Insight – Archives (2001-2006)

Insight – 2006 (O. Filippova; E.Loria & L. Gegeshidze)

Olga Filippova

Moscow State Linguistic University

Civil-military relations: the comparative analysis of Russian and foreign approaches to the issue

In Russia a wide range of problems exists connected with the study of civil-military relations and with the understanding and interpretation of this phenomenon. Some changes take place affecting both society and the military, thus, influencing civil-military relations. This issue arouses the interest of foreign sociologists who consider civil-military relations and the military in so-called societies in transition. This group of countries includes, among others, the states of post-communist Europe[1]. Meanwhile, in Russia, few studies can be found on this subject. In this essay, the major differences in the way Russian and foreign sociologists understand the essence, characteristic traits and ways of development of civil-military relations are determined through the comparative analysis of Russian and foreign theoretical approaches to the subject.

The problems, mentioned above, can be split into three large groups:

First of all, it is necessary to mention communicative and linguistic problems. There are some problems connected with translation:

  • a) Very few works are translated into Russian and as a result of this, translations are not always exact, for example, they may be ambiguous or they cannot be directly translated into Russian as they have no analogue in Russian. As a result, the specific meaning of the terms is easily lost and the essence of the text may not be understood correctly;
  • b) in the USSR foreign languages were learnt at school but were taught in such a way that they were rarely mastered. As a result, Russian scientists could not analyse foreign findings which were not translated into Russian, as already mentioned. Unfortunately, similar problems exist today. Crucially, it depends on the wish of a person to master the language and their own efforts. Also, the following disadvantage arises: works concerning civil-military relations are translated by professional linguists who have no sociological education and so, they may fail to correctly convey the point or translate specific sociological terms.

Secondly, there are problems connected with theoretical issues and methodology, including the following:

  • a) Indefinite terms. Russian authors use the expression “military-civil relations”, while the term “civil-military relations” is characteristic of foreign research. In this, it is not only possible to see linguistic differences but the difference in understanding the essence of this phenomenon. Speaking about civil-military relations, Russian authors mainly stress the problem of civilian control of the military. The civilian control is defined only in the narrow sense, as a control of the government over the military and this understanding implies an elected civilian head of the military[2]. So civil-military relations are mainly understood as an interaction between government and the military, while in foreign studies this term has a broader meaning, for example, the interaction between the whole society and the military. So here, it is possible to see the difference both in terminology and in meaning[3]. The problem is not only one of using different words. The use of vocabulary can influence true understanding of concepts. It is only possible to understand a thought once it has attributed a name. Word gives   form to indefinite or vague thoughts. We should use the concepts “military-civil relations” and “civil-military relations” very carefully.
  • b) The absence of any alternative concepts. As aforementioned, there are few works on civil-military relations but there are also no theoretical concepts besides the one described above. This modern Russian concept is based on the philosophy of Karl Marx. In the Soviet Union, the Iron Curtain prevented Russian authors from keeping in touch with the development of military sociology abroad and new ideas of foreign authors. All Western interpretations and theoretical approaches were called “bourgeois” and “antiscientific”. Strange as it may seem, nowadays no Western works are known yet, although there are no restrictions any longer and Russian researchers are free to study the foreign experience. Nevertheless they even rarely refer to foreign authors (with the exception of Samuel Huntington). It’s obvious that Huntington’s theoretical approach and that of Russian authors are very alike. Quite a lot of attention is paid to one of his main ideas, i.e. to the idea that the military must be politically neutral. Huntington argues that it was closely connected with the professionalization of the military and clear separation of civil and military spheres[4]. Nevertheless, in Russia the idea of political neutrality of the military turns into the idea of departisation of the military. However, Huntington’s theory is not suitable for the analysis of the situation in Russia. It’s deeply rooted in the conditions and time of its creation – in the conditions of the American society of the 1950s. Huntington thought the societal imperatives to be stable in that society, so only the external threat could explain the development of civil-military relations. This approach doesn’t imply a society where the constitutional order, values, tradition and culture are changing. In Russia we see changes of this sort which characterize the society and explain many of its peculiarities, so the subjective control theory of Janowitz seems to be worth taking into consideration. Janowitz regarded a society, where, on the contrary to the one described by Huntington, the societal imperatives can change. Moskos’ theory is suitable for the same reason. Studying and thoroughly analyzing these approaches would be quite useful not only for the purpose of development of the theory, but also for practical work and for implementing long-awaited reforms, which are often debated in Russia and thought to be necessary. Meanwhile these theories are not mentioned in Russian studies and scarcely known.

Consequently on the basis of examination of foreign studies the following theories are to be considered by Russian sociologists (beside S.Huntington’s theory): theories of Morris Janowitz and Charles Moskos[5].

Huntington considered the military as an organization separated from the rest of the society and connected the idea of democratic control over the military with the professionalisation of the military, which he understood as professional training of officers[6]. On the other hand – Janowitz described the military as an organization becoming closer to the civil sphere, which included a shift to all-volunteer armed forces (it is the base of civilian control) and some structural and cultural changes[7].

Charles Moskos analyzed the processes of structural and cultural approach and interosculation of military and civil spheres and changing missions of the military. He also introduced the concept of the post-modern military, which emerged after World War II as a product of processes of mobilization, individualization, democratization and globalization.

As a result of the development of these ideas we have a portrait of “good” democratic civil-military relations in the modern military sociology, which is regarded as typical of all developed democratic states. These main are the traits:

  • Growing mutual penetration, both structural and cultural, of military and civil spheres (democratization), including the process of individualization (soldiers’ orientation to the marketplace economy, adopting democratic values, protection of every soldier’s human rights etc.)
  • Functional change (shift from defense of the territory of a national state to Operations Other Than War (OOTW) (constabulary force of Janowitz)
  • Structural change: reducing the size of the military and shifting to all-volunteer armed forces, including the process of mobilization
  • Participation in international missions, run by such bodies as the UNO and the appearance of international forces (for example Eurocorps) (globalization)[8].

Therefore major differences in theoretical approaches of Russian and foreign sociologists can be clearly determined. Russian authors tend to view the military as a closed system separated from the rest of the society, whereas foreign authors think it to be an open organization which is quite close to the society.

Actually if we analyze the military in Russia and in Europe from the point of view of Moskos’ theory, who as a matter of fact distinguished the two described types of military organizations, both sides turn out to be right – according to its structural and cultural traits the military in Russia can be called “closed” and the one typical of Europe and the USA, “open”. However it would be more important to underline the fact that, since we are building a democratic society in Russia we must have an open military organization, typical of such a society, together with all the processes, described above. Of course, they acquire their specific nature in Russia and may sometimes influence the society, even negatively. Although foreign authors think such a type of civil-military relations to be desirable for societies building democracy, including Russia, Russian researchers ignore it, on the whole concentrating on the problem of civilian control. These sociologists take the mere existence of these processes very negatively, especially the process of adopting the norms of a market economy and individualization. They tend to regard these processes as a deviation, which should be corrected in the course of solving the problems of the military, while foreign sociologists describe these processes as quite natural. Russian authors still think a closed social system to be the best type of the military organization, while sociologists all over the world stick to the contrary opinion. This situation leads to the appearance of the third group of problems: organizational and technical problems. The fact is that, although democracy has spread, the military is remains a closed organization. To study civil-military relations we have to study both the military and society, but the military is “closed”; it’s not available for non-military sociologists to study it. Only “sociologists wearing stripes” (sociologists who are servicemen or servicewomen) have the opportunity to conduct research of the military. Moreover, the results of such research are used only by the administration of the military for purposes of the military. Consequently, we have the unilateral analysis of the interaction between the military and the society: the influence of the society on the military is studied, but not inversely. In Western studies the analysis of civil-military relations is much broader; it includes consideration of many more aspects of this interaction and studying the interdependence of the both sides. Moreover these “sociologists wearing stripes” do not study society and the military from the valueless point of view, which is critical to any scientific sociological study.

In a nutshell, thorough studying of foreign theoretical approaches to civil-military relations is no doubt necessary for developing Russian theories, whilst taking into consideration certain peculiarities of modern Russia. We obviously lack new views, alternative opinions, and new approaches in this sphere. Besides, as the theoretical analysis of the problem forms the basis for practical work for reforms which are no doubt necessary for Russia. For developing democratic civil-military relations in Russia, it would be very useful to take into account foreign experience in this sphere, the experience of the states which have already built such a type of civil-military relations.

Besides, it’s very important to pay more attention to the sociological concepts we use. More critical thinking about what they mean is needed, for it influences results of any study.

Ephemia Loria and Levan Gegeshidze

TraCC grantees and  employees of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Georgia Cautiously Hopes for Better Times.

Policing in Soviet Times

The Ministry of Internal Affairs was one of Georgia’s biggest establishments in terms of the number of its employees, with a staff of 53 691. It was a centralized and militarized law enforcement establishment that aimed to ensure public order and security.

According to current Gregorian legislation, the activities of the Ministry of Internal Affairs deal with many different spheres of public life. Indeed, its wide jurisdiction led to increased corruption within the ministry. It should be noted that during the last 10 years, the Ministry of Internal Affairs had the most powerful and the biggest monopoly in the law enforcement establishment. There was no balance between other law enforcement agencies and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Almost all spheres of public life were under its control.

What’s more, over the past 10 years, the level of corruption at the Ministry has steadily increased. One of the main reasons for the increased corruption was the difficult social situation in the country, which was pushing policemen to engage in the corruption. The government was ignoring this fact, salaries were not increasing, and what little salaries they had were paid with several months delay. In other words, the government was giving the right to policemen do as they wished. By doing this the government was creating a large group of corrupted policemen who were ready to carry out any order of the government, illegal orders.

During Soviet times, the government was expressing its appreciation to its “devoted law enforcers” by granting the staff of the Ministry of Internal Affairs all sorts of privileges. They enjoyed many benefits (communal expenses, free trips to resort areas, special shops, and more.) There was a considerable difference in payment between those who had just joined the Ministry and the ones with long work experience. Indeed, privileges grew in proportion to the number of years a person had worked in the Ministry. Both sides were happy: the government with its “corrupted structure” and the “structure” with its unofficial agreement with the government.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, these privileges were abolished and the difference in payment came down to a minimum. Although social and other benefits were inadequate to prevent corruption even in Soviet times, once certain privileges were abolished, the corruption mechanism at the Ministry of Internal Affairs became even stronger. In a situation where they received no social benefits and existed in an unstable environment, the members of the Ministry acquired these privileges on their own by violating and misusing their power.

As different divisions of the Ministry, each focused on a different area of the economy, learned to extort their salaries and benefits from the public, over time, the perfect “corruption mechanism” was created.

Political elite at the Ministry of Internal Affairs were the closest and the most devoted to the government; they were also the most reliable to execute any orders coming form the government. The scale of corruption and illegal activities depended on the particular person in charge of the Ministry, but it would not be correct to believe that even the Minister could change anything in this system. There was no political or personal will for the change. In other words, if a person did not obey the “political elite” or the elite of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, he would never come to power, while an obedient person would never try to change anything in this system. The role of the Minister was to carry out cosmetic changes within his capacity and create the illusion of doing or improving his job.

Policing in Post-Soviet Georgia

Despite what has been said above, individuals do create history and they can influence functioning of any strict, mechanistic management system.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs reached its culmination in corruption and illegal activities under Minister Kakha Targamadze in 1996-2001. He was a close ally of President Eduard Shevardnadze’s. Corruption especially flourished during his term in the office. There were a number of serious incidents where police not only supported illegal activities but also participated in them. The same is true of the Minister.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs was actively participated in supporting illegal business, protecting criminal masterminds, and lobbying drug business. Central and regional units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were protecting smuggling coming to Georgia from the uncontrolled territories of Abkhazia and so-called South Ossetia (also referred to as the Tskhinvali Region.)

Experts at the American University Transnational Crime and Corruption Center evaluated the scale and methods of smuggling in Georgia from 1996-2003. According to the research, different criminal groups, law enforcers, and government representatives worked together in the smuggling network. Criminal groups operated on the territories that are not or are partly controlled by the government of Georgia: Kodori Gorge, Gali, and Zugdidi Region. Georgian-Ossetian criminal groups operated in Tskhinvali-Gori and they were concentrated at Ergneti market (a border line of Georgia with so-called South Ossetia). They were transporting and trading smuggled goods. These groups were cooperating despite their different ethnicities or political orientations. These groups cooperated not only with different criminal groups but law enforcers and government representatives as well. Smuggled goods through the uncontrolled territories of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali Region pass to and from Russia, Turkey, and other counties. This is a very well designed corruption mechanism, which was protected by influential officials. All key participants (law enforcement structures, criminal groups, and Russian peacekeepers in the conflict zones) were in the successful smuggling network increasing its influence and attracting more people to the illegal trade. The mechanism was very complex and well-managed. This description is not merely a theory – it is based on facts.

Opposition TV channels and newspapers often broadcasted these facts but with no results. Here are few facts as examples broadcasted by program “60 Minutes,” a popular Georgian news program. In 2002, Kakha Targamadze as the Minister of Internal Affairs got permission from the National Security Council to purchase two helicopters. The Ministry of Internal Affairs transferred 250.000 USD to suspicious bank accounts in advance of the purchase, but the “purchased” helicopters never arrived. The helicopters that were to be purchased, belonged to a businessperson who was arrested on trumped-up charges and was forced to sign power of attorney over to a high ranking police officer. As a result, the officer got the power over this property. For a number of reasons, the helicopters were never made available to the Ministry. In the end, the Chamber of Control files indicate that the money was transferred but that the helicopters were not purchased.

In 2001, the Ministry of State Security arrested one Arab who had supposedly arrived in Georgia for suspicious reasons. The Arab paid 120.000 USD for his release, a fact that those who participated in extorting that money freely admitted. “60 Minutes” also reported that the money was divided among the ranking officers.

Moreover, “60 Minutes” filmed with a secret camera two high ranked policemen who were blackmailing people by planting drugs on them, arresting them, and forcing them to pay a fee for their won release. This was a very well known method of extortion, and the punishment for such policemen was only dismissal from work.

During these same years, there were wide human rights abuses and instances of torture by law enforcement officers. The NGO sector was doing its best to reveal each all such cases. And although they registered many instances of torture and killing, none of these cases were investigated.Speaking of the defense of human rights in those times was senseless.

It should be noted that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of State Security both played a negative role in supporting criminals in the Pankisi Gorge (on the border with the Russian republic of Chechnya). In the final years of President Shevardnadze’s term, the Pankisi Gorge was more or less cleared of criminals and drugs by the influence of the international community. However, Georgian mass media had for years been accusing law enforcement structures of taking no actions against instances of kidnapping and for being allied with different drug traffickers.

