US diplomats in Russia to be guarded by firm with ties to senior ex-KGB official

US embassy in RussiaSeveral American diplomatic facilities in Russia, including the United States embassy in Moscow, as well as consulates in other major Russian cities, will be guarded by a firm with ties to a former senior KGB official. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the company, Elite Security Holdings, is headquartered in Moscow but has offices throughout Europe and the former Soviet republics. The firm has its roots in an earlier venture co-founded by former KGB official Viktor G. Budanov. The 82-year-old Budanov served as director of the KGB’s K Directorate, also known as Second Chief Directorate, which was responsible for counterintelligence. Budanov no longer owns any part of Elite Security Holdings. But his son, Dimitri Budanov, is believed to be in charge of the firm’s headquarters in the Russian capital. The family is known to be politically close to Vladimir Putin, who served together in the KGB with Viktor Budanov in East Germany in the 1980s.

Elite Security Holdings was awarded a no-bid contract by the US Department of State’s Office of Acquisitions —meaning that no other company was solicited by the US government for the contract. The agreement was struck once US diplomatic facilities in Russia were forced by Moscow to cut their staff by 755 employees. That resulted in the firing of many staff members, most of them local Russians, whose job was to guard the perimeters of US diplomatic facilities, screen visitors, and patrol the embassy grounds. To make up for the loss of personnel, the Department of State hired Elite Security Holdings, which is authorized to operate in Russia as a private local company; its staff members are therefore not considered to be employees of Washington. But the private firm retains close links to Budanov, who spent 25 years outthinking the CIA as head of the KGB’s counterintelligence directorate.

The Times spoke to an anonymous US State Department official, who said that Elite Security Holdings personnel would not have access to the embassy’s secure areas. The official also told the paper that all Elite Security Holdings employees had been carefully screened by “relevant national and local agencies” and posed no threat to the security of US diplomatic facilities. The latter would still be primarily protected by US Marines, who are detailed to the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. According to The Times, Elite Security Holdings personnel will work at the US embassy in Moscow, and the consulates in Vladivostok, Yekaterinburg and St. Petersburg.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 16 November 2017 | Permalink

Advertisements

3 Responses to US diplomats in Russia to be guarded by firm with ties to senior ex-KGB official

  1. Bill Banks says:

    But the private firm retains close links to Budanov, who spent 25 years outthinking the CIA as head of the KGB’s counterintelligence directorate.
    ——————————————–

    Surely, those once employed by the relevant US counterpart would prefer “attempting to thwart” or “matching wits” etc. But definitely contest terminology that implies a losing contest over a quarter of a century.

  2. Pete says:

    While, as indicated in the last paragraph “Elite Security Holdings employees had been carefully screened by “relevant national and local agencies” and posed no threat to the security of US diplomatic facilities”
    – it is likely that these employees will be subsequently coerced or paid to work with Russia’s FSB (Russia’s internal security and counter-intelligence bureau).
    – uniformed [1] or plainclothes FSB are also likely to be on hand to keep an eye on any Elite employees outsie the Embassy

    As indicated in your second paragraph the Elite employees have jobs “to guard the perimeters of US diplomatic facilities, screen visitors, and patrol the embassy grounds.”
    but this will deter Russian citizens approaching the Embassy who are:
    – dissidents seeking US help
    – NGOs who are seeking US help or funding, and
    – of course others who want to provide insights valued by US diplomats.

    Of course Russian citizens might already be wary of Trump and his circle’s especially good personal relationships with Putin and Putin’s intelligence services.

    [1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/russian-fsb-guard-attacks-us-diplomat-outside-moscow-embassy/2016/06/28/2c42c98c-3d7f-11e6-a66f-aa6c1883b6b1_story.html?utm_term=.ec0a98ca7abf

  3. Carl says:

    Tillerson dismantles the unit enforcing sanctions against Russia
    Tillerson has worked diligently to hollow out the State Department
    Trump acts as a Putin sycophant
    Principles across the Trump campaign carry on repeated contacts with Russians all of which they “forget” on their SF-71’s

    Why is this the least bit surprising? It seems quite in character to me.

We welcome informed comments and corrections. Send us yours using the form below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s