Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 116

Unnamed sources in the Russian president’s entourage said June 18 that Yeltsin is soon to issue new regulations on the functioning of the Russian Security Council that will significantly widen the responsibilities of its secretary, the recently appointed Aleksandr Lebed. They suggested that Lebed would be given considerable control over military reform and the battle against corruption, as was expected, but also that he would exert some direct influence over the activities of Russia’s defense and interior ministries, the foreign intelligence service, and the nation’s other special services.

Lebed himself told a Moscow press conference yesterday that he intends to reorganize the Security Council staff to ensure that it is involved in personnel, organizational, and financial decisions made in those ministries whose heads sit on the council. He also intends, he said, to liquidate the analytical staffs currently attached to the council’s various commissions, directorates, and departments. A unified Information-Analytical Center will be created in their place. (Interfax, June 18) Lebed’s promise to turn the Security Council into an "effective organ to safeguard the security of the state" was strikingly reminiscent of the job description published last month for the presidential security apparatus headed by Yeltsin’s confidante, General Aleksandr Korzhakov. (NTV, June 18; Novoe vremya, No. 22)

The granting to Lebed and the Security Council of such a wide array of powers, including the right to endorse personnel and structural changes in the security organs, raises the obvious question of whether Lebed will clash with the current chiefs of those agencies. For the moment, knowledgeable Moscow sources say, Korzhakov’s major concern at least is to keep his job by ensuring Yeltsin’s reelection. Indeed, Korzhakov is said to have been the person who carried out the negotiations that culminated in Lebed’s entry into the Kremlin team.

But Lebed also complained yesterday that Russia’s various military and security forces currently operate too independently of each other–an undesirable situation to which he attributed many of Russia’s failures in Chechnya–and suggested that he intended to propose to Yeltsin the creation of a unified command system in which the defense minister would play the major coordinating role. (NTV, June 18) Whatever Korzhakov’s current attitude, that proposal seems unlikely over the longer term to endear Lebed to his Kremlin rivals.

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