Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan
(Employees of Agentura.ru and Novaya Gazeta)
Note: In Russian published by “Index on Censorship”
Today it is obvious to everyone that the Russian special services of the '90s and the current security agencies are very different from one another. Even if one does not follow how espionage matters are developing or how products of the system are occupying newer and newer posts in the government apparatus and big business one can't help but see this with a glance at the TV screen. Seven or eight years ago it was inconceivable to show a national celebration of Andropov's birthday and the revival of a KGB prize for the best work about security officials on leading television channels.
The state security system of the '90s was created on the remnants of the USSR KGB which were deliberately destroyed in 1991. Part of the KGB sub elements were destroyed then and part redistributed to individual agencies, intentionally placing the successors of the Committee in conflict with one another.
The problem is that the system of new Russian special services were created on the American model. Not because we had lost the "Cold War" and were tailoring ourselves after the victors, as patriotically-minded citizens think. By the beginning of the '90s in the West they had already endured scandals with the FBI, CIA, the British special services, managed to be frightened and, it seemed, devised an antidote to the lack of control of the [security] agencies.
The special services are finding additional rights for themselves only when a terrible enemy threatens the country, on the wave of horror before which civil rights can be violated. From the middle of the '80s to the beginning of the '90s the USSR ceased to be that for the West and global terrorism had still not occupied the vacancy and the customs services began to atrophy. Back in the middle of the '80s the political intelligence subunit was disbanded in the US and the sinister General Intelligence Division in the FBI was no more. In Great Britain under the Conservatives only in the '90s did they get into the swing of things, namely when F Branch (combating subversive activity) in MI5 was transferred to antiterrorism.
Moreover, in the West they understood more quickly than we did that the only way of controlling the special services was to strictly delineate the areas of responsibility and not allowing intelligence to operate inside the country or counterintelligence outside it. As a result, for example the counterintelligence center in the CIA was abolished so as not to lead intelligence into temptation.
In Russia intelligence functions were removed from the successor to the KGB for the same reason: to withdraw the troops (the Border Guards were assigned to another agency and the communications troops to FAPSI), depriving them the right to guard the highest officials of the government, and also removing the secret bunkers (they even had to create a special directorate in the Presidential Administration for this). Such a system was maintained in unstable balance until 1998. But then the renaissance of state security began. It continues to this day.
Not one of the leaders of our country avoided the temptation to create a single monster of the special services. Even Boris Yeltsin in December 1991 tried with his own order to form a Ministry of Security and Internal Affairs (the last time such a reform was carried out was by Stalin in 1953 when the a short time the MVD was combined with the MGB), but the Constitutional Court prohibited him from doing this. However during the Yeltsin era there was no such terrible enemy in the face of whose threat the government would have combined the special services. At that time their manageability and control was more important than the efficiency of combined special services. As a result at the beginning of the '90s the outline of the breakdown of the USSR Committee for State Security seemed like this:
The largest fragment of the KGB. the Federal Counterintelligence Service, later renamed the FSB [Federal Security Service], was responsible for counterintelligence.
The former First Main Directorate (PGU), which became the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) [was responsible] for intelligence activity.
The Committee for Government Communications, later the Federal Agency for Government Communications and Intelligence (FAPSI), created from the 16th and 8th Directorates of the KGB [was responsible] for electronic intelligence. This agency was created on the model of the American National Security Agency (NSA).
The President's Main Directorate of Special Programs (GUSP), the former 15th Directorate of the KGB [was responsible] for the protection of especially important facilities.
Initially the President's Security Directorate, later the Main Security Directorate (GUO) formed from the 9th Directorate of the KGB [was responsible] for the protection of the highest officials of the government.
The KGB Border Troops were turned into an independent Border Service. The Yeltsin system of checks and balances also operated in the system of special services. If you want to control your power ministries then you shouldn't permit them to have a monopoly on the information which they give you; competition is necessary. In Soviet times such a competition existed between the KGB PGU and GRU military intelligence. By the way, this is possibly one of the reasons through which the Soviet special services in general operated abroad more professionally than inside the country.
Yeltsin extended this principle further than his Soviet predecessors: the SVR competed with the GRU and the FSK (later the FSB) had stiff competition from FAPSI. The problem was that FAPSI, besides the Main Directorate of Electronic Intelligence, had analysis structures and entire sociological services which were responsible for monitoring the sociopolitical situation in regions (by the way, the GAS [State Automated System] "Vybory [Elections]" system was also in this agency). Thus the President, having received a report from the FSB director, could always verify his objectivity after hearing a report from the FAPSI director, and vice versa. Later this system of competition was strengthened.
In 1993 there appeared the tax police, which increasingly competed with the FSB Department of Economic Security (DEhB), later the main weapon against the oligarchs. In addition, the Main Security Directorate, which by that time had been renamed the President's Security Service headed by Korzhakov, prepared its own memos for Yeltsin as a counterweight to FAPSI and FSB information.
This whole unwieldy and, at first glance, inefficient system guarantees the country's leadership independence in decision-making. The truth is, as a result of such competition huge wars began between the special services using derogatory information. For example, between the FSB and FAPSI in 1996 when the closest assistant to FAPSI Director Starovoytov General-Major Valeriy Monastyretsky was accused of large-scale embezzlement and "sources in the FSB" stated in various newspapers that Monastyretsky had also been caught in active development by the German intelligence service, BND.
