Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 90

The commander of Russia’s key Moscow Military District yesterday joined Yeltsin aide Aleksandr Korzhakov in calling for a postponement of Russia’s upcoming presidential election. Col. General Leonty Kuznetsov told Interfax that the election was likely to lead to political and social instability, as well as discord within the Russian army. He claimed that many officers in the Moscow region shared his views. Kuznetsov was also quoted as saying that Boris Yeltsin had "already led the country though the most difficult years" of its transition, and he suggested that Yeltsin’s political opponents were trying to take power now that Russia "is coming out of its crisis." (Interfax, May 7)

Kuznetsov’s remarks are yet another indication of the army’s growing politicization, and his implied preference for Yeltsin’s reelection matches that reportedly expressed by Russia’s military leadership during a high-level meeting in early April (See Monitor, April 9) Although opinion polls and military preferences in previous elections suggest that there is considerable dissatisfaction with Yeltsin among Russian officers, the president has tried to cultivate the loyalty of key military units and commanders in and around the Russian capital. That policy paid dividends for Yeltsin when military units–albeit reluctantly–were used against the Russian parliament in October, 1993, and Yeltsin and Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov undoubtedly have the loyalty of the troops on their minds with the June election looming on the horizon.

…As Moscow Prepares for Victory Day.