In a move presumably tied to Primakov’s nomination as prime minister, Andrei Kokoshin yesterday was dismissed from his post as secretary of Russia’s powerful Security Council. (Russian agencies, September 10) Unless he reemerges in a similarly authoritative post elsewhere, Kokoshin’s removal would seem to continue the game of musical chairs atop the Russian defense establishment. Kokoshin was named Security Council secretary in March of this year. The appointment appeared at that time to be the culmination of a broad shakeup in the Russian defense establishment that saw several agencies dealing with military affairs folded into a greatly strengthened Security Council. Indeed, Kokoshin appeared to have emerged as the most powerful figure in the Russian defense establishment, with considerable oversight responsibilities both in the implementation of military reform and in a broader Kremlin-backed effort to rein in the country’s numerous security and paramilitary structures. He appeared also to be a key moving force in parallel efforts to draft several major defense and security related policy documents.
Although it is too early to say, Kokoshin’s dismissal may represent a setback for plans to streamline and restructure Russia’s army and security organs–the so-called “power ministries.” Those reform efforts generated intense opposition not only in the bureaucracies they affected directly, but in some cases also among Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s political opponents in parliament and elsewhere. Kokoshin, moreover, may also in recent months have been seeking a greater say in Russian foreign policy formation as a whole. Following a trip to Israel in August of this year, for example, Kokoshin intimated in a Russian television interview that Moscow should consider a more balanced approach–one that would put greater emphasis on good relations with Israel–in its Middle Eastern policy. His remarks on that score, which included a condemnation of what he suggested was the Soviet Union’s excessively pro-Arab position, implied criticism of Primakov and the Middle Eastern policies that the prime minister-designate represents. (NTV, August 12)
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