The Federal Security Service

FSB History

The Federal Security Service (FSB - Federal'naya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti, previously known as Federal Counterintelligence Service - FSK) is one of the successors of the KGB, and remains headquartered in the Lubyanka. Internal security functions previously performed by the Second, Third and Fifth Chief Directorates and the Seventh Directorate were initially assigned to a new Ministry of Security. But agency was disbanded December 1993 and replaced by the Federal Counterintelligence Service [Federal'naya Sluzhba Kontr-razvedky - FSK]. This 75,000-person agency was subsequently redesignated the Federal Security Service (FSB). In 1903 the first Russian military counterintelligence organ, which operated mainly in St. Petersburg, was established to counteract military espionage being carried out by foreign intelligence services against Russia. The beginning of World War I prompted the Russian Government to adopt a more thorough approach to the organization of the counterintelligence service in the army. By agreement with Nicholas II, the government adopted a decision on the formation of counterintelligence departments under the military districts, followed by counterintelligence organs in theatres of hostilities. Immediately after the October 1917 Revolution one step for the counterintelligence protection of Red Army units was the formation (in July 1918) of the Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counterrevolution on the Eastern Front. At the same time the function of combating espionage was made the responsibility of the military control organs that were set up in the Red Army and Navy. They were subordinate to the command, and were organizationally part of the operational staffs.

Colonel General Igor Mezhakov, deputy director of the FSB, was dismissed in September 1995. Rumours indicated that he was widely disliked, having been a member of the commission that investigated the role of the KGB leadership in August 1991 coup]. Lieutenant General Anatoliy Semenov, chief of the Antiterrorism Directorate, was dismissed from his position the same day as Mezhakov. Since spring of 1996 Semenov has been head of the president's Main Directorate of Cossack Troops. Lieutenant General Anatoliy Krayushkin, head of the Directorate of Records and Archives, left his job in September 1995. It was rumoured that he had fallen under suspicion in connection with a German intelligence agent. Lieutenant General Vladimir Tsekhanov, chief of the Economic Counterintelligence Directorate, was removed from his position in early summer 1996. He was one of the initiators of the scandal involving the joint-stock company Lenzoloto which resulted in criminal indictments. When senior Yeltsin aides Oleg Soskovets, Mikhail Barsukov, and Aleksandr Korzhakov were abruptly dismissed on 20 June 1996, Mikhail Barsukov had served as FSB head for less than a year. Barsukov took over the leadership of the FSB from Sergei Stepashin in July 1995 in the wake of the Budennovsk hostage crisis. Yeltsin named a deputy director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Colonel General Nikolai Kovalev, as its new acting chief. Kovalev's intelligence service activity began in 1974 with his entrance in the KGB, where he joined the Fifth Directorate, which dealt with ideological questions and the questions related to dissidents. He served for two years in Afghanistan and later working in the Moscow and Moscow Oblast branches of the FSB before being made deputy director with responsibility for the Investigations Directorate, Directorate for Economic Counterintelligence, and Operational Reconnaissance Directorate. After his nomination to the FSB, Kovalev told the news media that he saw the emphasis of his activities in the economic security of Russia and in the fight against corruption. In addition, he promised to focus on measures to respond to increasing activities of foreign intelligence services in Russia.

On 25 July 1998 Yel'tsin nominated Vladimir Putin as Director of the Federal Security Service. The Russian and foreign media knew very little about the new boss of the FSS and latched on to his past in the KGB and his less than cuddly media image. Putin became a permanent member of the Security Council at the beginning of October 1998, and at the end of March 1999 the Secretary of the Council. His position as the head as the FSS gave him also a seat on the Interdepartmental State Defence Orders Commission. Putin kept his FSB job until 09 August 1999 when Boris Yel'tsin made him Acting Prime Minister. His FSB position was given to N P Patrushev.


