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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Generals Say Putin Betrayed Voters

Itar-TassPresident Putin speaking to representatives of the armed forces Thursday at a ceremony on the Kremlin's Sobornaya Ploshchad.
A group of 20 retired generals and admirals have written a scathing open letter to President Vladimir Putin attacking his reforms and charging him with pursuing the same ruinous policies as his predecessor.

The broadside, published on the front page of the hard-line communist Sovietskaya Rossiya daily, accuses Putin of betraying voters who elected him to office in March 2000 following the snap resignation of Boris Yeltsin.

The letter -- headlined, "Who Will Answer for the Disintegration?" -- was signed among others by former Defense Minister Igor Rodionov and two other members of parliament.

Its authors said Putin had "lied to the people and betrayed their interests. Today it is obvious that the president is not for the people but those who robbed and continue to rob them."

The "tragic consequences" of the Yeltsin and Putin years "cannot even be compared to the Nazi aggression during the Great Patriotic War," the letter said, referring to the German invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II.

The letter attacked Putin for allowing U.S. forces to be based in Central Asia, Moscow's traditional sphere of influence, as part of the war on terrorism in Afghanistan.

"These bases are not a strike against [Osama] bin Laden, but in reality against Russia's interests," they said, echoing the view of many in Russia's current military establishment.

"Russia's international policy has become the policy of horse-trading the state's interests," it added, criticizing Putin's order to close a key base in Cuba used to spy on the United States, Moscow's erstwhile Cold War arch-rival.

The letter, which concluded with a call for a referendum on reinstating socialism and the planned economy, was published 48 hours before "Defender of the Fatherland Day," which in Soviet times was known as Army Day.