Not Decembrists

Returning to the three generals’ resignations . . . the Defense Ministry press-service came out quickly denying any “scandalous” general officer discharges. 

The press-service said General-Lieutenant Andrey Tretyak, General-Lieutenant Sergey Skokov, and General-Major Oleg Ivanov requested discharges for health reasons at different times.  But it also indicated the Central Attestation Commission (TsAK, or ЦАК) is reassigning generals to duties in the military districts under Defense Minister Serdyukov’s policy of rotating officers through different posts, and away from Moscow in particular.

A Defense Ministry source told ITAR-TASS the generals’ discharges are not part of any mass dismissal of officers from the Defense Ministry’s central apparatus.

The press was skeptical about three young and vigorous generals suddenly seeking a medical discharge, and it focused on their intent to avoid undesirable reassignments.  Newsru.com and Moskovskiy komsomolets reported in this vein. 

A Defense Ministry source told news agencies one in three requests for early retirement involves officers who are being reassigned from Moscow to a military district post.  The source claimed these cases are usually incorrectly characterized as opposition to military reforms.  Tretyak himself told Interfaks his resignation is not connected with Armed Forces reforms or disagreements with the leadership.

Then Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov talked to Rossiyskaya gazeta, giving a version of events varying from the press-service’s initial report of  discharges for health reasons.

Pankov told the paper Skokov and Ivanov were offered several good options including troop command duties or General Staff Academy positions, but chose retirement.  In Tretyak’s case, health was the issue, according to Pankov.  And Pankov called any thought of them leaving over dissatisfaction with army reform “farfetched,” or dissatisfaction with General Staff Chief Makarov “utter stupidity.”

What did military commentators say?

In IA Regnum and Gazeta.ru, Anatoliy Tsyganok said the generals’ resignations show things aren’t quite right in the Defense Ministry, but also called reports of problems with Makarov a falsehood.  He said the incident shows it’s not just military retirees who bring attention to poorly thought out reforms.  At the same time, he doesn’t get the focus on Makarov when he just implements Serdyukov’s plans.

Also in Gazeta.ru, Aleksandr Khramchikhin asks where this ‘opposition’ to reform has been:

“But where were they earlier?  Reform’s already been going on for three years.”

Svpressa.ru wrote that no Decembrists remain in the army.  It quoted Konstantin Sivkov:

“The thing is in the Defense Ministry and Genshtab generally there are no longer any people capable of standing up for their opinion, if it diverges from the leadership’s viewpoint.  They still existed several years ago.  Recall General Rodionov, Ivashov.  They slowly disposed of them.  The only ones remaining are those who loyally hang on the words of the minister and Genshtab chief.  A negative selection has occurred.  And what remains . . .  Only those that agree with everything.”

Viktor Baranets told Vesti FM:

“The Genshtab chief proposed to all three figures that they leave Moscow, smell the powder a little, become greater practitioners.  My sources don’t deny that all of the generals’ troyka requesting retirement had relations with Makarov that weren’t very simple.  But all issues were decided behind closed doors, without cursing and throwing down reports [retirement requests] on the table.”

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