The kidnapping of British citizen Peter Shaw and Spanish businesspersons were both high-profile cases. These people were missing for a long time and were released in suspicious circumstances. Indeed, interrogation interviews of the Spanish businessmen were obtained and published in an influential Georgian newspaper. In those interviews, the Spanish businessmen openly spoke about the participation of law enforcement officers in the kidnapping.

It’s been three years since the brother of famous Georgian football player Kakhi Kaladze and the 14-year-old daughter of a Georgian  businessman were kidnapped. There is a probability that law enforcement officers were part of these kidnapping cases as well.

As for the personnel policy within law enforcement structures, it was completely under the control of the governing elite. Appointing individuals to important positions in this system aimed to make them blend into this system of “unwritten laws” and be part of the “corruption pyramid.” Positions in the system were effectively being sold according to the established prices. People were ready to pay not only to get the job but also they were prepared to continue paying the higher ranking officers during their term, which meant that they were bound indefinitely to the corruption network. Paying for a position in the law enforcement structures was not easy because it had to be done through a middleman, a trusted person who was part of or close to the political elite.

The above facts are mostly related to the period of President Shevadnadze’s term in office.

Government’s politics and personnel policy

In 2001-2003, young Koba Narchemashvili became the Minister of Internal Affairs after Kakha Targamadze resigned. Koba Narchemashvili was appointed as Minister of Internal Affairs after holding the position of the deputy minister in charge of the investigative department. During his term in the office he did not carry out any structural changes at the ministry. He only replaced Targamadze’s staff by his trusted people.

In 2001, there were massive protests for freedom of speech caused by attacks on the independent TV company Rustavi-2 by the investigative department of the Ministry of State Security. The investigators initiated a criminal case against the company accusing it of hiding taxes. The company was at the time the most influential opposition TV company and was actively criticizing the government for existing corruption, for the poor economic situation, and for the culture of impunity in the country. Its program “60 Minutes,” which was unveiling the criminal and illegal activities of influential persons in the government, had the highest rating of all TV programs.

In November 2003, President Shevardnadze was forced resign along with the leaders of the law enforcement ministries.

Koba Narchemashvili was arrested after the Rose Revolution in October 2004 for violating customs regulations and illegal customs clearance of cars. He pled innocence and declared that he was being persecuted for loyalty to Shevardnadze. Nevertheless, after he paid 300 000 Lari to the state budget, he was released from prison on December 31, 2004 and the case against him was suspended.

The role of police during the Rose Revolution is very interesting. After Kakha Targamadze resigned from his position, where he had effectively served as the sole leader of the law enforcement system with immense power and influence, the Ministry of Internal Affairs was left without an “Iron Man.” His replacement, the young Koba Narchemashvili, could not control the thoroughly corrupt and centralized ministry. This became starkly evident in the days of Rose Revolution. Despite the fact that Mr. Narchemashvili remained loyal to President Shevardnadze to the end, he could not maintain control over his ministry. Different law enforcement divisions were moving to the side of the protesters, and this was not causing any problems among the thousands of people gathered in front of the Parliament. Indeed, the Rose Revolution was possible in part because of the unification of the people, the police, and the army around one idea. Even members of the most corrupt departments were sick of the old, outdated system.

After the Rose Revolution, nearly all of the senior officials in the law enforcement system (Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of State Security, General Prosecutor’s Office) were replaced. The new officials were young political leaders who differed from their predecessors in their mentality and their way of life. Most have a strong orientation toward the West, and society is expecting a realization of these values in public and political life. These people for years have been fighting next to Mikheil Saakashvili and are trusted people by the new President.

It is interesting to note that many of the current heads of the law enforcement ministries were professionally successful during the previous government. Even Mikheil Saakashvili himself was the Minister of Justice during Shevardnadze’s term, while Zurab Zhvania, the current Prime Minister, was Chairman of the Parliament for two terms. Likewise, Nino Burjanadze, the current Chairman of the Parliament, held the same job during Shevardnadze’s term.

Indeed, in the upper echelons of the government, there are very few new faces. For the most part, responsibilities and mandates were simply passed from one group to another. The same can be said about those in charge of law enforcement structures. After the Rose Revolution, the roles were distributed in the following way: Irakli Okruashvili, (previously Saakashvili’s deputy during his term as the Minister of Justice) became Prosecutor General; Gia Baramidze, (previously Chairman of the Parliament Committee on State Security) became Minister of Internal Affairs; and Zurab Adeishvili (previously Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Law) became Minister of State Security.

During Irakli Okruashvili’s term as Prosecutor General, the government embarked on a wide campaign to arrest corrupt government officials. This was the first time in many years that government officials were arrested. The Prosecutor’s office took several steps to restore justice, which gave hope to people while at the same time raising the stature and the authority of the Prosecutor General. At the same time, the political opposition and certain parts of society strongly criticized Okruahsvili’s treatment of former government officials as unjust. Although there were procedural violations, which cast doubt on the rule of law in society, Irakli Okruashvili still maintains trust and sympathy among the population.

Many of the former officials who were arrested by the current government were able to secure their release by paying huge fines to the government. As a result, more than a million lari (local currency, $ 1 is equal to 1.80 lari) went to the state budget, a fact of which the current government is very proud. The NGO sector, the legal community, and academic experts have made many negative remarks in connection with the criminal law policy of Irakli Okruashvili, but it is a fact that he was and still remains a man of strict principals who is assigned some of the most difficult tasks in the government. This is why he was appointed to three different positions in the government after the revolution. After serving as Prosecutor General, he continued as the Minister of Internal Affairs and is now the Minister of Defense.

What does such rapid changing of positions in the government mean for Okruashvili and for the government at large? Can one and the same person be an effective prosecutor general, minister of internal affairs and minister of defense? Why does the government change leadership in the law enforcement structures as often as it does?  In seeking to understand the government’s politics and personnel policy, Irakli Okruashvili can serve as a useful case study.

In the case of Okruashvili’s appointment as the Minister of Internal Affairs the aim of the government was to conduct thorough reforms at the ministry and Okruashvili with his image of a ”strict and  principled man” was a good candidate. During his term as Minister, the patrol police were created, the staff of the ministry decreased by 16 022 persons, and the average salary increased from 80-90 Lari up to 350-500 Lari. It should be noted at the same time that under his tenure, armed conflict in South Ossetia resumed. In June 2004, the separatist authorities of South Ossetia became very aggressive about the closing of Ergneti market, which the Georgian government had closed down because it was full of smuggled goods brought from Russia.

Gia Baramidze, like Okruashvili, changed his position for the third time at the end of last year.

During Shevardnadze’s presidency, Baramidze was a big supporter of Saakashvili and served as the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on State Defense. After the revolution, he was appointed Minister of Internal Affairs (a post he claimed to have always desired) where he stayed for just a few months. As Minister of Internal Affairs, Baramaidze worked out a general strategy for reforms at the ministry. Under his leadership, the ministry fought against criminal authorities and Baramdize was praised for his work, though of course there is still so much to do in this respect. The young minister was very proud of the ministry’s successful efforts in conducting reforms and there was no official reason given why he was replaced just a few months into his job.

