The Rise of the Russian Empire: Russo-Armenian Relations

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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:45 am

Russia flexes military muscle, evoking cold war posturing

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Russia and Georgia spar over a missile firing. The US responded in muted fashion after Russian bombers flew over Guam. The Russia of President Vladimir Putin has taken a number of provocative military steps in recent days, creating concern about how the US and Europe should engage with a country that also has a vital role to play in Middle East peacemaking and the nuclear standoff with Iran.

On Tuesday, Georgia said a Russian jet fired a missile at a radar installation in the country's disputed South Ossetia region, which its president alleged was part of an intimidation campaign by a Russia that, as the Soviet Union, once ruled many of its neighbors, reports Reuters. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said the missile, which did not explode, was part of a pattern of Russian aggression against its neighbors across Europe and urged European states to condemn Moscow.

"This is not Georgia's problem. This is a problem for European security and safety," Saakashvili said in English after traveling to the village where the missile landed. Russia has responded by saying Georgia is lying about the incident, though the US is siding with Georgia, an ally that has sent troops to the war in Iraq, reports the Associated Press. On Saturday, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov insisted Georgia had faked the incident to prevent a planned meeting of a commission of South Ossetian and Georgian authorities to discuss the decade-long standoff over the region's status.

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"The authors of this theatrical presentation achieved their main goal — they ruined the meeting," he said.

Georgia's Foreign Ministry said records from radars compatible with NATO standards showed that a Russian Su-24 jet had flown into Georgia and launched a missile. Investigators identified the weapon as a Russian-made Raduga Kh-58 missile, designed to hit radars, the ministry said. Georgia accuses Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia of backing the separatists, and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has vowed to bring the region back under central government control. In a reflection of Russia's clout, the United Nation's Security Council has refused to meet Georgia's request for an emergency meeting on the alleged attack, saying it needs more information, Reuters reports. In the absence of any information, the council members considered we should await the results of any inquiry, in particular the one by the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) ... before taking any decision," (Council President Pascal Gayama of Congo Republic) told reporters.

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Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia, one of five veto-holding powers on the council, said: "This thing has to be thoroughly investigated first."

"We do not see any reason for holding such a Security Council meeting right now because there is nothing on the table. We have to have facts," said another Russian official, who asked not to be identified.

In an editorial, The Washington Post argues the Russians have a strong hand when it comes to UN actions. The missile incident disturbingly resembles a March incident in which a missile was fired at a government building in Abkhazia, a Georgian territory that is home to pro-Russian rebels. Then, too, the evidence pointed to Russian aggression, but a United Nations report stopped short of blaming Russia – probably because the Russians had to sign off on the document. Meanwhile, the Russians admit they've taken a more confrontational approach in another area in a move that harks back to the cold war games of chicken played between Soviet and US pilots, the British Broadcasting Corp. reports.

Two Tu-95 turboprop [bombers] flew this week to Guam, home to a big US military base, Russian Maj Gen Pavel Androsov said.

They "exchanged smiles" with US pilots who scrambled to track them, he added.

"It has always been the tradition of our long-range aviation to fly far into the ocean, to meet [US] aircraft carriers and greet [US pilots] visually," he said at a news conference.

"Yesterday [Wednesday] we revived this tradition, and two of our young crews paid a visit to the area of the base of Guam," he said.

The US response to that incident has, so far, been muted, The Washington Post reports. U.S. defense officials in Washington said Thursday that the Russian move in the Pacific was not seen as a provocation but that it did get attention. U.S. forces -- including 22,000 troops, 30 ships and 275 aircraft -- are working alongside Japanese forces in the waters near Guam this week as part of a massive war game dubbed Exercise Valiant Shield. Nevertheless, Russia's increasing military assertiveness is leaving US policymakers in a quandary. The country, which was at one time building a nuclear plant in Iran but has since suspended construction, has been closer to US views on handling that issue lately.

But analysts say the country's help on that front also comes as it maneuvers for a freer hand in areas it considers to be in its sphere of influence, like Georgia or Kosovo, where Russia has been backing Serbia's opposition to independence, and limiting the expansion of NATO. The Washington Times reports that a booming economy is convincing Russia to assert itself. The resurgence of nationalism reflects the popular feeling that the United States and the West exploited Russia's weakness after the Soviet collapse and the fact that the Kremlin's coffers are now bulging because of energy revenue, according to Ariel Cohen, a Russia specialist at the Heritage Foundation.

"Flush with cash, Russia today is constantly looking for avenues to boost its geopolitical muscle," he said. "That has translated into some very ambitious strategic programs."

Anatole Kaletsky, a Russian-born senior columnist for The Times of London says Putin has felt backed into a corner by the moves of the US and its allies and that he's turning the tables by taking actions that may appear provocative to outsiders but are generally popular at home. Mr Putin faces a difficult transition from his present position as a wildly popular czarist-style absolute ruler to some kind of power behind the throne – a kingmaker or political puppeteer possibly modelled on Deng Xiaoping, of China, or Lee Kuan Yew, of Singapore, but with no real parallel in Russian history. In managing this unprecedented transition, nothing is more useful to Mr Putin than his image as the first national leader since Stalin who could stand up for Russia's interests against an inherently hostile world. This is why all the EU's complaints about neo-imperialist bullying of Poland and Estonia, all the lectures from President Bush about democracy and all the admonitions about human rights from Mrs Merkel are water off a duck's back to President Putin.

Why is hostility to the West so popular in Russia? … US and European behavior has consistently treated Russia more as an enemy than an ally. Russia has been told it could never join Nato or the EU and Mr Putin's invitation to G8 summits is scant consolation for the denial of WTO membership and the continuation of US trade sanctions dating back to the Cold War. On human rights and extrajudicial assassinations, Russia's record may be deplorable, but its abuses pale in comparison with those of Western friends such as Saudi Arabia and China, not to mention President Bush's "boil them in oil" ally, Uzbekistan.

Source: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0812/p99s01-duts.htm
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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:47 am

Russia's Cossacks rise again

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The Cossacks play an increasingly important role in Russia. Their disciplined way of life, patriotism, large families and commitment to work, are seen by many politicians as a model that could help resolve many of Russia's problems. For this, they receive support from the very top.

The village of Varennikovskoye is home to some 300 Cossacks and their families. The local leader, "Ataman" Viktor Vasilyevich, received me with open arms. He was dressed in traditional Cossack costume, which includes a full-length black coat, a sheepskin hat and a sword. He oozed authority, and it was immediately clear that he was held in deep respect by his family and the other villagers. Cossack family life is a rigid, hierarchical system in which the eldest man's word is law. Unashamedly, the Ataman explained that Cossack families should be as large as possible. He introduced me to one of his own sons, already the father of seven children.

Orthodox beliefs

One of his grandsons was boxing in the village gym - a converted bar. He said being a good Cossack was someone who "took responsibility" for his family and their well-being. Just 11 years old, he was already used to hard physical work on the farm.

Cossack family

Cossack families are large and their values simple and rigid
Cossack family values are simple, rigid, and to a Western eye, seem to come from another era. The men build the home and provide an income; the women cook, clean and give birth to children. Traditional Russian values, culture, and Orthodoxy form the bedrock of their beliefs.

Ataman Viktor asserted that the village was welcoming to people of other faiths, including Muslims. But, he warned, they would only be accepted as long as they recognised the pre-eminence of Orthodox customs and beliefs. The alternative, he made clear, was expulsion. Two families had already been "dealt with" in this way. Varennikovskoye had previously been a large collective farm, part of the agricultural system that Stalin imposed on the Soviet Union in the 1930s. That disastrous policy led to millions of deaths from famine and decades of food shortages.

Agricultural success

Things are very different in Russia now. Agricultural land cannot be privately owned, but it can be leased in flexible ways that put individuals and their families or companies in charge of sometimes large areas. This is how the Ataman and his sons had come to work thousands of hectares of land. They have made a big success of it, with the family owning several large houses and appearing materially comfortable. Communism, they say, was an alien belief forced on Russia by foreigners. He was referring to Karl Marx.

Buying and selling, and taking responsibility for one's own welfare, they added, were an intrinsic part of their way of life. Before we sat down to a table laden with food, Ataman Viktor recited the Lord's Prayer in Old Church Slavonic. There was no alcohol on the table, something unusual in Russia, town or country. As I was told, a Cossack found drinking in this village would face a whipping. This was the village's exemplary way of dealing with the rampant alcoholism that blights life in much of the Russian countryside. In another Cossack village, Zelenaya Roshcha, the local leader was overseeing the construction of an Orthodox church, financed by donations. The village also had an amateur Cossack choir, which was always delighted to perform for visitors.

In the blistering heat, they came out into the street in traditional regalia, to entertain us with Russian folk songs. They sang wonderfully. Cossack values are deeply conservative, a mix of self-reliance, fervent patriotism and belief in discipline and authority. As I prepared to leave, Ataman Viktor told me he would like to see the Tsar return to Russia. When I asked him if he could suggest any candidates, he told me there was "only one". President Vladimir Putin, he said, had proved himself as a potential Tsar, by bringing order and the start of Russia's long-awaited national revival.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6937562.stm
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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:49 am

Ever since Putin stepped on their "Arctic" toe, Canadians have begun to act stupid. Does Canada actually think that setting up two bases in the region is going to deter the Russian Federation? Nonetheless, perhaps the article below is accurate in stating that Putin is preparing for a Third World War. What is also clear, however, is the fact that the initiators of the impending global war is not the Russian Federation.

Armenian

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Canadian Perspective: Putin Preparing for World War III

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Russia's President and former KGB agent, Vladimir "Mr. Polonium" Putin has been on a roll lately. In the past several months, he has been accused of masterminding the death of a former KGB agent, he's told the Queen of England to stick her complaints up her royal behind and he has completed the trifecta by conquering Antarctica. The Antarctica is rich in resources and the world simply can not allow this communist to declare it Russian territory. Worst of all, the Russians have even planted their ugly flag at the North Pole! I think I speak for all Canadians when I say, "Back off Rusky!"

We don't mind when we hear the old communist poke fun at England and their ridiculous "Queen." We don't mind when they take care of internal matters by assassinating their own people. But when they take aim at Santa's abode and the rich resources of Antarctica, Canada should begin to plan countermeasures. First of all, purely from a psychological warfare perspective, we can not allow these communists (yes, they are still commies!) to blatantly attack our children's sense of joy. Planting a flag at the North Pole signals their intent on spreading malicious propaganda aimed at Canadian children by claiming that Santa Claus is a Russian commie who spreads joy by "sharing" toys with children around the world. This will destroy the spirit of Christmas and also harm the commercialization of this great holiday.

The evil Russians are also attempting to scoop up all the rich resources which can be found in Antarctica. This is unacceptable. Canada should send out a strong warning message to Russia by classifying them as a rogue state. And we must support neighbouring countries and demonize Russia for the evil commies that they are and for their attack on our children and future resources.

Source: http://www.harrynads.com/Putin-Prepares-For-World-War-III
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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:53 am

President/Dictator of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf finally admits what has been common knowledge since the mid 90s, namely that Pakistani authorities have been supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan. What he did not admit, however, is also a well known fact that the Pakistani intelligence apparatus the ISI, along with the CIA and most probably Saudi Arabia, set up and financed the Taliban movement in Afghanistan during the mid 90s.

