Putin and the Generals

Typically thin sourcing for the British press, but according to the Telegraph, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is facing a mini-rebellion within the officer corps because of his plan to professionalize the military. Note to Vlad: Talk to Paul Bremer before you fire 200,000 officers during a global depression.

Apparently the grunts aren’t very happy, either. Conditions are atrocious, and morale is low:

. . . The feeling of discontent is even deeper in the non-commissioned ranks, who complain of appalling conditions in their barracks.

Doctorswere summoned to one unheated navy base earlier this month. Of 1,000sailors housed in the barracks, 123 were diagnosed with hypothermia,pneumonia and other serious respiratory diseases. At least one died.Such stories are common.

This compares favorably, of course, to what a Soviet conscript faced twenty-odd years ago. A Lithuanian guy I knew back in the mid-nineties explained that when he was eligible, there were basically two destinations for a draftee: fighting the Mujahideen in Afghanistan or cleaning up radioactive waste in Chernobyl. Needless to say, he defected to New York, which at the time was just barely safer.