Don't Start the Coup Without Me

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MOSCOW: It's nice to have advance warning of attempted coups. And if you were Boris Yeltsin, you too would appreciate the amount of notice given by retired army general Lev Rokhlin when he said there would be a "rehearsal" on Feb. 23 -- a gathering of his pro-military political movement "to see whether enough force has been accumulated to throw the regime out on its ear."

It would be easy to dismiss Rokhlin as a nut, if he didn't also happen to be chair of the Russian Parliament's defense committee. And on a day when the Duma threatened Yeltsin with a possible vote of no confidence, the general's speech comes as a reminder of just how deep the dissatisfaction goes -- especially in the military.

Rokhlin's catchily titled Movement in Support of the Army, Defense Industry and Military Science was formed last September and has 41 branches across the country. It seems to have garnered a great deal of support from Russia's underpaid and underfed servicemen. His mysterious "rehearsal" call issued Sunday --including the enigmatic statement that he even has "a team ready to unload a freight carriage at night" -- is being widely attacked, but taken seriously. Perhaps President Yeltsin should pencil in that February date.