Changes began in 1998. First, the founding fathers of agencies lost their posts, independent people who had become accustomed to fiercely defending the interests of their structures. In 1998 Aleksandr Starovoytov, the founder and eternal Director of FAPSI, in 1999 Sergey Almazov, the creator of the tax police, in 2000 Vyacheslav Trubnikov, the Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service, were subsequently replaced. For almost 10 years up to this time the SVR had been led by a team of like-thinkers: first Yevgeny Primakov, then Trubnikov, Primakov's former first deputy. Then there began to appear stubborn rumors about a draft decree being walked through the Kremlin corridors which would combine all the fragments of the KGB into one agency.
The fate of the agencies was decided only in 2003. On 11 March 2003 Vladimir Putin abolished the Federal Tax Police Service, the Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information, and the Federal Border Service as independent agencies. As a result of the reform the State Committee to Combat Illegal Trade in Narcotics was created from the tax police and former KGB official Cherkesov was put in charge of it, the border guards became part of the FSB, and FAPSI was divided between the FSB and the FSO [Federal Security Service]. In addition, one more power ministry quietly fell under the full control of the FSB - the Ministry of Internal Affairs. FSB officials were sent to key posts in the MVD, from Minister to the post of Chief of the Directorate of Internal Security. What is curious is that Rashid Nurgaliyev received a militia rank only before his appointment to Minister; before this he had continued to remain a seconded official. This was the latest victory over competitors for the FSB. Especially since starting in 1999 the structure grew with new, very curious subunits.
The country has been seven years without the defenders of the Constitution from state security. Even if one concedes that the methods of protecting Soviet and Russian basic law were fundamentally different, seven years is nevertheless too little for a special service to be cleansed of specialists of the previous type or avoid the temptation to again get "proven" personnel involved in work. In addition, we will not forget that a housecleaning was not conducted in our country. As everyone knows, in the KGB the famous 5th Directorate, created in 1967 at the initiative of KGB Chairman Yuriy Andropov, was responsible for political investigations.
As noted in Andropov's 17 April 1968 note to the CPSU CC "unlike previous subunits we have had in the state security organs (the Secret Political Department, the 4th Directorate, etc.) which dealt with questions of combating harmful elements in the ideological area who were mainly inside the country the newly-created fifth subunits have been called upon to combat ideological subversion inspired by our enemies abroad". Here they fought actively: the 1st department was responsible for work through trade unions, the 2nd planned operations against foreign dissident centers together with intelligence, the 3rd was responsible for work among students…There were 15 departments in all, including one to work with foreign journalists (the 14th), with punks and unofficial groups (the 13th), with Jews (the 8th), etc. The "fivers" treated their work with fabrications and fantasy. For example, in 1979 Natan Shcharansky received 12 years for treason for talking with the Los Angeles Times correspondent. No less than 2,500 employees in all in the USSR served in the 5th Directorate, as longtime chief of the Directorate, Filipp Bobkov, recalled.
The first attempts to improve the image of the 5th Directorate were made in 1989 when it was renamed the Directorate to Defend the Constitutional System (Directorate Z) However, the Directorate did not survive the August events of 1991 and in September it was eliminated. However, inasmuch as a housecleaning was not conducted experienced workers remained at work during democratic times who had not forgotten their methods.
For example, Aleksandr Mikhaylov, the current head of the Department of Interagency and Information Activity of Gosnarkokontrol', served in the Fifth Directorate in the '70s. During an operation in Pervomaysk in 1996 he led the FSB Press Service and it was he who published the famous letter of the head of DGB [Department of State Security] Geliskhanov to Dudayev with a request "to send another one million dollars for work with journalists". But they have not let dissident Vladimir Bukovsky into the country since 1996. In addition, even officials of "Five" who are retired have often continued to work in the field. For example, St. Petersburg intellectuals remember Pavel Koshelev, Deputy Chairman of the St. Petersburg government's Culture Committee under Yakovlev, as the administrator of the KGB's Klub-81 and the nonconformist artists' movement. But Valeriy Lebedev, who headed the 4th Department of the Fifth Directorate (work with religious organizations) in the '70s is now an adviser to the Chairman of the Russian Orthodox Church's External Church Relations Department and head of the Orthodox Television Fund.
But officially the FSB's Directorate for Protection of the Constitution was created only on 6 July 1998 by decree of President B. Yeltsin. In an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta in November of that year its chief, Gennadiy Zotov, described the missions of his subunit this way: "With the creation of the Directorate for Protection of the Constitution the state pursued the goal of creating a subunit independent of the FSB, 'specialized' in fighting threats to the security of the Russian Federation in the sociopolitical sphere. According to a number of objective reasons connected with the fundamental nature of Russia it has always devoted special attention to the protection of the country from 'internal sedition', that is, in contemporary language security threats in the sociopolitical sphere, for 'internal sedition' has always been more terrible for Russia than any military invasion'". This was the most honest and open expression of a leader to date of an FSB structure about the need for political investigation. Later they did not make such a mistake at the Lubyanka and Zotov's successors did not give interviews on such subjects.
One more important step was made at the same time: protection of the Constitution was combined with the struggle against terrorism: The Directorate for Protection of the Constitution became part of the Department to Combat Terrorism. Thus the conditions were created for subsequent accusations of terrorism against the same National Bolsheviks. There is already such a trial today: in May 2005 the Novosibirsk Directorate of the FSB arrested two National Bolsheviks, who were accused of preparing an act of terrorism.
