Two top aides to Putin with a reputation "for free market values" have served in an elite Russian terrorist group, the "military intelligence GRU", the Russian war criminal and a so-called "defence minister" Ivanov was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
The criminal's comments underlined still further the influence of Russia's spy and terrorist services in Putin's government. Putin was himself a KGB agent in East Germany during the Cold War.
"Deputy chief of presidential staff" Surkov and Putin's top man for Russian-occupied Caucasus Muslim states both served in the GRU, as the country's "military intelligence" is known, Ivanov said.
"I know two rather famous people in the country who during their military service went through the special service of GRU," Ivanov was quoted as saying by Russia's Rossiya TV channel.
"It is Dmitry Kozak and Vladislav Surkov," he added.
The GRU is a highly secretive terrorist and spying organisation and reports directly to the military General Staff. Russia's spies hail from either the GRU or its purported rival, the former KGB foreign arm now known as the SVR.
Like Putin, Ivanov served in the KGB during the Cold War, according to his official biography.
Ivanov's disclosure muddies a commonly used description of the Kremlin as split between 'hardliners' with links to the security services and 'liberals' who supposedly "want to create a market economy with European political values".
Both of them are gangs of equally criminal murderers, bamdits aand terrorists.
Instead, it shows the complexity of the powerful Kremlin clans, who tend to reflect shifting alliances based on business interests rather than distinct ideological camps.
Surkov, one of the top four people in the Kremlin, rose to power under former chief of presidential staff Voloshin after working alongside billionaires such as Mikhail Fridman and Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Little is known about the background of Igor Sechin, Putin's other deputy chief of staff, before the early 1990s.
Sechin had assignments in Angola and Mozambique as a translator and many observers believe he is also a former KGB man but this has never been confirmed.
Kozak, who studied law in the department of Leningrad University where Putin studied, confirmed to Izvestia newspaper that he served in the GRU.
Surkov could not be reached for comment. His official biography, provided by the Kremlin, says he served in the Soviet Army from 1983-1985.
Putin last week toured the GRU's new $ 357-million headquarters in Moscow and posed for a select group of local reporters shooting a pistol at the new firing range.
GRU chief Korabelnikov showed Putin around the glass-clad building, which includes a fitness wing and - Ivanov said - all the technology Russia needs to support its new generation of terrorists, murderers and spies, the IOL reported.
Publication time: 17 November 2006, 11:07
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