Feature

What ever happened to military reform?

The week's news at a glance.

Russia

Editorial Vedomosti

How many more Russians must die before Sergei Ivanov gets fired? asked Moscow’s Vedomosti in an editorial. The man has been defense minister for five years with nothing to show for it. As Russia’s first civilian in the post, Ivanov was supposed to be able to rise above the various military branches’ turf wars and make crucial reforms. He was going to abolish hazing, create a corps of professional sergeants, and modernize military equipment. He achieved none of these goals. “Brutal bullying” is killing hundreds of conscripts each year. According to official data, more soldiers died last year in noncombat conditions than died in four years of war in Chechnya. Conditions in the barracks are so vile that literally thousands of soldiers have deserted. “They hit the road in groups and march straight to the military prosecutor’s office to lodge complaints.” Or they take refuge with the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, the group formed by matrons outraged at their sons’ treatment. Yet Ivanov refuses to take responsibility for his failure. Instead, he accuses his critics of “prejudice, lack of patriotism, and even subversive activities.” Even though Ivanov “is a friend of President Putin and a potential presidential candidate,” we have to speak out against him. “Ivanov, it’s time to go.”

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