Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Yesterday, Russian forces took one of the last military bases in Crimea. The Russians had surrounded the naval base, located in Fedosia, and attacked it with APCs and stun grenades. They then rounded up all the Ukrainian soldiers and tied the hands of their officers. The Fedosia navy base is 1 of the nearly 189 military bases the Russians have taken over since the dispute in March began. As more and more Ukrainian soldiers pull out of Crimea, it has become apparent that Russian has come out on top, the question now is what will the future hold for the two countries.

Organized Crime in Russia Unit 8


It’s no secret that the world of crime is constantly in the shadows. The ending result is that it becomes hard for law enforcement to deem who’s who, and more importantly who is in charge of it all. However, one Russian Mob boss has become well known enough to be rated the most dangerous crime lord in the world for the year 2012 by the FBI. This man’s name is Semion Mogilevich, a Ukrainian born man who is believed to be in charge of the Solntsevskaya Bratva Syndicate, a Russian Mafia organization based in Moscow.

   He has been credited to be the man behind all the decisions that resulted in the expansion and organization of his criminal enterprise. He has earned the nicknames “Don Semyon” and “The Brainy Don” because of his intelligence. This is not only because of his degree in economics, but how he also is associated with various legitimate Russian Businesses. Wikileaks suggest that he has been connected with RosUKrEnergo, Raiffeisen Bank, and Gazprom (Russian State Energy Group).

 It is also rumored that he has close ties with Putin for political reasons. It is suspected that Putin protects Semion Mogilevich because of Mogilevich’s support for Putin. This may be no surprise to some, Semion Mogilevich is suspected of being a billionaire and part of his syndicates operations include contract killings, along with drugs, smuggling, gambling, and kidnapping. These actions would present an obstacle to any honest politician looking to challenge Putin.  Though believed to be untouchable due to his business and political connections, the FBI still has him ranked 494th on their most wanted list. 


Unit 7

 Reuters / Baz Ratner

  As the world turns to observe and condemn the recent actions of the Kremlin in Crimea, the War on Drugs continues. Afghanistan boarders many post-Soviet states, and with a booming drug trade where 80% of the world’s opium is produced it has become harder for Russian law enforcement to stop the influx of Heroine that is being smuggled through their boarders. Though it is no secret Afghanistan is a lawless land where the one with the most guns dictates what goes on, the Russian government has explicitly stated that America’s sanctions “deliberately destroy[ing] the international anti-drug cooperation in order to hide its responsibility for the drug crisis in Afghanistan.”

            This accusation could very well just be part of the exchange of blows from America and Russia. Recently the boss of the Russian Federal Drug Control Service, Viktor Ivanov, became blacklisted from America. As a result his department stated “The unfriendly action itself and the US visa ban on the director of the Russian Drug Control Service is severing the successful and fruitful cooperation with Russia in fighting against illegal drugs.”  

            As a result The RFDCS has called on the U.N. Security Council to make combating the drug trade in Afghanistan a priority. The plan provided details about not only removing all Opium and Marijuana fields in Afghanistan, but subsidizing landlords that profit from the sale of drugs with other means to earn. This plan also includes talks of somehow providing Afghan citizens with two million new jobs in order to curb the desire to participate in illegal methods of acquiring income, whether it is terrorism or drugs. 


Russian Family

Russian families are far more unified than American. In America, we have names for every level, second cousin three times removed, step-mother, half-brother, et cetera. Grandparents live in assisted living, cousins meet maybe every decade. At eighteen, children are evicted from their parent's home. In Russian however, step-family is simply family. Cousins are referred to as siblings, no matter the how little shared DNA there actually is. Grandparents, sometimes aunts and uncles and cousins all live in the same space.

Geopolitical Unrest: The Economic War Rages

 In continued attempts to fight a war against Russia, because of their actions in Crimea, without emptying any cartridges or firing any missiles, the [formerly] G8 summit has suspended Russia's membership - an attempt to further the impact of economic sanctions and an effort to fight a cold war of attrition against the nation.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that Russia was rather indifferent to the announcement, made in a joint statement by the leaders of the other member nations.

