Medvedev and Putin to decide on CSKA fate

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Tuesday that it is up to President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin to decide on the future of CSKA.

The existing system of army sports is a unique example of government protection, which is unprecedented in the world. For instance, since early Soviet times, members of army clubs couldn't be sent into active military service. Other sportsmen weren't that lucky and sometimes had to repay to their motherland, sacrificing their sporting careers. But the Defence Ministry has recently suggested that it's time to end the Soviet-era practice of using athletes who formally serve in the Russian army.

In fact, the question is far wider – whether Russian army clubs should remain being controlled by the Defence Ministry, change ownership, or even be restructured. In reality, they have already become civilian organisations, albeit reporting to the Defence Ministry.

In the worst case scenario, Russia may lose the entire system of army sports.

While Mutko says that CSKA could be transferred to some other agency.

“Sporting activity is not an army business,” Mutko said. “Hence it is necessary to decide whether the Defence Ministry will continue to perform this function or it is to be transferred to another agency.”

“This issue will be solved in the near future at the level of the president and prime minister,” he stressed.

The minister said that today, the system incorporates about 3,500 athletes, while some 30,000 children train at its grounds. Army clubs, such as CSKA ice hockey, soccer and basketball teams, are internationally famous. In total, there are about 30 internationally distinguished sport clubs.

“Altogether it is worth about 4 billion roubles ($ 116 million),” Mutko estimated.