Russian spies, Out of Control

Reuters reports:

Russia’s security services have changed a lot since late Soviet days.

They are much worse.

That’s the view of Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, two young Russian journalists who have just published a book on the FSB, the main present-day successor to the powerful Soviet KGB.

“The KGB was a very powerful organization but at the same time it was under the strict control of the Communist Party,” Soldatov told Reuters in an interview in London on Wednesday, when he and Borogan were promoting their book at a seminar.

“… With the FSB, we have no party control and we have no parliamentary control … we have got uncontrollable secret services.”

The Russian security services’ lack of accountability and their increasingly brutal methods — justified by a bloody domestic war on Islamist militancy — make them more like the feared mukhabarat (security police) of the Arab world than the old Soviet spy agencies, co-author Borogan added.

Their book “The New Nobility” takes its title from former FSB director Nikolai Patrushev‘s phrase in a speech at the end of 1999 celebrating the return of spy power — led by former KGB agent and incoming president Vladimir Putin.

Picked by former president Boris Yeltsin in 1999 as a supposedly malleable successor, Putin quickly showed who was boss. He filled key Kremlin and state corporation posts with ex-security service officers, creating a big new power base of individuals sharing close loyalty to their former employers.

Unchecked by any institution and answerable to nobody, the “New Nobility” quickly showed their dangerous side.

Russia’s most prominent rights activist, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, recalled in a recent interview how in the late Soviet era, the KGB was repressive but less dangerous. “Back then, there were prisons and psychiatric hospitals, but they didn’t kill anyone,” she said. “… Murders just didn’t happen. And now they do …”

British prosecutors named former Russian security officer Andrei Lugovoy as a suspect in the radioactive poisoning of Putin critic Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006, and Russian investigators named an FSB officer as one of the suspects in the murder the same year of crusading journalist Anna Politkovskaya.


Today’s FSB generals, the authors say, resemble Russia’s old Tsarist aristocracy in more ways than one.

Their taste for an extravagant lifestyle financed by wealth obtained through their positions contrasts with the Soviet era, when the secret service chiefs had a temporary hold on perks and privileges that disappeared when they left their posts.

“Russia’s new security services are more than simply servants of the state,” the authors write. “They are landed property owners and powerful players.”

The book — which has not been published in Russia or reported on by Russian media — recounts how 99 acres of Moscow’s most expensive land, along the exclusive Rublyovka Highway, was handed over to top FSB agents in 2003/4 for token sums under a legal scheme to recognize their years of service.

Some plots were then resold for tens of millions of dollars.

FSB agents and their overseas counterparts in the SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service) are now used increasingly to defend Russian oligarchs’ business interests, Soldatov says.

“In 2007 Putin openly admitted when he appointed former prime minister Mikhail Fradkov as chief of foreign intelligence that the new task for foreign intelligence was to protect the interests of Russian companies abroad,” he explained.

Examples included a letter from Patrushev to Russia’s federal anti-monopoly body asking it to bar Norwegian telecoms firm Telenor from buying more shares in its Russian affiliate Vimpelcom because Telenor had “too many spies,” Soldatov added.

“In this case, it looks like corporations used the FSB,” he said.

Soldatov also said it appeared that the FSB had been used by Russian interests in local oil major TNK-BP to put pressure on BP to cede management control of the joint venture.

At the peak of the battle over TNK-BP in 2008, FSB agents raided the company’s Moscow headquarters, questioned staff and confiscated computers and disks, almost paralyzing operations.

Despite the security services’ wealth and power, the authors believe real power in Russia still lies with the oligarchs.

The top security services men are “absolutely not leaders,” Borogan says. “They have no vision of their own of the economic and political system in Russia.”

Despite his pledges to modernize Russia, President Dmitry Medvedev is unlikely to reform spy services, the authors say.

“We think he is quite happy with the system created by Putin because it’s very stable and he is not very interested (in changing it)” Soldatov concluded.

52 responses to “Russian spies, Out of Control

  1. Here is a video of the authors talking about their book.

  2. Do they have CIA/NSA/DEA/FBI special agents in America let me kindly ask you? I have got a vague suspician that the answer is more than positive.
    Why not to let Russia go in that directioon too?
    Or the US is totally different in that respect and keeps its special services on a tight leash?
    “It’s a country with established democratic traditions and so forth and so on, blah – blah – bluh…”
    The editorial in my opinion is just another sample of American propaganda verbal trash.

