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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Korzhakov Given 'Consolation Prize' Promotion


Alexander Korzhakov, chief of the presidential bodyguard and a close confidant of President Boris Yeltsin, has been promoted to the rank of lieutenant general in a clear boost of status for a man already considered to be among the most powerful figures in the country.

Korzhakov, a former KGB agent who controls a small army in Yeltsin's security service, was promoted from the rank of major general to lieutenant general in a decree signed by the president Saturday, Interfax said.

Korzhakov is Yeltsin's constant companion, and Kremlin-watchers say nothing reaches the president's desk without his approval.

Yeltsin wrote glowingly of Korzhakov last year in his latest memoirs. "He is a very decent, intelligent, strong and courageous person,'' he wrote. "While outwardly he seems very simple, behind this simplicity is a sharp mind and a clear, excellent head.''

Yeltsin, who has described him as one of his only real friends, wrote that Korzhakov "never leaves my side.''

The decree was one of several issued by Yeltsin on Saturday at the Moscow-area sanatorium where he is recovering from heart trouble, his press service said.

The president's staff said he had made other appointments and promotions in the security service, which he formally made part of the presidential administration. Lieutenant General Yury Krapivin was named to head the main guard department under Korzhakov, Interfax said.

The moves capped a week in which Yeltsin appeared to reward his confidants. On Monday he promoted Colonel General Mikhail Barsukov from Kremlin security chief to director of the Federal Security Service. Russian media said that widened the influence of Korzhakov, who is close to Barsukov.

Analysts said they believed Korzhakov's promotion was a part of the same process, a recognition of his services, as well as a gesture to show that he was not being left out of the reorganization in the security apparatus.

"He's been given a consolation prize," said Professor John Erickson, Russian military analyst at the University of Edinburgh. "This is the whole system of patronage operating now. There are pats on the back for services rendered, but this has also been a part of the reshaping of the whole security organization itself."

Michael McFaul, a political analyst at the Moscow Center of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, said the promotion would have a negligible effect on Korzhakov's powers: "When you are already the No. 2 man in the country, whether you are a lieutenant general or whatever he was before doesn't really matter," he said. ()