The meeting was held to discuss the Service’s performance in 2018 and priorities for 2019.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, comrades.
We have met today for the annual expanded meeting of the FSB Board to discuss the Service’s performance last year and outline its priorities for the immediate future and the medium term.
First of all, I would like to say that FSB personnel fulfilled its tasks effectively last year. For example, much has been done in the field of counterterrorism, including efforts to ensure safety at major public events. Of course, we are grateful to you for ensuring safety at the FIFA World Cup. I know that the FSB actually supervised the event’s headquarters, so that it operated at the top level; this work has brought good results. The Service also supervised elections at different levels, which was hard work as well.
I understand very well that your daily activities imply serious efforts. Your work is very demanding, given the nature of external and domestic challenges and security threats to Russia.
For example, tensions persist in the Middle East and several other parts of the world. Why am I saying this now? Because all this has its impact on us. The existing pockets of violence and instability provide conditions for terrorist activities, including in Russia, I regret to say.
I would also like to say that NATO continues to expand its infrastructure in close proximity to Russian borders, and the US decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty is a direct step towards eroding the system of international security agreements. This is certainly changing the operational situation, and regrettably, not for the better.
Therefore, I expect the staff of the central office, territorial divisions and special units of the FSB to act professionally and in a concerted manner to attain their goals promptly and efficiently. First of all, they must continue their consistent and uncompromising fight against terrorism.
I must note that the number of crimes related to terrorism has been decreasing in recent years; the Director will certainly mention this in his remarks. In general, over ten years, this figure has declined dramatically, from 997 to 9 last year. At the same time, please note that the number of prevented terrorist attacks remains high – about 20 a year. This level has been maintained for the last three years. We all know how sensitive and important this is; each strike that has not been averted costs lives.
So what does this reduction in the scope of the terrorist threat mean? First of all, it shows the results of our preventive operations, of our actions to disrupt the plans of terrorist networks and groups. Yet, at the same time, these figures suggest that terrorists still have the potential to prepare attacks. Moreover, as the situation shows, both in our country and elsewhere, both organised groups and single brainwashed fanatics may be behind these crimes.
It is necessary to use new forms and methods of countering such threats, step up preventive work to identify the recruiters and accomplices of terrorists, block the supply of weapons and money, and curb extremist propaganda online. The leadership of the National Anti-Terrorism Committee should keep these issues under constant review.
And of course, it is necessary to develop cooperation and coordinate efforts with our foreign colleagues, mainly in the CSTO and SCO, and with our colleagues in other countries. In this regard, I would like to stress once again, no matter how our current relations with certain countries evolve, Russia will always be open to the closest and most trust-based work in the fight against international terrorism, this common challenge for all of humanity.
Furthermore, our counterintelligence agencies operated efficiently and aggressively last year. They conducted successful special operations to cut short the activities of 129 career officers and 465 agents of foreign intelligence services. We see that foreign special services have been trying to increase their Russia operations, doing their utmost to gain access to political, economic, scientific and technological information. This means that you must work even better to counter these activities. We see that, just like in the past, comparable or even stronger efforts are being taken to influence developments in Russia. Therefore, our countermeasures must be effective, daily and based on modern solutions.
This especially concerns the protection of information on the design, testing and manufacturing of advanced Russian weapons systems, as well as advanced military and dual-use technology. Control in this sphere must be very strict and thorough. However, I would to draw your attention, colleagues, to the other side of this matter: this control must also be sensible, or smart, so to speak.
No artificial obstacles and barriers must be created to the use of the powerful potential created in the defence sector for civilian purposes and for development. We must not repeat past mistakes when a great many advanced designs gathered dust for years because of the formally understood security procedures. Overall, we must be flexible and look closely at realities, not formal procedures.
Colleagues, one of your key priorities is to ensure our economic security and to combat corruption. The security services have initiated criminal proceedings in 405 corruption cases, and other law enforcement agencies have initiated some 7,000 corruption cases based on the material provided by the FSB. We must work actively to expose criminal schemes damaging the state and business, and cut short any abuses on the financial markets that are damaging the national economy.
At the same time, we must promptly react to infringements on the rights of entrepreneurs by some members of law enforcement, regulatory and supervision agencies. As you know, I spoke in detail about this in my Address to the Federal Assembly and at a recent Interior Ministry Board meeting. I hope that you will use the opportunities available to you to contribute to the achievement of a vital goal – the protection of the legitimate rights and interests of entrepreneurs, as well as all citizens of Russia.
I would expect you to take more proactive measures against corruption. The huge resources that the country is allotting for its development and the state defence order must be protected. I ask you to coordinate this work with specialists of the Civic Chamber, the Federal Financial Monitoring Service and other agencies.
Furthermore, it is important to enhance the security of national information resources, primarily, by promptly countering cyberattacks against government bodies, state corporations, communications providers and large companies, and to ensure the failsafe operation of confidential communications systems.
I would like to note that in the past three years coordinated cyberattacks, that is, attacks consisting of several linked actions, have become more frequent. Thus, while in 2014–2015 a little more than 1,500 cyberattacks were recorded a year, which is also quite a lot, but in 2016 their number reached 12,000, about 12,500 in 2017 and as many as 17,000 last year. In effect, these are well-planned large-scale operations that can deal a heavy blow at our national interests.
We must be ready for the continuation of this cyber offensive against Russia and the growth of related threats. In this context, it is important to take prompt additional measures to protect critical information infrastructure and to develop a state system of detecting, warning, and eliminating the effects of computer attacks.
The FSB Border Service is facing serious tasks. Under the State Border programme (which is valid until 2021), 14 new border complexes were put into operation in the past few years. They include 80 engineering structures, checkpoints and coastal guard facilities. It is necessary to continue upgrading the infrastructure of border sections and speed up their re-equipment with modern technology.
Colleagues, I am confident that FSB employees will continue solving their tasks professionally, reliably guarding Russia’s national interests and supporting our citizens in ensuring their security and lawful rights and freedoms.
I would like to thank you for your work last year once again and wish you success. Thank you for your attention.