Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 113

A recent Moscow seminar, entitled "Strong Security Services–Strong Russia," attracted an impressive audience. In attendance were representatives of all of Russia’s security agencies, successors to the KGB. Officials of Boris Yeltsin’s presidential administration were also there. The occasion for the meeting was the publication of the "White Book of Russian Security Services," reportedly a massive work of apologetics credited to some 300 official "specialists." The gathering was initiated by the All-Russia Spiritual Heritage Public-Political Movement, whose chairman Aleksei Podberezkin said that "the book will help specialists, politicians, and ordinary people to work out a new statist-patriotic ideology without which the security services’ efficient functioning would be impossible." Podberezkin’s organization is supported by the Communist Party, whose leader Gennady Zyuganov was among the speakers at the seminar. (2)

Justice minister Valentin Kovalev believes that "the abolition of the KGB’s fifth department left a certain vacuum and that the government must enforce compliance with the constitution." Kovalev called in an interview for establishing within his ministry a "department for constitutional protection" empowered to monitor the compliance of officially registered parties and associations with their own charters and bylaws, to investigate them, and to prosecute them for violations. Kovalev said that when parties and associations are found guilty of violating their own programmatic documents, the Ministry of Justice must be able to annul their registrations and indict those responsible on criminal charges. (3)

Valentin Kovalev was a Communist deputy in the Duma before being appointed by Boris Yeltsin to head a governmental pseudo-commission on human rights, designed to counteract the highly respected human rights campaigner Sergei Kovalev’s (no relation) criticism of official policies. Subsequently Yeltsin appointed Valentin Kovalev as minister of justice. Yeltsin’s camp is creating the distinct impression that it tacitly condones insistent calls by the Communists for increased surveillance of society, which may well reflect expectation that the Communists will make a strong showing in the upcoming elections.

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