Shamanov Sides with Serdyukov

General-Lieutenant Shamanov

VDV Commander Vladimir Shamanov knows which side his bread’s buttered on.  Talking to the press yesterday, Shamanov supported the boss in the storm over his alleged obscenity and грубость at the VDV’s Seltsy training center.

In short, Tverskaya, 13 reported the airborne chief doesn’t believe the story about Defense Minister Serdyukov.  He denies the boss ordered Colonel Krasov dismissed as head of the airborne commissioning school.

According to Shamanov, Serdyukov expressed doubts about constructing the Church of the Prophet Elijah opposite the airborne training school, since cadets aren’t there for long.  The Defense Minister suggested [politely one is sure] that they move the church to a populated area adjacent to the training center where the congregation can take care of it [but aren’t the VDV cadets and officers the congregation?].  Shamanov concludes:

“All the rest is cock and bull.”

Apparently answering the Union of Russian Airborne Troops’ appeal to the President and Patriarch, Shamanov told ITAR-TASS and RIA Novosti he’s satisfied with the course of army reforms, and doesn’t see any reason to worry about the fate of his service branch:

“The plans that will be presented to the Supreme CINC for approval indicate that the VDV’s composition will remain as before.  Also two more district-level airborne formations [соединение] should come into service raising the troops’ potential overall.”

As if to assure people the VDV won’t march on the Kremlin, Shamanov added that the situation in his branch is “normal,” and his troops are occupied with combat training as usual.

Tverskaya, 13 reported Shamanov saying for the umpteenth time that his branch will remain independent [i.e. not be subordinated to the Ground Troops] under Serdyukov’s ‘new profile’ reforms.  He added that the VDV will get the BMD-4M according to the ‘concept’ of GPV 2020.

We should recall that Serdyukov may have helped Shamanov on some occasions, and certainly did in one instance.  The Defense Minister at least acquiesced in Shamanov’s return to lead the VDV in May 2009.  And last September, he helped Shamanov out of his own scandal when he tried to order a detachment from the VDV’s 45th Independent Reconnaissance Regiment to detain an investigator looking into his son-in-law, a well-known criminal figure.  Shamanov only got a reprimand for this incident.  He could easily have been dismissed.  Serdyukov likely retained him because the airborne general is a useful ally.

In today’s Tverskaya, 13, Deputy Defense Minister Naginskiy offered an impassioned defense of Serdyukov.  Naginskiy was on the Seltsy inspection with the Defense Minister.

Naginskiy said they saw facilities unfinished since 2008.  But he doesn’t exactly deny the press reports:

“Nothing terrible happened there.  I think if people standing 120 meters behind us heard something, filled it in, and put it on the Internet, they are dishonest.  I can say there was no boorishness or cursing, but there were raised voices, when on the territory of a unit entrusted to you someone is selling things and someone is building for 180 million rubles, undoubtedly, this calls forth natural indignation and, as it should, a conversation in raised voices.”

Naginskiy goes on, questioning why they need a church at Seltsy when troops go there to train and then return to Ryazan, but:

“I’m in absolute solidarity with the Defense Minister — what I saw there brought indignation.  There were no orders to move the church.”

This morning Nezavisimaya gazeta’s Viktor Litovkin reported some comments from Colonel Krasov himself: 

“In particular, Serdyukov expressed dissatisfaction over the incomplete repair of the cafeteria and engineering networks.  The conversation was very emotional both from Krasov’s side [speaking of himself in the third person] and from Serdyukov’s side.  However, this was a businesslike dialog.  The Ryazan school has already eliminated deficiencies revealed during the military minister’s visit.”

That certainly sounds like some type of unpleasantness transpired.  Litovkin says it’s strange neither Shamanov nor Krasov remembered [or mentioned] any obscenities.  But nevertheless he concludes:

“If this is ‘cock and bull’ as General Shamanov says, or simply ‘businesslike dialog,’ as Colonel Krasov asserts, then it’s no longer worth worrying about the battle against dedovshchina and nonregulation relations in the armed forces.”

It isn’t worth it because the abuse of subordinates apparently begins from the Defense Ministry’s very top, and won’t ever be rooted out.

Litovkin finishes saying the VDV have nothing to gain from fighting with Serdyukov, and are just trying to silence the whole incident.  There will be other defense ministers, but the VDV will always exist.

Izvestiya’s Dmitriy Litovkin says his Defense Ministry sources say there were no demands to raze the church.  He claims Serdyukov may have wanted to move it outside the base’s gates to ease access for its parishioners.  He finds the whole situation odd since there are 200 churches on Russian military property, and next year the army will begin training military chaplains.

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