March 25, 2008
Frustrated Baluyevsky Offers His Resignation
By Simon Saradzhyan
General Yury Baluyevsky, the chief of the General Staff, has asked to be relieved of his post as a result of his bitter opposition to Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov's plans for reforming the armed forces, Novaya Gazeta reported.
A source in the Defense Ministry confirmed on Monday that Baluyevsky had tendered his resignation.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Baluyevsky had asked President Vladimir Putin to discharge him at least once before. The source refused to say, however, why Baluyevsky, who was appointed chief of the General Staff and first deputy defense minister in 2004, decided to make the request so soon after Putin extended his term of service until 2011.
The daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported on Monday that Baluyevsky wanted out because of disagreements over personnel shuffles and reforms with Serdyukov, a career tax official appointed by Putin last year.
While not denying the report, the source said, "no one would publicly say this."
"Many" generals and other senior officers opposed to Serdyukov's plans were also planning to resign, the daily reported, citing a number of military sources, including General Vasily Smirnov, who runs the General Staff directorate responsible for manning the armed forces.
When asked to comment on the reported resignations, the Defense Ministry source told The Moscow Times "something like this is happening, but on a much smaller scale," adding that Smirnov would neither confirm nor deny that he had tendered his resignation.
Unlike career army officers such as Baluyevsky and Smirnov, Serdyukov and many of his prot g s come from a civilian background, with little or no military experience. Serdyukov's team includes former tax officials and a number of retired security service officers appointed by his predecessor, retired Federal Security Service General Sergei Ivanov.
Serdyukov's plans to sell what he considers redundant military assets have ruffled the feathers of senior military personnel, the daily reported, and Baluyevsky has publicly decried plans announced in January to relocate the headquarters of the Navy from Moscow to St. Petersburg.
Then, in February, the commander of the Defense Ministry department responsible for allocating apartments and rent subsidies killed himself, reportedly after being chastised by Serdyukov. Around the same time the minister called for a 40 percent reduction in personnel at Defense Ministry headquarters and the General Staff, military sources said, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported.
The daily reported the two events as the "last straw" for Baluyevsky.