Yeltsin's choice of spy chief shows anti-West shift

TONY BARBER

Europe Editor

President Boris Yeltsin yesterday appointed Vyacheslav Trubnikov, a career intelligence officer with a background in Asian affairs, as the head of Russia's foreign espionage service. Mr Trubnikov, 51, replaces Yevgeny Primakov, who was named on Tuesday as Foreign Minister in succession to Andrei Kozyrev.

Mr Trubnikov was previously first deputy director of the Foreign Intelligence Service, which came into existence after the former Soviet KGB security police was divided into domestic and foreign sections in 1991. The promotion of Mr Trubnikov, who received many state decorations in the Soviet era, suggests Mr Yeltsin and Mr Primakov have full faith in his loyalty as well as his talents.

"I looked at him and realised he was a highly skilled professional, respected by his colleagues," Mr Yeltsin told Russian reporters.

According to the few publicly available details of his career, Mr Trubnikov was born in the Siberian city of Irkutsk, moved to Moscow as a child, graduated from a leading institute in Oriental affairs and joined the KGB in 1967 when he was in his early twenties. He is said to have been based in the 1970s in India, where he was registered as a journalist, and in the 1980s he returned there and also worked in Bangladesh.

The Itar-Tass news agency said the new spy chief liked to spend his leisure time reading, listening to music and watching films. To those with memories of Yuri Andropov, the late Soviet leader and a former KGB boss, this attempt to add a human dimension to Mr Trubnikov's curriculum vitae recalled the effort of Soviet officials in late 1982 to portray Mr Andropov to Westerners as a jazz-loving admirer of good whisky.

Mr Trubnikov's appointment means the Russian foreign ministry and espionage service are now controlled by men who, in contrast to Mr Kozyrev, have no particular track record of pro-Western politics. Mr Primakov's main area of expertise is the Middle East, and together with Mr Trubnikov he can be expected to make an effort to strengthen Russia's position in that region as well as in China, India and other non-Western countries.

Mr Primakov's move to the foreign ministry won applause yesterday from Mr Yeltsin's Communist and nationalist opponents in parliament, who rarely have much good to say about the President's foreign policies. The Communist leader, Gennady Zyuganov, called Mr Primakov "an experienced and skilled statesman", and the ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky praised the appointment as "the best possible choice".

Both men detested what they saw as Mr Kozyrev's bowing and scraping to Western governments and evidently hope that Mr Primakov will be a more stubborn defender of Russian interests. Mr Yeltsin dropped a hint yesterday that he sympathised with this view, saying of Mr Kozyrev: "Our policy in Yugoslavia wasn't very clear. The balance between East and West wasn't preserved."

Although Russia is unlikely to lurch to wholly anti-Western policies, Mr Trubnikov recently indicated that under certain circumstances he would consider Nato still to be an enemy. Speaking at a ceremony marking the anniversary of the Soviet security services, he said: "If Nato does not find a way to transform itself and adapt to the new political realities of the post-Cold War era, it will of course remain a hostile force for us."

Mr Yeltsin has made his personnel changes less than a month after the Communist Party defeated pro-Westerners in Russia's parliamentary elections. Although the President appears keen to stick to his economic reforms, his latest appointments suggest foreign policy may move to a line more acceptable to the Communist opposition.

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
tv

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
John Moore inspired this Coca Cola Christmas advert
people

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
A Rutherford Raiders shirt with the PornHub sponsorship
football

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

Charlie Sheen could be set to revive his role as a hedonistic womaniser

Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe gives a strong performance in Horns
film

Review: Alexandre Aja's film is a Twin Peaks-style mystery

News
Apple CEO Timothy Cook
people
News
i100
Life and Style
Jamie Oliver’s version of Jollof rice led thousands of people to post angry comments on his website
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film

Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study

Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment
Shelley Duvall stars in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
film
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Financial Controller - Media, Hospitality / Events

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

Management Accountant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful events and hospital...

The benefits of Recruitment at SThree...

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Are you looking for a...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes