The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with Russia and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (July 2020)
Counterintelligence state (sometimes also called intelligence state, securocracy or spookocracy) is a state where the state security service penetrates and permeates all societal institutions, including the military. The term has been applied by historians and political commentators to the former Soviet Union, the former German Democratic Republic, Cuba after the 1959 revolution, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, China, and post-Soviet Russia under Vladimir Putin, especially since 2012.
According to one definition, "The counterintelligence state is characterized by the presence of a large, elite force acting as a watchdog of a security defined as broadly that the state must maintain an enormous vigilance and enforcement apparatus... This apparatus is not accountable to the public and enjoys immense police powers... Whether the civilian government is able to control the security bodies is an open question; indeed the civilian government is so penetrated by the apparatus that there is no clear distinction between the two."
In some cases, securocracies feature literal, direct rule of the state by officials originating from the secret police - as it was, for instance, in the USSR under Lavrentiy Beria and Yuri Andropov, and as it is in Russia under Vladimir Putin.
Undercover staff of the KGB included three major categories:
- (a) the active reserve,
- (b) the "trusted contacts" (or "reliable people"), and
- (c) "civilian informers" (or "secret helpers").
The "active reserve" included KGB officers with a military rank who worked undercover. "Trusted contacts" were high placed civilians who collaborated with the KGB without signing any official working agreements, such as directors of personnel departments at various institutions, academics, deans, or writers and actors. Informers were citizens secretly recruited by the KGB, sometimes using forceful recruitment methods, such as blackmail. The precise number of people from various categories remains unknown, but one of the estimates was 11 million "informers" in the Soviet Union, or one out of every eighteen adult citizens.
A "Law on Foreign Intelligence" adopted in August 1992 provided conditions for penetration by former KGB officers to all levels of the government and economy, since it stipulated that "career personnel may occupy positions in ministries, departments, establishments, enterprises and organizations in accordance with the requirements of this law without compromising their association with foreign intelligence agencies." According to a Russian banker, "All big companies have to put people from the security services on the board of directors... and we know that when Lubyanka calls, they have to answer them." A current FSB colonel explained that "We must make sure that companies don't make decisions that are not in the interest of the state".
Olga Kryshtanovskaya, director of the Moscow-based Center for the Study of Elites, has found in the beginning of the 2000s that up to 78% of 1,016 leading political figures in post-Soviet Russia have served previously in organizations affiliated with the KGB or FSB. She said: "If in the Soviet period and the first post-Soviet period, the KGB and FSB people were mainly involved in security issues, now half are still involved in security but the other half are involved in business, political parties, NGOs, regional governments, even culture... They started to use all political institutions."
"Under Russian Federation President and former career foreign intelligence officer Vladimir Putin, an 'FSB State' composed of chekists has been established and is consolidating its hold on the country. Its closest partners are organized criminals. In a world marked by a globalized economy and information infrastructure, and with transnational terrorism groups utilizing all available means to achieve their goals and further their interests, Russian intelligence collaboration with these elements is potentially disastrous.", said politologist Julie Anderson.
Historian Yuri Felshtinsky compared the takeover of Russian state by siloviks with an imaginary scenario of Gestapo coming to power in Germany after World War II. He noted a fundamental difference between the secret police and ordinary political parties, even totalitarian ones, such as the Soviet Communist Party. The Russian secret police organizations use various violent active measures. Hence, according to Felstinsky, they killed Alexander Litvinenko and directed Russian apartment bombings and other terrorism acts in Russia to frighten the civilian population and achieve their political objectives.
Former KGB officer Konstantin Preobrazhenskiy shares similar ideas. When asked "How many people in Russia work in FSB?", he replied: "Whole country. FSB owns everything, including Russian Army and even own Church, the Russian Orthodox Church... Putin managed to create new social system in Russia".
"Vladimir Putin's Russia is a new phenomenon in Europe: a state defined and dominated by former and active-duty security and intelligence officers. Not even Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, or the Soviet Union – all undoubtedly much worse creations than Putins government – were as top-heavy with intelligence talent", said intelligence expert Marc Gerecht.
- John J. Dziak Chekisty: A History of the KGB (Lexington Books, D. C. Heath and Company, 125 Spring Street, Lexington, Mass.), with a foreword by Robert Conquest, pages 1–2.
- Chekisty: A History of the KGB. – book reviews, National Review, March 4, 1988 by Chilton Williamson, Jr.
- Richard H. Shultz, The Secret War Against Hanoi: The Untold Story of Spies, Saboteurs, and Covert Warriors in North Vietnam, – Page 356
- Michael Waller Secret Empire: The KGB in Russia Today., Westview Press. Boulder, CO., 1994., ISBN 0-8133-2323-1, pages 13–15.
- Overthrowing Saddam. How he rules., By James S. Robbins, a national-security analyst & NRO contributor, National Review, February 18, 2002
- How New Are the New Communists? Oleksy Colloquium Reflects on the Legacy of the KGB by Dr. Michael Szporer
- We must not cave in to the spookocracy in the Kremlin, by Martin Ivens, Sunday Times, January 20, 2008
- Yevgenia Albats and Catherine A. Fitzpatrick. The State Within a State: The KGB and Its Hold on Russia—Past, Present, and Future. 1994. ISBN 0-374-52738-5, pages 56–57
- Robert W. Pringle. Andropov's Counterintelligence State, International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, 13:2, 193–203, page 196, 2000
- The HUMINT Offensive from Putin's Chekist State Anderson, Julie (2007), International Journal of Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence, 20:2, 258–316
- https://web.archive.org/web/20081025104857/http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/2008-28-3.cfm. Archived from the original on 2008-10-25. Missing or empty
- "The making of a neo-KGB state". The Economist. 2007-08-23. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2017-11-24.
- "FINROSFORUM - Home". 2011-07-20. Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2017-11-24.
- In Russia, A Secretive Force Widens, by P. Finn, Washington Post, 2006
- The HUMINT Offensive from Putin's Chekist State Anderson, Julie (2007), International Journal of Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence, 20:2, 258 – 316
- The Chekist Takeover of the Russian State, Anderson, Julie (2006), International Journal of Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence, 19:2, 237 – 288.
- Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror Historian Yuri Felshtinsky explains his views on the nature of Putinism on C-SPAN
- A Rogue Intelligence State? Why Europe and America Cannot Ignore Russia Archived 2007-09-14 at the Wayback Machine By Reuel Marc Gerecht