President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Comrade officers, colleagues,
I would like to congratulate all current staff and veterans of the Foreign Intelligence Service on the 95th anniversary of Russian illegal intelligence.
For almost a century this legendary unit has been making its own special, sometimes invaluable contribution to ensuring national security and defending the interests of the Fatherland.
Our country has faced many trials, and our intelligence officers have always been on the frontline. Time and again their decisive actions, the information they obtained and their adroit missions literally changed the course of history, protected our people from threats, and preserved peace.
We will always remember our heroic intelligence officers who fought the Nazis. Their struggle against this evil began in the pre-war years, and they fought just as courageously during the Great Patriotic War.
Their work was strenuous and dangerous in the Cold War era as well. It is enough to recall the contribution of our intelligence officers to maintaining strategic parity. Ending the monopoly on nuclear weapons ruled out both a new world war and direct aggression against our country.
The history of illegal intelligence is filled with legendary names: Yakov Serebryansky, Dmitry Bystroletov, Nikolai Kuznetsov, Iosif Grigulevich, Rudolf Abel, Konon Molody, Gevork Vartanyan, Alexei Kozlov and Yury Drozdov, to name a few. There are living people on this glorious list – Goar Vartanyan, Alexei Botyan and many and many others.
In years past dozens of undercover agents have received the high title of Hero of the Soviet Union and the Hero of the Russian Federation. Hundreds were awarded with combat orders and medals. Today yet another Star of the Hero of Russia will be conferred on one of our comrades at a closed ceremony. He has displayed valour and courage while fulfilling special missions in life-threatening circumstances.
The difficult profession of undercover agent assumes anonymity. It is no accident that the motto of illegal intelligence is: “Without the right to glory but for the glory of the nation.”
Undercover agents are people of a special disposition, moral fortitude and willpower. They devote their entire lives to the homeland. They sacrifice much, forgo much, but they do so in the name of service to the Fatherland. They do intensive, meticulous work every day, without weekends or holidays. They are modest people who do not like being called heroes. They say that they are simply doing their jobs, ”what they were trained to do,” and producing results.
But I would like to emphasise – our country, our citizens must know that real warriors, courageous and honest professionals are serving in Russian intelligence. We are proud of them.
I regularly receive materials prepared by your colleagues, including undercover agents. It is always thoroughly prepared information and analysis. It serves as the foundation for developing strategic decisions in defence, foreign policy, and ensuring the country's security in the broadest sense of the word.
Of course, many countries of the world have intelligence services, but not all states have such a powerful and special tool as illegal intelligence. I would like to thank everyone who in difficult years – I am confident you know what I am referring to – have preserved traditions, continuity, experience, and the school of training in the sphere of illegal intelligence. Today, this capacity is fully utilised in service to Russia. It helps identify and block external threats in a timely manner and protect our sovereignty and right to be a free and independent country.
You are well aware of the challenges faced by Russia. They include attempts to hinder our development, to provoke confrontation, and to destabilise the regions near our borders. In particular, terrorist and extremist groups are being used as tools. It is no secret that some of them are being diligently looked after, and even receive direct support from special services of a number of states.
In general, it is clear that the activity of foreign intelligence services directed against Russia and our allies is on the rise. Innovative methods of collecting and falsifying information, cyberattacks, and attempts to recruit agents to gain access to data on the defence, economic, resource potential of Russia are being used. Finally, operations are carried out to influence the political and social processes in our country.
In these circumstances, the Foreign Intelligence Service and all our special services bear an enormous responsibility. Your effective work is one of the most important guarantees of Russia’s sovereign development, security and stability. As such, we will continue to improve and expand our intelligence capacity, and technical and operational capabilities. We will continue to rely on experienced professionals and train young professionals using the best examples from our veterans.
I am confident that you will never fail and will effectively carry out all your missions.
Once again, I congratulate you on the 95th anniversary of illegal intelligence. I congratulate everyone in this room, all our colleagues. And, of course, the agents who are now serving abroad.
I wish you good health, good luck, and new victories for the greater good of Russia.