"The Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation (Russian: Слу́жба вне́шней разве́дки, tr. Sluzhba vneshney razvedki; IPA: [ˈsluʐbə ˈvnʲɛʂnʲɪj rɐˈzvʲɛtkʲɪ]) or SVR RF (Russian: СВР РФ) is Russia's external intelligence agency, mainly for civilian affairs. The military affairs espionage counterpart is the GRU. The SVR RF is the successor of the First Chief Directorate (PGU) of the KGB since December 1991.[1] The headquarters of SVR are in the Yasenevo District of Moscow.

Unlike the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the SVR is responsible for intelligence and espionage activities outside the Russian Federation. It works in cooperation with the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (Russian: Гла́вное разве́дывательное управле́ние, tr. Glavnoye razvedyvatel'noye upravleniye; IPA: [ˈglavnəjə rɐzˈvʲɛdɨvətʲɪlʲnəjə ʊprɐˈvlʲenʲɪjə]) (GRU), which reportedly deployed six times as many spies in foreign countries as the SVR in 1997.[2] The SVR is also authorized to negotiate anti-terrorist cooperation and intelligence-sharing arrangements with foreign intelligence agencies, and provides analysis and dissemination of intelligence to the Russian president. "  wiki


Why do you people keep prattling on about the FSB?  The GRU and the SVR are Russia's external intelligence services, not the FSB who are essentially cops and internal security people like the FBI.  pl

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37 Responses to The SVR

  1. I think the all the talk of the FSB stems from the fact that many functions of the FAPSI (Federal Agency of Government Communications and Information), including most of FAPSI’s internet related functions were transferred to the FSB in 2003. We figured the FSB got the lion’s share of FAPSI resources and functions because the FSB was Putin’s power base.

  2. turcopolier says:

    OK. Then the GRU must really be riding high. pl

  3. Yes, I would say they’re shitting in tall cotton.

  4. Degringolade says:

    Colonel and TTG (Lt Co.?) (Colonel?):
    Don’t worry: Whenever we see an unfamiliar acronym, we just assume it is the Godless Rooski’s and go from there.
    As Mastger Sergeant York always told me: Don’t sweat the small stuff, that is Officer’s territory

  5. turcopolier says:

    IMO if you don’t understand who the other side are in all their details, then you don’t know shit, but then I’m not York. pl

  6. ked says:

    well, the buck’s gotta covfefe somewhere.

  7. turcopolier says:

    “covfefe?” pl

  8. turcopolier says:

    It would make some sense for them to do that since the internet is largely an internal security problem for them. pl

  9. pl,
    It’s a reference to a late night Trump tweet of a few months ago simply stating “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.” That’s all it said and there was no follow up tweet. The internet had a field day with it.

  10. BillWade says:

    For all their concerns (those Dems)about the nefarious Russians, one has to wonder why they let our military and border defenses slide during their tenure, just seems odd to me.

  11. turcopolier says:

    Bill Wade
    IMO the Obamanites reckoned that history had ended and that the military was only needed as a bargaining tool in diplomacy. Border defenses? We haven’t had any since the beginning of WW2 and then they were mostly intended for defense against the British. pl

  12. Aka says:

    Probably because Putin was the head of FSB for one year period near his rice to power.
    Also a fun fact is that Putin served mostly in the 1st Directorate (now SVR).
    BTW, I think FSB does foreign intelligence on former soviet states. I remember reading somewhere that SVR is not allowed to do that due to some agreement.

  13. turcopolier says:

    That’s right. I was involved as an expert witness in a court case involving Checnhaya and the Russian spooks involved were all FSB. My interaction with them was by teleconference. At the end of the first day they asked how I knew so much about various subjects. The second day they addressed me as “Gospodin Polkhovnik.” (Citizen Colonel). I had not told them that. pl

  14. Allen Thomson says:

    I think I mentioned this some time ago, but the SVR HQ at Yasenevo (55.584 N, 37.518 E)has undergone considerable and continuing expansion in the past ten years. Good times, I suppose.

  15. georgeg says:

    You are very uninformed…..

  16. turcopolier says:

    If you wish to tell James that he is ignorant, IMO you should explain WHY he is “uninformed.”

  17. FourthAndLong says:

    Another country heard from — Matt Taibbi at Rollingstone:
    A couple of excerpts:
    “For journalists like me who have backgrounds either working or living in Russia, the new Red Scare has been an ongoing freakout. A lot of veteran Russia reporters who may have disagreed with each other over other issues in the past now find themselves in like-minded bewilderment over the increasingly aggressive rhetoric.
    “Many of us were early Putin critics who now find ourselves in the awkward position of having to try to argue Americans off the ledge, or at least off the path to war, when it comes to dealing with the Putin regime.
    “There’s a lot of history that’s being glossed over in the rush to restore Russia to an archenemy role.

