Circling the Lion's Den

FSB Reform: Changes Are Few and Far between

By Andrei Soldatov (www.agentura.ru - special to The Moscow News)

The three months that President Putin gave the Federal Security Service (FSB) to reform itself are coming to an end. Vladimir Putin signed off on a decree launching the reorganization of the FSB on July 11, 2004, but the subsequent course of tragic events apparently shifted the focus away from the reform.

Under the July decree, the FSB director is allowed to have only one first deputy (the head of the Border Service with the rank of first deputy) and two deputies. In addition, FSB departments were abolished and replaced with services.

According to informed sources, the organizational and T/O changes in the FSB have already been made, as have all the principal personnel appointments. This is what is known as of right now.

Staying Put

Many of the FSB subdivisions got away with just a facelift. For example, the structure responsible for the FSB's personnel policy only lost the word "department" in its title, emerging as the Organizational and Personnel Service. Even its chief is the same - Yevgeny Lovyrev.

Aleksandr Bezverkhny, head of military counterintelligence, whom this past June the President personally congratulated on his promotion to the rank of colonel-general (a three-star general), also kept his position. Ditto for Aleksandr Bortnikov who this past summer replaced Yury Zaostrovtsev as head of the Economic Security Department, now the FSB Economic Security Service. Vladimir Anisimov and Vyacheslav Ushakov, who in the fall of 2003 was appointed state-secretary, remain FSB deputy directors. The FSB first deputy director is still Sergei Smirnov, who is widely tipped as the next FSB director should Patrushev become deputy prime minister. Viktor Komogorov stays on as head of the FSB think-tank - the Analysis, Forecasting, and Strategic Planning Service.

The Counterintelligence and the Border Services have also retained their bosses: Oleg Syromolotov and Viktor Pronichev have kept their respective positions. It is noteworthy that reform of the regional structure of the latter department is still in progress: The FSB Border Service is moving from the linear principle of border protection to point/area protection. What this means in practice is that instead of the ten regional border directorates that Russia has today there will be seven (according to the number of the federal districts); each will have two or three territorial directorates.

Fighting Terror

The most far-reaching changes have been made at the FSB's antiterrorism subdivision - the Department for the Protection of the Constitutional System and the Fight against Terrorism.

First of all, the new structure got a new boss: Aleksandr Bragin. His entire experience in combating terrorism is limited to his brief stint in Moscow. He was appointed to the FSB central office in June 2003, as deputy head of the Counterterrorism Department. Prior to that he led the FSB Chelyabinsk Oblast Directorate and displayed unshakable loyalty to the President. Thus, in an interview with the Yuzhnouralskaya panorama daily, on May 25, 2000, Bragin said, in particular: "I voted for him. In my time, I had participated in a number of working conferences that he chaired as FSB director. He - Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin - was always distinguished for a highly objective, pragmatic and at the same time, humane approach to issues at hand."

Bragin hails from Saransk, prior to Chelyabinsk serving for years in Mordovia, a region that is far away from the south of Russia.

Furthermore, the Department for the Protection of the Constitutional System and the Fight against Terrorism now has a new subdivision: the International Terrorism Control Directorate. It seems that this innovation comes in response to the ongoing search for an external enemy. Perhaps, it has never occurred to anyone before to create what is, essentially, an "internal" security service - a subdivision on fighting international terrorism. Presumably, this directorate will be responsible for "wiping out militants abroad," the task that Vladimir Putin set in the wake of the Beslan hostage drama.

This directorate is now headed by Major General Yury Sapunov with the status of deputy chief of the service, who was moved to Moscow from Astrakhan where he was chief of the FSB Astrakhan Oblast Directorate. Before his appointment to the Astrakhan Directorate, he was first deputy of the FSB's famous Current Operations and Coordination Directorate for the North Caucasus (OKU). The directorate is famed for its relentless use of force in the Caucasus. The OKU comprises a special task service that locals have dubbed "death squads."

All the indications are that FSB tactics in the North Caucasus will not undergo any serious change. The regional Antiterrorism Operation Headquarters (ROSh) is still under the command of an FSB official, although the ROSh is formally part of the Interior Ministry structure. True, as of September 16, this is no longer Rear Admiral Yury Maltsev (who, a year ago, was moved from the FSB Directorate for Coordination of Counterterrorism Operations to the Interior Ministry with the rank of deputy minister), but Arkady Yedelev.

Before his appointment to the ROSh, Yedelev was head of the OKU where Yury Sapunov was serving. Despite the apparent similarity of the names of the two FSB directorates, these are two distinct structures. Even so, the similarity of their names reflects the FSB's general problems in the Caucasus both in conducting special operations and in coordinating them.

Internal Security, Counterintelligence and Investigations

Aleksandr Zhdankov, who headed the antiterrorism department before Bragin, is still with the FSB. Moreover, he has received a very important post in the new structure as head of the FSB Control Service, formerly the FSB Inspectorate - in effect, its internal counterintelligence agency. This directorate served as a springboard for at least one federal minister: Before he became RF interior minister, Rashid Nurgaliyev was in charge of it.

Just before the Beslan hostage drama, Zhdankov was opportunely moved to another subdivision. This is why he did not have to come to the hostage contingency headquarters and formally has nothing to do with the tragedy.

The FSB Investigation Directorate will most likely be headed up by its current acting chief, Yury Anisimov. Anisimov's appointment marks the end to a bizarre story with the directorate's leadership, which was rather unpleasant for the special service. The fact is that after Sergei Balashov (he supervised the Edmond Pope case), the Investigation Directorate was briefly headed by Viktor Milchenko, who, to the horror of FSB personnel officials, happened to hold a Ukrainian passport. It is still a mystery how Milchenko had landed this key position not being a Russian citizen.

Thus far the changes in the Federal Security Service (except for the appearance of T/O fighters with Osama bin Laden) has admittedly been, rather, cosmetic. The key figures in the FSB leadership have stayed in their places while the general principle of its organization has remained virtually unchanged.

True, this is only logical: Nikolai Patrushev has been FSB director since 1999. For five years now the principal objective of the service itself, as well as of its head has stayed immutable - to serve as the main buttress of support for the President. Presumably, they have done a good job in this respect.

FSB structure (main divisions) after reform

Director - Nikolay Patrushev

  • First deputy - Viktor Pronichev
  • First deputy - Sergei Smirnov
  • Deputy - Vyacheslav Ushakov
  • Deputy - Vladimir Anisimov

Services:

  • Counterintelligence service - Oleg Syromolotov
  • Service for  the Protection of the Constitutional System and the Fight against Terrorism - Aleksandr Bragin
  • Economic Security Service - Aleksandr Bortnikov
  • Border Service - Viktor Pronichev
  • Organizational and Personnel Service - Yevgeny Lovyrev
  • The Analysis, Forecasting, and Strategic Planning Service - Viktor Komogorov
  • Control Service - Aleksandr Zhdankov
  • Science and technical service - Nikolai Klimashin

Directorates:

  • Military counterintelligence - Aleksandr Bezverkhny
  • Investigation Directorate - Yury Anisimov

See also in Agentura.Ru:

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