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Sergey Lebedev will have to become a public figure in the new capacity of CIS Secretary. This almost only official photo of Mr. Lebedev shows him at a reception at the French Embassy in Moscow.
Photo: Valery Levitin
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Oct. 08, 2007
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Gendarme of Eurasia
// Moscow takes a closer took at former Soviet republics
Saturday’s summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Dushanbe passed blueprints which are likely to turn this assembly into a real military and political bloc. The CSTO will form peacekeeping forces, and all its members will be able to buy Russian arms at domestic prices. These steps as well as the recent appointment of Russian foreign intelligence chief Sergey Lebedev as head of the CIS show that Moscow is set to strengthen the Commonwealth in an effort to boost Russian influence and pre-empt any “color revolutions” in former Soviet republics.
Bloc with Privileges

Saturday’s session of the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s leaders has become the most important and effective of all post-USSR summits (CIS and EurAsEC) which were held in Dushanbe last weekend. CSTO leaders signed a package of documents to lay groundwork of a nearly revolutionary transformation of the organization. The documents are to turn it into a powerful military and political structure to maintain order in former Soviet republics.

Russia was the one to initiate all these moves. One of them was a long-lobbied decision to set up joint peacekeeping forces within the CSTO’s framework. The Kremlin came forward with the idea back in 2003 but had been met with its partners’ resistance. In December 2005, President Vladimir Putin had to gather all foreign and defense ministers of CSTO countries to give a personal explanation of potential benefits of the initiative. Still, a Minsk summit last July did not sign a Russia-promoted package of documents. This time, the leaders did not even have to sign protocols. On September 28, defense ministers approved the treaties at a session in Bishkek. The foreign minister gave the go-ahead on October 4. Presidents only had to sign the papers.

Under the blueprint on peacekeeping forces, the CSTO will be able to create peacekeeping brigades with an international status. CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha noted that “the zone of peacekeeping activities could be in any hot spot in the world.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, however, denied that Moscow has any intension of using the forces to settle “frozen conflicts” in Georgia’s breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

But more importantly, the bloc will be able to carry out any operations without UN sanctions in its responsibility zones which includes Armenia, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. “What is more important is that if a situation arises to threaten stability and internal security of any CSTO state, our organization will be able to solve it with our own forces without any external interference,” the organization’s Moscow headquarters told Kommersant.

Stability in most former Soviet republics will also be in the hands of other agencies which are to be created following Dushanbe decisions. CSTO members agreed to set up a coordination council of heads of emergency situations agencies from member countries. The body will be monitoring the situation within the bloc’s responsibility and make decisions in case of emergencies. In addition, direct action forces of Central Asia will be equipped with newest armaments by 2010.

These measures are turning the CSTO into a highly integrated structure which guarantees the member countries protection against both domestic and external challenges. However, some partners of Moscow may consider these guarantees inadequate to compensate membership in the Moscow-led bloc with a strict vertical. The Kremlin, however, seems to have foreseen that. At least, Vladimir Putin voiced in Dushanbe suggestions that are sure to make the CSTO more attractive to other countries.

“We have finally passed documents which will enable CSTO members to receive Russian armaments and special equipment at Russia’s domestic prices,” the Russian president said. He underscored that the offer is valid not only for CSTO members’ armed forces but for their special services as well. In other words, membership in the bloc would mean the opening of a channel of privileged access to Russian arms.

“Special rates are already in force for CSTO member countries, and now the last curbs have been eliminated. A possibility to buy our arms at such low prices is in fact almost the only point of participating in the organization,” an employee of Russian arms export monopoly Rosoboronexport said in an interview with Kommersant.

Feat of a Spy

Steps that Moscow took to strengthen the CSTO and turn it into a powerful military and political bloc are in line with current policies of the Kremlin in the post-Soviet space which aim to increase Russia’s influence in the region. Moscow has apparently decided to tackle the issue with a system and strengthen its positions in regional organizations to finally turn them into Moscow’s influence tools.

One day before the CSTO summit, the CIS got a new executive secretary – Russian foreign intelligence chief Sergey Lebedev. “This is the man who is needed for the CIS, a priority direction of Russian foreign policy priority,” Vladimir Putin said commenting the appointment. “Sergey Lebedev has not only been at the helm at the Foreign Intelligence Service. He is the man who has been doing state-important work.”

In his previous job Sergey Lebedev was undoubtedly more than just well-informed about developments in each CIS member-state. The Foreign Intelligence Service does not hold any operations in the Commonwealth countries as the 1992 Alma Aty treaty prohibits CIS intelligence services to work against each other. The treaty was extended in 2000. Sergey Lebedev has repeatedly underscored that his agency strictly follows the agreements. The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service does not work against CIS members but “cooperates with their young intelligence agencies”. Experts argue, however, that one could probe the situation in a CIS country under the pretext of countering activities of third countries’ intelligence services. It is not only prohibited but viewed as Russia’s obligation.

A professional intelligence officer Sergey Lebedev is clearly able to carry out the most important tasks of the Center for Post-Soviet Space. Sergey Lebedev’s former deputy and current head of the Duma’s security committee Vitaly Margelov is sure that Sergey Lebedev will be able to build a good framework for CIS activities. “The president is putting the right people to the right places ahead of elections in Russia,” he said. “It means that we will now get down to work in this direction. Lebedev is able to make sure that there will be problems like those we’ve had with Belarus, Georgia or Ukraine.”

