Twelve Who Have Putin's Ear
October 15, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle is a mysterious and close-knit group, although it features its own tensions and conflicts. Below, RFE/RL looks at some of the key figures and outlines their official duties, their connections with one another, and their ties to the country's all-powerful president.
Igor Ivanovich Sechin
Born: Leningrad, September 7, 1960.
Education: Graduated in the humanities from Leningrad State University. Speaks Portuguese and French.
Security Service: Although he has never confirmed it, by many accounts Sechin served in the KGB. According to his official biography, he worked as a civilian and military translator in Mozambique and Angola in the 1980s.
Government Post(s): Deputy presidential administration chief of staff; assistant to the president. "Kommersant-Vlast" in 2003 wrote that Sechin and fellow presidential administration deputy chief of staff Viktor Ivanov are the most powerful members of the so-called Petersburg chekist clan. By some accounts, Sechin personally oversaw the actions of prosecutors and investigators in the Yukos cases. Sechin's Rosneft took control of Yukos's most attractive production asset, Yuganskneftegaz, in December 2004, tripling the company's annual output.
Corporate Post(s): Chairman of the Board of Directors of oil major Rosneft since July 2004.
Ties To Putin: Sechin served as Putin's chief of staff in the St. Petersburg city government (1991-96); served as Putin's deputy at the St. Petersburg Property Management Department (1996-97); worked under Putin at the Kremlin Main Control Directorate (1997-98); served as head of Putin's staff when Putin was prime minister (1999-2000).
Viktor Petrovich Ivanov
Born: Novgorod, May 12, 1950.
Education: Graduated from the Leningrad Electrotechnical Institute in 1974.
Security Service: Ivanov is a major general in the Federal Security Service and a long-time veteran of the Leningrad branch of the KGB. He served under Putin at the Federal Security Service as deputy director in charge of economic security.
Government Post(s): Assistant to the president since March 2004; since 2000, he was deputy head of the presidential administration in charge of staffing. Is thought to have been a major initiator of the campaign to dispossess Yukos.
Corporate Post(s): Chairman of the Board of Advisers of Almaz-Antei, a missile-development conglomerate that controls some 60 defense-industry enterprises; chairman of the Board of Advisers of the airline Aeroflot.
Ties To Putin: Ivanov served as a KGB officer in Leningrad (1977-94); worked in St. Petersburg mayoral administration under Putin's patronage (1994-96). In 1996, Putin became director of the FSB and invited Ivanov to head the FSB's security department. Putin later made him deputy FSB chairman in charge of economic security. One of Putin's first orders as acting president in early 2000 was to name Ivanov a deputy head of the presidential administration. In March 2004, Ivanov became assistant to the president.
Sergei Borisovich Ivanov
Born: Leningrad, January 31, 1953.
Education: Graduated from Leningrad State University in 1975 with a degree in philology. Speaks English and Swedish.
Government Post(s): Acting first deputy prime minister responsible for the military-industrial complex and high-technology development. Chairman of the government commission on nanotechnology. Defense minister (2001-05).
Corporate Post(s): Chairman of the Board of Directors of the United Aircraft Corporation (OAK). Created in 2006 and 75 percent owned by the Russian government, OAK controls companies including aircraft producers Sukhoi, Tupolev, and Ilyushin; the leasing company Ilyushin Finance; and numerous others. It is valued at some $4.5 billion.
Security Services: Colonel general in the FSB (reserves). After a long career in the KGB including postings in Scandinavia and Africa, he served in the Foreign Counterintelligence Service and the FSB in the 1990s. Deputy FSB director overseeing analysis, forecasting, and strategic planning (1998-99); secretary of the Security Council (1999-2001; defense minister (2001-07).
Ties To Putin: Putin and Sergei Ivanov have known each other since the mid-1970s. They served together in the Leningrad branch of the KGB. When Putin served as head of the FSB in 1998-99, Ivanov was one of his deputies. Has held senior posts in government throughout Putin's reign.
Nikolai Platonovich Patrushev
Born: Leningrad, July 11, 1951.
Education: Graduated from the Leningrad Shipbuilding Academy in 1974.
Government Post(s): Chairman of the Federal Security Service (FSB).
Corporate Post(s): None. Patrushev's son, Andrei, also an FSB officer, has been an adviser to Rosneft Chairman Igor Sechin since late 2006 and is believed to have been involved in the dispossession of Yukos while working at the FSB. Patrushev's other son, Dmitry, is a vice president of the state-controlled Vneshtorgbank, where the son of St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko is also a vice president.
Security Services: Began his career in the KGB immediately upon graduating from university. He worked in counterintelligence in the Leningrad branch of the KGB and later in Karelia. He served as first deputy director of the FSB in charge of economic security (1998-99). He was named director of the FSB in 1999 when Putin became prime minister.
