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Russia Report: August 1, 2003

1 August 2003, Volume 3, Number 30
With the possible exception of Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov, who has a similar biography, deputy head of the presidential administration Viktor Ivanov is one of the least publicly known figures to rise to power under President Vladimir Putin. Unlike Gryzlov, however, Ivanov has not raised his public profile and remains very much in the shadows. He does not grant one-on-one interviews, and his signature can rarely be found on any public document, "Moskovskie novosti," No. 28, noted recently. In April 2002, he participated in what RTR described as likely his first public press conference -- more than two years after assuming office.

Despite his avoidance of the spotlight, Ivanov's name and that of fellow deputy presidential administration head Igor Sechin have been bandied about a lot in the press lately as the likely architects of the recent legal assault against oil giant Yukos. "Profil," No. 26, reported that, in the opinion of a number of political analysts, Sechin and Ivanov stand to profit most from the decision to arrest Menatep Bank Chairman and Yukos shareholder Platon Lebedev. Their motive for the "populist" act of "expropriating from the expropriator" is to demonstrate to Putin their usefulness for his impending re-election campaign, the weekly speculates. Their competition, presidential administration head Aleksandr Voloshin and deputy presidential administration head Vladislav Surkov, have reportedly already demonstrated their skills with the takeover of the national television channels and the assumption of control over financial resources, "Profil" claims.

This intra-Kremlin rivalry has also reportedly fueled the competition between the two self-proclaimed presidential parties, Unified Russia and Gennadii Raikov's People's Party. According to "Profil, No. 25, Ivanov has been "trying to participate more actively in the election campaigns -- both parliamentary and presidential -- and is therefore trying to deprive Unified Russia of its status as the only pro-Putin party." In an interview with RFE/RL, Nikolai Petrov of the Moscow Carnegie Center explained that a kind of unofficial "tender" is being held to determine who will manage the key campaigns and their extensive bank accounts.

Ivanov might be the ideal choice to lead the long-delayed administrative reforms and eliminate duplicative functions within the government and the executive branch (see "RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly," 26 March 2003), since he reportedly spearheaded the effort to disband the former presidential Pardons Commission, on which he served. However, he has apparently made some enemies during his time in the administration and government, making him a too controversial figure for such a politically sensitive job. In addition to the long-simmering rivalry with the Voloshin and Surkov team, Ivanov has clashed previously with fellow St. Petersburger and Industry and Science Minister Ilya Klebanov, as well as with Justice Minister Yurii Chaika.

According to "Politburo," No. 22, Klebanov was displeased by Ivanov's success in creating Almaz-Antei in 2002. Almaz-Antei produces some of Russia's most advanced air-defense systems, including the S-400 and S-300 antiaircraft and antimissile systems, and Ivanov is a member of the company's board of directors. In June, two directors of the Almaz-Antei defense-industry consortium were gunned down on the same day in separate incidents.

Klebanov reportedly had hoped a new structure would be created that would be subordinated to Oboronitelnye sistemy, whose director would occupy a key position in the new company. The acting director of Almaz-Antei, Igor Klimov, who was one of those slain in June, was considered a "creature" of Ivanov's, "Stringer" reported. That publication added that investigators believe Klimov's murder was linked to a struggle for control of the company. suggested that unidentified investigators believe some members of Almaz-Antei's old guard feared that Klimov would gain access to the consortium's cash flow if, as anticipated, he was appointed its permanent general director (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 2003).

In February 2002, Ivanov earned Chaika's enmity for criticizing the Justice Ministry's handling of illegal immigrants. Ivanov, according to some sources, was a key author of the law on citizenship that the State Duma passed on 19 April 2002. This law tightened the requirements for applying for Russian citizenship. According to "Stringer," Ivanov delivered a report in which he sharply criticized the Justice Ministry's ineffective bailiffs and the influence of criminal groups on regional Justice Ministry departments.

