The Federal Security Service's public reception office at 22 Kuznetsky Most ulitsa, Moscow, is open 24 hours a day so that anyone can visit to report crimes or make comments and suggestions. It is an open secret that state security cannot be guaranteed without broad popular support.
Visitors to the FSB public reception office come to us with reports of violations and their doubts. We receive about 50 phone calls a day. Our office receives about 15,000 reports per year and in the last seven years we received an average of 12,000-18,000 reports a year. When the government and its institutions become stronger, people visit the public reception office more frequently.
The number of reports received is influenced by terrorist attacks. For example, commuter train passengers contacted us after the 1995 attack on Budennovsk and reported that they had seen a group of Chechens carrying large bags heading toward a local hospital. After the Nord-Ost theatre tragedy, when hostages were taken, the public reacted actively and we received 200 reports, some of which were useful. That month we received 1,000 reports.
Sometimes we get information about planned terrorist attacks. People also tell us about arms smugglers who had approached them, as the FSB combats the illegal arms trade. Sometimes Russian scientists are followed by foreign secret services and individuals carrying military secrets also attract the unwelcome attention of foreign spies.
In accordance with our orders, we keep a log of every citizen who visits our office. However, we do not have the right to demand identification from our visitors. If a person says that his name is Ivan Ivanov, he is registered under that name. We file every report in terms of its importance and give priority to information about possible terrorist attacks. Secret service operations are also a high priority.In total, there are 25 categories of reports; the last category is for miscellaneous information. There is no denying the fact that quite a few mentally ill people are concerned about various mass media reports and television shows. Some believe in alien worlds, try to protect themselves against electronic beams or claim to be able to locate hidden objects. A little while ago, a man came to our office, asked me to hide a crystal and said that he would find it quickly. Then the man went outside and I hid the crystal in his bag and waited for him to return. He came back into the office with an unusual device and said that the crystal was hidden in my safe. I told him that he was wrong and then the man looked behind the curtains and inside my desk. Finally, I had to show him that the crystal was in his bag.
Occasionally, people who are dissatisfied with court verdicts contact us. In their opinion, an unfavorable verdict means that the judges and prosecutors were bribed. We explain to them that the FSB is not a substitute for a court and that another agency should be contacted instead.
As a rule, counter-espionage officers who have served for the FSB for at least ten years work at the FSB public reception office because experienced operatives are the only ones capable of doing our work. Anyone reporting a terrorist attack will be received by a duty officer, who, in turn, will inform the FSB duty officer. And an expert can be summoned for at anytime of day.