Crime and Military: Russia and former Yugoslavian countries

Posted in Other | 12-Sep-09 | Author: Siglinde von Lipkowsky

Soldiers march during celebrations to mark the 175th anniversary of the Alexander Column in Dvortsovaya Square in St. Petersburg September 10, 2009.

Preliminary observations
Criminality within Armed forces (AF) of Russia and ex -Yugoslavian countries is an issue of concern for NATO and EU . Nevertheless it is not sufficiently analyzed , at least not by academics . Media in Russia and in ex -Yugoslavian countries do inform general public about it , but the latter is not concerned , because criminality is accepted as a essential part of public life.

In Russia top leaders are preoccupied with the growing criminality within AF . They noticed that it is a serious burden for budget and an obstacle for the future development of the Russian military system.

In ex- Yugoslavian countries politicians do not care about the criminality within their AF and police ( at best) and take only superficially anti- criminality measures when pressured by either NATO or EU . Only USA pressures are taken into consideration , but Americans can not be everywhere all the time.

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the discussions on the subject in the academic circles. The above mentioned countries are taken just as an example. The criminality exists also in other ex -socialist countries . So a comparative criminality study could be done and thus help decision making institutions to act with some efficiency .

The first part of the paper will give facts , second will analyze " cultural origins" of the criminality within AF/ security sector. The third part will deal with the question " what to do next" .

Present situation
Media in Russia and other former socialist countries give information on the criminality within AF/ police and their connections with the organized crime. Criminals within AF/police are also well organized in what we call" criminality within institutions "

Russian chief military prosecutor - Sergej FRINDISKII - gives following statistical data: in 2004 there have been 1400 officers prosecuted and 3 ( three) admirals or generals ; in 2008 there have been 1600 officers and 20( twenty) admirals or generals. Crimes include smuggling , bribery ,violation of soldiers' rights , economic criminality ... etc. This is the visible part of the iceberg and the Defense minister Serdokov requires " operational measures" (1).

Some examples of the criminal activities include smuggling of 20 ( twenty) tons of reserve parts for missiles with the secret documentation how to use them. Value of the "business" is estimated " hundred ( sotnjami) million of dollars".

According to the Russian military security circles : " in the operation have been involved officers of the 6th air -army and a group of " citizens" of Ukraine and Byelorussia ". Nothing is disclosed about the destination or beneficiaries of the " deal". Another example is smuggling of 30 ( thirty) anti-submarine missiles and 200 ( two hundreds) bombs . Smuggling went via Tajikistan to China and has been organized by a group of Naval officers . Value of that "business" : about $18 millions.

Here are two additional examples :
- a group of officers from North Caucasus military district put in their pockets about 102 millions of rubles ( about 2.2millions euros at an exchange rate end of august 2009 ;monthly wage of a captain is about 500 Euro.)

More than 250 million of rubles have been stolen by a group of officers in the General staff in Moscow.(2) The author of the article concludes : " Army in charge of the defense of the Motherland is transformed into destructive ( razdiraemnji) criminal conglomerate of armed men who are not able to defend their country , but are a danger for the society" (3). These words seem too strong, but they are not. because Genadij Vladimirovich Gutkov deputy head of Security Commission of the Parliament( Duma) says states : " there are many honest , capable , knowledgeable officers in the AF but they do not lead the dance in the Army today " and " generals are not promoted on the basis of personal qualities"( lichnih kachestva) (4)-

In the defense industrial sector wages have not been paid to the employees for months and the workers stop working asking for their " money" -e.g. in
the naval factories in the far east.( Primorski Kraj)
It seems that Putin appointed Serdokov as Defense Minister in 2007 precisely to " to follow cash movements" in the Ministry . He is not very successful. The resistance by the military ,by the oligarchs and by the managers of the defense factories/corporations ( both state owned and private) is strong
In the former ex -Yugoslavia countries and in former Warsaw Pact countries the situation is no better at all.

