Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 15

Kremlin administration chief Aleksandr Voloshin instructed Russia’s special services yesterday to thwart attempts by foreigners to interfere in Russia’s presidential campaign. Speaking to the heads of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Voloshin called on the organization to ensure that foreign citizens or organizations “do not play any part in the election campaign,” or, as the Itar-Tass news agency put it, “influence the preparations and holding of the presidential election.” Voloshin was quoted as saying that “external forces must be prevented from drawing up and implementing” information programs and technologies in Russia during the presidential campaign. The Kremlin administration chief also warned that that there are forces abroad which “are not interested in stability in the North Caucasus,” and that Russia’s security agencies should “forestall efforts by foreign special services” to destabilize the situation there.

For his part, FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev said that Russia’s special services had “concrete information” about attempts by foreign organizations and missions based in Russia to interfere with the presidential election. Sergei Ivanov, secretary of the Security Council, a powerful presidential advisory body, said that certain foreign organizations “have both influence and an interest” in swaying the results of the Russian presidential election (Russian agencies, January 20).

Voloshin, Patrushev and Ivanov did not specify foreign individuals or organizations by name, nor did they specify the ways in which these individuals and organizations were planning to “interfere” in Russia’s election campaign. Their comments, however, reflect a surprising degree of unease on the part of the Russian authorities, given that Putin remains extremely popular, despite the Russian military’s recent difficulties in its operation to take control of the Chechen capital.