31.01.2007 – Eurasian Secret Services Daily Review

Russian President visits FSB board session, sets tasks, promises wage increase
FSB Director speaks about complicated world situation, achievements at service’s board session
Controlling stakes in Russia’s strategic enterprises with FSB permission only
Kovtun ready to cooperate with Scotland Yard in investigating ex-agent’s poisoning
Russian ex-spy fights deportation from Canada
Security forces may have even greater influence under Niyazov’s heirs in Turkmenistan
Two new suspects emerge in Yushchenko poisoning case in Ukraine
New SBU Deputy Director comes from Ukraine’s Interior Ministry
International Association of Alpha anti-terrorism units celebrates 10-year anniversary in Kiev
Subverting of journalism in Poland by intelligence services
Serbian officer, appeared British agent, can define destiny of Kosovo

Russian President visits FSB board session, sets tasks, promises wage increase

President Putin and FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev  

Russian President Vladimir Putin considers that activity of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in 2006 deserves a positive estimation. Speaking at board session of the security service today, Putin said that “the general level of operative work has noticeably grown, affecting also holding international events”, news agency Interfax reports.
According to the Russian President, employees of FSB, in particular, precisely operated during the G-8 Summit and the summit meeting between Russian and the European Union.
Putin praised the efforts of the domestic security agency in 2006, especially in eliminating illegal armed groups and notorious warlords, including Shamil Basayev, Abdul-Halim Sadulayev and Arab mercenary Abu Hafs. At the same time Putin emphasized that the general performance of the security service “in many respects is estimated in the society on productivity of investigatory divisions”. He said that the FSB should concentrate on solving crimes that pose a clear and present threat to national security, rather than attempt to prove its efficiency by solving petty criminal cases, RIA Novosti reports.
Putin called on the Federal Security Service to give consideration to issues that are key to maintaining a normal business climate. “The business climate in the country must be reliably protected from corruption and crimes in the economic sphere,” Putin told senior FSB officials today. “Such crimes corrode society and deliver a powerful blow to the reputation of Russia as a country with a civilized economic environment, if they go unpunished,” he said.
Putin has named “an increase of efficiency of counterintelligence operations” a key task of the FSB. “Modern Russia conducts an active and multi-vector foreign policy. We are more confidently integrating into the world economy. And it is important to not admit “leakage” of protected information in political and economic areas”, stated Putin. He also emphasized that it is necessary “to protect reliably of perspective scientific research and technologies”. “Foreign policy positions of Russia in the world in many respects and its competitiveness in the world markets depend on it”, the Russian President told.
Putin instructed the FSB “to step up efforts to avert the terrorist threat.” Interfax is quoting him as saying that the recent warning about an increased danger of terrorism helped check the elements critical of the state antiterrorist system.
“All components were important here, including the people’s alerting and the algorithm of the steps to be taken by the law enforcement agencies and the federal and regional authorities,” he said. When it comes to FSB, the efforts of investigating divisions should be targeted at the crimes of direct threat to the country’s security, the president emphasized. Investigators shouldn’t be carried away by the quantity indicators, generating them through insignificant crimes.
Former chief of FSB (1998-99), Putin generally pays particular attention to this service. He attended five annual meetings of the FSB Board in the last six years.
According to radio Ekho Moskvy, Putin announced today that, recognizing the importance and hardships of FSB operatives’ work, the wages of Federal Security Service’s officers will exceed the country’s average increase in salaries by more than two fold in 2007, and the state will increase the FSB funding. Putin said “The wages of [FSB] staff will be increased by almost a quarter,” adding that the FSB costs of the budget stepped up 27 per cent in 2006, adding the 2007 budget sets forth similar growth. Thus the financial support to the personnel will increase almost for one quarter.
Putin also informed that purchases of armaments for the FSB to be acquired under the State Defence Order will go up in 2007 by 20 per cent, and spending on the capital construction by more than 73 per cent, the Mayak radio broadcaster reported.
The agency notes that Putin said more must be done to close “loopholes” for international terrorists and secure Russia’s border in the North Caucasus. Vladimir Putin reminded of ratification of the international anticorruption conventions by Russia and agreements which open new opportunities for struggle against criminality, says ITAR-TASS.
Putin warned today of the threat of extremism and ethnic and religious intolerance in the months before parliamentary elections later this year, ITAR-TASS says. “[These elections] are a very important democratic mechanism of shaping bodies of state power, elected as a result of healthy political competition,” Putin told the FSB officials. “In this regard, it is important not only to ensure law and order, but also to protect society from attempts to bring ideologies of extremism, ethnic, and religious intolerance to the social and political field.” Vladimir Ryzhkov, one of the leaders of the Drugaya Rossiya (Other Russia) movement, says he is afraid of intervention of secret services in the political life of Russia, following Putin’s today’s performance, radio Ekho Moskvy reports. In his opinion, all depends on how the security services would interpret President’s command and upon whom the impact would fall.

