Morale: Pursuing Those Who Plunder Pilot's Pay


July 25, 2011: Russia has a growing problem with corruption in the military. The most troublesome aspect of this is officers, often quite senior ones, stealing money from budgets they control. But the worst form of this is commanders stealing the pay of subordinates. One form of this has become a big scandal in Russia, after fighter pilots found some of their combat (for serving against Islamic terrorists in the Caucasus) and performance bonuses stolen by their commanders. For a while, the commanders keep their subordinates in line (and quiet) by threatening to send them on unpaid leave (easier to do than firing them). But pilots began complaining to military prosecutors, and some even went public (which usually resulted in unpaid leave for them).

Some commanders have been prosecuted and convicted (and sentenced to short terms, like four years in prison, and expulsion from the military). The investigations can take a while, and the outspoken subordinates stay on unpaid leave until the case is completed.

The bonus system was instituted three years ago, and many commanders saw fit to demand a share (10-20 percent). Many pilots just paid, often because they noted that complaints to prosecutors were not acted on, and sometimes the informers ended up on unpaid leave. But more and more pilots reported the theft, and now it's the corrupt commanders who are keeping their heads down and hoping for the best.





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