Staunton, Nov. 19 – When armed men and military equipment appeared in central Moscow on October 26, it led some to conclude that a military coup was taking place; but in fact, Sergey Kanyev of The Insider says, it was only the most visible sign of broader efforts to protect the Russian leadership and Vladimir Putin personally in the event of martial law.
The exercise and the broader efforts are under the control of the Federal Protective Service (FSO). Its deputy head, General Aleksandr Komov, a man known to consult astrologers and psychics as well as security experts, is responsible for preparing this defense according to a document the news agency news agency has in its possession (theins.ru/politika/257090).
That document outlines what the FSO will do in the event of a declaration of martial law by the Russian government or the discovery of a plot against the leadership. Much of it is what one would expect – expanded security efforts, including electronic surveillance, and the like. But some of its provisions reflect fears about the reliability of the defenders of Putin and his team.
Kanyev writes that the FSO planners say that “in the event of a coup, some of the officers defending the Kremlin may experience depression, melancholia, uncertainty about the correctness of their superiors’ actions, and feelings of fear and anxiety about their lives.” The FSO must counter these things.
“Among the proposed responses,” The Insider journalist writes, “are ‘counter-suggestion,’ ‘counter-conviction,’ ‘initiative interception,’ ‘object substitution’ and confidence building interviews with young officers prone to neuropsychological instability,” with such officers either being hospitalized or at least paired with senior and more reliable ones.
According to the FSO document, “the enemy is cunning and insidious and will first of all seek to reduce the psychological stability of personnel, disorient them morally and leave them unprepared to resist.” These threats will come from “television, radio, the print media, social media, books, brochures, leaflets and posters.”
In addition, the FSO document says, “agents of foreign intelligence may make use of social movements, NGO and religious (pseudo-religious) groups, and get in contact with FSO officers,” seeking to find individuals “capable of psychologically infecting personnel and possessing hypnotic abilities.”
Much of this reflects the kind of planning one would expect the defenders of the Kremlin and Putin would undertake, but its tone highlights a paranoia that is frightening because it suggests that some around the Russian leader are prepared to see any independent action among Russians as a threat and are ready to turn to pseudo-science in the pursuit of a defense against it.