FSB Director speaks about complicated world situation, achievements at service’s board session

  FSB emblem  

The FSB Director, Nikolai Patrushev, spoke at the board session of the security service today, marking that the security of Russia in 2006 was maintained in enough complicated foreign policy situation, news agencies are reporting. “Operative conditions have been developing in the situation of an aggravation of the Middle East conflict, escalation of the armed opposition in Iraq and Afghanistan, in conditions of aspiration of NATO to strengthen its positions on the western and southern frontiers of Russia, and also in presence of unsolved problems in the territory of the former USSR, including Transdnestria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” ITAR-TASS is quoting Patrushev as saying.
The head of the FSB told about successes of the service in the struggle against economic crimes. According to him, criminal cases have been brought against more than 300 persons who were sentenced for economic crimes and contraband. Material assets, money resources and securities for the sum of about 1.3 billion roubles was returned to the state, Patrushev said. “Additional receipt of financial assets in the federal budget and budgets of subjects of the Russian Federation is provided, and also investments in an amount of around 12 billion roubles are involved in the national economy”, the FSB Director noted. Patrushev did not specified, in what way the FSB involved those foreign investments.
Last year, he said, federal security operatives prevented a large number of crimes that could have deprived the state budget of about 47 billion roubles ($1.8 billion), and initiated more than 3.000 business-related criminal cases. The FSB Director told that criminal cases had been brought against corrupted officials in 70 cases, and 35 heads of institutions of local government and 17 officials of regional state authority bodies are called to responsibility, RIA Novosti writes.
Back in December Patrushev said that the agency exposed 27 foreign intelligence officers and 89 Russian nationals working for foreign handlers in 2006, foiled more than 300 terrorist attacks, and eliminated more than 100 terrorists.

Controlling stakes in Russia’s strategic enterprises with FSB permission only
Russia’s government failed to approve a draft law on capping foreign investments in more than 40 strategic industries today, due to objections from the FSB, news agencies are reporting from Moscow. The Industry and Energy Minister of Russia, Viktor Khristenko, said foreign investors will be able to buy controlling stakes in strategic enterprises in Russia only with the permission of a special government commission and given approval from the Federal Security Service, radio Ekho Moskvy reports. The minister added that an investor will receive permission for the deal to purchase a controlling stake only upon assuming obligations to keep state secrets, the minister said. A deal signed without permission from a government commission may be appealed against in a court of law and deemed void, Khristenko said.
The Russian government discussed at its today’s meeting draft laws regulating foreign investment in enterprises of strategic importance to Russia. The government extended the term for finalizing the bills from two weeks to one month, news agency RIA Novosti says.
Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov said the acquisition of even non-controlling stakes by foreign investors in strategic enterprises presents a risk for Russia. Fradkov said that foreign managers are frequently invited to work at strategic companies, including as members of the board of directors of such companies. The Prime Minister said Russian managers should be involved instead of transferring assets to foreigners, according to RIA Novosti. The agency says Fradkov ordered to develop the draft law and in two weeks to receive agreement of the FSB concerning the bill and the draft law would be debated again in a month. “I have some disagreements from them, particularly from their commission on the state secret law,” Fradkov told the government, however, he did not elaborate on the objections.

Kovtun ready to cooperate with Scotland Yard in investigating ex-agent’s poisoning
Russia’s businessman Dmitry Kovtun said he would help Scotland Yard in investigating the radioactive poisoning death of former FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko, Moscow-based daily Kommersant writes today. ”We are ready to cooperate with investigators, of course, but only under the Russian laws,” Kovtun told Russia Today TV Channel.
Kovtun met with business associate Andrei Lugovoy and Alexander Litvinenko at London’s Millennium Hotel November 1, 2006. Litvinenko fell fatally ill the same day, he was admitted to hospital and died some time later due to poisoning by radioactive polonium 210.

