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, 06 2011
Authors: Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan
In 2010, the anti-terrorist activity of Russian security services, and the activities of those who oppose them, increased manyfold. Inthe Northern Caucasus there was a series of assassinations of militant leaders, while in Ingushetia they captured Magas, the military emir of the ‘Caucasus Emirate’. During this same timeframe, suicide bombers blew themselves up in the Moscow metro, and gunmen attacked Kadyrov’s home village.
A large scandal concerning the expulsion of Russian illegal agents in the U.S. brought the leadership of the SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service) under question.
It was impossible not to notice the increased activity of the FSB in the North Caucasus, where the agency had previously tried to avoid responsibility in the fight against terrorism by shifting it to the Interior Ministry. Theactivity, however, was mostly reduced to assassination.
In March, two young and charismatic underground leaders were killed.In Kabardino-Balkaria it was Anzor Astemirov, who led the attack on Nalchik in 2005, while in Ingushetia the ideological leader of the ‘Caucasus Emirate’, Sayeed Buryatsky, also thought to be involved in organizing the terrorist attack against Ingushetia President Evkurov as well as the bombing of Nazran police headquarters. (A special operation against Buryatsky’s men in the village of Ekazhevo led to destruction comparable to the damage caused to the school in Beslan during the liberation of hostages in 2004.)
The June capture of Magas (Ali Taziev), one of the organizers of militant attacks on Nazran and the Beslan school siege, is witness to the apparent success of the FSB, and comparable to the capture of Salman Raduyev 10years ago.
In 2010, there were regular reports of actions by security officers in Dagestan, Ingushetia, and Kabardino-Balkaria. InAugust, officials from the Dagestan FSB destroyed Magomedali Vagabov, the leader of the Gubden militant group who is thought to have organized the terrorist attacks on the Moscow subway.
It has not been ruled out that the increased activity of the FSB in the North Caucasus is because, in recent years, militants have began to go after not just the police, but officers of security services as well. InBaksan on November 19th, an officer from the local FSB office was killed. Theday before, Dagestan rebels attacked an FSB mountain base, and at the end of August in Kabardino-Balkaria near the Chegem waterfalls a husband and wife, both members of the FSB from the Krasnodar region, were shot to death. InSeptember, a bomb in his car killed the chief of the FSB office in the Tsumadinsky region of Dagetstan, Achmed Abdullayev.
And terrorist attacks
Despite the successful liquidations of militia leaders, the number of attacks in the North Caucasus in 2010increased manyfold, and this is clear evidence that placing their bets on a military solution to the problem was unjustified.
According to Deputy Prosecutor General Ivan Sydoruk, since the beginning of 2010the North Caucasus Federal District has seen four times as many terrorist attacks than all of last year (information was given up until September). According to official statistics from the Interior Ministry, during the first 11months of 2010there were “609 crimes of a terrorist nature” committed in the North Caucasus, killing 242representatives of the security forces, and wounding 620. 127civilians were also killed.
In the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic (KBR), where in March Anzor Astemirov was killed, the number of terrorist crimes, according to Interior Minister Nurgaliyev, increased fivefold.Recall that five years ago Astemirov brought 150gunmen together for the attack on Nalchik.
In October 2005, when the tragic events (in Nalchik) took place, it was thought that the republic had been brought to this state by the autocratic president of the KBR, Kokov, and by the KBR Interior Minister Shogenov (who had been repressing young Muslims). Thisversion was supported by the new, energetic president of the KBR, Kanokov, who was expected him to bring order to the local police, as well as attract investment. Itis known that investment in tourism came to the Elbrus region, but in response the local Jamaat (holy warriors) only increased their attacks.
The murder in Nalchik of the chief of the KBR Moslem Spiritual Directorate, Anas Pshihachev, which occurred a few days ago, shows once again that Kanokov’s policies in this area have not yielded results. Thedevelopment of tourism, where the republic is most actively investing money, has fueled conflict between Circassians and Balkars. (For six months now, representatives from Balkar villages that are being pushed aside by tourist businesses in the republic, and being deprived of hayfields and pastures, have been holding a hunger strike in Moscow's Manezh Square, trying in vain to attract the attention of the federal authorities.)
This year’s events also destroyed the myth that Ramzan Kadyrov’s policies are effective against militants. Among other attacks in the (Chechen) republic, in 2010the militant underground was able to organize and carry out two major attacks that even had symbolic meaning. These were an attack on Kadyrov’s tribal village of Tsentoroi in late August, and an attack on the parliament of Chechnya six weeks later. Ifyou believe the official information, Kadyrov’s people suffered small losses while repelling the attacks, with only 9killed, but the attacks showed just how vulnerable the authorities in the republic are.
