Administrative and Cadre Reform in Russia:
Opportunities And Perils For Democracy

Leonid Rodin
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Chapter IV. Adjusting Administrative - Cadre Practices To Changing Realities

IV.3. Problems of the Armed Forces

The Russian Army, together with the entire military - industrial complex, was undergoing severe trials during the days of Russian reforms.

A far from exhaustive list of problems includes:

  • lack of sufficient financing, that disallowed appopriate modernization, training and remuneration for all levels of servicemen;

  • inadlequacy of the legal base for the performance of military and other functions, which was especially obvious in the Chechen crisis situation;

  • variegated complications affecting morale (including the need to carry on essentially police functions in their own country; prevalent corruption at the level of top-brass; 'inordinate' personal relations among servicemen ('dedovshina');

  • lack of clarity as to the substance of Russian military doctrine and the missions the Armed Forces were required to perform after the disappearance of the 'traditional' ideological, political and military threat, once the Cold War had come to an end, etc.

    Conflicting approaches to reforming Russian Armed Force that existed among different elites (civilian and military, Presidential and Legislative) were adding to the disorientation of servicemen and Command structures.

    The most fierce battles were fought in the Russian Parliament and mass media over the role of the Army and other Services, including 'Special Services', in the war actions in the Chechen Republic.

    Unique situations were emergingwhen a number of Senior Commanding Officers refused to obey orders To undertake operations in the Caucasus (one of the most notable examples had to deal with the Commander of the elite 4th Armor Kantemirovskaya Division General Rudakov). Furthermore in connection with unspecified disagreements with the Commander-in-Chief and the Minister of Defense, two Deputy Ministers of Defense - Boris Gromov (26), the hero of the Afghan war, and Grigorii Kondratiev (27), were removed from their posts (Boris Gromov, in particular, was reduced to performing basically a civilian role, serving as the Defense establishment representative at the Foreign Ministry).

    Throughout 1995 persistent rumors were circulating about the imminent replacement of Defense Minister Pavel Grachev because of improprieties and mistakes committed by the Minister and his immediate subordinates, that ranged from dubious use of funds accumulated through the sale of Russian Army property in Germany to faulty planning and operational execution in Chechnya that resulted in heavy losses.

    The evident fear of losing general Grachev probably made President Boris Yeltsin, fully cognisant of the anti-Grachev campaign in the press, to 'shield' him during one of the most controversial military operation of the Chechen war-neutralizing terrorists of the Salman Raduev gang at Kizlyar-Pervomaiskoe,by appointing others to lead Federal troops in the field.

    One of the manifestations of the central power's (and Pavel Grachev's own) concern over lack of popularity and adverse internal political and psychological circumstances was an attempt to have as many loyal military representatives to participate in the December 1995 Duma elections, as was possible.

    As Sergei Dorikov, Defense Ministry's Head of the 'Chief Directorate on Educational Work', declared in this connection: "We must establish contacts with regional and district authorities and assure the election of our candidates to the Duma" (28).

    S.Dorikov was personally responsible for the elaboration of the list of Duma candidates belonging to the 'Grachev party' (in the acid definition of the 'Moskovskii Komsomolets'). Among them were Evgenii Podkolzin, Commander of the Paratroops, and Lev Rokhlin, one of the Chief Commanding Officers in the Chechen operation (who actually got elected on the 'Our Home Russia' list and was later made Chairman of the Duma Defense Committee).

    In all evidence, Russian Army and Navy were being progressively drawn into the electoral 'games' played by the high political elites.

    A startling example of similar nature, but involving internal Army opposition, was the case of outspoken General Alexander Lebed, who, once relieved of his duties as Commander of the Russian Army in the Pridnestrovie part of Moldavia, involved in the cessionist movement of the predominantly Russian - inhabited and Russian - speaking Pridnestrov Republic, decided to run both for the Duma and the Presidency.

    During December 1995 elections A.Lebed was one of the leaders of the 'Committee of Russian Communes', a nationalistically oriented party block, that however failed to move above the 5 percent mandatory ceiling to be represented at the VI-th Duma as a separate faction. However Alexander Lebed did win in a 'one-mandate' district competing with a number of other individual contestants. The parliamentary mandate was obviously intended to be used for promoting the General's Presidential ambitions.

    Other dissenting officers were running for office in December 1995, as well. For example, one of the top-of-the-list contenders from the 'For Motherland' political block (that included many 'patriots from among the ranks') was Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Black Sea Fleet Eduard Baltin. E.Baltin became one of the Naval Establishment 'internal dissident' almost as soon as he was appointed to his job with the Black Sea Fleet. He criticized not only the Ukrainian but Russian authorities as well for allowing the Fleet, famous for its combat traditions, to degenerate into an impotent force, virtually abandoned by Moscow in the face of Ukrainian 'encroachments and discrimination'.

    Before long, Admiral Eduard Baltin was replaced by President Yeltsin, because he became an embarrassment for the Kremlin in its relations with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. The demotion of the admiral, that coincided with the sweeping personnel 'purge' of early 1996, was received by some people in the Navy and Army in a fairly negative way, raising a potentially crucial question of whom would the 'men in uniform' support at the forthcoming Presidential elections.

    Evidently in order to forestall 'defections' of the military into the 'opposition camp' during the Presidential elections already in early February 1996, Russian Chief of the General Staff Mikhail Kolesnikov issues an order that prohibited collection of signatures for election purposes in garrisons and other troop locations and military installations, ostensibly to prevent 'interference with military training programs.

    Still in connection with the Duma election, it should be mentioned that one of the spin-off consequences of the December 1995 Communist success was changes in the government 'Apparatus' responsible for the military-industrial complex. An important cadre reshuffle occurred at the State Committee on Defense Branches of Industry, whose Chairman Victor Glukhikh was replaced by Zinovii Pak (29).

    According to available information, Victor Glukhikh who used to control the ineffective and financially bankrupt nation - wide system of defense enterprises with at least 3 mln employees, could be blamed not only for wrong management decisions and virtual inability to start the implementation of one of the most widely advertized government programs on conversion, but also for having failed to support 'Our Home Russia' block at the elections (Glukhikh himself refused to become member of this pro-governmental organization).


    1. Colonel - General Boris Gromov, born in 1943, graduated from the High Army School and the General Staff Academy. He was Commander - in - Chief of the 40-th Soviet Army in Afghanistan. Since 1991 served as First Deputy Defense Minister of the Russian Federation.Virtually 'retired' for his opposition to the Chechen war, General Gromov became fairly critical of Yeltsin's Army reforms. In his opinion,main problems of the Army Command, were "wide-spread personal devotions and absolute absence of public control, both from the legislative as well as executive power, represented by the government". (Izvestiya. 10.12.1995).

    2. Colonel - General G.Kondratiev was relegated to an insignificant post of Chief Military Expert at the Ministry on Emergency Situation of the Russian Federation.

    3. Moskovskii Komsomolets. 18.10.1995.

    4. Zinovii Pak was born in a Western Ukrainian village of Lany Sokolovskie and graduated from the Lvov State University. His entire carrier was spent at the top secret military-industrial facility 'Soyuz' in the city of Dzerjinsk in the Moscow district. As the Director of 'Soyuz' Z.Pak was responsible for developing solid fuel for the most modern Russian intercontinental ballistic missile PC-12M 'Topol-M'. He was also known for promoting dual-use technology in the military-industrial complex of Russia.

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