Off With Their Pogonies!

Friday's Security Council Session

Dmitriy Medvedev’s asked again for the heads (or pogonies) of the guilty.  A couple weeks after his government delivered several of those allegedly responsible for breaking the GOZ, he’s ordered Defense Minister Serdyukov to tear the pogonies (officer’s shoulderboards or погоны) off those to blame for massive munitions depot explosions in Udmurtia and Bashkortostan.

It is, of course, quite a presidential thing to do.

Let’s look at how the fairly one-sided conversation went.

In the published opening moments of Friday’s Security Council session at Gorki, Medvedev had to forego mentioning anything about the G8, missile defense, and Libya in order to focus instead on the depot explosions:

“. . . I would like to turn the Defense Minister’s attention to the fact that we are for the second time recently experiencing ‘doomsday’:  shells exploding, there are injured, missing.  We conducted a special meeting on this issue the year before last I think.”

“Afterwards the situation was on the whole, in my view, under control:  we succeeded in arranging the work of supervisory structures, naturally, after dismissing a whole row of Defense Ministry colleagues.  But everything’s come loose again, some problems have arisen again.”

“Two times — this is already systemic, Anatoliy Eduardovich.  Prepare a proposal for me on who should answer for this and how.  They still don’t understand well — for two years everything was OK, — this means we have to take somebody’s shoulderboards off again.”

“Conduct an investigation.  Naturally, the Investigative Committee [under the General Prosecutor] and other units [FSB] are conducting an independent investigation, and together present me with proposals and organizational conclusions.”

For its part, the Defense Ministry insists it’s not being hasty.  Its spokesman told ITAR-TASS:

“Aiming for a full and objective investigation of the circumstances which have occurred in the TsVO, a Defense Ministry commission under the leadership of Deputy Chief of the RF VS General Staff, General-Colonel Valeriy Gerasimov has been sent.” 

“Based on the results of the conduct of the entire complex of verification measures by the military department’s commission jointly with investigative organ representatives and the military prosecutor, the causes of what happened will be established and the responsibility of officials will be determined.  Only after the checks are finished will concrete decisions, including personnel ones, regarding the guilty be adopted.”

Explosions at the 102nd Arsenal (photo: NTV)

Of course, today’s papers were full of speculation about who might get the blame and the boot for these disasters.  But, as usual, it’s not likely any dismissals will reach highly-placed officers and officials who are truly responsible for the sloppy, breakneck campaign to destroy Russia’s massive stockpiles of old shells and ammunition.

There’s lots more interesting commentary relevant to these most recent arsenal explosions.  Unfortunately, your patience will be required.

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