Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 172

Colonel General Konstantin Totsky was named director of Russia’s Federal Border Service on September 16, as President Boris Yeltsin continued the shake-up of Russia’s defense and security hierarchies in the wake of Yevgeny Primakov’s appointment as prime minister. Totsky is a little-known career border services officer who was serving as director of the Federal Border Service Academy at the time of his appointment. He differs in that regard from his two predecessors–Generals Andrei Nikolaev and Nikolai Bordyuzha. Nikolaev came to the border forces post from the Russian General Staff. Bordyuzha had an intelligence background; he was named on September 14 as secretary of Russia’s Security Council.

The 48-year-old Totsky, who served in Afghanistan from 1985 to 1989, is said to have few political connections and no independent political base. His appointment was also reportedly approved by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), which reflects the fact that the border forces as a service have lost much of their former independence are now overseen in part by the FSB (Itar-Tass, September 16; Nezavisimaya gazeta, September 17; Komsomolskaya pravda, September 18).

Totsky’s appointment was followed a day later by a presidential decree ordering a restructuring of another of Russia’s “force structures”–the troops of the Interior Ministry (MVD). The decree reportedly calls for a 54,000-man reduction in the number of MVD troops by the end of this year. This reduction is part of a broader plan by which the MVD forces are expected to be cut roughly in half by the year 2001, from their current level of about 250,000 troops to 120,000. Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin, speaking after a meeting with Yeltsin on September 17, said that the MVD’s forces are also to be reorganized into three mobile groups, each made up of four to five divisions. All MVD soldiers are to serve on a contract basis, Stepashin said (Russian agencies, September 17).

Previously, the MVD had drawn some of its soldiers from Russia’s military draft. Plans to reorganize and reduce the MVD troops were announced in June of this year. In August Yeltsin approved a key military concept document–drafted by then Security Council Secretary Andrei Kokoshin–that outlined the restructuring of Russia’s armed forces and further formalized plans to reform and reduce the Interior Ministry troops (see the Monitor, August 4). The reduction in MVD troops will come, in part, as the number of state facilities previously guarded by the MVD is to be reduced. The Interior Ministry is also handing over to Russia’s Justice Ministry the task of guarding the country’s prisons.