More than 400 Russian Officers Convicted in 2008

Over 400 Russian military officers were convicted of criminal offenses in 2008, army prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky reports in an interview with the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper (Rus).  The offending officers included 76 base commanders, and around 300 were senior staff, including 20 generals.

Fridinsky told the paper that the total cost from corruption in the Russian army was estimated at over two billion rubles ($56.8 or €44.1 million) in 2008.  Two thirds of crimes involving corruption were committed by the officer corps, and crimes on the part of highly ranked officers increased by a third over the previous year.  A large share of criminal acts likely remain unnoticed and unprosecuted.

Some recent scandals in the armed forces include a large-scale plot involving employees of the Ministry of Defense’s central office.  The swindle, revealed in September, involved selling rocket fuel to companies at 40 times less than market value, listing it as unusable.  The same bureaucrats would then buy back the propellant at the market rate.  According to Fridinsky, this particular scheme cost the treasury some 430 million rubles ($12.2 or €9.5 million).

A further eight criminal cases were launched against officers in the ground forces central command.  The group allegedly embezzled funds allocated to provide housing for active officers, at a total cost of around 250 million rubles ($7.1 or €5.5 million).  Another housing scandal involving leading facilities personnel, including general-lieutenant Sergei Dvuluchansky and colonel Boris Sigida came to light in late 2008 (Rus).

In Chechnya, a group of officers was found to have stolen 102 million rubles ($2.9 or €2.2 million) designated for paying taxes.  Fridinsky notes that 46 million were recovered, and that the investigation was ongoing.

Many of the other military crimes of 2008 involved smaller sums or did not involve fraud or embezzlement.  Twenty individuals, for instance, were charged with driving other soldiers to commit suicide.

In total, around 20,000 crimes were reported, around the same as in 2007.