Pasko on Russia’s Neo-Soviet Postal Service

Hero journalist Grigori Pasko, reporting on Robert Amsterdam’s blog, reveals that the Kremlin has just seized the right, directly violating the Russian constitution, to open anyone’s mail any time it likes.  It’s such an outrage that even Russia Today is appalled!

"Don't treat telephones like toys! Spies just love such little boys!"

"Don't treat telephones like toys! Spies just love such little boys!"

As some of you have probably read in the news, this week my fellow citizens and I woke up to a new Russia, under even greater control by the inheritants of the KGB.  As initially reported by, “beginning on the 21st of July, law-enforcement organs will have unrestricted access to the postal dispatches of citizens – letters, parcels, remittances and so forth. Employees of eight siloviki structures of the RF – organs of internal affairs, of the FSB, of the Federal Protection Service (FSO) and foreign intelligence, as well as customs officers, workers of the Federal Service for the Execution of Punishments (FSIN) and Gosnarkokontrol – will be able to open mail for inspection.”  The report goes on to provide links to the corresponding order from the Ministry of Communication and Mass Communications, signed by Minister Igor Shchegolev, and to a list of requirements to networks and postal communications media for the carrying out of operative-and-search measures [detective work–Trans.] printed in Rossiyskaya gazeta [the official organ of the Government of the Russian Federation–Trans.].

One can already imagine the chekists hastily equipping offices for themselves at post offices on perfectly legal grounds (of course they have been reading mail all along); the outraged human rights advocates; and the bleating – that is, the silence – of the majority of the citizens of our KGB state.

In some ways, I can understand why our society reacts with boredom rather than outrage to this news. We’ve been there, we’ve done that all many a time already. No need to even go as far back as Catherine the Great with her “black cabinets.”  Shouldn’t we all stop feigning surprise that yet another basic freedom has been wrenched from our hands?  But not everyone seems to get it yet.  The Newsru article makes reference to a story from “Echo Peterburga“, which explains how “in the management of the city’s main post office they were surprised by the very wording of this order and refused to believe that such a thing is even possible.”

I don’t believe it! I don’t believe their amazement. The fact is, the Moscow main post office has been opening up letters and dispatches for a long time already: I was told about this by telephone a year ago, when I attempted to clarify the reason for the regular, no less than maniacal, opening of ALL incoming mail to my name from abroad for the duration of the already MANY YEARS of my residence in Moscow  (see above image). 

Moreover, I was told that this was being done absolutely legally, on the basis of some kind of instruction from the Ministry of Communication.

But the point here is not in that we will again and again be amazed by the things our chekists think up. The point is that 1) when it comes to underhandedness and keeping an eye on their fellow citizens, their creativity knows no bounds; 2) it was we ourselves who chose such a power to hang on our necks and are now silently observing all of its artistry in action; and 3) that we, apparently, actually like such an attitude towards us by the powers.

True, I just can’t understand: if we’re so quiet and timid, beaten down and readily agreeing to everything, cowardly and quiescent, then why – pardon my French – the hell does the power dislike us and mistrust us so?

My good older comrade, whom I endlessly respect, – Yuri Vdovin from the St. Petersburg «Civilian control», connects the appearance of such an order on the opening and inspection of mail with the fear of the powers with respect to mass protest actions by dissatisfied citizens: “so that at any moment one could adopt some kind of preventive measures, so as to deprive people of the opportunity to say what they think.”

My dear Yuri Nikolayevich! Our power has already long ago adopted ALL the preventive measures to deprive people of the opportunity to say what they think. Our power didn’t even forget about the mass entry of chekists into the ranks of judges of all levels. And about the opportunity to say… Remember Schwartz’s «To kill a dragon»: Why do you need a word, what are you going to do with it anyway? Give people this opportunity tomorrow and just see who will speak first and what he will say. No doubt this will be the call to «beat the yids, save Russia».

But seriously, of course, we do need to go to the Supreme Court of the RF (remembering that a certain mister Lebedev is still sitting there); we need to write about this where we can, and speak about this where they let us. But it seems to me that the order could only be revoked in one scenario: with a change of power in the country. But this is obviously not within sight for the next decade.

Well, what can I say? Congratulations on your new order, my dear compatriots!  Russian citizens now save the time, money, and effort, as we no longer need to bother with sealing our envelopes, nor waste our precious saliva on the illusion of privacy. This way we can save ourselves for the next task – to moisten, carefully chew, and swallow all the crap our beloved state force-feeds us.

