, a close Putin associate and fellow KGB veteran. On top of that, Putin’s dismissal of Ivanov from the armed services–he was until last week a lieutenant general in Russia’s foreign intelligence service–provoked wide speculation that the president was grooming him for the role of Russia’s first civilian defense minister or even the post of prime minister. The fact that Ivanov, who had remained in the shadows for almost a year, was suddenly giving wide-ranging interviews to pro-Kremlin newspapers like Izvestia and Komsomolskaya Pravda, and being featured prominently on state television, only heightened the speculation that his star was on the rise.