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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Defense Ministry Battle Of Civilians vs. Generals

Efforts to move the Defense Ministry gradually to a civilian administration could be hampered by new plans to increase the number of generals at ministerial level, a presidential official said Wednesday.

Vladimir Klimenko, aide to President Boris Yeltsin's national security adviser, Yury Baturin, said the proposals were from high-ranking officials inside the Defense Ministry and state law department.

According to the proposals, the defense minister would have the rank of marshal while the number of his deputies with the rank of army generals would be doubled.

The idea was supported by the deputy chief of the Security Council, Vladimir Rubanov, who said Wednesday that the role of the military should be strengthened.

"The existing structure of the Russian army and traditional understanding of the role of the Defense Ministry presupposes strong military leadership," he said.

Rubanov also said that in the current economic crisis, a large, strong army was Russia's only claim to great power status.

The idea was discussed and strongly opposed by the commission on high ranking military positions chaired by Yury Baturin, national security adviser to President Boris Yeltsin.

Members of the commission reaffirmed their commitment to increasing the number of civilians in the leadership of the Defense Ministry. At present only the first deputy defense minister, Andrei Kakoshin, is a civilian.

A Defense Ministry spokesman said that in future a civilian-led Defense Ministry would resolve political-related military matters, fulfil orders for armaments, hardware and the sale of weapons, while professional soldiers would manage purely military tasks.

"But at the present speed of reforms it will be possible only in 15 years -- if ever," he said.