Reforming Intelligence: Obstacles to Democratic Control and Effectiveness

By Thomas C. Bruneau; Steven C. Boraz | Go to book overview
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ELEVEN
TERRORISM’S THREAT TO
NEW DEMOCRACIES
The Case of Russia

Mikhail Tsypkin

In this chapter, I address the relationship between democratic civilian control over intelligence and security agencies in the Russian Federation.1 Since the mid-1990s, Russia has had to deal with increasingly frequent acts of terror committed by (or sometimes only attributed to) the Chechen separatists. I examine the relationship between the government’s response to terrorism and the reform of the intelligence agencies.

Russia is perhaps the most difficult case of all postcommunist states when it comes to democratic civilian control over intelligence and security agencies. The Soviet Union could be characterized as the archetypal counterintelligence state. This term, coined by John Dziak, refers to a political system where the security service “permeates all societal institutions” and is “the principal guardian of the Party,” where “the two together constitute a permanent counterintelligence enterprise to which all other major political, social and economic questions are subordinated.”2 Russia has inherited from its communist past a uniquely powerful system of intelligence and security agencies. In this chapter, I first briefly address the institutional culture inherited by the Russian agencies from their Soviet predecessors. Second, I discuss the current status of democratic civilian control over these agencies. Third, I explain the factors behind the current state of affairs; in the process, I answer the question of the impact of counterterrorism on democratic civilian control of intelligence agencies.

The origins of the Russian intelligence services suggest that their transition to real democratic civilian control is not likely to be easy. The postcommunist Russian state inherited the old cadre of the Committee of State Security (KGB), split during the last month of the existence of the USSR into several agencies. By the end of 1992, the former First Chief Directorate of the KGB, responsible for for

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