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FSB - Counter-Terrorism

On September 30, 2015, Russia initiated military operations in Syria. In response, the Islamic Group of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and affiliated terrorist organizations have issued threats vowing retaliatory terrorist attacks in Russia. These threats, combined with ISIL’s terrorist attack in Paris in November 2015, prompted the Russian security services to enhance security measures at many public venues, including tourist sites. Following Russian military action in Syria, ISIL members made numerous threats of retaliation, including publishing a video in November threatening “that soon blood will spill like an ocean” in Russia, and beheading a citizen of Chechnya in December.

On December 29, 2014, Russia’s Supreme Court issued a ruling recognizing ISIL as a terrorist organization and banned its domestic activity. With the ruling, participation in ISIL activities became a criminal offense under Russian law. At the end of 2015, the government estimated 2,900 Russian citizens were fighting with ISIL in Syria and Iraq. During the year, authorities convicted at least 80 individuals for fighting with ISIL or the “opposition” against the Syrian government, according to open sources. In December, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Director announced that in 2015, 20 sworn terrorist leaders had been neutralized in the North Caucasus region.

The FSB reported no terrorist attacks in the Russian Federation in 2015. However, on October 31, a Russian charter plane exploded in mid-air over Egypt due to an improvised explosive device on board. All 224 people – including 219 Russian nationals -- on board were killed. Russian authorities, in addition to the U.S. and U.K., determined the incident was an act of terrorism. As the charter plane was registered in Ireland, it is excluded from Russian jurisdiction based on the 1963 Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed On Board Aircraft.

In October 2015, multiple media outlets reported that the FSB had foiled a terrorist plot against the public transportation system in Moscow. Several suspected terrorists were arrested during an apartment raid, and five kilograms of explosives were seized.

In the last decade, Moscow and St. Petersburg had been the targets of terrorist attacks. Bombings have occurred at Russian government buildings, airports, hotels, tourist sites, markets, entertainment venues, schools, residential complexes, and on public transportation (subways, buses, trains, and scheduled commercial flights).

The ussian counterterrorism legislation known as the Yarovaya Package came into force 01 August 2016. Convicted terrorists can be sentenced to life in prison. Involvement in terror attacks or their financing can be punished by up to 15 years in prison. The bill restricts the movement of those suspected in being engaged in terrorism or extremism and lowers the age threshold for terrorism-related crimes to 14 years. It also obliges mobile operators to store call records and messages for seven years.




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