The Soviet Union's Committee for State Security dissolved along with the USSR in late 1991. However, most of its assets and activities have continued through several separate organizations. The Foreign Intelligence Service [SVR] was the first element of the KGB to establish a separate identity [as the Central Intelligence Service - Centralnaya Sluzhbza Razvedkyin [CSR] in October 1991, incorporating most of the foreign operations, intelligence-gathering and intelligence analysis activities of the KGB First Chief Directorate. In September 1991, Gorbachev named Yevgeni Primakov to the post of first deputy chairman of the USSR Committee of State Security (KGB) and chief of the KGB's First Directorate. Primakov was confirmed by Russian president Boris Yeltsin as the head of the SVR, which replaced the CSR in December 1991. With the emergence from the KGB of the SVR as an independent agency, Primakov reported directly to President Boris Yeltsin. In February 1996 Andrei Kozyrev was replaced as Russia's minister of foreign affairs by Primakov. The appointment came followed the December parliamentary elections in which the Communists garnered the largest number of votes and prepared to dominate the Duma in tandem with the nationalists. Col. Gen. Vyacheslav Trubnikov assumed the post of SVR director. Trubnikov graduated from the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Affairs (MGIMO) with a specialization in Asian countries. He spent his entire career in the KGB, living for 15 years in South Asia, working under the cover of journalist. In January 1992 he was appointed Deputy Director of the SVR, and now serves as the 23rd Director of foreign intelligence since its establishment in 1920. The SVR was established as an independent entity by Presidential Edict No. 293 dated 18 December 1991. Its specific aims were to provide the Russian Federation president, Federal Assembly, and Government with the intelligence information that they need to adopt decisions in the political, economic, defense, scientific-technical, and ecological spheres. The agency was tasked with promoting Russian Federation policy in the security sphere, to promoting the country's economic development and scientific and technical progress, and providing military-technical support for Russia's security. On 10 January 1996 President Yeltsin signed the law on foreign intelligence that was passed by the old Duma in December 1995. The law, which identifies the four Russian agencies including the SVR with external intelligence functions, determines the structure, main principles and government control over the SVR. The committees on Security and International Affairs of the Russian Duma have both created subcommittee to deal with intelligence matters.


Speaking at a 21 December 1995 Moscow celebration of the 75th anniversary of the formation of the VChK-KGB-SVR, Primakov declared that NATO expansion would create a "security threat" for Russia. Primakov said that trying to understand the "true motives" of those who advocate NATO enlargement is a key task of the SVR, and added his agency would seek to block the alliance's expansion while trying to establish good relations with former Cold War adversaries. Primakov said Russian policy should seek to prevent the emergence of a "global hegemony" by the United States. Primakov also stressed the importance of combating the threats of ethno-national conflicts and terrorism to Russian territorial integrity and national security. Important areas of SVR intelligence activity include possible scientific breakthroughs which might radically change the Russian security situation, as well as determining those areas in which the actions of foreign states' special services and organizations might damage Russian interests. The SVR contacts with various intelligence and counterintelligence services of foreign states is one of the agency's fastest growing areas of activity. The Foreign Intelligence Service maintains working contacts and collaborates with several dozen special services in other countries. This includes work on nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and combating terrorism, the drugs trade, organized crime and money laundering, illicit arms trade, and the search for and release of hostages as well as citizens of Russia and CIS countries who are reported missing. Collaboration includes the exchange of intelligence information, assistance in training of personnel and material and technical assistance. The SVR also has reportedly concluded formal cooperation agreements with the intelligence services of several former Soviet republics, including Azerbaijan and Belarus, which cover gathering and sharing intelligence.

