Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 103

President Boris Yeltsin has apparently created yet another agency to deal with policy related to Russia’s armed forces. According to a statement released by the presidential press service on May 27, Yeltsin has decreed the creation of a State Commission for Military Development. A brief statement describing the decree says that the new commission’s primary responsibility will be to draft decisions by the president’s office that involve military development. The staff of the Russian Security Council will reportedly serve also as the staff of the new commission.

The new agency is to be a high-level one. Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko will serve as chairman. Other members include Security Council Secretary Andrei Kokoshin, Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov, Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, Economics Minister Yakov Urinson and Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov. The agency also includes Russia’s various “power ministers”–that is, the chiefs of the Defense and Internal Affairs Ministries, as well as the directors of the Federal Security Service, the Foreign Intelligence Service, the Federal Border Guard Service and the Federal Agency of Government Communications and Information. Russia’s General Staff chief and the Minister for Civil Defense and Emergencies are also included. (Itar-Tass, May 27)

It remains unclear exactly what purpose the State Commission for Military Development will serve. Russian Security Council Secretary Andrei Kokoshin appeared earlier this year to have consolidated under his authority a large number of responsibilities for defense and security policy. Two previously independent agencies–the Russian Defense Council and the State Military Inspectorate–were folded into Kokoshin’s Security Council. However, the heads of Russia’s various defense and security agencies have long resisted any such consolidation of authority in the Kremlin, and the creation of the new agency may be a first step toward diluting Kokoshin’s clout.