Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Russia Worries Me

Sounds a bit xenophobic but it's true. You see, I'm a history buff, it's not what my degree is in but I plan to go back to school to become a history teacher and I've made something of a study of Russia over the last several years. Ethnically, culturally and geographically Russia encompasses a lot of disparate parts, in the north the coldest temperatures have been registered at -94 degrees F, whereas in the south there are desert regions and a portion of it's border on the black sea is considered tropical. Ethnically Russia's population includes magyars, romany, slavs, multiple phenotypically different "Russians" and more due to multiple wars of conquest by the state and launched against it. Several nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes have called the area encompassed by Russia home as well.

Then you get to it's history, with hundreds of years of tsarist rule, the crown seemed to pass alternately from the hands of progressive modernists to totalitarian dictators to absentee emperors who left running the state in the hands of a nobility and state church that was often repressive in the extreme, desiring simply to maintain their positions of power. The history of Russia is  one of coups and violent revolutions as well as the inevitable heavy handed backlash. Because of that the modern Russian state has always had a "secret police" force starting with Lenin's Vecheka in 1917, which became the GPU or "State Political Directorate" under the NKVD or "People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs."

For the first 37 years of it's existence these organizations held a direct relationship and methods of control until the Vecheka, now MVD or "Ministry of Internal Affairs" became the KGB which was eventually broken down in to the SVR, FSB, FSO and GRU. The troubling thing is throughout this now nearly one hundred year history a  direct line of succession in the supposedly different branches has been maintained, Russian strongman Vladimir Putin held at least the rank of colonel in the KGB and FSB and many people would say is the real center of power in russian politics since he has been president or prime minister without interruption since 1999, while also sitting as the head of several state councils, giving him a diversity of powers.

Now, that all sounds a bit like conspiracy theorist rambling, I'll admit, but in the face of a media that wants to ignore Russia sharing arms with Syria and Pakistan I think the point isn't worrying about some grand scheme but remembering that Russia is a country that simply does not care what occurs beyond it's borders except to insure it's supremacy, and is run by an oligarchy that operates from an intelligence service with a very disturbing record.

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