Thursday, July 3, 2008

Window on Eurasia Shorts for July 3

JUST HOW SECURE ARE RUSSIA’S MISSILES? The FSB has found a stockpile of Soviet-era missiles near the Norwegian border but acknowledges that it has so far been unable to learn why they were put there or what branch of the Russian government is responsible for doing so (

FSB TELLS RUSSIANS HOW TO TELL IF SOMEONE’S PREPARING A TERRORIST ATTACK. The portal of the Federal Security Service (FSB) has published a length document telling Russians how they can tell if someone is planning a terrorist attack and what they should do if they see someone doing so ( The signs the FSB suggests point to the possibility of such an attack are so numerous and broad that the security service’s advice is likely both to increase insecurity and suspicion in Russian society and generate a large number of false positive reports to Russian officials.

SIXTY PERCENT OF RUSSIANS ARE STILL POOR; HALF BACK FOOD RATIONING. According to Moscow economist Yevgeny Gontmakher, almost 60 percent of Russians are poor (, and according to a VTsIOM poll, 51 percent of all Russians support the introduction of food rationing (, two statistics cruelly mock claims by many in Moscow and the West that in the Russia of Putin and Medvedev, life is becoming better and happier. But for those who are better off, things are getting better: “Novyye izvestiya” reports that the high-end Russian glamour industry is growing five times as fast as the Russian economy as a whole (

RUSSIA’S RAW MATERIALS ECONOMY PUTS MORE WORKERS AT RISK. Moscow’s push to develop oil, gas and other extractive branches means that more than one Russian works under conditions that are harmful to his or her health, according to Moscow demographers ( Meanwhile, Russian officials reported that Russians spent 70 billion rubles (3 billion U.S. dollars) last year on fake medicines (

MOSCOW MUST DO MORE THAN ACKNOWLEDGE GENOCIDE OF CIRCASSIANS. Murat Berzegov, head of the Adygeia-based Circassian Congress, says that Circassians welcome the increasing willingness of some Russian scholars to acknowledge that what the tsarist authorities did in the 19th century constituted genocide, but he said that Moscow must do more than just “admit the obvious.” The Russian government must end challenges to Circassian statehood in the North Caucasus, and it must provide funds not only to rebuild the communities Russian forces destroyed but also to repatriate the millions of Circassians now living abroad

IN INGUSHETIA, MVD SAYS THERE’S A WAR BETWEEN PEOPLE AND REGIME. Despite angry reaction in Moscow to a Human Rights Watch report that suggests the situation in Ingushetia is rapidly slipping out of control, an interior ministry official there speaking on condition of anonymity told the independent portal that the violence that has been taking place there over the last several years is best described as “a war of the population against the force structures and ‘informers’” (

RUSSIA BASED ON INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE, CULTURAL COOPERATION, MEDVEDEV SAYS. Speaking at the conclusion of services at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior, President Dmitry Medvedev said that “the centuries-long cooperation of nations, religions and cultures is both the basic and distinctive aspect of our statehood,” something that “more than once has helped Russia to deal with challenges.” At the same time, he said that the Russian Orthodox Church has a “unique experience” of partnership with the state, something made possible by the introduction of the principles of religious freedom in Russian life (

INDICTMENTS OF MILITARY OFFICERS UP 900 PERCENT SINCE 1991. Yury Kalinichenko, the chairman of the Moscow district military court reports that the number of officers charged with crimes rose 900 percent between 1990 and 2007. In the first year, prosecutors brought charges against 40 officers; last year, they did so against 366. Most of the charges involved exceeding authority, violent acts against soldiers, theft, extortion, and bribery (

RUSSIA HAS ‘MISSED OPPORTUNITIES’ TO BUILD UP NUCLEAR POWER. B. Nigmatulin, the first deputy director of the Moscow Institute for the Study of Problems of Natural Monopolies, argues in an extremely detailed 4,000-word article that the Russian government has missed a golden opportunity to develop its nuclear power industry at a time when it has money from the sale of oil and gas abroad and thus has set the stage for serious power shortages across the country in the next decade when oil and gas sales are projected to decline (

MOSCOW CAN INTRODUCE CYRILLIC INTERNET DOMAINS, ICANN SAYS. The international corporation which oversees domain names on the world wide web says that Russia can introduce Cyrillic-based names, something Moscow has long sought and that Russian media celebrated as yet another victory for their country ( and The new names are likely to appear only in the spring of 2009, but once they do, they may give Moscow yet another way to control access to the web, although some programmers say there are readily available workarounds surfers can use. Twenty-nine percent of the population of the Russian Federation –- 32.7 million people -- used the Internet in May 2008, four percent more than a year ago, according to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation (

RUSSIA AS GERMANY, UKRAINE AS FRANCE IN GERMAN VISION OF POST-SOVIET REINTEGRATION. Aleksandr Rahr, author of a highly regarded biography of Vladimir Putin and Berlin’s leading commentator on Russian affairs, said that “reintegration” on the post-Soviet space could lead to the emergence of an East European analogue of the European Union, one in which Russia would “assume the role of Germany in the EU” having convinced Ukraine to play the role of France (

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