Anatoly Serdyukov - "not a man, this is a function"

In the life of Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, there were amazing turns. He came to trade in tax from trade, and to reform the army from civilian financiers. The generals complain that he teases them with green men.

Anatoly Serdyukov - "not a man, this is a function"

Zubkov's son-in-law

In St. Petersburg, the tax inspectorate Serdyukov came to 2000, already an established furniture dealer. After graduating from the accounting and economics department of the Leningrad Institute of Soviet Trade in 1984, Serdyukov joined the army. He served in the communications battalion of the 85 Motorized Rifle Division in Novosibirsk. At that time, recruits with a higher education were offered after nine months of service to take courses in reserve lieutenants. After a year and a half of service, they were dismissed as officers. Serdyukov also chose this path, says a former officer of the central apparatus of the Ministry of Defense, specifying that in the event of war Serdyukov was to be called up for the post of chief of the army trade regiment.

But the merchant Serdyukov became purely peaceful - after the army he went to work at the St. Petersburg furniture store number 3 "Lenmebeltorg". In the Lenmebeltorg system, he grew from an assistant accountant to a director and co-owner of the St. Petersburg trade and industrial company Mebel-Market, formed on the basis of trade.

Serdyukov’s transition to civil service may have been promoted by marriage. In 2000, he married Yulia Pokhlebenina, the daughter of Viktor Zubkov. In Soviet times, Zubkov was a party worker, in 1990 he became Vladimir Putin's deputy in the St. Petersburg mayor's office, and then went to the tax administration - he grew to the deputy minister for taxes and fees by 1999, retaining the post of the head of the St. Petersburg tax administration.

Becoming a member of the Zubkov family, Serdyukov in 2000, he joined the deputy head of the inter-district inspection department No. 1 in St. Petersburg (for the largest taxpayers). In May, 2001 was appointed deputy father-in-law at the St. Petersburg administration, and in November, 2001, when Zubkov became the first deputy minister of finance, took his place, heading the department in St. Petersburg.

“A very decent, systematic person,” characterizes Serdyukov, former vice-governor of St. Petersburg, Alexander Vakhmistrov. - I know him from the time when he led the St. Petersburg tax. He created a good tax administration system. He took care of the material part of the tax inspection, insisted that the tax services were located in accessible premises, so that it was convenient for customers.

This reduced the queue at the tax. On the whole, the Petersburg government was satisfied with his work. "

In February, 2004, on the eve of the elections, Putin shook up the government; in March, the “acting comrade from St. Petersburg” became Serdyukov, who was later approved by the head of the Federal Tax Service without any ministerial status (Zubkov headed Rosfinmonitoring). “This would never have happened without Zubkov,” the tax police general said. “Serdyukov was inconspicuous, but Zubkov was sociable, he could drink vodka too.”

Chief tax officer

Serdyukov’s first project was the Yukos case. In April, the tax authorities began to make claims to the company 2004, which for the year reached $ 27,5 billion. “Serdyukov justified Putin’s trust in stories with YUKOS - proved to be a loyal leader, ”the former tax official said.

Serdyukov was not the manager of the YUKOS case - the tax process was managed by the then head of the legal department of the tax service Anton Ustinov, who reported directly to the deputy head of the presidential administration Igor Sechin (Ustinov works now). “Ustinov, apparently, was told that his boss (Serdyukov) would not interfere,” argues the former chief lawyer of Yukos, Dmitry Gololobov. - Sechin, apparently, coordinated all this from above, distributed instructions, made sure that no one intervened, and coordinated all this personally with Putin. There were no extra links. What is the role of Serdyukov? He sent everyone who came to him to negotiate the YUKOS case: this cannot be done, that is impossible, it is not according to the law. However, it is possible that this fit in his views, in his understanding of the situation. "

“Before Serdyukov, the tax minister was Gennady Bukaev. Yes, he also carried out the commands, but it was possible to talk with him about something, - recalls the former deputy chairman of the YUKOS board, Alexander Temerko. - And then Serdyukov came and figured out literally in three or four weeks. The man, of course, aims to “set the task - I will carry it out without noticing anything”. The rest, though, showed emotions, prosecutors Ustinov and Biryukov, even an investigator ... And Serdyukov acted without emotions, systematically, progressively. This is not a person, this is a mechanism. We tried to talk to him about the tax deferment. They asked why he achieved the arrest of all accounts? We because of the arrest could not pay off with anyone. I think Serdyukov was involved in creating the situation that led to the bankruptcy of the company. ”

The YUKOS case set the tone not only in politics, but also in tax administration: the attitude of the state to the “schemes” has changed. If earlier businessmen told the tax authorities how much they would pay to the budget, then with Serdyukov, the parties switched places. Companies - from small businesses to large ones - had to abandon popular and very primitive ways of optimization. Administrative pressure on business has sharply increased - often and legitimate behavior was declared unfair, taxes were accrued, for example, for a one-day turn in the business chain. Ways to get rid of taxes using administrative methods have become the norm. Companies were forced to raise wages, and then profits on special commissions. For the sake of checking whether the firm is a one-day, the tax authorities blocked the accounts of all the firms registered in alphabetical order. So they wanted to force the director of the company to visit the inspection in person.

With the refund of taxes, Serdyukov also brought order. In 2000, schemes for obtaining money from the air (more precisely, on fictitious grounds from the budget) have already become a fully established business, says the tax police general: “It was impossible to completely eliminate it, but no one really had control over this economy, it needed ordering, should have been headed in the right direction. Serdyukov could do this work. ”

There are two main schemes for making money out of thin air, say tax specialists and consultants. VAT can be returned by showing, for example, that the product (not actually existing) is not sold and is in stock. And a profit tax - by suing, for example, a firm for a contrived reason a large amount of money and showing that instead of profit there was a loss. Both schemes are mainly implemented in Moscow - there is more momentum and it is easier to hide such operations, for this purpose companies from other regions are specifically re-registered in the city.

Formally, the decision is made by the head of inspection. But reimbursements worth more than 5 million rubles. must receive approval at a special commission in the management of the Federal Tax Service in Moscow. This department in 2004 was headed by Nadezhda Sinikova - Serdyukov's longtime colleague: she was his deputy in St. Petersburg, and now she heads Rosoboronpostavka in the Defense Ministry system. Reimbursement of amounts from 100 million rubles. tested in the central office of the Federal Tax Service. As a result, a situation was created when decisions are made at the top, and the head of the inspection is responsible for them before the law. Therefore, the inspections also figured out how to disclaim responsibility. Most of the frauds with VAT can be opened simply by checking the warehouse where the goods are allegedly stored. The tax authorities can theoretically do it themselves, but prefer to negotiate with the employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who formally have no relation to the tax refund. Militiamen say whether there is a product or not, and the tax authorities believe them. If the tax to the budget is paid, the goods (according to the operatives) are in place, and the company was conducting a real activity (that is, it was not created the other day), then the inspectorate has every reason to refund the tax.

How the VAT refund scheme works, Novaya Gazeta recently said, although its investigation refers to the period when Serdyukov was already the Minister of Defense. The newspaper found 20 firms that refunded VAT in 2009-2010. by more than 11 billion rubles, while only cases of compensation over 100 million rubles were analyzed. Sergey Vasilenko, the former head of the Department for the Prevention of Law Violations of the Federal Tax Service, explained that all these companies returned taxes according to the “stock balance” scheme - if the products are not sold during the reporting period, the company has the right to refund the VAT paid on it. The number of company personnel was two or three people, and the turnover reached several billion rubles, but only during the reporting period, which is necessary for VAT refunds. All these firms allegedly rented the same warehouse, where the products seemed to be stored. All reimbursements were made by Moscow Inspections No. 25 and No. 28.

How the scheme for the reimbursement of income tax works, has for several years been told by the Hermitage fund, which believes that several companies were stolen from it, which then lost their claims for compensation for lost profits and, fixing the loss, demanded to return 5,4 billion rubles. The same inspections as in the previous case, No. 25 and No. 28, in December 2007 decided to replace lightning fast in one day. Hermitage believes that lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was tortured in prison precisely because he tried to prevent the implementation of this scheme. According to the fund, the same inspectorates reimbursed the income tax by at least 2,9 billion rubles by the same scheme. in 2006-2007

“Serdyukov made a system like at the Central Bank, that is, all reimbursement of district inspections could be monitored online and click delete at any time,” says the former tax officer. “Systematization and centralization mean at least control and an accurate idea of ​​what is happening,” argues a former high-ranking official. - If before it was impossible to understand anything at all in the chaos of returns, now the flow is orderly. This is the merit of Serdyukov. ”

After Serdyukov was appointed Minister of Defense in February of 2007, he de facto continued to supervise the Federal Tax Service for several years (until the arrival of the new chief of Mikhail Mishustin in 2010 in April). Serdyukov went to the tax office constantly, his former colleagues remember him, he distributed instructions to the members of his team who remained on the farm - and. about. the head of the Federal Tax Service Mikhail Mokretsov and his deputies Sinikova, who supervised VAT reimbursement schemes, and Tatyana Shevtsova, who supervised the interregional inspections for the largest taxpayers. Serdyukov wanted to see his successor Sinikov, but in the end this place was received by the protégé of the then Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin - Mikhail Mishustin. And Sinikova and Shevtsova moved to the Ministry of Defense.

Military reformer

Serdyukov’s appointment as Minister of Defense in February 2007 came as a surprise.

Putin’s decision can be explained by the fact that Serdyukov proved during his service at the Federal Tax Service the ability to control huge financial flows, said an official and a former officer of the central apparatus of the Ministry of Defense. Putin stressed that Serdyukov has experience in economics and finance, and here it is necessary to control "huge budget funds" for the modernization of the armed forces.

But it was not only about control - the growth of military spending was only part of the military reform that Serdyukov was to conduct. He showed a new management style literally a month after his appointment - in March, 2007, starting his acquaintance with the Nakhimov School in St. Petersburg with an inspection of the garbage in the backyard and outbuildings, and then demanding financial documentation.

Serdyukov began firing his deputies, commanders of clans and branches of the armed forces, and heads of defense departments of the Defense Ministry literally several months after their arrival. The key personnel decision was the appointment in June of 2008 by the Chief of the General Staff, General Nikolai Makarov. Now decisions on the construction of the armed forces are taken by Makarov, and political and economic decisions by Serdyukov.

Actually, the reform began after the war in South Ossetia. Although in August 2008, the Russian army ruined the Georgian military machine in five days, the war revealed many shortcomings in the organization and supply of troops. A year later, Serdyukov recalled how the truckers offered to purchase and send additional high-quality food and hygiene items to the troops in Ossetia, he agreed, and then, after checking, made sure that nothing came to the troops at all.

In October, 2008, Mr. Serdyukov, announced the beginning of the transition to a "new look" of the armed forces. For three years, the Russian army has ceased to be a diminished copy of the Soviet: mass mobilization for the big war is no longer envisaged, says an officer in the Ministry of Defense. The size of the wartime army is set at 1,7 million versus 5 million in 2008, and the cropped, incomplete mobilized units are largely eliminated. This made the Russian army look like the armies of the NATO countries and most of the others. In 2008-2010 number of officers was reduced from 350 000 to 150 000 (albeit in 2011, it was decided to increase it to 220 000), more than 1000 cropped and parts depots liquidated, 24 divisions of ground troops reformed about 90 brigades and air regiments and 72 14 air bases - seven air bases of the first and seven-second level, the number of military schools reduced from 65 to 10.

In addition to military logic, there was also a financial one: officers have the right to various benefits that the state is often unable to provide them (for example, the housing queue, despite Putin’s promise to eliminate it, still persists - Serdyukov recently asked 272 billion to solve the problem RUB to 2014 g., wrote about this "Kommersant"). Sergeants are cheaper for the state than officers, so officers need to be reduced, having transferred part of their work to sergeants (and, therefore, schools are not needed in such numbers).

In the same financial vein - the sale of non-core assets of the Ministry of Defense, the transfer of supplies to outsourcing and the reform of arms procurement.

Over 2000-2008 RFFI sold military property to 1,4 billion rubles. In November, 2008 handed over the case to the Ministry of Defense, for which the Department of Property Relations was established there, which began work in April 2009. In 2009, the Ministry of Defense sold property for more than 1,5 billion rubles, in 2010 for 4,4 billion rub., and in 2011 g. - 5 billion rubles.

Procurement of weapons, housing and materials were removed from Serdyukov from the control of the military, they are engaged in manned civilian structures of the Ministry of Defense. They are headed by the colleagues of Serdyukov in the Federal Tax Service. Rosoboronpostavka was headed by Sinikova in 2010, and Shevtsova was appointed deputy minister of defense for financial and economic issues. Oboronservis OJSC, to which all the structures of the Ministry of Defense involved in repairing, building, and servicing the troops have been transferred, was headed by former Federal Tax Service official Sergei Khursevich. All this radically transformed the central office of the department, which was reduced by almost half to 10 000. "Previously, during lunch in the canteen in the ministry, it’s good if you could see two or three women, now the problem is to see men in uniform," the colonel of the central office ironically says.

2011 year was marked by a price war with the defense industry - the Ministry of Defense all year delayed the conclusion of contracts, seeking lower prices. The conflict even went public: the chief designer of the Topol M and Bulava missiles, Yuri Solomonov, openly spoke out against the Ministry of Defense. But in the end, most of the contracts were concluded on the terms of the Ministry of Defense.

Under Serdyukov, the rearmament of the army began, says Konstantin Makienko, an expert at the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. From 2008, the air force received about 150 new aircraft and helicopters (for 10 years before - a few units). At the very end of 2010, despite the resistance of the Ministry of Finance, a new state armaments program up to 2020 worth more than 20 trillion rubles was approved. It is unlikely that it will be implemented in full, but the percentage of its implementation will be clearly higher than that of previous programs, Makienko believes.

Many soldiers look at Serdyukov’s reform without optimism. Former Defense Minister Igor Rodionov believes that Serdyukov did not carry out any reform, and what he did is a mockery. According to Rodionov, after the destruction of the potential for mobilization deployment, he doubts that the Russian army will be able to form even one combat-ready brigade from scratch.

According to the director general of one of the enterprises of Rostekhnologii, former employees of tax inspections who are in charge of arms procurement now have little knowledge of technology and understand only financial and accounting realities. “It is not clear to them that without a full test cycle, which they refuse to pay, the rocket is just a piece of iron, it is not clear that without buying spare parts a new plane is a useless piece of iron, and the military, who could fix them, are all fired by Serdyukov,” - the interlocutor of "Vedomosti" complains. In his opinion, the corruption in the department has not decreased, it just acquired a more modern character. Instead of direct theft, when new trucks, fuel, etc., were sold to the left, overpricing schemes came in for purchases.

There is a personal aspect to this discontent. “The minister keeps the honored generals at the reception for two or three hours,” a source close to the Ministry of Defense complains. - And once at a meeting, jokingly, he called them "little green men."

Serdyukov himself wants to change the Ministry of Defense to another ministry - finance, several high-ranking officials told Vedomosti, some time ago the Minister of Defense even discussed with Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev the opportunity to get the position of vice-premier for finance. True, according to the Vedomosti interlocutors, the tandem agreement could not be obtained, Serdyukov was offered to bring the Defense Ministry’s large-scale reform to a logical conclusion.

The Ministry of Defense did not answer the questions of "Vedomosti".
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