Was it done to fight the Soviets? Obviously no, for the Soviets were comprehensively defeated and withdrew several years prior, and by the mid 90s the Soviet Union did not even exists anymore. Nevertheless, upon expelling the Soviets in the late 80s Afghanistan had a chance to build a nation once again. This chance was destroyed when Pakistan's ISI decided to set-up Al-Qaeda type organizations within Afghanistan's political vacuum. The Pashtuns of Afghanistan that had cultural/tribal ties with Pakistan were naturally used towards that purpose. Afghans today, especially the Tadjiks of northern Afghanistan, hate and fear Pakistan authorities.

The legendary Tadjik leader the late Ahmad Masood, a staunch Afghan nationalist known as the lion of Panshir, knew of the depth and severity of Pakistan's involvement in the Taliban movement and in the so-called "AL-Qaeda" organization. The Masood lead Tadjiks of the Northern Alliance were the only opposition the Taliban/Al-Qaeda had in Afghanistan. What's more, during the early part of the year 2001 Masood traveled to Western Europe and the United States to express his deep concerns about the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and Pakistan's involvement within the two, he attempted to warn officials of an impending disaster. However, he was ignored by the main-stream media and politicians alike. It is interesting to note here that Masood was assassinated in northern Afghanistan just two days prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US. It is also interesting to note that Masood was at the time moving closer to the Russian Federation and Iran, whom he had asked for direct support in fighting the Taliban.

Nevertheless, Afghan Tadjiks to this day claim that the assassination of the great nationalist leader was an operation conducted by Pakistani intelligence. It is also claimed that Massood was taken out so that he would not pose a challenge to what was to come, the invasion several months later of Afghanistan by the "Forces of Freedom."

Armenian

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Taliban backed in Pakistan

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(Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf)

General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, made a rare admission that Taliban fighters in Afghanistan were benefiting from support inside his country as Afghanistan and Pakistan on Sunday vowed to work harder to tackle extremism. The pledges came at the end of a four-day, US-backed meeting of Pashtun leaders from both countries. Dubbed the “Peace Jirga” after the name given to traditional meetings by the Pashtun tribes who live on both sides of the border, the meeting was conceived and pushed for by Washington as a way to secure better co-operation between Kabul and Islamabad. Gen Musharraf struck a blow to the meeting last week when at the last minute he abandoned plans to attend opening ceremonies. He and Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, have also had testy exchanges in the past about what some see as Taliban safe havens in Pakistan’s frontier provinces.

But Gen Musharraf – under increasing political pressure from Islamists at home – said yesterday the countries needed to do more to fight terrorism. “There is no other option for both countries other than peace and unity, trust and co-operation,” he told the closing session of the jirga. Pakistan has in the past denied Taliban fighters were finding safe haven in its tribal areas. But Gen Musharraf said yesterday: “There is no doubt Afghan militants are supported from Pakistan soil. The problem that you have in your region is because support is provided from our side.”

The two governments have made similar pledges to work together in the past. However, supporters of the jirga said the difference this time lay in the involvement of elected and civil society representatives including tribal leaders and community elders. The governments’ promise to refuse to allow sanctuaries to terrorists was also endorsed by jirga representatives who recommended tribal communities in the affected areas become responsible for ensuring this. A joint declaration adopted by the jirga earlier recognised terrorism as a common threat, emphasised the need for a war on terror and pledged: “[The] government and people of Afghanistan and Pakistan will not allow sanctuaries/training centres for terrorists in their respective countries.” The declaration emphasised mutual respect, non-interference and peaceful co-existence and called for a war against drug trafficking as well as for economic development of the affected areas.

Source: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2b8a8cd6-48ed-11dc-b326-0000779fd2ac.html

Additional news relating to Pakistan:

Russia blocks deliveries of Chinese fighters to Pakistan

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(JF-17 is a Chinese built multi-role all weather fighter recently acquired by the Pakistani Air Force)

Russia is not allowing China to re-export its RD-93 engines for Chinese-made fighters to Pakistan, an Indian newspaper said Monday on its website. Beijing concluded a contract with Moscow in 1992 for supplies of a 100 RD-93 engines with options for another 400 to equip its JF-17 Thunder fighters, jointly developed with Pakistan. Pakistan has announced that it could procure 150-300 aircraft to meet the tactical and strategic needs of its Air Force, but India, concerned over Islamabad's growing military potential, has asked Russia, its close ally, to "freeze" the deal, the Indian Express daily said. Russia, whose military cooperation with India has been bogged down by a number of sensitive issues, such as a delay in the overhaul of the Gorshkov aircraft carrier and a price escalation with the Su-30 MKI contract, informed China last year that re-exporting RD-93 engines was not allowed without Moscow's permission. However, Beijing went ahead and delivered two RD-93 equipped JF-17 fighters to Pakistan in March 2007 prompting India to protest the deal as a violation of the end-user agreement between Russia and China. The Indian Express said the two fighters had since been returned to China following Russian pressure, and Moscow would officially inform India of its decision to prohibit Beijing from re-exporting RD-93 engines during high-level defense talks in late August, when India's National Security Advisor M K Narayanan arrives in Russia for a visit. Pakistan is supposed to start its own serial production of JF-17 fighters in 2008.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/world/20070813/71188324.html
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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:56 am

Abkhazia in geopolitical game in the Caucasus

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Fifteen years ago, on August 14, 1992, one of the worst ethnic conflicts in the Caucasus - between Georgia and Abkhazia - developed into a full-scale war, which lasted for 14 months. Its main results were: 8,000 dead on both sides; $11.3 billion worth of economic damage; a changed ethno-demographic situation in Abkhazia: the Georgians have become an ethnic minority (in different estimates, between 150,000-200,000 Georgians were displaced; Georgia puts the figure at 300,000); Abkhazia's ethno-demographic losses in 1992-1993 were comparable to the Muhajirism of the 1860-1870s.

It would be no exaggeration to say that today the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia is playing the biggest role in a major geopolitical game in the Caucasus. The Abkhazian issue is the main bone of contention between Russia and Georgia. Pro-Abkhazian sentiments of some part of the Russian military and political establishment are conducive to Georgia's pro-Western course, which is also influencing Russia's chief political ally in the Greater Caucasus - Armenia. De jure, Abkhazia is part of Georgia. De facto, Georgian sovereignty does not extend to the territory from the Psou River to the Inguri River. The Abkhazian leaders do not control only a small part of the republic in the upper reaches of the Kodori River. Until July 2006, Georgia did not control it, either. But now Tbilisi is trying to turn this hard-to-access area into a bridgehead.

Georgia's military defeat in 1993 was not limited to geopolitical losses (Georgia lost 12.5% of its territory and 200 km of the Black Sea coast). As distinct from South Ossetia, it led to the massive Georgian exodus from Abkhazia. In different estimates, about 200,000 Georgians left Abkhazia. The Abkhazian leaders were ready to discuss the refugees -- the most urgent problem for Georgia. They merely wanted to sort out those Georgians who fought against Abkhazia in 1992-1993. Abkhazia has repeatedly voiced apprehensions that the return of the Georgian refugees and a change in the ethno-demographic balance in their favor might result in a new ethnic purge, this time by Georgia. The Abkhazian leaders were particularly concerned over the return of the Georgian (Mengrel) refugees to the predominantly Georgian Galsky region - as of 1989, Georgians accounted for 93% of its population. They have repeatedly rejected the idea of the "broadest possible autonomy" under Georgian jurisdiction. Until 1992, Abkhazia had all attributes of autonomy de jure, and the Abkhazians consider return to the autonomous status no more than idle talk.

In its approach to both the South Ossetian and Abkhazian problems, the team of the incumbent Georgian president is trying to change the format of these inter-ethnic conflicts and turn them into a Russian-Georgian issue. The ultimate goal of this transformation is to internationalize the problem and deprive Russia of its status of an exclusive guarantor of ethno-political stability in Abkhazia. Mikheil Saakashvili named the United States, Ukraine and Turkey as potential co-sponsors of the peace process.

We believe that under the circumstances, the most rational decision is to delay all issues pertaining to the republic's status until the settlement of major humanitarian problems (education, medical treatment, conduct of business, free movement and contacts between Georgians and Abkhazians). Only after progress is achieved in their resolution, it will be possible to discuss Abkhazia's status. This plan may seem cynical but this is the only chance to avoid re-division of property and spheres of influence and escalation of inter-ethnic tensions in Abkhazia. Russia and the United States could guarantee the immunity of property and power in Abkhazia. Obviously, the Abkhazian elite, which have been propelled to their current position by the military victory in 1993, will be ready to discuss the republic's status with Georgia only after receiving guarantees of keeping the acquired resources and administrative rents. In this way Russia will ensure peace and stability in its southern frontiers.

Sergei Markedonov is head of the ethnic relations department at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20070813/71171789.html
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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:57 am

Russia strategic aviation holds exercise over Pacific, Atlantic

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Units of the 37th Air Army of the Strategic Command have begun tactical exercises with test launches of cruise missiles over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, an Air Force spokesman said Tuesday. "In all, over 30 Tu-95 Bear-H strategic bombers, Tu-22 Backfire-C theater bombers and Il-78 Midas will be conducting flights August 14," Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky said. "During the exercises, the crews will test launch cruise missiles over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and fly to the North Pole." The exercises, which will run through August 18, are held under the command of Major-General Pavel Androsov, the commander of the Russian Air Force's long-range aviation. According to various sources, the Russian Air Force currently deploys 141 Tu-22 Backfire-C theater bombers, 40 Tu-95 Bear-H strategic bombers, and 14 Tu-160 Blackjack.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20070814/71405929.html
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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:58 am

The continuning attempts at sabotaging the forward momentum of the Russian Federation.

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Russia train blast spurs terror inquiry

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A device was placed just before a bridge in a bid to send the high-speed Nevsky Express crashing into a ravine, officials say.

Russian prosecutors launched a terrorism investigation Tuesday of a bomb explosion that derailed an express train, overturning carriages and injuring 60 people. An improvised device was placed under the rails just before a bridge in an effort to make the prestigious Nevsky Express crash into a narrow ravine, which could have caused many more casualties, authorities said. The high-speed train between Moscow and St. Petersburg, frequently used by businesspeople, foreign tourists, politicians and government officials, was traveling about 120 mph when it derailed Monday evening.

Television video showed a 6-foot-wide crater in the gravel rail bed, a broken rail and several cars lying on their sides. The bomb was equivalent to about 6 pounds of TNT, investigators said. Twenty-five of those hurt were hospitalized, five with grave injuries, authorities said. All of those hospitalized were reported to be Russian citizens. At the moment of the blast, which hit the front of the train, "our electric locomotive jumped up immediately and glass started flying," Alexei Fedotov, the engine driver, said on state-run television.

"Of course, we were deafened. But we applied emergency braking and cut off electric power to the engine. Then our cabin roof simply flew away."

The blast occurred near the town of Malaya Vishera, about 300 miles northwest of Moscow. Law enforcement authorities said investigators had found wires that might have been used to trigger the explosion.