In 1999 a Directorate to Combat Terrorism and Political Extremism appeared (the officers of this Directorate handled the criminal case of National Bolshevik Party leader Ehduard Limonov) in the Department to Combat Terrorism (after the 2004 reform the Department was renamed a Service). Mikhail Belousov is the head of this Directorate at the present time.
Just as in Soviet times a regional system was created: local subunits were formed in republic FSB directorates, smaller departments in regions, and services in such cities as St. Petersburg and Moscow. The Moscow FSB Directorate had the most curious metamorphoses. Previously there was a Service to Combat Terrorism and Protect the Constitutional System in the Moscow FSB Directorate. That is, the structure of a headquarters staff was repeated at the level of a regional FSB directorate; if at headquarters this was simply the Department to Protect the Constitutional System and Combat Terrorism, then in the Directorate [it became] a service by the same name.
In 2002 this Service was divided into two. The so-called BT Service (that is, Combating Terrorism) appeared in the FSB Directorate and a completely new structure with the unpronounceable name of SZOKS and BPEh (Service to Protect the Foundations of the Constitutional System and Combat Political Extremism). It is noteworthy that the first service in the history of Russian special services to combat political extremism was separated from anti-terrorism; the first was equal in importance to the second. According to some information no less than 70 people serve in this structure. As far as it is known the staff was formed of officials who had previously worked in anti-terrorism and therefore there are frequently cases where a specialist in Islam extremists was transferred to oversee Moscow higher educational institutions.
Meanwhile today not just the FSB deals with extremists. In 2002 a structure was created in the MVD to combat terrorism, the T Center, and its functions immediately included combating extremism. By the way, officials of the Center deal with the same Limonov people as the Moscow FSB Directorate. Departments to Combat Extremism which right now also have the responsibility for combating religious extremism were created in local Directorates of Internal Affairs. Officials of the RUBOP [Regional/Republic Directorates to Combat Organized Crime], which back in the middle of the '90s were noted for, let's say, brutal methods of operation, are primarily gathered in these departments. Therefore it is not surprising that to what consequences the actions of these subunits in Kabardino-Balkaria and other republics of the Northern Caucasus lead.
The Expansion of the Zone of Influence of the FSB: Beyond the Country's Borders
In 1999 a new priority in the operations of Russian special services appeared - monitoring the political situation in the CIS. In June 1999 the concept of information security of CIS countries was adopted and in the list of sources of threats to this security the first point was called "the government policy of a number of foreign countries directed at global monitoring of the political, economic, military, ecological, and other processes in order to gain one-side advantages".
In December of the same year a Russian-Belorussian action program to implement the provisions of a treaty to create a federated state was approved. In the section about the joint activity of the special services the [following] point appeared: "Measures are conducted against negative information influences on government bodies, public organizations, and the population of the federated state and any attempts at illegal intelligence activity of the special services and organizations of third countries are halted…"
The desire of the Kremlin to control the political situation in a neighboring country is obvious from such harsh wording. In 2005 it became understood exactly what kind of important mission would be entrusted to the special service. Speaking in the State Duma on 12 May FSB Director Nikolay Patrushev declared that his service had uncovered a plot against the Belarussian regime planned by Western nongovernmental organizations in Bratislava. For the first time the head of a Russian special service actually spoke about threats to the political system of a neighboring country. The next day the Belarussian KGB confirmed the FSB information, thereby agreeing to the interference of Patrushev's agency in their affairs. A week later a meeting of the heads of the special services of CIS countries was held in Astana.
The man topic became clear after the end of the meeting: Patrushev again spoke of the danger of "color" revolutions and this time not only the head of the Belarus KGB but this time the head of the Committee of National Security of Kazakhstan also supported the idea. However, the FSB it would have to create special structures to be able to deal with the CIS.
Such structures were formed in the same year, 1999. Foreign intelligence units appeared in the FSB by decree of the RF President. We became accustomed in the '90s for the SVR and GRU dealing with intelligence. Now the situation has changed: the FSB has also become an intelligence agency and according to some information the Directorate for the Coordination of Current Information (UKOI) of the FSB Department of Analysis, Forecasting, and Strategic Planning (DAPSP) has become the lead subunit of FSB intelligence units. The Directorate is headed by Deputy Director of the FSB Vyacheslav Ushakov, who served with Patrushev in Karelia.
It soon became clear why the UKO was created in the FSB and not the GRU or SVR: information appeared that the CIS countries would appear in the area of responsibility of this structure. What in fact this Directorate is responsible for was never made public but what is exactly known is that the Department of Analysis, Forecasting, and Strategic Planning has been dealing with the CIS even through official channels.
In 2000 its leader, General-Colonel Viktor Komogorov, left the FSB for the State Commission to Facilitate a Political Settlement of the Pridnestr Problem. Then Komogorov became part of the government commission on CIS issues. In October 2003 Komogorov presented to the President for discussion by the houses of the Federation Assembly the issue of the procedure for carrying out joint antiterrorist exercises in the CIS (he was replaced in 2004 by Ushakov). In June 2005 Viktor Komogorov became part of the State Commission to Draft a Treaty of Friendship with Georgia. By the way, reports appeared in the mass media at that time about a "trail" of the UKOI found in Belorussia and Moldova. It is also known that Komogorov and Ushakov participated in talks with presidential candidates Bagapsh and Khadzhimboy during the scandalous elections in Abkhazia.
