Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 4, 2003, EV

The National Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) polled 300 professional soldiers in Moscow in May 2003. Their answers to a question about which political parties are paying the most attention to military reforms were most revealing. Twenty-four percent of career officers named United Russia, 12% named the Union of Right Forces (URF), and only 5% named the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. In other words, contrary to widespread opinion, the Communists do not have the most support in the military.

According to VTsIOM, the politician most popular with the military is Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov (11%) – followed by Moscow Region Governor Boris Gromov (8%), former commander of the North Caucasus military district Gennady Troshev (7%), and former Defense Minister Anatoly Kulikov (6%). Supreme Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin was named by only 1% of respondents.

The VTsIOM poll indicated that the military does not trust its leaders: none of the present heads of the Defense Ministry and General Staff won the approval of more than 5% of the respondents.

The URF also did an opinion poll, the results of which did not vary much from those of VTsIOM. They showed that 48.1% of respondents do not approve of the defense minister’s performance.

In the West, such indications of a lack of faith in leaders among Army and Navy personnel would be viewed as significiant failures by the government in the sphere of military development, and would essentially mean a vote of no confidence. Therefore, analysts believe Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov should redirect the main focus of his efforts away from his favorite field of international affairs, back to mundane organizational work among the troops. Poll respondents said the defense minister’s main task should be to fundamentally improve living standards for the officer corps.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 4, 2003, EV

Akhmad Kadyrov, head of the administration of Chechnya, carried out a real personnel revolution yesterday. He issued a decree dismissing the entire government, all heads of district administrations, and Oleg Zhitkov, mayor of Grozny. As we went to print, only one new appointment was known: the new mayor of Chechnya’s capital city is Khosh-Akhmet Arsanov, former head of Chechnya’s youth affairs committee. As for the government, which has also been dismissed, Prime Minister Anatoly Popov has been instructed to compile a list of proposals regarding a new cabinet.

It is worth noting that three days ago Kadyrov had handed out certificates of appreciation and awards of 5,000 rubles to the heads of 19 district administrations (Chechnya has a total of 21 districts), thanking them for their “hard and selfless labor” – and noting that 49 heads of district administrations have been killed since 2000. But now it turns out that Kadyrov isn’t satisfied with those who have replaced the dead; otherwise, there would have been no point in dismissing them, especially given that the first meeting of the State Council is set for June 10, and half of its members are district leaders.

The reason for Oleg Zhitkov’s dismissal is likewise unclear. No criticism has been directed at him of late, and it appears that his only fault lies in having been appointed by Moscow.

At a time when the Duma is passing the amnesty bill, and it has been decided to pay rewards to people who voluntarily turn in their weapons, and guerrilla activity is on the rise, dismissing the government is a mystifying move, to say the least. In other words, the timing of this personnel shake-up leaves something to be desired.


Moskovskii Komsomolets, June 4, 2003, EV

The Duma may consider a vote of no confidence in the government of Mikhail Kasianov before its summer recess.

Leaders of the Communist Party and Yabloko announced yesterday that they had come to an agreement. At the Duma meeting on June 10, they will present more than enough signatures required to place a vote of no confidence on the Duma’s agenda. If this is done, the Duma Council will be obliged to set a date for a debate on the government’s performance: Duma regulations specify that this should be done within a week.

Yabloko first promised to make trouble for the prime minister at the end of April. The Communists agreed to back up this action. Since the two parties don’t have an identical list of grievances against the government, they have resolved not to focus on their differences.

The Communists have 135 votes in the Duma, and Yabloko controls 18 votes. Together they are able to put a vote of no confidence on the agenda; this requires 90 signatures. But there is virtually no prospect of Kasianov being dismissed due to any action taken by the Duma: this would require 226 votes in favor, and the parties led by Yavlinsky and Zyuganov cannot gather that many.