Eurasian Secret Services Daily Review

Novaya Gazeta blames Russian secret services, army special-task troops on involvement in death squads
Russia seeks British help in Litvinenko’s death probe, asks for permission to interview more than 100 people
Russia’s FSB hosts informal meeting of 118 security services from 55 countries
Russian FSB Antarctic expedition returned to Moscow today
Russian President meets his inner cabinet at regular Saturday meeting
Security chief of late Chechen separatist leader turns himself in 
Director of US intelligence warns Ukraine’s Yanukovych and Yushchenko
Polish episcopate calls for the past of all bishops to be probed
Pope furious as Polish bishops launch new priest spy inquiry
Beginning of castling in Bulgaria’s security services due to EU criticism, media say 
Novaya Gazeta blames Russian secret services, army special-task troops on involvement in death squads 
In a front-page article of the Moscow-based Novaya Gazeta under the title Spare Agencies, the paper’s observer Igor Korolkov comes to conclusion that former and currently operating servicemen of the Russian security services, Armed Forces and the Ministry of Interior have been involved in fulfilment of blatant acts of terrorism and murders during last fifteen years. The weekly publishes excerpts from a secret document where the death squads officially established and described possibility of terror acts against enemy. 
Korolkov results examples of some criminal cases which, in his opinion, confirm an existence of a certain uniform “strategic plan” that unites tens the acts of terrorism, accomplished in the territory of Russia and abroad. He also writes that in the middle of the 1990s he happened to collide with several “gangs under cover”, supervised by operating officers of the Main Intelligence Service (GRU) and Main Directorate for Struggle Against Organized Crime of the Interior Ministry divisions.
Also, according to the journalist, the 45-th regiment of the Airborne Troops, belonging to the GRU, that appeared in the murder case of former Novaya Gazeta investigative journalist Dmitry Kholodov, had been engaged in custom-made murders. Korolkov also marks that former staff members of the KGB-FSB had been involved in a series of acts of terrorism in Moscow, since the middle of the 1990s.
Korolkov publishes document that is a secret instruction letter, x-copies of its ‘original’, to be more exact. It is affirmed in it that former and currently operating servicemen of Russia’s security forces are going to create “a wide secret-service network” and “special troops” “to eliminate leaders and active members of terrorist organizations, spying agencies and subversive groups working inside who are openly in confrontation with the Federal Government”. “Organized crime and terror is become dangerous for the government. It is necessary to have a department that has real possibility to solve problems using agents and spy connections.”
In fact, writes Korolkov, security forces in Russia have legal base bypassing Constitution and thought its semi-legal forces become one of the enforcement tool in government hands. The journalist marks that he had published the “instruction” in the Moscow News weekly even back in 2002. In the past high profile killings there is little progress in investigating cases. However “the events connected with the murder of our colleague Anna Politkovskaya, the former Lieutenant-Colonel of the FSB Alexander Litvinenko, attempt of Yegor Gaydar’s poisoning, have forced to address again to this document and to comprehend it in a new manner”. Moreover, Korolkov marks that this “document” has been ostensibly signed by the head of the Main Directorate for Struggle Against Organized Crime of the Interior Ministry, Hero of Russia, Colonel Seliverstov, who had denied this information.
Proceeding from all aforesaid, the observer of the Novaya Gazeta makes an unequivocal conclusion that “a complete system formed by security services for extrajudicial punishments is built in the country”.
In past former Russian security service officer Mikhail Trepashkin said in a letter from prison that he had warned former agent Alexander Litvinenko years ago that the KGB’s main successor agency had formed a death squadron to kill him and other Kremlin foes.

