Tuesday, October 29, 2019

FSB Plan Suggests Telephone Terrorism Remains a Bigger Threat than Moscow Admits

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 25 – An FSB plan to shut off telephone and possibly Internet links with foreign countries for up to six months, a plan ordered by the Russian Security Council, suggests that telephone terrorism remains a major problem in Russia even though the media rarely cover it and even though Putin’s spokesman says it will not be approved and implemented. 

            Several months ago, RBC reports, the Russian Security Council directed the FSB to come up with new laws to block telephone threats. The FSB then formed an inter-agency commission which included telephone services under former Presidential Administration head Aleksandr Voloshin (rbc.ru/technology_and_media/25/10/2019/5db1b39a9a79474bf5052b0a?from=center).

            Last week, the FSB sent its proposals to the government. The most significant was a new draft law that would require telephone companies to shut off connections between Russia and any country suspected of being the source of telephone threats for up to six months. That sparked controversy and Putin’s spokesman said it won’t happen (pnp.ru/social/peskov-zayavil-chto-otklyuchenie-svyazi-pri-borbe-s-telefonnym-terrorizmom-ne-obsuzhdaetsya.html).

            Although the Russian media rarely cover telephone terrorism and although the FSB has claimed success in combatting it, telephone calls say that a bomb has been placed in a building or on an airplane and the ensuing forced evacuations continue. (For background, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/02/telephone-terrorism-shows-no-sign-of.html.)

            Experts say such blocking is completely feasible. And that may point to the real reasons for this story:  On the one hand, this plan, even though it appears it won’t go forward now provides support for FSB claims that most telephone terrorism originates not within Russia but from other countries.

            And on the other, it is an indication of the way in which the Kremlin might proceed if it wants to further restrict contacts between Russians and foreigners, using the threat of terrorism as a justification for cutting off normal interactions between residents of the Russian Federation and people in other countries.

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