By Paul Goble
Russians for more than a century have assumed that their country’s security services have been inserting agents into opposition groups not only to gather intelligence but to provoke actions that the powers that be can then use to bring charges against the groups and reduce their influence.
But only rarely and typically long after the events have they had evidence of such penetration agents. Thus, there is good documentation about the tsarist Okhrana’s efforts in this regard and some about Bolshevik use of this tactic in the early years of Soviet power. But there has been little hard evidence about such things in the post-Soviet period.
Now that has changed. The Dossier Center has released a 9500-word report about how the FSB used penetration agents to stage provocations in the Artpodgotoka case. The report is impressive because Dossier’s primary source is a former FSB officer who was involved (fsb.dossier.center/art; discussed at rusmonitor.com/czentr-dose-rasskazal-kak-fsb-vnedryaet-svoih-agentov-v-protestnye-gruppy-s-czelyu-provokaczii.html).
The details it provides of how this penetration was arranged and carried out are exactly what any experienced with the history of Russian intelligence service activity. Indeed, what the FSB did in this case could easily have been lifted from the Okhrana playbook of more than a century ago.
But more important than that is that such a report now exists; and now there is a template that Russians and others can use to see whether Moscow is as is quite likely using the same tactic in other cases and thus be in a far better positions to block and expose such activities in the future.