Gang Stalking, “Zersetzung,” Counter-Terrorism, and “Operational Psychology” in the Russian “Mafia State” (And Obvious Parallels With The Same Phenomena In The US) (My notes from L. Harding’s “”Mafia State”)

ETK (Webmaster) Introduction:

Obvious Parallels Between the Russian and American “Mafia States” Include:

1) Both states are owned and ultimately run by “a secretive and paranoid oligarchy. “
2) Both Russia and US utilize “counter-intelligence stalking”/”operational psychology”/Zersetzung/”soft torture” primarily by intelligence agencies (FSB and CIA systems) to secretly harass and destroy “internal enemies”
3) Most “targets” are invented enemies rather than real ones. Targets/“enemies” typically include artists, pastors, local church groups, peace activists, and critics of government policies.
4) Targeting operations are carried out in absolute operational secrecy and total conspiracy.
5) The most powerful intelligence agencies (Russian FSB and US CIA) are criminal organizations that, in turn, control organized crime… (arms and drugs trafficking, money laundering, personal enrichment, protection for gangsters, extortion and kickbacks, suitcases full of money and secret offshore bank accounts in Cyprus and Switzerland).
6) Russia and the US are by run by an odd coupling of government officials, oligarchs, intelligence agencies, and organized crime bosses.
7) The state has vice-like control over the media.
8) The entire system is based on corruption and class warfare and works toward increasing wealth disparities between the rich and the poor.
Behind the public relations facades, both Russia and the US are brutal “virtual mafia states”/kleptocracies. The state is effectively a front for a private-sector moneymaking business.
9) Both states fan the flames of ethnic division to increase violent protest and violent state terror.
10) Brutal “counter-terrorism” methods employed by the state spawns more violent resistance from ethnic groups, calling for more repression and more “counter-terrorism.” In this manner the state creates its own enemies and ensures the perpetuation of the war on terrorism-national security system.
11) US co-operates with the FSB and Russia’s interior ministry on counter-terrorism, organized crime, bio-terrorism and cyber-crime; Washington invites a Russian law enforcement officer to attend the FBI’s national academy in Quantico. The FSB’s elite Alpha Team, tasked with hostage rescue missions, also trains at Quantico with its US counterpart.
12) Due to widespread corruption, truth-telling is dangerous and unpopular. (Hence, both states respond to truth-tellers (aka “dissidents”) by directing gang stalking/Zersetzung operations against them.
13) Both nations are modern dictatorships.

Quotes From “The Mafia State” by Luke Harding (2011)

I. The Elite:

p. 255: “In a state run by a secretive and paranoid oligarchy, it is usually impossible to find out the reasons for any administrative decision.”

II. The FSB (Federal Security Service) and Organized Crime

p. 240: “I discover that the White House is under no illusions about the nature of the FSB’s activities. It is, in essence, a criminal organization, offering protection to gangsters and extorting bribes from large businesses.

p. 241: (In Russia), not surprisingly, the criminal world and the political world intersect— with deputies having to buy their seats in parliament.

The scale of corruption is staggering…. Truth-telling isn’t popular in Russia.

III. Gang Stalking, Zersetzung, and “Operational Psychology”

p. 282: Zersetzung, I discover, is a scientific term borrowed from chemistry. It translates as “decomposition,” “disintegration”, or “corrosion”.

p. 283: The security service’s goal was to use Zerzetzung to “switch off” regime opponents. After months and even years of Zersetzung a victim’s domestic problems grew so large, so debilitating, and psychologically burdensome that they would lose the will to struggle against the East German state. Best of all, the Stasi’s role in the victim’s personal misfortunes remained tantalizingly hidden. The Stasi operations were carried out in complete operational secrecy. The service acted like an unseen and malevolent god, manipulating the destinies of its victims.

It was in the mid-70s that Honecker’s secret police began to employ these perfidious methods. … Over in Stalingrad, meanwhile, in 1975, Vladimir Putin had fulfilled his teenage dream and joined the KGB…. And so, the regime embarked upon an unseen psychological war against its internal critics. This war was an unequal one since the other side- a relatively small section of East Germany’s population- had no idea it was being fought.

The targets were “enemies”; artists like the dissident singer Wolf Biermann (expelled to West Germany in 1976); pastors; local church groups; peace activists; anyone who wanted to leave for the west. Pingel-Schliemann describes Zersetzung as “subtle”, anonymous”, noiseless” and “inscrutable.” It’s methods differ from officially recognizable forms of persecution such as torture, arrest and murder. Zersetzung is usually covert; usually the victim has no idea that the Stasi was behind it (although by the late 1980s the suspicion of Stasi involvement was widespread among opposition groups).

p. 284: The most insidious aspect of Zersetzung is that its victims are almost invariably not believed. When Frau R told her friends what was happening they concluded that she was losing touch with reality.