Russia seeks British help in Litvinenko’s death probe, asks for permission to interview more than 100 people 
The State Office of Public Prosecutor General of Russia has directed to the Home Office of the United Kingdom an inquiry about carrying out of interrogations of more than one hundred of witnesses on the case of the former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) agent Alexander Litvinenko, online paper MIGnews wrote yesterday. It referred to the interview to the governmental daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta by the Deputy Prosecutor General of Russia Alexander Zvyagintsev. Russian investigators also want to examine “dozens” of places in Britain in connection with Litvinenko’s death, the BBC says, citing the Russian deputy chief prosecutor.
The scale of the Russian request has prompted suspicions that Moscow is seeking to stall the investigation by overwhelming Scotland Yard with largely irrelevant demands, The Times comments today.
The assignment of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office is a 110-page document, the online paper notes. MIGnews is quoting Zvyagintsev as saying that the State Office of Public Prosecutor General of Russia hope that the British colleagues would respond as promptly as the Russian did and would help the investigation the same way as the Russian side recently helped the British investigators. Zvyagintsev said Russia had provided the information they requested quickly and that translators had worked round-the-clock to help Scotland Yard, BBC notes. Zvyagintsev said Russia had “many questions” concerning the case.
The Kremlin also wants Russian prosecutors to interview prominent critics of President Vladimir Putin living in London; the friends of Litvinenko, the billionaire businessman Boris Berezovsky and the Chechen separatist envoy Akhmed Zakayev are top of the list.
The Russian State Office of Public Prosecutor General initially declared that Litvinenko’s death did not concern it, though in December it opened its own investigation. Zvyagintsev rejected to reveal any other details on the course of investigation of death of Alexander Litvinenko, having referred to secret of investigation, MIGnews marks.

Russia’s FSB hosts informal meeting of 118 security services from 55 countries
Today in Moscow, Russia’s Federal Security Service held dinner with the participation of its foreign colleagues, working in Russia, Russia’s First TV Channel (Pervy kanal) reports.
These invited representatives of security services are no spies, and they are officially accredited in Russia, according to the report, however, it was not allowed to film their faces and any interviewing had to be coordinated with the FSB.
118 representatives of security services from 55 world countries were present at the dinner, using also an opportunity to get acquainted with each other, First TV Channel notes. The report also said such informal meetings had proved their effectiveness in the past; only in nine months of 2006, the FSB had carried out 140 operations to prevent acts of terror in Russia and abroad in coordination with the foreign counterparts.

Russian FSB Antarctic expedition returned to Moscow today
AIA reported yesterday that the Russian aviation expedition to the South Pole, devoted to forthcoming International Polar Year, had been completed. An An-124 aircraft with the participants of the expedition headed by the Vice Speaker of the Russian State Duma and Arctic explorer, Artur Tchilingarov, landed this morning in Moscow Vnukovo airport, news agency ITAR-TASS reports.
Onboard the plane there were two FSB helicopters Mi-8, that for the first time had reached the South Pole and had made landing to a glacial dome in height of 2835 metres above the sea level, according to Vice President of Association of Polar Explorers of Russia, Vladimir Strugatsky.
AIA reported last weekend that two Russian Mi-8 helicopters of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) landed in the Antarctic’s centre on January 5, having made leap from South America across the Drake Strait, covering 4,000 kilometres and landed at a place where meridians converge, next to the American Antarctic station Amundsen-Scott. The helicopters were carrying members of a Russian FSB Antarctic expedition. Chilingarov, Federal Security Service (FSB) Director, Nikolai Patrushev, his First Deputy and head of the Russian FSB Border Service, Vladimir Pronichev, as well as head of the World Meteorological Organisation and Director of the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, Alexander Bednitsky had left for the Antarctic 11 days ago. They celebrated the New Year there and met with the American explorers, working there, the news agency adds.
ITAR-TASS is quoting Chilingarov as saying that the Americans once wanted to monopolize the South Pole, however the situation has changed now. “There is no place on the Earth which could not be reached by the helicopters of the FSB of the Russian Federation”.

Russian President meets his inner cabinet at regular Saturday meeting
Russian President Vladimir Putin held a regular Saturday meeting with permanent members of the country’s Security Council today in Moscow, according to RIA Novosti news agency. According to the President’s spokesman Alexei Gromov, cited by the agency, the meeting addressed various issues of domestic and foreign policy, without giving any details.
The present at the meeting permanent members of the Security Council included Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov and State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov, presidential Chief of Staff Sergei Sobyanin, First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Nikolai Patrushev, and Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Director Sergei Lebedev.

