Among the decisions reached at yesterday’s Security Council meeting was one which could carry significant consequences for Russia’s Defense Ministry. Boris Yeltsin reportedly lambasted top military officials for financial abuses that he said had cost the armed forces more than 300 billion rubles. Yeltsin described the losses as "criminal mismanagement" and demanded that the chief of Russia’s General Staff and acting defense minister, Mikhail Kolesnikov, report back to him on measures taken to offset the loses. Yeltsin’s orders, which seem likely to result in disciplinary actions, provide one more piece of evidence that a housecleaning within the Defense Ministry leadership is imminent. Given newly-named Security Council secretary Aleksandr Lebed’s well-known antipathy toward former defense chief Pavel Grachev, his entourage, and corruption within the higher echelons of the armed forces in general, financial misdeeds will likely serve as one justification for a shakeup of personnel. If intelligently and fairly directed, such an action is likely to be popular both with the public and with the majority of Russia’s servicemen. On the latter score, Yeltsin took care in his actions yesterday also to demand that energy supplies to military units no longer be cut off arbitrarily, an action likely to be applauded by the troops. (Itar-Tass, Interfax, June 20)
Primakov: Russia Remains Great Power.