Circling the Lion's Den

Funding for the Russian secret services

The two greatest secrets of the Federal Security Service (FSB) are its personnel numbers and its funding. Experts sometimes attempt to calculate FSB personnel numbers, but these estimates are impossible to verify; the last mention of any official figure was in a decree issued by President Yeltsin in 1999 (4,000 staff at the FSB's head office, Lubyanka). And the FSB's funding is an even more closely guarded secret.

Ivan Safranchuk, head of the Moscow office of the Center for Defense Information, has released a report summing up available information on funding for the security and law enforcement agencies in federal budgets from 1994 to 2006. He told about his research to Andrei Soldatov:

- Why did you decide to do this?

- When liberal parties discuss issues related to the security and law enforcement agencies and the military, they mostly focus on social aspects - conscription, for example. My view is that this is important, but not sufficient. It's also necessary to look at these issues from the tax-payer's perspective: how money is being spent. Besides, it's interesting to see how security policy compares to the money allocated for it. Quite often, declared political priorities don't correspond to actual funding.

- What did you count?

- I counted the amounts of federal budget spending on military security, state security (the special services), and public security (the law enforcement system), as well as foreign policy. An important proviso: I was working only with the open versions of the federal budget, not the classified versions. I didn't even use expert estimates - deliberately. Only official public documents.

- How did you calculate the budget for the special services?

- The federal budget has a section called "State security and law enforcement activity," which has a subsection called "State security bodies." This is the basic functional spending item used for special services funding - along with the "Border guard service bodies" subsection (funding that used to go to the Federal Border Guard Service and now goes to the FSB). In some years, the federal budget has also had a "Border guard service development fund" subsection - I counted that as well, along with the State Border targeted program (in existence since 2003). But funding for the special services isn't confined to the spending items specific to them - it is also provided as part of other spending items - construction, education, social spending, and so on.

- Do these calculations include classified spending items?

Ivan Safranchuk: Yes - the overall figure for the "State security bodies" subsection includes classified items. What does this look like in practice? Here's the budget for 2005, for example: the "State security bodies" subsection gets 62 billion rubles - that's all spending, including secret spending. The open version of the federal budget only provides this overall figure. The open supplement that provides a detailed breakdown of state security funding only indicates 1.488 billion rubles for international cooperation. Details about the remaining 60 billion rubles are confined to the classified supplement.

- So 99% of this spending is a state secret?

- You could put it that way, yes. But I'd like to explain that percentages aren't the point. Secrecy should be optimal. With public politics, everything is generally open, except for some things which it's necessary to keep secret. In the absence of public politics, everything is generally classified, except for some things which it's all right to reveal. The second approach is characteristic of Russia.

Our law on state secrets remains as it was: no major amendments have been made since 1997. But transparency in funding for the security and law enforcement agencies has varied greatly since then. Sometimes the FSB, the Defense Ministry, and other agencies are listed in the open version of the budget - and sometimes they're not. Apparently, decisions to classify some parts of the budget are not based on the state secrets law, but on some other considerations.

- And who discusses these secret spending items?

- The Duma has a commission that considers budget spending on defense and state security. The Federation Council is setting up a commission of its own. Oddly enough, however, until 1997 there weren't any legal procedures for passing the secret parts of the budget.

- How can that be?

- It wasn't until the budget process of 1997 that procedures were established for passing the secret spending items. These procedures were later set down in the Budget Code, and from 1996 the parliament started establishing groups to consider the secret items. In practice, things were handled quite simply: half the budgets simply didn't mention many of the security agencies - the Defense Ministry, for example.

- Judging by your data, the FSB wasn't mentioned in the budget either. From 1997 to 2000, for example.

- That's right, it wasn't mentioned. But in recent years, all the security and law enforcement agencies have been listed in the budget's classification by agency. Then again, this is actually misleading.

- What do you mean?

- The functional classification of budget spending shows the overall figures in full, incorporating secret spending items. But the classification by agency doesn't - its overall figures aren't complete, showing only the totals for non-classified items. Look at the budget for 2006. In the classification by agency, the "State security bodies" subsection is divided as follows: 1.3 billion rubles for the FSB, 1.8 billion rubles for the Federal Protection Service, and 650 million rubles for the Foreign Intelligence Service. In other words, the classification by agency implies that these three special services get just over 3 billion rubles. But now let's look at what they actually receive, according to the functional classification - 91 billion rubles!

- So even when the budget does show spending on the security and law enforcement agencies, this item only indicates a small proportion of the funding they actually receive?

- Yes. And exactly how much money is allocated to which agency - that information is confined to the classified version of the budget. Consequently, it's impossible to calculate the FSB's budget separately.

- At a recent FSB collegium meeting, President Putin promised a 20% funding increase. What does that mean?

- It isn't clear what will be increased by 20%: the FSB's budget, which is classified - or the "State security bodies" spending items, which includes other agencies besides the FSB.

- So we have no way of calculating that figure?

- That's right. Because the figure indicated here is some proportion of the budget, but we don't know the proportion.

- You have analyzed the growth of the Defense Ministry's budget as well as the state security budget. Did you compare them to see which has grown faster?

- Yes, I did. If we define all security spending (military spending, state security, law enforcement) as 100%, then the proportions are as follows: state security gets around 10% of the funding (sometimes this rises to 12-13%), while the military's share has dropped from 80% to 56% since 1992. So state security's share is stable, the military's share is falling, and the public security share is rising (Interior Ministry, Internal Troops, Justice Ministry, Prosecutor's Office, and the penitentiary system).

I don't think any policy decision has been made, but here is the result: state security's share of total funding is stable, despite the war on terrorism and so on, while the proportion of funding given to the Interior Ministry, the Internal Troops, and the Prosecutor's Office is rising. In other words, it's obvious that we have redirected our priorities from external enemies to fighting internal enemies. In principle, this is what is set down in the National Security Concept.

- And which of the law enforcement agencies is experiencing the most rapid funding increase?

- The Prosecutor's Office. It received 27 billion rubles in 2006, 17 billion rubles in 2005, 14 billion rubles in 2004, and only 3 billion rubles in 2000. So its funding has increased eight-fold since 2000. Who else can compare with that? Even the Internal Troops have only received a six-fold increase.

* * *

State security is defined as the range of measures taken to preserve state secrets, secure state borders, and obtain information of interest to the government from abroad; ensuring security for state officials and politicians, and ensuring public security against strategic threats (terrorism and so on). So this range of measures involves the following agencies: the Federal Protection Service (FSO), the FSB, the State Courier Service, the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), the Federal Technology and Export Control Service (FSTEK), and their predecessors - as well as the agencies that performed these functions in previous years, such as the Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information (FAPSI).

Published in Novaya Gazeta

Year

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

1998

1997

1996

1995

1994

Result

115,2796

95,63304

85,2821

86,202

64,239

48,976

34,825

32,051

50,173

60,473

54,564

38,126

93,593

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