U2 is visiting Russia as part of its 360 World Tour. Bono, using the opportunity, got to visit with Dmitry Medvedev in the president's private residence in Sochi, where Winter Olympic Games 2014 will take place. As the result of the high-profile meetings, aside from an agreement to fight AIDS, Russian President Medvedev and Irish Singer Bono concluded that they both love Led Zeppelin.
Enjoy the photos of Bono's visit at Medvedev's dacha in Sochi in the extended post.
Continue reading "Medvedev and Bono Meet in Sochi" »
Russian Special Forces in a gunfight with Mr. Abdullah and his friends
Today, in Dagestan--that neighbors with Chechnya--one of the masterminds of the Moscow subway attacks Mr. Vagabov was killed together with his gang. The intelligence found out some very interesting facts about Mr. Vagabov, who was self-renamed and crazy-islamic-jihadists-blessed as Amir Abdullah. Mr. Amir Abdullah received his college education in Karachi, and proceeded to training in terrorists camps in Pakistan. When a Jordanian Doctor Muhammad was killed in 2009, Amir Abdullah married the widow, former Mrs. Muhammad. Upon becoming Mrs. Abdullah, the lady provided access to infinite Jordanian money, and then--in search of a better afterlife--blew herself up at one of the subway stops in Moscow.
Amir Abdullah was not necessarily looking forward to that same afterlife, as he and his gang offered a very strong resistance to Russian Special Forces. Russian SWAT team helped Mr. Abdullah reunite with his wife by killing the entire team of jihadists. Another suicide bomber of the Moscow attacks, 17-year-old Djennet Abdurahmanova, has joined her husband Umalat Magomedov--one of the Dagestan's Islamic terrorist leaders--who was killed by Russian forces in December 2009. Two aforementioned ladies detonated themselves, killing 40 and injuring 160 civilians in two Moscow subway stations during a rush hour on March 29, 2010. Russia Blog congratulates Russian Special Forces with the successful operation and wishes them luck in safety in their future raids against the terrorists.
Djennet Abdurahmanova and her husband Umalat Magomedov. Umalat was killed by Russian forces in December 2009, Djennet--17 years old--blew herself up in March 2010.
In the recent study in Milwaukee, students entering college this fall filled out a survey that showed how different their view of the world is from the one of their parents. Aside from minor role of Clint Eastwood in their lives, the class of 2014 included in the 75 items on this year's Beloit College Mindset List the fact that Americans plus Russians means people of the two nations living together in outer space. "# 43: Russians and Americans have always been living together in space." After all, there is hope! My wish for these kids is to graduate with good grades and find their way to Washington, D.C., where the mindset of the 70-year-old leaders and advisors has not changed for the last half a century.
"Our game "RussPack" has finally been released!" e-mailed me one of the game's developers who got in touch with us earlier this year regarding the photo of St. Basil's cathedral that I took in Moscow in 2008. The game software was developed by two Russian engineers. We congratulate the World's Epsilon Enterprises, Inc. for their timely release, and hope that iPhone users around the world get to enjoy the game.
CNN reports that smoke clouds, which have become a serious health hazard, can clearly been seen on the satellite images, blanketing large swaths of the country.
The smoke is back in Moscow, which hasn't seen rain or cool weather in two months. The promised departure of heat meant only the drop in temperatures from 100-115 F down to 90-95 F. The fires have killed more than 50 people, left dozens hospitalized, and thousands homeless, according to Russia's health and social development ministry.
"Russia is grateful to the United States over the assistance in tackling the wildfires raging across the country," said the Russian Foreign Ministry. According to CNN, the United States sent some $4.5 million in aid that included water tanks, pumps, hand tools, fire-protective clothing and medical kits, according to the U.S. State Department.
Lubyanka. Although the Soviet secret police changed its name many times, its headquarters remained in this building.
Last month amendments were passed to the law codifying the FSB's surveillance of those citizens deemed to be threats to national security. Nicolai Petro, unlike some Western commentators, sees these as potentially making Russia's domestic security procedures among the world's most transparent.
A series of amendments to the law on Russia's main domestic security agency, better known by its Russian initials FSB, was signed into law last month. These amendments codify a practice that security agencies all over the world typically like to shroud in secrecy--the surveillance of private citizens who are deemed potential threats to national security. Specifically, they give the FSB the ability to issue official warnings to individuals whose activities, while still legal, are deemed to verge on criminal acts that endanger national security.
Critics of these amendments have highlighted their potential for abuse. While this is always a potential concern, the assertion that they "restore Soviet era powers to the Federal Security Service" (the AP report by Mansur Mirovalev, "Russia grants more powers to KGB successor agency" of July 29 is one example), seems highly exaggerated and sensationalist. If anything, these new amendments have the potential to increase judicial oversight of such surveillance, potentially making Russia's domestic security procedures among the world's most transparent.
Continue reading "Why the FSB is not the KGB" »
Nearly 1.8 million acres are burning in Central Russia, thousands of homes are destroyed, military and fire departments resources maxed out, and no end of the tragedy is in sight. Peat (a fossil fuel that lays underground close to the surface) caused current fires. The fuel, usually moist from the rivers, swamp, and underground creeks, has dried up during the record-breaking two-months-long draught with temperatures reaching 120 Farengheit across Central Russia. The greatest challenges in fighting the fires is that burning peat cannot be detected as the fire spreads rapidly underground and travelsin random directions. At any given moment the fire almost instanteniously appears above the ground igniting trees and homes above. While firemen tackle the smoking ground, chances are high that they are pouring water on a fire that has been burning for days or weeks, and its major flames have already traveled dozens and hundreds miles away from where it is being fought.
Putin made a promise that every village and town burnt by the current fires will be rebuit before September 1. Even though the promise is hard to keep, it will most likely be followed through. The humanitarian catastrophy during cold Russian winter will be more costly and devastating than the enourmous construction effort.
Watch the photo report and the video in the extended post.
Continue reading "Central Russia on Fire. Forecast for Week Ahead: 42C (110F) in the Shade" »
Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin share a friendly moment
On Monday, answering questions from journalists, President Medvedev said "I don't know what's going to happen in 2012, I don't know who'll be running. It can be Medvedev, it can be Putin, it can be someone third... I would prefer to avoid a competition within the friendly forces, it would be bad for the country" said Medvedev making clear that he will not compete with Putin if the latter decides to run. Russian political anaylsts called Medvedev's response a bluff. Sergey Mitrohin, chairman of political party "Yabloko" said that Sergey Ivanov can be that "third" candidate, since he did not get the Putin's endorsement in the last campaign, paving the way for Medvedev's easy victory.
In the meantime, public opinion poll--conducted by Russia's most respected independent agency Levada--showed that if Putin and/or Medvdev were to run today, 27% would give their vote to Putin, 20% to Medvedev, and 4% to Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov. Russia's liberal candidates popular in the West (like chess player Kasparov) did not get enough percentage to show even 0.1% (1 out of 1,000) chance of winning Russia's presidency. While 15% agree that Medvedev has been changing Russia's political course, 45% of the population do not know who to vote for and where to go. Russia, just like America's Republican Party, desperately needs new leader, but does not know where to find one.