. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Agency Welcomes Spy Boss

President Boris Yeltsin's appointment of long-serving intelligence official Vyacheslav Trubnikov as the new head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service received general approval Thursday, but the move should not produce substantial changes in the work of Russian spies abroad, analysts said.


Trubnikov succeeded outgoing director Yevgeny Primakov, an academic who was named as Russia's new foreign minister in the wake of Andrei Kozyrev's resignation. His appointment Wednesday was hailed within the agency, and increased the control of former KGB officials over Russia's intelligence apparatus.


"Trubnikov was received positively by the agency, and enjoys great authority there," Alexander Konovalov, head of the military policy center at the USA and Canada Institute, said Thursday. "He has climbed the professional ladder, and is not a political appointment in any sense ... One speaks of career diplomats -- Trubnikov is a career intelligence officer."


Trubnikov, 51, graduated from the Institute of International Relations before embarking on a career as an Asian specialist in the KGB. Officially designated a journalist, he spent 15 years in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan, twice earning the order of the Red Star, among other honors.


"It impresses me that President Yeltsin has finally, after four years, come to the realization that professionals are best qualified to run the intelligence services, not dilettantes and political chatterboxes," said Viktor Ilyukhin, chairman of the State Duma security committee. "Trubnikov is engaged professionally in the best sense: He serves Russia, he serves the interests of the fatherland."


Ilyukhin, chairman of the State Duma security committee, said he expected "no significant changes" in the work of the service SVR as a result of the new law, signed by Yeltsin on Wednesday, save those that Trubnikov himself might implement.


But most key responsibilities in the agency, such as running agents, were already concentrated in Trubnikov's hands before his promotion from first deputy director, Ilyukhin said.


The new law on foreign intelligence, which will come into force upon its publication in the next few days, will impose stricter control over the intelligence agency by the president, parliament and the courts and will outline its functions more clearly, Ilyukhin said.


It will not entail substantial changes in the internal structure of the agency, however, as the various departments and its officers will remain in place.


The law further states that the activities of the agency must be conducted "in accordance with the principle of legality and respect for human rights and freedoms," Reuters reported.


Yeltsin also signed a decree Wednesday limiting the use of phone taps and unauthorized information gathering on businesses and individuals, though details of the decree remained sketchy.


Primary among the Foreign Intelligence Service's functions is to provide the Russian government with information essential to the formation of policy in all spheres of international relations.


At a roundtable held during the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Russia's foreign intelligence service last December, Trubnikov stressed cooperation with the intelligence agencies of the CIS countries. These agencies "are doing the maximum to cooperate in the centralizing process, the process of economic integration, the restoration of economic ties from whose disruption we all suffer equally," he said.


Trubnikov's centralizing impulse is unlikely to extend to Russia's intelligence services, however. "Judging by his record and his personality, he will not seek to merge the intelligence services in an attempt to reconstitute a huge KGB," Konovalov said. "What is more, I think he would oppose any efforts to do so."