Barvikha, Russia, July 18 (RFE/RL) - Newly-appointed Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov says the prestige of Russia's army cannot be maintained if the army and its leadership are corrupt. He promised to set an example with his own behavior. Rodionov spoke at a meeting at Barvikha near Moscow where President Boris Yeltsin formally presented him to senior defense ministry officials.
Rodionov later told Itar-Tass the army should not be a burden for Russia nor should it intimidate the rest of the world.
Yeltsin, who is at vacationing at Barvikha, told the gathering corruption is eating away at the officer corps like rust and that efforts to stop harassment of lower ranks and the trade in stolen military weapons have failed.
Yeltsin also called on Rodionov to conduct a thorough reform of the conscript army of just under two million, telling Rodionov that his top priority should be restoring elementary order. Yeltsin says Russia's army should be made an all-professional one by the year 2000.