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March 11, 2003

Grigory Yavlinsky on the president's reshuffles in the security agencies and the appointment of Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matviyenko as Presidential Plenipotentiary in the North-Western Federal district

By Grigory Yavlinsky

I think that the appointments made today by the President clearly demonstrate how the President is establishing his priorities.

Let me first talk about the creation of a special committee for the control of narcotics. I think that this is the most important problem for the country: so many people have over the past 15 years personally experienced the sorrow of such a catastrophe and seen how drugs can break up families and destroy peoples’ lives, especially the lives of the young. In many Russian regions, the Urals, and Siberia this has become a scourge both in schools and different children's institutions, and the emphasis placed by the President on this problem - his appointment of a high-ranking official and the creation of a special department for this task- shows that this is a priority in domestic policy, and that this is the correct direction.

The second direction - is the establishment of a committee for military orders and the establishment under the Defence Ministry of the main client for military orders for conventional weapons. I think that this is a good sign for the military industry, as it demonstrates that state payments will be duly performed, the state will pay more attention to implementation of its obligations and the army will have an opportunity to end modernisation on time.

In general it should be stated that such changes as the changes in the Border Service, and those connected with FAPSI (the Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information), its abolition and partial transfer to the FSB (the Federal Security Agency) and partially to the Defence Ministry - these are initially changes in staff which on their own produce little change, while the identification of such priorities – the [fight against] narcotics, the military order, more efficient work of the FSB, more efficient work of the Federal Border Guards - all this demonstrates that the priorities formulated by the President correspond with demands today.

We believe this is extremely important, provided that such work in the regions is really carried out and people in the regions feel the changes related to a reduction in the distribution of drugs. We are interested in seeing how industry will be revived, including the military order, how efficient the border guard service will be, how the efficiency of all ministries and departments engaged in the anti-terror campaign may rise, especially in the situation which may develop after the referendum. All this can have a positive impact. Subsequent developments will demonstrate the efficiency of these steps.

This may have a positive impact, provided that this means the onset of fully-fledged reform.


The appointment of Valentina Matviyenko is probably a prologue to the gubernatorial elections in St. Petersburg, and there is nothing unexpected in such an appointment. During the previous gubernatorial elections [in St. Petersburg] the President demonstrated his interest in this city. I think that the appointment of Valentina Matviyenko will improve preparations for the celebration of the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg. She is a responsible and serious individual, with extensive government experience, and St. Petersburg will only benefit from her work there.


See also:

President Reshuffles the Security Agencies. By Andrei Zolotov Jr.The Moscow Times. March 12, 2003.

March 11, 2003

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