With the expressed purpose of combating rising crime in the Russian armed forces, the Duma’s defense committee has prepared a draft law that would both create an independent military police force and greatly strengthen the Federal Security Service’s (FSB) crime-fighting role in the military. According to defense committee chairman general Lev Rokhlin, more than 5,300 servicemen have killed and some 39,000 wounded in criminal actions within the military since 1992. Calling the army a giant killing machine, Rokhlin says the draft law envisions a powerful police force (one policeman for each 100 soldiers) that, as subordinate directly to the president, would be independent not only of local commanders but also of the military chain of command as a whole. Relevant police officials would even have a say in the appointments of officers to new posts, and the police force would be funded separately from the armed forces. Military police and military prosecutors would be organized on a territorial principle.
According to Rokhlin, who has become notorious recently for charges of corruption leveled at the military leaders, the FSB would also be employed "to its full extent" in helping military prosecutors and police prevent and investigate crimes. In this capacity the FSB would "not have to answer to any of the other law-enforcement agencies," Rokhlin said. (Rabochaya tribuna, July 7)
Rokhlin’s description of the prevalence of crime in the armed forces has been seconded by Russia’s chief military prosecutor. Valentin Panichev said yesterday in a Russian daily that "numerous abuses of authority and misappropriation of military property have been uncovered in practically all [Russia’s] military districts and fleets." He described embezzlement, theft, and the squandering of funds as "rampant," and suggested that such crimes have been contributing factors in the starvation deaths of servicemen and in epidemic-like outbreaks of infectious diseases at military bases. He also suggested that corruption has allowed organized crime groups to operate widely in the military. (Rossiiskie vesti, July 10)
Communists and Nationalists Try to Unite.