MOSCOW — Vladislav Achalov, a former Soviet general who supported two botched anti-Kremlin coups and recently organized a protest against the government’s military reform, has died. He was 65.
Airborne Forces spokesman Col. Alexander Cherednik said Achalov died at a Moscow hospital on Thursday. Achalov, an one-time commander of Soviet Airborne Forces, led a union of veteran paratroopers.
Achalov supported the 1991 hardline coup that briefly ousted Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev but didn’t face trial. In October 1993, he played an active role in a rebellion against President Boris Yeltsin and spent several months in custody before being released under amnesty.
Last November he helped organize a protest against the government’s military reform that drew fears of military mutiny.
The rally was organized by Achalov’s union of paratroopers, who are considered the most professional and proud branch of the Russian military. But members of other branches also took part, as well as monarchists, nationalists and hardline Orthodox Christians.
Under Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov’s reforms, as many as 200,000 military officers have lost their jobs and nine out of every 10 army units have been disbanded. The reforms have been strongly backed by the Kremlin but have angered many officers and military veterans who see them as destroying Russia’s armed forces.
Achalov stopped short of criticizing the Kremlin and rejected talk of a possible military coup when he spoke to The Associated Press before November’s protest, but insisted Serdyukov must step down.