Tag Archives: Grigoriy Naginskiy

33,000 Unfinished or Unwanted Military Apartments

General-Major Chvarkov

Candor is a quirky thing.  It has a way of showing up in places you expect it least.  So it was yesterday when RIA Novosti covered General-Major Sergey Chvarkov’s meeting with members of the Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee.

Chvarkov is the relatively new head of the relatively new Main Directorate for Personnel Work.  The new name replaced an old one — Main Directorate for Socialization Work, GUVR for short.  Chvarkov and his charges are inheritors of the long tradition of zampolits and the Main Political Directorate.

According to Chvarkov, over the past year, military investigators have initiated 20 criminal cases involving the construction of thousands of unfinished and unwanted apartments intended for Defense Ministry servicemen.  But he declined to give specific details about the cases.

Deputy Committee Chairman Nikolay Sidoryak, however, said at present there are 33,000 apartments in various regions which are unwanted by servicemen.  He called this a “nightmarish figure.”  He wants those who ordered these apartments and financed their construction brought to account.  It’ll be interesting to see when or if this happens.

Early this year, a figure of only 20,000 was cited.

RIA Novosti gives a couple clipped Chvarkov phrases — the housing “isn’t fully ready,” and “a great number of refusals are happening.”  Then:

“I’ve personally seen buildings which stand in an empty field with absolutely no infrastructure.  Servicemen getting notifications that they’ve been granted housing go there, say the housing’s magnificent, good, but we don’t want to live there — we’re tired of garrisons.”

Committee Chairman Viktor Ozerov, for his part, says it’s all just a misunderstanding, and the Defense Ministry’s requirements for builders are just too tough.

RIA Novosti notes former Deputy Defense Minister Grigoriy Naginskiy claimed nearly two years ago that apartment construction was following detailed information on where servicemen want to live.

It would be easy to see the military housing issue as all but over and done with if one listened only to official political or military pronouncements, but reality just keeps coming back.  It smacks of a Soviet approach – fulfilling the plan and meeting the quota is what matters, how [i.e. quality] is secondary.  It makes one ask if this is more broadly indicative of how other decisions and policies are implemented.

Now permanent military apartments are supposed to be provided in 2013 (three years later than Putin’s original deadline).  And Putin himself said not long ago that there are only 77,000 apartments remaining to be built.

These unwanted apartments are exactly why some veterans have gone out for public demonstrations lately.  

It’s been clear for some time that the Defense Ministry builds apartments where it wants to, not where former servicemen want to live.  And it wants to build where it’s less expensive.  Paperwork problems have kept half of new military apartments empty each year.  And the problem of incomplete construction has also been around.  Not much about this situation’s changed in recent years.  But here’s one more recent article detailing the problems of permanent apartments built for the military.

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Sweeping Clean at Spetsstroy

The broom has swept clean at Spetsstroy.

This morning’s ukaz from President Medvedev dismissed:

  • General-Major Vasiliy Petrovich Bogomolov.
  • General-Lieutenant Nikolay Vasilyevich Gulakov.
  • General-Lieutenant Vladimir Vladimirovich Mirzoyev.
  • General-Major Yuriy Fedorovich Onilov.
  • General-Major Aleksandr Vasilyevich Khodos.

RIA Novosti indicated Khodos had been ex-Spetsstroy Chief Abroskin’s Chief Engineer.  Bogomolov was his Deputy for Construction of Special Designation Facilities.  And Mirzoyev was Deputy for Capital Construction and Industry.  Specific duties for Onilov and Gulakov weren’t cited. 

Other Russian media noted they followed others forced out before Abroskin was retired.  Some accounts claimed they were connected to construction of “Putin’s palace” on the Black Sea.

In any event, ex-Deputy Defense Minister, now Spetsstroy Chief Grigoriy Naginskiy has wasted no time in getting a clean slate.  And it’s pretty rare that the wheels of the cadre machinery turn rapidly.  The whole operation must have been in the works for some time.

