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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Military: Yeltsin Must End Strife

President Boris Yeltsin, urged by Russia's top military commanders to end the country's political struggle, said Wednesday that the country could disintegrate into civil war unless the conflict with the legislature is resolved.


Yeltsin told those attending a reception in the Kremlin that if he failed to solve his conflict with the Congress of People's Deputies, Russia would split up into "50 or 60 separate principalities" and "there would be war between them for 1, 000 years", Itar-Tass reported.


His comments came after a meeting with the heads of Russia's armed forces, who asked him to take decisive action to end the country's deepening political crisis.


During the meeting the leaders of the military expressed their concern about the development of the political crisis in the country and demanded the president take resolute measures to end it, the evening newspaper Izvestia said.


This would mark a dramatic policy reversal for the military; Defense Minister Pavel Grachev has said several times the military would not become involved in internal politics.


The power deadlock between the president and the legislature has blocked decision-making on all major issues, including matters of national interest, such as working out an agreed foreign and military policy.


Yeltsin acknowledged this Wednesday, saying that the lack of clear guidelines on military and foreign policy issues was a destabilizing factor.


"Any further delay with military and foreign policy doctrines will destabilize the situation in Russia and provoke a lot of political speculation", Interfax quoted Yeltsin as telling a closed meeting of the Security Council, which oversees all issues concerning Russia's external and internal security.


"Until we clearly understand what they are, we will be incapable of productive international activity and the realization of Russia's national interests", he told the meeting, which included the heads of the armed forces, the chief of foreign intelligence, and the ministers of foreign affairs, defense, security and justice.


The lack of a defined foreign and military policy is likely to be discussed at the next session of the conservative-dominated Congress, Russia's highest legislature.


The Congress is due to meet next week to debate ways of ending the political crisis, but all indications are that the session will turn into an all-out clash between the legislature and the president over control of the country.


The smaller working parliament, the Supreme Soviet, was expected to set the agenda for the Congress on Thursday.


Yeltsin has already threatened to use extreme measures to end the power struggle. On Tuesday, he told a meeting of his liberal political supporters that if the Congress cancelled a scheduled April constitutional referendum, he would call his own national opinion poll to decide who should rule Russia.


If that failed, Yeltsin said he was ready to resort to a "final option", hinting that this would mean the imposition of direct presidential rule. Ultimately, Yeltsin's ability to impose executive rule would depend on solid support from the armed forces.


Yeltsin said Wednesday that he still hoped to avoid such drastic steps.


"We need to seek reconciliation, and not resort to the most extreme measures", Itar-Tass quoted him as telling a meeting of women's groups in the Kremlin. "I do not think that legislators at the Congress would go so far as to blow up Russia".