Latest Government Reshuffle Will Strengthen Role of Federal Security Service - 12 March, 2003

Boris Nadezhdin, the deputy leader of the Union of Right Forces (SPS), told journalists yesterday that the dissolution of a number of security departments (including the Federal Tax Police Service, the Federal Border Service and the Government Communications and Information Department) and the transferal of their responsibilities to the Federal Security Service (FSB) shows that the federal security bureau will now have much greater influence.

Nadezhdin believes that Valentina Matvienko's appointment as presidential plenipotentiary in the North-West Federal District suggests that she may pose a serious threat to Vladimir Yakovlev or one of his successors in the elections for the governor of St. Petersburg. Mr Nadezhdin said that it is not yet clear who will succeed Matvienko as deputy prime minister for social issues but 'we in the Duma would be very happy if Lyubov Sliska, the deputy speaker of the lower chamber was appointed to this position.'

Sergei Yushenkov, an independent Duma deputy and member of the Security Committee, said that the Russian president's decision will give the FSB the same power that it had (the KGB, that is) in Soviet times. 'It is clear that the Kremlin is trying to impose more stringent control over its citizens in the year before elections,' said the deputy.