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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yelstin: Use Spies for Technology

President Boris Yeltsin on Wednesday ordered top officials to close the technology gap between Russia and the West by making better use of data gathered by the country's Foreign Intelligence Service.


Yeltsin made the statement in a televised portion of his first meeting with the Security Council since being hospitalized with a heart condition last year.


At the meeting, Yeltsin also discussed his new peace plan for Chechnya, according to Security Council Secretary Oleg Lobov. But public release of the plan's details was being reserved until after Feb. 15, when Yeltsin has said he will announce whether he will run for re-election. "Cooperation contacts have collapsed and competition on the international high-technology market has gotten tougher," Yeltsin said at the start of the meeting.


He addressed his security chiefs: "Prepare proposals for improving the mechanisms of using scientific information received through foreign intelligence in the interest of technological rearmament."


Itar-Tass and Interfax also quoted Yeltsin as saying that the intelligence services of foreign countries had stepped up industrial espionage in Russia, and that Moscow should make better use of the information gathered by its own services.


Yeltsin also mentioned the need to stop the brain drain of "highly qualified personnel" from Russia.


Speaking after the meeting, Lobov expanded the theme.


"With the breakup of the Soviet Union, many technology ties that existed at that period as well as the organization of the whole work were disrupted," Lobov said, referring specifically to defense technology. "Russia became an object of close attention by the international community."


Yeltsin also told officials to produce a plan to ensure Russia's "technological security" within 10 days, and said the government should "reconsider the defense conversion program and weapons orders," Lobov said.


While vague, that could hint at plans to accede to demands from the military industrial complex to spend more on armaments. The government has sharply cut orders for new weapons in recent years and been slow to pay its defense contractors. Many plants are on the verge of closing.


Concerning the Chechen peace plan, Lobov said Yeltsin would himself reveal details later in the month and that no formal decision had been taken Wednesday.


Lobov did, however, volunteer that despite widespread appeal for an end to the war, a withdrawal of troops was still premature. As he spoke, thousands of protesters in the Chechen capital demonstrated for a fourth day outside the burned out shell of the presidential palace, defying an order to go home or be dispersed by force.


The demonstrators have been calling for the withdrawal of federal troops and the resignation of Doku Zavgayev's Moscow-backed administration.


"I believe that this issue can only be settled after the situation has stabilized," Lobov said, adding that this would only be the case once "illegal armed formations have been disarmed."


"This is the main condition. And we are not talking about the pull-out of all the troops," the secretary added. "We are talking about a partial withdrawal of the troops who are on Chechen territory temporarily in connection with the disarmament of illegal armed formations."


The first stage of the withdrawal of federal troops from Chechnya will begin Feb. 8, a Chechen government source told Interfax on Wednesday.


Yeltsin's popularity has plummeted since the Chechen conflict began 14 months ago, and any progress on peace in the region would no doubt improve his prospects in the June 16 presidential elections if, as expected, he declares that he will run.


While the Security Council officially has no legal authority to issue state orders, it is a key advisory body of top government and security officials which played a prominent role in the initial decision to send troops into the breakaway republic in December 1994.


Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin broke off his holiday in the Black Sea port of Sochi to attend Wednesday's meeting. According to Interfax, the prime minister again denied Wednesday that he will run in June's elections.


Two notable absentees from Wednesday's meeting were the new Duma and Federation Council speakers, Gennady Zeleznyov and Yegor Stroyev. While their predecessors had been members, a spokesman for the Security Council said the two new speakers have not been admitted.


Publicly at least, the focus of Wednesday's meeting was on Russia's loss of ground in the field of technology, a process which has accelerated since the collapse of the Soviet system in 1991.


"Cooperation contacts have collapsed and competition on the international high-technology market has gotten tougher," Yeltsin said at the start of the meeting.


"Prepare proposals for improving the mechanisms of using scientific information received through foreign intelligence in the interest of technological rearmament."


Tass and Interfax also quoted Yeltsin as saying that the intelligence services of foreign countries had stepped up industrial espionage in Russia, and that Moscow should make better use of the information gathered by its own services.


Yeltsin also mentioned the need to stop the brain drain of "highly qualified personnel" from Russia.


Speaking after the meeting, Lobov expanded the theme.


"With the breakup of the Soviet Union, many technology ties that existed at that period as well as the organization of the whole work were disrupted," Lobov said, referring specifically to defense technology. "Russia became an object of close attention by the international community."


Yeltsin also told officials to produce a plan to ensure Russia's "technological security" within 10 days, and said the government should "reconsider the defense conversion program and weapons orders," Lobov said.


While vague, that could hint at plans to accede to demands from the military industrial complex to spend more on armaments. The government has sharply cut orders for new weapons in recent years and been slow to pay its defense contractors. Many plants are on the verge of closing.


Concerning the Chechen peace plan, Lobov said Yeltsin would himself reveal details later in the month and that no formal decision had been taken Wednesday.


Lobov did, however, volunteer that despite widespread appeal for an end to the war, a withdrawal of troops was still premature. As he spoke, thousands of protesters in the Chechen capital demonstrated for a fourth day outside the burned out shell of the presidential palace, defying an order to go home or be dispersed by force.


The demonstrators have been calling for the withdrawal of federal troops and the resignation of Doku Zavgayev's Moscow-backed administration.


"I believe that this issue can only be settled after the situation has stabilized," Lobov said, adding that this would only be the case once "illegal armed formations have been disarmed."


"This is the main condition. And we are not talking about the pull-out of all the troops," the secretary added. "We are talking about a partial withdrawal of the troops who are on Chechen territory temporarily in connection with the disarmament of illegal armed formations."


The first stage of the withdrawal of federal troops from Chechnya will begin Feb. 8, a Chechen government source told Interfax Wednesday.


Yeltsin's popularity has plummeted since the Chechen conflict began 14 months ago, and any progress on peace in the region would no doubt improve his prospects in the June 16 presidential elections if, as expected, he declares that he will run.


While the Security Council officially has no legal authority to issue state orders, it is a key advisory body of top government and security officials which played a prominent role in the initial decision to send troops into the breakaway republic in December 1994.


Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin broke off his holiday in the Black Sea port of Sochi to attend Wednesday's meeting. According to Interfax, the Prime Minister again denied Wednesday that he will run in June's elections.


Two notable absentees from Wednesday's meeting were the new Duma and Federation Council speakers, Gennady Zeleznyov and Yegor Stroyev. While their predecessors had been members, a spokesman for the Security Council said the two new speakers have not been admitted.