Even Ivanov's once "close" relationships with fellow St. Petersburg "chekisty" Patrushev and Gryzlov, have reportedly suffered in recent years, as Ivanov, who oversees cadre policy for the presidential administration, has favored his own people rather than Gryzlov's and Patrushev's, according to "Stringer." For example, in addition to the late Klimov, Ivanov is reportedly close to Rosoboronprom head Andrei Belyanninov. "Stringer" suggests that within the broader St. Petersburg "chekisty" category, Ivanov is now closest to Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Deputy FSB Director Yurii Zaostrovtsev.

But in terms of career trajectories, no one comes closer than Patrushev. Both Ivanov, 53, and Patrushev, 52, attended the KGB Higher School within a few years of each other and were initially assigned to work in the KGB's Leningrad Directorate, where they remained throughout the 1980s. The both remained in the KGB for more than 15 years.

Then around 1992-94, former colleagues who had risen recruited them for new posts. Patrushev, who had been working in Karelia, went back to Moscow to work in the KGB's successor organization, which was now being headed by Sergei Stepashin, former head of the internal affairs department for Leningrad-St. Petersburg, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta-figury i litsa" on 10 September 1999. And Ivanov went to work with Putin in the administration of St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak. When Sobchak lost his re-election bid in 1996, Ivanov returned to the FSB. In 1998, Ivanov assumed leadership of a department that Patrushev had just left to assume the post of deputy director of the Control Department of the presidential administration. Putin at the time was a deputy head of the presidential administration, having just left the position of head of the Control Department.

Perhaps he just doesn't photograph well, but Ivanov makes even the notoriously colorless Gryzlov appear colorful (see But it wasn't too long ago when another dour, pale KGB veteran with a long career in Leningrad provoked cries of shock and disbelief when he was appointed acting president by the ailing President Boris Yeltsin. Right after Putin's appointment as acting prime minister in August 1999, Reuters described Putin's manner during an early television interview as "completely somber -- even chilling."

It's unlikely that Ivanov will seek or be sought out for a similar public-relations makeover, but it seems that even without public support or name recognition, Ivanov is an independent political figure in his own right.

In a "Moscow Times" column on 23 July, commentator Yulia Latynina mused that President Putin was picked primarily for his quality of "loyalty," adding that "those who picked him simply didn't figure that this obscure KGB colonel had any friends besides Anatolii Sobchak." Analyst Andrei Makarkin, in an article in "Sovershenno sekretno," No. 2 for 2003, reports that the circle around Putin is wider than originally thought and does not include just "siloviki" such as FSB Director Patrushev and liberal economists such as Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref. There is another category of people who did not work in the KGB or in the St. Petersburg mayoral administration, but who were still well acquainted with Putin in the 1990s. Many of them work in the high-technology spheres, primarily atomic energy. Now, according to Markarkin, they occupy significant posts in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Unlike some of the other groups around Putin, people belonging to this category achieve some success even before Putin was elected president.

In general, according to Makarkin, these people do not advertise their closeness to Putin. There are several reasons for this. One is that as people who were successful before Putin rose to his current heights, they can afford to keep their private lives private. According to Markarkin, in 2000, during a massive effort to gather kompromat on Putin, there was an attempt to connect Putin and anyone who knew him with the St. Petersburg-based Tambov organized-crime group. The scrutiny for private individuals can sometimes be uncomfortable. Makarkin said that Vladimir Smironov, one of the shadow Putinistas, once exploded at a Moscow journalist because the reporter appeared to "know -- or to think he knew -- more about my neighbors at our dacha than an outsider could decently know." (JAC)

Vladimir Smirnov: He was a senior manager at the St. Petersburg Fuel Company. Before becoming a businessman, Smirnov was an academic who defended a kandidat dissertation. In June 2000, he went to work in the presidential administration, according to SeverInform on 22 February 2001.

Andrei Fursenko: A former deputy director of the Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute, together with Vladimir Kobalchuk, he formed the Engineering-Technical Center and took part in the creation of the St. Petersburg-based bank Rossiya. He is a son of historian Aleksandr Fursenko. Fursenko later became first deputy industry and science minister.

Vladimir Yakunin: A former KGB officer, Yakunin headed the St. Petersburg branch of the control department of the presidential administration while Putin headed the department itself back in Moscow. He was later a deputy transport minister and has served more recently as first deputy railways minister.

