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Terror in Russia due to social issues, professor says
Talk continues series on global issues
Anna Rulska, assistant professor of criminal justice at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega, gestures toward the screen as she gives a talk on Russia and its neighbors during the Great Decisions discussion series Monday evening at the Gainesville Civic Center. - photo by Tom Reed
Great Decisions 2010

Hall County

When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Mondays
Where: Gainesville Civic Center, 830 Green St. NE, Gainesville

Forsyth County
When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays
Where: Hampton Park Library, 5345 Settingdown Road, Cumming

Week 4: The Persian Gulf
Week 5: Peace building and conflict resolution
Week 6: Global crime

The underlying reasons for terrorist activity in Russia are “social and economic, not necessarily religious,” a foreign policy program speaker told a Gainesville audience Monday night.

“Russia is not dealing very well at all with any of its social issues,” said Anna Rulska, assistant professor of criminal justice at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega.

She was speaking to a group at Gainesville Civic Center as part of the college’s Great Decisions lecture series, an annual discussion program produced by the Foreign Policy Association.

“As far as I know, there’s really no significant policy toward Muslim minorities, so (Muslims) still have their communities. They’re generally ... not assimilated with other ethnic groups,” she added. “They are generally going to have their own regions.”

Rulska was responding to a question from an audience member about Russia’s view of fundamentalist Islam, especially in light of two suicide bombings on the Moscow subway at rush hour Monday.

At least 38 people were killed and more than 60 wounded in the attacks.

“I looked at the news earlier (and) they didn’t have all the information yet, so I don’t know if those women (were) coming from (a) politically volatile region ... that would cause what is happening much more than the fact that they are Muslim,” Rulska said.

Rulska, a native of Poland who has lived in the U.S. for 16 years, said that Russia is “still trying to cooperate very closely with NATO, the European Union and so, by default, with the Americans on anti-terrorism policies because they are very impacted by that.”

She noted in her one-hour lecture that Russia has a shrinking population of ethnic Russians, and that group, which makes up the majority of neighboring Ukraine, will become the country’s minority in 2050.

Add to that a low birth rate among Russians and an “influx of non-Russians with higher birth rates” and Russia is engaged in a sort of “self-inflicted genocide,” Rulska said.

She gave an overview of the country’s history, including centuries of tyrannical governments based on no middle class and, consequently, no real democracy.

The country today has an “illiberal democracy,” meaning that while people have the right to vote, those in power are very controlling and have no accountability.

Still, Russians are very supportive of Vladimir Putin, the country’s powerful premier. Even though the country has slipped economically as part of a global recession, the country saw “significant economic growth” under Putin when he served as the country’s president.

To Russians, “Putin is the best thing to happen to Russia in the last 100 years,” Rulska said.

Rulska is scheduled to talk again about “Russia and its Neighbors” Wednesday night in Forsyth County.

Participation is free and no registration is required.

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