Tag Archives: MChS

New Deputy Defense Minister

General-Colonel Pavel Popov

General-Colonel Pavel Popov

On 7 November, President Vladimir Putin appointed General-Colonel Pavel Anatolyevich Popov to be a Deputy Minister of Defense.  Popov had been an assistant to Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu.

Popov’s the latest in a series of Ministry of Emergency Situations (MChS) generals to come to the Defense Ministry.  They all served alongside Shoygu for many years.

Popov’s page is up on Mil.ru.  But his bio is better on the MChS site.  The 56-year-old Popov was commissioned an army lieutenant in 1978.  He served in the GSFG and the Far East MD before switching to Civil Defense in 1990.  He headed a couple MChS regional centers as well as the Civil Defense Academy before becoming a deputy to Shoygu at MChS in 2008.

Popov specialized in C2 and developed the crisis command and control center at MChS, according to Izvestiya.  He’ll replace departed Dmitriy Chushkin, who had responsibility for C2 issues.

As Shoygu’s assistant, Popov was already responsible for standing up the new National Command and Control Center for State Defense (NTsUOG).

Overall, Shoygu now has two first deputies and eight deputies.

Golts on Shoygu’s Tenure (Part II)

Shevtsova Sporting the "Office Suit" with Four General's Stars

Shevtsova Sporting the “Office Suit” with Four General’s Stars

Continuing with Golts’ Ogonek article, “From Reforms to Uniforms.”

“XXI century style”

“It stands to reason that deeply patriotic content received as a result of regular and repeated performances of the anthem require corresponding forms. Uniforms that is. Shoygu decided to dress all MOD, other staff and management employees in so-called office suits. The minister, his subordinates say, came to the conclusion that wearing a woolen jacket in summer is uncomfortable. So it was decided to sew a uniform reminiscent of the one MChS officers wear.”

“And so now not only the military, but civilian employees of the MOD will have to wear the office suit. Not only that, these same office suits come with shoulderboards. Now every civilian worker has to wear shoulderboards with stars corresponding to his bureaucratic rank. So, at the tank ‘biathlon’ competitions (incidentally, yet another of the minister’s well-known inventions) Deputy Defense Minister Tatyana Shevtsova appeared with four stars on her shoulderboards corresponding to army general rank. And Deputy Minister Anatoliy Antonov, who’s spent his entire life in the diplomatic arena, currently sports general-colonel’s shoulderboards.”

“This redressing is hardly the innocent whim it might appear to be. Really it’s a continuation of that line which began when Shoygu himself donned a general’s uniform at the moment of his appointment as minister of defense. In this logic the Ministry of Defense is not simply the military department, it’s the department where military men command and give orders. And civilian officials turn up there only in the extreme case when they can’t get along without them or there is reluctance to spend money on big salaries to officers. As a result they let civilian employees know that they are not quite military. But cadre officers can’t but experience irritation when civilian bureaucrats receive ‘for nothing’ stars very similar to those which they earned through blood and long years of service.”

“Behind all this is an obvious unwillingness to understand that civilian bureaucrats and servicemen have principally different missions. Civilian bureaucrats are needed to translate the political will of the country’s leadership into the language of military orders, to give the army its missions, to provide the Armed Forces essential financial and material resources, and also armaments. The military themselves have to be occupied with strategic planning and organizing combat training. If those same military men determine threats and missions and are also occupied with material support and financing, this unavoidably will lead to threats multiplying several fold.”

“It seems Sergey Shoygu, an outstanding administrator, to his misfortune ended up somewhere with Dmitriy Rogozin and caught a virus from him which leads the ill person to flamboyant initiatives. Remember the proposals about producing military toys at OPK enterprises, the advertisement of weapons by aged Hollywood stars, and the merger of space and aviation industries? It seems the chief of the military department has set off along the same road.”

“It occurs that the nation’s most popular minister turned up today in a complex situation, from which some organizer talents are clearly not enough to escape. The development of the Armed Forces has gotten to the point of bifurcation. It’s more or less obvious that the missions set down by Serdyukov’s reformers were not fulfilled. Permanent readiness formations exist, it seems, only in the victorious reports of military leaders. Due to the shortage of servicemen in brigades they’re forced to form only permanent readiness battalions which are fully manned. It’s obvious that manning the Armed Forces to one million servicemen in six months as the [supreme] commander-in-chief has demanded is impossible in principle (the single rational explanation for joining MChS to the MOD — an attempt to fulfill the president’s order by bureaucratic means).”

