KGB AFTER THE BREAK UP OF SOVIET UNION

KGB AFTER THE BREAK UP OF SOVIET UNION

In 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the KGB was broken up into several agencies. Among them were Federal Security Service (FSB), the chief domestic security agency and The External Intelligence Service (SVR), the equivalent of the C.I.A, which handles overseas intelligence. Russians often still referred to these organizations as the KGB. In the 19990s there were rumors that part of the KGB headquarters had been rented out to laundromat.

The agencies of internal security have fared better than the military in the post-Soviet era. Throughout the Soviet period, these agencies were among the most firmly entrenched and respected national institutions. A succession of internal security agencies, ending with the KGB struck fear in the Soviet population by thoroughly penetrating all of society and launching periodic purges (the most violent of which occurred in the 1930s) against elements of society deemed harmful to the socialist state. [Source: Glenn E. Curtis, Library of Congress, July 1996 *]

In the post-Soviet era, internal security agencies generally have received more solid support from the Yeltsin government than the armed forces, although specific agencies have been favored. The Federal Security Service (FSB), the most direct successor to the KGB, has a broad mandate for intelligence gathering inside Russia and abroad when national security is threatened, and no concrete governmental oversight is prescribed in legislation. Human rights advocates in Russia and elsewhere, sensitive to the precedent of unbridled KGB power, have criticized the direct presidential control of internal security agencies such as the FSB, and human rights violations have been documented. Armed units of the FSB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) were heavily involved in the Chechnya campaign.*

Russia's still-powerful internal security agencies also were hit by scandal in 1996 when the former financial head of the Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information (FAPSI) was imprisoned by its sister agency, the FSB, for embezzling large sums from the FAPSI budget. Although the affair received no official acknowledgment, the independent press reported a major power struggle between powerful successor agencies of the KGB. Such a scenario would continue a series of rearrangements of the former KGB agencies that have occurred in the 1990s because of political power struggles rather than security considerations.*

Rampant, well-publicized corruption in the security agencies has eroded public confidence in all of Russian law enforcement. In July 1996, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) reported that 1,400 employees of the regular police (militia) had been arrested in 1995 for various types of criminal activity, including participation in crimes by criminal organizations of the mafiya. That report was the result of the MVD's Clean Hands Campaign, a highly publicized public-confidence program begun in 1995 to purge law enforcement agencies of dishonest members. But, according to most accounts, the 1995 arrests removed only a very small part of Russia's internal security corruption.*

KGB and the Coup Attempt to Oust Gorbachev

The coup attempt against Mikhail Gorbachev that helped pave the way for Boris Yeltsin to seize power was orchestrated by KGB chief Vladamir Kryuchkov and seven others including Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov and Internal Affairs Minister Boris Pugo.

Kryuchkov, Pugo and Pavlov all had risen to their posts under Gorbachev. Lukyanov was a former friend of protege of Gorbachev. Their relationship goes back to Moscow University in the 1950s. He was a Politburo member and chairman of the Supreme Soviet. The other coup plotters were people that Gorbachev had appointed.

Lukyanov later told the New Yorker, What happened in August 1991 “was not a coup, not a plot. It was an attempt to save the country, and that is all. In Gorbachev we were dealing with a politician who was out of his depth, a man who had never known anything except Komsomal politics and Party politics...All that happened with Gorbachev could have predicted...He was a confused politician. He was a child who refused to see that some stories have scary endings...” Perhaps the primary mistake of the coup leader was their failure to arrest Yeltsin.

Yeltsin and the KGB

After coming to power Yeltsin tried to control the KGB by dividing it into a dozen agencies and diminishing their power. He eliminated the feared Fifth Directorate which pressured dissidents and spied on ordinary citizens. Later, Yeltsin became heavily dependent on the military and security services in carrying out his agenda.

In 1992 Yeltsin never made a clear statement of his plans for the security services, except for occasional claims that the new services would be very different from the KGB. Nevertheless, early in 1992 certain trends already could be discerned. Generally speaking, Yeltsin had three main aims for the internal security services. Above all, he wanted to use the services to support him in his battles with high-level political opponents. Second, he wanted the security apparatus to counter broader domestic threats--ethnic separatism, terrorism, labor unrest, drug trafficking, and organized crime. Third, he intended that the security apparatus carry out counterintelligence against foreign spies operating in Russia. [Source: Library of Congress]

By the mid-1990s the remodeled KGB had regained much of its power. Yeltsin gave the secret police broad powers as part of is his anti-crime initiative. Police were allowed to conduct searches without warrants, tap hones, set up front organizations, interrogate suspects for days, and make arrests without charges. They were also put in charge of the prisons.

