Russia: Cheap Thrills And Other Delights

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July 4, 2013: There are still hundreds of weapons factories and research facilities in the countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. Most of these operations went bankrupt in the 1990s, because their largest customer (the Soviet Union) was no more and the successor states were no longer ordering much. Russia is now buying up a lot of these old facilities on the cheap. Some are in fairly good shape and could be used again, but in a few cases buying these old properties simply provides the local governments with a financial boost and some gratitude towards Russia. Since the 1990s, Russia has been going after these old plants, especially those that are still producing things Russia can use.

The government campaign against political dissidents and anti-corruption groups continues. While demonstrations are still held in urban areas, they are usually declared unauthorized and dozens of participants (especially those believed to be organizers) arrested. Leaders of these groups are being prosecuted and sent to prison. For centuries this was how the czarist government handled what it considered dissent. The government is also continuing with its program of shutting down foreign and local NGO (non-governmental organization) advocacy and charitable groups.

July 2, 2013: At the Soviet era Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, a Russian Proton-M rocket exploded ten seconds after launch, destroying three Glonass (Russian GPS) satellites it was carrying. This cost Russia over $200 million and further blemished the reliability of Russian space launches. The satellites, being state property, were not insured so the total loss comes out of government funds.

July 1, 2013: Russia handed over the last of three 4,000 ton frigates India ordered (for $1.6 billion) in 2006. India has received six of these Talwar class frigates in the last two decades. The last three have numerous improvements over the first three. India is not ordering anymore warships from Russia, as it has developed the capability to build what it needs locally.

June 27, 2013: Russia has withdrawn its military and most of its civilian personnel from the Syrian port of Tartus and turned their naval support facilities there (a few buildings and a pier for Russian warships to tie up next to) over to Syrian caretakers. While Russia makes much of its newly established Mediterranean naval task force, these ships will not be using Tartus for supplies or maintenance for a while.

June 26, 2013: In Azerbaijan a military parade was held in the capital for Armed Forces Day and for the first time the newly acquired Russian Buk-M1 self-propelled anti-aircraft systems were displayed.

June 24, 2013: A Russian Soyuz satellite launcher took off from the European Space Agency space port in French Guiana (South America), carrying four communications satellites (for high speed Internet access). This was the fifth launch of a Soyuz rocket from the French Guiana facility.

June 21, 2013: A deal was signed with China to sell them $270 billion worth of Russian oil over the next 25 years. The Russian oil company supplying the oil is receiving an upfront payment of $70 billion. In a separate deal, China bought a 20 percent stake in a large natural gas field off the north coast of Russia.

June 18, 2013: In Central Russia (near the city of Chapayevsk) a fire began in an ammo storage base, forcing the evacuation of over 7,000 people. One person was killed and three dozen wounded. It took over a week to put the fire out.

June 17, 2013: In the south (Ingushetia) a terrorist bomb wounded two soldiers.

Russia and the United States have signed an agreement to cooperate in suppressing hacking attacks on each other.

 

 

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