But Russia’s regular army is not the only military force demanding funds. Less than a month after the Defense Ministry produced figures demonstrating that it was the worst financed of Russia’s "power ministries" (see Monitor, September 19), the country’s Federal Border Service (FBS) on October 12 tried to claim that honor for itself. According to border forces director Andrei Nikolayev, the FSB has in 1996 received only 19 percent of the funding it requires for normal functioning, and only 51 percent of the funding actually earmarked for it in the federal budget. "Other power structures are in a better position," Nikolayev said, "including the Defense Ministry, which has received 54 percent of its funding, and the Interior Ministry, with 62 percent." The FSB has received no money for the purchase of food in August and September, Nikolayev added, and has been reduced to logging wood, hunting, and fishing to support itself. (Itar-Tass, October 12)
Nikolayev’s remarks come amid a bruising debate over Russia’s 1997 state budget. They follow a series of accusations by top military leaders — including Defense Minister Igor Rodionov and Security Council secretary Aleksandr Lebed — alleging that Russia’s regular military forces are being slowly starved to death by the favoritism shown to the country’s other "power structures" in the dispensation of state funds. In examining this issue, one Russian newspaper recently quoted defense experts as estimating that there are now more than 2 million troops serving in some twenty agencies not subordinated to the Defense Ministry; the regular army itself is believed to have less than 1.7 million soldiers. According to the same report, these non-Defense Ministry agencies also have access to considerable secret funding and — thanks to shrewd Kremlin politicking — have managed to avoid the reductions and restructuring that have been foisted upon the regular army. The report suggested that the October 4 meeting of Russia’s Defense Council did little to change that situation. (Obshchaya gazeta, October 10-16. See Monitor, October 7)
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