russia openly warned Hafez Assad, the embattled dictator of Syria, that it would be “political suicide” if he used chemical weapons on the increasingly powerful rebels. Russia has long been an ally of Assad but lately has backed away. Russia has told Assad that he cannot seek refuge in Russia but that Russia would help move him to any other country that would have him. Russian officials are now openly admitting that Assad is apparently losing to the rebels. Russia is also working with long-time Assad patron Iran to try and work out some kind of deal that would leave a new government in Syria that was pro-Russia and pro-Syria. This seems unlikely to happen.
December 17, 2012: India signed a deal to buy $2.9 billion worth of Russian arms, including 71 helicopters and 42 jet fighters. India has been a major customer for Russian weapons for over half a century.
December 16, 2012: The government said it would spend an additional $6 billion a year for the next 13 years on infrastructure and other economic projects in the Caucasus. High unemployment has been a major cause of unrest and Islamic terrorism down there, but the rampant corruption by local officials (which also spurs the unrest) may make it difficult to spend all that money effectively.
December 15, 2012: Some 2,000 pro-reform Russians showed up in Moscow for an unauthorized demonstration. The leaders were arrested and later said they expected to resume large scale demonstrations (approved or otherwise) when the warm weather returned. Russia is currently undergoing its coldest weather in over 70 years. Meanwhile, the government has nearly tripled the pay of the secret police (the Investigative Committee, often compared to the American FBI but in Russia it spends most of its times going after reform minded Russians). The 78,000 employees will now receive, on average, $2,600 a month (about three times the average wage in Russia).