Taylor Rogalski
Title: Dozens die in Moscow train blasts
Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/newsid_8590000/newsid_8592200/8592250.stmSummary: Two female suicide bombers detonated their explosives in two separate locations in Moscow today, destroying two passenger trains and leaving dozens dead. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed to the public to catch the organization behind the bombings, and was quick to accuse Chechnya. The bombings were similar to many performed by radical Muslim extremists in the Middle East, and because of the ethnic conflict including Islam between Russia and Chechnya, there was little evidence needed to convict the Chechens.
Analysis: I think that although it is likely that Chechnya was behind the attacks, Putin was a little quick to make his accusation. Putin has long been praised for his ability to suppress terrorist organizations in Russia, and these attacks brought his legitimacy into question. There is an ideological opposition to Chechnya among the Russian population, so Putin was most likely trying to make it seem as if he has complete control by allowing Chechnya to be an easy scapegoat. This relates to our unit in class regarding the Russia-Chechnya conflict, and how it continues even to this day.

Sam Stargel

Title: Rally against paper mill
Source: __http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE62Q0WI20100327__
Summary: There were a handful of recent protests over Russia’s plans to re-open a Paper Mill near Lake Baikal. The mill was planed to open in St. Petersburg, very close to the lake, where the plant would pollute the water, which is 1/5th of the world’s fresh surface water. This plant would also kill over 1,500 plant species, and would be harmful to the people near the mill. There were over 700 environmentalists that were against the new plant, while the 1,600 who were in support of the plant also came out. There arguments were that they would lose there jobs, and then the sewage management plant would also lose there jobs.
Analysis: I think that this is a really delicate problem, as there is no clear solution, but I do understand where the workers are coming from. I feel that the government should allow the plant to reopen, and they should possibly have stronger sanctions over waste management, and they should also possibly increase the efficiency of the sewage plant.
Compare: This incident is really unlike anything we have talked about in Comp Gov, but there are some similarities between the government decisions. Russia has always shown a past of unwillingness to listen to its people and follow what they want to do.

llison Shaheen

With Breakdown of Order in Russia’s Dagestan Region, Fear Stalks Police


Summary: Most recently in Russia, the Russian police force has experience severe violence. The violence has reached to the point where Col. Mukhatar's, an officer for over 25 years, wife stood in front of the family's doorway to prevent him leaving for work. As for the family of Col. Mukhatar, they have practically been raised infused with this fear of their father's work. In the Russian region of Dagestan, a total of 58 police officers so far have been attacked, and killed. From Islamist militants, to youngmen, the gunmen range. The police force, widely known for its corruption, has seen a double in attacks, loosing over 200 in the past year.
Analysis: This article is extremely sad in my opinion. Although I by all means agree that the Russia government is definitely full of corruption, I do not agree with the means that some Russians in Dagestan are handling the situation. I think that somehow, the Russian government needs to clean up the police force, and create a sense of respect.....soon.
Comparison: I think that Russia's situation is most easily compared to our study and knowledge of Mexico. This corruption in the police force can be directly related to Mexico. Both nations have a force that receives little to no respect from the public, and that lack of respect is leading to violence within the nation. Both Russia and Mexico are in need to desperate change, or the future and hopes for ultimate success of their nations is at risk.

Sam Stargel
Nuclear sanctions over Iran with Russia
Summary: This past Saturday President Medvedev of Russia has stated that sanctions against Iran, because of their nuclear program, are not out of the question. He said “We are convinced that the path of sanctions is not optimal," but there is still hope as he later added that they cannot be completely excluded if diplomacy fails. Many people believe that diplomacy will fail, as Iran has had several instances of following IAEA procedures, such as letting their investigators into the plants. Medvedev also stated that Russia cannot wait forever on Tehran to agree to the investigations, as they could be pretty close to developing weapons. Also, Medvedev mentioned that the sanctions would have to protect the people of Iran otherwise he would not be in support of them. Also the article talked about how China was the only other country that has not agreed to sign the sanctions, which cause Iran to not feel as much pressure as most of the countries against it are western.
Analysis: I think that Russia should really agree to sign the sanctions along with China. A lot of the past sanctions that have been put on Iran have failed as they are unilateral, and on the U.S. is putting these sanctions on them. The problem is that then Iran does not feel the pressure, and is not as affected. Multilateral sanctions would really destroy Iran’s government and that would cause them to agree to the terms. I also think that the fact that Russia is thinking about the sanctions says a lot about how much more democratic the nation has become since the 90’s.
Compare: We have been talking about Iran’s intentions with nuclear power in Comp Gov recently, and I think that my opinion has not really changed and that Iran should still not have nuclear weapons. Also, we talked about how Russia and China are the only countries that haven’t agreed to sanctions, so this is interesting to see how Russia is at least thinking about them.

Jacob Carl
Russia, U.S near arms control deal
Summary: The United States and Russia have begun to talk about a deal over nuclear and other special missiles. They are attempting to limit the amount that they have The current plan is to make a limit of 1,500 with Russia currently having about 2,200 missiles. We are also attempting to reduce the amount of special missile carrier trucks. This is all in a goal to reduce the amount of nuclear and special missiles worldwide. The countries believe that if they begin to limit themselves then other countries will soon follow.
Compare/analysis- This is a great sign for the health of the world to come. It is a great first step to make every country a lot safer. It is unnecessary to have such great nuclear capacbilities. The rest of the world will hopefully follow in the footsteps and limit their own nuclear arsenals. This is a good thing weapon that can destroy the world in only 8 blasts. It is not a good idea to have these weapons that can destroy the earth hundreds of times over.

Jasmine Cho

Russia To Test New Unique Project 855 Yasen Nuclear Submarine


Summary: In 2010, Russia plans to test its new state-of-the-art multi-purpose nuclear submarine called Severodvinsk. This unique technology differs from the ones before it in that it is the first submarine to be built entirely in Russia. At the beginning of May, the new submarine that was built by JSC Sevmash is planned to be launched. This new submarine is a "twin-hull nuclear submarine with decreased level of acoustic field and with ten compartments." It contains technology capable of solving combat tasks with practically any type of modern surface vessels and submarines. The engineers of the company have reported that the anti-vessel 3M55 onix missiles with capabilites of striking targets at a distance of up to 300 kilometers will be the basic attack weapon of the submarine. These special missiles have a system of artificial intelligence with the capability of destroying the ventral target in a group. This company, the JSC Sevmash, is currently building three nuclear submarines.
Comparion and Analysis: Russia has proven itself as a strong country economically. But the presence of nuclear weapons and submarines is frightening. Especially since the spokepeople of the company state that "other countries must know that Russia is always ready to respond to any attack" While the navies of France, Britain, and the US have nine nuclear submarine on constant combat duty, the Russian Navy plans to have 50 nuclear submarines. These new submarines will become the "perfect weapon for military actions in the distant coean zone." This is an especially terrifying fact in that Russia is prepared and ready to use these weapons against countries against them. Historically Russia has had no problem using fear to intimidate their enemies and it seems that they are using it again today.

Tyler Oleski
New US-Russia nuclear deal 'soon' says Hillary Clinton
Summary: Hillary Clinton recently commented on the ongoing disarmament deal being negotiated by the United States and Russia. The deal is taking place in Moscow, where Hillary Clinton and her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov continue to meet. The deal, a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) is said to be finalized soon. The negotiations have taken a considerably long time because of disagreements such as how to count weapons, verification measures, as well as the presence of nuclear power in Iran. There is no reason to believe that these impediments will prevent the deal from ever being finalized.
Analysis: This is a huge step in development of nuclear non-proliferation today. It's going to take many more deals such as this in order to disarm nuclear stockpiles globally. Hopefully if this deal pulls through, issues such as nuclear development in Iran will be resolved in the following months. Regardless of what happens in Iran, this deal between Russia and the UNited States marks a new era of nuclear cooperation.
Compare: Iran is a major issue in this deal. The United States and Russia publicly disagree on the planned opening of an Iranian nuclear power station. This is completely relevant to what we're studying in class at this point. Iran's development of nuclear power has sparked major disagreement among nations who have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970. Until the rest of the world knows for sure what Iran is planning to do with this new nuclear power exploration, it is very difficult to proceed with deals such as the START treaty between the United States and Russia.

Allison Shaheen
Iran Dispute becomes focus of Clinton's trip to Moscow

Summary: As Secretary of State Hilary Clinton made her trip to Moscow, her meeting with foreign policy leader turned into a public dispute regarding the situation in Iraq. In Russia's hopes to create a nuclear plant within Iran, Clinton made it clear that she did not agree with the decision, stating that it
"sends the wrong signal at the time when the West is trying to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions". But, as for foreign minister Sergey V. Lavrov, he completely disagreed and stating that Russia continues on with their plan. This clearly public dispute has occurred at a very touchy time in our administration. The US is trying very hard to withhold a positive relationship with Russia, while attempting to win support for new sanctions in Iran. Just upon Clinton's arrival in Moscow, Putin made the announcement of Russia's soon to be executed plan. It has been further discussed the Putin's announcement was much too ironic in timing, and that he was merely attempting to embarrass Clinton. Clinton stated that Iran was entitled to peaceful nuclear energy, “If it reassures the world, or if its behavior is changed because of international sanctions, then they can pursue peaceful civil nuclear power,” she said.
Analysis: I think that the focus on this article was much too focused upon the personal politics. Although they are interesting, I think that those involved should be more focused on the actual issues at hand, rather than Putin trying to embarrass Clinton, or the other personal repercussions. I also agree with the articles standpoint that the US administration lies in a very difficult place. It is important for us to keep a balance on viewpoints, but make sure that Russia and Iran know where we stand upon this issue.

Compare: One of the reasons I really like this article, is because I thought it was great how it incorporated Russia, the US, and Iran- all countries that we have thoroughly been discussing in class. It realistically shows the negotiations and issues that we have talked about in class. Comparing to other nations, the US is playing the role of a position that many nations have had to play. Establishing viewpoints, while trying to make everyone happy, is something that many countries attempt to do daily.

Tyler Oleski - hi honey! love, allie.
Russian opposition stage anti-Putin rallies
Summary: This past week thousands of angry Russians took to the streets in protest of PM Putin. Opposition to Putin and his policies comes in many forms. Human rights activists, Communist party members, Solidarity advocates, as well as liberals organized to show their disapproval of recent policies. The crowd berated the current administration and called for free and fair elections, as well as free speech. Also among the crowds' demands was a call to lower unemployment rates, which have recently grown higher. Russian authorities have called this protest "unauthorized."
Analysis: It seems as if Putin's brand of political socialization is not as magical as it originally seemed. He was able to mask his undemocratic actions as President through a harsh cult of personality, and no one dared question him. Now that he is PM, a more verbal and open opposition has manifested. People everywhere in Russia and publicly disapproving of his decisions. Especially with his possible promise to run for President again in the next election, criticism soars ever higher. Medvedev more than ever is being seen as simply a puppet under Putin's administration. Only time will tell how his reputation will fare among the restless Russian people.
Compare: This can be compared to Mexico, where many protests have occurred in opposition to a corrupt government. Not to say the Russian government is corrupt, but allegations have arisen against Putin stating that he may have been involved in tampering with elections as well as defying the constitution. Regardless of Putin's innocence, many people believe him to be the cause of many of Russia's problems. This is similar to Mexico where many presidents have lost legitimacy in possible corruption scandals.

Jacob Carl
Restlessness in Russias Western Outpost
In Kalingrad Russia there are many quarrels over the territory. The territory is squeezed in between Poland. The territory was originally owned by Germany during WWII but was heavily bombed and switched hands to Russia. Many believe that the territory should be set free because the people do not feel as if they are actually Russian. There is much more freedom there and people are allowed to protest on the streets unlike inside Russia. There have been many protests recently against Putin and the Kremlin. The people want to be part of the European Union.
Compare/Analysis- This relates to many other countries in the world including the United States. There are many powerful countries that are holding territories for their own even against the needs of the territory. It is very cruciacl to listen to the territories so that they are not held in captivity.
Darbie McPhail
Russian magnate wins libel case over poisoning report
Summary: Boris Berezovsky, a Russian oligarch exiled in Britain, was awarded $223,400 in damages from a libel case. It was reported on the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) and RTR, the company’s satellite channel, that Berezovsky took part in the 2006 poisoning death of former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko. Litvinenko was a former KGB agent, who came to Britain after “bashing” the KGB’s successor, the FSB. He was very outspoken against then-President Putin and Chechen politics. He even claimed that the FSB played a key role in a 1999 apartment bombing and that it was not, contrary to popular belief, carried out by Chechen rebels. He also stated that he had been ordered to kill Berezovsky. Litvinenko died in November 2006 and blamed Putin for his death.
Analysis: This is a prime example of the power the Russian state has over its people. Although this “libel” could in fact be true, state-run media was quick to blame the death on the demonized oligarch. It is also interesting that Litvinenko was an outspoken Putin critic, many of which who are oppressed or killed (as the journalists were).
Comparison: Just as in Russia, propaganda on state-run media is very influential in China. Just as in this scenario, the media is used to ruin the reputation of many critics and dissenters from the state/party.

Matt Brown
Putin: Iran’s new nuclear plant to start up soon
Summary: Russia’s Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin said Thursday, March 18, 2010 that Iran’s new Russian-built nuclear power plan would be up in running in the summer of 2010. U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urged Russia not to start up the power plant until Iran proves that it is not producing atomic weapons. "The first reactor at Iran's nuclear power plant in Bushehr is to be launched already in the summer," Putin said. While there was no exact date set for the start of Russia’ s power plant, both Putin and Medvedev are set to meet with Clinton Friday, March 19, 2010. Russia signed a $1 billion agreement in 1995 for the building of the Bushehr plant but has shown no real effort or attempts up until this point. Iranian lawmakes claim that Western influences have delayed the start of Bushehr however government officials in Moscow have blamed technical issues for the delay of the plant.
Comparison/Analysis: Russia’s attempt to make better ties with Iran, shows that they understand the dangers of negative foreign relations with countries close by and understand that bettering that relationship can only benefit them. For the past few years, Russia and Iran have not had a very strong relationship however there attempts to work together in this situation is, in my opinion a very positive thing for both.