New laws on the Federal Security Service and on operative searches and seizures significantly strengthened the legal powers of the FSB and other internal security agencies. The 03 April 1995 law on the FSB provided broad law enforcement functions fighting crime and corruption in addition to its previous security and counter-intelligence tasks. Under the new law the FSK can run its own jails, deploy its agents under cover of other government agencies, and with court permission, read people's mail and tap their telephones. The FSK may recruit, protect, and pay without prosecutorial and judicial oversight informants in "contracts of confidential cooperation." Taken together, these are steps toward reconstituting the extraordinary powers of the KGB as a domestic and foreign intelligence, counter-intelligence and political police organization. The law detailed the circumstances under which FSB agents may enter a private residence, office, or other premises without prior judicial approval. There must be either sufficient grounds to believe that a crime is in progress or has been committed or a belief that the welfare of citizens is endangered. In such cases, the FSB must notify the Prosecutor within 24 hours of the entry. Despite the expansion of the FSB's powers, the law provided for only limited oversight and contains unclear human rights provisions. The law vests the Procurator General with the power to oversee the FSB's activities. However, it denied such oversight authority in the areas of informants, organization, tactics, methods, and means of implementation. The role of the Parliament is limited to that of monitoring the FSB. The 12 August 1995 law on operative searches and seizures granted to seven internal security agencies, including the FSB, the right to engage in a variety of clandestine activities, some of which could be carried out in the absence of prior judicial approval. The law brought the use of wiretaps and searches and seizures into conformity with the Constitution by introducing, for the first time in Russia, a requirement that wiretaps in criminal cases be approved by a judge rather than a prosecutor. However, although this approval could be given after the fact in some cases, some human rights experts believe that the Constitution requires prior judicial approval in certain instances. Government officials can still conduct wiretaps in criminal investigations without court review, but evidence obtained in this fashion would not be admissible in court.

The August law permits agents to open mail, tap telephones, monitor other forms of communication, and enter a private residence without a court order in cases of emergency that may lead to the commission of a serious crime or if Russia's political, military, economic, or environmental security is threatened. In these cases, a judge must be notified within 24 hours of the action. Within 48 hours of the start of such an action, the agency must either receive a court order permitting it or end it. The law does not define what would constitute either a case of emergency or the term "security." As is the case with the FSB law, oversight is weak. Information concerning the organization, tactics, methods and means of investigations is off limits to the prosecutor. Similarly, the role of the Parliament is limited. As an internal counterintelligence service, the FSB is responsible for civil counterespionage, the internal security of the Russian state, as well as the fight against organized crime. The Soviet scale of bugging conversations of citizens was unsurpassed. In Stalin's time Beria's department monitored the telephone conversations of thousands of people, ranging from state and public figures to writers and journalists. In the Khrushchev era surveillance was substantially curtailed, with a total ban on eavesdropping on Supreme Soviet deputies, other important party or state functionary and their families without the express authorization of the CPSU General Secretary. Eavesdropping on ordinary citizens required a specific reason, such as suspicion of espionage or dissidence. Surveillance of people suspected of crimes was initiated by the USSR Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, and required the written authorization of the Chief of the KGB 12th Directorate.

When Vadim Bakatin became leader of the KGB in 1991, he stated in a public interview that [apart from collection against foreign agent networks, foreign drugs couriers, and similar external targets] the KGB's technical resources allowed the simultaneous tapping of no more than 500 Russians. Cost was one limiting factor, since six operators are needed for round-the-clock tapping which with associated expenditure brings the annual cost of monitoring a single subject to upwards of 200 million rubles [at 1997 prices]. Informants in organizations of interest to the special services [the defense industry, scientific institutions, transport centers, ministries, or editorial offices] are frequently an easier and less expensive means of obtaining information than organizing tapping. Currently obtaining permission to monitor telephone conversations requires the presentation to a court of material supporting an investigation. With the approval of a judge, FSB department carrying out the investigation prepares written instructions for tapping. Premises used for tapping are subject to a maximum secrecy regime, and officers are prohibited from visiting the FSB's main building in the Lubyanka. These precautionary measures have been taken to preclude criminal or commercial compromise of FSB surveillance operations. A supervisory prosecutor can arrive without warning wherever FSB officers are carrying out tapping and check which telephone numbers are being monitored at that time and whether the relevant permission has been granted. Despite these precautions, even FSB officers fear tapping, and particularly do not trust the municipal telephones installed in their offices. Under the revised law on Russian foreign intelligence of January 1996, the FSB is also authorized to work outside Russia in certain target areas in cooperation with the Russian foreign intelligence services. The FSB is also seeking expanded cooperation with the intelligence and secret services of the other former Soviet republics. In September 1996 the managers of most CIS secret services initiated an information system for their managers of the security organs and special services to improve the communication between the involved Secret services. A central data bank was established in September 1996 at the FSB which serves to support the fight against organized crime.

