News

21 November 1997

TRANSCRIPT: FBI DIRECTOR FREEH PRESS CONFERENCE IN MOSCOW 11/20

(U.S.-Russia cooperation, training programs discussed) (3580)



Moscow -- Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Louis J. Freeh told
reporters at a press conference in Moscow November 20 that the cases
where U.S. and Russian law enforcement agencies have cooperated
"represent a very historic and, in my view, an increasingly effective
and important law enforcement partnership between the FBI and our
counterparts here."


Freeh said that over the past three and a half years, in the FBI's
cooperation with its Russian counterparts, many investigations "have
resulted in important criminal proceedings both in Russia and in the
United States -- the Golden Ada case, the Citibank case, the Ivankov
case, the Oil Cats case, several kidnapping matters."


He noted that the FBI has also trained more than 1,600 Russian law
enforcement personnel in various programs. "We've had a series of 50
training seminars, most of which were supported by the Department of
State, ranging from issues such as economic crimes, internal police
control, and investigative techniques to firearms and explosives
training. We've had Russian police officers graduate from our National
Academy program in Quantico, and we talked over the last two days
about expanded training and exchange of officers along a series of
areas, including counterterrorism."


Freeh also answered questions about the safety of nuclear materials
and the potential for illegal exportation of strategic materials, "The
FSB and the FBI spoke about that briefly during our meeting. They
assured us that they think controls are in place to protect those
materials. We certainly view it as a top concern, as do our
counterparts here, and we will work aggressively with them on any case
where that potential exists since it's such a dangerous one," he said.


Following is a transcript of FBI Director Freeh's press conference:



(Begin transcript)



FBI DIRECTOR LOUIS J. FREEH

PRESS CONFERENCE

MOSCOW, RUSSIA

SPASO HOUSE



NOVEMBER 20, 1997, 9:30 am



(Transcript prepared by Federal News Service and released by USIS
Moscow.)


Freeh: Let me just make a brief opening statement, and then I'll be
happy to answer any of your questions.


As you know, we arrived here Tuesday morning [November 18], and we've
had a series of meetings over the last two days, including my last
meeting this morning with the American Chamber of Commerce. We met, as
you know, with the Minister of the Interior, Minister Kulikov; the
Prosecutor General, Skuratov; Director Kovalyov of the FSB [Federal
Security Service]; as well as Secretary Rybkin and Deputy Foreign
Minister Mamedov. Ambassador Collins attended all of the principal
meetings with me, and we certainly thank him for his support, as well
as the entire embassy staff here, to accommodate our visit.


It was a very good trip in the sense that I had the opportunity to
measure the progress of the FBI's relationship with our counterparts
here over the last three and a half years. As you know, we set up the
FBI office in Moscow in July of 1994, and that office has been working
continuously with greater and greater volume since that time. We have
worked on a series of cases with our Russian counterparts --
approximately 260 different criminal matters.


Many of those investigations have resulted in important criminal
proceedings both in Russia and in the United States -- the Golden Ada
case, the Citibank case, the Ivankov case, the Oil Cats case, several
kidnapping matters. We've returned fugitives between Russia and the
United States, even in the absence of an extradition treaty. Many of
those matters have to do with multi-million dollar fraud cases against
Russian banks, Russian companies and institutions, as well as American
interests here and elsewhere.


The cases, however, do represent a very historic and, in my view, an
increasingly effective and important law enforcement partnership
between the FBI and our counterparts here. The casework, as you know,
has involved, in some cases, Russian police officers coming to New
York City, conducting surveillances out on the street with our FBI
agents. We've had Russian officers testifying in our courts, in our
grand juries, monitoring court-authorized wiretaps, and exchanging
information on many important and mutual matters.


We've supplemented the case work with a very expanded training
program. We've trained approximately 1,600 Russian officers over the
last three and a half years. We've had a series of 50 training
seminars, most of which were supported by the Department of State,
ranging from issues such as economic crimes, internal police control,
and investigative techniques to firearms and explosives training.
We've had Russian police officers graduate from our National Academy
program in Quantico [Virginia], and we talked over the last two days
about expanded training and exchange of officers along a series of
areas, including counterterrorism.


