Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 9

Vladimir Putin yesterday named Vladimir Kozhin to replace Pavel Borodin as head of the Kremlin’s “property management” department. A Russian internet news service reported that prior to his new appointment, Kozhin was the head of the Federal Service for Currency and Export Control and that Kozhin previously worked as the head of the external relations department of the Azimut nongovernmental organization in Germany, where Putin worked for many years as Russian intelligence officer. When Putin was in charge of St. Petersburg’s external economic relations under Mayor Anatoly Sochak, Kozhin was general director of the St. Petersburg Association of Joint Ventures. In October 1994, after Putin became first deputy chairman of the St. Petersburg government, Kozhin became head of the Northwest Center of the Federal Service for Currency and Export Control. He was elevated to head the service last September, after Putin was named prime minister (Russian agencies, January 12).

It would therefore appear that Putin has put a trusted long-time associate in charge of the Kremlin’s property department, which according to Borodin and others, controls property worth US$600 billion throughout Russia and abroad.

Some media, meanwhile, continued to speculate about the fate of both Borodin and his former boss and long-time associate, Boris Yeltsin. One newspaper wrote that Putin’s decision to propose Borodin’s candidacy for the post of State Secretary of the Union of Russia and Belarus was a smart move, given that Borodin–“a person who knows how to make real money, using connections and [his] work situation”–might be able to make something of the Russia-Belarus union (Izvestia, January 12). The whole issue of Borodin’s new job, however, is murky, given that a top Belarusan representative to the Commonwealth of Independent States, Sergei Posokhov, said that Putin had flaunted certain understandings by putting forward Borodin’s nomination prior to those for other key union posts (Russian agencies, January 11). In addition, another internet news service reported yesterday that Putin had promised to propose Borodin for the union post, but in fact had not even called Belarusan President Alyaksandr Lukashenka about it. According to this report, key members of the Kremlin “Family,” including Kremlin administration chief Aleksandr Voloshin and Yeltsin’s daughter Tatyana Dyachenko, feel that Putin “conned” them, and are not happy (Russian agencies, January 12).

Finally, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported yesterday that Yeltsin might be named head of the Russia-Belarus union, given that this would give the Kremlin “Family” a real guarantee of immunity, and said Yeltsin’s appointment would also suit Lukashenka and the West, which would see it as a check on both Lukashenka and Putin. The “Family,” meanwhile, would force Putin to accept the move (Nezavisimaya gazeta, January 12). This newspaper, it should be noted, is controlled by the tycoon Boris Berezovsky, and this report is more than likely one of his trial balloons.

Earlier this week, media reported that Yeltsin might be named honorary chairman of the Commonwealth of Independent States’ council of state leaders.