January 17, 2012: A year ago, the president of Russia ordered an extensive financial audit of senior generals and admirals. The auditors found corruption and irregularities in every branch of the military. Not so much outright theft, but more using ones rank and connections to start businesses on the side. Some of these enterprises made the officers quite wealthy. It was found that they went to great lengths to hide this additional outcome by parking it overseas and putting it in the name of wives, children, or other kin. The auditors also found that when these senior officers were caught, the most severe punishment they received was to be retired from the armed forces. They kept their modest pensions, and all the money they were making on the side. Some officers, who stole money or equipment, were caught and received harsher punishment. There were also other officers who seemed to have more unreported income than their secret businesses indicated. The extra cash was probably from bribes.
This audit did not dig deep and uncovered only a small portion of the offenders, and their offenses. This makes it obvious that to cast the net wider, and to dig deeper, will surely uncover thousands of senior officials guilty of corruption. Is the government willing to go this far? There is growing pressure from below to take the investigations farther. But to do so would cause enormous disruption to the senior leadership of the government and the military. It might even induce a coup by the many corrupt officers and officials. What is to be done?