At the same time Komogorov also appeared in the scandal with a scientific production association, stating at the MGIMO [Moscow State Institute of International Relations] on 1 December 2005, "In half of the cases Russian scientific production associations did not arise at the initiative of our citizens but at the wish of our foreign partners; the main thing for them is money…An American scientific production association and a mission of the Agency for International Development came to implement programs oriented at no more or less than a transformation of the Russian political system and the establishment of control over the Russian information space". That is, the general direction is understood.
By the way, in the summer of 2005 it became known that the structure which Komogorov headed had changed its name: now it is the Service of Current Information and International Relations. It is typical that the new name of the Service almost completely duplicates the name of the mysterious UKOI. However Komogorov's subunit is far from being the only instrument for the activity of the Russian special services in the CIS.
In March 2003 the Border Service was brought into the FSB. It is no secret that the functions of the border guards include not only patrolling the border with a dog on a leash, but also intelligence. There have always been intelligence units in the structure of the Federal Border Service to do this. They have had various names at various times: the Intelligence Service of the Independent Border Guards Corps of the Russian Empire's Ministry of Finance, the Fifth Department of the Main Directorate of Border Troops of the USSR NKVD, the Operations Directorate of the USSR KGB's Main Directorate of Border Troops, or the Federal Border Service's Intelligence Department, but its substance does not change. And after the FSB and the Federal Border Service were combined the intelligence service of the border service, which operates along our borders and consequently along CIS territory, ended up at the disposition of the Lubyanka.
In addition, there are two other structures which are not officially subordinate to the Kremlin but are in fact controlled by the FSB. A CIS Antiterrorist Center was created in 2000 whose leader has the status of an FSB deputy director (currently it is Andrey Novikov). And in 2004 one more international structure began operation, the Regional Antiterrorist Structure (RATS) of the ShOS (Shanghai Cooperation Organization), the chairman of whose council is First Deputy FSB Director Sergey Smirnov. Meanwhile in 2006 the FSB received new rights substantially expanding its capabilities outside the country. The State Duma approved a law permitted the use of a special service to eliminate terrorists abroad.
A Special Service Withstands a Blow
During the 2000 reforms the FSB also managed to expand its authority in other fields. For example, the positions of special department officers were strengthened. In February 2000 then still acting President Putin signed a new "Regulation about FSB Directorates in the Armed Forces" where the functions of military counterintelligence were expanded, even providing it with the right to fight organized crime. However, this was not the main innovation of the document. The main thing is that Putin's decree removed the special department officers outside the fences of military units. Fighting "illegal armed formations, criminal groups, and individuals and public associations which have set as their goal a violent change of the political system of the Russian Federation and the violent seizure or violent retention of power" was added to their professional responsibilities.
It soon became understood how this was to be implemented in practice. A special structure with a long name was created in the North Caucasus at the Combined Group of Forces, the Temporary Operations Group of the Russian FSB Directorate of Military Counterintelligence in the North Caucasus Region (VOG UVKR FSB RF v SKR). The missions assigned to the VOG were very different from the usual training exercises of the special department officers overseeing the personnel - the group dealt with the screening of refugees, counterintelligence, preventing acts of terrorism, and even the liberation of prisoners and hostages. Special department officers have received such a broad collection of authority only once in their history, during the Great Patriotic War when they operated as Smersh After this they began to be compared in the Caucasus with the heroes of the film "In August of '44", searching for enemy saboteurs through the forests, that is, in a modern way [they are] one more type of special group in masks operating in the Caucasus.
FSB even took the Dinamo society under its control which in Soviet times it had to share with the MVD. In 2000 Vladimir Pronichev, a First Deputy Director of FSB, became Chairman of the Central Council of the All-Russian Dinamo Society. Soon the owner of the Dinamo soccer club was replaced: in December 2001 Nikolay Tolstykh, who had occupied the post of General Director of Dinamo for 10 years, left his position and transferred the controlling share of the club's stock to other owners. As a result the Dinamo development fund headed by FSB General-Major Vladimir Kudiyarov ended up with 50% and the All-Russian Society of Physical Culture headed by Pronichev, with 25%.
In the last seven years only once did the FSB have to make a concession. For many years the Russian authorities have promised the Council of Europe that they would deal with a shameful legacy of a totalitarian past, departmental prisons. Finally, in July 2005 Vladimir Putin signed a decree in accordance with which beginning January 2006 all FSB SIZO [preventive detention prisons], including the famous Lefortovo prison, would be transferred to the Ministry of Justice. At the beginning of last year the FSB announced that in fulfillment of the President's decree all SIZO had been transferred to the Federal Penal Service (FSIN) where they even created a special Directorate of Centrally Subordinate Detention Facilities which was headed by General-Lieutenant Vladimir Semenyuk.
However, it turned out that here the FSB had managed to think up a way out of a seemingly hopeless situation. First, the prison officials who had previously been FSB were quickly transferred to the FSIN as so-called APS (seconded staff officials). That is, while [they were] formally on the staff of the Penal Service, these officers remained subordinate to the Lubyanka. And, second, on 12 June 2006 the President signed Decree Nє 602 making changes to the status of the FSB. The Decree changed only one paragraph, about the functions of the special service. According to this change the FSB "establishes the procedure for organizing the activity of temporary detention facilities (IVS - editor's note), as well as the procedure for performing criminal investigations in them and ensures that those who have been detained, are under suspicion, or are accused are held under guard".
