Last week’s personnel change at the top of the Ministry of Defense replaced an old, long-serving, able and forceful army general appointed by Boris Yeltsin with a young, long-serving, able and forceful KGB/FSB general loyal to Vladimir Putin.
The retiree is General Igor Sergeev, 62, minister of defense since 1997 and the first officer since the Soviet era to attain the rank of marshal. His replacement is Sergei Ivanov, 48, head of the National Security Council and until late last year a lieutenant-general in the Federal Security Service (FSB). General Sergeev had over twenty-five years in the military and five years as commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces when he became minister. General Ivanov, civilianized by decree last November, was Vladimir Putin’s deputy at the FSB and then succeeded him as secretary of the National Security Council when Putin became prime minister.
President Putin also installed a loyalist at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. But while Ivanov at defense is a take-charge guy, Boris Gryzlov, the new minister of the interior, is more likely a guy who takes orders. Gryzlov, 50, is head of the pro-Putin Unity faction in the Duma. He is an engineer by training, with no background in police or security affairs. The word in Moscow is that he will find it hard–and probably impossible–to penetrate the closed world of the secret police and hardened ministry troops that carry much of the burden of the war in Chechnya. But he will do what the Kremlin wants, with no backtalk.
Gryzlov replaces Vladimir Rushailo, a professional police agent who now takes over Sergei Ivanov’s still-warm seat at the National Security Council. Conventional wisdom says the Security Council will lose most of its pop without Ivanov in charge.
Yeltsin-era holdover Yevgeny Adamov, minister of nuclear affairs, also lost his job in the shake-up. Environmentalists–the same green wackos who worried about safety at Chernobyl–loathed Adamov, who wanted to make Russia the world’s leading importer and reprocessor of spent nuclear fuel. And clean-government types had their doubts as well. While serving as minister, he apparently maintained business ties to oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky, according to a Duma committee on corruption. He was also listed as president of a U.S.-based consulting firm and kept a home and bank accounts in the United States. His successor is Aleksandr Rumyantsev, a nuclear scientist.