Last week Russia's former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov announced that he will be serving as Director of a state-owned “Russian Technologies” subsidiary. The declaration came as something of a surprise due to the very public nature of Serdyukov’s ouster from the Ministry of Defense in November 2012. He was sacked after large scale real-estate fraud was uncovered at state-owned defense logistics contractor, Oboronservice. Rumor has it that Serdyukov was present when investigators raided the apartment of Evgenia Vasilyeva, his deputy — allegedly the two were lovers. The Oboronservice fraud investigation is currently continuing.
Russian bloggers reacted with bitter humor at the news of Serdyukov's new appointment so soon after his fall, and while still under investigation. LiveJournal blogger Vlad Shurigin mocked [ru] Serdyukov’s past career as a furniture salesman and his alleged future career at the helm of an agricultural machinery producer.
В общем, теперь из “Толи Табуреткина” он превратился в “Толю Тракториста”
Well, basically, now he's gone from “Anatole the Chair” to “Anatole the Tractor Driver”
Others mocked Vasilyeva, who is currently under house arrest as the investigation continues. Vladimir Soloviev tweeted:
Ну вот и всё. Всем спасибо. Сердюков примеряет очередной начальственный пиджачок. Уже не свидетель! Теперь директор!!!! Васильеву в замы?
— Vladimir Soloviev (@VRSoloviev) November 15, 2013
Well, that’s it then. Thank you very much. Serdyukov is trying out another executive position. He ain't a witness anymore! Now he is a director!!! Will Vasilyeva be a deputy?
Opposition blogger, Ilya Yashin, reminded his readers of President Putin's promises to combat corruption in his administration:
Путин пошел на решительные меры. Борьба с коррупцией в Минобороне закончилась трудоустройством Сердюкова в новое ведомство. #ПартияЖуликов
— Илья Яшин (@IlyaYashin) November 15, 2013
Putin has taken drastic measures. The fight against corruption in the Ministry of Defense has ended with Serdyukov’s appointment to a new office. #PartyOfCrooks
On his Facebook page, the journalist Aydar Muzhdabaev noted [ru] that regardless of common assumptions that he was behind the corruption, Serdyukov is currently merely a witness in the Oboronservice fraud case — not a suspect.
In general, though, the whole affair casts a bad light on Russia, thinks [ru] blogger Mikhail Belaev:
Знаете, это даже не государственный позор. Это – унижение всей нашей нации. Публичное унижение каждого из нас. А так же прямое заявление Кремлёвской власти о том, что для их касты небожителей закона не существует. […] История Сердюкова с его чудесным избавлением от уголовного дела после крупнейшего коррупционного скандала и последующее возвращение этой персоны на госслужбу – прямое тому подтверждение.
You know, this is not even a disgrace for our government. This is the humiliation of our entire nation. The public humiliation of every one of us. And also a direct statement from the Kremlin that no laws apply its caste of “gods.” […] The story of Serdyukov with his miraculous deliverance from a criminal case after a major corruption scandal and the subsequent return to the civil service is a direct confirmation of this.
Belaev may be headed for more disappointment. The Oboronservice fraud case potentially involves more people than those currently under investigation. At the same time, Serdyukov has not fully cooperated [ru] with Russia's Investigative Committee, a fact that has irks them greatly. Is his unexpected appointment a reward for his silence?