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Ex-General Proposes Army Reform

December 17, 1997

MOSCOW (AP) _ The head of Russia’s parliamentary defense committee blasted President Boris Yeltsin’s military reform plans as empty talk and proposed his own program Wednesday.

Retired Gen. Lev Rokhlin said his 40-page plan aims to transform Russia’s army into a ``military organization of the state, with centralized control″ by 2010.

``The Russian army no longer exists as a single military institution,″ Rokhlin said. ``Russia’s defense capability has been scattered between different agencies. General-purpose forces have been driven to almost total combat inability.″

Yeltsin wants to slash Russia’s demoralized and underfunded army and transform it into a leaner professional force, ending the highly unpopular draft. But only sporadic cuts have been achieved and no specific program has been published.

``The military reform declared many times from 1992 to 1997 has not just failed or remained unimplemented, but its concept has not even been worked out,″ Rokhlin said, according to the ITAR-Tass and Interfax news agencies.

Rokhlin also maintained that Russia’s security is threatened by the West _ a view widely popular among Russian hard-liners.

``On the one hand, NATO openly shows its force: large-scale NATO exercises are held in the Black Sea, the Baltics and central Kazakstan; on the other hand, the Russian armed forces continue to disintegrate,″ Rokhlin said.

One of Russia’s few heroes from the 1994-96 Chechen war, Rokhlin stirred controversy earlier this year when he quit a pro-government faction in parliament and set up his own pro-military movement to ``dump the hated regime″ of Yeltsin.

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