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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Grachev Backs Reforms

Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev called on the army to take part in the referendum on April 25 and to support "reforms" at a meeting of reserve officers Friday.

"There is no place for politics in the army, but that does not mean that we don't have civil rights", Grachev told an audience of several hundred, mostly reserve officers, attending a daylong discussion of military issues in the Central House of the Russian Army. "Being citizens of our state we will take part in the referendum", he added.

"Everyone must make a decision themselves. I am sure that you will make the right decision", Grachev said, adding that the military should support reform.

Grachev added that there was finally "stability" in the army, which had not been the case three to four months ago. "Those who visit the troops, especially lately, can see the results", he said. "The situation has greatly improved".

The minister also proposed that the age of conscripts should be raised to 20-21, up from the usual age of 17-18. He said that since "18-year-olds are still children" it was hard for them to operate complicated technical equipment, especially strategic missiles.