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.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora