THE ARMY AS A PERMANENT OBJECT OF INFRINGEMENTS

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The leadership of the Defense Ministry has again become the focus of attention of Russia’s auditing and law enforcement structures. Investigators of the military prosecutor’s office start and investigate new criminal cases against representatives of the Defense Ministry against the background of a long investigation against General Oleinik, former chief of the military finance department. Sources in the General military prosecutor’s office say that to all appearances investigators will soon charge high-ranking generals of some central departments of the Defense Ministry with financial infringements. The matter concerns infringements uncovered by the State Auditing Commission in 2002.

First and foremost, this concerns violation of the proper use of the Defense Ministry’s housing. Sources in the State Auditing Commission say that auditors recently checked the use of money allocated from the federal budget for building housing for servicemen of the Defense Ministry and persons dismissed from the Armed Forces.

Judging from auditors’ report, the government and the Defense Ministry do not take proper measures in order to solve the housing problem in the Army. First and foremost this concerns the efficiency of the use of the Defense Ministry’s housing. Auditor Alexander Piskunov said that despite government decrees the Defense Ministry has not yet prepared a program aimed at creating a housing resource. Only 242,700 out of 769,000 apartments belonging to the Defense Ministry have been passed over to servicemen’s families (31.6%). The remaining apartments are occupied by persons, who have resigned from the Armed Forces, and civilians, who have purchased these apartments.

The State Auditing Commission also says that the government and the Defense Ministry do not realize the State Housing Certificates program properly. This program has only been realized by 32%. Owing to a very bad mechanism of distribution of housing certificates the Defense Ministry has failed to issue 10,700 certificates to servicemen (1.9 billion rubles). The State Auditing Commission has decided to submit a complaint to the government and an informational report to the Defense Ministry. There are no reports about complaints to the General military prosecutor’s office.

In the meantime, the construction and housing department of the Defense Ministry headed by Alexander Kosovan thinks that some of the accusations are unfounded. The military states that the problem of resettling servicemen, who have resigned from the army, from military settlements must be solved by the government, not the Defense Ministry. Social organizations, which defend servicemen’s rights, second the military. Alexander Ovchinnikov, a representative of the Military Brotherhood movement said that the state must first give housing to military pensioners in order to be able to use the Defense Ministry’s housing properly. He said that the Defense Ministry’s budget cannot hope with this task.

He said: “The government must allocate additional money for this purpose.”

In the meantime, the General military prosecutor’s office states that if the State Auditing Commission submits its reports to military prosecutors they will check all episodes. The General military prosecutor’s office conducted such a check in the Central military-medical department of the Defense Ministry in May 2002. As is known, military prosecutors are trying to find out what happened to $3.7 million allocated for purchasing medicines from a Latvian company.

Investigators of the General military prosecutor’s office are now checking this case. However, Colonel-General Ivan Chizh and other officers involved in this case have not been charged with this crime yet.

The defense Ministry does not hurry to start criminal cases and punish high-ranking generals on the eve of a parliamentary election. Rumors are circulating that an audit in the Army was initiated by some Duma deputies in order to gather compromising materials needed for criticizing the Defense Ministry and the government.

At the same time, it is evident that the crime rate in the Russian Army is going up. Nikolai Petukhov, chair of the military collegium of the Supreme Court, said that officers charged with abuse of power and negligence make up the third-largest group of criminals in the Army. In other words, the activities of high-ranking leaders of the Defense Ministry have become an object of criticism of the media and the prosecutor’s office, the State Auditing Commission, military courts, and more. This fact testified to low efficiency of reforms in the military sector.

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