Are There Lessons to Be Learned for Russia From the Events in Tunisia?
Recent turmoil in Tunisia and other Arab countries calls for at least two fairly self-evident conclusions, one of a global nature, the other specifically concerning Russia. Under several recent administrations and particularly under Gorge W. Bush, America assumed the mission of spreading freedom and democracy throughout the world in the belief that it is the best cure for all or almost all of the world's problems.
The irony of the current moment in history apparently is that democratic elections in the wake of political upheavals in the Middle East might bring to power Hamas/Hezbollah-style Islamist radicals. The U.S.-led democratization of Afghanistan has resulted in a 40-times increase in drug production. Human endeavor never yields the results one desires at the outset of an undertaking, but rarely with the same disastrous consequences as the spreading of freedom and democracy to all nations regardless of their history, religion, culture, the people's mentality, and ingrained ways of life.
Putin's Empty Threats, Obama's Quiet Confidence: Moscow Attacks Show the Limits of Toughness
In light of today's attack in Russia's North Caucuses that left four people killed and six severely injured, Russian and American experts and general public alike are wondering: do the tough rhetoric and willingness to "destroy terrorists" really work?
Putin's Empty Threats, Obama's Quiet Confidence: Moscow Attacks Show the Limits of Toughness -- By Alexander Nazaryan
Two things happened after a terrorist attack: We bury the dead and, among the living, designate someone to blame. Otherwise, the attack remains a monstrous question. With fault comes closure.
So it is in Moscow, where some 35 were killed at an attack on Domodedovo Airport. "What occurred shows that there were violations in providing security," said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the wake of the attack, which has the hallmarks of Islamic militants from Russia's breakaway republic of Chechnya. "We must hold responsible those who have ties to the company that makes decisions, the management of the airport."
Islamist Terror at Moscow Airport. Unprecedented Explosion Outside Airport's Security Zone Is New International Threat.
The image of this crying boy at the Domodedovo airport chapel during a special service held immediately after the attack says it all, almost... What it doesn't say is the fact that the uneducated, immoral, and stupid Islamist terrorists aren't that stupid after all. They finally figured it out - a crazy jihadi does not need to attempt breaching an airport security. He can walk up or drive up to the arrivals or departures of any airport in the world, say his/her last praise to Allah, and detonate the explosives. This is real news. TSA does not matter. Neither do the police, FBI or anybody who could logically ensure the travelers' security.The follow-up questions are: what airport is next? Seattle? Nashville? La Guardia? JFK? Heathrow? Atlanta? What nation or passenger can feel safe now? What can the Western governments do to protect their citizens? Screen every single car and train 100 yards away from the airport? 200 yards? A mile? Ten miles? One hundred kilometers??
Today, in Moscow Domodedovo airport, 35 people were killed and 160 injured. First witnesses who talked to reporters and police had pieces of fresh human flesh hanging from their hair and coats. If that is the vision of a global Islamic world - thank you--Christian, Hindu, or Jewish--we're fine as is. Here are the stories from CNN and the WSJ.
Russia Blog joins millions of people around the world in expressing our deepest sympathies to the victims and their friends and families.
Enough Is Enough. President Medvedev - Stop the Killing of Russia's Innocent Drivers!
If you see one of these - run! These cars that belong to Russian public servants are above the law. They may (and do) legally kill your babies, grandmothers, and even police officers.
Russian President's representative in Duma Garry Minkh rides in style, as do thousands of Russian government officials: in a new luxurious German car bought with taxpayers money, in the opposite lane, breaking the speed limit, unbuckled, hiding behind the passenger's seat and a driver. And it's all legal! Because he got the magic migalka (the blue light). The result? Today, another deadly accident. The government vehicle's driver is dead, innocent 23 year-old girl is severely injured (her car totaled), police is"not sure" if they can release the video of the crash. And this is not unique - in the past 12 months, cars with blue lights have killed and injured pregnant women, babushkas, casual pedestrians, innocent and law-abiding drivers, and even police officers! God forbid you don't let them pass you - they'll pause their super-important and secret government mission, get out of their cars, and break your car's windshield and slash your tires (they have done so). Because, that's what voters want their elected officials to do.