What logic was there in moving Baramidze from Minister of Internal Affairs to the position of Minister of Defense and then to the position of State Minister on Integration with European Union. It seems when there is staff change in this government, logic is  of minimal importance. Some have speculated that appointments in this government are based not on professionalism or competence but only on loyalty to the president and his party. This belief has caused skepticism towards the reforms in the country. How otherwise can we explain the fact that Zurab Adeishvili, the current Prosecutor General and the President’s closest supporter, was a short while ago Minister of State Security? He was very active in the events that took place in Adjara. (In May 2004, as a result of massive protests, the leader of the Adjara Autonomous Republic of Georgia, who for years had refused to subordinate himself to the central authority, was forced to leave not only his position but also the country and seek shelter in the Russian Federation.) In July 2004, Zurab Adeishvili was moved to the position of Prosecutor General. He was replaced at the Ministry of State Security by Vano Merabishvili who was recently appointed the Minister of Public order and Police.

As a result of these staff changes a new person in the face of Vano Merabishvili emerged in the political arena who like Okruashvili and Adeishvili is a close friend and a supporter of the President. Merabishvili, like many other members of the government, was a distinguished member of the previous government, serving at one point as leader of the parliamentary majority.

As already mentioned, one of the first major set of reform after the ”Rose Revolution” was carried out at the law enforcement structures. It is understandable that the leading positions within these structures were distributed among members of the ruling party but personnel policy and in particular endless personnel changes in the government have cast doubts on the government’s professionalism.

As part of the reforms at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, thousands of employees were dismissed. The number of the employees had been artificially increased during Soviet times and a reduction was long overdo. However, optimization should have been based on complex testing of the employees for their knowledge, experience, and morale. There are currently no clear criteria for what qualifies a person to be a policeman or a beginner at any position.

Reforms are good, but are they good enough ?

Unfortunately despite the fact that society in general supports reforms, there are complaints that the government’s personnel policy is unfair. While the turnover of staff at nearly every ministry has been significant, few ministries have developed criteria by which to judge candidates. As a result, many professionals lost their jobs in the process of reforms. Complaints are caused because connections are still needed to maintain or get a position. Although it is reasonable for the ruling party to control the top leadership posts, this does not mean that they should distribute jobs only to those who they know or who have been recommended by trusted people.

In regard to the police, there has been one interesting and positive development. The current  corps of patrol police is a completely new institution in the country, which was created after the Rose Revolution.  Most of the population sympathize with it and trust the new police. Mistrust towards police  left over from years past is slowly changing into respect. Surveys of trust among the population show a significant increase for the last year. By the research of one sociological center, 51% of those interviewed trust police and 53% declare that they report to the police about incidents. These indicators are significantly higher compared to the ones from previous years. Of course, there is criticism as well directed at a lack of professionalism of policemen in critical situations. A couple of months ago, a 19-year-old young man died in a suspicious situation as a result of a shooting by a policemen. Policemen should be more careful in critical situations. They were given weapons after short trainings and have the right to shoot in emergency situations. Often it is not clear when the situation is an emergency.

As for the combat with corruption, the country’s most acute problem, serious steps have been taken in this direction. All that has been done cannot compare with what remains to be done in this respect but no one has illusions that this problem can be resolved in just a few years. What is important is that there are positive tendencies in this direction.

As mentioned above, many government officials were arrested who later paid “their share” to the budget in exchange for freedom. No one doubts or questions the legitimacy of these arrests, but the question is how these people were selected of the many corrupt officials in the old government. Many individuals notorious for their corrupt activities still enjoy freedom and in some cases positive relations with the government. Moreover, there was a lot of criticism regarding procedural violations at the moments of arrests.

A few officials in the new government have been publicly accused of corruption. Some of these corrupt officials were employees of law enforcement structures. Of course, there continue to be instances of corruption, which is natural, since one year is insufficient time for global changes in the country. People know they should be more patient, and they are, but they also are looking at the upcoming processes very carefully.

Experts note that administrative measures alone are not enough to eliminate corruption; a systematic and global approach needs to be applied.

Everyone agrees that government officials should have adequate salaries. A number of steps were taken to resolve this issue, but they were not very effective in the case of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. For example, by the decision of the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and based on the structural specifics of the ministry, supplements to the salaries were allocated from the state fund. The heads of the structural divisions (departments) in the ministry were put in charge of distributing these funds, but the salary increases were not systematic or logical. Even the increased salaries are barely enough to pay for normal living conditions. People know this is because of the country’s poor economic situation and the government’s good will is not enough to resolve this problem, but they also know that all these processes should have been better organized.

Besides political or personal will there are many other factors that are necessary for combating corruption. Experts talk about the negative sides of recent reforms, such as poor professionalism and other errors. It is a fact that the country cannot come out of its difficult situation so easily, but once more people want to be sure that the way the government has chosen is correct. For now, it seems fair to say that most people are still observing.

The balance of a Power

One of the most interesting aspects of post-revolution reforms is how the government is conducting its relations with law enforcement structures. The new government, led by the new generation of political leaders, has the political will to aggressively direct the country’s development. It also has a new vision of how to manage changes in the country. The current government claims to control every division of the government administration. In parallel with calling for the decentralization of state power, which is a necessary provision for building a democratic country, there is a tendency towards centralization of power. Today political power is striving to match influence with the law enforcement elite, or in other words, to identify itself with the law enforcement structures. This attitude is embodied in the drive to have a united political group and by the statement that everything old is “rotten” and is “garbage.” By extension, the new vision of the current government is good because it is not ”old.” Such statements have made politically active parts of society think that power is being privatized. Nevertheless, society is patient and loyal to the current political events because it thinks today is better than yesterday and tomorrow should be even better.

The developing of civil society in Georgia is an unalterable process. Society is paying significant attention to the political processes that are defining the country’s destiny. People believe that this is almost the last chance that Georgia has to became a real state. As a result, they are very careful to evaluate the policies and reforms of the government. They are loyal to the government, but at the same time they are taking a sober view of its policies, ready to protest in due time if it is necessary. The balance of power between society and the government shouldn’t be destroyed if the country wants to build the state on real democratic values.  But still society is sitting on a scale waiting for better times, and hoping that the scale does not tip the other way.

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Insight – 2004 (R. Staar; R. McDermott; R. Giragosian)

Richard F. Staar

The writer is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of The New Military in Russia (Naval Institute Press) among other books.  During spring and fall semesters he taught in the political science department of San José State University.

Russia’s New Military Program

In early 2004, a document became available on the Internet.  It sheds new light on the future of Moscow’s military establishment.  Entitled “Development of Russian Armed Forces: Goals and Perspectives,”[9] it sheds light on the military’s perceived role in the world since the end of the former bipolar system. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov described the highlights of this new document at a MOD press conference in Moscow on October 2, 2003.

First of all, major cuts in personnel will have reduced the armed forces from 2,750,000 in 1992 to a projected one million by 2005.  The number of generals will be subjected to similar cuts.  As of this writing, there were approximately ten thousand officers holding that rank.  During calendar year 2003, almost 16 billion rubles had been allocated for defense.

Current military planning excludes the possibility of a global war as well as a large-scale conventional war with NATO or any other U.S.–led coalition.  By contrast, Russia will emphasize potential combat in special operations, counter-terrorism, local conflicts, and other conventional military activity.

