The FSO was formerly known as the Main Administration for the Protection of the Russian Federation (GUO - Glavnoye Upravlenie Okhrani). Under Barsukov the GUO was transformed into a very powerful and capable organization with a staff 50-100 percent bigger than that of the Ninth Directorate, which included some 10,000 personnel. At Barsukov's initiative in 1992, GUO assumed responsibility for presidential communications [formerly run by FAPSI [Federal Government Communications and Information Agency]], with GUO alone deciding who gets ATS-1 and ATS-2 "hot lines."
Beginning in the late 1960s several thousand leaders of ministries, departments, and central newspaper editorial offices were connected using the ATS-II [Automatic Telephone Exchange-II] ("hot line") government communications telephone system. Although following Stalin's death the Party adopted a decision prohibiting the special services from listening to the telephones of party functionaries, this decision was not consistently implemented, and in the post-Soviet period such monitoring was regarded as pervassive.
President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree on 19 June 1996 reorganized the GUO as the Federal Protection Service (FSO). The change was mandated by recently approved law on state protection which regulated the provision of bodyguards to senior state officials. According to the law, the FSO and the Presidential Security Service (PSB) are under the command of the president. Their powers include the right, in relation to their duties, to conduct searches, check identity papers, make arrests, give orders to other state organs, enter premises without the owners' consent, ban access to public places, and recruit and use secret informants.
The reorganization coincided with with the appointment of Yuri Krapivin, the head of the Federal Protection Service since 1995, as acting chief of the Presidential Security Service (PSB), replacing Maj. Gen. Alexander Korzhakov, Yeltsin's longtime bodyguard, sidekick, and chief of presidential security. Korzhakov, like FSB Director Mikhail Barsukov who was dismissed the same day, began his career in the 9th KGB Directorate.
Paradoxically, under the "all-powerful" Korzhakov, the President's security service was a much more open organization than under Krapivin. It is currentlly known only that the leaders of the Presidential Security Service divisions are now called adjutants. The laws on the state protection service and on operations and investigation activity continue to give the Federal Protection Service no fewer rights and capabilities than the Federal Security Service [FSB] or the Internal Affairs Ministry. The FSO is permitted to conduct surveillance and searches, to monitor postal, telegraph, telephone and other communications, and to conduct clandestine agents activities. These measures do not require that a warrant be obtained from a court.