Russian History


Federal Security Service (FSB)

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 The imprecision of actual oversight functions was compounded by the security law's provision that unpublished "normative acts" would govern much of the FSB's operations.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 (see Main Guard Directorate (GUO), this ch.). 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.