Burgeoning media speculation that defense minister Pavel Grachev will soon be dismissed, and possibly appointed secretary of the Russian Security Council, was denied in a less than categorical fashion by a presidential spokesman yesterday. Sergei Medvedev told reporters simply that he had received no documents to that effect and that the media should "not hurry events." (1) The rumors have been fueled by the fact that the council’s current secretary, Oleg Lobov, recently suffered a heart attack, and by perceptions that Grachev’s leading role in the Chechnya debacle has left him politically vulnerable.
As Boris Yeltsin campaigns desperately for re-election, Grachev seems a likely scapegoat for Moscow’s failures in Chechnya. At the same time, a Russian TV commentator has suggested that Yeltsin finds it difficult to part with his long time minister and is thus considering him either for the Security Council post or as Russia’s representative to NATO headquarters in Brussels. The same report observes that the first possibility has been greeted with fear and panic by some Security Council members, who apparently judge Grachev to be lacking the intellectual capacity necessary for the secretary’s post. (2) Recent developments also led the Defense Ministry Collegium (a body of top Defense Ministry officials) to complain publicly yesterday that media reports of Grachev’s dismissal were both unsubstantiated and a potential cause of instability in the army. (3)
Chechnya War Rumbles On.