Security chief of late Chechen separatist leader turns himself in
The former security chief of the late acting President of the breakaway Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, has turned himself in, Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov told the press in Gudermes today, according to news agency Interfax.
Kadyrov identified the man as Yandarbiyev’s nephew, Amirkhan Yandarbiyev. The leader’s former bodyguard, Vakhid Yandarbiyev (also a nephew), and a close associate, Varudi Davletgiriyev, arrived with the former security chief at Kadyrov’s residence, the news agency adds. Kadyrov said all three had contacted him through their relatives requesting assistance in applying the amnesty to them, the agency reports.
Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev was assassinated on February 13, 2004, in the capital of Qatar, Doha, when a bomb ripped through his car, killing also his two bodyguards. The Qatari authorities arrested three Russians for the murders. One was released due to his diplomatic status and the remaining two Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) agents, Anatoly Yablochkov and Vasili Bogachov, were charged. The verdict of life imprisonment caused severe tensions between Qatar and Russia, and in December, 2004, Qatar agreed to extradite both intelligence officers to Russia.
Five members of illegal armed formations have surrendered in the Republic of Chechnya two days before the amnesty deadline, news agency RIA Novosti said today. The agency adds Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov said earlier he does not think the amnesty, which ends January 15, should be extended.

Director of US intelligence warns Ukraine’s Yanukovych and Yushchenko 
Fight for power between President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine harms national policy, John Dimitri Negroponte, Director of US intelligence, declared in the course of Record Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in Washington, online paper ForUm reports.
“Political situation in Ukraine remains indeterminate. Fight for power between President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yanukovych continues to strike a blow on Ukrainian policy and national strategy,” Negroponte is quoted as saying. According to him, victory of Yanukovych’s part during March parliamentary elections caused a surge of cynicism as regards promises of “the coloured revolution”, having strengthened position of Russia in the region, ForUm writes.

Polish episcopate calls for the past of all bishops to be probed
Poland’s episcopate called today for the past of all its bishops to be probed to check whether they collaborated with the Communist secret police, Radio Polonia reports.
The decision was taken after the group of 45 bishops held an emergency meeting to try to resolve a deep crisis in the Polish Church, following the resignation of Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus over his links with Communist-era secret police.
According to father Jozef Kloch, the spokesman of the Polish Episcopate, the aim of the meeting was to prepare a coherent approach on how to deal with cases of Communist-era collaboration among the clergy, Radio Polonia says. Father Kloch added that such a approach would help keep the media from publishing as he called it ‘revelations’ on the subject every few days.
The session is of extraordinary character and the bishops will prepare a special message to be read to parishioners all over the country on January 14.
All in all, 45 bishops are participating in the meeting excluding archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus who resigned abruptly from the post of the archbishop of Warsaw on January 7.The episcopate will formally announce during its scheduled plenary meeting in March that the probe will be widened to cover the past of all 133 bishops in Poland, according to the radio. A final decision as to whether a bishop will be allowed to remain in office will be taken by the Vatican.

Pope furious as Polish bishops launch new priest spy inquiry
Pope Benedict XVI is reported to have been left “furious” and “isolated” by events of recent days when Bishop Stanislaw Wielgus he approved as the next Archbishop of Warsaw was exposed as an agent of the Polish secret police, The Independent writes today.
Wielgus, a conservative, was not on the first list of those considered for the job of Archbishop of Warsaw; his name was added, according to the Vatican correspondent for La Repubblica newspaper, because the Pope favoured him.
Vatican observers say the Pope has been badly damaged by the latest scandal to hit his papacy, following the clamour last autumn over a speech condemned as anti-Islamic. A member of the Nazi Youth as a young man in Bavaria, Benedict seems to believe it is better to forgive and forget awkward episodes in the past, The Independent notes. During a visit to Warsaw last year, he warned about coming down heavily on collaborators, the paper adds.
In Warsaw, Polish bishops have agreed to investigate the involvement of Catholic priests with the Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa (SB), the secret police in the Communist era. Historians and church officials say up to 15 per cent of priests were pressured into co-operating with the SB.
Vatican’s State Secretary Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Genoa, commenting this decision to the daily La Repubblica, suggested the Poles to carry out thorough checking of the country’s politicians, too.

