Tag Archives: Mikhail Mokretsov

Personnel Notes and Rumors

According to his revised Mil.ru bio, Deputy Defense Minister Mikhail Mokretsov will supervise the Armed Forces’ finances after all.

Last week Komsomolskaya pravda quoted Defense Minister Serdyukov saying General-Lieutenant Sergey Surovikin, Chief of Staff and First Deputy Commander of the Central MD, will head Russia’s new military police force this year.

Kommersant gave details on Surovikin’s background.  As a captain in August 1991, he was acting commander of the Taman division motorized rifle battalion responsible for the death of three Yeltsin supporters.  He was arrested and investigated for seven months before charges against him were lifted. 

As noted on these pages, he commanded the 34th MRD when one his colonels blew his brains out in front of the entire staff after an upbraiding from the commander.  And Surovikin had a very short tenure as Chief of the GOU. 

He seems an odd choice to be responsible for the army’s new enforcers of law and order.  To be in charge of those charged with preventing dedovshchina and other barracks violence.

Also last week, Vedomosti reported that Serdyukov has forwarded the name of Aleksandr Sukhorukov, Director of Rosoboronzakaz, to take over Vladimir Popovkin’s old armaments portfolio.  A little harder to believe, two other Vedomosti sources say Navy CINC, Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy might take the armaments job.

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Cadre Changes

Network connection problems have made for a jumbled start to a new month . . . a couple decrees from President Medvedev today.

Current Defense Ministry Apparatus Chief, Deputy Defense Minister Mikhail Mokretsov is relieved of this duty and becomes simply Deputy Defense Minister. 

This is a promotion since the Apparatus Chief has typically been kind of a quasi-deputy minister post.  Sometimes the Defense Minister’s head gatekeeper and paper-pusher has just been regarded as being in “the status of a deputy minister.” 

Mokretsov’s portfolio, however, isn’t clear.  Vladimir Popovkin’s armaments job, Vera Chistova’s finance duties, and Grigoriy Naginskiy’s construction post are all available.  And each could use an economist like Mokretsov.

The other decree.

Appoint:

  • General-Major Grigoriy Rostislavovich Tyurin, Commander, 35th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade, relieved as Commander, 205th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade.
  • General-Major Andrey Sergeyevich Ivanayev, Commander, 205th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade, relieved as Commander, 5th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade.
  • General-Major Artur Ionosovich Shemaytis, Commander, 74th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade, relieved of duty as Commander, 34th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade (Mountain).

Relieve:

  • Colonel Oleg Gennadyevich Maltsev, Chief, Automotive Service, Southern MD.
  • Colonel Aleksandr Semenovich Sanchik, Commander, 136th Guards Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade.

Deputy Defense Minister Shevtsova

Tatyana Shevtsova at the FNS

Last Friday, Tatyana Shevtsova became the newest deputy defense minister – the ninth overall, seventh civilian, second female.  By all accounts, Shevtsova will oversee and audit Defense Ministry spending and other activities.  Kommersant calls her an ‘oversight and monitoring specialist.’  The Defense Ministry’s spokesman has said as much, according to Vedomosti (read it in Moscow Times as well).  Shevtsova’s another member of Defense Minister Serdyukov’s former team at the Federal Tax Service (FNS or ФНС).  Kommersant describes her as a ‘trusted individual’ who will help Serdyukov supervise all but the Defense Ministry’s purely military functions.  In particular, several commentators believe Shevtsova will track outsourced service and support activities paid for in the state defense order (GOZ).

The 41-year-old Shevtsova was born in Kozelsk, Kaluga Oblast, and graduated from the Leningrad Financial-Economic Institute in 1991.  She’s a candidate of economic sciences (Ph.D.). 

She started in the tax service in 1991 as an inspector in the central rayon of St. Petersburg, eventually heading the tax service’s St. Petersburg directorate.  Kommersant reminds that Serdyukov was a deputy director in the St. Petersburg directorate during Shevtsova’s time there in the early 2000s. 

Shevtsova went to Moscow to head the tax service’s large taxpayer department in early 2004.  In mid-2004, Serdyukov became Director of the FNS, and Shevtsova became one of his deputies. 

