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Duma OKs Key Shift In Russian Military Command

Moscow/Prague, 11 June 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The Russian Duma passed a law today giving Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov operational control of the army.

The Defense Ministry and the General Staff have battled for much of the past decade over control of Russian military operations and army financing.

The lower house of parliament deleted most of the responsibilities of the chiefs of staff, headed by Army General Anatolii Kvashnin.

Legislators struck out a line in the federal legislation stating that they "represent the main organ of the operational command of the armed forces of the Russian Federation."

This duty will now lie with the Defense Ministry.

President Vladimir Putin named Ivanov as Russia's first civilian defense minister in March 2001.

(with AFP reports)