On July 10 top ranking commanders of power structures were represented to the President. Those who were recently nominate don the command posts were represented. The President said: “You are the pick of the Russian officers. Thousands of soldiers behind each of you. There is a burden of big responsibility on your shoulders”. The President added: “Russia has always been proud by its commanders, has always counted on their courage and loyalty”. Such pathetic speeches of the President addressed to the commanders are not new for Russia. When the situation aggravated in the society, Yeltsin always addressed the power ministries. During the last meeting Yeltsin did not hide that he and the generals are one common thing in the country. The President added: “We have enough forces to prevent any plans of the power seizing, you know very well about these plans”. Yeltsin tried to specially praised the Interior Ministry, being the main guarantor of the regime’s security. Activity of the Interior ministry grew significantly. This is big merit of Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin personally, announced the President. He believes that there is an evident improvement in the struggle against the crime. The President stressed that “it is difficult to enforce order, but it is possible to change the situation”, having said that the Interior Ministry is doing its best for this. It is also to the President’s liking that all power ministries are working “compact and in cooperation, having no difference of opinions, although a year ago it was present”. Yeltsin also dwelled upon the law-enforcement organs measures for stabilization of the situation in the north Caucasus. He informed that there the defense Ministry, Interior ministry, border guards, Foreign Intelligence Service and State Customs Committee would cooperate.
Meanwhile the hopes of Yeltsin for the power ministries support in case of possible cataclysms in the country and the attempts to seize the power may turn out to be illusory. There are purely material reasons for this. So far the state can not provide for deserving life of the servicemen. For example, in 1998 the defense clauses are financed primarily for the money allowances arrears repayment, There is practically no financing of combat training and social benefits. How can we speak about support of the President if even an approximate calculation demonstrates that today the power owes at least $2,000 to every officer of the Armed forces. During his meeting with the power ministers Yeltsin spoke about this. The problems of power structures are a permanent concern of the power, stressed Yeltsin. The main of them is the financial problem. Due to this the President pointed out that he would demand the government to take decisive measures in this direction, The President added that under the difficult current situation “nobody has the right to save money on the power ministries”. Meanwhile so far there are no strong ideas behind the verbal rhetoric of Yeltsin, as well as there are no ways out from the financial dead end, where the country’s power structures are now. Against this background the Kremlin itself is living not according to its budget.
Against the background of the slogans about the radical Armed Forces reduction and reduction of spending for the state officials maintenance the number of “parquet” officers (that is, being listed in the Armed forces, and serving not in the troops, but in the cozy offices of the federal power organs) is not reduce din the country. Thus, according to reliable sources, now there are some 500 officers and generals in the Kremlin, Presidential Administration, governmental staff, Federal Assembly staff. Accounting Chamber, ministries and other organizations. Besides more than 1,000 officers are assigned to the Russian Defense Sporting-Technical Organization (ROSTO), state company Rosvooruzhenie, Russian stock company Biopreparat, stock company Aeroflot, field institutions of the Central bank.
Not only the officers in the troops, but also officers of the central command structures of the power ministries consider the “parquet” officers to be a ballast for the society. The assigned officers do not have any “traditional” duties, inherent to the army officers. As a rule, they perform the “paramilitary” functions, wear civil clothes and are far from the troops problems. However the Kremlin likes he “parquet” officers in a way. Its representatives point out that they are more obedient, disciplined, they do extra work without any complaints and so on.
Unlike their fellow-servicemen in the regular armed Forces, these people, close to the Kremlin and the White House, are equaled to the state officials according to their status, and receive money allowances 200-300% higher than the officers in the troops. Any other civil official could have been on their place, and in this case the state would not have to pay additionally to them from the pocket of Defense Ministry the long-service bonus, premiums and so on. However for somebody it is evidently convenient to employ officers and generals. Since their assignment, conditions of service are almost always defined by6 the presidential decrees and governmental resolutions, it is easy to guess that the state top officials are interested in the militaries. Moreover, the present quantity of the militaries in the Kremlin and in the White House is much more than the limits, defined for these purposes by the special presidential decrees, that is there are some vacancies more.
It is possible that the growth of the officers and generals number in the power lobbies is connected with this circumstance. For example, in January of 1996 48 people were assigned to the Presidential Administration and governmental staff (8 of them were generals). Now their number is already almost 100. Almost every one of them is a colonel or a general.
Meanwhile, a simple calculation demonstrates that maintenance of officers in the power lobbies costs the state a pretty penny. “Parquet” officers amount to almost 1.500, which is equal to the number of people, employed, for example, by the Finance Ministry, or accounts to almost 40% of the officers of the Federal Security Service central staff. But everyone can see results of the Finance Ministry and FSS work, but who has ever seen results of the “parquet” officers activity?
There is also another aspect. The Kremlin generals and colonels are disliked in the troops. Stratification of the officers into the “black” and “white” forms negative attitude of some officers towards the power, generates the feeling of social injustice. From the political point of view abundance of officers in the power lobbies militarizes it. Any civil control over the Armed Forces in this case is out of the question. There is the information that the Defense Ministry often offered the government and Presidential Administration to reduce the number of officers, assigned to the federal organs. But nothing was changed. Meanwhile the presence of officers among the civil officials of the Kremlin and White House may play a bad trick with Yeltsin. Knowing about some corporate spirit and politicization of professional servicemen, being close to “Arbat military district”, we may suggest that in case of the civil unrest they may become the agents of influence of some political forces.
Yeltsin is asking the IMF about the new credits, trying to postpone aggravation of the crisis in Russia. But such a dragging process of degradation only strengthens the tendencies of the country’s and Armed Forces breakup.
Unfortunately, subjective factor is added to these tendencies. No matter how much the President praises his power ministers now, their ability to work leaves much to be desired. The fact that they do not contradict to the President, like, for example, Kulikov or Rodionov did, does not mean that they are useful for the country and for the society.
This way or the other, we can say with assurance that the current generation of power ministers will hardly be able to support their President effectively in the bad times. First of all, they understand better than anyone that the regime, created by Boris Yeltsin, is insolvent. Second, even if they try to do anything to save their President, the troops may refuse to obey their orders, or fulfill them negligently. Thus, there is a big possibility that in case of the further development of he unfavorable situation the chaos in the country may grow into a civil war, and units of power ministries may be on different sides of barricades, being the main factor in the struggle for power between the conflicting political groups in Russia.