The Guardian February 27, 2002


Russian Generals say Putin betrayed voters

A group of 20 retired generals and admirals have written a scathing open 
letter to President Vladimir Putin attacking his reforms and charging him 
with pursuing the same ruinous policies as his predecessor.

The letter was published on the front page of the daily newspaper 
Sovietskaya Rossiya (Soviet Russia), and accuses Putin of betraying 
voters who elected him to office in March 2000 following the snap 
resignation of Boris Yeltsin.

The letter was headlined, "Who Will Answer for the Disintegration?" and was 
signed, among others, by former Defence Minister Igor Rodionov and two 
other members of parliament.

Its authors said Putin had "lied to the people and betrayed their 
interests. Today it is obvious that the President is not for the people but 
those who robbed and continue to rob them."

The "tragic consequences" of the Yeltsin and Putin years "cannot even be 
compared to the Nazi aggression during the Great Patriotic War", the letter 
said, referring to the German invasion of the Soviet Union during World War 
II.

The letter attacked Putin for allowing US forces to be based in Central 
Asia, as part of the "war on terrorism" in Afghanistan.

"These bases are not a strike against [Osama] bin Laden, but in reality 
against Russia's interests", they said, echoing the view of many in 
Russia's current military establishment.

"Russia's international policy has become the policy of horse-trading the 
state's interests", it added, which is a criticism of Putin's order to 
close a key Russian listening base in Cuba.

The letter concluded with a call for a referendum on reinstating socialism 
and the planned economy and was published two days before February 23 which 
is "Defender of the Fatherland Day" or, as it was known in Soviet times, 
Soviet Army Day.

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