"The electrical wires, the so-called noodles, were discovered not far from the site of the explosion, in a ravine where the man who connected them must have been," an investigator told the Interfax news agency. Residents had seen suspicious men in the area in the last few days, authorities added. Composite drawings of two suspects had been prepared by Tuesday evening, Russian media reported. Politicians and analysts suggested that the attack could be linked to separatist rebels in Chechnya or other Islamic militants in southern Russia's troubled Caucasus region. Some Kremlin critics expressed concern that it could be a provocation aimed at influencing Russian politics, perhaps to offer President Vladimir V. Putin a pretext to remain in power.

A suicide bombing on a commuter train in southern Russia killed 44 people Dec. 5, 2003, two days before Russian parliamentary elections. Two months later, a device exploded on a subway car in Moscow, killing 41 people. Both incidents were blamed on Chechen separatists. Nikolai P. Patrushev, head of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the domestic successor to the Soviet-era KGB, said at an anti-terrorism meeting that Monday's incident meant security measures against extremists and terrorists must be strengthened in the run-up to parliamentary elections in December and a March presidential election in which a successor to Putin is expected to be chosen. Russia's Constitution requires Putin to step down next spring, at the end of his second term.

"Special responsibility lies with the anti-terrorist commissions in Russia's regions that . . . must provide for taking exhaustive measures to ensure reliable anti-sabotage and anti-terrorist protection of potentially vulnerable facilities, infrastructure and places crowded with people," Patrushev said in televised remarks. Irina Alexandrova, a train attendant, told state-run television that she believed the train's speed had carried it over the 60-foot-high bridge, and that if it had been traveling more slowly it might have fallen off.

"We were thrown about from side to side," Vyacheslav Zinurov, a popular singer who was in a carriage near the end of the train, said in a televised interview.

"Then the wagon swerved to the left. Dust and stones were flying about. Some people fell on the floor, but then they all got up. They were consumed with fear, having no understanding of what was going on. The train came to a stop, and the attendant came in and shouted, 'Is everybody alive?' "

An explosion that derailed a train bound from Chechnya to Moscow on June 12, 2005, was triggered with electrical wires and a battery, Interfax said. Chechen separatists were initially suspected in that blast, which seriously injured eight people. But two Russian nationalists were convicted in connection with the bombing and sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison. Igor Klyamkin, vice president of the Liberal Mission Foundation, a Moscow think tank, expressed concern that Monday's blast could have been staged by people who want to create a crisis to encourage Putin to change the constitution and stay on for a third term. Putin has sufficient support in parliament and among the public to make such a course plausible, many observers say. He has stated repeatedly that he intends to step down.

"The tense factional struggle within the Kremlin as to who should succeed Putin as president makes it quite believable that we could be dealing with a provocation resulting from this fierce struggle at the top echelons of power," Klyamkin said.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-fg-train15aug15,1,476316.story?coll=la-news-a_section

Russian held over 'deaths' video

A man who says he posted a video on the internet which appears to show the murder of two men, has surrendered to Russian police, reports say. The man was being questioned in the town of Maikop, in southern Russia, officials told Russian media. The video apparently shows two men being killed, execution-style, by far-right extremists. A group calling itself the National Socialists of Rus says it carried out the attack. Russian police are investigating the authenticity of the video.

Attacks on foreigners

The suspect is reportedly a young man who is a follower of far right-wing ideas. He is not suspected of producing the material but of distributing it over the internet, a Russian interior ministry official was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying. The clip, which was posted on some websites, shows one man apparently being beheaded and the other shot. One was from Russia's southern republic of Dagestan and the other from Tajikistan, captions on the video say. Violence against people from the Caucasus and from central Asian and other foreign countries has been increasing in Russia in recent years. Russian interior ministry spokeswoman Irina Zubareva told RIA Novosti news agency that the video was posted on websites hosted by servers in foreign countries. Relevant information had already been sent to the authorities in those countries, she added.

Heavy metal

The video, which has been removed from some of the websites which earlier hosted it, shows the alleged killings to a soundtrack of heavy metal music. The two men have had their arms and legs bound, and can reportedly be heard to say: "We were arrested by Russian national socialists." Two men wearing masks and camouflage gear are shown giving Nazi salutes before the apparent killings go ahead. Alexander Verkhovsky, an activist involved in monitoring racist crimes in Russia, told AP news agency that he had never heard of the organisation said to have carried out the attack, but the film appeared to him to be genuine.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6946810.stm
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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 4:00 am

Racism in Russia

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Since the "Neonazis" of Russia have made news again I would like to briefly make a few comments about Armenian and Russian relations in the context of racist attacks against Armenians living in Russia. I initially did not want to discuss this topic at all because I saw it as unconnected to the true intent of this blog. What's more, this is a sociological problem in Russia that many non-Russian immigrants face and has no bearing on the geopolitical strategic aspects of Russo-Armenian relations. The fact of the matter is, Russian Neonazis or "skinheads" as they are at times called represent the Russian Federation just as much as the "KKK" or "White Power" degenerates represent the United States of America. However, since many individuals keep brining up this matter every time Russian-Armenian issues are discussed, I felt obligated to make a few comments and move on.

During the last several years several dozen Armenians have been murdered in racially motivated killings. While it is common knowledge that Russians generally speaking tend to be a racist people, an aggressive people, what's not clear, however, is the question of: Who is ordering the murders of Armenians in Russia and why? It is now becoming more and more obvious that Armenians are being targeted by special interests perhaps as a way to drive a wedge in Russian-Armenian relations. After all, there are large numbers of Jews and even larger number of Turkic peoples living within the Russian Federation. There are also large numbers of Georgian and Chechen crime organizations in Russia. And all of these groups will always pose a danger for Armenians for they see us as their competitors and enemies. On an interesting note - the leader of one of Russia's largest right-wing extremist organization, of all people, is a Jew.

It should also be pointed out that a vast majority of killings involving Armenians in Russia have been organized crime related. However none of this means that the average Russian in the street will have warm sentiments towards foreigners in Russian, especially Caucasians, whom they see as taking advantage of their nation. It is also well known that many Armenian immigrants in Russia bring shame upon our people, much like many Armenians in southern California. However, unlike in the United States, where the standard of living remains high and the socio-political climate stable, the Russian Federation has been suffering severe social malaise and economic depression for well over a decade. As a result of their socio-political and financial upheavals, Russians have naturally began to grow increasingly intolerant and aggressive.

I would like to point out a government study conducted in the mid-90s that revealed one out of six Russian adolescents at the time were mentally/emotionally disturbed. That is a staggering number - one out of six children in Russia had mental problems. Those children incidentally are now young adults with mental problems. It is well known that the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union saw a drastic rise in violent crime, severe corruption, unemployment, moral degradation, broken families and illiteracy. Today there are perhaps millions of troubled and disgruntled young men and women roaming the streets of major cities in Russia. And these are the vulnerable citizens of the country that are being manipulated to do the dirty work of the special interests, be it the NSB, organized crime, or foreign based entities.

Broadly speaking, it is in all peoples psyche to be chauvinistic, it's a human trait. Aren't we Armenians chauvinistic in our own special way? Aren't we smarter than the "otars"? Don't Armenians look down on Russian men as being drunkards? Don't Armenian men look at Western women, specifically Russian women, as whores? And it's not just us. Don't the English, French and the Spaniards boast about their former empires? Aren't Germans and Japanese still stuck up? And how did the term the "ugly American" came into existence? If Russians are more high nosed than the average westerner it's because for the past several centuries they have been a major military power/economic power/political power/cultural power - and unlike many of their historic rivals they continue to be today. Also, Russians have collectively had enough of foreigners meddling into their business.

The hard reality today is that certain street elements in Russia are being used towards sinister purposes by special interest groups and government agencies. This situation will not change for some time. Thus, we Armenians have to work with what we have. Armenians in Russia, numbering over 2 million, need to be more proactive in fostering better relations with their Russian neighbors. Armenian migrants in Russia need to act more respective of their hosts. To this effect, Armenian community groups need to be assembled to remedy these types of problems. Cultural awareness programs like the ones recently commissioned by the authorities there need to increase in number and scope. Individual Armenians need to work on this, Armenian businessmen need to work on this, Armenian officials need to work on this, our Church needs to work on this.

We have had a natural alliance with Russia for severals centuries, our relations with them actually go back a thousand years. We have also had our political problems with them as well. However, in the big geopolitical picture for today and for the foreseeable future, Armenia and Russia will need each other. Unfortunately, due to our geopolitical predicaments in the Caucasus we need them much more than they need us. And therein lies the danger for us. For us, our relationship with Moscow is a matter of survival. For them, their relationship with Armenia is simply a matter of geopolitics. Nevertheless, the strategic relationship between the two nations seems to be heading towards a very good direction. I don't foresee any obstacles getting in the way of Armenia's crucial strategic alliance with the Russian Federation.

The following is a compilation of various news articles concerning the racists phenomenon in the Russian Federation and its effect upon the Armenian population there.

Armenian

***********************************************************************************

THEY KILL EVERYONE, INCLUDING THE RUSSIANS

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(Russian racists in demonstrations in Moscow)

“The manifestations of fascism appeared in Russia after the defeat of the Soviet Union”, said NA Deputy Speaker Vahan Hovhannisyan referring to manifestations of race discrimination in Russia. «Russia suffered a defeat in the cold war. The ideological defeat was that communism proved to be ideologically empty; the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia lost territories which later became its enemy. The economic defeat was that the whole economy of the Soviet Union collapsed, and the fact that Russia continues to survive is conditioned by the natural resources and not by the development of the economy», Vahan Hovhannisyan said.

According to him, the skinheads who speak about the Aryan spirit and the purity of the blood know nothing about fascism. “If for example Mussolini or Franco who were the founders of fascism appeared in the Russian Underground, the skinheads could beat them too as they do not differ from the Armenians in the color of their skin. So the basis of such violations is not ideological; it is simply the frustration of the society expressed through such horrible acts”. Vahan Hovhannisyan thinks that Russia does not combat against these phenomena properly. As for the attitude of the Armenian authorities, he is not aware of it. In an interview to “A1+” deputy of the Russian State Duma Alexander Dzasokhov noted that he treats the Armenians living both in Armenia and out of it with deep respect. “I have many Armenian friends. Every death is a tragedy, but it does not refer to Armenians more than to other nations. The Armenians living Russia are part of our history. We also have many Armenian professionals in the Law enforcement agency. We must join our efforts in order to prevent suchlike cases in future. ”

Source: http://www.a1plus.am/en/?page=issue&iid=39791

Putin Names Fighting Ethnic Hatred Top Priority for Russia

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(Russian neonazis demonstrate)

Russia`s President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with political party leaders that an appropriate response would be soon given to racial, interethnic and inter-religious hatred, the RIA Novosti news agency reported Wednesday. “Those who preach racial, national or religious hatred must know that their views will provoke an appropriate response,” he said and added that it is evident that countering extremism is not only a state responsibility, although the state should address it first and foremost. According to the president, civil society and political parties should have a clear position in regard to the problem. Putin also noticed that ordinary citizens in particular should change their attitude toward crimes concerned with racial, interethnic and inter-religious hatred. The president thinks that the wording of laws countering extremist activity should be absolutely clear, and that punishment should be inevitable and appropriate to the gravity of the crime. Putin thanked lawmakers for adopting laws making it possible to ban extremist parties from participating in elections. Increasing violence aimed at people with non-Slavic appearance has prompted Russian and foreign human rights groups in recent months to raise concerns over the alarming spread of racist and xenophobic attitudes in the country.

