Crime among army elite grew by 1,000% in post-soviet times

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Military justice representatives finally announced detailed data on crimes among professional Russian army officers. Incidentally, this was done not by a representative of the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office but by the Chair of the Moscow District City Court Alexander Beznasyuk. At the final consultation devoted to the work of the Moscow Military District’s garrison courts held on February 16, he announced with concern that “the quantity of sentenced officers is steadily growing year in and year out. In the Russian Armed Forces as a whole one-sixth of sentenced servicemen are officers.” Beznasyuk also named certain figures. In 2006, the Moscow Military District’s courts sentenced 457 officers of the total 2,749 sentenced servicemen. In 2005, this figure amounted to 386 people. Thus, growth in the number of officers sentenced in the most prestigious military district of Russia in one year amounted to 18.3%. Meanwhile, in comparison to 2003, the percentage of the number of sentenced officers almost doubled. In the last 15 years, the number of officers sentenced in the Moscow Military District grew by more than 1,000%. Figures are evidently similar throughout the Armed Forces.

Observers have been speaking about this phenomenon for a long time. Speaking to generals at an assembly of the Armed Forces devoted to discussing to the results of combat training, Chief Military Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky remarked that “the law and order situation in the Armed Forces remains bad, the quantity of crimes committed by officers has grown.” According to the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office, on the part of officers “the number of attempts to steal budget money allocated for defense needs has grown. With regard to separate crimes of this kind, damages are counted in millions of rubles. Very often, some officials substitute measures for crime prevention with inefficient, after-the-fact approaches.” At the time, Fridinsky’s statement contrasted sharply against the background of optimistic reports of the Defense Ministry, who spoke about positive trends concerning crime in the Armed Forces. At any rate, Fridinsky did not name more accurate figures regarding the crimes committed by officers, evidently unwilling to blemish the reputation of the possible candidate for the presidency.

These figures have finally been released. They appeared when Ivanov was not the defense minister, as he had been promoted. This may be a simple coincidence, but now we see that the law and order situation among the military elite is not very favorable. Fridinsky supplemented this picture recently. Speaking on the Radio of Russia, he reported that sentenced officers continued serving for the Russian army. Thus, of more than 2,000 officers sentenced for deliberate crimes, this include a few dozen who committed new crimes after sentencing and were continuing their service. Fridinsky proposed the dismissal of these officers from the troops. Members of the Duma and Federation Council support his decision. Officials of the Defense Ministry maintain their silence.

This is probably the correct decision. However, this measure will hardly improve the law and order situation in the troops. It turns out that officers commit crimes from their social environment. Sociological research manifests the low level of motivation of officers for service and the honest fulfillment of their duties (31% of respondents). One-half of the polled officers are not happy with their material well-being and 90% are unhappy with conditions for leisure and rest. Unfortunately, the current measures including an insignificant raising of money allowances for servicemen, so will hardly solve this problem. In 2007 we should expect an increased growth in the quantity of crimes among professional servicemen.

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