“It’s just as obvious that we aren’t getting any kind of rearmament — the conclusion of a large contract for the production of 37 MiG-35 fighters was just put off to 2016. The main reason is that industry is incapable of meeting a contract. Not everything is OK with the resolution of social problems. Despite promises, the housing line grows, and those who have the right to receive it are not at all in rapture at the idea of being given money instead of apartments.”

“There’s a complex choice in front of Shoygu. It’s possible to go along the path of Serdyukov’s reforms. It would mean honestly announcing that forming million-man Armed Forces is impossible in principle, and attempting to convince the political leadership of the necessity of limiting the army’s size to 600-700 thousand servicemen. And then concentrating on the selection of the quantity of contractees necessary to form fully volunteer Armed Forces. Meanwhile, it’s necessary to engage the defense industry in grievous battles to force it to produce what the army needs and not what it wants. However, all this would place Army General Shoygu in opposition to the Russian military lobby, exactly as it did Serdyukov who is reviled by everyone.”

“The other path is counter-reformation. Agree with the generals’ demands for the return of two-, or better three-year conscript service, return to the mass mobilization army concept, allow VPK [the government’s Military-Industrial Commission] directors to waste the defense budget. But in this case too it’s necessary to grapple with serious conflicts. Not with generals, but with society.”

“Shoygu, however, doesn’t want to lose his ratings. Therefore he’s trying to avoid any conflict. But how do you remain the center of public attention and visible while avoiding fundamental decisions? Here the initiatives about office suits, demob albums and anthem performances go into motion. The danger is the achievements of Serdyukov’s reforms, attained with such difficulty, will go away… in anthem singing.”

Golts on Shoygu’s Tenure (Part I)

Aleksandr Golts is a formidable critic of Russia’s Defense Ministry.  If only the  MOD had a proponent to match wits with him.

Sergey Shoygu

Sergey Shoygu

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.

Everyone in Uniform

Under Sergey Shoygu, the Ministry of Defense looks more and more like MChS.

Shoygu’s apparently decided to put his senior civilian officials in uniform.

Tsalikov and Borisov Sport New Civilian Uniforms With Light Colored Epaulettes (photo: Mil.ru)

Tsalikov and Borisov Sport New Civilian Uniforms With Light Colored Epaulettes (photo: Mil.ru)

Deputy Defense Ministers Ruslan Tsalikov and Yuriy Borisov were photographed in their new apparel during last week’s conference on the results of the most recent surprise readiness evaluation.

Tsalikov gets to wear four army general stars given his title as “Actual Privy Councillor 1st Class.”

At the tank biathlon in Alabino, Tatyana Shevtsova and Anatoliy Antonov were caught wearing theirs at the right edge of this photo.

Antonov and Shevtsova in Uniform (photo: Rbc.ru)

Antonov and Shevtsova in Uniform (photo: Rbc.ru)

Like Tsalikov, Shevtsova (who somehow managed to hang on after Serdyukov’s demise) also wears four stars based on her civilian rank.

It looks a bit like either the USAF or the starship Enterprise has come to visit.

At any rate, Izvestia wrote about the new uniforms.  It notes the zippered jackets look like MChS, and are supposed to be more comfortable work-a-day attire for civilians and military men alike.  But one anonymous senior officer said the material feels like overalls, and he’s generally not won over at this point.


So, Do You Have a Girlfriend? (photo: Izvestiya / Gleb Shchelkunov)

So, Do You Have a Girlfriend? (photo: Izvestiya / Gleb Shchelkunov)

A strange and ironic title.  “Do Ask, Do Tell” might be appropriate too.

By chance, two recent articles focused on the Main Directorate for Personnel Work (GURLS or ГУРЛС).

Information at Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye’s disposal indicates Defense Minister Shoygu will reorganize GURLS into a Cadre Policy Department (DKP or ДКП), like what he had at MChS.  The change would encompass everyone working with personnel issues, military education, and psychological evaluation and treatment.

