2 ex-Soviet generals said to aid Iraq military

Russian news Web site reports visit before war

War In Iraq

April 04, 2003|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

MOSCOW - A Russian news Web site has published a report claiming that two former top Soviet military officers visited Iraq less than two weeks before the start of war to advise the Iraqi military leadership.

The report, posted Wednesday on the www.gazeta.ru Internet site, showed three photographs of the two former Soviet generals receiving an award from Iraq's defense minister, Sultan Hashem Ahmed.

Though the precise nature of the visit was unclear, one of the generals, Vladislav A. Achalov, a former Soviet deputy defense minister, acknowledged in a transcript of a brief telephone interview posted on the site that it had taken place shortly before the war.

In the interview, Achalov declined to detail the visit, saying only that he "did not go to drink coffee," and that he and his colleague were "with the minister" less than 10 days before the war began.

"We left on Wednesday, and the war began the next Thursday," he said.

A spokesman for Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment. The American Embassy spokesman in Moscow was unavailable for comment last night.

Neither Achalov, nor his colleague, Igor Maltsev, former head of the Soviet Union's Air Defense Forces, currently works for the Russian military.

Both lost their jobs in the early 1990s for their roles in the military coup of 1991 and the uprising against Boris N. Yeltsin in 1993.

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