Parliament members and former Yeltsin ministers complained they were being bugged. But the KGB provided poor intelligence on Chechyna and worsened that situation. The KGB was renamed the Federal Security Service (FSB). It leaders accompanied Yeltsin on hunting and fishing trips and reportedly provided him advice on the occult and astrology.

Putin and His KGB Presidency

In July 1998, in a big career jump about a year before he became president of Russia, Vladimir Putin was made head of the FSB, the successor the KGB. The promotion was attributed his tough stance against regional leaders and the suppression of a criminal investigation of Yeltsin and his family. In the position Putin helped Yeltsin by firing people who were loyal to Yeltsin's main rival at the time, Vevgeny Primakov, who concurrently was moving in on Yeltsin, his family and supporters.

On August 9, 1999, Putin was appointed prime minister by Yeltsin after the sacking his predecessor Sergei Stepashin. Some say Putin was selected by Yeltsin because of his connections to the FSB (KGB) and ability to protect Yeltsin after he left office (Putin’s first decree was to grant Yeltsin and his family immunity from any future prosecution).

As the Russian president, Putin has been very systematic and patient, carefully analyzing polices through cost-benefit analysis. Half of Putin's official decisions were classified as secret. He liked to do things in a top-down “Vertical Power” sort of way and expected loyalty from those below him the same he way he was loyal to those who were above him in the past.

The machinations of power under Putin have been largely opaque. Putin placed members of the KGB in key positions in his government. Explaining why, he said, "I have know them for many years and I trust them. It had nothing to do with ideology. It’s only a matter of their professional qualities and personal relationships.”

Former KGB in Putin’s Government

Putin was accused of attempting to restore the entire KGB system in an operation code-named “putting thing back in order in the country.” A few months after becoming President for the first time he participated in special closed-door ceremony attended by 300 KGB generals at the former KGB headquarters to mark the founding of the cheka, the original Soviet secret police. During a speech Putin announced: “Instruction No. 1 for obtaining full power has been completed.” Later he praised Stalin, described the break up of the Soviet Union as a ‘tragedy” and called the man who tried to oust Gorbachev in 1990 as “noble.”

Former KGB and FSB men were appointed defense minister, interior minister and head of the anti-drug agency. They were also awarded powerful positions in regional politics and became business leaders. Coup plotter Kryuchkov was invited to Putin's inauguration.

Many former KGB were given in powerful positions in the bureaucracy and regional governments. As of 2005, 25 percent of all senior posts were held by men with intelligence service background. Five of the seven Kremlin-named governors and 70 percent of the staff and 35 percent fo all deputy ministers named by Putin’s administration had intelligence backgrounds. One Russian political analyst told the Washington Post, “There is a snowball effect caused by the clan structure of power in Russia. Putin for example brings 10 FSB agents with him to power, and each of them brings 10 more, and so on and so on.. It’s a brotherhood.”

Putin and the Siloviki

Putin surrounded himself with second-rate former KGB yes men whose duty was to protect Putin and the state and put down any challenges to Putin;’s authority. These men had hardline, conservative views and were known in Russia as the “siloviki.” which means “men with power”

The main man behind the scenes in Putin’s early years was Alexander Voloshin, his pro-business chief of staff. He was a tough shadowy figure viewed by some as a modern day Rasputin and the man who molded Putin into what he became. Voloshin was regarded as the most business-friendly member of Putin’s inner circle. He worked under Yeltsin and resigned in the wake of the Khodorkovsky arrest. The power of the siloviki increased after he left.

Over time the siloviki moved in, squeezing out the remnants of Yeltsin’s team. One former Yeltsin aid described the process as a “creeping coup.” Another told the Washington Post, “By the summer of 2003 the tide had clearly shifted.” A Yeltsin alumnus told the Post, “We got the feeling that something changed for the wrong direction.” When he went to the Kremlin each day he said the place was filled with new faces, “a whole floor of former and current KGB.”

Top staff members included the deputy chiefs of staffs: Igor Sechin, a former translator and close friend of Putin. and Viktor Ivanaov, a 20-year KGB veteran and former deputy director of the FSB (former KGB). In 1999 and 2000 Ivanov ran the agency’s Economic Security Division. which among other things was in charge on keeping an eye of the oligarchs. Under Putin he was put n charge of personnel while Sechin controlled access and the paper flow to Putin.

