Wednesday, February 18, 2015

FSB Sets the Stage for New Crackdown in Crimea and across Russia

Paul Goble


            Staunton, February 18 – The head of the FSB  in Crimea says that “anti-Russian risings do not yet threaten” the peninsula but that Western intelligence services are creating the basis for them, a claim that the Russian security services are likely to invoke as justification for a sweeping new crackdown.


            And one commentator with whom spoke, Leonid Savin, the editor of “Geopolitika,” says that the US was focusing this effort on Crimea because that region had only recently become part of Russia but that in fact, Washington is preparing anti-Russian movements in the North Caucasus and elsewhere ( and


            At the behest and under the direction of the United States, Viktor Palagin, the head of the FSB in Crimea, says, Ukraine has developed more than a dozen projects to destabilize the situation on the peninsula and elsewhere, most of which are designed to get “highly educated” people to support Ukraine and oppose Russia and to use them for “sabotage.”


            As a result, the FSB officer adds, his officers and those of other law enforcement agencies in Crimea consider their “main task” to be “not to allow the destabilization of the situation in the republic,” something that could happen if even a small number of these subversive groups took shape.


            Palagin provides few details about these groups in Crimea, but Saving suggest that the situation there while perhaps more promising to the West than are other parts of the Russian Federation is hardly unique and implies that the FSB needs to focus on destabilizing efforts everywhere.


            “In the North Caucasus,” for example, the West can seek “an escalation of mutual distrust between peoples” and thereby promote a new outbreak of “conflict between Osetins and Balkars” or “between Osetins and Ingush. In each Russian region, it is possible to find a basis for internal conflicts with the potential” to grow into threats.


            At present, Savin continues, “of course, there are no objective signs that these risings will occur. Yes, the West has been acting as if it has ‘forgotten’ about Crimea: this theme was in general not raised in the course of the Norman quartet” discussions in Minsk.”  But that does not mean that the West isn’t still trying to exploit internal divisions in Crimea and elsewhere.


            Therefore, he says, the FSB’s concern is completely understandable given that provocations are always possible and can be more easily countered earlier rather than later. It would thus be “impermissible” for the Russian security agencies to “underestimate the potential danger” of even the smallest such developments.


            But as points out, while the FSB may be right to do so, its expression of concern about the situation in Crimea calls into question Moscow’s constant reference to growing stability there and its invocation of polls suggesting that Crimeans are pro-Russian. Both things, the media outlet says, cannot be true at one and the same time.



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