Author Vladimir Mukhin concludes the Defense Ministry’s personnel structures haven’t been effective during the entire post-Soviet period.  But former Defense Minister Serdyukov, in particular, had little use for personnel work.  He dismissed the last chief of GURLS, and left the post vacant.  The chief before was convicted for bribery and sent to jail for seven years. 

Serdyukov cut personnel work officers by a factor of three, sold off cultural-educational institutions in large garrisons, and was prepared to privatize major facilities reportedly worth “several billion dollars” — the Central Academic Theater of the Russian Army, the Cultural Center and Museum of the Armed Forces.

The article in Izvestiya is much more interesting. 

Its headline says Russian officers are obligated to determine the sexual orientation of their soldiers (among other things).

This comes from “methodological recommendations” codified by GURLS at the end of last year.  They cover the spectrum of psychological work with young soldiers, from counteracting “barracks rackets” to national [ethnic] and religious issues.

As they put it, “disorderly sexual relations” qualify as a sign of nervous-psychological instability on par with alcohol addiction, running away from home, suicidal tendencies, and stealing.

Officer-educators (officer-indoctrinators) should get to know a soldier, ask about his sexual experience, if he has a girlfriend, and whether her fidelity is important to him.

A physical inspection of the soldier to look for tattoos is recommended:

“The reasons for having tattoos could attest to a low cultural and educational level.  If the influence of external motivations is established, for example persuasion, coercion, then this will attest to the compliance of the young man, his inclination to submit to another’s will.”

“. . . knowledge of tattoo symbols will help the officer best organize work with a specific individual.  Special attention should go to tattoos on areas of the face, the genitals, the buttocks.  They can attest not only to specific personal attitudes, but also to possible sexual deviations.”

A military psychologist from GURLS tells the paper the army remains a bastion of traditional views on sexuality:

“In closed military collectives, sexual minorities introduce unnecessary tension, negatively influence the moral atmosphere.  Soldiers begin thinking not about their service, but about extraneous things.”

An assistant battalion commander for personnel work says he can’t talk with every young soldier; this is up to company and platoon commanders.  But the perplexed officer asked rhetorically:

“Will they inspect genitals for tattoos?  And how do you ask about the first sexual experience?  ‘When did you try a woman for the first time, greenhorn?  Answer straight, don’t weasel.'”

He claimed he had one gay contractee who came to the army looking for more partners.

Other officers told Izvestiya they aren’t in a hurry to follow GURLS’ guidance. 

Before Serdyukov introduced the “new profile” reforms, companies had deputy commanders for indoctrination work, and battalions still had a staff psychologist.  Now there’s only the deputy battalion commander for personnel work, and companies have four officers — the company commander and three platoon commanders.



Yesterday Russia and allied military forces in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO or ODKB) began a series of exercise events which will run until the beginning of October.

Operational-strategic exercise Tsentr-2011 will involve Russian forces and Belorussian, Kyrgyz, Kazakh, and Armenian sub-units in different training scenarios focused on ensuring security on the Central Asian axis, according to Nezavisimaya gazeta.

Twelve thousand personnel, 50 aircraft, 1,000 vehicles and other equipment, and ten combat and support ships will participate under the direction of Russian General Staff Chief, Army General Nikolay Makarov, according to Mil.ru.  Russian forces will include one army brigade as well as operational groups from other militarized agencies — the MVD, FSB, FSO, and MChS.    

Mil.ru said the exercise theme is “Preparation and Employment of Inter-Service Troop (Force) Groupings in the Stabilization of a Situation and Conduct of Military Actions on the Central Asian Strategic Axis.”

NG cites Makarov who said the exercise will focus on “localizing internal as well as external conflicts.” Extrapolating from his earlier comments about North Africa and the Middle East, the paper claims he wants the army to be ready to perform internal police functions like the Syrian Army.

Mil.ru puts it more technically saying the exercise will improve command and staff skills in controlling troops in the transition to wartime, in planning special operations, and in organizing long-distance troop regroupings.  Exercise phases will include special operations to localize an armed conflict in a crisis region, and joint actions by ground and naval force groupings, according to the Defense Ministry website.

The exercise will consist of different evolutions, with different partners, in various locations:

  • The Ground Troops, MVD, and FSB Spetsnaz, writes NG, will practice liberating a town from terrorists and rebels on the Chebarkul training range. 
  • At Gorokhovets, Russia’s 20th Army and Belorussian forces are playing a series of tactical actions against enemy airborne assaults, specops, and “illegal armed formations” in their rear areas [under a separate exercise called Union Shield-2011 or Shchit Soyuza-2011]. 
  • Russian forces are training with Kazakhs on the Caspian, and at Kazakhstan’s Oymasha range.
  • A command-staff exercise of the ODKB’s Collective Rapid Reaction Forces (KSOR) will be conducted at the Lyaur range in Tajikistan.
  • In Kyrgyzstan, the ODKB’s Central Asian Region Collective Rapid Deployment Forces (KSBR TsAR) will conduct a tactical exercise against “illegal armed formations.”

NG sums Tsentr-2011 up with a quote from Vladimir Popov:

“The Russian leadership, although late, has come to the conclusion that the successful resolution of military security issues, including the internal security of allied countries, is possible only through the creation and use of coalition troop groupings in the post-Soviet space.   This is correct, and there’s no need to fear this.”

Developing some collective military intervention capability doesn’t answer questions about real-world conditions where it might be employed.  The questions proceed mainly (but not entirely) from Kyrgyzstan’s experience.  First, will a threatened regime ask for ODKB assistance and under what circumstances?  Second, will the alliance or any allies answer a member-state’s call?  Training and exercises are good, but ultimately not much use unless such political issues are resolved.

Lieutenant Colonel Biront’s Defense

Sounding somewhat dazed, Lieutenant Colonel Viktor Biront told Life News his story about how and why the naval aviation depot near Kolomna burned.  According to Biront, higher authorities were completely informed about his situation days before the facility burned, but ignored repeated requests for assistance.

Biront says firefighters worked to save expensive dachas near his base, but weren’t as willing to help him.

According to Biront, the base he commanded for only three months before the fire had just lost 19 officers and 36 warrants as a result of Defense Minister Serdyukov’s cuts in both personnel categories.  He also lost his firefighting unit in February.

Biront describes how he managed to trade his car to get use of a fire engine.

Reports of the value of property lost have varied widely, but Biront indicates they saved most of what was worth saving.

Here’s the interview verbatim: 

“The lieutenant colonel dismissed because of the fire relates how he and his sailors saved the air base from fire for 10 days.”

“Relieved of duty as military base commander after the big fire, 43-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Viktor Biront tells in an exclusive interview with Life News how he and his subordinates saved the military unit from the fire.”

“The morning of 29 July the lieutenant colonel went to the perimeter and posted people on the edge of the burning forest.”

“’Everyone worked in the forest – both civilians and military,’ said Viktor Ivanovich.  ‘I was there also, only leaving periodically to call and request help.  The chiefs of Civil Defense and Emergency Situations came to evaluate the situation.  Then a strong wind started – the gusts were nearly 20 meters per second – and drove everything from the depth of the forest.  It was terrible to be in the fiery pockets.  Here, look – hands, feet all burned.  We stood on the perimeter, still 1.5 kilometers from the facility.  What a terrible picture – the fire was a wall in the forest.  I gave the order to evacuate.  I was last to leave there, because I was shouting to the last so the boys wouldn’t die there.’”

“According to Viktor Biront, the firemen arrived only two hours after the call.”

“’It’s as if we don’t exist for the city:  neither MChS, nor police . . . no one was with us,’ said the lieutenant colonel.  ‘They saved 1.5 million dollar dachas here.  There were both cordons and police there.  The first help came after several hours – no matter how much I called, how much I asked.  Only after a couple hours a firefighting helicopter flew in.  We can’t get through there – everything’s burning, everything’s blazing . . .  I quickly recounted the people.  Then equipment came from Moscow, and by night a deputy defense minister arrived.  It was impossible to go in.  Sailors were simply suffocating in gas masks – they were saturated with smoke.  I gave the command to take them off . . .’”

