In this morning’s Nezavisimaya gazeta, Vladimir Mukhin says the Serdyukov flap has taken a political tinge. NG’s Kremlin sources claim President Dmitriy Medvedev is “very worried about the developing situation.”
Mukhin says there won’t be any public lashing a la Mayor Luzhkov, but Medvedev called Serdyukov last week and categorically directed him “to carry out deliberate, well-considered work to create a positive image of the military reform which the country’s leadership is organizing and conducting.”
He concludes it’s clear Defense Minister Serdyukov has already reacted to the call from the Kremlin and begun “to work on the mistakes.”
On Friday, Serdyukov unexpectedly met with the Defense Ministry’s ‘heavenly group,’ the superannuated retired generals and marshals in its General Inspectors’ Service (SGI or СГИ). Mukhin says until now Serdyukov hasn’t paid them their due or used their experience in his reforms. But all of a sudden he gathered them to inform them about how well his changes are going, and announced he’s forming a Defense Ministry organ to work with veterans and veterans organizations.
And, of course, veterans – specifically airborne vets, but not only them – were the group most offended by what transpired between Serdyukov and Colonel Krasov at the Seltsy airborne training center.
Mukhin turns to retired General-Lieutenant Yuriy Netkachev for a comment:
“Elections are coming, and successes in military reform aren’t apparent. The social situation of servicemen and military pensioners especially is worsening. In this case, any incident similar to what happened in Seltsy could be a detonator for mass protest acts by a large number of veterans’ social organizations. The party of power can’t allow such a thing on the eve of elections. The opposition has already been using the dissatisfaction of the airborne veterans. And therefore we will very soon be witness to a mass PR campaign on behalf of the head of the military department and his steps to form a new profile for the army and fleet.”
He didn’t, but Mukhin could have quoted former Soviet General Staff Chief, now SGI member, Army General Mikhail Moiseyev who supported Serdyukov and obediently told ITAR-TASS there’s no other way except to reform the Russian Army:
“We no longer need 192 divisions, it’s better to have a smaller quantity of permanent readiness brigades which will define the army’s combat readiness.”
That, of course, is a real no-brainer, and surely there must be aspects of Serdyukov’s reforms Moiseyev doesn’t agree with. We’d like to hear about them.
Moiseyev also thinks Serdyukov is going to establish an assistant to the commander of each MD and fleet commander for work with veterans.