Plans for increasing the number of recruits serving on a contract basis look as follows:

2004 15,700
2005 26,800
2006 54,500
2007 60,600

These men are paid the equivalent of $1,000 per month for combat duty in Chechnya, where they comprise about 20 percent of all troops.

Up-to-date weapons and other equipment are planned to reach the following percentages:

nearly 35 percent by end of 2010

about 40–50 percent by 2015

total replacement by 2020–2025

As of this latest target date, between half and two-thirds of all national defense expenditures will have been allocated for such modernization of combat equipment.

Furthermore, duplication among higher military educational training programs for officers amounted to between 43 and 68 percent of those serving railroad troops, interior ministry, civil defense and disaster relief, and the border service.  Officially, the defense ministry itself maintains 57 higher military education establishments.

Social security for the military would be enhanced if salaries as well as pensions were increased, the housing problem solved, and health services improved.  Monetary remuneration has increased by about 1.5 times since July 2002, although inflation has reduced purchasing power.  Pensions also have almost doubled, with increases between 1.8 and 1.9 times since 1 January 2002.  Only the shortage of housing will not be solved until 2012–2015, if then.

The number of military invalids totaled about 800,000 at the end of 2003 and continues to grow.  They are to be cared for by the government’s medical services.

Finally, patriotic education of civilians is to be resurrected and strengthened by 2005.  The reason?  Whereas in 1987 some 93 percent of respondents had regarded themselves as “patriots of the fatherland,” that percentage declined to only 23 percent by 2003.  A new government program, called Patriotic Education for Citizens of the Russian Federation, will operate between 2001 and 2005 in order to raise this percentage.

This new effort is aimed at rectifying the problem.  By the year 2005, patriotic education will be restored at all educational institutions as well as social organizations preparing youth for military service.  Can these objectives be achieved?  Probably not, because, if successful, the clock would be turned back to Soviet times.

Roger N. McDermott

The author, a specialist in Russian and Central Asian defense and security, is based at the University of Kent at Canterbury (UK). His book “Russian Military Reform, 1992-2002″ is forthcoming from Frank Cass.


Reform of the armed forces has been on the Soviet and then Russian political agenda ever since Gorbachev’s perestroika. The main aim of reformers has been to replace forces based on mass conscription by smaller professional armed services.  Under Yeltsin professional soldiers serving under contract were introduced.

They played a significant role in Chechnya, and the 201st Motor Rifle Division in Tajikistan now consists almost entirely of professionals. In 1993 the defense minister (Grachev) announced that the professional component of the armed forces would reach 50 percent by 2000. This goal — let alone that of full professionalization — still remains far off. The transition has been impeded both by financial constraints and by inertia in the thinking of Russian military strategists, who are reluctant to abandon the traditional belief in the necessity for the mass mobilization of conscripts. (1) However, the conscription system faces acute crisis. This crisis has both social and demographic dimensions. The demographic problem is expected to peak around 2010, by which time a deficit of 30-40 percent in the recruit pool is anticipated.

In November 2000, Putin asked the Security Council to examine new plans for professionalizing the armed forces. The General Staff submitted its proposals to Putin in July 2002. Then in September 2002 the MOD started to convert the 76th Airborne Division, based at Pskov, to a professional basis as an experiment.Money remains a big obstacle to reform. According to Putin, staffing a motor rifle division with professionals costs 30 percent more than using conscripts. (2) Infrastructure has to be improved too because “you can’t drive contract soldiers into dilapidated barracks” (3). Major General Valery Astanin, deputy head of the armed forces’ mobilization directorate, has expressed the view that professionalization will double the defense budget.

Thus military reform is hostage to economic growth. Officials talk about achieving it by 2015, but whether even this is realistic is open to doubt. There also seems to be ambiguity concerning whether the eventual goal is full transfer to professional armed services or merely some optimal ratio between conscript and professional manning. The author reminds us that military reform means not only changing the basis of recruitment but also many other changes in thinking, ethos, and mode of operation. The problems of waste and corruption need to be overcome.


(1) One corollary to this belief has been resistance to the idea of alternative civilian service; see RAS No. 12 item 7. Another trend working against the shift to professional forces has been the falling social status of the officer corps; see RAS No. 13 item 4.

(2) This is on the assumption that a contract soldier has to be paid a minimum of R5,500 (equivalent to $175) a month.

(3) Statement by General Andrei Nikolayev, chairman of the Duma defense committee.

Richard Giragosian

The Challenges of Russian Military Reform

One of the most challenging aspects of transition facing the Russian Federation is the issue of military reform.  There have been many attempts at military reform throughout the 1990s, although nearly all have been limited to half-hearted efforts at reorganization or restructuring.  Most of these early attempts at revamping the Russian military failed before they even started and quickly degenerated into policy discussions void of any concrete change.  In fact, the last decade’s military “reform attempts” were neither true reforms nor true attempts.

As with the other fundamental shifts in Russian policy initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, there is a now a serious commitment to reasserting Russian power.  For Putin, the military is an essential element in his vision of a return to “great power” status.  It is within this context, that a new determined effort is underway to meet the inescapable need to reform the bloated, inefficient and declining state of the Russian armed forces.

But in the face of the new nature of post-September 11 security threats, and compounded by the long neglected Russian military, it remains to be seen if real military reform in Russia can effectively overcome the daunting set of internal obstacles and entrenched opposition that has plagued it over the past dozen years.

The Scale of the Task

The Russian armed forces have weathered years of serious force downsizing, declines in weapons procurement, and severe budget reductions.  This has significantly eroded combat readiness and training, and has fostered a dramatic decline in morale and an erosion of internal unit and company discipline.  The bulk of conventional force units today are undermanned and enjoy little more than nominal tactical training.

The Russian armed forces now number roughly 1.16 million, down from the Soviet level of 4.3 million in 1986.  Although the Putin government has increased defense spending sharply in recent years, there is a marked conflict between the military and the government and even within the military itself over resource allocation, restructuring, and the course and scope of reform.

According to some reports, little more than 200,000 of Russia’s 1.16 million conventional forces can be considered operational, with nearly no full-strength units at the divisional level.  Moreover, Russian tactical air force units have undergone a comprehensive consolidation after the Air Defense branch was merged with the Air Forces, and both endured deep budget cuts.  Despite sustained air operations in Chechnya that have improved a few air units and raised them to a passable level by providing greater flying time, the widespread shortcomings in training have yet to be resolved.

Conventional Russian armaments are also reported to be poor, with estimates that as much as 30 percent of weapons are inferior and not combat-ready and 70 percent of the Navy’s ships remain in serious need of repair.  As a consequence of these deficiencies, Russia has only limited capabilities to project conventional military power beyond its borders.

Three Main Challenges to Conventional Military Reform

There are three main challenges threatening the viability of reforming the Russian conventional armed forces.  Each of these three challenges is rooted in broader problems afflicting Russia and each reflects a daunting set of internal and external obstacles.  The first challenge is social in nature and matches the overall trend of social decline in the country that has reached a disturbing level in recent years.  These social obstacles include a serious shortage of military housing and poor living conditions, shortfalls in pay, increased incidents of hazing and a related breakdown in military discipline that has contributed to very low morale among the troops.  This can also bee seen in the rise of drug use, crime and incidents of desertion within the military.

