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Pavel Grachev, Yeltsin-Era Defense Minister, Dead At 64

Former Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev in 1995
Former Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev has died in a military hospital in Moscow. He was 64.

The cause of death has not been released.

Grachev served as defense minister under President Boris Yeltsin from 1992 until 1996.

He was a veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan. During the August 1991 coup attempt against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, he obeyed orders from the coup plotters to secure strategically important sites in the capital.

However, he sided with Yeltsin during the political crisis of October 1993.

Grachev oversaw the disasterous campaign to "restore constitutional order" in Chechnya in 1994-96, including the storming of the Chechen capital, Grozny, in December 1995.

After Yeltsin was reelected in 1996, he fired Grachev.

Grachev was often accused of corruption connected with the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Central Europe.

Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax