Main Military Prosecutor (GVP) Sergey Fridinskiy observed last week that it will only be possible to deal with corruption when not just the law enforcement organs, but also responsible officials in the military command hierarchy become involved in fighting it.
At last week’s coordinating conference on fighting corruption in the armed forces and other armed formations, Fridinskiy reported that, in January and February, military corruption cases increased by 10 percent over year ago figures, and material losses to the state in those first months of 2010 were 5 times greater than in 2009. Inflation and an increased volume of arms purchases were cited as contributing to the spike.
In 2009, corruption cases increased 5 percent in military units. Fraud and forgery cases increased 50 percent, but misappropriation, embezzlement, bribery, misuse, and abuse of authority also grew.
“For such crimes, 543 officers, including some higher officials, were convicted last year. Last year military prosecutors uncovered nearly 7,500 violations of the law in this area, more than 2,000 responsible individuals were held to varying degrees of accountability in connection with 540 warnings delivered about unacceptable legal violations.”
Fridinskiy maintains that corruption doesn’t just have a negative economic impact, it also has an extremely demoralizing effect on military units. He noted that the State Defense Order (GOZ) and the provision of social benefits to servicemen are trouble areas for military corruption. He said:
“Placing a barrier against incidents of illegal and mismanaged expenditure of budget resources allocated for reequipping troops with new arms and military equipment, but also providing housing to servicemen, people discharged from military service, and family members is one of the complex, but principle tasks.”
Fridinskiy said a systemic fight against corruption was particularly important at a time of rising expenditures on the defense budget and rearmament. He cited improved legislation, departmental regulations, reduced opportunities for misappropriation, guaranteed transparency and competition in tenders and state contracting as possible measures. He continued:
“It’s also important to strengthen the role of control-auditing organs at all levels, to raise the level of inter-departmental coordination, to conduct active propaganda work necessary to create an atmosphere where corruption is unacceptable.”
Fridinskiy reportedly proposed changing the existing GOZ system:
“We’re now working in the first place on putting systematic changes into the purchasing system so that prices will be down to earth, and not astronomical, so that it will be possible to organize this work in the bounds of current demand for purchases, and in order that not only the purchaser, but also those performing the work will bear responsibility for what they are doing.”
Representing the Defense Ministry, State Secretary and Deputy Defense Minister Nikolay Pankov reported that his department has created a special financial inspectorate sub-unit to exercise control on the use of its resources:
“Finance specialists, economists, mostly not from the armed forces, have been asked to join the financial inspectorate, and my presentation today concerned the effectiveness of the work of the financial inspectorate. All the results that the financial inspectorate turn up are given to the organs of the military prosecutor.”
Recall, of course, that the Defense Ministry claimed it had a major anticorruption drive in progress this winter. Maybe these are some of the results.
Attendees at GVP conference included representatives of the Federation Council, Duma, Military Collegium of the RF Supreme Court, Military-Investigative Directorate of the RF Prosecutor’s Investigative Committee, Ministry of Defense, MVD’s Main Command of Internal Troops, Ministry of Emergency Situations, and the FSB’s Border Service and Department [once Directorate?] of Military Counterintelligence.
Chief of the GVP’s Oversight Directorate Aleksandr Nikitin repeated an earlier publicized statistic on a 16 percent reduction in military crime last year. Nikitin credited widespread GVP preventative measures for the decline in crime. He also noted the induction of more conscripts with higher education and supplementary performance pay for commanders as positive factors. According to him, with the extra money, young commanders have started to pay more attention to ensuring order in their units. Nikitin also says the overwhelming majority of the country’s military units generally function without crime or other incidents.