New Jobs for Ex KGB Agents

After the collapse of the Soviet Union many KGB members went through a “moral crisis” and experienced severe pangs of self doubt. Anyone who knew they were former KGB treated them suspiciously. After capitalism took root in Russian there was a demand for analysts and many KGB men got work with companies as analysts.One former KGB agent told the Los Angeles Times, “ All our work through the years was about processing and analyzing information and making conclusions and keeping our mouth shut about what we know, And that is exactly what companies needed.” Moreover the former KGB men had access to information and important people, through their Soviet connection, that ordinary citizens didn’t have.

Entire former agencies of the KGB went into business of themselves, The Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information pursued supplying encryption services for banks. Warehouses and businesses were protected by former members of the KGB's elite Alpha Group.

Ex-KGB drifted into private business and established alliances with businessmen, gangsters and present members of the FSB in the "old spies network." Alexander Lebedev, the chairman of National Reserve Bank and a big shareholder in Aeroflot, is a former KGB spy. Former KGB men also headed Petersburg Fuel Co., Domodevo Airlines, the St. Petersburg Telephone Network, Slvanet Oil Co. and Moscow’s central waterworks. These men are considered siloviki. In some cases they moved in to replace muscled-out oligarchs.

Many people with KGB and FSB backgrounds have entered politics.. Among these were Maj. General Viktor Maslov, a former FSB agent and gangster who became governor of Smolensk. Referring to himself as a “soldier of the tsar,” with the tsar being Putin, he was not shy about using handball tactics. He ordered wiretaps of his rival, the former deputy governor, and used information he obtained to detain him on corruption charges. In an interview, Maslov expressed frustration that criminals could not prosecuted with a minimum of fuss as the were in Stalin’s time.

Successor Agencies to the KGB

By early 1991, the powerful KGB organization was being dismantled. The development of the post-Soviet internal security apparatus took place in a highly volatile political environment, with President Yeltsin threatened by political opposition, economic crises, outbreaks of ethnic conflict, and sharply escalating crime. Under these circumstances, Yeltsin and his advisers had to rely on state security and internal police agencies for support in devising and implementing internal security strategies. [Source: Library of Congress, July 1996 *]

The KGB was dissolved officially in December 1991, a few weeks before the Soviet Union itself. Foreign observers saw the end of the KGB as a sign that democracy would prevail in the newly created Russian Federation. But President Yeltsin did not completely eliminate the security apparatus. Instead, he dispersed the functions of the former KGB among several different agencies, most of which performed tasks similar to those of the various KGB directorates. *

After the creation of fifteen new states from the republics of the former Soviet Union, the territorial branches of the former KGB were transferred to the control of the new governments of these states, each of which made reforms deemed appropriate to the political and national security needs of the regime in power. The Russian Federation, however, which as the RSFSR had housed KGB central operations in Moscow, inherited the bulk of the KGB's resources and personnel. As early as January 1992, five separate security agencies had emerged in Russia to take the place of the KGB. Four of them were concerned with internal security; the fifth was the Foreign Intelligence Service, which replaced the KGB's First Chief Directorate. *

Ministry of Security (MB)

Within Russia the largest KGB successor agency was the Ministry of Security (Ministerstvo bezopasnosti--MB), which numbered some 137,000 employees and was designated a counterintelligence agency. The Ministry of Security inherited the tasks of several KGB directorates and chief directorates: the Second Chief Directorate (counterintelligence against foreigners), the Third Chief Directorate (military counterintelligence), the Fourth Directorate (transportation security), the Fifth Chief Directorate (domestic political security), the Sixth Directorate (activities against economic crime and official corruption), and the Seventh Directorate (surveillance activities). [Source: Library of Congress, July 1996 *]

In July 1992, Yeltsin signed--and Russia's Supreme Soviet (parliament) ratified--a law concerning the governance of the Ministry of Security. The law gave Yeltsin sweeping authority over security operations and aroused concern among Russian democrats. They worried because the new law so closely resembled the one on the KGB that had been enacted by the Soviet government just fourteen months earlier. The law conferred essentially the same mission and powers on the Ministry of Security that the earlier law had granted to the KGB, in some cases almost verbatim. The main difference was that in the past the KGB had been controlled by the leadership of the CPSU, whereas the 1992 law gave Yeltsin, as president, control of the Ministry of Security. The Russian parliament was granted some theoretical oversight functions, but they never were exercised in practice. *

