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Security and Defense Councils

The President of the Russian Federation directly controls the activities of the intelligence, law enforcement, and defense activities of the Russian government. Intelligence activities are overseen by the Russian National Security Council and coordinated through the Permanent Interbranch Commissions of the National Security Council and their Chairmen. In addition to the three foreign intelligence agencies, the intelligence community also controls the Federal Customs Service and the newly organized Federal Security Service. The Federal Customs Service can provide the intelligence services with detailed information on the movement of goods and equipment in and out of Russia. Proprietary information such as customer lists could be derived from declarations made to the Customs Service. The Federal Security Service incorporates the functions of the Main Administration for the Protection of the Russian Federation and the Federal Counterintelligence Service. The combination of these functions has returned much of the internal security and counterintelligence functions formerly held by the KGB to a single agency.

While the centralized Soviet decisionmaking system dominated by the Politburo and the Central Committee has been abolished, new national security decisionmaking structures have been marked by improvisation and ad hoc responses.

Security Council

The Russian Security Council was established to provide a high-level forum within which Russia's president can interact directly and concurrently with his key ministers and agency heads. However like the US National Security Council (NSC) the Russian Security Council is not a deliberative body that arrives at decisions on its own. Decisions are made by the President, , who chairs the Security Council, and issues executive orders or decrees. Although the Security Council was intended to be the primary forum for the integration and coordination of security policy, it has has proven to be relatively ineffective in coordinating policy. Gen. Alexander Lebed, who was appointed secretary of the Security Council in June 1996, sought to make the Security Council an operational instrument for coordinating and integrating foreign and security policy. But he was replaced before his plans could be implemented. Lebed's successor, Ivan Rybkin, has little experience in security affairs, and the Council has primarily been preoccupied with Chechnya and internal security issues.

Defense Council

The Defense Council, established in July 1996 as part of the Presidential Apparatus, is charged with advising the president on important decisions on military policy. In addition to the Defense Ministry, membership includes other ministries and bodies such as the Interior Ministry and Border Guards. Initially set up to counterbalance Lebed's Security Council, under its secretary Yuri Baturin the Defense Council has become a key forum for the formulation and coordination of defense policy.

Intelligence Coordination

In early 1997 it was reported that a draft presidential edict contemplated the creation of a center to coordinate the activities of the FSB [Federal Security Service], the SVR [Foreign Intelligence Service], the FAPSI [Federal Government Communications and Information Agency] (and, according to some reports, the FPS [Federal Border Service]). Candidates to head the coordination center included Yevgeniy Savostyanov, a former geophysicist and counterintelligence officer currently serving as deputy presidential chief of staff, Yuriy Baturin or Sergey Stepashin.

Sources and Methods

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Created by John Pike
Maintained by Steven Aftergood

Updated Saturday, November 29, 1997 7:02:09 AM