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CHIEF MILITARY PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE IS THREATENED WITH LIQUIDATION
CHIEF MILITARY PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE IS THREATENED WITH LIQUIDATION

 

Alexander Stepanov

Versiya, No. 36, September 19-25, 2016, p. 8

Last week, there appeared reports saying that the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office would be liquidated in Russia. Military prosecutors tried to deny this information but this looked somehow not very convincing.

CHIEF MILITARY PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE IS THREATENED WITH LIQUIDATION

Last week, there appeared reports saying that the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office would be liquidated in Russia. Military prosecutors tried to deny this information but this looked somehow not very convincing.

Despite the contradictory information, next year the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office will evidently face big changes anyway. Available information enables us to say that the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office will cease to exist as a separate structure being on the balance of the Defense Ministry and will be transformed into a special department within a civil supervisory agency. Thus it is presumed that status of the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office will be lowered to a department of the General Prosecutor’s Office. The Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office will also be subject to serious personnel changes. Along with this, its employees will change army shoulder straps for prosecutors’ ones.

Rumors about disbanding of the prosecutor’s office have been circulating for more than ten years. During this period the army supervised by the military prosecutors was frequently and ruthlessly reformed and reduced. However, the quantity of military prosecutors remained unchanged until recently. Experts said that strong lobbyists were playing on the side of the military prosecutors with assistance of which the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office managed to defend its interests many times and to suppress any potential threat at an embryonic stage. This was fully manifested during creation of military police that was planned to take a part of functions from military prosecutors. As a result of a drawn out undercover war resolution on establishment of the military police remained but the new law-enforcement structure received very limited powers. According to experts, incumbent Chief Military Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky became the Achilles heel of the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office in the current situation. His entire activity on the post of chief military prosecutor was accompanied with numerous scandals related to apartment and land machinations, protection of persons close to him and, on the contrary, excessively harsh attitude to officers having big authority in the troops.

For example, the matter may be about harsh stance of military prosecutors during trial of former Commander of the Ground Forces General Vladimir Chirkin who has been charged with fraud. That is why because of the shaken authority Fridinsky cannot use all levers fully now to defend status of military prosecutors. Moreover, majority of experts are inclined to think that according to results of transformations the general will most likely have to quit the prosecutor’s office. We will learn if the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office manages to resist this time by the end of the year. Along with this, there are grounds to presume that it is impossible to avoid serious reforms this time. Employees of the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office were already informed about the upcoming reform and were proposed to do a difficult choice: who is ready to move to the General Prosecutor’s Office or who is ready to retire with status of servicemen.

It is necessary to say that paradoxical situation when an agency that is financed by the Defense Ministry supervises observance of law in the army has caused many questions from the start. Yes, there has never been a direct dependence of military prosecutors on the Defense Minister, this is especially applicable to the post of chief military prosecutor who has status of deputy general prosecutor and is appointed by the Federation Council. But other prosecutors were related to the Defense Ministry although indirectly, they received military tanks, money allowances, apartments and material and technical procurement including premises, transport and communication means. An officer of the military prosecutor’s office of the Southern Military District reported that military had certain levers of influence, for instance, in case of appearance of conflict situations payment of money allowances to prosecutors could be delayed due to contrived pretexts. First time the conflict of interests was manifested especially bright in 2005 when public dispute between Defense Minister Serge Ivanov and Chief Military Prosecutor Alexander Savenkov cost Savenkov his post. Everything started from the fact that the Chief Military Prosecutor spoke harshly about growth of crime in the troops and the Defense Minister reacted to critique in harsh and somehow offensive expressions. This fact demonstrated that military prosecutors were not so independent from the military. Liquidation of the military prosecutor’s office is also directly associated with economic reasons and reduction of the budget. It turned out that military prosecutors were in a privileged position. Thus, the Defense Ministry pays employees of the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office additionally for posts and ranks. Now in conditions of necessary economy it was decided that such division of prosecutor’s offices was not just.

 

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