Staunton, October 10 – More than 10,000 veterans of the Russian military in Moscow – and 30,000 members of their families -- who have been promised housing are not getting it because the defense ministry has redirected the money allocated for construction to the current military build-up required for the Kremlin’s aggressive foreign policy.
Neither officials at the ministry nor government investigators have been willing to take up their case; and so on Saturday, some, who call themselves “The Homeless Regiment,” held a public protest at the Monument to the Heroes of 1905, a location “Nezavisimaya gazeta” says “reflects their attitudes” (ng.ru/regions/2016-10-10/6_voennye.html).
The Russian government has a long history of not keeping its promises to veterans, a shortcoming that is increasingly infuriating those who aren’t getting what they were promised and certainly is doing nothing to boost morale of those who are still serving and may have increasing doubts that Moscow will live up to its promises when the time comes.
According to the Moscow paper, there are now 10,297 military veterans who have not received new housing when they were promised it, and “for most of them, prospects for acquiring it in the visible future are practically lacking. Moreover, most have families, and thus “no fewer than 40,000 people are suffering” as a result of defense ministry malfeasance.
Neither this protest nor two others – one taking place on the same day protesting the government’s aggressive behavior (styazshkin.livejournal.com/1396581.html) nor a second which occurred a week earlier to protest the draft (sobkorr.ru/news/57EFC4FDEE1CA.html) – have attracted much attention either in Russia or in the West.
But their appearance, especially at a time when the Kremlin can be counted on to repress those involved, suggests that not everyone in Russia is as enthusiastic about Putin’s military adventurism in Ukraine or Syria as he and others like to claim. Indeed, the fact that these three actions have occurred within the last week and in Moscow is significant in and of itself.
That is because protests in the capital are taken far more seriously by the Russian authorities – and by the Russian media, it should be said – than protests anywhere else. And the spread of information about them online and especially via social networks may encourage others elsewhere to demonstrate in the coming days.