New reforms of Anatoly Serdyukov

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Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov continues reforming the Defense Ministry. Last week, President Dmitry Medvedev issued a decree appointing the eighth deputy of Serdyukov. This was Colonel General Vladimir Filippov who was acting director of the accommodation and settlement service (AASS) for slightly more than four months before. When Serdyukov came to the Defense Ministry in 2007, he had only five deputies. In a relatively short period of time, he managed to broaden the circle of his aides including not only new posts of deputy ministers but also many advisors to the Defense Ministry. First, advisor to the minister, Oleg Eskin, was appointed as deputy minister. Eskin is curator of development of information technologies, communication and command systems in the army. Eskin took this post from former Chief of the General Staff, Yury Baluevsky, because formerly commander of the signal corpse was the curator of this sector and he was subordinated directly to the chief of the General Staff. Second, Lyubov Kudelina, former director of the economy and finance service of the Defense Ministry, became a deputy of Serdyukov. Kudelina earned reputation of capable auditor of the ministry. Now the director of the AASS became a deputy minister.

After issue of the presidential decree on the establishment of Oboronservis, the circle of duties of the director of AASS – the deputy defense minister is narrowed because a construction holding will be established on the basis of construction organizations of the Defense Ministry. Construction is one of the most corrupt sectors in the Defense Ministry. One of the predecessors of Filippov, Colonel General Victor Vlasov, committed suicide on February 21 of 2008. The suicide was connected with his work. Criminal proceedings were instituted against some officers and generals of AASS this year. Thus, Sergei Usachev, deputy director of the department of the accumulation mortgage system of housing supply of the Defense Ministry, was dismissed in March of 2008 because of instituting of criminal proceedings against him. Criminal proceedings were instituted against some other officers of AASS. Filippov is an alien in AASS because he has been appointed on this post having previously served in the radiation, chemical and biological defense forces for 35 years. He traced a career path from platoon commander to commander of the forces. Serdyukov is evidently going to combat corruption by this method of personnel purge.

It is possible to see a trend aimed at the optimization of military expenditures, especially expenditures on governing structures, in the actions of Serdyukov. Thus, the Defense Minister decided to streamline work of the veteran marshals and generals being members of the so-called “paradise group.” They traditionally had large money allowances in addition to pensions, service cars and dachas. Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes that henceforth the veteran activists of the Defense Ministry and General Staff having rich combat experience are formed in the so-called service of general inspectors by the order of the Defense Minister. The “paradise group” was reduced. It did not include former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. According to the document signed by Serdyukov, this structure will be formally subordinated by State Secretary and Deputy Defense Minister Army General Nikolai Pankov. The organizational and personnel support will be provided to it by the main department of ideological work of the Armed Forces. The order says that the executive and governing work for fulfillment of the functions implied by the provision on service is laid on the relevant division of the Defense Ministry, namely the division for affairs of Russian organizational committee Victory and work with veterans. Colonel Sergei Chisty is the head of this division. So, it turns out that a simple colonel will govern marshals and generals. Of course, this is not good from the standpoint of army ethic. However, from the standpoint of practical expedience in the way of Serdyukov, this is normal. Officials of the Defense Ministry evidently think that many old generals are no good. They believe that the young should carry out the reforms. The veteran marshals will do propaganda of combat traditions, patriotic upbringing and, of course, will not stand in the way of top-ranking officials of the Defense Ministry unlike before when they have sometimes criticized actions in the military buildup. Time will tell how expedient it is to separate the veteran activists from close work with the military leaders of the country.

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