Yeltsin's first minister of security, former MVD chief Viktor Barannikov, left most of the organization's former KGB officials in place. In the spring of 1993, when an uneasy truce between Yeltsin and the Russian parliament was broken and the Supreme Soviet voted to deprive Yeltsin of his extraordinary presidential powers, Yeltsin called upon Barannikov and the Ministry of Security for support as the president declared the imposition of "special rule" giving him veto power over parliamentary legislation until new elections were held. However, Barannikov declined to involve his ministry in the political confrontation between the executive and legislative branches, urging that a compromise be found. When the Ministry of Defense also failed to support his position, Yeltsin backed down from his confrontational stance. *

The split between Yeltsin and Barannikov was exacerbated by Barannikov's response to the government corruption issue in 1992-93. Bribe taking and behind-the-scenes deals, which had been accepted practices for Soviet officials, were traditions that died hard, especially in the absence of laws and regulations prohibiting officials from abusing their positions. When privatization of state property began, the scale of corruption increased dramatically. The overlap between government-controlled economic enterprises and private entrepreneurial ventures created vast opportunities for illegal economic activity at the highest levels. *

Beginning in 1992, the Ministry of Security became involved in the war against organized crime and official corruption. Before long, however, the campaign turned into an exchange of accusations of corruption among Russia's political leaders, with the Ministry of Security in the middle. Yeltsin wanted to use the corruption campaign as a political weapon in fighting his opponents, but his own entourage was soon hit with charges of covering up crimes--a tactic of Yeltsin's enemies to which Barannikov lent at least passive support. Barannikov's failures to support Yeltsin led to the security minister's dismissal in mid-1993. *

Barannikov's replacement, Nikolay Golushko, did not last long in his job. After Yeltsin's threat to dissolve the Russian parliament in September 1993, which ended in bloodshed on the streets of Moscow, the president realized that Golushko was also unwilling to use the forces of the Ministry of Security to back up the president. In this case, Yeltsin not only dismissed his minister of security but also disbanded the ministry and replaced it with a new agency, the Federal Counterintelligence Service (Federal'naya sluzhba kontrarazvedki--FSK). *

Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK)

The law creating the FSK, signed in January 1994, gave the president sole control of the agency, eliminating the theoretical monitoring role granted to the parliament and the judiciary in the 1992 law on the Ministry of Security. The original outline of the FSK's powers eliminated the criminal investigative powers of the Ministry of Security, retaining only powers of inquiry. But the final statute was ambiguous on this issue, assigning to the FSK the task of "carrying out technical-operational measures, [and] criminological and other expert assessments and investigations." The statute also stipulated that the FSK was to "develop and implement measures to combat smuggling and corruption." Such language apparently assigned a key role to the successor of the Ministry of Security in the intensifying struggle against economic crime and official corruption. [Source: Library of Congress, July 1996 *]

According to its enabling statute, the FSK had eighteen directorates, or departments, plus a secretariat and a public relations center. Because some of the Ministry of Security's functions were dispersed to other security agencies, the initial FSK staff numbered about 75,000, a substantial reduction from the 135,000 people who had been working for the Ministry of Security in 1992. The reduction process began to reverse itself within a few months, however, as the FSK regained the criminal investigation functions of the Ministry of Security. By July 1994, the FSK reported a staff of 100,000. *

Golushko's replacement as minister of security was his former first deputy, Sergey Stepashin, who had served as head of the Parliamentary Commission on Defense and Security during 1992-93. Stepashin's arrival coincided with the establishment of a new economic counterintelligence directorate in the FSK and development of new laws to improve the FSK's ability to fight corruption. Stepashin announced measures against underground markets and "shadow capital," phenomena of the transition period that had been defended as stimuli for the national economy. He also defended the FSK against critics who accused the agency of persecuting private entrepreneurs. *

In addition to fighting crime and corruption, the FSK played a prominent role in dealing with ethnic problems. One worry for the agency was the possibility of terrorist acts by dissident non-Russian nationalities within the Russian Federation. Approximately 20 percent of Russia's population is non-Russian, including more than 100 nationalities concentrated in Russia's thirty-two ethnically designated territorial units. Tension over unresolved ethnic and economic issues had been mounting steadily since 1990, as non-Russian minorities became increasingly belligerent in their demands for autonomy from Moscow. The FSK was responsible for cooperating with other agencies of the Yeltsin government in monitoring ethnic issues, suppressing separatist unrest, and preventing violent conflict or terrorism. In keeping with this mandate, FSK troops joined MVD forces in backing Russian regular armed forces in the occupation of Chechnya. Russian security elements also have been active in Georgia, where they have assisted regular forces in containing the independence drive of Abkhazian troops and policing a two-year cease-fire that showed no sign of evolving into a permanent settlement as of mid-1996. *

