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#8 - JRL 7209
Nezavisimaya Gazeta
June 4, 2003
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]

The National Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) polled 300 professional soldiers in Moscow in May 2003. Their answers to a question about which political parties are paying the most attention to military reforms were most revealing. Twenty-four percent of career officers named United Russia, 12% named the Union of Right Forces (URF), and only 5% named the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. In other words, contrary to widespread opinion, the Communists do not have the most support in the military.

According to VTsIOM, the politician most popular with the military is Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov (11%) - followed by Moscow Region Governor Boris Gromov (8%), former commander of the North Caucasus military district Gennady Troshev (7%), and former Defense Minister Anatoly Kulikov (6%). Supreme Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin was named by only 1% of respondents.

The VTsIOM poll indicated that the military does not trust its leaders: none of the present heads of the Defense Ministry and General Staff won the approval of more than 5% of the respondents.

The URF also did an opinion poll, the results of which did not vary much from those of VTsIOM. They showed that 48.1% of respondents do not approve of the defense minister's performance.

In the West, such indications of a lack of faith in leaders among Army and Navy personnel would be viewed as significiant failures by the government in the sphere of military development, and would essentially mean a vote of no confidence. Therefore, analysts believe Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov should redirect the main focus of his efforts away from his favorite field of international affairs, back to mundane organizational work among the troops. Poll respondents said the defense minister's main task should be to fundamentally improve living standards for the officer corps.

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