Source: http://www.mosnews.com/news/2006/12/06/putinresponse.shtml

Murder of ethnic Armenian in Moscow – “blow on Russia’s image on the threshold of G8 summit”

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(Armenians in Yerevan protesting the murder of Armenians in Russia)

Non-Governmental Russia’s Armenians Union (RAU), which once succeeded in liberation of Russian seamen, held captive in Nigeria, is planning to protest against xenophobia in Russia now. As RAU Head Ara Abramyan has informed REGNUM, the organization prepares protest actions in connection with murder of 19-year-old ethnic Armenian, Russian citizen Artur Sardaryan, committed in car of Moscow suburban electric train. According to the RAU leader, first of all, the murderers wished to damage Russia’s image, “to lead it astray, out of the way of democracy and development.” Ara Abramyan is sure that “Nazis have deliberately chosen for their bloody crime time, preceding St. Petersburg G8 summit.” “It is an obvious provocation, directed not against Armenians as such, but one, which directly strikes on Russia’s image on the threshold of such important event,” the RAU head believes.

It is worth reminding that Artur Sardaryan was murdered on May 25 in a Moscow suburban electric train. According to eye-witnesses, the crime was committed by group of young men, scanning “Long live Russia!” and other nationalistic slogans. Only on May 29, the murder received publicity. As REGNUM informed, Sardaryan headed to his home town of Pushkino. At least two persons stopped the train, operating emergency break, and ran away, after the murderer attacked. Office of Transport Public Prosecutor at Russian Railway’s Yaroslavl Line instituted proceedings in connection with murder, committed by a group of people and caused by national hatred. About a month earlier, analogous case took place in Moscow Pushkinskaya metro station, when 17-year-old student, born in Armenia, Vigen Abramyants was murdered in presence of numerous witnesses.

Source: http://www.regnum.ru/english/russia/649092.html

Annually Azeri Criminal Groupings in Russia Assign $50 Million for Murders of Armenians

Image
(Armenians protesting racist attacks in Russia)

“Annually Azeri criminal groupings assign $50 million for the organization of murders of Armenians,” Russia FM’s Advisor for Nationalities in 1999-2001 Vsevolod Maryan stated during round-table discussions dedicated to the crimes committed in Russia through national hatred. In his words, the situation should be given a straightforward account. “The reports of press are a tiny part of what’s really going on. At least 3000 Armenians were killed in Russia during recent ten years,” Maryan said.

In his opinion, the crimes through national hatred originate from the collapse of the USSR. But if at that times they were spontaneous, now “they are organized by a ruling grouping, not only Russian but the Azeri one as well.” “Anyone, rich or poor, can fall victim to nationalist policy in Russia. It will concern not the “persons of Caucasian nationality”, as Yuri Lujkov (the Mayor of Moscow) called them, but Armenians,” Vsevolod Maryan considers. He motivates it by the fact that “while Armenian honestly earn money Azeris establish contacts with powerful structures in Russia”. That is why the killed Caucasians turn out to be Armenians. “Armenians are deliberately killed in Russia in order to drive the last nail into the coffin in the South Caucasus,” Vsevolod Maryan resumed, reported IA Regnum.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/print/?nid=18427

Armenians of Moscow don’t participate in initiatives of Caucasian peoples

The Armenian community of Moscow doesn’t take part in the initiatives of “representatives of Caucasian peoples,” Yuri Navoyan, the chairman of the Russian-Armenian Commonwealth NGO told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter. “Various organizations always want to involve Armenians in the settlement of their problems with Russia. However, everyone should solve problems without using the representatives of other nationalities. This is our position,” Mr Navoyan said. Representatives of Caucasian peoples are planning a picket for July 13. The action will be held against leaders of ultranational groupings inciting national hatred. The coordination council of the Azeri youth is going to join the picket, Day.az reported.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/
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Postby Armenian on Sat Aug 18, 2007 4:25 am

And to place all of the above into better perspective, as well as demonstrate why Putin will undoubtedly be considered one of the finest rulers to have ever walked this earth, I give you this excellent commentary written by Justin Raimondo.

Armenian

****************************************************************

The Legacy of Boris Yeltsin - Corruption, crony capitalism, and Russia's near-demise

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Communism wounded Russia, grievously, almost irreparably – and Yeltsinism delivered the death blow. The legacy of Boris Yeltsin, who presided over what Paul Klebnikov described as "one of the most corrupt regimes in history," is, quite literally, the death agony of the Russian nation. As David Satter pointed out in the Wall Street Journal: "Between 1992 and 1994, the rise in the death rate in Russia was so dramatic that Western demographers did not believe the figures. The toll from murder, suicide, heart attacks and accidents gave Russia the death rate of a country at war; Western and Russian demographers now agree that between 1992 and 2000, the number of "surplus deaths" in Russia–deaths that cannot be explained on the basis of previous trends–was between five and six million persons."

The Yeltsin era was marked by a precipitous fall in living standards, but some prospered. Given privileged access to "privatized" state property, the clique around Yeltsin amassed fantastic wealth. The one who perhaps profited the most was Boris Berezovsky, whose methods were described by Klebnikov: "Using his access to the highest officials of the Russian government and his reputation as a close friend of the Yeltsin family, Berezovsky hammered away at the privatization projects that would put key state industries in his grasp."

Yeltsin's clique, which included his daughter, was known as "the Family" – not as in "family values," or the Partridge Family, but as in the Russian equivalent of The Sopranos. The rule of the commissars had been succeeded by the reign of the gangsters, criminal elements who seized control of the national economy and engineered a complete takeover of the state apparatus, not for any ideological motive or ostensibly "patriotic" purpose, but simply to enrich themselves. Their strategy made use of the "shock therapy" approach to privatizing the economy as advocated by Harvard professor Jeffrey Sachs. The process was set up to favor Yeltsin's courtiers, who paid rock-bottom prices in a rigged auction. The industrial base of the Russian economy was sold off for a song: the whole process amounted to a spree of looting such as hadn't been seen since the sack of Rome.

Yeltsin didn't seem to notice, which is hardly surprising, since he was drunk for most of his tenure in office. And in Yeltsin's Russia, vodka was the only commodity that was cheap and plentiful. If this was an effort to calm the roiling currents of post-Soviet politics and anesthetize the populace while the oligarchs made off with the nation's assets, it didn't entirely accomplish that goal. There was an anti-Yeltsin upsurge in 1993, and the Duma threatened to impeach the Russian president: in response, Yeltsin declared the parliament dissolved and sent in his tanks to take the building, which was ringed by tens of thousands of anti-Yeltsin demonstrators.

This is the guy who is now being hailed as a great democrat and admirable leader by the Clintons, two of the old crook's biggest enablers. Bill Clinton and his cronies funneled billions in American "aid" to Yeltsin 's kleptocracy, most of which disappeared down a rabbit hole and eventually wound up in the oligarchs' foreign bank accounts. Putin is routinely blamed for the Chechen war, yet this too is part of the Yeltsin legacy. It was Yeltsin who started that war, invading Chechnya in 1994 to protect the interests of certain criminal gangs in Moscow and other major Russian cities, who had a falling out with their Chechen brethren in the homeland. Describing the group around Yeltsin who pushed for war, Gen. Aleksandr Lebed bitterly declared: "This is not the party of war. This is the party of business."

Having consolidated its hold on power, the Yeltsin clique, with Berezovsky's funding and support, proceeded to divvy up the spoils, including cementing their domination of the "private" media. Organized crime networks replaced the state security services as centers of power, with Berezovsky and his fellow oligarchs at the apex of it all. Using strong-arm tactics and engaging in not a few assassinations, the oligarchs – Berezovsky, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Vladimir Gusinsky, and Leonid Nevzlin, among others – drove rival gangs out of business and established their economic and political supremacy. The oligarchy decimated the economy, demoralized the Russian people, and dissolved the rule of law in the acid of corruption and criminality. Is it any wonder that Yeltsin's death is hardly being mourned in Russia? I would venture a guess that more than a few cups are being raised to his demise.

Understanding the Yeltsin legacy and its catastrophic effect on Russia is key to grasping the Putin phenomenon. Although the former KGB officer who rose from obscurity to become the most formidable Russian leader since Peter the Great owes his present job to Yeltsin, the Yeltsin clique didn't fare so well at the hands of their fallen leaders' designated successor. Putin turned against "the Family" and drove most of the oligarchs out of power and into exile, where they are even now scheming to make a comeback. The ersatz "privatizations" arranged under the previous regime were overturned, to a large extent, and the "entrepreneurs" of the Russian Mafia were reined in, if not eliminated entirely, to the point where they no longer threatened the state's monopoly on coercion. The reintegration of formerly state-controlled assets into the "private-public" arrangements mapped out by the Putin administration is widely seen in the West as evidence that Russia is "backsliding." Similarly, the takeover of major mass-media outlets by pro-Putin businessmen is cited as proof that Putin represents a new "authoritarianism." Yet all that has happened is the passing of power from the oligarchs to the latter-day czarists of Putin's United Russia party.

Gregory Yavlinsky, the liberal parliamentary leader, had this to say about Yeltsin's regime: "The government that was formed was without any clear ideology. It was neither red, nor white, nor green. It was based solely on personal greed. You got a system that was corporatist, oligarchic, and based on monopolized property rights and semi-criminal relationships."

With the oligarchic and semi-criminal elements purged by Putin, what remains is the corporatist structure, which is now in different hands. Railing at the Russian president from their posh places of exile in Londongrad, Switzerland, and the French Riviera, the oligarchs' indictment of Putin boils down to one principal complaint: they are no longer in power. Flush with cash, and intent on revenge, exiled oligarchs such as Berezovsky pour their money into phony "human rights" front groups that regularly denounce Russia's "reversion" to authoritarianism. Some, like Andrew Illarionov of the Cato Institute, go so far as to accuse Russia of launching a military bid to regain its lost empire and advise the West to "consider itself in a new Cold War-like era."

The goal of this rather motley crew is to restore Yeltsinism without Yeltsin, but the oligarchs and assorted "dissenters" – ranging from Eduard Limonov and his National Bolsheviks to Illarionov and chess-champion-turned-politician Gary Kasparov – have little support outside the editorial offices of Western newspapers and U.S. government agencies engaged in "democracy promotion." The "color revolutions" that occurred in former Soviet satellites such as Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan have faded to black, and Putin's popularity in Russia has so far foiled the oligarchs' attempts to subvert the country from within. Berezovsky has to content himself with calling for the violent overthrow of the Russian government from his palatial London headquarters, hoping that the professional regime-changers in Washington and London will lend a sympathetic ear and, perhaps, some material support.

In the meantime, however, with the ill-gotten gains of several oligarchs stashed in Swiss bank accounts and sloshing around Londongrad and Washington, there are plenty of think-tank presidents who wouldn't mind getting a cut of that particular action. Expect the propaganda assault on Putin's Russia to get more vociferous and the drumbeat to "do something" about the rising "threat" of Russia to get louder and more serious. Yeltsin's legacy to Russia – poverty, privation, and a renewed adversarial stance by the West – is the "gift" that just keeps on giving.

Source: http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=10867
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Postby Armanen on Wed Aug 22, 2007 7:47 pm

RUSSIA BUILDS HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PECHORA SURFACE-TO-AIR MISSILES

Biznes-Vestnik Vostoka
UzReport.com
August 21, 2007 Tuesday
Tashkent

The final stage of the Combat Fraternity 2007 military exercise will
be held at the Ashuluk firing range in the Astrakhan Region (southern
Russia) on 22 August.

Defense ministers from ten CIS states will fly to the range after
the opening ceremony of the MAKS 2007 aerospace show, which opens in
Zhukovsky near Moscow on 21 August. They will see the operation of the
S-125 Pechora (NATO reporting name SA-3 Goa), S-300PMU (SA-10 Grumble)
and other air defense missile systems, as well as the flights of the
Su-27 Flanker interceptors and Su-25 Frogfoot close support aircraft.

In fact, the ministers will see in action in the lower reaches of the
Volga what they saw on stands in Zhukovsky. The Joint Air Defense
System includes the absolute majority of CIS states, even Ukraine,
which is not a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization
(CSTO). Seeing it in action makes a strong impression on air defense
specialists and defense ministers, who are political leaders rather
than generals.

However, some systems will not take part in field firing exercises.

One of them is the Pechora-2M SAM system, which Egypt has bought
after a long period of dealing with other countries' military
exporters. About a dozen countries outside the CIS want to buy
Pechora. Among the former Soviet republics Tajikistan has bought it,
Uzbekistan is negotiating the acquisition, and Armenia is considering
a deal. What attracts them?

Vyacheslav Korotayev, deputy director general of the Defense Systems
company that produces Pechora-2M, said it is a revamped version of
the S-125 Pechora, which seven CIS countries still have, along with
missiles for it. Although Pechora-2M is supplied together with new
5V27D and 5V27DE missiles, which have an improved radio detonator
and warhead, it can also use the older 5V27 missiles, which is quite
economic for any army.

The new Pechora is mobile and can be redeployed within 20-25 minutes,
compared with three hours needed to move the old version. This is of
crucial importance for an air defense system, because air battles do
not last long, and the system also needs to evade return enemy fire.

The sooner it moves away, the more chances it has to survive until
the next battle.

Besides, Pechora-2M has cutting-edge microprocessors, with their
service life advanced from 30-40 to 2,000 and even 10,000 hours.

Moreover, the new jam-resistant system can successfully cope with
enemy ECM (Electronic-Counter-Measures) systems and missiles.

Experts recall that the United States had used Shrike anti-radar
missiles against targets in Vietnam. But things have changed since
then, and even the sophisticated HARM anti-radar missile is unable
to hit Pechora-2M aerial posts because they simply vanish off the
screen. Unlike its predecessor, which had a 26 km (16 miles) range,
the new SAM system can hit enemy aircraft 35 km (22 miles) away.

The new system's aerial and command posts are located up to 300
meters from missile launchers. Commanders relay orders via telecode
and optronic networks, which shield telecommunications and engagement
control equipment from enemy ECM systems and enhance personnel survival
in case of air strikes.

The Pechora-2M features an optronic network comprising one TV channel
and one thermal imaging channel, allowing it to attack and destroy
aerial targets day and night in conditions of electronic warfare.

Consequently, the Pechora-2M can hit F-16 fighters at a 30-km (19-mile)
range and larger aircraft at a range of up to 35 km (22 miles).

The revamped Osa-AKM, Tor-M1 and Buk-M1-2 SAM systems have similar
optronic networks, but one Pechora-2M can cover an area assigned to
six or eight Osa or Tor systems. This is a serious advantage in terms
of the price-combat efficiency ratio.

It is for the latter reason that the CIS countries are buying
Pechora-2M, rather than S-300 or more expensive S-400 systems.

Military experts claim that it is more profitable for Russia to sell
the cheaper Pechora to its CIS and CSTO partners. Why?

To begin with, Russia does not have enough modernized S-300 and
the cutting-edge S-400 systems for its own armed forces. Second,
Pechora-2M can deal with many air targets, including some types of
ballistic and cruise missiles, no less effectively than S-300 or S-400,
and for less money.

And lastly, a fence of modernized Pechora SAM systems along the Russian
border (Belarus has a similar system) deprives the potential air
aggressor or terrorist of the surprise factor. The incoming targets
can be destroyed long before they reach the country's industrial,
economic or cultural centers.




RUSSIA RESTORES SOVIET-ERA STRATEGIC BOMBER PATROLS

AZG Armenian Daily #149
21/08/2007

International

On August 17, President Vladimir Putin said Russia permanently resumed
long-distance patrol flights of strategic bombers, which were suspended
in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, RIA Novosti informed.

"I made a decision to restore flights of Russian strategic bombers
on a permanent basis, and at 00:00 today, August 17, 14 strategic
bombers, support aircraft and aerial tankers were deployed. Combat
duty has begun, involving 20 aircraft." The president, speaking on
the final day of large-scale military exercises involving Russia,
China, and four Central Asian countries in the south Urals, said
that on the first day of patrol flights, bomber planes would spend
about 20 hours in the air, with midair refueling, and would interact
with naval forces. "Air patrol areas will include zones of commercial
shipping and economic activity. As of today, combat patrolling will
be on a permanent basis. It has a strategic character," Putin said.

The president said that although the country stopped strategic flights
to remote regions in 1992, "Unfortunately, not everyone followed
our example."

Other states' long-distance strategic patrol flights have created
certain problems for national security, he said.

A former Russian Air Force chief said the resumption of patrols would
strengthen Russia's defense capability. "It's a good thing that the
old geopolitical setup has been revised. It used to be based on the
principle, 'No one is going to attack us.' Practice testifies to the
contrary," Army Gen.

Pyotr Deinekin said.

He highlighted the new potential security threats Russia faces,
saying NATO fighters were based in the Baltic States - formerly part
of the Soviet Union and now EU members - while radar stations are
being built around Russia's borders.

The general said that the early 1980s, in response to the U.S.'s
deployment of cruise missiles in Europe, Soviet strategic aviation
started patrolling areas as far a field as the U.S. coast. Patrols
were discontinued following the collapse of the USSR and the Warsaw
Pact, and due to severe economic difficulties, including an acute
fuel shortage.

"Flights will be conducted on the same basis as they were in the past,"
Deinekin said.
It's a custom of the human condition for the masses to remain ignorant. It's what they do. In fact, that IS how "the peace" is kept. Whatever democracy we have here is a spectator's sport.
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Postby Armanen on Wed Aug 22, 2007 7:51 pm

ARMENIA'S PRESIDENT TO VISIT RUSSIA
RosBusinessConsulting
Aug 21 2007
Russia

RBC, 21.08.2007, Moscow 14:55:10.Armenia's President Robert Kocharian
will embark on a working visit to Russia in late August, presidential
spokesman Viktor Sogomonian told journalists today. He pointed out
that Armenian leader was planning to hold a series of meetings,
including one with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

The meeting will be devoted to the development of Russian-Armenian
bilateral relations.




ARMROSGASPROM: RUSSIAN GAS SUPPLY TO ARMENIA RESTORED TO FULL

ARKA News Agency
Aug 21 2007
Armenia

YEREVAN, August 21. /ARKA/. Russian gas supply to Armenia has been
restored to the full at 1:00am on August 21, Press Secretary of
Russian ArmRosgasprom CJSC Shushan Sardarian told ARKA agency.

The interruption in the gas supply occurred on Monday due to planned
maintenance and repair works on Northern Caucasus - Transcaucasia
gas main in Georgia, Sardarian said.

According to her, currently intense recovery works are under way on
the main pipeline. "The Georgian gas and transport company reported
about an opportunity to resume gas supply to Armenia to the full -
3mln cubic meters per day - bypassing the section under repair,"
the Press Secretary said.

Yesterday Sardarian told ARKA agency that the Russian gas supply to
Armenia and Georgia will be ceased for six days due to the repair on
the gas main. According to her, during the period Armenian consumers
will be supplied from Abovian underground gas storage.

ArmRosgasprom CJSC holds the monopoly for supply and distribution of
Russian gas on the domestic arket of Armenia. The gas is delivered
to Armenia through Georgia.

The company was founded in 1997. Its capital currently makes
$398.8mln. The shareholders are Gasprom OJSC (57.59%), Armenian
Ministry of Energy (34.7%) and Itera oil and gas company (7.71%).





VIMPELCOM AND MTS STRIVE FOR ARMENIA TELECOM

CNews
Aug 21 2007
Russia

MTS intends to continue its expansion into CIS, having bought the
Armenian cellular operator K-Telecom. The analysts estimate the given
asset value at $350-500 mln.

According to some information agencies, MTS negotiated purchasing the
Armenian cellular operator K-Telecom, operating under the trade mark
VivaCell. If the transaction is to take place JSC Systema daughter
company is to compete in Armenia with its permanent competitor
VimpelCom, which owns Armentel.

MTS did not comment on its interest in K-Telecom. "The Armenia
market seems attractive to us like most of the cellular markets in
CIS and abroad, - CNews conversable in the operator company says. -
It is a well known fact that one of our politics items is expansion
at the expense of acquisitions. We constantly study the possibility
to enter this or other market. As a rule, one of the main questions
arising is the relation of the assets value and their actual value".

Analysts consider K-Telecom price to come to $ 350-500 mln. Thus,
Margarita Zobnina, iKS-Media Expert believes the Armenian operator
might cost $ 400 mln., RBC reports. "The fact that MTS negotiates and
intends to buy the operator is positive, while K-Telecom is even more
interesting as it is rather profitable", - Mrs. Zobnina states.

K-Telecom started providing cellular communication services in July,
2005, having thus interfered with Armentel monopoly, 90% shares of
which, it should be noted, was acquired by VimpelCom in November,
2006 for ~@341.9 mln. ($436.7 mln.) MTS also put in a bid for tender
then but lost. In Spring, 2007 the Armenia Government agreed to sell
the remaining 10% of Armentel shares to VimpelCom.

The Armenia population at present amounts to more than 3.2
mln. people. According to J'son & Partners by 2007mid the cellular
penetration in the republic came to 39%. Armentel occupied 40% of
the subscribers' base, while the remaining 60% fell to K-Telecom,
relatively. "K-Telecom managed to override Armentel in less than two
years, having started practically from the ground, - Irina Astafieva,
J'son & Partners senior analyst says. - That happens mainly because
of the active promotion. In 2005 K-Telecom significantly cut down the
tariffs and started distributing SIM-cards in every possible place".

But, to tell the truth, according to specialist, the "quality" of
K-Telecom subscribers in general is worse than at its competitor.

"MTS and VimpelCom have been long competing in Russia, and if they
enhance their competition on Armenia that will be only to the benefit
of the local subscribers", - Mrs. Astafieva says.
It's a custom of the human condition for the masses to remain ignorant. It's what they do. In fact, that IS how "the peace" is kept. Whatever democracy we have here is a spectator's sport.
Armanen
 
Posts: 179
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:13 am
Location: Arnor

Postby Armanen on Sun Aug 26, 2007 3:45 am

PUTIN DESCRIBES TIES WITH ARMENIA AS 'TRULY ALLIED'

ARMENPRESS
Aug 23, 2007

SOCHI, AUGUST 23, ARMENPRESS: Welcoming today his Armenian counterpart
Robert Kocharian in the resort town of Sochi on the Black Sea coast,
Russian president Vladimir Putin described his country's relationships
with Armenia as 'truly allied."