Russian ex-spy fights deportation from Canada
A Russian man is being booted from Canada because he once worked for the Soviet spy agency, the KGB, and is viewed as a threat to national security, Edmonton Sun newspaper reported. 
Mikhail Lennikov, who has lived in Canada with his wife and son for 10 years, was turned down for permanent residency because of his past involvement with a group that “engaged in acts of espionage or subversion against a democratic government, institution or process.” His wife and son have also been deemed inadmissible by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). “What immigration is trying to do is take the fact that I worked there and blow it out of any reasonable proportion,” Lennikov said from his home in Burnaby, B.C.
The Federal Court of Canada recently upheld the IRB’s decision, so Lennikov is now launching a direct appeal to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day for permission to stay. “In one case immigration can put a blind eye to somebody being involved in a military from another country or being involved in something that falls under war crimes, this person may still be admitted into Canada. But me, being like a clerk. Yes, it’s secret police-related, but it doesn’t mark me as a person who comes here to do some harm to Canada. It’s ridiculous,” he said.
According to Toronto Sun, as a university student of Japanese studies in Russia, Lennikov worked as a part-time interpreter for a government tourism agency and was a leader of a communist youth league. He was approached by KGB to provide information on students and the activities of Japanese police and a socialist member of the Japanese parliament.
Lennikov said he “reluctantly” accepted a job in 1982 to avoid getting blacklisted. He made continuous attempts to extract himself, yet rose through the ranks to captain, spending his time translating Japanese documents, maintaining contact with informants and monitoring prospective informants in Japan. After drafting damaging reports on the KGB, Lennikov was dismissed in 1988. He worked in Japan, and in 1997 came here to study at the University of British Columbia.
The IRB found Lennikov had “extensive knowledge” of the KGB and was at least complicit in espionage despite attempts to minimize it.

Security forces may have even greater influence under Niyazov’s heirs in Turkmenistan
Following President Saparmurat Niyazov’s death on 21 December, it took only a few hours in Turkmenistan for Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov to emerge as the elite’s temporary leader, and few doubt that he will win a resounding victory on February 11 election. However, it is far from clear how the situation will develop thereafter, IWPR latest analysis on the Central Asian country says.
The interim administration has held onto power and kept the country under control largely because Berdymuhammedov and other key actors, notably Presidential Guards commander Akmurad Rejepov, rapidly forged a deal allowing them to hold onto the reins of power and keep outsiders out – at least for the moment. The National Security Ministry (MNB) monitors the process to ensure that the participants toe the line.
Niyazov’s death was followed by a higher level of surveillance and control than usual, as the interim administration tried to head off any potential sources of trouble. MNB officers were sent out to the regions from Ashgabat – suggesting that their local colleagues needed some galvanising, the NBCentralAsia agency wrote.
Many analysts believe either that Berdymuhammedov has allied himself in a marriage of convenience with top security-sector officials, or that he is an insignificant figure created by them.
Some observers regard Berdymuhammedov as no more than a front man for Rejepov and his associates, who plan to control Turkmen politics from behind the scenes. They also predict one will see even a greater influence from people in the security sector.
Alongside with Rejepov the key security field players are Defence Minister Agageldy Mamedgeldyev, Minister of National Security Geldy Ashirmuhamedov, though the MNB has been weakened by shake-ups and its role as the elite watchdog of the state partly taken over by the Presidential Guard, according to NBCentralAsia, and Interior Minister Akmamed Rahmanov.
There are analysts who argue that Rejepov chose to play the role of a ‘grey eminence’ rather than seeking high office himself because he was aware that the old power-structure was recruited mainly from the Teke tribe of Ahal province, to which both the late president and Berdymuhammedov belonged. As Rejepov is not a Teke, he could never aspire to power.
Some analysts have speculated that the security agencies might compete for power with one another. However, there are suggestions that in recent years Rejepov has put his own men in place in the MNB and Defence Ministry, thus neutralising their influence as separate agencies, and that the security sector as a whole is now backing Berdymuhammedov, analysis says.
Most of analysts are not persuaded that regional or tribal elites are able to compete for power with the current grouping led by Berdymuhammedov and Rejepov, or that they will be allowed to do so. The security agencies which brought Berdymuhammedov to power will maintain the system as it is, analysis underlines. Simultaneously, observers predict a reduction in repression, but say liberalization will take place within strict limits.

