Strategic crisis management begins with an audit of potential crisis vulnerabilities, followed by preventive actions to reduce the liklihood of a crisis, and, finally, the development of a thorough crisis communication plan that is tested and periodically updated.
Unless you are a totalitarian regime, that is. Then you can skip most of that and just concentrate on repressing the public's reaction to the crisis.
Last April, Russia launched a national center for crisis management, formally called the National Crisis Management Center of the Ministry of the Russian Federation for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters, according to a United Nations press release. (The new Russian agency could be abbrevieted as an acronym even George Orwell wouldn't have believed: the NCMCMRFCDEECND.)
At that time, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin declared that the Russian Federation was "fully engaged in cooperation with the United Nations" in its emergency relief coordination. The UN's press release noted:
This event illustrates current efforts by the international community to expand the network of coordination centers worldwide, enhance support to the coordination of emergency response actions and promote the exchange of information between humanitarian partners such as the Russian Ministry for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters.
But that was when the price of oil was approaching $150 a barrel. Russia is the world's second-largest oil producer, and the crash in oil prices has been devastating to the Russian economy. The tension is evident in the increasingly repressive actions of the Medvedev / Putin regime.
Putin is redeploying the concept of a national center for crisis management away from an alignment with the U.N. for global hot spots to a focus on the growing crisis at home. Former Soviet chess superstar Garry Kasparov, now the leader of the Other Russia coalition, provided this update in an op-ed in the March 5 Wall Street Journal:
Russia is beefing up its federal security forces in order to violently repress public protests. Last month, for example, the regime created the "National Center of Crisis Management," which will deploy uniformed troops against "disturbances."
That's crisis management the old Soviet style.
- Jon Harmon