MILITARY FACTOR OF THE RUSSIAN POLITICS

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The state is rapidly losing its control over the power structures

The processes are currently going on in Russia, which may destabilize the situation in the country radically. Miners’ rail war, pickets and demonstrations of the military-industrial complex employees, murders of well-known politicians and regional officials demonstrate the crisis, experienced by the society. This crisis directly influences the Armed Forces.

Within the last six months the Armed Forces received only some 20% of the budget assignments for 1998. Along with this almost not a single kopeck was spent for combat training and other clauses of the military budget. Relevant to the new armament purchase, its repair, servicing and so on. Almost all assignments are spent for repayment of officers and warrant-officers money allowances. But even these sums are insufficient. In the troops professional officers received their wages only for April of 1998. Absence of budget funds fore repayment of Defense Ministry’s debts to the military-industrial complex enterprises and sub-contractors provoke the conflicts between the workers and Armed forces commanders. Such conflicts happened and still happen everywhere. Employees of Zvezda plant (Far East), where nuclear submarines are repaid, are still picketing the building of Pacific Fleet headquarters because of several years’ arrears in repayment of their job done for the Armed Forces.

Last months leaders of Sverdlovsk region defense enterprises labor unions (Ural) sent a letter to President Boris Yeltsin, in which they warned about their readiness to start massive protest rallies because of wage arrears (the wages are not paid to them for 12-15 months). A month ago road and Transportation Ministry stopped military cargoes transportation, caused by the power structures debts. Only interference of the government sometimes assists solving of the problems of the most important military strategic cargo transportation. Recently a picketing of military base of 205th mechanized infantry brigade deployed in Budennovsk was organized. Constructors of joint stock companies Budennovskstroi and Levokumskvodostroi tried not to allow the militaries go out of the base and demanded the Defense Ministry to immediately transfer more than 10 million rubles of their debts onto their banking accounts. Only interference of the regional leaders and North Caucasus military district command cooled down the constructors, and they started negotiating.

Authorities try not to report about this, but it is known for sure that within the last few months ship repairers in Trans-Polar area often blocked highway Severomorsk-Murmansk, protesting about the wages arrears. Recently employees of ship repairing plant No. 10 of Polyarny town (Murmansk region) started the hunger strike without any time limit, protesting against the wages non-payment. The workers even refused to service and prepare for operation Petr Veliky cruiser, being the flagship of the northern Fleet. Only when it was announced that President Yeltsin plans to visit this cruiser during his vacations, the workers were paid, and preparation of the cruiser for Yeltsin’s visit was started.

Intentions of the government are known: to reduce the number of enterprises working in the defense interests, restructure their debts and start a broad-scale privatization. This is not accidental that the nation-wide protest rally in July wads organized under the slogan of “President’s impeachment and changing of the economic reforms course in the interests of domestic goods manufacturers”.

However reaction of the government and the President to the workers protest was sluggish. The President goes on his vacations at the moment when the Armed Forces financing is completely stopped. Since July 13 till July 22 not a single ruble was transferred onto the Defense Ministry’s accounts, despite that on the eve of its summer vacations the State Duma approved the project of the federal law “On additional sources of the military reform financing for 1998” in the first reading. What does the government hope for? For the aid of the international financing organizations? But the debts to the Armed Forces are so huge, that the whole aid may be spent for their repayment. For example, the debt owes some $2 billion of money allowances alone to the servicemen, without taking into account expenses for the military reform measures, repayment of discharge gratuity to the released officers and for troops redeployment.

So far the Armed Forces are relatively combat-ready and controllable. The information, which come from the troops and the sociological polls confirm that the Armed Forces are not preparing for seizing of the power and are unable to do this yet. However the troops opposition to the regime is reaching a critical point. At this point we can not agree with the words of Boris Yeltsin that in case of attempts to seize the power the Armed Forces will be on the side of the forces, trying to do this. Sociological polls, regularly organized in the troops, demonstrate that the number of servicemen, ready for radical steps in protection of their interests, grew significantly. Almost 38% of the experts say about this, characterizing the troops’ attitude. But why the Supreme Commander-in-Chief does not know about these results?

Local authorities and different opposition and labor union organizations started exerting bigger influence on the Armed Forces. This influence is especially felt in the areas where the radical Armed Forces reduction is going on. For example, in Amur region two military labor unions are operating legally: regional branch of Independent Servicemen Labor Union and Amur labor union of Russian militaries (purely regional organization). There are even such unprecedented cases like the agreement on cooperation between the public political movement For Revival of Ural and command of separate special airborne brigade, signed recently in Asbest-5 (Sverdlovsk region0 by executive director of the movement V. Sudarikov and brigade commander colonel V. Yeremeev. It is stipulated that the soldiers will participate in preparation of the local youth for the military service and its patriotic education. On its part the movement undertakes provision of high-quality selection of conscripts, attraction of the sponsor material-financial assistance, assist in employment of the brigade’s servicemen, removed to the reserve.

Such forms of cooperation between a public political movement and a military unit may also pursue some political goals, and this is already a precondition for the troops politicization, which is unacceptable.

Meanwhile the wish of the regional public and power structures to control the Armed Forces can be detected in the modern Russian reality. This control is achieved by different methods, for example, in the form of polls. Recently the press and informational committee of the government of Stavropol territory organized a poll of professional militaries, serving in the territory. Results of the poll are interesting. They demonstrate that 37.9% of respondents consider the Defense Ministry’s top ranking officials to be incompetent and unable to work. But, first of all, to which extent does this poll represent all groups of the servicemen? Second, who permitted its organization? The questions were asked incorrectly, this undermines the Armed Forces one-man command principle and contributes to their further decomposition.

Regional leaders start announcing more often about their claims for the Armed Forces. Having lost support of the airborne brigade disbanded in Khakassia leader of this republic Alexei Lebed started looking for support of the border guards. Recently an agreement was achieved for construction of frontier stations Bora-Shai on the Russian-Mongol border. This is not a single case. Recently administration of Krasnoyarsk territory and Krasnoyarsk city discussed assistance to the Ak-Chyraa and O-Shynaa frontier stations construction in the form of construction materials supply. The government of Tuva issued a range of resolutions, stipulating construction of Kachyk and Ak-Bulak frontier stations on account of the regional budget funds. After the meeting of Tuva President Sh. Oorzhak with federal Border Guards Service director N. Borduzha and Trans-Baikalian border guards district commander V. Vitenko the government of Tuva issued resolution “On measures for provision of the frontier stations deployment in the Tuva part of the Russian-Mongol border”. This document suggests assignment of 3 million rubles for construction of Kachyk frontier station, 250 horses and 82 tents for Kyzyl border guards detachment. Local authorities supply the border guards with meat, milk products and vegetables.

It would seem that now we can only great this, but we should bear in mind that the state is strong by the central power, and “making advances” by the regional authorities to the federal troops only strengthens the centrifugal tendencies in the country, forming the real preconditions for its breakup.

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