Meeting on Gogolevskiy Boulevard

Protesters and Placards (photo: KPRF.ru)

Thursday about 50 military men gathered near Gogol’s statue in the park across from the Defense Ministry to protest the closure of the Air Forces Academy named for Professor N. Ye. Zhukovskiy and Yu. A. Gagarin. 

These largely middle-aged protesters held placards saying “Air Forces CINC Zelin is the Gravedigger of Air Forces Academies!” or “Prime Minister:  Get Rid of Defense Minister Serdyukov!” or “General Bychkov is a Traitor to VVA Gagarin and VVIA Zhukovskiy!”
 
Recall the Zhukovskiy and Gagarin academies — the former for engineers, the latter for pilots and staff officers — were melded in 2008 in the latest and most painful drawdown of an enormous leftover Soviet-era military educational establishment. 
 
The functions of these mid-career academies are being transferred to the new, consolidated Air Forces Military Training-Scientific Center (VUNTs VVS) in Voronezh.
 
The KPRF organized the protest, and it said about 100 attended.  KPRF.ru and Nakanune.ru recapped the event.
 

KPRF Duma member Vyacheslav Tetekin told Novyy region destroying these academies damages VVS combat readiness since the majority of their 1,600 (perhaps not much lower than the total number of flyable VVS aircraft) instructors and professors won’t go to Voronezh to train future senior officers.

Tetekin argued there are already protests against aircraft noise in Voronezh, and he’ll ask fellow KPRF member and Duma Defense Committee chairman Vladimir Komoyedov to address the prime minister and president on the fate of Zhukovskiy and Gagarin.

Apparently now retired, General-Lieutenant Ivan Naydenov — a former deputy chief of the academy — claimed Defense Minister Serdyukov just wants the institution’s valuable real estate.  Naydenov said only 29 younger instructors have gone to Voronezh.  He put the total staff at only 700, in contrast to Tetekin’s 1,600.

Naydenov has recorded and posted this appeal to save VVA im. Gagarin.

No one will mistake this little event on Gogolevskiy for what took place on Bolotnaya or Sakharov Square.  Nor will anyone confuse the characters in this drama with demonstrators against Duma election fraud.  Or a scarcely-noticed gathering of older military men with the resonance of the first large-scale political protest in years. 

Nevertheless, older Russian officers have taken to picketing about their grievances more frequently of late.  The personal toll in their situation is lamentable.  But cuts and consolidations Serdyukov has made in Russian military education were very deep and difficult simply because they were so long overdue.

Without a doubt, some of those choosing dismissal over moving will add to the queue for military apartments in Moscow and its suburbs.

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