TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Federal Security Service board

FSB Building file photo

(Kremlin.ru – February 26, 2016)

Vladimir Putin took part in a meeting of the Federal Security Service (FSB) board to review the results of the Service’s work in 2015 and set its priority tasks for 2016.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,

We are here today to review the results of the Federal Security Service’s work in 2015 and set the tasks for the upcoming period.

Let me start by thanking all of you, everyone working in the central office and the regional offices and special subdivisions, for your competent work to ensure Russia’s security and stable development. This includes the efforts of our colleagues working in military counterintelligence, ensuring, for example, the safety of our pilots carrying out counterterrorist operations in Syria and the anti-terrorist units working here inside Russia.

To say a few more words about the Syrian issue, as you know, on February 22, Russia and the United States of America adopted a joint statement on cessation of hostilities in Syria. The purpose of this document is to give impetus to the efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict, more precisely, to boost the efforts to find a political solution and put in place the conditions for starting the settlement process.

Of course, we are fully aware that this will be a difficult and perhaps even contradiction-filled peace process, but peaceful settlement is the only possible way out of the crisis. We must put in place conditions for bringing a swift end to the bloodshed and then starting a full-fledged intra-Syrian dialogue with all constructive political forces taking part.

As you know, today, all parties to the conflict have until midday Damascus time to confirm to either our American partners or us their commitment to the ceasefire. We are already receiving news to this effect. On February 27, starting at midnight Damascus time, the Syrian armed forces, Russia, and the US-led coalition will not conduct hostilities against those armed groups that declare their readiness to observe the ceasefire.

But let me stress that this ceasefire does not apply to ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, or other terrorist organisations recognised as such by the UN Security Council. We will certainly continue our resolute combat against these groups. I hope that our American partners will take the same position. This is what is reflected in our joint statement. No one will forget that aside from ISIS, there are also other groups, as I said, that have been recognised as such by the UN Security Council.

It is important now to effectively seal off Russia’s territory to these terrorists trying to enter from the Middle East or other regions, and act swiftly to identify and neutralise those who are involved in terrorist activities abroad. In this respect, Russia in general and its armed forces took timely action in starting our operations in Syria. Your work here in Russia itself also confirms this. Your efforts have put a stop to the activities of underground groups that were planning attacks against our country. We all see your successes in organising preventive work in this area. I particularly want to thank the colleagues responsible for these successes.

I hope you will continue to work in this same spirit and prevent the actions of not only those who plan attacks, but also those who recruit our citizens to terrorist organisations and spread extremist ideology.

We should tighten monitoring of the refugee flows coming into Russia or transiting onwards to European countries. In this respect, I want to add that this refugee crisis began long before Russia began its antiterrorist operation in Syria. At the root of this refugee crisis is the destabilisation of entire regions of the world, especially the Middle East. We see full well today what is happening with some refugees, on the Macedonian border, for example. They are refugees from Afghanistan. What have Russia’s operations in Syria got to do with them? Their situation is totally unconnected to our operations. Our operations have one sole aim: to stabilise the situation in these countries and create conditions for people from these countries to be able to return to their homes.

To fight terrorism more effectively, it is also important to develop our cooperation with partners abroad, especially through the UN, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and Collective Security Treaty Organisation.

We should make use of all existing contacts and develop new forms of cooperation in this work, all the more so, as security agencies abroad are increasingly interested in developing such partnership, as we see well.

The counterintelligence services have important tasks today. At the last board meeting, you recall that we noted that foreign intelligence organisations have stepped up their activity in Russia, and this was convincingly confirmed over the last year.

Over this time, we put a stop to the activity of more than 400 foreign intelligence officers and agents, with criminal charges brought against 23 of these people.

We need to ensure reliable protection of information on confidential activity and personnel in government organisations, military facilities, defence industry companies, the fuel and energy sector, and our leading research centres. We need to cut off all channels of access to confidential information.

Colleagues, we will hold elections to the State Duma this autumn. All constructive political forces and parties want these elections to go ahead in full compliance with the law, in a spirit of fair and open competition, and hope their results will be objective and reflect the real mood and opinion of our country’s people.

The FSB and other agencies have the task of doing everything necessary to prevent the activity of those who attempt or might attempt to use nationalist, xenophobic or radical slogans to divide our society.

Of course, you must also prevent any attempts from outside to intervene in our election and our country’s political life. As you know, such methods exist and have been put to use in a number of countries. Let me say again that this is a direct threat to our sovereignty and we will respond accordingly.

I read the regular documents you prepare, read the summaries, and see the concrete indications that, regrettably, our ill-wishers abroad are preparing for these elections. Everyone should therefore be aware that we will defend our interests with determination and in accordance with our laws.

Our country’s economic security is also very important. Last year, the fight against organised crime put a stop to the activities of 98 groups. The security agencies’ information shows that 2,200 people were charged under criminal law and found guilty of economic crimes.

I ask you to step up this work and concentrate on fighting corruption, and misappropriation and embezzlement of budget money, especially the funds allocated for the state armament programme and the state defence procurement programme.

It is important to prevent any misappropriation of state funds, of course. But we should all be well aware that the large sums, enormous resources, you could say, that the country is investing in its defence capability not just today, but for the future, must be reliably protected from swindlers and schemers.

You should continue to give your attention to the question of ensuring our information security and neutralising new threats emerging in this area.

More than 24 million cyber attacks against Russian government official sites and information systems were registered in the last year alone. More than 1,600 internet resources that conducted activities harmful to our security, including terrorist and extremist activity, were shut down.

It is clear that we need to improve the level of protection of our information and communication resources, especially those used for defence and national security needs, law and order, for our economic and financial system’s stable functioning.

Colleagues, the state authorities will continue to do everything possible to bolster the security service personnel’s social status, of course.

In 2015, for example, 98 apartment buildings for security agency personnel, with nearly 7,300 apartments, were completed. The total amount of service housing has been growing steadily.

Of course, the families of service personnel who lost their lives while performing their duty should receive our special care and attention.

In conclusion, I want to thank the FSB heads and personnel once more for the work done.

I am sure that you will continue to carry out all of your duties to protect Russia’s national interests in the most professional fashion.

Thank you for your attention.