By Svetlana Andreyeva
Recently, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin dismissed the Minister of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov. The man who was appointed instead of him is Sergey Shoygu. For many years, Mr. Shoygu used to be Russia’s Minister for Emergency Situations. In May 2012, he was appointed the Governor of the Moscow Region.
President Putin says that he dismissed Mr. Serdyukov because under him, the Ministry of Defense was involved in a number of financial machinations. It would be easier to investigate into these machinations if Mr. Serdyukov is not in the post, Mr. Putin believes.
In fact, scandals that had to do with the ministry’s machinations started long ago. However, every time a new scandal broke out, Mr. Serdyukov somehow managed to keep his post. He seemed to be an irremovable man.
At present, 5 criminal lawsuits have been issued against the weapons-producing company “Oboronservis”, which is subdued to the Ministry of Defense. Managers of this company are charged with machinations with realty, land and stocks. In total, the damage from these machinations is estimated to count more than 3 bln rubles (which equals to $ 94.5 bln). The most scandalous case is probably the fact that the company has sold several buildings and land plots in Moscow for much lower prices than the market ones.
“This case was probably the last drop which resulted in Mr. Serdyukov’s removal,” political analyst Pavel Danilov supposes.
“Mr. Serdyukov’s dismissal came as no shock,” Mr. Danilov says. “It was expected, although it was rather hard even for the “almighty” President Putin to sack Serdyukov, because too many high-ranking people backed him. Mr. Putin had to hold some gradual preparations for the removal of the corrupt minister. He started these preparations already in the summer.”
“There are quite a few other claims against the Ministry of Defense besides the activities of the “Oboronseris” company as well. It is known that the ministry’s officials have been involved in illegal activities at least since 2008. But now, they have already surpassed all boundaries. Their illegal activities have even started to create serious obstacles for the President.”
Besides machinations with realty, the ministry’s officials are also charged with failure of purchasing weapons for the needs of the Russian army and with negligent keeping of ammunition, which caused explosions at shell depots in a number of Russian cities and towns. As a result of these explosions, people were killed.
It may be said that a large-scale anti-corruption investigation against a man who used to be a very high-ranking official and his former subordinates is starting in Russia. Most likely, after the dismissal of Mr. Serdyukov, quite a few officials of the Russian Ministry of Defense will lose their posts as well – if not immediately, then within the next half a year.
If Mr. Serdyukov’s dismissal was expected, the fact that he was replaced with Sergey Shoygu came as a surprise – although, in some points, it was logical. Before Anatoly Serdyukov became the Minister of Defense, his only connection with the army was that he served the compulsory service in his youth, then underwent an officers’ qualification course and retired from the army as a reserve officer. After that, his jobs had to do with selling furniture and, then, he became a financier. Sergey Shoygu, at least, has the rank of a general.
Many Russians took the appointment of Sergey Shoygu as the Defense Minister very positively. When Mr. Shoygu was the Minister for Emergency Situations from 1994 till 2012, he was probably the most popular minister in Russia. Under him, the Ministry of Emergency Situations became a well-organized and a smoothly working structure, and it still remains so now that he left it.
Resignation of the RF Minister of Defence Serdyukov was expected – expert
Political scientist, editor-in-chief of the Kreml.org portal Pavel Danilin has told the Voice of Russia that Serdyukov’s Resignation was expected.
“As regards the whole current military and policing branch, Serdyukov is the most unpopular person in this sphere. And it is clear that he suffers serious, let’s say, damages to his image and at the same time his filling the post of the Minister causes serious damage to Vladimir Vladimirovich’s image. Therefore, in principle, his resignation was expected. Initially, it was difficult to remove him from the government due to a serious conflict of interests in his post. Now, the preparation for this very resignation started at the end of this summer. Already in September, it was said to be something already decided”.
Military reform needs a new breath, which will be provided by the new Defense Minister, General Director of the Center for Political Information Alexei Mukhin believes.
“The President has designated the following task to Sergey Shoygu: he should build exactly the same effective, tough chain of command, which he has built up in the Ministry of Emergency Situations, and which works even despite his taking up the post of the Governor of the Moscow region.
I think that the military reform needs a new breath, a new impulse, which the new Minister of Defense will provide.
The concept of the reform will not change. Only the accents will be arranged quite differently. Emphasis will be made on purchasing and funding the Russian defense industry. The emphasis on purchasing foreign weapons will be slightly shifted. The volume of buying will be significantly limited.
It seems to me that we are talking about a reconciliation in the Defence Ministry. The fact is that Anatoly Serdyukov has lately fallen out with so many generals that the manageability of the military department was filling everybody with misgivings.”
Putin sacks Serdyukov, appoints Shoigu new Defense Minister
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has dismissed Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and appointed Sergei Shoigu in his place.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday fired defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov, replacing him with Moscow region governor Sergei Shoigu, his spokesman said.
Serdykov was relieved of his duties so that a thorough investigation can proceed into a suspected $100 million property scam at a defence ministry holding company, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Former Moscow Region Governor Shoigu was informed about the appointment during his meeting with Putin early Tuesday.
The reshuffle will allow for a more objective inquest into affairs of the Defense Ministry, Putin said at a meeting with Shoigu, who is a General with the Russian Army. Unlike his successor, Anatoly Serdyukov was a civilian minister.
Shoigu was appointed on recommendation of PM Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said adding it was the president’s decision to relieve Sergyukov of his duties.