Yesterday’s Military Crime Report

The number and details of military crimes reported in yesterday’s press were above average and more interesting than usual.  They illustrate the kinds of pathologies the Defense Ministry confronts on a daily basis.

From Toglyatti, a noncombat loss.  An army conscript hung himself.  The military has reported nothing suspicious about this, except that the young man had transferred to this unit from another.  Conscripts sometimes obtain transfers to escape hazing, dedovshchina, etc.

From the MVO, the district’s chief of staff, first deputy commander of Rocket Troops and Artillery, one Colonel Aleksandr Zemlyanskiy, stands accused of using a conscript to guard and do household chores at his dacha in Moscow Oblast for five months last year.  The RF Prosecutor’s Investigative Committee’s Military Investigative Directorate investigated Zemlyanskiy’s case.  That’s a lot of investigating.  The colonel faces up to 4 years in prison.

From Reutov near Moscow, the personnel chief for an MVO unit, one Lieutenant Colonel Dmitriy Vasin, stands accused of demanding bribes in exchange for performing normal duties.  Obtaining the next military rank cost 15,000 rubles, an expedited dismissal from the armed forces cost 70,000 rubles.  For an extra 20,000, officers could get dismissed from the service and keep a place in the unit’s line for permanent housing.  Vasin could get 5 years.

From Chechnya, the SKVO, the finance chief of a unit got 4 years for exceeding his authority by paying out 3 million rubles to ten individuals with a court order for back combat pay owed to them.  The finance chief did not seek his commander’s permission to issue the pay although he knew their court documents were forgeries.

From the DVO, near Khabarovsk, a former unit commander got a year for extorting 3,000 rubles a month from an officer put outside the TO&E on health grounds, but kept on the unit’s books since he lacked permanent housing.  The 3,000 was the price for keeping him on the books, without him having to report to the unit every day.   

In the DVO, a lieutenant forced 9 contractees to work unpaid for four years in a private security company called “Deon.”  And he also stole their military pay amounting to 3 million rubles over time.  He beat one of the men.  The lieutenant got a 4 year sentence.

Lastly, again from the DVO, Novaya gazeta reports today on a case from 2008.  The VSU has started a criminal case against a former deputy regiment commander for socialization work, one Lieutenant Colonel Novokhatniy. 

He abused a handcuffed conscript on the parade ground in front of 500 men.  No one tried to stop it, and one of Novokhatniy’s subordinates videotaped the incident (you can view it on the Novgaz link). 

Local authorities complained about lawlessness, fights, and even murders at the regiment in letters to the Defense Minister, General Prosecutor, and DVO Commander:

“The condition of discipline in the unit can’t stand any criticism, it’s time to defend the civilian population from the contingent sent to serve here.”

One officer finally complained to the regiment commander and military prosecutor, and Novokhatniy punched him.  But all the incidents were hushed up, and Novokhatniy actually ran and won election to the rayon assembly for the South Kurils as a member of the ruling United Russia party. 

At some point, the officer who was punched turned the videotape of the incident over to the DVO’s VSU.  And the VSU came after Novokhatniy, who readily admitted his actions, as well as a couple of his cronies.

All in all, a remarkable day of military crime reports; not a typical day exactly, but remarkable, and lamentable.

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