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Military Changes Debated, Ukrainian Elections, Chechen Towers

Military expert Alexander Golts

Reshuffle of Military's Top Brass Raises Questions

A major reshuffle of top-ranking personnel is taking place in the Russian military, including the replacement of General Vladimir Boldyrev by General Aleksandr Postnikov as the Commander of Land Forces.

In an interview with RFE, military analyst Aleksandr Golts says that neither official explanation for the cadre changes -- replacement of those reaching retirement and scheduled rotation -- is convincing. Instead, Golts says the changes are probably related to perceived shortcomings of Russia's 2008 invasion of Georgia and dissatisfaction with the implementation of military reforms. “If the tasks [reforms] had been realized so brilliantly, then a monument should be built in honor of those people as successful military administrators," Golts says. "Instead they're being dismissed."

[read in Russian]

East Versus West Won't Decide Ukrainian Elections

As campaigning ends for Ukraine's presidential elections on Sunday, Vitaly Portnikov, RFE/RL's correspondent in Kyiv, provides this outlook:

Portnikov says that in contrast to the 2004 presidential campaign, divisions between pro-Western and pro-Russian Ukrainian voters are less pronounced this time around. Portnikov says that if Viktor Yanukovych wins the elections, Yulia Tymoshenko will remain prime minister.

As for relations with Moscow, Portnikov says securing favorable cooperation and deals on energy with Russia will be priorities, no matter who wins. Portnikov emphasizes the unpredictability of the poll, saying, "It seems to me that the main candidates are preparing for any turn of events after the first or second rounds. Nobody will be willing to simply reconcile themselves with defeat."

[read in Russian]

Restoration Of Historic Chechen Towers Begins

The restoration and reconstruction of military towers dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, unique architectural monuments of Vainakh history, have begun in the Sharoi district of Chechnya. RFE/RL's Andrei Shary asks Chechen professor at Grozny University Vakhid Akayev, and historian and ethnologist Sergei Artiunov about their significance.

Akayev says that several replicas of the towers have been built around Chechnya because they are a national symbol. Artiumov adds that the towers and ancient tombs are the only material cultural heritage of the period that remains in Chechnya. "During the first Chechen war, all the museum collections, all artifacts of the culture (manuscripts, archives etc.) were almost entirely destroyed," he says.

[read in Russian]