Sergei Ivanov granted his first interview after he was transferred out of the Presidential Administration to Komsomolskaya Pravda.
The English language press will likely focus on KP’s question about the rumor that Ivanov “…would lead a new super-ministry of state security…”.
To which Ivanov answered:
“This is one-hundred percent fake! A ministry of state security is not intended… I can say this confidently.”
He also said that such a move would be a mistake from his point of view.
But I want to talk about a couple of Ivanov’s other statements in the interview, mostly because they confirm what I have said in the past about these moves.
Of course, the first question KP asked Ivanov was about his new position, and whether or not it was a demotion.
Ivanov dismissed any rumors that he was in disgrace or was ill.
“I don’t feel any disgrace. And I am generally optimistic about the fact that now I can finally do specific things that I love [emphasis added -ed.] and have actually worked toward for a long time, but, you know, in fits and starts.”
I have brought this up before when speaking about former Russian Railways Chief Vladimir Yakunin. Many people thought that Yakunin had been ousted from his position due to corruption in the company. But it turned out that Yakunin had been freed to work more closely on a project that was very important to both him and the Regime. And I think that this is also what happened with Ivanov, and Ivanov seems to confirm that in this interview.
Ivanov also stated that he had wanted to leave his post in the Presidential Administration earlier, but that Putin had asked him to wait a bit longer. He squashed rumors that there were problems with his health, but said that he was tired of working nearly every weekend, while insisting that he was not tired.
Ivanov described himself as:
“A pragmatic and enlightened patriot. I am doing what I think is useful and necessary for Russia. No matter the scope of this economy, transport, and communications (I, by the way, still remain chairman of Rostelecom’s Board of Directors). I love culture, am engaged in supporting it, and lead the board of trustees of the Kremlin museums.”
He said that his contact with the President “…is not so intense [as it was before], but it still exists.”
On the subject of corruption, Ivanov cited plans to push through revisions to the criminal code. He also confirmed that the government will continue its “fight” against corrupt “officials, security services, the banking sector, and ordinary crooks”.
KP noted that high-profile arrests were increasing.
“This proves that we are sincerely trying to fight corruption, and there are no untouchables.”
He named the banking sector specifically, saying: “It is necessary to tighten banking supervision, in my opinion.”
KP followed that up by asking if the government intended to continue their anti-corruption course, and Ivanov answered affirmatively.
P.S. Compare this with Ivanov’s interview with the FT in June 2015.