Shevtsova stayed at the tax service under Mikhail Mokretsov after Serdyukov left for the Defense Ministry in early 2007.  She was in charge of the oversight directorate and all nine inter-regional inspectorates for large taxpayers.

When Mokretsov and others members of Serdyukov’s FNS team departed for the Defense Ministry in mid-2010, Shevtsova did likewise, becoming an advisor.  According to one official who spoke to Kommersant, she spent the last few months ‘studying the situation’ in the Defense Ministry.

A former Defense Ministry official told Vedomosti Shevtsova is “a talented economist as well as an exacting official, whose subordinates at the Federal Tax Service were very afraid of her.”  She reportedly will turn ten Defense Ministry oversight bodies into a system.

Kommersant said Shevtsova will direct oversight organs for administrative, organizational, and financial activities as well as military housing.  The paper’s source says this could translate into oversight over everything except military command and control and operations.  The ninth deputy minister will reportedly gain some responsibilities once discharged by the chiefs of the ministry’s apparatus, Rear Services, and Housing and Construction Service.

Radio Svoboda was kind enough to interview Aleksandr Golts who concluded:

“It’s more or less obvious Anatoliy Eduardovich Serdyukov rapidly gathers his team in those areas important to him.  As we know, at present a so-called second civilian branch of the Defense Ministry is being formed.  Operational troop command and control, combat training remain with the Genshtab.  At the same time, a very strong area which will withdraw from the ministry a great number of functions connected with service and support of all Defense Ministry units and formations is being formed.  This is very complex work in the realm of the state defense order and the like.  Evidently, Ms. Shevtsova will work in this area.”

 Asked about her first steps, Golts commented:

 “If there will be first steps, we haven’t found out anything about them.  The Defense Ministry very precisely hides the most important directions of its activity from any public scrutiny.  Everything happens very quietly.”

Radio Svoboda also asked Viktor Baranets about ‘civilianization’ and the appointment of a reported 50 women to high posts under Serdyukov:

“They are already sarcastically joking  in the army about the ‘feminization’ of the Defense Ministry leadership.  A large number of women who’ve appeared in key Defense Ministry posts, at various times crossed paths with Serdyukov, and with Putin, and with Medvedev.  Of course, they’re Petersburg natives . . . .  There are unofficial reports that [Shevtsova] actively assisted Serdyukov in destroying Khodorkovskiy’s empire.”

Baranets’ sources in the Defense Ministry also say Shevtsova will be responsible for large sums of service and support funding being directed to contractors.  His general and colonel friends joke:

“We only have one vacant post left – deputy defense minister for corruption.  Because all the other jobs are filled.”

 Or anti-corruption one supposes . . . .

Igor Korotchenko told Vedomosti the Defense Ministry’s growing civilian component is designed to supervise the generals’ spending and accounting, especially in the GOZ.  Ruslan Pukhov calls the ‘invasion’ of former tax officials perfectly normal since Western defense ministries are full of civilian auditors who scrutinize massive military budgets.

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.

New Chief of Defense Minister’s Apparat

Mikhail Mokretsov (photo: RIA Novosti)

Yesterday’s press announced that Mikhail Mokretsov, ex-Director of the Federal Tax Service (FNS) and long-time colleague of Anatoliy Serdyukov, will be the Defense Minister’s Apparat Chief.  

Kommersant says Serdyukov had largely kept his old team in place, and still influenced personnel decisions in the Finance Ministry’s FNS.  And the FNS has been a stable supplier of high-level cadres for Serdyukov’s Defense Ministry.  Along with ex-deputy directors of the FNS Dmitriy Chushkin and Yevgeniy Vechko, not less than 10 other highly placed former tax service officials have come over to Serdyukov’s Defense Ministry. 

Kommersant indicates this may represent the end of Serdyukov’s ‘agreement’ with Finance Minister Kudrin to leave his old cronies in place in the FNS for three years.

Mokretsov’s work in the tax service has drawn some praise.  Deputy Chairman of the Duma’s Budget Committee Andrey Makarov says the Defense Ministry can use another strong manager like Mokretsov, and he adds:

“The main thing in reforming the army is to stop the stealing.  Control and auditing are essential there.”

Perhaps playing the provocateur, Gzt.ru suggests that some in the Genshtab see Mokretsov’s arrival as a precursor to Serdyukov’s departure from the Defense Ministry.  Under this scenario, Serdyukov would be preparing Mokretsov to take his place as Defense Minister when he moves to a higher post.  But a PA source denied any prospect for a change of Defense Minister and specifically ruled out Mokretsov’s chances.

Mokretsov will occupy a long-vacant post.  Its last occupant, Andrey Chobotov left with former Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov when he became Deputy Prime Minister.  Chobotov apparently works in Ivanov’s office and in the government’s Military-Industrial Commission (VPK).  Since Chobotov had the job, the apparat has been considered a Defense Ministry ‘service’ [not to be confused with an armed service] and this brings its chief the title of Deputy Defense Minister.

According to Gzt.ru, retired General-Lieutenant Andrey Kazakov has been the acting apparat chief since Chobotov’s departure.  Kazakov has served in the Defense Minister’s apparat, primarily as Chief of the Defense Ministry’s Affairs Directorate, since at least 2001.

The apparat chief wields serious power–at least within the administrative system.  According to Gzt.ru, he is not simply the Defense Minister’s right hand.  He’s a chief of staff and critical gatekeeper whose agreement is necessary to get documents signed and decisions made.  This power is largely unofficial, deriving from personal proximity to the Defense Minister.

The apparat chief’s official, statutory powers are more modest.  Mil.ru lists six official elements under him.  The Expert Center of the RF Defense Minister’s Apparat is something of a ‘think tank’ preparing analytical information and reports on military-technical policy, force structure, and force development, under the Defense Minister’s direction.  The Main Legal Directorate of the RF Defense Ministry has been reinvigorated of late, and its role is self-evident.  The above-mentioned Affairs Directorate serves as property manager and business agent for the Defense Ministry in Moscow.   The Directorate of State Assessment of the RF Defense Ministry is responsible for ensuring that military infrastructure complies with an array of government regulations.  The apparat also includes, without explanation, Inspection of State Architectural-Construction Oversight and the Management Directorate of the RF Defense Ministry.

Gzt.ru got our old friend Leonid Ivashov to comment on yesterday’s news.  Ivashov hates to contemplate the idea of career growth for Serdyukov, and he thinks the idea of Serdyukov putting Mokretsov in place behind him is ‘patently untenable.’  He holds even less back than usual when he says:

“If the task is to destroy the country the way Serdyukov has destroyed the army, then such an appointment is possible.  Serdyukov is a destroyer.  And the fact that they are dragging their nonprofessionals into the [Defense] Ministry supports this.  It’s very sad that the Defense Minister of our country is first when it comes to being an example of corruption and disrespect for the army.  Mokretsov can’t help Serdyukov straighten out financial flows which go through the military department.  But he will absolutely help him steal from them.”

Ivashov goes on to complain about Serdyukov’s commercialization of Defense Ministry functions, e.g. turning rear services into Oboronservis.

Vitaliy Shlykov, who views Serdyukov favorably, sees the Mokretsov move as promoting creation of a civilian Defense Ministry that still doesn’t exist.  And Shlykov doesn’t see Serdyukov leaving the Defense Ministry since it is, in many ways, a higher post than a deputy prime minister with a portfolio, who doesn’t really run anything.

Today’s Vedomosti intimates that Mokretsov will focus on auditing the State Defense Order on the heels of Prime Minister Putin’s remarks this week about corruption, waste, and poor results in the OPK .

More about Mokretsov specifically . . .

He joined the tax service in 2000, moving quickly from department chief to deputy director of the Tax Ministry’s Directorate for St. Petersburg, deputy director of the Directorate for Moscow, and Chief of the Directorate for International Tax Relations.  In 2004, he became deputy director of the renamed Federal Tax Service under Serdyukov, and Director of the FNS in February 2007 when Serdyukov left for the Defense Ministry.  

The 49-year-old Mokretsov was born in Udmurtiya, and graduated in 1984 from the Leningrad Financial-Economic Institute.  He was called up after graduation and served two years as a finance officer in the Soviet Army.  Between 1986 and 2000, he worked in unnamed government and commercial enterprises in St. Petersburg.