Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 16

The chairman of the State Duma’s Budget Committee, Mikhail Zadornov, yesterday told a Moscow press conference that there was no article on the strength of the armed forces in the draft 1997 budget because the government would not tell the legislators how many personnel were under arms. "How can one talk about a military reform," he asked, "if we do not know what we are going to reform?" (Interfax, January 22)

There have been two conflicting theories about the actual strength of the Russian military: that it is considerably more or considerably less than the nominal 1.7 million authorized strength. Recently, Russian television suggested that many experts leaned toward the former position and thought that the much ballyhooed talk of reducing the military to 1.5 or 1.2 million was merely an exercise in getting rid of "dead souls"–i.e., eliminating empty slots from the army’s personnel rolls. (MTV, January 11) Zadornov represents the other school. He said that deputies were surprised to learn that the armed forces had "bloated considerably" and would like to hear an explanation.

Zadornov’s complaint shows that there is still much to do in order to establish true democratic and civilian oversight of Russia’s armed forces, Defense Minister Igor Rodionov’s recent transition to "civilian" status notwithstanding. Hiding the true size of the military breeds corruption within the armed forces, discourages those who would like to see that Russia’s defenders get a square deal, and fans suspicions among Russia’s neighbors.

Russian Police Corruption is Publicized…