Aleksandr Golts is a formidable critic of Russia’s Defense Ministry. If only the MOD had a proponent to match wits with him.
Golts’ latest appeared in Ogonek on 2 September. He gives his view on what is getting Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu’s attention.
Nothing else added or explained. Just translated:
“From Reforms to Uniforms”
“Aleksandr Golts: The Defense Ministry is overgrown with shoulderboards”
“A series of recent Defense Ministry initiatives occasions more and more questions”
“Aleksandr Golts, Daily Journal observer”
“Recently one of the Moscow papers announced sensational news: Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu proposed that the president subordinate the Ministry of Emergency Situations to the military department. It’s all the same, they say, MOD troops by necessity participate, like now in the Far East, in any large-scale rescue operation. Experts, whom journalists rushed to interrogate, shrugged their shoulders: stupidity, of course. Some, who are older, remembered perfectly how in the beginning of the 90s Sergey Shoygu himself and his associates argued: it was essential to remove the civil defense troops from the Armed Forces to establish MChS on the basis of them. They, the rescuers, really have a completely different mission than the army, which, however you look at it, is concentrated on organizing armed force. Everyone knows: Shoygu resolved this problem perfectly. And so in place of civil defense troops, where they sent all army disciplinary offenders, soon appeared MChS, one of the departments most respected by the public. Moreover, the Armed Forces just went through the very painful Serdyukov reforms which, besides everything else consisted of changing structures and missions, redeployments and resubordinations. In the event of uniting MChS [to the MOD] this bureaucratic wheel would be doomed to turn again, really stopping combat training for another 1-2 years. It was impossible to believe that Shoygu, one of the not numerous talented Russian administrators, could come forth with similar initiatives. However in answer to the question are similar things possible, the experts began to hem and haw and in the end said now everything is possible in Russia.”
“Let’s sing friends”
“The fact is recently news has come from the military department, which, putting it mildly, is ‘more and more wonderful.’ Not long ago they decided to be seriously occupied there with the patriotic indoctrination of Armed Forces personnel. Sergey Shoygu ordered: ‘I ask commanding generals and commanders to ensure that the Anthem of Russia is performed. I order that in military collectives every morning should begin with the singing of the Anthem, no matter what the servicemen are doing.’ And later he ordered the famous Aleksandrov Russian Army ensemble to arrange immediately two versions of the anthem — a model, so to say, strict one, for performance exclusively by a choir and orchestra ensemble, and a pop one, for the military-patriotic indoctrination of the young. Stage stars including Lev Leshchenko and the group ‘Lyubeh’ will be invited to perform it. And this despite the fact that according to the Internal Service Regulations the Russian anthem is performed every day at evening roll call in every military unit. But, apparently, one performance of the anthem isn’t sufficient to achieve the necessary degree of patriotism in servicemen. It seems the degree of patriotism is directly dependent on the frequency of its performance. If so, then it shouldn’t stop at two performances a day, they could sing the anthem every hour. They could, in the end, make the army like a monastery and stand several hours for patriotic morning service. The main thing is results you know.”
“The issue of patriotic indoctrination isn’t exhausted by the performance of the anthem. ‘I’m inclined to have commanders lead the process of preparing demobilization albums¹, since every military unit has its own history,’ said Shoygu. It’s proposed to prepare this, more recently strictly individual, product of the soldierly creativity centrally using modern printing and photographic equipment. It’s curious, will the more recently obligatory element of creating such an album — photos depicting precisely what the demob dreams of doing when he leaves his military unit be centrally produced… Obviously, army political workers believe he intends to sing the state anthem again. But this isn’t all. ‘If we aren’t able to prepare a single history course for the country, we need to prepare such a textbook for the army and introduce it into all courses of instruction for servicemen,’ said the minister. If everything is understood with the performance of the anthem, then the authors of this separate army, strictly correct and patriotic history textbook still haven’t been determined. Nevertheless, it’s possible to guess both the authors and the content.”
¹Not necessarily reverent scrapbooks conscripts have traditionally assembled about their service time.