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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2101

Military veterans get shortchanged;
Russia settles in in Syria

Edited by Amanda Azinheira
November 10, 2016

October 10: 

Russia may be building up its military forces in anticipation of a greater global presence, but the country's veterans are getting the short end of the stick. 
Writing in his Window on Eurasia blog, Russia expert Paul Goble notes that 10,297 Russian veterans and about 30,000 of their family members will be denied housing by the Ministry of Defense. The reason has to do with Russia's growing military "adventurism," which has required the government to reallocate funds from veteran housing to current military operations and preparations. And although the decision has generated protests in recent weeks, the Kremlin is unlikely to concede to veteran demands - something that could have long-ranging implications, especially among current military personnel hoping to receive government-funded housing after their service. 

October 11:

The Russian government has advised its citizens living, studying, or working abroad to return home. The announcement has prompted fear among the public and abroad that an armed conflict may be imminent. 
According to Russian news website Znak, this is not the first time that Russia has called upon its citizens to return from abroad. In the past, the Duma has attempted to pass laws or add amendments that would bar students from attending Western educational institutions, but none have been successful to date. The latest announcement by the Russian government may simply be an act of retaliation for ongoing Western sanctions, but it may presage tension between President Vladimir Putin and at least some of his supporters, who fear increasing isolation at home. 

October 12:

The teenage daughter of a renowned Russian mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Fedor Emilianenko has been hospitalized after being assaulted by an unknown man in Moscow. The attack, 
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, is believed to be political in nature. Emilianenko, who heads the country's MMA Union, recently criticized Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov for allowing his young sons to fight in a formal combat sport tournament. Emilianenko termed the decision "unacceptable" because of the risk of permanent injury to the young boys, who are aged 8, 9, and 10. In response, he received widespread condemnation from Kadyrov supporters, culminating in the attack on his daughter. 

October 13:

Trust in government among ordinary Russians has decreased by almost half, 
reports The Moscow Times. In a survey carried out by the Levada Center, just 26 percent of respondents said they trusted the Russian government - down from 45 percent in 2015. Nevertheless, Russians' trust in Vladimir Putin himself appears to remain high. The Russian Presidency continues to rank as the most trusted institution in the country, with a 74 percent approval rating. 

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Given Russia's increasingly authoritarian political character, the results of polls and opinion surveys carried out within the country should be viewed with some skepticism. Notably, the Levada Center itself is the subject of considerable controversy, having been singled out by the Kremlin as a "foreign agent," a designation that may force the institution to close its doors in the near future.] 

October 14:

The Kremlin has decided to commit its military to the Syrian war, indefinitely. 
According to the Meduza news portal, President Vladimir Putin has ratified a law prolonging the deployment of the Russian air force in Syria for an unspecified amount of time. Additionally, Meduza reports, the law gives the air force enormous operational latitude in the combat theater, including unlimited mobility, free use of the Hmeymim airfield in Latakia, and immunity from Syrian inspections. Finally, the law establishes the Russian naval base at Tartus as a permanent military installation.


Related Categories: Russia; Russia and Eurasia Program

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