A career intelligence official has been named to head the Russian state arms export company, Rosvooruzhenie. The Kremlin announced on November 27 that Grigory Rapota, who most recently served as a deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council, will replace Yevgeny Ananev as Rosvooruzhenie director. The 54-year-old Rapota entered the KGB’s First Department (foreign intelligence) in 1966, and served from 1994-1998 as deputy director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR)–one of the KGB’s several successor agencies. During his brief tenure on the Russian Security Council Rapota reportedly dealt with issues related to the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He has no direct experience, however, in the area of arms exporting. Rapota has said he will, at least initially, not replace Ananev’s Rosvooruzhenie team. “I shall need a certain period of looking at the situation. If I shall change the team, then [I shall do so] only minimally,” he said at his joint press conference with Ananev (Itar-Tass, November 30).
Rapota’s appointment represents a partial victory for First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov, a Soviet era economic planner with long ties to Russia’s defense industrial managers. Maslyukov had repeatedly called for Ananev’s ouster and had reportedly tried to place one of his own aides–Anton Surikov–in the director’s position. That move failed: Russian sources indicated that Rapota was the choice of Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.
Maslyukov nevertheless welcomed the appointment, telling reporters on November 27 that Rapota’s arrival should help Rosvooruzhenie to operate more effectively on international arms markets. According to some reports, Rosvooruzhenie’s revenues from arms sales were down this year. The arms trade company, which enjoys a virtual monopoly in peddling Russian military hardware abroad, has reportedly also accumulated large debts with a number of Russian defense enterprises. Those payment arrears are said to be threatening some contracts between Russia and foreign arms buyers.
The biggest victor of all in Rapota’s appointment may be Russia’s foreign intelligence establishment, however. Primakov himself has a KGB background and served as SVR director from late 1991 until his appointment as foreign minister in January of 1996. A spokesman for the SVR welcomed Rapota’s elevation to the top Rosvooruzhenie post, and said that Rapota’s intelligence background and long experience would serve him well in his new job. He also noted that Rapota will maintain a “family” connection to the SVR. Tatiana Samolis, one of the SVR’s chief press spokespersons, is Rapota’s wife. Rapota said on November 27 that he intended no major shake-up of Rosvooruzhenie’s top management personnel (Russian agencies, November 27; Kommersant daily, November 23).
RUSSIA SAID TO BLOCK UN STATEMENT CRITICIZING IRAQ.