During the Soviet period, the KGB was the arbiter of state secrets, and the FSB has regained considerable operational and legal authority for controlling state secrets. In September 1995, FSB Chief General Barsukov was named deputy chairman of a new State Committee to Control State Secrets and given authority to define state secrets and to protect them using newly countenanced counter-intelligence operations. Harassment of domestic critics, ecologists and certain other groups indicate a resurgence of FSB internal power. The nation's leadership appears to be increasing its political support for the FSB. This may enable it to reestablish its bureaucratic authority over security and CI. In addition, the expulsion of a British businessman and the press articles highlighting the need for a stronger FSB suggest that the FSB will also take a harder line against Western commercial or academic research in Russia. In 1995 and 1996 the FSB reports that a total of around 400 foreign intelligence agency staff members were uncovered and put under supervision. The FSB reported stopping the activity of 39 foreign intelligence service agents who were Russian citizens, and stopping more than 100 attempts by Russian citizens to pass secret material to foreigners. A spate of articles in the national and provincial press by spokesmen for the FSB trumpets the service's role in protecting the state from foreign subversion. For example: In a series of press articles in January and February 1996, FSB officers noted that the service has the responsibility to monitor foreign astronauts at "Star City" and to prevent the emigration of Russian scientists.

The FSB has also recently bragged about the arrest of Turkish North Korean spies. At the end of June 1997 the Moscow City Court sentenced a certain Makarov, an adviser in the CIS and Baltic's Division of the Consular Services Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to seven years imprisonment. The FSB established that Makarov was recruited by the CIA back in the spring of 1976, when he was working at the Soviet Embassy in Bolivia. He continued subsequently to carry out espionage activity, making other official trips abroad. In particular, he was stationed in Spain from 1989 through 1991. For "fees" totaling $21,000, Makarov delivered a large quantity of secret information to the CIA. The arrest of an RVSN [Strategic Missile Forces] officer was reported in March 1997. Major Dudinka was attempting to get $500,000 from a foreign intelligence service. He had put highly sensitive information on a disketteŚconcerning the command and control system for a missile army and troop location information.

In December 1995, FSB personnel detained Major Dudnik, a retired officer of the Russian Center for Space Reconnaissance, at a Moscow metro station as he was handing over top secret satellite photographs to Israeli intelligence operative Reuven Dinel. During the course of further investigation it was ascertained that the officer was not acting alone, but with two accomplices, one of whom continued to serve in the Center for Space Reconnaissance of the GRU [Main Intelligence Directorate] of the General Staff. All three were arrested. While Dinel, working in Moscow under cover as Israeli Embassy secretary, was declared persona non grata and expelled from the country. Finkel was convicted of espionage after passing information on secret defense research to CIA representatives for monetary reward. Nordstrom, a Swedish military intelligence communications officer, was caught carrying out an operation to contact an agent in St. Petersburg, and expelled from Russia. The activities of US citizen Oppfelt [as transliterated], who, having made contact with a Pacific Fleet officer, was collecting information of a covert nature on naval facilities, were cut short and he was expelled from Russia. In late 1996 the FSB arrested former Russian Foreign Ministry staffer and British agent Platon Obukhov, who had been passing political and strategic defense information to the British special services. The FSB characterized the case as the biggest British special service failure since the time of Penkovskiy. On 29 May 1997 the trial of V. Sentsov, a worker at a defense institute, opened in Moscow. He was charged with treason in the form of espionage and the transfer of Russian defense and technological secrets to British intelligence.