    • Manfred Steifschwanz

      Question: Why not just accept the USian drivel about well established democratic traditions and then ask the USians why they throw imbecile tantrums against others trying to catch up on said “democracy” ? I mean, it’s just not about spying, it’s about being a peril against the entire species.

    • Sure, the FBI and the DEA, those are just police. The CIA does not conduct any domestic operations, other than having their headquarters and the academy in the country. Nobody, including you, knows anything about the NSA, so let’s not speculate. We have no facts to base our opinion about the NSA upon. All of these and many other various spy and police agencies are firmly under the civilian control. If you saying they are not, please prove it.

      The whole point of the article is not whether the KGB (or whatever you call it now) and similar organizations should or should not exist, it’s about how out of control they are, and how there are no real checks and balances in the system.

      • @”Nobody, including you, knows anything about the NSA, so let’s not speculate. We have no facts to base our opinion about the NSA upon.”

        Does it feel ok, RV, not even knowing what the special service does inside your country?

        Or perhaps these guys just bake cookies and then present them to kids across the States?

        • Now Dtard, we know you have a subhuman intelligence level, which is also quite possibly sub-simian, but really….

          The NSA is under civilian control, and subject to stringent controls at that.

          Unlike your Russian cabal of mafia style killers in the FSB, SVR, and GRU


          The NSA/CSS core missions are to protect U.S. national security systems and to produce foreign signals intelligence information

          The Information Assurance mission confronts the formidable challenge of preventing foreign adversaries from gaining access to sensitive or classified national security information. The Signals Intelligence mission collects, processes, and disseminates intelligence information from foreign signals for intelligence and counterintelligence purposes and to support military operations. This Agency also enables Network Warfare operations to defeat terrorists and their organizations at home and abroad, consistent with U.S. laws and the protection of privacy and civil liberties.

          Executive Order 12333, originally issued 4 December 1981, delineates the NSA/CSS roles and responsibilities. In part, the Director, NSA/Chief, CSS is charged to:

          Collect (including through clandestine means), process, analyze, produce, and disseminate signals intelligence information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes to support national and departmental missions;
          Act as the National Manager for National Security Systems as established in law and policy, and in this capacity be responsible to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director, National Intelligence;
          Prescribe security regulations covering operating practices, including the transmission, handling, and distribution of signals intelligence and communications security material within and among the elements under control of the Director of the National Security Agency, and exercise the necessary supervisory control to ensure compliance with the regulations.
          EO 12333 was amended on 31 July 2008 in order to:

          Align EO12333 with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004;
          Implement additional recommendations of the 9/11 and WMD Commissions;
          Further integrate the Intelligence Community and clarify and strengthen the role of the DNI as the head of the Community;
          Maintain or strengthen privacy and civil liberties protections.

        • There is oversight on the NSA by the House, Senate, President and Director of National Intelligence.

          You never hear about an CIA/FBI/NSA official being placed in charge of Google. It does happen in Russia when Valery Golubyev, an ex-KGB official is put in charge of Gazprom. This type of behavior happens in countries like Kim Jong-Il’s North Korea. It is not the type of business climate a member of the G8 should engage in.

          • Jame, ever heard of “private companies”?

            Well, Gazprom is not one of them. And Google is.

            So, is the hint above transparent enough, or do I need to further explain why your logic is corrupt?

            • So you are saying a KGB operative is qualified to run a company if the company is not private? ;-) The better to siphon off money from it.

              • Well, this depends on the qualifications of the ex-KGB operative, I presume. I know a lot of companies run by the former military and secret service types. Some of them are good businessmen, some are awful, most are mediocre. If a manager syphons money away from the company, its indicative of the fact that the company’s shareholders are (i) not very well qualified to appoint appropriate management and (ii) cannot put in place safeguards preventing syphoning the money away. Governments are usually terrible shareholders. That’s why private companies are much more successful on the whole.

                • Or that there is no rule of law in Russia, you forgot about that AT.

                  Safeguards are irrelevant in the mafia style business world of Russia.

