Friday, December 20th, marks the 85th anniversary of the establishment of Russia's security bodies. On December 20th, 1917, the Soviet of People's Commissars adopted a resolution on setting up the All-Russian Emergency Commission /VChK/. Up to 1995, December 20, had been celebrated as VChk Worker (Chekist) Day.
The day of Russia's security body officers has been marked as an official professional holiday since 1995. It was introduced by a decree of first Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
Today five special services are operating in Russia, among them: the Federal Security Service (FSB), Foreign Intelligence Service, Federal Guard Service, Federal Agency of Government Communications and Information, and Main Department for Special Programs under the Russian President. In the Soviet era, these special services were part of the USSR State Security Committee (KGB), as main departments.
According to archives documents, special services have existed in Russia from time immemorial. The chronicles of the times of Ivan the Terrible and Mikhail Romanov witnessed the appearance of a special bodyguard of the Tsar. However, until the middle of the 17th century, the whole system of ensuring security of Russian princes and tsars was based on tradition and precedents rather than on a firm legislative basis.
The first legislative bases of special services were officially registered in 1649 in the Cathedral Constitution of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich who ascended the throne in 1645. Later on, the security of the Russian State was entrusted to some other departments, also known from history, for example, "Preobrazhensky Prikaz" and the Secret Chancellery of Peter I, the Secret Expedition to the Senate, the Third Department of the Own Chancellery of Nicholas I and Alexander II.
The historical roots of the Russian special services are reflected in the heraldic symbols of the modern Russian security bodies - the double-headed eagle of the tsarist Russia soars against the background of the traditional symbol of Soviet-era special services - "shield and sword" - in the emblem of the Russian Federation FSB.