Overview - FSB (Russian Federation), Federal Security Service, Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti. - Dagger and Cloak

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Overview - FSB (Russian Federation), Federal Security Service, Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti.

The FSB (Federal Security Service) (Russian: ФСБ, Федеральная служба безопасности; Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti) is a domestic state security agency of the Russian Federation and the main successor of the Soviet Cheka, NKVD, and KGB. Its headquarters are in Lubyanka Square, Moscow.


FSB is engaged mostly in domestic affairs, while the espionage duties were taken over by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (former First Chief Directorate of the KGB). However FSB also includes the FAPSI agency, which is involved in electronic surveillance abroad. In addition, FSB operates freely at the territories of the former Soviet republics, and it can conduct anti-terrorist military operations anywhere in the World if ordered by the President, according to the recently adopted terrorism law. All law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Russia work under guidance of FSB if needed. For example, GRU, spetsnaz and Internal Troops detachments of Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs work together with FSB in Chechnya.

FSB is responsible for internal security of the Russian state, counterespionage, and the fight against organized crime, terrorism, and drug smuggling. However, critics claim that it is actually more engaged in suppression of internal dissent, bringing the entire population of Russia under total control, and influencing important political events, just as the KGB did in the past. To achieve these goals, FSB implements mass surveillance and a variety of active measures, including disinformation, propaganda through the state-controlled mass media, provocations, and persecution of opposition politicians, investigative journalists, and dissidents.

FSB is a very large organization that combines functions and powers like those exercised by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Federal Protective Service, the Secret Service, the National Security Agency (NSA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, United States Coast Guard, and Drug Enforcement Administration. FSB also commands a contingent of Internal Troops, spetsnaz, and an extensive network of civilian informants. The number of FSB personnel and the budget remain state secret, although the budget was reported to jump nearly 40% in 2006. The number of Chekists in Russia in 1992 was estimated as approximately 500,000.

Some observers note that FSB is more powerful than KGB was, because it does not operate under the control of the Communist Party as KGB did in the past. Moreover, the FSB leadership and their partners own most important economic assets in the country and control Russian government and State Duma. According to Ion Mihai Pacepa, "In the Soviet Union, the KGB was a state within a state. Now former KGB officers are running the state. They have custody of the country’s 6,000 nuclear weapons, entrusted to the KGB in the 1950s, and they now also manage the strategic oil industry renationalized by Putin. The KGB successor, rechristened FSB, still has the right to electronically monitor the population, control political groups, search homes and businesses, infiltrate the federal government, create its own front enterprises, investigate cases, and run its own prison system. The Soviet Union had one KGB officer for every 428 citizens. Putin’s Russia has one FSB-ist for every 297 citizens."

Some critics argue that FSB is now the leading political force in Russia, which simply replaced the Communist Party. Others claim that FSB became an international criminal organization that actually promotes and perpetrates the terrorism and organized crime in order to achieve its political and financial goals, instead of fighting the terrorism and crime.

Official FSB activities

FSB Director Nikolay Kovalev said in 1996: "There has never been such a number of spies arrested by us since the time when German agents were sent in during the years of World War II." FSB reported that around 400 foreign intelligence agents were uncovered in 1995 and 1996. In 2006 FSB reported about 27 foreign intelligence officers and 89 foreign agents whose activities were stopped.

Federal Border Guard Service
Federal Border Guard Service (FPS) has been part of the FSB since 2003. Russia has 61,000 kilometers of sea and land borders, 7,500 kilometers of which is with Kazakhstan, and 4,000 kilometers with China. One kilometer of border protection costs around 1 million rubles per year. Vladimir Putin called on the FPS to increase the fight against international terrorism and "destroy terrorists like rats".

Anti-terrorist operations
Over the years, FSB and affiliated state security organizations have killed all elected and appointed presidents of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria including Dzhokhar Dudaev, Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, Aslan Maskhadov, and Abdul-Khalim Saidullaev. Just before his death, Saidullaev claimed that Russian government "treacherously" killed Maskhadov, after inviting him to "talks" and promising his security "at the highest level."

A few dozen people have been convicted in courts for alleged terrorist activities or for "promoting national hatred". Islamist guerrilla leader Shamil Basaev was reportedly killed by FSB forces. During the Moscow theater hostage crisis and Beslan school hostage crisis, all hostage takers were executed on the spot by FSB spetsnaz forces. Only one of the suspects, Nur-Pashi Kulayev, survived and was convicted later by the court. It is reported that more than 100 leaders of terrorist groups have been killed during 119 operations on North Caucasus during 2006.

On July 28, 2006 the FSB presented a list of 17 organizations recognized as terrorist by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, to Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper, which published the list that day. The list had been available previously, but only through individual request. Commenting on the list, Yuri Sapunov, head of anti-terrorism at the FSB, named three main criteria necessary for organizations to be listed.

Fight with corruption and organized crime
FSB cooperates with Interpol and other national and international law-enforcement agencies. It has provided information on many Russian criminal groups operating in Europe. FSB has also been involved in preparation of requests for extradition of high-profile suspects who escaped abroad, such as Aleksander Litvinenko, Oleg Kalugin, Akhmed Zakayev, Leonid Nevzlin, and Boris Berezovsky. However, these requests have been denied by UK, US, Danish, and Israeli courts.

Heads of the FSB and its predecessors

On June 20, 1996, Yeltsin fired FSB Director Mikhail Barsukov and appointed Nikolay Kovalyov acting Director and later Director of the FSB. Russian president Vladimir Putin was head of the FSB from July 1998 to August 1999.

  • Viktor Barannikov January 1992 - July 1993

  • Nikolai Golushko July 1993 - February 1994

  • Sergei Stepashin February 1994 - June 1995

  • Mikhail Barsukov July 1995 - June 1996

  • Nikolai Kovalev July 1996 - July 1998

  • Vladimir Putin July 1998 - August 1999

  • Nikolai Patrushev since August 1999

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