Beginning of castling in Bulgaria’s security services due to EU criticism, media say 
Bulgaria’s Interior Minister Rumen Petkov officially introduced the new Director of the National Security Service, Ivan Drashkov, to the service’s staff, the Interior Ministry announced, according to FOCUS News agency.
The former director, Chief Commissar Ivan Chobanov was decorated with the Interior Ministry’s insignia of honor Justice, Freedom and Security 2007. It is recognition of his successful work in the National Security Service, officials say. Chobanov said he was happy that the former deputy director of the service was his successor. Ivan Drashkov has worked in the service for many years and has proved to be a good professional. It is considered that Chobanov’s successor, Ivan Drashkov, is a compromise figure, acceptable to both, Bulgaria’s partners in the EU and NATO.
Later Rumen Petkov presented Drashkov to the country’s President Georgi Parvanov and Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev, news agency says.
Bulgarian government suggested President Georgi Parvanov to issued a decree on Chobanov’s dismissal on January 11, according to Mediapool. Motives of the decision were not revealed, the online site notes. Chobanov’s replacement followed after the European Union criticism on Bulgaria’s failure to cope with the organized crime and corruption. Members of Bulgarian parliament expect changes in the country’s security services to start with the foreign intelligence, Mediapool writes.
Vice Chairman of Bulgaria’s oldest and argest party, Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), Kasim Dal, told the online agency that in the connection with Chobanov’s replacement no consultations had been held with the political parties and the decision was exercised by the Interior Minister Rumen Petkov.
Ivan Chobanov was a proxy of the former State Secretary of the Interior Ministry Boiko Borisov.
As a serious failure of the NSS Bulgarian media have estimated the execution in Iraq of the Bulgarian truck-drivers Georgy Lazov and Ivailo Kepov in summer 2004. It is worth knowing that the two Bulgarians had been involved in drug (amphetamines) trafficking and became victims of the main drug trafficker to Bulgaria, an Iraqi citizen, who collaborated with the Bulgarian counterintelligence. To solve his problems with his counterparts in Bulgaria, he kidnapped the two drivers in Iraq, kept them hostages and demanded ransom from Bulgaria.
In this connection Boiko Borisov secretly went by a presidential plane, accompanied by the NSS staff members, to the Turkish-Iraqi border. The mission failed, meanwhile the Iraqi citizen sold the two Bulgarians to Islamists, who used them in their propaganda purposes. The two drivers worked in a company, trading cars to the Middle East, owned by Plamen Galev and Angel Khristov, former Interior Ministry servicemen. It is said that this failure of the NSS was never absolved to Chobanov.
Replacement of Chobanov might be connected also with the willingness of the Euro-Atlantic partners of Bulgaria to provide stable and trustworthy counterintelligence, whose activity would provide not only security of Bulgaria, but that of the EU, as a Black Sea flank of NATO, Mediapool marks. The paper pays attention to the fact that President Romania, Traian Basescu, also replaced the former chief of the country’s counterintelligence.
It is said in the official statement of the Interior Ministry that Ivan Chobanov has expressed his wish to leave the post of the NSS Director to change the job, Mediapool writes. “In this connection the leadership of the Interior Ministry – members of the political cabinet and the Professional leadership expresses its special thanks to Ivan Chobanov for his efforts as an officer and Director of the security service. The leadership of the ministry highly evaluates contribution of Ivan Chobanov in the reforming of the NSS and its development as a welcomed partner of the EU similar services, as well as his personal and professional qualities,” the statement says. 

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