Naginskiy at Spetsstroy

The dust’s settled a bit on this story . . . in a 22 April decree, President Medvedev replaced Nikolay Abroskin as Director of the Federal Agency for Special Construction (Spetsstroy), putting Deputy Defense Minister Grigoriy Naginskiy in Abroskin’s place.

Grigoriy Naginskiy

What does the change at the top of this large, government-financed construction firm — nominally under Defense Ministry control — indicate?

Ending Abroskin’s 13-year tenure in the Spetsstroy empire took four years. According to Kompromat.ru, Defense Minister Serdyukov’s wanted Abroskin out from beginning, but, unlike in other personnel situations, it took him a while to win out.

The media says the anti-Abroskin operation was methodical.  On his 60th birthday, four-star Army General Abroskin was dismissed from the Armed Forces, but left in his civilianized post.  This created the convenient precedent to have another civilian succeed him.  Then Medvedev dismissed Abroskin’s long-time deputies and allies. 

According to Kommersant, Spetsstroy’s annual collegium in late March was a solemn affair, devoted mainly to talk about order, discipline, and anticorruption efforts.  But the Main Military Prosecutor wouldn’t tell Kommersant whether it was investigating Abroskin or anyone else at Spetsstroy.  Then the final stroke on Abroskin came three weeks later.

Spetsstroy’s a semi-militarized agency with ranks and, until this spring, conscripts, under formal Defense Ministry control, but traditionally and generally acting as an independent federal agency.  As its name suggests, Spetsstroy is responsible for special government construction projects – in the Soviet and Russian past, it built secret industrial, defense, and specialized facilities, but has also built more mundane military housing, bases, garrisons, road, and electrical power projects.  It also builds major state infrastructure like hydroelectric stations, dams, and bridges. 

Most of Spetsstroy’s work is no longer for the Defense Ministry.  Kommersant says only 26 percent of its 2010 work was for the Defense Ministry.  A Defense Ministry official told Vedomosti the territorial divisions of Spetsstroy, in particular, work essentially like private construction firms and contractors.  Kompromat put its 2009 revenue at 67.7 billion rubles, making it a large company, even a market leader, by Russian standards.

Its most recent controversy revolves around the alleged “Putin palace” on the Black Sea.  According to Newsru.com and other media outlets, Spetsstroy is building a billion-dollar residence for Prime Minister Putin’s personal use.  The money for the elaborate Italianate mansion allegedly came from Putin’s rich business cronies.

Now about Naginskiy . . . you remember his arrival at the Defense Ministry in early 2010 to be Serdyukov’s deputy for housing and construction.  The 52-year-old Piter native’s a construction magnate who got rich renovating nuclear power plants, and then entered politics.  He joined United Russia in 2002, and served in the Leningrad Oblast assembly before representing his region in the Federation Council.

According to Forbes, he’s the richest official in the Defense Ministry, but he’s only 45th on the list of millionaires in government service.  His family income was over 100 million rubles in 2009.  Finans places him as the 163rd richest Russian. 

But Argumenty nedeli makes the point Naginskiy didn’t exactly cover himself with glory while directing military housing acquisition.  An unnamed Defense Ministry official tells Argumenty:

“The state program to provide housing to all officers and retirees is 15-20 percent complete.  Billions have been absorbed, but more and more are needed.  Deputy Minister Naginskiy, who directed it [military housing] last year, during construction site visits by the president and prime minister vowed and swore that everything would be done on time.  Now instead of the planned 2011 when they promised to provide housing, the authorities are forced to talk about the end of 2013.”

Recall also that Naginskiy went without portfolio starting in mid-2010, and his colleague Deputy Minister Shevtsova found housing in her lap.

All the good journalistic coverage of the Spetsstroy story agrees on one, well two, things.  Getting rid of Abroskin was all about controlling an agency that was too independent and, more importantly, controlling its money.  As Kompromat concludes, it’s natural for Serdyukov to want his man to have his hands on these large “financial flows.”  Kompromat suggested Serdyukov may have also had his eye on selling some of Spetsstroy’s expensive Moscow real estate. 

But this isn’t all there is to the story . . .

