Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 17

The Duma January 23 sent an appeal to Boris Yeltsin urging him to suspend a Defense Ministry order placing two airborne divisions and four brigades of airborne assault forces under the immediate or operational command of Russia’s ground forces. The planned transfer, which bears an air of intrigue that transcends the armed services’ usual internecine rivalries, is to take place by February 1. According to Defense Ministry sources, the four brigades will be transferred to the direct control of the ground forces, while the two divisions will be indirectly subordinated to the ground forces for special joint operations. The North Caucasus, Siberian, Transbaikal, and Far Eastern military districts will each receive one airborne brigade. Russia’s General Staff apparently supported the decision, while Airborne forces headquarters claimed to have been surprised by it. (9)

Opposition to the transfer has been organized by former paratrooper and current presidential contender and Duma deputy Aleksandr Lebed. The highly secret order is likely to be resented within the airborne forces. One paratrooper commander described it as "squandering" some of Russia’s most elite units. (10) Similar rumors nearly a year ago indicated that paratrooper commander Yevgeny Podkolzin had clashed with Russia’s defense minister over the conduct of the initial invasion of Chechnya. (11)

Primakov to Tour CIS.