Illuminating Russia’s Main Directorate of Special Programs

11.15.06 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The Main Directorate of Special Programs (Russian acronym: GUSP) is a somewhat mysterious Russian security organization that was established as one of the various successors to the former KGB.

“The directorate’s specialists have a great deal of experience in building fortified structures and tunnels and know how to handle explosives,” according to an article in Moskovskiy Komsomolets (16 September 1999).

“Moreover, the GUSP is the president’s very own special service and is accountable only to the head of state.”

In a neat bit of detective work, the Open Source Center (OSC) of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence noticed that new details of GUSP’s internal structure could be gleaned from official badges sold by commercial vendors of military paraphernalia.

“Russian commercial websites specializing in the sale of military insignia provided identifying information for a number of military units belonging to the Special Facilities Service (SSO) of the Main Directorate for Special Programs of the Russian Federation President (GUSP),” the Open Source Center reported this week (pdf).

“[This] is in most instances the only available public reference for these units and their affiliation with the Special Facilities Service,” the OSC said.

In another neat bit of work, Allen Thomson retrieved images of those telltale military insignia and combined them with other published material to produce “A Sourcebook on the Russian Federation Main Directorate of Special Programs (GUSP)” (pdf).