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#33 - JRL 2009-104 - JRL Home
Subject: Comment re General Vladimir Shamanov/ JRL#102 [including Budanov Chechnya incident]
Date: Wed, 3 Jun 2009
From: "Finch, Raymond Charles, III" <rayfin3@ku.edu>

Mr. Golts addresses some important issues in his analysis surrounding the appointment of General Vladimir Shamanov as commander of the Russian Airborne Forces (A Case of General Distress, DJL #102). As always, it is tough to tell which cat is dominant in the current fight under the Kremlin carpet. Golts doubts that this appointment is the prelude to any sort of resurgence of the role of the Russian General Staff, but that Shamanov might be used as a reform catalyst for the still too top-heavy Russian military.

From my thumbnail analysis, Shamanov may also have been appointed to serve as a counterweight to the growing independence and power of Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya. Similarly, with his reputation of combative rhetoric, his appointment may serve as a general caveat to all those in the Caucasus (to include Georgia) that Russia means business. More likely, his selection is recognition that the Russian airborne forces remain one of the few, near-combat ready conventional forces within the Russian military inventory. Still, his selection has troubling undertones.

Last semester I wrote a paper that dealt with the trials of Russian Colonel Yuri Budanov, who was ultimately convicted of murdering a young Chechen girl in March 2000. Before she was murdered, Anna Politikovskaya had also written extensively about this incident, making it quite clear that the victim (18 year old Elza Kungaeva) had never been a Chechen sniper, and that rather, Colonel Budanov, after a day of drinking, carousing, and cruelty, had kidnapped, raped and murdered the girl. (see: Politkovskaya's "Putin's Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy"). In the course of my research, I came across an interview that then Governor Shamanov gave, some four years after the crime, where he defended the actions of Colonel Budanov, and insisted that Budanov had killed the alleged Chechen sniper in a fit of righteous fury. http://video.yahoo.com/watch/81227/1331443

Shamanovs account differed widely from the official indictment (as did the portrayal of the crime on this Kremlin-sponsored/approved TV program, Zabyitye Polk, Forgotten Regiment). That Shamanov could have so blatantly distorted the facts of this case to protect a subordinate is perhaps understandable, but certainly undermines his credibility as a Russian general.