Marina Gridneva Moskovsky Komsomolets, January 12, 2001, p. 1

Main Military Prosecutor Mikhail Kislitsin says that although the crime rate in the Armed Forces is decreasing, hazing and desertion have remained the most common crimes. He also discusses the Kursk submarine investigation, the bill on alternative service, and a number of other topical issues.

Mikhail Kislitsin’s colleagues consider him a professional, and call him “their man” – in contrast to his predecessor Yury Demin, who came to the Military Prosecutor’s Office from the FSB. Kislitsin has traveled throughout Russia during his time in office, and is well-informed about the situation in the regions. He knows about the problems of garrison prosecutor’s offices in the remotest regions. According to Kislitsin, Moscow is the most difficult area for him – because the huge city leaves a mark on people’s characters and behavior.

Question:It seems that criminal charges against generals get the most attention in the Main Military Prosecutor’s Office…

Mikhail Kislitsin: I’d like to repeat that such a notion as “generals’ crimes” does not exist, in principle. The proportion of crimes committed by generals and admirals is insignificant in all categories of crime in the military. At present, we are investigating ten criminal cases against 13 senior officers. It should be noted that these generals and admirals are in different security services, not only in the Defense Ministry.

FROM OUR FILES: One of these criminal cases will become a sensation if the prosecutor’s office can prove the guilt of all suspects. The Main Military Prosecutor’s Office has already lodged an accusation against Colonel-General Georgy Oleinik, head of the Defense Ministry’s Main Department for Military Budgets and Funding. The prosecutor’s office is now investigating fraud allegations against Major-General Yevgeny Datsko, chief accountant of the Department; Major-General Leonid Gerasimenko, head of the Second Department of the Defense Ministry’s Main Department for Military Budgets and Funding; and Major-General Anatoly Vorobyev, head of the Third Department.

Question:The Main Military Prosecutor’s Office is actively cooperating with the State Auditing Commission (SAC). It has started criminal proceedings concerning financial misconduct discovered by auditors…

Kislitsin: Our cooperation with the SAC has always been active. Based on the SAC’s findings, we launched six criminal cases in 2000 against senior officers of the Interior Ministry and the Defense Ministry.

FROM OUR FILES: More than 10 million rubles was allocated for the servicemen of the 201st motorized infantry division, withdrawn from Dushanbe. Housing for over 60 families was meant to be purchased in Saratov, Voronezh and Ivanteevka. But it turned out that only 35 families could actually be housed. The SAC discovered that the remaining apartments had “disappeared”, thanks to officials of the Main Housing Department of the Defense Ministry. The prosecutor’s office started a criminal case against Lieutenant-Colonel Dedkov, who was responsible for purchasing housing for servicemen. This was the person who signed a contract with a certain private company, Promstroiinvest, which could not meet its commitments at first.

Question:According to August reports, the Military Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the Kursk submarine disaster. Have you managed to discover anything about it?

Kislitsin: In fact, my deputy Yury Yakovlev started criminal proceedings on August 23. This case is being investigated by a large team of our specialists, headed by senior investigator Artur Yegiev. We are checking out all theories: from a collision with a foreign submarine or a mine, to an emergency in the torpedo room of the Kursk which caused an explosion. We have other theories. We have confiscated and checked many documents, including the plan for the combat exercises in the Barents Sea. We have studied documents concerning the preparation of the Kursk for its last mission. We have done the most extensive tests. We are examining fragments of the sunken submarine. We hope that the results of these tests will allow us to figure out the sequence of events on board the Kursk, and the cause of the disaster.

Question:What can you say about the crime rate among Russian servicemen in Chechnya, and how many criminal cases have been launched based on crimes committed by Russian servicemen against local residents?

Kislitsin: In all, we have launched over 700 criminal cases since the beginning of the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya. But this doesn’t mean that the situation in Chechnya is out of control. The crime rate in the federal forces in Chechnya is half of that in any other group of forces or military district. The Main Military Prosecutor’s Office pays special attention to crimes committed by Russian soldiers against local residents. At present, we are investigating 37 such cases. Eight criminal cases have gone to court. This concerns Colonel Budanov’s case: when the victims and the suspect have had a chance to study the materials, the case will go to court.

FROM OUR FILES: Colonel Yury Budanov, Commander of the 160th tank regiment, is accused of raping and murdering Ms. Butsieva, aged 18, in the Tangi-Chu settlement. Colonel Budanov admits that he killed the woman, but denies that he raped her. According to Budanov, Butsieva was a Chechen separatist sniper, and he executed her in revenge for the deaths of his soldiers. Tests done by the military prosecutor’s office confirmed that the woman had been raped.

Question:A year ago the issue of murders in the Army was on the front pages of al newspapers. Currently there are no such cases. Can we thank the prosecutor’s office for this?

Kislitsin: Last year the number of registered crimes linked with hazing increased. But this doesn’t mean that the actual number of crimes increased. This only shows that commanders are not hushing up such incidents. Senior officers, in turn, have started to punish the guilty, and to encourage junior commanders to prevent such crimes.

Question:Thousands of conscripts and their relatives are concerned about the bill on alternative military service…

Kislitsin: This is a very hot topic right now. The bill on alternative service has been debated by the Duma for three years. Everyone says this law must be passed as soon as possible. Yet representatives of the Defense Ministry and civil rights groups are arguing about several items of the bill. For instance, whether the term of alternative service should be longer than that of regular military service; and more.

Question:Do you have any cases of sexual harassment in military units?

Kislitsin: As far as so-called sexual harassment is concerned, there are a few cases. But these are isolated instances. The results of prosecutors’ checks and anonymous polls prove this.

FROM OUR FILES: The military prosecutor’s office is investigating criminal charges against Colonel Vyacheslav Vinnik. He is suspected of sexual harassment of his female subordinates.

Question:What crimes are the most frequent in the military? As we know, hazing used to be the most common crime for the Russian Armed Forces…

Kislitsin: Last year the number of registered crimes in special detachments of the Interior Ministry decreased. However, the crime rate in these detachments is still rather high compared to other branches of the military. The most common crimes are desertion and hazing of new recruits.

The crime rate in the Taman division has risen. In the Kantemirovskaya division the crime rate is falling. At the same time, the number of desertion and hazing cases is growing.