Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

KGB Vet to Run Foreign Intelligence

President Vladimir Putin issued a decree Saturday firing General Vyacheslav Trubnikov from the post of director of the Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, replacing him with a KGB veteran with whom Putin served in Germany.

The decree installed Lieutenant General Sergei Lebedev as the new chief of the SVR, a part of the KGB before becoming an independent service in 1991.

The 52-year-old general has returned from the United States, where he had been serving as the SVR's official representative, and is already fulfilling his new duties, the service's press secretary Tatyana Samoilis said in a phone interview Monday.

Both Lebedev and Putin served as foreign intelligence officers in Germany, said Samoilis. She said the two worked there at the same time, but refused to disclose any details about their personal or professional relationship.

Samoilis would not disclose when and where Lebedev served in Germany.

After repeated missions abroad, Lebedev returned to Moscow to head one of the SVR's directorates. He was appointed to represent the SVR in the United States in 1998.

The overlap in Putin and Lebedev's careers suggests the president has decided to put his own prot?g? in charge of foreign intelligence, rather than keep Trubnikov, an ally of former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, said Alexander Pikayev of the Moscow Carnegie Center.

A career intelligence officer, Trubnikov headed up the SVR in January 1996 after his predecessor Primakov went on to head the Foreign Ministry before becoming prime minister. Primakov lobbied the appointment.

The local press has been awash with speculation that Trubnikov would lose his post since Wednesday, when Putin re-appointed the chiefs of all the so-called "power agencies" except the SVR.

She said her colleagues are pleased their new director is a career intelligence officer, noting that the SVR has suffered much less from reshuffles than the KGB's main successor, the Federal Security Service, which has seen seven directors in the past 10 years, while Lebedev has become only the third director of the SVR over the same period.