Tag Archives: KPRF

Perspective on the Military Vote

Carrying the Ballot Box

A little context for Kommersant’s report on Defense Minister Serdyukov informing the once-and-future president that 97 percent of servicemen voted in the December 4 Duma election, and United Russia garnered 80 percent of those votes.

The Defense Minister allegedly told Prime Minister Vladimir Putin 80 percent of servicemen and their family members picked United Russia (against 67 percent in 2007).  Some remote units reportedly even delivered 99 percent for Putin’s party. 

For the official opposition, the LDPR got 8.6, KPRF 6.3, and Just Russia 3.4 percent.  Their shares dropped from four years ago.

The TsIK says it doesn’t know how the Defense Ministry comes by such figures since most officers and soldiers vote in normal precincts.  And the military department hasn’t commented on any voting report by Serdyukov.

If this is accurate, we can conclude that Serdyukov delivered the military vote. 

Nezavisimaya gazeta’s Vladimir Mukhin wrote that United Russia had very similar results in the 2007 Duma election.

In 2003, NG’s Mukhin said the Defense Ministry put the “military electorate” at 5-6 million voters.  It’s probably less today.

United Russia reportedly got only 52 percent of the military vote in 2003, and Rodina 12, LDPR 11, and KPRF 6 percent each.

In 1999, UR’s precursor Unity (or Medved) took 48 percent, KPRF 18, the Zhirinovskiy (LDPR) bloc 14, and Fatherland-All Russia 7 percent.

What are we to conclude?  The process of nailing down the military vote has gotten smoother over time, coinciding with Putin’s and United Russia’s dominance of Russian politics.  It looks like the army has a habit of supporting whoever’s in power.  But now it looks just a little out of step with society — voting 80 percent for the party of power versus 49 percent countrywide.  But how the army votes and what it thinks may also be two different things.

Happy Defender’s Day

Medvedev Lights Flame at Tomb of the Unknown Along Kremlin Wall

In his Defender’s Day eve address on Monday, President Dmitriy Medvedev said:

“The defense of native land, service in the army and fleet has always been considered our holy duty.  And those who chose the military profession as the business of their entire lives command great respect among our people.”

Apparently, not too holy since Medvedev didn’t serve, even though he would have been due for conscription at the zenith of the mass mobilization Soviet Army and one of the coldest points of the Cold War [1983].  Of course, there are lots of presidents who didn’t serve in their countries’ armed forces.

Medvedev went on to thank Russia’s veterans with the 65th anniversary of the Great Victory fast approaching [9 May].

Then he noted:

“. . . strengthening the defense capability of our country–this, absolutely, is the fundamental basis for our development.  Our strategic goal is the formation of an effective army and navy, adequate for the level of modern threats, capable of withstanding any level of aggression and being a real factor in guaranteeing international stability.”

“Before us stands the main mission–to reequip the army and fleet with the newest armaments.  It is essential to concentrate resources, all our best forces, and our country has done this more than once, in order to create new quality types of military equipment and finally escape from a system of “patching holes” in old armaments.  Some has already been accomplished here, but this is a basic task for the near future.”

“Strengthening Armed Forces personnel will also remain a priority.  People who have received a modern quality education answering the demands of the time need to be occupied with military affairs.  People who are prepared to complete contemporary combat missions, to complete them in the most effective way and, absolutely, physically and morally prepared.”

“The most important condition for the successful modernization of the Armed Forces–this is increasing the quality of life for servicemen.  The current military labor stimulus system (I have in mind the so-called order 400) is already giving positive results today.  From 2012 new salaries will be paid to all our country’s officers.”

“Everything necessary is being done so that this year all military men needing permanent housing will receive it.  I am keeping this issue under my personal control.”

“By the end of 2012 the issue of providing servicemen with service housing will be fully resolved.  I am sure that such guarantees will increase the wellbeing of your families and the prestige of military service as a whole.”

“Next it is important also that all measures to transfer the army and fleet to a new quality should be fulfilled efficiently and on schedule.  I am expecting precisely this from the Defense Ministry.”

On Tuesday, Medvedev participated in reigniting the eternal flame on the grave of the unknown soldier below the Kremlin wall.  The flame had been moved temporarily to Victory Park on Poklonnaya gora during the renovation of the tomb of the unknown.

Medvedev also visited a military unit in the Moscow suburbs and had tea with a senior lieutenant and his family in their new apartment.

The KPRF and its leader, Gennadiy Zyuganov, played the lead in presenting an opposite point of view on Defender’s Day.  The KPRF faithful marched from Triumfalnaya ploshchad to Teatralnaya ploshchad for a rally.  The party predicted 10,000 attendees, the police said there were 1,500, and Ekho Moskvy reported 4,000.

