MOSCOW, September 25 (Itar-Tass) — The civil funeral of former Minister of Defence Pavel Grachev took place at the Cultural Centre of the Russian Armed Forces on Tuesday.
Among the persons who attended the ceremony were incumbent Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, his deputies, senior military officials, commanders-in-chief of branches of the armed forces, political leaders, representatives of former Soviet republics, and Grachev's friends, acquaintances and former colleagues.
The people who came to pay last respect laid flowers and wreathes. Wreaths were sent by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian government, the Russian Defence Ministry and Defence Ministries of former Soviet republics and various military agencies.
Grachev's friends and colleagues said they grieved over Pavel Grachev's untimely death. Grachev died of acute encephalomeningitis.
General Vladimir Isakov, his former colleague, with whom Grachev had served in Afghanistan, said "Pavel Sergeyevich has always been noted for such qualities as readiness for self-sacrifice and courage. He never hid behind his subordinates' backs and was awarded the high title of Hero of the Soviet Union for it. He was a true paratrooper, who prided himself of serving in the army. He was an excellent person."
The civil funeral ended at 13:00, Moscow time, whereupon the funeral procession headed for the Novodevichye cemetery.
Grachev died at the 3rd central military hospital named after Vishnevsky on September 23. He was 64.
President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov conveyed their condolences to Grachev's widow and two sons.
Pavel Grachev was born in the village of Rvy, Tula region on January 1, 1948. He served in the armed forces' airborne troops since 1964. In 1969, he graduated from the Ryazan Higher Paratrooper Command School. He commanded a reconnaissance platoon, a company of Ryazan school students, and a paratrooper’s battalion in training.
In 1981, he graduated from the Frunze Military Academy. He was a deputy commander in Afghanistan in 1981 through 1983 and commander of paratrooper’s regiment as part of the limited contingent of Soviet troops.
Following are the benchmarks in his military career:
June 1983 - commander of airborne division headquarters
1985-1988 - commander of 103rd paratroopers division in Afghanistan
1990 - graduated from the academy of the General Staff
June 1990 - deputy commander of airborne troops
December 1990 - commander of airborne troops
On August 19, 1991, he complied with the order by the State Committee on the State of Emergency /GKChP/ to bring troops into Moscow. Specifically, he arranged for the arrival in the Russian capital of the 106th Tula paratroopers division to take under protection the strategically important facilities. However, on August 20, he refused to obey the orders by the GKChP leadership and, together with Air Force Marshall Shaposhnikov, sided with Boris Yeltsin.
He was first deputy defence minister from August through December 19991, chairman of the state committee of the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic for defense issues. From January through April 1992, he was chairman of the State Committee for defense issues of the Russian Federation, first deputy commander of the unified CIS armed forces.
In April 1992, he was appointed first deputy defence minister. From May 18, 1992 through June 23 1996, he was Russian defence minister. In May 1992, Grachev became the first military commander in a new Russia to be awarded the rank of General of the Army.
As defence minister, Grachev opposed the quick withdrawal of Russian army units deployed outside of the former USSR /the Baltic region, Transcaucasia and several districts of Central Asia/. He argued that Russia had no resources at the time to resolve the welfare and housing problems of servicemen and members of their families. He banned the politicized army organizations, such as the all-Russian officers' assembly, the independent trade union of servicemen etc.
In 1997-2006, he was adviser, chief military adviser to the director general of the Rosvooruzheniye state-owned weapons trading company /currently Rosoboronexport/. In 2007, he was discharged from the army, whereupon he occupied the post of advisor to the director general of the Omsk-based radio plant named after Popov.
Grachev, a Hero of the Soviet Union /1988/ was decorated with two orders of Lenin, orders of the Red Banner, orders of the Red Star, for Service to the Motherland in the Armed Forces of the USSR, an Honour Badge and the Order "For Personal Courage."