Over the last two days we've had good discussions. We received some
very significant briefings from the Minister of the Interior with
respect to the organized crime problems here in Russia, and we
certainly related back our experience now in the United States with
respect to Russian organized crime groups. The minister reported to us
that there are approximately 12,000 organized crime groups in Russia,
ranging from small groups to large groups, with approximately 60,000
members. He indicated that approximately 350 of those groups operate
outside Russia, mostly in the CIS, but many of them operate in the
United States and other places around the world.


We have worked very successfully, particularly with the MVD [Ministry
of the Interior], against some of the Russian organized crime groups
and subjects we've identified in our United States investigations. We
take it as a very serious problem, as reflected in the Ivankov case,
an individual who was a leader of Russian organized crime both in
Russia and the United States, a case that we successfully prosecuted
with the help of our MVD colleagues.


We have active cases and programs against organized crime groups,
Russian groups and individuals, in several cities, including New York
and cities in Florida and California, as well as Chicago. Some of
these groups and individuals are very active in very sophisticated
types of crime, including health fraud crime, gasoline excise taxes
schemes, as well as traditional white-collar financial crimes and
crimes of violence.


The Russian organized crime cases and the activity as we've detected
it is, as I said, a serious issue for us -- certainly not on a level
of the America Cosa Nostra groups or some of the other foreign
organized crime groups who have been operating in the United States
for many decades. It's a distinctly different form of organized crime,
which is why we don't refer to it as the Mafia. It's not a hierarchal
structure. You don't see the same systemic organizations that you do
in either the Sicilian Mafia groups or the American Cosa Nostra
groups, but it is an organized group and a very dangerous group from a
law enforcement point of view.


We had very good and significant meetings between myself and my
counterparts. We talked about some initiatives we'd like to undertake,
including initiatives between the FSB and the FBI in the
counterterrorism area. We discussed having both MVD and FSB
representatives in Washington affiliated with the Russian Embassy so
we can liaison more directly with them. We discussed new areas of
investigations that we want to work together in, including computer
crime, the export of strategic materials, some of the sophisticated
white-collar crimes involving the Internet and computer; and my
counterparts here were very amenable to continuing those kinds of
discussions.


We discussed the efforts in the MVD to fight internal corruption. We
received some briefings on those materials. We talked about some of
the legal changes that need to be made to facilitate law enforcement
efforts in Russia. We talked about the need for an extradition treaty
-- there is none between Russia and the United States; the need for a
mutual legal assistance treaty. They advised me that continued efforts
were underway here to enact statutes involving money laundering,
anti-corruption, anti-organized crime efforts, development of a
witness protection program -- many of the techniques which have been
successful in the United States with respect to this type of law
enforcement.


So, all in all, we had a very good series of meetings. It was very
positive in terms of the developments that I've seen not only in our
relationship, but in some of the law enforcement efforts in the three
and a half years since I've been here. I received a very positive
evaluation by the [American] Chamber of Commerce this morning with
respect to their activities in security here. And we're looking
forward to enlarging our relationship with our counterparts here,
taking it to new areas and building on the very important foundations
that are now in place.


Again, I just want to thank Ambassador Collins and his staff for being
very gracious and accommodating to us; we'll be leaving later today.


Okay, I'd be happy to try and answer some of your questions.



Q: I'd like to ask, how would you assess the threat of nuclear
terrorism involving leakage of materials or technology being passed or
stolen materials also?


Freeh: Well, it's a threat that we take very seriously, not just in
the area of nuclear materials, but also in the area of chemical or
biological agents which could constitute a weapon of mass destruction.


We've worked very closely with our counterparts here on several cases
which they brought to our attention, where the concerns had to do
exactly with the theft and proliferation of nuclear materials. None of
those cases resulted in proving any link between particular thefts or
sales of those materials. The only cases I know about where that, in
fact, occurred were cases in Munich and one in Prague which did turn
out to be weapons-grade material. But the other cases we've looked at
we've not seen theft or diversions. We've also not seen any connection
between organized crime and that activity.


The FSB and the FBI spoke about that briefly during our meeting. They
assured us that they think controls are in place to protect those
materials. We certainly view it as a top concern, as do our
counterparts here, and we will work aggressively with them on any case
where that potential exists since it's such a dangerous one.


