Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 121

Colonel Mikhail Bergman, a close associate of Lt. General (ret.) Aleksandr Lebed, is busy giving interviews in Russian media announcing that he has filed suit in a Moscow military court against Defense Minister Pavel Grachev for abusively ordering Bergman’s removal as Tiraspol city commandant of the Russian group of forces in Moldova. In his interviews, Bergman warns that Defense Ministry inspectors, sent to Tiraspol on Grachev’s personal orders, are trying, with the help of Transdniester security officials, to concoct compromising material against Lebed, who commanded the 14th Army there until July of this year. Bergman also implies that the Defense Ministry is after the archive he kept while serving under Lebed, and which contains files on many Russian political leaders. (1) In a further move against Grachev and the ministry, the Congress of Russian Communities (whose vice-chairman is Lebed) has opened in Moscow a "consulting room" for military servicemen to air their complaints. The CRC claims that more than 1,000 servicemen, mainly from Moscow city garrison and Moscow military district, have visited that office, mostly "to complain about Grachev’s activities as defense minister." (2)

Grachev had for his part said in a televised interview October 20 that Lebed’s "negative activities" in Transdniester were being investigated, and implied that the investigation may lead to prosecution. Lebed was for many years closely associated with Grachev and indeed his protege, but broke with Grachev in 1993 because of the latter’s close relationship with Yeltsin and became openly insubordinate to both the commander in chief and the Defense Minister, until Grachev managed to remove Lebed as army commander. Grachev’s extreme unpopularity among the military makes him a good target for his military rivals running for elective office.