The Russian Duma yesterday held the first of what are expected to be five to six closed meetings on military reform, a member of the defense committee told the press. According to retired Col. General Eduard Vorobev, among those attending the meeting were Duma chairman Gennady Seleznev, Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, acting Minister of Defense Mikhail Kolesnikov, first deputy defense minister Andrei Kokoshin, Foreign Intelligence Service director Vyacheslav Trubnikov, and the head of the General Staff Academy (and Security Council secretary Aleksandr Lebed’s first choice for defense minister), Igor Rodionov. Vorobev provided no details of the discussions, saying only that they were devoted to analysis of legislative measures that would be required to bring the structures and staffing of the power ministries into conformity with Russia’s security requirements. The next meeting is scheduled for July 8. According to Vorobev, topics at future sessions will include military-technical policy and the establishment of social guarantees for servicemen and their families. (Interfax, June 4)
Plans to hold the Duma hearings on military reform were first announced in early June, several weeks after president Boris Yeltsin had unexpectedly declared that Russia would transition to an all-volunteer force by the year 2000. (See Monitor, May 17 & June 4) In the heat of the presidential election campaign, it was difficult to determine whether either of those announcements should be taken seriously. But the impressive list of participants in yesterday’s meeting, together with several key developments that occurred in the interim, suggest that Moscow may at last be moving toward consideration of real reform for its bedraggled military forces.
Chechnya Talks Fail.