    “For all the fears about Trump being a Manchurian Candidate bent on destroying America from within, the far more likely nightmare endgame involves our political establishment egging the moron Trump into a shooting war as a means of proving his not-puppetness.
    “This already almost happened once, when Trump fired missiles into Syria with Russian troops on the ground, seemingly as a means of derailing a Russiagate furor that was really spiraling that particular week. That episode proved that the absolute worst time to bang the war drum under “Trump is when he’s feeling vulnerable on Russia – which he clearly is now.
    “Rising anti-Russian hysteria and a nuclear button-holder in the White House who acts before he thinks is a very bad combination. We should try to chill while we still can, especially since the Russians, once again, probably aren’t as powerful as we think.”

  18. Aka says:

    well sir,
    even if they were not involved with intelligence gathering in US, they do counter-intelligence.
    And given your service, you are probably well known to that organization.

  19. Lyttenburgh says:

    “Why do you people keep prattling on about the FSB?”
    Because “FSB (former KGB)” is the meme. It’s far more easier for the punditocracy and their intended auditory to consume easy, dumbed down narrative. When you try to show the world more resembing the reality, history or when you require your readership to (Heaven forbid!) learn new facts, you are at risk of losing them. No, Everybody Knows (TM), that FSB = KGB. KGB ran spying rings. Ergo – FSB does the same now.
    How much the ruling elites in the West subscribe to this worldview I, honestly, don’t know. But I’m already pessimistic about them and their mental capacity.
    “BTW, I think FSB does foreign intelligence on former soviet states. I remember reading somewhere that SVR is not allowed to do that due to some agreement.”
    I;d really like to see your sources.

  20. Allen Thomson says:

    Biographic intelligence is kind of basic, and I’d very surprised if both the KGB and the GRU didn’t both have shops dedicated to it in times past. Perhaps the SVR/FSB maintain the KGB’s as a service of common concern.

  21. Lyttenburgh says:

    “Matt Taibbi was co-editor of an English language newspaper in Moscow during the late 90s and early 00s, and as this obviously implies he lived in Russia for quite some time.”
    Both of them left country in 2008 and never visited it since then. The fact that their halcyon days of gonzo journalism happened to be in the “glorious democratic 90s” (c) surely resulted in some psychological/professional deformation of the worldview. I mean – calling both the USSR and Russia “a 3rd world country”?
    Matt Taibbi is a classic “Dove”, i.e. he is an arrogant liberast, who thinks that Russia is not important. Pretty much like watered down Obama pre-2013, aka the former Democratic mainstream.
    “He speaks Russian and knows the people well.”
    Given that during his eXile magazine days he spent most of the time in Moscow drinking, snorting and screwing around, I wouldn’t say tha the “knows the people”. He knows some people, aka westernized big city urbanites, whom amount to about 2-5% of the populace. Or, what, all the rest does not count?

  22. turcopolier says:

    In the case of the FSB officers in the Chechnaya court case, they were in uniform one was a major, the other was a LT. Col. I assumed that they consulted their biographic files overnight. People may not realize that FSB/SVR people are not soldiers. They are essentially para-military police types. The GRU are members of the Russian Army. pl

  23. Lyttenburgh says:

    Sorry, maybe its just me, but when I see a headline “What Does Russiagate Look Like to Russians?”, I expect to have exactly what it says on the tin. Nothing here in the article from Russians, either ranking officials or the ordinary people on the street. Taibbi can’t deliver such promise in the first place, being away from the country and all that. This is his opinion based on personal biases, yes. But he has to mask it the form of the “journalism”. RS better stick to covering muscic Industry scandals.

  24. Richardstevenhack,
    I found a good article about current Russian cyberwar written by a Russian who spoke to Russians. The author is a reporter with Meduza, a new news source formed by former reporters and an editor of was a popular news source in Moscow. An editor and 20 reporters left to form Meduza in Riga, Latvia after the editor was fired in a takeover by the Russian government.
    The info here is much better than what Carr provided and is much more in line with what I know of the real situation. It doesn’t paint the Russians as demons or angels. The same author did an earlier article about Russia’s cyberwar capabilities and relationship with hackers, but it’s only available in Russian. I’ll try to get translated and available on SST somehow.
    As to Carr’s claim that the SVR would be involved in the alleged DNC hack, I don’t buy it. They work overseas not with Russia-based hackers. Unless they were involved with the alleged stealing of DNC files on site or arranging the alleged passage of DNC material in Rock Creek Park, it would not be the SVR. I have no idea what relationship the GRU has with Russian hackers, so I have no idea why the IC, CrowdStrike and others think the GRU is involved. The GRU does have a SIGINT directorate, but since they’re so much better at the art of STFU we just don’t know what that entails.

