SVR - overview of Foreign Intelligence Service of Russian Federation. - Dagger and Cloak

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

SVR - overview of Foreign Intelligence Service of Russian Federation.

Foreign Intelligence Service (Russian: Служба Внешней Разведки) or (SVR) is Russia's primary external intelligence agency. The SVR is the successor of First Chief Directorate of the KGB since December 18 1991 as the U.S.S.R. was facing its geopolitical end. The former chief of the KGB First Chief Directorate, Yevgeni Primakov, was appointed head of the SVR.

Unlike the FSB, the SVR is responsible for intelligence abroad and does not operate as a traditional law enforcement organization. It works in cooperation with the Russian military intelligence organization GRU. The SVR also enters into anti-terrorist cooperation and intelligence-sharing arrangements with foreign intelligence agencies. The service also provides analysis and dissemination of intelligence to Russian Federation policymakers. Additionally, SVR provides environmental intelligence analysis and assists other security services concerning counternarcotics operations.

The Constitutional basis for the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) can be found in Articles 71, 72, 76 and 80 of the Russian Federation's Constitution. The power of the Russian Federation President to exercise executive direction and control of the SVR is based on Articles 80, 83, 86, 87, and 90 of the Russian Constitution.

The Russian Federation's "Law on Foreign Intelligence Organs" was passed by the Duma and the Federation Council in late 1995 and signed into effect by then-President Boris Yeltsin on 10 January 1996. The law authorizes the SVR to carry out the following missions:

  1. Acquire, process and analyze information vital to the Russian Federation's interests;

  2. Assist the federal government in implementing measures to ensure Russia's security;

  3. Conduct activities to benefit the economic, scientific and technological development of Russia;

  4. Protect employees of Russian institutions overseas and their families;

  5. Provide personnel security for government personnel and their families;

  6. Cooperate and conduct liaison activities with foreign security services (consistent with the law, treaties and agreements);

  7. Establish and operate information systems and communication networks pertaining to foreign intelligence administration.

SVR Intelligence oversight and command structure

The President of the Russian Federation exercises executive oversight and supervision of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) pursuant to Articles 2, 4, 5, 10, 12, and 14 of the 1996 Foreign Intelligence Organs Act. The Legislative Branch monitors SVR financial and staffing issues pursuant to Article 24. The Procurator General (per Article 25) has the authority to investigate and assess whether the SVR follows Russian law. SVR officials provide regular briefings to members of the Federation Council and the Duma. Most appropriations bills for the SVR start in the Federation Council rather than in the Duma. The Russian Federation President has the prerogative of special administrative privilege to issue special orders, instructions and decrees concerning foreign intelligence (on behalf of the Duma and Federation Council) that, at his discretion, can remain secret or be made public.

The SVR Director is appointed by and reports directly to the President of Russia (currently Vladimir Putin). The Director holds the rank and grade of a Ground Forces General or Navy Admiral of the Fleet. The Director provides briefings to the President every Monday and on other occasions as necessary. The Director is also a member of the Security Council of Russia and the Defense Council (

The SVR consists of the following organizational structure as outlined on the SVR official website that also includes their organization chart. The SVR Director functions as a strong CEO. The SVR Consultants Group reports to and directly advises the Director. Within the Director's Office ("Apparat") there are the following- Public Relations/Press/Mass Media Bureau; the Inspector General; Legal; Protocol; Power Structure Liaison; and the First Deputy Director. The First Deputy Director acts more in the capacity of a Chief Operating Officer, acts in the capacity of "Acting SVR Director" in the SVR Director's absence, and oversees the Economic Intelligence Direction and the Foreign Counterintelligence Direction. The SVR consists of 5 line directorates, each is headed by a Deputy Director:

  1. Personnel;

  2. Analysis & Information;

  3. Science;

  4. Operations;

  5. Operational Logistics & Support.

Each of the Deputy Directors is headed by a Deputy Director who reports to the SVR Director. The SVR Academy (formerly titled as the Academy of Foreign Intelligence during the Yeltsin Administration and the Andropov Red Banner Institute and School during the USSR) is located as a division within the Science Directorate (

Ground Forces General Sergei Lebedev is the SVR Director. The SVR budget is classified, however portions of the budget were made public during Yeltsin's first presidential term (

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