BRIC Leaders in 2008, courtesy of Kremlin Press and Information Office
On 16 April, the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will meet in Brasilia. The group has managed to develop a presence on the geopolitical stage in the past years and is increasingly able and willing to counter the influence of western power on various fronts. They share many characteristics and interest- primarily in the economic realm- and account for more than 40 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its land area.
The four are also pushing for a more multilateral world and use BRIC as a vehicle to pursue this end. The international community and media have enthusiastically embraced this concept and often view or treat the group as a coherent political actor, granting it clout and weight on the international stage.
But has the BRIC concept graduated from mere theory (and labeling) to real, actionable practice? Beyond the push for a more “multilateral world”, do the BRIC countries have much in common? Do they share anything beyond their inclusion in the 22 “emerging markets” index and perhaps most importantly, does the bloc have political relevance? » More
Russia’s tanks have enjoyed a glorious reputation since the end of World War II, securing buyers and admirers all around the world. How they are safeguarded and where they are found can, however, still be surprising and downright frightening.
Close to the city of Yekaterinburg in the Urals villagers found dozens of abandoned tanks, identified as a mixture of T-80 and T-72 main battle tanks “parked” next to railway tracks. Reports differ on the number of tanks, with estimates ranging between 100 and 200 vehicles. They have been sitting there for almost four months covered in snow, reports add.
The video footage available (1 and 2) shows that at least some of the vehicles were unlocked, open for everyone to take a personal tour. Apparently the only items missing were live rounds and the keys to the tanks’ ignitions. But maybe they were just under another snow heap?
A military spokesperson was quick to point out that special patrols were guarding the tanks, which were being dispatched to a military base.
In the meantime the army has embarked on a hasty operation to relocate the tanks.
This incident comes just days after top military commanders stated that Russia doesn’t need half of its 20,000 tanks.
Could you park one of them close to my train station, please?
Vladimir Putin is watching you / Photo: Limbic, flickr
“On the internet 50 percent is porn material. Why should we refer to the internet?” This was Vladimir Putin’s answer to widespread claims on Russian internet websites that the October regional elections were rigged.
But while dismissing the internet as an irrelevant source of information, Putin does take the internet seriously when it comes to quieting his critics. Alexei Dymovsky, the police officer who spoke out publicly about widespread police corruption via YouTube, was duly arrested on Friday (and facing dubious charges).
At least on the surface, Putin’s younger successor Dmitry Medvedev seems to have a more positive approach to the internet as an information platform. Over a year ago, Medvedev proudly discovered the blog as a means of communication with the Russian public. Taking stock of his blogging experience on the occasion of his video blog‘s first anniversary, Medvedev draws the following, rather trite conclusion:
Nixie clock / Photo: Public domain, Wikipedia
Russia is the largest country on the planet and as such faces special challenges. Who else has to organize such a vast territory that at the moment spans over 11 time zones? Did you know that the difference between Omsk Time and Magadan Time is exactly 5 hours?
To ease the burden of space and time, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev proposed to actually reduce the number of time zones in the country from 11 to 5. Pointing to the economic advantages of the reduction, he underlined benefits for communication and traveling. It’s definitely an organizational challenge if a businessman in Kaliningrad in Russia’s far west is calling a business partner in Vladivostok, which is in the far east.
Yet, time is not only in Russia a political issue – also China decided after the Communist Revolution of 1949 to abolish the up until then existing 5 time zones in favor of only one zone, of course that of Beijing. Whether or not this has helped to strengthen the central leadership and to unify the national political movements no one can say, but one can imagine what that means for the inhabitants of western China.
Changing time and its measurement goes over the powers of most politicians, as the fate of the Soviet calendar as well as of its French Republican counterpart proves. So it remains to be seen how far Medvedev’s proposal will get.