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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory