PUTIN HAS DECLARED A MILITARY GOVERNMENT IN CHECHNYA

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PUTIN HAS DECLARED A MILITARY GOVERNMENT IN CHECHNYA

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, October 9, 2002, EV

A new administrative order was implemented in Chechnya yesterday. President Vladimir Putin signed a decree regarding military commandant offices located on the territory of Chechnya. Sources in the General Staff said that from now on, orders issued by military commandants will be binding for civilian government bodies and the public. Essentially, this amounts to having a military government in Chechnya. Chief of the General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin proposed such a plan to President Putin a month ago.

According to our sources, representatives of the joint group of federal forces in Chechnya have been expecting this order since Kvashnin’s latest visit to Chechnya. Military sources note that Kvashnin will soon issue a directive based on the president’s decree regarding the new status of commandant’s offices. According to the directive, all military commandants of Chechen districts and villages will be subordinated to the commander of the joint group of federal forces. Military commandants will, in turn, be able to control military units. In other words, Russian troops in Chechnya will have two commanders, as they did two years ago. In addition, military commandants have also been given control over infantry companies and local branches of the Interior Ministry, the FSB, and other special services.

However, sources in the joint group of federal forces do not consider this to be taking a step backward. They say that the process of “restoring peace” continues in Chechnya. According to them, the General Staff’s directive will make it possible to control money transferred from Moscow to Chechnya. The military says that at present, money allocated by the federal government for restoring Chechnya’s society and economy is being misused.

However, the president’s decree will not solve all problems. The General Staff said that commandants’ units do not have enough personnel. The point is that Russian contract soldiers do not want to serve in Chechnya for 7,000 to 8,000 rubles a month, and commandants refuse to recruit Chechens.

FINANCE MINISTRY NAMES THE PRICE OF MILITARY REFORMS

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, October 10, 2002, EV

The Finance Ministry will hold a meeting on Friday, at which the fate of military reforms will be decided. A Cabinet working group will have to decide if the government has enough money and if the top brass has the will to start creating a professional military in Russia this year.

The commission can be described as trilateral. The main opponents in the dispute over the timing and nature of the reforms are members of Union of Right Forces and the top brass. The right wing is represented by Boris Nemtsov (leader of the Union of Right Forces), Yegor Gaidar (Director of the Transition Economy Institute), and Professor Vitaly Tsymbal (an analyst at Gaidar’s institute). The Defense Ministry is represented by Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Kosovan and Vasily Smirnov, Chief of the Main Mobilization-Organizational department of the General Staff. The Finance Ministry plays the role of arbiter in these disputes; Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin and his first deputy Alexei Ulyukayev chair the meetings.

The first meeting of the working group decided to wind up an experiment in Pskov; but the group decided to allocate apartments to paratroopers who participated in this experiment, in order not to discredit the idea of a professional military. In other military units, contract personnel will live in barracks; only married contract soldiers will receive rooms in hostels.

At present the group is debating the timing of the start of military reforms, and the duration of military service. Representatives of the Defense Ministry say that the reforms should begin in 2010. They are prepared to cut the duration of military service to eighteen months. The Union of Right Forces members are demanding that the reforms should be launched this year, and the duration of compulsory military service should be cut to six months. The Finance Ministry may make proposals to the Defense Ministry which it will not be able to refuse. At any rate, the president will have to play the role of the main arbiter. It should be noted that Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov is still keeping silent on the matter.

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