  25. A.I.Schmelzer says:

    Crowdstrike believes the GRU is involved because, based on their pretty faulty metrics, it was supposedly not the FSB. So they googled “Russian spy agency that is not the FSB” and GRU was the thing that came out.
    The whole Felix Edmundovich (no GRU agent would ever use Felix Edmundovich as a callsign. Just no. GRU vs Cheka-descendents rivalry is a serious thing) thing on its own should basically disqualify the crowdstrike thing.
    To the best of my knowledge all somewhat cyber related Russian spy agencies make use of Russian (and the occassional Ukrainian or Belorussian, Russians are preferred though) hackers. They all have the ability to offer a roof, and why not use cheap and deniable agents? The SVR/GRU/FSB can all do “do not arrest this hacker unless he seriously fucks up” notices to the Russian police which is all they need to induct/conscript hackers.
    They also all informally claim that the other agencies contract out hackers dumb enough to get caught, while they are the sage ones who contract the good hackers capable enough to avoid run ins with Russian law enforcement.
    Interstingly, the actual likely Russian state hack, that of the equation group does not get mentioned much. Despite the fact that this was blatantly Russia, which we know because the Russians intended to do that as a show of force.
    Russia apparently saw the following threat:
    If the Americans believe that the pretty clownish Podesta and DNC hacks are representative of Russias cyber ability, they may well decide to go for full cyber war against Russia (if the DNC hack was the epitome of Russian hacking, the US would win that cyber war easily. Of course, it is not). The winner in such a cyber war would be China.
    Also, the podesta hack was easy enough to be just a Russian hacker looking for patriotic brownie points/get of of jail cards.
    You see, if you are a Russian hacker, you can get decently rich, but you typically kind of exist at the mercy of law enforcement.
    Even if you do not hack Russian sites/offer illict merchandise in Russia etc., you would still be breaking Russian tax law.
    Once they get you, which always happens in the long run, you either get forcibly acquainted with every snowflake in Siberia or people decide that your business if profitable and turn you into a wage slave (wage wont be very good) in your own (well, no longer) little hacking corporation. Unless of course you have one of the mythical “dont go to jail” cards.
    How to get those? Well, provide to the authorities something that they want and that isnt money (they can just take money from you without breaking any sweat whatsorever).
    A thing an average Russian hacker can provide to the authorities is deniability mixed up with some spying/trolling and other cyber things.
    Which is precisely what they do. Do your normal money making hacking thing on 4 days of the week, then invest friday into hacking dumb but politically important Americans, and hope that this suffices for a Get out of Jail card.
    The authorities will generally be mildly bemused by these antics. First, they never actually clarified what is neccessary for a Get out of Jail card, so the hackers never quite know when they are safe. Second, the hackers are essentially doing something useful in return for the authorities doing nothing, which is a pretty great deal for the authorities. Third, they can actually use this to cheaply scout for useful talent, and fourth taking over hacking enterprises is a useful little black budget extra revenue that will be unknown to rival Russian or foreign spy agencies.

  26. Lyttenburgh says:

    “An editor and 20 reporters left to form Meduza in Riga, Latvia after the editor was fired in a takeover by the Russian government.”
    That’s only part of the story, TTG. Then editor of Lenta did not comply with the Russian legislation by conducting an interview with the member of the banned on the territory of Russia Ukrainian “Right Sector” and were cheeky about that. Also, Kremlin did not appoint their own person to run – the current chief Editor is a longtime resident journalist. The vast majority of the team reamained. I’d be more careful in the use of such words as “governmental takeover”.
    As for Meduza – for a time being they were funded by Khodorkovsky, but ran afoul of him for refusing to shill for his “Open Russia”. Currently their financial problems are keeping mounting. Looks like without democratic grants to “promote the freedom of speech” issued by this or that NGO or Western state they won’t last too long. The fact they are based in the capitol of the apartheid sate of Latvia is, surely, a bonus point to receive one.
    I’d be extremely careful with anything published by Meduza. They have their own agenda, biases and tendency for sensationalism. Although seeing the catfights of Meduza vs whatever fringe “liberal” oppos in Russia are entertaining.

  27. turcopolier says:

    You have been banned here, Don’t you know that? I only occasionally let somthing of yours through. pl

  28. turcopolier says:

    “a FSB troll?” What? pl

  29. A.I.Schmelzer says:

    The situation in Russia would be a bit different.
    Actual hackers go after foreign things on their own dime/time, if they hit paydirt they transfer this information in return for money, concrete removal of a criminal investigation (dont go to jail card), removing an associate from custody (get out of jail card, more expensive than dont go to jail card).
    It is a fairly diffuse process. At no point does any Russian agency do a darkweb posting and write “He, she or it who hacks the target X in timeframe Y getting us Data Z gets one get out of jail card, only applies to Russia”.
    I do not believe that such persons even have formal “informant” status, and from my understanding, they may well be proud that they dont.
    You could also see such hackers as their own operatives, who simply award the respective Russian agencies with “first buying rights” regarding the fruits of their exploits. I have seen no evidence whatsorever that Russian agencies actually bought any of Guccifers produce. If Guccifer was leaking things to wikileaks, it implies the opposite.
    Their capabilities are not on nation state level, but certainly sufficient to hack the DNC (which was far away from being Fort Cyber Knox).