In Serbia privatization of the military assets ,including real estate, is well known and Belgrade's weekly " Nedeljni Telegtraf " in numerous occasions wrote about it. The cooperation between the State officials and criminals is well known . Sometimes it is not easy to say "who's who" . Privatization of the real estate under management of the Defense Ministry is a gold-mine for the Serbian politicians and Serbian "businessmen". Each political party has its "own" business partners.
Commerce of arms and ammunition is very lucrative (5)

All police Generals ,who have been heads of Belgrade police are in prison -except one.
In Serbia the private "armies" are real forces in the country under the control of "non state actors". They legally act as so called "security agencies" . They are, according to "Politika" , more often the not, criminal organizations who "sell" protection to the corporate sector . This is a force of about 50.000( fifty thousands) former military ,police and other "inglorious warriors ". Their equipment is better than the one that have most military units or policemen. This force can be in maximum combat readiness at short notice : less than an hour.(6)

Bosnia-Herzegovina is just a"pro-forma"country composed of two"quasi states"(Federation of Bosna-Hercegovina and Republika Srpska)under a pro-consul called "high representative". Coopeation between the politicians and criminals from Serbia , Croatia and with terrorists is a public secret in Bosnia.
Before 1990, Bosna and Herzegovina had many factories producing arms and ammunitions . Some are left and they sell explosives to anyone who pays .
The control of weapons trafficking by western military and intelligence is not effective and some times they even close their eyes.
In a country as devastated by war as Bosnia it is interesting to note that density of banks per sq km is equal to the one in Geneva.

In Croatia Mesic ( President of the Republic) calls those, who in the defense Ministry of Defense are involved into procurement process for the Croatian military, "maestros".(7) The target of his attacks against "illegal business "are also two corporations "Alan" ( equivalent of RUSOBORONJI corporation ) and "Djuro Djakovic" AG. The latter sold old rocketry instead of new ones to Macedonia. This has been done simply . Managers of "Djuro Djakovic"asked Croatian Defense Ministry for old rockets which were in the military depots , arguing the impossibility to manufacture new ones, as agreed with Macedonians. The Ministry delivered!! Than " Djuro Djakovic" AG simply changed the serial numbers on the rockets and send them to Macedonia as the newly manufactured weaponry.

Macedonia accepted and after a year or two discovered the reality, i.e. after a change of Government ?? !! Newly appointed Macedonian Defense Minister said that the military were responsible, because they did not check the received goods- The "business" price is not disclosed ; all we know is that there were five thousands rockets.(8)
Macedonia is a divided country between Slaves and Albanians . Albanians are not involved into military criminality stricto sensu because they do not control Macedonian armed forces, but they are active in arms trafficking .

For Blagoje GRAHOVAC,(9) Balkan is a strategic zone in Europe, where Russian , local and south American mafias establish their operational basis for their activities in Europe. They can do it because they profit an implicit benediction of local politicians and incompetence of EU institutions.(10)
To sum up one can quote Belgrade's weekly "Nedeljni Telegraf" which writes :"Politics is continuation of business by other means"

To better understand the above mentioned facts it is useful to see the social and the "cultural" origins of the widespread criminality in all former socialist countries.

Rerum causas cognoscere
Media, analysts , politicians academics etc... both in the West and in the East of Europe speak about criminality in general and the criminality within A.F. as a phenomenon which appeared as almost from nowhere. This analysis is not correct. Corruption and criminality have been widespread during the communist regime. Then, they have been the privilege of Party , police , military and state nomenclatures , and criminals connected to one of the above mentioned apparatus. ( managers of the corporations are included in one of the above mentioned apparatus .... like many University professors specially those who taught criminal law and economics, judges and prosecutors )
In the period before 1990, every now and then a Communist Party plenum issued a condemnation of activities which tarnish Party's reputation and called members to be vigilant, even some low level apparatchiks were demoted , seldom jailed but often send to University to study history , political science , law or economic and than to teach.

