Russia's New Nobility

The Rise of the Security Services in Putin's Kremlin

Courtesy Reuters

In December 2000, Nikolai Patrushev, who had succeeded Vladimir Putin as director of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), gave an interview to mark the anniversary of the founding of the Cheka, the Bolshevik secret police. He described the FSB's personnel: "Our best colleagues, the honor and pride of the FSB, don't do their work for the money," he said. "They all look different, but there is one very special characteristic that unites all these people, and it is a very important quality: It is their sense of service. They are, if you like, our new 'nobility.'"

Over the last decade in Russia, the FSB, the modern successor to the Soviet secret police, the KGB, has been granted the role of the new elite, enjoying expanded responsibilities and immunity from public oversight or parliamentary control. The FSB's budget is not published; the total number of officers is undisclosed. But even cautious

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