Ex-RVSN Deputy Commander Guilty of Corruption

The GVSU site offered up a little sensation among its routine military crime reports recently. A general was convicted, and not just any general, but (now former) RVSN Deputy Commander General-Lieutenant Sergey Siver.

We’re not talking rear services or ground troops here, but a general officer with full knowledge of and responsibility for Russia’s land-based strategic nuclear forces.

For years people have argued that the kind of dysfunction described below may happen in the Russian armed forces, but not in its elite forces or important combat units. Well, it does.

Your author missed this one. The case came to light in September.

Also, Siver looked to be “green” or a good candidate for advancement, but it didn’t turn out that way. The 58-year-old general finished a three-year tour heading the RVSN’s most prestigious training establishment in 2019 and became a deputy commander in its headquarters. His prospects looked pretty good.

To reach that point, Siver stepped on every rung of the RVSN career ladder. He served in posts through command of a missile regiment, attended the General Staff Academy, and got command of the Irkutsk-based 29th Missile Division. Then he was commander of the 27th Missile Army — one of only three missile armies — in Vladimir before taking over the RVSN’s military academy.

Siver was one of a handful of generals with the experience to replace RVSN Commander General-Colonel Sergey Karakayev at some point. However, they are more contemporaries, and the RF MOD will probably go younger for the RVSN’s next commander.

According to Compromat.org, Siver may have faced a very serious charge at first, one possibly carrying a ten-year prison term. The site claimed that for many years he exacted tribute from subordinates in the form of money and gifts, some discovered at his home in Vladimir.

Those who ponied up reportedly got promotions, good assignments, and medals. Those who didn’t were subjected to severe pressure, transferred to remote units, or even dismissed from military service.

But Siver got off very easy against a much less severe charge.

Here’s a translation of the GVSU’s March 11 press-release on the case.

In Moscow oblast a serviceman has been convicted of misusing his official authority

The court found evidence, gathered by the Russian Federation Investigative Committee’s military investigative directorate for the Strategic Missile Troops (henceforth — RVSN), sufficient to deliver a guilty verdict on former deputy commander of the RVSN reserve general-lieutenant Sergey Siver. He was found guilty of committing a crime specified by ch. 1 art. 285 of the RF UK (misuse of official authority).

It was established that in August 2016 Siver, serving as chief of the federal state-owned military institution of higher education “Military Academy of Strategic Missile Troops named for Peter the Great” of the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense, illegally relieved the lead engineer of the scientific-research department Vasiliy Bugay of his service duties in order to carry out his own [trans. — Siver’s] personal errands. Despite non-fulfillment of his official duties, pay and bonuses were regularly disbursed to him [trans. — Bugay] until July 2019.

In November 2020 general-lieutenant Sergey Siver was retired from military service for health reasons by order of higher command.

Taking into account in the course of the preliminary investigation Siver acknowledged his guilt for what was done and voluntarily returned to the state budget more than 1.68 million rubles, previously paid to Bugay as wages and bonuses, the Reutov garrison military court punished him [trans. — Siver] in the form of a fine amounting to 60 thousand rubles.

As concerns Bugay on the basis of para. 2 ch. 1 art. 24 of the RF UPK (absence of corpus delicti) it was decided not to open a criminal case. The supervising organ agreed with this procedural decision.

Some restitution and a slap-on-the-wrist fine. No forfeiture of retirement or benefits. No more than mild embarrassment. The investigators and courts apparently didn’t buy Compromat’s story about Siver’s extensive history of corruption. One wonders how deep the inquiry went. Perhaps the Bugay incident was a one-time thing from Siver, but that seems hard to believe. Possibly much was swept under the rug.

Can it be that a “lead engineer” from the RVSN’s premier schoolhouse had so little of importance to do that the academy’s chief would have him do his personal chores instead?

From the MOD’s standpoint, the case — at least in mild form — was put on public display, but the decline of Russia’s free media ensured it couldn’t reach a wide audience.

Military corruption has been off the radar for a few years. The MOD claims it’s continually declining. But the GVSU may be reviving interest in the issue. Or perhaps corruption has continued all along and the Kremlin decided the Siver case should be publicized (a little) for its deterrent effect on the high command and senior officers.

2 responses to “Ex-RVSN Deputy Commander Guilty of Corruption

  1. Ray C. Finch III

    Hi and thanks for the post. I had seen the report talking about the slight increase in corruption (link below), but it’s nice to get some juicy details. While it’s only conjecture on my part, I think MoD Shoigu has worked overtime to ensure that negative military news doesn’t get much press.

    On a somewhat related note, the incident does beg the question as to how this officer was able to reach the commanding heights. Do you think this incident of abusing authority was an exception? How exactly does the officer promotion system work today in Russia? Is corruption baked into the system?

    “СК заметил в российской армии снижение дедовщины и рост коррупции,” [The Investigative Committee noticed a decrease in hazing and an increase in corruption in the Russian Army] Interfax, 10 March 2021. https://www.interfax.ru/russia/755305

  2. Yes they’ve definitely worked to keep bad news out of the major media. It’s probably true that we didn’t hear the full story on Siver. Compromat’s version could be the real one. But we don’t know for certain.

    There are probably lots of promotions made through competition and merit. But the way Russia works today, it’s probably also true that some percentage are decided by corruption. Who knows how many? Haven’t actually seen many allegations to this effect. It may be “baked” into the system to a certain level.

    Missed the story about the SK, hazing, and corruption. The SK is in a good position to judge corruption. At least based on the number of cases they’re investigating. But there’s corruption not alleged or discovered yet. The SK has the numerator but not the denominator. Hazing is similar but harder. There’s likely a lot of hazing that goes unreported and never reaches the SK.

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