The Secret Service of the Russian Police

The Interior Ministry has a special police intelligence

A secret department of the Russian Interior Ministry - the Detective Administration - has recently celebrated its professional holiday. Common people and the criminal world did not know anything about the existence of the special police service for a long time. However, the history of the service in the Interior Ministry started in 1938. On September 29th 2003 law-enforcement offices of the secret police department celebrated 65 years of their activities.

The detective service exists for decades in Russia. Before the revolution of 1917, the service was subordinated to guarding departments, their work was aimed against terrorists of that time. After the establishment of the Soviet power, the detective service was used by the Emergency Committee, until a solely police department was formed in the structure of the People's Committee for Interior Affairs (known for the Russian initials as NKVD) to perform intelligence activities in the criminal world.

The new service was called the 7th Department of the Interior Ministry. In 1991, the department was given the status of the administration. In February of 1996, the ministry officially approved regulations about the detective administration (there are several secret documents to regulate the administration's work too). Each regional division of the interior ministry has detective service departments too.

The detective service was exposed to the public eye in October of 1996 in Moscow, when Security Council Secretary Alexander Lebed's bodyguards detained a group of detective service officers. The security thought that the officers were spying on their boss. Reporters filmed the detained secret agents and the footage was broadcast on the national television.

The agents of the detective service are not a part of the police personnel. They are listed as employees of various civil enterprises (or just the unemployed). They "work" as social and housing employees, reporters or military men. The administration of the detective service in the Perm region is housed in the police department building, but the location of the service's headquarters and bases is kept secret. An office of the detective service can be disguised under a military unit, a civil defense department, etc. The agents' vehicles have special documents which prohibit police officers from examining them.

Secret agents of the detective service spy on criminals, detect and arrest blackmailers and disperse criminals' meetings. In addition, secret agents try to obtain as much information as possible about criminals' private lives. For example, a woman visits criminal's neighbors, introduces herself as a pension fund employee and says that she needs to ask several questions. During the conversation, she carefully asks questions about other neighbors, including the criminal. Agents value elderly people a lot in this respect because they are a source of valuable information: they always know who lives in the building, when people leave for work and when they come home and who they bring with them.

In addition, the secret police service can conduct detective operations regarding a whole residential area or a commercial organization. Secret agents will be registering all visitors, all vehicles and so on and so forth. The detective administration reportedly helps another secret department of the interior ministry, which deals with phone tapping, secret audio control and other kinds of the technical intelligence.

The service's work is strictly regulated. Secret agents have to obtain special permissions to spy on a person or organization. After that they fill a special form which contains the reason of such activities and all possible details of the object of spying - the home address, the car number, the telephone number, etc. The form also specifies the work of the detective service (the use of the video and audio equipment). When the goal is achieved, all the information is given to the headquarters where they form a special file. The information in the file is secret and it can hardly be used for an investigation or a trial.

The detective administration can make mistakes like any other service. At times, corrupted agents sell secret information to criminals, although it happens on very rare occasions. One year of service in the detective administration is counted as 18 months - this is the only privilege that secret agents of the service have. Agents work irregular hours, they have to  deal with criminals every day and they should always observe their secrecy.

Konstantin Sterledev

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Author`s name Olga Savka