Let’s update the action.
It’s rare when a single incident like Lipetsk is deemed serious enough to warrant a quick public response. But that’s what’s happening.
Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov has ordered checks for corruption in large formations, formations, and units [i.e. army-level down]. His press-service says they’ll look specifically for premium pay kickback schemes. And servicemen and their families are urged to fill out electronic complaint forms on Mil.ru if they know about extortion rackets. They don’t need to observe the chain of command either.
Newsru.com has a good recap. VVS Deputy CINC, General-Major Bondarev has confirmed the existence of a kickback scheme at Lipetsk. But he also called Sulim and others cowards for not refusing to pay. He also denied putting any pressure on the men.
As Newsru notes, MK has audio of Bondarev indicating otherwise. Talking to Sulim, Bondarev claims he’s just angry he wasn’t promoted, his father illegally got him into the elite Lipetsk unit, and warns him that his fellow servicemen will kill him when they lose their premium pay. The tape also showed that Sulim only wants to resign because of the corruption, not for personal reasons, as Bondarev claims.
In fact, Sulim hopes to continue serving.
Gazeta.ru focused on Bondarev’s comment that it’s possible violations at Lipetsk are administrative rather than criminal [which would make Kovalskiy no more guilty than Smirnov or Sulim]. Bondarev claims Major Kubarev retracted his support for Sulim [Kubarev’s also being reported as Kubyrev].
Gazeta then talked to Sulim, who points out Bondarev only investigated in the 3rd squadron, not in the 1st or 4th squadrons, because the leadership is trying to limit the damage, and to make it look like it’s one squadron’s problem, and not a base-wide scheme.
You can see Bondarev’s own words in his 24 May interview with Ekho moskvy.
The RVSN actually moved out on this scandal before the Defense Ministry:
“Taking into account the recent events in one of the RF Defense Ministry’s units, connected with the illegal collection of money from servicemen, and to preclude the occurrence of similar situations in RVSN units, RVSN Commander, General-Lieutenant Sergey Karakayev has decided to establish permanently functioning commissions in every missile army to prevent similar legal violations.”
The press release said commissions will conduct anonymous surveys of officers and their families, and also look for this during inspections. But there might already be a lot of work to do.
Look at the impassioned comment a retired RVSN lieutenant colonel left on the webpage for Olga Bozhyeva’s interview with Sulim and Smirnov:
“Such kickbacks go on THROUGHOUT Russia’s VS [Armed Forces]!! It would be possible to jail ALL commanders of ALL units in Russia in good conscience!!”
“I live in the military town of an RVSN division. Many of my acquaintances are still serving. Previously they included ONLY SELECTED ‘RELIABLE’ officers in the order for the annual receipt of this mad money (extra MONTHLY pay up to 160-200 thousand rubles!!!) — but not more than 30% of the unit’s officers. EVERYONE knows that they collect ‘tribute’ from this money paid according to MO RF Order № 400: and who gets it, and who doesn’t, and their wives, and the osobisty (FSB), and the prosecutors, and even conscript soldiers [know who gets it]!! And such corruption arranges EVERYTHING — it’s clear that both prosecutors and osobisty get it! And it also arranges the officers who give the most ‘tribute’ — refuse to pay, they find a reason and deprive you of this mad, undeserved money!!!”
“Of course there’s hostility among officers, and their wives because of the payment of this money! You bet! Of two similar officers fulfilling similar duties, one gets SEVERAL TIMES more!! Not 2, 3, 5, 10, or 20 thousand rubles a months more, but several times more!!! Meanwhile, it’s usually not the best, but the ‘reliable’ one who will ‘kickback’ money without a fuss!!”
“THIS UNDERMINES ALL FOUNDATIONS of the Russian Army and its COMBAT READINESS!! ONLY AN ENEMY OF RUSSIA could think up such a thing!!”