Ex-Saakashvili Ally Seeks to Rebuild Georgian Ties With Russia

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/ex-saakashvili-ally-seeks-to-rebuild-georgian-ties-with-russia/400926.html By John Pamplin
Summary: Georgian leader
Nino Burjanadze visited Russia in an attempt to start to rebuild relations between the two countries after the war between the two countries back in 2008. Burjanadze believes that relations between the two countries are critical because they are neighbors and Russia is so powerful. Nino Burjanadze was once the speaker of the parliament from 2001 until 2008 and she feels that the relationship with Russia is even more important than the upcoming elections. Ties with Russia were originally started with the former Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli when he met with Russian’s Vladimir Putin. Burjandze is the leader of the Georgian Opposition party, which has lost favor with the west. So many people believe that this is simply a way for them to gain funding and Russia is willing to pay to gain influence into Georgian politics.
Analysis: This article was very interesting to me because we have been talking about influences that countries can impose on other countries. To me if I had recently been attacked by Russia I would be less likely to try to get them to finance me. I think that more than anything else, this article shows the power that Russia has over its neighboring countries. They have long been intertwined with the Soviet Union, and I think that we are seeing that some countries are starting to see that they might benefit with increased connections with Russia.
Comparison: The main point I got out of this article is that Russia is fully taking advantage in its ability to influence other countries. Putin is especially responsible for taking every advantage in trying to gain every ounce of power he can. I believe from what we have been studying that Putin will do what he had to finance this party and therefore gain power. This is similar to the way that the United States made a blockade against communism with supporting countries which are near communist powers. So it will be interesting to see if Russia with Putin leading it towards more nationalism and possible attempting to take more land and people for the Russian people. Another example of how Putin is doing this is with his state funded Kremlin Youth Camps.

Fake Georgian News Report on Russian Invasion
Maria C. Romano
Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8566571.stm

Summary : A frenzied panic arose in Georgia after a TV station broadcasted news that Russian tanks had invaded the capital and the country’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, had been killed. The falsified Imedi network’s report, which featured archived footage of the 2008 war, brought back memories of the 2008 Russo-Georgian war for many. Mobile phone networks were quickly flooded with calls, and crowds took to the street in panic, as history seemed to be repeating itself. The pro-government network’s excuse was that it wanted to show how things might have gone if the president really had been killed. It wanted to highlight how opposition figures might seize power after an assassination. President George Arveladze later apologized about the distress the report caused.
Comparison/Analysis: This report was seen by some as a swipe by the government supporters against the opposition politicians who recently travelled to Moscow to meet with Putin. Based on what we have talked about in class, many Georgians are anti-Russian, but it is interesting to note that this pro-Georgian political tampering with the media is eerily Putin-esque. This article also serves to highlight the effect the media and propaganda can have on people, and not only in China and Russia. In addition to this, the sheer panic that the newscast created really shows what an impact this war had on the Georgian people.

Afghan Heroin Traffic Increasing
http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/afghan-heroin-traffic-increasing/400924.html John Pamplin
Summary: Russia is currently experiencing an increase in the amount of heroin which is being trafficked in from Afghanistan. There have been several attempts to try and decrease this flow but the efforts seem to be going nowhere. With nearly 5 million Russians currently using heroin this is a significant issue. There have been attempts by the UN to try and stop this but they have passed it on to NATO which has in turn passed it along to Afghan authorities. The problem seems to only be increasing which is draining the Russian people and causing a serious health epidemic.
Analysis: This article goes extremely well with the lecture which was given at UNC about drug trafficking. We are seeing the impacts of drugs on places other than the United States. The serious health epidemic which is coming from Russia’s addiction to heroin is not an easy thing to solve. From the lecture and the article we see that their “War on Drugs” is not working out well, there is a lack of impact and of effort to make it successful. The best thing that a country can do according to the lecture is invest in programs to educate the people and create help programs which people can go to in order to get help.
Comparison: There is one really good and distinct comparison which can be made here. We see the exact same problem in the United States with our “Drug War”. We have a population of people who is addicted to drugs which are made readily available by Mexico and Colombia where the drugs are produced. The comparisons are endless it is really the exact same situation and the only solution to the problem is to get rid of the demand for the drugs. The only way to do this is again to educate the community about the horrible health epidemics which come along with constant drug use.

Jacob Carl
With Olympic Flame Out, Russia Fumes Over its Athletes Showings
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/02/world/europe/02moscow.htmlSummary- It seemed that as soon as the Olympic flame went out the president Medvedev begin to talk of how ashamed he was of Russias performance in the Olympic games. Even a week into the games the people of Russia begin to call for the resignation of the top leaders in the Olympic competition. The whole country seeemed to be ashamed of all the athletes performances. The country placed 6th overall just after South Korea. This is shamefull for a country that usually dominates the medal count. It seemed that all the events the Russians usually place in the top they performed really bad. In hockey, bobsled and ice skating the athletes were beat out, not even making it to medal position.
Analysis/Comparison: This shows how the country has been so critical in recent years. This shows how the president has been so critical recently and how the country is so eager to improve. There is much fear that when the country hosts the games in 2014 that they will not do very well. They do not want to be embarrased by being beaten that bad in their home country.

Jasmine Cho
Russian government approves tycoon Prokhorov's hybrid car project
Summary: The Russian government, lead by Medvedev, approved a project that plans to produce hybrid cars. These hybrid cars, a inventor created by Russian billionaire and project author Mikhail Prokhorov, run on both conventional gasoline as well as liquified natural gas-engines. This is an exciting new project for Russia because it will rid Russia's dependence on raw material exports and will encourage Russia to switch to a knowledge-based, innovative economy. According to analysts, the production of new hybrid cars will only yield profits if the production sells several tens of thousands vehicles. Another problem is finding quality components to make the hybrid cars.
Analysis/Comparsion: The article stated that the Russian billarionaire who is the project author sold some of his most attractive assets just before the global economic crisis struck and is now willing to invest cash in innovative projects like the Hybrid projects. This relates to the video we watched in that. This articles shows how the oligarchies may be moving towards a transition to help the poorer social classes to share the wealth of Russia. Another way that this will help the rest of Russia is the place where the company will construct the cars will bring the town/city into prosperity.

Sam Stargel
Url: http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSLDE6220R9
Outcry as Russia releases officer who shot reporter
Summary: This past Tuesday, there was a police officer, Ibragim Yevloyev, who was released after serving a three month term of two years for manslaughter of a journalist, Magomed Yevloyev. Many people believe that this is completely wrong for several reasons. First, the reporter was killed after he was already detained. Also, it was a shot to the head, which doesn’t sound like an accident. The reporter was the editor of the main opposition news site, of the main political party in Ingushetia. There are many people who feel that this is major infringement on there rights, and people are very upset because of this. This has been the second hit on his life, as he was almost killed by a suicide bomber last year. One of the other reporters accused the courts of being corrupt, and that the whole system is as well.
Analysis: Well I believe that this is very wrong, for anyone to be killed for news that the people deserve to hear. I also think that it is totally out of line for him to not even serve a quarter of the original term. I think that this shows just how corrupt the government is, and how its employees live above the law. It’s also ridiculous that they convicted him of manslaughter as well, when it most likely was not.
Comparison: Well this is very similar to how we have been talking about the corruption in Russia in Comp Gov, and how that these people are above the law. I think that this is completely ridiculous and something needs to be done.

Darbie McPhail
Russia-Georgia border open, but hostility remains
Summary: A Russia-Georgia border in the Caucasus mountains, closed in 2006 due to worsening relations between the two countries has just been reopened. It cost a grand total of $2.5 million to rebuild. From the outside this may seem as the beginning of a reconciliation process, yet the two countries still refuse to participate in talks with one another. The Russians reason that they will not be involved in any talks until President Mikheil Saakashvili is out of office. The Georgians reason that they will not be involved in talks until Russia withdraws it’s troops from two territories. Border towns are becoming more optimistic because of the reopening; they now are reconnected to former trading parters and family. Also greatly effected by the reopening is Armenia, a landlocked country, not touching Russia, whose economy is greatly suffering. By opening the border, Georgia claims it is “helping a friend”.
Analysis: Though this is only a small event, I believe it is a stepping stone in the bettering of the relationship between Russia and Georgia. The incentives for the reopening may be mainly economic, yet this could lead to reconciliation between the two countries.
Comparison: Just like in many other countries who were once pinned against one another, mending of relationships started with small events. Hopefully it will only be a matter of time before Georgia and Russia come to terms with one another.

Maria C. Romano
Obama's Winning Russian Hearts
Russians' attitudes towards the West, specifically the US, seem to have improved dramatically according to a popular opinion poll taken in January. Apparently, the number of Russians who liked the US rose from a low of 31% in Novermber 2009 to 54% in January (an all-time high since the 2008 Georgia war). One can attribute this change of heart in large part to a change in White House administration from George Bush to Barack Obama. This change in leadership brought about a specific change in foreign policy when concerning Russia, including Obama's decision to refrain from pressing forward with Bush's plan to install a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Foreign Ministry spokesman Igor Lyajub-Frolov told the Moscow Times that now "we can at least talk about the problems between our [two] countries." In fact, most russians recognize that Americans are their biggest partner in global affairs.
Comparison/Analysis: I think this relationship could be really good for both countries. Bandaged US-Russia relations certainly won't hurt our eternal hunt for oil (as Russia happens to have a lot of it), and it wouldn't hurt Russia to continue trading with the US to bolster its economy. Illiberal democracy or not, proximity to the US will only help in the process of mirroring out liberal economic and political situation, if that is the route that Medvedev chooses to take. Thanks to Obama's pivotal decision against the missile shield, a path has been opened up for both countries to coexist peacefully and to benefit each other all the while.

Matt Brown
US Servicemen To Take Part in Russia's Largest Victory Parade Ever
Summary: US service men are supposed to take place in Russia’s largest victory parade ever. The parade is in celebration of the American’s 65th anniversary of the Victory in WWII. The parade is going to take place through the main streets of Moscow, Russia on May 9th. Soldiers from France, Britain and United States will march through Moscow to the Red Square. A spokesman for Russia’s Defense Ministry stated that they plan on using 130 planes and helicopters along with many items from other private military collections. The parade in 2010 is supposed to be the largest one held in Moscow during the post-Soviet years. Organizers of the parade stated that spectators will have a great view of the parade from both the air to ground, making it one of Russia’s most memorable parades.
Analysis: Russia’s ability to interact with foreign countries in a positive way, such as this shows a real initiative from them to work well with foreign countries. Having good foreign relationships will always be useful and both countries are using this situation as a perfect time to better their current relations.

Taylor Rogalski
Obama urges Russia to help gain treaty
Summary: US President Barack Obama spoke with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on Wednesday to help accelerate the completion of a treaty concerning nuclear weaponry. Obama urged Medvedev to press the negotiations which would help seal the pact, which in turn would greatly reduce the nuclear arsenal of both parties. This was following an agreement between the two in July that nuclear warheads should be capped at around 1,700, down from the roughly 2,200 that both sides currently hold. The Russians have believed that the issue of an American missile defense in Europe was nonexistent since the Obama administration disavowed Bush's plans to establish such systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. The US insists that anti-missile systems are only to combat a potential attack from Iran. Reports state that Obama and Medvedev have reached middle ground on most issues concerning the treaty.
Analysis: This discussion between the two leaders shows progress towards more amicable relations between the US and Russia. Weakening the excessive nuclear arsenal of both countries can only result in good things for all. 1,700 nuclear warheads is enough to wipe out the human race, so it seems overkill enough. Their meeting signifies a step towards reducing the wasting of resources on unneeded weaponry. The urgency to complete this unfinished treaty on Obama's part shows his responsibility in getting pressing issues taken care of as soon as possible, and leads us to question what he will address next.

Tyler Oleski

Russia farmer convicted of planting landmines in field


Summary: On Friday of last week, a Russian farmer was convicted of planting homemade land mines around his field to ward off trespassers. This man, Alexander Skopintsev, from the eastern region of Primorye near China's border, laid the three devices on his land after building them in his garage. Authorities do not know how the man acquired the means to build these deadly weapons, but further investigations are taking place. The explosives were discovered when a man walking across the field triggered an explosion, becoming severely injured. The farmer attempted to justify this "defense" by claiming that he was merely trying to ward off the influx of potato thieves.
Compare and Analysis: In the rural, underdeveloped areas of the world there are always cases of residents taking defensive measures into their own hands, often to the extreme. In this case, these weapons were so deadly that this could be considered a national security threat. I think that this incident reflects the huge difference between the urban, developed areas of Russia and the rural, often backwards, regions. In the country, people can get away with constructing homemade weapons and staging attacks. Something like this would never happen in the developed areas of the world, such as the United States. This just proves that life in rural Russia is still incredibly primitive and chaotic.

Back to the USSR?

Carlyle Phipps
Summary: Earlier this month Russian president Dmitry Medvedev signed Russia's new military doctrine. The previous doctrine appeared in 2000, and the next one was supposed to be ready five years ago.Unlike the doctrine of 2000, it clearly defines the potential enemy. According to the authors of the document, the main danger for Russia stems from NATO – from its enlargement, from "the movement of its infrastructure closer to the borders of the Russian Federation" and from the desire of unnamed forces, presumably the US, to endow NATO with "global functions carried out in violation of the norms of international law". On February 3rd, two days before the doctrine was signed, Russia's Institute of Contemporary Development, presented to the public another document, Russia in the 21st Century: Visions for the Future. Among other things the authors offered their vision of Russia's future foreign policy – and it differs dramatically from that of the Russian military. They see Russia as a "prominent member of the WTO and the OECD", "a strategic ally of the EU", and possibly its member, and, amazingly, a member of the "substantially changed Nato". These ideas are very different from the new military doctrine, showing how disjointed the beliefs of many of the Russian elites are now.
Analysis/Comparison: The new military doctrine and the Institute of Contemporary Development's new document do a great job of showing the difference between many beliefs of the Russian elites. They are very conflicting ideas, but are both believable. The military doctrine makes it seem like Russia is regressing, rather than progressing, but if many believe in ideas like this, there may still be hope for Russia to progress. This is also a great example of Medvedev's conflicting policies. He was brought into the presidency to serve as Putin's puppet, but has recently begun to break away from this idea and adopted some policies that oppose those of Putin's. Nothing is certain now, we just have to continue to watch and see where Russia's future leads.
Sam LeBlanc
Moldova Trans-Dniester region in Russia missile offer
Summary: A self-declared "independent" region of Moldova has responded to the United States missile shield plans in the official Moldova region by offering to host Russian missles. The Trans-Dniester region, which declared independence from Moldova in 1991, is already a host to Russian troops as well as a Russian arms dump. The plans put forth by the United States include hosting missile defence bases in Romania and Bulgaria, much to Russia's concern. The plan has met harsh criticism from Moscow already, and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has asked for an explanation regarding the US missile defence plans. The current main Moldovan government has moved towards a moderate position between Russia and the Western World, attempting to build diplomatic ties with both. The Trans-Dniester region, in contrast, maintains exclusive support for Russia. Russia has not announced any plans to house missiles in the region as of yet, but T-D Region leader Igor Smirnov insists that any future requests made by Russia will be granted.
Analysis: This is a vestge from the Cold War. The US and the former SU are tiptoeing around one another even today- the strategy of "testing" the opposition in surrounding nations is obviously still in practice, and this article proves that despite Russia's "democratization" and warming of policy towards the United States, we still maintain defence interests in the region- just in case. A very American attitude towards Russia indeed.