        • What do you imply the NSA does?

  3. Pingback: Russian spies, Out of Control | La Russophobe – Homeland Security spies on your social network activity, but is … – – MotoGP News: Spies: Nothing to gain by going out – and more « Crime

  4. Well,well,

    The subject matter of this topic is “RUSSIAN SPIES, OUT OF CONTROL”, but no the Putin stooges rts and Manfred Steifschwanz have to, in the classic soviet communist disinformation (propaganda) manner, try to steer the subject matter to the USA.

    Stick to the subject matter, you two ‘stookachi’!

    If you can’t? then go to “Russia Today”, where your services will be more in line with the official Putin lies and hence more appreciated by the RuSSophile drivel that cannot think or reason for itself.

    • Manfred Steifschwanz

      Bohdan, sweetheart: You should know by now that I have fully confessed to Kim Zigfeld’s remarkably accurate characterization recently:

      >> You’re an illiterate, drunken, hysterical ape
      utterly incapable of contributing any value
      to society. >>

      And so I decided to contribute to this marvellous little blog instead, hehe. On a side note, there is a reason why I, for one, actually do bring up the USA in these, ahem, “discussions” you’re allegedly having here: Contrary to dumbed-down Westerners, the vast majority of mankind knows that even if they’d agree to every single piece of trash propaganda spewed out 24/7 by Western imperialism and its LR parrots, their lot wouldn’t improve an iota “in reward”. Sadly, they also happen to know know that Russia is not what is oppressing them. Go live in the Third World and see how well your political message is received there, dolt.

      • Manfred, obviously all your brains have been done in by sitting on a steifschwanz once too often, but never mind.

        Funnily enough, most people in the third world view Russia negatively, even in places that received a lot of Russian “help”, such as Vietnam.

        • Manfred Steifschwanz

          It’s correct my brains have been done in — that should be fairly obvious from my confession to Rev. KZ. I do believe, however, we could improve that further still by taking your words “sitting on a Steifschwanz once too often” into account as well for good measure. As I said: LR gets the readership it deserves.

          Deeply regret to inform you that you make my point even clearer. If, as you allege, most people in the Third World view Russia negatively, what have they got in reward from the Yanks?

          • Well, lets see, USAID springs to mind, all those schools, hospitals, wells, irrigation systems, food supplies, disaster relief etc provided by the USA.

            You really are an idiot.


          • And its your fault for choosing such a ridiculous moniker, well what do you expect?

            • Manfred Steifschwanz

              Andrew, dear:

              Don’t you believe Kim will find me irresistible with that moniker? Or would she be more receptive to “Putin”, maybe?

              Hurry up, please — I’m BURNING with anticipation!

    • Dear Bohdan,

      Please note that “stookachi’” are ignorant clueless spineless informers – from the “Judas Cult”.

      The kemlinoids that make comments on this website are ignorant clueless paid kremlin propagandists.

      • Manfred Steifschwanz

        Dear LES,

        At the risk of boring you, I re-iterate for the umpteenth time that Kim has nailed down the whole story of my life. Would you consider paid Kremlin propagandists to contribute nothing at all to society (albeit detrimental) ? If so, this blog appears vainglorious, to say the very least.

  5. The Russian people seem to be natural slaves. It is probably a waste of time to try to help them because very soon they will be back under the thumb of a new master. They have no fight in them at all.

    • Ron, its a good idea not to try to help a nation unless you are explicitly asked to do so by this nation, especially if you have a very vague understanding of the nation and its problems, and if you just ignore people’s attempts to help you clarify your thinking. Anyway, no need to reiterate your racist view of the world.

      • Really AT, you have some chutzpa, given that you say it is OK for Russia to kill anyone who supports separatism in the north Caucasus, and considering those lands to be inseparable parts of bloody mother Russia, while expecting the Georgians, Moldovians etc to play nice with their own Russian sponsored terrorists.

        You sir are a real racist.

        • Andrew, sunshine, after your posts on history, geometry, politics, linguistics – it’s really good time for you to keep silence for at least a month or two… Maybe some newcomers would mistake you for a man with brain:)

          • Dtard, you have proved yourself to be retarded, not me.