"If our Western partners believe that this format has become obsolete, then so be it," Lavrov said at a news conference at the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. "We are not clinging to this format and we do not see big troubles if the group does not meet."

This statement alludes to the fact that Western sanctions don't seem to be having an impact on the rhetoric between Russia and the rest of the world - minus China and some smaller governmental states. 

The United States, France, Britain, Germany, Italy and Japan announced the suspension of the Russian Federation in a declaration released Monday, confirming that the sanctions are in place because of Russia's violation of Ukrainian sovereign territory. The codification of the unit which opposes Russia's actions also has not seemed to have an impact on the former Soviets, as they simply issued a statement saying they wish to keep communications with the G7 open. 

In terms of the negative backlash of the economic sanctions, there is the undeniable shortage of natural gas being sold to Europe - a supply that will be incredibly difficult to find an alternative to as Norway and Australia have both come up short in recent projections. 

Russian Poetry! :)

I would like to take the time to tell you about one of Russia's greatest poets. There are a few that should be named to have such a title but I want to focus on Александр Блок or in Latin letters, Aleksandr Blok. Блок was born on November 28, 1880 in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was born to a father who was a lawyer, musician, and writer and a mother who was a домохозяйка. Блок's parents separated when he was young and he group up in the house of his mother's family who were a richly intellectual millieu; where Блок's talent and potential was generously indulged. Блок started writing verse at age 5 but it was not until age 18 that he began writing serious work. Originally, in 1898 Блок entered the law faculty of St. Petersburg University but 3 years later he realized his love for literature was too string to not pursue as a lifelong career. He was inspired mostly by 19th century romantic poetry and the work of Василий Жуковский (Vasily Zhukovsky). One poem that I found and enjoyed the most is called "To the Muse" or "Музе" and below I have both the Russian and English. If you like poetry, there are a lot more to poems to read of Блок.

Музе/To the Muse

Есть в напевах твоих сокровенных
Роковая о гибели весть.
Есть проклятье заветов священных,
Поругание счастия есть.

И такая влекущая сила,
Что готов я твердить за молвой,
Будто ангелов ты низводила,
Соблазняя своей красотой...

И когда ты смеешься над верой,
Над тобой загорается вдруг
Тот неяркий, пурпурово-серый
И когда-то мной виденный круг.

Зла, добра ли? - Ты вся - не отсюда.
Мудрено про тебя говорят:
Для иных ты - и Муза, и чудо.
Для меня ты - мученье и ад.

Я не знаю, зачем на рассвете,
В час, когда уже не было сил,
Не погиб я, но лик твой заметил
И твоих утешений просил?

Я хотел, чтоб мы были врагами,
Так за что ж подарила мне ты
Луг с цветами и твердь со звездами -
Всё проклятье своей красоты?

И коварнее северной ночи,
И хмельней золотого Аи,
И любови цыганской короче
Были страшные ласки твои...

И была роковая отрада
В попираньи заветных святынь,
И безумная сердцу услада -
Эта горькая страсть, как полынь!

29 декабря 1912
In your innermost songs there are hidden
Fateful tidings of death.
A curse on sacred commandments,
And a profanation of joy.

And such an alluring strength
That I'm ready to pass on the rumor
That you brought angels down
With your seductive beauty...

And when you mock faith
That dim, purplish-gray 
Circle I've seen before 
Suddenly blazes above you

Evil or good? - You're thoroughly alien.
People speak of you enigmatically:
For some you are Muse and miracle
For me you are torment and hell.

I don't know why, at dawn,
At the time of my last strength,
Rather than die, I caught sight of your face
And begged your consolation.

I wanted us to be enemies,
So why did you present me
With flowering meadows, the starry vault- 
The curse of your beauty?

More treacherous than a northern night,
More heady than golden champagne,
And more fickle than a gypsy's love
Were your terrible caresses...

And there was a fatal delight
In flouting sacred truths,
And my heart was maddened
By this bitter, wormwood passion.

29 December 1912