Matt Brown
Russian protest broken up by police

Summary: Dozens were arrested in Moscow, Russia on Sunday, January 31st when a 300 plus group of activist stormed the streets demanding respect for their right to free assembly. A similar situation occurred in the Baltic territory of Kaliningrad when some 10,000 demonstrators came together over the rise in living cost. That very next day a very similar situation occurred in St. Petersburg. Those detained by police in these protest were soon after released and told to appear in court and are being charged with breaking rules of public gathering. Demonstrators claim that there should be no issue in non-violent protest such as these however, government officials claim that it’s only a matter of time before it can get potentially dangerous.
Analysis: It is very unusual for protest like these to be held respectfully and in a non-violent way. However, I believe the Russian police did for the most part a good job of maintaining a peaceful environment. Unfortunately, the more despair the situation causes, the higher the possibility of it getting out of control. As long as demonstrators keep protest under control and police act appropriate in these situations, I see no problem with these activists voicing their opinions.

Jasmine Cho
Russia tests its first stealth jet fighter
Summary: On January 29, 2010, Russia tested its fifth-generation Sukhoi fighter jet. The plan is also called in the T-50 and based on stealth technology that will be the answer to the American F-35 and F-22 jets. According to the manufacturer, T-50 is a jet that can fly at any time of the day and in any weather conditions. It has the abilit to simultaneously attacking multiple targets in air, on the ground, and in the sea. The Sukhoi official stated that the plane will be "less recognizable for radars thanks to many innovations, the use of composite materials and a special coating on the surface of the plane." The Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies thinks that the plane is a "unique technological achievement of the post-Soviet Russia which nothing else could be compared with."
Analysis/Comparison: The development of this Sukhoi fighter jet shows the industrial and creative development of Russia in becoming a great aviation power. Like other communist societies, Russia is able to make innovations even under an authoritarian government. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that the sample quantity of the 5th generation Sukhoi planes will be delivered to the Russian Air forces in 2013. This may indicate Russia as a growing power, politically, militarilly, and economically. Sukhoi expects its product to become popular at the international arms market.

Jordan Thomas

Undiplomatic Tweets
Summary: Dmitri O. Rogozin, Russia’s ambassador to NATO, has been widely known for his opposition of Russia’s involvement with NATO. Recently, he’s been expressing his frustrations with NATO actions with frequently offensive tweets on the website, Twitter. After hearing about America’s intent of putting anti missile defense systems in Romania, he tweeted that “The Americans and their allies again want to surround the den of the Russian bear? How many times must they be reminded that this is dangerous? The bear will emerge, and kick them in the @$$”. Also, he has called Ukraine’s pro-Western president, Viktor A. Yshchenko, a “loser”, and called Western politicians “irrational”.
Analysis: This reflects the fact that tensions between the US and Russia remain high after Russia’s invasion of Georgia. In fact, in Russia’s new military doctrine, they characterized NATO as a top security threat. Ambassadors like Rogozin will only worsen the relationship between the two powers, postponing the possibility to make amends
Comparison: I’ve never really heard of anything like this… but this is an example for future and current diplomatic relations. It proves the common courtesy is necessary before any negotiations can be made, so that the two parties will have mutual respect for each other.

Darbie McPhail
Russia supports plan to clean up Baltic in preparation for gas pipeline
Summary: Putin, by attending the Baltic Sea Action Summit, has cast off Russia’s image of the “dirty man” of the Baltic. The Baltic Sea is one of the most polluted in the world, littered with fertilizer, chemicals, oil, pesticides, and human waste. This independently run summit was created to take action in cleaning up the Baltic Sea. Over a thousand delegates and head’s of state from Baltic countries attended the summit. About 140 organizations and companies have already announced that they will use their skills and knowledge to create a plan to clean up the Baltic. A controversy in the summit, though, was Russia’s plans to build the Nord Stream Pipeline, which would bring Arctic natural gas across the Baltic from Russia to “energy starved” Germany. This top political and economic concern for Russia has consequences such as destroying marine habitats, stirring up toxic sediment on the sea bed, and destabilizing shipwrecks and offshore chemical and conventional ammunition dumps. There has been legal action against the pipeline, which would delay its construction which was set for April (and due to be finished in 2012).
Analysis: It seems that Russia’s only reason for attending the summit was not environmental concerns, but concerns for the construction of the Nord Stream Pipeline. The only way the country will be able to have its way with the pipeline would be to take a more proactive stance on environmental clean-up and preservation.
Comparison: Like China, Russia is only now opening itself up to certain things to get what it wants. For example, China only became more involved in the world arena to become more powerful and wealthy. Russia seems only to be opening up to cleaning up the environment to build the gas pipeline.

Maria C. Romano
Russia’s Nord Stream Pipeline
Summary : Construction on Russia’s Nord Stream gas pipeline to Germany is set to begin very soon and its completion is estimated for 2012. The Russians acquired the needed permission from a Finnish environmental agency in early February, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has told Baltic leaders that extensive research was conducted on the environmental impact of the pipeline and that it is “completely safe.” There are still come concerns however, because the Baltic is already a sink for chemical pollutants and untreated sewage, making it one of the world’s most polluted seas. Some people are concerned that the project will stir up toxins lying in the sea bed. Finland has permitted the project to proceed, but it has banned the anchoring of any ships laying the pipeline within its economic zone. The overall cost of the project is estimated at about 6.4 billion euros for the 1,220km pipeline. The plan is to pump 55bn cubic meters of gas annually to Germany and other EU countries from Russia’s small territory near Poland
I think this article speaks to Russia’s improved relations with the EU, but also to our discussion about Russia’s geography. While it is true that it has a vast territory, Siberia and other inhospitable portions of the land take up most of it. As we mentioned in class, Russia has few good ports, so this is why it held on to its territory in Europe. This location is also perfect for this project which will, no doubt, rather profitable for the Russians. As for the environmental impact, I want to believe that Finland and the other Baltic countries carefully examined the claims that this would be “completely safe” to do, but one has to wonder if this is not all just about money…

Jasmine Cho
Russia "needs radical reform"
Summary: The institute of Contemporary Development, who has close ties to the Kremlin, astonishingly publlished a proposal called "21st Century Russia: the image of the tomorrow we want". It was a striking document that called for a reversal of many changes that have occurred in Russia. The biggest surprise is that it reads as more of a "catalogue of criticism" then a praise of past achievement. Coming from close ties the Kremlin, this document clearly shows the reality of Russia's predicament. The proposal called for another modernizing leap forward, introduction of multi-party democracy, and abolition of the Federal Security Service (FSB – the main successor agency to the Soviet-era secret police). In another surprising note, the proposal also calls for the presidential term to be cut from seven to five years. This proposal is shocking to Russia and the world because the fact that they are being discussed by people “who have the president’s ear” puts the Russian political establishment is a dangerous position.
Analysis/Comparison: The situation in Russia is similar to the one in China in that people are beginning to speak out on a community-wide level. It is more extreme in Russia in that the politicians close to the Kremlin are speaking out against the downfalls of the Russian government. The fact that there is no backlash against the Institute of Contemporary Development demonstrates how Russia could possible be on the move towards change. These proposals and calls of change show how the world is moving towards “the values of freedom and law, democracy, and the market.

A Rat
John Pamplin

Summary: Sergei Mironov,who is the leader oftheA Just Russia party,criticized Vladimir Putin when he said that his party “strongly objects” to the 2010 budget compiled by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Mironov ran against Putin in the 2004 presidential election and also stated that the idea that the party does everythingPutin says is “outdated”. This has caused a lot of turmoil and many people believe that it is just an attempt to distance himself from Putin, whichmany think is dumb,because Putin is so highly respected and because Putin has done so much for Russia. There has been a reaction and a call for Mironov to be removed from the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, although there is no law which allowsthis to happen. Most analystsbelieve that this was all just an attempt for Mironov to get votes in the upcoming election.
Analysis: This is the first time I have looked at Russian politicsand it really seemslike a lot of fun. The difference between Russian politics and Chinese politicsis apparent immediately. For one thing,the Russian politicians are not above name calling and it secondlyseems to be that at least some ofthem are lying directly to the media. This is really cool since in China everythingis focused and agrees with the communistparty there is noother thinking aboutwhat the party says. In Russia if you don’t like what someonesays that just tell them to “drink less” which was one of the quotes in the article.
Compare: Well I have already compared this a little to China which is completely rigid and strict in its politics with everything following the communist partyline. More than anythingelse this looks to me to be similarto that of Great Britain’s politics which are a little less rigid and there is a lot of name calling and intense questioning at times. Really more than anything else this article has made me want to learn more about Russian politics, since from the article they seem to be fairly crazy and its seems like it’s a perfectly ok thing to insult people directly and with brutal name calling.

Tyler Oleski
Russia to sell Libya weapons in $1.8 billion dealhttp://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/01/30/russia.libya.arms/index.html?iref=allsearch
Summary: January 30th, Russia signed a deal to sell assorted weapons to Libya. Stocks of small arms and light weapons as well as modification for tanks and heavy artillery will be included in the deal. The deal was signed off by Prime Minister Putin, who was very enthusiastic with the preparations. This is the fifth weapons exportation by Russia to Libya in history, and by far the biggest. Rosoboronexport is the name of the company manufacturing and exporting the weapons. It is no coincidence that this company is state-controlled and under heavy government supervision.
Analysis: This deal comes at an interesting time, considering the United States and Russia are in the middle of arms reduction peace talks. Not only is it seemingly paradoxical, it's a bit daunting to know of a giant distribution of arms to an unstable country such as Libya. The news of this deal might change conditions of the United States-Russian talks occurring now. Whatever the repercussions may be in other nations, this large-scale weapons deal is far from a show of good faith from Russia.
Compare: The situation surrounding this state-owned weapons company is very similar to the case we studied of Pemex in Mexico. Rosoboronexport has a monopoly over the weapons industry in Russia, similar to Pemex's hold on the oil business in Mexico. This ownership of the state is also similar to the government's status in China that we have studied. This makes sense, considering Russia is ex-communist.

Sam Stargel
Policing the Peace
Source: __http://www.russiaprofile.org/page.php?pageid=Politics&articleid=a1265148956__
Summary: The Memorial Human Rights group along with other political opposition groups came together on January 31st to fight for there rights in the Russian Constitution, particularly article 31st. The protests took place at Triumfalnaya Square, and had around 1000 members, but the police would not allow the protests to go on. At first, they would not allow anyone to go on to the square as it was reserved for “Winter Fun” for children. Very few children showed up, and it was later found out that the children that did show up were children of the police officers. The police then after some time began arresting the protestors, and the US State Department and the European Parliament have become concerned of what has happened to the protestors. If any of the protestors had signs that spoke poorly against Putin, they were targeted for arrest more so than other protestors.
Significance: This is significant, because Russia is a leader in the world, but there actions are not that of a leader. The Russian government has restricted rights which they stated in the constitution, which is very much against democracy. This sounds like something the Chinese government would have done, and definitely not the Russian government.
Comparison: This is similar to what we are learning about in Comp Gov now, especially with Falun Gong and China. The people are being restricted for very peaceful demonstrations. The Chinese government had also done similar things such as Tiananmen Square, but not as violent.

Darbie McPhail
Thousands Decry Putin in Public Protests
Summary: On Saturday 12,000 people gathered in Kaliningrad (a city of about 1 million people) to protest for the resignation of Prime Minister Putin, due to a frustration with the government’s denial of the 31st article in Russia’s Constitution, which allows for the freedom of assembly. The Strategy 31 movement, made up of multiple political parties, human rights organizations, etc. has been created in response to the denial of the 31st article. On the the 31st dat of months with 31 days, since July 2009, the Strategy 31 movement has met in cities to fight for their freedom. Often, people are detained, yet NBP (National Bolshevic Party) local leader Andrei Dmitriyev said “It’s an ongoing campaign, and we will come again and again until we win the right to assemble and speak freely in our own city without being detained by the OMON and police.” The rallies have grown larger and larger, the biggest one on Saturday in Kaliningrad. An estimated 700 were detained.
Analysis: Though these are the biggest protests Russia has seen in years, the government seems to be ignoring them. The state-owned television networks have not been reporting on any of the protests,either. Though Russia has become more and more democratic over the years, it is surprising that it have yet to give its people the rights they are constitutionally given.
Comparison: Russia seems to be following the model of China’s government, by either covering protests and any government opposition to its own advantage, or not at all. It seems that Russia’s government could be using guardianship (as China does) to prevent the protests from growing larger and larger.

Matt Brown
Ukraine and Russia Trade Spying Charges
Summary: Tension levels shot up between Russia and Ukraine when multiple Russian spies were obtained by the Ukraine government and accused of illegally attempting to obtain Ukrainian secrets through blackmail and threats. Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, the Ukrainian intelligence chief, commented on the spy’s captured on January 27 at a news conference saying that “they were caught red-handed,”.
Comparison: The situation at hand is very similar to one that occurred a while back between Russia and Ukraine involving spies attempting to obtain information illegally. The Russian agency stated that at some point in October, it arrested a Ukrainian spy at a Russian military site, carrying a digital camera and copies of “top secret” documents. Apparently this particular spy soon became a double and was working for both Russia and Ukraine, by transferring data back and forth between the two. The fact that this situation is reoccurring and happening again does not show much progress between the two nations and means that the situation could get much worse.

Jordan Thomas- Russia and US Resume Nuclear Arms Negotiations

Summary:The U.S. and Russia are resuming talks on their nuclear arms treaty in February. The purpose of the discussion is to create a new nuclear arms agreement because the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty expired December of 2009. Russia hopes that the US will enter the discussion with a different mind frame from the last agreement, treating Russia more as an equal. The two countries have already agreed that, under the new treaty, they will cut the number of their nuclear arms to about 1,500 each. They want to cut down the number of their nuclear arms and come to an agreement quickly so that they their efforts to persuade Iran and North Korea to abandon their nuclear programs are legitimate.
Analysis: As more and more countries develop, they are striving to achieve what the US has achieved economically and politically. China feels it has the right to use unclean energy to power it’s development, and Russia feels like it deserves to be on the same level of nuclear power as the US. However, the US is having and will have trouble losing it’s position as the greatest super power of the world as other countries strive for global power. In this, I think the US will continue to subordinate Russia’s nuclear rights in the new nuclear arms treaty so that it does not obtain any leverage over the US. The US’s and Russia’s attempts to get Korea and Iran to stop developing nuclear technology is another example of powerful countries attempting to hold on to their power and not let other countries get an advantage over them
Comparison: The US’s and Russia’s attempt to legitimize their calls for Iran and Korea to abandon their development of nuclear programs is a step toward more responsible and effective global action. When a country like the US is fighting against torture of POW’s, but has a prison like Guantanamo, their orders do not hold much power. In this, more attempts at legitimizing global demands should be made so that the US can lead by example

Maria C. Romano
Youtube Policeman Gets Arrested
A Russian police officer named Alexei Dymovsky posted a video youtube claiming that the police force in his town was corrupt. In the video he made allegations of illegal activity and corruption within the police force and he denounced them saying that he could not bear to arrest any more innocent people to meet monthly quotas. He was arrested soon after, as the video became hugely popular with over 1,000,000 views. He has since been charged with fraud and corruption and sentenced to 6 years in prison, with a spokesman saying that he was charged for “libel and acts that stain the honor of the security forces.” The police force has said that there is no evidence for his claims. In a statement, Dymovsky claims that the authorities want to silence him and get revenge for exposing them. He even made a direct appeal to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to clean up the law enforcement agencies.
In a country where challenging the authorities is rare and usually dangerous, an incident like this was sure to cause a stir. I think it is an interesting topic because we have examined two very distinct versions of law enforcement in China and in Mexico. In Mexico, there is a ton of bribery and corruption among officials, but many are denounced and removed. Another difference between Mexico and this case in Russia is that if you are an enemy of a drug cartel and you threaten to expose their bribed police officer, you may very well be killed. In Mexico it would not be a criminal act at all to expose corruption, as that is what the government is trying to eliminate. As one might expect, Communist China would probably react very similarly to Russia in that citizens have very limited freedom of speech and there are very harsh punishments for minor crimes or even actions that would not typically be considered crimes in the western world.

