The April 1991 law creating the office of president of the Russian Federation also created a Security Council, succeeding the security council created by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in November 1990 and presumably modeled after the National Security Council in the United States. Formally established by a March 1992 law, the Security Council was chaired by the president and met once per month, with a staff of about two hundred and half a dozen commissions working at its direction. Since 1993 its membership has varied, at the discretion of the president, from seven officials in 1996 to more than twenty-five since 2000, when it included the prime minister and the heads of the "power ministries" (defense, foreign affairs, interior, emergencies, Federal Border Service, and Federal Security Service) plus the justice minister, the procurator-general, the heads of the two houses of parliament, and the governors of the seven federal districts created by President Vladimir Putin.
Back in 1992 the Security Council was supervised by State Secretary Gennady Burbulis, and its first secretary was the industrialist Yuri Skokov. It was seen as a conservative counter-balance to the liberal foreign minister, Andrei Kozyrev. Some speculated that it might become a new Politburo, well-insulated from democratic accountability. In practice the council never became a decision-making forum, but merely provided analysis and advice to the president. It was supposed to exercise a coordinating role and enforce and extend presidential control, but in practice the ministries of defense and foreign affairs jealously guarded their autonomy. The council was periodically tasked with drawing up guidelines or concepts for Russian foreign policy, but these did not have much influence on actual decision-making. And far from being a springboard for ambitious politicians, it was more a tool for Boris Yeltsin to balance rival figures.
Skokov was replaced as secretary in June 1993 by a former Soviet general, Yevgeny Shaposhnikov, and then in October 1993 by a Yeltsin crony, Oleg Lobov. In June 1996 Alexander Lebed was appointed secretary, in return for his support of Yeltsin in the second round of the presidential election. Lebed was assigned to end the war in Chechnya, and much to everyone's surprise he succeeded, signing a peace accord and withdrawing Russian troops. Concerned about Lebed's growing popularity, Yeltsin created a separate Defense Council in July and fired Lebed in October, accusing him of plotting a military coup. Lebed was replaced by the anodyne politician Ivan Rybkin, with the controversial oligarch Boris Berezovsky as his deputy, in charge of reconstructing Chechnya. (Berezovsky quit in November 1997.)
From March to September 1998, the Security Council was headed by an academic, Andrei Kokoshin. He was replaced by a KGB general, Nikolai Boryuzha, who in turn was followed in March 1999 by Vladimir Putin, who was simultaneously head of the Federal Security Service (FSB). In November 1999 Putin was replaced at the council by his deputy at the FSB, Sergei Ivanov. In March 2001 Ivanov became defense minister, and the former interior minister, Vladimir Rushailo, became Security Council secretary.
During Vladimir Putin's presidency, the Security Council became slightly more visible as a forum through which he tried to press forward with military reforms obstinately resisted by the generals. The new National Security Concept drawn up by the council in 2000 stressed internal threats, such as Chechen terrorism, over traditional security concerns, such as nuclear deterrence.
See also: politburo; presidency; presidential council
Adams, Jan. S. (1996). "The Russian National Security Council." Problems of Post-Communism 43(1):35–42.
Derleth, J. William. (1996). "The Evolution of the Russian Polity: The Case of the Security Council." Communist and Post-Communist Studies 29(1):43–58.