Two new suspects emerge in Yushchenko poisoning case in Ukraine

Yushchenko, Sacyuk and Smeshko  

There are two new suspects in the poisoning case of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, news agency ITAR-TASS reports from Kiev, referring to Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Alexander Medvedko.
Medvedko did not name the new suspects but said that one of them is “a massage therapist who left Kiev last September and presently his whereabouts are unknown. The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) was ordered to put this person on a wanted list. The security police started looking for him only recently because they did not have enough evidence earlier, according to the news agency. Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned with dioxin during the presidential election campaign in 2004.
Furthermore, the investigation is checking into a version by ex-Chairman of the Security Service Igor Smeshko, which he stated in a recent interview to the daily Fakty that Viktor Yushchenko could be poisoned not at a country house of the former deputy chief of the Security Service, Vladimir Sacyuk, but in another place, during the dinner at one of CEOs of the Foxtrot company. Yushchenko himself told The Associated Press then that he was probably poisoned at a September 5, 2004, dinner with the head of the SBU, Igor Smeshko, and his then deputy, Sacyuk. Later Sacyuk was sacked by President Leonid Kuchma – prompting the parliament to launch another investigation over possible links with the poisoning affair. Sacyuk has insisted he had nothing to do with Yushchenko’s illness. The Prosecutor General said that this situation also had been investigated, but the crime has not been solved as yet, Ukrainske Radio (Ukrainian Public Radio) reports.
About 80 per cent of the poison has been eliminated from the body of Ukrainian President in two years of treatment, Swiss physician Jean Saurat said on Kiev’s Inter television channel two days ago. He dismissed the presumptions that Yushchenko could be poisoned with some substance in addition to dioxin. The President was last examined in Switzerland on January 19-23. Some Ukrainian experts doubt this result, bearing in mind that the minimum period for half-extraction of dioxin from a human body is 15 years. However, Yushchenko’s physician Vasily Knayzev also said that the “dynamics of dioxin elimination from the organism of the president is extremely positive”, according to ITAR-TASS.

New SBU Deputy Director comes from Ukraine’s Interior Ministry
Vasily Tsushko, Minister of Interior of Ukraine, has made appointments of new heads of the ministry’s directorates in 12 areas of Ukraine, as well as in Kiev and Sevastopol, daily Lvivska gazeta reports. Directives on the appointments are publicised on the online site of the ministry.
Daily Delo adds that the previous heads of the directorates have also got new appointments. The ex-head of the Kiev Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry, Vitaly Yarema, is to receive the highest appointment among them, it says. According to the member of parliament, Vladimir Sivkovich, Yarema will become the First Deputy Director of the SBU in Kiev.
The newspaper writes that the replacements are influenced by the political factors, mostly relationship between the Socialists and Party of Regions, and also by the opposition between the teams of the acting SBU Chairman Gennady Moskal and Deputy Interior Minister Mikhail Kornienko.

International Association of Alpha anti-terrorism units celebrates 10-year anniversary in Kiev
Ten years ago, at the end of January 1997, an initiative group of the veterans of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) ‘A’ Department decided to establish an International Association of Alpha anti-terrorism units’ veterans. A press release of the SBU Press Office says that today, the association has its branches in all areas of Ukraine and cooperates with similar veteran associations in the countries of ‘near abroad’.
The SBU unit Alpha was founded in 1994, and alongside with its new task of struggle against terrorism, it has been carrying out operations of release of abducted persons, protecting witnesses of criminal processes and employees of law enforcement agencies, and of training skilled servicemen of an elite unit of the SBU.
Yesterday, the Acting Chairman of the SBU, Valentin Nalivaichenko, presented a letter of congratulations to the association from the country’s President Viktor Yushchenko to the head of the association, Alexander Birsan, the former commander of the SBU Alpha unit, the Press Office marks.