Reade Paterno
Source: http://rt.com/Top_News/2010-01-12/uk-thaws-russian-extradition.html
Title: UK Thaws on Russian Extradition Requests
Summary: For the first time in more than 100 years, Britain has extradited three people who are suspected for various crimes in Russia. This represents a trend that has been developing between the world and Russia, as there has been an increase in extraditions to Russia since 2003. There is positive hope for the future, as Britain is still considering 15 more extradition requests. The trend exists in more countries other than just Britain; overall, Russia has seen an increase of 2 and a half times more suspects than two years ago. A lot of nations from Europe have shown positive foreign policy towards Russia in terms of extraditions, and Russia has been extremely thankful. The article also continues to discuss other measures being taken by the Prosecution office, and I was surprised to hear that more than 800 criminal cases against senior federal and regional officials were brought to the courts.
Analysis/Comparison: This article is significant, because it shows that Russia is gaining better relations with other, more Western nations. It especially seemed to have a lot of more cooperation with many countries in western Europe, which is important because of Russia's current involvement in the dealings with NATO. This may also show a lot of significance in how the Russian regime is changing. The fact that so many western nations are willing to extradite people within their nation back to Russia shows that they must be putting a lot more trust in Russia. It was very unlikely that suspects would have been extradited in the past, when Russia was still very communist. Since the western nations are now trusting the government more, it must mean that it is legitimately losing a lot of its negative communist policies and actions. Russia mentioned in the article that it was getting more involved with other international organizations, and this will undoubtedly increase globalization. Also, the fact that more than 800 cases were being brought against senior officials is very significant, as this could weed out a lot of the corruption.

Alexis Strobin

Source: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/302267,medvedev-aims-to-reform-hellish-russian-prison-system--feature.html
Title: Medvedev aims to reform “hellish” Russian prison system
Summary: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has pledged to reform Russia’s prison system, which has long been described as “hell on Earth.” Even the Russian Justice Minister has compared the condition of the prisons to the gulag, the forced labor camp system under Joseph Stalin. Reforming the prisons is the most difficult project undertaken by Medvedev, observers say. Relatives of people who are in prison often beg the president to take action against the “sadistic” guards. Prison guards record their beatings with video cameras as a teaching tool for future guards and to intimidate prisoners. There are reports of forced full-body shaves, maggoty prison food, and water torture that stimulates drowning. About 400 people in Russia died in 2009 during pretrial detention, according to the Federal Penitentiary Service. "Basically nothing has changed in our prisons since Stalin's time," Mikhail Barshchevsky, the government's representative to the Constitutional Court, told the newspaper. Human rights activists say that the torturers often go unpunished. In December, Medvedev signed a bill allowing courts to sentence some criminals to house arrest instead of prison terms. By doing this, he hopes to drastically reduce Russia’s prison population, which currently stands at about 900,000.
Analysis/Comparison: Although China and the United States have more prisoners than Russia (China roughly has 1.51 million and the United States 2.03 million), their prison conditions are far better and are much better maintained. Prisoners can receive medical treatment, prisoners are allowed to wear their own clothing, prisoners have access to newspapers/magazines, etc. The prisons in Russia are not even close to providing humane, livable conditions. This is due to the fact that the prison system hasn’t been reformed since Stalin ruled, and each year prisons are just getting worse and worse. President Dmitry Medvedev wants to go down in history by humanizing Russia’s prison system in line with European standards.

Savannah Guild
summary:Victor Petrik is said to be the new Thomas Edison and has been nominated for a Nobel Prize. However the Nuclear Power MInistry that nominated him is now-defunct. Petrik co-owns a patent for a water filter that cleans radioactive water and also holds a patent for another filter that may win millions of dollars in a Russian contest. Former President George W. Bush even wanted his advice on water purification. One can go on his website and see these accomplishments and a picture with him and President Bush as well as his resume including a doctorate in applied sciences. The story gets fishy when one notes that he has never written any scientific papers and there is no paper trail of any work. There is no proof of Victor Petrik being a scientist.
analysis/comparison: While some believe Petrik to be a magnificent scientist others say his a fake since their is no proof whatsoever for his scientific discoveries. Although Petrik also served a prison term in the 1980's for fraud and extortion, he says he welcomes a peer review and has no need to be worried, he is a scientist. What is particularly interesting is the fact that this scientist has no paper trail and was yet being asked for consultation from a former President. One has to wonder how someone without a paper trail could have been consulted for water purification that would affect millions of people.

Savannah Guild
summary: An asteroid, Apophis, is headed towards Earth says the Russian Space Agency. They are willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a missile to collide with the asteroid. NASA however has said that a collision is highly unlikely and are not planning on doing anything about the asteroid, which is supposed to "hit" us in 2029 if not later. Later, NASA lowered the chance saying it has a chance of 1 in 45,000 of hitting us and it would be in 2036 Russia however has said that they are willing to spend this money and save thousands of lives rather than not do anything and have a collision kill thousands.
analysis/comparison: While NASA does not believe the asteroid to be a threat Russia is going full force ahead on planning to stop a collision. The space agency has also said they will invite NASA and space agencies from around the world to be a part in the effort. This is interesting because Russia is usually secluded and does things by themselves. Also, the race for space was a large part of the Cold War and one must consider the fact that Russia will be the first to do a mission of this kind. Why would Russia spend so much money on a collision that NASA thinks will not happen?

Alexis Strobin
Source: http://www.startribune.com/world/78399597.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU
Title: Russia's Putin urges tough action against terrorists in live television broadcast
Summary: Last Thursday, Prime Minister Putin vowed on television that the Russian government will step up against terrorism. Putin says that the threat of terrorism is very high, and he promised that the authorities would work “harshly” to find terrorists. "We have enough resolve and firmness for that," he said on television. Putin’s televised comments also sent a signal that he remains the dominant force in Russian politics by overshadowing his successor, President Dmitry Medvedev. His television appearances are being closely watched for clues as to whether he plans to regain presidency in Russia’s 2012 election. In 2008, by law Putin had to move to the premier’s seat following two consecutive terms in office. Since then, the presidential term has been extended to six years, so Putin is eligible to run again in 2012. In addition, Putin focused heavily on the economy during his television broadcast and he casted himself as a paternal figure capable of fixing Russia’s problems.
Analysis/Comparison: The United States and other countries have definitely seen public figures going on television and talking about the nation’s problems and how they need to be solved and such. What’s so interesting about Putin’s speech is that, in addition to overshadowing the current President, it seems like he’s stating what he’ll do to help Russia combat its problems if he’s elected President in 2012. While most public figures, in my opinion, step down from the presidency gracefully, Putin has done the complete opposite. It’ll be interesting to hear about the public’s reaction to his speech, and if they think, based off of this television broadcast and many others, he can lead the nation.

Darien Lombardi
Summary: In Russia a train derailed and there were 26 fatalities and 100 people injured as a result. Investigation reveals that there is a possibility of terrorism as a source of the derailment. in the aftermath of the crash there were "elements" in the train that suggested an explosive device was used. The spokesman for the investigative committee of the Russian prosecutor's office, Vladimir Markin, was quoted as saying "One can say with certainty that that was indeed an act of terror." Later the Saturday morning another device went off on the nearby tracks in the opposite direction, no one was injured in the attack. At this time there are no solid leads on who committed the terrorist acts
Analysis: This terrorist attack in Russia may committed by an independent group with their own gripes against society but it also maybe due to Russia's relation with nuclear trade in the Middle East. There is no telling at this time what the motive was but speculation is available.
When the message of the attack is uncovered and it turns out to be due to Russia's involvement in the Middle East it might push relations further away from being involved in the Nuclear Trade.

Darien Lombardi
Summary: A Potential arms deal from France to Russia has many formally Soviet States greatly concerned. Moscow is reportedly buying an assault ship with the ability of carrying 16 helicopters, 13 battle tanks, and 450 troops. Many countries such as Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltics are all worried about what could happen with an increase in the naval capabilities of Russia. If France goes through with this trade it will become the first nato country to deal arms with Moscow. Russian Prime minister Vladamir Putin said that if they had a ship with this capabilities then the Ship could have reached Georgia in 40 minutes and resolved the issue sooner. Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet was quoted saying, "it looks like France is giving Russia the green light for an imperialistic war."
Analysis: This arms deal could jeopardize many of the neighboring counties with Russia and the Black Sea. What transpired in Georgia this past year now could have potentially been quelled immediately by Russia's soon to be overwhelming naval power. The money being put forth for this exchange is debated by many officials to be a waste when there are so many other things to spend the money on.
Conclusion: If both France and Russia compeletes the transaction Russia's Naval presence in the Black Sea will be significantly stronger. This could potentially strain foreign relations and may cause proxy wars between governments across the Russian border.

Darien Lombardi
Link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20091108/wl_nm/us_iran_russia_missile_1
Russia had struck a deal with Iran to supply Iran with a sizable missile defense system. Moscow is being pressured by many western democratic countries to cut political ties with Tehran. As a result of this Russia had not gone through with its deal to provide Iran with the 300 air defense missiles. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of parliament's foreign policy and national securities committee in Iran, was quoted saying, "If Russia does not keep its promises to deliver the missiles, then it would be a negative point in our relations." Washington is trying to negotiate tougher sanctions with Russia against Iran. If Russia were to fund Tehran with nuclear capabilities then Israel hinted that it would preemptively attack It's arch enemy in an effort to prevent Iran from destroying Israel.
Analysis: If Iran were to gain nuclear capabilities from further funding and technology provided by Russia then the entire Middle East would be the centre of another even greater threat than the islamic extremist military forces that are being combated at this moment. Russia is decreasing involvement with Iran precisely on the implication it could have to its foreign relations with other countries. With Washington, Israel, and the majority of the UN backing Russian sanctions against Iran for Nuclear funding Russia has no choice but to slowly cut off ties with Iran.
Iran gaining nuclear armaments would result in a nuclear standoff between Israel and Iran. This conflict could potential trigger a nuclear war. Moscow is taking Washington's signals and is withdrawing support to Tehran which is a step in the right direction for peace in the Middle East and the world as a whole.

Audrey Fisher
Title: Epidemic of Addiction Threatens Russia's Future
Source: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120792687
Previously unaware of Russia's massive drug problem this article brought to my attention the serious problems Russia is facing- approximately 2% of the country's 142 million people are addicted to drugs. This article targeted the issue of heroin use and accredited some of the blame to the constant flow of drugs coming into Russia via Afganistan. In times of turmoil drugs have become a fashionable trend in Russia but now the aging generation has become heavily consumed by them. Doctors say many of the drug problems cannot seize to exist until better means of treatment become available to everyone. The programs to recover drug addicts run by the government are not working. Non-governmental groups have has success but are lack funding making them difficult to treat all of Russia's drug victims.
Compare: Some people in Russia blame the U.S. for letting drugs into the country from Afganistan while focusing their attention on the drug war in South America where the drugs directly effect the US. In comparison to our studies of Mexico the drug use in Russia is equally frightening and amoung the highest drug realated deaths in the world ( 80 per day).
Analysis: The article did not focus on the affect of the US troop in Afganistan and how this impacts the drug trade in Russia but I would like to find out more about this. I have a feeling that the presence of the US has been a major factor in the increased use of drugs in Russia.

Andriy Rusyn
Title: Russia reigns over its weather
Source: http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-fg-moscow-snow8-2009dec08,0,2120312.story
Summary: Moscow authorities are planning to use cloud seeding on a major scale to regulate the weather during this next winter in order to reduce the cost of cleaning the city from the immense levels of snowfall. The city spends millions of dollars every winter hiring workers, paying for snowplows, and spreading salt on roads. Although Moscow is famous for its white winters, these winters cause a huge problem for the local government which struggles to keep the city safe and clean in the winter. A strategy that is being considered, but is almost completely accepted is cloud seeding. This was discovered on accident in the soviet union when scientists spread blue paint into clouds to better follow them, but instead of turning blue, the clouds dissipated. Nowadays planes drop cement into clouds to chase them away. This is used to ensure sunny days on certain celebrations, such as veterans day, and was also used by the Chinese to ensure the weather would be good for the Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies. This is interesting because this is the first time that such a strategy has been suggested for such mainstream use. Another issue is the fact that the clouds don’t really disappear, they merely relocate, which will likely cause increased snowfall in surrounding areas.
Analysis: Russians are famous for their patriotism, and many Russians see these holidays as a very important part of their history, something that involves a bright parade on a sunny day. Many see this as a continuation of the strong control that Stalin wanted, especially because these programs were started under him. The fact that the Russian government is able to control the weather is very important in a country where the government often refuses to be burdened by such tiny things. The power to chase away rain and snow is very awe-inspiring. It is also interesting that the mayor of Moscow is going ahead with this plan without consulting many of his top environmental scientists, again showing his disregard for the consequences while focusing on the power.
Comparison: In other countries, such an issue could quickly spiral out of control as environmental groups would cry foul and eventually cause a great headache for the country, but in Russia, it is deemed more important for the celebrations to continue unimpeded than it is for some small surrounding towns to be burdened with these snow increases. When this was used for the Beijing Olympics, many people in the western world were shocked by how much control the Chinese were capable of, but no one even mentioned that the Russians had been doing this for decades. It’s really interesting how people change their opinion over the actions of a government when the system of government changes. When the Chinese try to control the weather, most people see a bunch of communists attempting to avoid ridicule and making their country look good in front of the world, and this is seen as a bad thing because its “unnatural”.

