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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

President Creates Defense Council

President Boris Yeltsin, condemning corruption, slow changes in the army and the brutal hazing of soldiers, said Thursday he will create a defense council to deal with military reform and strategy.

"We need deep military reform," Yeltsin said as he introduced Russia's new defense minister, Igor Rodionov, to ministry leadership.

The ceremony took place at the government resort of Barvikha outside Moscow, where Yeltsin is resting before his second-term inauguration Aug. 9.

The president said the new council would implement "strategic decisions" of the existing security council and oversee military reform.

Although its powers and composition were not described, the new council would probably steal some political clout from Alexander Lebed, recently appointed security council chief.

Lebed had opposed the idea, saying the two councils would duplicate each other.

But Rodionov, seen as Lebed's protege, took a different stance Thursday, saying the defense council was "necessary in order to give the army a new breath."

Yeltsin praised Rodionov on Thursday as a bright officer with wide-ranging command experience, but he was much less flattering about the military as a whole.

"Corruption is corroding the officer corps like rust. We cannot stop the disgusting phenomenon of a weapons trade from military depots. We cannot get rid of hazing among the soldiers," he said.

Rodionov, previously head of the General Staff Military Academy, pledged to fight army corruption and strengthen the military.

"The army's prestige cannot be maintained if the army is corrupt, especially if its leadership is corrupt," he said.

Yeltsin said "not everything is going smoothly" with his orders to make the army a smaller, volunteer force by the year 2000.

He also stressed the need to enhance the General Staff's role, strengthen cooperation between branches of the armed forces, disband unneeded units, provide more support for retiring officers and focus on weapons research and development.