Russian Defense Ministry rejects claims it seeks to hush up graft

Russia’s Defense Ministry on Thursday called “strange” and “puzzling” a newspaper report that military anti-corruption measures in fact suggested a desire to keep a lid on whistle-blowing in the ranks.

Russian daily Moskovsky Komsomolets published an article on Thursday under the headline “Military ordered to hush up corruption” that said the Air Force’s procedures start with officers reporting corruption to their immediate superior, even when he is the accused.

The paper cites a cable from acting Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force Viktor Bondarev, dated June 3, 2011, as saying that the next step, taking corruption allegations to a special commission, should be “viewed as indicating a lack of trust in their immediate superiors, and should result in the appropriate conclusions being drawn and sanctions taken.”

As if that wasn’t enough, the paper says, Point 3 of Bondarev’s cable calls for the withholding of all bonus payments to officers in a unit if incidents of corruption are found to have taken place in the unit.

The document was not classified, so the paper quoted from it at length to demonstrate the methods recommended to wipe out graft in the military.

“The interpretation by certain media of preventive anti-corruption activities undertaken by the Armed Forces has caused bewilderment,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry complained that the newspaper had wrongly interpreted the extract despite possessing the full text of the document, adding that it found such conclusions to be “strange.”

“The Russian Defense Ministry intends not only to further fight corruption in the army but also to hold active preventive work to prevent similar displays in military units,” the ministry said.

Earlier this month the chief of the Main Military Medical Directorate of the Russian Defense Ministry, General Alexander Belevitin, was detained under suspicion of corruption, as was Colonel Alexei Nikitin.

Details on the corruption charges were not given.

The number of corruption-related crimes involving top Russian government officials and large bribes doubled year-on-year in 2010, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said in January.

The Berlin-based nongovernmental anti-corruption organization Transparency International has consistently rated Russia as one of the most corrupt nations in the world. In its 2010 Corruption Perception Index, Russia was ranked 154 out of 178 countries, with a ranking below countries like Togo, Pakistan and Libya.

MOSCOW, June 9 (RIA Novosti)

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