Another factor related to these social challenges stems from the severe decline in conscription, both in quality and quantity.  Underpinning the reform effort’s move from conscription to a professional army is the mounting number of recruits found to be medically unfit for military service.  This concern is demonstrated by the fact that the number of conscripts deemed medically unfit for service rose from a Soviet-era of 4 percent in 1988, to 41.7 percent in 1988 and to 53.2 percent in 2002.  It must be noted, however, that a significant portion of these “medically unfit” recruits are exploiting the corruption within the draft system, able to readily purchase medical deferments.

The second main challenge to reform is economic.  The Russian military lost its privileged position in the allocation of resources more than ten years ago and faces more intense competition for the limited state funds now available.  Even with some important increases in military spending in recent years, the overall defense budget is still substantially less than the levels of spending and investment seen during the 1970s and 1980s.

After the social and economic challenges, the third major obstacle is political.  The fate of real military reform in Russia depends to a surprising degree on the complex political struggle in Russia.  Political combat in Russia has many aspects, including contests rooted in political ideology, the character of government, and over the pace and character of economic reform; institutional clashes between the central government and the regions; and rivalries among competing political-economic camps, each with their own vested interests.  The political landscape is very fluid and masks a deeper underlying contest between competing elites vying for power and influence.

It is on this political plane that Putin holds the most impressive record.  In terms of domestic politics, Putin has secured tactical victories in several areas.  He has outmaneuvered several regional leaders within the Russian Federation, reclaiming a degree of central authority that has seriously eroded in the past decade.  Putin has also moved swiftly to gain control or influence of much of the Russian broadcast media.  By January 2002, the last significant independent Moscow TV station was shut down, and the government imposed some leverage over a leading independent radio network and other electronic media.

Such a tactical strengthening of his political power has bolstered his intervention in the traditional internal divide between the two main rival military institutions: the ministry of defense and the general staff.  With the key appointment of a personal loyalist to the post of defense minister, President Putin elevated the defense ministry over the general staff in the early stages of the policy debate over military reform.  On a deeper level, Putin has also adroitly utilized this internal rivalry in his favor, at times promoting the general staff on select issues where their interests converge.

The Role of the Russian Nuclear Arsenal

President Putin’s declared goal is to restore Russian military power, with a continued reliance on nuclear capability while executing a deep reform and modernization of the Russian conventional forces.  Nuclear weapons are increasingly important in Russian military doctrine, and strategic nuclear capability is Russia’s only tangible claim to its former status.  And for Russia to claim the status as a major military power today, its only feasible short-term option rests with its nuclear forces.

The Russian arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons is far larger than its strategic arsenal, possibly numbering in the tens of thousands, with a current focus on developing the “next generation” of nuclear weapons.  The Russian strategy also seeks to maintain and modernize rather high levels of both strategic and tactical nuclear warheads, and given the less expensive requirements for nuclear forces compared to conventional forces, this may be fiscally feasible.

Russian Naval Decline

A continued reduction in spending and investment over the last decade led to a serious decline in Russian naval power.  This decline resulted in a near fatal loss in naval force projection capability and reduced much of the Russian Navy to more of a “coastal force.”  Russian naval strength was eroded by years of under-funding that left it starving for sailors and ships.  With such a loss of priority in Russia’s overall strategic planning, the Russian Navy today faces an uphill struggle to regain adequate operational readiness and capability.

Under President Putin, however, this decline in naval power has reached its nadir.  Publicly heralded during a presidential tour of the Russian Far East in October 2002, Putin envisages a “program of rearmament” to “elevate” the Russian Navy.  Putin’s focus on restoring naval capabilities stems from two factors: a realization of the overwhelming challenges of securing the Russian borders and second, an appreciation of the importance of regaining an important force projection capability.

The first element in Putin’s plan for the Russian Navy is to upgrade security along the country’s maritime borders.  The need to monitor and police the country’s imposing land and sea borders poses the most daunting and draining problem for Russian security.  The Russian Federation has the world’s most expansive land border, adjoining some 18 countries.  But this security challenge pales in comparison to Russia’s maritime borders, which involves some 127 nations bordering the Russian Federation by sea.

The second priority in naval planning is the restoration of naval force projection capabilities.  Putin has initiated a “show the flag” demonstration involving naval exercises spanning an ambitious swath of sea.  This has also served to enhance Russian leverage over key parts of the former Soviet space and, at least symbolically, within nearby areas of geostrategic importance.

A Reassertion of Naval Power Projection

The Russian President first began his effort to restore naval power with a reassertion of naval power in the Caspian Sea.  Putin bolstered Russian military dominance in the Caspian in the summer of 2002 and, in May 2003, held naval exercises in the Indian Ocean, involving three warships from the Russian Pacific Fleet and a small Black Sea Fleet flotilla.  The Black Sea flotilla’s participation was also an important symbol, as it was the first Russian naval movement through the Suez Canal in 15 years.

The Indian Ocean exercise was also the first time that the Russian and Indian navies conducted joint maneuvers and represented an important component of the longer term Russian effort to exert a naval presence in the Indian Ocean, normally an area dominated by the U.S. Navy’s deployments into the Persian Gulf.

Western Threat-based War Games

But the most significant aspect of the Indian Ocean exercise was its part in a much broader war game by Russian forces from 17-18 May 2003 premised on a Western threat scenario.  These larger war games involved coordinated efforts by Russian strategic bombers and nuclear submarines simulating nuclear attacks against both the United States and the United Kingdom and were combined with an effort to locate, track and attack a U.S. Navy carrier group.

Operationally, these war games envisioned the potential escalation of a smaller, regional conflict into large-scale war and sought to improve coordination between the Russian Navy, long-range bombers and various units of the army.  Additionally, large-scale exercises are also scheduled for the Pacific in August 2003 and will involve ships from the Baltic in conjunction with the Pacific Fleet.  Thus, the development of Russian naval power and its ambitious plan for reasserting force projection capabilities reflects Putin’s intent on regaining “great power” status.


The fate of reforming the Russian military appears contingent on two major factors.  First, the Putin government must overcome the social, economic and political challenges that face both the military and Russian society alike.  This is no easy task and will require substantial political (and financial) capital.  Second, on an external level, the efficacy of military reform is also conditional on the continuation of the overall U.S.-Russian strategic partnership, as any resulting confrontation there could greatly alter the direction of military reform.  Regardless of these two factors, it is clear that reforming the Russian military is a long-term endeavor.

It remains to be seen, however, whether this effort is too little, too late in the wake of the serious decline of the Russian military base and the rise of new threats to Russian security.  Given the geopolitical importance of Russia, particularly by virtue of its control of the Eurasian continent, the potential Russian threat to the West stems not from its strength, but from its weakness.  From this perspective, the course of Russian military reform mandates greater scrutiny and even greater security.

Insight – 2003 (R.Staar)

Richard F. Staar

The writer is a visiting political science professor and senior fellow of  the Global Studies Institute at San Jose State University as well as  scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Russia’s All-volunteer Force

On 14 March 2003 President Vladimir V. Putin approved a defense ministry  plan to recruit, between 2004 and 2007, a core of 167,000 volunteers who would comprise the new high-readiness armed forces. It also envisages that the draft will be substantially limited.

Already back in September of last year, the 76th Airborne Division at Pskov had been selected to become the first all-volunteer military unit, where the minimum monthly enlisted pay of 5,280 rubles ($168) equals that of a lieutenant in all-draftee units. By the end of 2003, the 76th Airborne Division is scheduled to become the first one to be completely staffed with contract personnel.