Subverting of journalism in Poland by intelligence services
News reports that the Polish military intelligence may have recruited as many as 115 journalists as spies in the early 1990s are not at all surprising, Radio Polonia says. While at that time Poland was already democratic having just replaced a Communist regime through a non-violent revolution spearheaded by the Solidarity labour movement, the Communist-era functionaries and practices were still very much entrenched within the Polish intelligence, police and military establishment, FreeMediaOnline writes.
Recruiting journalists, priests, and human rights activists as agents was a top priority of the secret services in Poland until the Communist regime’s collapse, the online journal expands. Continuing of these practices even after the return of democracy in Poland showed that the process of reforming the military, intelligence-gathering and law-enforcement sectors was not an easy task to be accomplished quickly and that many communist-era operatives were still actively using their old methods, it notes. The apparent aim of recruiting journalists as spies in the early 1990s was to influence media reporting in Poland, FreeMediaOnline concludes.
The online magazine mentions and example of Polish Embassy officials attempts in the 1980s in Washington, D.C., several times to recruit a Voice of America radio journalist in charge of the broadcasts to Poland. He was not surprised by these efforts as he had suspected those officials of being intelligence officers and considered them as something to be expected when one dealt with Communist officials. Then during his visit to Poland in the early 1990s shortly after the collapse of the Communist regime, a Polish acquaintance, whom the journalist also had suspected of having links with the intelligence community during the Communist-era, questioned him how he would feel about sharing information which could benefit Poland now that the country had a democratically-elected government.
FreeMediaOnline.org, a California-based non-profit organization founded to defend journalistic independence, is engaged in an educational campaign to help journalists worldwide guard against being influenced and compromised by government officials including intelligence operatives, pressure groups, and corrupt businesses. The Polish Sejm (Parliament) should adopt laws severely restricting or altogether banning recruitment of journalists as spies, it underlines.
It is likely that some of the journalists recruited in Poland in the early 1990s had been agents of the Communist-era secret police and were blackmailed to continue their cooperation, FreeMediaOnline writes. If it is true that so many Polish journalists had indeed agreed to work as spies in exchange for money, other benefits or as a result of blackmail, it should be a matter of great concern to the journalistic community in Poland and to journalists everywhere, online magazine marks.

Serbian officer, appeared British agent, can define destiny of Kosovo, Russian paper believes

  Colonel Simon Vandeleur, 
the British defence attache 
in Belgrade

Espionage scandal in the Ministry of Defence of Serbia inflamed two days ago after it became known that colonel Mirko Pohulek who earlier belonged to ‘an innner circle’ of the Serbian top militaries, has passed to service in the British army and has received a post in the UK military attaché office in Belgrade, the Moscow-based daily Noviye Izvestiya reports.
Military analysts in Belgrade believe that the classified information transferred by it can seriously affect an outcome of negotiations about the final status of edge Kosovo.
The report on colonel Pohulek had become a real shock for the Serbian militaries – an officer who worked at the central apparatus of the Ministry of Defence, is perfectly informed on all plans of the Serbian command. He is also informed about the details of the so-called Plan B – “an algorithm of actions” of the Serbian army and police in case of declaration of independence of Kosovo or recurrence of attempts of Kosovar Albanians to destroy the Serbian enclaves in the territory of Kosovo, similar to those in March, 2004. Noviye Izvestiya writes that it is the army counterintelligence of Serbia that should bear responsibility for the fact of treason. It appears that the informal contacts of colonel Pohulek with the British militaries had lasted for more than year, however, this fact caused no vigilance to anybody.
By a special order of Serbia’s Minister of Defence Zoran Stankovic, Serbian army servicemen are forbidden to communicate with the deserter, and to military men of the, and a note of protest is already sent to the British Foreign Office. An informed source in the Serbian secret services told Noviye Izvestiya that at the moment, checking of three other army officers, suspected of espionage in favour of foreign states, is being carried out. The British diplomacy openly supports requirements of Kosovar Albanians for independence. The data received by British from the deserter, for certain would soon appear at the disposal of the Kosovo’s government that can seriously weaken positions of Belgrade, when the final status of Kosovo will be defined, according to the Russian paper.
Meanwhile the Serbian leadership has presented to international intermediaries a package of new offers on the status of Kosovo. So, according to Slobodan Samardzhich, adviser of Prime Minister Voyislav Kostunica, Belgrade offers Albanians “internal independence” – preservation of the formal sovereignty of Serbia under actual independence of regional authorities. However, the script of division of Kosovo in the Albanian and Serbian parts is getting an increasing popularity in the circles of international intermediaries. Two days ago also the Albanian side for the first time started talking about it – the influential member of Kosovo parliament, Nait Khasani, has not excluded that Prishtina should refuse claims for northern areas of Kosovo, populated mainly by Serbs.

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