Russian political figure who has been the Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) since 2007. He was a General of the Army and Director of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) from 2000 to 2007. Lebedev graduated in 1970 from the Chernihiv branch of Kiev's Polytechnical Institute. A 1978 graduate (cum laude) of the Diplomatic Academy of the Soviet Foreign Ministry, Lebedev speaks German and English. Before intelligence work, Lebedev served in the Army during 1971-72. He began his career in 1975 when he joined the KGB. He began duties in the First Chief Directorate (foreign intelligence) in 1975. Lebedev was appointed as Director of the SVR on 20 May 2000. According to news reports, he was appointed to the post because President Vladimir Putin wanted "an intelligence chief whom he knows well and has confidence in". Putin and Lebedev met while serving in East Germany. On 5 October 2007, Lebedev was elected the Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States.