Federal Security Service (FSB)

The Federal Security Service (FSB) has a staff of several thousand responsible for investigating crimes of national and international scope such as terrorism, smuggling, treason, violations of secrecy laws, and large-scale economic crime and corruption--an area of jurisdiction similar to that of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Several other state organizations also have designated criminal investigatory responsibilities. [Source: Library of Congress, July 1996 *]

The FSK was replaced by the Federal Security Service (Federal'naya sluzhba bezopasnosti--FSB) in April 1995. The new Law on Organs of the Federal Security Service outlined the FSB's mission in detail. The FSB regained a number of the functions that had been eliminated in earlier post-KGB reorganizations. Investigative authority was fully restored by the law, although the FSK had already been conducting criminal investigations on the basis of a presidential decree issued months before. Russia's fourteen investigative detention prisons and several special troop detachments also returned to the control of the security service. *

The 1995 law authorizes security police to enter private residences if "there is sufficient reason to suppose that a crime is being or has been perpetrated there . . . or if pursuing persons suspected of committing a crime." In such cases, related laws require the officer in charge only to inform the procurator within twenty-four hours after entering a residence. Like the FSK statute, the new law gave the president direction of the activities of the security service, which has the status of a federal executive organ. Article 23 of the law stipulated that the president, the Federal Assembly (parliament), and the judicial organs monitor the security service. But the only right given deputies of the State Duma (the assembly's more powerful lower house) in this regard was a vague stipulation that deputies could obtain information regarding the activity of FSB organs in accordance with procedures laid down by legislation. The imprecision of actual oversight functions was compounded by the security law's provision that unpublished "normative acts" would govern much of the FSB's operations. *

The law gave the FSB the right to conduct intelligence operations both within the country and abroad for the purpose of "enhancing the economic, scientific-technical and defense potential" of Russia. Although FSB intelligence operations abroad are to be carried out in collaboration with the Foreign Intelligence Service, the specifics of the collaboration were not spelled out. The liberal press reacted with great skepticism to the new law's potential for human rights violations and for reincarnation of the KGB. *

Although the FSB is more powerful than its predecessor, FSB chief Stepashin operated under a political cloud because of his support for the botched Chechnya invasion. In July 1995, pressured by the State Duma and members of his administration, Yeltsin replaced Stepashin with the head of the Main Guard Directorate, General Mikhail Barsukov. Barsukov was closely linked to the director of Yeltsin's personal bodyguard organization (the Presidential Security Service), Aleksandr Korzhakov, who had acquired powerful political influence in the Kremlin. *

In the mid 1990s, the FSB had 76,000 employees, earning on average about $160 a month (1994). It had the authority to listen in on phone conversations, open mail and monitor computers with "black boxes." Its primary duties were fighting domestic crime, terrorism and foreign counterintelligence. According to some sources it was also being used to carry out assassinations, seize hostages, extort money from big businesses and harass and murder businessmen. One FBI agent told the New York Times the agency was being used "to settle accounts with undesirable persons, to carry out private political and criminal orders for a fee, and sometimes simply as an instrument to earn money."

Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information (FAPSI)

The KGB's Eighth Chief Directorate, which oversaw government communications and cipher systems, and another technical directorate, the sixteenth, were combined as the Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information (Federal'noye agentstvo pravitel'stvennykh svyazi i informatsii--FAPSI), of which the former head of the Eighth Chief Directorate, Aleksandr Starovoytov, was named director. FAPSI has unlimited technical capabilities for monitoring communications and gathering intelligence. When the Law on Federal Organs of Government Communications and Information was published in February 1993, Russia's liberal press protested loudly. The newspaper Nezavisimaya gazeta called it the "law of Big Brother," pointing out that it not only gives the executive organs of government a monopoly over government communications and information but permits unwarranted interference in the communications networks of private banks and firms. [Source: Library of Congress, July 1996 *]

The communications and information law authorized FAPSI to issue licenses for the export and import of information technology, as well as for the telecommunications of all private financial institutions. Equipped with a body of special communications troops (authorized by the 1996 budget to number 54,000), FAPSI was given the right to monitor encoded communications of both government agencies and nonstate enterprises. This means that the agency can penetrate all private information systems. The law stipulated little parliamentary supervision of FAPSI aside from a vague statement that agency officials were to give reports to the legislative branch. The president, by contrast, was given specific power to monitor the execution of basic tasks assigned to FAPSI and to "sanction their operations." *

