Duck and Cover

In Soviet Russia, there was never any need to explain, let alone apologize.  But times have changed … somewhat.  So when Comrade Bear decided not to attend next week’s  G8 conference at Camp David, his spokesman cited the need to assemble a cabinet of worthies to carry out the vital work of Russia’s government.  Cheerful Comrade Bearcub would attend instead.  An explanation, but not an apology.  And as long as explanations are in order, why not try another cover story where the need might exist?

A high-ranking source in the General Staff of the Armed Forces said on Saturday [that] the dismissal of Russian Navy Commander Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky was due to his reluctance to comply with an order by Russia’s top military leadership to move the Navy General Staff from Moscow to St. Petersburg.   The initiative was estimated to cost between 40 and 50 billion rubles ($1.3-1.6 billion), the source said, [including] the cost of personnel relocation and the construction of a new command center in St. Petersburg. Vysotsky was not against the very idea of moving the Navy command, but “insisted that the relocation should be gradual and thought through.”

Lunghu has had some professional experience of his own with respect to hastily-conceived relocation projects and “construction of a new command center.”  The purported need for celerity and expeditious project completion is often used as justification (or as an excuse?) for –shall we say– unorthodox procurement and contracting “procedures” in which “the right people” mysteriously end up performing substandard work at premium prices.  Certainly, it’s entirely plausible that Admiral Vysotsky may have been retired because he was inconveniently in the path of someone’s gravy train.  As cover stories go, this one has got the sonorous ring of authenticity.  But that doesn’t necessarily make it true …

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