"It gives me a pleasure to say that our relationships are developing
well, trade between our countries is on the steady rise, let alone
political relationships," Putin said. "Our relationships have become
truly allied," he added.

Kocharian said he shares this description. "Our partnership is
increasing in all directions embracing trade, military-technical
cooperation and political interaction," he said.

"We need to compare our positions, to consult and this is a natural
process," he said. "I am happy for it and am prepared to help this
positive trend go ahead,' he said.

This is the second meeting of Armenian and Russian presidents in the
Russian resort city. Their previous meeting was last January and was
reportedly focused on boosting Russian-Armenian commercial relations.



EXPERT SAYS RUSSIA, ARMENIA MAY CONCLUDE LARGE ARMS CONTRACTS

Radio Mayak
23 Aug 07
Moscow

President Vladimir Putin in Sochi today will receive his Armenian
counterpart, Robert Kocharyan. The director of the strategies and
technologies analysis centre, Ruslan Pukhov, believes that defence
cooperation will certainly be discussed at the talks.

[Pukhov] The point is that at the moment Russia is not engaged in
major military-technical cooperation with Armenia. This is due to the
fact that Russia has very much hoped that the problem of Nagornyy
Karabakh will be resolved with the help of international mediators
and that Azerbaijan and Armenia will be able to find some mutually
acceptable solution.

However, it can be acknowledged at the moment that Azerbaijan is
buying large quantities of weapons, primarily abroad and first of
all in Ukraine.

They have bought MiG-29 aircraft and are holding intensive talks
with a number of foreign countries. They have even managed to buy a
certain quantity of equipment for the Ground Troops from us.

Russia only has three military allies in the world - Syria, Armenia and
Belarus. We are aware of large arms deliveries to Syria and Belarus.

Therefore, it can be said with a high degree of certainty that large
armament contracts with Armenia will be concluded in the near future.

This subject will certainly be discussed at the meeting between
President Kocharyan and President Putin in Sochi.
It's a custom of the human condition for the masses to remain ignorant. It's what they do. In fact, that IS how "the peace" is kept. Whatever democracy we have here is a spectator's sport.
Armanen
 
Posts: 179
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:13 am
Location: Arnor

Postby Armanen on Tue Aug 28, 2007 6:37 am

Putin's people

Aug 23rd 2007
From The Economist print edition


The former KGB men who run Russia have the wrong idea about how to make it great


“OUR pilots have been grounded for too long. They are happy to start a new life.” So said Vladimir Putin as he sent Russia's nuclear bombers back aloft on the world-spanning patrols they had suspended after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This comes hard on the heels of talk of reopening a Russian naval base in the Mediterranean, joint war games with China and the planting of the Russian flag in the polar seabed. The Soviet Union is dead and communism long buried. But Mr Putin wants you to know that the Russian bear is back—wearing a snarl with its designer sunglasses.

How has this situation come about? It is tempting to search for mistakes by Western governments, to look for the culprits who “lost Russia”. Yet as our briefing this week explains, the role of outsiders has been secondary. The best way to understand both Mr Putin's ascent into the Kremlin and his rule since is to see them as the remarkable recovery of the culture, mentality and view of the world of the old KGB.


When Mr Putin was plucked from obscurity to become first Boris Yeltsin's prime minister and later his successor as Russia's president, few in the West had heard of this former KGB officer, who had briefly been head of the FSB, the KGB's post-Soviet successor. Just before he became president, Mr Putin told his colleagues that a group of FSB operatives, “dispatched under cover to work in the government of the Russian federation”, was successfully fulfilling its task. It was probably a joke. Yet during his two terms since then, men from the FSB and its sister outfits have indeed grabbed control of the government, economy and security forces. Three out of four senior Russian officials today were once affiliated to the KGB and other security and military organisations.



Why they do it
What motivates these so-called siloviki? In part, the wish for revenge on those who challenged them in the early 1990s, especially after the abortive KGB coup of August 1991. Greed may be the most powerful motive: some Kremlin insiders have hugely enriched themselves in the past decade, and corruption may be worse even than in the later Yeltsin years. But the new elite also has an ideology of sorts. They see the break-up of the Soviet Union as, in Mr Putin's words, the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century. Capitalising on a widespread sense that Russia has been humiliated, they want to create as mighty a state as the Soviet Union once was. They see the West as a foe bent on stopping them.

In this, Russia's rulers have strong domestic support. It is hard to gauge Mr Putin's popularity in a country with such tightly controlled media, but his opinion-poll ratings are impressively high. That nobody doubts his ability to choose his own successor owes a lot to his suppression of all dissent, but it reflects also the fact that voters have little love for the tiny liberal opposition remaining. Thanks to GDP growth that has averaged almost 7% a year under Mr Putin, many Russians feel better off, even if a lot are still poor. And many share the desire to reassert Russia's greatness—and a deep-rooted belief that the West is Russia's natural enemy.

It is foolish for people in the West to deny that Russia is a great power and that, in some ways, its influence has increased. When Mr Putin became president, its GDP was the world's tenth-biggest and foreign reserves stood at $8.5 billion. Today Russia's economy is the world's eighth-largest, and the reserves are $407.5 billion. The Kremlin has played adeptly on Europe's dependence on Russian gas to enhance its influence. On issues such as Kosovo or Iran, Russia has used its seat on the UN Security Council to force the West to pay it attention.



To achieve true greatness, unclench that fist
Yet the siloviki's ambitions remain misguided. That is not because there is anything illegitimate about wanting a strong Russia. What is wrong is how they define that strength—in the Soviet terms of awe and anxiety—and how they pursue it. The economy, for a start, is heavily dependent on high prices for oil, gas and other commodities that may not last. Russia is weak in manufacturing, services and high-tech industries. Putting spies in charge of big firms is a recipe for failure: they know how to grab assets and jail foes, but not how to run real businesses. Foreign investors may still covet Russia's natural-resource sector, but a climate in which assets can be arbitrarily taken back by state officials and then redistributed to cronies is not welcoming. Both foreign and, more strikingly, domestic investment are very low compared with China.

Nor is it sensible to revive Russia's old anti-Western, zero-sum strategic thinking. The West tried to be a friend in the Yeltsin years, but has since been put off by Russian belligerence. A resurgent Russia can throw its weight around the neighbourhood and intimidate ex-Soviet republics such as Georgia, Ukraine and the Baltics; but by alienating its neighbours Moscow harms its own interests too. By dint of size and military strength, Russia is a power in the world. Yet today even the “soft power” that the Soviet Union once wielded through communism has mostly gone. In its place is only fear.

The biggest misreading of all is over Russia's own political future. The siloviki have shown they can squash opposition, suborn the courts and stay in charge. But, as in all autocracies, they are acutely nervous about the future. Mr Putin's popularity will not easily transfer even to a hand-picked successor. More generally, as ordinary Russians get richer, they may grow dissatisfied with their present masters, especially when they see them stealing and mismanaging the economy. Russia has huge problems: crime, poor infrastructure, secessionism and chaos in the north Caucasus, appalling human-rights abuses and a looming demographic catastrophe. To counterbalance these woes, the new elite may resort to even wilder forms of nationalism; and that nationalism could turn into a monster that even its creators cannot control.

In truth, the biggest threats to Russia's future stem not from its “enemies” but from internal weaknesses, some of them self-inflicted. For a Russian ruler, or ruling class, to accept that truth would take real courage—and real patriotism.




The making of a neo-KGB state

Aug 23rd 2007 | MOSCOW
From The Economist print edition


Political power in Russia now lies with the FSB, the KGB's successor


ON THE evening of August 22nd 1991—16 years ago this week—Alexei Kondaurov, a KGB general, stood by the darkened window of his Moscow office and watched a jubilant crowd moving towards the KGB headquarters in Lubyanka Square. A coup against Mikhail Gorbachev had just been defeated. The head of the KGB who had helped to orchestrate it had been arrested, and Mr Kondaurov was now one of the most senior officers left in the fast-emptying building. For a moment the thronged masses seemed to be heading straight towards him.

Then their anger was diverted to the statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the KGB's founding father. A couple of men climbed up and slipped a rope round his neck. Then he was yanked up by a crane. Watching “Iron Felix” sway in mid-air, Mr Kondaurov, who had served in the KGB since 1972, felt betrayed “by Gorbachev, by Yeltsin, by the impotent coup leaders”. He remembers thinking, “I will prove to you that your victory will be short-lived.”

Those feelings of betrayal and humiliation were shared by 500,000 KGB operatives across Russia and beyond, including Vladimir Putin, whose resignation as a lieutenant-colonel in the service had been accepted only the day before. Eight years later, though, the KGB men seemed poised for revenge. Just before he became president, Mr Putin told his ex-colleagues at the Federal Security Service (FSB), the KGB's successor, “A group of FSB operatives, dispatched under cover to work in the government of the Russian federation, is successfully fulfilling its task.” He was only half joking.

Over the two terms of Mr Putin's presidency, that “group of FSB operatives” has consolidated its political power and built a new sort of corporate state in the process. Men from the FSB and its sister organisations control the Kremlin, the government, the media and large parts of the economy—as well as the military and security forces. According to research by Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a sociologist at the Russian Academy of Sciences, a quarter of the country's senior bureaucrats are siloviki—a Russian word meaning, roughly, “power guys”, which includes members of the armed forces and other security services, not just the FSB. The proportion rises to three-quarters if people simply affiliated to the security services are included. These people represent a psychologically homogeneous group, loyal to roots that go back to the Bolsheviks' first political police, the Cheka. As Mr Putin says repeatedly, “There is no such thing as a former Chekist.”

By many indicators, today's security bosses enjoy a combination of power and money without precedent in Russia's history. The Soviet KGB and its pre-revolutionary ancestors did not care much about money; power was what mattered. Influential though it was, the KGB was a “combat division” of the Communist Party, and subordinate to it. As an outfit that was part intelligence organisation, part security agency and part secret political police, it was often better informed, but it could not act on its own authority; it could only make “recommendations”. In the 1970s and 1980s it was not even allowed to spy on the party bosses and had to act within Soviet laws, however inhuman.

The KGB provided a crucial service of surveillance and suppression; it was a state within a state. Now, however, it has become the state itself. Apart from Mr Putin, “There is nobody today who can say no to the FSB,” says Mr Kondaurov.

All important decisions in Russia, says Ms Kryshtanovskaya, are now taken by a tiny group of men who served alongside Mr Putin in the KGB and who come from his home town of St Petersburg. In the next few months this coterie may well decide the outcome of next year's presidential election. But whoever succeeds Mr Putin, real power is likely to remain in the organisation. Of all the Soviet institutions, the KGB withstood Russia's transformation to capitalism best and emerged strongest. “Communist ideology has gone, but the methods and psychology of its secret police have remained,” says Mr Kondaurov, who is now a member of parliament.



Scotched, not killed
Mr Putin's ascent to the presidency of Russia was the result of a chain of events that started at least a quarter of a century earlier, when Yuri Andropov, a former head of the KGB, succeeded Leonid Brezhnev as general secretary of the Communist Party. Andropov's attempts to reform the stagnating Soviet economy in order to preserve the Soviet Union and its political system have served as a model for Mr Putin. Early in his presidency Mr Putin unveiled a plaque at the Lubyanka headquarters that paid tribute to Andropov as an “outstanding political figure”.

