Chapter 1: The Early Days of CPI
On 9/11, the world was rocked with a new breed of crime – terrorism. Countries all over the world were awakened from slumber – the threat of terrorism was real. They had to adapt to this new threat to their existence. For so long, the enemy had no face but a bleeding heart. A lull in his activity was construed as peace. Underground, he carefully plotted and planned for doomsday.
The US, leading nations around the globe, rose in defiance and willpower to wipe out terrorism from its roots, but the extent of its network was unknown.
Nations cooperated on new methods of combating it – financial tracking, communications intercept, preemptive neutralization, data mining, hacking, mass surveillance, profiling, just as examples. They also cooperated on imposing sanctions or embargos on countries and individuals with extremist ideologies or those sympathetic to their cause.
As enormous, the effort was in this endeavor, the faceless enemy still thrived. He metamorphosed into a giant killing machine spawning in the Middle East and some parts of North Africa. There was no single source of this faceless enemy. He came from everywhere!
In early 2002, the Russian government instituted the Crime Prevention and Investigation (CPI) Directorate through the Ministry of Internal Affairs to forestall this threat. At the time of its inception, it had a staffing of more than 50,000 spanning all the administrative subjects of Russia.
It had six main departments in every division. They included Intelligence and profiling, Data Forensics, Bomb squad, Tactical Operations, Crime Scene Analysts and K-9 unit. The CPI Directorate headquartered off Belinsky Street in Moscow Oblast was the largest unit – at 2000 strong distributed in 65 CPI divisions across Moscow.
For many years, CPI had provided Russia and the world with a readiness to ward off terrorism related crime – local and cross border, thwarting 78 terror plots at home and 230 abroad since its creation. Dimitri Zharkov, a CPI pioneer Director was at the hem of its leadership when it rose to glory as the finest counter terrorist security agency in the world.
However, widespread corruption scandals triggered a nosedive in its reputation both abroad and at home from the beginning of 2007. In the years that followed, Internal Affairs cut its budget in half by about 359 billion Rubles, and was to disband it completely by 2010.
When President Vladmir Bogatyr took office in 2009, he stopped its demise. He knew the threat terrorism poised was still alive. He asked Internal Affairs to restructure the Directorate and rebuild its integrity. This, it completed by the end of 2010, cut its staff to 30,000 and installed Iosif Nestor – Former deputy director of FSB, as its Director.
Nestor had previously served in the KGB during Boris Yermolov's presidency and had later become deputy Director of FSB after the president had KGB dismantled in 1995.
Although in advanced years, he showed no sign of waning. His vigor and vision to propel CPI to the summit remained impeccable. Internal Affairs had made the right decision – right man for the job?
The pressure on CPI remained enormous; so many incidents of organized crime – a precursor to budding terrorist activity, many Russian mafias, several high profile cases and decreased funding – CPI no longer enjoyed the luxury of the state of the art technology it once had to aid its operations.
Even though Nestor understood CPI budgetary constraints, he wanted CPI presence felt by the public, a no easy feat by any measure!
Two gas explosions in Moscow Oblast would later prove critical to Nestor's vision. The blasts had rocked the cities of Zelenograd and Khimki, claiming 27 lives and critically injuring 42. As was the norm, Federal Fire Services (FFS) took over investigations. Nestor had enlisted CPI to lead investigations, but Internal Affairs had CPI stopped. Apparently, city mayors had petitioned. He was not happy. He questioned the capacity of FFS to investigate such incidents. He believed they were no ordinary accidents. However, his desire to keep Russia safe was at its highest level.