Meanwhile how are the temporary detention centers not the same prisons where those under investigation are held practically until court? The truth is that usually they are kept in a militia IVS for only several days until they are charged. But in the FSB IVS everything can be completely different: it says plainly in the Presidential decree that those accused who are already being investigated and who have already been charged can also be held in the FSB IVS. Until recently only two agencies in our country had temporary detention centers, the MVD and the Border Service.
However, in 2003 the Border Guards became part of the FSB and an excellent excuse appeared to extend the practice to the Federal Border Service, which keeps border violators behind bars, to the entire special service. The Chekists also have made use of it. Now the FSB can create temporary detention facilities not only near the border but throughout the entire country.
It is ought to be taken into consideration that according to the law the IVS's in the FSB are established by the same special service, the FSB Director. And it is impossible to find out how many special prisons are now at the disposition of the Lubyanka: the issue of the strength and composition of FSB units is a state secret.
Meanwhile the FSB would hardly be able to convince the President to provide a single special service with such an exceptional status if there were not two factors. First, if the center where they think up and develop proposals to reform the special services was not moved into these same special services. Second, if these reforms had not been accompanied by a campaign of active and systematic mythmaking targeted at both the population and the elite.
Factor N 1: The Monopoly on Analysis
The myth about the uncommon analytic abilities of the KGB which arose at the end of the Soviet Union finally led to the FSB disregarding its Soviet predecessor, gaining the right not only to brief the country's leadership with the information [it] had obtained but to also draw conclusions. In fact the first analytic structure appeared at KGB headquarters only in 1989. Valeriy Lebedev (now the head of the Orthodox Television Foundation) headed the Current Information and Analysis Service which was then formed.
Before this time there was no analysis staff in the KGB. While it is true that a KGB Chairman's group "to study and summarize the experience of the work of the organs of state security and data about the enemy" created in 1960 could be considered by some a predecessor of such a structure, it did not last long. This is how Vadim Bakatin, who headed it in 1991, described the analytic abilities of the KGB: "Before I came to the KGB I was confident of the enormous intellectual and analytical abilities of this organization. I will tell you frankly that a disappointment awaited me. The Analysis Directorate, which had not managed to get on its feet, had been created only a little more than a year before. No one really coordinated the activity of the information and analysis subunits which existed in practically every directorate and a number of scientific institutes.
The information streams almost unprocessed met on the desk of the KGB Chairman, who selected what information was deserving of the attention of the highest national leadership…Only at Staraya Ploshchad' [Translator's note: where the Central Committee was located] were they permitted to think in broad political categories but the role of the KGB boiled down primarily to presenting raw data and the implementation of previously made decisions". That is, the information acquired by the KGB came to various CC departments and only there was analysis done. It was like such a system was thought up to retain CC control over the KGB and not to allow the Committee for State Security to have a monopoly in supplying the head of state with information.
Therefore, incidentally back in 1967 a Consultants Group of 10 people under KGB Chairman Andropov was created for analytic work. It included G. Shakhnazarov, A. Bovin, and G. Arbatov, that is, people whose mindset was far from the KGB's and no one had served in this organization. After the collapse of the KGB a paradoxical thing happened: a persistent myth arose about uncommon KGB analysts. This was facilitated by both 1980s films based on novels by Yulian Semenov, now seen with understandable nostalgia, as well as memoirs of former KGB generals in which an image of a shrewd agency was created which warned the CC of the collapse of the country but they didn't listen to it. Nikolay Leonov, the Chief of the KGB Analysis Directorate in 1990-1991, played no little part here. For many years he was the chief analyst of the patriotic television program Russian House, modeling himself as a Russian Zbigniew Brzezinski (he is now a State Duma deputy from the Rodina Party and a member of the Security Committee).
In addition, in the beginning of the '90s several new sociological services were headed by KGB officials and this also facilitated the development of the myth. For example, after graduating the Psychology Department of Leningrad State University in 1986 Andrey Milekhin, the General Director of the ROMIR Monitoring Holding Company, served in the KGB but did not stay long in this system, engaging in private business.
In fact there were no sociological services in the KGB. Aleksandr Mikhaylov, former Chief of the FSB Press Service, told how at the beginning of the '80s the KGB was given the task to finding out public opinion in Moscow about erecting a monument on Poklonny Hill. As a result investigators were forced to question an agent network instead of sociological research. The rudiments of open-source processing technologies existed only in the First Main Directorate of the KGB, that is, in foreign intelligence. However the FSB studied the mistakes of [its] predecessors and threw resources into the development of its analytical staff. On 17 May 1991 the Information Analysis Directorate, later the FSB Department of Analysis, Forecasting, and Strategic Planning, was formed from the KGB Analytical Directorate. The strengthening of the role of this Department was aided by the fact that in 1998-1999 it was headed by Sergey Ivanov, now a Deputy Prime Minister.
After the 2004 FSB reform the Department was renamed a service which is headed at the present time by Viktor Komogorov. Meanwhile the main difference from the time of the KGB is that the structure of the service includes a Current Information Group (GOI) where summaries are prepared for the RF President.
