Circling the Lion's Den

Federal securityservice, the FSB

Official site

Director - Alexander Bortnikov

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Boris Yeltsins first challenge was to place the KGB behemoth under his thumb. His liberals decided to weaken its superstructure by splitting it into smaller independent agencies, American-style. Yeltsin liked checks and balances, and he retained control by instigating intrigues within the splintered intelligence community.

The largest fragment of the KGB was turned into that was later to be known as the Federal Security Service. But firstly the new secret service was pruned to resemble something similar to Britains MI5. It was not a coincidence that firstly the FSB was named the FSK where K meant Kontrrazvedka counter-intelligence. Only in 1995 was the FSK renamed the FSB, replacing Kontrrazvedka with much wider term Bezopasnost - security.

In December 2000, then FSB director Nikolai Patrushev gave his traditional interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda to mark the holiday celebrating the founding of the CheKa, the Bolshevik secret police. Patrushev described the FSBs personnel as follows:

    I dont want to give a fancy speech, but our best colleagues, the honor and pride of the FSB, dont do their work for the money. When I give government awards to our people, I scrutinize their faces. There are the highbrow intellectual analysts, the broad-shouldered, weatherbeaten special forces men, the taciturn explosives specialists, exacting investigators, and the discreet counter-espionage operational officers. . . . They all look different, but there is one very special characteristic that unites all these people, and it is a very important quality: It is their sense of service. They are, if you like, our new nobility.

In March 2003 the FSB absorbed some of the former parts of the KGB: some departments of the ELINT agency, and the border guards. In June 2003 an amendment to the Law on the Organs of the Federal Security Service was signed, stipulating that the FSB will have a special body for foreign intelligence.

On March 6, 2006 the Law on Counteraction of Terrorism was approved. According to the law, the FSB was named as the chief body to combat terrorism and the National Antiterrorist Committee (NAK) is established. A high-level interdepartmental agency headed by the FSB director, the NAK is tasked with coordinating the security services antiterrorist activities. In July 2006 the FSB was given the right to eliminate terrorists abroad.

In August 2006 the color of the uniforms of the FSB, the Federal Protective Service, the Service of Special Facilities, and Foreign Intelligence were changed from army green to black.

In January 2007 Vladimir Putin announced a significant increase in financing for the FSB, but no figures are presented.

On May 12, 2008. Alexander Bortnikov was named director of the FSB. Nikolai Patrushev was appointed a secretary of the Security Council of Russia.

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