Ties To Putin: Putin and Patrushev worked together in the Leningrad branch of the KGB in the 1970s. It is not known how closely they remained in contact after Patrushev was shifted to Karelia, but in 1998 Patrushev replaced Putin as head of the Main Control Directorate of Boris Yeltsin's presidential administration. When Putin was named head of the FSB, he named Patrushev one of his deputies. Patrushev succeeded Putin as FSB director when Putin became prime minister in 1999.
Vladimir Ivanovich Yakunin
Born: Vladimir Oblast, June 30, 1948.
Education: Graduated from the Leningrad Mechanical Institute in 1972.
Government Post(s): None. Formerly deputy transport minister and first deputy railways minister.
Corporate Post: Since 2005, head of the Russian Railway Company, the state-owned firm that is the second-largest company in Russia after Gazprom. He is also research director and chairman of the Board of Advisers of the Center for Problem Analysis and State-Management Forecasting of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Security Services: Although Yakunin's biography does not mention KGB service, he served for six years on the Soviet mission at the United Nations, a posting that was often used by KGB intelligence operatives. As a graduate of a Leningrad institute, it is likely he would have begun KGB service in the Leningrad branch in the 1970s, at the same time as Putin.
Ties To Putin: Yakunin may have worked in the Leningrad branch of the KGB with Putin in the 1970s. Was part of a dacha cooperative with Putin in St. Petersburg in 1996.
Sergei Viktorovich Chemezov
Born: Irkutsk Oblast, August 20, 1952.
Education: Graduated from the Irkutsk Agricultural Institute and the Upper School of the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.
Government Post(s): Member of the State Military-Industrial Commission (headed by Sergei Ivanov).
Corporate Post(s): Since April 2004, general director of Rosoboroneksport, Russia's weapons-export monopoly (the only Russian firm besides Gazprom with an export monopoly). Chairman of the Boards of Advisers of AvtoVAZ, Oboronprom, and VSMPO-Avisma. Member of the Boards of Advisers of KamAZ, Almaz-Antei (board chaired by Viktor Ivanov), Sukhoi (part of OAK, headed by Sergei Ivanov), and several others. Since May 2007, chairman of the Machine-Builders Union. Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Foundation to Support and Develop Physical Education and Sport in the Russian Federation (the so-called Sports Foundation). Chemezov's son, Stanislav, is a member of the Board of Directors of AvtoVAZ subsidiary AvtoVAZEnergo.
Security Services: None known.
Ties to Putin: Chemezov headed the office of the Luch industrial research enterprise in Dresden, German Democratic Republic (1983-88) and became acquainted with KGB officer Vladimir Putin during this time. Served under Putin in the Russian Presidential Property Management Directorate (1996-99). When Putin became prime minister, Chemezov was named general director of the state-owned Rospromeksport.
Viktor Vasilyevich Cherkesov
Born: Leningrad, July 13, 1950.
Education: Graduated from the law department of Leningrad State University in 1973.
Government Post(s): Director of the Federal Antinarcotics Service since March 2003.
Corporate Post(s): None. His wife, Natalya Chaplina, is the director of the RosBalt news agency in St. Petersburg.
Security Services: Began his career with the Leningrad branch of the KGB in 1975 and has been in the security organs ever since, rising to the position of first deputy director of the FSB under Putin and, later, Patrushev.
Ties To Putin: Cherkesov attended the law department of Leningrad State University at the same time as Putin, although it is not known if they knew each other. In a 2000 interview, Cherkesov indicated that they met in the Leningrad branch of the KGB. Served as Putin's first deputy when Putin was director of the FSB, and as Putin's envoy to the Northwest Federal District (2000-03).
Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev
Born: Leningrad, September 14, 1965.
Education: Graduated from the law department of Leningrad State University in 1987; received his doctorate there in 1990. Taught law at St. Petersburg State University (1990-99).
Government Post(s): Since November 2005, first deputy prime minister responsible for priority national projects, the social sphere, mass communications, law enforcement and justice, and demographics and migration.
Corporate Post(s): Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom.
Security Services: None known.
Ties To Putin: Medvedev worked as a legal consultant for the External Relations Committee of the St. Petersburg government when it was headed by Putin (1990-95). When Putin became prime minister, he named Medvedev his chief of staff, and when he became president, Putin named Medvedev deputy head of the presidential administration. In October 2003, Medvedev became head of the presidential administration.
Yury Valentinovich Kovalchyuk
Born: Leningrad, July 25, 1951.
Education: Graduated in physics from Leningrad State University in 1974; received a doctorate through the Academy of Sciences in 1985.
Government Post(s): None. Kovalchuk's brother, Mikhail, also a physicist, is deputy chairman of the government commission on nanotechnology (headed by Sergei Ivanov). His son, Boris, reportedly was appointed to Dmitry Medvedev's staff in 2006.
