Military prosecutors recommended the dismissal Thursday of a veteran submarine commander who became an Internet sensation after he was filmed confronting a superior with an eye-watering torrent of obscenities.
But a Navy veteran said the foul-mouthed captain would likely get off with a reprimand, both because verbal abuse is the standard form of informal communication in the military and because people of his rank and experience were too valuable to the Navy.
“We’ve decided to file papers for the dismissal of Roman Shchury,” said Roman Kolbanov, deputy military prosecutor of the Pacific Fleet.
But he added that “the final decision will be made in Moscow,” Interfax reported.
Shchury’s tirade was found in violation of the military manual that requires officers to show respect in on-duty conversations, Kolbanov said.
Neither the Navy’s General Staff nor Shchury commented Thursday. A Pacific Fleet spokesman said the captain remained on active duty, Interfax reported.
Former submarine captain Igor Kurdin, citing his naval sources, said by telephone that the Navy intended to discipline Shchury, not discharge him.
Shchury, commander of the K-295 Samara nuclear submarine, was filmed telling off Sergei Bondarenko, the senior disciplinary officer with the vessel’s division, for not congratulating his crew on Navy Day.
The disgruntled captain, speaking in a hoarse roar, denounces the perceived snub to his crew — which he says is one of only two units in the division that do any actual work — in expressions unfit for publication.
Shchury also stresses — with obscenities — that the crewmen are ready to die for their motherland. Curiously, he never directly targets Bondarenko over the course of the three-minute footage.
The video was uploaded on YouTube in December but only went viral in mid-May, attracting more than 42,000 views as of Thursday. The video is not dated but was apparently shot around last year’s Navy Day, celebrated on June 22.
Shchury’s behavior was “unacceptable,” but officers like him are valuable and won’t be quickly dismissed by the Navy, said Kurdin, who heads the St. Petersburg Submariners Club. Shchury, a graduate of the prestigious Nakhimov Naval Academy in St. Petersburg, was highly praised by Defense Ministry’s newspaper Krasnayain 2007 and lauded by then-President Vladimir Putin during a visit to the submarine that year.
Many YouTube viewers expressed solidarity with Shchury, with one writing: “Brave guy. He is not demanding girls or a dinner at a restaurant — just simple respect. It looks like the man had enough.”
The clash between Shchury and Bondarenko — whose job is informally known as “political officer” — echoes a scene in the Hollywood movie “K-19,” where a Soviet submarine commander played by Harrison Ford rebels against a political officer, although over an impending nuclear disaster, not a lack of respect.