Andriy Rusyn
Title: Russia, India agree on nuclear cooperation, warship overhaul
Link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-12/08/content_12607729.htm
Summary: Russia has been helping India to develop its infrastructure in nuclear energy. Russian technology and experience in the field has enabled India to further its power production in a clean, sustainable way. India is one of the fastest growing countries in the world, and increased domestic energy production will help them cope with their increasing energy demand. Russia has been a leader in nuclear energy technology, and their cooperation with India is also caused by the fact that both parties have settled a dispute over an aircraft carrier that was given to Russia for refurbishment. Russia said that it would require more money to refurbish the carrier than it had originally predicted, while the Indian government believed that the new figures were exorbitant. Although the agreement has not been released, both parties have now reached an agreement and Russia will finish refurbishing the ship and will deliver it soon. The Indian military is supplied almost exclusively by Russian arms, the exact figure is around 80%.
Analysis: Russia and India have had tight economic cooperation for a long time, and the fact that both parties settled their agreement without much trouble signals the increased political cooperation between the two countries. It is also important for both these two countries and the rest of the world that India is developing clean energy, instead of relying on dirty coal which has already caused huge environmental damage. In a country that has seen the immense damage that unchecked population expansion can cause, the development of cleaner fuels is definitely a benefit.
Comparison: The dispute over the warship is interesting because in the rest of the world, such a conflict might be solved by bringing it to the attention of the UN, but here, deals are struck in completely separate, almost unrelated disputes, and all of a sudden everything is fine and dandy. This is a perfect example of the post USSR mentality in the region, where deals are struck behind closed doors, and the results remain unclear for long periods of time.

Reade Paterno
Source: http://rt.com/Top_News/2009-12-05/nato-joint-russia-missile.html
NATO to Consider Joint Defense System with Russia
Summary: This article was about how NATO is now ready to explore options of a Russia-NATO anti-missile alliance. NATO came out with a statement that said "We reaffirm the Alliance’s readiness to explore the potential for linking the United States, NATO and Russian missile defense systems at an appropriate time.." Several other plans were discussed that had to do with NATO-Russia relations, including a plan to determine mutual threats and the NATO Russian Council. The foreign minister of Russia also stated that along with continuing cooperation, NATO and Russia are not going to avoid sensitive subjects like arms control in Europe and the expansion of NATO. Russian and NATO also plan on discussing the growing arms in Georgia, and Russia's views on the Middle East.
Analysis/Comparison: This is a perfect example of globalization. With Russia and NATO relations increasing, and cooperation between the two parties growing, they are better integrating and closing the gap. Russia is being connected to a lot of the Western world through these relations, including Europe and the United States. Also, with the two parties working together and talking about things like the Middle East, and missile-defense systems, they are creating a stronger military force together. If they do decide to get involved in the Middle East, then they would have a much larger and more effective army that could get more done and have more control. This relationship between Russia and NATO is really interesting, because Russia belongs to the Warsaw Pact, which was originally created to counter NATO. The fact that Russia and NATO are communicating so much is changing the status quo, and almost undoing the purpose of the Warsaw Pact. However, I am not completely sure that NATO and Russia will be able to continue with effective communications. As seen in their past, they frequently stop talking because of disagreements over different issues. The fact that they are not going to avoid difficult and sensitive issues only increases the likeliness that communication will not last very long.

Savannah Guild
Pyrotechnics in Night Club Kill Hundreds
summary: On Saturday a night club in Russia caught fire when the stage fireworks met the ceiling of twigs. 112 people are now dead and 130 people are in the hospital with injuries. Four people: the owner, executive director, artistic director, and a businessman who installed the pyrotechnics have been arrested while the investigation continues. The country is outraged over the slack enforcement of fire safety and has declared Monday a day of mourning- entertainment and television shows have been cancelled.
analysis/comparison: The fire is an example of how fire safety rules are overlooked in Russia and how inspector can be bribed to turn the other way. This was the case with the night club since the "rustic" ceiling made of twigs was a sure fire hazard. Russia has counted 18,000 deaths each year due to fire, which is several times more than the United States and other Western countries. In fact, there have been several fires this year at nursing homes, apartments, drug-treatment facilities, and clubs. The club workmen obviously did not care about fire safety regulations since they have had two cited fines in the past. The President of Russia has demanded draft changes for the criminal punishment of breaking fire regulation codes.

Jacob Carl
Title: EU Insists Lisbon Treaty will make Life Easier
The representatives of the EU will soon meet up with Russian officials in Moscow. They will discuss whether the treaty will actually make life easier or just add onto its complication. Many are arguing that the new system is more complicated due to a permanent president. However Medvedev is willing to work with the representatives to achieve an easier plan of action and to make sure it helps the people of Russia. Also in Moscow they are talking about joining the World Trade Organization.
Analysis/Comparison: With the Lisbon Treat recently put into place in the European Union whether are looking at it with unsure eyes wishing and hoping it turns out like everyone hopes. Many countries are following in Russias footsteps to make sure the new lisbon treat does in fact work to make life easier. It is a very crucial treaty that will hopefully streamline the whole system. With the new amendment people are hoping that it will not mix up the permanent presidents and all runsmoothly. If the amendment ends up working out then it would meaning great things for all the members of the European Union.

Reade Paterno
Source: http://rt.com/Politics/2009-11-27/russia-nato-continue-dialogue.html
Title: ROAR, Russia, NATO continue "constructive and cool" Dialogue
This article was about Russia and NATO discussing working together in order to repair Soviet-era military equipment. According to several analysts, these communications signify the ending of the confrontation caused by the caucus in 2008. It is still unsure whether or not this agreement will be signed, but if it is, it is expected to be signed next year. The article also continues to discuss NATO protecting its members from invasion by Russia, more specifically Poland. The article also discusses a plan that NATO has to protect Poland from Russia, but there is some speculation over whether this plan actually exists.
Analysis/Comparison: This article discusses some incredibly important issues with Russia and NATO. The fact that Russia and NATO are opening discussions again, and potentially working together is huge. If this military cooperation goes through, then it could potentially lead the way for more cooperation between the two parties. The article said that even though NATO is focusing on protecting Europe from Russia, they still share several of the same interests; this is a good foundation for more talks and more cooperation. Also, this article discussed the relations between Poland and Russia, which is also very significant. If a plan really does exist to protect Poland from Russian invasion, then it must mean that there is a real possibility this could happen. Russia already invaded Georgia, and if they were to invade Poland it would be incredibly significant because it might bring in the other NATO members, because NATO does have a military aspect to it. This would be similar to how World War 1 started, with different countries having alliances with others and so they get dragged into unnecessary wars.

Audrey Fisher
Source: http://www.russiatoday.com/Top_News/2009-11-20/ukraine-russia-gas-price.html
Title: Easy On the Gas!

Summary: This short video clip and article addresses the new agreement between Russia and the Ukraine reguarding the sale of gas. Russia produces gas which then enters Europe via the Ukraine. In January of 2009 Russia was forced to stop the transfer because the Ukraine had failed to pay for the product. The countries have reached a new agreement that allows for the sale of natural gas by Russia to the Ukraine at a discounted price of 20% off. Europe however still pays in full but because of the Ukraine's discounted price for gas they were able for the first time in many years. In turn the Ukraine has lowers the tariffs on the transport of gas through their country.
Analysis: What does this mean? Previously the Ukraine and Europe as a result of Ukraines inability to pay the gas prices in full resulted in a natural gas shortage during the winter seasons. Because of the new agreement the nations do not forsee a shortage this year.
Compare: This shortage most definitely effects people on a global level. As Russia is one of the most important producers of gas their reduced price for Ukraine will allow more product to reach Europe meeting the demand of its consumers more efficently.

Alexis Strobin
Source: http://www.startribune.com/world/70457622.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU
Title: Russia's Constitutional Court extends moratorium on death penalty until its complete ban

Summary: Russia’s constitutional court outlawed the death penalty on Thursday, saying that a suspension on capital punishment is going to remain in force until Russia fully bans executions. In 1996, Russia announced a suspension on capital punishment when it joined the Council of Europe. The country said that it would officially abolish it, but due to the Kremlin-controlled parliament, it hasn’t abolished it. The violence going on in many parts of Russia has prompted people to demand the death penalty for those who are terrorists, serial killers, murderers, and child abusers. Many Russian citizens support the death penalty. Reviving capital punishment, though, would hurt Russia’s relations with the EU. Mikhail Krotov said that “the society needs more time to ban the death penalty. But the government structures support a ban on capital punishment." Outlawing the death penalty is an important part of Russia’s efforts to integrate more with Europe. The Russian Orthodox Church welcomed the ruling. "Our society is strong enough to outlaw the death penalty while continuing to strongly combat crime," Father Vsevolod Chaplin said.

Analysis: Russia has not executed anyone since 1996, and the regulations of the Council of Europe prohibit it from doing so. A recent poll in Russia reported that about 75% of the people participating “do not mind” the death penalty, while only 4% are strongly against it. The current suspension on capital punishment is opposed by 55% of the people. I find it very interesting that while the government is planning on abolishing the death penalty, the majority of citizens are actually in favor of the death penalty. There are many prominent public and political figures who argue for the complete abolition of the death penalty and many of the people they are arguing against are just average Russian citizens.

Compare: More than 60% of the world population lives in countries where executions take place. This is due to the fact that China, India, United States, and Indonesia-the four most populous countries in the world-apply the death penalty and are unlikely to abolish it any time soon. Russia is currently one of 35 countries that are under a moratorium (suspension). The 95 countries that have abolished the death penalty argue that it has led to the execution of innocent people and that it violates the criminal’s right to life. The Russian government is on track to abolish the death penalty and join these 95 countries, but its people are holding it back.

Reade Paterno
Source: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/miracle-baby-gives-hope-to-russian-muslims/387964.html
Title: Russian Miracle Baby
Summary: This article was about a baby in Dagestan, Russia that was born recently and supposedly has reappearing and fading Arabic text on his leg that reads "Be thankful or grateful to Allah," which is a verse from the Quran. Pilgrims from all over have been coming to the baby's house to witness the miracle, and according to the article, the number can get as high as 2,000 Muslims visiting a day. Many of the Muslims of the region believe the baby is a sign from God that they need to help their brothers who are the cause of several terrorist attacks in the region. They believe that the baby represents new hope, and it is a sign from God telling them what they need to do. Many Muslims claim that the fact that the baby's father works for the police force ( a common target for extremists) is proof that this is a sign of divine intervention.
Analysis/Comparison: This baby is hugely significant, because he may bring peace to what the head of the Kizlyar district calls war. Many of the Muslims now feel empowered, and as if they are being told by God to help their extremist brothers to stop the violence. With this divine intervention from God, many are hoping that the extremists won't be able to deny that God wants them to stop, and so a war will finally come to an end. The baby represents a lot of hope for the population of Northern Caucasus, where terrorism and violence have caused a lot of damage. The miracle baby has also caused a ton of pilgrimages from Muslims who are eager to see the divine intervention, and witness the miracle. This article reminds me of a lot of the other so called miracles that have occurred, like when people believe they see a picture of God in their toast, or some other ridiculous hoax like that. However, I did look up some pictures, and if they aren't tampered with, this baby does have some very distinct and Arabic-looking marks on his legs that look pretty legitimate. It is hard to find pictures though, which leads me to believe it is not as real as the article makes it out to be, and makes me think the picture I saw was a fake.

Caitlin Condina
Summary:After the Communist party supressed religion in Russia in the 1920's, a lot of religious groups fled the area. Including a group belonging to an ascetic offshoot of Russian Orthodoxy known as Old Believers. Now, Russia is experiencing a decline in population. And the government is trying to "lure" russians back, as well as their descendants. Moscow has spent millions of dollars in the past two years supporting a repatriation program, which goes beyond Russias neighbors. Emissaries have been sent as far as Brazil, to bring Russians back to their home country. The United Nations predicts that the country will fall to 116 million people by 2050, from 141 million now, largely because of a low birthrate and poor health habits. The government is trying to increase the birthrate by paying families to have more children.
Analysis:With Russias rocky past and regardless of the global financial crisis, Russia is now more stable and more prosperous than it has ever been. And descendants of these "Old Believer" groups, feel that now is a good time to go back to Russia, and they are confident in Russias future.

Audrey Fisher

Source: http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=14502320&PageNum=0
FAS Fines Russia's Oil Companies 25 Billion Rubles

As of November 5 four of Russia's major oil companies have been fined for breaking anit-monopoly policies. LUKOIL, TNK-BP Holding, Gazpromneft and Rosneft were all fined by the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS). Companies never go down without a fight and tend to protest these charges but a statistic shows that the courts rule in favor of the anitmonoploy watchdogs nearly 80 percent of cases. Oil companies have approached the government about improving competition in the oil industry but there has been little response to this issue and the top dogs of the business remain dominate and monoploistic.
The lack of competition in the oil industry is an issure that needs not only more regualtion but government reform. Allowing these dominate businesses to rule the playing field is dangerous to the economy as they have the power to control the industry, set high prices, and produce as much or as little oil as they desire. The control of the industry but four major sectors is a golbal issue that effects all oil purchasing nations as they are forced to mee the demands of those in control of the valuable oil.

Alexis Strobin
Source: http://www.startribune.com/world/69455567.html?page=1&c=y
Title: Medvedev signals that Russia may support sanctions against Iran if it fails to be constructive

Summary: If Iran fails to take a stance in international talks over its nuclear program, Russia might back sanctions against it. President Dmitry Medvedev said that “it would be better to avoid sanctions, but they can't be excluded if there is no progress in the talks.” He said that Iran can implement a peaceful atomic energy program under international supervision. Iran must "abide by the existing rules and not try to hide some facilities," he added. A UN-brokered plan requires Iran to send 1.2 tons of low-enriched uranium — around 70 percent of its stockpile — to Russia by the end of the year in order to ease international concerns that the material is being used for a bomb. Senior Iranian lawmakers are trying to get the government to reject the U.N.-backed plan altogether. Russia is one of the six powers leading efforts to ensure Iran does not develop an atomic bomb.
Analysis/Compare: Many other countries are worried about this Iran situation, including the United States. Medvedev discussed the issue with President Barack Obama when they met in New York in September, and so the U.S. backs up Russia. If Iran does come out and talk about its nuclear program, everything should be ok. If it doesn’t, then there could be major problems, and I don’t think the other countries would only back an international sanction against Iran. Iran could be seriously creating anything, including an extremely dangerous atomic bomb. If Iran manages to secretly create something like this, it could cause massive damage in the world.

Amelia Fisher

UN panel faults Russia's support for human rights

Russia is being criticized for lacking basic human rights, like the right to a fair trial, freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The U.N. Human Rights Committee is initiating reforms to stop the injustices taking place. Reports are coming to the surface about all sorts of atrocities, like torture and murder of journalists, activists, and prisoners. Even Memorial, one of Russia’s human rights groups have had to pull out of Russia, due to fear for their lives.
Analysis: President Dmitry Medvedev has spoken out against the abuses of human rights, in support of the democratic freedoms his country is supposedly enforcing, but many say his speeches are backed up by little to no action. The U.N. is also assessing four other countries comply with an international treaty on civil and political rights. They are asking the Kremlin and parliament to reform the law by narrowing the definition of terrorism and granting people forced into psychiatric hospitals the right to appeal. These pleas are most directed to the justice system in Chechnya, where military service, who conducts arbitrary arrest and killings among other things, are going unpunished. The U.N. is uncovering just a glimpse of the corruption going on all over the world.
Compare: All of this corruption is the job of the U.N Human Rights Committee to take care of. Interestingly enough, the predecessor the Human Rights Committee was the Commission on Human rights, and included Guatemala before the transition to the Committee. This transition was to do the heavy criticism for the U.N. allowing countries with poor human rights to be members. Russia is not a member either.