Thus for the first time in the history of our counterintelligence agencies have been given the opportunity to create an independent analysis staff whose findings directly influence decisionmaking. Back in the spring of 2000 the magazine Kommersant-Vlast' published the so-called "Presidential Administration Reform Program" drawn up by some analysts. It pointed out in the text: "The Program defines the inclusion of the FSB RF and other special services in the activity of the RF President's Political Directorate as a strategic necessity. At the present time the intellectual, personnel, and professional potential at the disposition of the FSB should be recruited for the work of the Political Directorate, which in turn will permit the very rapid, informed, and productive results to be achieved which are required to 'launch' the work of the Directorate and to then implement long-range programs". It remains an open question to what degree this program was implemented.
However, it is known that the development of bills affecting the work of the special services has in practice been completely transferred to the special services themselves. For example, the Federal Security Service developed the main Russian antiterrorism law "Counteracting Terrorism" adopted in the spring of 2006. The prepared text was simply sent to the State Duma Security Committee and then approved by the parliament. As a result, according to the text of this law the FSB was confirmed as the main special service responsible for fighting terrorism.
Factor N 2: Mythmaking
The campaign to create a contemporary myth around the FSB could be arbitrarily broken down into at least three parts: the closure of the archives, which prevents unnecessary questions from being asked, the creation of instruments of mythmaking, and the myths themselves about the officials of the organs of state security.
The closing of the archives. The archives are the main instrument for a researcher trying to reconstruct the course of events; they simply have not become generally accessible but as before many holdings are available to people in uniform. It depends only on them which documents see the light and which will disappear into gloomy depositaries. Also, there are disputes in Russia over whether the KGB archives need to be opened.
Meanwhile a solution to this problem was found long ago. In 1993 Russia joined the International Council on Archives, ICA, which created a group of experts to prepare an account about the archives of repressive regimes and the development of recommendations for working with these archives. This council appointed seven expert archivists from Chile, Spain, Germany, South Africa, Russia, and the US. Our country was represented by Vladimir Kozlov, the head of the Federal Archive Service (Rosarkhiv).
First it seemed that things would go well. The so-called Volkogonov Commission created in December 1991 to declassify the CC archives engaged in transferring the KGB and CPSU archives to the government. But the Commission ceased work in September 1993: after the conflict between Yeltsin and the Supreme Soviet the question of transferring the archives of power ministries lost importance for the authorities. And the majority of the documents simply remained in the archives of the FSB, MVD, Main Military Procuracy, etc. And an Interagency Commission to Protect State Secrets was created in place of the declassification commission.
As a result today many groups of documents accessible until 1995 have ended up closed. For example, the archive of the CPSU CC Secretariat before 1971 which was at Staraya Ploshchad' (now the Russian State Archive of Recent History), access to which has been prohibited supposedly because a CPSU CC security classification was on them up to that time.
For example, recently the US National Security Archive sent Russian human rights advocates secret materials from the KGB and CPSU CC Politburo archives, including 1974-1984 annual reports to Brezhnev of the Chairman of the Committee, Yuriy Andropov, a total of 1000. These documents contain information about the intelligence operations of the KGB, the propaganda activity abroad, and also operations against dissidents.
By the way, one can also find material among them about the 1980 Olympics. Documents of enormous interest for the public were taken from the personal archive of General Dmitriy Volkogonov, which is kept in the US Library of Congress. Thanks to the Americans and Volkogonov, otherwise we would never have seen them because the FSB has classified these materials on the basis of the State Secrets law.
The Mechanism of Mythmaking. In February 2006 the FSB established a competition for the best literary and artistic works about the work of units of the Federal Security Service. As the then Chief of the FSB Public Relations Center, Oleg Matveyev, frankly said, his organization is returning to the traditions of the KGB.
In fact, the Lubyanka returning to sources back in 1999 when they ceremonially restored a memorial plaque at the FSB building in honor of Andropov which had been removed after the collapse of the USSR. It was then that the official, sponsored campaign began to improve the image of the Lubyanka sponsored by the organization's budget. An organization can be glorified by various methods. First the printed word is put in play. This has been done historically: all the FSB press secretaries simply had great literary ambitions. The truth is that the genres in which they tried their pen differed depending on their personal preferences.
Aleksandr Mikhaylov, a graduate of the Moscow State University School of Journalism who headed the FSB press service in the beginning of the '90s, wrote detective stories and thrillers. Former military counterintelligence officer Aleksandr Zdanovich chose a more reliable path and dealt with the history of Russian special services. A Society to Study the History of Russian Special Services was create for this purpose which Zdanovich himself also headed. He still regularly publishes historical works in various capital publishers.
Having replaced Zdanovich Vasiliy Stavitsky, by education a philologist and journalist, gravitated toward documentation and started several book series about the work of the FSB. These works were so topical that people in them were accused of being spies long before court. In addition, Stavitsky is a recognized FSB poet. He is the author of semi-official FSB hymn in which there are the words:
•The war passes as an invisible front,
•Where our enemy is masked, a two-faced Satan.
•Around are diplomats, actors, and businessmen -
•They talk about friendship, the flatterers.
•Always as if at the front,
•Always at one's post,
•Don’t touch Russia -
•A Chekist is always vigilant.
