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Friday, July 3, 1998 Published at 15:10 GMT 16:10 UK

World: Monitoring

Rokhlin's last interview

Below are excerpts from an interview given by Gen Lev Rokhlin to Russian television just days before his death. Lev Rokhlin came to prominence during his service as a military commander in the first months of the war to restore Russian rule over the breakaway republic of Chechnya. After returning to civilian life, he was elected to the Duma as a member of the pro-government party Our Home is Russia.

However, his relations with President Boris Yeltsin rapidly soured as his condemnation of corruption in the armed forces and rejection of what he saw as short-sighted plans for military reform alienated the establishment and finally led to his departure from the party. In June 1997, he announced the creation of an independent movement to defend the interests of the army and defence industry, accusing President Yeltsin of the army's "collapse".

Rokhlin was increasingly attacked in the Russian media as a militarist. However, he maintained to the end of his life that he was an independent politician who fought for decency in public life.

Excerpts from interview broadcast by Moscow TV6 on 29th June:

Leaving the Yeltsin camp

"I have met many people who have told me that they voted for Our Home is Russia because I was running for them.

They believed in me and I am honestly doing my duty to them. Yes, maybe I did lose my way.

I thought that if decent people came along it would change things, but experience has shown that when bad people are in power they don't let decent ones anywhere near them."

Disgust at corruption in forces

"I realised what was happening and the way life was - the corruption, first of all.

I saw people from my own garrison collecting scrap metal and taking scrap metal from aircraft from Chechnya to buy 12 flats for officers; I saw them stealing six hundred, six thousand, millions of dollars.

I had not imagined that this could happen. Of course I was upset... I just saw the way things were more and more, and I tried to fight it.

When I became convinced that I could not change things for the better with the current regime and the current authorities, I said so straight out."

Aims of pro-servicemen movement

"I say with full responsibility that - and this was said at our movement's first congress -we will do and are doing everything to prevent unconstitutional actions by the army itself against its people, to prevent unconstitutional actions by any power structure against its people and to protect servicemen's constitutional rights."

Rejection of rightwing extremism

"At the very first congress, our movement said that under no circumstances would Nazis, nationalists or fascists be allowed into its ranks.

Why not? Because there are a lot of experienced people in our movement, who have seen life."

On Communist support for his views

"It is one thing to be allies, without a doubt, and I certainly am an ally, perhaps not of all Communists, but of those who support me and whom I support.

This, in any case, is not crossing over to the other side, nor is it wavering.

It is refusing to accept what is being done, refusing to accept President Yeltsin, refusing to accept his regime, refusing to accept genocide, and it is a readiness to ally oneself with anyone who is, with all their heart, against what is being done in the country."

Yeltsin 'blackmailing' country with threat of war

"Yeltsin's main slogan is: you have no option; vote for me because without me there will be a civil war.

Why should there be a civil war? Why should Russia be governed by thieves and criminals? "...Everything is justified by saying that a civil war is sure to follow, and more people will die than in Chechnya.

Why? Excuse the expression, but let us get up and show the regime, which has nothing to support it.

The miners just sat down on the rails, and the regime shook.

If defence complex employees join the miners and those in the army do not come out but simply bang their helmets -not miners' helmets, steel ones -on the parade ground, the regime will run away, and there will be no need for anyone to be killed."

Reflections on career

"I will say that I have had a pretty hard life and I have sort of missed out on hobbies... I don't even go on holiday because I don't see and cannot and have not found a way in my life to enjoy myself. This is a failing."

Sense of responsibility

"When you see that combat-readiness is completely deteriorating, then you should take responsibility, including before the people. I take full responsibility.

I understand what may await me when I make reports...But still I make them, for the reasons that I have: my understanding of honour and conscience. I make them, accepting the danger."

BBC Monitoring (, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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