Corporate Post(s): Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bank Rossia, which owns the company that controls REN-TV and St. Petersburg's Channel 5. Kovalchuk personally owns about 42 percent of Bank Rossia. President of the Center for Strategic Planning-Northwest.
Security Services: None known.
Ties To Putin: It is not clear exactly when Kovalchuk met Putin, but he has been a close friend and business associate of Vladimir Yakunin's since the late 1980s. After the August 1991 coup attempt against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, Kovalchuk and Yakunin revived Bank Rossia, which was originally created by the Leningrad Oblast branch of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and had ties to the Leningrad branch of the KGB. In 1995, Kovalchuk was made a member of the St. Petersburg municipal commission on enterprises with foreign investment, which was headed by Putin. Bank Rossia became the funding vehicle for the municipal office on external relations, also headed by Putin. In 1996, Kovalchuk, like Yakunin, became a founding member of the Ozero dacha community together with Putin. There have been claims over the years that Kovalchuk manages Putin's personal assets.
Aleksandr Andreyevich Grigoryev
Born: Leningrad, October 4, 1949.
Education: Graduated from the Leningrad Mechanical Institute in 1973 and the Higher School of the KGB in 1975.
Government Post(s): Since 2004, director of the Federal State Reserves Agency; previously, since 2001, director of the Russian State Reserves Agency, which was reorganized and renamed in 2004. The Federal State Reserves Agency, formally part of the Economic Development and Trade Ministry, controls federal property and strategic reserves.
Corporate Post(s): None. Grigoryev is on the Advisory Board of the Center for the National Glory of Russia. The center is a project uniting many in Putin's inner circle, including Vladimir Yakunin, Viktor Ivanov, Sergei Ivanov, Viktor Cherkesov, and Sergei Chemezov.
Security Services: Currently an FSB colonel general, Grigoryev graduated from the KGB's Higher School in 1975. Deputy director of the FSB and head of the St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast branch of the FSB (1998-2001). "Kommersant-Vlast" has reported that Grigoryev worked for the KGB inside the Russian Orthodox Church. In 2006, Patriarch Aleksy II, who is also widely believed to have worked for the KGB in Soviet times, granted Grigoryev a high church award in recognition of his "service to the Orthodox Church". Served in Afghanistan together with Viktor Ivanov (1983-85). Served under Viktor Cherkesov in the mid-1990s after his return to the Leningrad branch of the KGB.
Ties To Putin: Grigoryev met Putin when they were working at the Leningrad branch of the KGB in the mid-1970s.
Dmitry Nikolayevich Kozak
Born: Kirovogradsky Oblast, Soviet Ukraine, November 7, 1958.
Education: Graduated from the law department of Leningrad State University in 1985.
Government Post(s): Regional development minister since September 2007. Previously, presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District.
Corporate Post(s): None. His official biography states that he became a member of the Board of Directors of the International Investment-Financial Union in 1999. Previously served on the boards of Sovkomflot and Russian Railways.
Security Services: None known.
Ties To Putin: Kozak met Putin while working in the St. Petersburg administration throughout the 1990s. He continued in St. Petersburg even after the 1996 defeat of mayor Anatoly Sobchak, becoming deputy mayor under Vladimir Yakovlev. He resigned in 1998. When Putin became prime minister in 1999, he named Kozak as his chief of staff. In late 1999, Kozak ran Putin's presidential campaign, but was replaced by Dmitry Medvedev in January 2000. In 2004, again headed Putin's presidential campaign.
Sergei Yevgenyevich Naryshkin
Born: Leningrad, October 27, 1954.
Education: Graduated from the Leningrad Mechanical Institute in 1978. Speaks English and French.
Government Post(s): Since February 2007, deputy prime minister in charge of the government's staff.
Corporate Post(s): Since August 2005, chairman of the board of state Channel One television; deputy chairman of the board of Rosneft; member of the Board of Directors of Sovkomflot.
Secret Services: Naryshkin is widely believed to have roots in the KGB, but it has never been established firmly. "Kommersant" has reported that he attended the KGB Andropov Institute at the same time as Putin in 1984-85. In the 1970s, he was active in the Leningrad branch of the Komsomol and the Communist Party. Worked as an economist at the Soviet (Russian) Embassy in Belgium, possibly as a KGB officer (1988-92). "Nezavisimaya gazeta" wrote in 2004 that "it is known that in the 1980s he worked for Soviet intelligence in Belgium under the cover of staff economics adviser at the Soviet Embassy in that country."
Ties To Putin: Naryshkin may have met Putin at the KGB's Andropov Institute in the mid-1980s. Worked in the external economic relations section of the St. Petersburg city administration together with Putin and Aleksei Kudrin (1992-95). Worked at St. Petersburg's Promstroibank, which provided financing for municipal projects carried out by Putin (1995-96).
Copyright (c) 2007. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|