The Stasi boss Erich Mielke grew interested in psychological techniques in the 1960s. By 1971- when Honecker replaced Ulbricht- Mielke’s ministry began to transform Zersetzung from a thuggish tool into a pseudo-academic discipline. These methods of intimidation and anonymous harassment were classified as “operational psychology.” Operational psychology is conventional psychology’s dark twin: instead of healing people, the idea is to harm or damage them.

On 1 January 1976, Mielke issued secret policy directive 1/76. It regulated the use of psychology in “operational procedures.” … Zersetzung operations had to be carried out in conditions of total conspiracy.

As I read, the similarities between Honecker’s East Germany and Putin’s Russia strike me as overwhelming. Both are, in effect, sophisticated modern dictatorships. Both appreciate that the subtle arts of repression are more effective than crude old-school methods. And Russia- like the defunct GDR- is greatly concerned about its international image…

p. 286: The former chair of operational psychology at the Stasi’s higher academy is still alive. His name is Jochen Girke. After the collapse of the Berlin Wall he has continued to work as a psychologist in Potsdam. He also advises Germany’s Likespartei (the “Left party”), which enjoys support from diehard East German communists, West German ultra-leftists and middle aged radicals.

(We met for lunch. ) According to Girke, all secret services, including western ones, use what he calls “grubby tools.” “In our case it was ideologically justified. We were building a better Germany….

…. The Stasi’s Zersetzung methods were astonishingly diverse and ingenious, he says- a “ballet of methods” that spoke of a dark creativity. “We would arrange for a pipe to burst In the floor above a target’s flat, flooding it. The idea is to irritate you in your job or personal life. Eventually you get rid of them.”

“The (the secret services) do those things to show that they are all-powerful, omnipotent, and that they can enter your private sphere at any time,” Girke explains.

p. 289: It is this fantasy- the quest for the elusive piece of information, the spook’s Holy Grail- that makes the job all apparently worthwhile. For the conscientious counter-intelligence agent, the hours of waiting and listening are all focused on this one moment. Girke compares it to a knightly quest. It is, he suggests, a sort of cross between the medieval romances of Wolfram von Eschenbach and a modern spy-thriller. He explains: “Imagine that you are a hunter who sits patiently with his weapon in the meadow and waits for the appearance of a great white deer that everyone has been talking about it. The hunter fantasizes he will shoot the deer dead with a golden bullet.”

Girke is unable to shed a light on who originally invented “operational psychology”. It was, he believes, the KGB who first developed the practice. After all, it was “the friends” from Moscow who in the 1950s established the GDR’s fledgling secret police, with the two services- the East German and the Soviet- working closely together thereafter.

… but it was the East Germans, Girke says, who transformed operational psychology into, as he saw it, a rigorous academic discipline. “We were the ones who refined Zersetzung. The German service used more refined techniques,” he says. “The Russians were always more brutal…. We put so much energy into it, into making people’s careers fail…/

Somewhere in Moscow, on someone’s desk, in someone’s dusty filing cabinet, on someone’s encrypted data-stick, is my FSB file. I ask Girke what is likely to be in it. “You get a number. They put you in a category,” he says. The Stasi has its own classification system depending on the seriousness of the case. Additionally, Girke says the FSB will have given me a codename, an alias for use in secret operations. This codename is important: it de-personalizes the target and makes it easier to carry out hostile measures against them.

The Potsdam Stasi academy may have shut down, but- so far as he knows- the FSB still has its own chair of “operational psychology” at its academy in Moscow.

p. 83 (Death in the Snow): “The FSB’s tactics are sinister. But, more than this, they are patient. The break-ins are cleverly attritional: designed to break us down, to disrupt and incrementally wreck our family life.

This isn’t conventional torture. There are no thumbscrews or electric shocks. Instead, this is something more insidious and better suited to a regime conscious of its international reputation – a form of psychological terror that has the marvelous advantage of being invisible and completely deniable. Smart torture, if you like. Or soft torture.”

p. 239…. “Russian security services had dramatically stepped up their efforts against the US and other western powers in response to pro-democracy revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, Beyrle writes….. Harassing activity against all embassy personnel has spiked in the past several months to a level not seen in many years. Embassy personnel have suffered personally slanderous and falsely prurient attacks in the media. Family members have been the victims of psychologically terrifying assertions that their USG employee spouses have met accidental deaths. Home intrusions have become far more commonplace and bold, and activity against our locally engaged Russian staff continues at a record pace. We have no doubt that this activity originates with the FSB (Federal Security Service).”

