WOMEN WITH GUNS
Tverskoi Prospect 13, No. 25-26, March 7, 2002, p. 5
Over 1,000 women serving in the Russian Armed Forces have participated in military operations. Over 500 women have received medals or bravery awards in the course of the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya.
At present, 6.2% of Armed Forces personnel are women, with an average age of 33, serving as officers, ensigns, and warrant officers.
Women officers mostly serve in medical units (72.3%); financial departments (4.1%); communications and computing departments (7.5%); military transfer departments (2.5%), and others.
Fifty percent of all contract personnel – soldiers and sergeants – in the Russian Armed Forces are women.
According to the press-service of the Russian Defense Ministry, the majority of women serve in the Army, Air Force, and Strategic Missile Forces.
TAKE CARE OF WOMEN
Rossiyskie Vesti, No.8, March 6, 2002, p. 11
Over 14,000 women die due to domestic violence in Russia every year. In comparison, Soviet casualties in the Afghanistan war were 17,000. The problem is that the Russian mind-set accepts domestic violence as normal, not a crime. According to polls, 42% of respondents believe that domestic violence can be justified.
CAMPAIGN AGAINST SPY MANIA IN RUSSIA
Inostranets, No. 8, March 5, 2002, p. 7
The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHFHR) and the Moscow Helsinki group have launched an international campaign against spy mania in Russia.
According to IHFHR executive director Aaron Rhodes, the organization he represents is concerned that more and more Russian people are falling victim to persecution by security services as a result of their scientific and journalistic activities. Mr. Rhodes says, “Russian scientists and intelligentsia are being scared, the basis for international cooperation is being undermined – all this is against the interests of Russian people, against the interests of liberalism and freedom.” The IHFHR executive director said that the institution of “espionage cases” violates a number of clauses of the European convention for protection of human rights and essential liberties, of the international agreement on civil and political rights, as well as Russia’s obligations under the Paris OSCE Charter and other international agreements.
According to Moscow Helsinki group leader Lyudmila Alekseeva, if the spy mania is not stopped, all business and academic contacts with Russia will be reduced. She says: “It has been only a decade since the fall of the Iron Curtain, but if at least one espionage case ends in a conviction, we will be living in a closed country again.”
SECRET SIGNS OF RECESSION
Finansovaya Rossia, No. 8, March 7, 2002, p. 3
In summer and early autumn of 2001, one or two strikes a month took place at Russian enterprises; from October to December the number of strikes grew to six to eight a month. In January there were 24 strikes – four times as many as in December.
According to statistical departments, the majority of strikes were over wage arrears. It is no coincidence: in January wage arrears in the Russian Federation rose by almost 10%, to 32.8 billion rubles. It should be noted that despite the economic growth in Russia, total wage arrears have grown since mid-spring 2001.
In December the Russian government paid out a great deal of budget money, provoking a jump in inflation at the beginning of this year, although this reduced wage arrears by 14%, to 29.9 million rubles. Unfortunately, the December breakthrough did not become a steady trend and in January, after introduction of a new tariff scale, wage arrears started to rapidly grow again. Even in such prosperous industries as oil and gas refining, the decline in world prices and exports reduction caused an increase in wage arrears: by 30.5% and 41.6% respectively.
By the way, the average nominal wage in Russia decreased in January from 4,541 rubles to 3,860 rubles a month, or by 15%. Of course, seasonal factors also influenced it: at the start of the year the wages always fall. Still, last January the fall was only 9%.
The unemployment rate turned to be a very sensitive indicator of the unfavorable economic processes. The halt in economic growth became noticeable only in October. Earlier, in mid-June, the unemployment rate started to suddenly increase, though it had been declining rapidly for several months before that. Since early summer, for the past eight months, the number of unemployed has increased: since May 2001 it has increased from 6.07 million to 6.35 million people, or by 4.7%.
YOUNG PEOPLE ARE DEPRESSED
Kontinent, No. 10, March 7, 2002, p. 2
Dr. V. Voloshinis, chief child psychiatrist at the Health Care Ministry, has expressed concern about the psychological health of Russian children and adolescents.
According to him, about 2 million of children and teenagers in Russia have psychological disorders. Moreover, many conscripts are discharged from the army within the first three months of service because of psychological disorders of various degrees.
The most frequent problems are post-traumatic stress conditions and depression. Acute depression drives children and teenagers from 11 to 18 years old to suicide; however, even children as young as three or four can become depressed.
HOW MUCH ALCOHOL DO RUSSIANS DRINK?
Profil, No. 9, March 4, 2002, p. 2
The Public Opinion Foundation has done a poll asking people how often they drink alcoholic beverages. Twenty-one percent of respondents confidently said that they do not drink hard liquor at all; 7% of respondents said they “unwind” two to three times a week; and 30% answered that they drink hard liquor only on special occasions, a few times a year.
After this the Public Opinion Foundation asked whether people had been drinking more or less alcohol recently. Fifty-eight percent of respondents believe that Russians are now drinking more, and six percent of respondents believe that Russians now drink less hard liquor than they used to. At the same time, 30% of respondents think Russians drink just as much as they ever have.