One day after he had publicly praised the performance of the state-owned Rosvooruzhenie arms trading company, Russian president Boris Yeltsin yesterday sacked its general director and initiated several other measures to tighten government control over the country’s increasingly lucrative arms trade. Sent packing was Gen. Aleksandr Kotelkin, who had headed Rosvooruzhenie since November, 1994. At that time only a colonel, he was a protege of Gen. Aleksandr Korzhakov — then the chief of Yeltsin’s security service and more recently the author of an expose of Yeltsin. The Defense Ministry will have to decide what to do with Kotelkin. He was replaced by Evgeny Ananeev, a civilian said to have had experience in producing and exporting weapons. Ananeev was serving as head of the board at MAPO-Bank, one of the components of the MAPO financial-industrial group which, among other things, builds MiG jet fighters and Kamov military and civilian helicopters.
Yeltsin yesterday also issued a decree transforming Rosvooruzhenie into a "federal state unitary enterprise." In addition, the government is to set up an "observers’ commission" to oversee the company. A house-cleaning of the enterprise seems likely, as Ananeev has been given 2 months to submit a draft proposal on the company’s leadership and personnel to this commission.
In another decree, Yeltsin turned over some of Rosvooruzhenie’s business to other state-owned companies. The existing foreign trade enterprise Promexport — also now to become a state unitary enterprise — will be responsible for the foreign sales of surplus military equipment. The net returns from these sales are to be turned over to the Defense Ministry to help pay for military reform. A new company called Russian Technologies (Rostekhnologii) will take charge of foreign military cooperation "in the intellectual sphere."
These most recent changes were undoubtedly suggested by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who last month was directed to supervise scandal-prone Rosvooruzhenie. His government has been tasked by Yeltsin with coordinating the several bodies involved in foreign military-technical cooperation and arms sales. Yesterday’s decrees seem only the first step in establishing firm central control in these areas. (Russian media, August 21)
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