In addition to attacks against civilians and government officials, emails regularly come in from the Northern Caucasus about train derailments and the bombings of power lines, cellular stations, and gas pipelines. Onlyby chance did an attack by militants on the Baksan hydroelectric station on July 22nd not end in a massive tragedy, and this showed that the armed underground, as it is called by the security services, continues to practice carrying out attacks on strategic targets. Thepropaganda effect of the attack on the hydroelectric plant was greater than the damage caused by its temporary stoppage: it is impossible not to recall the incident at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric plant (ed: accident on August 17th, 2009, when a turbine in the largest hydroelectric plant in Russia broke apart, causing extensive damage and the deaths of 75). Theleader of the Caucasus rebels, Doku Umarov, took responsibility for the incident. Noproof was ever offered for this, but the behavior of the authorities strengthened suspicions: they put pressure on the press, including local journalist Afanasyev, who had charges brought against him, and expelled from the station a correspondent from ‘Interfax’.
The most resonant terror attack of 2010was the bombing in the Moscow subway by two suicide bombers from Dagestan, one of whom was the widow of the ‘Emir of Dagestan’, Umalat Magomedov, who had been liquidated by the security services. Thiswould seem to demonstrate the strategic failure of government policies in combating terrorism. Independent experts and citizens believe so, but for the Kremlin these attacks were no cause for critiquing the security services. According to the current concept of counter-terrorism, the critical thing is not the number of victims, but the threat to political stability. Therefore, the main efforts of the security services are aimed at preventing attacks similar to those carried out by militants on security forces in Ingushetia in 2004, and not in trying to identify suicide bombings that are being prepared.
Positional battles for control and authority
In 2010, it became particularly evident that the same events associated with the security services are perceived differently inside the country, and abroad. Thisis a potentially dangerous trend that could lead to the loss of our orientation in the world.
First of all, we are talking about the scandal surrounding Russian illegal agents in the U.S.In the West, their exposure was seen as a defeat of Russian intelligence, but inside our country this failure was presented almost as a triumph of the SVR. Theexistence of illegals maintains the fiction that Russia is still a superpower on a par with the U.S.In turn, the failure of the illegals was explained as a betrayal by defectors Poteev and Shcherbakov, and revived the Soviet tradition of shifting the blame for errors to enemies.
It is worth recalling that the SVR is the only Russian security service that has never been reformed. Inthe early 1990s, the First Main Directorate of the KGB was simply divided into a separate intelligence service, but its working methods were never reviewed critically.
In December of this year, the celebration the intelligence service’s 90years showed how important Soviet mythology is to Fradkov’s office. Onthe SVR press service building a commemorative plaque to (British traitor) Kim Philby was erected. Itcontained this quote: “I look at my past life as one devoted to the cause, justifying that in which Isincerely and passionately believe.” The cause in which Philby believed, however, was the victory of communism (the only reason he and his comrades from the Cambridge Five even worked for the USSR), while the fact that this has nothing to do with the problems of Russian intelligence cannot but be obvious to the head of the SVR. Theabsurdity of the situation, however, confuses neither SVR director Mikhail Fradkov, nor Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who was present at the ceremony.
It is curious that this story is, ultimately, to the advantage of the FSB. Theexchange of researcher Igor Sutyagin, who pleaded guilty to spying, for the illegals, has put the human rights community in an awkward position. Thescandal with the traitors, in turn, gave rise to discussion in the media about the need for external control of the intelligence services, and a wave of criticism fell upon the SVR’s own internal security center. During the last decade, the FSB has put under its control the internal security centers of a majority of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies, except for the SVR. Thecase of the escaped traitors is a chance for the FSB to now extend its control over the foreign intelligence service.
In 2010, the FSB also received more powers in the so-called fight against extremism, which for the last two years was mainly carried out by the Interior Ministry. Thesecurity service lobbied for amendments to legislation, by which they gained the right to caution citizens “on the inadmissibility of actions that create conditions for crime.” Human rights activists and experts believe that the FSB will use this to put pressure on journalists and public figures, especially in the provinces. InDecember, President Medvedev reiterated that the FSB will play a more active role in the fight against extremism, saying that this fight must carry a “systematic character,” while FSB’s task will be to identify the organizers of terrorist attacks.

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