We continue the Not-An-Interrogation heading. Our guest is ex-Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, General of the Army Anatoly Kulikov. Since 1997 – Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation – Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation. He was a member of the Defence Council of the RF and Security Council of the RF. Today he is President of the Club of Military Leaders of the Russian Federation.
Mr Yury Zhdanov: Anatoly Sergeevich, we met in 1995, when I came to work in the old Administration for International Cooperation (AIC) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, which was still headed by Major General of the Internal Service Valery Gorchakov. Although he came from the International Department of the Central Committee, work in the AIC was routine and mainly consisted of rearranging the MIA leadership’s words and commas in letters or agreements with other countries. Immediately after the AIC was headed by Major General Alexander Kostin, everything had changed; his experience as a military attaché of the Federal Republic of Germany and his analytical mindset changed the approaches to our work in the international arena. No visit of the MIA leadership was ‘tourism’ – agreements, contracts, memoranda were always signed, important interstate and interdepartmental decisions were made. The rate of information processing and its volume had increased several times.
You managed to gather a team of like-minded people among the Ministry’s leadership and other high-ranking office-holders, each of whom actively contributed to the development of international relations within their own field of competence.
Anatoly Sergeevich, please tell us about the interaction with police and military attachés from different countries during the service.
- In 1995, when I took over the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Administration for International Cooperation was practically engaged only in organising the Minister or his deputies’ visits to other countries. There were practically no cooperation in organising the fight against crime, except for cooperation through Interpol. By this time, by the mid-90s, international organised crime was so far ahead of law enforcement preventive activities that we simply could not keep pace with it. This includes vehicles stolen in the West, which passed through Russia without hindrance to other CIS countries and regions of Russia. This is also a robbery of foreign cars in the north-western direction, arriving from Finland, for example. When I analysed all this, I consulted with Yevgeny Primakov, who was already the Minister of Foreign Affairs at that time. Before that, he had been Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Russia (SVR), and I asked him to help me organise the police attachés service abroad at embassies. It was difficult to do this without the support of the Foreign Ministry. First, we worked with the main countries – Germany, the United States of America, Finland, Austria, Hungary and Poland. Because the main flow of stolen cars went through these countries. Foreign Minister Primakov supported me. I reported this to the President in accordance with the established procedure. And we organised such a service of police attachés that they directly contacted the ministries of internal affairs of the countries in which they were present. Thus, the issue of interaction was much simplified.
I will give one example. At a meeting on the border with Finland, dedicated to the opening of a new customs terminal, I had an important conversation. The Minister of Internal Affairs and the Minister of Transport of Finland complained to me that their cars were being robbed by our bandits. And by that time, we had already organised the police attachés service at embassies. Our police attaché in Finland was also present. I told the Ministers: ‘Let’s put it this way – if you received a signal from Russia that your car was stopped by bandits and robbed, immediately inform our police attaché!’ He would immediately go to our Ministry, to the duty officer, and he would immediately report to me. Of course, our police attaché at first thought that he would have a lot of work and that he would only deal with these cases, solve practical crimes together with Finnish Ministry of the Interior.
At that time, my first Deputy for Combatting Organised Crime was Vladimir Vasiliev. He prepared several duty groups, right along the route of Finnish cars from Moscow to the border with Finland. These mobile groups, on cars, were dispersed each 200–250 km. And what we find out! A Finnish long-distance truck driver calls and reports that his car has been attacked and robbed. They immediately inform our police attaché, and he passes it further along the chain. The information reached us quickly, and we immediately gave the group a command. 15 minutes pass, the bandits did not have time to unload the car, and we already detained them. It turns out that these bandits are acting in collusion with the Finnish driver, and he receives insurance for everything, plus a profit – the bandits pay him some money in foreign currency.
And they place the ‘blame’ for everything on our bandits. In fact, this is collusion – the driver gives them a signal, they arrive, he is waiting for them there, they drive into the forest, unload and that is it, he appears to be robbed.
Mr Yury Zhdanov: He did not know that you would arrive so quickly, did he?
- From where? Well, of course not. Previously, information reached the operational services for days. While the details were being clarified, he would already go to Finland two times, return back and then to the flight again. And here everything was done within half an hour. They did not even have time to unload the car.
And what do you think? No one robbed cars from Finland anymore. It was over. We then transferred this experience to the western direction, detained several of the same stolen cars. Our police attaché in Berlin immediately informed us after receiving a signal about a stolen car. We already knew what categories of cars those were, and so on. Stolen cars accounted for a significant part of the crimes. There were also many detentions on drugs. Interaction was established, and it gave its results. International crime at that time began to decline.
