According to a report published last week in a Russian daily, the secretary of Russia’s powerful Security Council, Andrei Kokoshin, is gearing up for what is likely to be an intense turf battle with the heads of the country’s various "power structures." (Kommersant-Vlast, April 7) Kokoshin was given considerable formal authority over Russia’s defense and security agencies last summer when he was named to the twin posts of Defense Council secretary and chief of the State Military Inspectorate.
The latter post in particular gave Kokoshin responsibility for ensuring that these various government agencies worked together in pursuit of a single state policy in defense and security. According to last week’s newspaper report, Kokoshin had the right to report to the president at any time regarding shortcomings in the performance of leading officials serving in these agencies. Kokoshin’s formal authority in this regard has, moreover, only increased since his appointment to the post of Security Council secretary in early March and the concomitant assumption by the Security Council of the functions formerly assigned to the State Military Inspectorate and the Defense Council. The Defense Council was abolished. The State Military Inspectorate survives administratively under the Security Council.
Formal authority is not real power, however. Last week’s report says that Kokoshin has moved over the past seven months to surround himself with aides capable of aiding the effort to rein in the power ministries. Among those aides is General Aleksei Molyakov, a former chief of the Federal Security Service’s Counter-Intelligence Department, who should provide Kokoshin with information on the activities on all the power ministries. He is serving as chief of the military inspectorate. Another of Kokoshin’s recruits is General Aleksei Moskovsky, formerly deputy chief of the Defense Ministry’s Armaments Department. Like Kokoshin, he has extensive experience in weapons and weapons procurement.
Kokoshin has also been joined by General Vladimir Potapov, who had formerly served for current Russian General Staff Chief Anatoly Kvashnin as chief of staff of the North Caucasus Military District. Finally, Kokoshin’s team includes an officer who served earlier on the General Staff’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). The Security Council chief is now searching, according to the newspaper report, for recruits from Russia’s Interior Ministry and Federal Border Guard Service. These would fill the last key vacancies on his staff.
Kokoshin’s ability to exert control over Russia’s various power structures is likely to depend in part on his own resourcefulness as a bureaucratic infighter. A more important factor is the extent to which Kokoshin gets the Kremlin’s support. At present, Boris Yeltsin appears to be backing his Security Council secretary. In recent months, two of the power ministry chiefs most noted for their independence and political clout — former Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov and former Border Forces Director Andrei Nikolaev — have been removed from their posts and replaced by men lacking independent political bases. The Russian president has proven to be a fickle patron, however. It remains to be seen whether he will stand behind Kokoshin as unpopular reforms planned for the power ministries are implemented.
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