Daily Archives: January 27, 2010

The Defense Ministry’s Corruption Poll

Vladimir Mukhin talked about military corruption with Defense Ministry sociologist and pollster Captain First Rank Leonid Peven for today’s Nezavisimaya gazeta.

President Medvedev apparently ordered a study of corruption in the armed forces, and the Defense Ministry conducted a six-month poll, the results of which are reportedly uninspiring to say the least.  Peven wouldn’t talk about the specific results of the polling, saying work on the findings is ongoing.  But he indicated that each district, fleet, and branch of service would be assigned a ‘corruption index.’  Let’s hope–in the interests of fairness–that each armed service, each main directorate, each directorate, etc., gets an index as well.

Not surprisingly, an unnamed official source admits that the poll’s results confirm what the Defense Ministry already knows–as the GVP constantly says, there’s a general tendency toward higher levels of corruption-related crime and law-breaking in the officer corps.

The source also said the Kremlin is especially worried by armed forces corruption, and this poll was one of the largest and most unusual pieces of social research undertaken by the Defense Ministry in recent times.  The Defense Ministry’s sociologists and pollsters have typically been used to monitor military living standards.  A former uniformed sociologist said, however, that his colleagues could not get objective data on corruption in the armed forces by themselves.  Civilian experts at places like VTsIOM and Levada-Center need to be involved.

The formation of a new officer’s corporate ethos at this year’s 3rd All-Army Officers Assembly is supposed to be an answer to the scourge of military corruption, but the Chairman of the All-Russian Professional Union of Servicemen Oleg Shvedkov advises more practical measures like increasing the material well-being of officers as well as severe, but just, personnel policies.

One veteran adds that the leadership can create codes and rules of conduct, but they froze military base pay and pension increases for 2010, while other social groups haven’t similarly been done out of their supplements.  And you can’t beat corruption in the army with that kind of attitude toward men in shoulderboards.

Military Housing-Corruption Nexus

Grani.ru has connected the dots between–on the one hand–former Defense Ministry housing chief General-Colonel Filippov’s sudden retirement on health grounds late in triumphant 2009 just as military men were receiving more than 45,000 apartments, and–on the other hand–GVP Sergey Fridinskiy’s announcement yesterday that military housing is one of the three largest military corruption problems and that an SU-155 affiliate is under investigation for not fulfilling state contracts to provide apartments to Defense Ministry servicemen. 

But hold this thought for a moment.  First, remember the Defense Ministry’s end-of-year housing claims:

“The RF Defense Ministry, continuing implementation of decisions of the country’s leadership regarding providing servicemen permanent housing, planned in the course of 2009 to acquire from all sources 45,400 apartments.  Updated data on last year’s results allows us to talk about overfulfillment of the planned tasks.”

The Defense Ministry’s Press-Service and Information Directorate went on to specify:  45,614 permanent apartments, of which the Defense Ministry built 5,117, bought 19,147, and used GZhS for 7,050.  Another 14,300 were obtained from other sources, specifically through investment contracts and resettling apartments [i.e. moving new residents into existing Defense Ministry apartments].

From what Fridinskiy said in his interview yesterday, Grani.ru concludes that Filippov was dismissed for violating laws concerning housing for servicemen, including signing occupancy documents for nonexistent apartment blocks:

“Filippov signed an order for the distribution of apartments in eight buildings in the Moscow suburb of Chekhov.  However these buildings exist only on paper.  Their construction isn’t really under way, having stopped at the foundation.  The Defense Ministry contract was grossly violated by the contracting firm.”

Here’s what Fridinskiy said:

“…instances of the distribution of living space in buildings which not only haven’t been put into use, but actually aren’t even built, are being brought to us.  We’re investigating violations in housing construction for servicemen in Chekhov, where through the fault of the contractor ZAO ‘Moscow Oblast Investment-Construction Company,’ which is part of ZAO ‘SU-155,’ not one of 8 signed state contracts has been fulfilled.  Construction of apartment buildings to this point ranges in states from ‘installing pilings’–simply put,  digging the foundation–to ‘framing the building.’  Despite this, in August 2009, former Defense Ministry chief of housing and installations, Deputy RF Defense Minister General-Colonel Filippov approved the plan for distributing apartments to servicemen in these, if you’ll permit me to say, buildings.”

Were the ‘apartments’ in these 8 unfinished ‘buildings’ counted as part of the 45,614 supposedly acquired in 2009?  Of the 14,300 supposedly obtained through other means, including investment contracts?  Doesn’t look like these contracts panned out too well.  One wonders how much farther the Defense Ministry’s claim of success in meeting Putin’s task will unravel.  As it was storming to try and finish late in the year, many respected sources claimed something less than 30,000 apartments had actually been acquired.

But a scapegoat has been found in Filippov; he can take any other blame that needs to be assigned.  Perhaps he can borrow General-Colonel Vlasov’s sidearm.

Grani.ru reminds that Fridinskiy didn’t say anything about charges against Filippov; he could get off with just a scare.  But, with Filippov’s signature, state funds could move along the chain to the contracting firm.  So billions are thrown at military housing, but the problem is never solved.  Now one of Serdyukov’s Petersburg comrades is responsible for housing, but rather than say anything about how he plans to clean up the housing and installation service, he just had polite words to say about his predecessor.