Kendyl Cole

Russia Doesn't Want To Be A Democracy

Summary: A recent poll taken in Russia by the Levada-Centre has revealed very interesting results. Of the people polled, 57% believed that Russia needs to be a democracy. Though that percent seems impressive to us, it's the lowest percent since 2006. More than 40% of the polled said that Russia needed an "iron fist" leader, while 95% of respondents said that they had little or no role in their government. For the Levada-Centre poll, 1,600 people across Russia were polled, leading to very diverse results. A worrying 25% of polled believe that the Soviet Union had a better political system.
Analysis/Compare: This recent poll is showing exactly what the people want, which is sounding more and more like certain previous governments. There is a decrease in want for democracy in Russia, and a new demand for "an iron fist" leader. Does this sound like communism to anyone else? A huge majority of the people believe they have little role in the government, they don't want a democracy, and a iron fisted leader is being called for. The one result that worries me the most is that 25% of polled believe that the Soviet Union had a better political system. That's just a official way of saying that 1/4 of the polled want communism. THIS IS NOT OKAY! Democratization is obviously not having an effect on the Russian people, which isn't that much of a problem unless the people are looking more towards communism, which is what's occurring now. If Russia was to go back to it's communist ways, the world would have to deal with two major communist powers: Russia and China. If this happens, then the whole world could be effected.

Kim Munguia A Cold War: Moscow Says Let it Snow-But Not Here Summary: Russia has always had freezing winters with tons of snow, but this year, they want to change that (or at least for Moscow). Moscow has already been seeding out clouds to prevent rain during parades, but they want to go beyond that and prevent snow storms. Mayor Yuri Luzhkov will marshal the Russian air force and air defense systems to intercept storm fronts and hit they with dry ice and silver iodine particles. The idea is to reduce the costs of removing snow from Moscow's streets. This could cost $6 million dollars, but they are hoping to save the city $10 million dollars. Moscow has been hit by the worldwide recession and city officials suggested that the "anti-snow" effort could help bring Moscow's budget under control.

Analysis/Compare: Russia is trying to deal with the worldwide recession that they have been hit with, just like so many other countries around it, but I find their tactic very interesting. It makes sense to try and limit their budget costs of snow removal, but this method has not really been practiced. They are hoping to follow through with this plan from mid-November to March, but I feel that they might need more time to plan this out. I have not heard of this before, but I highly doubt they can just do this out of the blue. This goes to show that the worldwide recession is driving countries to do anything in order to control their budgets. Who knows, maybe Chicago or Montreal or other countries will copy this method if it proves successful.

Marshall Rogalski

**Russia's new code-breaking game**

Summary: There is a new game 'fad' in Russia called DozoR. Organized by a young man named Maxim Zhmurin who is assisted by a handful of computer programmers, this game is played at nighttime by teams of people who run around inside abandoned buildings in search of hidden messages. The players utilize technology and maps to decipher clues and locate hidden bits of code scrawled in various places. Tens of thousands of young men and women play this game all around Russia. Zhmurin says he would love for the game to spread to New York, but doesn't know if Americans in the city would catch onto it and start running around the city at night.

Analysis: Since this is a non-political story, there is not much to analyze, However, if this game were to successfully make its way over to the United States, it would become an international thing. If it were to be implemented in New York, it would most likely have to be organized by someone separate from Zhmurin who lives in the city. Therefore, that person might have to get in contact with Zhmurin to discuss the technicalities of learning how to run the game, which could prove interesting. And there is always the possibility that this could be run by the Russian government and is actually a plot to infiltrate the US. From what I can see, this does not look like the case, but you never know. Anything could happen; Russians are sneaky.

Comparison: Compared to the rest of the world, I think it's safe to say that Russia is going through a slow period news-wise. And if this is in fact a Russian infiltration tactic (what better way to take control of America than to lure in its youth with a fun game?), then it is very different than any other to my knowledge, and we will see how this unfolds. Reporting live from Southern Village, I am Marshall Rogalski.

Cullin Moran
Russia and China sign trade deals
So, around 40 contracts were just signed by some Russian and Chinese businessmen and officials. Vladimir Putin, prime minister of Russia, was eager to get these contracts signed because president Dmitry Medvedev has said that the Russian economy will decline by 7.5% in 2009. What most of these are all about is selling oil and gas to China, which is the second largest energy consumer in the world.

Although Russia and China want to call these a “strategic partnership,” it's really a lot more complex than that. Since Russia is rich in resources like timber, metal, oil and gas while China is hungry for energy, their relationship now could be described as “you dig it up, we buy it.” Russia's really nervous about all this dealing with China though, as can be seen by the way they're going about building pipelines to transport oil and gas. Beijing has the money for these, but the Russians don't want the Chinese building and owning these pipelines on their land. Instead, the Russians are borrowing money from the Chinese to build the them. The Russians are probably a little scared by the fact that a lot of Russia's far east was once part of the Chinese empire, and that the overpopulated China might soon want it back.

I can't really think of anything to compare this to... a lot of countries make energy deals with each other. Oh well.

Amelia Fisher
Russia's Unsustainable Energy Model
Summary: Russia is establishing its dominance as an energy supplier and a force to be reckoned with. This affects their future with the European Union. Russia’s trial of the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), which is based around strategic political aspirations, has come to a close. Russia made it clear that it does not want to follow rules and logic with the rest of Europe. This straying from Europe’s energy rules has been going on since the early 1990s under Vladimir Putin. Putin set forth his vision as Russia as an energy superpower which will give it all the diplomatic leverage it needs, regardless of international law.
Analysis: Russia is blatantly looking out for its own self-interest and disregarding what might be mutually beneficial energy deals with Europe. Some say Russia has over-played the energy card, which will possible diminish the demand for export. States are rethinking Europe’s dependency of Russia for energy supplies and are searching for alternative methods. This could be a major blow to Russia, and will greatly damage its economy. Russia might eventually have to sign up to the ECT for good. Russia’s economy is so concentrated on their one export, energy, that they could easily topple.
Compare: Russia’s move to benefit solely them for personal gain is being noticed by other European nations and frowned upon. The rest of Europe is waiting to watch them fall due to their own mistakes. It is burning bridges left and right and will not just be able to grovel back into the energy charter treaty easily. In the end, Putin’s idea to advance the country’s interest will fail miserably. European policy makers have been put into a hard place, and they will have to have faith in the Russia state even if the Russian energy sector will still be covered by the ECT for 20 years. Investors in the European Union will still be able to reap the benefits of the legal protections that cover all commercial operators under European law, which really is a double standard.

Lizzy Orton
Putin's Party Wins in Regional Elections Across Russia
Summary: In elections held last Sunday in 75 of Russia's 83 regions, The United Russia party won 66% of the vote in the Moscow elections, guaranteeing Putin's party 32 of the 35 seats in the legislature, with the remaining 3 seats going to the Communist Party, who had 13% of the vote. In elections outside of Moscow, United Russia also swept the election. Boris V. Gryzlov, chairman of the party’s Supreme Council, said the results of the elections signify the Russian people's want for a stabilized government in these hard economic times and their support for the plans that the Kremlin has proposed. However, there have been accusations of fraud in the election. The liberal party Yabloko, and the more radical liberal party Solidarity, both voiced concern. Yabloko did not win any seats in the legislature, failing to get 7% of the vote or more. Solidarity has been strongly opposed to the Kremlin and to the mayor of Moscow. Two of their candidates were removed from ballots for the city of Duma and one of them posted on his blog about a protest in Moscow that was broken up by police in riot gear who dragged protesters away. The Kremlin says that rumors of fraud are false and meant to stir up trouble.
Analysis/Comparison: Vladimir Putin, the party chairman of United Russia and the Prime Minister, now has even more power in Russia. Having one dominant political party does not make for a healthy democracy. The Kremlin says that the results of these elections mean that they have the full support of the Russian people, and yet a protest of 100 activists is forcibly broken up and 40 people were detained by police. Why would the Kremlin show such force if they really had the support of the citizens of Russia? Another worrying factor is that there were some districts in which polling stations never opened and disturbances were reported in other regions as well. These elections were not free and fair by any standards. Russia, although a democracy, has similarities to China in that the government has a lot of centralized power. Also, Russia, like China is dealing with regional/ethnic groups that are challenging the central government. The election results are somewhat similar to Great Britain's as well. In both Russia and Great Britain there are multiple parties, but only one or two get significant representation.

Rosie Scanga
**Russian MPs Make Election Protest**
Summary The most powerful Russian party, the Kremlin, have been accused by opposing parties of rigging the election with intimidation and fraud. About 135 Members of Parliament out of the 450 MPs walked out of Parliament to protest the elections. Vladimir Putin's United Russia party won every poll, about 66% of the votes, and they took all but 36 seats in the Parliament. The Liberal Democratic Party, Communist Party, and Just Russia are the three parties opposing this election in the Russian Parliament, the Duma. Mr. Putin responded to their protest by basicaly calling them sore losers.
Analysis/ Comparison These elections show the lack of strictness in the elections in Russia. Some people say that the elections have always been skewed but now they are being taken too far. Three parties banding together against this is also significant. These parties may not agree on most politics but they do agree on this issue that the elections are unfair. These elections can be compared to Great Britain’s elections. Great Britain’s elections are technically fair but one party does end up with more seats in Parliament than another. There is little diversity in the parties in Parliament. The majority party has the power to call elections whenever they want and elects the Prime Minister. This is what Russia is going to have to deal with but it has been done in an unfair way and their parties are not as centralist as Britain so it will leave many people unhappy.

Lindsay Kornegay
Russia's disabled suffer neglect and abuse
Summary: Russia's thousands of disabled citizens are constantly discriminated against and abused for their conditions. Many are unable to leave their homes for lack of basic facilities in towns and cities. Vadim Voevodin, leader of a campaign to improve conditions for those with disabilities in Russia, has not left his apartment for the past ten years because his front door is too narrow to fit his wheelchair through and the lift to go down is too small as well. An estimated 170,000 school children with disabilities in Russia don't even receive an education. Today, a select few schools are beginning to incorporate those with disabilities into their systems. However, there is still a long road ahead in improving their relations.
Analysis/Comparison: This situation is much like that of African immigrants living in Russia that I discussed a few weeks ago. Fear of abuse and general discrimination prevent both minorities from leaving their homes or functioning normally in society. As common in Russia, much of this is hidden by faulty news reports and force of the authorities. Many are just oblivious to their circumstances, some schoolchildren in the article even saying they'd never seen a disabled person before. Although the prejudice may seem ridiculous to us in America, comparable to that in the civil rights era, this kind of abuse is commonplace in Russia, fueled by a general lack of freedom of speech within the people.

Lizzy Orton
Russia's sickly car market: Feast and famine
Summary: Russia had a huge boom in the car industry last year. Its annual sales doubled from 2005 and it was predicted to become the fourth largest car market in the world. However, as a result of the international recession, sales are down to nearly half of what they were in 2008, production has been severely curtailed and thousands of employees have been laid off. Foreign car makers and local car makers alike have been hit hard. The cause is the bad economy which has caused the value of the rouble to fall, which means that foreign cars have become unaffordable and credit, which was used to buy almost half of all new cars is now almost nonexistent as the banks are struggling. One of Russia's largest car makers, AvtoVaz recently received a loan of $ 804 million dollars from Putin, and Gaz, another Russian car maker, is also being sustained by the government. There is talk of both companies being subsidized by state owned banks in the future to keep them afloat.
Analysis: While all markets have been affected by the economic downturn, it is a sign of weakness in the Russian economy that the car industry has taken such a tremendous hit and that there is little sign of recovery in the near future. The government should not have allowed the economy to become so reliant on one market - oil and gas. When prices on energy fell, so did the rouble. This is an example of how the lack of freedom in the political systems hurts the economy. Medvedev should follow through on his talk of reform, strengthening the economy and modernizing Russia. The Economist said that because Putin does not want AvtoVaz and Gaz to fail, they won't. While the United States government also chose specific companies to bail out, it is not healthy for the Russian economy or political system to allow Putin to have so much power.
Comparison: The economic recession has had effects all over the world. The car industry in the United States has been negatively effected. There is always an exception to the rule, and that exception seems to be China. China has been the leader in the auto industry, ahead of the US and definitely ahead of Russia. However, similarly to Russia, in Mexico unemployment is up and production is down.
Rosie Scanga
**New Rapid-Reaction Force Starts War Games**
Summary Troops from Russia and four other former Soviet Nations have been doing rapid-reaction NATO-style military exercises in Kazakhstan. The troops make up the Collective Rapid Reaction Force. The Collective Security Treaty Organization created the Collective Rapid Reaction Force and the organization to counterbalance NATO. The CSTO is made of seven other nations including Belarus, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Belarus and Uzbekistan are not taking part in the Collective Rapid Reaction Force.
Analysis/Comparison This article was surprising to read because just the other week there was an article about a possible Russian-NATO relationship. This must mean that Russia is not completely committed to joining NATO and working together with NATO. If they were then they would not be creating an army that "counterbalances" NATO. A Russia NATO relationship does not sound very logical if Russia is in another group made to counterbalance NATO, there is no way to be on bath sides. This is just going back to where we were during the Cold War. One article that I read explains that the Cold War never really ended and that there is a lot of thing that will need to be done to completely end it. This article relates to all of the organizations that we studied in class. The problem with it though is that it was created opposing NATO which is different those organizations.

Amelia Fisher
**EU cites both Russia, Georgia for 2008 war**
The European Union aggress with Russia in supporting that Georgia started the war with rockets and artillery barrage on South Ossetia, which was no justifiable under international law. Georgia has been looking for evidence to support is claim that Russia had been continuously provoking them for years before the incident, and then retaliated with much stronger force than necessary. The claims have been refuted that Russia was trying to prevent genocide when it invaded South Ossetia. Now, Russia officially recognizes both of the regions as independent countries, but still blocks the E.U. monitors from getting involved in the area. The end report, led by a dependent commission, sheds a more favorable light on Russia, because originally it looked like Georgia had been the underdogs. Russia is trying to repair ties with the United States and the European Union.

Analysis: This war was short lived, but developed from long standing tensions between Georgia and Russia. This report by an independent commission, headed by Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, did not even really answer the question of who started the war, but cleared up some inaccuracies and basically concluded that both sides were equally involved in starting the war. The commission made Georgia look more guilty, because originally they looked more like the victims. In wars like this it is often hard to find one source to blame the tension on; it is usually a multitude of factors that come together to cause a conflict, and this was no exception.
Comparison: This conflict reminds me of countless wars and conflicts that have been started not for a specific reason, but just because two groups disagreed over issues. Cumulative cleavages are the main culprits. It then becomes more of a he said, she said, deal and no real answers ever emerge besides saying that both sides were partly to blame for the conflict. In another way, it reminds me of the Iraq War in the respect that there might never be real answers to any of the questions many of us have, but no one was right in the situation.

