The meeting reviewed the results of the FSB’s activities in 2013 and set the priorities for 2014.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
At this expanded meeting today, we will discuss the Federal Security Service’s results over the recent period and outline the priorities ahead.
I want to start though by thanking the FSB’s personnel, who, together with their colleagues from other agencies, carried out very difficult and highly responsible tasks that were in many respects quite unprecedented in scale. I am referring to the work to ensure security at the big international events that Russia has hosted lately. They include the Summer Universiade in Kazan, the G20 summit in St Petersburg, and the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi.
These events attracted great interest and attention and have in full measure contributed to raising our country’s international influence. As professionals, you know that such events unavoidably carry heightened risks, and any mistakes or oversights by the security and intelligence services come at great cost. More than 40 years have passed, but the entire world still remembers very well the tragedy that took place at the Munich Olympics. We know too the threats that various terrorist and extremist groups and their sponsors made against our country. Open attempts to intimidate and blackmail Russia were made in the run-up to these events.
Now we can say that the integrated multitier system for ensuring security at the Olympics and other events has proven its effectiveness. This is to the credit and the immense effort of thousands of people – members of the antiterrorist forces, border guards, operations personnel and analysts. Once again, I thank you for your detailed and reliable work and for your courage and professionalism. It is sad that the person who personally oversaw all of this work in Sochi is not here with us today. He is sick at the moment. But I say a separate big thank you to him.
Colleagues, the fight against terrorism and extremism continues to be a key area of the Federal Security Service’s work. You must concentrate all needed resources on this area.
The situation is still difficult. The terrorist underground has suffered big losses but still has the potential to carry out terrorist attacks against civilians, as we saw to our great sorrow at the end of last year in Volgograd.
Extremists and radical groups are not just trying to intensify their activities in the North Caucasus, but are trying to take them to other parts of the country too – the Volga region and Central Russia. They try to provoke interethnic and interfaith conflicts and carry out aggressive propaganda among young people, using the latest information resources and technology, including the internet and social networks.
For reference, last year alone more than 400 terrorist and radical sites were shut down. This kind of anti-extremism work in the information space must continue.
It is important to stay a step ahead and anticipate events. You must pay particular attention to identifying and cutting off financial and resource supply channels to the underground groups, and uncover their links to terrorist groups and sponsors abroad.
We are very concerned by the fact that some Russian and CIS citizens have been recruited by terrorists and radicals and are taking part in armed conflict in Afghanistan, Syria and other parts of the world, and are essentially getting terrorist training and undergoing ideological brainwashing there. You understand very well that we have every reason to fear that these people could then be used against Russia and against our CIS neighbours. We must be prepared for such an eventuality and have the necessary arsenal of preventive measures ready. This includes working together more effectively with our partners in the CIS Anti-Terrorism Centre, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and other organisations. Of course, we should also strengthen the National Anti-Terrorism Committee’s coordinating role. To do this, we need better interagency cooperation and timely information exchange between the law enforcement agencies.
At the same time, I want to stress the point that we must make a clear distinction between lawful opposition activity, which is part of any democratic country’s life, and extremism, which is built on hatred, inciting ethnic, interethnic and social strife, and denial of the laws and the Constitution. We must make a clear distinction between civilised opposition to the authorities, and serving foreign interests to the detriment of our own country.
Russia’s laws today give us the conditions we need for non-governmental and public organisations to work freely and transparently. But we will never accept for them to be used for destructive purposes. We will not accept a situation such as happened in Ukraine, when in many cases it was through non-governmental organisations that the nationalist and neo-Nazi groups and militants, who became the shock troops in the anti-constitutional coup d’état, received funding from abroad.
I ask you to pay attention too, to setting up the FSB’s branches in the new Russian Federation constituent entities of Crimea and Sevastopol. Their tasks will include making sure that people with a criminal past and advocates of various radical and extremist movements – people who want to prevent the region’s normal development, in other words — do not burrow their way into government bodies there.
Colleagues, counterintelligence has always been one of the FSB’s main areas of work. This is indeed an important part of your responsibilities. Last year alone, the security services put an end to the activities of 46 employees of foreign intelligence services and 258 of their agents.
The situation demands a big effort to raise the quality of operations and analysis work. The counterintelligence operations themselves, including their technical component, must also become more effective. We need to bolster protection of our country’s information resources, communications lines, and government and administrative databases that contain classified information. We all know very well, as does the entire world, that there are plenty of people out there willing to eavesdrop on others’ secrets.
Let me add that more than 9 million actions targeting Russian government sites and information systems were detected and suppressed last year. We must be ready for the fact that these kinds of attempts to break into our information space will continue of course.
Reliable protection of our borders and our border guards’ work play a big part in ensuring Russia’s internal and external security.
Today, we need to improve technical resources for our border checkpoints and strengthen contacts with Rosgranitsa [Federal Agency for the Development of the State Border Infrastructure] and the Federal Migration Service.
Priority tasks in this area include continuing to develop border infrastructure in the Arctic region and also in the strategic southern region. The upcoming withdrawal of international coalition forces from Afghanistan brings with it serious risks of destabilisation for the entire Central Asian region and for our allies and partners. Russia must be ready to provide them with all necessary assistance in protecting state borders. We already have experience of this kind of joint work. In this respect, I give a high assessment of the cooperation between Russian, Belarusian and Kazakhstani border guards.
The integration processes in the Eurasian region will continue their development. Coming up ahead we have the Customs Union’s expansion and the move to a new level of integration in the form of the Eurasian Economic Union. All of this also places new demands on cooperation between our countries’ border guard services.
I expect more active work from you in ensuring economic security and fighting organised crime and corruption. We must not just uncover corruption schemes but also put obstacles in the way of those who seek to legalise proceeds of crime by hiding them in foreign bank accounts or investing them in real estate or other assets, including abroad. I expect active work in this area. I ask you to make more use of people in our country who want to help us in this work. The public wants to see results in this area, and this kind of broad public support is a very important condition for effectively fighting corruption.
Colleagues, I also note the importance of a competent human resources policy. You must constantly keep raising the qualification level of the management and operations staff and be firm and decisive about getting rid of those who have compromised themselves. You must put in place the conditions for attracting to your ranks promising, competent and patriotic-minded young people.
The authorities will continue to do everything possible to give the Service’s employees better social guarantees. In 2013, we completed the overall work to provide FSB staff with permanent housing. We will soon completely resolve the service housing issue too. New employees will receive housing in routine, planned fashion.
In conclusion, let me thank once more the FSB’s personnel for their work. I am sure that you will continue to do everything necessary to ensure Russia’s national interests and protect our citizens.
Thank you very much for your attention.