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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Asks Army To Secure Stability

President Boris Yeltsin, embroiled in a bitter struggle for control of the country, appealed to the military Monday to help preserve stability, and other leaders warned of the risk that Russia could split apart.


In an interview timed for release in the newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda on the Day of the Defenders of the Fatherland, Yeltsin also warned that there were forces seeking to drag the military into political battles. His comments were reported ahead of publication by Reuters and Itar-Tass.


With concern rising that Yeltsin's power struggle with Ruslan Khasbulatov, the parliament speaker, could lead to the country's fragmentation, Yeltsin chose the military holiday celebrated Tuesday to publicize his appeal for stability


"We all have to preserve peace, to avert the spreading of regional conflicts to Russian territory", Yeltsin told the military newspaper. "The armed forces are to a considerable extent the guarantor of stability in society".


Yeltsin called on the military specifically to support his economic reform program, lacing his appeal with a dash of realism. The armed forces, he said, like other groups in society, are financed from the budget and "their future well-being directly depends on the success of our reforms".


It was the second public appeal by Yeltsin in four days. On Thursday, he spoke to the Russian people on television, asking for their support in his duel with Khasbulatov over the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches.


The president, who a year ago enjoyed firm support from the bulk of the population, has seen his authority increasingly undermined lately by attacks from all sides. In the interview with Krasnaya Zvezda, he attacked political groups who he said were seeking to take advantage of a vacuum left by the breakup of the Soviet Union's military forces. "I need hardly say that people are trying to fill this vacuum", he said. "There are those who want to play the army card".


The president's remarks appeared to be aimed at hardline nationalists, including conservative groups within the armed forces, who accuse him of betraying Russia and selling out to the West.


Yeltsin said that Russia's new military doctrine should be based on peaceful relations abroad, and outlined a broader role for the armed forces in controlling the growing number of regional and ethnic conflicts at home.


Government and legislative leaders have warned in recent weeks that Russia's divided and increasingly rebellious regions are rapidly slipping from federal control.


Sergei Shakhrai, the deputy prime minister who Friday took charge of developing the federal government's policy toward the regions, told a parliamentary hearing Monday that the battle between Yeltsin and Khasbulatov was "the main threat to keeping the Russian Federation together".


Shakhrai strongly criticized a group of regional legislators who adopted resolutions following a meeting with Khasbulatov in Novosibirsk against both the constitutional referendum and a power-sharing agreement between the two leaders.


Sergei Glazyev, the foreign trade minister, said following the same parliamentary hearing that the regions were ignoring economic agreements with Moscow. He said that many were trying to bypass Moscow and establish their own trade, customs tariffs, and hard-currency regulations, all of which violate Russia's Federation Treaty, signed last March.


"Russia cannot have a united economic zone on its territory if the regional authorities demand unique rights and privileges in economic activity", he said.


The Federation Treaty puts such economic questions as customs and trade under the authority of the federal government. Glazyev said that these issues would remain under Moscow's purview. Russia's autonomous regions and republics have grown increasingly independent of Moscow in recent weeks. Spurred by debate over a constitutional referendum, scheduled for April 11, which would ask citizens to decide whether Russia should be a parliamentary or presidential republic, several have said they will not take part.


The regions are also trying to strike their own foreign capital and credits deals in direct agreements with foreign firms, bypassing Moscow. The oil-rich Tyumen region is one example, Glazyev said. "But this is not a Tyumen matter, it is a matter for Russia, and for the federation as a whole", he said.


Economic authority remains undefined. In order to win support from local leaders, Yeltsin has often ceded autonomy in economic affairs. Last year, for example, after several regions of Siberia threatened to secede from Russia, Moscow agreed to give the region 10 percent of all revenues from the sale of its oil and resources.


Glazyev said that to combat the tendency toward increased economic autonomy, the federal government would support the formation of nationwide financial-industrial corporations that would have many branches in many regions of the country and would maintain ties with one another.