Military-Theft Forces

Prosecutors Rate the Most Corrupt Service Branches

40-50 Percent of State Defense Order Simply Stolen in Recent Years . . . no wonder large-scale procurement hasn’t happened.  Serdyukov supporter Korotchenko tries to paint opponents of military reforms as people trying to protect their corrupt schemes.  This surely goes on, but there also have to be people opposing them for reasons other than greed.  Finally, it’s at least conceivable that, if Serdyukov doesn’t make progress against corruption, it could cost him his job (if he stays that long, he is approaching the four-year mark).  Thus endeth the precis for this post . . .

This week Profil investigates military corruption.  The magazine notes the number and scale of Defense Ministry corruption cases is growing by leaps and bounds, reaching losses of 2.2 billion rubles for the first ten months of 2010.  It concludes, despite a significant cut in the officer corps and Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov’s battle against “thieves in broad stripes [generals],” the number of corruption crimes is not only not declining, but has substantially increased.  Profil obtained an analytical report compiled by the Main Military Prosecutor (GVP) showing who has stolen how much this year.

The GVP presented its report to a closed session of the Duma Defense Committee.  It says its analysis shows “efforts to counteract corruption in the troops are insufficiently effective.”

Profil’s first graphic . . .

Growth of Corruption Crimes in the Army (First 10 Months of 2010)

Troops/Military District/Fleet                     2009       2010       Growth (%)

North Caucasus MD                                             184          311                 69

Moscow MD                                                              94           152                61.7

Air-Assault Troops (VDV)                                 34            119                250

Siberian MD                                                             76            117                 54

Strategic Missile Troops (RVSN)                  59              93                 57.6       

Northern Fleet                                                      50              59                 18

Space Troops                                                        27              44                 63

Caspian Flotilla                                                      5                  7                 40

Black Sea Fleet                                                      2                  6                 200

Profil suggests the recent wave of military retirements signed off by President Dmitriy Medvedev could have been sparked by corruption charges.  While possible, there’s no evidence to support this thesis. 

A Profil source in the Defense Ministry says, not surprisingly, officials responsible for the State Defense Order (GOZ or ГОЗ), capital construction, and the disposition of military property (first and foremost real estate) inflict the greatest losses on the budget.  The article quotes Igor Korotchenko:

“In the course of recent years, 40-50% of resources allocated for the State Defense Order were simply stolen.  This happened, for example, when money was directed at the fulfillment of some concrete work, but there were no real results.  Write-offs appeared in the end or a weapons system was developed that simply didn’t meet its technical requirements.”

Profil suggests that many officers are rushing to get one last bite of military money before Serdyukov’s reforms completely derail their schemes.  It cites Ruslan Pukhov offering two different explanations for rising military corruption:

“Feeling an impending dismissal, officials are probably trying to take the maximum from their positions.  However, it can’t be ruled out that the prosecutor has really reinforced his work in different areas.  Corruption is an acute issue for the prosecutor.”

Pukhov thinks that, although the percentage increase in corruption looks really bad for the VDV, “corruption in the armed forces is spread equally and the growth in corruption crimes in separate branches or districts is connected only with where they are being investigated.”

A very good point, Mr. Pukhov.  Yes, the results of this little anticorruption experiment are very much influenced by where and how it is being conducted.  One should also pay much more attention to the absolute numbers of corruption cases than the percentage changes, and nothing has been said about the relative size of the various parts of the armed forces . . . no per capita figures are provided.  Are 44 crimes in the relatively small Space Troops more significant than 152 in the larger Moscow MD?

Korotchenko, a fairly strong Serdyukov proponent, says the Defense Minister and his tax service colleagues are beginning to break existing corrupt ties, institute financial transparency, and deprive the generals of the right to conclude any contracts.  Dividing the Ministry into military and civilian halves will keep military men out of financial expenditures, and this “process of shifting generals out of the feeding trough” will continue until 2012.  The generals will provide requirements, and civilians will allocate the financing.

A second graphic with some absolute figures on losses due to corruption . . .

Growth of Corruption Crimes in the Army (First 10 Months of 2010)

Troops                                                                  Loss Amount                      Annual Growth

                                                                           (millions of rubles)                        (times)

Strategic Missile Troops (RVSN)                      59.8                                            15          

Air-Assault Troops (VDV)                                   57.5                                            12.2

Space Troops                                                            47.6                                              2.2

Korotchenko claims:

“The campaign against Serdyukov is mainly heated up by those people who’ve been deprived of the feeding trough.  So, the director of a large defense enterprise has for many years sawed off rubles by the billion every year in the transfer of money that comes to fulfill the Gosoboronzakaz.  When Serdyukov deprived this director of such a trough, he began to finance any actions directed at discrediting and, possibly, even removing the Defense Minister.”

So, Korotchenko asserts most conflicts over army reform are banal conflicts of interest for those who can’t steal like they used to.  But didn’t the GVP just say they’re doing a better job of stealing than ever before?

Korotchenko continues:

“Of course, Serdyukov is not an angel, and many of his actions on the military reform plane call forth questions, but it’s another thing that before he arrived, corruption in the Defense Ministry had achieved such a level that he was forced to cut to the bone.  Many scandals proceed only because their financial-economic interests were affected:  the meetings of the airborne guys is just one in this series.”

Then Profil turns to Vitaliy Shlykov, who says:

“Broad publicity for corruption scandals in the Defense Ministry cannot but affect the minister.”

But he believes the Kremlin knows no one can fight corruption like Serdyukov, therefore the GVP report isn’t a real blow to him.

Profil concludes, so far, Serdyukov hasn’t squandered the trust placed in him, but the struggle against corruption only strengthens him as long as it’s a success.  If corruption keeps growing, it’s possible the Defense Minister himself could wind up on the “shot list.”

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