FSB confiscates passports from Russian officials and directors of state-owned companies — FT

3 April, 04:25 PM
In the Russian Federation, restrictions are being introduced on travel abroad for civil servants (Photo:Alexander Nrjwolf/Unsplash)

In the Russian Federation, restrictions are being introduced on travel abroad for civil servants (Photo:Alexander Nrjwolf/Unsplash)

Russia’s Security Service (FSB) is confiscating passports from senior officials and executives of state-owned companies, the Financial Times reported on April 3, citing sources familiar with the situation.

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's paranoia over potential leaks and defections has led to the actions, the FT wrote.

Prominent figures and former officials are being asked to hand over their travel documents and these measures have intensified since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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"The increased pressure reflects deep suspicion in the Kremlin and FSB, the KGB's successor agency, about the loyalty of Russia's civilian elite, many of whom privately oppose the war in Ukraine and are chafing over its impact on their lifestyles," the article reads.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov admitted that Russia has increased restrictions on travels abroad for those who work in "sensitive" areas.

"There are stricter rules for that. Somewhere they are formalized, somewhere they depend on a specific decision regarding specific employees,” he said.

A Soviet-era holdover law, Russian officials with access to medium-level state secrets must leave their passports in a safe kept by a "security department" in their ministries or other entities, the FT recalled. Russian security services have rarely enforced the rule though, according to former officials and executives.

This changed after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, when security services warned of travel to such countries as the United States and the United Kingdom.

Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, restrictions have been applied much more widely and often depend on the whims of individual security officials working in state institutions.

Security measures vary from one government agency to another: some even ask mid-level officials to refrain from travelling abroad, while others give senior officials full permission to travel abroad within reason, the source told the newspaper.

For example, heads of a large state-owned industrial company are not permitted to travel outside Moscow for more than two hours without official permission.

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