Chekist in the Kremlin: The KGB Roots of Putin's Decision-Making and Policies

Chekist in the Kremlin:  The KGB Roots of Putin's Decision-Making and Policies
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Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, CREEES Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies
Levinthal Hall, Stanford Humanities Center
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What is the significance and influence of the Chekist tradition on Vladimir Putin and his behavior, and how has it shaped the Russian leader’s approach to domestic and international affairs?  In his lecture, Mr. Hall will review Putin’s formative experiences as an intelligence officer, and how Putin and those he has placed in positions of power continue to promulgate Chekist values. The talk will analyze specific cases of the Chekist approach, such as the assassination of journalists and dissidents, the attacks on Alexander Litvinenko and Sergei Skripal, the use of the FSB to support the doping of Russian athletes during the Sochi Olympics, and the deployment of hybrid warfare techniques by the Russian intelligence services, including the 2016 elections in the United States.  Lastly, Mr. Hall will address the dangers of viewing Vladimir Putin’s Russia through a Western lens, and how this can complicate meaningful cooperation with Russia and its “special services.” 

Steven L. Hall retired from the Central Intelligence Agency in 2015 after thirty years of running and managing intelligence operations in Eurasia and Latin America. Mr. Hall finished his career as a member of the Senior Intelligence Service, the small cadre of officers who are the senior-most leaders of the CIA’s Clandestine Service. Most of Mr. Hall’s career was spent abroad, overseeing intelligence operations in the countries of the former Soviet Union and the former Warsaw Pact. As an executive at CIA headquarters, Mr. Hall also focused on cyber threats, security and counterintelligence, and counterterrorism. He has been a Chief of Station overseas multiple times, and has worked closely with the FBI, the U.S. Military, the State Department, and other U.S. Government agencies. Mr. Hall also acted as the Clandestine Service’s senior liaison officer to Congressional intelligence oversight committees in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Hall is a recipient of CIA’s Donovan Award, as well as CIA’s Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal. He is a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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