The Federal Security Service has arrested some people on false pretexts for expressing views critical of the Government, and in particular, for voicing criticism of the security services. The FSB has also targeted national security and environmental researchers. The Russian press indicates that Russian citizens interested in military issues or military-industrial polluters have become a target of the FSB. Viktor Orekhov, a former KGB officer who assisted dissidents under the Soviet regime, was arrested in 1995 on charges of illegally possessing a firearm soon after he made unflattering remarks about his former boss, now the FSB chief of intelligence for the Moscow region, in an article. Within a matter of weeks Orekhov had been tried, convicted, and sentenced to 3 years in prison at hard labor. This sentence was subsequently reduced to 1 year. Noting the speed with which he was tried and sentenced in the usually slow court system, Orekhov alleged that he was targeted for retribution by the security services because of his human rights work. The FSB's influence and interest in the case was extensively reported in the domestic and foreign press. Former KGB Major Vladimir Kazantsev was arrested on 21 August 1995 after he gave an interview to the Moscow News newspaper in which he described purchases by the KGB's central directorate for security of illegal eavesdropping devices from foreign firms. At year's end, Kazantsev had been released from custody, but the case continued to be investigated.

Vil Mirzayanov was detained by the Ministry of Security in the Fall of 1992 on the charge of disclosing state secrets. Mirzayanov had publicly written that Russia was working on a nerve gas weapon that question had been tested after President Yeltsin said in January 1992 that his country would comply with the US-Soviet agreement on nonproliferation of chemical weapons. Vladimir Uglev, who was one of the chief chemical weapons designers, corroborated Vil Mirzayanov's allegations though no charges were filed against Uglev for revealing state secrets because he had deputy's immunity as an elected official. Authorities arrested Vladimir Petrenko, a former military officer in Saratov Oblast, in mid-1995 following his research into the danger posed by military chemical warfare stockpiles. He was held in pretrial confinement for seven months on what Amnesty International and Russian human rights observers believe is a trumped-up charge of assault. In December 1995 FSB agents confiscated material on human rights abuses in Chechnya from a group of Russian human rights activists on their way to an international meeting. Nikolay Shchur, chairman of the Snezhinskiy Ecological Fund, was held in pretrial confinement for six months following his survey of military pollution near Chelyabinsk. The FSB accused the Norwegian environmental Bellona Foundation of collecting state secrets on Russia's Northern Fleet in October 1995. The group had been gathering material for a second report on the Fleet's nuclear waste. The FSB raided the group's Murmansk office, confiscating all material on the Fleet's nuclear waste sites as well as computers and video cameras, interrogated researchers working on the study, and searched many of their homes. Others cooperating with Bellona in Murmansk, St. Petersburg, and Severodbinsk also were interrogated and subject to apartment searches.

On February 6 1996 Aleksandr Nikitin, was arrested in his home in St. Petersburg by FSB agents and charged with high treason through espionage and divulging of state secrets, and put into custody. FSB justified its actions by claiming that the report on nuclear-hazardous objects of the Russian Northern fleet, which Bellona was preparing, contained state secrets. The FSB also charged that Nikitin, using credentials which he had not handed back on his discharge from military service, appealed to a colleague and obtained access to information subject to state secrecy, and that for the same purpose he forged credentials to penetrate a closed zone. In May 1997 the President signed an edict on the reorganization of the FSB. According to this document, five departments were introduced in replacement of the existing directorates and services. There were formerly 34 directorates in the FSB. They have been transformed into departments to enhance manageability. According to news reports, within a few months thereafter the foreign intelligence service, the border, and FAPSI were possibly expected to be co-joined with the FSV [restoring the KGB almost in full] but this did not occur. In 1992 the FSB Investigations Directorate was abolished, but in 1995 it was reestablished. The unit takes an active part in combating illegal trafficking in weapons and drugs, corruption, and crimes in the sphere of the economy and organized crime. It currently has more than 1,000 ongoing cases under investigation.

