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.