Until the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, the Soviet Union broadly defined opposition to the Soviet state as terrorism. Millions went to the gulag—or the grave—for terrorism offensives such as owning a book of Nikolai Bukharin or telling a joke about Stalin. Post-Stalin legal reforms drastically redefined treason to make it closer to the accepted Western legal definition. The post-Stalin KGB had to cope with some political terrorism in the Caucasus and Central Asia. In the late 1970s three young Armenians were executed for planting a bomb on the Moscow subway.
   Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Moscow has had to face terrorism from Chechnya and other Muslim enclaves, and Russia has faced a plague of terrorist incidents since 1994. Incidents have included the bombing of buses, bus stations, and schools, hostage taking, and the suicide bombing of Russian aircraft. Civilian casualties have been heavy. The FSB has primary responsibility for the field of counterterrorism in Russia. It has also broadened its search for international allies in the fight against terrorism. In January 2005, the FSB signed an agreement with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
   In June 2000, the Russian government created the Antiterroristicheskiy tsentr (Anti-Terrorist Center), or ATTs, of the Commonwealth of Independent States, drawing its cadre from many of the republics of the Soviet Union. The Russian component of the ATTs is under the National Security Council. The first head of the center, Colonel General Boris Melnikov, and his two chief subordinates were KGB veterans from Kazakhstan and Kirghizstan. The center has both operational and analytical components and is headquartered in Moscow. Special force components (Spetznaz) of the security services and military also have responsibility for counterterrorism operations. The ATTs website proudly notes that the combined services have sought assistance from Germany, Japan, and Austria, as well as the “special services” of the United States.
   Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin have been critical of their country’s counterterrorism operations. In the first of the Chechen Wars, Chechen rebels seized towns inside Russia and held buildings against determined assaults by Spetznaz units before withdrawing to safe havens in Chechnya. Russian special forces also badly botched a hostage situation in a school in southern Russia in 2004, suggesting that the service needs to expend more resources for additional training and equipment.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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