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Large Scale Military Reforms To Start After Presidential Elections

Ekaterinbourg, Russia, April 16 (RFE/RL) - Russia's Defence Minister Pavel Grachev says the country will start what he calls "a deep military reform" after the June presidential election.

Grachev made the remark today while inspecting troops in the Ural's Ekaterinbourg military district. Grachev did not say if he expects the reform to be carried out under a new president, if incumbent President Boris Yeltsin is not re-elected. Interfax quotes Grachev as saying that the planned reform will result in the formation of "territorial commands." He also said he is planning to unify the Volga and Ural regions' military distrcicts and create a strategic command with headquarters in Ekaterinbourg. Russian pro-reform politicians such as Yegor Gaidar and Grigory Yavlinsky, have repeatedly called on Yeltsin to start the military reform and fire Grachev immediately because of his hardline stance on the Chechen conflict. Yeltsin has never criticised Grachev, but he has said the Russian army has made big mistakes during the conflict in the breakaway region.