The intelligence agencies and Putin: undermining Russia’s security?
In the popular imagination, the Russian intelligence services are a frightening and seamless tool used by former committee for state security officer President Vladimir Putin to consolidate his power at home and wreak havoc on his opponents abroad. As in Soviet times, Putin is once again using Russia’s intelligence agencies domestically to undermine political opposition and support his authoritarian rule. Any analysis of the effect of Russian intelligence agencies on security must start by recognising that they often violate human rights, and hence human security. Russian intelligence agencies have always suffered from infighting and factionalism, made worse in the 1990s by the forays of intelligence officers into the commercial and criminal worlds. Russia has a unique domestic threat setting it apart from most other states: insurgency and terrorism emanating from its own restive North Caucasus region.