Friday, June 13, 2008

Window on Eurasia Shorts for June 13

CRIMES UP IN MILITARY DESPITE DEFERALS FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS. Crime is now so rampant in Russian military units that some commanders want to set up video-monitoring devices in barracks and other military facilities ( – and this despite new efforts to weed out those who are psychologically unfit from military service (

RUSSIAN COURT REJECTS SUIT ON BOOK ILLUSTRATION SHOWING TATARS AS CANNIBALS. A Moscow appeals court has left in place a lower court’s rejection of a suit by a group of Naberezhny Chelny residents who argued that an illustration in a school textbook showing Tatars eating Russians at the time of the Battle of Kulikovo Field in 1380 was an incitement of inter-ethnic hostility and thus that the book containing it should be eliminated from the curriculum (

COMMUNIST LEADER WANTS MONUMENT TO ‘VICTIMS OF PERESTROIKA.’ Now that some Russian Orthodox priests and Russian nationalist and human rights activists have called for the erection of a statue in Moscow to the victims of communist, Gennady Zyuganov, the head of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation has urged that the country put up a monument to what he calls “the victims of perestroika” (

RUSSIAN STATISTICS ON IMMIGRATION DEFECTIVE, DEMOGRAPHERS SAY. This week’s issue of the Academy of Sciences publication “Demoscope Weekly” is devoted to Russian statistics about immigration and migration more generally. The authoritative journal argues that data on this most sensitive political issue is radically defective and needs to be improved if Moscow is ever to have the chance to develop a more rational policy in this area (

MIGHT RUSSIA APOLOGISE TO ABORIGINAL POPULATIONS? Now that Canada has followed Australia in apologizing to its aboriginal population, Russian minority activists appear to be wondering whether the Russian government might someday do the same thing (АКМНССиДВРФ/Новости/tabid/428/mid/1276/newsid1276/2976/-----/Default.aspx ). Russia’s approach to the minorities was far harsher even though one Moscow academic is now arguing that his country as never “the prison house of nations” Lenin called it (

RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS SAY OLEG PENKOVSKY WAS NOT SHOT. Some Russian intelligence officers believe that Colonel Oleg Penkovsky, who provided the United States with information on Soviet missile capabilities at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, was a double agent and consequently not executed as Moscow reported and Western sources have always accepted. Both Penkovsky’s background – he was the son of an anti-Bolshevik White Russian officer – and his daughter’s continued service in the Soviet intelligence organs after 1962 are otherwise inexplicable, these officers say (

FEW POST-SOVIET REPUBLICS HAVE EXPERTISE ON THEIR NEIGHBORS. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, few of the post-Soviet republics, both those which are now independent and those that are part of other countries, have maintained expertise on their neighbors, and that decline in the knowledge base is complicating policy making in many of them (

ORTHODOX CHURCH TRAIINS SPECIALISTS FOR SECURITY SERVICES, TOURISM INDUSTRY. The Russian Orthodox Church is training specialists for work with the security services and tourism, two fields that most people do not see as directly related to the faith but that the Patriarchate is interested in developing as it expands ties with the Russian government at all levels ( and

DON’T COUNTERPOSE ISLAM AND NATIONALISM, NORTH CAUCASUS EXPERTS SAY. Many in Moscow and elsewhere routinely suggest that Islam and nationalism compete with each other for the loyalties of peoples in the North Caucasus, but experts in Kabardino-Balkaria argue that this is only partially true. And they argue that those focusing on this area should recognize the many ways in which the two belief systems in fact reinforce one another (

RUSSIAN NATIONALISTS DELIGHTED BY PUTIN’S DISMISSAL OF SHVYDKOY. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s decision to dismiss Mikhail Shvydkoy from his job as head of the Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography has received high marks from Russian nationalists who have never forgiven the former culture minister for saying that “Russian fascism is worse than the German variety” (

ABKHAZIA MAY NOT BE RELIABLE ALLY, MOSCOW ANALYST SAYS. According to one Moscow analyst, the government in the breakaway republic of Abkhazia may not be the reliable ally of Moscow that many in the Russian capital think it is. Instead, Aleksandr Roslyakov argues, the authorities there are pursuing ties with European countries in ways that could harm Russia’s interests (

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