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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Grachev Repudiates Allegations

In a messy climax to the campaign for Sunday's referendum on confidence Boris Yeltsin's rule. Defense Minister Pavel Grachev on Friday denied allegations of corruption and said they were politically motivated.


Grachev denounced charges leveled by Public Prosecutor Valentin Stepankov as a "political step aimed at discrediting the government, the management of the Defense Ministry, and the defense minister himself on the eve of the referendum".


Grachev said that the Defense Ministry had been conducting its own investigation of corruption within the armed forces. "Criminal charges have been filed on these cases and they are being investigated", he told Itar-Tass while reviewing troops in Novosibirsk.


Yeltsin made a last minute attempt to woo voters Friday, approving measures to cushion the effects of his market reforms by protecting employment in hard hit regions and industries, Reuters reported.


In a brief appeal on Commonwealth television Friday, Yeltsin told citizens what he thought was at stake in the vote.


"Will we continue with reform in Russia, or will everything we struggled for last year be thrown away? " he asked rhetorically.


The president also unveiled his plans if he wins Sunday's vote, making public key articles of a new draft constitution that envisions the dissolution of the hostile 1, 033-member Congress of People's Deputies.


The new draft would also tip the balance of power in Yeltsin's favor in both the political and economic arenas, according to excerpts published by Itar-Tass.


Late Thursday, the public prosecutor's office had released a statement through Itar-Tass accusing Grachev and other top military commanders of embezzlement in military activities in the former East Germany.


The statement also accused close Yeltsin aide Gennady Burbulis and other top officials from the president's office of involvement in the so-called "Red Mercury" scandal, involving the sale of a mysterious substance as a revolutionary new source of nuclear power.


In addition to Grachev, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on Friday denounced the charges against him as politically motivated, Interfax said.


Vice President Alexander Rutskoi originally made allegations last week that senior government members were involved in corruption. But the public prosecutor's office said Friday that evidence against Grachev was not drawn from documents collected by Rutskoi, who heads the state commission on corruption, but rather was developed during a year-long investigation.


Yeltsin, who ordered the public prosecutors investigation Tuesday, said Thursday that Rutskoi should have come forward with the documents earlier, instead of "accumulating them for months until a proper moment and waiting until the referendum on trust in the president begins".


Rutskoi, who has emerged in recent weeks as Yeltsin's strongest political opponent, attacked the president again Friday, accusing his cabinet of "brainwashing the people 24 hours a day" with an aggressive campaign for votes.


Yeltsin has been hard at work canvassing the country for votes this month and opinion polls have shown slight increases in support for the president since he launched the campaign.


A poll conducted jointly by the Mneniye polling service with British firms Gallup Poll and Saatchi & Saatchi showed that less than 15 percent of Russians polled in six regions support the Congress of People's Deputies, Russia's conservative highest legislature and the greatest opponent to Yeltsin's radical economic reforms.


Russia's voters will be asked four questions on Sunday: whether they have confidence in Yeltsin's rule, whether they back his reforms, and whether they want early elections for the president and parliament.


The president has said that if he wins the vote of confidence, he will push through a new constitution in order to replace the conservative legislature and its smaller parliament with a new bicameral legislature to be called the Federal Assembly.


Excerpts from the draft, a compilation of four drafts proposed to replace Russia's Brezhnev-era Constitution, were released Friday.


The excerpts state that the president would nominate all key figures in the executive and judicial branches, including the prime minister, the chairman of the central bank, and judges of the country's higher courts. Their candidacies would be submitted to both houses of the assembly.


The president would also have the right to dissolve the parliament and call new elections if it failed to approve his candidate for prime minister, or if "a crisis of state power cannot be solved on the basis of the Constitution". It is unlikely that the legislature itself would approve the constitution, as that would mean voting out of existence.


But Yeltsin has two other avenues for pushing the constitution through, according to his top legal adviser, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai: The president may either have it approved by the heads of Russia's regions and republics and then put to a referendum, or, should Sunday's referendum call for parliamentary elections, he may put it to the new parliament for approval.


Vasily Kazakov, head of the central election commission said 96, 776 polling stations will be open from 7 A. M. to 10 P. M. Sunday and 105, 539, 421 persons had registered to vote by Friday.