Q: Could you elaborate on any of the measures that are being taken to
counter the threat, in particular the threat of what they call "loose
nukes"?


Freeh: There are a lot of different efforts undertaken -- some by the
Defense Ministry, our Defense Department, our Department of Energy
with the counterparts here. From an investigative point of view, we
have agreed with the MVD, as well as the FSB, to work together very
aggressively on any leads or evidence of that type of activity. We've
even talked about using mutually undercover agents to pursue offers to
sell material or steal material, and from a law enforcement point of
view, that's what we've been doing.


Q: Have you specifically -- there's a debate about whether there is a
"nuclear mafia." There are many pros and cons with a lot of argument.
Have you found any evidence that such an organization exists, or is
there a potential for such an organization to grow in this atmosphere?


Freeh: As I said, there's no evidence that we've seen which either
establishes the theft or diversion of that material for either
criminal or terrorist purposes and no link between any organized crime
group and that activity. But, again, it's something we're very alert
to and very open-minded about, and we can't afford to have one of
these cases occur; and so, we treat them all with the utmost
seriousness.


Q: During your meetings with Minister Kulikov, did you discuss any
type of arrangements or agreements in extraditing criminals?


Freeh: Yes, we did. We talked actually about that issue with Director
Kulikov and particularly with the Prosecutor General, who has
particular jurisdiction in that area. We agreed that we very much need
both a mutual legal assistance treaty and an extradition treaty, since
there are currently no available legal means to extradite either
Russian or U.S. nationals from one country to the other for criminal
procedures. It's a large gap in the criminal procedure as well as the
law enforcement efforts and one which we all agree has to be corrected
as promptly as possible.


Q: You have many former Russian, Ukrainian, et cetera nationals living
in the United States. How many years does it take for them to be able
to work in American law enforcement?


Freeh: I guess it depends on which part of law enforcement. We have,
you know, in the FBI now many special agents, as well as other
employees, who come from -- who were born in, for instance, Ukraine
and Poland, Egypt, and many, many other countries, which has been a
great benefit for us in our LEGAT (legal attache) program. They have
to be, in the FBI at least, a United States citizen. It takes several
years to acquire citizenship. In some of the state and local agencies,
those requirements are not the same.


I met an agent last week in one of our Eastern offices who was born in
St. Petersburg, speaks fluent Russian, and in fact she was very
interested in the LEGAT assignment here in some years to come. Those
are the kind of people we love to have in the FBI.


Q: Do you have any information on a case involving a gentleman named
Moskovicz (sp) and some exchange of documents and subsequent follow-up
on that matter which happened -- involving a gentleman by the name of
Grigory Luchansky?


Freeh: We certainly know about Mr. Luchansky, and we know about
NORDEX. It's a company which has drawn the interest of various law
enforcement agencies, not only here but back in the United States; but
I don't have any more additional information that I can share with
you.


Q: Does Grigory Luchansky have the right to enter the United States?


Freeh: I don't know the answer to that question. I don't know if he's
applied for a visa, and I don't know that we've asked, at least in the
FBI, to supply any information to the State Department with respect to
that. I just don't know the answer to that.


Q: Director, I fully respect you. I just wanted to mention that your
CIA colleague mentioned that Luchansky is connected with organized
crime, and I feel perhaps maybe is there any way you may also have
more information regarding Grigory Luchansky.


Freeh: As I said, we do have some information, as well as some
interest in him. However, he's not been charged with any crime in the
United States, and it's our practice not to talk about individuals
except in the context of actual charges that are brought against them.


Q: Thank you.



Q: I'd like to ask you what you think about Russian espionage in the
United States.


Freeh: The question was: What do I think about Russian espionage in
the United States? I'm not going to comment on that. I'm here
strictly, as all my FBI agents are -- not only in Moscow, but around
the world -- in a law enforcement capacity, in our criminal liaison
capacity, and we're not here to discuss, nor do we operate or engage
in any intelligence or counterintelligence activities here.


Q: Here we have a big problem with divorce amongst law enforcement
[personnel] and journalists. Can you mention the rate of divorce among
FBI employees?


Freeh: I don't know the answer to that. I know we have a high divorce
rate in the United States. I don't know how it would compare with law
enforcement agencies. I certainly don't know what the answer is in the
FBI. I've been married for 14 years to the same person, if that's any
help.