  • Argumenty makes the point that Serdyukov has holes in his top management team.  Six months without a main finance officer has left the Defense Ministry behind on placing armaments contracts (again threatening a bad year for GOZ fulfillment).  And now Serdyukov’s lost First Deputy Defense Minister Popovkin to Roskosmos.  Popovkin’s replacement will be a huge story.  Even if Shevtsova has the housing issue, Serdyukov absolutely has to replace Chistova and Popovkin.  And Nezavisimaya gazeta suggests Serdyukov will soon appoint a new deputy primarily responsible for establishing aerospace defense (VKO).
  • Ruslan Pukhov tells Vedomosti the whole situation proves Serdyukov still has carte blanche from the country’s leadership, and NG claims Serdyukov’s political position has never been stronger.
  • Kommersant makes a point of saying that Abroskin doesn’t appear on the list of Russia’s richest bureaucrats, suggesting of course that this career serviceman might have amassed a fortune, but can’t report it because it was obtained through graft.  Perhaps the paper’s larger point is that appointing a wealthy executive from a private firm is the only chance for avoiding corruption in a high-level post.

Disappearing Deputy Defense Minister Portfolios

Or who will answer for what?

On Tuesday, Kommersant and Rossiyskaya gazeta described, even if they can’t explain, Deputy Defense Minister portfolio changes.  The shuffling began in early July, when Grigoriy Naginskiy was ‘freed’ from his responsibilities as Chief of Housing and Construction but remained a Deputy Defense Minister.

According to a decree known, but not published, Medvedev removed General-Colonel Dmitriy Bulgakov from his post as Chief of Rear Services, while retaining him as a Deputy Defense Minister without specific duties.  It’s widely believed, of course, Bulgakov has taken charge of a new Material-Technical Support (MTO) empire that will encompass not only logistics but also arms and equipment supplies.

For his part, Defense Ministry Apparatus Chief Mikhail Mokretsov formally became a Deputy Defense Minister (no longer holding just informal ‘Deputy Minister status’).

Kommersant points out there are still eight Deputy Ministers (six are civilians).  A Defense Ministry source told the paper, however, that Bulgakov might be civilianized.  And his MTO organization will be part of the Defense Ministry’s ‘civilian component’ as opposed to its ‘military component.’  Kommersant says the ‘military component’ (planning and operational troop command and control) will just be the General Staff when the current Defense Ministry reorganization is complete.

Bulgakov has apparently indicated that MTO will have a planning and coordination department, a resource and transportation support department, Main Automotive-Armor Directorate (GABTU), and also repair-refurbishment and metrological directorates.  As announced elsewhere, ten new MTO brigades are to be established in the four new OSKs.  Recall that, in the same presidential decree on Naginskiy, Bulgakov’s rear services chief of staff Sergey Zhirov became Chief of the Planning and Coordination Department (read staff).

One should really look at Mil.ru’s ‘Leadership Structure’ page here.  In it, you’ll see Vera Chistova retains her clear responsibility for finance-economic work.  Bulgakov’s biography notes he became simply Deputy Defense Minister in July.  Naginskiy’s contains no similar notation though it could.  Then comes the oft-forgotten Dmitriy Chushkin who followed Defense Minister Serdyukov from the Federal Tax Service in late 2008.  He has no portfolio spelled out in his title, but his bio reads:

“Responsible for forming and conducting the Defense Ministry’s united military-technical policy in the information and telecommunications technology area which aims to increase the effectiveness of the command and control system, as well as supporting and developing its foundations.”

Mokretsov’s bio has a note that he added Deputy Defense Minister to his title in July.

The ultimate plan behind these moves isn’t clear yet.  But it does seem to go back to late June’s replacement of Kolmakov with Popovkin in one of the Defense Ministry’s two First Deputy slots.  More support functions were and are being consolidated under civilians, while purely military training, planning, and operations may now be more solidly under General Staff Chief, First Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Makarov.

Bulgakov Adds More to His Portfolio?

General-Colonel Bulgakov

In addition to his new title Deputy Defense Minister for Material-Technical Support and his responsibility for arms and equipment supplies, General-Colonel Dmitriy Bulgakov has apparently also picked up Grigoriy Naginskiy’s duties as Chief of Housing and Construction. 

