Saturday, September 29, 2007

To Resign Or Not To Resign, That Is The Question

Eurasia Daily Monitor: Serdyukov's Fake Resignation

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov planned to resign last week, before President Vladimir Putin announced Serdyukov would continue on as defense minister on Monday, September 24th. Serdyukov is the son-in-law of Russia’s new prime minister Viktor Zubkov.

At the time, pundits lauded the resignation announcement as it meant the government followed the law on civil service that prevents such family ties in the government. Looking to Soviet times, the government did not allow close relatives to be in direct subordination to each other as a political rebuke of imperial Russia. Throughout history, direct subordination was never present – though subordination was allowed if there was one other official between the father and the son.

Serdyukov was appointed defense minister in February to fight massive graft in the Defense Ministry. The 2000 defense budget was 146 billion rubles ($5.8 billion); but this year, it is 870 billion rubles ($34 billion). No one knows where the new money is going, especially since no more weapons are procured than when defense spending was much smaller. Serdyukov's reforms in the Defense Ministry are in full swing, but a replacement would find it difficult to accomplish the reform due to the March 2008 presidential election.

The 1993 constitution provides for the defense minister to directly report to the president, not the prime minister. Thus, it is possible that Putin could use this provision as justification to keep Serdyukov. It is also relevant that Putin has created an administrative system with immense corruption; though the public and government have allowed Putin to bend many rules in the past.

Question for discussion: Should Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov resign?

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