Russia’s FSB no longer ‘new nobility’ but only tool like old KGB, Soldatov and Borogan say

'The Motherland Hears You' by popular Russian artist Vasya Lozhkin. (A satirical depiction of omnipresent domestic surveillance by Russian security services, such as the FSB, police, tax revenue enforcement, etc.)

'The Motherland Hears You' by popular Russian artist Vasya Lozhkin. (A satirical depiction of omnipresent domestic surveillance by Russian security services, such as the FSB, police, tax revenue enforcement, etc.) 

Analysis & Opinion, Russia

The role of Russia’s security services changed in the last year, Andrey Soldatov and Irina Borogan say. It was no longer to be “the new nobility” as had been true earlier in Putin’s time – that term itself disappeared from public use in 2017 – but rather like the officers of the KGB of the end of the Soviet period.

This means, the two independent Russian researchers on Russia’s intelligence and security agencies write in Yezhednevny zhurnal today, that “the methods of state control have changed” from the previous arrangements in which FSB officers were attached to various structures and expected to play a major role in running them.

Now, Soldatov and Borogan suggest,

“control by the Kremlin will be achieved via selective repressions, the victims of which have already become governors, officials, ministers, and theater directors.” For such a system, the attachment of FSB officers to particular institutions “does not have great significance.”

And thus, “it is obvious” as could be seen with the Kirill Serebrennikov case “that we are observing a return of Soviet understandings in the work of the special services,” one in which the FSB officers are held apart from the institutions that they may be dispatched to carry out targeted repressions.

For many years, the two write, “it was very fitting to have in the second or third position in a state company a highly placed FSB officer, with very high pay which motivated him to help the companies and not the special services.” Indeed, banks and other companies sometimes asked for the assignment of such people.

But over the last year, “the meaning of the term ‘curatorship’ has changed,” the continues, and “the FSB has restored its Soviet meaning – and now curators in fact are occupied with specific goals for selective repressions.” That is only one of the Soviet-era methods restored in 2017, Soldatov and Borogan say.

“In the new reality,” again just as during most of the Soviet period, “no one is guaranteed from repression including the repressive organs themselves, something that is completely in the spirit of Soviet leaders.”

Purges are being conducted in the same way: first a problem area is identified, and then people are removed via criminal or other charges.

They call attention to the fallout in Russia from the continuing scandal about Russian interference in the American elections. The FSB’s Center for Information Security, which was clearly involved, had its chief removed, one deputy sent into retirement after being given a three-year suspended sentence, and another now is sitting in Lefortovo Prison.

Other FSB officers have been arrested as well, they note. Compared to the previous practice under Putin, “all this is extremely unusual.” Earlier, if an FSB officer on detail to a company or institution, he was required to resign in advance of the announcement of his dismissal so that the FSB would escape opprobrium. Now that practice has changed.

The recent and much-discussed interview of FSB director Aleksandr Bortnikov on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Cheka and especially his “warm words about Lavrentiy Beria,” Soldatov and Borogan say, “is the best confirmation of the fact that in the FSB itself, they completely recognize this new but in fact well-forgotten old role in the new reality.”

That role, they conclude, is to be “the key instrument in a system in which the running of the state is secured by fear.”

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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Ihor Dawydiak

    There is nothing more criminal than a justice system that promotes criminality. Welcome to Russia 101. This is a country where aberrant behavior is considered a norm and where contradictions reign supreme as can be seen with their Constitution which is not worth the paper on which it was written. Even the term “Russian Federation” should be viewed as an oxymoron since there is no real “federation” but a unitary Russian chauvinist, imperialist and totalitarian State. However, Russians can never be accused of being inconsistent. Apart from a very few aberrations such as the short lived Yeltsin era, organizations such as the FSB and its predecessors have always thrived on social and political terrorism, both internally and externally. As for the people of Russia, they have only themselves to blame for their own misery and for the misery of their victims.

  • Oknemfrod

    I’m not sure where and how Soldatov and Borogan discovered the point at which the KGB goons, nee KGB goons, ceased to be what they had always been – i.e. the heirs and successors of the KGB’s (and the alphabet soup’s preceding it) traditions and methods – and all of a sudden acquired some kind of “nobility”.

    On the other hand, if FSB “supervisors” should be no longer attached to the institutions they’re supposed to “supervise”, it would be, not a return, but a departure from the Soviet practice. For there, every institution had a specially designated (and sealed) office, to which one or more civilian-clad KGB goons reported daily, as if they were mere part of the top management.

  • zorbatheturk

    KGB are pure Soviet scum. Putin is incapable of moving RuSSia forward. Sovietism is all he knows.

    • veth

      The Wodka war in Donbass!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Self-proclaimed republics in Donbas reportedly start trade feud – Ukrainian journalist

      13:59, 05 January 2018

      War

      31 0

      Two Russian-backed self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine, Donbas, have reportedly started a trade feud when in December 2017, the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”) virtually introduced sanctions against the so-called “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”), according to Ukrainian journalist Denys Kazansky.

      Photo from UNIAN

      In particular, a “resolution” of the so-called “Council of Ministers of the DPR” came into force on December 27 to ban imports of excisable goods, namely vodka and tobacco, from the areas controlled by “LPR” chiefs Leonid Pasechnik and Igor Kornet.
      “So, there will be no more Luga Nova [vodka] in Donetsk. Now vodka and cigarettes from Luhansk are outlawed in Donetsk. What is more, militants from Donetsk have promised a symmetrical answer to the annoying upstarts from Luhansk if the latter forbid goods from the ‘DPR,'” Kazansky wrote in his blog.

      According to the journalist, the current situation clearly indicates that militants in Donbas are not fighting for the idea, but just using it as a cover.

      “Having won a patch of territory from Ukraine with the help of Russian ‘vacationers,’ ‘fighters with the junta’ even managed to split it into two feudal allotments. Each gang has its own ‘republic.’ Bandits from Luhansk have the right to rob only their territory, while those from Donetsk have their own for this purpose,” he wrote.