Bulgakov accompanied Prime Minister Putin on a tour of military apartments under construction in Volgograd today.  The contractor told Putin the land was acquired three years ago, but delays in installing utilities held up construction until this year.  They also complicated the process and added 5,000 rubles to the per-square-meter cost of the apartments. 

Bulgakov was quoted saying the first batch of apartments in the new mikrorayon for servicemen (739 apartments) will be turned over in December.  He also said 1,978 servicemen need housing in the city.

Naginskiy ‘Freed’ From Housing Duties

Grigoriy Naginskiy

This morning’s press reported (with varying degrees of accuracy) that the Chief of Housing and Construction, Deputy Defense Minister Grigoriy Naginskiy has been ‘freed’ from his principal duties, but remains a Deputy Defense Minister.  See Kremlin.ru for the text of President Medvedev’s decree.

The midst of a year of trying to deliver on huge permanent military housing promises seems an odd time to make yet another change of housing chief.

The decree also moved a two-star named Sergey Zhirov from his post as Chief of Staff, First Deputy Chief of Rear Services to a position called “Director of the Department of Planning and Coordination of Rear Support of the Defense Ministry.”

These could be the opening moves in Defense Minister Serdyukov’s reported effort to establish a unified material support establishment responsible for arms, equipment, and all logistics.

‘Virtual’ Apartments and the Army’s Protest Mood

Ex-Military Men Protesting 'Virtual' Apartments (photo: RIA Novosti)

In Monday’s Nezavisimaya gazeta, Vladimir Mukhin described a 15 May demonstration outside the Defense Ministry by former officers who were allocated ‘virtual’ apartments in Balashikha six months ago, but have been unable to occupy them due to slow paperwork.  Their demands are simple:  these retirees want bureaucratic obstacles removed.  

The protest was not covered by the media, or received only scant coverage.  However, the Defense Ministry’s promise to fix the problems for former servicemen from Balashikha was reported widely in the press. 

Mukhin’s subtitle for the article reads, “Unfulfilled Presidential housing program for the military leading to protest actions.”  He concludes that military demonstrations have been so rare in post-Soviet history that, if they occur, they have to be symptomatic of something.  He says similar protests have happened in other regions with large military garrisons. 

Everyone remembers Defense Minister Serdyukov’s reports about fulfilling the military housing program in 2009.  However, it’s becoming clear that this didn’t happen.  New military housing and construction chief Grigoriy Naginskiy not long ago announced that of 45,000 permanent apartments handed out in 2009, less than half have been occupied.  So the plan wasn’t achieved.  This has provoked a protest mood in the army, and the authorities, it seems, prefer not to notice it.  

Mukhin cites similar situations and actions in Bashkiriya, and elsewhere in  Moscow’s far suburbs.  The All-Russian Professional Union of Servicemen (OPSV or ОПСВ) tells Mukhin it’s pretty simple.  A garrison is drawn down, and officers who don’t want to relocate are put out of their apartments (sometimes into the street).  The garrison is then sold by Defense Ministry officials with a direct interest in this.  Mukhin concludes, that’s the ‘new profile’ army for you. 

OPSV Chairman Oleg Shvedkov told Mukhin several thousand retired officers and servicemen participated in May 1 protests around the country.  They protested not just housing, but also pension and pay problems.  But, of course, active-duty servicemen are prohibited from participating in political actions under the law. 

Viktor Baranets also addressed the plight of former officers in Balashikha in a 12 May article. 

According to ITAR-TASS and RIA Novosti, a Defense Ministry housing official promised on 15 May that the problem of 80 retired servicemen and the apartments allocated to them in Balashikha would be resolved before the end of June.  He said the process of preparing all the necessary documents would be complete by that time. 

A Defense Ministry spokesman said a meeting with an ‘initiative group’ [i.e. the protesters] was held in the ministry.  He also indicated the Defense Ministry is trying to speed up and smooth out the process of preparing and registering survey and property ownership documents.