Russia’s Intelligence System – a presentation

Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 12.03.10I was delighted to be invited to speak to the 2015 Annual Symposium of CASIS, the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies, in Ottawa. I was discussing Russia’s Intelligence System and to try and say something meaningful in just half an hour, I concentrated not just on the ‘who’–which agencies there were within the Russian intelligence and security community–so much as what was distinctive about how they operate in real life. My final conclusions were that the Kremlin ought to beware what it wished for, that it had agencies which were functional in appearance, but politically often counter-productive:

  • They are technically highly capable, even if sometimes badly tasked
  • They now reinforce Putin’s assumptions, not inform his world view
  • They reinforce the world’s view of Putinism
  • They are cynical opportunists at home, loyal to themselves

(To this end, I still suspect they may be key elements of what I have called the “Seventh Column,” the insiders who may ultimately turn on Putin.)

The slides for my talk (© Mark Galeotti 2015) are at: 150123-Galeotti-CASIS-RussiasIntelSystem

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  1. Reblogged this on CCCC Project.

  2. What do you think of recent public opinion polls in Russia that show more than 75% of Russian citizens not only like but agree with Putin? Polling can be misinterpreted and have systemic errors if one does not know the methodology used and has no access to cross tabulations of responses.

    Do you know of any other polling that shows a different result than the polling I’ve seen?

    • Mark Galeotti

       /  January 27, 2015

      I think those polls are relatively accurate; most Russians see no alternative to Putin, and the state-controlled or -influenced TV (where most Russians get their news) present the situation unambiguously following the Kremlin’s narrative. The point is that Putin’s support has largely been built up in good times, and as economic troubles bite, we can expect to see that having more of an impact. Also, Putin’s real power is derived not from his mass approval ratings, but his control of the elite, and that is also beginning to be tested.

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