“The massive fire that destroyed property worth billions of rubles was preceded by 10 days of struggle with the fire.  And over these 10 days, the big bosses, despite all requests, didn’t take any clear decision about how to save the air base.  In fact, saving it depended only on 40 sailors and their commander.  115 hectares – almost three per man.”

“’I’ve been in the position for three months, they gave me this unit in May in a new composition, after reductions,’ Biront says.  ‘They cut 19 officers, 36 warrants.  In all 40 sailors remained, eleven sergeants and four officers – and this is all the people for such a large unit.  Plus civilian personnel whom I treated with great understanding.  I couldn’t send female clerks into the battle with the fire because the average age of my workers is 58-60.  The pay is low, 5-7 thousand, only female pensioners who’ve worked here a long time do this work.  They also helped as they could.  Men came into the forest with axes and shovels – tried to stop the flames.’”

“’The forest near the unit burned for 10 days,’ Viktor Ivanovich continues.  ‘I turned to them repeatedly, high officials came, had meetings here, made plans, a certain Mr. Shumeyev – deputy for security, an ecologist came here.  The sailors stood two days on the perimeter, not allowing the fire to spread.  I called Civil Defense and Emergency Situations.  Sometimes they gave help, but sometimes they refused.  I didn’t have my own firefighting team – they eliminated it in February of this year.  There was simply an ad hoc firefighting team, they dug themselves in and fought by all means.  When I saw this was all very difficult – I put my non-TO&E car to use, I had to give it to the firemen.  Generally, it’s use is forbidden, we used it because I had to pay money.  They brought a fire engine and handed it over there.  I secured a driver, whom we used to the fullest extent.  We hosed, knocked down flames, in general, battling though I didn’t have specialists.  We had to teach our officers who were extinguishing the fire.’”

“’In principle, we coped with the fire the first ten days,’ says the dismissed commander.  ‘I reported to Moscow by phone, by morning reports, by faxes.  I asked for help.  One time they gave equipment.  A KamAZ came from Shcherbinka from the airport, poured out two cisterns and went back.  Local civilians were all in action – villages burning, the government likewise, then they left 14 castoff portable fire extinguishers, literally the day before the conflagration.  They took them from the unit two kilometers into the forest.’”

“They didn’t manage to save the base.  Viktor Biront learned about his dismissal on the television news. At this moment he’s again writing a statement in the prosecutor’s office.  In this document he indicated that they managed to save property worth 40 million rubles.”

“’My people saved the new equipment.  The burned up property there had expired service lives and required repairs.  But then everything was finished, all closed, but they told us we were all morons generally.  Here it’s burning, and they are crawling through hell and saving equipment.  I’m not defending myself, I’ve told it like it is.  In theory in three months I should have cleared out everything that grew up in this forest over 60 years.  Because in 60 years no one ever did anything there.’”

President’s Tough Talk to Defense Minister Serdyukov

Medvedev at Security Council Meeting

Let’s look at President Dmitriy Medvedev’s criticism of the Navy and the Defense Ministry, his warnings and dismissals of some Navy officers.  It looks somewhat like a script torn from Vladimir Putin’s ‘tough guy’ handbook. 

Kommersant recounted the details of what sparked the President’s ire.  On 29 July, a fire burned the 2512th Central Aviation-Equipment Base of Naval Aviation and Air Defense near Kolomna, several dozen kilometers southeast of Moscow.  The Prosecutor’s Investigative Committee (SK) said the blaze destroyed the staff headquarters, finance unit, club, two bays of vehicle parking, 13 warehouses with various items of aviation equipment, and 17 open equipment storage stands with vehicles on them. 

Medvedev addressed yesterday’s Security Council meeting: 

“I instructed the Defense Ministry to take part in the firefighting effort and help to protect the civilian population, but sadly, in a number of cases, the ministry has proved unable to protect itself.  A fire took place in Moscow Oblast that has caused very serious damage.  The ministry has already carried out a preliminary internal investigation, and the investigation will continue of course.  The evidence so far indicates that this is quite simply a case of neglect of duty and criminal negligence, when personnel failed to bring under control a fire that was not spreading particularly fast, and no one even knew where the base’s commanders had gone.  I have therefore taken the following decision.”      