            Explain where I was wrong on history, linguistics or politics or geometry for that matter.

            You offer little or no support for your retarded view of the world, particularly in historical matters, and given that you see the Tsarist and Soviet Russian occupations, mass murder and genocide against ethnic groups from the Chechens to the Georgians to the Latvians as some sort of paradise for ethnic minorities, well you show yourself to be subhuman in all respects.

            Maybe you should be quiet for a couple of months sub-simian.

          • Dimi! moonshine, give up on the “somogonka” chum, before you totally pickle what’s left of your gray matter.

            I know that jealousy is a curse, but for your information, Andrew always inputs excellent, interesting and factual information – so unlike the rubbish you produce, – and hence learn to live with the fact that you are a non event, as evidenced by the trash you submit, and nothing, but nothing you do will change that.

            Your services are solely missed on the likes of “Russia Today”. Where the sky’s the limit for people of your mentality. Go boy, go.

        • Andrew, no I am not a racist, and I beg you quote a line from any of my posts where I would imply that I expect “the Georgians, Moldovians etc to play nice” with anyone. Any country decides its strategy how to deal with separatists, if any, based on its national interests and faces the consequences of its decisions. Any country not strong enough to prevent foreign interference into its domestic affairs has to face such interference and decide how to react it based — yes you guessed right — on its national interests. I “expect” the Georgians, Moldovans, Abkhazians, Ossetians, Russians, Latvians, Americans to act based on these interests and these interests alone. I also acknowledge that the power of these countries in international affairs are far from being equal. I also recognize that any of these countries will try to influence others to further its own national interests and to increase its power in international affairs. What is racist about it?

  6. Well, lets see, Robert has already pointed out a few occasions, but the general line is you think it alright for Russia to murder north Caucasians and conduct ethnic cleansing in Georgia, while Georgia, Latvia etc must lie back and enjoy being raped by Russia.

    • Andrew, and where/ how exactly did I say that? If I am not mistaken, I said that Lativa can, in my view, do anything it wants with its people, regardless of their ethnic origin, and if Latvia judges that conducting ethnic or cultural cleansings of its largest minority is in its best interests, it — in my view — can proceed with it tomorrow, and face consequences. I also said that Georgia should do what it thinks is in its national interests. I also said that recognition of Abkhazia and Nothern Ossetia by the EU and their integration into the EU and NATO is in the best interests of the EU, NATO and the cause of democracy.

      • Actually, direct quotations from my previous postings include, “Latvia is sovereign and can do anything it wants with its Russians” and “Georgia “must” nothing”. Liar.

        • AT, you support the ethnic cleansing of Georgians, as you have made abundantly clear in your previous posts.
          You consider that a minority of the Abkhazian population, the Apsua (17%) who deliberately and with Russian military support ethnically cleansed the largest part of the population, the Georgians (47%), have more rights than those upon whom they committed crimes against humanity.

          You refuse to recognise that those people, if able to return to their homes (as ordered by the UN in multiple resolutions) would have the right to, and most certainly would) vote to remain part of Georgia.

          Not only do you deny them the right to have a say in the future of their ancestral homeland, but you also deny they even have a right to be there, to return to their homes etc, and you support the racist policies of the separatist administration towards the Georgians in Gali (98% of the population of Gali are Georgians) while dribbling on about the rights of Russians in Latvia.

          Meanwhile you also claim that the Chechens have no right to be independent, and that more should be done to make Chechnya an integral part of Russia (against the wishes of the locals one might add).

          You try to may hide your all too usual “Great Russian chauvinism” but it is plain for all to see.

          • Andrew, wow, this is a two-screener. I will respond in kind:

            Re: your Paragraph 1 — I do not say that the Abkhazians have more rights than the Georgians, but they should have no fewer rights either. I regret the fact that the Georgians had to leave Abkhazia, but that what has happened. Further, I recongnize that (i) the Abkhazians do not want to live in one country with the Georgians and will fight for the right to live separately from the Georgians; (ii) they want a home country for themselves, as much as the Georgians do, and they will fight for it; (iii) the violent partition of Georgia has happened (iv) any attempts to reverse the situation using more violence will result in more suffering on both sides and (v) in the next 20 years, continued isolation/sanctions/ pressure approach are likely to to yield the same result as during the past 20 years. At the same time, Georgia has the full “right” to continue with sanctions, or to start a new war. In both cases it will have to face consequences.