  30. Lyttenburgh says:

    “But funny someone outed you as a FSB troll. ;)”
    “Outed”? Me?! Why not claim that I’m also Vladimir Putin while we are at it? 😉
    “Have you read it at all?”
    I suggest you to play a drinking game with that Meduza article. Take a shot of strong spirits of your choice every time they mention “anonymous source close to [X]”, “our [unnamed] source/specialist says” or other indication that they got this super hush-hush kind of information. I will even make a prediction, that if you won’t cheat in that game the article will SUDDENLY make sense to you.
    Because I read and, once again, got confirmation that “Meduza” is an apt name for them. Only they are not of the Gorgon kind – they are the jelly looking one with no brain, only instincts and feeding tract.

  31. Lyttenburgh says:

    “”a FSB troll?” What?”
    Sir, I’ve been called worse. The reasoning goes that because I’m Russian and I post pro-Russian stuff, I must be “bought” by the regime. And who represents the “Regime” best in the minds of the Westerners? Why, FSB, of course! I once got banned in 2015 on one historical forum for , and I quote, “pushing pro-Russian agenda”, while everything that I did there amounted to just one argument with Ukro-Canadian about the roots of the Ukrainian statehood, and another one about late 1980s – early 90s Russian dissidents.

  32. turcopolier says:

    It was LeaNder’s description of you, not mine. pl

  33. Lyttenburgh says:

    —>Your head, LeaNder.
    Do you really think that I was “outed” by yalensis, of all people? Encylopedia Dramatica (btw – it was me, who sent that link to him) is TOTALLY serious source of information. It was sarcasm, if you didn’t get that.
    I actually welcome anyone to go and prove that I’m somehow a paid troll working for FSB/KGB/Mossad/Nibiru/Whatever. Otherwise, LeaNder, I can also make baseless claims – this time, about you.

  34. Lyttenburgh says:

    “There is a larger Russian speaking community in Riga and Latvia too?”
    Yes. The biggest concenration of Russophones in Latvia is in Riga. It’s mayor is ethnic Russian – Niels Ushakov.
    Why are you puzzled by thetrust in Ramzan Kadyrov?

  35. turcopolier says:

    “May I suggest that if I post something at length that directly addresses an issue under discussion and which in my view – and hopefully yours – contributes some relevant facts to the discussion that you let it through.’ Suggest whatever you like, but this is not a democracy. nor is it the public square and if I or in that case TTG feel like it we will block your comments. pl

  36. Lyttenburgh says:

    Can’t say that we met before. Is “LeaNder” your usual handle on other sites as well?
    And, yes, the accusations of those who dare to voice their opinion contrary to the #Resistance of them being Putin’s agents is a thing. A new normal, in fact. From your tone I couldn’t deduce whether you were accusing me of the same thing. Olive branch accepted.
    Yes, I’m an “old hand” of the Russia watching, only from the other side – I’m a Russian who watches Russia watchers.
    “But also the blog of the scholar on Russian history. Were you show interest in her transcription of spelling in historical Russian documents.”
    What blog you are talking about?

  37. Lyttenburgh says:

    “You could have simply drawn my attention. Probably here. Not recently though, it feels.”
    I do post here occasionally. Not regularly, though. The world of Russia-watchers is rather small one, so, inevitably, both the authors and commenters get to know each other via “crossing over” in other blogs. Several of commenters in this thread I’ve met regularly elsewhere.
    “Let’s see, not her blog, she is only one of the authors.”
    Nice, tidy blog. It has its own glaring biases and went into a meltdown mode after Trump’s election. But, thankfully, its a collective effort done by professionals, so, at least, I have common ground of basic facts to argue/talk with them.
    Sorry to hear abut your troubles while trying to learn Russian. There are several blogs and courses on-line dedicated to improving/learning Russian, one of the most interesting ones is this one: ( Check it out if you are interested.
    “I can see that Russia appreciates stability in Chechnya, I am simply not so fond of family dynasties. How do Russians like the man in Belarus?”
    Ordinary Russians kinda like bat’ka Lukashenko. He is sly and wily and often cartoonish, but he does deliver. I was in Belarus, have some distantly related relatives here. The country is perfect for your retirement. But if you are younger – well, you might find it rather boring. Also – a definite lack of diversity in the stores, mostly few local brands.
    Dynasty or not, the chief trait required from the ruler remains the same – ability to maintain stability.

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