This plan submitted to the Kremlin by Defense Minister Sergei B. Ivanov (appointed on 28 March 2001) includes a proposal to recruit citizens from other countries within the so-called Commonwealth of Independent States along the lines of the French Foreign Legion. However, resistance from senior Russian career officers may torpedo such an endeavor. It also costs more than 40,000 rubles per year to support a contract non-commissioned officer, compared with 16,000-17,000 rubles for a NCO conscript. The future demographic crisis during 2005-2007 will affect adversely the availability of 18 to 27 year olds, when only half of those needed would be in the recruitment pool.


#       Designation

(head)                                                                                       Troops

1.      Ministry of Internal Affairs  MVD                                         196,000

(Boris V. Gryzlov, Colonel in Reserve)

2.      Ministry of Defense  MO                                                                        1,280,000

(Sergei B. Ivanov, civilian, ex. FSB Lt.General)

3.      Foreign Intelligence Service  SVR                                            11,800

(Sergei N. Lebedev, Col. General)                                                   (special forces)

4.      Federal Security Service  FSB                                                  269,000

(Nikolai P. Patrushev, Army General)

5.      Federal Protection Service  FSO                                             30,000

(Evgenii A. Murov, Lt.General)

TOTAL:                                                          1,786,800

Sources: Alexei Mukhin, Spetssluzhby (Moscow: SPIK-Tsentr, 1999), p.128; Nikita Sumerkin, Vooruzhennye sily Rossii (Moscow: Tsentrs, 2000), p.127; International Institute for Strategic Studies, Military Balance, 2002-2003 (London: IISS, October 2002), pp.88-94; RFE/RL Newsline, 7(46):2, March 11, 2003.

The Ministry of Defense, with almost 1.3 million men and women in uniform, still controls the lion’s share of all billets. It already has one unit, consisting almost completely of  volunteers, namely the 201st Motorized Rifle Division stationed in Tajikistan, although the latter’s combat effectiveness remains mediocre. Nevertheless, the target date for attaining a contract basis for most of the military is 2004, just before the next presidential election.

Ultimately, it is planned to maintain 92 combat ready units according to Defense Minister Ivanov’s speech to top military officers on 26 November 2002. The word “unit” has not been defined. Furthermore, only 25 to 30 percent of conventional armaments and war materiel is not already obsolete  the result of a  sharp decline in orders for contemporary weapons.

Apart from the foregoing, a presidential decree on 11 March 2003 already had incorporated 50,000 FAPSI (Federal Agency for Government Liaison and Information) as well as 140,000 FPS (Federal Border Service) troops with the old KGB (renamed FSB or Federal Security Service). This decree also transferred the Federal Tax  Policy (45,000) into the Ministry of Internal Affairs. These changes have made the FSB third in size, surpassed only by the regular armed forces under the Ministeries of Defense and Internal Affairs.

According to the Chief of the General Staff, Col. General  Anatoly V. Kvashnin, the size of the contract army will total about one million men, which can be reached only by coopting Interior Ministry troops (used to maintain domestic law and order), as well as those belonging to the Federal Security Service or secret police.

However, by the end of 2001, a total of 47 from the previous 102 Russian military academies had been closed and another ten were in the process of  liquidation. As a consequence, the armed forces already suffer from a severe shortage of professional non-commissioned officers. These are the men who would make reform effective and eliminate hazing (dedovshchina), as a result of which 325 recruits committed suicide and possibly several thousand others died from beatings in the barracks during calendar year 2002.

Finally, the higher-ranking career officers are sabotaging these efforts  especially the disproportionately large number of generals (about 3,000), none of whom will retire voluntarily to their dachas. Will their commander-in-chief at least force the superannuated ones to do so?

Note: The author wishes to thank Ms. Molly Molloy, reference librarian at the Hoover Institution Library, for her kind assistance in locating Russian-language source material on this subject.

Insight – 2002 (S; Solovyov)

Serguey Solovyov

Chief consultant – Head of the unit in charge of monitoring the socioeconomic and legal situation of members of the army, of persons retired from military service and their families, within the Department of research on military sociology of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation

The Russian officer today.  A sociological portrait

The officers’ corps of the Armed Forces has always enjoyed a specific status within the Russian social fabric. We will focus here on three questions which today have led to contradictory interpretations.

In contemporary Russian society, do officers belong to the middle class?

According to most authors, today’s Russian middle class is made up of businessmen, managers of large companies, employees of private banks, companies and investment funds. Also included in the middle class, although there is no solid basis for this, are skilled workers, teachers, doctors, journalists and officers.

Why are the latter so systematically included in the middle class? In the first place, according to the image left over from the Soviet period, officers are a well-paid, educated and prestigious social group, respected by the government and the people. Secondly, this view reflects the influence of an uncritical reference to classical sources, whereby an officer, ideally, should match the criteria defining the middle class.

Since 1991, in the interests of research on the dynamics of well-being and quality of life of the families of the military, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation set up a programme aiming to  monitor the income level of the average officer’s family. According to the data provided by this survey an officer’s family lives on one and half or twice the minimum income per person. Most experts, however, have set the lower limit of a middle class income at the level of 4 times the minimum income per member of the family. Thus, objectively, on the basis of this economic criterion, Russian officers and their families belong to the lower class.

The profession of officer has lost its prestige. In 1975, according to the rating of professions among high school graduates, that of army officer was in the middle of the list, with 57 points out of 100. Similar surveys carried out in 1996 showed that the profession of officer has now fallen to the bottom of the list, down to 36 points.

One of the main characteristics of the officer’s corps is the level of education of its members, their qualifications and culture. Becoming an officer has always meant a change of social status. In pre-Revolutionary Russia, this change of status meant a change of estate: an officer was granted personal nobility, and beginning with the rank of colonel, hereditary nobility.

In the Soviet Army, there were three ways of becoming an officer: by graduating from a military school or institute; by attending military classes at a non-military institute; by beginning one’s service as a warrant officer and then passing exams to reach the first officer’s rank. This pattern has not changed, in the sense that educational and qualification criteria still play an important role.

However, the army’ system of social and professional advancement has begun to show weaknesses. Previously, academic training provided access to the upper ranks of a division or regiment. Today, after graduating from the academy, an officer can be offered a position similar to the one he would have received before graduating.

The prestige of military training has declined. Most diplomas delivered by military schools and academies are not very highly rated in the non-military world: after leaving the active army and joining the reserve, a former commander will in the best of cases be offered the position of personnel manager in a company, and more likely the job of security guard.

The only factor in support of the idea that officers belong to the middle class is their legitimate power over their subordinates. As they rise in the ranks of military hierarchy, this power increases along with the number of subordinates, the size and importance of the objects under their jurisdiction, and the possibility of exerting an influence on events at the local, regional and even national levels.

Do officers represent a special caste of Russian society?

In contemporary Russian society, the army is the most accessible gateway to upwards social mobility. No other social institution is capable of playing a similar role in Russia today. The “funnel” leading to the officers’ corps has a wide opening, and most social groups of Russian society are represented.

An officer who has begun service as a lieutenant an continues a normal career can become a major within six years and command a battalion of up to five hundred men. After graduating from the academy, he can hope to become a colonel by the age of 35 or 36 and receive a wide range of powers. Although higher protection does help one get ahead in the military hierarchy, personal qualities and success are usually objectively assessed.