            Re: Paragraph 2 — Again, Georgia has the “right” to insist on using this people as instruments for annihilating Abkhasia (a very inhumane position). Abkhazia has the “right” and — more importantly — the opportunity not to let this happen. Not letting this happen is in the interest of both the Abkhazians and the Georgians because of (i) and (ii) and (iii) above.

            Re: Paragraph 3 — No. They should be granted opportunities (i) to come to and live in the independent Abkhazia; (ii) to be loyal citizens of this country; (iii) to be able to integrate into the Abkhazian society. In no event they should have fewer rights than, say Russians living in Latvia. The EU and NATO could be intstrumental in making this happen. Georgia’s position is part of the reason why the return is not possible.

            Re: Paragrah 4 — Russia has the “right” — and more importantly the power — to preserve its territorial integrity, just as much as Georgia has this right (except for Georgia has provent to be quite impotent in this area). The Chechens, however, like the Abkhazians, have the opportunity and means to resist Chechnya’s being part of Russia. In my view, the current status of affairs between Chechnya and Russia is preferable to realistic alternatives and in the interest of both peoples, but this is my view only.

            • Finally, where the “Great Russian Chauvinism” part and what does “Great Russian Chauvinism” mean? If it is similar to American exceptionalism, I think I am not alien to a similar concept if applied to Russia. Most of all, however, I am a pragmatic and a businessman trained to seek mutually beneficial deals. In any case, my feelings about Russia’s role are irrelevant to and have never been mentioned in the discussion about the state of affairs between Georgia and Abkhazia. On the contrary, I said that, in my view, Abkhazia is likely to seek the role as an independent regional player, and has potential to play such a role, unless Georgia continues to push Abkhazia to continue to align with Russia.

              • Also, you are saying that I am trying to hide my position. If I tried to hide anything, I would not be posting here. All I am doing in my posts is formulating and clarifying my positions. In any event, what wold be a reason for me to try to hide my chauvinism or the lack of it? I express my ideas when I write. You often put on these ideas labels that reveal that you either misinterpret my words or that I have not made myself abundantly clear to you.

                • Well AT, looks like I touched a nerve there eh what?

                  You are guilty as charged, and all your weaseling around does not change the fact that in your opinion Russia can do as it likes, while Georgia and other former Soviet republics are fair game for Russian aggression.

                  As for the retarded comment that Again, Georgia has the “right” to insist on using this people as instruments for annihilating Abkhasia, lets see AT, Abkhazian is a state language of Georgia, Georgia has offered full and complete autonomy for Abkhazia with an ethnic Apsu Vice presidential position etc. Where is the “annihilating” there?

                  As opposed to the separatists, who are annihilating the ethnic Georgian component of the province.

                  Really you are a joke AT, and a bad one at that.

                  By the way, your previous comment that “more should be done to make Chechnya part of Russia” sounds awfully sinister given that Putins new appointment to head the north Caucasus is once again talking of deporting the “troublesome” north Caucasians past the Urals and resettling the area with ethnic Russians.

                  • Andrew, I am not sure what you mean by “touched the nerve” and “guilty as charged”. On the first one, I would not post here if I did not care at all for a discussion with you, would I? I find that our message exchanges have some entertaiment value for me, and I had spare time yesterday. On the second one, who charged me? What I am “guilty” of. I find my positions reasonable and well-grounded. And you are consistently failing to show that they are not.

                    Again, I don’t see your first paragraph as a summary of my position. In my view, every sovereign country, including Russia, Georgia and Abkhazia can “do as it likes”, provided that they should expect to face consequences. And where did I say someone was a fair game for agression? No one is a fair game for agression, including Abkhazia. Agressions — like Georgia’s failed military adventure — are, however, part of the political reality. I wish the Georgians and the Abkhazians could split the country peacefully, like the Czechs and the Slovaks did, but this did not happen.

                    On the second point, it looks like the Georgians and you as well are failing to comprehend that the Abkhazians do not want to live in one country with Georgians. They do not want any kind of co-habitation. Period. They will view any united country as the act of annihilation of the independent Abkhazia. That’s not my position. This is a statement of fact.

