This post first appeared on Russia Insider
A very exciting tour of Russian spy headquarters outside of Moscow, a location so secretive you can’t even find the address on a map.
Putin actually started his government career as a KGB intelligence officer here and we get to see the dorm room he stayed in for about a year of training. Afterwards we are given the rigorous fitness requirements for intelligence officers in crawl strokes, chin-ups, and 110 yard runs. These fitness goals are not usually made public, but these agents want the world to know they are ready and waiting against any threats that attempt to overpower Russian security.
You don’t want to mess with these guys.
The intelligence officers call this place 'a forest'. The SVR headquarters is located basically in the outskirts of Moscow, in the district of Yasenevo. You won't find the exact address on any map. It's an out-of-bounds property. That's where Sergey Naryshkin spends most of his work hours. By the way, Vladimir Putin also worked in SVR.
- How often do you report to the President?
- The service sends the reports to the President every day. Including Saturday, Sunday, and holidays.
- Do you ask for his advice?
- He's got a great understanding of our job and its nuances. So, naturally, yes! We often discuss professional issues.
On the Intelligence Campus, so to say, there's everything needed for work and living. Their own clinic, a store, and even a watch repair shop. But, most importantly, there are facilities to stay in good physical and fighting form.
Journalists have never been allowed here. But they've made an exception for us. The gunnery training is undergoing in such extreme conditions. A siren, reduced visibility, and moving targets. A sharpshooter is the one who hits bull's eye 9 times out of 10.
- So, let's do it?
- Let's start! Fire! Let's have a look at the result.
- You hit the bull's eye 3 times out of 4.
- Yes. Your result is great too.
- I don't think so.
- These are very good ones. No way I'm to become an intelligence officer. You are! Especially now that you've made friends here. Good shooting.
There's a unique covert military unit within the Foreign Intelligence Service, the Special Purpose Center. This very organization ensures the security of Russian organizations and citizens abroad. This is unique footage with actual officers of the SVR. That's why we were allowed to shoot them only while they're wearing masks.
- What does the intelligence officer training comprise of? Does everyone study at the Academy? How many years do you study there?
- They're different schools in the Foreign Intelligence Academy. In some cases, it takes a year, or 2, or 3 years. You may ask, what's the difference?
- Does speaking foreign languages make a difference?
- Many factors make a difference. Speaking foreign languages, previous life experience a young officer has.
This is the very Academy where future intelligence officers study. The most classified educational institution in the country. Let's have a look what it's like inside. Before the remodeling, there was a wall here.
And this part of the room used to accommodate the most famous student of the Academy, Vladimir Putin. Two beds, a table, three chairs, today it even features a TV-set. Naturally, back then the room looked more modest. And there was a radio instead of the TV. Vladimir Putin stayed here for almost a year.
Of course, today's students don't know that Vladimir Putin lived in this room. At the same time, on the opposite side of the passage, there lived another intelligence officer. His real name is Sergey Naryshkin.
It's the boxer's gym in the Academy. That's where several generations of intelligence officers have been trained. There's a pool both here and in Yasenevo. Exclusively for our show, Sergey Naryshkin allowed disclosing the targets for the officers.
To excellently pass, let's say, the crawl stroke test, a 30-35-year old man should cover 110 yards in 1 min 50 sec, while a woman should do it in 2 min 50 sec. Men of the same age should do 13 chin-ups and run 110 yards in 14 sec.
- How often do the officers pass tests?
- Once a year we pass the main tests of the military and physical training. It's swimming, running, shooting.
Intelligence is a special service in Russia, the President's career started there. Vladimir rose there as high as the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He worked in East Germany in the toughest years of the USSR collapse and the fall of the Berlin Wall. By the way, the Foreign Intelligence Service reports directly to the President. There are no middle persons.
- Sergey Evgenievich, do you notice any mobilization in the activity of other countries' intelligence services concerning Russia?
- When the international situation gets complicated, it has always led to more intense and acute counteraction on the part of the experts. Let's have a snack.
- Good day!
- I see calories are indicated on the menu.
- Yes, some officers observe that attentively.
- The prices don't seem to change since the last century, do they?
- They do change sometimes, but not often, as it seems.
- Yes, very seldom, as it seems.
The prices are really affordable. Naryshkin paid 1,000 rubles ($30) to buy a spy's lunch for 6 people.
- What do you think, when will the trust crisis between Russia and the West be over? And who is to make the first step?
- Russia is open to a dialogue. Open to cooperation. And a dialogue should be maintained. But it's obvious for us, that the parties in this dialogue should be equal. Naturally, we can't allow speaking with us, I mean, with Russia, under any other conditions. It's the only way.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
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