In Russia criminality has been wide-spread . So, e. g. Breznjev's son in law , General Curbanov, deputy interior minister, has been jailed after the death of Breznjev.
Andropov tried to curb the criminality within the institutions but without success. At the level of Soviet republics of Central Asia and Caucasus corruption and bribary have been the way of life from the very beginning of the Soviet Union, like before 1914. (11)
About the criminality within NKVD/KGB Alexander Vladimirovic Vlasov - Soviet Interior minister - told the Zagreb( Croatia) weekly "Start , that since 1983 tens of thousands of members of police have been fired for abuse of power. He added that illegal activities existed since 30's. (12)

In Yugoslavia the criminality existed like in the Soviet Union . In his memoirs Alexander Rankovic admits openly that Yugoslav government had secret accounts in Switzerland . The money came from the " authorized smuggling". Money on those accounts has been used , inter allia, for the personal needs of the Party leaders.(13).
Big corporations from all Yugoslav republics like Ina ( Petrol), Genex , Astra , Naftagaz, Energoinvest,... etc served for criminal purposes of the federal and state governments in Yugoslavia. Milosevic worked for Naftagaz , some other prime ministers after 1990 worked for Astra or have been employed by Genex. Many of oligarchs/tajkuns have been employees of those companies
In Yugoslavia and in the Soviet Union the Military have been State within the State. They had their own commercial and industrial sector outside the state control ....
Political leaders of the period after 1990 are products of this "political culture". Russia entered into chaos ( well controlled) of the years of Yelcin and Yugoslavia in the chaos of the war in the 90s. Members of nomenclatures
went into "business", because they had privileged information. And they had files of the political police about activities of everybody before 1990 . Thus it

is easy to blackmail any policemen , military , politicians or other businessman and force him to enter into illegal business . Many of former police and military joint directly or indirectly organized crime .

It is of interest to note ,that two journalists( one is Serbian and the other is Croat) best informed on the military and intelligence matters , both very close to former Yugoslav political police and military intelligence never write on the criminality within the police and the military neither in Serbia nor in Croatia.
There is a coaltion between the politicians , military, police and "businessmen" and the motto is " don't rock the boat". This is one of the reasons why military reforms will take time to start . Measure of time is" pay back period" of the invested money , efforts, risks taken , etc .
In this context the reform of the military wanted by Putin and Medvedev can not go ahead because if many officers leave their uniforms they will be recruited by criminals . Those who remain in the office will be useful to the criminals ...Many Russian gangsters and almost all Serbian criminals have Croatian passports.
Politicians in Serbia and Croatia do not care about criminality in their police and armed forces because they are their protectors and partners in the business .
What is the future ?

It is obvious that the Balkans will remain the " Latin America" of the EU. There are lot of business to do and for western experts lot of money to earn on various missions useful and fruitless at the same time. But what if the events go out of control ? Those countries are already cyber paradise and rear service for crooks. Criminals are not prosecuted because judges and prosecutors are corrupt and are part of the criminal networks. On top of that they can be easily blackmailed , because files exist about their activities before 1990 and are in the hands of the "business community".
The Code of Criminal procedures is crime friendly in all former socialist countries . The first serious measure of the anti-crime policy should be the reform of Codes of Criminal procedures , Criminal codes and other criminal legislations which is not in the criminal code. Under present legislations criminality is lucrative and a low risk activity.

In other words the situation in ex -Yu and other Balkan countries, regarding criminality in general and within the AF and police in particular, is very serious , but for the moment, not dangerous for NATO or EU. The people in Bruxelles believe that they can keep the events under control. How long ?? In any case there is no moral authority in the former socialist countries ( Poland is perhaps an exception .....) to fill the spiritual vacuum in which populations live .
In Russia Medvedev , Putin and other politicians want to reduce the criminality in general and within AF and police in particular . However, they cannot succeed , because the social and economic situation becomes more and more difficult. There are now about 24.5 millions of the people who live under the poverty threshold with an increase of about six millions in the first half of 2009. Poverty threshold is about 5000 rubles or 111 Euro per month . Among them there are former military and veterans of the Afghan war. Russia , being a big power, can not afford to become like Bosna-Herzegovina, despite the fact that some regions are in rebellion against Moscow . Thus a new leader is slowly emerging in Russia : His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill . He understands well the difficulties of the Russians and feels being responsible for both Russia and the Orthodoxy. In his speech in Archangelsk - public speech not in the church - on the 21st of August/2009 he praised patriotism, defense of homeland but within a framework of Christian/orthodox concepts of good (dobra) and evil (zla). Those concepts must be reintroduced in Russia, says Kyrill, on the basis of Russian Orthodoxy and Russian cultural heritage . (14)

