The Russia Profile Special Report is a quarterly publication that consists of a collection of articles by different staff and freelance authors dedicated to a specific central theme of the editors' choosing. Stories found in our Special Reports are the best-researched, most profound and comprehensive analytical pieces available at RussiaProfile.Org.
The Special Reports are an indispensible tool for any Russia watcher or researcher interested in taking a closer look at the pressing issues that affect the modern Russian society. The reports are a derivative of the print version of our monthly magazine that is no longer published on paper, but is available in various digital formats for the convenience of our readers.
We welcome all feedback and suggestions from our readers, so if there is a specific topic you would like Russia Profile to take a closer look at, please let us know!
Russia retains its dubious reputation as one of the world’s least peaceful nations, as the Kremlin fails to cap military spending or reduce the growing population of inmates, a new report has found. Russia is now in 153rd place out of 158 nations ranked according to the “absence of violence,” said the Global Peace Index (GPI) 2012 published on Tuesday by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace. For the fifth year running, Russia has been trailing many other nations “where people live in peace and harmony,” said the report, citing the low-key warfare in the North Caucasus and the Kremlin’s efforts to face down the ongoing middle-class protests.
The GPI researchers consider Russia a serious case because of its large military budget, a growing number of prisoners and ongoing violence in the Northern Caucasus. Even so, Russia has been continually sliding down the GPI ranking over the years. In 2007, it ranked in 118th place due to high levels of organized crime and a bloated army. After two explosions killed dozens of people on the subway in central Moscow in 2010, Russia's ranking dropped to 147th place.
By slashing its military spending, which currently consumes 2.3 percent of the GDP, Russia could have seen improvement in its rankings, experts say. However, over the past year Russia kept increasing its spending on weapons while the global financial crisis affected military spending in the United States and Europe, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in a report presented in April. Russia overtook Britain and France to become the world's third largest arms spender, to the tune of some $8 billion – a 9.3 percent increase over 2010, the leading think tank said. The Kremlin said it wants to replace 70 percent of its Soviet-era military equipment with modern weaponry by 2020, prompting military experts to predict even more military spending in the coming years.
Russia also remains one of world’s leading exporters of conventional and heavy weapons, the GPI report said. The country likewise has more policemen "per capita" than the EU countries or the United States, said the report. In addition, “the no-war, no-peace situation” in the North Caucasus remains a constant thorn the Kremlin’s side.
While the Kremlin has taken steps toward reducing the number of prisoners – including sponsoring a bill last year to ease punishment for crimes ranging from libel to smuggling and kidnapping – prisons are still jam-packed as more white-collar crime suspects continue to get detained. About 820,000 inmates were held in prisons nationwide in 2009 – the latest year for which the Federal Prison Service has released data – an average of 534 per every 100,000 Russians. Russia’s rating has also suffered with the inclusion of new “peace-loving” countries in GPI’s latest ranking. While Russia's overall assessment has remained virtually unchanged from year to year, the inclusion of seven more nations since 2007 has guaranteed the country a place among the top ten worst performers.
The GPI index assessed countries based on 23 criteria, ranging from a nation’s level of military spending to its relations with the neighboring countries and its level of respect for human rights. Western Europe remains markedly the most peaceful region, with the majority of the countries in this region ranking in the top 20 overall. For the second year running, Iceland has been recognized as the most peaceful country. Unrest in a number of Arab countries, known as the “Arab Spring” affected their ranking, pushing them back for the first time since 2007.
If the world had been more peaceful, the global economy would have generated additional economic benefits worth more than $9 trillion last year, which is equivalent to the size of the economies of Germany and Japan combined, said the report. On the upside, the index showed that all countries, with the exception of those in the Middle East and North Africa, have improved.
War-torn Somali remains the world’s least peaceful nation, while Russia is wedged between North Korea and the Democratic Republic of Congo. "On the one hand, it's a bit depressing to be ranked close to Somali, where civil war has been raging for years," said Alexei Makarkin, deputy head of the Center for Political Technologies. "But on the other hand, Russia is being held to a higher standard than African countries. Our country is being compared to Central European countries, which also endured communist regimes but are now demonstrating better results."
The twelve least peaceful nations:
151. Central African Republic (CAR)
152. North Korea
154. Democratic Republic of Congo
Source: The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) 2012 Global Peace Index
You may place this material on your blog by copying the link.