Moscow, May 23 (RFE/RL) -- Rossiskaya Gazeta, Russia's government newspaper, has published a new decree by President Boris Yeltsin which extends and formally codifies the already broad powers of Yeltsin's chief bodyguard and confidant, Aleksandr Korzhakov.
According to the decree, published yesterday, Korzhakov becomes first assistant to the president, putting him on a par with Viktor Ilyushin, who until now had been Yeltsin's sole aide with the title.
The new decree gives Korzhakov very broad independent powers, such as the right to acquire arms and military equipment "without the need for licensing" and to import and export "weapons, munitions, and special equipment needed for ensuring the security of the president." Korzhakov is also given the right to "organize and independently implement" activities to counteract foreign intelligence agencies. He is allowed to "carry out editorial-publishing work and interact with the mass media."
Finally, Korzhakov is given broad powers to "take measures to ensure the prestige of the president." Korzhakov press secretary Andrei Olegov denied that the decree extended Korzhakov's powers, saying they only confirmed his existing mandate.