6 responses to “Pasko on Russia’s Neo-Soviet Postal Service

  1. Russian Intelligence Granted New Powers over Citizens

    Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 139
    July 21, 2009 12:53 PM Age: 23 hrs

    By: Yuri Zarakhovich

    On July 6, the Russian ministry of communications posted its Order 65, on its official website ( Effective as of July 21, the order decrees that Russian postal services must make available for inspection on demand to the Federal Security Service (the FSB, the main successor to the Soviet KGB) and seven other Russian security service agencies any private mail or shipments, as well as its exhaustive data on senders and addressees. Special rooms where security officers will be able to open and inspect private mail were decreed to be established at post offices. Order 65 also cancels the privacy of electronic correspondence. Operators will now formally grant the security services access to their electronic databases.

    Though Soviet or Russian security services never hesitated to intercept, monitor, inspect or confiscate private correspondence, nothing like Order 65 has ever occurred openly, formally or so blatantly -not even under Soviet rule.

    Order 65 is in manifest contravention of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a United Nations treaty, based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -Russia is a signatory to both. It is also in contravention of Article 23 of the Russian constitution, which proclaims the complete privacy of telephone, postal and other communications and states unequivocally that this privacy can be lifted solely on the authority of the courts.

    However, Order 65 contains no reference to making private correspondence available to the security services on the strength of a court decision. The Order leaves such decisions at the discretion of the security services. In 2000 and 2007 the Russian supreme court (and also in 2003 in the constitutional court) upheld Article 23 of the constitution, and ruled that mail operators could not disclose private correspondence or telephone communications to the security services, without first securing a court order (, July 15).

    Yuri Vdovin, a prominent St. Petersburg’s based human rights activist, told the Echo Moskvy Radio that Order 65 signifies a decisive step towards a totalitarian state. Unless this is revoked, Vdovin maintains, the next steps will include unlawful detentions and searches. Vdovin believes that the authorities are seeking ways to prevent possible social unrest, and take under their control any structures that might emerge in order “not to let the people speak their mind” (, July 15).

    At the same time as this secret police surveillance of correspondence was openly decreed, the ministry of the interior (the MVD) were setting up special regional task forces to keep track of public attitudes, in an effort to prevent public protests, caused by the worsening economic situation in Russia. Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev told the press that he expected this effort to allow the police and authorities to work preemptively and prevent an escalation of protests during the economic crisis. Nurgaliyev wants incoming evidence of growing social tension to be analyzed. If economic factors are deemed responsible, police will inform local officials and the government in order to launch preventive measures jointly, and keep any potential unrest under control (, July 15).

    To complement this massive gathering of information, the MVD is also strengthening its already considerable forces to act on the basis of the information obtained. In the Moscow suburbs, they are now forming a new elite brigade named “avant-garde,” which will specialize in maintaining public order during large-scale demonstrations. The force is expected to deploy across the country at short notice (, July 15).

    These latest steps form a new chapter in Russia’s progression towards a totalitarian state, and they logically complement previous punitive measures, launched by the Putin government, previously highlighted by the Jamestown Foundation (EDM, January 5). Some Russian experts now estimate the total strength of the MVD and other security forces at 2.5 million, which are assigned to crush the projected domestic protests. They see this process as a crisis demanding the militarization of the state (, July 14).

    New repressive steps add to this sense of militarization. They also serve as additional proof that the authorities anticipate mass riots as the economy shrinks. Indeed, speaking at the presentation of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) report on Russia’s economy on July 14, the Economic Minister Elvira Nabiullina said that the economy had shrunk by 10.1 percent in the first half of this year, marking its worst decline since the early 1990’s (, July 15).

    Nabiullina also said that now the Russian government expected the economy to contract by 8 to 8.5 percent by the end of 2009. In fact, Russian officials view these figures as positive, as they had projected a 10.4 percent drop in the first half of 2009. They also maintain that the 14.8 percent industrial production decline in the first six months of 2009 is actually a victory, as their expectations had been worse (, July 15).

    However, the populace whose income has shrunk or totally evaporated are not sophisticated enough or sufficiently grateful to appreciate these subtle nuances of success. They are growing increasingly restive. Hence, more punitive and repressive steps are being implemented by the authorities. These steps also prove that the authorities are using the crisis as an excuse to tighten up the police screws within their much desired totalitarian state. That is the natural outcome of Putin’s “sovereign democracy.”

  2. And, now, Skype is in the cross hair. According to, the Russian state is looking at stifling the development of Skype and other such means of online communication and internet telephone as the state cannot listen in on conversations via Skype. So much for freedom in Russia.


  3. It’s interesting: in this regard perhaps snail mail is superior to electronic communcication. If somebody opens your letter, likely there will be tell-tale signs to alert you. But if they read your e-mail or listen in on your Skype, nobody will be the wiser.


  4. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on this. And he actually ordered me lunch due to the fact that I discovered it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to discuss this subject here on your internet site.

  5. I leave a response when I like a article on a site or if I have something to add to the conversation.
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