Q: We have a serial, a TV show, here which portrays FBI agents working
on all kinds of different kinds of cases dealing with para-psychology
and other things related to the unnormal. If you are working, will you
be able to work together with your Russian counterparts in these
fields?


Freeh: Yeah, you know, we don't really work on those kinds of cases
for the most part. I think I know the show you're referring to.


Moderator:  X-Files.



Freeh: The X-Files, we call it. At least that's what my friends call
it. But we don't really -- we don't work on those cases. I hate to say
anything is fictional on TV, but we don't work on those kinds of
cases.


Q: You're the father of five children. Do you give any precedence to
cases involving child abuse, child abduction, along those lines?


Freeh: The FBI certainly treats those cases with a high priority. In
fact, we've recently established a Crimes Against Children program
which is now a priority program for all of our field offices in the
United States.


We established in Quantico in 1995 a Child Abduction and Serial Killer
Unit which is specifically designed to offer assistance, operational
and investigative assistance, for cases involving child kidnappings or
serial killers, and that's been a very effective program for us and
the state and local departments.


We also have a very active program working on the Internet identifying
and ultimately arresting pedophiles, individuals who look for children
and victims using the Internet. And we've had many, many cases and
prosecutions in that program.


Q: We hear many times that Russian law enforcement has taken a lot of
examples of American ways of working in law enforcement to their
benefit. Have you found -- or you can say of anything that you've seen
in Russian law enforcement that you can take back for the benefit of
American law enforcement?


Freeh: Yes. Just let me add to the last answer. I was just reminded
that we have right now a training seminar going on in Sochi, where FBI
agents are presenting a seminar to Russian officers with respect to
crimes against children.


With respect to your last question, one of the things I was very
interested in, and we spent some time at the MVD Academy, is the
academic component to the police training schools here in Russia. For
instance, the MVD Management Academy here not only has an academically
accredited faculty, but there are actually degrees and disciplines
closely affiliated with some of the universities here in the law
enforcement area, which is very different than the way we staff our
training academies in the United States.


The MVD also has a national criminal information reporting system
which on a daily basis gives Minister Kulikov a very good summary of
criminal incidents all over Russia within the last 24 hours. It's a
computer-based system, something we do not have in the United States.
I was very interested in that and want to have some of my folks here
follow up on that.


Q: Regarding the joint work between MVD and the FBI, during your past
three days here have you come to any change of opinion or change of
feelings regarding the joint work?


Freeh: No. Just that it's very important to us. It's very critical to
the FBI's mission. We are pleased to learn that the training, for
instance, that we've offered to 1,600 officers has been of great
benefit. The minister told me that yesterday. It's clear that in a
world where transnational crime is clearly on the increase police
forces, particularly in Russia and the United States, have to
strengthen the relationships, particularly on investigations. So I was
a strong believer in that when I came there. I'm certainly supported
in those beliefs by the discussions we've had.


Q: There's a former Russian businessman by the name of Igor Federov
who is now in the Witness Protection Program in Baltimore -- this case
was in Baltimore regarding tax evasion. His partners consider him a
criminal. Can you shed light on this case?


Freeh: I know the case. Again, that's a pending criminal case in the
United States. We have worked on it closely with our Russian
counterparts. There is a fraud element to the case in investigation
but, again, because it is a pending prosecution I can't really comment
on it. It is now in our court system for adjudication.


Q: The Director of the Russian Interpol Bureau Ovchinsky has said that
white collar crime now poses the biggest danger in Russia, in
particular, foreign financial pyramids that are usually headed by
people from the former USSR. Is it really so? And in this connection,
what do you think about the way the MVD is fighting organized crime? I
understand that after your recent report on Russian crime, on the
performance of the MVD, Kulikov was very displeased, and there even
was a meeting with your delegation during the Interpol conference in
Delhi.


Freeh: We have worked several of these cases with the Russian MVD.
They operate in Russia, they operate in part in different European
countries. I know the MVD has worked closely with the Germans, in
particular, and their Polish counterparts on some of these cases. It
is an area of financial crimes that is a growing area, including the
telemarketing aspect of it, which is a part that we have engaged with
them a bit.


Thank you.



(End transcript)




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