If we study the socioeconomic situation of former officers after leaving the active army, it is clear that the community of Russian officers is not a closed caste. Before 1989, the latter position was the highest social status most officers could hope to reach. Due to the massive reduction of the armed forces, many people left the army without having used up their creative and physical potential. Some of them were able to use the knowledge and experience gained during service, went back to school and moved upwards towards higher social positions. If one looks exclusively at economic criteria, after graduating from the army, almost half of the reserve officers maintain their social status, and one fourth succeed in improving it.

Do officers have a specific mentality?

The officers of the army and navy preserve and transmit the army culture to the younger generation. This army culture is expressed through traditions, a specific system of personal interactions, the acceptance of the basic values. Sociological research  findings have provided a relatively complete picture of the changes that have taken place in the mentality of officers from the beginning of the Perestroika to the present.

The analysis of the motivations and values that characterize the personality of the Russian  officer leads us to define five main groups of values of the military service: 1)those pertaining to the army as a corporate body, 2)to the army as a professional body; 3)pragmatic values, 4)physical development, and 5)romantic considerations. Over the past decade, the significance of each of these groups of values and their content have changed.

Overall, officers have preserved their attachment to the values of the army as a corporate and professional body. These values, which reflect the basic principles of interpersonal relations between members of the army, the notions of military honor, dignity and duty to the Fatherland, have not lost any of their significance. The attractiveness of military service as a path towards professional self-fulfillment through military specialization, the mastering of combat techniques and armament systems, has gradually declined.

The romantic image of the officer has also waned. At the same time, the “pragmatic view” of military service has become gained importance, military service is now often perceived as a way of supporting one’s family and obtaining privilege and advantages.

The “depolitization” of the army and navy, which took place in the early 1990s, has destroyed many ideological stereotypes. Officers have recognized the necessity of non-partisan armed forces. Between 1989 and 1992, the proportion of officers who advocated an ideology or a specific political programme decreased from 70% to 7-8%.

Nonetheless, one cannot say that Russian officers are apolitical. They are interested in foreign and internal affairs, they are ready to fulfill the missions assigned to them by the government, and take part in elections at all levels. When voting, most officers refer to their personal understanding of the situation, to their personal values and aims. However, it is obvious that their overall political preferences tend to side with patriotic governmental positions.

Only two of the three questions listed above received straightforward answers. Russian officers represent a specific social group, with a specific mentality which can be explained by the nature of the missions it is meant to fulfill, by the army’s principles of selection and professional advancement, and by the existence of extensive corporatist networks. The officers’ corps is not a closed caste, but one of the most accessible channels of upwards social mobility in modern Russian society. At the same time, Russian officers cannot as yet be considered truly representative of the middle class.

Insight – 2001 (I. Facon)

Isabelle Facon

Fondation pour la Recherche Strategique, Paris

A Turning Point In Russian Civil-Military Relations?

Civil-military relations in Russia have been less hectic  under President Putin than under his predecessor. Putin  has devoted more attention to the fate of the army and to
strengthening its combat capabilities. He has been helped  to do so by the improvement in the budgetary situation  since 1999. But there are still many sources of tension.  Putin has tried hard to overcome the resistance to  military reform from some elements of the army apparatus and its traditional reluctance to outside control of  military affairs. This is reflected in the appointment in  March 2001 of a former KGB general, Sergey Ivanov, as  defense minister.

In this context, Putin’s efforts to improve Russia’s  relationship with the United States as a result of the  September 11 terrorist attacks could prove decisive in  the development of civil-military relations. The US  military presence in Central Asian countries neighboring  Afghanistan has produced negative reactions on the part  of military officials. Some fear that the military operation in Afghanistan may heighten instability in a  region that they consider vital to Russia’s security.  Others think it likely that the US will use the situation  to establish a long-term presence in the region, to the  detriment of Russian security and economic interests.  From this point of view, the anti-Taliban operation is a  continuation of efforts by the US in recent years to  reduce the dependence on Russia of the armed forces of  the Central Asian states.

The Russian military in general remains wary of American  designs concerning their country. Especially after  Putin’s decisions to close down the Russian military bases in Cuba and Vietnam — rightly or wrongly seen in  Russian military circles as further concessions to the  US in the wake of September 11 — Putin is under strong  pressure to get concessions from Washington in return in  the sphere of arms control and strategic stability. Much  of Russia’s High Command still views the Cold War  structure of arms control agreements as a very important  component of the country’s residual status in the world.

The recent softening of Putin’s stance on NATO enlargement and on US plans for an anti-missile shield  may be accepted by the Russian military without too much  resentment only if accompanied by serious guarantees that  the cuts promised in US strategic nuclear forces will be implemented. (Some US officials also stress the  continuing need for a sound mechanism to verify the  destruction of strategic nuclear forces.)

Putin appears to be heeding the concerns of his generals.  The contribution Russia has agreed to make to the  “anti-terrorist coalition,” as described by Putin on  September 24, takes their sensitivities into account.  There is to be no direct Russian military involvement,  and use of Russian airspace will be allowed only for  humanitarian missions. On the eve of his visit to the US,  Putin insisted on preservation of the ABM treaty and a  formal agreement regarding cuts in nuclear arsenals.

Putin’s caution is linked to his determination to make  the current moment a turning point for civil-military  relations in Russia. Over recent weeks Putin has pushed  hard on military reform. And signs have been growing that  the Russian government is trying to move forward toward a settlement in Chechnya. Both issues are very sensitive  for civil-military relations.

Since Putin came to power he has managed to push through  reforms in many spheres. Moreover, the Russian military  is definitely not monolithically conservative and  anti-American. But one may wonder whether Putin’s  leadership and consensus-building skills will suffice to  cope with military opposition to the scale and speed of  change in both domestic and foreign affairs. Especially  should the newborn Russian-US “anti-terrorist alliance”  yield no long-term benefits for Russia’s international  standing.

[1] See, e.g., Jean Callaghan, Franz Kernic, eds, Armed Forces and International Security. Global Trends and Issues, Muenster: Lit, 2003; the studies of  the 45th Biennal International Conference of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society, Chicago, 21-23 October 2005.

[2] S. Masluc, Civil-Military Relations in Russia. The Problems of  Democratic Control over the  Military Sphere, Moscow: Center for Political and International Research, 1998. [Russian]

[3] E.g. George A. Kourvertaris, Betty A. Dobratz, eds, World Perspectives in the Sociology of the Military, New Brunswick: Transaction Books, 1997.

[4]Janowitz, 1960, Op. Cit.; Jean Callaghan, Franz Kernic, eds, Armed Forces and International Security. Global Trends and Issues, Muenster: Lit, 2003, pp. 165-167.

[5] The ideas of Charles Moskos and Morris Janowitz are developed in the studies of Martin Shaw and James Burk.

[6] See also S. Finer The Man on a  Horseback, The role of the Military in Politics, Vagts, History of Militarism, and Lasswell, The Garrison State.

[7] “From institution to occupation thesis” thesis, Moskos, 1997 (Charles Moskos, Soldiers and Sociology, United States Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, 1998, pp. 57-70).

[8] Jean Callaghan, Franz Kernic, eds, Armed Forces and International Security. Global Trends and Issues, Muenster: Lit, 2003, pp. 65-67.

[9] Rossiiskie vooruzhënnye sily,, 13 January 2004 (65 single-spaced pages).