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Yeltsin Continuing Consultations on new Russian Defence Minister

Moscow, July 5 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin is continuing consultations today with top advisers on a successor to Defence Minister Pavel Grachev, who was sacked last month after the first round of presidential voting.

Our Moscow correspondent quotes unnamed Yeltsin staff officials as saying candidates include Russian border troops Commander Andrei Nikolayev, reportedly backed by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, and Military Academy chief Igor Rodionov, supported by Security Council Secretary Alexander Lebed.

Itar-tass reports that in today's Duma plenary session, Defense committee chairman Lev Rokhlin accused Grachev of corruption and of allowing mass misappropriations in the Russian Army.

Rokhilin said Grachev "had surrounded himself with spongers and thieves." He accused five top generals of major criminal embezzlements, including Defence Ministry Inspector general Konstantin Kobets and others who were sacked by Yeltsin after the first round of presidential voting.

His press service says Yeltsin spoke by telephone today with his new security chiefs and with Foreign Minister Evgeny Primakov. The Kremlin did not disclose details, but said the conversations were aimed at "setting out future tasks."

And Yeltsin's spokesman, Sergei Medvedev, said the president was today working in the Kremlin on social issues such as paying delayed wages and debts. in the presidential campaign yeltsin promised to pay debts to industry and workers across Russia.

Medvedev also said Yeltsin has told Chernomyrdin and Chief of Staff Nikolai Yegorov to find out why presidential orders are not being fulfilled, or are fulfilled too slowly, in a number of Russian regions.