Russian History


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.

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 (see Ethnic Composition, ch. 4). 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 (see Security Operations in Chechnya, this ch.). 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.