An agreement on intelligence cooperation between Russia and China was signed in Beijing at the end of the summer of 1992. It envisaged the restoration of the cooperation in the area of intelligence which had been cut off in 1959. This secret treaty covered the activities of Russian Military Strategic Intelligence (GRU) and the Foreign Intelligence Service, which are cooperating with the Chinese People's Liberation Army's Military Intelligence Directorate. Although the SVR [along with other agencies] is involved in industrial espionage, there are signs that the data being collected by Russian intelligence agencies are not being used effectively. In a 7 February 1996 Security Council meeting [which included FSB Director Mikhail Barsukov and SVR Director Vyacheslav Trubnikov] President Yeltsin ordered top state officials to close the technology gap with the West by more efficiently using industrial intelligence. Yeltsin complained that less than 25 percent of the information collected by Russian spies abroad was used in Russia, even though he claimed information was derived directly from foreign blueprints and manuals. SVR economic intelligence activities includes the identification of both threats to Russian interests [attempts to pressure Russia in world markets for arms or space technology) as well as emerging opportunities such as advantageous market trends for particular types of commodities and raw materials. Priority is attached to ensuring balanced development of relations with foreign countries in such spheres as currency and finance, export and import transactions for strategic raw materials, and in the high technology sphere. The SVR is frequently commissioned to ascertain the business reputation and real potential of foreign firms and individual dealers who intend to establish business relations with Russian state organizations. It also seeks to identify foreign firms attempting to persuade certain Russian partners to conclude illegal export deals, and to track of Russian capital going abroad. In addition to the economic, scientific, and technical focus of collections efforts noted above, human intelligence (HUMINT) collection against American intelligence agencies also has been ongoing, as exemplified by the 1996 arrests of a Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent (Earl Edwin Pitts) and CIA operations officer (Harold James Nicholson). The end of 1996 was also marked by the case of former SVR Colonel Vladimir Galkin, provoking a noisy scandal that added tension to Russian-American relations and relations between the SVR and the CIA.

Headquartered in Moscow, the SVR has offices in Russian embassies, consulates and trade establishments throughout the world. As with its predecessor, the First Chief Directorate of the KGB, it is likely that the SVR continues to be composed of three separate Directorates, and three Services: Directorate S, which is responsible for illegal agents (those under deep cover) throughout the world; Directorate T, responsible for the collection of scientific and technological intelligence; and Directorate K, which carries out infiltration of foreign intelligence and security services and exercises surveillance over Russian citizens abroad.

Service I, which analyzes and distributes intelligence collected by SVR foreign intelligence officers and agents, publishes a daily current events summaries for the Politburo, and make assessments of future world developments; Service A, which is responsible for planning and implementing active measures; and Service R, which evaluates SVR operations abroad.

The Foreign Intelligence Academy is the main training establishment for the SVR.

The operational core of the SVR is eleven geographical departments, which supervises SVR employees assigned to residencies abroad. These officers, or rezidenty, operate under legal cover, engaging in intelligence collection, espionage, and active measures. Although SVR personnel frequently use diplomatic cover when assigned abroad, the SVR frequently uses journalists for cadre work, and many SVR intelligence officers consider it one of the best covers. The Spetsnaz unit Vympel ("Banner") is a counter terrorist unit of the SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service). Originally developed in 1981 as an infiltration unit to conduct infiltration, sabotage, and intelligence missions in enemy territory, Vympel subsequently evolved into a Counter Terrorist (CT) unit, and by 1987 the unit had expanded to a staff of over 500. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 the unit was transferred to the Main Administration for the Protection of the Russian Federation (GUO), along with Spetsgruppa "A", and in 1993 the unit was again transferred to MVD control to MVD. After many original members left, Vympel was disbanded and a new unit, Vega, was created, and subsequently the SVR reinstated the name Vympel. The SVR is represented on the Security Council and the Defense Council, it participates in the work of various interagency groups and commissions. The coordination of operations by various Russian intelligence services is also carried out on the basis of bilateral agreements and existing working contacts. However effective interagency cooperation is still frustrated by Soviet-style compartmentalization of classified information and limited lateral and vertical information sharing. It remains the case that important initiatives go directly to the president from a ministry without being coordinated with other ministries or the SVR. The Russian Federation Comptroller's Office has the right to audit the intelligence expenditure estimate. In addition parliament exercises control over the SVR's work. The State Duma and Federation Council conduct parliamentary hearings and investigations, and both chambers' deputies have the right to put deputies' questions to SVR leaders. Russian sources have claimed that the SVR cut its staff 40% from 1991 through 1994 [without providing actual numbers] closed 30 overseas stations. However between 1991 and 1993, the US and Germany reported a 12% increase in intelligence collection efforts by the SVR and their Russian military intelligence (GRU) counterparts