Staffed by highly educated, pragmatic men recruited in the 1960s and 1970s, the KGB was well aware of the dire state of the Soviet economy and the antique state of the party bosses. It was therefore one of the main forces behind perestroika, the loose policy of restructuring started by Mr Gorbachev in the 1980s. Perestroika's reforms were meant to give the Soviet Union a new lease of life. When they threatened its existence, the KGB mounted a coup against Mr Gorbachev. Ironically, this precipitated the Soviet collapse.

The defeat of the coup gave Russia an historic chance to liquidate the organisation. “If either Gorbachev or Yeltsin had been bold enough to dismantle the KGB during the autumn of 1991, he would have met little resistance,” wrote Yevgenia Albats, a journalist who has courageously covered the grimmest chapters in the KGB's history. Instead, both Mr Gorbachev and Yeltsin tried to reform it.

The “blue blood” of the KGB—the First Chief Directorate, in charge of espionage—was spun off into a separate intelligence service. The rest of the agency was broken into several parts. Then, after a few short months of talk about openness, the doors of the agency slammed shut again and the man charged with trying to reform it, Vadim Bakatin, was ejected. His glum conclusion, delivered at a conference in 1993, was that although the myth about the KGB's invincibility had collapsed, the agency itself was very much alive.

Indeed it was. The newly named Ministry of Security continued to “delegate” the officers of the “active reserve” into state institutions and commercial firms. Soon KGB officers were staffing the tax police and customs services. As Boris Yeltsin himself admitted by the end of 1993, all attempts to reorganise the KGB were “superficial and cosmetic”; in fact, it could not be reformed. “The system of political police has been preserved,” he said, “and could be resurrected.”

Yet Mr Yeltsin, though he let the agency survive, did not use it as his power base. In fact, the KGB was cut off from the post-Soviet redistribution of assets. Worse still, it was upstaged and outwitted by a tiny group of opportunists, many of them Jews (not a people beloved by the KGB), who became known as the oligarchs. Between them, they grabbed most of the country's natural resources and other privatised assets. KGB officers watched the oligarchs get super-rich while they stayed cash-strapped and sometimes even unpaid.

Some officers did well enough, but only by offering their services to the oligarchs. To protect themselves from rampant crime and racketeering, the oligarchs tried to privatise parts of the KGB. Their large and costly security departments were staffed and run by ex-KGB officers. They also hired senior agency men as “consultants”. Fillip Bobkov, the head of the Fifth Directorate (which dealt with dissidents), worked for a media magnate, Vladimir Gusinsky. Mr Kondaurov, a former spokesman for the KGB, worked for Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who ran and largely owned Yukos. “People who stayed in the FSB were B-list,” says Mark Galeotti, a British analyst of the Russian special services.

Lower-ranking staff worked as bodyguards to Russia's rich. (Andrei Lugovoi, the chief suspect in the murder in London last year of Alexander Litvinenko, once guarded Boris Berezovsky, an oligarch who, facing arrest in Russia, now lives in Britain.) Hundreds of private security firms staffed by KGB veterans sprang up around the country and most of them, though not all, kept their ties to their alma mater. According to Igor Goloshchapov, a former KGB special-forces commando who is now a spokesman for almost 800,000 private security men,

In the 1990s we had one objective: to survive and preserve our skills. We did not consider ourselves to be separate from those who stayed in the FSB. We shared everything with them and we saw our work as just another form of serving the interests of the state. We knew that there would come a moment when we would be called upon.

That moment came on New Year's Eve 1999, when Mr Yeltsin resigned and, despite his views about the KGB, handed over the reins of power to Mr Putin, the man he had put in charge of the FSB in 1998 and made prime minister a year later.



The inner circle
As the new president saw things, his first task was to restore the management of the country, consolidate political power and neutralise alternative sources of influence: oligarchs, regional governors, the media, parliament, opposition parties and non-governmental organisations. His KGB buddies helped him with the task.

The most politically active oligarchs, Mr Berezovsky, who had helped Mr Putin come to power, and Mr Gusinsky, were pushed out of the country, and their television channels were taken back into state hands. Mr Khodorkovsky, Russia's richest man, was more stubborn. Despite several warnings, he continued to support opposition parties and NGOs and refused to leave Russia. In 2003 the FSB arrested him and, after a show trial, helped put him in jail.

To deal with unruly regional governors, Mr Putin appointed special envoys with powers of supervision and control. Most of them were KGB veterans. The governors lost their budgets and their seats in the upper house of the Russian parliament. Later the voters lost their right to elect them.

All the strategic decisions, according to Ms Kryshtanovskaya, were and still are made by the small group of people who have formed Mr Putin's informal politburo. They include two deputy heads of the presidential administration: Igor Sechin, who officially controls the flow of documents but also oversees economic matters, and Viktor Ivanov, responsible for personnel in the Kremlin and beyond. Then come Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the FSB, and Sergei Ivanov, a former defence minister and now the first deputy prime minister. All are from St Petersburg, and all served in intelligence or counter-intelligence. Mr Sechin is the only one who does not advertise his background.

That two of the most influential men, Mr Sechin and Viktor Ivanov, hold only fairly modest posts (each is a deputy head) and seldom appear in public is misleading. It was, after all, common Soviet practice to have a deputy, often linked to the KGB, who carried more weight than his notional boss. “These people feel more comfortable when they are in the shadows,” explains Ms Kryshtanovskaya.

In any event, each of these KGB veterans has a plethora of followers in other state institutions. One of Mr Patrushev's former deputies, also from the KGB, is the minister of the interior, in charge of the police. Sergei Ivanov still commands authority within the army's headquarters. Mr Sechin has close family ties to the minister of justice. The prosecution service, which in Soviet times at least nominally controlled the KGB's work, has now become its instrument, along with the tax police.

The political clout of these siloviki is backed by (or has resulted in) state companies with enormous financial resources. Mr Sechin, for example, is the chairman of Rosneft, Russia's largest state-run oil company. Viktor Ivanov heads the board of directors of Almaz-Antei, the country's main producer of air-defence rockets, and of Aeroflot, the national airline. Sergei Ivanov oversees the military-industrial complex and is in charge of the newly created aircraft-industry monopoly.

But the siloviki reach farther, into all areas of Russian life. They can be found not just in the law-enforcement agencies but in the ministries of economy, transport, natural resources, telecoms and culture. Several KGB veterans occupy senior management posts in Gazprom, Russia's biggest company, and its pocket bank, Gazprombank (whose vice-president is the 26-year-old son of Sergei Ivanov).

Alexei Gromov, Mr Putin's trusted press secretary, sits on the board of Channel One, Russia's main television channel. The railway monopoly is headed by Vladimir Yakunin, a former diplomat who served his country at the United Nations in New York and is believed to have held a high rank in the KGB. Sergei Chemezov, Mr Putin's old KGB friend from his days in Dresden (where the president worked from 1985 to 1990), is in charge of Rosoboronexport, a state arms agency that has grown on his watch into a vast conglomerate. The list goes on.

Many officers of the active reserve have been seconded to Russia's big companies, both private and state-controlled, where they draw a salary while also remaining on the FSB payroll. “We must make sure that companies don't make decisions that are not in the interest of the state,” one current FSB colonel explains. Being an active-reserve officer in a firm is, says another KGB veteran, a dream job: “You get a huge salary and you get to keep your FSB card.” One such active-reserve officer is the 26-year-old son of Mr Patrushev who was last year seconded from the FSB to Rosneft, where he is now advising Mr Sechin. (After seven months at Rosneft, Mr Putin awarded Andrei Patrushev the Order of Honour, citing his professional successes and “many years of conscientious work”.) Rosneft was the main recipient of Yukos's assets after the firm was destroyed.

The attack on Yukos, which entered its decisive stage just as Mr Sechin was appointed to Rosneft, was the first and most blatant example of property redistribution towards the siloviki, but not the only one. Mikhail Gutseriev, the owner of Russneft, a fast-growing oil company, was this month forced to give up his business after being accused of illegal activities. For a time, he had refused; but, as he explained, “they tightened the screws” and one state agency after another—the general prosecutor's office, the tax police, the interior ministry—began conducting checks on him.



From oligarchy to spookocracy
The transfer of financial wealth from the oligarchs to the siloviki was perhaps inevitable. It certainly met with no objection from most Russians, who have little sympathy for “robber barons”. It even earned the siloviki a certain popularity. But whether they will make a success of managing their newly acquired assets is doubtful. “They know how to break up a company or to confiscate something. But they don't know how to manage a business. They use force simply because they don't know any other method,” says an ex-KGB spook who now works in business.

Curiously, the concentration of such power and economic resources in the hands of a small group of siloviki, who identify themselves with the state, has not alienated people in the lower ranks of the security services. There is trickle-down of a sort: the salary of an average FSB operative has gone up several times over the past decade, and a bit of freelancing is tolerated. Besides, many Russians inside and outside the ranks believe that the transfer of assets from private hands to the siloviki is in the interests of the state. “They are getting their own back and they have the right to do so,” says Mr Goloshchapov.

The rights of the siloviki, however, have nothing to do with the formal kind that are spelled out in laws or in the constitution. What they are claiming is a special mission to restore the power of the state, save Russia from disintegration and frustrate the enemies that might weaken it. Such idealistic sentiments, says Mr Kondaurov, coexist with an opportunistic and cynical eagerness to seize the situation for personal or institutional gain.

The security servicemen present themselves as a tight brotherhood entitled to break any laws for the sake of their mission. Their high language is laced with profanity, and their nationalism is often combined with contempt for ordinary people. They are, however, loyal to each other.

Competition to enter the service is intense. The KGB picked its recruits carefully. Drawn from various institutes and universities, they then went to special KGB schools. Today the FSB Academy in Moscow attracts the children of senior siloviki; a vast new building will double its size. The point, says Mr Galeotti, the British analyst, “is not just what you learn, but who you meet there”.

Graduates of the FSB Academy may well agree. “A Chekist is a breed,” says a former FSB general. A good KGB heritage—a father or grandfather, say, who worked for the service—is highly valued by today's siloviki. Marriages between siloviki clans are also encouraged.

Viktor Cherkesov, the head of Russia's drug-control agency, who was still hunting dissidents in the late 1980s, has summed up the FSB psychology in an article that has become the manifesto of the siloviki and a call for consolidation.

We [siloviki] must understand that we are one whole. History ruled that the weight of supporting the Russian state should fall on our shoulders. I believe in our ability, when we feel danger, to put aside everything petty and to remain faithful to our oath.

As well as invoking secular patriotism, Russia's security bosses can readily find allies among the priesthood. Next to the FSB building in Lubyanka Square stands the 17th-century church of the Holy Wisdom, “restored in August 2001with zealous help from the FSB,” says a plaque. Inside, freshly painted icons gleam with gold. “Thank God there is the FSB. All power is from God and so is theirs,” says Father Alexander, who leads the service. A former KGB general agrees: “They really believe that they were chosen and are guided by God and that even the high oil prices they have benefited from are God's will.”

Sergei Grigoryants, who has often been interrogated and twice imprisoned (for anti-Soviet propaganda) by the KGB, says the security chiefs believe “that they are the only ones who have the real picture and understanding of the world.” At the centre of this picture is an exaggerated sense of the enemy, which justifies their very existence: without enemies, what are they for? “They believe they can see enemies where ordinary people can't,” says Ms Kryshtanovskaya.