Lindsay Kornegay
Monthly Oil Output Exceeds 10 Million BPD
Summary For the first time ever, Russia’s barrels of oil produced per day have exceeded 10 million. As the world’s top oil producer, Russia’s nearest rival is Saudi Arabia which still produces 25 percent less oil. However, Russia’s spot as number one may be short-lived as deposits in western Siberia are running dry quicker than Russia can replace them with new finds. Oil prices have risen 50 percent in the last year to $70 a barrel. Also, Russia’s success is causing conflict with OPEC, as they benefited from OPEC’s cut in oil output. Russia received an estimated $20 billion from the group’s cuts, and has had oil outputs grow while the oil outputs of OPEC’s top producer have fallen flat. Russia has not recently been invited to OPEC’s meetings but is supposed to attend their meeting in December.
Analysis/ Comparison This article surprised me because until reading it I had no idea that Russia was not a member of OPEC. It seems natural that as the top oil producer in the world, Russia would be a member of the organization. This just highlights the competitive nature of oil-producing countries. One will take advantage of another’s misfortune without a second thought. All oil-producing countries (including Russia and those of OPEC) need to unite together to find a way out of this economic recession without skyrocketing oil prices. I can compare this situation with that of all countries during this time when it comes to gas and oil. It is the common idea to drop production and supply in order to raise prices and therefore make a larger profit.

Kim Munguia
NATO Chief Suggests Russian Missile Defense Partnership
Rasmussen, NATO'S new secretary general, said Russia, the U.S., and NATO should link their missile defense systems in Europe. He believes that out of all the NATO relationships, the Russian-NATO relationship is the strongest and would be the most beneficial. This was spoken the day after the U.S. announced its plan for missile defenses in Europe because of Iran's short and medium range missiles. Obama's adversaries were quick to accuse him of selling out allies in order to please Russia/help with Russia's relationship, but Obama assures them that the U.S. is committed to a strong relationship with other countries and their security. Missile defense has been a sore point between Russia and the U.S. because Russia believes that they won't be as much of an asset to the defense system with the U.S. in the way.
Analysis/Compare: This entire situation is ironic because of NATO's and Russia's relationship in the past. NATO was originally started to defend other countries from Russia; and now NATO wants Russia to join forces with them (and the U.S.). By having the U.S. put their missile defenses in Europe, it ranks them lower in the eyes of Russia. Russia has not wanted to join with NATO in the past because the U.S. has many missiles that can be launched over to Russia and Russia does not like that and does not want to become close to the U.S. because of it. But, by Obama saying that they want to put their missile defenses in Europe, along with NATO, it scales down their significance in Russia's eyes and they will be more willing to help. Although this thought is very appealing to Russia, it's hesitating in joining them because if NATO and the U.S. put their missile defenses together, what good would Russia's do? They want to feel more significant and needed before helping NATO.

Rosie Scanga
**The Decline of Russia's Oligarchs**
Summary: The oligarchs in Russia are the rich business men that prospered during the 1990s during the increase in oil prices and the booming stock market. Some wanted to convert their success into political influence. But now as the global economic crisis is hitting them they are losing their influenece. In June Prime Minister Vladimir Putin showed one of the oligarchs who was in charge in Russia. Mr. Depripaska had failed to give his wrokers their wages. He came to Mr. Deripaska's factory and forced him to give his workers their wages. Putin wants the oligarchs to help the working people through these hard economic times. The oligarchs are losing power at the moment but will never completely lose power according to the article.
Analysis/ Compare: This article deals with the separation of control and powers like we are studying with the UK's governement. The idea that the rich businessmen have power in the country is simliar to the House of Lords. Even though the House of Lords is no longer strictly hereditary it is still run by a wealthier class of people. The oligrachs in Russia do not have the kind of power that the people in the House of Lords have but they do have a significant amount of influence over the working class. And the idea that the Prime Minister is willing to step in to protect the people's rights is similar to what we see in the UK. The labor party in the UK now has control and is more of a party for the working people and working to protect the worker's rights. Both Russia's Prime Minister and the UK's Prime Minister are helping the working people and the separation of powers is checking the amount of influence the rich have over the working class' lives. The Russian oligarchs have no official power but the amount of money that they make is giving them power and it is good to see that the Prime Minister is willing to step in to help the people. But with the economic downturn that Russia an the rest of the world is facing we will see a shift in the amount of political influence that the rich have. Russian oligarch's level of influnece now is a good example for what the rest of the world's countries will be looking like.

Lindsay Kornegay
Tuvans keen to protect traditions
Summary: In the Russian republic of Tuva, there is controversy over the construction of a new railroad. Tuva is known for its isolation from other countries, which brings both advantages and disadvantages. This isolation allows for the preservation of Tuvan culture which includes Buddhism, Shamanism , and a nomadic lifestyle. However, the remoteness of Tuva makes for a struggling economy. Most of their supplies are imported from other countries. Other problems include unemployment (nearly half the population) and a large amount of alcoholism, especially among young people. Tuvan land is rich in minerals, leading to the proposal of a mining industry with a railroad to carry goods. This would boost the economy, creating jobs and great wealth. The dilemma revolves around the Tuvans’ respect of nature, which prohibits the destruction of such land.
Analysis and Comparison: This is a key example of modernization. Modern times are catching up with the more traditional parts of Russia. There is an increased amount of pressure being put on the Tuvan people to give into a contemporary lifestyle. Culture is becoming less and less important in comparison to a successful economy and the good of the people. This concept is similar to what we have been studying about the British Monarchy. For years, it has been accepted that the Queen may be the figurehead of Great Britain, living an extremely lavish lifestyle without having any real power. However, her power is now being questioned since so much of the average citizen's money goes to paying for such extravagancies each year. There is controversy once again over the importance of culture versus practicality.

Amelia Fisher

Obama Drops European Missile Plan
Summary: President Obama dropped the missile defense shield in Central Europe that had annoyed Russia, and invited Russia to help to create a new advanced defense system. He said that a missile defense system was the best way to respond to threats that Europe is facing, from places like Iran. It will start with the deployment of Aegis ships equipped with interceptors, but wont be in place until 2015. President Dmitry Medvedev said he appreciated Obama’s “responsible approach” and was ready to discuss further forward movement during the next meeting he had with Obama this upcoming Thursday.

Analysis: Some say the new system will not be worth it, the cons outweigh the pros. Alexander Pikayev, a security analyst with the Institute for International Affairs and Global Economy, said the technology is questionable, there was a lot opposition from Democrats in Washington, budget cuts, and the straining of relations with Russia and other major Western European powers like Germany and France, which were not happy with the missile shield. The next talks with Iran and the five members of the United Nation Security Council (United States, Russia, and Germany) are scheduled for October 1st. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia opposes U.S. efforts to put in sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.
Compare: The Czech Social Democratic Party, an opponent of the radar, as are most Czechs, were happy about Thursday’s decision. “We welcome it,” the party’s chief political adviser, Oto Novotny said. “We have long been opposed to the ‘hard power’ outlook on security issues that was advocated under the Bush administration. The views of President Obama are much more similar to ours." On another issue, Poland had demanded an increased U.S. military presence as a guarantee against potential Russian military aggression, so they were not happy with his decision to put the plans aside. Ironically, Obama’s decision happened onthe 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion into Poland, which is often remembered with resentment by Poles as a “stab in the back” because Poland was already fighting the Nazis. The Polish Foriegn Ministry kept hoping Obama would change his mind, up until the last minute.

Lizzy Orton
Russia's Political Leaders: Behind the Golden Doors
Summary:Russia's president, Dmitri Medvedev, posted a "manifesto" on a Russian website last week describing Russia's failings and weaknesses. He listed a weak democracy and economy, corruption and a "shrinking population" among his major concerns. However he did not give any solutions to these problems. Soon after he made a speech and made a comment about former Russian leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. Medvedev said that Gorbechev started reforms, but never followed through with them. However critics are saying that Medvedev hasn't even started reforms and is completely under the the thumb of his Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, who said recently that he and Medvedev would choose the next Russian president in 2012. The lack of freedom in politics is what has led to a weak economy because there cannot be a "dynamic and progressive" economy "if the political system is not fair and free," said Nikolai Petrov of the Carnegie Moscow Centre. Despite Medvedev's talk of liberalism, there have been more human rights activists killed, still no access to television for opponents of the government and the media is not any freer since Medvedev became president a year and a half ago. He only got the job, many say, because of his loyalty to Putin. He has followed Putin's policies, but now it seems that there is tension between the former and current presidents as a result of Medvedev's article and Putin's comments about 2012. Medvedev says Russia should strive for modernization in its foreign policy, and yet remains unfriendly to the West (Russia made an arms deal with Venezuela) and attacked America at a conference for global security. Medvedev's actions continue to not align with his words.
Ex-President and current Prime Minister Putin is hampering Russia's progress. His control over the presidency has remained, and unless some action is taken against him, he will continue to control the new president chosen in 2012. The article said that by commenting already about picking a president in 2012, he has in effect, made Medvedev a lame duck president a full 2 years before his term is over. Not that it really seems to matter, because Medvedev has done little in the 18 months that he has been president. One commenter on his article said, “Mr President, your mostly correct words have nothing in common with what is happening in the country of which you are the leader. I don’t believe you. Do something first, something that would illustrate your readiness to modernize the country and move it forward. Fire the government or let Khodorkovsky out. At least do something!” Russia seems to be in a sort of stale mate, unable to move forward, stuck between communism and democracy, and stuck with Vladimir Putin.
The upcoming Ukrainian elections are causing Russia to worry, and already one of Russia's major oil companies, Gazprom, has threatened that it may raise prices significantly for Ukraine if the election doesn't go the way Russia hopes. The tremendous power that oil companies hold and the influence they have can be seen in other countries around the world, like Nigeria, where there is violence caused by conflict over oil. Russia's continued struggle to be a democracy, and their economic situation and the human rights violations and lack of freedom of speech is similar to China.

Cullin Moran
Killings in Chechnya
Zarema Sadulayeva, the owner of a Russian organization called “Save the Generation,” was killed on August 10th, along with her husband. They were murdered by a group of armed men, some in military outfits, others in civilian clothing. Sadulayeva's organization was an independent charity that helped children that were traumatized physically and emotionally by the two Chechen wars. Her organization had no political affiliation.

The executions of Sadulayeva and her husband are similar to the recent murder of Natalia Estemirova, a human-rights defender who worked across the street from Sadulayeva. Shortly after the murder of Ms Estemirova, Chechnya's president, Kadyrov, told Radio Liberty that she had “no honour, dignity or conscience.” Kadyrov's henchmen consider human-rights activists legitimate targets. By doing this, he has created a totalitarian system in the province of Chechnya.

Kadyrov expands his power by eliminating his opposition. This tactic has been used many times throughout history. When German forces invaded Poland in WWII, they imprisoned and killed many Polish professors and scholars, to bring the country to its knees.

Marshall Rogalski
Arctic Sea's 'hijackers' charged
Eight men, who were recently accused of hijacking a Russian cargo ship called the Arctic Sea have been arrested. Last month, the ship, which was carrying a large load of lumber, disappeared after its departure from Finland. Three weeks after its disappearance, it was seen 300 miles off the coast of Cape Verde. The hijackers, disguised as police, took the ship and held the fifteen Russian crew members separately to ensure that they would not attempt to retaliate. Some have wondered why the hijackers would take a ship carrying only lumber, seeing as that it has very little value in the grand scheme of things. This has led some to believe that maybe there was something hidden on the ship such as arms that the hijackers were after. The ship was apparently thoroughly searched to illicit materials and reportedly nothing was found.

This incident raised tensions slightly between Finland, Russia, and other European countries because the ship was accused of carrying illicit and illegal materials, such as nuclear arms, in addition to its load of lumber. Finland denounced these accusations, and claimed that radioactive tests had been performed on the cargo before its departure. One current theory suggests that anti-aircraft weapons were being shipped to Iran and the so-called 'hijackers' were in fact hired by Mossad to investigate and prevent the ship from delivering its cargo. A second theory suggests that in fact the Russian government had staged the hijacking after gaining intel on an illegal shipment to the middle-east. London's The Sunday Times claimed that their Israeli and Russian sources say that missiles were loaded on-board during the ship's stop in Kaliningrad. If either of these theories or any like them prove to be true, it could have a huge impact on foreign relations between Russia and the other countries involved in the event and investigation.

This event is not so different from others concerning different countries that have occurred within the past few years. Any country who is against terrorist organizations in the middle-east would be just as concerned if one of their ships were to be overrun by pirates and later accused of shipping illegal arms to the middle-east. Assuming that the story does not fall within the lines described by the two theories above, and this turns out to be merely a "stupid accusation," this sort of thing could have happened to any other country.​​

Kendyl Cole

Russia Strengthens Ties with Germany

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have come together to form a strong partnership between their countries. These two leaders met on August 14th and confirmed to the public that despite last year's conflict between Russia and Georgia, the two countries are back in a partnership, and in a stronger one then before. These two major powers are very dependent upon each other, with Germany being Russia's largest foreign investor and trade partner, and Russia valuing Germany as it's major gas consumer. The leaders plans include joint collaboration in building nuclear power plants and energy facilities, helping each other with credit problems and struggles during this economic downturn, and also Russia's Nord Stream Pipeline Project. The Nord Stream is a large pipe line bringing gas from Russia, under the Baltic Sea, and into Germany.
The partnership between Russia and Germany is increasing their interdependence upon each other. This interdependence is an effect of globalization, preventing the two countries from being self seficient and dependent. Usually this circumstance would be a negative one, but considering that these two countries are two of the most powerful nations in Europe, this could be a very positive thing. As these countries strive for Western prosperity, other countries around them are starting to fear this incredibly powerful partnership. The Nord Stream Pipe Line is causing much dispute within Europe, some saying that it, "undermine the EU's efforts to develop an open and transparent European market in energy." (BBC) Though Germany denies this, saying that their partnership is beneficial for the whole of Europe. Previous unrest between the EU and Russia over the Nabucco Pipe Line, which bypasses Russia, has calmed down since Germany showed interest in the pipeline.
Both Russia and Germany have had past experiences with war, power, and suffering. During both world war's, these two countries fought bloody battles leading to even bloodier consequences. Alone, these two countries are powers to be reckoned with, but combined, they maybe a threat to look out for. These days it might not be war that we should be worried about, and more competition. The policies that have been outlined include energy plans and help in getting each other out of their debts. With such limited resources like oil, it's always a competition. Now that Russia has both the Nord Stream Pipe, and recent oil drilling off the Gulf, these two countries could gain more control over the oil supply. This is bad news to major powers like the U.S, China, and India who are looking to supply their people with more oil.After this partnership, Russia and Germany will have each others back on almost everything, whether that's war, political ties, or economic choices. Eastern Europe is reporting that Russia's military threat is growing, now with more conflicts between smaller countries surrounding Russia, including Estonia, Ukraine and Georgia. If another war was to break out in Europe, Germany would stand tall next to Russia, while the rest of the world would try and take sides. The last thing the world's economy needs is another world war, which is a greater possibility now that this partnership is so strong.