Prime Minister Putin, President Medvedev, I heard you're all about raising the birth rates and population of Russia, you're against the corruption, and you support Russian-made cars. May I recommend you stop killing people with your driving techniques. Also, why do you and your employees drive BMWs and Mercedes's? Be consistent - on May 9th do not pretend and do a favor to the veterans - don't celebrate Russia's victory over the Nazi Germany. Be sad! If the Soviet Union hadn't won, maybe your own German-made cars would've been even better, faster, cooler! Also, don't worry - in a head-on collision you'll always win. Russian cars that you support with draconian import regulations do not have airbags, ABS, and their seats break upon an impact. The bydlo (Russian folk who's not blessed to be at a Kremlin dinner table) cannot afford the 110% import tax that you imposed on safe foreign vehicles.
The Last Minutes of the Polish Flight Reenacted by Software and Live Pilot's Conversations
To many, this video will be shocking, as it contains real conversations between the Polish pilots, the warnings of the Russian flight control center, and the TU-154 system alerts "Terrain Ahead, Terrain Ahead," "Pull-Up, Pull-Up..." to the moment of the actual crash. Usually, such video and live tapes would not be available, however, due to the unprecedented open nature of the investigation, the video has become public.
Russian Scientists Warn of 'Iranian Chernobyl' Possibility
Iran's nuclear power plant
Russian nuclear scientists are helping Iran in its attempts to activate the nation's first nuclear power plant at the Gulf port. However, according to Western intelligence reports, they have raised serious concerns about the extensive damage caused to the plant's computer systems by the mysterious Stuxnet virus, which was discovered last year and is speculated to have been the result of a sophisticated joint US-Israeli cyber attack, reports RIA Novosti.
Reports say that Russian scientists warned the Kremlin that they could be facing "another Chernobyl" if they were forced to comply with Iran's tight deadline to activate the complex this summer. While the story sounds like an urban legend, and it is hard to believe that a computer virus might have caused such an extensive damage (which also assumes that the files were not backed up, and that Iranian government cannot buy new computers),The Telegraph has the story.
Russian's Point of View on Arizona Shooting: FBI, Secret Service, Sheriff - not Politicians - Are Responsible for the Tragedy
With each day after the shooting, there is less and less doubt that Jared Lee Loughner, the attacker, will not be responsible for the tragedy due to his mental health problems. The question remains: then who is responsible? Russia Blog has written a lot about attacks on mayors and members of parliament in Russia, and about the negative effects of too many cars with blue lights and individuals with bodyguards in major cities. However, two clarifications should be made: first, all attacks on officials happened in non-public places and have been related to their personal business and criminal activities; and second, any significant government official in Russia is protected. Furthermore, the general public attending an event with such official is well-protected as well.
It is mind-blowing to see Prima County's Sheriff Clarence Dupnik give interviews, share opinions, and walk as a free man. If nothing else, he should be fired for a complete, disastrous failure to do his job - provide community's safety. Furthermore, he should be tried in court for "malpractice" on the job that led to one of the greatest tragedies in recent American history.
Why is he still a sheriff if his team can't spot a man who pulls out a gun in broad daylight and targets a judge and a congresswoman near a Safeway?
On another note: Secret Service and FBI should take a note: no matter how perfect the system of checks and balances is, there is always room for an error that eventually allows a crazy person obtain a weapon and ammo and shoot a judge, a congresswoman, and innocent bystanders. The only way to avoid such a tragedy is to control the situation itself and provide the necessary security at public events that involve government officials. It is appalling to see a political debate around this tragedy - this isn't about Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, the Liberals, or the Republicans. First of all, this is about the victims, and there is nothing we can do about it now but pray for their recovery or souls. And second - this is a lesson for American security and law enforcement services how to properly provide the public safety. I hope this lesson has been learned, even if--unfortunately-- the hard way.
