Refusenik Accountants

This morning Argumenty.ru reports that Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov can’t find a new deputy minister for finance-economic work to replace Vera Chistova who left to head the Moscow city finance department on 8 November.  

A Defense Ministry source tells Argumenty.ru, “about 10 offers have been made, but all candidates declined.”

A highly-placed source in the Defense Ministry’s financial directorate says the absence of a deputy minister to answer for financial issues is already creating a number of problems in the ministry’s work:

“A number of contracts for construction of housing for dismissed officers have been broken, draft orders for next year for financial incentives for serving officers have been frozen.  And there’s simply no one to sign the certification of budget execution for this year for the country’s highest leadership.  I simply can’t recall such disorder in my 30 years of service.”

The source says Defense Minister Serdyukov’s report to the President on the fulfillment of orders to provide apartments to servicemen has also been postponed for an undetermined period.

Leaving to work for the new Moscow mayor seemed like a good opportunity for Chistova.  Or did she figure this was an opportune time to escape some blame for problems in the military’s budget? 

Chistova’s predecessor Lyubov Kudelina served for a long time, but left in early 2009 because, according to Viktor Litovkin’s source, she objected to the Defense Ministry pressing some officers to resign short of receiving their severance benefits, and because Serdyukov refused to ask for extra money to pay for military reform.

It seems odd that someone as well-connected in government finance as Serdyukov can’t find a deputy for this.  It would seem he has cronies already brought into the Defense Ministry that he could just order to take the post.  Maybe the refusenik accountants know it’s a bad place to be right now.

We should also recall that Serdyukov was brought to the Defense Ministry in early 2007 reportedly for the express purpose of bringing financial order to the armed forces.

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