After the speech, Kyrill had a meeting with the sailors of the Northern Fleet. He said that they must go to the church and educate their children in the orthodox religion . Only religious faith will give a real combat spirit for defense of Motherland. They remind naval personnel and the commanding officers of the Northern Fleet that the Soviet Union disappeared and " not a single of your missiles have been fired ".
The town of Archangelsk has been chosen by the Patriarch for its symbolism:
It is the town that kept the name of Archangel Michael even under the communism ; Archangel Michael is the Commander of heavenly armies against the Evil.
Recently the priests have been introduced into Russian AF ; not only orthodox but also Jewish rabies and Muslim hodjas.
Some media , like " Nezavisimaja Gazeta" have doubts that the " Army will be saved by spiritual political administration" ( "armiju spasaet duhovni glavPUR"). In any case, the first priests have been sent to the North Caucasus military district . Et pour cause ..... North Caucasus is for local rebels "Imarat Kavkaz " organized in several " vilayets" . Other priests were sent to the Russian garrisons in the Central Asian Republics. (15)
Let us hope that Theocracy will be stronger than " Kleptocracy " and " Panmongolism" (a concept that has been used recently by a Russian analyst for the first time after 109 years) .( 16)

Criminality within AF and police of the above mentioned countries (and many other) will continue to exist . The question is for how long ?
In Russia there is political will to fight this malediction, criminality is deeply rooted . So, both the Patriarch Kyrill and the tandem Medvedev/Putin ( or what is left of it) must act swiftly and resolutely in the interest of their own country and in the interest of European countries . Further putrefaction of the Russian Federation could cause serious problems to NATO and European countries and give an opportunity to enemies of democracy to win an important battle . This combat will take at least ten years .
In ex -YU countries, there "mafias" have been tolerated until recently, as openly admitted by former Croatian prime minister Sanader . There is now implicit policy to do nothing against criminality in general and in the AF and police in particular . The political declaration of " fighting corruption" are like former resolutions of Central Committee . Only this time they are addressed to Bruxelles and make happy bureaucrats only. So European countries have to apply containment policy in order to keep organized criminality at an acceptable level in their own countries . The criminality within AF and police in those countries is part of institutional criminality " top down" and will stay for generations - maybe smaller in quantity but not in intensity .
The outcome is open.

1) see "Vzgled" of 09/07/2009
2) see" Fond strategiceskoi kulturi " 27/07/2009
3) see "Vzgled "09/07/2009
4) idem as 3)
5) In order to hide smuggling of arms and ammunitions a warehouse near a Serbian town Kragujevac has been blown up and many houses in this town have been destroyed by the explosion
6) see "Politika"/Belgrade 28/08/2009
7) see " Slobodna Dalmacija" /Split 21/08/2009
8) see " Slobodna dalmacija"/Split 20/082009
9) Blagoje Grahovac former Yugoslav air-force general is adviser to the president of the Montenegrin Parliament . He has been military adviser to Milosevic . Thus he knows what he writes about.
10) Artcle of Grahovac in the Montenegrin daily " Vijesti" 5/12/2008
11) see Igor BUNIC : " Zoloto Partii " ( The gold of the Communist party) ed Moscow 1992 This is the basic text book to understand communist regime and its criminality
12) see " Start" /Zagreb weekly 14/05/1988 with interview of Vlassov
13) see Aleksandar Rankovic : "Dnevnicke Zabeleske " / Belgrade 2001 pp 118/119. Rankovic has been Yugoslav Beria responsible for war crimes .
14) see " Patriachia Moscow " 24/08/2009
15) see " Nezavisimaja gazetta" 24/07/2009
16) great Russian philosopher Solovjov forged this concept in 1900.... Let us hope not prophetic