The Russianmilitary could comply with President Boris Yeltsin’s order tocut 200,000 men by the end of this year by doing nothing, sincethe actual strength of the armed forces falls short of the officialfigures by more than that number at the present time. This wasconfirmed by First Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin inan interview following his June 3 meeting with Yeltsin to discussmilitary reform. Kokoshin argued, however, that the "mechanicalapproach" of simply eliminating the billets presently vacantwould be neither an efficient nor a proper way to accomplish thedownsizing.
Kokoshin promised there would be no "avalanche-like reductionin the officer corps," but he may not be able to preventit. Former defense minister Igor Rodionov had said that 70,000officers would be included in the 200,000-man cut while otherministry officials put the figure at 30,000 – 50,000. The actualexodus of commissioned officers may exceed the highest of theseestimates. Military officials have repeatedly cautioned that analarmingly high percentage of officers will leave the armed forcesonce their present contracts expire. In the latest such warning,an unidentified officer in the ministry said polls indicate that"most" officers are contemplating leaving the service– an attitude prompted by "despair today and no hope forthe future." They certainly would not stay in for the money.Officers’ wages — when they are paid — lag far behind the payfor comparable civilian jobs. The official noted that militarywages had not been indexed for inflation for over two years. (NTV,June 7; Interfax, June 8)
Russian Journalists Freed.