Russian Generals Face Investigation For Embezzlement, Other Crimes

THURSDAY, SEPT. 19, 1996

A dozen Russian army generals are facing criminal probes for embezzlement and other crimes, and top aides to the former defense minister are suspected of corruption, Russia’s chief military prosecutor said.

In an interview published Wednesday in the daily Moskovsky Komsomolets, Col. Gen. Valentin Panichev said most of the 12 generals continue to serve in the military.

Corruption is said to permeate the Russian military. The new defense minister, Igor Rodionov, has blamed the problem partly on poor government funding that has left many servicemen without paychecks, decent food or equipment.

The dozen generals include the former finance department chief at the strategic missile forces, the head of the land forces’ training command and a submarine division commander.

The list of crimes is varied. Some are suspected of diverting state funds to invest in commercial companies for their own profit, others of using false documents to rent hotel rooms or illegally getting state apartments.

A top suspect is Maj. Gen. V. Tsarkov, the former head of the Defense Ministry’s trade department, who is accused along with his aides of embezzling millions of dollars.

Panichev also said the former chief engineer of Russia’s air defense forces, sentenced to four years in prison on charges of embezzlement and taking bribes, escaped from court last year just after the verdict was announced. The man is still at large.

Corruption in the Russian military is not limited to the senior brass, but is said to involve thousands of lower-ranking officers and troops.

For instance, soldiers serving in Chechnya have reportedly sold weapons to their rebel enemies and arrested Chechens for ransom.

The army received less than 40 percent of the money earmarked for it in the 1995 budget, and practically all career servicemen have not been paid for months this year, Rodionov told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper.

His office, in a bitter statement published Wednesday, said the military received only 4.4 percent of the funds it needed in July - and nothing at all in August.


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