Some of the functions of FAPSI overlap those of the FSB. The FSB's enabling law mandated that it detect signals from radio-electronic transmitters, carry out cipher work within its own agency, and protect coded information in other state organizations and even private enterprises. No specific boundary between the ciphering and communications functions of the two agencies was delineated in their enabling legislation, and there was even speculation that FAPSI would be merged into the FSB. A presidential decree of April 1995 defined agency responsibilities in the area of telecommunications licensing. *

A critical area of overlap--and competition--is protection of data of crucial economic and strategic significance. By mid-1995 FAPSI director Starovoytov was pushing for a larger role for FAPSI in this area. He began issuing warnings about the intensified threat to secret economic data (including that of the Russian Central Bank) from Western special services, which he said required his agency to take more stringent security measures. *

Main Guard Directorate (GUO)

In mid-1992 the KGB's Ninth Directorate, charged with guarding government leaders and key buildings and installations, became the Main Guard Directorate (Glavnoye upravleniye okhraneniya--GUO), which until July 1995 was headed by Mikhail Barsukov. When Barsukov moved to the FSB, he was replaced as chief of the GUO by his deputy, General Yuriy Krapivin. Until mid-1996 the GUO included an autonomous subdivision, the Presidential Security Service, headed by Aleksandr Korzhakov. Beginning in 1991, both the GUO and Korzhakov's service grew steadily. By late 1994, the GUO staff reportedly had increased from 8,000 to more than 20,000 persons assigned to guard the offices, automobiles, apartments, and dachas of Russia's highest leaders, together with a variety of secret "objects of state importance." [Source: Library of Congress, July 1996 *]

The tasks and missions of the GUO are described in the Law on State Protection of Government Bodies and Their Officials, passed in April 1993. As of mid-1996, the agency had the same status as a state committee, but in fact the general statutes describing the government and the office of the presidency made no provision for such a structure. The GUO's legal authorization to engage in investigative operations gives its officers the power to undertake invasive activities such as shadowing citizens and tapping telephones. The GUO was reported to have an unlimited budget, which it used to acquire sophisticated Western listening devices for use in Kremlin offices. *

Shortly after the creation of the GUO, Yeltsin included in it the elite Alpha Group, a crack antiterrorist unit of 500 personnel (200 in Moscow, 300 elsewhere in Russia) that had been involved in operations in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and Lithuania. The Alpha Group had played a decisive role in the coup of August 1991 by refusing the coup leaders' orders to storm the parliament building, in spite of the group's subordination to the KGB, whose chief, Vladimir Kryuchkov, was a coup leader. In the following years, the Alpha Group gained a national reputation and became connected with figures in legitimate business, organized crime, and politics. In early 1996, Alpha Group veterans headed an estimated thirty-five commercial enterprises in Moscow. *

In June 1995, the Alpha Group was sent to break the Budennovsk hostage crisis when Chechen rebels seized a hospital in southern Russia. Yeltsin disavowed responsibility for the attack's subsequent failure, and two months later he transferred the Alpha Group back to the jurisdiction of the FSB. In 1995, under the leadership of Sergey Goncharov, the Alpha veterans' association became politically active, strongly opposing Yeltsin loyalists in the December parliamentary elections. This antigovernment activity by former members of Yeltsin's security force raised questions about the loyalty of active security agencies. Following the 1995 elections, Goncharov's group continued to advocate restoration of Russia's military influence among the former Soviet republics that make up its "near abroad," as well as harsh measures against domestic organized crime. *

By December 1993, Korzhakov's Presidential Security Service had become independent of the GUO, placing Korzhakov in a position subordinate only to Yeltsin. From the time of his appointment, Korzhakov was at Yeltsin's side constantly, becoming the most indispensable member of the presidential security force. Besides overseeing about 4,000 guards, Korzhakov came to supervise all the services in support of the president's operations. These included communications, presidential aircraft, and the secret bunker to be occupied in case war broke out. This prominent role led to speculation about Korzhakov's influence on policy matters outside the area of security, and his infrequent policy statements were closely analyzed by the news media. In June 1996, Yeltsin dismissed Korzhakov, together with FSB chief Barsukov and First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, eliminating some of the most influential government figures of the anti-Western political faction prior to the second round of the presidential election. *

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, U.S. government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated May 2016

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