Realities of Military Housing

Too much doctrine makes Jack a dull (ok, duller) boy.

Writing in Moskovskiy komsomolets, Olga Bozhyeva again puts reality and faces on Russia’s military housing problems.

Colonel Valeriy Ananyev (photo: Gennadiy Cherkasov)

Bozhyeva contrasts the announcement of a major aerial portion of the upcoming 9 May Victory Parade, featuring Long-Range Aviation among other Air Forces aircraft, with the living conditions of LRA officers:

“Homeless [apartmentless, if you will] bums from dormitories declared unfit 9 years ago will demonstrate the power of our strategic aviation on this holiday.”

Thirty-nine families of command personnel from LRA live in 14 communal apartments in the building on 41 Myasnitskaya Street.  Thirty-two of the officers are Honored Pilots or Navigators of the RF.  Their apartment block was built in 1891.

Colonel Ananyev says they’ve talked about relocating these officers since 2002, so they didn’t do any capital repairs.  An inspection showed that living in the building was dangerous.  Bozhyeva thinks maybe Defense Ministry officials thought this was ok since LRA officers are accustomed to danger.

Ananyev himself wears three military orders–the Red Star for Afghanistan, For Military Services for Chechnya, and For Honor for planning and participating in the LRA part of the 2008 parade over Red Square.

So, Bozhyeva asks, why didn’t Ananyev and his LRA neighbors in this dangerous building get some of the 45,000 military apartments reportedly acquired last year?  Because 44 apartments in Kozhukhovo intended for them are caught up in an investment contract dispute.

The State Property Committee (Goskomimushchestvo) was originally involved in preparing the paperwork so an investor could build an office building on the site of the ruined dormitory and the new Kozhukhovo apartments could be occupied by the LRA men.  However, Defense Minister Serdyukov squeezed Goskomimushchestvo out of the Defense Ministry’s property business in 2008 and the whole deal had to restart.  But it was forgotten until May 2009 when the Defense Ministry and the investor each blamed the other for not fulfilling the contract.

Apparently, under the contract, the Defense Ministry was supposed to move the LRA officers and their families out of the old building, so the investor could start work, and the LRA men would move into temporary quarters, then on to the new apartments when the investor finished them.  The company even offered to settle them directly in the new apartments, albeit on a provisional basis.  But the Defense Ministry didn’t accept, and the investor has empty apartments for which it pays communal fees and provides security.

So what led Ananyev to become a poster boy for the military housing problem?  He wrote twice to Serdyukov without receiving an answer.  Then he wrote to President Medvedev, and he got an answer, only from the Defense Ministry–no one would be allowed to occupy the Kozhukhovo apartments directly before the Defense Ministry took ownership of them.

No one can say when this will happen, but it’s only a matter of signing documents, according to Ananyev.

But it’s not so simple according to a Defense Ministry source familiar with the housing issue who spoke with Bozhyeva.

The source indicated there is a financial motive in this situation, but not corruption or bribery.  The Defense Ministry is operating according to an unwritten order–don’t give any more housing to officers in Moscow.  Kozhukhovo is the same as Moscow.  But in the outlying suburbs and Moscow Oblast housing is cheaper and the Defense Ministry can buy more apartments faster. 

Apparently, some officers have gone to court to get apartments in Moscow, but the courts, while backing their claims to apartments, are not enforcing their legal right to choose Moscow as the location.

Bozhyeva thinks this is a plausible explanation in the case of the LRA officers on Myasnitskaya Street.

She wrote a similar piece on the plight of PVO officers this summer, find it here.  They live at 37 Myasnitskaya.

One response to “Realities of Military Housing

  1. Pingback: 33,000 Unfinished or Unwanted Military Apartments | Russian Defense Policy

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