A Russian daily said yesterday that a draft presidential decree has already been drawn up calling for defense minister Pavel Grachev to be replaced by Duma deputy and former deputy defense minister Boris Gromov. The newspaper depicted the action as a logical follow-up to Yeltsin’s March 16 decree calling for the creation of an all-volunteer Russian army. Gromov would presumably direct the army’s overhaul. The newspaper also suggested that Yeltsin would blame Russia’s military failures in Chechnya and the abysmal state of the Russian Army on Grachev. But the long-time Yeltsin loyalist will likely be offered a new position affiliated with the Russian Security Council or the president’s administration, the newspaper said. Others likely to be promoted in the upcoming shuffle include Moscow Military District Commander Col. General Leonty Kuznetsov, his counterpart in the Far Eastern Military District, Col. General Viktor Chechevatov, and the commander of Russian forces in Moldova, Lt. General Valery Yevevich. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, May 21) Grachev left Moscow yesterday for a long tour of Russia’s Urals, Siberian, and Trans-Baikal Military Districts.
Rumors of Grachev’s dismissal have risen with almost comic regularity since his appointment in 1992. The most recent have been fueled by presidential candidate Grigory Yavlinsky’s demands that Grachev be fired and by Yeltsin’s subsequent hint that he might reshuffle his government. According to Segodnya’s Pavel Felgengauer, Grachev "is unpopular with voters and parliament, and sacking him would be a good election move." (Reuter, May 21)
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