Russia’s dangerous mix of traditional and new intelligence methods

2017/8/12 14:46:00

It is believed that the SVR and the FSB will merge together to create an intelligence monolith reminiscent of the KGB. Although it is still in its planning stages, the Ministry of State Security which was a ministry with the same namesake under Joseph Stalin, will employ up to 250,000 people.



By Kseniya Kirillova for Defense News, Aug 3, 2017


There has been a sort of reawakening when it comes to the Russian internal and external spy agencies. The cyber-attacks directed at Latvia, the annexation of Crimea, the alleged interference in the US and French elections created a lot of interest in Russia’s espionage activities. However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Russia can use for espionage not only special services intended for external intelligence (SVR and GRU), but also internal ones, such as the FSB. The target of internal Russian special services are the countries of the so-called “near abroad” (post-Soviet space), as well as all foreigners traveling to Russia.


In these cases, Russians have been using the traditional tools of the trade – provocateurs, eavesdropping and the use of information. Here are just a few of them, most often used inside Russia:




There are different kinds of provocateurs. The first and most common are the brawlers who attend public events:  lectures, exhibitions, presentations, press conferences, etc.  It’s practically impossible to avoid them, and therefore the only thing that will help is moral preparedness and good defensive measures.


The second type of provocateur is a bit more dangerous in that such people are harder to spot.  They operate more like “double agents” with the distinction that their task is not to win your trust over a long period of time, but only to entrap you into a discussion of scandalous topics that later can be used to charge you with “planning sabotage” and the like. We can recall the example of Stepan Chernogubov who had a conversation with a representative of the American Consulate in Yekaterinburg about human rights internships.  The conversation was presented as “exposing the CIA rezidentura in the Urals.”


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