One KPRF leader said his party was coming out in defense of the army and fleet, their history, their power and against this senseless reform which Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov is conducting.  He said the KPRF would hold rallies in 8 regions where elections are being held on 14 March.  Those demonstrations, however, were focused on more ‘bread and butter’ issues like communal service rate increases.

Zyuganov himself was in vintage form, saying:

“The army is currently in an exceptionally poor state.  A totally useless man is today in charge of the army.  He has no right to hold this office.  Not a single military man would want to pronounce the family name of Serdyukov properly, without adding some insult.  This means that Mr Putin and Mr Medvedev have put in charge of the army a man who is incapable of teaching servicemen, rallying them together or setting key objectives concerning military security and army training and equipment of our armed forces.”

He continued, saying Russia has “no possibility not only to produce, but even to reform its existing military complex.”  He claimed Russia is 10 years behind NATO in military potential, and he said Russia’s strategic forces are “on their last legs.”  Addressing Prime Minister Putin, he asked why a minister like Serdyukov was being retained.

IA Regnum reported on a rally in support of army reform and modernization led by United Russia youth wing Molodaya gvardiya and the local branch of veteran’s organization Combat Brotherhood in Ulyanovsk.  Press reports said attendees were looking forward to restarting An-124 transport aircraft production at Aviastar, and having OPK enterprises serve as a locomotive for the rebirth of local industry.

Retired Officer Rails Against Army’s ‘Sergeantization’

One retired Colonel A. A. Karasev, deputy of the Saratov city duma and chairman of the Saratov branch of the Union of Soviet Officers, has written in KPRF.ru about communists and former servicemen picketing Prime Minister Putin’s reception office in Saratov on 17 February.

According to him, they demonstrated their concern about ruinous army reforms and carried signs saying “Putin!  Return Serdyukov to the Furniture Store.”  And, of course, they addressed an open letter to Putin.

Their letter said they’d taken to the streets before what used to be Soviet Army and Navy Day to make their woes, pains, and demands known to the head of government, and to defend the army, OPK, veterans, and their families from the outrages committed by bureaucrats and Duma deputies.

Their particulars included:

  • The U.S.-Russian balance of strategic forces is broken.  The leadership’s rush to a new strategic arms agreement is only reducing Russia’s security.
  • The OPK continues to be destroyed.  Defense factories in Saratov have closed.  Remaining plants get financing only in late spring or summer each year.
  • The Defense Ministry has not thought out its reforms of the army in the American mold.  The combat possibilities of Russia’s brigades are less than those of the formations and units of the ‘probable enemy’ [they really think the U.S. and Russia will go head-to-head?].
  • ‘Sergeantization’ [i.e. officer cuts and efforts to create professional NCOs] of the army means its enfeeblement.  There isn’t a sergeant with an intermediate specialized education [i.e. vocational high school diploma] who can replace an officer from a higher command or engineering school.  Promising contract-sergeants 20-30,000 ruble pay after training only adds extra tension to their relations with officers.
  • Military pensions have fallen to the level of pay for the least qualified workers, and below the subsistence minimum in many cases.
  • Military wives have not received social guarantees to compensate for their inability to work in many garrisons.

They want all these problems rectified, of course, but want to start with firing Serdyukov and his team.

The tension over what they’ve termed ‘sergeantization’ is interesting. 

In the Defense Ministry’s view, officers who’ve been cut, or turned into sergeants themselves, either weren’t needed or weren’t performing officer work or supervising troops.  So officers have been cut, and those that remain will really be officers with real units to command.  Some of them will get premium pay to reward them for now, and, from 2012, much higher base pay, for example, maybe 60,000 rubles for a lieutenant.  Meanwhile, as the Defense Ministry sees it, there won’t be any problem with newly-minted professional sergeants entering the ranks and earning higher pay [which still won’t approach that of officers].

The KPRF has an alternate scenario for the future.  It sees many officers, who were needed, put out of the service and replaced by some poorly trained contract sergeants who will earn more than before.  Two-thirds of officers don’t get premium pay for now, and the KPRF is probably skeptical that greatly increased pay for all remaining officers will be actually be delivered in 2012.  The future it sees has a mass of officers and sergeants, not differentiated by much of anything, including pay.  While the officer-NCO interaction was long ago worked out in Western armies, it’s still a troubling vision for an army in the throes of major structural changes and lacking a professional NCO tradition.

KPRF Ramped Up for Defenders Day

This came from the KPRF.ru site on Saturday.  Instead of МО for Министерство обороны in the upper left, they’ve put it as МебельтОрг or furniture sales, making light of Serdyukov’s background in the furniture business.

The bottom says, “Serdyukov’s Plan is the Destruction of the Armed Forces!  We’ll Save the Army, We’ll Save Russia!”