President Vladimir Putin: Comrade officers!
Good afternoon, colleagues,
We are meeting today for a special reason. As you know, Sergei Nikolayevich Lebedev was appointed Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States’ Executive Committee on October 7 this year in Dushanbe. This was by common agreement among the CIS heads of state after lengthy discussions (on the other candidates, not on Sergei Nikolayevich’s candidature). On October 8, I signed a decree appointing Mikhail Yefimovich Fradkov director of the Foreign Intelligence Service [SVR]. I would like once again to congratulate both of our colleagues on their new appointments and to talk about how to ensure the continuity of the Foreign Intelligence Service’s best traditions and achieve new results in your work.
Sergei Nikolayevich headed the SVR from May 2000. You remember what a difficult time this was. We had to provide firm resistance to international terrorism and resolve complex tasks in the area of non-proliferation of nuclear components, combat illegal arms trafficking and act rapidly and systematically to monitor external threats to our country’s stability. The SVR has been at the forefront of this work over these last years and has played an important part in guaranteeing Russia’s security and protecting our foreign policy interests.
I would like once again to thank Sergei Nikolayevich for his hard work as director of the SVR. He has devoted his life to this service and over more than 30 years of service has proven himself to be a professional, highly responsible and talented person, a professional of the highest quality. Now he will be concentrating his efforts on strengthening the integration processes in the CIS, and I have no doubt that his great experience, exceptional hardworking ability and persistence will help him to effectively carry out his mission in this most important area of our foreign policy. We have always settled for whatever is left over in our work in this area, but we will change this and this will not be the last appointment in this area.
Colleagues, today I officially introduce to you the Service’s new director, Mikhail Yefimovich Fradkov.
I think that the man who headed Russia’s Government for more than three years needs no particular recommendation. He has many years of responsible work abroad behind him and has held senior posts in the Security Council. Earlier, he was foreign trade minister and headed the tax police. Through his previous activities, Mikhail Yefimovich is familiar with the results of the SVR’s work and knows personally many of its senior officials. Mikhail Fradkov’s appointment as director of the SVR underscores the important place the intelligence service holds among Russia’s state bodies.
Today, the SVR is one of the most professional and effective services. It must continue to give Russia reliable protection against potential external threats. The fight against international terrorism remains one of its priorities. It is necessary to identify the terrorists’ channels of financing, plans for carrying out terrorist attacks, and the location of training bases for terrorists and mercenaries. This information will help Russia’s other special services to work more effectively.
You must also concentrate on helping to strengthen Russia’s industrial and defence potential. You are able to provide good and rapid evaluation of international and economic changes taking place and to calculate their consequences for Russia’s economy. And of course, you also need to be more active in helping to protect the interests of Russian companies abroad.