Russia Butchers its Soldiers, Literally
by Yuri Borodyanksy
June 7, 2010
Translated from the Russian by La Russophobe Staff
(as always, corrections to the Russian translation are welcome)
In the family video recording of Roman Suslov (pictured, left) saying his goodbyes to his family and friends on the railway platform, the young man’s eyes betray no alarm. On the faces of his parents, his sisters, his beloved wife clutching their infant son, there is not the slightest hint of what would happen four days later.
The young man was to travel some 5,000 kilometers from his home in Omsk to Khabarovsk, and from there go onward by bus to his posting in a motor rifle unit in the city of Bikin. He was not particularly eager to join the army, but nor was he seeking to avoid his obligation.
He was better prepared than many of his peers to endure the hardships and privations of army life, being an experienced boxer and wrestler. He was also gainfully employed at the lone successful local industrial enterprise, having studied at the local chemical and mechanical college. He also found time to participate in amateur theater productions.
He had big plans for his future. “Well, when I get back from the army, he said to me,” relates his mother Tatiana Suslov “we will build a house and all live there happily ever after.” He had just married his wife Oksana the prior June 25th, and then the draft notice arrived.
The Legalization of the Neo-Soviet State
We have grown genuinely weary of reporting, week after week, a somber new low in the history of the neo-Soviet KGB state of Vladimir Putin known as Russia. Each time we do so, cynics though we may be, we find it hard to imagine how Russia could sink any deeper into the mire of failure and self-destruction. But once again, Russia has surprised us.
And, no, we’re not talking about the revelation that a hoard of Russian soliders stole credit cards off the corpses of dead Polish government officials following the Smolensk air disaster. That display of Russia patriotism was truly horrific, but this week it didn’t qualify for top billing.
The day we have been predicting for some time here on this blog has now arrived, even more quickly than we imagined: Vladimir Putin is moving rapidly to legalize and formalize the neo-Soviet state he has been building in Russia for more than a decade.
Yanukovich to Putin — Drop Dead!
“I have never recognized Abkhazia, South Ossetia or Kosovo as independent states. This is a violation of international laws and norms. According to international law, any violation of the territorial integrity of any state is forbidden.”
If you think that was the President of Georgia talking, or some other ardent Russophobe, think again. It was Russia’s so-called “friend” in Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich.
Oops! Just when the Russophile hoards were sure they had won a major victory in Ukraine with Yanukovich’s elevation, he bursts their bubble with a highly sharpened pin.
And let’s be perfectly clear: The President of Ukraine has called the Prime Minister of Russia an international criminal. His words might just as well have been spoken by Mikheil Saakashvili!
If even so-called “Russophile” Yanukovich has such a negative attitude towards Russian aggression against Georgia, then surely no more final condemnation of Putin’s barbaric policies could be imagined.
Alexander Golts, writing in the Moscow Times:
A distinctive feature of the Russian power vertical is that leaders do not bother determining what government officials have already said on a particular subject before preparing their own remarks. At a meeting on security agency budgets on May 24, President Dmitry Medvedev set the goal of modernizing at least 30 percent of Russia’s weaponry by 2015. The president was apparently unaware of the previous arms program, announced by then-Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov three years ago. In 2007, Ivanov told State Duma deputies that the program would rearm 45 percent of the military by 2015. It failed miserably.
In addition, officials often do not feel obliged to fulfill the orders of their bosses — even those issued by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. In a February meeting on the new armament program, Putin ordered that 70 percent of the country’s armed forces be modernized by 2020. But at a recent Duma hearing, acting army chief Lieutenant General Oleg Frolov contradicted Putin. Frolov said the 13 trillion rubles ($418.4 billion) for rearmament to be allocated over the next 10 years was only sufficient for modernizing Russia’s strategic nuclear forces, air defense forces and aviation. He said 36 trillion rubles ($1.2 trillion) would be needed to carry out all of the tasks put before the armed forces.
Thus, the new armaments program is doomed to fail, just like the four previous plans. All of these programs go through the same life cycle:
Lara Iglitzin, executive director of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, and John Hempelmann, president of the foundation, writing in the Seattle Times:
When Washington state’s U.S. Sen. Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson introduced what became the historic Jackson-Vanik Amendment in 1975, he was aiming squarely at a repressive Soviet Union that denied its citizens the right to free emigration, one of the fundamental human rights the senator greatly valued.
By denying Most Favored Nation trade status to nonmarket economies that restrict emigration, Jackson-Vanik was intended to motivate Soviet leaders to take action and open their borders. And it worked — well more than 1 million people left the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics thanks to the amendment in the 1970s and 1980s.
While the Soviet Union no longer exists, the amendment remains on the books. And Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin don’t like it. Their message to the U.S. is to prove that the Cold War is over, and repeal what some call a Cold War relic. So why not repeal it?
Lyudmila Alexeyeva, the indomitable Russian human-rights leader and activist for the past 40 years, didn’t mince words when discussing the amendment’s current relevance.
“Don’t give Putin something for nothing … free emigration is the one right we have left,” she said at a February conference in Washington, D.C. The conference on “The Legacy and Consequences of Jackson-Vanik” was held jointly by the Kennan Institute and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation.
The New York Times Dealbook reports (note that a group of crazed Russian businessmen thought they could buy off this reporter with a free trip to Russia a la Valdai; it blew up massively right in their faces and we could not be better pleased):
From Matt Marshall at VentureBeat:
Russia is the sixth-largest economy in the world, but it’s also a country relatively untouched by foreign investors, especially investors in technology. Could Russia potentially be the home of the next massive tech boom?
The short answer is: No way. At least not anytime soon. That’s the conclusion I’ve come to after a week in Moscow, a week in which I took part in the first ever delegation of US venture capital investors to visit Russia.
The organizers invited me as the sole member of the U.S. media. (Disclosure: My trip was organized by AmBar, a group of U.S.-based Russian professionals, and paid for by Rusnano, a government investment fund. In return, I promised to write an honest account of what I found.)