Now as for the military attachés:
On foreign business trips, I was met by military and police attachés. Where there were no police attachés, by the military contingent. They knew me well from my studies at academies, from the war in the Caucasus, in Transcaucasia. I did not have any problems with the military, including abroad. The military attachés showed me and the embassy staff our businessmen and entrepreneurs’ real estate. And when I returned to Russia, it turned out that some people did not pay taxes. That is, it was clear that the military, both through intelligence and through foreign intelligence, had data on international crime involving our citizens. But since they had other tasks, they rarely gave us this information. After consulting with my deputies, I decided to inform the President about this. Vladimir Ovchinsky was then my assistant. He prepared a well-reasoned letter to the President, in which I asked the President to establish a commission under the government under the Prime Minister’s chairmanship, and to appoint me, as Deputy Prime Minister, as secretary of this commission, within which we could consider issues of economic security. I come to Switzerland, and they show me a major official’s house who works in our Presidential Administration. In France, I am shown a house where the apartment belongs to some other official. I was supported in this by the heads of all law enforcement agencies that had the function of operational search activities. Only the Federal Security Service (FSB) counterintelligence, the FSB military and foreign intelligence, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State Customs Committee, now the Investigative Committee, and the Prosecutor General’s Office have such a function. They knew a lot, but for some reason they didn’t report it to us. And [Boris] Yeltsin agreed to write – ‘Without delaying, to organise!’ [Victor] Chernomyrdin also supported me. But as soon as Chernomyrdin wrote ‘I agree,’ President Yeltsin wrote ‘Do not delay,’ officials thwarted it all. Those officials who had, as they say, ‘a finger in the pie’ did not allow the establishment of such a commission. Even when I had already signed the order on the establishment of the commission from Chernomyrdin, it was not registered in the government’s secretariat. The criminal lobby was so strong... and this was not some local or regional level. This lobby was located at the level of the federal government, in the Presidential Administration and in the Government. Thus, they did not allow such a commission to be established so that they got away with everything. Then soon I was fired. That, by the way, was one of the reasons for making me resign. He was not fired but retired, at the age of 51. Here, please, is a clear example of interaction.
Mr Yury Zhdanov: As far as I know, you regularly hold meetings of the Elba international Russian-American group, which covers a wide range of issues. However, the focus of the military leaders’ attention is the study of the strategic experience of the Great Patriotic War and the analysis of military operations in hotspots. The developed recommendations are sent to state structures, including law enforcement agencies. Please tell us what results were achieved as a result of such meetings?
- Now as for the Elba group. I see a misunderstanding here; the focus is on the study of strategic experience. We can emulate the strategic experiences of the Great Patriotic War alone from the point of view of management activity. I mean the management methodology, headquarters services. And from the point of view of conducting operations, making decisions, now, of course, there are other threats and challenges. They will be both internal and external. More precisely, external and internal. They require a different approach. Together with the Elba group, we are considering issues of strategic stability, fight against international terrorism and countering nuclear terrorism. We are considering issues related to the current hostilities in several hotspots, including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. We discuss these issues together with Americans, develop recommendations and then send these recommendations after approval. They – to their Department of State and the Department of Defense, and we – respectively to the Presidential Administration, Aide to the Russian President on Foreign Relations Yury Ushakov and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. We send them, and then it is up to them whether to accept these recommendations or not. The issues of international terrorism are a common component for internal and external threats. From a military-technical point of view, this is the conduct of military operations against Islamic terrorism, or as they call themselves ‘ISIL.’ And from the point of view of law enforcement activities, this is the exchange of information, intelligence, information activities, in order to identify such cases on the territory of our country within the framework of the adopted law on countering terrorism. Already as Deputy of the State Duma, as part of the working group, I developed the law ‘On Countering Terrorism.’ In this law, we included the armed forces’ participation, their tasks to combat international and domestic terrorism. The law is wonderful, it describes everything, including who is in charge and the personal responsibility of the head. This law was adopted in 2006 and it is so successful that (touch wood!) since then, we have not had a single daring terrorist attack that would have been unexpected for us or had serious consequences. On the basis of this law, a presidential decree established the National Antiterrorism Committee headed by the Director of the FSB, which included all representatives of not only law enforcement agencies but also others – the Ministry of Labour, Education, Social Protection, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Public Health. Because the conditions for terrorism emerge in other spheres. And it turned out like this – the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the FSB were aimed only at fighting. Prevention provides, for example, job creation in the Caucasus for young people who do not have the opportunity to travel outside the Republic. They should be able to work here. Here, let’s take job creation – it is not the Ministry of Internal Affairs or the FSB that should be engaged in this, right? This should be handled by the Ministry of Economy. Education, so that all young people would be busy studying. They would not hang around and go to get a religious education in Turkey or Saudi Arabia but receive a normal secular education in our country. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the borders were opened, the Islamists proclaimed and widely opened the so-called madrasah schools. Madrasah is an Islamic religious school. And our Muslims, who were still secular, suddenly wanted their children to receive a Muslim education there. They sent their children there by tens, hundreds, thousands. Young people went to get an education abroad. And there, for example, in Saudi Arabia, Islam has been elevated to the rank of state policy; Islam plays a dominant role there. They will not teach our children who came to them from Chechnya, Dagestan, Karachay-Cherkessia Islam in secular traditions, will they? They teach what they consider necessary – that Islam should be dominant, that girls should go to university only in religious clothes, with their face covered, and so on. And they brought all this from there. There was even an attempt of an armed coup, an uprising in Kabardino-Balkaria in 2005. These were all our omissions. Now there is cooperation between the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Interpol and the FSB. So the law ‘On Countering Terrorism’ of 2006, which I spoke about, has given good results.