Russia Blog's condolences go to the friends and families of Arizona victims.
Russia Finishes Investigation of Polish President's Plane Crash
Today, Russian flight experts finished the unprecedented investigation of the tragic flight and its crash. Polish prosecution and 24 Polish flight experts were present for the presentation of the 200-page summary of the investigation. Sixty volumes of multi-hundred page books were given to the press and published online, and the entire investigation was made public to the Polish government and the media, which is unprecedented in the aviation history.
Experts came to three conclusions: First, the Russian-made plane Tu-154 was in excellent mechanical condition before its departure and during the entire flight. Second, Russian airport's dispatchers professionally communicated and the Polish pilots understood the information warning against the plane's landing in unacceptable meteorological conditions. And third, Polish government officials, after leaving Warsaw later than schedule, ran out of time to explore other transportation options and pressured the pilots against their will and judgment to land "no matter what." There was a third person in the pilots' cabin during the moment of crash. His DNA, muscle injuries, and even the color of his underwear are mentioned in the report.
While flight experts praised the investigation committee's efforts, some Polish politicians said that the investigation results are "a joke" without mentioning which part exactly is so funny. Jokes aside, Polish prosecutors and Russian commission will name the parties guilty in the crash in the nearest future.
Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, called on the Russian people to show unity in his Christmas address. The message was triggered by the nationalistic demonstrations that took place in Moscow three weeks ago.
January 7 is the Christmas Day for the Russian Orthodox. Russians, Serbs, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Coptic Christians and other Eastern Orthodox nations use older Julian Calendar in their church, where December 25 falls on today's world's January 7. Merry Christmas!
Moscow's Mayor Luzhkov and Chicago's Mayor Daley: Similar Accomplishment, Different Departures
On December 29, 2010, the traffic jams just in the city of Moscow were 3,200 km long (2,000 miles) - the traffic jams in the city streets spread over the distance equal to one between Moscow and Barcelona!
As I was driving on the snowed over Leninsky Prospekt (large avenue) in downtown Moscow a couple of weeks ago, I realized: I had never seen that much snow on Moscow roads. Luzhkov had left the office three months ago, the snow just started falling, and the only snow-cleaning vehicle that can be seen is a lonely parked tractor with a small snow plow. For the matter of a reference, Leninsky Prospect has 10 lanes at its widest parts, and used to be cleaned by 10 fast-moving vehicles in each lane immediately as the snowflakes had appeared in the sky. Three months without an old, allegedly corrupt, and heavy-handed leader, and changes are already visible. Bad changes. I predict that the same awaits Chicago, once Mayor Daley leaves his office this spring. The only difference in the two mayors' departures is: Mayor Daley will leave to an ovation of citizens and politicians; Mayor Luzhkov was kicked out by a president (nearly half Luzhkov's age) after a state-wide media smear campaign.
Under Luzhkov, Moscow turned from a grey communist city of the past into the most expensive and trendy city in the world. Moscow's economy improved, large construction projects in the city, including the building of a new financial district, took place, and Moscow's skyline transformed into a crossover of Paris and Dubai. Having visited most of the European and American cities over the past two years I am making a statement: Moscow became the world's cleanest Western capital. At the same time, Luzhkov was accused of corruption, bulldozing historic buildings, and poor handling of traffic, as well as the city's smog crisis during the 2010 Russian wildfires. On September 28, 2010, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev removed Luzhkov from his position for the "loss of trust."
Russia Blog presents up-to-date news, facts and commentary on the state of events in Russia and the former Soviet Union. The blog is managed by Yuri Mamchur, Director of Real Russia Project. The blog is edited by Charles Ganske.