Defense Ministry agrees to classify data on military personnel who served in Chechnya

The list of individuals, whose personal data is considered a state secret, should include servicemen who have been in places of armed conflicts in Russia or abroad, the Defense Ministry said (RIA Novosti / Ruslan Vakhaev)
The Russian Defense Ministry has supported the initiative of the Liberal Democratic Party to classify all personal data of those servicemen who have taken part in counter-terrorist operations.

­The ministry has sent a letter to the LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky in support of his idea. The list of individuals, whose personal data is considered a state secret, should include servicemen who have been in places of armed conflicts in Russia or abroad, the ministry said.

To classify this information, Russian legislation should be amended. Zhirinovsky had insisted on the move after media reports that the prosecutor’s office of the Chechen Republic had asked the Defense Ministry to release the personal data of Russian military personnel who had served in Chechnya during the counter-terrorist operations in 1994-1996.

The issue came under the spotlight after former Colonel Yury Budanov was killed in Moscow on June 10. In 2000, when he commanded a tank regiment in Chechnya, he was accused of killing a young Chechen woman, and later served a jail term for this crime. The media speculated that the killers had obtained Budanov’s personal data through official sources.

Other reports said that the Chechen law enforcement agencies also wanted to obtain personal data, including photos and addresses, of the Interior Ministry officers who have served in Chechnya to restore constitutional order.

The Chechen authorities explained that they were continuing to investigate crimes committed during the armed conflicts in the republic. But in some cases, the Chechen investigators wanted the personal data of all servicemen who served in a regiment rather than particular individuals, Moskovsky Komsomolets daily wrote.  

All the requests for such data should be turned down, Zhirinovsky proposed in a letter to Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. The politician believes that any information on individuals who have collaborated secretly with the intelligence or criminal investigation services must be also classified under the law “On State Secrets.”

So far, the list of those whose personal data is classified under the law provides inadequate guarantees of security for military personnel and civilians, the LDPR leader insisted. Their protection should be secured “from possible attempts on their lives and health by former or current terrorists,” Zhirinovsky said. Otherwise, the politician argued, some officials could use inquiries “for personal revenge.”