However, in spite of the FSB resources expended and the fervent desire to win minds, the book duel of writers from the "organs" with independent authors ended with the complete defeat of the Chekists. The books turned out to be boring and all together the creativity of the Lubyanka historians could not overcome the effect of the publication of one book of Sudoplatov, "The Special Operation", prepared with the help of American journalists, or the research about the KGB by Gordievsky and Andrew.
The latest attempt to fight for their image not in the publishing arena but in reality was undertaken in 2000 when the FSB tried to create an unofficial press service of the organization to which journalists could turn more freely than the Public Relations Center. A special commission was formed for this purpose within the framework of the FSB Consultative Council. Journalists did not especially remember its work for the Commission itself was famous. In 2004 its chief, Yuriy Levitsky, a former foreign intelligence officer and head of the Argus ChOP [private security company], was convicted of extortion. And just a little later one more official of the Commission, Olga Kostina, became famous, becoming one of the main witnesses for the prosecution in the YuKOS case.
But the FSB decided to invest its most powerful resources, as did at one time the KGB, in film production, where the creator is not so strongly bound by facts. No one thinks why Stirlitz, whose prototype from all appearances worked in GRU, military intelligence, and not the NKVD became the symbol of the Lubyanka. Here the tax police, who in 1999 starting making the series "Maroseyka, 12", blazed the trail. The series was officially made on order for the RTR [network] from works of a tax police official and with its support.
Such a method has been used up to now in the production of series about the FSB. In 2001 The Special Department, the first series about the FSB and dedicated to the work of officials of the St. Petersburg Directorate's Department to Protect Artistic Valuables, reached the screen. In the autumn of 2005 "Secret Watch" a series about the Surveillance Service, also filmed with the support of the Lubyanka was shown on RTR. Now the filming of a 16-part movie with the working name of "Three from the FSB" is taking place which is to be shown on NTV and which is also being done with the support of the special service.
But the real triumph of the FSB was not a TV "soap" but a feature film, the blockbuster "Personal Number", whose premiere was held in December 2004. Here the FSB first operated as precisely as its predecessor. The KGB once commissioned a film called "TASS Is Authorized to Announce" as the fictional version of a real spy case which was to reflect the point of view of the Committee for State Security on an even which was important for the reputation of the organization. "Personal Number" was called upon to do the same thing, to show the correct version of two key events for the FSB at one stroke - the explosion of houses in 1999 which the special services were accused of, and the storming of the theater at Dubrovka.
Now a new stage has started. After the FSB established a competition for the best works of literature and art it became clear that the Lubyanka not only supports filmmaking about their beloved selves but will evaluated them themselves. In addition, the FSB is attempting to influence the independent cinema where the interests of the organization are involved. But still how can one regard the angry statement of the TsOS FSB about the film "Scum"? Incidentally, a couple of years ago it was impossible to imagine such a thing - the TsOS made no statements about the film "The KGB in a Dinner Jacket" which was about the unseemly activities of Chekists in the not-too-distant past.
Besides films, which come and go, more permanent artifacts, memorials and awards, have been called upon to improve the FSB image. On 8 June 2004 the authorities in Karelia ceremonially opened a memorial to Yuriy Andropov on the central square of Petrozavodsk. The work costs the authorities of the republic 2.5 million rubles, which was found in the local budget without any special trouble [Translator's note: Andropov was a Party official in Petrozavodsk before moving on to Moscow]. The modest little bust of the former KGB chief recently graced the courtyard of Petrovka 38 and television news periodically sounds the theme of the memorial to Dzerzhinsky at the Lubyanka or, at least, erecting a monument there to Stirlitz.
The Myth About the Economic Talents of Chekists. The rise of FSB officials to key posts not only in government agencies but also to business organizations should have not only a practical but also an ideological explanation. In the final account work in these positions requires certain economic knowledge which you don't get in the FSB Academy. Accordingly, the generals and colonels themselves should somehow explain to themselves why they are able to handle a type of work not in their background.
It is not easy to do this and such a situation has no counterpart in other countries. British spies and counterintelligence officers who come to work in London after retirement have graduated prestigious schools and Oxbridge (the general name for Oxford and Cambridge) before entering the intelligence service, that is, they receive an excellent general, not a specialized, education. George H. W. Bush, to whom our Chekists love to refer, headed the CIA just under a year (from 30 January 1976 to 20 January 1977) and had no previous connection to intelligence.
However, our retirees are convinced that service in the KGB/FSB provides sufficient skills in economics. The problem is that for many years the leadership of the country's special service actually exerted efforts to create the myth about the close coordination between the secret police and the economy. Cadre decide everything and therefore the myth was created on the basis that some leaders of the Soviet and Russian special services had outstanding economic talent.
In a 2001 interview with the magazine "Nasha Vlast': Dela i Litsa [Our Government: Business and People]" Vladimir Shul'ts, once the FSB State Secretary in the post of First Deputy Director of the FSB, formulated a pantheon of the best managers from the special services: Dzerzhinsky, Andropov, Stepashin, Putin, and Patrushev.
The promotion of this idea to the masses was developed in waves. The first stage coincided with the election of Yuriy Andropov as General Secretary. At that time the magazine Znamya published a manuscript about Dzerzhinsky as about an economist and about his work in the Economic Council (it is curious that, according to the recollection of officials of the magazine, before Andropov came to power the manuscript had invariably been chopped up).
