Retired FSB Major-General Alexander Mikhailov: "special services should work in close contact with society"
Russian special services intensified their activities after Monday's terrorist attack on the St. Petersburg metro, which resulted in the detection of a significant number of potential militants, their recruiters and explosive devices; a decision was made at the governmental level to strengthen security in metro stations. A retired Major-General of the FSB, a ranger, the ex-head of the Agency of Government Information of the Russian Federation, a member of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy Alexander Mikhailov told Vestnik Kavkaza how to protect society from further terrorist attacks.
- First of all, how can we secure our metro, if the current system of metal detectors is not effective?
- For this purpose they need to solve several problems. First, improve the operational-search activity and the early detection of potential criminals by secret services. Our intelligence services are not self-sufficient, they build their actions based on the information they receive, including from civil society. Signal information is the basis for starting work on specific people. The trouble is that very often even direct signals of citizens cause very sluggish reaction, we have faced this many times. A man says that there are bandits trying to break in, and the police respond that everyone is out and a squad will come when is free. The absence of direct dialogue and prompt response leads to uncertainty of the society that someone will help them - we will be able to guarantee the safety of citizens only when we will work more efficient and in a tight fist.
In this regard, it is necessary to understand that any technical means that we implement in transport, industry and other high-risk facilities are blind and deaf without primary operational information. Now the issue is raised about the expensive equipment for the metro - the facial recognition system is very expensive - but before recognition, they should understand who they're looking for. So, only more effective work of special services with a use of traditional forms and methods of counteracting threats, with simultaneous activity of civil society, which, I would say, should encourage special services to work more efficiently. Unfortunately, assessing representatives of law enforcement agencies, very often we take their statements on faith, without trying to analyze them, for example, no one says what means the decrease in crime - whether the society is becoming better or the law enforcement system's work has become worse? The special services should not be assessed by themselves, the society should do it, including the assessment of the work of the police, the Emergencies Ministry and other structures funded by the government. We need to understand why they get paid whether we are satisfied with their activities or not.
- Is it possible to identify an extremist planning to carry out a terrorist attack in the crowd? How, in this case, people, who should give a signal to special services, can recognize them?
- Suspicious behavior of people, a large concentration of unfamiliar, unknown persons, aggressive behavior - this must be paid attention. Of course, they should understand that very often inadequate behavior is associated not only with the fact that a person has some cunning plans, perhaps he always behaves this way, there are strange people. I knew a lot of strange people whom policemen could easily detain if they were caught in a crowd. And yet all the signals of citizens should be recorded in offices of the relevant structures so that they can then be checked later, because it is impossible to verify without information.
- This morning the explosion in Rostov-on-Don was reported, later an explosive device was neutralized in St. Petersburg. In your opinion, are these events related to each other and to the recent terrorist attack?
- Each major terrorist act launches the same dual mechanism. On the one hand, special services are initiated, and the removal of a rusty grenade is perceived and served as a disposal of an explosive device. On the other hand, it is followed by an objective stimulation of inadequate people: a large terrorist act is always followed by a series of actions of a significant number of people who are ready for some step, and now they are acting all at once. There is always a cloning element as well. For example, when a metro train was blown up in Moscow in 1977, there were three other explosions: the second was on the 25 Oktyabrya street 40 minutes after the first one, and 20 minutes later there was a third explosion at the intersection of the 25 Oktyabrya street and Lubyanka Square in the Milk Department of the grocery store. It was immediately followed by anonymous calls about bombs in other places. We constantly face such things. In this situation, I think everything could converge to one point, but we have to deal with Rostov separately, because it was a clear trap: the watchman saw the bag, found a flashlight, turned it on and it exploded. It is necessary to understand what it was: a terrorist act or hooliganism.
- How active is current cooperation between the special services of Russia and the CIS countries, as called for by President Vladimir Putin yesterday?
- The cooperation is conducted adequately to those international relations existing between our countries. As Allen Dulles said, there are intelligence services of friendly nationa, but no friendly intelligence services. Therefore, each intelligence works for its chairman, and as a consequence, if there are normal relations at the high level, then they will be the same at the level of special services.