Mr Yury Zhdanov: You say that we now have two enemies: an external one – international crime and international terrorism as part of it, which you have already mentioned above, as well as an internal enemy – corruption. What is your opinion, how can this be eradicated and what is being done by law enforcement agencies in this direction? What would you do to restore order in this area?
- International terrorism and corruption. Yes, I spoke on international terrorism, I also partially spoke on corruption, when I proposed to establish a commission on economic security headed by Chernomyrdin that was ‘hacked down’ by officials. This is one of the answers to the question of how to restore order in this area. There is still no such commission. Corruption. Here it is written ‘How to eradicate?’ Corruption will never be eradicated. Never. But it is one thing when you bring a chocolate bar to a teacher or a doctor and another – when you steal billions. Today there was a report on the Internet that the Penza Region governor was detained for a 60 million roubles bribe. A bribe giver, an entrepreneur, and that governor’s accomplices were also detained. Is there a difference between a chocolate bar and this? When there is corruption, the law enforcement officers and the State’s task is to reduce the level of corruption. It is impossible to completely get rid of it, it is life. Impossible. If only it could be done! Even in Soviet times, when we were all aimed at building communism, there were such social phenomena as crime. And corruption is one of the types of crimes, and a rather latent type of crime, that is, being in the shadows, not on the surface. Few people know about this. Does anyone know that the governor takes bribes in his office?.. No, of course not. To identify such a crime, it is necessary to carry out a lot of operative work. The State’s task, the law enforcement officers’ task is to reduce the level of crime and corruption to the so-called ‘socially tolerant’ one, so that it does not undermine the government’s authority, so that people believe their authorities that they are fighting, that they are engaged in combatting corruption, so that the foundations of power do not fall apart at the same time, so that corruption does not irritate people. So that there is no such level of corruption when people are afraid to even talk about it. Now, unfortunately, there are such facts when people are afraid to declare it. Because this may be followed by some kind of criminal harassment. Up to bodily injuries, beatings and even murder. The authorities’ task, I repeat, is to reduce the level of corruption to a socially tolerant level. And now it is possible to cope with this task. The law ‘On Combatting Corruption’ was adopted. That is why we are seeing more and more cases of corruption revealed on television. Previously, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and law enforcement officers were ‘allowed,’ figuratively speaking, to work freely only at the first level – municipal, district one, sometimes at the second level of the provincial, subjects of the Federation. But if someone looked at the third floor – the federal level, they sometimes got a rap on the knuckles. Do you understand?
And now, in connection with this law, they are working more and more often at the regional and federal levels. I gave an example of the Penza governor but he is not the first in the list. There are already a dozen and a half such governors who are ‘behind bars.’ And ministers are ‘behind bars.’ The former Minister of Economic Development, for example. That’s how I could answer this question.
Mr Yury Zhdanov: What is the difference between the approaches then and now?
There was no law then. The law was on combatting terrorism but it did not meet the current situation because it was ‘on combatting.’ And we adopted the law ‘On Countering Terrorism’ because counteraction provides for prevention, direct struggle and minimising the consequences. When there was a law on combatting, we acted de facto – a fact has happened and then we start working. Little was said about prevention. Now the law provides, obliges to conduct preventive work: this is intelligence, operational search measures, information. It gives results. Exactly the same law was adopted on countering corruption, which puts the issues of operative and informational work in the first place. It also gives results. More and more such crimes are being detected. Here is how the approaches themselves differ. But are these measures enough? No, they are not enough. We also need the political will of our government, the federal government, to step up this activity. When they say that the cost of our businessmen’s yachts corresponds to the cost of all the Navy’s ships, we understand that this is not normal. Therefore, there is something to work on.
Mr Yury Zhdanov: What would you wish for the International Police Association Russian Section?
- I would like us to consider more issues of interaction, not only issues of recreation, consulting, issues of experience and information exchange, printed publications. I would like us to create some kind of group where we would develop unified laws on combatting terrorism, so that they would be model laws in Russia, Germany, France. Take the best laws that work and adapt them to the specific conditions of your State. These unified laws will allow us to work and interact better. Based on these laws, there will be good interaction.
That is all. Be happy!