A Defense Ministry commission has established some facts of extortion and kickbacks alleged by Air Forces Senior Lieutenant Sulim, according to Interfaks. The military prosecutor also says the investigation thus far confirms what Sulim charged in his Internet address, and cases are being brought against some officers.
RIA Novosti identifies Colonel Eduard Kovalskiy as a “unit” commander, and Colonel Sergey Sidorenko as his deputy for socialization work. Yesterday, it looked like Kovalskiy was Sidorenko’s deputy. But both men are too senior in rank for a squadron. The two made 2 million rubles off the premium pay extortion scheme since 2010, and will be prosecuted for exceeding their authority.
RIA Novosti cited officials saying Sulim continues to serve, and has not resigned as other media sources claimed.
Lifenews.ru reported five officers from Sulim’s squadron have given statements confirming his allegations.
Yesterday various sources provided excerpts from a long Moskovskiy komsomolets interview with Sulim, and with his deputy squadron commander, Major Anton Smirnov, who’s supporting him.
Smirnov says he was told he had to participate in the collection of tribute, or his career was over. He anticipates criminal charges against himself since he had to handle kickbacks.
Of the official investigation thus far, Smirnov says the Defense Ministry and VVS commission was no more than a “fire brigade” sent to “extinguish the scandal.”
The two officers say officials from all power ministries, the military prosecutor and counterintelligence, have come to their unit, and pressured officers to contradict Sulim’s charges.
According to the MK interview, Sulim tried to resign, but his request lacked all necessary signatures.
We have to look closely at Sulim’s and Smirnov’s long interview, but one issue is salient . . . in this particular scheme to extort premium pay from subordinates, and funnel it upwards, where’s the head of the snake? And how many schemes like it exist in other units and formations?