“Regarding the Navy’s senior command:  Navy CINC Admiral Vysotskiy has been warned about not fulfilling his duties; Chief of the Navy Main Staff and First Deputy CINC  Tatarinov has been warned about not fulfilling his duties; Deputy Chief of Navy Rear Services Sergeyev is dismissed; Chief of Naval Aviation Kuklev is dismissed; Deputy Chief of Naval Aviation Colonel Rasskazov is dismissed; Acting Deputy Chief of Naval Aviation Rear Services Monakov is dismissed; the chief of base 2512 is dismissed.”  

“I am also instructing the Defense Ministry to dismiss a number of other officers and personnel for disciplinary violations.  If anything similar happens in other places and other departments I will do exactly the same again, and without the slightest regret.” 

After discussing the fire situation with other ministers, Medvedev turned back to Defense Minister Serdyukov later in the meeting: 

“Now the Defense Ministry.  I already announced certain decisions.  The Minister needs to take everything under direct control.  Conduct a meeting today with the Ministry’s leadership and say that, if anything else like this burns, everyone will answer for it.” 

“Are there any concerns about the current situation?” 

Serdyukov responded saying plans have been made, operational groups established at all command levels.  Personnel and equipment have been put at the disposal of MChS and regional authorities.  And he noted that Deputy Defense Minister, General-Colonel Dmitriy Bulgakov is his point man for the fire emergency. 

Medvedev chided Serdyukov because the Vladimir Oblast governor had to go to the Defense Ministry for help instead of suitably empowered local commanders. 

Serdyukov said ‘corresponding’ orders have gone to all commanders and garrisons.  He continued with the Defense Ministry’s support of MChS — 11,000 servicemen, thousands of pieces of equipment, 33 kilometers of water pipelines laid in four rayons.  After Bulgakov’s visit to the Federal Nuclear Research Center in Sarov yesterday, another two battalions and special equipment were allocated to efforts there.  Serdyukov said another 28,000 troops can be brought into firefighting in the Central Federal District within 3-12 days. 

Serdyukov concluded: 

“We are taking all steps in full measure, we reinforced all facilities (there are 164 of them, but in immediate areas where there are fires there are 22) behind every responsible commander.  We are conducting all measures there:  increased volumes of water reserves for extinguishing fires, equipment has been brought in, extra personnel, everything literally transferred into a barracks condition, therefore all necessary steps for this, in fact, have been accomplished.  Therefore I submit that this sad incident that happened at base 2512 will not be repeated.” 

Kommersant helped out with a full run-down on the ranks and names of the lesser known Navy officers:  Rear-Admiral Sergey Sergeyev, General-Major Nikolay Kuklev, Colonel Sergey Rasskazov, Colonel Sergey Monakov, and Base Chief Colonel Viktor Biront. 

RIA Novosti covered Serdyukov’s firing of other officers at the base.  They included:  Deputy Base Chief Major R. Gidayatov; Deputy Chief Main Engineer Lieutenant Colonel V. Marchenko; Support and Security Company Commander Major A. Yermolov; Chief of the Material-Technical Support Department V. Karandak; and Chief of the 7th Storage Department V. Melsisidenkov. 

Today the SK said a criminal negligence case has been initiated.  Gazeta ru said, per usual Russian practice, top officials have blamed lower-ranking ones, in this case Navy officers, allowing the ‘untouchables’ to demonstrate their toughness and avoid responsibility.  Kommersant noted that the warnings for Vysotskiy and Tatarinov are just a step from dismissal.  But history shows other general and flag officers have gotten such warnings and still moved forward in their careers. 

Gzt.ru broached the subject of whether this could provide Medvedev an occasion to purge the Defense Ministry and fill it with his ‘own people.’ Konstantin Sivkov and Aleksandr Konovalov agree that he could use this opportunity.  But one has to ask, does this make sense in the scheme of tandem politics?  Medvedev has changed few in the cast inherited from Putin, and he’s very unlikely to start with a stolid Team Putin guy like Serdyukov.  Especially when he appears to be the first man to make some real headway in fixing the post-Soviet military.