The Russian Military Housing Shuffle

Who knows what the military housing shuffle would sound like, but it would have to be a catchy tune.  Watching the official dancing on Russian military housing is really great sport.

Today it was the turn of Regional Development Minister Viktor Basargin and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin himself.  At an RF Government Presidium session, the duo announced that they were plunking down an additional 35.2 billion rubles to finance 18,500 GZhS for military men, about half of whom are retiring this year and would presumably otherwise add to the military housing queue.

Basargin said, “Our target is to provide housing for retired military by January 1, 2012, and we’ll meet it 80 percent this year.”  Wait a minute Viktor…Vladimir Vladimirovich (and Dmitriy Medvedev) have said repeatedly that retired military men are to receive permanent apartments in 2010, not by 2012.  2012 is the goal for service apartments.

Basargin also made a point of saying this is the first time in six years that such an amount has been laid out in February, with the idea that the work might actually be completed in the same calendar year.

At any rate, Putin chimes in, calling it a timely emission of budget money, not an early one.  And he said, “We’re allocating large additional resources, the [Defense] Ministry will conduct a corresponding tender, and a large scale one at that.”

These GZhS would be worth 1.9 million rubles each for 35.2 billion rubles total.  For an average, smallish permanent military apartment of 39 square meters, that’s a little less than 50,000 rubles per square meter.  A little pricy by the Defense Ministry’s standards but not Moscow or Petersburg prices.

Back on December 30, Putin said 44.4 billion rubles would be spent in 2010 to obtain 45,000 military apartments.  This is more like 988,000 rubles per apartment (vice 1.9 million) and the price per square meter of average, smallish military apartment is more like 25,000 rubles–about what the military wants to pay and a good average for Russia as a whole.  Just as an aside, this day Putin said, “In 2010, we must resolve this [military housing] problem.  People are tired of waiting years for the resolution of this problem.”

Here’s where it gets really interesting [if it ever actually does].  If you take those, let’s call it a round 18,000 apartments Basargin and Putin are talking about and you put them together with the roughly 27,000 [not 45,614] apartments that most knowledgeable and semi-independent observers say the Defense Ministry actually received in 2009, it’s enough to get the military up to the level of housing acquisition it claimed last year (18,000 + 27,000 = 45,000).  So one could suppose that this extra is just catch-up for what wasn’t actually accomplished last year and one could also guess this year’s 45,000 won’t be met, and will have to be finished in 2011, or whatever.

Just as a reminder, who said 27,000?  Well, Vadim Solovyev said it in Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye on 29 January.  On 25 December, NVO had an editorial saying the Defense Ministry came up 17,000 short.  On New Year’s Eve, Izvestiya said only 28,000 were obtained in 2009.  Gazeta reported on December 23 that the Audit Chamber [Счётная палата] had found only 21,000 apartments had been acquired as of 2 October 2009.  And even Krasnaya zvezda on 10 December said that only 25,000 of the planned 45,000 were procured by the end of November.

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