Ummid Assistant

Applications open for Manmohan scholarship at Cambridge

IIM-Trichy to offer short courses too at Chennai centre

Welcome Guest! You are here: Home Views & Analysis

Why a military coup is impossible in Russia

Friday November 23, 2012 09:33:37 AM, Alexandra Odynova, IANS

Two senior officers are currently on trial in Russia for attempting to organise coups, but few believe a military-led uprising could succeed in the country in the foreseeable future.

"There are no grounds for any such nonsense as a military coup in Russia," said Igor Korotchenko, military expert and editor of National Defense monthly magazine.

Tough-talking President Vladimir Putin, under whom tens of thousands of servicemen were handed apartments and enjoyed substantial salary raises, enjoys a certain popularity among the military, something no potential military coup plotter can hope to equal, he said.

A retired special forces colonel and a popular nationalist figure, Vladimir Kvachkov, 64, is on trial in the Moscow City Court over charges of organising a group of military servicemen, arming them with crossbows and training them to seize a tank division in the town of Kovrov, 270 km west of Moscow, in order to overthrow the government.

Two years ago, Kvachkov was acquitted of organising an attempted assassination of Anatoly Chubais, an architect of the country's market reforms which impoverished millions of Russians in the turbulent 1990s.

The day after a higher court upheld the acquittal, a Moscow court sanctioned his arrest on mutiny and terrorism charges, which carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Kvachkov denies any wrongdoing.

In a separate case, Afghan War veteran and retired colonel Leonid Khabarov, 65, was arrested last year in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg after the Federal Security Service (FSB) accused him of plotting an armed mutiny.

According to the charges, Khabarov and his alleged accomplices planned to break into the local offices of the FSB, the Interior Ministry and Emergencies Ministry, kill the top officials there, and blow up several electricity stations, causing a city-wide blackout, in order to provoke rebellion in the army. Khabarov is also suspected of heading the local cell of Kvachkov's front.

Khabarov denies the charges and is currently on trial in a Yekaterinburg court. If found guilty he faces over 20 years in prison.

Even if the allegations against the two retired military commanders are found to be grounded, a crossbow mutiny seems more than unlikely to succeed. The same can be said of a rebellion triggered by a blackout. But these cases raise the question: Is a military coup even possible in Russia?

History of Failed Coups
Russia's military has a rebellious past, the Decembrists' failed coup of 1825 being just one of the best known episodes.

Less than a century ago, a significant proportion of those in Russia's army were swayed by the vision of Communism aggressively promoted by the Bolsheviks in the trenches of the First World War, and supported the 1917 revolution that overthrew the Tsarist regime.

In the following decades, Stalin purged the top brass of its most popular leaders, some historians have suggested, because he feared a military coup.

But thousands of Russian soldiers switched sides during WWII, opting to fight alongside the Nazis against the Red Army. In 1991, Communist hardliners seeking to oust reformist Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev called on the military for support. This support, however, did not materialise.

Two years later, the Russian military helped President Boris Yeltsin quash the attempted rebellion by an opposition parliament. Success came at a price: dozens of dead on Moscow's streets.

Through most of the 1990s and early 2000s, quite a few political underdogs, particularly those in the nationalist and Communist camps, have raised the spectre of a budding coup launched by disgruntled servicemen, unhappy with the living conditions they ended up with even after serving their country in two Chechen wars.

But not a single military unit has ever been reported to have rebelled or disobeyed their commanders' orders.

As Putin started pouring money into the Russian Armed Forces, these talks all but disappeared from the public discourse.

"The majority (of the officers) support Putin," said Korotchenko, who is also head of the defence ministry's public council. "Putin is a great authority for them."

Not So Loyal
But this is only partially true. Analysts at the Institute of Globalization Studies and Social Movements, a Moscow-based think tank, recently published a report saying that has some of the prerequisites for a successful military coup scenario are present in Russia.

They predict that if there is a military revolt in Russia, "it will develop from the bottom, without generals, but including retired servicemen".

"Many in the military are leaning to the left, and vote for the Communist Party," said Ivan Shchyogolev, a military analyst with the institute, highlighting the fact that they are not loyal to the government. But, as yet, they stop short of openly protesting against it yet, he said.

Another researcher at the institute, Vasily Koltashov, wrote that "even though the military are depicted as pro-nationalist, they are not happy with the government's rightist social and economic course".

This study is based on a comparative analysis with countries such as Portugal, Spain, Greece and Latin America, Shchyogolev explained.

On Saturday, thousands of soldiers in civilian clothes marched through Lisbon to protest against next year's austerity budget. There has never been a military protest on that scale in Russia.