LinkRussia Current Events
Rosie Scanga
Russia to Drill for oil off Cuba
Russia wants to look for oil in a part of the Gulf of Mexico that is considered
Cuban economic territory. Cuba and Russia will be working together; Russia's
Zarubezhneft oil concern and Cuba’s Cubapetroleo monopoly. The US estimates
there to be about 9 billion barrels of oil and 21 trillion cubic feet of natural
gas within the Cuban zone. Havana estimates there to be about 20 billion barrels
of oil.
On September 6th there was an article about the oil found in the Gulf of Mexico
drilled by BP. The oil is 7 miles under the water and it required the deepest
drill in the world. This is one of the largest oil discoveries in the United
States. Russia and Cuba’s searching in the Gulf could bring about more problems
between Cuba and America. A treaty was signed in 1977 dividing up the Gulf of
Mexico between Cuba, the United States, and Mexico. As the Gulf of Mexico
becomes more and more valuable this treaty and the relationship between these
three countries could become further strained. Also the fact that Cuba and
Russia are working together again could possibly create tension between Russia
and America.
Every country in the world is looking for oil. As oil is dwindling and the price
is raising countries are looking for any source to get them ahead. The oil
crisis is affecting every country. Countries that have oil have power and if
Russia finds and extracts oil from the Gulf Russia it will potentially help
their status. Every country and their search for oil is related to Russia’s
search for oil. Russia and Cuba working together is an example of one of the
measures that is being taken by countries to obtain oil.

Amelia Fisher
Russia Ship Mystery Editor Flees
Summary: In July, a ship disappeared somewhere between setting off from Finland and reaching Algeria. The ship was filled around two million dollars worth of lumber. Mikhail Voitenko, an editor of an online journal, left Russia because his “life was in danger,” because he was one of the first to question the ship’s reasons for disappearing. Voitenko said there were no pirates involved, which was originally speculated, but instead there was weapon smuggling aboard the ship, arranged by state officials. His outspokenness led to some threatening phone calls that Voitenko assumes is someone from Russia’s
intelligence agency (FSB).

Analysis: This issue with weapon smuggling, involving the government reminds me of how competitive countries are, especially when it come to the military. Everyone is trying to be the biggest and most powerful, while still looking over their shoulder. Journalists somehow always end up in the cross fire while trying to uncover the truth about government secrets. It remains to be seen the level of government involvement with this particular incident, but undoubtedly they influenced it somehow. It makes me think about how much under the table business we do not know or see that goes on.
Eight men from Estonia have been accused of hijacking and piracy after allegedly dressing as police and raiding the ship.

Compare: There is speculation the ship may have been intercepted by Mossad, Israel's foreign intelligence, in order to prevent a shipment of illegal arms to the Middle East, namely Algeria. Voitenko said NATO was aware of what happened to the vessel when it was captured on the Arctic Sea. NATO said they were in contact with Russia during this time, but did not have any further comments. The FSB, Russia's intelligence agency, had no comment on the issue. This reminds me a little bit of media oppression in North Korea and China, although certainly not to that extent. It is unclear who really is behind this, or what role Voitenko plays, but nonetheless he was threatened.

Lindsay Kornegay
'Russia's Obama' defies racists
Joachim Crima, a young man from the African country of Guinea Bissau, is attempting to become the first black man elected to a political office in Russia. Nicknamed, “Russia’s Barack Obama,” Crima is known for his contagious optimism and enthusiasm, becoming a sensation overnight. However, a long road still lies ahead of him. Russia is well-known for its racism and abuse of immigrants, including an astonishing eighty-seven immigrant deaths from race-related attacks just last year. Russia was not always like this, though. In the days of the Soviet Union, Africa was called a “friend,” and hundreds of thousands of African students were encouraged to come and study abroad. Unfortunately, since the fall of the Soviet Union, neo-Nazi groups have spread and prejudice has become common. Africans can longer walk the streets of Russia, without fear of being attacked. Due to both verbal and physical abuse, Crima has been forced to hire a bodyguard. One recent African immigrant even describes moving to Russia as the “greatest mistake he has made in his life.” Despite these and other threats, Crima remains strong and extremely brave. He is determined, and will stop at nothing in his quest to start a racial revolution in Russia.
Obama's election was a major spark in the spread of more diverse political institutions worldwide, also known as a form of globalization. Oridinary citizens of many foreign nations now believe that they may be able to make a difference in their own country's political situation. Obama had all kinds of obstacles throughout his life, but with perseverance reached his goal. These people are beginning to hope that they can hold political offices in their own countries. On the other hand, this article also highlights the fear minorities have in countries such as Russia. The article gave a large number of examples, highlighting immigrant abuse throughout the major cities in Russia. Although they were wronged and deserve justice, most violated immigrants accept the pain which has befallen them. In a video that accompanied the article, one African man who was attacked tells his story. Notably, he asked to have his face hidden for fear of being assaulted after revealing the attack. Russia is an example of an Illiberal Regime, which limits the people's rights to free speech due to its fear of a revolution.
Although China is an example of an Authoritarian Regime (meaning one person holds the power), there are some similar traits between their political policies and those of Russia. For example, people in both countries live in fear of their governments, striving not to violate their limited freedoms. Although Russia is neither a Dictatorship nor Communist, the influence of its Eastern neighbors makes it nearly impossible to create a Democratic society.

Lizzy Orton
Russia and Ukraine in Intensifying Standoff
The tension between Russia and Ukraine has been building. Russia has never been very friendly to Ukraine, a pro-Western, ex-Soviet state, and recently there has been a series of incidents that may spark violence in upcoming months. A major source of contention between the two countries is the Russian naval base located on the Crimean peninsula in Sevastopol, Ukraine. A series of incidents have been manifestations of the tension: throughout the summer Russian soldiers who were transporting missiles to the base were held by Ukrainian police on several occasions, a Russian diplomat and all Russian FSB officials were banned from Sevastopol, and then in August Russia's president, Dmitri Medvedev, "denounced Ukraine...for 'anti-Russian' policies, citing in particular its 'incessant attempts' at harassing Russia's naval base," and its "bid for NATO membership and its support for Georgia." The naval base is seen by Ukrainians as a Russia attempt to maintain a military presence in their country, and Russians sees Ukraine's control of the city as disrespectful because of the history of the city and the base (it was the site of battles in the Crimean War and WWII). Further complicating the issue is that ethnic Russians make up about 60 percent of Crimea and they want to maintain their culture and roots and therefore Ukraine's ties to Russia.
There are several larger themes that are evident in this situation. First there is the struggle between Western influences and Soviet influences, second there is the struggle over power (territory and sovereignty), and third there is a struggle between ethnicities. Russia feels threatened and insulted by Ukraine's pro-Western stance, especially because it is similar to the situation in Georgia, who Russia just finished fighting a war with. While Russia struggles to maintain some sort of power over Ukraine the country is moving further and further from Russia's sphere of influence. Ukraine is pushing Russia out of its territory and passing laws that require its language to be used in official settings instead of Russian. Ethnic Russians are not pleased with the Ukrainian governments attempts to move away from Russian control. On Ukraine's independence day ethnic Russians held protests and demonstrated against Ukraine and its new policies. These three factors have independently led to violence in other places in the past, and the combination of them is particularly dangerous. I hope that Ukrainian and Russian officials will stay true to their word and work to mitigate the bad feelings between the two countries.
China and the UK both have dealt with conflicts over sovereignty and ethnicity. In both Tibet and Northern Ireland ethnic groups fight for sovereignty. There is conflict over culture in both these places as there is in Ukraine. Neither Tibet nor Northern Ireland has a fully legitimate state like Ukraine does, and thankfully, there is no violence anywhere close to the amount in Tibet and N. Ireland, but the basics of these three conflicts are similar.

Jacob Carl

Rise in Oil Price Eases Push for Reform In Russia
In Russias history the slumps in oil prices often led to great advancement in the structure of Russia. However the oil prices are ofteb to be believed to have destroyed the soviet union. For every $1 increase in the price of oil the government earns 1.7 billion. The government however is trying to change this and the change of oil prices are a way for the government to be able to amend many issues with taxes. This is a great opportunity for the government to diversify politically and open up when there economy is prospering.
Analysis: This is a great opportunity for Russia to improve itself. As seen throughout the history of Russia it has a great chance to be able to advance. Every other time in history there has been a slump in oil prices the country has grown signifigently. The government has been very weak in the past and now the country has a chance to change curency an dother issues.
Compare: The rest of the world is dealing with high gas prices. This is bad for the citizens costing them more jus ton their daily commute. It has led to a even bigger crash in the economy when families are not travelling as much ans staying home. In the US our gas is still cheaper then most of Europe and we are still complaining far more.

Savannah Guild
Murder Turns into Hate Crime
summary: Markelov, a "high-profile" lawyer for human rights was murdered. Markelov has been very vocal about hate crimes and convicted many of Tikhonov's friends. Tikhonov was a suspect of hate crimes handled by Markelov and is now said to be the main suspect of the killing. The federal agencies just now found out of Tikhonov's past with Markelov and are now saying the murder is more, it has now become a murder out of revenge.
Analysis/comparison: Tikhonov has said to be linked to an ultranationalist, Russian National Unity, group and was a suspect in a stabbing of an anti-fascist. This is interesting because the government may have not been as active as they could have been since Tikhonov is obviously in favor of the government. However, perhaps once media sparked the fuse the government had to look deeper. This is a possibility because the U.S. government probably would have noticed relatively soon if the same name had come up before in one of Markelov's cases. Tikhonov had an accomplice, Khasis, and they are both on trial. There sentences could be for life. The group the two were a part of has been involved in other murders and was known to have been planning a "high-profile murder". Perhaps with these two members on trial the group will not be able to murder someone else. Also, Tikhonov is currently unemployed, but has held positions in politics. He is said to have been in public relations for a former finance minister. This also adds another element of mystery since Tikhonov knows how the government works and is obviously a fan. He must have known what he was getting into when he was involved in such a high-profile case.

Darien Lombardi
Link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20091108/wl_nm/us_iran_russia_missile_1
Russia had struck a deal with Iran to supply Iran with a sizable missile defense system. Moscow is being pressured by many western democratic countries to cut political ties with Tehran. As a result of this Russia had not gone through with its deal to provide Iran with the 300 air defense missiles. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of parliament's foreign policy and national securities committee in Iran, was quoted saying, "If Russia does not keep its promises to deliver the missiles, then it would be a negative point in our relations." Washington is trying to negotiate tougher sanctions with Russia against Iran. If Russia were to fund Tehran with nuclear capabilities then Israel hinted that it would preemptively attack It's arch enemy in an effort to prevent Iran from destroying Israel.
Analysis: If Iran were to gain nuclear capabilities from further funding and technology provided by Russia then the entire Middle East would be the centre of another even greater threat than the islamic extremist military forces that are being combated at this moment. Russia is decreasing involvement with Iran precisely on the implication it could have to its foreign relations with other countries. With Washington, Israel, and the majority of the UN backing Russian sanctions against Iran for Nuclear funding Russia has no choice but to slowly cut off ties with Iran.
Iran gaining nuclear armaments would result in a nuclear standoff between Israel and Iran. This conflict could potential trigger a nuclear war. Moscow is taking Washington's signals and is withdrawing support to Tehran which is a step in the right direction for peace in the Middle East and the world as a whole.

Savannah Guild

summary: Sysoyev was a Russian Orthodox priest who was quite controversial for his missionary work and commentary. Sysoyev preached to Muslims and often converted them to Christianity. The priest was also known for speaking out against Islam and the relationships between Christians and Muslims. On November 20th a masked gunman came into the church asking for Sysoyev, who stepped out from behind the alter and was shot point blank four times. Many believe the gunman was a radical Islamist and after the murder many sites were filled with other radical Islamists who wished to kill him, as well.
analysis: Sysoyev was a controversial spokesperson on many levels, while he believed Muslims and Christians could not live together peacefully he also stated that Christians should not sit at the table with Communists. The official Russian Islamic community has "condemned the murder and called for calm". Also, Sysoyev had repeatedly received death threats by e-mail and other forms of communication. The patriarchate of the the Church had been distancing himself from Sysoyev and now is being asked by some of the clergy to continue the mission work by a petition. Many believe this to be the beginning of a war between Christians and Muslims.
conclusion: This could be a dangerous beginning to chaos in the streets of Moscow. The radical Islamist groups feel attacked and are angry. While, the Russian Orthodoxes feel threatened. A priest in an Orthodox church outside of Moscow has stated, "the priest was a victim in a war against Christianity unleashed by Muslims." Moscow may soon become a scene of other attacks. Many feel that one can have their opposing opinions, but a church is sacred territory and is not to be disrespected. The authorities have begun an investigation and depending on the outcome fear might spread throughout Russia.

Allison Shaheen

Summary: In the spirit of the Olympics, I chose an article regarding Russia's involvement in the Vancouver games. Russia was surely discussed among many news stations, but it was not for their success in the winter games. Russia was known this past Olympics for the frustrations and anger openly expressed from President Medvedev, and as always- some side comments from Putin. At the height of his anger, Medvedez stated that, "The who are responsible for training for the Olympics must take responsibility for their actions". Medvedev was so angry that he completely cancelled his scheduled trip to the closing ceremony. This also provides a leeway into Russia's preparation for their own winter games, only 4 years away. Millions of dollars are being fueled into preparation, with hopes the Russia will reach its once-known success. Russia only took home 3 gold medals, and came in 6th place with 15 total medal wins. The most shameful outcome had to be their 7-3 loss to Canada in Ice Hockey, an event that the Russians expected to be very successful in. Of course, Putin chimed in by saying that the Russian's Olympic performance should prompt "serious critical analysis". As for now, the angered Russian government will fuel their energy towards preparation for the 2014 Olympics. Officials have claimed that Russia's hosting is their "return to primacy on the world stage".
Analysis: I think that Medvedev's reaction is completely inappropriate and really immature. I think that the leader of the nation should not openly be angered, and "calling for officials heads". A year of trouble for the Russian olympians is not the end of the world, and Medvedev is reacting very strongly. As for the 2014 Olympics, I am really excited to see how that turns out. Russia is already putting a lot of money towards these games, and they have high hopes for the games.
Comparison: I think that the Olympics is obviously very relative to all countries. It is such a symbol of pride for your country, and that is clearly seen in Russia as well as other nations. Olympic performance is often correlated to how a country would like to be portrayed, and I think that Russia is threatened by the image their lack of success portrays.