Russia: Putin Calls On FSB To Modernize Border Guards
By Victor Yasmann
Speaking at a meeting with senior officers of the Federal Security Service (FSB) on 7 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin said it is impossible to maintain Russia's national security without the "reliable guarding of its borders."
Putin asked the Federal Border Guard Service (FPS), which is part of the FSB, "to modernize border infrastructure in line with modern requirements," kremlin.ru reported. "The border should be convenient both for those who serve there and those who legally cross it," he said, and praised the FPS for progress made since 2005. "FSB border guards have done a lot to improve the border. As a result, they have disrupted several attempted infractions of Russian territory, [including] international terrorists, weapons, and drugs." Putin called on the FSB to increase the fight against international terrorism and "destroy terrorists like rats."
Speaking about borders and terrorism, Putin touched on the situation in the North Caucasus and noted that in 2005 "the operational capacity of the FPS has been increased" in that region. Putin reiterated comments made in July 2005, after armed attacks on law-enforcement facilities and military in Daghestan and Chechnya, about the need to reinforce Russia's southern border. At that time, Putin asked the Defense Ministry and FSB to "deploy two new brigades of troops and [set up] new border-guard stations."
The money was duly provided. Speaking on 13 December 2005, FPS Director Colonel-General Vladimir Pronichev said the government had allotted the 14.8 billion rubles ($523 million) for strengthening the border in the North Caucasus until 2007, the Military News Agency reported. He added that, by the end of 2006, 72 FPS bases, nine command centers, and one training center will be built in the North Caucasus.
The reorganization of border security in the North Caucasus is in line with the overall reshaping of the FPS, which began when it once again became part of the FSB in 2003. During Soviet times, it was part of the KGB, but became an independent entity in 1991. Also in 2003, the Duma adopted a national state border program that allotted 65 billion rubles to improve border infrastructure.
In July 2004, the FPS abolished 10 border districts that had existed since Soviet times. There are now seven regional border-guard administrations, which correspond to the seven federal districts of the Russian Federation, plus the newly created FPS Coast Guard.
All in all Russia has 61,000 kilometers of sea and land borders, 7,500 kilometers of which is with Kazakhstan, and over 4,000 kilometers with China. According to FPS Deputy Director Lieutenant General Aleksandr Manilov, 1 kilometer of border protection costs around 1 million rubles, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 December 2005. In a May 2005 interview, FPS Director Pronichev said Russia's most unsettled borders are those with the Baltic states, Kazakhstan, and those in the North Caucasus.
Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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