Russia has a well-developed counterterrorism program, which grew out of late Soviet-era operations directed at minority nationalist and counterrevolutionary organizations. While terrorist attacks under the totalitarian regime were rare, the opening of Russia’s borders, the spread of ethnic violence, the growth of transnational crime syndicates, and narcotics trafficking created an environment in the 1990s that made terrorism a tangible threat to the new Russian Federation. However, spillover from the first Chechen War proved the greatest catalyst for developing a robust antiterrorism program as Islamist militants and other groups targeted civilians in the North Caucasus, Moscow, and other parts of the country.
   In 1998, the Federal Law on Combating Terrorism was passed to more effectively combat terrorist groups, and clearly delineated the role of the FSB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) as the principal agencies charged with counterterrorism. However, the other agencies that assist in the effort include the Foreign Intelligence Service, Federal Protection Service, Defense Ministry, and Federal Border Service. With the apartment bombings, the beginning of the second Chechen War, and Vladimir Putin’s ascendance in 1999, counterterrorism policy shifted into high gear, with new powers accruing to the relevant agencies. After the September 11 attacks, the Kremlin began to cooperate more extensively with European, American, and Chinese counterterrorism agencies to address threats emanating from the Middle East, Central Asia, and elsewhere. Russia has also cooperated with Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, and India on international counterterrorism activities.
   On the home front, surveillance expanded exponentially and the media were reined in, particularly after the Nord-Ost theater siege in 2002. In Chechnya and its surrounding republics, counterterror operations led to frequent accusations of extrajudicial killings, “disappearances,” and torture. Some targeted assassinations, such as that of Ibn al-Khattab in 2002, were also made public as part of Russian strategy. In 2004, two Russian intelligence agents were convicted of killing the former Chechen president Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev in Qatar. In 2006, an updated Law on Counteraction to Terrorism stipulated that the Russian government could act beyond Russian soil to deal with terrorist threats, mirroring United States policy enacted under George W. Bush. Over time, Putin has used counterterrorism as a reason for expanding his vertical of power, particularly after the Beslan crisis, which led to the electoral reforms of 2004-2005.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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