Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) strongly criticized the leadership of the nation’s Airborne Forces June 7 for an appeal issued May 30 that urged military personnel to vote for Boris Yeltsin in the upcoming presidential election. The CEC described the endorsement as a violation both of Russian election laws and of the Law on Defense. It recommended that the Airborne Forces leadership withdraw its appeal, and called upon Defense Minister Pavel Grachev to discipline those responsible for it. That last request, at least, seemed misdirected. Grachev is a Yeltsin-loyalist who has himself on several occasions campaigned for the Russian president in visits to army bases. Moreover, a deputy commander of the Airborne Forces reportedly turned down the CEC request to withdraw the election appeal on the grounds that it was issued only as a recommendation. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, June 7) The confrontation between the CEC and the command of Russia’s elite Airborne troops was only the latest example of Russia’s military leadership electioneering for the incumbent president.
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