Russia is a nuclear power. Its forces are heavily guarded by the intelligence services, and even if riots start brewing among servicemen and women, the FSB will doubtless react before it reaches boiling point, experts believe.

The authorities simply do not fear the possibility of a military coup, and are confident that the intelligence services would be able to contain any mutinous activity, Shchyogolev said.

In addition, the recent replacement of unpopular former tax official Anatoly Serdyukov as Defense Minister with well-perceived former Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu will further appease the top brass.

Serdyukov was ousted from his post Nov 6, shortly after a probe was opened into suspected massive corruption deals within the ministry that cost it in excess of three billion rubles ($95 million).

Former lawmaker with the State Duma security committee, Gennady Gudkov, who served with the KGB, said that the military will not join the protests in the near future. However, he added, the potential remains that, further down the line, they may decide otherwise.

"Putin is Putin. But why should they side with corrupt officials?" Gudkov asked rhetorically in an interview, referring to the series of corruption scandals in the defence ministry. "The servicemen cannot tolerate this situation indefinitely," he added.

Shchyogolev agreed that "a military coup is plausible, but it cannot happen today" and requires more discontent with the government.



(Alexandra Odynova writes for RIA Novosti. The views are her own)

 

 
 




 


 

Home | Top of the Page

Comments

Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the terms and conditions of www.ummid.com

Comments powered by DISQUS

i

I

More Headlines

BJP releases first list, Narendra Modi to contest from Maninagar

119 journalists killed in 2012: Report

Turkish man sails 2,500 miles in search of 'love'

India says cricket ties fine but 26/11 justice core concern

'Pakistan taking unprecedented steps for peace with India'

Did you take action against erring officers, activist asks Maha top cop

Nitish Kumar named for negligence in Chhath stampede

India probes Cadbury for Rs.213 crore tax evasion

High court rejects Madani's bail plea

 

Top Stories

FDI row, BSP derail parliament

Parliament's winter session began on a stormy note Thursday with the row over FDI in trade and reservation for Dalits as well as tribals in promotions crippling the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.  

PM seeks cooperation of parties before winter session

Will it be another unproductive parliament session?

 

  Most Read

Experts suggest quota, policy and action for Muslims

The seminar -- 'Round table on Muslims, inequity and the post-Millenium Development Goals framework' -- was organised by Oxfam India at the Constitution Club in the capital to emphasise 

Trinamool's no-trust motion on FDI rejected

The Lok Sabha Thursday rejected the Trinamool Congress's bid to move a no-confidence motion against the government over its policies, including allowing foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail. Sudeep Bandopadhyay of the  

 

  News Pick

Did you take action against erring officers, activist asks Maharashtra top cop

A local RTI activist Thursday asked Maharashtra Director General of Police Sanjive Dayal what action he had taken against the police  

Court acquits two in 1996 Delhi blasts; slams police

Slamming the lax probe, the Delhi High Court Thursday acquitted two convicts given death penalty in the 1996 Lajpat Nagar Market bomb blasts here which killed 13 people. Another convict's death sentence was reduced to life 

Meritorious Assam student Ratul Khan finally gets US visa

Seven students, who had topped in the exam this year, were selected by the government as part of a Deba Kumar Bora Memorial exposure trip to National Aeronautics and Space Administration 

After 140 deaths, ceasefire in Gaza

Appreciating the efforts made by the UN, the Arab League, Qatar and Turkey, Amr said Egypt was committed to its historical role in the Palestinian issue, and that his country believes in the necessity of a fair solution. 

Israeli aggression raises anger in Arab world

 

Picture of the Day

President Pranab Mukherjee at the National Education Day 2012 function to commemorate the birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, in New Delhi on November 11, 2012.

(Photo: Sanjiv Misra)

 

Recommend the story to your friends

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

RSS  |  Contact us

 

| Quick links

News

 

Subscribe to

Ummid Assistant

 

National

Science & Technology

RSS

Scholarships

About us

International

Health

Twitter

Government Schemes

Feedback

Regional

History

Facebook

Education

Register

Politics

Opinion

Newsletter

Contact us

Business

The Funny Side

Education & Career

     

 

 

Ummid.com: Disclaimer | Terms of Use | Advertise with us | Link Exchange

Ummid.com is part of the Awaz Multimedia & Publications providing World News, News Analysis and Feature Articles on Education, Health. Politics, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Industry etc. The articles or the views displayed on this website are for public information and in no way describe the editorial views. The users are entitled to use this site subject to the terms and conditions mentioned.

2012 Awaz Multimedia & Publications. All rights reserved.