Fighting over Russian military towns
Who are going to cover the management costs of the run-down and dilapidated Russian military towns? The federal government puts an increasing part of the burden on the regions, among them Murmansk Oblast.
The situation in the military towns is gradually deteriorating after many years of insufficient financing by the federal government. Minister of Defence Anatoly Serdyukov himself admits that his ministry covers less than half of the money needed. In 2012, the ministry budget includes 61 billion RUB (€1.5 billion) for the purpose, while more than 130 billion RUB (€3.2 billion) are needed, the minister said in a recent government meeting.
He admits that buildings and social infrastructure, like boilers, in the towns are reaching a level of collapse. Another ministry source says to newspaper Vedomosti that the current budget allocations for the towns barely cover critically important infrastructure, while there is nothing left for the maintainence of roads and other social infrastructure.
Serdyukov supports the regions’ and municipalities’ takeover of military property, but stresses that the deals must be accompanied with federal funding. His own ministry, however, is not ready to assist. This is a task for the Ministry of Finance, he signals.
Murmansk Oblast is among the regions with a big number of military towns on its territory. A deal recently concluded between the region and the Ministry of Defence includes 722 objects, which are to be handed over from the federal to the local level. Of these, 625 objects will be handed over to the municipal level of power, while the regional level will take over 97 objects. Among the objects are 19 boilers, Regnum reports. A part of the deal is an almost eight billion RUB (€200 million) allocation to the region.
Paradoxically, the heated debate over the financing of the military towns comes as Russia is increasing its military budgets to historical heights. The country intends to spend more than 20 trillion RUB on its armed forces in the period until year 2020, most of it on new armament.