On Thursday, Argumenty nedeli said its source claims Defense Minister Serdyukov will soon send some well-known generals into retirement. The Defense Ministry press service, of course, denies it.
AN’s source says the departure of these generals isn’t due to conflict between them and Serdyukov, but rather to the latter’s policy of “rejuvenating” Russia’s high command. Among those who will allegedly be retired:
- General Staff Chief, Army General Nikolay Makarov (61).
- Deputy Defense Minister for Rear Services, General-Colonel Dmitriy Bulgakov (56).
- Air Forces CINC, General-Colonel Aleksandr Zelin (57).
- Navy CINC, Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy (56).
- Space Troops Commander, General-Lieutenant Oleg Ostapenko (53).
It’s interesting because none of them is really up against the legal age limit for leaving military service. And Makarov apparently already has a service term extension from President Medvedev.
One presumes, according to AN’s information, that the Ground Troops CINC, and RVSN and VDV Commanders are safe for now.
AN also expects some of the newly appointed MD commanders to be dismissed or moved to new posts.
There are other angles to AN’s story besides more rotation in cadres.
First, it repeats earlier press on trouble in finding a replacement for “key military department figure,” former Deputy Defense Minister for Finance-Economic Work Vera Chistova who left her post three months ago.
An AN source in the Finance-Economic Service claims the lack of a replacement puts in doubt Prime Minister Putin’s promise to deliver a 6.5 percent increase in military pensions on 1 April. Budget resources weren’t allocated for this. And there’s still no candidate to replace Chistova. And without one such issues simply won’t be resolved.
AN doesn’t mention also that as active duty officer pay is reformed this year, the Defense Ministry will have to figure what to do about retiree pay. If, as expected, they break the long-standing link between active pay and military pensions, the vets aren’t going to be very happy just before the 2011 and 2012 elections. Putin just courted representatives of veterans’ organizations about a week ago.
According to AN, the Defense Minister has offered the military finance portfolio to more than one official at different levels in the Finance and Economic Development Ministries, but all of them declined.
The military department’s officers are also talking loudly about the coming appointment of a new Serdyukov deputy who will be called in to “correctly” track the military’s political preferences ahead of the fast-approaching legislative and presidential elections.
A high-ranking but unnamed military man tells AN:
“He will be an important civilian and definitely a member of ‘United Russia.’ It goes without saying this is connected with the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. The negative mood of officers is great, it is directed against the minister, his assistants and the party of power which is conducting the reforms without considering the human costs.”