In 1987, the second rush of mythmaking occurred on the 110th anniversary of the birth of Dzerzhinsky. Programmed material of Otto Latsis entitled "In the Deep Stream of Revolutionary Creation" was published where Iron Feliks was served up as an ideologue of a new economic policy and an article was published in Izvestiya where it frankly said, "It is difficult to overestimate the role of Dzerzhinsky in the revival of the country's economy, in the development in practice of the Leninist ideas of economic responsibility, self-financing, and socialist planning".
This myth is also supported today. At the start of this decade an exhibit of the FSB museum was changed - statements of Dzerzhinsky about economics and fighting bureaucracy were hung on a wall. In the same 2001 interview Vladimir Shul'ts characterized Dzerzhinsky as "the creator and organizer of the revival of industry and transportation, and an active supporter and devotee of NEP". The chief FSB historian Aleksandr Zdanovich supported him, "For the overwhelming majority of our workers Dzerzhinsky is the founder of the special service, and one of the most powerful figures of the '20s. Read his economic works, how relevant they sound in our times". [Moscow Mayor] Yuriy Luzhkov spoke about this same thing, proposing in 2002 to restore the monument to Feliks on Lubyanka Square, "The image of Dzerzhinsky is primarily associated with the solution of the problems of vagrancy, restoration of the railroads, and economic recovery. The NKVD and KGB were after Dzerzhinsky".
Andropov, who thought up the myth himself, became the second great economist of the system. In the '90s the rumor was actively spread that all the young reformers had written their works in a special KGB project. "The Third Project", a book of an author extremely popular among "patriots", Maksim Kalashnikov, even wrote about this. The myth about Andropov as an economic reformer continues to be developed, receiving a new impetus three years ago when Andropov's [90th] birthday was actively observed.
The last three heroes of the pantheon, Stepashin, Patrushev, and Putin, complete the picture quite successfully. In his current capacity as Chief of the Accounting Chamber Stepashin seems by definition to be a professional in economics; before he headed the FSB Patrushev headed the Main Control Directorate of the President, that is, he had to be able to count money. As everyone knows, Vladimir Putin is a doctor of economics and defended his dissertation, "Strategic Planning of the Reproduction of the Raw Mineral Base of a Region in Conditions Where Market Relations are Being Formed".
The Main Myth: Chekists as a New Nobility. Recently officials of Russian state security changed uniforms, replacing an unattractive olive uniform with a jacket and trousers in magic black.
On 30 August 2006 a Presidential decree, "Military Uniforms, Insignia of Servicemen, and Ministerial Insignia" was signed according to which the FSB, SVR, FSO, and the Presidential Service of Special Facilities changed color. The Chekists' uniform, which is cut the same as the army uniform, became "bluish-black".
The color of night has never been too popular in the Russian special services; black uniformed were only worn in the prison department of the Russia Empire and very briefly by militiamen in the '20s. In addition, a new color of the FSB officers' caps replicates that of GULAG and NKVD Department of Labor Colonies (OTK) guards from 1936 to 1943. Here this is not about returning to traditions; the color choice undoubtedly is of symbolic importance.
Military people gravitate toward black when they need to stimulate their own bravery. Black was not only the SS uniform but also the uniform of the "black hussars", the elite regiment of Prussian King Friedrich II, who were called the hussars of death. In theory hussars were "expendable" and the mortality in these troops became legendary. Marshal Lannes, commander of Napoleon's hussars, said that "a hussar who has not died by age 30 is not a hussar but a good-for-nothing", and he himself died at age 36.
Friedrich II was the first to understand that the special cult of daring (the very same "hussar spirit") greatly increases their fighting ability and not only thought up the black uniform for the hussars but also the "death's head" emblem which Stirlitz so smartly wore two centuries later. The SS simply also needed a special cult like all the special forces of the world, receiving a specially-colored beret and chevrons instead of a hussar's fur coat. According to the highest standards the history of military uniforms is the history of adornments which reinforce fighting spirit.
The army of the Russian Empire was no exception. During the Civil War in suffering defeat after defeat the White Guard formed officer's regiment named after Markov, Drozdov, and Kornilov. The regiment of General-Lieutenant Sergey Markov was dressed in black uniforms where the black color of the jacket symbolized the grief over the lost Russia and scorn for fleeting worldly goods, but the white border on the shoulderboards and the white top of the cap [symbolized] hope for eternal life and faith in the resurrection of Russia. It is they who went on a banzai charge on Anka the machinegunner in the film Chapayev.
However, Markov's regiment also well understood the other significance of the black color. as a sign of their special mystical calling many officers of the regiment wore monks' rosaries. They signified that the officers had sort of formed some "brotherhood of warrior monks who had offered their resolve, their blood, and their lives on the altar of service to Russia".
Since the color black has always suggested a closeness to sacred knowledge it has been worn by priests and sect members. For example, the founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius Loyola, so loved to walk around in a black cloak and hat that they finally became the garment of the Order of Jesus.
Officials of the Russian secret services hardly need a black uniform to maintain a fighting spirit; the Chekists wear camouflage when it is needed. Rather, an ordinary worker needs a black uniform once a year for a ceremonial occasion and the special services needed it to confirm their special role in the government. It is like a change of clothing was called on to confirm the idea that this is a new nobility which will decide the future of Russia. For even the black colonels in Greece, so called from the color of the uniforms, sought a special title which allowed just them to decide their country's path.