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Russian Analysts Laud Recent Personnel Changes

Moscow, June 21 (RFE/RL) - "These dismissals pose no threat to national security," says well-known Russian military analyst Alexander Konovalov when asked about the recent ouster of Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and the firing of chief presidential bodyguard Alexander Korzhakov, Federal Security Service director Mikhail Barsukov and First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets.

Konovalov, who heads the Military Policy Center at the US and Canada Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAN), . told RFE/RL in Moscow that all of the dismissed officials -- and particularly Korzhakov -- were hardly qualified to occupy top-level posts.

Yeltsin has also shifted Oleg Lobov from the post of secretary of the Security Council to that of First Deputy Prime Minister and removed Yuri Baturin from the position of his national security advisor.

Lomov is likely to take charge of economic policy in place of Soskovets. Baturin is to stay as an aide in the Kremlin with yet undisclosed responsibilities.

Konovalov said that Grachev was the most incompetent and unpopular of all the federal ministers. Konovalov also said that Grachev could be blamed for the decline of Russia"s military might.

Vladimir Serebryannikov, senior analyst with RAN's Socio-Political Research Institute, told RFE/RL that Korzhakov's ouster is likely to have a major impact on the presidential security service.

Serebryannikov said that during recent years Korzhakov transformed this service from a simple directorate of the now defunct KGB to a powerful agency, with considerable powers.

Serebryannikov went on to say that "quite a substantial number" of Korzhakov's appointees may leave now. Serebryannikov said that he expected the security service to be controlled by General Aleksandr Lebed.