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Russia: Prime Minister Worried About Army Situation

Ryazan, Russia; 1 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov says Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin is deeply worried about the situation in the Russian Army.

Chernomyrdin and Rodionov traveled today to the city of Ryazan, south of Moscow, and visited airborne troops based there. Russian news agencies quoted Rodionov as saying that Ryazan was chosen because of its sizable garrison and a number of military schools in the city. An airborne regiment and a high-level military school that trains airborne officers are located there.

Rodionov said Chernomyrdin was particularly concerned about "the disturbing situation around the airborne troops." The planned reorganization of Russia's airborne units had been recently opposed by former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed, himself a paratrooper general.

Rodionov said Chernomyrdin is concerned about the living conditions for officers and soldiers and plans to call a conference soon to consider ways to finance new housing for servicemen.

Rodionov said Chernomyrdin was surprised to learn that airborne troops in Ryazan had not received their wages since July. According to Rodionov, first deputy finance minister Vladimir Petrov had recently told a cabinet meeting that wages up to October had been fully paid.