Russian Press - Behind the Headlines, September 13

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Russian Press - Behind the Headlines - Sputnik International
Russian military to train more snipers for new wars and possible revolts \ Defense Ministry to invest billions in “half-old” tank \ Bloggers in Volgograd rent apartment for 80-year-old homeless man

RBC Daily
Russian military to train more snipers for new wars and possible revolts
Russia’s General Staff plans to train more snipers. There will be special sniper units in each brigade, a general said. He explained the need by the new reality of modern confrontations and the possibility of Arab-style uprisings in Russia. Analysts welcome the initiative, saying that snipers had proven their effectiveness during the Chechen wars.

Separate sniper units will be established in each brigade in the Russian Armed Forces. The plans were made public yesterday by Nikolai Makarov, Chief of the General Staff, who commented on the ongoing military reform.
The general said the reason for these plans is the growing role of snipers in modern warfare, especially in urban operations. Moreover, he did not exclude the possibility of Arab-style revolts in Russia. He said the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have shown that the Russian military must prepare for worst-case political scenarios.

An RBC Daily source in the Defense Ministry said that each brigade will most likely have a sniper platoon. The source admitted that initially sniper rifles will be bought abroad. Contract sergeants, who will be hired starting in mid-2012, will form the core of the sniper corps.
“This is an absolutely correct decision, since the experience of the first and second Chechen wars has proven the importance and effectiveness of sniper groups in military units,” Igor Korotchenko, a member of the Defense Ministry’s public council, told RBC Daily. “It is important that the snipers attached to brigades will be armed with good foreign-made rifles, which promises higher effectiveness and greater shooting power.”
“Currently, the North Korean military has the largest number of snipers with ten sniper brigades,” Anatoly Tsyganok, director of the Military Forecasting Center at the Political and Military Analysis Institute, told RBC Daily. “Moreover, the North Korean military is the only in the world to have not only snipers but also 300 professionally trained suicide servicemen. Of course, Russia need not draw on that kamikaze experience, but it should analyze North Korea’s experience of sniper training because our next task will be to train a large number of snipers. We must decide where to recruit them, how to train them and who will train them.”

The Soviet school of sniper training was very good, but it gradually went into decline, analysts say. “Each sniper is unique. It takes years to train one, which means they must definitely be contract servicemen,” Korotchenko said. “We cannot hope for conscripted servicemen to fill the gap like they did in the past, when naturally gifted people were recruited from among conscripts and trained to shoot faultlessly from a Dragunov sniper rifle.”

Novye Izvestia

Defense Ministry to invest billions in “half-old” tank
The T-90 tank, showcased at a recent exhibition in Nizhny Tagil, “has a mass of shortcomings,” Chief of the General Staff and First Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Makarov told reporters on Monday. “So far only its turret fits the bill,” the general said. Yet the ideas incorporated in the T-90 are to be used in developing the “tank of the future” known as the Armata. The federal authorities plan to invest over 64 billion rubles in the program for the development of the Uralvagonzavod (UVZ), which is going to build it.

Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, told the paper that the money is being allocated “to develop technology that is based on the T-90 and which will be used in the Armata, a fundamentally new tank design.”
However, there has been more than enough criticism of the T-90 itself. General Makarov said: “The T-90’s turret has earned our profound respect; it is as good as leading foreign turrets, and in some ways it is even better.” At the same time, numerous reported defects raise strong doubts that the first Armata prototypes will enter service in 2015.

The ministry has recently refused to buy what it believes are too expensive T-90s, which cost an outlandish 118 million rubles per piece. As for the Armata’s price, independent experts estimate it at over 400 million rubles. Now it has emerged that technological solutions for the “tank of the future” have been tried and tested on the T-90 and have run into serious difficulties. All this makes one wonder how efficiently the astronomical amounts allocated by the state for rearmament – 20 trillion rubles to the end of the current decade – will be spent.

Igor Korotchenko, director of the Global Arms Trade Analysis Center, told Novye Izvestia: “Even after 2015, one can expect very limited supplies of Armata tanks to the troops. It is out of the question that the new tank will join the forces by the hundreds.” He said that in place of massive purchases of the new armor it has been decided to focus on upgrading the outdated T-72 tanks, which were easily knocked out by U.S. Abrams tanks during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq in 1991, and the earlier delivered T-90s. 

Nor is there any clarity about the look of the tank of the future. Over the past few years all hopes have been pinned on what is known as “Object 195” (T-95). Some prototypes were tested but in 2010 the Defense Ministry called off all testing under the pretext of excessive costs and highly involved design. In the same way the Black Eagle tank program was axed. The Eagle was developed on the basis of an upgraded T-80. According to Pukhov, “that project was abandoned with a vengeance.”

Experts are not ruling out that the same fate will befall the new “superweapon” the military has been so proactive in selling.

Komsomolskaya Pravda

Bloggers in Volgograd rent apartment for 80-year-old homeless man
Internet users in southern Russian city of Volgograd have joined efforts to help 80-year-old Andrei Topchiyev, homeless and unsupported, without family or even documents.

His sad story has obviously touched local bloggers and other online forum users. “The old man lives in a former hostel destroyed by fire, in the only room that survived,” Natalia Gurova wrote. “A refugee from Azerbaijan, he worked in construction while he was strong enough, but now he is too old. He has no family or money to buy food, and lives off church charity porridge lunches. The local Azeri community declined to help him because he had no documents proving he is from Azerbaijan. He has no tattoos and doesn’t sound like a former convict. He is very clean and does not drink.”
Natalia visits him almost daily. Despite the widespread belief that people have grown cold-hearted and unsympathetic these days, after Natalia’s post, hundreds of people offered to help. The bloggers opened an online account to raise money. A young couple donated a TV set. People donated money, clothes and even hot meals.

Topchiyev met reporters dressed in an old suit jacket, shabby but clean. His small room was nothing like a squalid den a bum might use. There was a thin mattress covered with sheets on the floor, a small gas cooker, some cutlery, freshly laundered towels hung neatly on a line, and an old wheelbarrow he seems to use to bring water. He has been saving the money he made by begging outside the church to pay for gas to keep warm in winter.

Topchiyev was raised in an orphanage in Baku and has no siblings. A retired plant worker, he fled Azerbaijan during the war with the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, after much abuse and physical beatings. He spent ten years in a Ukrainian nursing home, but eventually moved to Russia because of unbearable living conditions there. He also lost his passport, which left him entirely unprotected.
“We want to help him get a new passport so he can apply for government pension. To do that, he needs letters from the embassies of Azerbaijan and Ukraine. Local authorities told us he has to go to Moscow personally to obtain them. But he is too old to go anywhere,” Gurova said.
Topchiyev is now making himself comfortable in a rented apartment the forum users have paid for. A young man seems to have donated the money he was saving for a car.

“I was so very cold last winter,” Topchiyev said. “I have never thought that people I don’t even know would help me. Thank you,” he added with tears in his eyes.
“He does not need to go to Moscow,” said Svetlana Loginova, a local immigration official. “To register for temporary residence, he needs to come to the local immigration office and fill out some applications so we can confirm his identity and nationality. Then we’ll see what we can do next.”
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