                    Well, the annihilation of the ethnic Georgian component of the province has happended. Georgia can try to restore it through a new war, which will cause more suffering on both sides, and Georgia will lose again. Georgia may continue with isolation and sanctions trying to restore it. But those have not been effective for 20 years. In my view, there is a much better possibility to restore it as part of a separate and independent Abkhazia, however. Maybe, I am wrong, but there is nothing illogical with this position.

                    On the last point, well, I clearly don’t thik a mass deportation would make the area more Russian. It would breed more hate and resistance. On the other hand, it is is a legitimate goal to seek to transform Chechnya into a region where any Russian citizen, regardless of his or her ethnicity, would feel completely at home. If this does not happen, Chechnya will never be part of Russia. This is also a statement of facts.

                    So again, what nerve did you touch and what am I guilty of?

                  • Andrew, your lack of maturity is stunning. You “touched my nerve”, sure. Look, if I was not enterntained by exchanging ideas here, I would not be posting, right. My posting touch your nerve, yours touch mine. There’s nothing wrong with it. We are not in North Korea where opinion exchanges are a crime.

                  • @guilty as charged, weasling around — who are you to charge me? I invest effort into explaining my position to you. You do not appear to have the mental capacity to understand it. I am sorry about you. Again, the summary of my position in your paragraph 2 is wrong.

                  • Any sovereign state can “do as it likes”, provided that it should expect to face consequences of its actions, like Georgia is facing financial distress as a result of its behaviour.

                    • No one is a fair game for aggression. Thus, Abkhazia was not a fair game for Georgian agression. Georgia decided to do as it likes and was punished for bad behaviour.

                  • Can’t you understand that any form of co-habitation with the Georgian, in a confederation or not is perceived by the Abkhazians as annihilation of their home country. Georgia and Georgians are detested by Abkhazians. Why do you insist on Georgians’ co-habitating with people who hate them?

                    • Well, maybe because both ethnic groups have a human right to live there.

                      One that cannot be removed by racist imperialist Russians such as yourself.

                  • Yes, the separatists have annihilated the ethnic Georgian component of the province. I think there are realistic option to restore it as part of separate, independent and democratic Abkhazia.

                    • AT, you really are a complete idiot.

                      It was the separatists who began the killing with their unprovoked armed attack on Georgian students at Sokhumi university in 1989, with their armed attack on the Government buildings in 1992, several months before the Georgians attempted to restore order.

                      As HRW, the COE, and Memorial have all pointed out, the overwhelming majority of war crimes and crimes against humanity were perpetrated by separatists who were supported and assisted by Russian scum such as yourself.

                      Why should the Georgian population of Gali be forced to live in “an independent Abkhazia”, if the Abkhaz had any honor or morals at all they would let Gali go, but being hypocrites, like you, they expect to have their cake and eat it too.

                  • No, deportations will not make Chechnya Russians. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with the goal to make Chechnya a place where any citizen of Russia will feel at home, regardless of ethnicity. If this is not done, Chechnya is likely to repeat the Abkhazian experience.

                    • When will you realise AT, that the Chechens hate and despise Russia (with good reason too), and do not want to live in Federation with murdering vermin such as yourself?

  7. Well, my response has disappeared. I am not going to re-post. Just try to understand why you summarize my position wrong and why your response shows lack of maturity.

  8. Also, maybe you can try to understand that the Abkhazians do not want to live in one country with the Georgians, not as a federation, not as a confederation. Why are you advocating cohabitation with people who hate Georgians?

    • As pointed out by Svetlana Chervonnaya, most Georgians and Apsua get on fine, the problems between them are nothing that could not be solved by dialogue, unfortunately the Abkhaz separatists are about as likely to indulge in dialogue as the Nazi’s would with the Jews, being egged on by a neo-fascist Russia.

      I know that you do not have the mental capacity to understand the evil that your nation has committed in the Caucasus, by its divide and rule policies, genocide, mass deportations and murder, all of which were intended to pit different ethnic groups against each other and make them easier to control.

      Still, you are a Russian, one should not expect civilized behavior or morals from such as you.

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