Sergei Ivanov

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Sergei Borisovich Ivanov (Сергей Борисович Иванов in Russian) (born January 31, 1953, Leningrad) is the Defense Minister of the Russian Federation.

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Career highlights

Ivanov as Defense Minister

On September 9, 2000 Vladimir Putin approved the Doctrine of Information Security, which had been developed under Ivanov's supervision. One of the main provisions of this doctrine is the reinstatement of some of the elements of state censorship. Ivanov claimed that this document was not about restrictions on freedom of speech, but a guarantee of citizens' constitutional right for personal or family privacy, privacy of correspondence via different means of communication, telephone conversations etc. Ivanov said that this doctrine would not cause revision of the media law or creation of the "ministry of truth". He noted, however, that Russian democracy was still quite young and part of the Russian media was somewhat "unbridled".

In September of 2000, mistakenly considering Slobodan Milosevic's victory in presidential elections as predetermined, Ivanov advised President Putin to support him and send a Russian squadron to the Mediterranean Sea in order to prevent Western interference in the course of events and assistance to the opposition forces.

A few catastrophes and tragic incidents in the Russian army fell to Ivanov's lot as soon as he started carrying out his duties as Defense Minister.

On May 10, 2001 a major blackout took place at the military satellite control center, resulting in Russia's temporary inability to track enemy missiles in case of a sudden attack and organize adequate defense or counter-attack.

Some Russian analysts believe that the Ministry of Defense under Ivanov continued an old tradition of explaining explosions at the ammunition storages by ball lightning or lightnings in general. Military officials claimed that a ball lightning destroyed an ammunitions warehouse near Nerchinsk in the Chita Oblast on June 26, 2001 or that another lightning set an ammunitions storage on fire in Buryatia on July 20, 2001.

On October 4, 2001, during joint Russian-Ukrainian firing practice at the 31st test center of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea a Ukrainian missile shot down a Russian passenger airplane from Jerusalem en route to Novosibirsk instead of a military target, killing 78 people. Initially, the Ukrainian military including Defense Minister Aleksander Kuzmuk tried to deny the accident and were supported by Sergey Ivanov. Later on, however, Ivanov managed to conceal the fact that the exercises had been joint and that the Ukrainian missile had been fired from the Russian military base.

In October of 2001, Ivanov took responsibility for President Putin's decision to dismantle the radar center in the Cuban town of Lurdes.

In August and September of 2002, Ivanov made a few harsh statements about the way the Republic of Georgia had been dealing with the Chechen rebels, calling Georgia a safe haven for international terrorism and suggesting possible preventive air strikes against the Chechens on its territory.

On November 26, 2002, Ivanov suggested that the President support his initiative to rename Volgograd into Stalingrad and return a five-pointed star on the banner of the Russian Armed Forces. The latter proposition was approved by Vladimir Putin.

In 2001-2002, one of the most notable problems of the Russian Ministry of Defense was desertion from the army, which in most cases could be explained by humiliation of soldiers by their officers, hazing (called dedovschina in Russian, which is a more complex term), malnutrition and other hardships of the military service. In 2001, more than 6000 soldiers have deserted from the army, in 2001 approx. 6000 men. In 2002, circa 70 soldiers have died due to serious infractions of military service regulations (it is called неуставные отношения in Russian, or neustavniye otnosheniya, which could be translated as "not-by-the-manual relations"). 2867 deserters turned to the Committees of the Soldiers' Mothers for help in 2002.

Ivanov states that switching the Russian army to a contract military service may take up to 10 years, not a couple of years, as many observers believed. Ivanov insists on increasing the draft of students and, hence, on reducing the number of military departments in the universities. In 2001, Ivanov introduced the system of "forced recruitment" of the draftees. It implied verification of IDs and detention of young men on the street, which had already reached the call-up age or had been dodging the draft. After trying it out in Moscow in 2001, Ivanov ordered similar trials in other big cities.

Ivanov considers international terrorism as a principal threat to stability in the world and believes that terrorist actions are well coordinated. He also says that Putin's counter-terrorist operation in the Chechen republic removed the threat of disintegration of the Russian state and created necessary conditions for improving the overall situation in Chechnya and all of the Caucasus region.

Ivanov does not seem to enjoy the support of the career military people like former Defense Minister Igor Rodionov, who consider him to be holding "the wrong post". In February of 2003, a number of organizations, such as Officers' Union, Soviet Officers' Union, Army Support Movement, Cossacks' Union, Association of the Veterans of the Special Forces Units, came forward with the initiative to impeach Ivanov as Defense Minister.

Ivanov remains a close political ally of Putin, and according to a 2001 article published by The Guardian, he is "increasingly seen as the unofficial and unelected vice-president". [1] (http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,433945,00.html) Critics have cited Ivanov's powerful role in Russia's government and his close relationship with Putin as an example of Putin's threat to democracy in Russia.

Ivanov is a lieutenant-general in reserve. He is fluent in English and Swedish as well as speaking Norwegian, he has been married since 1976, and has two sons.

References

Much of the article was translated from the original Russian text at http://www.compromat.ru/main/ivanovserg/a.htm

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