The military housing story is interesting, but, regrettably, also neglected of late. And lots has happened on this front in recent weeks and months. At every turn, the Kremlin, White House, and Defense Ministry have tried to convince Russians that they honored former President Putin’s pledge to provide permanent apartments not later than 2010 to all servicemen entitled to them.
Putin and the government may say they delivered 50,000 apartments in 2010, but they didn’t necessarily reduce the line for military housing or satisfy the government’s obligation to retired, or retiring, servicemen.
Newsru.com provided a good story on this last Friday. And it’s not the first time it’s been told.
A Defense Ministry source told Interfaks more than 20,000 apartments acquired for servicemen are unoccupied. They and their families have refused to move in because these apartments lack access to essential services and infrastructure. He says:
“On 1 January 2011, according to preliminary data, 20 to 25 thousand apartments built for servicemen in various regions of Russia were unoccupied. But officer families are refusing to receive such housing built, as it’s called, in an empty field, where there are no schools, no clinics, no stores.”
United Russia member, Deputy Chairman of the Duma Defense Committee, and frequent critic of the government’s military policy, Mikhail Babich told Interfaks the “process of building and receiving housing, organized by the Defense Ministry’s State Order Directorate, generally contradicted common sense and the interests of servicemen, who weren’t even asked where they want to settle after dismissal into the reserve.” Babich continued:
“It goes without saying now the Defense Ministry has a large quantity of unoccupied apartments which officers have refused because of their lack of social infrastructure, opportunities to find daycare for their children, schools, and also even to find work for themselves.”
The Audit Chamber told lawmakers last year that the “absence of necessary coordination in the activity of the Defense Ministry’s State Order Directorate and FGU ‘Rosvoyenzhile’ in a number of the country’s regions led to buying apartments in volumes significantly exceeding real demand for them.”
The Audit Chamber said in the Central MD alone more than 50 percent of apartments in the cities of Kinel, Balakov, Almetyevsk, Salavat, Kopeysk, and others are unwanted. A check showed that local authorities permitted 9 apartment blocks in Serpukhov, Chekhov, and Khimki, which lacked essential infrastructure (heating mains, water supply, sewer), to be accepted for use, and this led to improper expenditures in the amount of 1.6 billion rubles.