The Kremlin proceeds from the assumption that a task to boost Russia’s influence in the CIS is directly connected with countering the growing American influence in the region. Russian politicians have repeatedly said that Washington was behind “color revolutions” in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine. “In the post-Soviet space, America is trying to put a spoke in our wheels,” Vadim Gustov, head of the Federation Council’s CIS committee, told Kommersant. “Georgia already talks about being accepted to the NATO. The CIS should develop in a clear way. Now there came a man who is ready to make it all true.”

After Saturday’s CSTO summit General Lebedev will be able to carry out Moscow’s line in former Soviet republics even in a more confident manner. A Kommersant source in the Kremlin confirmed the reports. “Rushailo was not responsible for many issues,” he source said. “His activities basically came down to protocol stuff. The new leadership will audit and evaluate the work to do. The new activities will first of all concern mechanisms of the CSTO and EurAsEC. We are now facing the task of coordinating all these structures in the one place. The CIS is very concerned about security issues.”

However, Moscow’s efforts to build a strict structure of the post-Soviet space may have an effect quite contrary to the one that the Kremlin hopes for. A lot of former Soviet republics put up with the existence of the CIS as the organization has been largely ineffective and posed little threat to their independence.

A real and functioning CIS is another thing. All the more, it will be headed by a Russian intelligence officer. All these things may force many ex-Soviet states to turn their backs to Moscow for good and look for protection in the West or China. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and Turkmen leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov declined to sign some of the documents on the session showing the way to these developments. Similar worries are already heard in the CIS. “Lebedev fits for the role of the one in charge of the CIS. He and Putin had similar background in intelligence before the collapse of the USSR,” head of the Belarus-based Strategia analytical center Leonid Zaiko told Kommersant. “It seems they decided to extend the reincarnation of the almighty KGB to the whole Commonwealth. The main thing now is not to destroy it completely.”

Who Headed CIS Secretariat

Ivan Korotchenya, former deputy of the Belarusian Supreme Council, was appointed CIS Executive Secretary on May 14, 1993. He also served as coordinator of a task force of the council of presidents and governments of the CIS. He never made any political decisions, and the secretariat did purely bureaucratic work. However, Russia’s first President Boris Yeltsin recalled in his book “The Presidential Marathon” that “dissatisfaction over Mr. Korotchenya was mounting from summit to summit”. On April 29, 1998, businessman and former deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council Boris Berezovsky was appointed CIS Secretary. He suggested reforming the CIS following the EU model to create the join economic and currency space. He also drafted a reform for the secretariat which was to cut the staff by 70 percent. Boris Yeltsin dismissed him on March 9, 1999, for “repeated actions outside his powers of CIS Executive Secretary”. Ivan Korotchenya was once again appointed acting Secretary. On April 2, 1999, the president’s representative in the Federation Council Yuri Yarov took the post. He also spoke for creating a free trade zone, a common currency and organizing forces of direct action.

Former Security Council Secretary and Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo took over in June 14, 2004. His work as head of CIS observer mission on elections in CIS countries received a lot of publicity. All the campaigns he visited were called legitimate. The runoff in Ukraine which elected Viktor Yushchenko president was the only poll that Mr. Rushailo called undemocratic.

Reports appeared in June 2007 that Russia’s former Central Election Commission chief Alexander Veshnyakov could become the next CIS secretary. On June 10, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko opposed the candidate at an informal CIS summit in St. Petersburg.

Sergey Nikolaevich Lebedev

He was born on April 9, 1948, in the town of Dzhizak, Syrdaryinsky region of the Uzbek Soviet Republic. He graduated from an affiliate of the Kiev Polytechnic Institute in Chernigov, the KGB School in Kiev, the Red Banner Institute of the KGB of the USSR and the Soviet Diplomatic Academy. He worked as a university lecturer and later as the secretary of the Chernigov City Committee of the Communist Union of Youth from 1970. Sergey Lebedev did his military service in 1971 and 1972 before coming to work in the Chernigov District Committee of the Communist Union of Youth. From 1973 to 1975, he worked in the KGB’s department for Chernigov Region. From 1975 till the 1980s he worked in the First Chief Department (foreign intelligence) of the KGB. He was in charge of East, West Germany and Austria. In the 1980s, he worked in East, West Germany, West Berlin. In the early 1990s, he headed intelligence operations in West Berlin. Since 1995 he has been occupying high-ranking roles in the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service and headed the agency later. Between 1998 and 2000, he was an official representative of the Foreign Intelligence Service in the United States. On May 20, 2000, Mr. Lebedev was appointed the agency’s director. He is an army general with an order and eight medals. Sergey Lebedev likes traveling, Greco-Roman wrestling and holds a first class in shooting.

Washington Lashes Out at Moscow’s Role in CIS

The George Bush administration is for diplomatic settlements of territorial disputes and cannot understand why Russia provides military support for breakaway republics of Georgia, U.S. Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried said late last week in Washington.

“We just don’t understand Russian support for separatist regimes,” he said. “We don’t understand how it supports stability in the South Caucasus to overfly Georgia or militarily support breakaway regimes.”

Mr. Fried noted that the Bush administration “far better prefers peaceful diplomatic settlement of these problems than any party’s adventurism.” He named other actions of Moscow including Russian arms supplies to Syria and Iran which make the United States worried. He also gave Washington’s reaction to the Russian mission to plant its national flag on the North Pole and resume strategic air patrols along U.S. borders. “With respect to various Russian gestures, whether it’s highly visible and televised expeditions under the Artic icecap or bomber flights, we’re looking at that,” he said. “There’s no legal significance to planting the flag. It did have an anachronistic feel about it,” he added.

Alexander Gabuev and Vladimir Solovyev

All the Article in Russian as of Oct. 08, 2007

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