“A few years ago, we succumbed to the illusion that we don't have enemies and we have paid dearly for that,” Mr Putin told the FSB in 1999. It is a view shared by most KGB veterans and their successors. The greatest danger comes from the West, whose aim is supposedly to weaken Russia and create disorder. “They want to make Russia dependent on their technologies,” says a current FSB staffer. “They have flooded our market with their goods. Thank God we still have nuclear arms.” The siege mentality of the siloviki and their anti-Westernism have played well with the Russian public. Mr Goloshchapov, the private agents' spokesman, expresses the mood this way: “In Gorbachev's time Russia was liked by the West and what did we get for it? We have surrendered everything: eastern Europe, Ukraine, Georgia. NATO has moved to our borders.”

From this perspective, anyone who plays into the West's hands at home is the internal enemy. In this category are the last free-thinking journalists, the last NGOs sponsored by the West and the few liberal politicians who still share Western values.

To sense the depth of these feelings, consider the response of one FSB officer to the killing of Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist whose books criticising Mr Putin and his brutal war in Chechnya are better known outside than inside Russia. “I don't know who killed her, but her articles were beneficial to the Western press. She deserved what she got.” And so, by this token, did Litvinenko, the ex-KGB officer poisoned by polonium in London last year.

In such a climate, the idea that Russia's security services are entitled to deal ruthlessly with enemies of the state, wherever they may be, has gained wide acceptance and is supported by a new set of laws. One, aimed at “extremism”, gives the FSB and other agencies ample scope to pursue anyone who acts or speaks against the Kremlin. It has already been invoked against independent analysts and journalists. A lawyer who complained to the Constitutional Court about the FSB's illegal tapping of his client's telephone has been accused of disclosing state secrets. Several scientists who collaborated with foreign firms are in jail for treason.

Despite their loyalty to old Soviet roots, today's security bosses differ from their predecessors. They do not want a return to communist ideology or an end to capitalism, whose fruits they enjoy. They have none of the asceticism of their forebears. Nor do they relish mass repression: in a country where fear runs deep, attacking selected individuals does the job. But the concentration of such power and money in the hands of the security services does not bode well for Russia.



And not very good at their job
The creation of enemies may smooth over clan disagreements and fuel nationalism, but it does not make the country more secure or prosperous. While the FSB reports on the ever-rising numbers of foreign spies, accuses scientists of treason and hails its “brotherhood”, Russia remains one of the most criminalised, corrupt and bureaucratic countries in the world.

During the crisis at a school in Beslan in 2004, the FSB was good at harassing journalists trying to find out the truth. But it could not even cordon off the school in which the hostages were held. Under the governorship of an ex-FSB colleague of Mr Putin, Ingushetia, the republic that borders Chechnya, has descended into a new theatre of war. The army is plagued by crime and bullying. Private businessmen are regularly hassled by law-enforcement agencies. Russia's foreign policy has turned out to be self-fulfilling: by perpetually denouncing enemies on every front, it has helped to turn many countries from potential friends into nervous adversaries.

The rise to power of the KGB veterans should not have been surprising. In many ways, argues Inna Solovyova, a Russian cultural historian, it had to do with the qualities that Russians find appealing in their rulers: firmness, reserve, authority and a degree of mystery. “The KGB fitted this description, or at least knew how to seem to fit it.”

But are they doing the country any good? “People who come from the KGB are tacticians. We have never been taught to solve strategic tasks,” says Mr Kondaurov. The biggest problem of all, he and a few others say, is the agency's loss of professionalism. He blushes when he talks about the polonium capers in London. “We never sank to this level,” he sighs. “What a blow to the country's reputation!”
It's a custom of the human condition for the masses to remain ignorant. It's what they do. In fact, that IS how "the peace" is kept. Whatever democracy we have here is a spectator's sport.
Armanen
 
Posts: 179
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:13 am
Location: Arnor

Postby Armanen on Tue Aug 28, 2007 6:39 am

Not quite the pact that was

Aug 23rd 2007 | ALMATY, BEIJING AND MOSCOW
From The Economist print edition


China, Russia and the countries sandwiched between them can stage a fine military show—but they are not about to merge into a new monolith

WHATEVER else it may be, a military exercise—especially if it involves many countries—is a form of public drama, designed as much to impress the world as to hone combat skills. And as action movies go, the one just staged on a Russian plain wasn't bad.

A breathless dispatch from the Chinese national news agency, Xinhua, captured the mood as forces from six countries (China, Russia and four Central Asian states) swooped on the specially built village of Pashino and gave hell to the bad guys. “On the paths [that] the fleeing terrorists must pass through, two armed helicopters descended and firmly stayed there. The...military emblems painted on their bodies glittered under the sun. Then the cabin doors opened, and the commandos of a Tajik airborne unit in dark camouflage uniforms, and commandos of a Chinese special task-force in light camouflage uniforms, sprang out rapidly...”

Very soon, Pashino, or what remained of it, was free once more. (The only real-life losers were the people of a nearby village who had hoped that six armies might pulverise their own ghastly shacks, and then rehouse them.) All in all, the plot was fairly easy to follow—but it was hard to work out the dividing line between fact and fiction.

Regardless of its other purposes, the exercise was obviously designed to tell the world that the six-country Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) is more than a talking-shop. Russian and Chinese generals insisted that the putative foe was a generic gang of “terrorists”, not a specific country. But in Russia there was much enthusiastic talk in the pro-government media about SCO's emergence as a counterweight to NATO. President Vladimir Putin said the analogy was not quite right, but he did not seem displeased by it.

Does the comparison hold? In narrow military terms, the ability to co-ordinate the movements of more than 6,000 troops, and a broad range of armour, across long distances was quite successfully proved: a feat comparable with a medium-sized drill by the Atlantic alliance, says Christopher Langton of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based think-tank.

But talk of a new set-piece confrontation between two military blocks that spend most of their time and energy planning to fight one another is wildly overdone. The SCO is not, in fact, a new version of the Warsaw Pact, which was a giant, closely integrated military structure with a single Soviet master. For one thing, the Eurasian body has two dominant members with overlapping but far from identical strategic aims. Nor are the Russian and Chinese armies, which remain suspicious of each other, going to merge. China's need for Russian arms may diminish as its defence industry grows. Compared with Russia, China seems a little less keen on militarising the SCO, and more queasy about Iran's role as an “observer” of the group. Whatever China's long-term geopolitical ambition may be, it certainly does not want to be dragged into a conflict with the United States by a gung-ho Russia.

Indeed, the individual aims of the leaders who gathered this month in Central Asia—first for a summit in Bishkek, and then to the Ural mountains for the war games—are much easier to discern than any common purposes. Mr Putin and President Hu Jintao of China were both playing to domestic galleries. Mr Hu's progress through Central Asia was portrayed by the Beijing media as though he were a statesman on an historic mission. Every time he inspected a guard or raised his binoculars, his achievements in “bringing about a harmonious region” were exuberantly lauded. To China hands, it seemed that Mr Hu was building up strength for the autumn's Communist Party congress, a five-yearly event, when hard decisions on policy and personnel need to be taken.

Mr Putin, too, was using Central Asian diplomacy to impress the folk back home: it was during the war games that he made a dramatic announcement that Russia was resuming strategic patrols by nuclear-armed long-range bombers. So the Russian public was simultaneously served up with images of high Eurasian strategy, with their president in the midst of it all, and the stirring message that, as one headline put it, “the Russians are flying” once more.

Aside from all the fanfare, Russia and China—and in varying degrees their Central Asian partners—do have some common concerns. All fear separatism and militant Islam; and in Moscow and Beijing at least, there is a keen sense that the Eurasian heartland should not be dominated by the United States. In 2005 an SCO summit declared that it wanted to see American and NATO bases withdrawn from Central Asia as soon as possible. The sharpness of that rhetoric owed something to the anger of Uzbekistan's rulers, who had just been rebuked by the West over the killing of unarmed protesters.

Two years on, resentment of American hegemony is alive and well, along with a sense that it may be on the wane anyway. But the Western presence in Central Asia has certainly not been exorcised. Though Uzbekistan ejected an American base in a fit of pique, it still hosts a German one, used to supply German troops in Afghanistan. In Tajikistan, the French use an airfield as part of the war against the Taliban.

Strategic competition in Central Asia exists, but it does not consist of a straight confrontation between West and East. Instead, big countries jostle for a share of influence, knowing they cannot monopolise the scene; small and medium-sized powers struggle to keep room for manoeuvre by playing off would-be patrons.

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev is a master of such manoeuvres. During the SCO summit, he flattered Mr Putin by virtually urging him to join the presidents-for-life club. But in matters of substance, Mr Nazarbayev has in recent days done more favours to China than to Russia. As soon as the thunder of war games died down, China's president went to Astana, Kazakhstan's new capital, and did some business. It was announced that an additional oil pipeline would be built from Kazakhstan to China; and that a new gas pipeline linking Turkmenistan with China would run through Kazakhstan.

What these deals brought home is that China, no less than America, wants energy corridors through Asia that bypass Russia. From China's viewpoint, the new deals were a nice counterpoint to the coup Mr Putin pulled off in May, when he unveiled plans to build a pipeline along the Caspian coast that would bring gas from Turkmenistan to Europe via Russia.

Nor will Kazakhstan let pan-Eurasian solidarity wreck its relationship with the United States. Mr Nazarbayev has agreed with Azerbaijan on an American-backed plan to bring energy across the Caspian Sea. At the same time, Kazakhstan remains a member of Partnership for Peace, a NATO-led military co-operation club—as does every other member of the SCO, save China, albeit with widely varying levels of enthusiasm.

For Eurasia's minnows, playing one big power against another is a bit harder. Take Kyrgyzstan, which hosted part of the summit. At the risk of irking its SCO partners, it has said it will keep open, for the foreseeable future, the American air base near its capital. But in the commercial arena, Chinese influence over Kyrgyzstan is massive. There is only so much leverage that a nation of 5m people can have when it confronts one of 1.3 billion. This helps explain why China, whatever the glamour of summitry and war games, prefers to do some kinds of business one-to-one.
It's a custom of the human condition for the masses to remain ignorant. It's what they do. In fact, that IS how "the peace" is kept. Whatever democracy we have here is a spectator's sport.
Armanen
 
Posts: 179
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:13 am
Location: Arnor

Postby Armanen on Thu Sep 06, 2007 3:58 am

RUSSIA TAKES UP CASINO BUSINESS

Lragir
Sept 4 2007
Armenia

Apparently the Russian capital is not satisfied with having bought
the entire energy sector and industries of Armenia. Regnum reported
that the Russian Storm International game holding is likely to build a
compound in Armenia after Las Vegas. Perhaps they think our officials
had better not go far and spend their money here, at the Armenian
and Russian Las Vegas. Regnum reported that Storm International is
likely to invest over 300 million dollars. It is naturally going to
be the largest in the region. The compound will include a casino,
a five-star hotel, halls, a school of croupiers, a trade center,
restaurants, night clubs. 150 specialists will be invited from
Russia. The name of the compound will be Shangri-La Yerevan.
It's a custom of the human condition for the masses to remain ignorant. It's what they do. In fact, that IS how "the peace" is kept. Whatever democracy we have here is a spectator's sport.
Armanen
 
Posts: 179
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:13 am
Location: Arnor

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