Military Counterintelligence Directorate

Colonel General Aleksey Molyakov is chief of the Russian Federation Federal Security Service Military Counterintelligence Directorate, a component of the FSB Counterintelligence Department with about 6,000 staffers. Along with the security organs in the troops, it is directly subordinate to the Russian Federation FSB. The Directorate works in the Russian Armed Forces to counter the efforts of foreign intelligence agencies to acquire Russian state and military secrets. Directorate staff has been directly involved in the investigation of about a third of the Russian citizen who have exposed by Russian counterintelligence in recent years. The Military Counterintelligence Directorate has directorates and sections in each branch of service, combat arm, military district (fleet), army, corps, and division. Military Counterintelligence Directorate representatives also work in individual military units from regiments to battalions. Under authority of the statute on military counterintelligence organs, the Directorate is permitted to conduct intelligence on threats to the security of Russia and its Armed Forces by operating networks of agents in foreign countries. Ensuring nuclear security in the Russian Armed Forces is a top priority for Military Counterintelligence staffers. Military Counterintelligence units are working in the armed forces troops to counter and avert extremist or other dangerous tendencies to ensure that, in the event of a deterioration in the political situation in the country, there would be no loss of controllability of the Russian Armed Forces and to neutralize any attempts to involve the army in a political confrontation. The Military Counterintelligence Directorate, in collaboration with other agencies, is involved in work against organized crime, corruption, smuggling, and illegal trafficking in weapons and drugs. The situation in Chechnya involved the Directorate in establishing the whereabouts of Russian servicemen and civilians seized by gunmen and securing their release.

The FSB is one of the few Russian government institutions that retains the vertical structure of federal control, with Administrations at the Oblast level, despite the desire of local leaders to subordinate these territorial directorates to their interests. The Chelyabinsk Oblast Administration of the FSB has a staff of slightly more than 300 officers are working in the entire oblast. The Administration previously had a counterintelligence division, which has been transformed into a counterintelligence operations division with a broader range of responsibilities. The counterintelligence division was based on functions of defence, but the counterintelligence operations division presupposes not only the defence of the state against the actions of foreign intelligence services, but also carrying out of operations to exert an effect on those services. The Administration's former economic counterintelligence division has been transformed into the division for counterintelligence at strategic objectives, which includes closed cities and other objectives. It provides for the security of objectives in the defence complex, the protection of secrets, and the prevention of diversionary and sabotage activities. Directorate T is responsible for counter-terrorism activities. The FSB Antiterrorist Centre is a special unit, formed in 1995, that encompasses FSB combat and operational counter-terrorist units. In 1996 the Centre responded to 420 alerts that terrorist acts were being prepared, including 35 alerts of possible terrorist acts against foreign citizens. During that year the Antiterrorist Centre carried out more than 200 special and combat-operation operations, including actions directed against 11 organized criminal groups engaged in illegally supplying arms to Central Russia from the North Caucasus republics and the Baltic countries.

Russia's premier counterterrorist group, Alpha is now assigned to the FSB, after changes in subordination and status following Alpha's ambiguous role in the failed August 1991 Soviet coup. Alpha comprises a main group of 250 personnel as well as smaller detachments in Yekaterinburg, Krasnodar and Khabarovsk. Before the fighting started in Chechnya Russian armed forces did not intend to resort to a full scale intervention. An operation led by the Federal Counterintelligence Agency (FSK), and secretly supported by Russian Army military contingents enlisted from divisions near Moscow, supported opposition forces operating in Chechnya. These forces, led by opposition Provisional Council leader Umar Avturkhanov, fought Dudayev's forces with the intent to either defeat or at least soften up Dudayev and take Grozny. But the opposition attack on Grozny on 26 and 27 November 1994 was a catastrophe, and by 01 December it was clear that the opposition would be unable to oust Dudayev. Subsequently Alpha's mid-June 1995 attempt to storm the Budennovsk hospital and free hundreds of hostages seized by Chechen guerrillas ended unsuccessfully. The Directorate of Records and Archives maintains the records of the FSB, including files on personnel, as well as assets and targets. The Federal Security Service (FSB) reportedly has a total of over 75,000 employees. According FSB Director Kovalev to only 45,000 "operatives" are serving in the FSB as of mid-1997 [the numerical discrepancy is probably resolved by adding some 30,000 support staff to the ranks of the "operatives"].