Vladimir Kobalchuk: Former deputy director of the Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute, who created the Engineering-Technical Center with Fursenko (see above). Kobalchuk also served as chairman of the administration of the Center for Strategic Research.

IN: President Putin signed a decree appointing Yevgenii Belov, Russia's permanent representative to the CIS in Minsk. Belov is a former ambassador to Tajikistan and is a director of the Foreign Ministry's Department for Relations with Federation Subjects and Public Organizations.

RESHUFFLED: President Putin has authorized changes among top regional police officials, RIA-Novosti reported on 31 July.. He dismissed Major General Viktor Bratanov as first deputy head of the Interior Ministry's directorate for the Volga Federal District and named him head of that ministry's directorate in Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast. He named police Colonel Valerii Krasnov as Interior Minister for the Marii El Republic. Major General Yurii Fokin was transferred from his post as first deputy head of the Interior Ministry's directorate for the Far East Federal District to the position of head of the ministry in Amur Oblast. Police Colonel Ivan Chashchin was named head of the Interior Ministry's Internal Affairs Department for Chukotka Autonomous Okrug.

4-5 August: Federation Council delegation led by Chairman Sergei Mironov will visit China

6 August: Moscow court will reopen hearings of Yukos's complaints against the Prosecutor-General's Office, according to Ekho Moskvy on 30 July

6 August: Finance Ministry will place 5 billion rubles ($1.7 billion) in six-month short-term treasury bonds (GKOs) up for auction

8 August: Prime Minister Kasyanov will return from his summer vacation

12 August: Third anniversary of the sinking of the "Kursk" nuclear submarine

13 August: Air-traffic controllers will hold a national protest

14 August: Unified Russia's regional party list for St. Petersburg will be formed, according to secretary of the party's branch in that city, Andrei Beglov, on 24 July

15 August: Date by which Duma should approve new map of single-mandate districts. If it fails to do so, the Central Election Commission will have the right to confirm the map

17 August: Karachaevo-Cherkessia will hold presidential elections

26 August: Russian government due to present draft 2004 budget

Late August: Campaign for 7 December State Duma elections officially begins

September: President Putin will visit the presidential retreat Camp David in the United States for talks with U.S. President George W. Bush

September: Second Russian-U.S. Commercial Energy Summit will take place in Moscow

1 September: State Duma's fall session opens

6 September: State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev's Party of Russia's Rebirth will hold a congress in Moscow

7 September: Sverdlovsk, Novgorod, and Omsk oblasts will hold gubernatorial elections

7 September: Murmansk will hold mayoral election

7 September: Moscow-based exhibition of Federal Security Service archival materials relating to the 1922 expulsion of the intelligentsia will close

9 September: First plenary session in State Duma

10 September: Special party congress for Communist Party of Russia

14 September: Volgograd will hold mayoral elections

21 September: St. Petersburg and Leningrad and Tomsk oblasts will hold gubernatorial elections

23 September: The first European-Pacific Ocean Conference will take place in Vladivostok devoted to improving dialogue among intellectuals in European countries and the Pacific region, reported on 6 March

24 September: Federation Council will hold its opening session after summer recess

29 September-3 October: The Third World Conference on Climate Change will take place in Moscow

30 September-2 October: The Second All-Russian Sociological Congress will take place at Moscow State University

October: Second Civic Forum will be held, according to presidential human rights commission chairwoman Ella Pamfilova

1 October: Thirty-three percent salary hike for budget-sector workers will go into effect, pending the passage of legislation being revised by a conciliation commission

October: President Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will meet in Yekaterinburg, Novyi region reported on 14 April

5 October: Presidential election to be held in Chechnya

6 October: British court to consider Russia's request to extradite tycoon Boris Berezovskii

23-26 October: First anniversary of the Moscow-theater hostage crisis

25-26 October: Russian Forum on the development of civil society will be held in Nizhnii Novgorod

29 October: 85th anniversary of the founding of the Komsomol

7 December: Bashkortostan will hold presidential elections

7 December: State Duma elections will be held