The Union of Commandos of Russia addressed the people, the president, the Federal Assembly and the Patriarch in connection with a recent order from Russia's Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. The minister ordered to liquidate a church on the outskirts of the city of Ryazan. The Church of Elijah the Prophet was built owing to personal donations from commandos.
"Visiting the training center near Ryazan, Anatoly Serdyukov used obscene language to insult Hero of Russia Andrey Krasov, humiliating his professional and personal dignity in front of subordinates. The minister also hurt religious feelings of the commandos who donated to the construction of the Church of Elijah the Prophet, the spiritual guardian of military men," the message from the Union of Commandos said.
"The minister has already demonstrated such ill attitude and petty tyranny before. This person does not have any authority with either the troops, veterans or the population. He exercised his inability to command the troops during Russia's peace enforcement operation in Georgia in August of 2008. We remember the news reports, when it was the president who reported the course of military actions and the development of the operation to the defense minister, not vice versa," the message also said.
On September 30, Russia's Defense Minister Serdyukov visited a training center of the Higher Military Command School of Airborne Troops in Ryazan. Lieutenant General Vladimir Shamanov, the commander of Russian airborne troops, was not visiting the training center because of the personal order from the defense minister.
Shamanov and Serdyukov came into conflict with each other over different approaches to the issue of reforming the airborne troops. Shamanov managed to keep several divisions of the airborne troops, which Serdyukov was intended to cut and transform them into brigades several years ago. Most likely, the general won the fight because of high reputation which he had earned during many successful anti-terrorist operations.
As soon as Serdyukov's helicopter landed in the training center, the minister paid attention to the wooden church, which the commandos built on their own donations. The minister did not watch his language when expressing indignation about it to the superintendent of the military school, Colonel Krasov.
Krasov said that no one has taken a kopek from the defense ministry to build the church on the territory of the training center. The construction was financed by sponsors, veterans and Ryazan eparchy. In response, Serdyukov publicly insulted the general calling him names. The next minute Serdyukov gave the following instructions to his team: "No money should be assigned to this center. This school must be closed. The colonel must be dismissed."
Many Russian bloggers wrote later that the army is perhaps the only institute in Russia where it is still possible to raise patriotism in the younger generation. The moral decay of the army is extremely dangerous because military men need to realize what they serve and fight for.
Patriarch of All Russia Kirill discussed the problem with President Medvedev, and it was decided not to demolish the wooden church in Ryazan.