Across the Russian capital, Europe’s largest city, FSB agents are actively picking locks, hiding bugs, skulking in stairwells, and using the flats of patriotic neighbors to spy on targets. If the intrusions are growing bolder and more common, this means an increase in manpower.

Since most of their targets are invented enemies- rather than real ones- this activity must be a colossal waste of time….. Reality is unimportant. What matters is Putin’s worldview- in which diplomats, western journalists and internal critics are all (ETK: considered) dangerous spies.

IV. British Journalist, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Past Soviet State-Sponsored Genocide:

p. 104 : He (Malcolm Muggeridge) documented the deliberate genocide against Soviet peasants, some 14.5 million of whom died as a result of what was, in effect, government-engineered murder.

V. Kremlin’s Control of Media

p. 111: the Kremlin’s vice-like grip on the media…. So that (as one US diplomat remarked) “all Russians feed from the same information trough.”

VI. Class Warfare

p. 144: (The system) is based on corruption, complete disrespect for certain human and democratic values, on hypocrisy and double standards. It’s about the redistribution of wealth and power.

p. 153: “The disparities (between the rich and the poor) are bigger than in any other country I have worked as a foreign correspondent, including India or other poor nations of south Asia.”

p. 155: “The cash-rich Kremlin has failed to notice that it now presides over the most unequal society in Russia’s history.”

VII. Poverty, Systematic Corruption, and Organized Crime in the “Mafia State”

p. 229 (Wiki-leaks). The US embassy cables paint a desperate picture of Russia under Putin. It is well known that corruption is widespread, and that on democracy and human rights the country has slithered alarmingly backwards since 2000. But the cables suggest that Russia has metastasized into a brutal autocratic kleptocracy, centered on Putin’s pre-eminent leadership, and in which officials, oligarchs and organized crime bosses are bound together to create a “virtual mafia state.”

Arms trafficking, money laundering, personal enrichment, protection for gangsters, extortion and kickbacks, suitcases full of money and secret offshore bank accounts in Cyprus and Switzerland: the cables unpick a dysfunctional political system in which bribery alone totals an estimated $300 B/year, and in which it is often hard to distinguish between the activities of government and organized crime…. .it isn’t so much a state as a private-sector moneymaking business.

p. 231: “Grinda states that he considers Belarus, Chechnya and Russia to be virtual “mafia states” and said that Ukraine is going to be one.

…. Grinda puts forward Litvinenko’s view that the Russian intelligence and security services- the FSB, SVR and GRU- “control organized crime in Russia.”

…. Under Putin, the government, FSB and criminal elements have melded together to run Russia…. There are proven ties between between Russian political parties, organized crime, and arms trafficking.

p. 232: “Spain served as the group’s safe haven from authorities and rival OC (organized crime) networks in Russia.“ The gang’s illicit activities were breathing- contract killings, arms and drug trafficking, extortion, coercion, threats and kidnapping.”

VIII. State-Sponsored Terrorism/Counter-Insurgency:

p. 162-3: “(Magomed Mutsolgov, a human rights activist whose brother “disappeared” four years ago) tells me that the situation has dramatically worsened over the past two years, with law enforcement and federal security agencies in Ingushetia out of control. These federal troops are responsible for dozens of summary and arbitrary detentions, as well as acts of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment. Russian security forces carry out extra-judicial executions, he says.

According to Mutsolgov and other human rights workers I talk to, the Kremlin’s brutish counter-terrorism methods in the north Caucasus have made the insurgency worse. “Violence produces more violence. It drives people to he militant underground. The security forces behave with complete impunity, and people are humiliated, tortured or see their relatives disappear. They join the rebels out of a desire for revenge.,

p. 177: References: Litvineknko, 1999, Blowing Up Russia: Terror From Within”

Dyomushkin describes Putin’s Russia as a “police state.”

IX. US- Russian Cooperation in Counter-Terrorism, Cyber-Crime, etc.

p. 240: The US co-operates with the FSB and Russia’s interior ministry on counter-terrorism, organized crime, bio-terrorism and cyber-crime; Washington invites a Russian law enforcement officer to attend the FBI’s national academy in Quantico. The FSB’s elite Alpha Team, tasked with hostage rescue missions, also trains at Quantico with its US counterpart.

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