News

    2007 Marks a Year of Russian Muscle-Flexing

    Multimedia

    Audio

    2007 was a year in which Russia deployed new weapons, withdrew from a major European security treaty, and held a widely criticized election campaign, all while continuing to enjoy economic growth and a stronger currency. VOA Moscow Correspondent Peter Fedynsky looks at a year of Russian muscle-flexing.

    At the Moscow Air Show in August, Russia signaled an intention to revive its commercial and military aviation industries, which fell on hard times after the Soviet collapse. Just days before the exhibition, one of the planes on display, the TU-160 strategic bomber, took to the skies again on orders of President Vladimir Putin.

    Mr. Putin said he decided to renew round-the-clock strategic air combat patrols as he announced 14 bombers accompanied by support planes and refueling tankers had already taken off that day.

    Russia's strategic aviation had been grounded due to economic difficulties in the 1990s.

    The Kremlin engaged in a flurry of other publicized military activity - deployment of an upgraded missile defense system around Moscow; ongoing construction of three new nuclear submarines; military exercises with China; air force maneuvers over distant oceans. Other moves put foreign countries on notice - Kremlin suspension of a key European security treaty and a threat to deploy nuclear weapons near Poland. This - in response to a U.S. proposal for a missile defense system in Central Europe to guard against a possible Iranian missile attack.

    But in remarks to VOA, independent Russian military analyst Alexander Khramchekhin said the rebuilding of Russia's military is more public relations than reality.

    "The move," says Khramchekhin, "is partly an attempt to resolve a psychological complex, in other words, to show that Russia has become as strong as before. It is, he says, largely a propaganda campaign for domestic rather than foreign consumption."

    Military imagery was, indeed, used by the ruling United Russia Party in a TV ad during the recent parliamentary campaign. The commercial featured fighter jets, President Putin in a flight suit, and elite troops with guns in hand.

    The Kremlin, however, went beyond imagery to assure control of parliament in a December 2 election.

    Riot police used force to disperse opposition campaign rallies and opposition leaders were jailed. The opposition was also denied access to nationwide TV, and its campaign literature was confiscated. These and other violations were noted by European election observers.

    The president of the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly, Goran Lennmarker, pointed to President Vladimir Putin's campaign on behalf of the ruling United Russia Party.

    "The merging of the state and political parties is an abuse of power and a clear violation of international commitments and standards," he said. "The other point is that the media showed a strong bias in favor of the president and the ruling United Russia Party."

    The Kremlin claims credit for reviving the Russian military and economy, and President Putin says leadership continuity is needed to assure further success. Kremlin control of national media assures no one will challenge such claims. And continuity was virtually guaranteed when Mr. Putin supported Dmitri Medvedev as the next president. Mr. Medvedev returned the favor by asking Mr. Putin to become prime minister.

    Given such control by the ruling elite, opposition presidential candidate and former chess champion Garry Kasparov withdrew from the race, calling the presidential election "a farce."

    "It's not the end of the world; it just shows that this game is a fake not only on the day of the election with the election fraud, but at every stage of this process," he said.

    In June, the Kremlin tightened its grip on Russian energy production, pressuring British Petroleum to give up its stake in Siberia's Kovykta field, one of the world's largest gas deposits. And as energy exports continue to boost Russia's economy, its people this year began saving more rubles and selling off U.S. dollars.

    In more good news for the Kremlin, Russia won its bid for the 2012 Winter Olympic Games and a research submarine planted a Russian flag on the bottom of the Arctic Ocean at the North Pole in a bid to claim vast undersea oil deposits.

    Such Russian muscle-flexing this year was accompanied by a mini-sensation in August, when the Kremlin released photographs featuring … the muscles of a bare-chested President Putin on a fishing trip.

     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora