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Russian pilots embezzled by commanding officers

Elite fighter pilots had their salaries skimmed by their commanding officers at a Russian airbase, a military official said Tuesday, confirming an account from a whistleblower

“Everything has been confirmed, racketeering exists,” said General Viktor Bondarev, who led the probe into allegations revealed in an open letter to the defense ministry from pilot Igor Soulim.

Since January 2010, Edouard Kovalski and Serguei Sidorenko, commanders at Russia’s military pilot training centre, allegedly lifted two million roubles (50,000 euros) from the bonuses of pilots and other base personnel.

Corruption is endemic in Russia’s military. Last week, in another embarassing case, military prosecutors confirmed allegations made in an online video that military officers in Vladivostok had replaced tinned meals for soldiers with dog food. The officers pocketed one million roubles (25,000 euros) in the switch.