Security Information Service (BIS)

Intelligence Service of the Czech Republic

BIS History

After the Velvet Revolution of November 1989, the emerging democratic state faced a difficult and complicated task regarding state security. The State Security (StB), an extension of the Soviet KGB, was dissolved; its all-encompassing and ungovernable character serving only the narrow ruling elite of a totalitarian state was rejected. Understanding that every secret service is a highly sensitive barometer of the political regime it serves led to the undoubtedly right decision to establish new intelligence services from scratch. Attempts to create democratic intelligence services by adopting merely cosmetic changes were abandoned. The new intelligence services were to be dedicated to the principles of democracy and the rule of law, fully respecting human rights and freedoms.

 

The complicated nature of this task was most evident in creating an internal intelligence service which was to fill the empty space previously occupied by the dissolved State Security (StB). However, the past experience with the feared StB caused concerns and suspicion that the newly established service would once again become a secret political police force. These concerns were fuelled by the non-existence of a functional intelligence service model and the impossibility of copying intelligence models of Western democratic states. There was only one solution: draw on the experience of the Free World and adapt this experience to our conditions. However, laying the foundations of a new intelligence service was a tall order for several reasons. This task fell to individuals of irreproachable character who, however, did not have the necessary skills and, as time proved, some were totally unfit for working in a secret service. Moreover, disagreements arose among dissidents - some of them entered politics and some turned their attention to re-building the Ministry of the Interior.

 

However, unskilled individuals are not the only ones at fault for the initial troubles accompanying the creation of a new internal intelligence service which resulted in a number of scandals. Post-revolutionary politicians and government officials also engaged in the daunting task of creating a new internal intelligence service accompanied by a number of disputes, mistakes and turns of events. Most of them adopted an ambivalent or downright hostile attitude toward the newly created intelligence service. As a result the Service was virtually left to its fate. With very few exceptions, there was no one tasking the Service, backing the Service during hard times, or speaking for it - no one was willing to bear political responsibility. In hindsight, this behavior can be partly excused.

 

A key to understanding the reserved and negative attitudes taken by the majority of post-revolutionary politicians and government representatives lies in the international politics of that time. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, most people believed there was nothing threatening the newly emerging European democracies. Most politicians perceived the newly established secret services as “unwanted children” no one really cares for. An independent internal intelligence service suffered the most since foreign intelligence services operating abroad and military intelligence services fell under respective government departments. However, within several months the Persian Gulf War erupted, a coup was attempted in Moscow, and a military conflict in Yugoslavia flared up. Suddenly the notion of a threat-free Europe proved to be naive. 

 

There is no need to go into the details of all the mishaps, successes and failures accompanying the creation of the Czech internal security service. Providing a comprehensive description of the past is a task for historians. What is important is that today the BIS is a fully operational intelligence service fulfilling its tasks and held in high regard abroad. 

 

 

Names, dates, directors 

 

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Democracy (ÚOUD)

Part of the Federal Ministry of the Interior

16. 2. 1990 – 19. 12. 1990

  • Zdeněk Formánek (February – April)
  • Jan Ruml (April – June)
  • Jiří Müller (June – November)
  • Jiří Novotný (November – December)

 

The Federal Information Service (FIS)

Part of the Federal Ministry of the Interior  

20. 12. 1990 – 30. 6. 1991

  • Jiří Novotný

 

The Federal Security Information Service (FBIS)

Pursuant to Act No. 244/1991 Coll. 

1. 7. 1991 – 31. 12. 1992

  • Jiří Novotný (July 1991 – December 1991)
  • Štefan Bačinský (January 1992 – August 1992)
  • Pavol Slovák (September 1992 – December 1992)

 

The Security Information Service of the Czech Republic (BIS ČR)

Pursuant to Act No. 527/1992 Coll. 

1. 1. 1993 – 29. 7. 1994

  • Stanislav Devátý

 

The Security Information Service (BIS)

Founded on July 30, 1994 pursuant to Act No. 154/1994 Coll.

  • Stanislav Devátý (July 1994 – February 1997)
  • Karel Vulterin (March 1997 – January 1999)
  • Jiří Růžek (July 1999 – May 2003)
  • Jiří Lang (June 2003 – August 2016)
  • Michal Koudelka (August 2016)

 

 

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